Nashville Mayor Says Bring Grammy Awards to Music City

Little Big Town, Charles Kelley, Eric Paslay Attend Grammy Nominees Fest

The Nashville chapter of the Recording Academy toasted its Grammy nominees for 2016 Monday night (Feb. 1) at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza and heard Nashville Mayor Megan Barry call for the national Grammy awards show to return to Music City.

If that happened, it would be a historic return, indeed, since the Grammy ceremonies were broadcast only once from Nashville — and that way back in 1973. This year’s Grammys will air Feb. 15 on CBS-TV from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Among the nominees attending the annual bash were Little Big Town, Charles Kelley (of Lady Antebellum), Eric Paslay, Cam, Ashley Monroe, Lee Ann Womack, the Mavericks and bluegrass powerhouses Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the SteelDrivers.

Barry buttressed her pitch for the Grammys by noting that music is a $10 billion a year industry in Nashville. Moreover, Nashville-affiliated members are nominated in 36 of the Academy’s 83 categories, demonstrating that the city is more than a purveyor of country and gospel music.

In addition to the mayor’s remarks, an Academy official announced that Fred Foster, the founder of Monument Records and Combine Music, will be honored later this year with the Academy’s Trustees Award, a prize given to individuals who’ve had a major impact on music outside the realm of performing it.

Foster was an early champion and producer of such rising talents as Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison and Kris Kristofferson.

As customary, guests streamed into the party past a red carpet stitched with TV cameras and reporters displaying some of the most dazzling dental work since the advent of teeth whiteners.

Kelley and Paslay, who, along with absentee Dierks Bentley, are up for best country or duo performance for “The Driver,” seemed to be media favorites. It took them ages to run the gauntlet of inquisitors.

Eric Paslay, Charles Kelley Courtesy of The Recording Academy/photo by WireImage

Little Big Town came late and stayed late, chatting leisurely with fans, friends and the few reporters who remained until almost everyone else had gone home.

attends the 58th GRAMMY Nominee Party at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel on February 1, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. Courtesy of The Recording Academy/photo by WireImage

The more savvy of the partygoers headed straight for the bars and food tables in the adjacent rooms, there to mingle and celebrate or bemoan their particular slice of the music business pie.

This year, for the first time in memory, the reliably excellent Birdsong Trio — piano, bass and drums — worked from the stage rather than a remote corner of the room. Their sound was sophistication incarnate.

The food was as festive and plentiful — chilled shrimp, chicken dumplings, crab soup, fried green tomatoes, charred broccoli sprouts, macaroni and cheese and meatloaf sliders. There was a dessert table, as well, that virtually radiated calories.

For those too hip or OCD to stand in line for their eats, uniformed waiters rushed to their aid, bearing trays of fancy breads topped with hummus.

There was an abundance of contemporary Christian music nominees in attendance, including Toby Mac, Jason Crabb, Cary Barlowe, Brenton Brown, Ed Cash, Byron Chambers, Lauren Daigle, David Garcia, Matt Maher, Seth Philpott and Chris Tomlin.

Also on hand were the Fairfield Four and Point of Grace who are contending for best gospel roots album; Morgan Heritage, best reggae album; Armand Hutton, best arrangement, instrumental or a cappella; Wayne Kirkpatrick, best musical theater album; and Hillary Lindsey, country song of the year.

It was a night to remember — unless one had visited the bars too rigorously.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.