By the time the world tunes in to CBS at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday night (Oct. 4) for The 34th Annual CMA Awards, Nashville already will be three days into its annual awards frenzy.
What folks outside Music City USA probably don’t know is that the Country Music Association Awards are only one night in a week-long round of ceremonious observances of country music’s success over the past year.
Things got started Sunday night (Oct. 1), when the Nashville Songwriters Foundation and the Nashville Songwriters Association International picked this year’s entries into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. During an awards dinner at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza, Allen Reynolds (“Five O’ Clock World”), Billy Edd Wheeler (“Jackson”), Randy Goodrum (“Bluer Than Blue”) and Mac Davis (“In the Ghetto”) became the newest members of the prestigious body, bringing total membership to 139 members.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) honors its member songwriters and publishers Monday night with a gala black-tie dinner at the Opryland Hotel. A performing rights organization, ASCAP collects and distributes royalty payments for public performances of songs copyrighted by its members. Kenny Chesney, Jo Dee Messina, Brad Paisley and Lee Ann Womack are among the many artists scheduled to be on hand for the 38th ASCAP country music awards. Honors go to songs from 1999. At the end of the night, ASCAP names its country song, songwriter and publisher of the year.
Tuesday night, performing rights organization Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) follows suit (or tuxedo) with a black-tie dinner at its offices on Music Row. The 48th annual BMI country awards tap the 50 most popular country songs during the period from April 1, 1999, through March 31, 2000. BMI will name its songwriter and publisher of the year, and the most-played song of the year will receive the Robert J. Burton Award. Shania Twain, in town to present Entertainer of the Year honors at the CMA Awards, will be on hand for BMI’s awards. Last year she was BMI’s Songwriter of the Year, and “You’re Still the One” was song of the year.
Among those who’ve said they will be at BMI’s soiree are Clint and Lisa Hartman Black, Martie Seidel of the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Toby Keith, Brenda Lee, Montgomery Gentry, LeAnn Rimes, Earl Scruggs and Dwight Yoakam.
Also on Tuesday night, Jo Dee Messina and Phil Vassar perform at 328 Performance Hall in Nashville in the “CMA Awards Listener/Viewer Concert.”
Of course, the pot comes to a boil Wednesday night with The 34th Annual CMA Awards, telecast live from the Grand Ole Opry House. Vince Gill hosts for the ninth consecutive year. He’s a little surprised, he admits, but pleased that he still has the gig.
“I know how TV works, and I know there are certain people slamming it out of the park, and here’s the same ol’ guy up there, hosting our show, but I’m flattered that they keep asking me to do it,” he says in a recent interview. “I’ll do it as long as they want me to do it. I enjoy it and it’s fun. The whole show is about me keeping it going and flowing, not about it being an opportunity for me to show the world how funny I am or any of that. I know my limitations.”
Gill will have good material to work with. On the show, the Dixie Chicks will perform their mildly controversial “Sin Wagon,” Tim McGraw will do an unreleased song, “Things Change,” and Alison Krauss and Billy Dean will be with Kenny Rogers when he sings “Buy Me a Rose.” “Murder on Music Row” is up for Country Song of the Year — a victory could prove interesting — and Charley Pride and Faron Young enter the Country Music Hall of Fame. Should be quite a night, and the various record labels continue into the wee hours with parties all over town.
But it doesn’t end there. SESAC, the smallest of the performing rights organizations, convenes its black-tie dinner Thursday night at its Music Row offices, while across town the Reunion of Professional Entertainers (ROPE) honors veteran performers with the Golden Rope awards.
Country.com will host chats — a bunch of chats. At 7 p.m. ET Monday (Oct. 2) in the Chat Auditorium, visitors will hear from soon-to-be Hall of Fame member Pride, followed at 7:30 p.m. ET by Robyn Young, son of the late Faron Young.
SHeDAISY is with us for a chat at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, while Brad Paisley stops by at 3. Ray Benson is up at 3:30; the Warren Brothers follow at 4:30. Aaron Tippin, CMT Showcase Artist for October, comes in at 7 p.m., and Ricochet is in the Chat Auditorium at 7:30 on Tuesday.
Of course, business continues. Tuesday, Kenny Rogers and Travis Tritt release new albums, with an eye toward the CMA awards in 2001. Wednesday night, while the CMA gives out its awards, rowdy Hank Williams III makes an appearance at the Uptown Mix, a local, free concert. And fresh faces Jamie O’Neal, Sons of the Desert, Andy Griggs and Billy Yates get parties of their very own, in hopes of adding a little grease to their career wheels, so that next year, they too are part of the action.