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CMA hand out touring awards

Thursday, January 23, 2020 – Tony Conway, CEO of Conway Entertainment Group, who was honored with the CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award at the Country Music Association at the Eighth Annual CMA Touring Awards in Nashville.

The awards show, held Tuesday, celebrated country's professionals from the 2019 touring season.

Marty Stuart presented Conway with the Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor given to an individual who has positively impacted and contributed to the growth of touring throughout a course of years that have proven to have an unprecedented historical impact on country fans and the industry. Conway has been an agent and manager, working with the likes of Garth Brooks, George Strait and Randy Travis.

"You know, sometimes when I talk about who I used to represent or who I do represent, they think I'm making all this up because it just sounds like a dream, and it is. It's true," said Conway. "I want to thank everybody in this room for what they do on the road. Like everybody says, we are one big family, and it takes professionals and people that love the business as much as I do to pull it off."

"The beauty of Tony is, his handshake is better than a pile of contracts," said Stuart. "And that's the truth. If Tony gives you his word on something, it's done."

Manager of the Year winner Mary Hilliard Harrington is the only honoree in CMA Touring Awards history who has won two different categories with three prior trophies received for Publicist of the Year. "I decided this year 2020 was my year of gratitude, and so it's pretty amazing to be able to stand here in front of all of you guys and say thank you in such a public way," said Harrington, whose company represents Dierks Bentley and Caylee Hammack.

"Thank you to CMA for recognizing us. It's truly a huge honor," said Monitor Engineer of the Year Bryan "Opie" Baxley. "I gotta thank Kenny Chesney and his entire staff. From him and the greatness he is, it trickles down to the very last person. Who lives like we do?" "We do," said Baxley's fellow crew members. "We do, that's right."

"I'm proud and honored to be in the room with all of you. It's a pleasure to be here. I think everyone does an outstanding job and to me, it makes a difference to the fans and the people who believe in coming to tours and to the concerts. It makes a difference to show that, and to have faith and pride in what we do," said Tour Video Director of the Year Chris Jones, who tours with Eric Church.

Claiming her third trophy for Business Manager of the Year, Mary Ann McCready said, "I just feel so lucky to get to do what I do every day and with artists that I just respect so much." Her previous wins were in 2012 and 2015.

Arpad Sayko, who tours with Chris Stapleton, is a two-time winner for FOH (Front of House) Engineer of the Year, last winning in 2017. "I hope that this award will allot me a new front of house chair. That's all I need," joked Sayko.

"I have to thank Kenny Chesney who taught me how to use a camera because he got me one and said, 'Here, figure this out,'" said first-time Videographer/Photographer of the Year Jill Trunnell. CMA added this new Touring Awards category in 2019.

Winners were:

BUSINESS MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Mary Ann McCready - Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.

COACH/TRUCK DRIVER OF THE YEAR - Larry Phye, Jr. - Chris Stapleton

(FOH) FRONT OF HOUSE ENGINEER OF THE YEAR - Arpad Sayko - Chris Stapleton

LIGHTING DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR - Chris Reade - Dierks Bentley

MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Mary Hilliard Harrington - Red Light Management

TOUR MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Todd Bunch - Eric Church

MONITOR ENGINEER OF THE YEAR - Bryan "Opie" Baxley - Kenny Chesney

PRODUCTION MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Jay Ballinger - Dierks Bentley

PUBLICIST OF THE YEAR - Tyne Parrish - The GreenRoom

TALENT AGENT OF THE YEAR - Jay Williams - WME

TALENT BUYER/PROMOTER OF THE YEAR - Louis Messina - Messina Touring Group

TOUR VIDEOGRAPHER/PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR - Jill Trunnell - Kenny Chesney

TOUR VIDEO DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR - Chris Jones - Eric Church

TOURING MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR - Wyatt Beard - Kenny Chesney

VENUE OF THE YEAR - Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN

Winners in 15 categories were determined by CMA members in the following categories: Advertising/Public Relations/Media, Affiliated, Artist, Entertainment Services, Marketing/Digital, Musician, Personal Manager, Record Label, Talent Agent, Talent Buyer/Promoter, Touring and Venue.

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