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THE GRAMMY AWARDS | AWARDS BY GENRE : COUNTRY

Nods to the New and to Tradition

February 22, 2001|RANDY LEWIS

Have Faith. That's the message, literally and figuratively, behind this year's country results.

Faith Hill's triple win for country album, female vocal and collaboration (with hubby Tim McGraw) put icing on her "Breathe" album, which has sold 5.1 million copies in the U.S. and remains a Top 40 album after 15 months.

Voters, however, wisely looked beyond "Breathe" for country song, honoring instead Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers' "I Hope You Dance," a pop-country hit for Lee Ann Womack that extols clinging to hope rather than yielding to despair.

Minus multi-platinum success elsewhere, tradition and experience carried the day, with voters showing their faith in country veterans who are under siege in the marketplace from pop-leaning acts.

The male vocal award went to Johnny Cash (his 10th career Grammy), veteran Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel took the duo or group vocal award (its eighth Grammy) and Dolly Parton won her sixth in taking the bluegrass album. Country queen Emmylou Harris picked up her 10th award for "Red Dirt Girl," named contemporary folk album of the year.

Other fields have gained respectability more quickly in recent years than country, but this year's results are enough to restore a country lover's faith.

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