CMT Insider: Keith Urban Unveils Country Concert of the Year

Show Will Feature Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Faith Hill, Vince Gill, More

What may well turn into the country concert of the year was announced Monday (Aug. 31) by Keith Urban. Appearing at a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Urban and Hall of Fame board president Vince Gill said the show, to be held at Nashville’s Sommet Center on Oct. 13, will feature performers including Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, and Lady Antebellum. Additional guests are expected to be announced.

The concert will benefit the Hall of Fame through its “All for the Hall” project, an idea that Gill developed, in which country artists play one night with proceeds going to the Hall.

Tickets for the show, to be held at the Sommet Center, will be $25 and will go on sale on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 10:30 a.m. CT at ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster and at the Sommet box office. Premium ticket packages will also be offered with a range of added extras.

CMT Insider: Why price the tickets low, at $25?

Keith Urban: It’s important for people to be able to come and as mentioned earlier, for people to be able to bring their whole family. You know there’s a lot of people going through some hard times right now, maybe the hardest they’ve ever gone through, so we’re trying to find a balance between covering any of the small costs we incur in putting on the concert but also trying to raise as much money as we can, but to also make it affordable for everybody. The great thing about the event, too, not only all of the people who have signed up to do it, but all of the vendors, too — the lighting companies, trucking companies — everybody has forgone all of their profit to make sure the Hall gets everything.

Why is the Hall of Fame important to you?

I think everybody needs to know the importance of where we’ve come from in order to know where we’re going. That’s my take on it. We can’t move forward until we know where we’ve come from and it’s imperative that it maintains that lineage.

Vince had suggested, I’d heard that he’d asked everybody to do maybe one night where they forgo all their earnings. Then we sort of collectively thought, “Well, why don’t we do a night where everybody comes and we do a specific event for the Hall?” Because by doing it we not only raise the money but the event itself becomes about the Hall and it’s all for the Hall and the attention of the Hall is focused as well so it’s not just a money benefit, it’s an awareness benefit.

So the history of country itself matters greatly to you?

I think It’s probably overlooked by some of the younger country consumers (that’s such an awful word), people that love country music, the younger demographic for thinking it’s [the Hall of Fame] just about the older country artists and so on. But it’s about the history of the genre more so than just the artist, of course it’s about the artists. But what I love about this is that there has always been a cycle in country music. It becomes too pop, it becomes too rock, and then it becomes very traditional. It’s always done this right from the beginning. The genre itself it such an amalgam of so many styles and it draws from everything and rock and roll and country have been like this right from the dawn of time, since the first note, it’s been said. You know a song like “Wichita Lineman” or “Galveston,” you know to think those songs were huge pop hits in the 60′s without any remixes, without anything else, they’re just great songs, and now they’re sort of AM [radio] Gold Country. I think it’s a cycle and the Hall shows us that it’s always been this way and we need people to keep it coming forward. But to bring it forward, it’s imperative we know where it’s come from so we know why it’s going in the direction it’s going.

How did you go about choosing people to play this?

Well, I started with everybody that’s been out playing with us on the tour this year and most everyone has been able to do it and others are working out some contractual obligations to be able to come do it too.

Brad’s [Brad Paisley] going to do it too. We’re going to play “Start A Band” at least and see what happens from there.

There are a lot of people that haven’t been able to confirm yet. There are more people that want to be able to do it but can’t — which is a good problem. So as we get closer to the day we hope that some people will be able to free up and be able to say affirmative, yes.

How will the event itself be structured?

At this stage, it’ll be a bit of a work in progress and I think some of the spontaneity will be what makes it a magic night too, you know. At this stage I think we’ll come out with our band and do a short version of our set list and then take a short break and bring up a house band that Vince and I are putting together right now and then we’ll start bringing everybody up. I don’t know what order we’ll do it or what songs will be played. It will be kind of semi-organized chaos which will be great, you know. I’m looking forward to it!

See photos from the press conference at the Hall of Fame and Museum.