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The CMA nominations controversy

Country Standard Time Editorial, September 2007

The Country Music Association nominations aroused controversy this year. Brad Paisley and George Strait may have deserved 5 nominations apiece for the 41st annual awards in November, but there were a few notable exceptions.

Surprise surprise, but Toby Keith came up empty handed despite having a steady supply of hit singles from "Big Dog Daddy" and hitting the road hard since January.

Perhaps a bigger surprise was the absence of Tim McGraw in any category except musical event for participating in Tracy Lawrence's "Find Out Who Your Friends Are." McGraw had a big summer touring with wife Faith Hill (she got shut out also, less of an upset) and released "Let It Go," continuing to go his own way musically.

The other artist who got shut out was Gretchen Wilson, who released the very fine "One of the Boys" in May. Wilson's commercial success has gone down steadily since her debut with "Here for the Party," so maybe it's little surprise the CMAs were unkind.

The Dixie Chicks even were nominated, but chances are they are going to be doing something else that evening.

Specific criticisms could be leveled at not including a female in the entertainer category. Did Keith Urban really deserve it more than Carrie Underwood, who had a slew of number ones and was very active this year or Martina McBride? Did Urban deserve it more than McGraw?

A strong case, of course, could be made for McGraw in the male vocalist category. Not sure how Josh Turner, who's a solid singer, and Urban managed to get nominated, while McGraw did not.

It could be argued that Wilson deserved a nomination for the female vocalist ahead of Miranda Lambert, even though she had a very good CD. And how did Reba McEntire even get nominated - she hasn't released a CD since "Reba #1's" in 2005.

What's the criteria? "The eligibility period for the 2006 CMA Awards spans from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007. Singles, albums, music videos, and qualifying products for the vocal event must have been first released during the eligibility period," the CMA web site says.

No one ever accused the CMAs of being an exact science. This only proves it and maybe folks ought to follow Keith, who has given up on awards, and not get all caught up in nominations and who wins and loses.