Last year it was Michael Bolton. This time it's Sting.
The respected rock singer-songwriter is taking a cue from pop's self-avowed soul provider by making his Nashville television debut on tonight's 31st annual Country Music Association awards.
Like Bolton, who performed with friend and country vocalist rTC Wynonna, the ex-Police-man will take the stage with Oklahoman Toby Keith to sing their duet version of "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying."
The tune, originally on Sting's "Mercury Falling," was recorded for Keith's current "Dream Walkin'" project -- though the singers taped their vocals separately. It is slated as the next radio single from Keith's CD.
For pop fans, that may be the reason to watch the high-rated CMAs, which will be televised live from the Grand Ole Opry House at 8 p.m. on CBS (Channel 13).
But today's country enthusiasts, particularly those 9 million who bought Shania Twain's record-breaking "The Woman in Me," will tune in for a glimpse of the Grammy-winning Canadian songstress. After about a year out of the spotlight, Twain is scheduled to premiere "Love Gets Me Every Time," the lead single from her coming album, "Come on Over," in stores Nov. 4.
Other star players who'll take the Opry stage to sing include nominees Clint Black and Martina McBride, Pam Tillis, Bryan White, LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood. Newcomers Chely Wright and Sara Evans, two stellar vocalists with excellent albums this year, will also perform.
The year's top vote-getters are Texan George Strait and Nashville newcomer Deana Carter, with five nods each. Rimes is for three prizes, including the prestigious Horizon Award and female vocalist of the year. Trisha Yearwood, who's never won a CMA, is vying for two big ones: album and female vocalist.
Here are the nominees:
Entertainer: Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, George Strait.
Female vocalist: Deana Carter, Patty Loveless, LeAnn Rimes, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood.
Male vocalist: Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Collin Raye, George Strait, Bryan White.
Album: "Blue," LeAnn Rimes; "Carrying Your Love With Me," George Strait; "Did I Shave My Legs for This?", Deana Carter; "Everybody Knows," Trisha Yearwood; "Everything I Love," Alan Jackson.
Horizon (for career progress): Trace Adkins, Deana Carter, Terri Clark, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack.
Vocal group: Alabama, Diamond Rio, the Mavericks, Ricochet, Sawyer Brown.
Vocal duo: Bellamy Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, Raybon Brothers, Thrasher Shiver, John & Audrey Wiggins.
Music video: "455 Rocket," Kathy Mattea; "All the Good Ones Are Gone," Pam Tillis; "Every Light in the House," Trace Adkins; "It's Your Love," Tim McGraw (with Faith Hill); "Strawberry Wine," Deana Carter.
Song: "All the Good Ones are Gone," Dean Dillon, Bob McDill; "Blue," Bill Mack; "Butterfly Kisses," Bob Carlisle, Randy Thomas; "Strawberry Wine," Matraca Berg, Gary Harrison; "Time Marches Bobby Braddock.
Vocal event: "Long Haired Country Boy," the Charlie Daniels Band with John Berry & Hal Ketchum; "Still Holding On," Clint Black and Martina McBride; "You've Got a Friend in Me," George Jones and Kathy Mattea; "John the Revelator," Lee Roy Parnell and the Fairfield Four; Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, "It's Your Love."
Musician: Eddie Bayers, Paul Franklin, Brent Mason, Matt Rollings, Brent Rowan.
What: Country Music Association awards W
hen: 8-11 tonight
, Where: CBS (WJZ, Channel 13)
Pub Date: 9/24/97