Steve Buchanan Presented CMA's Irving Waugh Award of Excellence

Steve Buchanan Presented CMA's Irving Waugh Award of Excellence

NASHVILLE – Steve Buchanan, the President of Opry Entertainment and Executive Producer of “Nashville,” was presented CMA’s Irving Waugh Award of Excellence today during quarterly meetings of the CMA Board of Directors in Nashville.

The Irving Waugh Award of Excellence is awarded to an 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.

“Steve is very deserving of this prestigious honor,” said John Esposito, Chairman of the CMA Board of Directors and President and CEO of Warner Music Nashville. “His development, oversight, and creative vision for the television series ‘Nashville’ has contributed to the global identity of this city, and unprecedented, primetime attention for Country Music.”

“Irving Waugh was an exceptional businessman and visionary. I am humbled and honored to receive this Award bearing his name,” Buchanan said. “My inspiration has always been fueled by my love of Country Music and my deeply-rooted passion for the Opry, the Ryman, our artists, and the extraordinary City of Nashville.”

Viewers in more than 80 countries and more than 200 TV territories throughout the world tune in each week to “Nashville,” the drama based in Music City and depicting Country Music artist characters. The show has produced 5,126 first-run hours of programming globally. After four domestic seasons on the ABC Television Network, the series is set to air its fifth season on CMT and Hulu.

During its four (and counting) years on the air, “Nashville” has made an indelible mark on its namesake city and the format. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has called the series “the greatest advertising tool for Music City that we have ever seen.” The production employs more than 500 full-time Tennessee residents each season and spends a combined $45 million on local cast, crew, goods, and services.

While the series’ impact on its hometown has been a game-changer, the impact on Country Music nationally and globally is immeasurable. The series has made Country Music part of water cooler conversations each week, providing a platform for format stars to appear on the series and expand awareness of revered institutions like the Grand Ole Opry and Bluebird Café around the world. Additionally, the series has offered the industry’s songwriting community opportunities for their work to be showcased weekly on network television and for subsequent inclusion in 10 soundtracks featuring music from the series.

Fans have responded to the series not just by tuning in, but by actively engaging on social media, downloading and streaming music from “Nashville” in the millions, and by selling out shows during three domestic “Nashville in Concert” tours as well as a 2016 inaugural international tour of the U.K. and Ireland.

Buchanan has been a valued and important caretaker of the city and Country Music in the way both are portrayed in the series. His initial interest in creating “Nashville” stemmed from his career in senior leadership at Opry Entertainment, overseeing such iconic Country Music brands as the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, 650 AM WSM, and Gaylord Program Services, Inc. In his 30-plus years with the company, Buchanan worked tirelessly not only toward the company’s success, but also ensuring that those brands remained relevant and reflective of their rich heritage.

He began his Opry Entertainment career as the Opry’s first-ever Marketing Manager, and Executor of the Opry’s first-ever advertising budget. In the years since taking the reins of all the brands under the Opry Entertainment umbrella, Buchanan’s commitment to the growth of those brands and Country Music has manifested itself in innumerable ways from overseeing the 1994 renovation and reopening of the historic Ryman Auditorium, to the launch of the satellite radio and internet broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry.

Beyond his professional contributions, Buchanan is involved in many worthwhile organizations. He serves as President of the Opry Trust Fund, is a past chairman of the CMA Board of Directors (2010-2011), and serves on the board of W.O. Smith Music School. He is an alumnus of both Leadership Nashville and Leadership Music. Buchanan received the 2012 Outstanding Service Award from Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, and The Kiwanis Club of Nashville named him the 2012 Outstanding Nashvillian of the Year. He is the recipient of the 2014 INVEST Award from the Nashville Downtown Partnership. In 2015, The District Nashville honored Buchanan with the Spirit of the District Award, and he received Leadership Music’s Brian Williams Ambassador Award.

Past recipients:
1983    Irving Waugh
1987    Frances Preston
1991    Jo Walker-Meador
2003    Johnny Cash
2009    Walter Miller
2014    Vince Gill