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NO SURPRISE: GILL LEADS AWARD NOMINEES

SHARE NO SURPRISE: GILL LEADS AWARD NOMINEES

Fickle country music insiders stayed loyal to 15-time winner Vince Gill, nominating him Tuesday for seven Country Music Association awards while spurning last year's sweetheart Alison Krauss.

Gill was nominated for entertainer of the year, the top award, and best male vocalist, album, single, song, music video and vocal event.Thirteen-year-old newcomer LeAnn Rimes, whose No. 1 hit "Blue" was a ringer for the legendary Patsy Cline, picked up nominations for best single and the Horizon Award for most prom-is-ing.

Krauss, a bluegrass-based singer-fiddler who last year won four awards including best female vocalist, was shut out of the nominations.

They were announced at a news conference by singers Lorrie Morgan and Marty Stuart before about 200 fans outside the Grand Ole Opry House.

Shania Twain, the best-selling country music artist of the past two years, won a measure of respect with a nomination for best female vocalist. She also was nominated with her husband-producer Mutt Lange for a songwriting award for their "Any Man of Mine."

"All right, you guys just made my day," Twain said in a squealing voice by phone from New York. "This is just so great, thank you."

Superstar Garth Brooks' return to action with a new album "Fresh Horses" and a world tour was recognized with a nomination for entertainer of the year. Rounding out the category with Brooks and Gill are George Strait, the duo Brooks & Dunn and 1995 winner Alan Jackson.

Newcomers Bryan White and Collin Raye join old hands Gill, Jackson and Strait in the best male vocalist race. Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride and Pam Tillis will compete with Twain for best female vocalist. Perennial contender Reba McEntire was not nominated.

Nominated for best single along with "Blue" are "Check Yes or No" by Strait, Gill's "Go Rest High on That Mountain," "Time Marches On" by Tracy Lawrence and Brooks & Dunn's remake of "My Maria," originally a pop hit for B.W. Stevenson in 1973.

Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Gill, Loveless and McBride are all up for best album.

Winners, who are selected by 7,000 members of the CMA, will be revealed in a ceremony televised live on CBS on Oct. 2 from the Grand Ole Opry House.

Performers Buck Owens, Ray Price and the late Patsy Montana will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the telecast, which Gill will emcee.

Here are the finalists for the 1996 Country Music Association awards:

Entertainer of the Year: Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, George Strait

Female Vocalist of the Year: Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Pam Tillis, Shania Twain

Male Vocalist of the Year: Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Collin Raye, George Strait, Bryan White

Single of the Year (for singer): "Blue," LeAnn Rimes; "Check Yes or No," George Strait; "Go Rest High on That Mountain," Vince Gill; "My Maria," Brooks & Dunn; "Time Marches On," Tracy Law-rence

Album of the Year: "Blue Clear Sky," George Strait; "Borderline," Brooks & Dunn; "High Lonesome Sound," Vince Gill; "The Trouble With the Truth," Patty Loveless; "Wild Angels," Martina McBride

Horizon Award: Terri Clark, Wade Hayes, LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain, Bryan White

Vocal Group of the Year: Alabama, BlackHawk, Diamond Rio, The Mavericks, Sawyer Brown

Vocal Duo of the Year: Baker & Myers, Bellamy Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, John & Audrey Wiggins

Music Video of the Year: "Check Yes or No," George Strait; "Go Rest High on That Mountain," Vince Gill; "My Maria," Brooks & Dunn; "My Wife Thinks You're Dead," Junior Brown; "Redneck Games," Jeff Foxworthy and Alan Jackson

Song of the Year (for songwriter): "Any Man of Mine," Shania Twain, R.J. Lange; "Check Yes or No," Danny M. Wells, Dana Hunt Oglesby; "Go Rest High on That Mountain," Vince Gill; "Keeper of the Stars," Dickey Lee, Karen Staley, Danny Mayo; "Time Marches On," Bobby Braddock

Vocal Event of the Year: Dolly Parton and Vince Gill, "I Will Always Love You"; George Jones and Tammy Wynette, "One"; Jeff Foxworthy and Alan Jackson, "Redneck Games"; Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt, "Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best"; Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Linda Davis, "On My Own"

Musician of the Year: Eddie Bayers, drums; Paul Franklin, steel guitar; Brent Mason, guitar; Mark O'Connor, fiddle; Matt Rollings, keyboards.