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CMA New Artist Award: a real headscratcher

Jeffrey Remz  |  September 6, 2011

Once upon a time, the Country Music Association called it the Horizon Award. Basically, this was handed out to a new artist, who showed promise.

A few years ago, the CMAs changed the name to the New Artist Award, and now it doesn't seem like new artists are actually given the award any more. Just take at this year's nominees, which came out this morning, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Nominations were handed out to The Band Perry Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Thompson Square and Chris Young. I think it makes total sense for TBP or Thompson Square to get nominated. I thought perhaps Steel Magnolia would have snagged one as well. While TBP released an EP, they have one full CD under their belt, and Thompson Square, a husband-and-wife duo, have one CD as well.

The same most definitely cannot be said for Bryan, Church or Young. All three, in fact, have released three albums, and all three have enjoyed a good amount of success this calendar year with number one albums and singles. Church and Young have put out three albums since 2006, while Bryan has issued 3 since 2007 (although he also has released EPs for his March vacation tour the last few years)

The award is a real head scratcher to me. Is it intended for - at least in the case of the male vocalists - artists who have done well, but aren't in the pantheon of the Chesneys, Paisleys and Urbans of the world who can get nominated (and do for Male Vocalist of the Year)? Or put another way, is the nomination grooming these veteran singers for greater things perhaps next year?

Congrats to Bryan, Church and Young for getting nominated and having made career strides this year as well, but somehow honoring these guys with this kind of award this far into their careers seems quite odd to me.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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