Country Music Awards

A Complete Guide to Country Music's Biggest Awards

If you don't know an ACM from a CMA, look no further than this guide to country music's most sought after awards. You'll find historical tidbits, predicted air times and relevant links.

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CMA Awards

taylor swift 2010 cma awards
Image courtesy of Getty Images/Frederick Breedon

The Country Music Association (CMA) was established in 1958 to promote country music. It held its first awards show in 1968. The ceremonies started being broadcast on television the following year, and they continue to be a way for the organization to fulfill its central goal of increasing country music's cultural presence.

Awards Show Held: October or November
Sample Categories: Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year
First Winners: Eddy Arnold (Entertainer of the Year), Jack Greene (Male Vocalist of the Year), Loretta Lynn (Female Vocalist of the Year)

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ACM Awards

ACM Logo
Image courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

Like the CMA, the Academy of Country Music (ACM) is a promotional organization for country music. Although it was the second such group to form, it was the first to have an awards show -- an annual tradition that began in 1965. Before adopting their current name, the group was known as the Country and Western Music Academy.

Awards Show Held: April
Nominees Announced: February
Sample Categories: Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Event of the Year
First Winners: Buck Owens (Top Male Vocalist) and Bonnie Owens (Top Female Vocalist)

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Country Music Hall of Fame

country music hall of fame and museum
Image courtesy of Country Music Foundation

The Country Music Hall of Fame was founded in 1961 and it received its own location in 1967 and yet another in 2001. They honor the legends of country music each year through a lengthy and highly selective process. The inductees are displayed in the museum's famed rotunda.

Unfortunately for fans, the awards ceremony is an industry-only affair. It isn't televised, but you can stream it live online at the Hall of Fame website. 

Awards Show Held: May
First Inductees: Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose

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CMT Music Awards

CMT Awards Logo 2011
Image courtesy of CMT

Country Music Television (CMT) became a force to be reckoned with in the 1990s after being formed in 1983. A down-home alternative to MTV, the channel asserted itself as the top venue for country music videos -- giving rise, in turn, to a photogenic crop of young singers that included Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam. The channel's annual awards show began as the CMT Flameworthy Awards in 2002. It honors the best in country music videos. 

Unlike other awards shows which are determined by members of their respective organizations, the CMT Award winners are selected entirely by fans.

Awards Show Held: June (formerly April)
Sample Categories: CMT Performance of the Year, Breakthrough Video of the Year
Former Hosts: Pamela Anderson, Jeff Foxworthy, Kid Rock, Bill Engvall
First Winners: Kenny Chesney's "Young" (Video of the Year), Martina McBride's "Blessed" (Female Video of the Year)

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Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame

Songwriters Hall of Fame Logo
Image courtesy of Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame

This Hall of Fame was established in 1970 by the Nashville Songwriters Association to honor the songwriter's craft. The Hall of Fame stocked their coffers with 21 legendary songsmiths in their first year of existence. Since then, the organization has inducted at least three songwriters annually.

Awards Show Held: October
Nominees Announced: August
First Inductees: Hank Williams, Fred Rose, Pee Wee King, Ernest Tubb, Merle Travis

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CCMA Awards

Images courtesy of Canadian Country Music Association

This is Canada's version of the ACM and/or CMA Awards – take your pick. Like its sister organizations in the lower 48, the Canadian Country Music Association is charged with boosting the country-music industry. The CCMA held its first awards ceremony in 1982 -- a late bloomer by U.S. standards. But if you think Canada is on the margins of country music, consider some of the nation's high-powered exports, including Shania Twain, Terri Clark and K.D. Lang.

Awards Show Held: September
Nominees Announced: July
Sample Categories: Rising Star, Top Selling Album
First Winners: Family Brown (Entertainers of the Year), Terry Carisse (Male Artist of the Year), Female Artist of the Year (Carroll Baker)

Don't Miss an Award

Tune in for some topnotch entertainment at these awards shows. Nominees and other stars alike often take the stage.