Strait Flush

George Strait–building his brilliant career One Step At A Time–picked up five 1998 Country Music Association award nominations, becoming the most nominated artist in CMA Awards history.

The perennial favorite, who is eligible to nab the most trophies at the 32nd Annual CMA Awards, was honored with nominations in the prestigious Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year categories. Strait’s One Step At A Time is up for Album of the Year, the Texan’s hit “I Just Want To Dance With You” competes for Single of the Year and his “Carrying Your Love With Me” is nominated for Music Video of the Year. “I Just Want To Dance With You” is also up for Song of the Year, with citations in that category going to songwriters John Prine and Roger Cook.

Strait–the reigning Male Vocalist–has racked up a total of 47 CMA Award nominations since contending for the Horizon Award in 1983, breaking Merle Haggard’s record of 43 career nominations.

Vince Gill, who holds the record for the most CMA wins with 17, will host the annual awards show for the seventh consecutive time. The three-hour program will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network on Sept. 23 from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

Jo Dee Messina, Deana Carter and Neal McCoy announced the nominees in a dozen categories, Tuesday morning during a news conference at the Opry House. Messina, a first-time CMA award nominee, is competing for the Horizon Award and top music video (for “Bye Bye”). Carter, whose “Strawberry Wine” was named last year’s best single, also garnered a 1998 nod in the music video field (for “Did I Shave My Legs For This?”).

Following Strait in this year’s tally are Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Tim McGraw, who each received four nominations. Artists honored with triple nominations include Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride and Steve Wariner. In addition to Messina, acts earning dual nominations include first-time nominee Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Trisha Yearwood and country music legend George Jones.

Alan Jackson has no ’98 nominations, marking his first absence from the ballot in nine years. Equally surprising, LeAnn Rimes, who took home the Horizon Award trophy last year, is also shut out this go-’round.

The 6,100 professional members of the Country Music Association elect winners of the CMA Awards.

Elvis Presley, George Morgan, Tammy Wynette and retired Gaylord Entertainment CEO E.W. “Bud” Wendell will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the awards show.

The CMA Awards was the first music awards special to be carried on network television. Last September’s gala event on CBS topped the night in the ratings race for the network and was the highest-rated music awards special of the 1996-97 television season.