- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2003


The two most successful artists at the Academy of Country Music Awards continued their winning way last night, with Alan Jackson capturing album of the year for “Drive” and Brooks & Dunn being named top vocal duo.

The awards extended Brooks & Dunn’s collection of ACMs to a record 17. It was Mr. Jackson’s 10th.

“Stick with us. We love you,” Ronnie Dunn said.

Mr. Jackson, who won three honors, including male vocalist, a year ago, had six nominations this year — two behind Toby Keith and one ahead of Kenny Chesney, who won his second ACM for single record, “The Good Stuff.”

All were vying for entertainer, male vocalist, album, single and song of the year. Trick Pony also had five nominations.

Joe Nichols, who is touring with Mr. Jackson, captured new male vocalist honors, riding back-to-back hits “The Impossible” and “Brokenheartedsville.” He dedicated the award to Tony Brown, the chief of his record label Universal South, who is recovering from a severe head injury received in a fall.

Rascal Flatts won their second ACM for the song “I’m Movin’ On,” written by Phillip Brian White and David Vincent Williams.

The 19 acts scheduled to perform included the Dixie Chicks, a late addition who made an appearance via satellite from their home town of Austin.

The group was up for three awards — entertainer, album and vocal group — in what was viewed as a barometer of how willing country music is to forgive lead singer Natalie Maines’ criticism of President Bush and the war in Iraq.

Willie Nelson was competing against himself in the vocal event category with three of the five nominations: “Beer for My Horses” with Keith, “Mendocino County Line” with Lee Ann Womack and “Whiskey River” with Trick Pony.

The show, televised by CBS, moved to Las Vegas this year for the first time in the event’s 38-year history. A certain Las Vegas touch: Wayne Newton as a presenter.

Host Reba McEntire managed to get the Chicks as well as Las Vegas in her opening monologue: “Everybody here loves to gamble,” she said. “They’re backstage right now checking the latest odds on the Dixie Chicks playing the Bush family reunion.”

The awards were determined by the 3,000 members of the California-based academy, except for the humanitarian award, which is decided by fans.

The academy earlier announced that George Strait would receive the special achievement award, and that Alabama would get the pioneer award.

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