54 facts about the CMA Awards

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Musician Darius Rucker and host Reba McEntire speak onstage during the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 18, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/ACMA2010/Getty Images for ACMA)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Think you’re a country music expert? Here are 54 things you may…or may not know about the annual CMA Awards show.

#1: The first CMA Awards was held in 1967 at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville. 

#2: The first televised CMA Awards took place the following year.

#3: The CMA Awards have been held in Nashville every year except in 2005 when they were held at Madison Square Garden in NYC.

#4: For the first time in its 54 years the CMA Awards will be held at the Music City Center and won’t be open to a public audience.

#5: Taylor Swift was the youngest person ever to win the “Entertainer of the Year” award. She was 19.

#6: Loretta Lynn was the first woman to win the coveted Entertainer of the Yea” award. 

#7: George Strait has the most CMA Awards nominations – 83. Of those nominations, he has won 23 times.

#8: Brooks & Dunn is the only duo to ever win “Entertainer of the Year.”

#9: Brooks & Dunn have also been nominated for vocal duo of the year

#10: Vince Gill hosted the CMA Awards every year from 1992 to 2003.

#11: Barbara Mandrell was the first artist to win the “Entertainer of the Year” award twice.

#12: Garth Brooks has won the “Entertainer of the Year” award seven times – more than any other performer. In July 2020, Brooks withdraw his name from this year’s category, saying he wanted to give another artist the opportunity to win the coveted honor.

#13: The CMA Awards is the longest-running annual awards show on national TV. (Information from Billboard Magazine)

#14: Musician Paul Franklin is the most-nominated artist who has not won a CMA Award. (Information from Billboard Magazine)

#15: Miranda Lambert is the most awarded female in CMA history with 13 wins. (Information from Billboard Magazine)

#16: Reba McEntire had the most CMA nominations in history for a female artist, (51 currently); but with seven nods in 2020, Miranda Lambert is now the most-nominated female artist in CMA history with 55. (Information from Billboard Magazine)

#17: Lambert also won “Female Vocalist of the Year” a record straight six years (2010 – 2015).

#18: The Country Music Association was founded in 1958.

#19: At the 2014 CMA Awards, Brad Paisley announced his co-host Carrie Underwood was expecting a baby boy with her husband, retired Nashville Predator Mike Fisher. 

#20: Eddy Arnold won the first-ever “Entertainer of the Year” award in 1967.

#21: Albums and songs released between July 1 of the previous calendar year and June 30 of the award show’s year are eligible for consideration. (Information from Wikipedia) 

#22: Awards are given for 12 different categories – Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Female Vocalist, New Artist, Vocal Group, Vocal Duo, Single, Song, Album, Musical Event, Music Video, and Musician. 

#22: In 1981, a new category was added to the lineup – the Horizon Award – later became Best New Artist.

#23: Six artists who won the Horizon Award/Best New Artist have gone on to win “Entertainer of the Year” (Ricky Skaggs, Garth Brooks, Dixie Chicks, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, and Taylor Swift).

#24: Jimmie Allen, who is nominated this year for New Artist of the Year, is the first African American nominated in the category since Darius Rucker 11 years prior. Rucker won that year.

#25: In 2019, Jenee Fleenor became the first woman to be nominated and win Musician of the Year. She is nominated once again in 2020.

#26: Jimmy Buffett won “Vocal Event of the Year” in 2003 for the song “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” performed by him and Alan Jackson. 

#27: The 54th annual CMA Awards will be the first since 2007 to not feature Carrie Underwood as one of the hosts.

Reba and Darius Rucker
(Courtesy: Country Music Association)

#28: Darius Rucker is the second Black host in the history of the CMA Awards. The first was Charley Pride who co-hosted with Glen Campbell in 1975.

#29: The CMA’s instituted a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. It was named after the inaugural recipient, Willie Nelson.

#30: Charley Pride will receive the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 CMA’s. Darius Rucker will be the one to present him with the honor.

#31: Speaking of Charley Pride, he was the first African American artist to win “Entertainer of the Year” – 1971.

#32: This will be the first time since 2012-2013 that the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented in back-to-back ceremonies. Kris Kristofferson received the honor in 2019.

#33: In 2016, Dolly Parton became the first female, and currently only, recipient of the “Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award”.

Dolly Parton at the CMA Awards in Nashville in 1977. (AP Photo)

#34: The Music City Center is the fifth Nashville location to hold the CMA Awards. Along with the previously mentioned Municipal Auditorium, ceremonies have been held at the Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry House, and most recently Bridgestone Arena.

#35: Country singer Chris Stapleton, who will now be performing at this year’s show, announced he and his wife were expecting their fifth child at the 2018 CMA Awards.

#36: Alabama was the first group to win “Entertainer of the Year” (1982)

#37: Speaking of Alabama, they were also the first to threepeat the “Entertainer of the Year” award (82-84).

#38: Dolly Parton has won a CMA Award in five different decades.

#39: Two movie soundtracks have won “Album of the Year” – Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2001)

#40: In 2000, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill made history as the first married couple to win both “Male/Female Vocalist of the Year”.

#41: “There Goes My Everything,” written by Dallas Frazier and performed by Jack Greene, won the first “Song of the Year” and “Single of the Year.” It was later covered by Elvis Presley.

#42: Kenny Chesney and Alabama hold the record for the most consecutive wins for “Entertainer of the Year.”

#43: Seven female acts have won Entertainer of the Year: Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell (twice), Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, The Chicks, and Taylor Swift (twice).

#44: Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood are both nominated for Entertainer of the Year in 2020. It’s the first time in 20 years two female acts have been up for the award in the same year.

#45: Miranda Lambert (7) has the most nominations at this year’s CMA Awards.

#46: Lambert’s 2020 nominations include album, single, and song of the year. It’s the fourth time she has been nominated in all of those categories in the same year, tying Alan Jackson’s record.

#47: Johnny Cash won three CMA Awards in 2003 two months after he died.

#48: The coveted CMA Award was originally made of walnut.

#49: Each award weighs 6 pounds and stands 15 inches tall.

#50: The award is made hand-blown fine crystal in Florence, Italy.

#51: At its inception, the award was designed to resemble a chart bullet.

#52: The CMA Awards nominees and winners are determined by more than 7,400 industry professional members of the CMA. 

#53: The Country Music Association was established in 1958 and was the first trade organization formed to promote an individual genre of music.

#54: The CMA Awards began airing on ABC in 2006, where it continues to air.

Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker host Country Music’s Biggest Night™, airing live from Nashville’s Music City Center Wednesday, Nov. 11 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on ABC.

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