CMA Awards Rehearsals: Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line and More

Paisley Hones His Jokes While FGL Are Just Looking to Party

The 48th annual CMA Awards show is almost here, and country stars have been prepping and rehearsing for days to make this year’s event the best yet.

The show airs live Wednesday (Nov. 5) at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, and one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is the night’s opening monologue.

Co-host Brad Paisley says he and Carrie Underwood plan to navigate “one of the worst years in current events” with style and humor.

“The silver lining to a year like this is that you need it more, and people are really ready to laugh,” Paisley said of the monologue. “So even though it feels like there’s less to laugh about, there’s more need, and I think that can be pretty fertile ground for comedy.”

Keeping with the lighthearted theme will be Dierks Bentley performing his high-flying “Drunk on a Plane.”

“I’ve been coming to the CMAs for 12 years,” says Bentley. “But this is like, five nominations and singing a song that was a multiweek No.1. It’s definitely a big moment for me and a great way to kind of sum up what 2014 has been. It’s been a really big year.”

The past 12 months have also been huge for duo of the year nominees Florida Georgia Line. Bandmates Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley say the awards show recognition is something they’re extremely proud of.

“It feels good,” Hubbard says. “A lot of hard work went into this year for us, a lot of long weeks and months out on the road. So it feels good to come home, be in Nashville and get to come to the awards show and see all our friends and hopefully take home an award.”

First-time nominee Thomas Rhett also hopes to take home an award Wednesday, the trophy for new artist of the year. The singer admits it’s a nerve-wracking experience, but it’s one he’s looking forward to.

“It’s shocking and humbling at the same time,” says Rhett. “Of all the new artists that there are to be picked, (being named) one of the Top 5 new artists is just a pretty cool feeling. This is my first-ever CMA nomination. I get to walk the carpet with a little more stuff to talk about, and it’s cool being in a category with people that are your really good friends.”

This will be Rhett’s biggest television appearance to date — something The Band Perry know a thing or two about themselves.

“One of our very favorite honors in our career was when we got to take home the CMA award for new artist, and that same year we got the song award for ’If I Die Young,’ ” said lead singer Kimberly Perry. “So being back this year as nominees for vocal group of the year, it’s a huge honor just to be nominated, of course. We’re just happy to be a part of the festivities and have a performance.”

Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes action leading up to the 48th annual CMA Awards, and tune in to CMT Wednesday night (Nov. 5) at 7 p.m. ET as the festivities kick off on the red carpet.

Plus, don’t miss an all-new episode of CMT Hot 20 Countdown this Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/PT.