When the 2022 Country Music Association Awards are presented Nov. 9 in Nashville, it will be the fifth time in the past eight years that the year’s new artist winner is in his 30s.
Do I have an inside source in CMA who advised me for results? I can’t. But all five of this year’s nominees in this category are 30+. Competitors Hardy, 32; Walker Hayes, 42; Cody Johnson, 35; Parker McCollum, 30; and Lainey Wilson, 30.
And it’s a matter of historical record that four of the last seven winners reached 30 when they won. Chris Stapleton was 37 when he won in 2015. John Purdy was 32 years old when he won two years later. Ashley McBride and Jimmy Allen were 36 when they won in 2019 and 2021 respectively.
This year is just the second time in CMA history that five nominees for New Artist of the Year 30+ have been nominated. The only other time this happened was in 1988, when the award was still known as the Horizon Award. Ricky Van Shelton, 36, won the award. The other nominees are Katie Oslin, 46; Patty Lovelace, 31; Rodeo sweethearts; and Highway 101. Both members of Rodeo’s Sweethearts and four members of Highway 101 had reached 30 when they were nominated.
There is no formula for winning New Artist of the Year (which was known as the Horizon Award from 1981, when Terry Gibbs was the inaugural winner until 2007, when Taylor Swift was the last winner under the old name). Winners range in age from 15 (LeAnn Rimes in 1997) to 43 (Darius Rucker in 2009). But most of the winners are in their 20s.
41 Winners of Horizon Awards/New Artiste of the Year, 34 Soloists. Among them, two (Rhimes and Swift) won when they were teenagers; 21 were in their 20s; 10 were in their 30s; And one (Rucker) was in his 40s.
Rucker was certainly in his second successful career at the time. He led Hootie and the Blowfish to a series of hit albums and singles. The pop/rock band won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
As noted, Rimes and Swift are the youngest CMA New Artist of the Year winners to date. The youngest men’s singles winners to date are Hunter Hayes, who was 21 when he won in 1996, and Brian White, who was 22. When that sibling trio won in 2011. Neil Perry was 21; Reed Perry was 22.
Other than Rimes and Swift, the other youngest female winners to date are Winona Judd, who was 20 when The Judds won in 1984; Hilary Scott, who was 22 when Lady A (then Lady Antebellum) won in 2008; Carrie Underwood, who was 23 when she won in 2006; Natalie Maines, who was 23 when The Chicks (then the Dixie Chicks) won in 1998; and Alison Krauss, who was 24 when she won in 1995.
The oldest winners to date, besides Rucker, are John Driskell Hopkins and Chris Fryer of the Jack Brown Band, who were 39 when the band won in 2010; Naomi Judd, who was 38 when The Judds won in 1984; And Stapleton, who was 37 when he won in 2015.
All members of The Chicks, Lady A and The Band Perry were in their 20s when they won. Members of The Judds, Sawyer Brown and Rascal Flatts were in their 20s and 30s. Most of the members of the Jack Brown Band, including Brown, were in their 30s.
Wilson, who is widely expected to win the New Artist award as this year’s overall CMA nominations leader, discussed her age and how long it took her to get her break in a recent interview with pop music critic Michael Wood. Los Angeles Times.
Asked how it feels to be honored as country music’s hottest new act after grinding it out for more than a decade, Wilson smiled. “What do they call it? 11-year-old overnight sensation?” she said. “There were definitely times when I was like, ‘Dang, I wish this had happened sooner.’ But I feel like I have more to say now. I have been through more life. I’ve been through more heartbreak.”
Wilson also told Wood that when he came to town, “They told me if you didn’t make it by 23 or 24, you had to go back home.” After he passed his age and an interviewer asked how old he was, he would laugh and say, “Didn’t your mother teach you better than that?” Now, though, I’m like, ‘Hell yeah, I’m 30 years old,'” she says. “This is the best year of my life, and I’m proud of it.”
Here are all the CMA winners/New Artist of the Year for the Horizon Awards, along with their ages at the time of their wins.
1981: Terry Gibbs, 27
1982: Ricky Skaggs, 28
1983: John Anderson, 28
1984: The Judds (Naomi Judd, 38; Winona Judd, 20)
1985: Sawyer Brown (Mark Miller, 26; Bobby Randall, 33; Greg Hubbard, 25; Jim Scholten, 33; Joe Smith, 28)
1986: Randy Travis, 27
1987: Holly Dunn, 30
1988: Ricky Van Shelton, 36
1989: Clint Black: 27
1990: Garth Brooks, 28
1991: Travis Treat, 28
1992: Suzy Bogus, 35
1993: Mark Chesnutt, 30
1994: John Michael Montgomery, 29
1995: Alison Krauss, 24
1996: Brian White, 22
1997: LeAnn Rimes, 15
1998: The Chicks (Natalie Maines, 23; Marty Erwin, 28; Emily Erwin, 26)
1999: Joe Di Messina, 29
2000: Brad Paisley, 28
2001: Keith Urban, 34
2002: Rascal Flatts (Gary Levox, 32; Jay DeMarcus, 31; Joe Don Rooney, 27)
2003: Joe Nichols, 26
2004: Gretchen Wilson, 31
2005: Dierks Bentley, 29
2006: Carrie Underwood, 23
2007: Taylor Swift, 17
2008: Lady A (Charles Kelly, 27; Hilary Scott, 22; Dave Haywood, 26)
2009: Darius Rucker, 43
2010: Jack Brown Band (Jack Brown, 32; John Driskell Hopkins, 39; Chris Fryer, 39; Clay Cook, 32; Jimmy De Martini, age unknown; Coy Boyles, age unknown)
2011: The Band Perry (Kimberly Perry, 28; Reed Perry, 22; Neil Perry, 21)
2012: Hunter Hayes, 21
2013: Kacey Musgraves, 25
2014: Brett Eldredge, 28
2015: Chris Stapleton, 37
2016: Maren Morris, 26
2017: John Purdy, 32
2018: Luke Combs, 28
2019: Ashley McBride, 36
2020: Morgan Wallen, 27
2021: Jimmy Allen, 36