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Toby Keith Scores 7 CMA Nominations

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In a year of odd collaborations and combinations, country music veteran Johnny Cash picked up four Country Music Association award nominations Tuesday for his newest work — which includes a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song — and country music outsiders Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and Jimmy Buffett scored CMA nods for their work as well.

Meanwhile, hitmaker Toby Keith gathered the most nominations — a total of seven, including best entertainer, male vocalist and album of the year — when the CMA announced the nominations Tuesday morning.

Keith picked up four nods for a duet with Willie Nelson, “Beer for My Horses,” which will compete in the “vocal event of the year” category against “Picture,” a duet between Rock and Crow, and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” — which paired country star Alan Jackson with original parrothead Jimmy Buffett.

Rebel darlings the Dixie Chicks may still be reeling from a controversy earlier this year in which lead singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush from a London stage, observes CMT. Although the Chicks’ critically acclaimed album “Home” has gone multiplatinum and their Top of the World Tour is currently the third highest-grossing tour of 2003 (behind the Rolling Stones and Elton John and Billy Joel), the trio landed only two nods — one for vocal group of the year, and one for the year’s top album.

In fact, it was a rough year for several female country stars. Both Faith Hill and Shania Twain, who released albums in the past year, were shut out completely, while the list of nominees for both entertainer of the year and the Horizon Award — a nod to emerging talent — were noticeably free of female talent.

Horizon nominees were Gary Allan, Buddy Jewell, Joe Nichols, Blake Shelton and Darryl Worley — whose song “Have You Forgotten?” grabbed nominations for both song of the year (a songwriter’s award) and single of the year (which goes to the artist and producer).

Back to the Country Music Awards 2003 intro.