CMA Touring Awards To Honor Louis Messina For Lifetime Achievement

Louis Messina

The Country Music Association (CMA) will honor the Messina Touring Group’s CEO Louis Messina with this year’s CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award.

The announcement comes ahead of the CMA Touring Awards event, taking place Monday, Jan. 28 at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works, highlighting vital, behind-the-scenes members of the touring industry. Voting in final categories (below) closes Thursday, Dec. 13.

Country legend George Strait made a surprise phone call last Friday morning to his longtime promoter, Messina to deliver news of the forthcoming honor.

“I’m incredibly humbled by this honor from CMA and its membership,” said Messina. “Having George Strait call and tell me the news was so powerful, so meaningful, so special and a moment I will always cherish. I’m especially proud of the team we’ve built and the clients we work for, and this distinction caps off an incredible year for us all. I remain thankful to so many people. You have now rendered me speechless.”

“The touring industry is a vibrant part of our business and Louis is very deserving of this recognition,” said Brandi Simms, CMA Senior Director of Awards & Industry Relations. “His vision and passion for the artists and the touring community is an inspiration to those fortunate enough to have worked with him. He is a world-class promoter and it’s no surprise to me that he was chosen to receive the honor of CMA’s Touring Lifetime Achievement Award.”

As CEO of Messina Touring Group, Messina promotes the tours of heavy-hitters such as Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (Soul2Soul), Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Blake Shelton, Strait, Taylor Swift, and The Lumineers. Over his 50-year career, he has promoted a variety of acts including the Dixie Chicks, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and Nickelback.

Messina began booking small shows as a high school student. Building a solid reputation, he moved onto club and theatre acts in and around New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. In 1975 Messina moved to Houston and (with longtime friend and mentor, Allen Becker) co-founded PACE Concerts. Under his direction, PACE Concerts gained regional and national acclaim among artists, agents, artist management and competing promoters. As the company evolved from PACE Concerts to SFX then to Clear Channel Entertainment, Messina established himself as one of the country’s preeminent promoters. In addition to promoting club, arena and stadium acts, Messina conceived and created the George Strait Country Music Festival, Ozzfest (along with Sharon Osborne), Texxas Jam, Van Halen’s Monsters of Rock and the Fleetwood Mac reunion tours. Since establishing The Messina Group, Messina has been the exclusive concert promoter for Chesney, Strait and Swift.

Messina is known for special events and record-setting stadium concerts such as the Jimmy Buffett—George Strait—Alan Jackson triple headliner at Texas Stadium and the opening event at Cowboys Stadium featuring Strait. Strait’s final sellout show at AT&T Stadium, The Cowboy Rides Away, set record numbers with over 104,000 tickets sold in 2014. Swift’s 1989 World Tour saw five sold-out shows at Staples Center, setting a record for the artist with the most sold-out shows at the venue (16) and all of them sold out instantly. Chesney has played 135 stadiums during his career and is ranked in the Top Ticket Sellers of the past 25 years, while only headlining the last 14. Messina has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career from the Academy of Country Music, Billboard, International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA), Performance Magazine, Pollstar, the T.J. Martell Foundation, and Venues Today.

The CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award is for an individual who has accomplished the highest level in the country music field of touring. The award was established to recognize an individual who has achieved both prominence and stature at the highest level. The individual receiving this Award has positively impacted and contributed to the growth of touring throughout a course of years that have proven to have an unprecedented historical impact on country music fans and the industry alike, and whose presence will have a long-term positive impact on country music and CMA for generations to come. The CMA Touring Awards, originally called the SRO Awards, were created by the CMA Board of Directors in 1990 to honor outstanding professional achievement within the touring industry. The SRO Awards were renamed the CMA Touring Awards in 2016.

Jerrod Niemann will return to host the CMA Touring Awards ceremony in January.

Final nominees for the 2018 CMA Touring Awards are as follows (in alphabetical order):

CATEGORY 1 – BUSINESS MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Renee Allen – Arnie Barn, Inc.
Julie Boos – Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
Legina Chaudoin – O’Neil Hagaman, PLLC
Jamie Cheek – Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
Dwight Wiles – Wiles + Taylor & Co., PC

CATEGORY 2 – COACH/TRUCK DRIVER OF THE YEAR
Ron Easley – Jason Aldean
Caleb Garrett – Luke Bryan
Larry “Big” Garten – Lee Brice
Larry Phye, Jr. – Chris Stapleton
John Stalder – Kenny Chesney

CATEGORY 3 – FRONT OF HOUSE (FOH) ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
Kirk Kelsey – Keith Urban
Billy Moore – Eric Church
Chris Rabold – Kenny Chesney
Chris Stephens – Jason Aldean
Ian Zorbaugh – Old Dominion

CATEGORY 4 – LIGHTING DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Philip Ealy – Kenny Chesney
Justin Kitchenman – Luke Bryan
Gavin Lake – Eric Church
Will Lowdermilk – Darius Rucker
Mac Mosier – Chris Stapleton

CATEGORY 5 – MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Virginia Davis – G-Major Management
Kerri Edwards – KP Entertainment
Clint Higham – Morris Higham Management
Jason Owen – Sandbox Entertainment
Chris Parr – Maverick
John Peets – Q Prime South

CATEGORY 6 – TOUR MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Steve Bryan – Florida Georgia Line
David Farmer – Kenny Chesney
Jason Hecht – Chris Stapleton
Jake LaGrone – Jason Aldean
Jan Volz – Rascal Flatts

CATEGORY 7 – MONITOR ENGINEER OF THE YEAR
Bryan Baxley – Kenny Chesney
Cam Beachley – Miranda Lambert
Johnnie Branham – Chris Stapleton
Joel Stickrod – Darius Rucker
Phil Wilkey – Keith Urban

CATEGORY 8 – PRODUCTION MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Jay Ballinger – Dierks Bentley
Randy “Baja” Fletcher – Keith Urban
Todd Ortmeier – Florida Georgia Line
Jay Schwartz – Rascal Flatts
Ed Wannebo – Kenny Chesney

CATEGORY 9 – PUBLICIST OF THE YEAR
Erin Burr – Big Machine Label Group
Ebie McFarland – Essential Broadcast Media
Tyne Parrish – The GreenRoom
Jensen Sussman – Sweet Talk Publicity
Wes Vause – Warner Music Group

CATEGORY 10 – TALENT AGENT OF THE YEAR
Becky Gardenhire – WME
Kevin Neal – WME
Nate Ritches – Paradigm
Risha Rodgers – WME
Jay Williams – WME

CATEGORY 11 – TALENT BUYER/PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
Ben Farrell – Lon Varnell Enterprises
Ali Harnell – AEG Presents
Patrick McDill – Live Nation Nashville
Brian O’Connell – Live Nation Nashville
Stacy Vee – Goldenvoice

CATEGORY 12 – TOUR CATERER OF THE YEAR
Dega Catering
Concert Kitchen
Hightopps Backstage Grille
HSG Catering
Taste Events Catering

CATEGORY 13 – TOURING MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Wyatt Beard – Kenny Chesney
Dan Hochhalter – Dierks Bentley
Mike Kennedy – George Strait
Tully Kennedy – Jason Aldean
Travis Toy – Rascal Flatts

CATEGORY 14 – VENUE OF THE YEAR
Alabama Theatre – North Myrtle Beach, SC
Ascend Amphitheater – Nashville, TN
Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion – Gilford, NH
Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN

CATEGORY 15 – TOUR VIDEO DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Zack Clevenger – Rascal Flatts
Jay Cooper – Kenny Chesney
Houston Creswell – Dierks Bentley
Ryan Rushing – Luke Bryan
Mark Willcox – Chris Stapleton

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