Lee Ann Womack, who’s spent most of the spring moving into summer on the road, started today like every day: looking for somewhere to walk her dogs. But when she looked down at her cell phone, she was surprised to see a flurry of congratulations for her CMT Video Music Awards for Female Video of the Year.
“I just didn’t think about it,” she marvels. “My little video… with the snakes? But I’m fired up that CMT liked it enough to recognize it. I wanted to take my music somewhere else with this album, and I felt the same way about the video! We were worried how people would respond; this says ‘Lead with your heart, trust your gut and the people will be there.'”
Directed by Roger Pistole and shot in an abandoned cabin on a 2300 working ranch, it captured the duality of good and evil in people – as well as showcasing a sweltering performance from the Grammy-winning vocalist. World premiered on CMT – with the track debuting at the Wall Street Journal – it kicked off Womack’s first album in over six years with a fervor.
It would have been enough for the woman who anchored co-hosted the International Bluegrass Music Awards with Jerry Douglas, took part in PBS’ fund-raising “Rock My Soul” with the Fairfield Four, the McCrary Sisters, Lucinda Williams, Amos Lee and was part of the Emmylou Harris Tribute Concert in Washington, DC. But it seems her CMT “Crossroads” with John Legend turned enough heads, it earned her a second nomination, not given on “The Today Show.
“John sent me the sweetest text,” she picks up laughing. “He was so amazing on ‘Crossroads,’ it made me really happy that something for our show got nominated! He’s a singer’s singer, I’m telling you – and he kinda took me to school a little. When you listen to ‘You and I,’ it’s beyond a genre! Sometimes you get a collaboration like that, out of the blue, and it makes no sense on paper… but when you sing.“
With a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album for The Way I’m Livin’, this has been a year of music rising for the East Texan. By stripping back to her roots and seeking songs that dig a little deeper, the response has been unprecedented for a little record that could.
Esquire made it the only country album on their Best of 2014, calling it “a late-night honky-tonk full of broken bottles and shattered dreams,” while The New York Times proclaimed, “Ms Womack is an exceptional singer with a plangent voice designed for lingering on the notes and words, especially plaintive ones… when Ms. Womack is allowed to luxuriate in her anguish, she is entrancing,” USA Today gave her a rare **** out of **** review – and the Associated Press offered, “”Womack is one of American music’s most powerful interpreters of good material, whatever the genre.”
And now CMT: Country Music Television gives the diminutive blond a pair of nominations for their Awards telecast June 10, live on CMT. Tonight at the City Winery, Womack might just raise a glass for unlikely notions and making the music you feel fiercest about.