“When it’s the 50th like this, then you start to realize that not only are you in charge of one year of the CMAs, you’re in charge of essentially 50,” Paisley said. “We have to pay the respects to half of a century of incredible moments and that’s no small feat. We’re going to have to be on our best game to do this.”
Underwood, Paisley’s co-host for the ninth year in a row, shared her own thoughts on this year’s special show, and how she feels about hosting after so many greats have come before her. Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire have all taken their turn on the CMA Awards stage.
“It is an honor,” Underwood said. “It’s also like, ‘OK, what are we going to do?’ But it’s a lot of fun. We get to see everything before everybody else does, and that’s kind of a cool perk about it all. But yeah, I might have been mad if they didn’t call us back for this year. Like, ‘We did eight years and then we don’t get the 50th? What?’
The show airs live from Nashville tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Dierks Bentley, Elle King, Chris Stapleton and “Fire Away” video director Tim Mattia head to the show as early CMA winners. Bentley and King share musical event of the year for “Different for Girls” and “Fire Away” won music video of the year.