Gretchen Wilson Wins Big at 2005 CMT Music Awards

Other Winners Include Paisley, Krauss, Urban, Chesney, Keith, McGraw and Rascal Flatts

Rednecks, whiskey and thoughts about cheating were popular themes Monday night (April 11) as Gretchen Wilson, Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss emerged among the winners at the 2005 CMT Music Awards in Nashville.

Wilson added to her status as country music’s hottest newcomer after winning two awards — breakthrough video for “Redneck Woman” and female video for “When I Think About Cheatin’.”

“I can’t even express to you how much it means to me that this is fan-voted, that you guys are so involved in this,” Wilson said in accepting the breakthrough video honor. In returning to the stage to pick up her female video trophy, she added, “I want to say thank you again to the fans for believing in me and for making this one of the most incredible years of my life. Thank you, Miss Reba McEntire for being an incredible inspiration to me, and also [thanks to] Martina McBride. I can’t even believe I’m in the same category with these ladies, but thank you so much for this. It means the world to me.”

Paisley and Krauss shared the collaborative video prize for “Whiskey Lullaby,” and the video clip also resulted in a video director of the year award for actor-director Rick Schroder.

“Thanks to the fans who voted for this,” Paisley told the crowd. “It’s always better to win one from you guys. Second of all, thank you, Rick Schroder for the best dang video you could have ever done.” Noting that Krauss was unable to attend the awards show, Paisley said, “If I ever get to heaven and the angels sound anything less than her, I’m going to be very disappointed. That’s the best singer I can imagine singing with.” Paisley also took the time to thank his recording engineer, Brandon Donald Wilson.

Keith Urban’s “Days Go By” became the winner of the video of the year honor through voting during the awards show at CMT.com.

“Thank you … to everybody who voted,” Urban said. “I really, really appreciate this award more than you know. … I just really enjoyed making this video.”

Country superstars Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith also added to their trophy collections.

“This song was written about my life and about how I lived it growing up,” Chesney said in accepting the male video award for “I Go Back.” He added, “I want to thank Shaun Silva and [cinematographer] Steve Gainer and all the guys for bringing … it to life. … And to all those fans out there that give me and the guys out there on the road one incredible life.”

In accepting the hottest video award for “Whiskey Girl,” Keith told the fans, “CMT has the most kick-ass awards show on TV. … And I’ll tell you why: They let you people do the voting. When the fans get to vote, nobody will be bitchin’ tomorrow because it don’t matter if it don’t matter to you guys.”

Tim McGraw was not present to accept his award after “Live Like You Were Dying” was announced the winner in the most inspiring video category. Video director Sherman Halsey, who accepted on his behalf, explained that McGraw is currently shooting a movie in Los Angeles. Rascal Flatts were not around, either, when they won the group/duo award for “Feels Like Today.”

Country Music Hall of Fame member Loretta Lynn accepted the most enduring honor of the night — the CMT Johnny Cash Visionary Award — for her career achievements. Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Wilson presented the award following a video segment that included comments from Elvis Costello, actress Sissy Spacek and others.

“Reba, I love you, honey,” Lynn said. “The day I seen Gretchen come out and do ‘Redneck Woman,’ I said, ‘There’s a smash. She’s the next girl singer.’ … And Martina’s gonna have a little girl, and she’s gonna name it after me. I’m only kidding. I don’t think she’s gonna name it after me. She wouldn’t want it to be that mean.” Lynn added, “I want to thank you all and say how much I appreciate this award. I really do.”

With Kenny Chesney opening the show with “Keg in the Closet,” other musical highlights of the awards show included performances by McEntire, Urban, Alan Jackson and Big & Rich. Out of the spotlight for quite some time, Trisha Yearwood returned in a surprise guest appearance to sing “Georgia Rain,” a song from her upcoming and long-awaited new album.

Wilson teamed up with Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart to deliver a rousing version of the rock band’s classic, “Crazy on You.” One of the most surprising and entertaining moments came when actor Jeff Daniels walked onstage with a guitar and displayed some rather impressive finger-picking as he performed a talking blues song that managed to list the title of just about every prominent country video from the past 12 months.

The spirit of the late Waylon Jennings was undeniably present throughout several segments of the awards show. Aside from his recording of “Theme From The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys)” playing while original members of the Dukes TV cast reunited onstage, Jennings son, Shooter, was there to present an award with his girlfriend, actress Drea de Matteo. However, his strongest influence perhaps was found in two of the musical performances — Keith’s “Honkytonk U” and Dierks Bentley’s “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do.” In both instances, Jennings’ trademark driving rhythm was in full force.

The show, telecast live from the Gaylord Entertainment Center, was hosted by comic Jeff Foxworthy, who took a good-natured jab after pointing out that the presentation has a lengthy history, including its most recent incarnation as the Flame Worthy awards.

“This thing changes names more often than a redneck trying to avoid a record club,” Foxworthy quipped.

Throughout the evening, Foxworthy offered his observations on country artists and the state of country music, in general.

“Big & Rich exploded on the scene this year doing it the old fashioned, time-tested, traditional country way of using rapping cowboys and two-foot dwarfs in top hats,” he said. “Of course, it’s gonna work like that. How do you think Haggard got started?

“A lot of folks might be surprised, but I, myself, am a big fan of rap. I listen to a lot of rap — usually at red lights and stop signs. I’ve never heard an entire song, but I like music’s that so loud it rattles my fillings and causes temporary loss of bladder control.”

View photos from the 2005 CMT Music Awards.