Grammys Skimp With On-Air Country

McGraw, Wilson Lead Nashville Delegation on Awards Show

Once again, the annual Grammy Awards show will offer slim pickings for country music fans. The presentation of the 47th awards will feature Tim McGraw in two musical tribute specials, one of which will also spotlight Gretchen Wilson and Keith Urban. The show airs Sunday (Feb. 13) at 8 pm ET/PT on CBS.

McGraw will appear on the fund-raising musical segment of the Beatles’ “Across the Universe.” Joining voices with McGraw will be Bono, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Velvet Revolver, Brian Wilson and others. will feature immediate video of the segment, and iTunes will offer immediate downloads of the performance for 99 cents. All download fees will go for tsunami relief.

McGraw will also join Wilson and Urban on a tribute to Southern rock, along with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dickey Betts and Elvin Bishop.

McGraw has Grammy nominations for best male country vocal performance and best country album. “Live Like You Were Dying,” his hit written by Nashville songwriters Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols, is up for best country song as well as overall song of the year. Wilson is nominated for female country performance and best country song for “Redneck Woman,” best country album for Here for the Party and best new artist.

Speculation on the country awards invariably centers on the hottest race — country album of the year. The favorites are Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, Wilson’s Here for the Party and McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying. With advocates of traditional country leaning toward both Lynn and Wilson, the vote may be sufficiently split to allow McGraw to capture the trophy. Newcomer Tift Merritt (for Tambourine) and Keith Urban (Be Here) are also candidates.

Lynn (for “Miss Being Mrs.”) and Wilson are also seen as the favorites in the female country vocal performance category, with the edge leaning toward Wilson. Martina McBride (“In My Daughter’s Eyes”), Shania Twain (“She’s Not Just a Pretty Face”) and Alison Krauss (“You Will Be My Ain True Love”) are also nominated. Lynn, who has the most country nominations with five (and who was passed over at the CMA Awards show) is said to be a favorite among tradition-leaning Grammy voters.

McGraw is viewed as the leader in the male country vocal performance category, with Johnny Cash being the sentimental favorite (for the track “Engine One-Forty-Three,” which was his last recording). Also in the running are Lyle Lovett (“In My Own Mind”), Willie Nelson (“You Are My Flower”) and Urban (“You’ll Think of Me”).

McGraw, Wilson and Lynn (for “Portland, Oregon” as well as for “Miss Being Mrs.”) are head-to-head in the country song category, with the Notorious Cherry Bombs’ “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out all Day Long” as the long shot.

View the country-related Grammy nominations.