Early on Wednesday morning (July 29), Garth Brooks invited about 70 reporters into a press conference to share the news that he is pulling himself out of the Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year category for the awards later this year. Brooks won the award in 2019, after having taken that same trophy home six other times: 2017, 2016, 1998, 1997, 1992, and 1991.
“This all started at the CMAs last year. We were lucky enough to win entertainer of the year last year,” Brooks said. “The conversations started after that, to ask the CMA if it was possible — with all the gratitude and love in the world — that we could establish some kind of entertainer of the year emeritus kind of thing.”
Brooks shared that the CMA entertained the idea, they had meetings, and ultimately came back to him and said it wasn’t their call.
“They said, ’We cannot pull you out,’” he said. “So today we sit here and humbling ask, with all the gratefulness and love in the world, we are going to do it ourselves. We are going to pull ourselves out of entertainer of the year.”
He shared with reporters and fans looking on on Facebook that the aftermath of his win last year wasn’t fun.
“There was one tweet in there that really stuck in my head. It said, ’Hey man. This guy. Why doesn’t he step down?’ One hundred percent agreed. The last thing I want to do is seem ungrateful, to the CMAs and everybody who has voted for us,” he added, “we are officially pulling ourselves out. It’s time for somebody else to hold that award and know what that feels like, because they’re all out there busting their butts.
“I mean, the truth is, the entertainer of the year emeritus thing, where you get to go out as the entertainer of the year and then hopefully you’re always introduced as someone who was lucky enough to walk away with that award, that’s more than enough for me. When we say we’re pulling out,” he said, “it’s from here on out.”
Brooks said he’s asked the CMA, if his name is in the first round of voting this year, to simply slide his name out and the next person on the list in. And when asked about his predictions for who might win with him out of the running, Brooks hinted at which artist might take it home.
“You can bet that — let’s go with Keith (Urban), let’s go with Eric (Church), let’s go with Luke (Bryan), let’s go with Carrie (Underwood) — these bands and crews all deserve that feeling,” he said. “Knowing that some day down the line, they’re all gonna hold that award. Because it is the coolest nod from the industry.”
At the end of the press conference, when Brooks again brought up The Tweet that changed everything for him, he said, “For eight months, it has bothered me. But there is a freeing feeling about me right now when I walk out of this building that I’m going to really, really, really enjoy where we stand as a band and crew. I really love the fact that someone else is gonna get to experience that entertainer of the year nod, so that’s a wonderful thing.
“And Carrie’s might just be a year later. It might be her year this year.”