The CMA Entertainer of the Year award is one of the most prestigious awards an artist can win. The award signifies that the chosen artist has out-performed every other artist in his or her genre and is essentially at the top of his or her career. Since 1967, the Entertainer of the Year award has been given to many of country music's top artists, with some acts even taking home the prize multiple times. This year, the CMA Entertainer of the Year nominees are Eric Church, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton and Carrie Underwood. Tune into ABC on November 10th to find out the winner. In honor of the upcoming CMA Awards, here's every CMA Entertainer of the Year winner, from 1967 to today.
1967: Eddy Arnold
Legendary artist Eddy Arnold took home the Entertainer of the Year award at the inaugural CMA Awards back in 1967. Bolstered by recent hits "What's He Doing In My World" and "Make The World Go Away," Arnold was clearly deserving of this historic win at the first-ever CMAs.
1968: Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell has gone down in history as one of country music's biggest stars, so it's only fitting that he was the second Entertainer of the Year winner in 1968. His rising fame thanks to songs like 1967's "Gentle On My Mind" undoubtedly helped him earn the win.
1969: Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash was one of the greatest entertainers in all of music, so it's surprising that he only won Entertainer of the Year one time. Cash was the third winner of the coveted prize in 1969 when songs like "Folsom Prison Blues" and "A Boy Named Sue," two songs recorded at state prisons, reigned supreme.
1970: Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard is another legendary artist to have taken home the top award at the CMAs. He won Entertainer of the Year in 1970 when his tunes like "Mama Tried," "Workin' Man Blues" and "Okie from Muskogee" were flying high.
1971: Charley Pride
Charley Pride ruled the country music charts throughout 1970s and '80s, and this success led him to being crowned the Entertainer of the Year at the 1971 CMA Awards. At the time of his win, tunes like "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" and "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore" were topping the charts.
1972: Loretta Lynn
In 1972, Loretta Lynn became the first female singer to win the Entertainer of the Year award. Lynn began rising up the country music ranks in the 1960s with hits such as "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)," "Coal Miner's Daughter," and more.
1973: Roy Clark
Roy Clark was a well-rounded entertainer who not only released country hits such as "Come Live With Me," but he was also a known television host. He hosted HeeHaw from 1969 to 1997 and he often filled in for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. His multi-faceted talents undoubtedly led him to winning Entertainer of the Year in 1973.
1974: Charlie Rich
Charlie Rich's great success was rewarded when he took home the Entertainer of the Year award in 1974. The country artist began releasing singles in the early 1960s, but he hit his peak in '73 and '74 when he released a string of five consecutive No. 1 singles, including "Behind Closed Doors," "There Won't Be Anymore" and others.
1975: John Denver
While John Denver didn't begin his career as a strictly country artist, country radio began playing some of his biggest hits in the 1970s, which led to him being crowned Entertainer of the Year in 1975. Some of these hits during that time included "Back Home Again" and "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." Former winner Charlie Rich infamously set fire to the envelope which contained Denver's name in an alleged protest against the singer's win.
1976: Mel Tillis
Mel Tillis was active in country music throughout the 1960s, but he hit his stride in the 1970s with hits such as "Good Woman Blues." This success led him to winning the Entertainer of the Year prize in 1976.
1977: Ronnie Milsap
Ronnie Milsap was one of the biggest artists in the 1970s and '80s, and in 1977, his success was rewarded with the Entertainer of the Year award. Milsap released a string of hits around this time, including "(I'm A) Stand By My Woman Man" and "It Was Almost Like A Song."
1978: Dolly Parton
Not many people can argue with Dolly Parton being worthy of winning the Entertainer of the Year award in 1978. The acclaimed artist was doing very well in the late '70s with tunes such as "Here You Come Again" and "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right" topping the country music charts.
1979: Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson is another artist whose career has stood the test of time, and after finding great success in the genre's outlaw movement in the 1970s, Nelson was awarded with the Entertainer of the Year award in 1979. It was during this time that songs like "Georgia On My Mind" and "Whiskey River" were burning up the radio airwaves.
1980 & 1981: Barbara Mandrell
The first-ever artist to win the Entertainer of the Year award two years in a row was Barbara Mandrell, who won it in 1980 and 1981. The legendary singer was certainly deserving of the award in those years, as songs like "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" and "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" were finding success.
1982, 1983 & 1984: Alabama
If Barbara Mandrell winning Entertainer of the Year two years in a row wasn't impressive enough, Alabama set another record by winning it three times in a row in 1982, 1983 and 1984. It's hard to debate the band's dominance during this time, as they released consecutive hit songs throughout the entire decade of the '80s.
1985: Ricky Skaggs
In the 1980s, Ricky Skaggs broke onto the country music scene with his bluegrass influenced tunes. After releasing hits such as "Honey (Open That Door)," "Country Boy," and more, he won the Entertainer of the Year award in 1985.
1986: Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire is one of country music's most successful modern artists with a career that has spanned over three decades. She took home the top honor at the CMA Awards in 1986 during a time when hits such as "How Blue" and "Whoever's in New England" were reigning on the charts.
1987 & 1988: Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr. carried on his father's musical legacy and found great success in the late '70s and 1980s. He won the CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year two years in a row in 1987 and 1988. Tunes such as "Country State of Mind" and "Born To Boogie" were released by Williams during this time.
1989 & 1990: George Strait
George Strait boasts a career that has spanned many decades, and he was first awarded the Entertainer of the Year award in 1989. He then won it again in 1990. During this time, songs like "Ace in the Hole" and "Love Without End, Amen" were topping charts. Strait has also long been known as one of the hardest touring artists in country music, so the Entertainer of the Year award is well deserved.
1991 & 1992: Garth Brooks
After George Strait, comes Garth Brooks. Much like Strait, Brooks took his cowboy persona to the top of the charts. Brooks also puts on an unrivaled live show and has broken many live performance records. As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Brooks has won Entertainer of the Year many times, but he started it off with back-to-back wins in 1991 and 1992.
1993 & 1994: Vince Gill
Vince Gill is another artist who has had made an intangible impact on the landscape of country music. The early '90s were especially successful for Gill, with hits such as "Look At Us," "I Still Believe In You," and more. He was rewarded in 1993 and 1994 with the CMA Entertainer of the Year award.
1995: Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson burst on the country music scene in the early '90s, and by 1995, he had amassed more than 10 No. 1 singles and a large fan base. Some of these tunes included "Chattahoochee" and "Livin' On Love," and they helped earn him the 1995 Entertainer of the Year award.
1996: Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn are one of the best-selling musical duos of all time, and their career enjoyed a steady peak in the '90s and early 2000s. In 1996, the duo took home the Entertainer of the Year award after releasing hits such as "Boot Scootin' Boogie," "That Ain't No Way To Go," "My Maria" and more.
1997 & 1998: Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks came back to repeat his back-to-back Entertainer of the Year wins from '91 and '92 by taking the award home yet again in 1997 and 1998. This award showcased Brooks' continued dominance within the country music genre.
1999: Shania Twain
In the 1990s, country crossover diva Shania Twain took over country and pop music, and she was well rewarded at the awards shows. Thanks to multi-platinum hits such as "You're Still The One," "From This Moment On," "That Don't Impress Me Much" and others, Twain's career skyrocketed, and she won the Entertainer of the Year award in 1999.
2000: The Chicks
Another female country act that reigned on radio waves in the early 2000s was The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks). Although they were yet to release a few of their biggest hits, they had already found great success by 2000 with tunes like "Wide Open Spaces" and "Cowboy Take Me Away." These tunes, combined the group's energetic live shows, won them the 2000 Entertainer of the Year award.
2001: Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw is another artist whose career took off in the '90s and early 2000s, and by 2001, he was a bonafide country superstar. He won the Entertainer of the Year award in 2001 when songs such as "My Next Thirty Years" graced radio waves.
2002 & 2003: Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson became the next artist to win back-to-back Entertainer of the Year awards when he did so in 2002 and 2003. Jackson's career took off in those years thanks to his emotive storytelling songs, such as "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)," which he wrote in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
2004: Kenny Chesney
By 2004, Kenny Chesney had joined Tim McGraw and others as one of country music's biggest superstars. In addition to releasing continuous hits, Chesney has long been known as a road warrior, performing an impressive number of shows per year and putting on electric performances. He received the Entertainer of the Year award for the very first time in 2004.
2005: Keith Urban
Guitar virtuoso and skilled singer-songwriter Keith Urban received his due when he won the Entertainer of the Year award in 2005. Like Chesney and others, Urban has been known as one of country music's best entertainers, and in 2005, songs such as "Days Go By" and "Better Life" were finding success at radio.
2006, 2007 & 2008: Kenny Chesney
In the mid-to-late 2000s, Kenny Chesney's continued success on the road and the radio could not be denied, and he was awarded with the Entertainer of the Year honor three years in a row. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, the award went to Mr. Chesney.
2009: Taylor Swift
Kenny Chesney's Entertainer of the Year win streak was broken in 2009 by a young singer who had been making waves herself in the past two years: Taylor Swift. Becoming (by far) the youngest artist to win the award, Swifts success couldn't be denied as she forged her powerful path in the genre.
2010: Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley is another artist who excelled throughout the 2000s with hits such as "Ticks," "Then" and many more. Paisley also toured heavily during this time and put on an energetic show with his unique guitar style. All this led him to receiving the 2010 Entertainer of the Year award.
2011: Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift returned to the CMA stage yet again to win the Entertainer of the Year award in 2011. She earned the award for her continued success after the release of her Speak Now album.
2012: Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton began his career in 2001, and by 2012, he was one of country's biggest stars. Although many of his biggest hits would come later, he was already finding great success with multi-platinum tunes such as "Honey Bee," "God Gave Me You," and more. This led him to winning Entertainer of the Year in 2012.
2013: George Strait
George Strait won the Entertainer of the Year award for the first time in 23 years in 2013. The award was well deserved, as 2013 was the year Strait earned his 60th No. 1 hit with "Give It All We Got Tonight" as well as the year he set out on his farewell tour, The Cowboy Rides Away Tour.
2014 & 2015: Luke Bryan
The late 2000s and early 2010s also saw the rise of Luke Bryan, who became one of country's biggest superstars. By 2014, Bryan was releasing a constant stream of hits and headlining stadium tours, so receiving the Entertainer of the Year award in 2014 and 2015 was fitting for the artist.
2016 & 2017: Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks has won the CMA Entertainer of the Year award more times than any other artist, and he took it home for the 5th and 6th time in 2016 and 2017, marking his official return to music.
2018: Keith Urban
Keith Urban is another artist whose success has spanned more than three decades, and he won the Entertainer of the Year award yet again in 2018. The award came after his GraffitiU album and world tour.
2019: Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks won the CMA for Entertainer of the Year award for the seventh and final time in 2019. The award came after the release of his Triple Live album and his Stadium Tour. There was some backlash after Brooks won the trophy for the seventh time, and he eventually decided to pull his name out of the running for the future.
2020: Eric Church
At the latest CMA Awards ceremony in 2020, Eric Church took him the top prize of Entertainer of the Year. With years of arena and stadium touring under his belt and the success of his 2018 album, Desperate Man, Church winning the top award was certainly earned.
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