2022 CMA International Awards Presented to Bobbi Boyce, Nigel Hassler, Bob Shennan and Chris Stevens During Trip
CMA Returns to C2C: Country to Country Festival with Critically Acclaimed CMA Songwriters Series Show and CMA’s Introducing Nashville Lineup

CMA, the premier trade association of the Country Music industry, awarded four of its 2022 CMA International Awards and celebrated its grand return to C2C: Country to Country Festival in the U.K. this past weekend. These efforts are part of CMA’s ongoing mission to grow and expand Country Music globally, and with recent international success in the genre, CMA is eager to continue to see the impact of these efforts throughout 2023.  

“It’s been particularly rewarding over the last week celebrating C2C’s 10th year and honoring those who have made such an impact on our genre,” says Milly Olykan, CMA Vice President, International Relations and Development. “2023 is set to be big year for Country Music in the U.K. with so much large-scale Country touring taking place and the continual growth of streaming and radio support, which is a direct result of our industry working together. Meeting up as an industry this week has allowed us to take a moment to acknowledge together the huge strides Country Music has taken in a relatively short time.” 

On stage in front of U.K. fans attending the sold-out CMA Songwriters Series on Thursday, March 9, Olykan surprised former and long-time CMA employee, Bobbi Boyce with the Jo Walker Meador International Award for her advocacy and support of international efforts to CMA’s international partners and the local Nashville community. Chris Stevens, CMA U.K. Task Force member and broadcaster who launched ‘Chris Country Radio’ now known as CountryLine Radio in the U.K., was also honored by fellow broadcaster and radio host Baylen Leonard with the International Country Broadcaster Award for his outstanding achievements in broadcasting.  Nigel Hassler, CAA Country initiative leader based in the company’s London office and CMA U.K. Task Force member, was presented with the Rob Potts International Live Music Advancement Award by John Huie, CAA music agent and co-founder of the CAA Music Nashville, for his contribution to building Country Music in the live music industry over many years. On Friday, March 10, during an industry reception hosted by CMA in partnership with BBC Radio 2, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC), and C2C, BBC’s Bob Harris OBE presented BBC Group Managing Director, Bob Shennan, with the Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award for his contributions and influence in the media, which contributed to the mainstream exposure of Country Music in the U.K. on BBC Radio 2. Shennan is also a former member of the CMA Board of Directors as well as a current member of the CMA U.K. Task Force.  

Additionally, during a private dinner party in Nashville in February, Olykan presented Dutch recording artist Ilse DeLange with the Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award, which recognizes an artist that has furthered the popularity of Country Music as well as brought attention to the Country Music format in their foreign-based territory. Each of these awards come in addition to the previously announced CMA International Artist Achievement Award, which was presented to Ashley McBryde backstage during rehearsals for the “56th Annual CMA Awards” in November 2022. 

While in the U.K., CMA returned to the Country to Country: C2C festival with its critically acclaimed CMA Songwriters Series and Introducing Nashville lineup. The CMA Songwriters Series show on Thursday, March 9 marked the weekend’s official kickoff and featured performances by Country artists Dalton Dover, Nate Smith and Lainey Wilson as well as acclaimed songwriter Ashley Gorley and guest appearances from Tyler Braden, Caylee Hammack and Alana Springsteen.  

Throughout the CMA Songwriters Series, the sold-out crowd was delighted and captivated by the compelling and intimate style of the show. Gorley, Dover, Smith and Wilson performed and told the stories behind the songs throughout the evening. The evening showcased the artists’ incredible vocal prowess, along with Gorley’s fascinating behind-the-scenes stories on how each of his No. 1 songs came to be. Wilson took the time to acknowledge how meaningful and validating her first trip to the U.K. was for her in 2018, while Dover and Smith enjoyed making their very first U.K. appearance. The audience sang along with Wilson and Gorley’s hits.  

CMA’s international touring series, Introducing Nashville, featured performances by Braden, Hammack and Springsteen during the festival’s opening set on the mainstage at the O2 in London, OVO Hydro in Glasgow, and 3 Arena in Dublin. Returning to the main stage for a second year in a row, this year’s set proved to be a fan favorite. The acoustic setup represented a Nashville writers’ round and was warmly welcomed by audiences in all three cities. The crowd experienced three new voices from Nashville, each of them representing something different within Country Music, and provided each artist with their first U.K. tour experience. 

Throughout the weekend, CMA also hosted a variety of industry events in London that fostered existing international connections and developed new relationships to expand Country Music internationally. A panel moderated by Live Nation UK’s Vice President of Touring  Anna-Sophie Mertens featuring Jon Loba (BMG Nashville President), Becky Gardenhire (William Morris Endeavor Nashville Co-Head) and Mike Rittberg (Big Machine Label Group Executive Vice President, Label Operations) discussed the next steps for the growth of Country Music in the U.K. from a Nashville perspective. Each of the panelists shared their experiences and views on some of the challenges around establishing artists internationally, and the huge inroads that have been made. The thoughtful discussion was well received by the industry in attendance.  

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