The spotlight will shine on both stars and fans when the curtains rise on Country Weekly Presents the TNN Music Awards Show, airing live tonight on TNN (8 p.m. ET/PT) from Nashville’s Gaylord Entertainment Center. Plenty of surprises are planned. The 11,000-plus screaming fans in the audience will have a lot to cheer about. For starters, comedian Jeff Foxworthy, host for the evening, will make a grand entrance, not to be missed.
As the only fan-voted country music awards show, the event is now an official part of Fan Fair and the conclusion to this week’s celebration. More than 20,000 fans have been in Nashville for a week of concerts and personal encounters with the stars. Tonight some of those fans will share the limelight with the stars. Fans from across the country will actually launch different segments of the show through taped introductions.
In a first for a country music awards show, a few lucky fans will view performances by some of country’s hottest stars from the front row. Other fans will fill the venue’s floor seats, giving them greater access to the nominees. Artists, presenters and other celebrities will sit in the right and left wings, next to the huge stage.
From their primo seats, the fans will watch performances by Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Lonestar, Montgomery Gentry, Martina McBride, Clint Black, Lisa Hartman Black, Jo Dee Messina, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, The Wilkinsons, Mark Wills and Kenny Rogers (with Alison Krauss and Billy Dean).
The star-studded presenters include Pam Tillis, John Michael Montgomery, Messina, Andy Griggs, Sara Evans, Chad Brock, Chely Wright, comedian Bill Engvall, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Ty Herndon, Bobbie Eakes, Alecia Elliott, Cledus T. Judd, Michael Peterson, Sammy Kershaw, Lorrie Morgan, Lane Brody, Joe Diffie, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Tennessee Titan Frank Wycheck and Sarah Jane Everman (reigning America’s Junior Miss).
Another exciting surprise for fans is the inauguration of a red-carpet walk of the stars, located on the side of the downtown arena at Fifth Avenue and Demonbreun Street. Many of the stars participating in the show will arrive by stretch limos between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. (ET).
In a cyber first for the awards show — and another fun element for fans — Foxworthy will answer e-mails sent to country.com, live, during the show. Beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET, country.com’s Lisa Young will host a live backstage webcast featuring interviews with award winners and presenters. Throughout the show, country.com also will present a continuous live chat with the stars.
A “special events area,” located at www.tnnmusicawards.com will speed up online traffic. The awards show is TNN’s highest-rated entertainment event, and country.com will give fans the equivalent of a backstage pass. Award winners and images will be posted at www.tnnmusicawards.com as the show unfolds.
Faith Hill leads the nominations with eight including Entertainer of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (Breathe), Song of the Year (“Breathe”), Single of the Year (“Breathe”), CMT Music Video of the Year (“Breathe”), Impact Award and Collaborative Event of the Year for her duet with husband Tim McGraw on “Let’s Make Love.”
George Strait has six nominations including Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (Always Never the Same), Song of the Year (“Write This Down”), Single of the Year (“Write This Down”) and Impact Award.
McGraw has five nominations: Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (A Place in the Sun), the Impact Award and Collaborative Event of the Year for “Let’s Make Love,” recorded with wife Hill.
With typical, self-deprecating humor, Brad Paisley joked about his chances of winning tonight while on the field at this week’s City of Hope Celebrity Softball Tournament. “I’m a little nervous about the awards,” he said. “I’m going to sit there and watch myself lose in every category. There are some great nominees. Actually, it is an honor to be nominated by the fans, and I’m just as excited about the honor of being allowed to play my entire song (“He Didn’t Have to Be”) on the show with my own band.” During his performance, the story-behind-the-song will be revealed, as well as the real people who inspired the song.
Paisley has four award nominations, along with Alan Jackson and Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black. Paisley’s phenomenal hit, “He Didn’t Have to Be,” brought him nods for Song of the Year, Single of the Year and CMT Music Video of the Year. Paisley also received a Discovery Award nomination.
Like Paisley, Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black struck gold with a powerful song. The Blacks’ smash single, “When I Said I Do,” penned by Clint, earned nominations for Single of the Year, Song of the Year, CMT Music Video of the Year and Collaborative Event of the Year. Jackson’s nominations are for Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (Under the Influence) and the Impact Award. Reba McEntire, Gill, The Dixie Chicks and Lonestar each have three nominations.
A total of 12 fan-voted awards will be handed out. Messina will present Kenny Rogers with the first-ever Country Weekly Career Achievement Award. A deserving country artist will receive the Minnie Pearl Award, honoring humanitarian activity and selected by a blue ribbon panel including individuals connected with the Minnie Pearl Foundation and TNN officials.
Leading up to the live broadcast, Engvall will host the Country Weekly Presents the TNN Music Awards Show Preview on TNN at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Tonight’s winners were selected by fans’ votes tallied through ballots posted in previous issues of Country Weekly, online votes on country.com and Country Weekly’s website at www.countryweekly.com. Fans also could vote via 900 numbers broadcast on TNN and listed online.
TNN has produced and telecast an annual, fan-voted country music awards show since April 1988 when it introduced the Viewer’s Choice Awards in celebration of the network’s fifth anniversary. In 1990 the Viewer’s Choice Awards merged with the Music City News Country Awards. TNN and Music City News produced an annual fan-voted awards show until June 1999, when their contract expired.
Drawing on Country Weekly’s 1.5 million readers per issue and TNN’s viewer base of more than 81 million homes in North America, tonight’s awards show is expected to reach the largest fan audience ever. The many creative, fan-oriented features during the awards show and the backstage live webcast and chats on country.com. Fans have even more to celebrate as Fan Fair 2000 draws to a close.