Brad Paisley has a nomination for Country Album of the Year in voting for the sixth annual Nashville Music Awards, just as he does in the upcoming Country Music Association Awards, but the similarities between the two slates pretty much end there.
Where the CMA has Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack and the Dixie Chicks rounding out its candidate list for top album, the Nashville awards have titles by Gary Allan, George Jones, Alison Krauss and Marty Stuart.
Partly, the slates are different because they draw from different time periods. This year’s edition of the Nashville Music Awards honors musical performance and albums released in a wide variety of styles during the period from Oct. 1, 1998 to Dec. 31, 1999, while the CMA Awards draw from more recent releases.
But the Nashville Music Award nominations typically have a different flavor, too.
“I really believe the nominating committee truly votes on the merit of the music,” says Ricky Skaggs, who announced the nominees Tuesday (Sept. 26) at Tower Records along with ex-Foster & Lloyd partners Radney Foster and Bill Lloyd. “It goes beyond acknowledging what’s hot and what’s not. For so many of these nominees, there’s something in them deeper than commercial aspirations — the music itself is what drives them. I appreciate the Nashville Music Awards for recognizing those steadfast musicians.”
More than 150 nominees in 33 categories from every corner of Nashville’s diverse music scene are represented. Country stars Jackson, Jones and Trace Adkins compete in the Male Vocalist field along with soul singers Roscoe Shelton and Scat Springs. Martina McBride, Emmylou Harris and Mandy Barnett have nods in the Female Vocalist category, along with disco queen Donna Summer and gospel great CeCe Winans.
“There’s so much great talent in Nashville that never gets heard by the national public,” says Skaggs, whose Ancient Tones is up for Bluegrass/Old Time Music Album of the Year.
Nominated in the same category is Dolly Parton, who made her first full-fledged foray into bluegrass last year with The Grass Is Blue.
In the Group/Duo field, country acts Lonestar and SHeDAISY rub shoulders with bluegrass’ Del McCoury Band, modern rock combo Bare Jr. (fronted by country legend Bobby Bare’s son) and pop band Sixpence None the Richer.
Where the CMA has Hill battling her spouse, Tim McGraw, for Entertainer of the Year, the Nashville Music Awards has Julie Miller competing against her husband, Buddy Miller for Americana Album of the Year. John Prine, Guy Clark and Tom House round out the Americana field.
In addition to his country album citation, Paisley has a nod for Songwriter/Composer of the Year, and his hit “He Didn’t Have to Be” is up for Song and Video of the Year.
Collections by Roy Acuff, Lester Flatt and Brenda Lee vie for Reissue Recording of the Year, along with White Mansions/The Legend of Jesse James, a pair of various-artist concept albums, packaged together, featuring songs by Paul Kennerley, performed by Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and others.
In previous years, winners were named during formal ceremonies which included musical performances. This year’s winners will be announced in the Nov. 9 edition of alternative weekly paper the Nashville Scene. Plans are coming together for a party in honor of the winners.
Nashville residents will select winners by voting in the Nashville Scene and via ballots distributed at nominee showcase concerts. The Grand Ole Opry will invite select nominees to perform Oct. 21 on the show.
“The Nashville Music Awards are important because they showcase so many artists in this town that don’t receive the notoriety they deserve,” says Lloyd, who earned a nod for Rock Album of the Year for Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. Foster is up for Pop Album of the Year for See What You Want to See.
“So many awards shows are based on sales and popularity, and this one people get noted for the quality of the work they do,” Lloyd observes. “This town has such a deep and varied talent pool. It’s probably the best music community in the world, and it’s really important that we acknowledge all that we have here.”