The Country Music Association Presents Several Industry Honors

Recipients Include Ann Edelblute, Rob Farina, Holly Gleason, Lon Helton,
Dale Morris, Alabama’s Randy Owen, and Bill Simmons

The Country Music Association presented industry honors to seven highly-deserving individuals this past week during “The 53rd Annual CMA Awards” Wednesday, Nov. 13 as well as during an intimate CMA Board reception at the Analog at Hutton Hotel Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Holly Gleason (journalist and HITS Magazine Nashville Editor) was surprised with the CMA Media Achievement Award during “The 53rd Annual CMA Awards” by Country superstar Miranda Lambert, as Lambert took to the backstage press conference stage for the announcement. Rob Farina (Bell Media Head of Content, Strategy and iHeartRadio) was awarded the CMA Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award backstage by John Huie (CAA Nashville Partner and CMA Board member) prior to “The 53rd Annual CMA Awards” broadcast.

Last night during the CMA Board reception, Ann Edelblute (The HQ Owner and CMA Board member) and Bill Simmons (The AMG Co-Founder and CMA Board member) received the CMA Chairman’s Award from Jody Williams (BMI Vice President, Creative, Nashville and CMA Board Chairman), while Lon Helton (Country Aircheck Publisher and CEO and CMA Board member) was honored with the J. William Denny Award and Dale Morris (Dale Morris & Associates Owner) received the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence presented by Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey. Nine-time CMA Award-winning artist and Country Music Hall of Famer Randy Owen of the group Alabama was honored with the CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award.

In addition, Sarah Trahern (CMA Chief Executive Officer) presented mementos to Williams and Kurt Johnson (Townsquare Media Senior Vice President and CMA Board President), while Tiffany Kerns (CMA Foundation Executive Director) presented to Jennie Smythe (Girlilla Marketing Founder and CEO and CMA Foundation Chair). The reception also featured performances from the new class of the CMA Kixstart Artist Scholarship recipients –Angie K, Everette and Kylie Morgan, followed by a Q&A led by Rod Phillips (iHeart Media Executive Vice President of Country Programming Strategy and CMA Board member).

CMA Chairman’s Award – Ann Edelblute & Bill Simmons

This award, given at the discretion of the incumbent Chairman, is not an annual award, but given when the Chairman feels an individual or individuals, through outstanding service to CMA, merits the recognition.

“Ann Edelblute and Bill Simmons spent countless hours year-round to helping to guide the vision of the CMA Awards with their clients Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley,” said Williams, CMA Board Chairman. “Ann is one of the dearest people in our music community and I’ve learned so much from Bill about people and management.”

Edelblute, one of Nashville’s most influential voices in regard to artist management, has been working in the industry for over 15 years, currently running her own Nashville-based management firm, The HQ, and representing longtime client, Underwood.

Longtime artist manager and former CMA Board officer Simmons joined Edelblute in the honor. Simmons along with former co-head of WME Nashville Rob Beckham opened artist management company The AMG in 2019, which currently represents clients Brad Paisley and Chris Young. Simmons is a former partner at The Fitzgerald Hartley Company.

CMA Media Achievement Award – Holly Gleason

The CMA Media Achievement Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of print and internet journalists, columnists, authors, editors, television writers, producers and bookers, and syndicated radio reporters in the media as they relate to Country Music. This award is voted on by publicist members of CMA.

Gleason is one of the music industry’s most dynamic voices, currently serving as Nashville Editor for HITS Magazine and having written for outlets including Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Oxford American and Paste. Her perception of the Country Music landscape is heralded by artists, industry executives and fans. The writer, music critic and artist development consultant has also authored her first book, “Women Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives,” which released in 2018.

William Denny Award – Lon Helton

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.

Helton has a storied 46-year career in the music industry. He has hosted a variety of nationally syndicated Country radio shows, launched the Country radio and music industry trade publication, Country Aircheck, and for the last 22 years, hosted WestwoodOne’s “Country Countdown USA” and “Country’s Inside Trak.” The nine-time CMA Broadcast Awards winner has served on the CMA Board of Directors for the past 36 years, acting as President and Chairman from 1999-2002. He has also served as Chair of CMA’s Awards & Recognition, Artist Relations, and Governance Committees, as well as the Radio Committee four times.

Irving Waugh Award of Excellence – Dale Morris

The Irving Waugh Award of Excellence is given to an individual who has exhibited 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.

Morris has had a hand in developing and growing some of the biggest names in Country Music. Morris is known for creating and managing some of the most successful stadium tours in the industry for legendary artists like Alabama and Kenny Chesney. In addition, he has helped guide the careers of Old Dominion, Martina McBride, Barbara Mandrell, Jake Owen, Michael Ray, Brandon Lay, Louise Mandrell, Ryan Griffin and Walker County.

CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award – Randy Owen

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

Owen was selected by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founder, Danny Thomas, to get the Country Music industry involved in raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a result, Owen created Country Cares, one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in radio history. Since its inception in 1989, Country Cares has pioneered radio charitable fundraising, raising more than $875 million for the hospital. Owen is also involved in a variety of additional philanthropic endeavors including spearheading June Jam festivals, which have raised over $15 million for charities, Alabama Sheriffs Boys Ranch summer camps and celebrity golf tournaments as well as tornado and hurricane benefits. His most recent hurricane benefit, which supported the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria raised $40 million and drew at the time five living presidents, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter as attendees.

Owen is part of the nine-time CMA Award-winning group Alabama. The group is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Musicians Hall of Fame and have their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

CMA Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award – Rob Farina

The CMA Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the media, which contribute to the development of Country Music outside the United States.

Farina is Head of Radio Content, Strategy, and iHeartRadio for Canada’s Bell Media. He held various positions for Bell Media since the late ’90s before departing in 2014 to establish music marketing company Black Box. Farina returned to Bell Media in 2016 as a senior advisor for the launch of iHeartRadio. In December, he took on the role as head of Canada’s iHeartRadio, along with syndication and strategic initiatives.