Next weekend (Sunday, April 1), the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast live from Las Vegas. Many of the usual suspects fill out the nominees for the 2012 show, including Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum and Kenny Chesney. But one name missing from the duo category this year will be Brooks and Dunn‘s Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks following their public parting of ways in 2010.

“What’s with that?” Dunn asks Taste of Country with a laugh. “No, I’m fine with that. It’s an odd feeling because it’s 15 or 16 years since I’ve not seen that happen, but that just comes with the new Ronnie Dunn.”

Dunn released his debut solo album last summer and has already experienced great success with his choice in singles, like his current hit, ‘Let the Cowboy Rock.’ While the iconic hitmaker’s new solo career has him starting over in many ways, he says he is ready for the challenge and whatever comes with the new territory.

“It’s not scary; it’s fun,” he explains. “I’m really enjoying it, and I know people are going to call my BS factor here, but I’m digging going out and hitting those small clubs, casinos, fairs and festivals, and being able to look at people eye-to-eye and deliver that music. I feel like I’m campaigning for office almost … going door to door and just hitting it from the ground up. People are testing my waters to see how committed I am.”

“I don’t take for granted because I came out of a successful group that I get the golden key to step right back up and fall into place,” he adds, clarifying that he’s lucky to be where he is. “I have to go earn it song by song. It’s no different than how it ever was, but I have to start that from scratch. You’re going to get resistance. It’s not supposed to be easy. To me, it’s just about the game of being relevant.”

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