Wednesday night, country crooner George Strait will be the elder statesman among this year's annual Country Music Association Awards nominees for entertainer of the year. Strait's competitors at the 47th annual event are Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan (37), Jason Aldean (36) and Taylor Swift (24) and all of them got their music city breaks in the 2000's. The 61-year-old, on the other hand, has been racking up chart toppers since his first single hit the Top Ten in 1981.
The awards spotlight is not restricted to Strait, who was presented with the Founder's Award at this week's American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers ceremony; it graces those around him. Tonight, Broadcast Music, Inc., honored longtime songwriter Dean Dillon, who penned over 50 songs for the Texan, including The Breath You Take, which garnered Dillon a GRAMMY nomination.
Tom Roland, editor of Billboard Country Update says that in this year of, "turnover," from seasoned to newer artists, and figuring in Strait's farewell tour which ends next year, King George's nomination for the CMAs is, "a case of the industry saying, 'Hey, we love you. We appreciate what you did'... A lot of the people who vote on the CMA Awards still have this great appreciation for traditional country music, and that's very important to them even though that's not necessarily what's driving the ship for them right now in country music."
But if it's a sign of farewells for the long-hailed troubadours of country music, this is Strait's only nomination for this year's CMAs as opposed to Swift's six nominations (three for Highway Don't Care with main vocals by Tim McGraw and also featuring Keith Urban), Shelton's five nods, and Bryan and Aldean's three nods (one each for The Only Way I Know with Eric Church). Shelton, Bryan and Aldean are also competing for the Male Vocalist of the Year award.
Strait insists that he is not retiring, but rather that his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour will be his last, so-structured tour.
[Image via George Strait official Facebook.]