Jason Aldean‘s omission from the Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year nominees raised plenty of eyebrows on Music Row. He was, after all, named the Academy of Country Music’s entertainer of the year just five months ago, and a huge portion of the CMA electorate also votes in the ACMs.
Is there a precedent? Indeed there is, though it’s rare, particularly in more recent times. In the 46 years that the ACM has awarded an entertainer trophy, that winner was denied a shot at the CMA version only eight times. And it’s only the fourth time in the past 30 years.
Carrie Underwood, who received her first CMA entertainer nod this year, was shut out twice after winning the ACM’s top trophy in 2009 and 2010. In both those years, the ACM honor was decided by a fan vote.
Prior to that, Shania Twain copped the ACM trophy in spring 2000, only to miss the final five on the CMA’s fall ballot.
The same happened to Alabama in a 1986 vote that was surely ascribed to voter fatigue. The band had won the ACM’s entertainer award five times in a row and claimed the CMA’s honor three straight times.
The disparity was most frequent in the earliest days of the two organizations, when the ACM’s mission was to act as something of a West Coast alternative to the country industry’s Nashville base. From 1975 to 1977, three successive ACM victors — Mac Davis, Loretta Lynn and Mickey Gilley — were all left out of the CMA’s entertainer competition.
Aldean’s absence from the CMA list is part of a significant sweep. Outside of the 2015 winner, Luke Bryan, none of the 2016 finalists was a 2015 contender. Both Underwood and Chris Stapleton are first-time entertainer nominees. Keith Urban, who won entertainer in 2005, was nominated as recently as 2014. Thanks to his retirement from touring, Garth Brooks hasn’t been a nominee since 1999.