CMT Music Awards: Little Big Town on Encore Hosting Gig

And Their Painstaking Attention to Every Detail in Every Video

Karen Fairchild said Shania Twain’s “The Woman in Me (Needs the Man in You).” Kimberly Schlapman said Twain’s “You’re Still the One.” Jimi Westbrook said Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.” And Phillip Sweet also chose Cash’s “Hurt.”

Those were the ones Little Big Town told me were their favorite country videos that were not their own. So two votes for Twain, and two for Cash. And that, Schlapman said, was the secret to the band’s long-running success: All four think alike.

And that, I think, explains why hosting the CMT Music Awards comes so naturally to the group, and why they were asked back for a second year after hosting for the first time in 2018.

“It feels amazing. We didn’t get fired and we got asked back,” Fairchild said when I caught up with the band in California on Wednesday night (May 15). They were in Napa for the Live in the Vineyard Goes Country concert series. “I remember last year, we were really nervous, but then it was so much fun. And then it was over,” Schlapman added.

The beloved country band has a long list of nominations and some very big wins at the CMT Music Awards over the years, since their first one in 2006, when “Boondocks” was nominated for group video of the year. And now they’re going in to their hosting gig with two nominations: one for group video of the year for “Summer Fever” and one for the CMT performance of the year for “I Can’t Make You Love Me/Help Me Make It Through the Night” with Gladys Knight at the 2018 CMT Artists of the Year event.

And about those 13 years in between? They’ve been full of progress, hard work, good instincts and an artistic take on life and love. While most artists say that winning isn’t everything, it is cool to go back and see who the big winners were the first few times you were at the CMT Music Awards, like Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Swift. Those peers of yours had some very varied journeys to where they all are now, all these years later.

Fairchild: I think that’s because we all do take like different paths. Maybe it has to do with the team around you and the timing and the songs and your instincts. That helps you maneuver to the next path, and you never know. We’re so lucky and so blessed. And you just have to keep working hard. As we always tell young artists, “Just work, work, work, work.”

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