Country music veteran Vince Gill is celebrating his first-ever album of the year Grammy nomination, but with Kanye West and Amy Winehouse also vying for the Grammys' Big Kahuna, Gill isn't kidding himself about his chances.
"I know I'm a dark horse," Gill told ABC News Radio. "I've been joking, I said, 'it took me four records to compete with one of theirs.'"
The four-disc boxed set "These Days" landed Gill the revered album of the year nod, an honor he called "shocking."
"You think at some point they're going to say, 'thanks for playing, now go on home,'" Gill said.
Gill is the country representative in this year's almost too musically correct album of the year class, to be awarded at the 50th annual Grammy Awards, Sunday. The category includes hip-hop showman and apparent front-runner West; groundbreaking, yet troubled British pop star Winehouse; the well-established rock band Foo Fighters; and, in a surprising mention, legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock.
"For the country music world to be represented in this category is not only a great thrill for me, but I think a lot of people that play and sing country music are equally honored by this nomination," Gill said.
Gill is also recognized in the more familiar country album of the year category, but he has already branched out and befriended the Foo Fighters, who joked with him about a Grammy battle royale.
"We were all buddy-buddy until they found out that we both got nominated in the album of the year category," Gill said. "Then they challenged me to a cage match — all four of them against me."
Gill has nothing to prove in the awards arena. With a staggering 18 Grammys to his credit and a spot in the hallowed Country Music Hall of Fame, he has attracted more than a dozen collaborators to "These Days."
Duet partners include Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Leann Rimes and a pair of women close to his heart — his wife, singer Amy Grant, and his 25-year-old daughter, Jenny Gill.
"I revere them both so much," Gill said. "They bring an awful lot of joy to my life … a lot of peace to my life."
Performing with his daughter was a revelation for Gill.
"When you have blood harmony that sings together … that's an amazing thing," he said. "I'd never heard that in my whole life until my daughter grew up and became a fine singer."
Whether or not Gill will showcase his vocal talents on the Grammy telecast remains to be seen. His manager told The Tennessean newspaper that he "is disappointed that Grammy producers chose not to offer Vince an appropriate role on this year's Grammy show."
He may be the dark horse, but Gill isn't counting himself out of the album of the year race.
"I've got a good history at the Grammys, and I think I have a shot," he said.
Is there space on Gill's mantle for more Grammy hardware?
"I got enough room on the hood of my car for these things," he said.