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Garth Brooks Voted Entertainer of the Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The biggest gun in country music is still Garth Brooks.

The popular star for the fourth time was voted Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association. Brooks, performing in Buffalo, N.Y., appeared via satellite on the annual awards show Wednesday night and said he hoped the award means he has the durability of his role model.

``If it means more to me this year, it's only because it's one more year down the road,'' Brooks said. ``That's only supposed to happen to cool guys like George Strait.''

Strait also was a repeat winner, earning the best male vocalist award for the third year in a row. ``It's great to walk on this stage again,'' he said.

Trisha Yearwood won Female Vocalist of the Year for the second consecutive year, and Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn took the trophy for best vocal duo, which they've won every year since 1992.

The show at the Grand Ole Opry House featured old favorites like Alan Jackson and fresh talent like female trio the Dixie Chicks. The latter - Martie Seidel, Natalie Maines and Emily Erwin - won awards for best vocal group and the Horizon Award for most career growth in the past year.

Erwin thanked her parents for ``giving me those banjo lessons.''

The broadcast opened with a brief bluegrass performance, then segued into the high-gloss country of Shania Twain, who sang her hit ``Honey, I'm Home.''

Twain, dressed in shiny, clingy leather, had dozens of teen-age girls on hand to rush the stage and clap along. The number ended with the explosion of pyrotechnics.

``That was Shania Twain, with `Honey, I'm Deaf,''' host Vince Gill quipped.

Yearwood joined Brooks in Buffalo, where the duo performed their power ballad ``Where Your Road Leads.'' Gill gave an emotional performance of ``The Key to Life,'' a song he wrote in tribute to his father, who died in 1997.

``Everywhere'' by Tim McGraw was named best album, beating offerings by Brooks, Twain, Strait and Patty Loveless. Faith Hill won best video for ``This Kiss.''

Steve Wariner picked up best song and single awards for ``Holes in the Floor of Heaven.'' Loveless and George Jones won best vocal event for their collaboration on her ``You Don't Seem to Miss Me'' single.

Elvis Presley, Tammy Wynette and George Morgan were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Businessman E.W. ``Bud'' Wendell, who ran the Grand Ole Opry and then its parent company, Gaylord Entertainment, also was inducted.

The nominees and winners are selected by about 6,100 country music industry voters.


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