The Country Music Association recently selected Belmont University junior Courtney Drake, a journalism major and editor of the Belmont Vision, as the first recipient of the CMA Close Up Award of Merit. The award was created this year to honor the student who demonstrated the most creativity, dedication and promise in covering the 2007 CMA Music Festival on assignment from CMA. Drake is pictured at right (center with Bob Doerschuk and CMA Vice President of Communications Wendy Pearl; photo by Drew Maynard) after being presented the award Wed., Nov. 7 during the backstage press conference coverage of the 2007 CMA Awards at the Sommet Center in Nashville.
“CMA is proud to foster up-and-coming music reporters and critics by giving them the tools and opportunities to practice their craft,” said CMA Chief Operating Officer Tammy Genovese. “We wanted to honor Courtney’s exemplary work in an effort to recognize excellence in entertainment journalism and encourage the next generation of writers.”
Candidates for the CMA Close Up Award of Merit were chosen based on recommendations from department heads in Journalism or equivalent programs at universities and colleges in central Tennessee. The final team of five reporters covered all aspects of the 2007 CMA Music Festival, under direction from Doerschuk. Their work was posted daily during the Festival and has been archived at http://www.cmafest.com/2007 under the heading “CMA Music Festival News and Reviews.”
Following the Festival, CMA Close Up’s editorial team reviewed the writers’ performance and stories and selected Drake as the recipient of the honor. She was also invited to cover the 2007 CMA Awards for the magazine from the backstage press room.
“As exceptional as all our student volunteer reporters were at covering the 2007 CMA Music Festival, Courtney stood out as a result of her dedication, quick comprehension of her assignments, resourcefulness, willingness to adapt to constantly changing demands, and of course her ability to craft stories that were both evocative and clear under great deadline pressure,” said Doerschuk. “Quite obviously, she can look forward to enjoying a long and successful career in journalism.”
Drake, a native of Michigan, has also worked as a freelance intern writer for The Tennessean where she developed articles for the education and religion sections. As for her long-term career goals, her work with CMA Close Up has definitely made an impression. “Long-range, I’d love to work for a Country Music magazine,” said Drake. “Maybe CMA Close Up!”