George Strait Greets Reporters at ACM Awards

He Claims Entertainer of the Year Award

After winning the entertainer of the year award Sunday night (April 6) at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards , is George Strait re-thinking his decision to retire from the road?

“Every day!” Strait told reporters with a laugh. “No, I really think I made the right choice. I do. It’s been a great two years of touring. We’ve probably got about 10 more things to do this year, then we’re done for a while. I’ll probably take a year off, make a record and do a few dates after that, here and there. It’s been a great tour, though.”

Referring to his entertainer of the year win, one journalist asked, “George, what’s it like to stick it to the youngsters?”

With a hearty laugh, the singer replied, “Well, I don’t look at it that way, actually. Most of those people are friends of mine. I know them all, and I’ve worked with them. They’re all deserving of this award.”

He continued, “I’ve got some great fans out there that have been with me 30 years. I still see some of them today that I saw back in the ’80s at my shows. So it’s because of them. … I couldn’t have written this. No way. I couldn’t have dreamed it like that.”

Strait is a five-time ACM male vocalist winner who also collected the 1989 entertainer award. In addition, he is the ACM’s artist of the decade for the 2000s. Beyond all the accolades, though, he is likely the most-admired country star in the format today among fellow artists and fans alike.

At one point during his chat with reporters, Kacey Musgraves burst into the pressroom and hollered, “I love you! Congrats!” then rushed off. Strait just chuckled and said, “I love that. Thank you, Kacey.”

Asked about his influence on the new crop of contemporary artists, Strait shrugged it off.

“What are they thinking?” he said with a smile. “You know, it’s quite an honor. It’s very flattering for them to be like that. I mean, I know that I had my heroes growing up in country music, like Merle Haggard tonight. It was so great to see him here. I haven’t seen him at one of these shows in so long, and just to have him here, I thought it was amazing. I hope he had a great time.”

He continued, “I’ve got to feel like it’s something like that — the way I looked up to George Jones and Merle Haggard. Not that I’m comparing myself to them at all. Because I’m not. Nobody can do that, but if it’s some kind of little piece of that, I’m flattered by it.”

Craig Shelburne has been writing for CMT.com since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.