NASHVILLE SKYLINE: CMA Nominations: Where’s Tim McGraw?

A Major Omission and Other Notes on the 2007 List

(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/ Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

So, the nominations for the 2007 CMA Awards are in. By and large, the selections represent a cross section of today’s country artists and music, from the old guard such as George Strait to talented newcomers like Taylor Swift.

But are there surprises? You bet there are. First of all, where is Tim McGraw? To my ear at least, he had one of the most significant album releases of the year with Let It Go and one of the more profound singles with “If You’re Reading This.” (He is nominated in a supporting vocal role for musical event for a Tracy Lawrence song, but that is not a major CMA Award.) I seriously wonder if Let It Go is too serious for most CMA voters, who — at least judging from their choices for song and single — prefer much lighter fare in their music and artists. As in have-fun songs, cheating songs, love songs and inspiring-lite songs.

A more pleasant surprise is seeing Miranda Lambert deservedly in the female vocalist of the year category after being twice nominated for Horizon and once for video (and not winning). Especially since country radio has been a bit gun-shy of her, it’s nice to see CMA voters give her some respect.

Emerson Drive get their first nominations ever (for vocal group and video) after being around as a group in one form or another since 1995.

The Dixie Chicks appear again in the vocal group category, as proof that some voters never forget.

Big & Rich get their seventh and eighth nominations, although they have never won. I do think, though, that John Rich has an excellent chance at an award for song of the year as a co-writer of “Lost in This Moment.”

It’s not surprising but is somewhat disheartening to see that once again no women are being considered for entertainer of the year. There have been no women nominated since the Dixie Chicks won the award in 2000 and Shania Twain won in 1999 (apart from the Chicks’ losing nomination in 2001). The only other women to be named entertainer in the CMA Awards’ 40-year history are Reba McEntire, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. I felt that Martina McBride earned a place on the nominations list this year. Apparently, not enough voters agreed with me.

I’m sure it was a bit awkward for Sara Evans to be the only one of the presenters in New York City on Good Morning America to not be nominated. I mean, she has had a new single (“As If”) out this year, so she was eligible for a nomination.

And once again Toby Keith is not on the list. He’s had a total of 27 nominations, none since 2005 and only two wins (and those were for video and for male vocalist).

Montgomery Gentry are again nominated as vocal duo, perhaps because Troy Gentry has finally and tirelessly performed enough good works to try to rehab his image.

The Wreckers gain a vocal duo nomination, even though they have, at least temporarily, ceased to function as a vocal duo.

It’s always amazing to see how fast people disappear from the CMAs. Gretchen Wilson won the Horizon Award in 2004 and female vocalist in 2005 and had two nominations (for female vocalist and musical event) in 2006. Now? She’s not there.

Although major labels again predominate in the nominations, some small independent labels are represented, such as Broken Bow (Jason Aldean), Big Machine (Taylor Swift) and Equity (Little Big Town).

One question remains. When will download-only songs and albums be eligible to be considered? That day is surely coming.