CMAA, council meet to discuss future

NEWLY installed CMAA president Dobe Newton has issued a call for calm amid fears last week’s Golden Guitar controversy could continue fracturing the industry.

In a tumultuous week in country music, Aussie legend John Williamson resigned as CMAA president in protest of the “Americanisation” of the Golden Guitar Awards and a series of judging blunders in recent years.

His comments sparked a shock response from country music stars Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley, who demanded the six Golden Guitar award nominations for their duet album The Great Country Songbook be pulled just weeks out from the awards ceremony.

The CMAA board held a crisis meeting on Friday, vowing to run the awards with fewer nominees in the six affected categories.

Mr Newton will also hold a meeting with Tamworth mayor Col Murray and council events and economic development director John Sommerlad today to discuss the future format of the awards.

“We’re just making a plea to people to say enough is enough ... we need to move on,” Mr Newton said.

“I welcome debate but there’s a whole lot of personal attacks being posted on Facebook and people just have to stop.”

He said while the controversy had been “unfortunate”, such industry introspection was a natural part of the artistic landscape.

“I’ve been in the industry for 40-plus years and every 10 years or so we say ‘what about our identity’, as does every Australian art form,” Mr Newton said.

“We’re a small marketplace and we’ll always have a lot of product from overseas and wonder where it should fit in, but it’s time now for us to move forward and that’s what we want to talk to council about.”

Cr Murray, an avid country music fan, said while the awards were under siege, the festival remained in “great shape”.

“The festival has been evolving since it started and this is just another chapter of change. We need to focus on the future rather than the past and I see the future as very positive,” Cr Murray said.

“We should see this as an adjustment, an opportunity to rebuild the brand of country music.”

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