More than 6,000 music industry professionals and companies around the globe are members of the Country Music Association. Formed in 1958 as the first trade association for a single genre of music, the organization's objectives are to serve as an educational and professional resource for the industry while advancing the growth of Country Music around the world.
- CMA launches with Connie B. Gay as CMA Board President and Wesley Rose as CMA Board Chairman, each serving two-year terms in 1959 and 1960; 37 lifetime members; and 160 annual members. First CMA Board of Directors included nine directors, five officers and two honorary co-chairman.
- Jo Walker-Meador, hired as secretary, becomes first salaried employee at CMA. She advances to office manager and then becomes CMA Executive Director in 1962, a position she held until she retired in 1991.
- CMA Board approves plans to create Country Music Hall of Fame; first inductees are Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose and Hank Williams.
- Homer & Jethro, The Jordanaires, Wanda Jackson and Hank Thompson perform at CMA anniversary celebration.
- CMA Board President Ken Nelson helps create CMA’s first logo, a musical note with a world map imprinted on it, emblazoned with the words “Best Liked Worldwide.” “Country Music Association” was inscribed on the large flag on the note.
- CMA gives away a Tennessee Walking Horse, named “Country Music,” as a door prize during “The Sound of Country Music” event at Sales Executive Club of New York City. Gene Autry, Flatt & Scruggs, Don Gibson, Leon McAuliffe and Tex Ritter provide entertainment.
- CMA creates promotional kit, “The Wonderful World of Country & Western Music,” to document and expand awareness of Country Music throughout radio industry.
- CMA Close Up newsletter created and distributed to membership.
- Frances Preston becomes first woman to serve as CMA Board Chairman.
- CMA spearheads celebration of National Country Music Month.
- CMA issues an album, A Visit with Tex Ritter and Roy Acuff, to promote CMA membership recruitment.
- CMA furthers case for Country Music as advertising resource by presenting “The Sound of Country Music” before Ad Craft Club of Detroit.
- CMA issues first compilation of multiple-artist Country Music hits, with sales eventually topping 1 million and proceeds donated to construction of the first Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Subsequent second volume also generates impressive sales and earnings.
- CMA launches annual “Music City USA Pro-Celebrity Golf Invitational,” co-sponsored by Nashville Junior Chamber of Commerce.
- CMA holds third presentation of “The Sound of Country Music” before 750 sales and marketing executives during Advertising Age workshop in Chicago, complete with performance by Leroy Van Dyke and second Tennessee Walking Horse giveaway.
- CMA hosts groundbreaking ceremony for first Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building.
- CMA stages first of many presentations at annual National Association of Broadcasters conventions.
- United States Library of Congress receives complete collection of CMA Close Up.
- CMA opens first home of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum at 16th Avenue South and Division Street in Nashville; number of visitors paying admission – not counting school children in tour groups – exceeds 70,000 by year’s end.
- CMA stages first CMA Awards ceremony at Municipal Auditorium, hosted by Sonny James and Bobbie Gentry, with Price Waterhouse tabulating first year’s ballots. The event was not televised but was audio recorded.
- CMA becomes first trade association to stage presentation at National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) convention.
- Nashville Chapter of Advertising Federation of America presents Diamond Award for Best Industry Promotion to CMA film, “What’s This Country Coming To?” Film is used by Country radio stations to help sell advertising.
- CMA Awards taped at Ryman Auditorium before capacity crowd and televised by NBC as first nationally broadcast music awards ceremony, sponsored by Kraft. Nielsen Ratings for Awards program hit 20.9 with 32 share; in comparison, Kraft Music Hall show from previous week drew 19 share. Today, the CMA Awards is the longest-running annual music awards program on network television.
- CMA releases album as tribute to United States military and intended for sale at base exchanges and ship stores.
- Third annual CMA Awards broadcast live for the first time on NBC’s Kraft Musical Hall. The event took place in October at the Ryman Auditorium.
- CMA membership grows to more than 5,000 members.
- The first of eleven Music City Pro Celebrity Golf Tournaments is sponsored by CMA to generate information about Country Music on sports pages around the country.
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates third anniversary. Nearly 500,000 people visit the HOF in its first three years.
- Jo Walker-Meador receives Nashville’s highest award, the Metronome award for most outstanding contribution to the development of Music City.
- CMA presents Apollo XII astronaut Pete Conrad, the third man to set foot on the moon, with a lifetime CMA membership for broadcasting Country Music on his 1969 space flight.
- President Richard Nixon declares October Country Music Month.
- George Hamilton IV receives Founding President’s Award
- Plans start for new music festival (Fan Fair) for Country Music fans. Cost is only $20 for four days and includes two meals.
- First Annual Fan Fair held at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium in April with 5,000 Country Music fans attending. The four-day event was created to give fans a chance to interact with their favorite artists and also to define the Country Music Disc Jockey Association convention, held each fall, specifically as an industry event.
- CMA and UNICEF co-sponsor for the first time a Country Music tour to the Far East (New Zealand, Australia and Japan).
- By joining forces with NARM and RIAA to petition against unauthorized duplication and sale of recorded music, CMA helps facilitate passage of the Federal Copyright Act of 1972.
- Fan Fair moves to June for peak summer travel season and becomes a five-day event with 5,000 fans.
- CMA fights tape piracy by forming the Anti-Piracy Committee.
- CMA Awards moves from the Ryman Auditorium to the Grand Ole Opry house.
- President Gerald Ford congratulates CMA on its 17th anniversary by telegram: "Country Music's roots are deep in the land and in the daily experiences of our people. In its simplicity, there is eloquence and appeal, in its words and melodies, there is a wealth of sensitivity and feeling."
- CMA initiates the CMA Speakers Bureau, a network of individuals who take the Country Music story to civic, educational and social organizations.
- Attendance at Fan Fair grows to 12,600.
- CMA Awards broadcast is expanded to 90 minutes.
- The newly remodeled and expanded Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opens to the public, with Elvis Presley’s gold Cadillac among its new exhibits.
- The CMA Awards is simulcast on radio stations across the United States for the first time.
- Billboard honors CMA on its 20th anniversary with the Billboard Trendsetter Award for “expanding Country Music around the world.” SESAC awards its Paul Heinecke Citation of Merit Award to the organization.
- CMA enrolls its 5,000th member.
- CMA honors President Jimmy Carter with a special award for his continued support of Country Music. Willie Nelson and Charley Pride make the presentation.
- Roy Clark, The Oak Ridge Boys and Don Williams perform at “Country Comes to Monaco,” the first Country Music concert held in Monte Carlo, staged to benefit Princess Caroline’s “Year of the Child” charity fund.
- Corporate America extends its embrace of Country Music in 1979 with “Kool Country on Tour,” a 15-city tour sponsored by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation.
- Ed Benson is named CMA Associate Executive Director
- CMA Close Up changes from newsletter to magazine format.
- Fan Fair registration is shut down after the event reached the Municipal Auditorium’s maximum capacity of 15,000.
- CMA establishes the Horizon Award to honor new artists at the CMA Awards. Terri Gibbs is the first recipient.
- To keep up with demand, Fan Fair relocates to the larger Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
- The CMA Awards trophy material changes from walnut to fine Italian crystal as a result of a walnut shortage.
- CMA opens a European market development office in London.
- CMA urges members to contact Congress in support of legislation to block record rentals and levy royalty fees on blank audio and video tape.
- The United States Postal Service issues a commemorative stamp to mark the 25th anniversary of CMA, and Kraft sponsors an anniversary television special from Washington, D.C., attended by President Ronald Reagan and then Vice President George H. W. Bush.
- CMA begins presenting certificates to member composers for No. 1 songs.
- CMA initiates its unique strategic marketing campaign targeting ad agency execs and corporate marketers with presentations about the selling power of Country Music.
- Music Video of the Year is added to the category honors for the CMA Awards. Hank Williams Jr. wins for “All My Rowdy Friends Are Comin’ Over Tonight.”
- Instrumentalist category for the CMA Awards changes to Musician of the Year.
- Musical Event of the Year is added to the CMA Awards category honors; Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt win for “Trio.”
- CMA Awards Single of the Year category introduces Award to producer
- Ground is broken for the new CMA headquarters on Music Row.
- CMA starts Project Literacy campaign under the guidance of songwriter Don Schlitz.
- President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush attend the CMA Awards.
- CMA Executive Director Jo Walker-Meador retires after 32 years and is honored with the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence. Ed Benson is named new CMA Executive Director.
- Fan Fair sells out three months in advance.
- Vince Gill begins his 12-year run as CMA Awards host.
- CMA launches the "America's Sold On Country" campaign in Ad Week, Brand Week and Advertising Age magazines to promote Country Music to corporate investors.
- CMA marks its 35th Anniversary with a network television special, "A Country Music Celebration" on CBS.
- Former CMA Executive Director Jo Walker-Meador is inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- CMA and Advertising Age present Marketing with Country Music, a three-day conference to inform corporate marketers and ad agency decision makers about opportunities available with Country Music to meet brand marketing objectives.
- CMA debuts MINT (Music Industry & New Technologies), a one-day conference featuring top industry leaders who share their expertise on the Internet, Web sites, software technology, intellectual/copyright issues and online transactions.
- CMA makes a monumental donation of $2 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum towards their new facilities in Downtown Nashville.
- CBS airs a CMA 40th Anniversary celebration network television special.
- A sold-out audience of more than 500 registrants turns out as CMA holds its first Town Meeting in more than a decade. The topics focus on the impact that corporate consolidation and the Internet have had on the music industry.
- CMA teams with Warner/TBA to produce “CMA Awards Backstage Pass,” the first pay-per-view special to center on production of a music awards broadcast. Viewers are treated to the year’s rehearsal footage, plus special live performances and past Awards highlights.
- CMA launches an online charity auction through Yahoo! Auctions, in which Country Music artists contributed various items in connection with “The 34th Annual CMA Awards.” Items included guitars, clothing, autographed memorabilia and more. All proceeds from the auction were donated to charities designated by participating artists.
- Fan Fair is prominently featured on the hit animated television series “King of the Hill” on FOX.
- The 30th Annual Fan Fair returns triumphantly to Downtown Nashville, where it originated in 1972. The event expands to four venues throughout the area and infuses $15.5 million into the local economy. CMA donates $100,000 to charities designated by artists who participate for free in Fan Fair 2001 as part of a new “Cause for Celebration!” charitable benefit program.
- CMA inducts a record-setting 12 new members – nine artists and three industry executive – into the Country Music Hall of Fame to celebrate the opening of the new state-of-the-art Museum.
- The CMA Awards moves to the more competitive November sweeps period. The live broadcast, held just two months after the September 11th attacks, features many patriotic performances, including the premiere of Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).”
- Fan Fair draws its biggest crowd to date, with an estimated aggregate attendance of 126,500. The four-day event brought in an astonishing $17 million to the Nashville area economy.
- A delegation of officials from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office attends the CMA Board of Directors meeting in Chicago, where they propose hosting the 2005 CMA Awards.
- Nominees for the CMA Awards are revealed live on network television for the first time, when Martina McBride and Rascal Flatts announce the honors on CBS’s “The Early Show.”
- The CMA Awards attracts more than 40 million viewers and ranks third for the week, its highest ranking in 11 years.
- It is announced that Fan Fair will be renamed CMA Music Festival.
- CMA Music Festival is filmed for its first two-hour television special, which airs on CBS.
- International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) awards the Festival, Fair or Special Event of the Year honor to CMA Music Festival. The Festival would also go on to win the award in 2006 and 2008. (winners are not eligible in consecutive years)
- CMA officially announces that the 2005 CMA Awards will be held in New York City for one year. Vince Gill gives the reins to Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn, who debut as hosts.
- The Library of Congress enlists the help of CMA for its Veteran’s History project, started to preserve memories and stories of the country’s servicemen and women.
- CMA produces “Music Business 101,” a DVD tutorial for up-and-coming artists as a way to help them navigate different facets of the music business.
- CMA introduces “New From Nashville,” a concert tour to help promote Country Music throughout the United Kingdom.
- CMA launches CMA Close Up New Service to provide content from the organization and its magazine to news outlets, free of charge.
- “Country Music’s Biggest Night” takes a trip outside of Nashville for the first time as the CMA Awards is held in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Tickets to the show are offered for the first time to the general public.
- CMA hosts a week of events leading up to the gala, dubbed “Country Takes NYC.” Events include “Broadway Meets Country,” Brooks & Dunn performing on the Madison Square Garden Marquee, the American Freedom Festival and more.
- The first CMA Songwriters Series is held at Joe’s Pub in New York City, featuring Bob DiPiero, Radney Foster, Hillary Lindsey, Rivers Rutherford and Mike Reid, and becomes an instant hit.
- CMA commissions original artwork from famous 3-D pop artist Charles Fazzino to commemorate the CMA Awards in New York. Fazzino would return in 2006 to create original 40th CMA Awards anniversary art.
- CMA Music Festival breaks the attendance record with more than 145,000 Country Music fans attending the four-day event. The CMA Music Festival Kick-Off Parade is introduced, and a two-hour primetime network television special airs on ABC for the first time.
- Chevrolet partners with CMA to become “The Official Ride of Country Music.”
- CMA announces a new category to the annual inductions for the Country Music Hall of Fame. “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present” – is added to accelerate the induction process for all Hall-of-Fame-caliber artists.
- CMA establishes “Keep the Music Playing,” a charitable organization that donates half of the proceeds from each CMA Music Festival to the Nashville Alliance for Public Education to fund music education in Metro Nashville Public Schools. In its first year, CMA donates $368,502 to KTMP.
- The CMA Awards returns to Nashville in grand fashion for its 40th anniversary, moving from the Grand Ole Opry House to the Sommet Center (now Bridgestone Arena) to accommodate more attendees, including the public.
- ABC becomes the CMA Awards new network home. The nominees are announced for the first time on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
- “The Road to CMA Music Festival” brings the Festival experience to cities across the United States.
- CMA establishes CMA Sound Healthcare, which provides CMA members comprehensive health insurance coverage at an affordable price.
- CMA teams with “Wheel of Fortune” to host a Country Music themed week on the popular game show, with Country artists helping contestants.
- EBSCO and CMA reach an agreement to distribute CMA Close Up to libraries worldwide.
- CMA Executive Director Ed Benson retires after 27 years with the organization. Tammy Genovese is named CMA Chief Executive Officer.
- CMA, through its Keep the Music Playing charity program, makes a $1 million endowment donation to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for its Words & Music program, which encourages kids and young adults to write and perform original music.
- CMA Awards voting moves online.
- Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood take the reins as hosts of the CMA Awards.
- CMA releases Consumer Segmentation Study, the largest and most comprehensive study in the 50-year history of the Association. The findings offer new insights into the Country Radio listener and Country consumer.
- Through a donation from “Keep the Music Playing,” CMA sends students from the W.O. Smith Nashville Community Music School to Washington, D.C., to attend an educational workshop at the White House in the State Dining Room with Alison Krauss and Brad Paisley. Later in the evening in the East Room, Krauss and Paisley perform for President Barack Obama, the First Family and their distinguished guests.
- CMA launches “CMA Industry InSite,” a Web series designed as a tool to inform members about different functions and facets of the music industry.
- Nineteen-year-old Taylor Swift becomes the youngest person to win Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards.
- CMA makes its largest donation to “Keep the Music Playing,” bringing the total amount raised to date to more than $3.3 million.
- The CMA Board of Directors visits the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of building on the Library’s already unparalleled collections of sound recordings, moving images and printed music collections with a more robust presence of the Country Music genre. CMA commemorates the event by donating a leather-bound DVD collection of four decades of CMA Awards broadcasts, anniversary television specials and “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” to the Library.
- After devastating floods hit Nashville in May, CMA announces that it will donate half of the net proceeds from CMA Music Festival to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for its flood relief efforts. With the other half of the proceeds earmarked for “Keep the Music Playing,” all monies made from the 2010 Festival are reinvested in the Nashville community.
- All four nightly concerts at LP Field during CMA Music Festival are sold out for the first time ever. Audience hits a new high of 65,000 estimated daily attendance and more than $23 million in visitor spending.
- CMA receives the 2010 Friend of Education Award from the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association for the CMA’s support of music education in Metro Nashville Public Schools through its “Keep the Music Playing” program.
- Steve Moore is named CMA Chief Executive Officer.
- Miranda Lambert breaks the record for female artists by garnering nine CMA Awards nominations