Wilson, Big & Rich May Share Horizon Award

Fellow Nominees Roberts, Bentley, Turner Reflect on CMAs

If Gretchen Wilson captures the CMA’s Horizon award this year, she won’t be the only one at the podium accepting the trophy. That’s because she’s sharing the nomination with her friends Big Kenny and John Rich of Big & Rich, and they’re in this thing together.

“We’ve already discussed it,” she says. “If we’re ever against each other, for any award, for any reason, that we’ll always go up together, regardless of who won. Because we’ve been family, we’re really close, and we’ve all worked really hard together to get ourselves where we are. We love each other, and we’re proud of each other, so we’re never going to stop supporting each other.”

Wilson earned five CMA nominations announced Monday morning (Aug. 30) in Nashville and New York City. “Redneck Woman,” the debut single she co-wrote with Rich, is nominated for single, song and video of the year, and Here for the Party earned an album of the year nomination. Big & Rich also landed in the vocal duo category.

“I’ve always thought, watching the CMAs every year, that the Horizon award was probably the coolest one,” Rich says, “because it shows your peers are saying, ‘I think they got a great future ahead of them.’ Even being nominated means they’ve got a future.”

Julie Roberts, whose first single “Break Down Here” is still climbing the charts, also scored a nomination in the Horizon category.

“It takes me back to the memory of all of those times growing up when I used to sit on the floor in front of the television with momma watching the CMA Awards,” she says. “I used to say, ‘Momma, I’m going to be there one day … and I’m going to be wearing a purple dress.’” She adds, “I’m not sure if what I wear is going to be purple, but I just can’t lose that living room vision.”

She continues, “I am so blessed for this moment and for having the chance to live my dream. Thinking about how much my career has grown in the last year is like a cloud walk. Thank goodness there’s always something to bring me back down — like this morning feeding the Internet machine dollar bills at a California hotel just so that I could stay on the computer long enough to respond to and thank all of my friends and family for their warm remarks.”

Dierks Bentley also captured a nomination for the Horizon award. “I’ve had a great year and a lot of cool things have happened to me,” he says. “Getting a nomination for the Horizon award is just another awesome honor. I’m just excited to be part of the show and excited to get to be in the same building that night with some of my heroes in the business, like George Strait and George Jones.”

Fellow nominee Josh Turner says, “This is an award you can’t be nominated for every year. It’s a huge honor to have been considered. I am extremely grateful.”

Turner’s signature hit, “Long Black Train,” which he wrote, also landed a song nomination. “Being nominated in this category is a huge surprise,” he says. “I still consider myself to be a beginner at songwriting, so having this nomination is a huge morale booster.”

Kenny Chesney landed in the categories of entertainer, male vocalist and album (When the Sun Goes Down). He’s also doubly nominated for musical event, for his duet with Uncle Kracker (“When the Sun Goes Down”) and a collaboration with Jimmy Buffett (“Hey Good Lookin’”).

“Sometimes it’s just easier not thinking about it,” says Chesney. “You know, if you tie everything up in that stuff, you miss the most important thing of all: the music. That said, though, me and the guys work really hard out on the road, so that entertainer of the year nomination goes a long way … because that’s not just about me, it’s about everybody who helps us get it out there, make the records happen and build that bridge between the songs in my heart and the fans who’ve been showing up and bringing their friends back with ‘em. I’ve got a great team, and to me, entertainer of the year is as much about them as it is me.”

Meanwhile, Uncle Kracker simply says, “I’m honored and humbled to be nominated.”

Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus offered similar words about the trio’s vocal group nomination, saying, “We are very humbled and overwhelmed to be included in such great company and are very honored to be recognized by CMA.”

Terri Clark heard about her female vocalist nod in an airplane, just before takeoff.

“I don’t think people realize how much these nominations mean to me,” she says. “I don’t think they can know what it’s like to sit at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge playing requests for tips, knowing the big night is happening, all those limos are slipping by on their way to the party — and you can smell it and see it, but you just can’t quite touch it, and you’re sure it will never happen, but you can’t give up dreaming.”

She continues, “That’s why I live for these mornings, so scared I’m gonna wake up — and there won’t be the dream. … And then just when I’m sure it can’t get any better, someone tells me Reba’s up, too. Reba McEntire! … I couldn’t be more honored, more humbled, more thrilled or more excited.”

This is McEntire’s first nomination for female vocalist since 1995, and her last win in that category was 1987. She has won the trophy four times and has earned a career total of 46 CMA nominations. Notably absent from the category are Loretta Lynn and Shania Twain, who were not nominated for any awards. However, Twain will participate in the show, occasionally helping out hosts Brooks & Dunn.

“You never know quite what Ron and I will do,” says Kix Brooks, referring to his partner, Ronnie Dunn. “So the CMA is either very brave or very crazy. Either way, though, we’re gonna have a good time and try to make sure everybody else does, too. And in a way, it takes that sense of ‘What are we up for?’ off of us because we’re gonna have much bigger problems on Nov. 9.”

“I don’t care how many times they call your name, it’s still a thrill,” says Dunn. “And the idea that they’d actually let us host their party is about as much fun as you get. … It’s one of those things, like being the ringmaster, that kind of lets you have fun and honor your peers all at the same time.”

Nominated for the sixth consecutive year, the Warren Brothers join Brooks & Dunn in the vocal duo category.

“What will be nice, when they say our name, we’ll actually have a current video they can play, instead of a still picture of us looking like Better Homes and Gardens,” says Brett Warren. “That will be cool.”

To view photos of Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich announcing the CMA nominees, visit their artist pages at CMT.com.