1967 CMA Awards vs. 2016 CMA Awards

My, How Things Have Changed

When I think about the upcoming CMA Awards, I try to put myself in the late Eddy Arnold’s shoes.

Because the Country Music Association is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their awards show — actually that first one was called the CMA Awards Banquet and Show — and Arnold was crowned its first entertainer of the year that year. He beat out Bill Anderson, Merle Haggard, Sonny James and Buck Owens for that honor.

But my how times have changed, right? And I have to wonder what Arnold and all his fellow nominees would think of the show now.

During that show in 1967 at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium with co-hosts Sonny James and Bobbie Gentry, the vocal group of the year award went to the Stoneman Family. And maybe that night, they performed one of their bluegrass favorites. But if they did, they probably did it alone, because that was when country crossover collaboration weren’t cool. They probably weren’t even a thing.

So to watch this new 50/50 video from the Country Music Association, featuring two recent vocal groups combining efforts with artists from outside the genre, there’s no denying how far we’ve come.

Zac Brown talks about the night Nirvana/Foo Fighters wonderboy Dave Grohl joined him and his band at the 2013 CMA Awards for “Day for the Dead.” And the members of Little Big Town talk about collaborating with Ariana Grande in 2014 for “Bang Bang.”

Little Big Town‘s Karen Fairchild says they wanted to do something “outlandish” with Grande, and that they loved being the ones to “introduce her to our world.”

If that seemed outlandish at the time, it makes you think about what the CMA Awards will be like in 2066.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.