CMA Flashback: Album of the Year (2017 Edition)

Here are all of the nominees and winners for CMA Album of the Year, along with a look at this year’s nominees.

For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page.

2017

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound

Lady Antebellum, Heart Break

Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings

Little Big Town, The Breaker

Chris Stapleton, From a Room: Volume 1

The big news this year is the nomination of The Nashville Sound, an independent record from Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit.  Isbell’s last project won two Grammys and he’s been dominating the Americana Awards for years, but this is his first CMA nod.  Bands Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town both return to the category for the third time, and are both looking for their first win in this category. They join previous winners Miranda Lambert (2010, 2014) and Chris Stapleton (2015).

Eric Church Mr Misunderstood

2016

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.

Chris Stapleton Traveller

2015

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.

Miranda Lambert Platinum

2014

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.

Blake-Shelton-based-on-a-true-story

2013

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.

Eric Church Chief

2012

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

2011

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.

Style: "miranda1"

2010

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.

taylor-swift-fearless

2009

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.)

george-strait-troubadour

2008

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.

george-strait-it-just-comes-natural

2007

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.

brad-paisley-time-well-wasted

2006

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.”

lee-ann-womack-theres-more-where-that-came-from

2005

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.

kenny-chesney-when-the-sun-goes-down

2004

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

2003

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.

11 Alan Drive

2002

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).”

soundtrack-o-brother-where-art-thou

2001

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

2000

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.”

Tim McGraw A Place in the Sun

1999

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.

1998 McGraw

1998

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.

George Strait Carrying Your Love With Me

1997

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.

George Strait Blue Clear Sky

1996

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.

Patty Loveless When Fallen Angels Fly

1995

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.

Common Thread The Songs of the Eagles

1994

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.

vince-gill-i-still-believe-in-you

1993

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.

Garth Brooks Ropin' the Wind

1992

Brooks & Dunn, Brand New Man

Garth Brooks, Ropin’ The Wind

Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart

Tanya Tucker, What Do I Do With Me

Wynonna, Wynonna

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.

Garth Brooks No Fences

1991

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.”

the-kentucky-headhunters-pickin-on-nashville

1990

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.

nitty-gritty-dirt-band-will-the-circle-be-unbroken

1989

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.

hank-williams-jr-born-to-boogie

1988

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.

randy-travis-always-forever

1987

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.

ronnie-milsap-lost-in-the-fifties-tonight

1986

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.

george-strait-does-fort-worth-ever-cross-your-mind

1985

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.

anne-murray-a-little-good-news

1984

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

1983

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.

willie-nelson-always-on-my-mind

1982

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.”

don-williams-i-believe-in-you

1981

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.”

soundtrack-coal-miners-daughter

1980

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.

kenny-rogers-the-gambler

1979

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.”

ronnie-milsap-it-was-almost-like-a-song

1978

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.”

ronnie-milsap-live

1977

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.

wanted-the-outlaws

1976

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.

ronnie-milsap-a-legend-in-my-time

1975

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.

charlie-rich-very-special-love-songs

1974

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.

charlie-rich-behind-closed-doors

1973

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.

merle-haggard-let-me-tell-you-about-a-song

1972

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.”

ray-price-i-wont-mention-it-again

1971

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.

merle-haggard-okie-from-muskogee

1970

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.

johnny-cash-at-san-quentin

1969

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.

johnny-cash-at-folsom-prison

1968

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.

jack-greene-there-goes-my-everything

1967

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

Multiple Wins:

  • (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

Most Nominations:

  • (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, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, 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

14 Comments

  1. This was a very interesting read. I always thought it was pretty neat that all but one of George Strait’s wins came when he was at least 15 years into his career.

  2. This is very interesting. I think it was the mid-90’s the first time I watched the CMA’s. I’ve hardly watched any of it for the last 5 or 6 years. Didn’t know that Anne Murray won the album award for “A Little Good News”. I’ve been playing a lot of her music lately. I didn’t know that Ronnie Milsap won 4 times. That makes it even stranger to me that it took so long for him to get into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

  3. The Country Music Hall of Fame had a huge backlog of potential inductees. Until 1990 they would induct one (1) person or group per year. Sometimes the inductee was a producer or comedian or industry executive, and at least one year no one was inducted. In 2001 the CMHOF inducted ten(10)performers in an effort to induct some worthy persons before they passed on. From 1968-1978 there was one per year. After that the CMHOF started, somewhat randomly, inducing two or three some years. In 2995 they went to the three-tier system of revolving categories so there are three inductions (or more, if ties exist in the voting) per year

    Good thing Mac Wiseman has lived to be 90+ – he was inducted in 2014 along with Milsap but should have been inducted around 1980 !

  4. Errata “In 2995” should read “In 2001” – I’m a pretty poor typist

    In looking over the list I find that I have all of the winners except for the Jason Aldean from 2011

    Random thoughts:
    Travis got hosed in 1986 – he did win the ACM however

    It would be fun to go back to about 1960 when the industry started to be really organized, and award the various categories retrospectively.

    Before 67 CMA) and 1965 (ACM) most recognition came from BMI, ASCAP, Billboard and Cashbox Awards (George Jones had a dominant period from 1962-1964)

    Clint Black’s best album (KILLING TIME)did not get nominated in ’89 – that would have been my winner (it won the ACM)

    A LITTLE GOOD NEWS was far from being Anne Murray’s best album – that award reeked of being a “catch up” award to MOR artist Murray.

    Also Hank Jr made many better albums that BORN TO BOOGIE but he apparently is such a difficult person to like that the CMAs tried to ignore him. He should have had another six or seven album of the year nominations and likely two or more additional wins. He didn’t get much more love from the ACMs either.

    At one time most organizations giving award, such as the CMAs, Major League Baseball, tried to spread the awards around and avoid having too many multiple winners. The great Willie Mays won two NL MVP awards but today’s voters likely would have given him five or six such awards (ditto for Mantle and Aaron). George Strait’s albums were routinely nominated once he became successful, but as much as I like Strait about half of those nominations were simply throwing a bone to the traditionalist crowd

  5. Paul,
    What do you think about people being nominated and winning many times in a row? I’ve never been one of those people who thinks that artists should refuse their nomination or award if they’ve been nominated or awarded “too many times” in a row. I think that’s a ridiculous expectation. If they’re supposedly good enough to be nominated, they should be allowed to win as many times in a row as naturally happens. Of course, I do take issue with artists being nominated in a category that no longer makes any sense for them, such as when Martina McBride or Reba were still being nominated for Female Vocalist when they hadn’t recorded new music in years.

  6. Music is a bit different than, say, the Emmys because in theory an artist is creating new music whereas with the Emmys someone like Candice Bergen who is playing the same character year after year. At some point it can feel like voters are voting out of habit, and the same can feel true in the CMAs and others when Reba and now Miranda win even when they don’t do much.

    I don’t expect an artist/actor to withdraw their name, but I can see where someone would get embarrassed and take themselves out of consideration.

  7. I can see Reba or Martina being embarrassed to be nominated, since their output has been sparse in recent years, though I wouldn’t even expect them to take themselves out of the running. Maybe the Association should have the good sense not to nominate them, but I don’t expect them to be so ungracious as to even take themselves out of consideration. I remember when Katherine Heigl asked for her name to be withdrawn from the Emmy nominations and she came off as very ungrateful and a jerk.

    As for Lambert, it definitely doesn’t make sense for her to take her name out of consideration, since she releases albums and tours pretty consistently with other artists and on a reasonable schedule. People have called for her to take herself out of the running on the grounds that she’s one too many in a row and they’re tired of it, not because she hadn’t done anything that year. She’s been active in some way every year that she’s been nominated or won so far, even if. It’s not like she’s retired or has even slowed down her career yet.

  8. If an artist is nominated and wins they should accept the award.

    I was just mentioning that in the past there were unstated criteria applied to the nomination and awards processes. The felt the need to “mix it up” to put more names front and center. One thing that I think has resulted in the change s that label rosters are much smaller so the same names keep getting pushed forward. When I was a teen labels such as Decca, RCA, Capitol and Columbia/ Epic had dozens of country artists for whom they were actually releasing albums

    Today, of course, artists have many more outlets for exposure. Back in the 70s and 80s the CMA Award show was watched by many who did not routinely listen to country music so the musical presentations were more in line with what was being played on stage and on radio.

    Quite frankly, I quit watching the CMA awards when the outside the genre presence became too great. I have no interest in seeing a bunch of untalented hip-hop or rock musicians perform on the CMA show

  9. Leann – Personally I think taking your name out of consideration simply because you’ve been winning seems excessive. Are people calling for Usain Bolt to stop competing because he always wins? The competition needs to step it up if someone wins too much. Having said that, with Miranda Lambert it’s more than just her winning; we know there are voting bloc issues, and if she were to win Female Vocalist next month it would truly be ridiculous. Yes she has toured some, but that’s it for the eligibility year.

    Maybe a better situation is to have some rules put in place for qualification (i.e. you have to meet 3 of 5 requirements or something with the requirements being touring, releasing songs/videos, performing in venues outside the country industry that promote country music, etc). As it stands it does feel like voters just check names off (perhaps at a label’s request) without considering what they actually did in the year.

    I think Heigl came off poorly because she withdrew herself because she said the writing for her character wasn’t there; in other words, she criticized the people who gave her a job and an Emmy-winning role. That’s different than withdrawing yourself out of an embarrassment of riches.

  10. I guess I never paid much attention to this category so it was a fascinating read. Some thoughts:

    1. I cannot believe that the great Dolly Parton has never won in this category. Not only was Here You Come Again worthy of the award, I am astonished that neither The Grass Is Blue or Little Sparrow – two of her modern bluegrass albums – weren’t even nominated.

    2. I love Ronnie Milsap, but It Was Almost Like A Song was a very weak album for him. Great title track, but weak album. It’s win is head-scratching.

    3. I love Anne Murray even more than Milsap and I have to agree with those who have stated that A Little Good News was a weak album – probably the weakest of the 8 albums she did with producer Jim Ed Norman.

    4. I concur that Clint Black’s Killing Time should’ve been nominated – and probably should’ve won this category.

    5. Tim McGraw deserved both his wins. Everywhere and A Place In The Sun were amazingly good. Also liked Lee Ann Womack’s win for There’s More Where That Came From.

    Other personal favorites of mine that I feel should’ve been nominated:
    Ronnie Milsap – Only One Love In My Life, Images
    Anne Murray – Let’s Keep It That Way, New Kind Of Feeling, I’ll Always Love You
    Dolly Parton – Jolene, The Grass Is Blue, Little Sparrow
    Earl Thomas Conley – Don’t Make It Easy For Me
    Tanya Tucker – Lovin’ and Learnin’
    Crystal Gayle – When I Dream, Cage The Songbird
    Rosanne Cash – Seven Year Ache, King’s Record Shop
    Emmylou Harris – Elite Hotel, Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town
    Statler Brothers – Country America Loves

  11. I do love Isbell’s new album and wish he would get a larger recognition like Chris Stapleton did but his nomination does not look like a good news to me.

    It just shows that the mainstream field is lacking talent and the CMA had to streched out to Jason Isbell to find sutable nominees

  12. Funny, but I remember cue-burning many of these albums during the many shifts at country radio. The worst was Anne Murray, because “A Little Good News” was on the outside ring of the album and the needle would have to contend with scratches, record warp and cue burn from big mouthed jocks talking too long out of the break.

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