Brad Paisley Talks Co-Hosting the 2017 CMA Awards

“There’s No Ignoring What We’ve Been Through”

Rehearsals for the 51st annual CMA Awards are underway at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. And Brad Paisley took a break from rehearsing for a backstage interview to talk about what fans can expect to see on the 2017 telecast.

The main goal as the show’s co-host, Paisley says, is to celebrate the past year in country music, as well as honor the artists we’ve lost, and those who were impacted by the year’s deadly natural disasters and violence.

Paisley and Carrie Underwood co-host their 10th CMA Awards live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (Nov. 8) at 8 p.m. ET.

On developing the opening monologue: “The interesting thing about this year obviously is it runs the gamut from horrifying and awful occurrences to some wonderful things. So we have to somehow navigate that with our monologue. There’s no ignoring what we’ve been through in country music and in America this year. On one hand, we can acknowledge that and on the other, it’s our job to lift people up this week and celebrate this music. I think we’ve struck a good mix of that.”

“I know of three different things that I would consider a tribute. This is one thing we’re good at in country music … therapy, and I think that’s kind of what we’re going to be this week in some ways. I hope to touch all the emotions this week.”

On performing with Kane Brown: “Well, I get to bring someone out for their debut that I have absolutely no doubt he is a lifer — is somebody who will spend his life in country music. This is someone who is so talented. He’s setting the world on fire and I got this experience in the year 2000. My first performance on the CMA Awards was with Ricky Skaggs. He brought me out and played one of my songs. And in this case I get to do the same with Kane. To be able to usher someone new onto this stage that I believe so strongly in is really an honor.”

On the performers he wants to watch
: “In any given year, there are so many things I want to see. I always love these things that are out of the realm of what you consider typical country music. P!nk is going to sing. Everybody respects P!nk. I mean, we’re talking about somebody who does truly great commercial art that all of us can agree is wonderful. So, having her show up and perform, I love things like that. That brings such a healthy new audience and new perspective into our format, as well as the people that you would consider to be the tried and true pillars of this format. Also we’re honoring Alan Jackson, which is always a thrill. Any time that someone is going into the Hall of Fame and there’s a tribute in that sense and they get a chance to perform, that’s going to be great.”