The Country Music Association has selected five students to be recipients for the Journalism division of the 2014 CMA Close Up Award of Merit. Candidates for the Award of Merit were chosen based on submission of their journalism work as students, and in conjunction with CMA EDU chapters. The recipients will be credentialed media members at CMA Music Fest, and will cover all aspects of the 2014 CMA Music Festival in Nashville from June 5-8. Their stories will be posted throughout the Festival at One of these five student journalists will be selected after the Festival as the winner of the 2014 Award of Merit in Journalism. That student will come back in November as a credentialed media member to cover the CMA Awards; CMA will present the student with a medallion during a CMA Awards press conference.

KellyBKelly Brickey – Belmont University

“I was born and raised on the Central Coast of California in Santa Maria. I moved to Nashville in hopes of earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in entertainment or fashion. Country Music reminds me of the small town lifestyle I had growing up and makes me think about home. I’m looking forward to covering this year’s CMA Music Festival because the atmosphere around Nashville and this Festival is always buzzing and I can’t wait to get the inside scoop of what goes on behind the scenes.”








Kinsey Haynes – University of Alabama

“I’m Kinsey Haynes and I am from Demopolis, Ala. I am 18 and just completed my freshman year at the University of Alabama. I am pursuing my dream of being an awesome music journalist. I love music and have been going to shows since the age of 3. After seeing Linkin Park when I was 12, I was inspired to start my own music blog ( My blog has given me the opportunity to cover music festivals such as Welcome To Rockville in Jacksonville, Fla., where I had the opportunity to interview bands such as Theory of a Dead Man and Adelita’s Way among several others. Before graduating high school, I interviewed Henry Rollins, Matthew Mayfield, and TJ Bell from Escape The Fate on my own. I work for UA’s newspaper, The Crimson White, where I have interviewed Granger Smith, Sundy Best, and Wade Bowen along with many other amazing bands. In addition to that, I work for UA’s radio station WVUA FM where I DJ and write for the website. In my spare time, I enjoy following Pearl Jam on tour with my mom and going to numerous other shows that come my way. I also enjoy General Hospital, The Big Bang Theory, and The Middle.”


AlexandraJusticeAlexandra Justice – Vanderbilt University

“My name is Alexandra Justice and I am a rising junior at Vanderbilt University studying Entrepreneurial Studies of Music and Media. I started CMA EDU at Vanderbilt and have worked to help it excel as a program giving students firsthand music business experience. I also am a DJ and staff writer at WRVU and am passionate about sharing music. I am looking forward to covering this year’s CMA Music Festival because it offers me the opportunity to hone in on my skills through up close access of my favorite week in Nashville.”



JacquelineJusticeJacqueline Justice – University of Virginia

“I’m Jacqueline Justice, a third-year student majoring in English and Media Studies at the University of Virginia. I write for the Arts and Entertainment section of our student-run newspaper, the Cavalier Daily. I’m interning at Nashville’s own Lightning 100 this summer. I’m looking forward to covering this year’s CMA Music Festival because it’s an awesome combination of music and journalism and I can’t wait to be part of such a huge event!”




JazireeSmithJaziree Smith – Vanderbilt University

“Jaziree Smith is currently a graduating senior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Smith is 22 years old and originally from Dyersburg, Tenn. At Vanderbilt University, Smith has created her own Interdisciplinary major entitled: “The Media and Black Representation” and she is also a Communication studies minor. As a very active student in the Vanderbilt community, Smith has been involved in various activities including but not limited to: serving as the President of The National Black Law Students Association, residing as the fashion editor for Vanderbilt’s Online magazine: HerCampus, acting as the Community Education Chair for the Vanderbilt Prison Project, performing as a spoken word artist for Vanderbilt’s Spoken Word group, playing on Vanderbilt’s Competitive traveling all women’s flag football team: WNFL, etc. In the Fall of 2014, Smith plans to further her career by attending law school. I am looking forward to covering this year’s CMA Music Festival because it will be my first time at the festival. I am determined to make all of my experiences unforgettable.”