Observers eagerly awaited the recent first annual Nashville Music Awards in hopes that they would recognize musicians from Nashville’s eclectic music community, emphasizing those who have yet to receive sufficient credit for their artistry.
But many of the winners turned out to be pretty well-known after all. For example, Johnny Cash’s “American Recordings” was named Folk Album of the Year; Chet Atkins’ “Read My Licks,” Instrumental Jazz Album; Amy Grant’s “House of Love,” Pop/Rock Album; Waylon Jennings’ “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line: The RCA Years,” Reissue Album, and bluegrass diva Alison Cox and the Cox Family’s “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow,” Bluegrass Album.
Similarly Vince Gill, the Country Music Association’s reigning entertainer of the year for 1993 and 1994, was handed the “Nammy” for best male vocalist, and perennial CMA Musician of the Year Mark O’Connor was given the plaudit for miscellaneous instrumentalist.
Another bona fide Nashville star (although she has yet to take many industry awards), Trisha Yearwood, was presented the female vocalist title, while the edgy country/pop/rock band The Mavericks (whose bassist, Robert Reynolds, is married to Yearwood), was named group of the year, and Patty Loveless’ “When Fallen Angels Fly” was named country album of the year.
The Mary Chapin Carpenter hit “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” written by Carpenter and Nashville songwriter Don Schlitz, was the Nammies’ song of the year, while the film version of Martina McBride’s meaty antidomestic abuse anthem, “Independence Day,” became Nammy’s video of the year.
There were some winners who were not so well known to the national public, too. MCA-Nashville boss Tony Brown was named producer of the year, Keith Thomas was named the year’s best Nashville songwriter; Kathy Chiavola, background vocalist; Eddie Bayers, drummer; Brent Mason, guitarist; Michael Rhodes, bassist; and Matt Rollings, keyboardist. The winners were selected by the Nashville public who filled out ballots.
Yearwood in CMT spotlight
Trisha Yearwood has been chosen as CMT and CMT International’s March Showcase Artist, which is no insignificant honor. Yearwood, looking forward to a 90-city tour of the United States and a 13-country European tour in ‘95 as well as the Valentine’s Day release of her fifth MCA album (titled “Thinkin’ About You”), can expect a sales jump as a result.
RCA video promotions coordinator Clayton Cooper says that after Clint Black was CMT’s Showcase Artist for November, his latest album, “One Emotion,” “showed an increase of 30 percent in sales from the first week of November to the first week of December. Other albums in Clint’s catalog also showed a significant increase in sales numbers during the same period.”
Similarly, Sony Nashville marketing vice president Connie Baer said that after Mary Chapin Carpenter was selected CMT’s Showcase Artist for September, her “Stones in the Road” album became a million-seller within four weeks, and during September “her entire catalog also showed significant sales increases.” Hang onto your royalty check, Trisha.
Nelson up for Grammy
Willie Nelson, who already has four Grammy Awards (for “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in 1975, “Georgia on My Mind” and “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” in 1978 and “Always on My Mind” in 1982) as well as a Grammy Living Legend Award (1989), is up for another Grammy this year for “Moonlight Becomes You” in the traditional pop vocal category, which will be awarded March 1.
“Moonlight Becomes You” was recorded on the small Justice Records between Nelson’s stints on the Columbia and Liberty labels and was released Feb. 15, 1994, to critical acclaim. It also achieved popular recognition as No. 1 on the hit charts in Australia.
Gatlin goes Hollywood
Larry Gatlin, who has had to keep his mouth shut following recent laser throat surgery, will make his dramatic feature-film debut in February playing a brother of Randy Travis in the epic Western “The Legend of O.B. Taggart.”
Premiering Feb. 14, the production features Mickey Rooney playing a father thrust into conflict with three sons - Gatlin, Travis and Nick Guest - who are seeking a fortune that was never recovered after a robbery in which the father was involved.