After 12 consecutive years in the spotlight, Vince Gill has decided not to host the 2004 CMA Awards show. Gill says he’s leaving the high-profile post simply to take a break and that he does not view his departure as permanent.
Gill was the first to cultivate the hosting spot as a performance in its own right. He sprinkled his appearances not only with scripted jokes but also with quick-witted ad libs, some of which were stinging in their candor but invariably softened by Gill’s affable, “aw-shucks” delivery.
“I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to represent this industry and have taken great pride in hosting the CMA Awards for the past 12 years,” Gill said. “I’ve always been one to trust my gut, and my gut tells me it is time for a change for everyone. In the future, I will be more than willing to accept that role again, but right now it feels like I need a little break.”
Gill first co-hosted the CMA Awards in 1992 with Reba McEntire. The following year, he and Clint Black shared the hosting duties. With Gill as the show’s sole host, the awards presentation has been a consistent ratings winner for CBS-TV. The 37th annual CMA Awards ranked No. 3 in the Top 10 Nielsen ratings for the first week of November 2003 sweeps, just behind CBS’s CSI and Survivor. The awards show won every half hour of the three-hour primetime block and also won all but one demographic in adults 25-54 and adults 18-49.
CMA executive director Ed Benson said, “The CMA is very disappointed that he won’t be our host in 2004, but we certainly respect his decision and support his desire to take some much deserved time off.”
The 38th annual CMA Awards will take place in November at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. However, the CMA is contemplating moving the show to New York in 2005 for one year only. A final decision is expected to be announced in July.
In addition to hosting the program, Gill has received a total of 18 CMA Awards — more than any other artist. Alan Jackson and George Strait follow with 16 and 15 wins, respectively.