CMA Founding President’s Award (In Honor of Connie B. Gay, Formerly the Connie B. Gay Award)


This award was established by the board of directors in 1963. The award is given in recognition of that person (or persons) who is not currently serving as a director of the association, and who, in the board’s opinion, has rendered the most outstanding service to the Country Music Association in the current year.

1963 Richard Frank 1964 Joe Allison 1965 Robert J. Burton 1966 Pack Ackerman 1967 Gene Nash, LeRoy Van Dyke 1968 Owen Bradley 1969 Johnny Cash 1970 Frank Clement 1971 Ken Nelson 1972 Tex Ritter 1973 Frank Jones 1974 Jack Stapp 1975 Hubert Long (posthumously) 1976 Roy Horton 1977 Hal Cook 1978 Bob Tubert 1979 Ben Smathers 1980 Charlie Daniels 1981 Roy Acuff 1982 Bob Boatman 1983 Mary Ann McCready 1984 Frank Mull 1985 Jim Halsey 1986 Merrill Warne 1987 Paul Conroy 1988 Ron Huntsman 1989 Michael Sukin 1990 Allen Brown 1991 Bob Saporiti 1992 Jim Free 1993 Fred Rappoport 1994 Helen Farmer 1995 Cindy Wilson 1996 Marc Oswald 1997 Trisha Yearwood 1998 Pam Tillis 1999 Martina McBride 2000 Wayne Halper 2001 Mayor Bill Purcell 2002 Brad Paisley 2003 Wynonna Judd 2004 Terri Clark 2005 Blue County 2013 Mayor Karl Dean

CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award


The CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award is for an individual who has served as a humanitarian through community leadership, financial support, personal volunteerism and advocacy. The individual recognized has evidenced commitment to worthwhile causes that are important to the Country Music Association and the Country Music community.

2014 Kix Brooks

2015 Steve Turner

2017 Vince Gill

2018 Randy Owen

2020 Brad Paisley

2021 Shelia Shipley Biddy, Tatum Hauck Allsep, and Dolly Parton

2022 Michael T. Strickland

2023 Darius Rucker

Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award


This award is for an iconic artist who has attained the highest degree of recognition in Country Music.  The award recognizes an artist who has achieved both national and international prominence and stature through concert performances, humanitarian efforts, philanthropy, record sales, streaming numbers, and public representation at the highest level. The artist receiving this award has positively impacted and contributed to the growth of the genre throughout a course of years that have proven to have an unprecedented historical impact on fans and industry alike.

It is to be noted their presence will have a long-term positive impact on Country Music and CMA for generations to come.

2012 Willie Nelson

2013 Kenny Rogers

2015 Johnny Cash

2016 Dolly Parton

2019 Kris Kristofferson

2020 Charley Pride

2021 Loretta Lynn

2022 Alan Jackson

Pinnacle Award


This award recognizes a Country artist who has undeniably redefined the pinnacle of success in the genre by achieving prominence through concert performances, consumption numbers, record sales, and/or other significant industry achievements at levels unique for Country Music.

The artist has also attained the highest degree of recognition within the broad expanse of music worldwide, and their talent and presence will have a long-term positive impact on the appreciation of Country Music for generations to come.

This award is not intended to be given annually and is distinct from awards recognizing a lifetime body of work.

2005 Garth Brooks

2013 Taylor Swift

2016 Kenny Chesney

2022 Alabama

Irving Waugh Award of Excellence


The Irving Waugh Award of Excellence is awarded to that individual who is the originator and caretaker of demonstrated 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 as a whole. It is the intention that these ideas and actions typically will have run a course of years and shall have a proven historical impact on Country Music.

1983 Irving Waugh

1987 Frances Preston

1991 Jo Walker-Meador

2003 Johnny Cash

2009 Walter Miller

2014 Vince Gill

2016 Steve Buchanan and Donna Hilley

2018 Connie Bradley

2019 Dale Morris

2020 Kyle Young

2021 E.W. "Bud" Wendell

2022 Dan Rogers

2023 Mike Dungan

Joe Talbot Award


This award is presented in recognition of outstanding leadership and contributions to the preservation and advancement of Country Music’s values and tradition. The award may be presented to a person (living or deceased) in recognition of an initiative or long-term contribution deemed by the CMA Board of Directors to qualify for this award.

2001 Joe Talbot

2004 Janette Carter

2005 Louise Scruggs

2007 Marty Stuart

2015 George Jones

2016 Merle Haggard

2017 Kitty Moon Emery

2018 Alan Jackson

2019 Charlie Monk

2022 Ken Burns

2022 Dayton Duncan

2023 Jeannie Seely

CMA Media Achievement Award (Formerly Journalist Award)


The CMA Media Achievement Award was established to recognize outstanding achievements in the media as they relate to Country Music. Print and Internet journalists; columnists; authors; editors; television writers, producers and bookers; and syndicated radio reporters are eligible to win this award. Past recipients are eligible for nomination 5 years after they have last received the honor.

1982 Jack Hurst

1983 Neil Hickey

1984 Dolly Carlisle

1985 Red O'Donnell

1986 No Award

1987 Dave Zimmerman

1988 Bob Oermann

1989 Bob Claypool

1990 Dick Heard

1991 No Award

1992 Mark McEwen

1993 Lynn Lester

1994 Judy Massa

1995 Clay Smith

1996 Tisi Aylward

1997 Jay Orr

1998 Chet Flippo

1999 Hazel Smith

2000 Neil Pond

2001 Harry Chapman

2002 Jim Patterson

2003 Denise Quan

2004 Alanna Nash

2005 Mark Bracco

2006 Donna Hughes

2007 Storme Warren

2008 Monica Escobedo

2009 Cynthia Sanz

2010 Beville Darden

2011 Ashley Dvorkin

2012 Jennifer Meyer & Ray Sells

2013 Deborah Evans Price

2014 Chuck Dauphin

2015 Cindy Watts

2016 Beville Dunkerley & Joseph Hudak

2017 Brittany Schreiber

2018 Tom Roland

2019 Holly Gleason

2020 Melinda Newman

2021 Sarah Michaud

2022 Leslie Fram

2023 Marcus Dowling

J. William Denny Award

This award is presented in recognition and appreciation of a lifetime of dedication, distinguished service and meritorious contributions to the CMA Board of Directors. The award may be presented to a person living or deceased. All submissions for this honor will be submitted to the CMA Awards Department and will then be discussed and approved by the Awards & Recognition Committee. The Committee will then bring a recommendation to the Board of Directors at the second board meeting for discussion and/or approval.

It is not necessary for this award to be presented each year and shall not be presented more often than annually.

2016 J. William Denny 

2019 Lon Helton

2020 Joe Galante

2021 Kix Brooks

2022 Frank Bumstead

2022 Dick McCullough

2023 Jim Free

CMA Songwriter Advocate Award

Troy Tomlinson accepts the CMA Songwriter Advocate Award at the 14th Annual CMA Triple Play Awards on Monday, April 15, 2024 at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN.

This award recognizes an individual who has dedicated their life to supporting and advancing the art of songwriting and careers of songwriters. The individual receiving this award has positively impacted and contributed to the growth of songwriting in the Country Music genre throughout a course of years and has proven to have an unprecedented historical impact on the songwriting community. Their presence will have a long-term positive impact on Country Music and CMA for generations to come.

Past Recipients:

2020 Bob DiPiero

2022 Jody Williams

2024 Troy Tomlinson