CMA Flashback: Horizon Award and New Artist (2017 Edition)

Originally called the Horizon Award when introduced in 1981, the New Artist of the Year award is given to the developing artist that voters feel have demonstrated the most growth in their career during the past year.

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

New Artist of the Year (2008-Present)

 

2017

Lauren Alaina

 

Luke Combs

Old Dominion

Jon Pardi

Brett Young

The category gets a large refresh as four of this year’s nominees are competing for the first time. The New Artist category limits nominations to a total of two, and this year, only Old Dominion is up for the second and last time.  Lauren Alaina, Luke Combs, and Brett Young don’t have any other nominations this year, but Jon Pardi is also up for Single and Song of the Year for “Dirt On My Boots,” and Old Dominion is nominated for Vocal Group of the Year.

maren-morris-80s-mercedes

2016

Kelsea Ballerini

Brothers Osborne

Maren Morris

Old Dominion

Cole Swindell

Maren Morris earned several nominations in 2016, and took home one award: New Artist of the Year. Brothers Osborne also didn’t go empty handed, losing here but surprising with a victory for Vocal Duo of the Year.

Stapleton

2015

Kelsea Ballerini

Sam Hunt

Maddie & Tae

Thomas Rhett

Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton dominated the 2015 CMA Awards, winning Album of the Year along with Male Vocalist and New Artist. In doing so, he became the first artist since Carrie Underwood in 2006 to win both this award and their Vocalist category on the same night.

brett-eldredge

2014

Brandy Clark

Brett Eldredge

Kip Moore

Thomas Rhett

Cole Swindell

Rising star Brett Eldredge won in his second attempt at the trophy, the most recent artist to do so and the first since Zac Brown Band in 2010.

Kacey+Musgraves+KACEY++PNG

2013

Lee Brice

Brett Eldredge

Florida Georgia Line

Kip Moore

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves dominated the award shows on the strength of her debut album, Same Trailer Different Park, which would later earn her a Grammy and an ACM for Album of the Year.

Hunter Hayes

2012

Lee Brice

Brantley Gilbert

Hunter Hayes

Love and Theft

Thompson Square

Young star Hunter Hayes won in 2012 on the strength of his popular debut album that spawned the hits, “Wanted” and “Somebody’s Heartbreak.”

The Band Perry

2011

The Band Perry

Luke Bryan

Eric Church

Thompson Square

Chris Young

The prize went home with the Band Perry, largely on the strength of “If I Die Young,” which won Song of the Year the same evening.

zac-brown-band

2010

Luke Bryan

Easton Corbin

Jerrod Neimann

Chris Young

Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown Band became the fifth band to win this award, and the second to do so without ever winning Vocal Group of the Year.

darius-rucker
2009

Randy Houser

Jamey Johnson

Jake Owen

Darius Rucker

Zac Brown Band

Thirteen years after winning the Best New Artist Grammy as part of Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker won the country music equivalent, adding an exclamation point to the most successful pop-to-country crossover in a generation.

lady-antebellum

2008

Jason Aldean

Rodney Atkins

Lady Antebellum

James Otto

Kellie Pickler

Industry favorites Lady Antebellum became the fourth band in history to win this award, following Rascal Flatts, Dixie Chicks and Sawyer Brown.

Horizon Award (1981-2007)

 

swift

2007

Jason Aldean

Rodney Atkins

Little Big Town

Kellie Pickler

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift won her first major industry award when she became the final artist to win the Horizon Award.

carrie-underwood

2006

Miranda Lambert

Little Big Town

Sugarland

Josh Turner

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood’s transition from American Idol winner to country music star was completed at the 2006 CMA Awards, where she won both the Horizon Award and Female Vocalist of the Year, the first woman to do so since Alison Krauss in 1995.

dierks-bentley

2005

Dierks Bentley

Big & Rich

Miranda Lambert

Julie Roberts

Sugarland

Dierks Bentley has been a regular nominee at the CMA Awards since his victory for Horizon Award in 2005, competing often in the Male Vocalist and Album of the Year categories.

Gretchen Wilson

2004

Dierks Bentley

Big & Rich

Julie Roberts

Josh Turner

Gretchen Wilson

Gretchen Wilson’s multi-platinum debut album was powered by the #1 hit, “Redneck Woman,” and helped her secure a Horizon Award victory.

joenichols33-x600

2003

Gary Allan

Buddy Jewell

Joe Nichols

Blake Shelton

Darryl Worley

Traditionalist favorite Joe Nichols won in a year dominated by traditionalists, a sign that the genre was turning away from the pop crossover sound that had dominated it in the late nineties and early new century.

Rascal Flatts

2002

Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Nickel Creek

Rascal Flatts

Phil Vassar

Darryl Worley

Their win for Horizon Award kicked off a very successful decade for Rascal Flatts, who would become among the genre’s top record sellers in the years that followed.

keith-urban-blue-aint-your-color

2001

Jessica Andrews

Nickel Creek

Jamie O’Neal

Keith Urban

Phil Vassar

His debut album was about as successful as those of his fellow nominees, but the CMA singled out the one act of the five that would become a superstar artist in the years to come.

Brad Paisley

2000

Sara Evans

Montgomery Gentry

Brad Paisley

SHeDaisy

Chely Wright

Brad Paisley was the traditional artist with all the buzz in 2000, and although that hasn’t always led to long-term success, it certainly did in Paisley’s case. This was the first of several major awards that Paisley would win over the next ten years.

jo-dee-messina

1999

Kenny Chesney

Sara Evans

Jo Dee Messina

The Wilkinsons

Chely Wright

Jo Dee Messina was at her commercial peak when she won this award, dominating radio with hits like “Stand Beside Me” and “Lesson in Leavin’.”

dixie-chicks

1998

Trace Adkins

Dixie Chicks

Jo Dee Messina

Michael Peterson

Lee Ann Womack

The Dixie Chicks still hold the distinction of being the only act to win the Horizon Award and Vocal Group of the Year on the same night.

leann-rimes

1997

Trace Adkins

Deana Carter

Terri Clark

LeAnn Rimes

Lee Ann Womack

LeAnn Rimes won the award on her second try, having already sold nearly ten million records when she did.

bryan-white

1996

Terri Clark

Wade Hayes

LeAnn Rimes

Shania Twain

Bryan White

Bryan White’s strong year at retail and radio powered him to his victory in this category.

alison-krauss

 

1995

David Ball

John Berry

Faith Hill

Alison Krauss

Shania Twain

Alison Krauss became the first woman to win both Horizon Award and Female Vocalist on the same night, a feat only matched by Carrie Underwood to date.

john-michael-montgomery

1994

Faith Hill

Martina McBride

Tim McGraw

John Michael Montgomery

Lee Roy Parnell

The huge success of “I Swear” helped John Michael Montgomery sell four million copies of his 1994 album, and win a Horizon Award trophy along the way.

Mark Chesnutt

1993

Mark Chesnutt

Sammy Kershaw

Tracy Lawrence

John Michael Montgomery

Trisha Yearwood

Mark Chesnutt received his first major industry award when he triumphed in this category over four other rising stars.

suzy-bogguss

1992

Suzy Bogguss

Brooks & Dunn

Billy Dean

Pam Tillis

Trisha Yearwood

Suzy Bogguss was the surprise winner in 1992, and she followed her victory with a string of gold and platinum albums and several top ten radio hits.

Travis Tritt

1991

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mark Chesnutt

Doug Stone

Pam Tillis

Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt’s second album was his commercial peak, and its multi-platinum sales helped him win the Horizon Award in 1991.

Garth Brooks 2

1990

Garth Brooks

Alan Jackson

Kentucky Headhunters

Lorrie Morgan

Travis Tritt

Garth Brooks remains the only artist in CMA History to follow up a Horizon Award win with an Entertainer of the Year victory the next year.

clint-black

1989

Clint Black

Desert Rose Band

Patty Loveless

Shenandoah

Keith Whitley

The Class of 1989 helped the nineties become the genre’s biggest decade ever, and the leader of the pack was Clint Black, this year’s Horizon Award victor.

Ricky Van Shelton

1988

Highway 101

Patty Loveless

K.T. Oslin

Ricky Van Shelton

Sweethearts of the Rodeo

There was a trend around this time for male artists to win the Horizon Award one year, and then win Male Vocalist the next. Shelton followed this trend when he won Male Vocalist in 1989 after his Horizon Award victory here.

holly-dunn

1987

T. Graham Brown

Holly Dunn

The O’Kanes

Restless Heart

Sweethearts of the Rodeo

Holly Dunn’s signature hit ,”Daddy’s Hands,” helped her stand out in a talented field this year.

randy-travis

1986

The Forester Sisters

Kathy Mattea

Dan Seals

Randy Travis

Dwight Yoakam

Randy Travis was already on the cusp of superstardom when he won this award on the strength of the classic hits, “On the Other Hand” and “Diggin’ Up Bones.”

Sawyer Brown

1985

Ray Charles

Mel McDaniel

Eddy Raven

Sawyer Brown

John Schneider

Sawyer Brown followed up their first place finish on the debut season of Star Search with a Horizon Award win.

Judds02.jpg

1984

Deborah Allen

Earl Thomas Conley

Vern Gosdin

The Judds

Michael Martin Murphey

The Judds began their award show dominance with their Horizon Award victory, which would soon be accompanied by more than a dozen Vocal Duo and Vocal Group awards from the CMAs, ACMs, and Grammys.

john-anderson

1983

John Anderson

Vern Gosdin

Reba McEntire

George Strait

The Whites

A historically strong lineup that John Anderson won, in part because of his massive crossover hit, “Swingin’.”

Ricky Skaggs

1982

John Anderson

Rosanne Cash

David Frizzell

Lee Greenwood

Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs won Male Vocalist the very same night, making him the first artist in history to win both the Horizon Award and their vocalist race.  No other male artist achieved this feat again until Chris Stapleton in 2015.

terri-gibbs

1981

Boxcar Willie

Rosanne Cash

David Frizzell and Shelly West

Terri Gibbs

T.G. Sheppard

The inaugural year for the Horizon Award. The win went to Terri Gibbs, who had her first and biggest hit that year with “Somebody’s Knockin’.”

Facts & Feats

Horizon/New Artist Winners Who Also Won…

Entertainer of the Year
Garth Brooks, Dixie Chicks, Brad Paisley, Ricky Skaggs, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year
Alison Krauss, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Gretchen Wilson

Male Vocalist of the Year
Clint Black, Brad Paisley, Ricky Van Shelton, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Stapleton, Randy Travis, Keith Urban

Vocal Duo of the Year
The Judds

Vocal Group of the Year
Dixie Chicks, The Judds, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts

8 Comments

  1. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music was NOT a country record. Although really great, it was an R&B/pop cover album of country songs. In 1985 Ray actually issued a country album

  2. @caj – It’s probably easier to ‘get it right’ in a specific genre than when you are dealing with a lot more acts. There are usually only 5-10 ‘new’ country acts (if that) in a given year, whereas across the music business there would be dozens or more. Plus, for better or worse, the Grammys have also been making an effort in the past 20 years to represent a variety of genres in New Artist.

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