SHANIA TWAIN may be considered by Nashville traditionals as belonging more to the pop genre than mainstream country. But, later this month, she will become the first female recipient of the ‘Artist of a Lifetime’ award from the US Country Music Television (CMT) network.
The Canadian-born songbird follows in the footsteps of country icons Kenny Rogers and Merle Haggard when she receives this award on October 20.
The glittering awards’ evening, taped live at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, will feature performers selected by CMT as the top artistes of the year: Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett.
These performers collectively dominated the last 12 months on CMT’s platforms and country radio, scoring chart-topping albums and singles, and selling out arenas across the States.
Shania, a five-time Grammy winner, was selected for her enormous impact and achievements in American country music.
With more than 75 million albums sold worldwide and US sales reaching 34.5 million sales, she remains the top-selling female country artiste of all time. Her 1997 release Come on Over has sold more than 15.6 million copies, making it the No 1 best-selling country album and No 1 top-selling album by a female in any musical genre.
* GARTH BROOKS is a country megastar not in the habit of singing for nothing. His legion of fans in Ireland remember only too well how the Oklahoma man was not prepared to do a deal on five shows at Croke Park in Dublin in July 2014.
Fast forward, Garth has now been persuaded to headline a free concert at Nashville’s massive Ascend Amphitheater on Monday October 24. The gesture is to celebrate his seventh diamond certification from the Recording Industry Association of America with the show being co-ordinated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Brooks made the announcement this week at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, where State Governor Bill Haslam named him a Tennessee ambassador of goodwill in honour of the Recording Industry Association achievement.
The RIAA has confirmed that Garth’s 2007 album, The Ultimate Hits, has sold 10 million copies, the threshold for the diamond award. He previously received diamond awards for Garth Brooks, No Fences, Ropin’ the Wind, The Hits, Double Live and Sevens albums.
Garth confirms: “I feel very lucky and blessed to get to team up with the state of Tennessee to bring the seven Diamond certifications to the home of country music - Nashville Music City.”
Garth, still on his world tour which so far has concentrated in the US and Canada, has not indicated if he is considering a return to Ireland for shows. He was a huge hit at the King’s Hall, Belfast in November 1998, pulling in 35,000 fans at seven shows.
* I’m in East Tennessee this weekend for the three-day Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia. This Bluegrass and Old-Tyme musical extravaganza is among the most popular, best attended events of its kind in the US. I have attended the Homecoming every year for the past 23 years, and, with fine weather promised, I’m looking forward to again hearing top performers - Doyle Lawson and his Quick Silver group, Steve Gulley, Dale Ann Bradley, Michael Cleveland, and The Grascals, all of whom have starred at the Ulster-American Folk Park Bluegrass Festival in Omagh.