Awards

Is Morgan Wallen Eligible for 2021 CMA Awards? Here's What the CMA Decided

Morgan Wallen
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for CMA

Morgan Wallen accepts and award onstage during the The 54th Annual CMA Awards at Nashville’s Music City Center on Nov. 11, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Country Music Association also announced its 2021 ballot schedule ahead of November show.

The Country Music Association’s board of directors has announced a nuanced approach to a sensitive issue: Morgan Wallen’s eligibility for the 55th annual CMA Awards.

Wallen will be eligible in categories that honor artistic works (single, song, album, musical event, and music video of the year), “so as not to limit opportunity for other credited collaborators,” in the words of the CMA. But he won't be eligible in individual artist categories (entertainer and male vocalist of the year).

In Wallen's case, those collaborators include Joey Moi, Jacob Durrett, Charlie Handsome, Matt Dragstrem and Dave Cohen, the producers of his blockbuster album Dangerous: The Double Album, and Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally, co-writers (with Wallen) of the smash single "7 Summers."

Wallen’s representative had no comment on the CMA’s decision.

Wallen is the CMA’s reigning new artist of the year. He won in that category at the 54th annual CMA Awards on Nov. 11. On Feb. 2, TMZ released a video recorded two days earlier in which Morgan used the N-word, an action that has thrown his high-flying career into chaos.

Wallen's sophomore album, Dangerous: The Double Album, headed the all-genre Billboard 200 chart for 10 consecutive weeks. It is currently in its 15th week at No. 1 on Top Country Albums. At the same time, many radio chains have stopped playing his music, and his own record label has suspended his contract.

Awards shows have struggled with how to deal with the situation.

On Feb. 3, the Academy of Country Music announced that Wallen would be ineligible for the 56th annual ACM Awards, which were presented on April 18. It also barred him from appearing on the ACM Awards for one year. “The Academy does not condone or support intolerance or behavior that doesn’t align with our commitment and dedication to diversity and inclusion,” the ACM said in a statement.

Wallen was likely to receive several major nominations at the ACM Awards, including male artist of the year, single of the year and song of the year. Dangerous: The Double Album would not have been eligible: It was released on Jan. 8, too late to meet the ACM Awards' Dec. 31 eligibility cutoff.

Soon after the ACM announced its ruling, the CMA Awards announced that it was removing Wallen's digital content from its platforms. "We support our Country Music partners for taking swift action," the CMA said, adding that it would consider additional measures.

The Billboard Music Awards, which air on Sunday night, is allowing Wallen to compete, on the theory that the nominations are based entirely on chart performance. Wallen is a finalist for six awards in five categories, but he won’t appear on the NBC telecast.

dick clark productions, which produces the BBMAs, released a statement on April 29 to explain why Wallen is a BBMA finalist, and also why he won’t appear on the show this year.

“Unique among awards shows, Billboard Music Awards (BBMA) finalists are determined by performance on the Billboard charts, and are not chosen by a voting committee or membership organization. ... Morgan Wallen is a finalist this year based on charting. As his recent conduct does not align with our core values, we will not be including him on the show in any capacity (performing, presenting, accepting). It is heartening and encouraging to hear that Morgan is taking steps in his anti-racist journey and starting to do some meaningful work. We plan to evaluate his progress and will consider his participation in future shows.”

The CMA also announced its 2021 ballot schedule on Friday (May 21).

The 55th annual CMA Awards will take place in November in Nashville. The three-hour ceremony will broadcast live on ABC.

The eligibility period for this year’s awards is July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. All voting will be conducted online. All balloting is officiated by the professional services firm Deloitte.

The nomination ballot and instructions will be Tuesday, July 6, to CMA members in good standing who are eligible to vote. Voting closes Thursday, July 15, at 4 p.m. CT.

The second ballot will be emailed to CMA members on Monday, Aug. 2. Voting closes Thursday, Aug. 12, at 6 p.m. CT.

The final nominees in each of the 12 categories will be announced in late summer.

The third and final ballot will be emailed to CMA members on Friday, Oct. 1. Voting closes Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m. CT.

To vote in all three rounds of the 55th annual CMA Awards, prospective CMA members must apply for membership by Tuesday, June 1. Visit CMAworld.com/membership to learn more.

 

Eligible CMA members may now submit applications for the 2021 CMA Broadcast Awards for broadcast personality, station and national broadcast personality of the year online at broadcast.CMAawards.com.

CMA Broadcast Awards are presented for personality and station of the year in four categories that are determined by market size (major, large, medium and small) as well as CMA national broadcast personality of the year, which, for the first time, will be awarded for a daily and weekly broadcast personality.

To submit an entry, CMA member radio stations and broadcast personalities in the U.S. and Canada can log on to broadcast.CMAawards.com, where guidelines and instructions for entries are posted. The site will continue to accept submissions until Wednesday, June 30, at 5 p.m. CT.

CMA Broadcast Awards winners will be notified in early October and recognized at the 55th annual CMA Awards. For more information about CMA Broadcast Awards entries, contact Brenden Oliver, CMA senior manager, awards & strategic initiatives, at BOliver@CMAworld.com.

Founded in 1958, the Country Music Association bills itself as the first trade organization formed to promote a genre of music. The first (non-televised) CMA Awards banquet and show, hosted by Bobbie Gentry and Sonny James, was held in 1967. The following year, the CMA Awards was broadcast for the first time-- making it the longest-running annual music awards program on network television. The Grammy Awards became a live broadcast in 1971. The ACM Awards were first televised in 1972.

Cowboy film royalty Roy Rogers and Dale Evans hosted the first televised show, which aired on NBC. The show moved to CBS in 1972 and to ABC in 2006.

ABC is also the network home of CMA’s other two television properties: CMA Fest and CMA Country Christmas.

The ACM Awards and the Billboard Music Awards, referenced in this story, are both produced by dick clark productions, which is owned by MRC. MRC and Penske Media are co-parent companies of Billboard.

Assistance in preparing this story provided by Melinda Newman.