CMA Presents Industry Honors

CMA presented industry honors this morning, April 7 during CMA’s Board of Directors meeting. Lon Helton, Country Aircheck Chief Executive Officer and host of the nationally syndicated Country radio show “Country Countdown USA,” presented Joe Galante, Galante Entertainment Organization Chief Executive Officer, with the J. William Denny Award while Kix Brooks, one half of the Country duo Brooks & Dunn, presented Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum Chief Executive Officer Kyle Young with the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence. In addition, Jennie SmytheGirlilla Marketing Chief Executive Officer and CMA Foundation Board Vice Chair, presented CMA Foundation Artist Ambassador mementos to Country artists and CMA Board members Jimmie AllenLindsay Ell and Ashley McBryde during the meeting   

The J. William Denny Award was created in recognition and appreciation of a lifetime of dedication, distinguished service, and meritorious contributions to the CMA Board of Directors. It is named after longtime board member J. William Denny, who has served on the CMA Board since 1961.  

Galante has been a member of the CMA Board of Directors since 1978 and the CMA Foundation Board of Directors since 2011. He served as CMA Board President in 1983 and CMA Board Chairman in 1986, as well as CMA Foundation Board Chairman in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. His steadfast leadership and commitment to the integrity and function of CMA has proved invaluable throughout the years.  

A music industry veteran with a remarkable tenure, Galante began his career in the music business with RCA Records in New York in 1971 as manager of financial analysis. Soon after, he moved to Nashville and climbed the ranks to become the youngest man to lead a major Nashville label when he took over as head of RCA Nashville in 1981. In 1990, he was named president of RCA Records in New York, returning to Nashville four years later as chairman of RCA Label Group/Nashville. Throughout his career, which has spanned more than four decades, Galante helped launch the careers of Alabama, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Lonestar, Dave Matthews, Martina McBride, K.T. Oslin, Kellie Pickler, SWV, The Judds, Carrie Underwood, Keith Whitley, Wu-Tang Clan, Chris Young and many more, while his leadership bolstered the careers of such superstars as Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert and Brad Paisley. Galante currently works as consultant in the music business.  

“Thank you to everyone on the Board,” said Galante. “Being part of this organization has been so enriching for me on a personal level in terms of friendships, knowledge and contribution, giving back to the town that gave me so much.”   

The Irving Waugh Award of Excellence is presented to an individual who is the originator and caretaker of ideas and actions that have dramatically broadened and improved Country Music’s influence on a national or international level for the benefit of the industry. It is the intention that these ideas and actions are ongoing and have a proven historical impact on Country Music.  

In his 45 years with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Young has simultaneously maintained and furthered the integrity and tradition of one of Nashville’s most iconic cultural institutions by directing and overseeing all operations and activities of the organization, including museum, library, research, publications and teaching programs, all museum programming, advertising, marketing and finances. He has served in more key capacities than anyone ever employed by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. A not-for-profit, nationally accredited museum, the organization operates Historic RCA Studio B, Hatch Show Print, CMF Records, the Frist Library & Archive, and CMF Press. Young has served on the CMA Board of Directors since 2003.  

“All I can say is that I’m humbled by this,” said Young. Never in my wildest dreams did I think something like this would happen, so I really appreciate it.” 

Allen, Ell and McBryde were each awarded CMA Foundation Artist Ambassador mementos for their continued support and involvement in the CMA Foundation’s mission to ensure all students have access to quality music education programs. Each artist was selected as a participant in the program and engaged in a variety of virtual activities, using their unique musical experience to share the organization’s awareness and advocacy efforts in support of music educators, students and parents.  

(L-R) Joe Galante, Galante Entertainment Organization Chief Executive Officer with Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer, after being presented the J. William Denny Award during CMA’s Board of Directors meeting on April 7, 2021.
Photo Credit: CMA
Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum Chief Executive Officer, received the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence during CMA’s Board of Directors meeting on April 7, 2021.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kyle Young
Jimmie Allen
Photo Credit: John Shearer
Lindsay Ell
Photo Credit: Jeremy Cowart
Ashley McBryde
Photo Credit: Daniel Meigs