2019 ACM Awards
Alysse Gafkjen

5 Female Artists Who Deserved CMA Award Nominations

Sigh. The 2018 CMA Award nominations came out last week, and they were brutally predictable.

First, let's say something nice. It's great to see Sugarland back in the fold. All of the Female Vocalist of the Year nominees are fantastic vocalists in their own right. Lauren Alaina breaking up the new artist sausage fest is excellent. "Dear Hate" earning a nod for Musical Event of the Year is nice.

And that's about it.

Familiar faces of country music dominate all the categories. No women cracked the Entertainer of the Year category. Every nominated artist is tied to a major label (or major "indie" like Big Machine). All of the albums and songs were commercially dominant. Hell, the Single of the Year and Song of the Year categories look eerily similar and only two women were involved in writing any of those songs (Bebe Rexha and Nicolle Galyon) or performing them (Bebe Rexha and Miranda Lambert).

And there's a reason for that.

Why The CMA Awards Nominations Always Kind of Suck

For the record, I voted in the CMA Awards again this year, so I'm pointing the finger at a group I'm a part of. But the CMA Awards nominations always kind of suck because the eligibility for many categories is tied directly to radio.

Here are the exact guidelines for voters, if you're curious. But single, song and musician of the year are all directly tied to radio chart success. It's unclear if those parameters also define the vocalist, group and duo of the year categories as well. The artist in question must qualify by performing either a single or album, and those parameters as defined by the CMA guidelines include radio play as a factor as well.

Either way, here's the point: these guidelines are woefully out of date. Unlike the GRAMMYs, which explicitly exclude commercial performance as a prerequisite, the CMA Awards rely on commercial performance in many ways.

Female Artists Who Deserved CMA Nominations

Essentially, eligible nominees are limited to only a handful of major label and major indie artists. Only 34 of 126 artists on the three major labels (Sony, Warner and Universal) plus two of the largest independents (Big Machine and Broken Bow) are solo females or groups composed entirely of females.

But here's the thing: a handful of talented and deserving women on the majors or major indies still qualify by these antiquated standards. And they still don't get a nod.

We're not talking about women who fall more in line with Americana or roots music here (like Margo Price, Alison Krauss, Lee Ann Womack, Nikki Lane and more incredibly talented women). These are women in mainstream country who are "playing by the rules," usually to much more fanfare than their male counterparts, and still can't get proper respect.

Let's take a look at five female artists who deserved a CMA Awards nomination.

Ashley McBryde

Signed to Warner Bros. Nashville, Ashley McBryde's phenomenal song "Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega" peaked at No. 30 on country radio, so she technically qualifies. But the critically acclaimed vocal powerhouse with a heartwarming story didn't get a nomination.

Lindsay Ell

Linday Ell has two songs that went in the top 50 of the Country Airplay charts. She's also been tearing up an impressive opening set during Sugarland's tour. She can write, sing and downright play the guitar. Her album The Project peaked at No. 4 on Country Albums. But that's not enough to warrant a look, apparently.

Carly Pearce

Another amazing vocalist who technically qualifies, neither Carly Pearce nor her amazing breakthrough single "Every Little Thing" are anywhere to be found on the nominations list. She's certainly deserving of a song nomination, and honestly probably deserves a female vocalist nod, too. Yes, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert are incredible, but there needs to be room for incredible up-and-coming talent. Underwood neither released a record nor toured much during the eligibility period. The world won't implode if she doesn't get a nomination ever year.

Read More: 5 Terrible Excuses for Why Women Aren't Getting Country Radio Airplay And Why They're Wrong


This is among the biggest travesties of all. Cam's "Diane" is a critical gem that saw unrelenting praise from fans and hit No. 43 on country radio thanks in no small part to smaller market stations. The music video was gorgeous and thoughtful. Ask any artist and they'll tell you her vocal control and delivery are elite. Cam should legitimately show up in no fewer than three categories for the CMA Awards.

Shania Twain

What in the actual hell. Have you people SEEN a Shania Twain show? Her show dances circles around every other performer on that list, and I know because I've seen all of them. How is she not an Entertainer of the Year nominee? She had a No. 1 album — not just in country, but across all genres. She's a music icon. The absence of Shania Twain in the CMA Awards is just downright gross.

The CMA Awards air on ABC on November 14 at 7 p.m. CST. If you're interested in knowing who actually did get a nod, the 2018 CMA Award nominations are below.

Entertainer of the Year

Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
?Kenny Chesney
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Single of the Year

"Broken Halos," Chris Stapleton
"Drinkin' Problem," Midland
"Drowns the Whiskey," Jason Aldean feat. Miranda Lambert
"Meant to Be," Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line
"Tequila," Dan + Shay

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
?Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year

Dierks Bentley
Luke Combs
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Vocal Duo of the Year

Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae

New Artist of the Year

Lauren Alaina
Luke Combs
Chris Janson
Brett Young

Vocal Group of the Year

Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Old Dominion

Album of the Year

From A Room: Volume 2, Chris Stapleton
Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves?
Graffiti U, Keith Urban
Life Changes, Thomas Rhett
The Mountain, Dierks Bentley

Song of the Year

"Body Like A Back Road," Sam Hunt
"Broken Halos," Chris Stapleton
"Drowns the Whiskey," Jason Aldean feat. Miranda Lambert
"Drunk Girl," Chris Janson?
"Tequila," Dan + Shay

Musical Event of the Year

"Burning Man," Dierks Bentley feat. Brothers Osborne
"Dear Hate," Maren Morris feat. Vince Gill
"Drowns the Whiskey," Jason Aldean feat. Miranda Lambert
"Everything's Gonna Be Alright," David Lee Murphy & Kenny Chesney
"Meant to Be," Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

Music Video of the Year

"Babe," Sugarland feat. Taylor Swift
"Cry Pretty," Carrie Underwood
"Drunk Girl," Chris Janson?
"Marry Me," Thomas Rhett
"Tequila," Dan + Shay

Musician of the Year

Jerry Douglas, Dobro
Paul Franklin, Steel Guitar
Dann Huff, Guitar
Mac McAnally, Guitar
Derek Wells, Guitar

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