Brooks might sweep top categories of country music awards

Garth Brooks no doubt will be the big story at the Country Music Association's 25th annual awards bash in Nashville tonight (9 p.m., Channel 11).

He could either sweep everything but female vocalist and top group, or the self-described Fat Boy might go home empty-handed, despite his seven nominations.


So the CMA's choice is simple: Go with the flow of the record-buying, concert-going public and shovel those statuettes in Mr. Garth's direction, or buck the trend and spread 'em around.

Both scenarios are equally likely, given the CMA voters' erratic record.


Nominees in the major categories include:

*Entertainer of the Year: Mr. Brooks, Clint Black, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire and George Strait.

*Female Vocalist: Ms. McEntire, Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, Lorrie Morgan and Tanya Tucker.

*Male Vocalist: Mr. Brooks, Mr. Black, Mr. Strait, Alan Jackson and Mr. Gill.

*Vocal Group: Alabama, Diamond Rio, Kentucky HeadHunters, Restless Heart and Shenandoah.

*Horizon award: Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Mark Chesnutt, Doug Stone, Pam Tillis and Travis Tritt.

*Single of the Year: Mr. Tritt ("Here's a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares"), Ms. Tillis ("Don't Tell Me What to Do"), Mr. Jackson ("Don't Rock the Jukebox"), Mr. Gill ("Pocket Full of Gold"), and Mr. Brooks ("Friends in Low Places").

*Vocal Duo: Baillie & the Boys, the Bellamy Brothers, Foster & Lloyd, the Judds and Sweethearts of the Rodeo.


*Musician of the Year: Chet Atkins, Barry Beckett, Paul Franklin, Mar O'Connor and Matt Rollings.

*Vocal Event: Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler; the Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings), Dolly Parton with Ricky Van Shelton; Randy Travis with George Jones; and Mark O'Connor and the New Nashville Cats.

*Album of the Year: "Don't Rock the Jukebox," Mr. Jackson; "No Fences," Mr. Brooks; "Pocket Full of Gold," Mr. Gill; "Put Yourself in My Shoes," Mr. Black; and "Rumor Has It," Ms. McEntire.

*Music Video: "Come Next Monday," K. T. Oslin; "Don't Rock the Jukebox," Mr. Jackson; "Fancy," Ms. McEntire; "Love Can Build a Bridge," the Judds; and "The Thunder Rolls," Mr. Brooks.

*Song of the Year: "Don't Rock the Jukebox," "Friends in Low Places," "Here in the Real World," "The Dance" and "When I Call Your Name."