Here are all of the nominees and winners for CMA Album of the Year.
For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page.
Dierks Bentley, Black
Eric Church, Mr. Misunderstood
Maren Morris, Hero
Carrie Underwood, Storyteller
Keith Urban, Fuse
Eric Church became the ninth artist in CMA history to win this award twice, cruising to victory with the album that he released as a surprise during the previous year’s CMA ceremony.
Jason Aldean, Old Boots, New Dirt
Kenny Chesney, The Big Revival
Little Big Town, Pain Killer
Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material
Chris Stapleton, Traveller
Americana favorite Chris Stapleton broke into the mainstream in a big way, and in a rare occurrence in recent years, the CMAs were ahead of the curve. His domination at the 2015 CMA ceremony would continue through the rest of the awards season, and Traveller would win at the Grammys and the ACMs the following year.
Dierks Bentley, Riser
Luke Bryan, Crash My Party
Eric Church, Outsiders
Miranda Lambert, Platinum
Keith Urban, Fuse
Miranda Lambert’s historic run at the CMA Awards hasn’t been limited to her record Female Vocalist wins. She is currently the only female artist in CMA history to win two Album of the Year awards. Amazingly, she’s also won four at the ACMs, which has embraced Lambert even longer and more enthusiastically than their Nashville-based counterpart.
Little Big Town, Tornado
Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
Blake Shelton, Based on a True Story
Taylor Swift, Red
Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
Blake Shelton’s domination at the CMA Awards reached its curious peak in 2012 and 2013, winning the Entertainer trophy in the earlier year and then pulling off a surprising Album victory for Based on a True Story. The Grammy and the ACM would go to Kacey Musgraves the following year.
Dierks Bentley, Home
Luke Bryan, Tailgates & Tanlines
Eric Church, Chief
Lady Antebellum, Own the Night
Miranda Lambert, Four the Record
Eric Church finally won industry recognition with his Album of the Year victory. This was one of those years where album release dates impacted awards eligibility, so both the Church set and the Lambert collection would win the ACM in consecutive years. Meanwhile, the Grammys went with Lady Antebellum over Eric Church and Zac Brown Band’s Uncaged over Lambert’s set.
Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party
Brad Paisley, This is Country Music
Blake Shelton, All About Tonight
Taylor Swift, Speak Now
Zac Brown Band, You Get What You Give
Jason Aldean’s biggest album to date also provided him his only victory in this category. It’s his only major win at the CMA Awards, which have been just as stingy with the nominations for Aldean over the years.
Dierks Bentley, Up on the Ridge
Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
Miranda Lambert, Revolution
George Strait, Twang
Carrie Underwood, Play On
Miranda Lambert’s string of CMA victories began in 2010, largely on the strength of the hit single, “The House That Built Me.” This was Lambert’s first nomination in this category, and she’s enjoyed a nomination for every album she’s released since.
Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song
Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night
Sugarland, Love On the Inside
Taylor Swift, Fearless
Keith Urban, Defying Gravity
Taylor Swift became only the fourth solo female artist in CMA history to win Album of the Year, an honor also granted to the set by the ACMs and the Grammys (both in the Best Country Album and overall Album of the Year categories.)
Brooks & Dunn, Cowboy Town
Kenny Chesney, Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates
Alan Jackson, Good Time
George Strait, Troubadour
Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride
Ronnie Milsap effortlessly dominated this category in the seventies, winning it three times. He then returned in 1986 to pick up a fourth trophy. It took 22 years for that record to be matched by another artist, but only one more year after that for it to be broken. George Strait became the all-time champ in this category thanks to his back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008. Amazingly, he’d won twice in a row before in 1996 and 1997, along with winning his first trophy in 1985.
Dierks Bentley, Long Trip Alone
Vince Gill, These Days
Brad Paisley, 5th Gear
George Strait, It Just Comes Natural
Keith Urban, Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing
George Strait tied Ronnie Milsap’s long-standing record of most wins in this category when It Just Comes Natural became his fourth Album of the Year winner. While the ACM agreed with the CMA’s selection, the Grammys selected Vince Gill’s opus These Days instead. The Grammys made it up to George the following year by giving his next album, Troubadour, the Best Country Album trophy.
Brooks & Dunn, Hillbilly Deluxe
Kenny Chesney, The Road & the Radio
Alan Jackson, Precious Memories
Brad Paisley, Time Well Wasted
Rascal Flatts, Me & My Gang
After picking up wins in several minor categories over the years, Paisley finally won his first big award since Horizon, taking home Album of the Year at the 2006 awards. He also won Vocal Event of the Year for his duet with Dolly Parton, “When I Get Where I’m Going.”
Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying
Rascal Flatts, Feels Like Today
George Strait, Somewhere Down In Texas
Keith Urban, Be Here
Lee Ann Womack, There’s More Where That Came From
In a triumph of brilliant artistry over commercial success, the poorest-selling album of the five won the award. Womack’s retro country masterpiece went on to be certified gold on the strength of renewed interest after her big CMA wins that evening.
Brooks & Dunn, Red Dirt Road
Kenny Chesney, When the Sun Goes Down
Toby Keith, Shock’n Y’all
Brad Paisley, Mud on the Tires
Gretchen Wilson, Here For the Party
In an underwhelming lineup, at least from an artistic standpoint, Kenny Chesney won his first major CMA award when he took home Album for When the Sun Goes Down. He’s been a frequent nominee in this category, but this remains his only victory to date.
Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Around
Dixie Chicks, Home
Toby Keith, Unleashed
Tim McGraw, Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors
Joe Nichols, Man With a Memory
Cash was nominated before he died, so it was on the strength of “Hurt” that voters finally acknowledged the American series. Unfortunately, this was the weakest of the five albums in the series. Home is a masterpiece, and easily the best album in the category.
Kenny Chesney, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems
Alan Jackson, Drive
Toby Keith, Pull My Chain
Alison Krauss & Union Station, New Favorite
Willie Nelson, The Great Divide
George Strait, The Road Less Traveled
A diverse lineup that featured Willie Nelson’s first nomination in decades and bluegrass favorites Alison Krauss & Union Station, Drive emerged victorious, giving Alan Jackson one of his five victories that evening. The album will always have the bragging rights of featuring two of Jackson’s strongest singles of his career: the title track and “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).”
Brooks & Dunn, Steers & Stripes
Sara Evans, Born To Fly
Alan Jackson, When Somebody Loves You
Tim McGraw, Set This Circus Down
Soundtrack, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The O Brother phenomenon is amazing in retrospect: a collection of bluegrass and mountain standards selling millions of copies and bringing unprecedented interest to such music. It was also the first album in history to win both the Grammy and the CMA award for Album of the Year.
Dixie Chicks, Fly
Faith Hill, Breathe
Alan Jackson, Under the Influence
Brad Paisley, Who Needs Pictures
Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance
While every Dixie Chicks album with Natalie Maines has won the Grammy for Best Country Album, Fly remains their only set to also emerge victorious at the CMA Awards. Fly was powered by the hits “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Goodbye Earl.”
Vince Gill, The Key
Tim McGraw, A Place in the Sun
George Strait, Always Never the Same
Steve Wariner, Two Teardrops
Trisha Yearwood, Where Your Road Leads
Tim McGraw won his second consecutive Album award for A Place in the Sun, which featured several big hits, including “Please Remember Me” and “My Next Thirty Years.” Steve Wariner, a popular country star for more than twenty years, earned his only nomination in this category for Two Teardrops.
Garth Brooks, Sevens
Patty Loveless, Long Stretch of Lonesome
Tim McGraw, Everywhere
George Strait, One Step at a Time
Shania Twain, Come On Over
Tim McGraw’s artistic breakthrough came with Everywhere, and with it came his first major CMA Award. Everywhere won out over what would become the top-selling country album of all time, Shania Twain’s Come On Over.
Deana Carter, Did I Shave My Legs For This?
Alan Jackson, Everything I Love
LeAnn Rimes, Blue
George Strait, Carrying Your Love With Me
Trisha Yearwood, Everybody Knows
Veteran George Strait won his third Album of the Year trophy, the same night he brought his total Male Vocalist wins to four. Deana Carter and LeAnn Rimes earned their first and only nominations in this category with debut albums, while Trisha Yearwood finally broke into the category with her fifth studio set.
Brooks & Dunn, Borderline
Vince Gill, High Lonesome Sound
Patty Loveless, The Trouble With the Truth
Martina McBride, Wild Angels
George Strait, Blue Clear Sky
George Strait won his second Album award a full eleven years after his first, while Martina McBride enjoyed her first and only nomination to date.
Vince Gill, When Love Finds You
Alan Jackson, Who I Am
Patty Loveless, When Fallen Angels Fly
John Michael Montgomery, John Michael Montgomery
George Strait, Lead On
Patty Loveless wasn’t originally nominated for this award. She replaced Alison Krauss on the ballot when the CMA realized that Now That I’ve Found You was a compilation, and thus ineligible. In a beautiful surprise, the album that was at first overlooked ended up winning the trophy, and Patty Loveless became only the second woman to win this award for a studio album.
Alan Jackson, Who I Am
George Strait, Easy Come Easy Go
Various Artists, Asleep at the Wheel: Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Various Artists, Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles
Various Artists, Rhythm, Country & Blues
This was the year of the multi-artist tribute album, and due to a shift in eligibility periods, it was also the first of two years that Alan Jackson’s Who I Am would be nominated in the category. The tribute set that kicked off the trend was also the victor, meaning everyone from Lorrie Morgan and Trisha Yearwood to Little Texas and Diamond Rio took home a CMA Award for Album of the Year.
Brooks & Dunn, Hard Workin’ Man
Garth Brooks, The Chase
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Come On Come On
Vince Gill, I Still Believe In You
Alan Jackson, A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little ‘Bout Love)
Vince Gill’s status as a CMA favorite was cemented in 1993, when the legendary talent won five awards in one evening, including the trophy for Album of the Year.
Brooks & Dunn, Brand New Man
Garth Brooks, Ropin’ The Wind
Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart
Tanya Tucker, What Do I Do With Me
Garth Brooks won his second Album trophy for Ropin’ the Wind, which was the first country album to enter at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Brooks had the biggest seller in the category, but the other four nominees were represented by the top selling albums of their careers.
Clint Black, Put Yourself In My Shoes
Garth Brooks, No Fences
Vince Gill, Pocket Full of Gold
Alan Jackson, Don’t Rock the Jukebox
Reba McEntire, Rumor Has It
No Fences would hold the record for the biggest selling country album for almost a decade, until Shania Twain’s Come On Over surpassed it. Brooks won for an album that featured four #1 singles, three of which are now considered classics: “Friends in Low Places,” “Unanswered Prayers,” and “The Thunder Rolls.”
Alan Jackson, Here in the Real World
The Kentucky Headhunters, Pickin’ on Nashville
Ricky Van Shelton, RVS III
George Strait, Livin’ it Up
Keith Whitley, I Wonder Do You Think of Me
It is rare for a debut album to win this award, and and it is also rare for a band to win this award. The Kentucky Headhunters pulled off both with their victory here.
Kathy Mattea, Willow in the Wind
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. II
Ricky Van Shelton, Loving Proof
George Strait, Beyond the Blue Neon
Randy Travis, Old 8×10
It didn’t have the cultural impact of the first volume, but the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were rewarded for revisiting the world of classic country, with an enviable list of guest stars there for support.
Rodney Crowell, Diamonds & Dirt
Vern Gosdin, Chiseled in Stone
Kathy Mattea, Untasted Honey
George Strait, If You Ain’t Lovin’ You Ain’t Livin’
Hank Williams Jr., Born to Boogie
Hank Williams Jr. had been a top selling artist for years when he finally took home this trophy in 1988, the same evening he won his second victory for Entertainer of the Year.
George Jones, Wine Colored Roses
Reba McEntire, What Am I Gonna Do About You
Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris, Trio
George Strait, Ocean Front Property
Randy Travis, Always & Forever
Randy Travis would hold the record for the longest run at #1 on the Top Country Albums chart with Always & Forever for twelve years, until it was finally broken by Shania Twain’s Come On Over. The Travis set sold more than four million copies, largely on the strength of the smash hits “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “I Told You So.” All but one of the seven nominees this year are now in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the one who isn’t – Linda Ronstadt – is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The Judds, Rockin’ With the Rhythm
Reba McEntire, Whoever’s In New England
Ronnie Milsap, Lost in the Fifties Tonight
George Strait, #7
Randy Travis, Storms of Life
Four young new traditionalist acts were nominated with excellent albums that showcased their vision of the genre, and perhaps they split the vote, leaving the pop-flavored Ronnie Milsap set as the winner. This was Milsap’s fourth victory in this category, a record that would stand until 2008, when George Strait took home his fifth.
Alabama, 40 Hour Week
The Judds, Why Not Me
Reba McEntire, My Kind of Country
Ricky Skaggs, Country Boy
George Strait, Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Every winning streak has to start somewhere. Strait’s first of five victories in this category came with Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind. He also holds the record of most nominations. This was his second of nineteen nods.
Alabama, Roll On
Merle Haggard, That’s the Way Love Goes
Anne Murray, A Little Good News
Ricky Skaggs, Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown
George Strait, Right or Wrong
Anne Murray finally got a little love from the CMA in 1984, and her win in this category gave her bragging rights as the first woman to win in the category with her own studio album.
Alabama, The Closer You Get…
John Anderson, Wild and Blue
Janie Fricke, It Ain’t Easy
Ricky Skaggs, Highways & Heartbreaks
Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson, Pancho and Lefty
Alabama became the first proper band to win this award, for their multi-platinum set that included three #1 hits: “Lady Down on Love,” “Dixieland Delight,” and the title track.
Alabama, Mountain Music
Merle Haggard, Big City
George Jones, Still the Same Ole Me
Willie Nelson, Always On My Mind
Oak Ridge Boys, Bobbie Sue
Willie Nelson’s career reached new heights on the strength of “Always on My Mind”, a platinum-selling single that was recorded by Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee, but never became a standard until Nelson’s version. The victorious album of the same name also included the hits, “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” and “Let it Be Me.”
Alabama, Feels So Right
George Jones, I am What I am
Ronnie Milsap, Out Where the Bright Lights Are Glowing
Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 & Odd Jobs
Don Williams, I Believe in You
The understated charm of Don Williams won out over four flashy country music icons in 1981. Williams enjoyed one of his biggest hits with the title track of I Believe in You, a set that also included the top ten hit, “Fallin’ Again.”
Moe Bandy & Joe Stampley, Just Good Ol’ Boys
Emmylou Harris, Roses in the Snow
Charley Pride, There’s a Little Bit of Hank in Me
Kenny Rogers, Kenny
Soundtrack, Coal Miner’s Daughter
Sissy Spacek won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in the film, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and picked up a CMA Award as a bookend for her vocals on the soundtrack. The Emmylou Harris collection of bluegrass standards, Roses in the Snow, lost in this category but won her a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
John Conlee, Rose Colored Glasses
Willie Nelson & Leon Russell, One For the Road
Johnny Paycheck, Armed and Crazy
Kenny Rogers, The Gambler
Statler Brothers, The Originals
Kenny Rogers rode the wave of a huge single to win this category, and it’s hard to think of a more iconic album cover from that period. The album featured an additional smash hit, “She Believes in Me.”
Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, Waylon & Willie
The Kendalls, Heaven’s Just a Sin Away
Ronnie Milsap, It Was Almost Like a Song
Dolly Parton, Here You Come Again
Don Williams, Country Boy
The beautiful title track helped Ronnie Milsap win his third Album of the Year award for It Was Almost Like a Song. It was one of two #1 hits from the collection, the other being “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life.”
Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius, I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You
Waylon Jennings, Ol’ Waylon
Loretta Lynn, I Remember Patsy
Ronnie Milsap, Live
Kenny Rogers, Kenny Rogers
Milsap’s live album remains a classic, featuring some great musicianship and a crowd cheering in recognition of his big early hits. It’s was the fourth live set to win this award, and is currently the most recent one to earn a nomination.
Sonny James, 200 Years of Country Music
Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser & Jessi Colter, Wanted! The Outlaws
Ronnie Milsap, Night Things
Red Sovine, Teddy Bear
Kenny Starr, The Blind Man in the Bleachers
Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn, Feelin’s
Wanted! The Outlaws was a million-seller during an era where country albums just weren’t million-sellers. She may have earned the lowest billing, but Jessi Colter became the first woman to go home with a CMA Award for Album of the Year.
Glen Campbell, Rhinestone Cowboy
John Denver, An Evening with John Denver
Freddy Fender, Before the Next Teardrop Falls
Waylon Jennings, Ramblin’ Man
Ronnie Milsap, A Legend in My Time
Ronnie Milsap’s first Album of the Year victory came for A Legend in My Time, a set that featured the hits, “(I’d Be) a Legend in My Time” and “Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry.” Also on the collection: “I Honestly Love You,” Milsap’s cover of the Olivia Newton-John classic, and “I’ll Leave This World Loving You,” which would later be a #1 hit for Ricky Van Shelton.
Merle Haggard, If We Make it Through December
Olivia Newton-John, If You Love Me, Let Me Know
Charlie Rich, Very Special Love Songs
Cal Smith, Country Bumpkin
Ray Stevens, The Streak
Conway Twitty, You’ve Never Been This Far Before
Charlie Rich won this award for the second time on the strength of the hit, “A Very Special Love Song.” Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty were regulars in this category for many years, but fellow nominees Olivia Newton-John, Cal Smith, and Ray Stevens enjoyed their only nomination in this category.
Tom T. Hall, The Storyteller
Loretta Lynn, Entertainer of the Year
Jeanne Pruett, Satin Sheets
Charlie Rich, Behind Closed Doors
Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn, Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man
Rich won for the album that housed his two biggest hits: the title track, and “The Most Beautiful Girl,” the latter of which topped the pop singles chart.
Donna Fargo, The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.
Merle Haggard, Let Me Tell You About a Song
Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors
Charley Pride, Sings Heart Songs
Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn, Lead Me On
George Strait eventually overtook him, but for a couple of decades, Haggard was the artist who had received the most nominations for Album of the Year. This was his second and final win, for an album that included the #1 hits “Daddy Frank (The Guitar Man)” and “Grandma Harp.”
Lynn Anderson, Rose Garden
Merle Haggard, A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World
Ray Price, I Won’t Mention it Again
Jerry Reed, When You’re Hot, You’re Hot
Sammi Smith, Help Me Make it Through the Night
Ray Price enjoyed a career renaissance in the late sixties and early seventies by embracing a string-laden pop sound. The title track of I Won’t Mention it Again spent three weeks atop the country singles chart, and the second single, “I’d Rather Be Sorry,” stopped just short, peaking at #2.
Johnny Cash, Hello, I’m Johnny Cash
Merle Haggard, Fightin’ Side of Me
Merle Haggard, Okie From Muskogee
Charley Pride, Just Plain Charley
Conway Twitty, Hello Darlin’
Merle Haggard is one of only two artists to have two solo projects nominated in the same year. Glen Campbell’s two sets lost out to Johnny Cash in 1968, but Haggard’s 1970 CMA sweep included a victory for his first live set, Okie From Muskogee.
Glen Campbell, Wichita Lineman
Johnny Cash, At San Quentin
Merle Haggard, Same Train, Different Time
Charley Pride, Live and in Person
Tammy Wynette, Stand By Your Man
Cash’s second prison album doesn’t have the raw intensity of his first, but it does have “A Boy Named Sue,” his biggest crossover hit. It was one of the songs that President Richard Nixon requested of Cash when he played a special mini-concert at the White House.
Glen Campbell, By the Time I Get to Phoenix
Glen Campbell, Gentle On My Mind
Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
Merle Haggard, The Best of Merle Haggard
Tammy Wynette, D-I-V-O-R-C-E
Johnny Cash’s landmark live set, At Folsom Prison, earned him his first of three victories in this category. Glen Campbell won both Entertainer and Male Vocalist at the 1968 ceremony, despite losing both bids for Album of the Year.
Eddy Arnold, Best of Eddy Arnold
Jack Greene, There Goes My Everything
Merle Haggard, I’m a Lonesome Fugitive
Sonny James, Best of Sonny James
Ray Price, Danny Boy
Jack Greene won with his debut album at the debut CMA awards. Only one other act – The Kentucky Headhunters – has ever won this award with their first album.
Facts & Feats
- (5) – George Strait
- (4) – Ronnie Milsap
- (3) – Johnny Cash
- (2) – Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Charlie Rich
- (19) – George Strait
- (13) – Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson
- (9) – Brooks & Dunn
- (8) – Vince Gill, Willie Nelson
- (6) – Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, Brad Paisley
- (5) – Alabama, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Keith Urban
Most Nominations Without a Win:
- (6) – Reba McEntire
- (5) – Dierks Bentley, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Keith Urban
- (4) – George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Carrie Underwood
- (3) – Glen Campbell, Toby Keith, Ricky Skaggs
Albums that won the CMA Award and the ACM Award:
- Merle Haggard, Okie From Muskogee
- Charlie Rich, Behind Closed Doors
- Willie Nelson, Always on My Mind
- Alabama, The Closer You Get
- George Strait, Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
- Garth Brooks, No Fences
- George Strait, Blue Clear Sky
- George Strait, Carrying Your Love With Me
- Dixie Chicks, Fly
- Soundtrack, O Brother Where Art Thou?
- Alan Jackson, Drive
- Brad Paisley, Time Well Wasted
- George Strait, It Just Comes Natural
- Taylor Swift, Fearless
- Miranda Lambert, Revolution
- Eric Church, Chief
- Miranda Lambert, Platinum
- Chris Stapleton, Traveller
Albums that Won the CMA award and the Grammy for Album of the Year:
- Soundtrack, O Brother Where Art Thou?
- Taylor Swift, Fearless
Albums that Won the CMA award and the Grammy for Best Country Album (only presented in 1965-1966 and 1995-present):
- Dixie Chicks, Fly
- George Strait, Troubadour
- Taylor Swift, Fearless
- Miranda Lambert, Platinum
- Chris Stapleton, Traveller