In a year notable for traditionalists, Ricky Skaggs earned five Grammy nominations, which were announced Thursday (Dec. 4) in Los Angeles. He’s up for best country performance by a duo or group for “A Simple Life,” best country instrumental performance for “Get Up John” and best bluegrass album for Live at the Charleston Music Hall. His collaborative album The Three Pickers with Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson earned two nods, for best country instrumental performance (on the song “Pick Along”) and best traditional folk album.
Close behind him, Willie Nelson earned four nods, though he is double nominated in two categories. His duets with Norah Jones (“Wurlitzer Prize”) and Toby Keith (“Beer for My Horses”) are listed in the best country collaboration with vocals category, while his Live and Kickin’ and Run That by Me One More Time (with Ray Price) are up for best country album.
Ray Benson surprised insiders with two nominations — “Annabelle,” as the best male country vocal performance and “Ain’t Chet Yet” for country instrumental performance. Both come from his solo album About Time. Also unexpectedly, the Oak Ridge Boys were nominated in best country duo or group category for their patriotic song “Colors,” but the Dixie Chicks were not listed there or in any category.
June Carter Cash and Alison Krauss earned three nominations, as did Shania Twain. Lyle Lovett picked up two nominations, for the album My Baby Don’t Tolerate and for male country vocal performance of the song of the same name. Brad Paisley, who announced some of the nominations, picked up an instrumental nod for “Spaghetti Western Swing” (with Redd Volkaert) and country song for “Celebrity.” Martina McBride earned nominations for best music video in all genres (“Concrete Angel”), and female country vocal performance for “This One’s for the Girls.”
The live version of “Beer for My Horses,” on Nelson’s Live and Kickin’ album, helped Lost Highway Records pick up 10 nominations — four for Nelson, two for Lovett, two for Lucinda Williams, one for the writers of “Beer for My Horses” and one for Johnny Cash’s video for “Hurt.” Cash also earned a joint nod with June, for the song “Temptation,” in the collaboration category. (Cash’s album wasn’t eligible this year.)
Another Nashville label, Universal South, picked up four nods, including Joe Nichols’ “Brokenheartsville,” in the male vocal performance category. Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers earned an album nod, along with one of its songs, the James Taylor/Alison Krauss duet for “How’s the World Treating You,” for collaboration. Christmas on the Mountain — A Bluegrass Christmas earned a bluegrass album nod.
With the exception of Twain, country’s most prominent stars earned only one nomination each, including Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett, Lonestar, Patty Loveless, Tim McGraw and Dolly Parton. “Beer for My Horses” nabbed two nominations for Toby Keith, for collaboration and country song (with co-writer Scotty Emerick). The category of best country song is awarded to the writers. Pat Green, who co-wrote “Wave on Wave,” also scored a nomination in the country song category.
Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses” earned a nod for male vocal performance, and his album Rise and Shine is up for best Southern, country, or bluegrass gospel album. Bluegrass favorites Krauss, the Del McCoury Band and Rhonda Vincent were also nominated for best bluegrass album, and Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Tom Paxton, Lucinda Williams and Warren Zevon were nominated for best contemporary folk album. Williams also picked up a best female rock performance for the song “Righteously.”