Garth Brooks Says, “Be Proud to Be Country”

His Reaction to the News That He'll Receive the 2020 Billboard Icon Award

“Be proud to be country.”

That’s what Garth Brooks had to say over the weekend at one of his stadium tour stops. “That’s the thing: country music is treated a lot like the distant cousin sometimes,” he explained. “But make no mistake: we have the best audience, we have the most loyal audience — and I am speaking from experience — we have the largest audience on the planet.”

It’s that kind of mindset about the genre that makes it obvious that Garth Brooks deserves the Icon Award he is going to receive at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards on April 29 in Las Vegas. The honor will put him a category of artists like Cher, Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. Brooks will be the first country artist to be named an Icon.

“Billboard has been the voice of radio as long as I can remember,” Brooks said after hearing the news about the Icon award. “So proud to go and represent country music with an award that they don’t give to country music much.”

According to Billboard, Brooks is the first artist to have appeared on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s and ’20s.

In 1989, his debut single, “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” entered the chart at No. 94 and peaked at No. 8 that July. (He recently told USA Today, “I couldn’t believe it made the record. I couldn’t believe it was the first single. Now, I can’t imagine it not being, you know?”) Brooks co-wrote the song with Randy Taylor.

In the 30 years since, Brooks has amassed nine No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, breaking the record for a country artist.

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