Give Billy Ray A High Five and Neal McCoy One He’ll Never Forget!

One could easily assume that the “Cyrus Virus,” which spread like wildfire only a few years back when the world was singing along to a little ditty called “Achy Breaky Heart,” had resurged and was on another widespread outbreak. Then again, “The Shake” was grooving its way throughout Nashville’s downtown Arena when Neal McCoy’s name was announced as this year’s Entertainer of the Year.

Both entertainers Billy Ray Cyrus and Neal McCoy became the men of the hour during Monday evening’s TNN telecast of the 32nd Annual TNN Music City News Country Awards. Cyrus took home five top honors out of his six total nominations — making his way to the winner’s podium to accept for Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for his Cover To Cover disc, Song and Single of the Year for his earlier release of “It’s All The Same To Me” and Video of the Year for his song “Three Little Words.”

“I thank everybody in the whole world,” humbly admitted McCoy after a standing ovation, “and Jeff Foxworthy, I’m gonna put this in my front yard,” he quipped. McCoy, known for his hit song “The Shake,” also got a little shook up and teary-eyed himself when he went on to thank the fans who have always supported him.

The fans were without a doubt also big winners of the evening as traditionally, this awards gala is the only fan-voted and televised country music awards ceremony. This year’s event was, as always, equally as exciting as in years past — boasting stellar entertainment from country’s hottest stars such as LeAnn Rimes, Trace Adkins, Lorrie Morgan, Sawyer Brown, Trisha Yearwood, the Kinleys, Alan Jackson, Michael Peterson, Patty Loveless and Vince Gill.

The telecast’s highlights were unstoppable as well — paying a star-studded musical tribute to the late Carl Perkins, presenting Porter Wagoner with the coveted Living Legend Award and almost shocking the red out of Reba McEntire’s firey-gorgeous hair when she was named this year’s recipient of the honorable Minnie Pearl Award. The award, first given to the late Pearl herself in 1988, is presented to an individual who has made both innumerable humanitarian contributions.

“Of all the awards I’ve received, this is the one,” admitted McEntire on stage after bursting into tears upon hearing her name announced by last year’s recipient of the award, George “Goober” Lindsey. “Of all the people who have said ’Reba, you’ve done good,’ this is the one that means the most to me. Number one, because it’s got Minnie Pearl’s name on it. I love Minnie Pearl very, very much. And the reason that means so much to me is because receiving an award is wonderful, but it’s the giving back that fills your heart. That makes it all so much better. I can’t accept this by myself.” She went on to thank her husband and manager Narvel Blackstock by saying that ’Half this trophy is yours.’ We’re also splitting it with the folks at the rehab center and the Texoma Medical Center and the Ranch House (all of which are organizations McEntire has either supported, funded or launched, among many other charity and support organizations). All of the other things that we’ve gotten to do,” continues Reba, “we’ve gotten to do because of you — the fans, the listeners and the people who are supporting us. Thank ya’ll so much for this. I could stand up here for days and say thank you because this is so special to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Other winners from of the evening include Brooks & Dunn winning the Vocal Duo or Group of the Year; Anita Cochran and Steve Wariner receiving the Vocal Collaboration trophy; Sawyer Brown again snagging the Vocal Band award; Lorrie Morgan winning top Female honors; Lee Ann Womack accepting the Female Star of Tomorrow honor; Trace Adkins taking the Male Star of Tomorrow award and Prime Time Country’s own Gary Chapman winning the Comedian of the Year award.

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