By CLINT FOSTER
LOS ANGELES – It was “Music’s Biggest Night.”
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards, held Sunday night at the Los Angeles Staples Center, proved as memorable a ceremony as ever with many newcomers to the big-time music scene taking top honors. As usual, many of music’s biggest names graced the stage. A national television audience watched as former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reunited on stage, Metallica performed a duet with concert pianist Lang Lang and two silent, robot-headed frenchmen – better known as Daft Punk – took home Record of the Year and Album of the Year.
But stuck in among all the celebrities was a familiar face that has continued to make his hometown proud since he first left in 1993. Between crossover performances and a mass wedding officiated by former rapper Queen Latifah, Mineral Wells’ own Shane McAnally won the first two Grammys of his career, turning “Music’s Biggest Night” into arguably one of McAnally’s biggest nights.
Along with popular country music newcomer Kacey Musgraves, McAnally captured miniature golden gramophones for Best Country Song, for Musgraves’ hit “Merry Go Round,” and Best Country Album, for Musgraves’ “Same Trailer, Different Park.” The Nashville-based songwriter and producer – who was double-nominated for Best Country Song with Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” – will add his Grammys to what is sure to become a growing collection of awards in the near future, having garnered four Country Music Association Award nominations last year.
“It’s a dream,” McAnally told the Index. “I’ve wanted to win a Grammy since I can remember. I wrote songs when I was seven years old and watched the Grammys and all the award shows for so long. It is a huge honor just to be nominated. That’s sort of a cliche, but it’s the truth.
Just to see your name on those lists was a huge honor. But when you get nominated, you want to win.
“There’s a certain bit of relief that comes with it. Because that is something that, I think, for most musicians is sort of the pinnacle: to have a Grammy. So, there’s a bit of relief in it that now I do.”
Before the televised portion of the Grammys began, McAnally and Musgraves got their award for Best Country Song in the pre-telecast ceremony at Nokia Theater, during which an additional 70-or-so Grammys are presented to artists that simply could not fit into the three-hour slot on national TV.
With one Grammy already in hand, McAnally said it took a ton of pressure off going into the main broadcast and they felt they could just relax and enjoy the show. But when it came time for the announcement for Best Country Album, he said they were on pins and needles all over again.
“We felt like we had absolutely done more than we could have ever dreamed at that point,” he said of winning the first Grammy. “But of course when it got closer to album, as much as we like to say it was a relief we already had one, there were a lot of nerves involved. You just kind of hang on the opening of that envelope and try to watch their mouth move and figure out if the first word is the word you’re looking for.
“I don’t really remember when they said it. We were sitting further back than Kasey, so we had to kind of figure out how to get down to the stage quick enough. I just remember us going down the aisle and Luke Laird, my co-producer, just yelling in my ear, ‘Run! Run!’”
While McAnally was in the City of Angels, his mom and step-dad, Margaret and Bill Terry, were home in the City of Crazy Water watching the award show on TV. Margaret said her son had called them before the show to tell them he had already won Best Country Song in the pre-telecast ceremony – which they were elated to hear – but nothing could prepare them to see the announcement for Best Country Album live on CBS.
“When they announced Kacey had won, I (wanted to) jump through the TV,” Margaret said. “We had no idea. Neither did Shane. Both of our phones were going off like firecrackers.
“It’s one thing to get a CMA award, but to actually get a Grammy; that is huge. We’re so proud of him and he has worked so hard. It’s just overwhelming.”
Musgraves, who found a friend in McAnally long before she found fame, was grateful for his help and that of the rest of her creative team that helped them all achieve Grammy glory.
“I feel like the stars just aligned for us to come together,” she said in a press conference after the awards show. “We’re just three friends that started writing together and making amazing songs together that we really loved.
“The entire key, I feel like, to every part of this whole thing is having the right people around you. People that you trust, people that will fight for you and people that won’t try and change you no matter what.
“I’m lucky to have an entire team of people from the ground up that has never once tried to change anything about me. I’m very thankful for that.”
Palo Pinto County ties to Musgraves’ two new Grammys do not end with McAnally. The award-winning single and primary track on the Musgraves’ Grammy-award winning album, “Merry Go Round,” was written by McAnally, Musgraves and Josh Osborne in none other than Strawn.
McAnally said the three spent a week on Don and Sandra Crawford’s ranch, where Musgraves said the group “tapped into something special.” They knew they needed a debut single to kick-start Musgraves’ career, and that is exactly what they got.
“The fact that song was written there and just about life as we knew it in small towns and just to share that magical experience... that song was pivotal,” McAnally said. “We wouldn’t have any of this without that song. We are completely grateful for that song, that experience and that time in Strawn.
“The reason we wrote ‘Merry Go Round’ ultimately was that ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ was a song that Kacey had recorded for her album and then Miranda (Lambert) recorded it, with Kacey’s blessing. But that left a void for our first single. So, we wrote ‘Merry Go Round’ out of necessity, but it ended up being a great twist of fate. It was the right song for her and the statement she wanted to make.”
Now that he has two Grammys in hand, one of McAnally’s biggest problems is deciding where to put them. He said he jokingly cleared a space on a front table at his Music Row office in Nashville just big enough for two Grammys saying, “We’re just going to leave this open right here and assume this is where the Grammys are going to go.”
Little did he know, he would deliver on his promise and now has second thoughts about just where the two trophies should be displayed.
“I don’t know, it’s so weird,” he said with a laugh. “You want them to go everywhere. I think they’ll probably go home with me, but I don’t know for sure. I might have to just sleep with them under my pillow.”
McAnally said he wanted to extend his heartfelt thanks to everyone in the Mineral Wells community who has supported him throughout this journey. His mother especially wanted to recognize his late grandparents, Wesley and Barbara Sager, who helped raise McAnally through his time at Mineral Wells High School and “just believed in that child every step of the way.”
“It makes me very emotional actually because there’s just been an outpouring of love, especially from out there (in Mineral Wells),”
McAnally said. “It just feels like people have lifted me up in my career. It’s been a long road and this is an awesome moment.
“I’m just so grateful that I’m busy. That works for me. For a long time, I was just trying to be busy in the music business. I certainly am now. It’s a dream every day to wake up and do this. It’s all I ever wanted and anyone that knows me from Mineral Wells knows how obsessed I’ve been with music for ever. They rooted me on and are as much a part of this as anyone. I’ve just got to get up and try to get lucky again.”