Shania, Dolly, LeAnn Visit the CMA Awards Pressroom

Randy Travis, Patty Loveless Also Meet With Reporters

You didn’t see it on television, but Dolly Parton won an award during the CMA Awards. It happened with very little warning backstage in the pressroom.

“Well, hello everybody,” she declared Tuesday night (Nov. 9) after an unexpected speech by two men from the BBC. “This is a great honor. What is it you’re going to give me?”

The vivacious entertainer was presented the International Artist Achievement Award for taking country music beyond the U.S.

“This was always my dream, as a little girl growing up in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, to be able to take my songs and travel all over the world and have people love me and to be out there and love ’em back,” Parton says. “I wasn’t expecting all this, but this is a great honor. I will put this in the museum at Dollywood.”

Cradling the globe-shaped trophy, she squealed, “I’m having a ball!”

Several other country stars came back to the CMA Awards pressroom to talk to reporters.

Shania Twain, who released her Greatest Hits album Tuesday, said she’s only now enjoying the fruits of her labor.

“I never stopped to enjoy the moments as they were happening, which is kind of unfortunate,” Twain says. “So, I haven’t cracked as many champagne bottles open as I probably should have over the last 10 years just because I was always so focused on the future, what’s next, and all that stuff. I think this is the first moment I can say is starting to feel good and comfortable. I can look back and say, ’Wow. All this has happened to me over the last 10 years.’ It feels really good.”

Twain also longs for “more free time.”

“My career is, of course, all-occupying, as all of our careers are,” she said. “But now that I have a child, I have so little time to do things just for myself. I would just like to spend more time writing, more time cooking. Things that have nothing to do with my career. Things that just aren’t demanding. The parenting is demanding. The career is demanding. “Mutt” [her husband and producer R.J. “Mutt Lange] is pretty darn good, though. He’s not overly demanding. So, you know, just time to myself. I think every woman gets to that point where you’ve got a multi-dimensional life, where you just say, ’OK, what is it I like to do that includes nobody else?’ Writing happens to be one of those.”

Kentucky native Patty Loveless was quick to praise another coal miner’s daughter, Loretta Lynn, who was inexplicably absent from this year’s CMA ballot despite releasing one of the year’s most acclaimed country albums, Van Lear Rose.

“Loretta amazes me, how she keeps going and going and going,” Loveless said. “That woman, she never stops. She has been through so many things in her life, and she still continues to be very strong. She’s a very strong lady, and her music will always be around — old, new, whatever it is. To me, I was very proud to see her get all the recognition she did with this new record. It was a little something different. She was spreading her wings a little bit, and I was proud that she did so.”

Loveless added, “She’s just a fine lady and someone that I know Nashville and the whole world of country music is very proud of. But there are many genres of music that know the name Loretta Lynn and always will.”

Asked about who should be the next Grand Ole Opry inductee, Loveless considered it a moment, then said, “I think Gretchen Wilson should. I think she really is an amazing singer, and I really mean that with all my heart. When I heard her do this particular song [“When I Think About Cheatin'”], it’s one of those songs that touches me. I think she did an amazing job. I wish her well, and I hope she is able to become a member.”

A pioneer in his own right, Randy Travis visited the pressroom as reporters watched Wilson accept the Horizon award on the closed-circuit television. Travis won that award, given to the year’s most promising newcomer, in 1986.

“I remember winning that very, very well,” Travis said. “I remember T. Graham Brown up there and Marty Stuart. Like always, we all performed a portion of the song we had. I did ’1982.’ It basically scares the heck out of you. You’re looking at all these people in the audience that you have been listening to all these years … that you admire. You go out there and try to sing the song you have recorded and try to think of something to say when you accept the award. It’s an interesting combination of feelings. It’s wonderful and something you’ll never forget, but you are scared to death.”

LeAnn Rimes perked up at the mention of Kris Kristofferson’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The young singer included one of Kristofferson’s signature songs, “Me and Bobbie McGee,” on her 1999 self-titled album.

“Last year, he told me, ’Thank you,'” Rimes recalled enthusiastically. “He said his daughter didn’t want to hear his version. She wanted to hear mine. This year, he grabbed me again, and he said, ’I wanted to say thank you so much for recording that song.’ I mean, that’s so cool! I punched my husband and said, ’Oh, my God! He said it again!’ I was so excited! He’s a legend, and I love that song.”

Craig Shelburne has been writing for since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.