Garth Brooks Withdraws His Name From CMA ‘Entertainer Of The Year’ Nominations

Garth Brooks
Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP
– Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks performs during the CMA Awards in Nashville Nov. 8.
After racking up seven wins for CMA Entertainer of the Year – considered by many as the biggest award in country music – during his career, Garth Brooks is hanging up his hat and withdrawing his name from consideration in the category.  
“With all the love and gratefulness in the world, we are officially pulling ourselves out of entertainer of the year. With No. 7 we feel very lucky, it’s time for someone else to feel what that feels like,” the country icon said during a press conference July 29. 
During the press conference Brooks reiterated repeatedly how grateful he was to have been awarded Entertainer of the Year so many times and how he hoped his decision wouldn’t come off as negative in any way. He added, “These awards mean the world to me. I just feel like it’s someone else’s turn.” 
The announcement comes after Brooks won Entertainer of the Year in 2019, which some saw as a surprise because much of the award show was dominated by wins for female artists and Carrie Underwood was expected to take home the big prize. Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban were also nominated in the category. 
Of course, the win was well deserved for Brooks and the stellar year he had on the road in 2019 playing a range of venues from the intimate to larger-than-life buildings on his Dive Bar and Stadium tours.
Brooks explains that after winning he was inspired to withdraw from the race after seeing a tweet that stuck in his head that asked why doesn’t Brooks step down and leave the prize for the next generation? 
He approached the Country Music Association and asked if they could help him exit the Entertainment of the Year nominations but the CMAs ultimately concluded that as much as they’d like to help out, it wasn’t their call. 
And so Brooks took matters into his own hands. To be clear, Brooks answered a reporter’s question about the running for the rest of the awards and noted that he’s “extremely competitive” and would still love to be nominated in the other categories.   
Brooks was first awarded Entertainer of the Year at the CMAs in 1991, in addition to taking home Album of the Year for No Fences, Single of the Year for “Friends in Low Places” and Music Video of the Year for “The Thunder Rolls.” 
The first ballots for the 54th annual CMA Awards were emailed to CMA members July 2, with voting for the first ballot closed out July 13. The second ballot will be emailed to CMA members July 31 and voting closes Aug. 10. The final nominees in the 12 categories will be announced this summer. The third and final ballot will be sent to CMA members Oct. 1. “The 54th Annual CMA Awards” will be held in November in Nashville and broadcast live on ABC. 

During the press conference July 29 Brooks also spoke about missing live performing while finding the silver linings during the pandemic and working on his relationship with his wife and fellow country star Trisha Yearwood during the COVID-19 lockdown. He said, “We decided to use quarantine as a time to face everything. This is probably the blessing and a curse – the most we’ve gone through as a couple. We found out a lot about each other. The more you find out about her, the more you love her” … She allowed me to work on myself. The more you love your partner, the more you understand yourself. That’s been the great epiphany. I’ve grown closer to Ms. Yearwood.”

He also reassured fans that his daughter had recovered from COVID-19 and the only symptom she had was a sore throat. Earlier this month Brooks announced he was postponing his July 7 Facebook “out of an abundance of caution” after the Garth/Trish camp was possibly exposed to COVID-19. Brooks explained that although he and his wife hadn’t seen his daughter since she had developed symptoms and tested positive, her husband works with the team every day. Thankfully, everyone else tested negative.

“She quarantined for another 14 days; she’s feeling great. We thank everyone for their concern,” he said. 

Asked about the conflict in the country over political ideologies, racial tension and protests, Brooks emphasized the need to accept other people’s differences and extend unconditional love.  

One reporter brought up Brooks’ creative approach to live performance during the pandemic – including his request shows and broadcasting a concert to hundreds of drive-in theaters – and asked what was next. He says, “VR is the natural next step as far as people getting to experience a concert. … Have you experienced it from the drummer’s point of view? It will blow your mind.  … It’s fully submersive. I’m a huge fan because you find yourself screaming your guts out in your living room, screaming, applauding because you feel like your’e right there.”