Garth Brooks has pulled himself out of this year’s Country Music Association Awards Entertainer of the Year running, an award he has picked up seven times throughout his career.
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The decision came following the 2019 ceremony, when Brooks picked up his seventh EOTY award since first winning in 1991, after one particular Tweet, which he says urged him to step down from the nomination and leave it to the next generation, made him rethink the entire 2020 nomination.
“The last thing I want to do is seem ungrateful to the CMAs and everybody that has voted for us,” says Brooks of backing out. “It’s time for somebody else to hold that award, know what that Entertainer feels like, because they’re all out there busting their butts.”
Brooks approached the CMA about giving his nomination to another artist, or possibly getting an Entertainer of the Year Emeritus Award but since they could not create a new title, Brooks says the only choice he had was to pull out of the EOTY race on his own. He says he’s not sure how the Entertainer of the Year award will be judged this year but believes it will be defined by an artist’s response to the recent pandemic and the current state of affairs.
“I think it [the award] will be defined this year by those guys and girls that rise up and make you not think about pandemic for a minute,” say Brooks.
Still, Brooks is not shutting down future “Entertainer” honors from AMC and other institutions. “Make no mistake, I’m very competitive,” says Brooks. “It’s just with Entertainer [from CMA], we’ve been lucky enough to carry that home a number of times, and I feel like it’s somebody else’s turn.”
Ultimately, he says awards are not the be all, end all of his career. “Award shows are the Christmas tree to Christmas,” says Brooks. “It’s not what Christmas is about.”
Brooks also addressed his final stadium tour, which was postponed to 2021 and is scheduled to run into 2022. If venue reopen in 2021, Brooks is determined to make all the 2020 dates and keep playing through summer 2022. He’s also exploring virtual reality formats for bringing the concert home to fans if venues continue to remain locked down in 2021.
“Concerts and stadiums will be the very last thing they allow,” says Brooks. “That makes me sad, but I hope I do things on my end to make sure things are safe.”
When it comes to the next generation of CMA, Brooks says there’s no resentment. It was just the right time to move on from the honor. “That feeling is so great, so I want everyone to have that feeling,” says Brooks. “I’ve been lucky enough to hold that award, and now it’s time to move on.”
He adds, “I just want it to be fun for everybody. That’s what awards shows should be.”