I am a huge country music fan. I absolutely love it and listen all the time. I am also a huge Carrie Underwood fan. I have been impressed not only by her voice, but by how much she has accomplished over the past year and how well she has carried herself. She always appears beautiful, but more importantly she always acts beautiful, always coming across as gracious and sincere and genuinely humble and appreciative of her success.
I watched the CMT special that followed Underwood through the making of her debut album (CD for the kiddies). It is amazing what she accomplished in record short time. The producers and other professionals she worked with were impressed not only with her talent, but by her attitude and how hard she worked and how well she dealt with the stress of the situation. They started out skeptical that this American Idol winner was the real deal, but they were completely convinced by the timet he album was cut. My daughter received Underwood's CD for Christmas last year and we have listened to it over and over and over again. It is an excellent album. I can imagine almost any of the individual songs as hit singles.
I did not see the portion of the CMA awards that has been so controversial, but have since watched it several times on You Tube. I bought Faith Hill's excuse that she was joking until I read Leann Rimes' defense of her, which was anything but joking, and made me wonder. Here is the best report I have seen of the controversy. Here is Rimes' defense of Hill, which she has since pulled from her website.
"Okay, I usually keep quiet on topics like this but I feel I need to stand up for my friend, Faith. She was just being honest and emotional like every other person sitting at home with an opinion. These awards shows are SO political and we all get fed up with them. We all work very hard and have for many years so to see someone come in and win Female Vocalist that has been here for a VERY short time, is a little disheartening."
She went on to say, "That is why we have the Horizon award and Carrie had an incredible year, enough to sweep that one. I don't think Faith was angry about her loss, she probably felt, as I did that Carrie has not paid her dues long enough to fully deserve that award. As artists and public figures, we have to keep our feelings so repressed so we don't get called ungrateful as Faith has on this board many times now. She is a very sweet and gracious woman, whom I adore. Please cut her some slack!"
My response to that is bull. The award is for female vocalist of the YEAR, not for lifetime achievement. That is why we have living legend awards and other hall of fame type honors. Carrie Underwood has to date had three number one country singles from her debut album. (I don't think that even includes her first single, which was the American Idol pop hit.) It has been almost impossible to listen to country music radio over the past year for more than an hour without hearing a Carrie Underwood song. And the songs are really good. I love Martina McBride and Sara Evans and Gretchen Wilson, but even as successful as they have been, none of them have had the year Carrie Underwood has. The fact that this is her first album, in my mind, only makes her all the more deserving of the honor.
As for Faith Hill, she fell out of favor with many in the country audience when she went pop and did the acting thing. She attempted to come back to her country roots this past year with a song addressing what some fans think, titled Mississippi Girl, and it was well received. The song was great. She released at least one other single from the CD that I did not care for. If she had won the award I would not have said that she did not deserve it, but I would have thought she did not deserve it any more than Carrie Underwood or some of the others. Carrie had a bigger year than any of the others and in my mind was a very deserving winner. Congrats Carrie!
Update: This post and the fact that Hill made the gesture in a place she knew people would see her, has me convinced that Hill was almost certainly joking, but evidently her friend Leann Rimes wasn't.