Dolly Parton and Kenny Chesney both received major achievement awards at the 50th Annual CMA Awards.
Dolly Parton was awarded the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
"Dolly epitomizes the very definition of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award," said CMA CEO Sarah Trahern. "She is a trailblazer who continues to enchant and captivate fans around the world, from her latest No. 1 album, to her sold-out tour and numerous television projects."
Kenny Chesney was awarded the CMA Pinnacle Award. The winner of this award is described by CMA as someone who, "recognizes an artist who has achieved global prominence through concert performances and record sales at levels unique in Country Music."
Longtime Merle 96.7 personality, Jack Ryan, says these superstars' success is inspiring others.
"I think it's generational in this area. Even if country music is not your first choice, is not your favorite genre of music, you're still going to be influenced by country music living here in East Tennessee," said Ryan.
Knoxville native Kelsea Ballerini is one of those artists. At Wednesday's ceremony, she was up for both Female Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year.
"I don't know too many country artists that are out there right now that have had a bigger year than Kelsea Ballerini," said Ryan.
Ryan says young, growing artists like Ballerini are a great example of Knoxville's growing music scene.
"Country Music, Southern Gospel and Bluegrass will always have a big presence here, but other genres like Rock N' Roll and Alternative are also coming in," says Ryan. "I'm encouraged to see those other genres saying 'Yeah, Knoxville, East Tennessee this is where it's at.'"
Ryan says one in five East Tennessee radio stations play country music, so even if an aspiring performer doesn't want to play country music they are likely influenced by it.
"These kids growing up are listening to and are exposed to country music. And oh by the way, they have a little southern twang in their voice so they're probably going to go the country route," says Ryan.
Ryan says no matter what genre young artists chose to play, he's just glad there's a growing music culture in East Tennessee.