History of the CCMA: Milestones In the Early 1980s


This year we will be acknowledging the 40th anniversary of the CCMA. It is an incredible achievement for any organization and one that we should all be proud to be able to celebrate.

As mentioned in a previous ccma.org post, we are fortunate to have had members in the past that had the insight to document many of our key milestones. Mr. Jack Feeney (the first Executive Director and the 1988 Builder inductee into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame) was one such member. This month we look back at some of the highlights from the early 1980s:

At the 1980 Annual General Meeting held in Winnipeg, President Jack Feeney thanked those who had responded to his appeal for financial assistance during the past year. He reminded members that strong local committees were needed to ensure the success of Country Music Week in future years and Chairman Peter Grant and his Winnipeg Host Committee were a good example of what was required. Also mentioned for the first time was the idea of a Hall of Honour, proposed by Ian Stuart and Nancy Ryan. This had previously been discussed by the Board of Directors, but no decision was made by the members so it was decided to put the idea aside for the time being. Membership Chairmen, Dick Damron and Don Grashey reported that there were now 609 members, up 69 from the previous year – definitely a move in the right direction.
In 1981, for the second time, a special General Members Meeting was called midway between the Annual Meetings. It was held on February 4, 1981 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. President Peter Grant chaired the meeting. He spoke of the change in the membership renewal date and the liaison with CARAS with respect to their country music categories in the Juno Awards. He also spoke of plans to increase the frequency of newsletter publications. This was followed by a number of other committee reports including one by Ron Sparling who was Chairman of the Ottawa Host Committee. This report was of extreme importance because Ottawa was the next host city for Country Music Week, to be held in just seven months, and there was a certain amount of uncertainty about RPM's involvement as the magazine had stopped publication. Furthermore, RPM had originally designated the Holiday Inn, Ottawa for the Big Country Awards, while Ron Sparling had booked the Talisman Hotel for the Academy's members and the Host Committee's headquarters for the many activities scheduled for the week.
After the uncertainty that took place earlier in the year, Ottawa and the Talisman Hotel did host Country Music Week 1981 as planned. A full schedule of activities took place starting September 14, including Opry North (produced by CFGM radio), held at the Nepean Sports Complex which, incidentally, also featured country trade exhibits, a first for the Academy. Another first was a colourful parade through the centre of downtown Ottawa featuring a variety of floats with country music entertainers. President Peter Grant chaired the Annual General Meeting on September 18 and the various committees submitted their reports. The subject of the Academy taking over its own awards from RPM was discussed.
The ACME decided for various reasons to run its own Awards Show in Halifax during Country Music Week in 1982. After two referendums on the matter, the membership showed that they were in favour of the ACME running its own awards. This gave the ACME's Directors and the Halifax Host Committee only a few months to get ready for Country Music Week, but they were able to put together an Awards Program which featured eight major awards and a number of citations. It came off very well with only one big disappointment – CBC television had planned to cover the event, but had to withdraw because of the need to transfer equipment to cover hastily called Maritime elections.
In 1983, Country Music Week returned to the Regina Inn, Regina, Saskatchewan. One event that was different was a dinner and show sponsored by Don Grashey and his record company, which featured Carroll Baker and some of Don's artists. At this time, the name "The Canadian Country Music Awards" was adopted for the annual awards show. This was submitted by Ed Preston and for this; he received a lifetime membership in the ACME. The idea of a Hall of Fame and permanent site for Country Music Week received a great deal of attention, but members were split on this and it was agreed to put the idea aside for the time being.
Country Music Week in 1984 was held in New Brunswick for the first time in the history of the Academy of Country Music Entertainment. Host Committee Chairman, Roger Dupuis, and his committee had planned a busy week for delegates, September 3 – 9, and most activities, nightly concerts, seminars, etc. took place at the Moncton Coliseum Complex. Two popular events copied from Ottawa's Country Music Week in 1981 were a parade and a mini trade show. An exciting incident during the parade occurred when a giant flatbed truck carrying a group busily playing "Orange Blossom Special" got stuck underneath the CN railway bridge. The Annual General Meeting, chaired by ACME President Fred King, took place on the morning of September 7. On the final night, one of Canada's most popular entertainers, Ronnie Prophet, was host for the annual awards show.  Ronnie was also chosen as Entertainer of the Year.

(Source: Abridged Excerpt from Continuing the Circle: A history of the Canadian Country Music Association: Jack Feeney - February 1996).