The countdown has started for this year’s Country Music Awards — among the music industry’s most prestigious honors. This year’s ceremony is scheduled to be broadcast live on ABC-TV on Nov. 13.
The awards are given annually by the Country Music Association (CMA), an organization founded in 1958, ostensibly to help stem the tide of rock and roll, which was then seen as threatening to take over the airwaves and marginalize the country genre.
The first ceremony was held in 1967, and the following year, it was broadcast for the first time on television — making it the longest-running live annual music awards program on TV. (The second annual Grammy Awards were aired in weekly episodes in 1959, but were first shown live only in 1971. Click here to see every Grammy Song of the Year since the awards started.)
Award-winners in 12 categories, who receive hand-blown Italian crystal trophies at the CMAs are nominated and selected by the organization’s 7,400-plus members.
For Song of the Year, an accolade accorded to the songwriters (not the performers, unless they’re one and the same), the CMA’s online explanation of the awards states “Any Country Music song with original words and music is eligible based upon the song’s Country singles chart activity during the eligibility period.” This year’s awards covers the period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
A look through the Song of the Year winners shows a wide range of songs winning the prize. There are some written — and sometimes, but not always performed — by such stars as Kris Kristofferson, John Denver, K.T. Oslin, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, and Taylor Swift, as well as those penned by behind-the-scenes figures known only to the country music industry.
There are plenty of love songs, of course, and plenty of tear-jerkers, as well as patriotic anthems, novelty tunes, and inspirational offerings. Some of these qualify as the most popular country songs of all time.
Many of the songs on this list have been recorded numerous times, sometimes as pop or R&B songs. Some have even charted more than once, by different artists. The awards, however, in all cases, are given to the versions released during the respective eligibility periods.
24/7 Tempo reviewed archived data from The Country Music Association (CMA) to determine the winners for the Song of the Year award, going back to the year of the awards’ inception in 1967.