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.
Luke Combs, Growin’ Up
Miranda Lambert, Palomino
Maren Morris, Humble Quest
Old Dominion, Time, Tequila & Therapy
Lainey Wilson, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’
Luke Combs won his second Album of the Year trophy for Growin’ Up. He also earned his second Entertainer of the Year trophy the same evening.
Brothers Osborne, Skeletons
Eric Church, Heart
Carly Pearce, 29
Chris Stapleton, Starting Over
Tyler Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album
Chris Stapleton tied Johnny Cash for third place on the all-time win list as he took home his third trophy in this category.
Luke Combs, What You See is What You Get
Miranda Lambert, Wildcard
Ashley McBryde, Never Will
Old Dominion, Old Dominion
Jon Pardi, Heartache Medication
Luke Combs was among four first time nominees in this category, and he proved victorious with an album that produced multiple No. 1 hits at country radio.
Eric Church, Desperate Man
Dan + Shay, Dan + Shay
Maren Morris, GIRL
Thomas Rhett, Center Point Road
Carrie Underwood, Cry Pretty
Maren Morris won her first Album of the Year trophy for her sophomore album, becoming the seventh solo female artist in history to take home the honor with a studio album.
Dierks Bentley, The Mountain
Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour
Thomas Rhett, Life Changes
Chris Stapleton, From A Room: Volume 2
Keith Urban, Graffiti U
Kacey Musgraves became only the second artist to win all three major country album awards, as well as the Grammy for overall Album of the Year, for her acclaimed set, Golden Hour.
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
Chris Stapleton won his second Album of the Year trophy in as many tries for the first half of his From A Room collection.
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 five 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
The 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.
The Chicks, Fly
Faith Hill, Breathe
Alan Jackson, Under the Influence
Brad Paisley, Who Needs Pictures
Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance
While four Chicks albums with Natalie Maines have 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 two other acts – The Kentucky Headhunters and Chris Stapleton – have ever won this award with their first album.
Facts & Feats
- (5) – George Strait
- (4) – Ronnie Milsap
- (3) – Johnny Cash, Chris Stapleton
- (2) – Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Luke Combs, 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) – Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, Keith Urban
- (5) – Alabama, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Tim McGraw, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Carrie Underwood
Most Nominations Without a Win:
- (6) – Dierks Bentley, Reba McEntire, Keith Urban
- (5) – Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Carrie Underwood
- (4) – George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride
- (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
- The 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
- Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour
Albums that Won the CMA award and the Grammy for Album of the Year:
- Soundtrack, O Brother Where Art Thou?
- Taylor Swift, Fearless
- Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour
Albums that Won the CMA award and the Grammy for Best Country Album (only presented in 1965-1966 and 1995-present):
- The Chicks, Fly
- George Strait, Troubadour
- Taylor Swift, Fearless
- Miranda Lambert, Platinum
- Chris Stapleton, Traveller
- Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour
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.
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.
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 !
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
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
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.
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.
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
I agree with you.
I do agree that it’s different, but that I’d end up feeling the same in the end about it.
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
Cool article! Can’t wait to read more! :)
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
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.
Re. Trio: It seems strange, but, according to that album’s producer George Massenburg, the Nashville establishment of 1986-87 absolutely hated it at first: one, because it was made outside of their purview (the three ladies recorded in Los Angeles); and two, because it was so ultra-traditional in its sound, which was the entire point for Dolly, Linda, and Emmylou. It was really after the thing went multi-Platinum that they embraced it, setting the stage for the New Traditional movement that was emerging, and the explosion of female artists in the 1990s.
Re. Johnny Cash’s 1968 and ’69 wins: Those wins for Mr. Cash were well-deserved in my opinion, not just from the aspect of him being a country music icon, but also really from his popularity with audiences being universal by that time, where it would stay. The Man In Black set a really high bar for integrity in the music business, country and otherwise (IMHO).
I’m going to say it again: How did Martina McBride NEVER win this?! and only get one nomination?!
…correct me if i’m wrong, but shouldn’t brooks & dunn top the list/summary “most nominations without a win” with their 9 nominations yet not winning once?
Among their nine nominations was “Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles,” which won Album of the Year in 1994. They had seven studio albums nominated, and have two nominations in 1994 for Various Artists albums. (They were also on the Asleep at the Wheel tribute.)