Introduction by CMA CEO Steve Moore:
The first CMA Awards were held in 1967 in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium the same year the US troops began the largest offensive of the Vietnam War, the Rolling Stones made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and Elvis married Priscilla. It was also the same year that Bobby Gentry recorded “Ode to Billy Joe” and hosted the first CMA Awards show with Sonny James. A year later, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers hosted the Awards which were broadcast on network television for the first time. The Awards remained on NBC until 1971 with Tennessee Ford at the helm. In 1972 we moved to CBS where the Awards aired until 2005, the same year we took the show on the road to New York City, to Madison Square Garden. During that time many artists took over hosting duties, including Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride, Kenny Rogers, Barbara Mandrel, Willie Nelson, Chris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Reba McIntyre and an upstart kid from Oklahoma who would go on to host the CMA Awards for a record twelve times, Mr. Vince Gill. From 2004 to 2006, when we moved to the ABC television network, Brooks and Dunn brought the neon circus to primetime TV. In 2007 we took a different approach and replaced the host concept with multiple artists throughout the show, introducing performers and categories. Everyone did a great job. But we felt that the show lacked some continuity without a familiar face. A year later we made the announcement that Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood would take over hosting duties and they have done a tremendous job connecting with our audience, both in the house and those watching at home. It is clear that to host country music’s biggest night you need two of country music’s biggest stars. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you our hosts for the forty-forth annual CMA Awards show Mr. Brad Paisley and Ms. Carrie Underwood. Please welcome them.
Brad: We would like to take your questions at this time. (he says with a boyish grin and much laughter from the room)
Carrie: We are just really excited. Third time is a charm I think. I am, because I get to host with Brad.
Brad: You should be. We are really excited today. I had the best time last year.
Carrie: Last year was better than the year before and this year will be better than last.
Brad: Yes, I hope so. You get more comfortable every time you do it. They also let us get away with a little more each year. There will come a time when it is detrimental for us.
Q: Can you tell us about the chemistry you have together? The two of you are very funny and very fun to watch. Can you tell us about your friendship and chemistry together?
Brad: Well, I was one of the first tours that Carrie went out on. We became friends then and have gotten along almost ever since. We went through a rough patch there for awhile, but we do not have to talk about that. (again said with his sly sense of humor and a smirk)
Carrie: If there were very many rough patches, I was not aware of it.
Brad: Carrie is a great, great person and it is an honor to be up here with her. She brings class and style and grace and everything that I do not have to the show.
Q: I know that some of the things that you say are off the cuff, but I imagine that a lot of the lines are prepared. Do you get involved in that writing process?
Brad: We are pretty prepared before we go out. Some of the best lines in last year’s show were developed together while we were sitting in a room a couple of days prior. Last year one of my favorite moments came about forty eight hours before the show. We were sitting around talking about how to end the monologue. Like it was really cool with these songs and parodies of old country songs, bringing in timely things. But it needed an ending and she said out of the blue, “Don’t Tim and Faith both have fragrances?” And that is where I loved that whole bit. Being able to call out to Tim and Faith in the front row. I knew when I said I was wearing “McGraw”; I know a part of Tim McGraw, as cool as he is, as many guys wear a fragrance, it is a little horrifying for him knowing that. (laughter) Being able to call him out on that and it being Carrie’s idea to do it this way, then for her to say “I am wearing Faith’s.
Carrie: It is cool too because in the whole scheme of things, we really start out reading what is on the teleprompter. But by the end of the night, we say “uh-uh” and just adlib.
Brad: Yes, it is so far out the window. And this year they really gave us some room to do that. I remember sitting in that meeting also a couple of weeks prior, saying, “what if Jimmy Dickens was Kanye West?” I was totally prepared for the naysayer’s to say, “Well, that is a difficult thing to pull off”. Instantly, everybody, ABC and CMA, love it. They want to do it.
Q: This being the third year, and you guys know how big an undertaking it is, from hosting the previous two, what makes you really say, “Yeah, we want to do this again and we want to show you how much bigger it can be”? What made you guys say you wanted to do it again?
Carrie: The first one, I was so proud of us. But the differences between last year and the one before, we were just so much more comfortable on stage being the hosts.
Brad: It is a much different experience. There are very few people who understand that you have to have hosted something like this to know how much more fun it becomes. It reminds me of something that Jimmy Dickens said yesterday at the Opry. He said that the reason that the Opry is so great is the same reason that the CMA Awards are so great, that being when you are standing there in a room full of all of your friends getting together to sing songs. Carrie and I being able to stand on that stage and being the person that says something nice about somebody before they come out , something funny or whatever, you feel such a part of it, three hours feels like fifteen or twenty minutes when you are hosting. There is just no time for anything else, you have to get ready for whoever trips and falls on the stage and be ready to say the right words.
Q: For somebody who has never seen the CMA Awards before, how do you describe this experience?
Brad: I feel it is OUR Oscars. That is the best way I can describe it. The Oscars exist for a similar reason. It is an industry getting together to pay homage to things that they liked about the previous year as well as pay tribute to the Hall of Fame members that are being inducted and just the special awards and happenings of the year. It is a different night than any of the other awards shows that have anything to do with country music or any other music in general. It is different than the Grammy’s; this is a family. You are looking into the eyes of people that really love one another.
Carrie: There is so much talent. So much talent in one room. You will not watch performances and go away disappointed.
Brad: Country music is such a wide spectrum these days and really always has been. Any time someone is a new viewer, they are very pleasantly surprised at what they relate to or what they like that they had had no idea they had any interest in prior to that time. I think it is the most important night of the year for country music for that reason alone. They reach all these new people that you are talking about.
Q: You were just at the Grand Ole Opry and helped put the original circle back on the stage, can you tell me how that felt knowing this was a part of history from previous CMA Awards shows and can you tell us about all the different elements of the CMA Awards show. What are some of them that stand out in your mind? And also, can we get some insight from you guys on your performances as artists, thinking about creating those kinds of moments, in keeping that tradition going, what are your thoughts on that?
Carrie: Well I unfortunately missed actually being there in person when the CMA’s were held in the original Grand Ole Opry House. My first CMA’s was in New York.
Brad: Which felt very different than any other show we have ever done. Or probably will do ever again. I have never had to take a cab to CMA Awards before. For me, thinking about the moments, the most memorable and most important events for me, as a young adolescent teen, was Reba‘s dress. That changed my life. (editors note: Brad chuckled all the way through his first couple sentences) In all seriousness, I think about Dolly Parton when she had the gospel choir. Spiritually, there have been very few moments in my life where you see something that had such impact. There have not been that many churches that made me feel like dropping to my knees like that moment when Dolly came walking out and she belted into “He’s Alive”, and the doors open and I do not know how many people were in that choir, probably seventy five, start marching toward her. It was unreal! And again it is just another thing I love about this format; the willingness to swing to the fence that way and every year there is something like that.
Q: Talk about the moments of you two hosting that are memorable to you.
Carrie: Most of my memories of hosting are of me running back and forth between the stage and my dressing room and getting to see what is going on in the background. We have monitors in our dressing rooms so we do see what is happening on stage too.
Brad: A few things for me, it is standing there with Carrie, and one of the hardest moments of the week when we host is the first run through in the arena. You have been working on the script for awhile and now and you are doing it for less people than are here today, in an arena. It feels completely wrong because you do not have a laugh track of any kind and even if you know something is going to work it was not until we started singing “Momma’s Don’t Let Your Baby’s Grow Up to be Kanye....”, that I knew we had them. I did not know for sure on that but we were willing to try it. But you cannot tell from the run through, because people are milling around and it is such a guess work thing to figure out a line that will work. All of those moments for me, where if you delivered something early on and you break that ice, whatever that is, is a highlight for me.
Carrie: And at the end when it is all over with and everything is quieted down it is really nice. I am not changing clothes for once and I feel pretty proud about we accomplished. It is one of my favorite moments the last couple of years.
Q: All through the year, are you writing stuff down about who is going to get a little tease at the Awards show this year? What are some of the things that you are kind of working on now that happened in the last year?
Brad: I am thinking, I do not know that I am writing things down. It is all about timeliness. Our music does the same thing.
Q: You know that Carrie wedding was a big deal.
Brad: Yes, it was. I have no doubt actually that is going to come up. It is more about what is happening as we get closer. Definitely there are moments that I think of in the Spring about the time they ask us to host again which is always a thrill. For example, I had a really big stage fall and busted myself up good and had me on my back, but it was way back last fall. So if we talk about it now, it will not work. I do not know, maybe I will do it again. (laughter)
Thank you so much for coming today and be sure to watch the CMA Awards on November 10th!
For additional information on the CMA Awards visit www.CMAawards.com
For photos of the press conference visit http://MomentsByMoser.zenfolio.com/cmaawardspconf
Transcribed by Darlene McPherson