The music industry press packed the Grand Ballroom of Nashville's historic Hermitage Hotel Thursday morning (March 16) for the announcement of final nominees for the Country Weekly Presents the TNN Music Awards. Hot new country duo Montgomery Gentry, along with country songstress Sara Evans, made the announcements and were delighted to find out they were nominees. Montgomery Gentry is nominated in the Discovery Award category, while Sara Evans and Vince Gill garnered a nomination for Collaborative Event of the Year for their duet on "There's No Place That Far."
Faith Hill received the most nominations,
collecting eight that include: Entertainer of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (Breathe), Song
of the Year ("Breathe"), Single of the Year ("Breathe"), CMT Music Video of the Year ("Breathe"), Impact Award and Collaborative
Event of the Year for her duet with husband Tim McGraw on "Let's Make Love."
The awards will be broadcast live on
TNN from Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center, June 15, at 8 p.m. ET, with Jeff Foxworthy hosting for the third consecutive
year. The Country Weekly Presents the TNN Music Awards is the largest televised country music awards show that lets
the fans decide who the winners will be.
Country's hottest stars were at the top of this year's nominees list. George
Strait received six nominations that include Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (Always
Never the Same), Song of the Year ("Write This Down"), Single of the Year ("Write This Down") and the Impact Award. Tim
McGraw gathered five nominations: Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (A Place In The Sun),
the Impact Award and Collaborative Event of the Year for the song, "Let's Make Love," recorded with his wife, Faith Hill.
Brad Paisley's hot streak continues. He has already received four Academy of Country Music Award nominations this
year and was honored with four Country Weekly Presents the TNN Music Awards nominations, along with Alan Jackson and
Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black. Paisley's phenomenal hit "He Didn't Have to Be" brought him nods for Song of the Year,
Single of the Year and CMT Music Video of the Year. Paisley also received a Discovery Award nomination.
Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black struck gold with another powerful song. The Blacks' smash single, "When I Say I Do," penned
by Clint, delivered nominations for Single of the Year, Song of the Year, CMT Music Video of the Year and Collaborative Event
of the Year. Alan Jackson's nominations are for Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (Under
the Influence) and the Impact Award. Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, The Dixie Chicks and Lonestar each received three nominations.
This year's show is expected to break records for fan voting, awards show attendance and TNN television viewership,
as TNN and the huge readership of Country Weekly magazine join forces to put on the star-studded affair. For the first
time, the awards will be an official part of the schedule for Fan Fair, the Country Music Association's annual celebration
for fans, artists and the country music industry. CMA Executive Director Ed Benson has announced TNN and CMT as the "Official
Media Sponsors of Fan Fair."
TNN has produced and telecast an annual fan-voted country music awards show since April
1988, when it introduced the Viewer's Choice Awards in celebration of the network's fifth anniversary. In 1990, the Viewer's
Choice Awards merged with the Music City News Awards to become the TNN Music City News Country Awards. TNN and Music
City News produced an annual fan-voted awards show until June of 1999 when their contract expired. Music City News
announced earlier this year it was ceasing operation.
TNN's new awards show partner, Country Weekly, began
preliminary voting with ballots published in issues of Country Weekly that hit newsstands Dec. 10. Fans selected a
nominee in 12 different categories, with the requirement that any artist nominated have significant career activity within
the eligibility period of Nov. 1, 1998, through Dec. 31, 1999. The semi-final round of voting began Jan. 21 and ended March
1. This gave fans the top 20 nominees in each category which were tallied from the preliminary round. The semi-final round
of voting gave fans a chance to vote online and through ballots posted in Country Weekly. The top five favorites in
each category were selected, and on March 27 the final fan voting begins through ballots posted in Country Weekly,
Internet voting on country.com and special 900 numbers for each category.
With TNN's 81 million plus viewers, added
to Country Weekly's more than 1.5 million readers for each issue and the official partnership with the CMA's
Fan Fair, the awards show leaps into a new era. When the TNN Music Awards lights up Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center,
there is always an electrified energy. The thousands of fans gathered there during Fan Fair week feel this is their
awards show, because they participate in selecting the winners.
With the new pairing of TNN and Country Weekly,
some changes in voting categories have been announced, as well as the return of some familiar favorites, including Entertainer
of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Group/Duo of the Year, Collaborative Event of the Year, Album
of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year and the newly named CMT Music Video of the Year Award.
year is the Fast Track Award which recognizes the country music artist (individual, group or duo) who has, for the first time,
demonstrated the most significant creative growth and development in overall chart and sales activity, live performance and
critical media attention during the eligibility period. Nominees must have released two or more albums on a major record label
during their professional career. Previous winners in the Entertainer, Male, Female, Group/Duo of the Year categories or past
Fast Track Award winners are not eligible. Also, artist(s) nominated in the final ballot for the Entertainer of the Year,
Male, Female or Group/Duo Award are not eligible for the Fast Track Award.
Included among the newly-changed categories
are the Discovery Award and the Impact Award. The Discovery Award recognizes the new country music artist who demonstrates
the greatest promise in achieving star status and career longevity. Nominees in this category must have released no more than
two albums on a major record label in their professional career. The Impact Award recognizes the country music artist whose
image, style and music has had the greatest impact in positively contributing to country music's presence in motion pictures,
television, commercials, print and/or movie soundtracks.
Two other awards will be presented at the June 15 awards
show: The Country Weekly Career Achievement Award and The Minnie Pearl Award. During the preliminary round of voting,
fans selected the nominees for this award. The recipient of this award is then chosen by the writers and editors of Country
Weekly magazine based on the fan nominations from the preliminary voting. The award is presented to a living country music
artist whose professional recording career has spanned 15 or more years and whose songs and performances have made a lasting
contribution to the tradition and heritage of country music.
The Minnie Pearl Award is selected by a blue ribbon panel
comprised of individuals connected with the Minnie Pearl Foundation, as well as TNN officials. This award is based on humanitarian
and community contributions. It is named after its first recipient, beloved country comedienne Minnie Pearl (Sarah Ophelia
Cannon). Minnie Pearl received the honor in 1988. Past recipients include last year's honoree Roy Clark, Reba McEntire (1998),
Willie Nelson (1995), Dolly Parton (1994), Vince Gill (1993), Emmylou Harris (1992) and Barbara Mandrell (1991).
the new partnership of Country Weekly and TNN producing the awards show together for the first time and the inclusion
of the show as an official part of the CMA's Fan Fair schedule, country fans are going to have plenty to celebrate this year,
and country music is likely to welcome some brand new fans.