Behind the Scenes at the CMA Awards
If you're like me, then you're a TV fanatic who also happens to be an awards show junkie. There is nothing like watching my favorite female stars walk the red carpet in their breathtaking designer dresses, but there is one awards show that I tune into every year just to catch the performances. And lucky for me, that show is going to air Wednesday, November 11 on ABC...it's the Country Music Association Awards!
I actually have a secret place in my heart for the CMA's because back in my former life (I was an entertainment publicist for a major TV network), I handled publicity for the awards show. That meant I would travel down to Nashville a few days before the show and get the chance to sit inside the Grand Ole Opry House while director Walter Miller (one of the most talented Awards show directors of our time) worked out all the kinks in the show. And trust me, there were never many kinks! While I would attempt to convince stars like the Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw to agree to interviews with our in-house production team, I'd also sit inside the legendary theater and watch the rehearsals and the incredibly talented country music artists who ascended the stage and literally had all of us transfixed by their performances.
While working at the CMA's, I had the pleasure of getting to know Vince Gill - one of the funniest and most charismatic country artists ever, who hosted the show for more than a decade, and Brooks & Dunn - who took over the hosting reigns after Vince decided to pass the torch. There was also the time I accompanied Emily Procter from CSI Miami for an Entertainment Tonight Red Carpet Ready special and we got to borrow Reba McEntire's monster-sized trailer so Emily could prepare for the show. That same year, I stood this close to Martina McBride and held her purse while she completed an interview with our crew and then sported a huge smile when Kenny Chesney introduced himself and agreed to chat with us too.
There were also moments where I'd race through the theater as a country artist was about to leave the building and I'd tap them on the shoulder so I could grab them for our crew. One year, I got a great workout when I tore through the back stage area hunting down Willie Nelson (no, I was not a country music stalker). Thankfully, Willie graciously agreed and couldn't have been nicer. And that year, we even got an interview with Sheryl Crow and country icon Dolly Parton. But the best part of all was bringing my dad with me to Nashville and having him experience all the fun for himself.
My father has always been a country music fan and the first year I brought him to the CMA's, the behind-the-scenes team instantly welcomed him into their tight knit family. While I raced up and down the red carpet making sure the TV crews were happy, my dad took on the self-proclaimed role as official water boy - handing out bottles of Evian to Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Faith Hill and any other country artist who was feeling a little parched. Dad had the time of his life and while we haven't been back in years, the CMA team still asks about my father and sends him their best wishes every year!
While I won't be working backstage this year, I do know where I'll be on November 11 - front and center in my living room watching ABC and thinking about all my hard-working friends at the Country Music Association! Hope you'll join me from your living room too and if you'd like to find out more about this year's awards show, visit the CMA website for the inside scoop on hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, the nominees, presenters and much more!