The Country Music Association Presents International Awards and Celebrates Return to the U.K. and Europe for C2C: Country to Country Festival

2023 CMA International Awards Presented to Ross Jones and Ricky Ross.

CMA Returns to C2C: Country to Country Festival with Critically Acclaimed CMA Songwriters Series Show and CMA’s Introducing Nashville Lineup.

NASHVILLE – The Country Music Association, the premier trade association of the Country Music industry, awarded two of its 2023 CMA International Awards and celebrated its return to C2C: Country to Country Festival in the U.K. and Europe this past week. These efforts are part of CMA’s ongoing mission to grow and expand Country Music globally, and after a strong year of international success in the genre, CMA is eager to continue to see the impact of these efforts throughout 2024.

“After a historic year of international growth in County Music, it is truly remarkable to have been at C2C this past week surrounded by the very fans who continue to contribute to our format’s achievements,” says Milly Olykan, CMA Vice President, International Relations and Development. “In 2023, our genre reached unprecedented heights worldwide, and the momentum is set to continue in 2024. Presenting this unique array of Country Music to our fans feels especially rewarding this year, where we are at an exciting crossroads with our genre attracting wider engagement from artists, industry, and fans who are wanting to participate more in Country Music.”

Olykan along with radio broadcaster Baylen Leonard, surprised Ross Jones, Editor of Holler, a U.K. multimedia County Music platform, with the Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award for his fresh media vision and efforts to expand Country Music globally. Jones was presented the award on stage by Leonard and Olykan during the sold-out CMA Songwriters Series on Thursday, March 7, at indigo at The O2. Longtime BBC radio host Ricky Ross was honored by Country Music artist Carly Pearce with the International Country Broadcaster Award on Sunday, March 10, during an interview on BBC Radio Scotland's “Another Country” for his successful broadcasting career.

While in the U.K., CMA returned to C2C with its critically acclaimed CMA Songwriters Series and Introducing Nashville lineup. The CMA Songwriters Series show on Thursday, March 7 marked the weekend’s official kickoff and featured performances by Country artists Colbie Caillat, Lauren Alaina, Stephen Wilson Jr., Charlie Worsham, and special guests Abbey Cone and Fancy Hagood. Worsham, who pulled double duty as host, led the audience throughout the evening, featuring many different sounds, styles, and stories from the performers. The sold-out crowd was excited and engaged in the intimate style of the show, thoroughly enjoying a special behind-the-scenes look into each artist’s songs.

CMA’s international touring series, Introducing Nashville, featured performances by Karley Scott Collins, Conner Smith, and Lauren Watkins, with Greylan James joining the lineup in Rotterdam. As the opening set at each of the festival’s stops, Introducing Nashville took to the stage at RTM Stage in Rotterdam, Verti Music Hall in Berlin, Kollektivet Livet in Stockholm, Lille Sal at the Konserthus in Oslo, The O2 in London, SSE Arena in Belfast and Ovo Hydro in Glasglow. Year after year, this set proves to be a fan favorite. The acoustic style of performance creates a remarkably intimate environment, despite the thousands of fans in attendance. Each voice brought a different side of Country Music to the fans and showcased just some of the emerging talent Nashville has to offer.

Throughout the weekend, CMA organized several industry events in London aimed at developing and strengthening international ties and relationships. Prior to the CMA Songwriters Series showcase, industry members gathered for a reception to network and catch up with colleagues across the globe. CMA also hosted a C2C Kickoff Reception with BBC Radio 2, which included a panel discussion moderated by Alex Hannaby (Head of U.K., Big Machine Label Group) and featuring Marc Dennis (Agent and Co-Head, CAA Nashville), Martha Earls (Owner, Neon Coast) and Rod Phillips (Executive Vice President of Country Programming Strategy, iHeartMedia). The panelists spoke to the many different ways the format is currently expanding, from global touring opportunities to collaborations in other formats, as well as the digital and media landscape. Following the panel, Olykan welcomed legendary BBC broadcaster Bob Harris OBE to the stage, presenting a framed poster in honor of his 25 years presenting "The Country Show" on BBC Radio 2.

CMA continues its international journey with a visit to Australia for the CMC Rocks festival as well as a stop in New Zealand, where CMA will host a special Introducing Nashville showcase featuring Cooper Alan, Priscilla Block and Megan Moroney.

About the Country Music Association

Founded in 1958, the Country Music Association is the first trade organization formed to promote a type of music. The organization serves as an educational and professional resource for the industry and advances the growth of Country Music worldwide. This is accomplished through CMA’s core initiatives: the CMA Awards, which annually recognize outstanding achievement in the industry; CMA Fest, which benefits music education through the CMA Foundation and is taped for a television special, “CMA Fest”; and “CMA Country Christmas.” CMA’s television properties are screened internationally in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the U.K. CMA brings music worldwide by presenting live performances featuring artists and songwriters through its touring series Introducing Nashville and CMA Songwriters Series. CMA members are located around the globe. Through task forces represented in Australasia, Canada, Germany, Scandinavia, and the U.K., industry leaders work to further Country Music in these territories. CMA presents six annual international industry awards to acknowledge the efforts of individuals working to develop Country Music in markets across the world.