OFFSTAGE: Faux Winners at CMA Awards Make Dress Rehearsals a Great Show

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

You’d think something like the CMA Awards rehearsals would be all formal and stuffy and, you know, shrouded in secrecy. But I had a chance to watch the final full-show dress rehearsal on Wednesday (Nov. 10) and have to say it might have been a little bit more fun than the real thing. Now, that could’ve been because I watched some of it with Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood and his father before Haywood had to leave to rehearse the band’s smash hit, “Hello World,” which they performed on the show. We were laughing about how hysterical the fake winners were. Like when the presenters practice presenting the nominees, they name the just-for-rehearsal winner and a pretend “winner” comes up for his or her “acceptance speech.” (By the way, how do you apply for that job?) So when Miranda Lambert’s Revolution was announced as the unofficial winner during the rehearsal, a group of stand-ins got up and gave a speech saying things like, “This album was such a joy to make. Thanks, y’all, for buying it.” They even threw in a little bit of her Texas twang, just to make it authentic, but Lambert did a much better job later that night when she really did win three awards.

At the rehearsals, the show’s announcer was making stuff up for his voiceovers, like, “This is Blake Shelton’s 100th nomination and his first win.” The announcer even kicked off the day by proclaiming, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to country music’s biggest dress rehearsal.”

But it was also fun to see the spontaneity of things. Like Carrie Underwood’s zipper malfunctioning, Kelly Clarkson laughing in the middle of her so-serious ballad with Jason Aldean and seeing Zac Brown completely absorbing George Strait’s rehearsal of “The Breath You Take.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.