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Are the CMA Awards secretly dissing Kenny Chesney?

November 13, 2008 | 12:21 pm

At last night's CMA Awards, it came as no great surprise when Kenny Chesney won entertainer of the year for the fourth time in five years. After all, that top prize tends to reward the artist who's king of the road tour and CD sales. That's Kenny Chesney, who continues to be a top draw on the concert circuit, playing to more than a million people a year while racking up seven platinum albums in the last decade.

In a way, it was fitting that 1999 winner Shania Twain made the presentation. Like Twain, who counts only this one win among her 10 Country Music Assn. kudos nominations, Chesney has little hardware from the CMA beyond these four awards. He has amassed 29 nominations but has managed only three other wins — for recording and producing the 2004 album of the year "When the Sun Goes Down" and for his vocal collaboration last year on "Find Out Who Your Friends Are." Indeed, Chesney has lost male vocalist for seven years running.


The latter fact suggests one ominous possibility. Since the CMA award is the Oscar of the Nashville music scene, it seems to be saying something curious and revealing about what the industry secretly thinks of that beer-chuckin', back-slappin', girl-chasin' good ole boy: They respect Kenny Chesney as someone who can sell CDs and concert seats, but he's not really respected as a vocal artist.

Among those Chesney edged out for the entertainer prize last night were two men who have beaten him in that category: show co-host Brad Paisley, who repeated as male vocalist winner and three-time male vocalist champ Keith Urban, who interrupted Chesney's streak as entertainer of the year with a win in 2005. And while Chesney lost new artist of the year (then known as Horizon award) in 1999 to Jo Dee Messina, Paisley won in 2000, as did Urban the following year.

Chesney also triumphed over George Strait, a five-time male vocalist winner and entertainer of the year in 1989 and 1990. Last night, Strait had to be content with becoming the all-time CMA champ with 22 awards total (out of a staggering 75 nominations). He picked up four trophies as both artist and producer of the best single ("I Saw God Today") and best album of the year ("Troubadour"). While this was only his second single to win after 1996's "Check Yes or No," it was Strait's fifth win for an album after "It Just Comes Natural," 2007; "Carrying Your Love With Me," 1997; "Blue Clear Sky," 1996; and "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind," 1985.

Going into the evening, the veteran singer had sat just one behind Brooks & Dunn, who have 19 trophies, including a record 14 as vocal duo. However, red-hot Sugarland, also a contender for entertainer of the year, took that prize away from them for the second year running. Rascal Flatts was vocal group of the year for the sixth year running while show co-host Carrie Underwood made it three in a row as female vocalist.

For more on the CMAs, Todd Martens has a full rundown of the evening over at Pop and Hiss.

Also, check out our list of winners and nominees HERE. Also, visit The Envelope's CMA Awards photo gallery, HERE!

Photo: Darron Cummings / Associated Press

The comments to this entry are closed.


I would like to say that kenny chesney does have an exceptional tone in his voice that is lacking in keith urban and others voices, but I would also like to point out that performers without such God given talent such as Urban and Paisley have celebrity wives and the amazing guitar - playing thing going for them. Now, keith urban has worked on his range and tone in the last few years, and is continually getting better and better. I guess what I am trying to say is that, Kenny, Keith and Brad all have better than average voices, with limited bass-baritone ranges and a few marketing ploys thrown in, i.e. Long hair, beach themed shows, ect. But the thing is, Kenny Chesney indeed has sold out tons of full size arenas around the country, which is pretty amazing. My view is that all the artists that make it as far as the ones stated above were chosen for a reason to be put on a record, multiple times. I must say though, the guys in country music need to put some work into their voices to keep up with the likes of Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride, My guess is that they will take over the industry in the next few years... :o

first of all Kenny is so hot! I want to marry him! Well I have a boyfriend but still he is so hot! Second don't diss on him you are just jealous of him cause you ain't goodlooking or you ain't a good singer either! If you diss on him again I will slapyou across the face!

It's a shame that these awards are so political now. Kenny Chesney has no vocal range and I find him very boring to listen to. His songs all the sound the same. Seriously, how many beach themed songs does he neet to release? As far as being the best entertainer? No way. What people are failing to remember is that he did not sell out the stadium alone. He had big names with him that were very big draws, Brooks & Dunn & Keith Urban to name a few. In fact, when he was doing is non-stadium shows with just Leanne Rimes, they weren't all sell-outs. His so called "opening acts" got better reviews than he did. I've been to those stadium shows because I wanted to see the other performers and Chesney's shows are the same every year. It's a shame that the people voting for this top prize are only focusing on the numbers & really not looking at the whole thing. And what's even worse, is that based on Chesney's own words, he doesn't get that the others are big draws too. I thing he needs an ego check.

The CMA has always been political, and right wing in the extreme!

Country music is under the control of good ole boys who make sure their radio stations don't play the records of singers who don't toe the line.

Remember the awful song "Okie From Muskogee", which won almost every award the CMA gave out back then?
We loved the record, even while knowing the lyrics were terrible!

Kenny Chesney, as well as all the other singers, know that the CMA awards are an "in-group awards"; just like other awards. Only in this case, awards go to the political right wingers.

I was not a fan of Kenny Chesney until 2002. I must tell you now, as a former Country Music performer and musician, he has gained my respect for his ability to both sing beautifully, and write exquisitely. He has been well qualified to win vocalist of the year, and I am surprised that he hasn't. I believe he will someday, and I cant' wait to hear his acceptance speech when it happens. He is one of the finest entertainers in Country Music and deserves more appreciation from his fellow performers and vocalists.



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