CMA Awards Artist Spotlight: ALAN JACKSON

Alan Jackson debuts "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" at the CMA Awards in 2001.

Country music legend Alan Jackson returns to “The 45th Annual CMA Awards” to potentially claim his fourth win for Musical Event of the Year after a wildly successful collaboration with the Zac Brown Band on the No.1hit “As She’s Walking Away.” This nomination marks Jackson’s 80th CMA Awards nomination, making him second to only George Strait whose current reign with 81 nominations is certainly in a precarious position. Other featured nominees for the category include Grace Potter, Alabama, Kelly Clarkson, Loretta Lynn, and Sheryl Crow. The Zac Brown Band is up for four nominations this year for Vocal Group, Single, Album, Song, and Musical Event of the Year.

More about the “As She’s Walking Away” Collaboration

Picture Alan Jackson recording the chart-topping, double platinum breakthrough hit “Chicken Fried,” the single that shuttled the Zac Brown Band into prominence. It may seem ridiculous, but it almost happened. Keith Stegall, who produces both acts, pitched the song to Jackson before Zac and his band mates had a record deal. Jackson good-humoredly admits vague regret about passing up the offer, but on the bright side, the close-call gave both Jackson and Zac an opportunity to acknowledge a mutual reverence for one another’s talents. Two years later, the Zac Brown Band and Jackson reunited to record “As She’s Walking Away” as the first single off of Brown’s You Get What You Give album.

The song is a lyrical tale of innocuous flirtations and a young man whose hesitation to approach a girl of interest could mean he loses the opportunity forever. Appropriately, Jackson serves as the voice of wisdom, a no-nonsense guide who tells Brown to “roll the dice and have some faith.” Under Stegall’s production, Brown’s guitar acoustics seamlessly interweave with layered vocal harmonies and Jackson’s warm baritone accompaniment.

Alan Jackson joins Zac Brown Band to perform "As She's Walking Away" at the 2010 CMA Awards.

“As She’s Walking Away” debuted at No.32 on Billboard’s country charts and on November 20, 2010 it became Brown’s fourth consecutive No.1 single and Jackson’s 26th. In an ironically pleasant twist of fate, “As She’s Walking Away” became Jackson’s 35th number one single only three days before he released his gold-certified compilation album entitled 34 Number Ones, a career-spanning commemoration to his previous hit singles. But to show good faith in light of his recent champagne problem, Jackson presented Brown with a 1966 Cadillac El Dorado at a Nashville performance the following December as a thank you gift.

The song has earned Jackson and the Zac Brown Band a slew of industry accolades including a Grammy this year for “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals,” a second for them both. Of the award and the collaboration, Jackson remained true to his famously modest, Georgian disposition, “I was real honored when Zac asked me to be on this record. You know, it’s pretty cool when a few of us Georgia boys can end up winning a Grammy out in L.A.”

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