OFFSTAGE: CMT Music Awards Glamour, Up Close and Personal

(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 can watch a star like Carrie Underwood perform on television and see she’s gorgeous. But when you see a star like that up close, like I did backstage at the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday (June 6), it practically takes your breath away. And while all that glam has a little something to do with hotshot stylists, makeup artists who give you on-the-go touch ups, designers who lend you gowns for the evening and maybe some Spanx, I think there was a lot of beauty that came from the inside.

Like how Hayden Panettiere (who will star in the upcoming Nashville TV series) was smiling from ear to ear, telling me how much she loved country and how her dad is going to be jealous that she was there with Willie Nelson. “Seriously. My dad is going to freak out. Freak. Out. I grew up listening to Willie because of my dad,” she told me. Her vintage black tank with a white Carven skirt and Zana Bayne belt looked adorable with that big smile of hers.

And I liked how most of the stars admitted they were wearing much more than just mascara on their lashes. Nearly every girl had some kind of eyelash extensions (semi-permanent) or false lashes (temporary) on. And Miranda Lambert even had a few gems on hers. They were only really obvious when she closed her eyes. But she joked to me on the purple carpet, “I’m such a star that I grow diamonds now.”

Then there was Grace Potter, who was nominated twice with Kenny Chesney for their “You and Tequila” video. She was head to toe in designers. A charcoal KaufmanFranco beaded backless gown, Giuseppe Zanotti shoes and a black diamond ring by Itsa. But when an effortlessly beautiful woman like this talks about touring with Chesney — and admits she gets goose bumps when she takes that Brothers of the Sun stage — it just makes her glam come naturally.

Scotty McCreery took a chance style-wise this year, and honestly, I loved him for it. Ever since he won American Idol a year ago, he’s been showing up at events in very grown-up suits. But on Wednesday, he had on jeans, a T-shirt, a cross necklace and a very faded jean jacket. It was very teenager of him. And I may be reading too much into it, but since he was dressed so casual and comfortable, the conversation we had was very casual and comfortable.

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