The Country Music Awards have played a key role in helping to promote and develop excellence in Australian country music since its beginning in 1973. Radio 2TM is responsible for the birth of the Awards in January of that year and continued until 1992. The CMAA (Country Music Association of Australia) was formed that year and took over the Awards as it's main activity.
The Country Music Awards is Australia's longest running music awards concert with 2008 marking it's 35th year. Since it's beginning, the Awards have been presented in Tamworth, NSW in January every year as part of the Country Music Festival. Tamworth is considered Australia's Home of Country Music.
The Golden Guitars Trophy
Since Joy McKean picked up the very first Golden Guitar trophy for Lights On The Hill (1973 Song Of The Year), over 400 Golden Guitars have been presented to award winners in the past 35 years.
The Golden Guitars, a rather obvious name, was officially chosen by the 2TM radio executives. However, the trophy is actually bronze, not gold, although it has a dazzling golden-like lustre.
Finished trophy with base stands 24cm high & weighs 1.5kgs.
The original design for the Golden Guitar was sculpted by local Tamworth artist Harry Frost. It was cast in bronze at the Austral Brass Foundry in Sydney, NSW. John Minson personally ground, polished and prepared the rough cast turning it into a thing of beauty. Next he carefully added a highly polished Tasmanian Blackwood base produced by local Tamworth cabinetmaker Noel Smith. The final step to the Golden Guitar is the addition of a brass plaque with the winner's details engraved on it. John Minson continued to lovingly craft each Golden Guitar until the mid-nineteen-eighty's when Noel Smith took over.
Over the years a variety of presenting sponsors have helped the Awards grow: Palings, Wrangler, Commonwealth Bank Of Australia (CBA), Buttercup and NZ Insurance. Toyota sponsored the event for 12 years. The current sponsor is Jayco.
The early years were dominated by established singers like Slim Dusty, Tex Morton, Reg Lindsay, Jean Stafford, and the Hawking Brothers winning the majority of Golden Guitars.
The award categories have changed over the years. The following are the most current categories:
- Album of the Year
- APRA Song of the Year
- Single of the Year
- Top Selling Album of the Year
- Bush Ballad of the Year
- Instrumental of the Year
- Video Clip of the Year
- Male Artist of the Year
- Female Artist of the Year
- Group or Duo of the Year
- Maton New Talent of the Year
- Vocal Collaboration of the Year
- Heritage Song of the Year
Venues and Sponsors
The Awards have been held in a variety of venues, changing as the yearly attendance grew: school halls, town halls and showgrounds.
Since 1999 it has been held at the $6 million Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre (TREC). This beautiful venue stages the Awards in front of a capacity audience of 5,000 artists, industry people, fans and visitors.
Picking the Winners
The Finalists are announced early in December and the Winners announced at the Award presentation in January. Nominees submit eligible material to the CMAA, which is then sent to the judges. They make their top selections and send those to the CMAA Honorary Auditor.
The Finalists list is created from these submitted and then collated judges' selections. Exception: the Top Selling Album Award is determined not by voting, but by actual industry sales statistics during the eligibility period. The Judges are selected from the CMAA's Professional Membership and exclude those with a conflict of interests.