When the County Music Association Awards (CMAs) started back in 1967, people didn’t know how wildly glamorous and spectacular this award show would grow to be. Nearly 53 years later, the CMAs have delivered some incredible moments in music history, including:
Charlie Rich’s Slow Burn
Known as the Silver Fox toward the end of his career, Rich was experiencing declining success as country music shifted away from traditional “country” sounds and more towards “pop” sounds and styles. When he was tasked with announcing the Entertainer of the Year award in 1975, Rich made a fiery announcement — literally. The winner that year was John Denver, and Rich, upon seeing the name, lit the announcement card on fire with his lighter. Simultaneously, he announced the winner of the award as “My friend, Mr. John Denver.” Some claim Rich was intoxicated and exhibited poor judgment, while others believe he was protesting the “pop” influences on the CMAs.
Taylor Swift wins Entertainer of the Year
Swift entered the country music scene with unparalleled success. Just before she turned 20 in 2009, Taylor Swift won the Entertainer of the Year Award, making her the youngest winner of this prestigious award. Swift beat out Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, and Brad Paisley. She was also the first female solo act to win the award in 10 years.
The Queen’s Major Malfunction
In 1978, Dolly Parton accepted her first Entertainer of the Year Award. Before she went on stage to accept the award, Parton experienced a wardrobe malfunction when her dress split down the middle. To cover up the split seam, she borrowed a jacket from Marianne Gordon. In her jovial demeanor, Parton joked, “My daddy said that’s what I get for putting 50 pounds of mud in a five-pound bag.” Parton would go on to win many other awards at the CMAs and perform at the CMA Fest as well.
The Man in Black Lives on
The 2003 CMA Awards were incredibly emotional for many musicians and country fans. Johnny Cash passed away on Sept. 12, 2003, just before the CMAs. To honor the incredible musician, a coterie of legends paid tribute to the Man in Black, including Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, and Kris Kristofferson. By the end of the night, Cash was posthumously awarded Album of the Year, Music Video of the Year, and Single of the Year.
Post-9/11 Performance of a Lifetime
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 shook the American public. Many of us were left wondering about the safety and future of our country. Few singers were able to embody this feeling better than Alan Jackson, who performed “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” at the 2001 CMA Awards. The audience gave a standing ovation and many performers could be seen crying in the audience.
While these legendary moments have passed, there is still plenty of history to be made at both the CMA Fest and the CMA Awards. Tickets sell out incredibly quickly to the CMA Fest, and the longer you wait to book your accommodations in Nashville, the more expensive and difficult it becomes. If you want a luxury travel experience to the County Music Association Festival, book a luxury vacation package — which includes CMA Fest tickets — with Superior Executive Services.