The 36th annual Country Music Association Awards or CMAs, held November 6 in Nashville, Tennessee, could have just as easily been called "The Alan Jackson Show." The singer-songwriter was the evening's big winner scoring in five categories. VOA's Mary Morningstar and Ed Kowalski collaborated on this report on the nationally-televised ceremony.
Alan Jackson's conquest of the 2002 CMAs actually began at last year's ceremony, when he debuted Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning), the song reflecting his reactions to the events of September 11. The song propelled Jackson to wins in five of the seven categories in which he received nominations. In addition to Single of the Year, and Song of the Year, the songwriter's award, for Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turing), Jackson won Album of the Year for Drive, along with Best Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year. Jackson's five CMA wins ties the record previously set by country legend Johnny Cash and Vince Gill, who was hosting the ceremony for the 11th consecutive year.
When accepting the Song of the Year Award, Jackson "thanked America for taking the song into your hearts." After winning the final award, Single of the Year, he modestly tried to put the evening into perspective.
"I'm sorry y'all," he said. " I keep coming up here for these things. It's been a very good night … And I am very appreciative, and I'm still humbled by this whole experience that came with the song. I'm just the singer of simple songs and that's the truth. "
One category that Alan Jackson did N O T win was Video of the Year. It went to Brad Paisley for I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song), a tune about a man who, when given an ultimatum, chooses to go fishing rather than spend time with his girlfriend. In accepting the award, Brad Paisley paid tribute to the country music legend who made a cameo appearance in the video clip.
"We set out to make a little different video here, and crossed our fingers, and had a back-up list a mile long of people if they wouldn't do it, and everybody said 'Yes' that we wanted to do it, especially 'Little' Jimmy Dickens, right there, sittin' in the audience, the star of the video.Thank you for coming," he said.
Just moments after giving a live performance, Martina McBride was named Best Female Vocalist. It was the second time she had received the honor, having previously won in 1999. An emotional Martina told the audience …
"Oh, I was not prepared for this emotion that I'm feeling," an emotional Martina told the audience. "It's just so amazing that I get to live this dream, and I'm so grateful to everybody who worked so hard to make it happen. And I'm really especially happy because my mom and dad are here tonight ...and it just means so much to share this with them because they've just given me everything all my life, and encouraged me, and gave me unconditional love and support. Thank you so much, thank you. "
The night's winners in the other major categories were: The Dixie Chicks, Group of the Year; Brooks and Dunn, receiving the Vocal Duo award for the 10th time; and pop-country trio Rascal Flatts, which was presented the CMA's Horizon Award, given to the new act showing best career growth.
This year's inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame were 93-year-old "Jumpin" Bill Carlisle, who began his singing career in the 1930s, and still performs on the Grand Ole Opry, along with Porter Wagoner, who graciously acknowledged his honor.
"I like to think of myself as a link … a link between the real pioneers of country music and the stars of today and tomorrow," Mr. Wagoner said. "I've had the great fortune to call many legends my friends, and watch some of my closest friends become legends. You'd think that when a man receives the highest award in his chosen field that his ego would just go through the ceiling, but I've never felt more humble in my whole life than I do tonight."
The three-hour telecast included 21 live performances from a roster of country stars that included Dolly Parton, Montgomery Gentry, Toby Keith, Faith Hill, George Strait, Allison Krauss and Union Station, Keith Urban, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Travis Tritt.
The program also featured the first public appearance in three years by Shania Twain, who performed her new hit, I'm Gonna Getcha Good.