Paisley and Underwood co-hosted the awards show where she was also named the CMA’s female vocalist of the year for a third consecutive time.
Asked by a reporter backstage what she’ll remember most about the night, she said, “There are a lot of things I’ll remember. One is this award. Another is Brad’s quick-change from performance to the opening monologue. I’ve never seen so much of Brad Paisley.” After a few chuckles from the pressroom, she continued, “I ruined a couple of jokes. It was a good night. It was a blur. I’d like to go back and watch it and critique it in case we’re up for doing something like this again.”
After opening the show with “Start a Band,” his duet with Keith Urban, Paisley said he only had 45 seconds to change from his performance clothes (jeans and a T-shirt) into a coat and tie to host the show. The part where he was still tying his tie — along with “… and I’m almost Brad Paisley” joke — was written into the script to buy him some time.
“We went out there with these expectations that were very high,” he said. “We wanted to do a good enough job that people were happy we did this. In a nutshell, that’s what you want. It’s an amazing thing to think about who has done this before. And more than that, I care a lot about this show and I wanted to do a good job.”
Despite a light-hearted approach to her co-hosting duties, Underwood choked up when she reflected on her latest victory as female vocalist.
“It means so much because we worked so hard this year,” she said, fighting back tears. “We worked so hard this year, going out touring. It’s not just about artists when they win an award. It’s about every single person who makes them. Nobody realizes that we’re just the face of the machine, you know what I mean? There are so many people behind there, pushing singles and pushing albums. And the fans vote for stuff, and they go out and buy albums and they come to concerts. When somebody wins an award like this, it’s a victory for every single person involved. We worked really, really hard this year.”
In addition to winning his second trophy as the CMA’s male vocalist of the year, Paisley was also eager to share his video of the year victory with Andy Griffith, his co-star in the clip for “Waitin’ on a Woman.”
“I can’t wait to call him and talk to him about it,” Paisley said. “I’m sure he’s ecstatic. He loves country music as much as anybody, so for something like this to go on his mantle is something that means a lot to me — and more so to him.”
Rascal Flatts won their sixth consecutive award for vocal group of the year. It’s their seventh CMA trophy overall, after winning the Horizon Award in 2002. They released Greatest Hits, Volume 1 last month and are currently working on a new album.
“We’ve still got a statement to make, and we still have something to say,” said band member Jay DeMarcus. “We still are growing musically and collectively as a band. And I can’t wait to see what we’re able to do in the future because I feel like we have a lot of great moments and a lot of great songs and music left in us.”
Asked what has kept the band together, DeMarcus said, “From day one, we really tried to put the other person first, and we knew that was going to be the key to staying together because you have differences of opinions, and there will be moments in time where we differ between the three of us. We try to always approach with the respect and love we first started out having for one another, and that’s kept us going throughout the years.”
Lady Antebellum picked up the new artist award, formerly known as the Horizon Award. (Paisley won it in 2000 and Underwood in 2006.)
“We were so excited about performing tonight, we honestly never thought in a million years that we had a chance of winning,” said Hillary Scott, who brought her mother, singer Linda Davis, as her date for the evening. Davis won a CMA Award in 1994 for her duet with Reba McEntire, “Does He Love You.”
“It’s really a mix of emotions,” Scott said. “I didn’t attend the CMAs when she won the award with Reba, but I was her date for a couple of different CMA Awards. For her to be here tonight and be my date, and for her to have a crystal trophy on her shelf at home, in the house I grew up in, and for me to be taking one home tonight, is crazy! She’s so proud. There was nothing better than sitting there when the nominees were being read off, and holding my mama’s hand and knowing that she knew exactly what it felt like.”