NASHVILLE – Singer Neal McCoy surprised the country music industry Monday by being named entertainer of the year at the 32nd annual TNN Music City News Country Awards.
But the big winner in a two and a half-hour ceremony attended by 11,000 people at the Nashville Arena and telecast by the TNN network was Billy Ray Cyrus of “Achy Breaky Heart” fame.
Cyrus not only emerged as male artist of the year but also won in three other categories: song (”It’s All the Same to Me,” written by Kerry Kurt Phillips and Jerry Laseter), album (”Cover to Cover”) and video (”Three Little Words”).
Lorrie Morgan was voted best female artist. The Living Legend Award went to “Grand Ole Opry” veteran Porter Wagoner. Reba McEntire received the Minnie Pearl Award for humanitarian activity.
Nominations were made and winners selected through ballots printed in the monthly Music City News and telephone numbers announced on TNN.
McCoy, a Texas baritone whose renditions range from romantic tunes to concert show stoppers such as his wild rap version of ”The Beverly Hillbillies” theme song, shut out heavy hitters Garth Brooks, Cyrus, Alan Jackson and George Strait to win the top trophy.
Other award winners were: Single of the Year, Brooks & Dunn; Vocal Collaboration of the Year, Anita Cochran & Steve Wariner for ”What If I Said”; Vocal Band of the Year for Sawyer Brown.