“Back in the day, before I got so busy doing the television stuff, I can remember presenting on the CMT Awards a few times,” he said during a break in downtown Nashville. “The CMT Awards have changed the face of itself so many times. Remember when it was called the Flameworthys? I did an outdoor performance for that, but that was at least eight years ago.”
What Shelton is looking forward to the most, he admitted, is playing the stage outside the Bridgestone Arena at the corner of Fifth and Broadway in downtown Nashville.
“The fact that I get to perform outside on the street here, I’m really looking forward to that,” he said. “Because as big as a rush as it is to be in the building, it’s still not as much fun when you look down, and you’re singing to freaking Luke (Bryan) and all my friends in the front row.
“I don’t want to sing for other artists. I want to sing for the fans. This gets me right out there with them.”
Shelton also recalled his very first experience with Fan Fair — now known as the CMA Music Festival — some 20 years ago.
“I was so obsessed with country music,” he said. “Anybody that I saw on CMT back then was a superstar. I didn’t know the difference. I knew Garth Brooks was a huge star, but to me, so were Kelly Willis and Deborah Allen. I stood in line and she kissed me on the cheek, and I swore that this was gonna make front page news.
“I was so crazy about country music. And I’ll never forget that feeling I had that first year — in the summer of 1994. I see these people walking by, and they’re having that same feeling I had.”View photos from Shelton’s CMT Music Awards rehearsal.