The CMA Awards website is sort of falling down on the job in 1978. Either that, or no one was named INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR. The nominees were Asleep At The Wheel, Chet Atkins (for group?), the Charlie Daniels Band, Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass, and Les Paul (again, not a group). But alas, there is no actual winner listed. Was this category accidentally left off the ballot? Was it a five-way tie? The possibilities are many. But I guess we'll never know, will we? Not that this is the biggest award of the night, but it probably was important to those nominated, I'd think.
So, in the interest of inclusiveness, I'll just pick a winner. Well, Les Paul is a legend, and deserves a category all his own, and Chet Atkins is also a legend and has already won countless times, and Danny Davis and his Brass don't have any room left on their mantles. That leaves Asleep At The Wheel and the Charlie Daniels Band.
Here's a representation of each:
Well, I just can't pick. Neither of these performances are technically "instrumentals", but they feature instruments! I love both these bands, so I'm just gonna call it a tie and move on. Weigh in with your choice, if you are so inclined.
The INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR was again Roy Clark. No videos; sorry. Nothing personal. It's just that there aren't too many videos of Roy available, and I've posted just about everything I could find. But good going, Roy! Apparently you learned how to make friends and influence people in Nashville!
Surprisingly, the FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR award again went to Crystal Gayle. I don't get it. I don't have any animosity towards Crystal; it's just that she was kind of a "blip" on the country music scene. She had one big (okay, huge) hit, and some other minor hits, but she's basically known for one song. One song does not a career make.
And try finding a video on YouTube that isn't "Brown Eyes". It's not easy! But here's one, and I don't have any recall of this song, but it seems nice:
Again, surprisingly, the SONG OF THE YEAR award went to Richard Leigh for a song that garnered Crystal the female vocalist award in 1977. That, of course, being, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue". I don't know about you, and I don't know anything about Richard Leigh, so no offense, Richard, but I don't think I even want to hear that song ever again. But if you have a hankering to hear it, check my post for 1977. It would be rather redundant to post it again.
Luckily for me, the CMA handed out the MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR award to someone different this time around! Change is nice. This song technically didn't earn Don Williams the award, since it was released later, but since he probably never won anything again, I thought I would post it, seeing as how it's probably my one and only opportunity:
The VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR award went to someone new in 1977 as well: Kenny Rogers and Dottie West.
Again, this was a short-lived pairing. Kenny went on to record duets with others, including Dolly Parton and Kim Carnes. And this was Dottie's sort of "pop" phase. It was a snapshot in time. Nothing that anyone's going to remember in the larger scheme of things, but this made it big in 1977:
As a breath of fresh air, the Statlers didn't win the VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR award. Nothin' against the Statlers - I like 'em! But it was just time for a change. These four guys gave the Statlers a run for their money, and they were huge in the late seventies. I saw them in concert at the North Dakota State Fair, and I was pretty excited about the whole thing, I must say.
Here's a song from around that time, that surely gave them the nod for vocal group of the year:
THE OAK RIDGE BOYS
The SINGLE OF THE YEAR happens to be one of my personal favorites. Father-daughter team Jeannie and Royce Kendall - THE KENDALLS - had a very big hit with this song, and to me, it still holds up.
And I'll never forget my two-year-old singing along to "Heaven's Just A Sin Away":
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Ronnie Milsap - It Was Almost Like A Song
I've been posting a lost of Ronnie Milsap videos lately, and I have sort of run out. I didn't realize that Ronnie had dominated the CMA awards for so many years, but kudos to him! I'm a big Ronnie Milsap fan. It's nice to be reminded that talent was, at one time, recognized.
Here's a Ronnie video, and if I posted it before, sorry. Again, there's not a lot of choices out there on YouTube.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR Dolly Parton
I suppose some people view Dolly as one of those institutions that's always been there, sort of like George Washington. I, however, remember Dolly when she was simply the duet partner of Porter Wagoner. When she had her first singles, like "Somethin' Fishy"and "Dumb Blonde" on Monument Records. I guess I watched her career unfold. She, no doubt, helped Porter become relevant. Most of the duets they recorded were songs written by Dolly. Why has she endured, lo these forty-odd years later? I think because she's a great songwriter. And, to some, a great entertainer.
I never really liked Dolly "in person". Because she couldn't just sing the song, without offering some sort of commentary and endless giggling (while singing). Dolly does well singing harmony with others, such as Brad Paisley. Even Kenny Rogers. Just not in person. And Dolly has found a way to stay relevant through the years. In the early eighties, she reinvented herself as an actress. Who doesn't remember this:
I guess the reason that Dolly broke that glass ceiling (later to be broken by a few, but not by many) and be named Entertainer of the Year was probably due to this song, which is pop, and not country, but, hey, that's what they were looking for in 1978:
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME Grandpa Jones
Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones did, I guess, "old time" music. Not really bluegrass, per se. Not really country. He actually could be a serious musician, but his stage persona overshadowed any seriousness that he might have had in him. I kid Grandpa Jones, but he seemed like a decent fellow, and he was entertaining. Of course, we all know him from Hee Haw, and here's a number featuring Stringbean, Roy Clark, and a bunch of others:
So, there you go, 1978. Things were starting to get back to "country" in some respects, but the Country Music Association was still stubbornly clinging to that pop stuff. Weird that the two could co-exist so seamlessly. And people accepted it. A crossroads, maybe. 1979 will tell the tale.
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