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Gill Hosts Country Music Awards

September 23, 1998

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ For the seventh straight year, Vince Gill acted as ringmaster and court jester at the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday.

``They’re starting to call me Hillbilly Crystal,″ Gill said, referring to longtime Academy Awards host Billy Crystal.

``It’s not about me trying to be on the show being the funniest guy in the ‘biz, it’s about me up there trying to showcase all of us with a lot of class and make everybody look good ’cause it’s a win-win for everybody when the show comes off well.″

Gill, voted Entertainer of the Year in 1993 and 1994, was nominated for the top award this year, as were Garth Brooks, the duo Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, Tim McGraw and George Strait. All but McGraw previously have won the award.

Strait led all nominees with five, including best male vocalist, single, album and music video.

Twelve awards were handed out during the three-hour show, held at the Grand Ole Opry House and broadcast on CBS.

Best female vocalist nominees were Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack and Trisha Yearwood.

Best single nominees were ``A Broken Wing″ by McBride, ``Holes in the Floor of Heaven″ by Steve Wariner, ``I Just Want to Dance With You″ by Strait, ``This Kiss″ by Hill, and ``You Don’t Seem to Miss Me″ by Loveless.

Shania Twain was nominated for best album for ``Come on Over,″ as were McGraw for ``Everywhere,″ Loveless for ``Long Stretch of Lonesome,″ Strait for ``One Step at a Time″ and Garth Brooks for ``Sevens.″

Scheduled performers included Alan Jackson, LeAnn Rimes, Twain, Brooks and McGraw.

Strait is the most-nominated performer in CMA history. His five this year upped his total to 47, beating Merle Haggard’s record of 43.

About 6,100 country music industry voters nominate and select the winners for the CMA Awards.

Also, late singers Elvis Presley, Tammy Wynette and George Morgan were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Businessman E.W. ``Bud″ Wendell, who ran the Grand Ole Opry and then its parent company Gaylord Entertainment for many years, also was inducted.

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