Heady Accolades Pile Up For Toby Keith in 2021


Heady Accolades Pile Up For Toby Keith in 2021

“Old School” Keeps Climbing

Vinyl Peso In My Pocket Out Now

photographer – Richard McLaren
album cover – Peso In My Pocket
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) Being back on the road with a standing-room-only tour, releasing his first new album in six years and launching a record-setting single would mark a banner 2021 for Toby Keith all by themselves. But that’s not even the half of it. Load on the National Medal of Arts, the Academy of Country Music’s Merle Haggard Spirit Award and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and, well, he may need to buy a few more banners.  

Among the loftiest accolades of a storied career, this year’s honors are nevertheless the fruit of seeds planted long before. The work – the art and effort – of 2021 was as ever for Toby Keith: songwriting, recording and entertaining. New single “Old School” bowed in June and set a Billboard record for the highest chart debut of his career. The album from which it is culled – Peso In My Pocket – was written largely by Keith with five writes. Released in October, the 10-song collection immediately drew praise.

“Keith has successfully brought his brand of hard-nosed country music back to the forefront,” wrote People. Outlets as diverse as Colbert and Fox & Friends invited him on to promote the release. CNN’s Pop Life Chronicles said “the year is a good one” for Keith in citing the album. And, on Dec. 10, Peso In My Pocket bowed on vinyl, with exclusive gold vinyl available at Walmart. A limited-edition purple vinyl is available for purchase at; with chances to win an autographed copy.

While serving four months of pandemic lockdown in Mexico fueled the writing that underpins Peso, it also put an unprecedented pause in Keith’s consistent venue-filling touring schedule. Back on the road this summer with the Country Comes To Town Tour that included a stop for October’s iHeartCountry Festival in Austin, Keith closed out the year at the beginning of this month to an estimated 40,000 people in Orlando. Of course, no gathering is closer to the native Oklahoman’s heart than his two-day golf classic, which raised another $1.4 million for the OK Kids Korral – a cost-free home for families of sick children. The total was the second-highest in the event’s 17 years, bringing the grand total raised to more than $17 million.

That kind of year-in, year-out creativity, work ethic and commitment to music fans and good causes are the foundation upon which rare dignities have inevitably come to rest. The National Medal of Arts – bestowed in January; the August ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award (whose namesake was a hero and friend); and last month’s Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame induction cemented how deeply impactful his career has been.

As does one final nugget, noted by Forbes in a “Five Albums To Watch Out For” story: Keith’s 35 Biggest Hits compilation has accumulated more than 100 weeks on the Billboard 200. That a collection of his hits would have to be whittled down to a mere 35 says one thing. That it’s been on the chart for two years … uh, more banners, please.