Are you ready for the country? Tonight at 8 on ABC, the Country Music Assn. Awards will celebrate their 40th anniversary, and Brooks & Dunn are expected to win top country duo for the 40th consecutive year -- well, no, not really that many. It just feels that way.
Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have taken home the trophy in that category every year since 1992, with the exception of one (the 2001 award went to Montgomery Gentry), and the pair looks to be a lock to win this year as well. Brooks & Dunn are also nominated in five other categories (the six total nods match Brad Paisley for the most this year), and the two will host the show and perform the opening number, their "Building Bridges," along with Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill.
That's not to say that the duo is lonely in the contemporary spotlight of Nashville. Just the opposite. It's been a strong and diverse year for country music; the heartland genre is one of the few pop music sounds that is enjoying increased sales from last year and can claim the top-selling CD act of 2006 in Rascal Flatts and the year's top-grossing tour run, by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday November 10, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Country music: A Week Ahead item in Monday's Calendar section said that Alison Krauss had received four career nominations, with one win, in the Country Music Assn. Awards. Actually, heading into the CMA ceremony that night, she had been nominated 19 times and won seven.
There's also a raft of up-and-coming acts, among them Sugarland and "American Idol" star Carrie Underwood, two acts that have topped the 3-million mark in CDs sold in the U.S. in a generally soft retail marketplace.
Country is accustomed to cyclical surges to the top of pop, but this time instead of one or two crossover mega stars (say Garth Brooks and Shania Twain or Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton) the genre is succeeding with a wider gallery of diverse talent. One of the most successful faces in that gallery will be a no-show tonight: Keith Urban, nominated in four categories, recently checked into rehab, and it will be interesting to see how his peers on the broadcast address (or don't address) the star's public admission of personal turmoil.
The CMAs topped the Grammy Awards last year in audience size and may again tonight: The Grammys try to be all things to all people, but the CMAs stay on message for a well-defined audience that is enjoying a rich scene at the moment.
One other difference between the Grammys and the CMAs is a curiosity in their history books: Alison Krauss has won more Grammys than any other woman, but she's only got one CMA trophy on her mantel and just four career nominations. Shucks, maybe Brooks & Dunn can spare a few ...
-- Geoff Boucher