CMA celebrations start 2 days before main event
'Good Morning America,' free concerts among advance offerings
By CINDY WATTS
Nashville is putting its party hat on a little early in anticipation of country music's biggest night.
The 41st annual CMA awards show is scheduled for
7 p.m. Wednesday at Sommet Center and will be broadcast live on ABC. In anticipation, Nashville Celebrates Country — three days of country music events leading up to the awards — kicks off today. There will be free concerts by Phil Vassar and Emerson Drive, personal appearances by Vince Gill, Barbara Mandrell and Ronnie McDowell, a top-notch songwriter's night, showcases and a live television broadcast featuring Big & Rich from downtown Nashville during Good Morning America on Wednesday.
The Country Music Association started hosting extra events during the CMA Awards' brief sojourn to New York City in 2005. When the ceremony returned to Music City, the association decided to make the week a tradition.
"The week of activities was very successful," said Scott Stem, director of media relations at the Country Music Association. "When we returned to Nashville in 2006, the City of Nashville asked that we move the CMA Awards downtown." The awards were formerly held at the Grand Ole Opry House. "By moving, the awards (show) was now located in the heart of the Nashville entertainment district, and it opened up many possibilities, including creating events for all to enjoy around the awards in Nashville."
Concert clicks at City Hall
This year Stem predicts highlights will include the "Music on the Horizon" concert, which takes place tonight at City Hall and will showcase rising artists such as Jennifer Hanson, Lady Antebellum, Chuck Wicks and Crossin Dixon. Stem also said Tuesday's free Chevy Music Tour concert with Phil Vassar and Emerson Drive is sure to be a memorable evening.
Vassar said he's looking forward to the performance. He plans to play his new single, "Love Is a Beautiful Thing," as well as hit songs such as "Carlene" and "Last Day of My Life."
"I get to play in town," he said. "It's rare, and there's so many people in Nashville from out of town. There's just so much energy, and I'll play whatever they want. I'll play until they tell me stop."
Stem underscored the importance of Good Morning America's involvement in 2007's Nashville Celebrates Country festivities.
"Having GMA spotlight the CMA Awards is basically saying, 'Hey, viewers, this is something we find important and we think you will as well,' " he said. "It's great for the CMA Awards, it's great for country music and it's great for Nashville. Having live national television focus on such a positive event happening in our city invites tourism and business growth for Nashville, in addition to stirring up excitement for the awards."
And Stem said country music fans should take advantage of the events while they have the chance because there's no guarantee the opportunities will be back on an annual basis.
"It always depends on schedules," he said. "But, it is something we enjoy doing and it helps build excitement for the awards."