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Do awards really matter?

Country Standard Time Editorial, March 2004

A lot of attention and publicity is accorded the various awards extravaganzas - the shows from the Grammys, Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association.

For the artist who takes home the trophy, doing so can be a career boost. For sure, it will result in a jump in sales.

Now that did not seem to hurt Toby Keith last fall when he laid an egg at the CMAs in November, wining nary a one of the seven categories for which he had been nominated.

Keith, whose career has been on a meteoric rise in the past few years, certainly was disappointed with the lack of taking home an award. Who could blame him? (Well we did give him his due when he left the ACMs early only to win entertainer of the year and not be there to pick up the award). He sure must have been scratching his head wondering what he had to do to win.

He wasn't the only one to be snubbed at awards shows. The Dixie Chicks hardly received any nominations and lost out to Rascal Flatts for best group. Rascal Flatts had a good year, and they're very good at what they do with pop country, but they're no Dixie Chicks.

Doubtless, both Keith and the Chicks suffered for their feud with each other and their viewpoints on political issues.

The fact of the matter is that while both may have been deserving, the failure to win is not going to put any crimp in their careers. Take a look at the list of award winners of the past and see how long the careers of some lasted. As for the Grammys, Alison Krauss was the big winner among the country and bluegrass crowd by winning three awards. The Louvin Brothers tribute disc, "Songs of the Louvin Brothers took home a pair. The late Johnny and June Carter Cash won a few Grammys as well.

The important thing to remember about the Grammys is that the awards show isn't in the habit of going with the most popular folks. Krauss, the tribute disc and the Cashes have not exactly been on the receiving end of extensive radio play to say the least. Some would accuse the Grammy group of being out of step with the mainstream and catering to more of a niche. Others could accuse radio, for example, of being out of step with what is artistically meritorious (although commercial success and artistic ability sometimes do coincide).

The bottom line is that while these various events may sometimes be fun to watch for an evening, none are the definitive arbiters of musical taste. Worry more about the quality of the music than the winners.