The Country Music Awards (or, technically, the Country Music Association Awards, also known as the CMA Awards, or most popularly and simply, the CMAs) are an annual presentation of awards to recognize the outstanding achievements in country music for the previous year in twelve different categories: Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Female Vocalist, New Artist, Vocal Group, Vocal Duo, Single, Album, Song, Musical Event, Music Video, and Musician. They are broadcast live on television, and serve as a touchstone point in the country music community and for its fans at large.
Despite not having as broad of an appeal as, for example, the Oscars for movies or the Emmys for television, the single-genre appeal of the CMAs has still managed to lend them a notable following and significant popularity. With such a niche clout, it is no small wonder that the background on the Country Music Awards is relatively rich.
The background on the Country Music Awards would be remiss to avoid noting its origins, as they were first presented in a non-televised ceremony at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville in 1967, with the Entertainer of the Year award going to Eddy Arnold. The awards have continued every year, with their recipients voted on by official members of the Country Music Association. Although the Awards have endured a handful of changes in venue and broadcast channel, they have aired on ABC from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena since 2006.
Throughout the storied history of the Country Music Awards includes artists and performers who have set themselves apart in their spectacular careers by capitalizing on CMA Awards more so than others. Included in these multiple-award-winners through 2010 is Kenny Chesney, who won Entertainer of the Year three consecutive times in 2006-2008. In fact, his four wins overall is tied with Garth Brooks, who won in 1991-1992, then in 1997-1998. Reba McEntire solidified her legendary status with four consecutive wins for Female Vocalist of the Year in 1984-1987, though Vince Gill won a remarkable five Male Vocalist of the Year awards 1991-1995. Gill even hosted the most times, and in a row, with an amazing twelve showings in 1992-2003.
As long as country music is a viable brand in America, resonating with the cowboy image and often a conservative worldview, the background on the Country Music Awards will only continue to expand. It offers an effective showcase for top country music stars to perform their hits, along with properly recognizing those who have most greatly contributed to the genre in the previous year, instantly being numerated into the decades-long generational saga that the CMAs stand on.
So-called “country music” is still a viable musical force, with millions of albums sold every year, which makes the Country Music Awards such a popular television event. As long as the appeal of the country crooners continues, so too will the CMAs.