Country Music Association Writes Its Own Anniversary Song
To create buzz around the 50th Annual CMA Awards, the Country Music Association produced a mashup of songs that has become a sensation across the U.S. and garnered attention around the globe, boosting CMA’s mission to expand country music’s appeal outside the States.
One way to generate hype around a 50th-anniversary celebration is to record a Billboard-chart-topping song.
It seems a fitting strategy for the Country Music Association, as it prepares for the 50th Annual CMA Awards on November 2. The result was “Forever Country.”
The anniversary anthem is a medley of three classic songs written by former CMA Entertainers of the Year, including John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” In all, 30 CMA award winners—from Reba McEntire and Miranda Lambert to Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson—contributed to the song. Parton and Nelson belted out a line or two as well. And CMA board member and award winner Shane McAnally produced it.
“With 30 CMA Award-winning acts representing five decades of country music lending their voices to three classic songs, I think it’s something that speaks to every age and musical taste,” said Damon Whiteside, CMA’s senior vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships. “Country music speaks a universal language. It highlights our common bonds and tells meaningful stories of love, life, heartbreak, joy, struggle, and celebration.”
On September 16, hundreds of country music radio stations played the track simultaneously for the first time. Fans responded with a flurry of social media posts, song downloads, and streamings, and “Forever Country” went immediately to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. It’s only the third song to debut in the top spot since Billboard launched Hot Country Songs in 1958.
“As the premiere trade association for Country Music, CMA is dedicated to expanding country music around the globe,” Whiteside said. “CMA membership spans across more than 30 countries, with representation on our CMA board of directors from Australia, Canada, and the U.K. Our goal was to generate international buzz, by reaching beyond U.S. borders and involving country fans in other territories, too.”
CMA debuted the song’s accompanying music video on “Dancing with the Stars,” and the buzz-building continued last month with a free concert. CMA is planning an array of other events in the lead-up to its CMA Awards show in early November.
“You only get to celebrate your 50th anniversary once, so as the CMA board and staff have been preparing for this historic milestone, the goal all along has been to honor the past, present, and future of country music, while sharing the celebration with as many people as possible,” Whiteside said.