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CMA to Honor International Artist with Global Artist Award

The Country Music Association will honor the recipient of the
first Global Artist Award during CMA's Fan Fair,
June 5-8 in Nashville, TN. Initiated by CMA's Global Markets Task Force
and approved by CMA's Board of Directors in 2002, the Global Artist Award
recognizes outstanding achievement by a country music artist who has both
furthered the popularity of the format and brought attention to country
music in their foreign-based territory.

Ten nominees have been designated from territories worldwide:

Tom Astor (Germany) has been active in the country music in Germany
and Europe for 40 Years. With sales near 10 million, more than 30 albums to
his credit, hit singles and television and radio show appearances, Astor is
the most successful country artist in his territory. The German-American
Country Music Federation has named Astor Best Male Vocalist of the Year 10
times. He was the first German artist invited to perform on Nashville's
Grand Ole Opry stage. Astor regularly serves as producer on his records,
teaming with the best musicians in Nashville. He is the ambassador of
country music in Germany and is the region's link to the Nashville music

Anchise Bolchi (Italy) is among the most popular and most experienced
country music artists in Italy. He tours the country
playing popular American music on the fiddle. In 1989, he left a career as
an industrial designer to become a full-time country artist, joining a
country-rock band called Arizona. As word spread about Bolchi, he began
receiving offers to play on studio albums of many Italian artists; and he
began appearing with American artists on tour. Bolchi launched his solo
career in 1991, touring Italy with up to 150 dates each year. His 1997 debut
album, The Last Track, and his 2000 follow-up, The Space Fiddler, have
demonstrated his skills and passion for country music, along with the
immense creativity required to rearrange old hits with a very personal

John Brack (Switzerland) has become a leading figure of Swiss country music.
Each of his last 22 albums has sold in excess of 350,000 copies, a record
for Swiss country music. Brack performs more than 100 concerts a year,
including international performances with shows in Bad Ischl/Austria,
Dublin, Frankfurt, Hamm/FRG, Holland, Las Vegas, Peterborough/UK and
Silkeborg. Brack, who has been dubbed "Mr. Swiss Country" by the media, has
also appeared at CMA's Fan Fair. In 1979, he signed a contract with EMI
Switzerland and signed with BMG Switzerland a decade later. In 2000, Brack
celebrated 20 years in the country and gospel music formats.

Heidi Hauge (Scandinavia) started singing country music seven years ago in
her Norwegian hometown. In 1997, a Showtime Records executive discovered
Hauge, and she began working on her first album. Since 1999, Hauge has
released five albums, four of which have reached gold or platinum status
helping to earn her the affectionate title of "Country Queen of Scandinavia"
from area entertainment magazines. Haug's last album was released in
December 2002.

Ruud Hermans (The Netherlands) has been writing, recording and performing
country music for more than 25 years. After starting out with a band called
The Tumbleweeds, which was later renamed Tulsa, Hermans has toured worldwide
and still plays concerts in Europe. He also takes part in various
singer/songwriter sessions with Dutch and international artists, such as
Dick van Altena, Rob Crosby, Frank Jansen and Nashville singer/songwriter
Victoria Shaw. Hermans has championed the Dutch Country Music Association
Awards and has served as host for many years. In 2002, he was inducted in
the Dutch Country Music Hall Of Fame.

>p>Lee Kernaghan (Australia) has received many honors in his career, including
19 Golden Guitar awards and 2 ARIA awards. He's even been named Australia's
Country Entertainer of the Year twice, and all of his albums have reached
platinum status. Kernaghan boasts 20 Top 10 hits, 14 of which have gone to
No. 1. Kernaghan has used his status to raise money for various charities
with his "Pass The Hat Around" shows, and he has mentored many young country

Jason McCoy (Canada) has released three albums on Universal Music Canada,
including the 1999 gold-certified Playin' For Keeps. McCoy has received many
SOCAN and Canadian Country Music Association awards. With 10 singles
reaching the top 15 and three No.1 singles, McCoy has proven chart success.
He has toured Australia twice and played throughout Canada opening shows for
artists including Terri Clark and Martina McBride.

Charlie Nagatani (Japan) started singing country music in 1956 at age 20.
Nagatani and his band, The Western Cannonballs, began performing at U.S.
Military Clubs in Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand
until the Vietnam War ended. Upon his return to Kumamoto, Nagatani opened a
country music saloon named "Good Time Charlie's," where he still entertains
seven nights a week. In 1989, Nagatani organized the first Country Gold
festival, and in 1992, Nagatani travelled to Nashville to record his first
album, which featured friends Emmylou Harris, Bill Monroe, Porter Wagoner
and others. In 2001, an independent filmmaker produced a documentary of
Nagatani's life.

Replete Bros. (Greece), featuring brothers Antonis and Dimitris, are the
only professional country music group in Greece working with record
companies. As composers, lyricists, interpreters, performers, arrangers and
producers of their own work, the Replete Bros. have performed live all over
Greece and appeared in many television and radio specials. Their latest
release, Crossroads, has been compared to recordings in the United States in
both content and quality. Antonis serves as president of the Country Music
Club of Greece.

Niall Toner (Ireland) has spent the greater part of his life promoting,
presenting and performing country music. He formed his first country band in
Dublin in 1961. In the 1970s, '80s and '90s, Toner was responsible for
promoting live concerts featuring other artists, including Ramblin' Jack
Elliott, Alison Krauss, Doc Watson and others. Along the way, Toner
developed a passion for writing country songs and has since collaborated
with many top writers. In January 2003, Toner released his Avalon Records
debut, There's A Better Way. The 12-song acoustic country and bluegrass
compilation has garnered Toner extensive radio airplay and excellent reviews
in the Irish Press.