Initially, CMA's Board of Directors included nine directors and five officers. Wesley Rose, president of Acuff-Rose Publishing, Inc., served as CMA's first chairman of the board. Broadcasting entrepreneur and executive Connie B. Gay was the founding president.
Originally there were nine individual membership categories. The current 15 categories represent all facets of the music industry. Organizational memberships are also available. CMA membership is composed of those persons or organizations that are involved in Country Music, directly and substantially.
The first CMA Awards ceremony was held in 1967 in Nashville. Sonny James and Bobbie Gentry hosted the event, which was not televised. The winner of the first "Entertainer of the Year" award was singer Eddy Arnold. "Male Vocalist of the Year" went to Jack Greene and "Female Vocalist of the Year" to Loretta Lynn.
In 1968, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans hosted the awards, which were presented at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. (The ceremony was filmed and televised on NBC a few weeks later.) The first live telecast of the show was in 1969.
Annual awards are given in the following twelve categories: Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist, Female Vocalist, New Artist of the Year (formerly the Horizon Award), Vocal Group, Vocal Duo, Single, Album, Song, Music Event, Music Video, and Musician.