Twang, nominated for Bluegrass Artist of the Year (Brian Chilson)

The Arkansas Country Music Awards (ACMA) held its annual ceremony Monday, June 3, heralding the talents of country music talent from sound engineers and entertainers to radio promoters to dobro players. A seamless evening presented the solid state of the music scene in Arkansas, with both signed and unsigned Arkansas musicians and singer-songwriters, and recognized a diverse group of talent categories.

From The ShotGunBillys’ house-rocking opening act to Country Artist of the Year Lance Carpenter’s fiddle-fueled closer, the ceremony at Maumelle High School Auditorium was a performance-packed evening, showcasing and honoring legends and newcomers alike.

Governor Hutchinson gave the opening speech and first lady Susan Hutchinson was there. Major sponsor TaylorHouse Music presented the red carpet evening, hosted by Miss Arkansas Claudia Raffo and country music historian and journalist Charles Haymes. Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Conway Twitty, Jimmy Driftwood, Patsy Montana, The Wilburn Brothers and hit songwriter Kye Fleming were honored. The ACMA awards are helmed by Nathan Hunnicutt and Haymes, and the nonprofit was formed in 2017.

The organization’s aim is to build connections between artists and industry professionals in Arkansas, in part by creating an evening for them to come together as a musical community to celebrate the rich musical traditions of our state.

Nominees are proposed by the public and narrowed down by a committee of industry professionals. A vote by the public and the professional committee determines the winners in each category. Here are the recipients of the 2019 Arkansas Country Music Awards: 

Entertainer of the Year: Phil McGarrah and Runnin’ on Empty

Americana Artist of the Year: Bonnie Montgomery

Acoustic Artist of the Year:  Heath Sanders

Bluegrass Artist of the Year:  Runaway Planet

Country Artist of the Year: Lance Carpenter

Inspirational Artist of the Year: Joanne Cash

Female Vocalist of the Year: Erin Enderlin

Male Vocalist of the Year:  Blane Howard

Acoustic Act of the Year: Heath Sanders

Vocal Group of the Year:  The Reeves Brothers

Young Artist of the Year: Bree Ogden

Album of the Year: “Unbroken” by Joanne Cash. Produced by Chad Randall Crow

Song of the Year: “World Without Willie” by Erin Enderlin, Alex Kine, Leslie Satcher and Tara Thompson, performed by Erin Enderlin

Songwriter of the Year: Erin Enderlin

Producer of the Year: Jon Raney

Sound Engineer of the Year: Bryce Roberts

Promoter of the Year: Keith Symanowitz

Venue of the Year: Jimmy Doyle Country Club, Little Rock

Video of the Year: “Back Home in Arkansas” Joanne Cash, directed by Chad Randall Crow

Radio DJ of the Year: Del Hughes, KWCK, Searcy

Radio Station of the Year: KDXY, “The Fox” Jonesboro

Drummer of the Year: David O’Neal

Guitar Player of the Year:  Steve Davison

Bass Player of the Year: Doug DeForest

Steel Guitar/Dobro Player of the Year: Garland Harris

Fiddle Player of the Year: Tim Crouch

Publication of the Year: AY Magazine (Little Rock)

Millennial Award 2019: Derrick Wells

Lifetime Achievement Honorees: Conway Twitty, Jimmy Driftwood, The Wilburn Brothers, Patsy Montana, Kye Fleming

For a complete listing of all of the nominees, see www.arkansasmusic.org.

Arkansas Times staff photographer Brian Chilson captured some of the evening’s memorable moments: