Carrie Underwood Among Early Winners at Grammy Awards

Most Country Categories Announced Prior to Live Telecast

Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, the Dixie Chicks were among the early winners Sunday (Feb. 11) during the 49th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Most of the country categories were announced at the Staples Center prior to the 8 p.m. ET/PT telecast on CBS.

Underwood, who is also nominated for overall best new artist, received the Grammy in the female country vocal performance category for her recording of “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” The composition also resulted in a country song of the year win for songwriters Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson.

Vince Gill won the 18th Grammy of his career when “The Reason Why,” a track from his four CD set, These Days, was named best country male vocal performance.

The Dixie Chicks, whose Taking the Long Way is up for country album of the year and overall album of the year, collected another award for “Not Ready to Make Nice,” voted best country performance by a duo or group with vocal.

Bon Jovi and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles won the best country collaboration with vocals category for “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” a track from Bon Jovi’s Have a Nice Day album.

Randy Travis’ Glory Train edged out Alan Jackson’s Precious Memories and the Del McCoury Band’s The Promised Land to win best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album. Also nominated in the category were projects by the Gaither Vocal Band and Kenny Bishop.

Walk the Line, the film biography of Johnny Cash and June Carter, netted the prize for best compilation soundtrack album. The film and soundtrack album featured Cash and Carter’s songs performed by the motion picture’s stars, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.

The best bluegrass album Grammy went to Instrumentals by Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. Guitarists Bryan Sutton and Doc Watson won for best country instrumental performance for “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” a track from Sutton’s album, Not Too Far From the Tree.

Bruce Springsteen’s vibrant We Shall Overcome — The Seeger Sessions was named best traditional folk album in a category that included Ralph Stanley, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Odetta and a collaboration by Linda Ronstadt and Cajun musician Ann Savoy.

Rick Rubin, whose production credits for the year included the Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way, was named producer of the year. Rubin’s other credits during the nominations period include Johnny Cash’s American V: A Hundred Highways and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium.

Nashville-based banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck and his band, the Flecktones, won best contemporary jazz album honors for The Hidden Land.

CMT/CMT.com editorial director Chet Flippo provided the winners information from backstage at the Grammy Awards show.

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.