Most country music fans may be confused about the two major awards ceremonies: Academy of Country Music (ACM) and Country Music Association (CMA), which take place annually in September.
No matter their differences, both organizations share a similar philosophy when it comes to awarding music in the genre. Furthermore, many of the same artists often win awards on both shows.
Brooks & Dunn
In 1990, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn formed Brooks & Dunn after Tim DuBois, a Nashville country music executive, suggested they join the ranks of duos. Their distinctive sound combined honky-tonk dancefloor rhythms with classic-rock guitar riffs and stirring arrangements. Brooks’ energetic stage presence combined with Dunn’s brooding presence created an electrifying stage show.
They achieved fame during their time together, winning multiple awards including Top Vocal Duo from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Awards. With ten albums under their belt, their albums have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. Hits such as “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “My Maria,” “Only in America” and “Believe” helped catapult them to become one of country music’s most successful duos ever.
They were named entertainer of the year at the Country Music Awards in 1993, chosen by fan vote. Other recipients included Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban.
The duo’s success began with a string of popular honky-tonk hits, such as 1991’s Hard Workin Man and 1992’s Waitin on Sundown. Their polished musicianship and ability to blend country rock with honky-tonk music propelled them to high levels of commercial success.
Brooks & Dunn were one of the early innovators of power-country music, which combined elements from honky-tonk with mainstream country. Their albums Hard Workin Man, Waitin on Sundown, Borderline, If You See Her, Tight Rope and Steers and Stripes all achieved chart success.
Their 2003 album Red Dirt Road was a concept album that explored the duo’s roots and upbringing. Critics such as Erlewine and Nash described it as an “excruciatingly honest account of growing up”.
Their 2007 album Cowboy Town continued their style of combining honky-tonk with rock music. The record earned them several CMA and ACM awards, including entertainer of the year. After disbanding their group in 2013, they released several solo albums before returning to touring in 2015 for a residency with Reba McEntire. Additionally, Reboot, their most recent studio album featuring updated versions of some classic hits was released in 2016.
At this year’s Country Music Awards, Tim McGraw made a major splash with six wins. His hit single “Girl Crush,” which spent 10 weeks at the top of the chart, earned him awards for Single of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year.
McGraw has achieved great success as a country singer, with hits like “Red Rag Top,” “She’s My Kind of Rain” and “Tiny Dancer.” Additionally, his work earned him five Grammy Awards.
McGraw’s success can be attributed to his catchy melodic songs and Southern twang, but he has also earned praise for his ability to craft hit tunes with unusual musical styles. Additionally, he’s collaborated with various country artists like Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill and Luke Bryan.
He’s achieved some acting success, appearing in films such as Friday Night Lights, The Blind Side, Country Strong and Flicka. Additionally, he served as minority owner of the Nashville Kats of the Arena Football League.
McGraw’s music career has taken him down many different roads, yet he has never forgotten his roots. His father Tug McGraw was a baseball player for both the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.
In 2002, McGraw released his self-titled album which featured several Top Ten hits such as “Red Rag Top” and “She’s My Kind of Rain.” Additionally, he covered Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” originally released by British pop artist Catherine Dunn. Following that came Live Like You Were Dying (2004) which peaked at number two on Billboard 200 charts.
Keith Urban is a renowned country music artist who has been nominated multiple times for the ACM’s Entertainer of the Year award. Additionally, he frequently performs at the ACM Awards and serves on the board of directors for Lifting Lives organization of the ACM.
Growing up, Urban had aspirations of becoming a country star and was determined to make it happen. He had big plans for Nashville when he was still young.
However, he had to put in the effort. He needed to save up money to purchase a guitar, learn how to sing and tour.
Eventually, everything came together: he formed the band The Ranch, toured around Australia and New Zealand, and started creating music. Soon after, his debut album was released – marking the start of an impressive career in music.
After his initial success in Australia’s music scene, Urban made the bold move to Nashville. Though it was a risky move, EMI signed him and released his debut album in 1990.
He toured with American singer-songwriter Slim Dusty and performed at the Grand Ole Opry. Additionally, he sang a duet with Dusty on their reworked version of “Lights on the Hill.”
Once their band disbanded, he went solo in Nashville and quickly rose up the country charts without losing his audience.
On Monday night at the CMT Music Awards, Urban kicked off the show by performing his hit song, “Wild Hearts.” It was an energetic start to the evening’s events and Urban’s performance had everyone excited – it was definitely worth tuning in for!
Brad Paisley is a renowned country music star with an illustrious career that includes three Grammys and 14 Academy of Country Music Awards. Additionally, he twice received the CMA Entertainer of the Year honor.
Paisley’s journey to success began with an inspiring moment during his childhood. At the age of 8, his grandfather taught him how to play the guitar and he soon after started singing in church and civic gatherings.
By the age of 12, he had already joined his first band and begun writing songs of his own. Soon enough, he was hired to sing at a hospital in Glen Dale, West Virginia, where he performed for patients with limited communication abilities.
Paisley had never been a professional musician before, but was determined to succeed and work hard. He attended West Liberty State College in West Virginia before earning a degree in music business from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Despite never having been an accomplished musician before, Paisley was determined to succeed and worked hard towards his goals.
After graduation, Paisley could focus on his career and released his debut album, Who Needs Pictures, in 1999. This record sold more than one million copies, propelling Paisley to stardom on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
His hit single “He Didn’t Have to Be” went on to earn multiple award nominations and eventually led him to induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 2001.
Since then, he has released nine studio albums and toured the world for over 15 years. On his Virtual Reality World Tour alone, he played to more than one million fans across North America and Europe; additionally, his voice can be heard on Cars 2 soundtrack and South Park cartoon series.
He has hosted the Country Music Awards for over a decade, as well as making frequent television appearances. A passionate Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Dodgers fan, he often watches games alongside Star Trek actor William Shatner.
Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line had an extraordinary night at the Country Music Awards, taking home three first-ever ACM Breakout Artist, Single of the Decade and Music Event awards during a surprise backstage ceremony during their Can’t Say I Ain’t Country Tour stop in Irvine, California on Saturday (September 28).
The duo was one of the first country acts to achieve RIAA Diamond certification for 10 million copies sold with their debut career album. Additionally, they achieved 11x-Platinum sales on “Cruise,” their 11X-PLATINUM breakout single.
FGL’s catalog of chart-topping hits, which include party anthems and traditional country ballads, has earned 9.3+ billion streams, sold more than 33.6 million track downloads, sold over 4.6 million albums worldwide and scored 16 #1 singles. They are currently riding high on their Grammy-nominated “Mented to Be” collaboration with pop star Bebe Rexha which remains at the top of Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for 39 weeks straight and surpasses 1 billion total streams globally.
On their last show together as a duo, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley paid homage to Florida Georgia Line’s legacy by singing “Cruise,” their 2012 breakthrough hit that launched their career. Following the song, both performers exchanged hugs before exiting on opposite sides of the stage.
It was a bittersweet moment for the duo, who have had an immense impact on country music. Kelley has released a musical called “May We All” inspired by Florida Georgia Line songs while Hubbard released six-track EP and will be touring with Keith Urban this fall.