Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift Rehearsing for CMA Awards

Swift Will Perform Opening Song to Begin ABC Telecast

Taylor Swift will perform the opening song of the 43rd annual CMA Awards show, organizers announced Monday (Nov. 9) as rehearsals continued at the Sommet Center in downtown Nashville.

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood began preparing for their hosting duties Sunday (Nov. 8), the same day Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert and Billy Currington rehearsed their musical performances. Swift, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Sugarland, Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean spent part of Monday rehearsing their songs.

The three-hour awards show will air live Wednesday (Nov. 11) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, but the event is just one of the celebrations taking place in Nashville this week. Aside from the after-show parties hosted by the record labels, songwriters and music publishers will be gathering at awards presentations sponsored by two performance rights organizations. SESAC’s 2009 Nashville Music Awards will take place Monday night, and the 57th annual BMI Country Awards is scheduled Tuesday.

Singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson will be honored as a BMI Icon for his “unique and indelible influence” on songwriters and musicians. Among those expected to attend the awards dinner are Swift, Urban, Underwood, Willie Nelson, Miley Cyrus, Brooks & Dunn, Lady Antebellum, Sara Evans, Blake Shelton, Lee Ann Womack, Jack Ingram, Gary Allan, Patty Griffin, Sugarland’s Kristian Bush and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.

As always, though, the CMA Awards remains the biggest event of all. In addition to the previously-mentioned artists, performances will also be provided by Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill and Daughtry, Kid Rock and Jamey Johnson, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Sugarland and the Zac Brown Band. Dave Matthews will be featured with Chesney.

Those presenting awards include Julianne Hough, Randy Houser, the Judds, Jake Owen, Kellie Pickler, LeAnn Rimes, Kristofferson, Womack and Kid Rock. Other presenters include Dale Earnhardt Jr., actor Neil Flynn, actress Patricia Heaton and Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.

Paisley and Underwood will perform one song each Tuesday (Nov. 10) during live segments on Good Morning America. The performances will take place outside the Sommet Center and are open to the public.

View photos from the CMA Awards show rehearsals.
Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.