NEW YORK — After about a zillion camera flashes, Lee Ann Womack discovered that her comeback hit, “I May Hate Myself in the Morning,” had earned nominations for single, song and video of the year at the 39th annual CMA Awards. Womack and Keith Urban announced the nominees Wednesday morning (Sept. 7) at the Stone Rose, a swank bar here in the Time Warner Center.
“I’ve told [songwriter] Odie Blackmon many times, ’Thank you for saving me!'” Womack told CMT.com after the nominations were announced. “I’ll never forget how I felt when I heard that song for the first time. I knew it was mine. I knew it was meant to be mine. It reminded me of what I love so much about country music.”
In addition to a female vocalist nomination, Womack’s There’s More Where That Came From was nominated for album of the year, and she also landed in the vocal event category twice — for collaborations with Willie Nelson and George Strait.
“I’m so excited for everybody involved because everybody worked so hard on this record,” she said. “This record represents not only what I grew up listening to, what I love so much and what I’m so proud of … I’m really proud to take that kind of music to the people.”
Another lifelong country fan, Brad Paisley, tied Womack with six nominations, including his first in the entertainer of the year category, where he’s up against Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and Urban. In New York for appearances on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and The View, Paisley did not participate in the CMA activities but said he was “blown away” by his six nominations.
“I have been so wrapped up in making and supporting my new album that I honestly was exhausted and in dire need of sleep,” he said. “What a great wake-up call! This is the kind of day you dream of when you make records … when you get this kind of good news. I am truly humbled by these nominations and, of course, I can’t wait to eat that New York pizza.”
Gretchen Wilson also needed the sleep, but perhaps for a different reason. She confided she woke up with a massive hangover after partying in a variety of Manhattan bars. However, she said she was feeling better since hearing about her female vocalist nomination. She also appears in the categories for song (“Redneck Woman”) and video (“When I Think About Cheatin'”).
At an afternoon press conference, she and her friends Big & Rich talked about making that video together. John Rich told the reporters about their real-life intrusion into Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium and Wilson recalled sharing the screen with on-stage “ghosts” — digital images of musicians and fans from days gone by.
“It was kind of a strange way to shoot a video. Of course, I’d only made two before that, so I guess I wasn’t really an expert on how videos are supposed to go,” she said, adding that she had to stand “exactly in the right spot” to make the special effects work. “But it was also cool. Any time you can film something at the Ryman, it’s cool.”
Big & Rich’s Big Kenny let out a big “Yeeeeeeeee-haw!” when asked about the duo’s two nominations — for vocal duo and the Horizon Award. They share the latter category with the band Sugarland, who were at CMT’s studio in Nashville when the nominations were announced.
“We cannot believe it,” Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles told CMT Radio. “We were hoping for Horizon Award, but then for the single and vocal group … those were big, pleasant surprises.”
Members of the trio agreed that all of the Horizon nominees have worked overtime to establish their careers.
“I’ll bet if you add up all the hours every Horizon nominee has been working in the past year, it would shock you,” Sugarland’s Kristian Bush noted. “We’re probably all working for three or four cents an hour. … It’s unbelievable how much work it takes to start this out. We love to work. That’s one of the things we have in common. The three of us don’t mind getting out and hauling our own gear. We’ve been doing it for years. But it’s just daunting to think what all those [nominees] have been doing all year.”