Toby Keith (Photo: Scott Legato)Here's a surprising fact country music fans may not realize: Toby Keith has not been nominated for a Country Music Association Award in 7 whole years. He's up for one this year--his first nod since 2005--but that leads us to another surprising fact.
He's not going anywhere near the CMA Awards when they take place on Thursday.
"Hell no, I ain't showing up. I gotta go get a root canal that day, or something fun," the multiplatinum-selling star told Country Weekly this month.
Keith, a stalwart of the genre who's been releasing albums for nearly 20 years now and repeatedly appears on Forbes' list of top-earning country stars (he held the top slot in 2011, over Taylor Swift), has been nominated for 28 CMA Awards total in his career. However, he has only won two: One in 2001 for Male Vocalist of the Year, and one in 2005 for Music Video of the year.
It's no shock then that Keith has a somewhat cynical view of the show, which is considered the most prestigious in country music's conglomerate of awards ceremonies. He has a fairly detailed history of discontent with the CMAs, being pushed over the edge in 2003 and 2004 when, after receiving 13 total nominations, he won none. At that point, Keith claimed he was done and accused the program of being politically driven.
He told People in 2008 that he refused to attend, adding "I know everybody is going to say it's sour grapes, but I don't care--it's not...They screwed me 'till I finally saw the light." He cited other extremely successful country artists who have received the same perceived lack of respect from the organization, including Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw.
Four years later, nothing has changed, despite the fact that Keith is riding a high on his biggest hit yet--and just released his 16th studio album on Tuesday, making the CMA Awards prime ground for promotional appearances. Keith's most recent nomination at this Thursday's awards is also for Video of the Year; the video, of course, is for his highly infectious--and slightly ridiculous--tune "Red Solo Cup." The tune has crossed boundaries into the most unlikely of places, even earning a spot on TV's wildly popular series Glee.
Keith acknowledges that the song is an undeniable force; however, he's quick to point out that it's the only one he's ever had that crossed out of country. He told Country Weekly that pop stations have historically always said, "'He is so country, we're not going to play him.' And I always took pride in that."
Yep, he's definitely country. But just don't look for him on Country Music's Biggest Night. He won't be there.
UPDATE: The CMAs announced winners in two award categories live Thursday morning on Good Morning America. Keith and "Red Solo Cup" won for Music Video of the Year.
Keith released his latest album, Hope On The Rocks, October 30. The CMA Awards will be broadcast live from Nashville November 1, on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/PT.