2020 MusicRow Awards Category Profile: Artist of the Year

Following the announcement of this year’s nominees for the 32nd annual MusicRow Awards, we take a look at the MusicRow Artist of the Year category. This category is voted on by MusicRow’s subscribed members to honor outstanding achievements by a Nashville artist during the eligibility period of April 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020.

The MusicRow Awards will be announced virtually among multiple MusicRow platforms on Tuesday, August 18, 2020. Presenting Sponsor of the 2020 MusicRow Awards is City National Bank.

Click here to see the full list of MusicRow Awards nominees.

Winners are determined solely by MusicRow Magazine subscribed members. Voting is now open and closes on July 17 at 5 p.m..

To receive a ballot to vote in the MusicRow Awards, become a MusicRow member here.

Carrie Underwood dazzled audiences with one of the year’s most impressive tours, The Cry Pretty Tour 360, tallying numerous sold-out dates and earning critical praise. The massive arena production utilized 36 projectors, 19 video projection screens, 15 stage elevators and over 400 moving lights. On the radio, Underwood continued her hitmaking streak with the sultry single “Drinking Alone” and the sunny “Southbound.” She also continued to successfully expand her lifestyle brand with the release of her best-selling book, Find Your Path.

Dan + Shay continued a meteoric rise with the release of “10,000 Hours” featuring Justin Bieber, which topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for 21 consecutive weeks. The RIAA Platinum-certified hit was the fastest country single of 2019 to reach one million track equivalents. The duo also scored another No. 1 during the eligibility period with “All To Myself,” and took home their second consecutive Grammy award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their multi-Platinum No. 1, “Speechless.” Dan + Shay are produced by Producer of the Year nominee Scott Hendricks.

Luke Combs’ current album What You See Is What You Get barrelled to No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart and enjoyed the largest-ever streaming week for a country album with 74 million on-demand streams. During the eligibility period, Combs scored his seventh and eighth consecutive chart-toppers with “Even Though I’m Leaving” and current single, “Does To Me” featuring Eric Church, which is in the running for Song of the Year. Combs is the reigning MusicRow Awards Artist of the Year and the 2018 Breakthrough Artist of the Year. His producer Scott Moffatt is nominated for Producer of the Year.

Maren Morris has seen major success with current album GIRL, which shattered the record for the largest ever debut streaming week for a country album by a woman, with 23.96 million streams. Her Platinum-certified single “The Bones” became the longest leading No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart by a solo female artist after its 11th week. Additionally, “The Bones” has very significant crossover success, including a version with Hozier. That follows her chart-topper “GIRL” last summer. Now Morris is on to her latest single, “To Hell & Back,” and her next adventure, motherhood, having had her first baby in March. Morris is the 2016 Breakthrough Songwriter and 2017 Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

Miranda Lambert released her seventh studio album, Wildcard, earning another debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Album Charts and another round of critical praise. The album is home to the Grammy-nominated single “It All Comes Out in The Wash” and her current single, “Bluebird,” which is in the running for MusicRow Awards Song of the Year. Wildcard was helmed by Jay Joyce, who is nominated for Producer of the Year. Lambert is the 2005 MusicRow Critics Pick winner, which predicts the future success of new artists.

Thomas Rhett continues his hitmaking streak with his fourth studio album Center Point Road, offering autobiographical snapshots and cool sounds that have endeared fans to him since the beginning. The current album has spawned three No. 1 hits all of which he co-wrote (“Sixteen,” “Look What God Gave Her” and “Remember You Young”) and his most recent “Beer Can’t Fix” ft. Jon Pardi, which earned Thomas Rhett his 15th career and record-breaking ninth consecutive No. 1. His current single, “Be A Light,” features Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin and Keith Urban, and is climbing at country radio. Thomas Rhett frequently works with Producer of the Year nominee Dann Huff.


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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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