Who’s the Most Powerful of All?

CMT Airs Power List 2003

Who’s got the most juice in the country music world? The CMT News Special Power List 2003 answers that question and more. The show premieres Wednesday (Oct. 29) at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It re-airs Oct. 30 at 5:30, Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. and Nov. 2 at 3:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. (all times ET/PT).

This first CMT News ranking of the most powerful movers and shakers in the world of country music looked at artists’ accomplishment this year in three major areas: CD sales, box office drawing power and public awareness — including major media exposure, crossover appeal and the intangible factor known as stardust. So, it goes beyond mere fame and wealth. Some artists can exercise their power by what they can do — others enjoy the power of saying “no” to anything they don’t want to do. Some rely almost solely on the power of their music; still others parlay a combination of music, touring, TV and movie appearances and a role as commercial spokesperson for products. International appeal is yet another factor.

“I think power is the ability to get stuff done, to make stuff happen,” says USA Today’s Brian Mansfield. “The really powerful people are the ones who move in circles beyond Nashville, who can make things besides hit singles happen. … There are lots of people in Nashville that can make things happen in town. There are lots of big fish in this little pond. But the really powerful ones are those who can make things happen in New York, in Los Angeles, worldwide. Those are the ones with real power.”

“There are so many different ways people define power,” says Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Willman. “I would define it as reaching a level where you can take chances and break away from the norm and actually get away with it. Even enhance your career instead of ruin your career.”

“Power has to be connected to money, because money means success, and success breeds money,” says music executive Tony Brown. “Money breeds power, and success breeds power.”

“Power probably comes in three flavors in country. It comes in the ability to connect. It comes in the ability to get things done. And it comes in the ability to have fun with what you’re doing,” explains publicist Holly Gleason. “Probably the biggest defining characteristic of an artist with power is somebody who dreams and doesn’t believe in limitations.”

The 10 artists judged most powerful this year are (in alphabetical order): Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney, the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, George Strait and Shania Twain. The exact ranking is revealed on the program. There’s also an 11th figure lurking on the list: the elusive 800-pound gorilla of country music. The Power List will become an annual feature on CMT.