(This is the first in a series of articles on the 2019 Canadian Country Music Awards)

With the announcement this week of the final nominees for the various categories at this year’s Canadian Country Music Awards comes the reality there will be two big awards: the Fans’ Choice Award and Entertainer of the Year.

By way of explanation, a bit of history is needed. From 1978-1981, the award was known as Canadian Country Artist of the Year. In 1982, it was changed to Entertainer of the Year. Until 1990, the winner was determined by votes from the membership of the Canadian Country Music Association. But 1990 was the year that changed.

That year, sponsored by Budweiser, the award became the Bud Country Fan Choice Entertainer. Fans would call a “900” number to vote for the final finalists. Since 2003, the award has had various sponsors, including, yes, Cheez Whiz (when Kraft was a sponsor) and most recently Apple Music. It’s also evolved to use online voting by the fans.

However for nearly 30 years, the CCMA membership didn’t vote on the big award (unless they voted by phone or online like all the fans). This year, that’s changed. The Apple Music Fans’ Choice award continues (with 10 nominees, BTW) with fan participation, but the CCMA has reintroduced the membership-voted Entertainer of the Year (with five nominees).

Before getting back to some more history, female representation in both categories is stunningly missing. (Not to excuse that fact, but adding the big picture is the fact that solo female artists have more times than groups and solo male artists combined! See below.) All five nominees for Entertainer are solo male artists – no females, no groups or duos, either (the noms are Paul Brandt, Dean Brody, Tim Hicks, Brett Kissel and Dallas Smith). The ten nominees for Fans’ Choice include only one solo female artist – Guylaine Tanguay (with Jenna making up half of the brother-sister duo The Reklaws). The nominees were determined by a combination of sales achievements and spins (the criteria and formula are available for viewing on the CCMA website) and voting is open now and involves different ways to vote (again, see the CCMA website for full details).

One surprising result in the Fans’ Choice category is the nomination of Quebec artist Guylaine Tanguay. While her appearance on the list may be surprising, it really shouldn’t be. The Quebec and Francophone country music industry has racked up impressive sales figures in the past, with Yoan winning the Best Selling Canadian Album award in 2016!

Now on to some fun facts:

-women have won 23 times, groups have won seven times and men have won ten times;

-Terri Clark holds the record for most wins with eight;

-3 artists, Terri, k.d. lang and Johnny Reid, are tied for the most consecutive wins with four each;

-The Family Brown is the only group to have won more than once (winning four times in total);

-Johnny Reid is the only solo male artist to have a repeat win;

-the longest time span between an artist’s first and last win was set last year by Shania Twain’s win in the category – the record is now 22 years! She first won in 1996;

-and only once have the same nominees appeared twice in consecutive years, back in 1991 and 1992, and both times the same artist, Rita MacNeil, won!

The awards will be presented in September in Calgary.

For more on the awards and the CCMA, visit www.cccma.org