Johnny Cash hadn’t won any Country Music Association prizes since 1969, in the early days of the awards. On Wednesday night’s 37th annual CMAs, however, Cash was the big winner, earning three trophies for Album of the Year (”American IV: The Man Comes Around”), Single of the Year, and Music Video of the Year (both for ”Hurt”). Having passed away at 71 two months before the ceremony, Cash was also the subject of a musical tribute by Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Travis Tritt and Hank Williams Jr.
Tying Cash for most trophies was three-time winner Alan Jackson, who won the top prize, Entertainer of the Year (for the second straight year), Male Vocalist of the Year, and Vocal Event of the Year (”It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” his duet with Jimmy Buffett). In a mostly male-dominated year (no women were nominated for Entertainer of the Year), Martina McBride took home Female Vocalist of the Year honors for the second year in a row. Shut out completely was seven-time nominee Toby Keith and the twice-nominated Dixie Chicks.
Other winners included Rascal Flatts (Vocal Group of the Year), who pulled a Ving Rhames and gave their prize to their retiring heroes, Alabama. Brooks & Dunn won their 11th Vocal Duo of the Year award. Joe Nichols won the prize for newcomers, the Horizon Award. Songwriters Dough Johnson and Kim Williams won the Song of the Year prize for ”Three Wooden Crosses,” recorded by Randy Travis. Randy Scruggs was named Musician of the Year.
Vince Gill hosted the show for the 12th straight year. The CMA Awards, picked by the 5,000 industry insiders in the Country Music Association, were broadcast live on CBS from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.