The 9513′s 1st Annual Country Music Awards Results: Willie Nelson Still Rules
In 2008 Willie Nelson released an adventurous (if not entirely successful) new album with producer Kenny Chesney (Moment of Forever), collaborated with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis on a full-length album titled Two Men With The Blues, starred with Toby Keith in a movie (Beer For My Horses), co-wrote a Western novel (A Tale Out Of Luck), had a biography (An Epic Life) and a Box Set (One Hell of a Ride) released, and played dozens of shows all around the country.
Not bad for a guy who celebrated his 75th birthday in April.
Nelson edged out Patty Loveless to capture the title of Country Artist of the Year in The 9513’s 1st Annual Country Music Awards, for which ballots were tabulated from three voting blocs: The 9513’s staff, readers who made 50 or more comments in the voting period, and the public at large.
In fitting manner for an artist whose iconic status is built on his ability to connect with diverse audiences, Nelson performed solidly in all three. Willie claimed less than 50% of The 9513 staff vote, but still managed to pull ahead of Loveless, whose classics album Sleepless Nights was hailed by critics, by 5% of the final tally.
Nelson’s Moment of Forever may not have been a masterpiece, but the album, which set the singer’s nuanced vocal style vocal into Chesney’s modern, lush production, was solid enough to earn the respect of the hundreds of voters who participated in this year’s awards. Led by the Kristofferson penned titled track, Moment of Forever proved at least two things artistically—Willie Nelson never slows down, nor is he afraid of taking chances with his sound.
It was another singer’s artistic revitalization, however, that led to an Album of the Year victory. Trisha Yearwood’s first album for the Big Machine label, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love, brought together stunning material with some of Yearwood’s finest vocal performances, in the process winning over critics and fans of substantive contemporary country. Released in 2007, just weeks into the eligibility period, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love (which spawned the Grammy-nominated single “This Is Me You’re Talking To”) earned a rare 5-Star review from The 9513, and dominated this year’s voting, winning by a solid 13%.
The award for Bluegrass Album of the Year was a considerably tighter race. Two bluegrass veterans who made names for themselves playing with artists like Doyle Lawson and Ricky Skaggs, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent (who earned four and a half stars for the self-titled debut album), claimed five of nine staff votes, but were ultimately edged out 35.8-32.6% by Old Crow Medicine Show’s drug-themed Tennessee Pusher.
Produced by Don Was, the seventh album from OCMS is an edgy, sometimes shocking collection that delves deep into addiction and the American heartland, doing so with instrumentation that goes well beyond bluegrass traditions. Bluegrass supergroup The SteelDrivers managed only 16.5% of the total vote for their self-titled debut, but did score 50% of the regular commenter’s support.
Only one win was produced by the three acts who tied for the lead in nominations. Hayes Carll, Eleven Hundred Springs and Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson each received nods in four categories, but Carll was the only one to claim a victory, crushing the competition to earn the title Texas Artist of the Year.
Another Texan scored what may have been the year’s biggest surprise. Rodney Hayden managed a dominating win in Song of the Year for his solo-penned “Huntsville,” from his album 12 Ounce World. Hayden topped fan favorite Sugarland, critical darlings Dailey & Vincent, Chambers & Nicholson, and even the impeccable, Matraca Berg-written “Dreaming Fields” (Trisha Yearwood) to claim the honor—a fact which surely speaks to Hayden’s growing reputation as an elite songwriter.
Country Artist of the Year
Willie Nelson – 31.5%
Patty Loveless – 26.5%
Hayes Carll – 16.6%
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – 14.4%
Eleven Hundred Springs – 11.0%
Album of the Year
Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love by Trisha Yearwood – 38.4%
Rattlin’ Bones by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – 25.6%
Trouble In Mind by Hayes Carll – 14.9%
The Good Life by Justin Townes Earle – 10.8%
The Life of a Song by Joey + Rory – 10.3%
Bluegrass Album of the Year
Tennessee Pusher by Old Crow Medicine Show – 35.8%
Dailey & Vincent by Dailey & Vincent – 32.6%
The SteelDrivers by The SteelDrivers – 16.5%
Iron & Diamonds by The Gibson Brothers – 11.4%
The Infamous Stringdusters by The Infamous Stringdusters – 3.6%
New Artist of the Year
Justin Townes Earle – 40.5%
Joey + Rory – 27.2%
Ashton Shepherd – 24.4%
Crystal Shawanda – 5.1%
Dailey & Vincent – 2.8%
Texas Artist of the Year
Hayes Carll – 42.7%
Jason Boland – 22.5%
Eleven Hundred Springs – 12.1%
Reckless Kelly – 11.9%
Bruce Robison – 10.8%
Group of the Year
Joey + Rory – 42.1%
Eleven Hundred Springs – 36.0%
Dailey & Vincent – 13.5%
Old Crow Medicine Show – 8.2%
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – 0.2%
Best Album Cover
Burn Your Playhouse Down by George Jones- 49.4%
Country Jam by Eleven Hundred Springs – 25.0%
Bulletproof by Reckless Kelly – 18.4%
Trouble In Mind by Hayes Carll – 5.2%
Meet Glen Campbell by Glen Campbell – 2.0%
Song of the Year
(Performed and written by Rodney Hayden) – 36.2%
“Very Last Country Song”
(Performed by Sugarland, written by Krisitan Bush, Jennifer Nettles and Tim Owens) – 23.9%
(Performed by Trisha Yearwood, written by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison) – 22.6%
“By the Mark”
(Performed by Dailey & Vincent, written by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch) – 12.3%
(Performed and written by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson) – 5.0%
Record Company of the Year
Sugarhill Records – 48.8%
Rounder Records – 20.0%
Lost Highway Records – 18.0%
Palo Duro Records – 11.0%
Compadre Records – 2.2%
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