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Garth Brooks steps aside as an Entertainer of the Year contender

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ABC/Image Group LAAfter a record seven wins as CMA Entertainer of the Year, Garth Brooks is stepping aside as a contender.

The country superstar made the announcement during a news conference Wednesday, revealing he’d been in discussions with the Country Music Association about perhaps assuming the status of Entertainer of the Year Emeritus at this year’s CMA Fest. 

Of course, the annual gathering wasn’t possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now that CMA Awards voting has begun, the Country Music Hall of Famer wants to make it clear he’s grateful for his Entertainer wins, but wants to step aside to make way for the other contenders.

At the same time, Garth also reiterated he’s happy to be included in all the other categories, and has no intentions of retiring or slowing down. 

Garth’s win at the 2019 awards show came as a curve ball for many viewers, who were hoping that Carrie Underwood would win the title at the close of a show that was centered on spotlighting female artists. 

That night, Garth used his acceptance speech to draw attention to rising artists, both male and female. He highlighted co-host Reba McEntire’s showmanship, applauded Kelsea Ballerini’s vulnerable performance of her single “Homecoming Queen?”, predicted an Entertainer of the Year trophy in Luke Combs’ near future, and credited his wife, fellow country star Trisha Yearwood.

But some viewers critiqued Garth’s win both as a legacy problem — Garth has won the CMA Awards’ biggest trophy seven times — and as a symbol of the obstacles female artists face in the industry. No woman has won the Entertainer of the Year trophy since 2011, when Taylor Swift took home the honor.

By Stephen Hubbard and Carena Liptak
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