Why Alison Krauss’s Biggest Album Was Disqualified From CMA Awards
Alison Krauss was denied a shot at CMA Awards history due to a technicality that even award organizers failed to catch at first. And the ruling may not have been completely justified in her case, either.
Alison Krauss emerged as a breakout star at the 1995 Country Music Awards. The renowned bluegrass artist catapulted into the mainstream country music spotlight with an impressive five nominations. She was up for:
Female Vocalist of the Year
Single of the Year
Vocal Event of the Year
Album of the Year
While each category held high prestige, the Album of the Year prize carried special significance for Krauss. Her nomination for “Now That I’ve Found You” positioned her as a contender to become the first female artist in over a decade to win the coveted award. The feat was last accomplished by Anne Murray in 1984.
However, fate had other plans, as Krauss’s album was disqualified within hours of the nomination announcement.
The decision stemmed from a purely technical reason. Krauss didn’t meet a very specific CMA requirement for Album of the Year eligibility. The rule in question required at least 60% of the songs on “Now That I’ve Found You” to be mastered or released during the eligibility period (June 1, 1994, till May 31, 1995, in her case).
But Krauss’s album was more of a “Greatest Hits” compilation, containing a substantial portion of her older songs, with a sprinkling of newer ones, taking her out of contention for the award.
Despite the disqualification, Alison Krauss had a positive outlook.
Speaking of her album in an August 1995 issue of R&R magazine (available on the World Radio History website), she said, “Whether or not it’s eligible, we feel great that people thought enough of the record to vote for it in the first place.”
Meanwhile, the same R&R report revealed that Ed Benson, CMA’s Executive Director at the time, expressed utter disappointment at the necessity of disqualifying the album. He also admitted to not realizing the drastic step had to be taken initially, stating:
“Regrettably, none of us were aware that `Now That I’ve Found You’ was a collection in which a majority of the tracks had already been previously released. While we’re more than distraught at having to disqualify the album, we had no option.”
But not everyone agreed that the CMA “had no option.”
Jack Hurst, the Country Music writer for the Chicago Tribune, actually advocated for the ruling to be overturned. In an August 1995 article, he argued:
“The Country Music Association’s disqualification of Alison Krauss’s ‘Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection’..should be revoked. Obviously, nobody in the hierarchy of the country music industry (as opposed to the bluegrass community from which Krauss comes) had heard any of the Krauss album’s songs before, so ‘Now That I’ve Found You’ might as well have been ‘first mastered and released’ during the eligibility period.”
Ultimately Patty Loveless stepped in to replace Krauss as the fourth Album of the Year nominee with her work “Fallen Angels Fly.” And in an astonishing turn of events, she emerged victorious, triumphing over prominent names such as George Strait and Vince Gill.
You can see her teary-eyed reaction to the result in the video below:
As for Krauss, regardless of the setback she experienced by being taken out of the running for Album of the Year, the awards night proved special for her too.
That’s because she was able to snag the top spot in all four of her remaining nominations, an incredible feat at the ripe age of 24.
Not only that, her success at the CMA Awards that year boosted her career and popularity massively, as per a Country Artists & Music feature in the November 1995 edition of Billboard Magazine (also shared on the World Radio History site).
The report showed that in the week directly following the awards, Now That I’ve Found You shot up from the 60th to the 25th spot on The Billboard 200. And this success in rankings also translated into more than doubling the album’s sales compared to the week before the awards.
And, of course, Krauss went on to make more history over the course of her stellar career ever since her magical 1995 CMA awards run, and her legacy continues to thrive.
Alison Krauss took the stage during the 1995 CMA Awards to perform her chart-topping Keith Whitley cover, “When You Say Nothing At All.” Watch that performance below.