Nashville Braces for Week-long Country Awards Frenzy

When the Country Music Association and CBS decided this year to push back The 35th Annual CMA Awards to November –- nearly two months later than usual –- the change prompted a lot of schedule reshuffling on Music Row.

Now positioned prominently in a TV ratings sweeps period, the show, which airs at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday (Nov. 7) on CBS, is the main event in a week-long round of industry ceremonies that celebrate country music’s success stories over the past year.

The soirees will feel different this year. Like the rest of the nation, the music industry is in a somber mood following the events of Sept. 11. With warnings of further terrorist activity, security will be tighter at the CMA awards. And since the awards week comes after the annual time change, events that once started at dusk instead will get underway in chillier darkness.

Collectively referred to as Country Music Week or CMA Week, the festivities begin Saturday night (Nov. 3), when the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) honors its member songwriters and publishers with a black-tie dinner at the Opryland Hotel. A performing rights organization, ASCAP collects and distributes royalty payments for public performances of songs copyrighted by its members.

Lee Ann Womack , Jo Dee Messina , Aaron Tippin , Andy Griggs , Chris Cagle , the Wilkinsons , Mark McGuinn , Carolyn Dawn Johnson , Chalee Tennison , Bryan White and SHeDAISY are among the artists scheduled to be on hand for the 39th annual ASCAP country music awards.

The Nashville Songwriters Foundation and the Nashville Songwriters Association International name this year’s entries into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame on Sunday night (Nov. 4). The inductees will be honored during a dinner at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza.

Tuesday night, performing rights organization Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) holds its black-tie gala at its offices on Music Row. Among the guests expected are Sara Evans , Toby Keith , Brooks & Dunn , Travis Tritt , Dwight Yoakam , Kenny Chesney , Diamond Rio , Vince Gill and Country Music Hall of Fame members Phil Everly (of the Everly Brothers), Bill Anderson , Brenda Lee , Merle Haggard and Kitty Wells . Pop star Sheryl Crow, in town to perform with Willie Nelson on the CMA awards, also is scheduled to attend the 49th annual BMI country awards.

The country music elite will congregate again Wednesday night (Nov. 7) at the Grand Ole Opry House for The 35th Annual CMA Awards. Gill will host the program for the 10th consecutive year. Evans, who has never won a CMA award, leads the nominations with five. She will perform her hit “Born to Fly,” the title track from her third album.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the roots-oriented soundtrack from the Coen Brothers film of the same name, has four nominations, including a nod for album of the year. Representing the album, Dan Tyminski, Alison Krauss and members of Union Station will sing “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.”

Also slated to perform during the three-hour show are the Dixie Chicks , Reba McEntire , Alan Jackson , Tim McGraw , George Strait , Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride , Trisha Yearwood , Womack, Diamond Rio, Keith, Brad Paisley , Jessica Andrews , Jamie O’Neal , Nickel Creek , Lonestar , Blake Shelton , Cyndi Thomson , Keith Urban and Phil Vassar .

Marty Stuart will honor 12 new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, including Anderson and Everly.

Beginning Saturday (Nov. 3), CMT will present a week of special programs and news segments highlighting CMA award nominees, culminating with the live, red-carpet artist arrivals at the CMA awards on Wednesday (Nov. 7).

But it doesn’t end there. SESAC, the smallest of the performing rights organizations, holds its formal awards dinner Thursday night (Nov. 8) at its Music Row offices. On Friday (Nov. 9), the Reunion of Professional Entertainers (ROPE) honors veteran performers with the Golden Rope Awards at the Gibson Bluegrass Showcase in Opry Mills mall.

35th Annual CMA Awards special event site