CCMA LogoIt’s not the CMAs that get people excited south of Nashville, it’s the CCMAs. The 8th Annual Carolina Country Music Awards are set for Jan. 20th at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at 6 p.m.

The awards are bringing the best and brightest in the local music scene under one roof, a night to recognize the region's music excellence. Not to be mistaken for any other award show, the Carolina Country Music

Awards boasts a roster of 28 performers for the night. More than an awards show, it’s a major country music concert.

The 8th Annual CCMAs has dozens of industry achievement awards to be presented to a star studded lineup of talented country music singers and songwriters. Co-hosting this year’s show with CCMA founder Christy

Andrulonis, otherwise known as radio personality Sweet Tea, is local WBTW-TV chief meteorologist, Frank Johnson of and Bill Bowman, publisher of Fayetteville, North Carolina’s community newspaper Up & Coming Weekly.

Previous CCMA award winners Greg Parrish and Paige King Johnson are both set to hit the stage with a very special performance by Texas native singer/songwriter, Donice Morace, who has opened for chart-topping artists such as Kenny Chesney.

The CCMA recognitions and awards will include the Lifetime Achievement Award, Male and Female Artist of the Year, Christian Country Single of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, the Sweet Tea Making a Difference award, and the Gold Medal awards.

One of this year’s Gold Medal award winners is classic rock and country bassist legend, Michael Andrew McKinney, or as he prefers to be known, Andy McKinney. McKinney has played with the biggest names on the Billboard charts, like James Taylor, and managed the stage for names just as big, like KISS. With over two decades in the business onstage and off, McKinney is truly humbled to be recognized and honored by the CCMA.

“[This is] a huge thing for me. I went through some sacrifices throughout my life…with being in music… to come out of it … it feels really good,” McKinney said.
McKinney will be joined by Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame member Lynne O’Quinn, who is his long time friend and manager. Also appearing is Eastern North Carolina’s popular band, recording artists, and former CCMA award winner, Rivermist. They will open this year’s show performing the National Anthem. Greg Adair, Rivermist’s drummer and general manager, loves the musical experience Sweet Tea Andrulonis has created with the CCMAs.

“Christy and Jeff Andrulonis are wonderful people doing great things for the country music industry. They have a great event that supports and nurtures a lot of young local musical talent. I mean, we are not considered a country band, but we have a couple successful crossovers. We’ve won the CCMA Best Group of the Year 2021, and Rivermist has again been nominated for that award this year. It’s going to be fun and exciting night.” Adair said.

Winner to performer is a common theme with the CCMAs, proving that it can be a catalyst for local artists' careers.

“Some of these performers don’t get the recognition or publicity for the talents they were blessed with. There are extremely talented singer/songwriters that are 20 to 25 years old trying to make it somewhere in the Carolinas. This event gives them a chance to showcase their talents. This is their Special night! Many CCMA award winners have gone on to very successful careers in the music industry,” Adair said of the opportunity the CCMAs provides for its winners. The CCMAs don’t just help catapult careers, it validates them. The Carolina Country Music Association Hall of Fame hosts some big names in country music. According to Jeff Andrulonis “Over the years we have inducted into our Hall of Fame Zakk Turner, Greg Rowles, and Mark Herdon from the band Alabama.”

That’s pretty impressive. This year’s Hall of Fame Inductee is Billboard‘s, Multi-Gold, and Platinum recording artist, John Berry. Berry’s career has had longevity and success, with hits Change My Mind, She’s Taken A Shine and There He Goes in the ’90s, Will You Marry Me, Time In A Bottle, Lady, and Let’s Stay Together in the 2000s. Berry also had a show that aired for two years here in the U.S., the UK, and New Zealand called Songs and Stories with John Berry, introducing his name, voice, and songwriting skills to a brand new audience. Berry is currently keeping busy performing in theaters and churches around the country. His induction will mark the 30th anniversary of his debut album, a fitting mark of this momentous occasion in his career.

The CCMAs were founded by Christy Andrulonis, Executive Director of the Carolina Country Music Association, entrepreneur, radio host, and music advocate. She hits the airwaves every day as the mid-day host of Carolina Country Radio (100.1 in Fayetteville, 93.9 in Myrtle Beach, and 106.3 in Wilmington) as Sweet Tea.

She and her husband Jeff own the radio station and started their business right here in Fayetteville in 1995. When asked what inspired her to create the CCMAs, she said, “The Carolinas have some of the most amazing singer-songwriters. Their musical stories tell about their lives in the Carolinas. This is a night to celebrate their accomplishments in the country music industry.”

The CCMAs are Andrulonis’ passion, the event is a labor of love.

“For me, it's like a family reunion when I see all of our artists and catch up with old friends,” she said. Her hope for the future of the CCMAs is “Years of stories of the Carolinas for generations to enjoy.”
Tickets are still available and range in price and experience. For those who just want to come, support, and enjoy the show, main-level tickets are available for $45. VIP tickets are available for $130 and include second-level VIP lounge access, food, and a choice of beverages from water to adult beverages.

For music lovers who want to see how the show works behind the curtain, watch rehearsals, and see how the show comes together for one of the greatest nights in the Carolinas, there’s the VIP Box Seat and Backstage Pass option.

These ticketholders have exclusive box seats, this space will provide the best views of the show and each box seat area can hold up to 8 guests, backstage passes for all 8 guests, and access to the VIP lounge. An extra perk of this level ticket is the ticketholder business logo being placed on the CCMAs’ promotional material. No matter the price of your ticket, everyone gets to walk the red carpet and network! Dress to impress the camera and talk to the industry’s leading experts. All tickets can be purchased online at https://www.carolinacountrymusicassociation.org/carolina-country-music-awards.

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