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"The only thing that I was disappointed in was the acts that have been headlining for so many years, they were not nominated," Reba McEntire says (quote via CNBC). "In particular, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts. I would've assumed they would've been in that nomination before Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert."
The Entertainer of the Year category, which also includes Brad Paisley and Keith Urban this year, is defined by the Country Music Association as being for "the act displaying the greatest competence in all aspects of the entertainment field," including "in-person performance, staging, public acceptance, attitude, leadership, and overall contribution to the Country Music image."
Reba, who won the Entertainer award in 1986, says the new crop of nominees shows a deliberate movement by CMA voters to move past tradition. "I have heard they are looking for a new regime, wanting to turn things around and to kind of mix up the shuffle," she adds. "Well, they definitely did. This has sure gotten everybody to talk about it."
Reba isn't the only artist questioning the criteria for CMA nods. Jason Aldean, whose last five singles landed in the top ten and enjoyed a sold-out tour earlier this year, was not only snubbed from the Entertainer category, but failed to garner a nomination at all. But he says, while he may understand the ins and outs of voting, he feels bad for the fans who don't know the specifics of the CMA regulations. "The average fan doesn't understand how all that stuff works and the industry probably doesn't want them to," Jason admits. "Fans watch a show and they get all up in arms because their favorite artist wasn't nominated or didn't win an award they were nominated for. Bottom line is it's not based on anything, man. It's based on who can rally the most troops for their guy, and sometimes this guy wins and sometimes that guy wins. It's just kind of the way it all shakes down."
Miranda, who received a record-breaking nine nominations, admits that she feels a bit unworthy of the highest accolade."I just feel like it's such a big deal to be nominated for Entertainer of the Year. I'm kind of weirded out that I got in there," she admits. "I just can't believe it, but I feel like when you actually win it, it's something that you really have to earn. I have done two headlining tours and they were both this year. You know, I feel like I still have a ways to go before I deserve to take that home."
Still, Miranda acknowledges that she is honored that all her hard work over the last five years did not go unnoticed, especially by such an influential group. "I thought it was just about ticket sales and the amount of people you play in front of, and it's not," she says. "It's a very broad award. It's about everything you've done in the past year, and I've definitely worked my butt off, so I guess I'm just settling into the fact that I'll have to accept it."
The CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena Wednesday, November 10 at 8:00 PM ET on ABC.