Brooks Named Best Country Entertainer

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Garth Brooks was named best entertainer by the Country Music Assn. on Wednesday after industry voters took a long gulp of “Strawberry Wine.”

Brooks, who was in Lincoln, Neb., for a performance, wasn’t present at the ceremony at the Grand Ole Opry House. Named best entertainer in 1991 and 1992, Brooks hadn’t won a County Music Assn. award since 1993.

Presenter Barbara Mandrell accepted on Brooks’ behalf.

“Strawberry Wine,” a song about a teenager’s first love affair, was named both the best country music single and song. The song award went to writers Gary Harrison and Matraca Berg, while singer Deana Carter got the trophy for best single.


Carter jumped up and down in glee on the stage, before leaping into presenter Ricky Skaggs’ arms.

George Strait was named best male vocalist, and his “Carrying Your Love With Me” was named best album.

Industry voters finally got around to acknowledging two of country music’s best-selling female singers, Trisha Yearwood and LeAnn Rimes.

Rimes won her first nod from the association, the Horizon Award for career progress. Yearwood was named best female vocalist, the first major Country Music Assn. award of her career.

Rock star Sting showed up to sing a duet with Toby Keith on “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying,” a song on Keith’s latest album that Sting wrote.

Presenter Tanya Tucker announced multimillion-selling duo Brooks & Dunn as the winner of the best duo award before looking at the results.

She was right. The duo has now won the award for six straight years.

Kathy Mattea won for best video for her “455 Rocket.” Diamond Rio was named best vocal group. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, who are married, won the vocal event award for their duet, “It’s Your Love.”


Songwriters Harlan Howard and Cindy Walker were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the show, as was singer Brenda Lee.