Martina and More Celebrate CMA Nominations

Not only did Martina McBride read the CMA Award nominations on Tuesday morning (Aug. 26), but she scored a pair for herself — for female vocalist and the music video of “Concrete Angel.”

Following the press conference at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, McBride told CMT News, “You know that it’s not going to last forever, so knowing that, every year my name is on the list is a little gift, and I just enjoy it. It’s such an honor for me.”

McBride won the female vocalist trophy in 1999 and 2002. This year, she’s facing three singers with long careers and whose most recent work has been laced with bluegrass — Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless and Dolly Parton.

“I’m a little nervous about competing against them, but I don’t think that way,” McBride admits. “I love the fact that Dolly and Patty and Alison are nominated in that category. And Terri [Clark], I don’t want to leave her out, but we’re talking about veteran performers. It’s just so great. I’m so excited about that for them.”

Although McBride was sharply dressed for the early morning press conference, Clark was at home wearing something much more comfortable — pajamas.

“I let out a scream and grabbed [my dog] Oscar, who was doing his little Oscar dance ’cause he knew something was up, and I just gave him the biggest kiss!” she says with a laugh. “There I was in the living room in my pajamas, not knowing whether to laugh or cry or scream with happiness — not even knowing who to call — and I just kept jumping up and down with the dog in my arms!”

Commenting on her nomination, Parton says, “What an absolute honor. I’m just glad to be able to get off the porch, much less to be running with the big dogs.”

With seven nominations, Toby Keith shares music video, single and vocal event of the year nominations with Willie Nelson for “Beer for My Horses.” Keith is also nominated in the male vocalist, album, song and entertainer of the year categories. “It is always rewarding to have your music acknowledged, and I want to thank my fans and the industry for that,” Keith says. “It was a dream of mine when I wrote ’Beer for My Horses’ to have Willie sing on it and for the song to go No. 1. That dream has become even better now because that song has been nominated for four awards. Making good music — and enjoying the chance to have it heard — is one of those things that matters most to me.”

Tim McGraw had returned from taking his children to school when he learned of his nominations for male vocalist, album and entertainer of the year. “It is always amazing to be recognized for your body of work,” says the eight-time CMA Award winner. “It’s a validation of your peers. We had very specific ideas for our new record, and I am proud to share these nominations with my band.”

While unwinding in the Virgin Islands, and more than likely not wearing his pajamas, Kenny Chesney got word about his nods for entertainer and male vocalist. “We worked so hard this year,” he says. “I can’t believe everything we’ve done since Dec. 26 when we started rehearsing for the Margaritas ’n’ Senoritas Tour — and even hearing this now, it makes me kinda shake my head in wonder. When I was growing up, I used to think about this stuff, daydream about it — but the way it actually feels is so far from how it really is.”

Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses” scored nods as single and song of the year, marking his first appearance (without collaborators) on the ballot since 1990. Asked why the industry took notice of this song, Travis tells, “I think it’s because so many people can relate to this song so closely. It’s a lot about loss and redemption. It’s a story song that takes people through a lot of important ideas and feelings in a very short amount of time, which is something rare to achieve in a song. It’s just an amazing piece of writing, for sure.”

Buddy Jewell, the winner of Nashville Star, was on hand when his name was called in the Horizon Award category, given to promising newcomers.

“I heard my name and I just went blank,” Jewell, 42, tells CMT News. “It was like this fog came over me. It’s so surreal. Just to be in this position and to be nominated for the Horizon, it’s another one in the list of dreams come true for me.”

Jewell’s daughter Lacey inspired his first hit, “Help Pour Out the Rain,” but she’s not likely to show up at the ceremony, to be held Nov. 5 at the Grand Ole Opry House. “I had to tell the kids last night that if I got nominated, they probably wouldn’t get to go,” Jewell says. “It’s an adult thing, a ’big people’ party. … I’m sure my wife is excited. She’s probably flipping through magazines trying to find a dress right now.”

A fellow Horizon nominee, Joe Nichols says, “I got up early this morning to watch the nominations, which was not hard to do considering I couldn’t sleep much last night. I really wanted today to be a big day. Brian Spradlin, my best friend and guitar player, and I watched together, sitting on our bus in a hotel parking lot in Gilford, N.H. Brian has been with me every step of the way and this means as much to him as it does to me.”

He adds, “I have to admit I got a lump in my throat when they announced ’Joe Nichols, Man With a Memory’ for album of the year. That was the first time my name was called this morning and it really was incredible to realize that I had actually been nominated for a CMA Award. I have watched the awards for years and always thought it would be so cool to be nominated. It truly was a dream come true. Brian and I felt like all the years of struggle were worth it.”

Not one to take awards too seriously, Blake Shelton has a plan if his name isn’t called for the Horizon Award. “I’m gonna beat the hell out of whoever wins, this time,” he tells CMT News. “I’m gonna freak out. You’re gonna see me run to the stage and grab whoever it is, just pull him down and kick him on national television. And that’s how I’m going to get a lot of publicity. … I freaked out. I became the crazy country artist that they had to throw in jail, and the next thing you know, I’m on The Tonight Show.”

Darryl Worley shares the Horizon category with Gary Allan (whose first album arrived in 1996), Jewell, Nichols and Shelton. Worley’s hit “Have You Forgotten?” also landed nominations for single and song of the year. Worley tells CMT News, “I owe thanks to the good Lord and the U.S. military troops for inspiring me, because the song just came quickly. It was a gift.”

Last year’s winner of the Horizon Award, Rascal Flatts, has some advice for this year’s nominees. “Try to remember the walk up the stage and enjoy it,” says singer Gary LeVox. “So many people who have won the Horizon Award have gone on to do great things and it’s an awesome first step. It’s a big award. I know we’re thrilled to death to have won it, and [among] this year’s nominees, everybody deserves it. All of them do.”

The trio earned only one nomination, for group of the year, which they won last year. Meanwhile, perennial favorites Brooks & Dunn picked up nominations in the entertainer, duo, song and video category.

“It’s always good to see your name in there,” says Kix Brooks. “You wanna think you’re keeping the people entertained, making them smile a little, getting them out of their world and having some fun with ’em along the way. We try to keep changing it up and keeping it fun … and when you see that you’re still here, that they’re still calling your name, then you know you’ve got another year to get out there and make people happy.”