The Country Music Association awarded four of its 2022 CMA International Awards and celebrated its return to C2C: Country to Country Festival in the U.K. this past weekend. These efforts are part of CMA’s mission to expand country music globally.
“It’s been particularly rewarding over the last week celebrating C2C’s 10th year and honoring those who have made such an impact on our genre,” says Milly Olykan, CMA Vice President, International Relations and Development. “2023 is set to be a big year for country music in the U.K. with so much large-scale country touring taking place and the continual growth of streaming and radio support, which is a direct result of our industry working together. Meeting up as an industry this week has allowed us to take a moment to acknowledge together the huge strides country music has taken in a relatively short time.”
Bobbi Boyce, former and long-time CMA employee, won the Jo Walker Meador International Award for her advocacy and support of CMA’s international efforts with their partners and the Nashville Community. Olykan presented the award at the U.K. fan-filled CMA Songwriters Series on March 9.
Chris Stevens, CMA U.K. Task Force Member and CountryLine Radio (formerly Chris Country Radio) host, won the International Country Broadcaster Award for his outstanding achievements in broadcasting. Fellow host and broadcaster Baylen Leonard presented the award.
Nigel Hassler, CAA Country Initiative Leader and CMA U.K. Task Force member, won the Rob Potts International Live Music Advancement Award for his contribution to building country music in the live music industry over many years. CAA Music agent and co-founder of CAA Music Nashville John Huie presented the award.
During an industry reception hosted by CMA and BBC Radio 2, Bob Shennan, BBC Group Managing Director, won the Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award for his contributions and influence in the media which contributed to the mainstream exposure of country music in the U.K. on BBC Radio 2. Bob Harris OBE (Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, C2C, and BBC) presented the award to Shennan, who was a former member of the CMA Board of Directors and is a current member of the CMA U.K. Task Force.
Dutch recording artist Ilse DeLange won the Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award recognizing an artist that has furthered the popularity of country music and brought attention to the country music format in their foreign-based territory.
All of these awards come in addition to the previously announced CMA International Artist Achievement Award, presented to Ashley McBryde in November 2022.
CMA returned to the C2C Country to Country Festival with the CMA Songwriters Series and “Introducing Nashville” lineup. Featured performances by Dalton Dover, Nate Smith, and Lainey Wilson kicked off the weekend on March 9 with acclaimed songwriter Ashley Gorley. The weekend also saw guest appearances by Tyler Braden, Caylee Hammack, and Alana Springsteen.
The sold-out crowd sang along to hits by Wilson and Gorley, and enjoyed hearing the stories behind the songs from the artists and songwriters themselves. Wilson shared memories from her first trip to the U.K. in 2018, and Dover and Smith celebrated their first U.K. appearance.
“Introducing Nashville,” CMA’s international touring series, featured Braden, Hammack, and Springsteen in acoustic performances during the festival’s opening set on the main stages of London’s O2, Glasgow’s OVO Hydro, and Dublin’s 3 Arena. For each of the artists, the warmly welcomed writers’ rounds marked their first U.K. experiences.
CMA’s trip to London included hosting various industry events including a panel moderated by Anna-Sophie Mertens (VP of Touring, Live Nation U.K.) and featuring Jon Loba (BMG Nashville President), Becky Gardenhire (Co-Head, William Morris Endeavor Nashville), and Mike Rittberg (Executive VP Label Operations, Big Machine Label Group). They discussed the next steps for the growth of country music in the U.K., shared their views on the challenges of establishing artists internationally, and celebrated the huge inroads that have been made.
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