Asleep at the Wheel, Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris Lead Country Pack in 2000 Grammy Nominations

“I can’t think of a better way to start the new millennium!” Lonestar frontman Richie McDonald remarked shortly after learning about his group’s Grammy nomination for its smash hit “Amazed.”

Lonestar, fellow country star Jo Dee Messina and gospel singer Jaci Velasquez ran down a partial list of nominees in 98 categories for the 2000 Grammy Awards Tuesday morning in downtown Nashville.

For those nominated, it is a shot in the arm — a perfect way to kick off the new year (new decade, new century…). It’s a time of celebration for a large contingent of country-related artists who hope to walk away with a trophy (or two, or three…) at The 42nd Annual Grammy Awards. The awards will be presented February 23 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles during a three-hour ceremony to be telecast live on CBS.

Country stalwarts Asleep at the Wheel nabbed five nominations as a group with its Bob Wills tribute album Ride with Bob, and frontman Ray Benson earned an additional solo nod for Best Recording Package, which raised his nominations tally to six. The group already has a half-dozen Grammy awards to its credit.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) tapped the Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris with four bids apiece. The Dixie Chicks’ Fly CD vies for overall Album of the Year, facing stiff competition from rock veteran Carlos Santana, who received a leading 10 Grammy nominations for his project Supernatural.

Shania Twain’s “You’ve Got a Way” — a tune she co-wrote with her husband “Mutt” Lange — competes for overall Song of the Year, in a category that includes hits by the Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, Santana and TLC.

“Amazed” scored two nominations: Best Country Song (which goes to songwriters Marv Green, Chris Lindsey and Aimee Mayo) and Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal (which goes to Lonestar).

“This is a feeling like we’ve never known, because we’ve never been nominated for a Grammy before,” said McDonald. “It’s always great to be nominated for any kind of award, but this award is special. It comes from our peers who are acknowledging that we’re on the right track. This is great for us. Any award is special, I want to stress that, but I honestly think that everybody has their eyes on the Grammy.”

Willie Nelson and folk legend Woody Guthrie are among several musicians and industry leaders who will receive Lifetime Achievement awards from the Recording Academy at the awards ceremony.