The Oscars of Country

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood host the CMA Awards in 2012

(from Billboard Magazine, October 19, 2013) Country music’s biggest night is fast approaching, and if past viewer counts are any indication, this event’s appeal is much broader than just country music fans. The CMA Awards are set to air live on November 6, 2013.

The CMA Awards have always pushed the limits of performances, social issues, and what an awards show should be. They continually create bigger and better sets for the artists to perform with, even so far as building a castle tower for Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” in 2008. However, Alan Jackson’s simple premiere of “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” less than two months after 9/11 was welcomed with thunderous applause and stole the show that year.

This awards show boldly reflects changes happening in country music such as when Charley Pride became the first black man to win entertainer of the year (the biggest award of the night) in 1971, or Loretta Lynn being the first woman to win that award the following year in 1972. The CMA Awards consistently push the country music industry to recognize and celebrate the advances in both country music and our society.

Walter Miller is to thank for crafting the CMA Awards into what they are today. As the executive producer of the show for 40 years, Miller made this show the “Oscars of country music.” His successor, Robert Deaton, continues on this Oscar-style show. Deaton explains how he achieves this Oscar-style, “I’m not throwing 16 or 17 artists on stage and saying, ‘OK, perform your song.’ I’m trying to make 16 or 17 individual moments.” Over the 47 years this show has been on, country music has expanded from “hillbillies, overalls, and hay bales,” to being a cross-over worthy genre. This increase in awareness has led to more programming opportunities for the Country Music Association including “CMA Country Christmas,” “Country’s Night to Rock,” and weekly airtime with ABC’s “Nashville.” Country music, like any genre, is always changing; the CMA Awards are sure to reflect this change while providing quality live entertainment to the nation.