NASHVILLE – CMA presented the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence
to Nashville treasure Vince Gill during “The 48th
Annual CMA Awards,” which aired tonight
on the ABC Television Network.

Gill choked up during a video salute aired during the Awards
as artists including Rodney Crowell, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris,
Taylor Swift, James Taylor
, and Keith Urban paid tribute
to Gill’s artistry and impact on Country Music.

“There wouldn’t have been a CMA Awards on television
without Irving,” Gill told reporters back stage. “He put the show on and class
was always the ultimate to him. He wanted the men to dress up.”

The Irving Waugh Award of Excellence
is awarded to an individual who is the originator and caretaker of demonstrated
ideas and actions that have dramatically broadened and improved Country Music’s
influence on a national or international level for the benefit of the industry.
It is the intention that these ideas and actions typically will have run a course
of years and shall have a proven historical impact on the format.

“Vince Gill’s career is the
very definition of excellence,” said CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah
. “Vince is well known for his outstanding musicianship, artistic
integrity, humor, philanthropy, and undeniable support of Country Music and this
community. He is admired by many and is a very deserving recipient of this honor.”

The Award was created in
1983, when it was presented to its namesake Irving Waugh, a visionary who was
instrumental in the creation of the CMA Awards. Since then, the Irving Waugh Award
of Excellence has only been presented four times including Frances Preston (1987),
a legendary figure in BMI history; Jo Walker-Meador (1991), the Executive Director
of the Country Music Association from 1962 to 1991; the iconic Johnny Cash (2003);
and longtime, former producer of the CMA Awards, Walter Miller (2009).

Gill has a long history
with the CMA Awards himself, including hosting the annual gala 12 times (1992-2003).
He has 53 career CMA Awards nominations including one in 2014 for CMA Musical
Event of the Year with Paul Franklin for their album, Bakersfield.

He has claimed the crystal
trophy 18 times including one for Single of the Year for his breakthrough hit
“When I Call Your Name” (1990), two for Entertainer of the Year (1993, 1994)
and five consecutive times for Male Vocalist of the Year (1991-1995). In 2007,
Gill was inducted into the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame, which is determined
by the CMA Panel of Electors.

Gill is one of those unique individuals who lives in the margins.
He has a deep appreciation for the values and traditions of the format, but he
also has a reputation for encouraging and helping emerging talent. He has an impeccable
work ethic and an equally strong sense of humor. He is a public figure with an
intense, personal loyalty to family and community.

Revered by the industry, in 1991 he joined the Grand
Ole Opry. His vocal prowess, emotionally-charged songwriting, and world-class
guitar chops are undisputed and have bridged formats and set the standard for
excellence, broadening the audience for Country Music.

Since 1990, Gill has received 20 Grammy Awards, sold
more than 26 million albums, and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk
of Fame. His passion for golf led him to start the Vince Gill Pro Celebrity Invitation
Golf Tournament, better known as “The Vinny,” to help support junior golf
programs in Tennessee. He and his wife, Amy Grant, are well-known for the charitable
efforts in the community and Gill was recently awarded the Leadership Music Dale
Franklin Award in recognition of his philanthropic efforts.

 Photo Credit: John Russell / CMA

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