Tonawanda News


November 7, 2007

CMA AWARDS: Vince Gill's 4-disc masterwork could be surprise winner for album of the year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ When it comes to surprises, the Country Music Association Awards usually don't have much to offer.

But even the staid CMA is good for the occasional twist or two, and this year's best bet might be Vince Gill, who's nominated for album of the year for his ambitious four-disc set, "These Days."

The awards are scheduled for Wednesday night in Nashville; ABC is to broadcast them live.

Gill wrote or co-wrote all the albums' 43 tracks, co-produced them, sang, played guitars and assembled a dream team of guests including Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris.

"These Days" earned Gill rave reviews and will certainly go down as a creative peak in his career, but it sold modestly and received scant radio airplay compared to its competitors: Brad Paisley "5th Gear," George Strait's "It Just Comes Natural," Keith Urban's "Love, Pain & the whole crazy thing" and Dierks Bentley's "Long Trip Alone."

Even though it's been a while since Gill has been a country hitmaker, he's well-respected in the industry and could surprise. A single from the album, "The Reason Why," a duet with Krauss, is also nominated for musical event of the year.

"That's not the type of music that you can mass-produce. It's very thoughtful and appealing on a number of levels and deserves to be awarded for that," said Wade Jessen, director of country charts for Billboard magazine, of the album.

Other categories to watch are female vocalist where reigning country queen Carrie Underwood and upstart Miranda Lambert are up against stalwarts Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Alison Krauss; and vocal duo, where perennial favorites Brooks & Dunn have stiff competition from Big & Rich, Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland and the Wreckers.

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