Taylor Swift Stirs Controversy by Winning CMA’s Pinnacle Award

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift, who won the CMA Pinnacle award as well as awards for Musical Event of the Year and for Music Video of the Year at the 47th Country Music Association Awards. (Photo by Getty Images)

by Carrie Victoria

Young country-pop artist Taylor Swift, 23, was awarded the Country Music Association’s (CMA) Pinnacle Award in Nashville, Tenn. on Nov. 6.

The only other time the CMAs awarded the Pinnacle Award was in 2005 to Garth Brooks.

According to the CMAs, the Pinnacle Award honors “an artist who has achieved both the national and international prominence through concert performances and record sales at levels unique in country music.”

Some of country music’s biggest artists—Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, George Strait, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, and the members of Rascal Flatts—presented Swift with the award, which was fitting since she opened for each of the as a rising country singer.

There has been some criticism, however, on Swift receiving this high honor.

The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica wrote,“The only way for country music to respond to her—and for her to engage with country music, a dance partner she now only sometimes favors—is to fete her endlessly, to let her be serious in addition to frilly, to weave her even more tightly into the fabric of Nashville.”

Senior Katrina Avila agreed and did not think that Swift should be categorized as a country artist or should have been given the Pinnacle Award.

“’I Knew You Were Trouble’ doesn’t have a single element of country music in it,” Avila said. “Not a single twang, banjo, or heartfelt lyric about being from the South. She is definitely more mainstream pop now than anything else.” Avila thinks the Pinnacle Award should be given to artists who stay true to their country roots and who are more experienced as country artists.

Die-hard Swift fans, better known as Swifties, disagreed with both Avila and Caramanica and supported Swift 100 percent.

“She may not be purely country anymore, but there are a bunch of country artists out there that aren’t purely country,” said Swiftie Rachel McGinty. “There’s Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, and Florida Georgia Line.”

Senior and fellow Swiftie Katie Kelder compared Swift to a little sister who goes away to college—she may leave home for a little while, but she always comes back, welcomed by her family. Country music is about the story in the lyrics, not the song, and Kelder said that Swift knows how to create a good story in her music.

“Taylor has a song for everybody,” Kelder said. “Even the boys and the Taylor Swift haters.”

Though some have said that Swift hasn’t been in the country music industry long enough to receive the award, her Swifties beg to differ.

“Taylor Swift has been in the spotlight since she was about 16,” said McGinty. “To accomplish everything she has in the past few years is incredible.”

Swift has accomplished much since she first kicked off her career in 2006. According to Today, Fearless was named the best-selling album of 2009, Speak Now sold over one million copies in 2010, and Red sold over six million copies worldwide in 2012. Also, Swift broke the record this year for most sold-out concerts at the Staples arena with 11 shows, beating Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears.

Whether or not people believe she should have received the Pinnacle Award, her fans love her, and it looks like Swift is here to stay.