The CMA Awards should be the evening every year where country music is shown in the best possible light. However, it’s been many years now since the CMA fully took advantage of the opportunities that prime-time slot presents. Here are ten ways the show can get back on track, and maybe even be better than ever. 1. Expand the Ballot Limiting the second ballot to only twenty entries per category was a disaster, resulting in some truly lackluster nominees. Take a page from the Grammy playbook and put all eligible submissions on the second ballot, regardless of vote total. Have the CMA voters choose five entries from a wider swath of nominees, and create a more level playing field for all of the labels, major and indie. 2. Limit the Number of Entries per Artist The CMA can go one step further and improve the Grammy model by eliminating the first ballot entirely, Read More
Tom T. Hall
Tom T. Hall, one of the finest storytellers ever in country music, tells tales of great insight and description that have earned him a place among Nashville’s songwriting elite. His sense of clarity and an offbeat style have translated into true respect and admiration in Music City. Hall, the son of a bricklaying minister, began learning music from an early age. At age 11, his mother died, and our years later his father was shot in a hunting accident. In order to support himself and his father, Hall quit school and took a job in a local garment factory. While he was working in the factory, he formed his first band, the Kentucky Travelers. In 1957, Hall enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany. While in Germany, he performed at local NCO clubs on the Armed Forces Radio Network, where he sang mostly original material. After four years Read More
For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page. 2010 Dierks Bentley Brad Paisley Blake Shelton George Strait Keith Urban Bentley and Shelton have never won, but they’re up against Strait, who has won five times, and Paisley and Urban, who’ve won three times each. With the balance of commercial and critical success not significantly different across the category, this race could bring the night’s biggest surprise. But whatever happens, kudos to Paisley for earning his tenth nomination, and Strait for earning his twenty-fifth! 2009 Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley Darius Rucker George Strait Keith Urban Just like in the Entertainer category, 80% of this race for the past three years had been Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait, and Keith Urban. This year, Darius Rucker took the fifth slot that was occupied by Alan Jackson in 2008 and Josh Turner in 2007. Brad Paisley went Read More
#16: Jeannie C. Riley “Harper Valley, P.T.A.” 1968 At the peak of her powers, Jeannie C. Riley was enjoying the success of her small-town story song “Harper Valley P.T.A.” in the fall of 1968. But her handlers insisted on a sexually-charged image, one with which Riley disagreed. When she was nominated for several CMA awards that year, the first year the show aired live on television, Riley raged with disgust when her manager Shelby Singleton ordered her to wear a mini-skirt to attract attention.
Harper Valley P.T.A. Jeannie C. Riley 1968 Written by Tom T. Hall “Harper Valley P.T.A.” written by Tom T. Hall, is the ultimate in story songs. A career-changing hit single for Jeannie C. Riley in 1968, it introduced the world to a small-town environment filled with gossip and a woman not afraid to stand up to her know-it-all critics. This absorbing story was written by Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall. In an interview, Hall states that his inspiration for the song was passing by the Harpeth Valley Elementary School in Bellevue, Tennessee, and that he built the song around the school name. Jeannie C. Riley, who served as songwriter Jerry Chesnut’s secretary, heard the song and recorded it herself with the help of producer Shelby Singleton. Although the account is purely fictional, it brims with true-to-life spectacle. The song tells the story of a junior high student who is sent Read More
100 Greatest Women #50 Jeannie C. Riley Her music was more outspokenly feminist than any of her contemporaries, but Jeannie C. Riley was on the receiving end of every sexist obstacle imaginable as she worked her way toward stardom, with the path not getting any easier once she obtained it. Jeannie was raised in the small town of Anson, Texas, and grew up dreaming of stardom. Her uncle played guitar in a country band, and arranged for her to sing locally. By the time she graduated high school, she was already married and had a baby on the way. Her husband Mickey was supportive of her dream, and after a trip to Nashville and a visit to the backstage of the Opry, her determination was fierce. The couple moved to Music City in 1966.