Leave it to Keith Urban to just tell it like it is.
On his way in to the 2019 ACM Honors at the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday night (Aug. 21), I asked him why this event at this venue was so meaningful. And for Urban, he told me, it all came down to the sound.
“I just love the opportunity to celebrate what happens behind the scenes,” Urban said. “In anything I do, there are so many people behind the scenes that no one ever knows about. This night highlights those people, and that is so special. Especially because of the venue. Being at the Ryman is the most magical place I’ve ever played in. It’s like playing inside an acoustic guitar. That’s what it feels like on stage.”
But Urban wasn’t the only star who walked the blue carpet on 5th Avenue. Here are the other country artists who stopped by to talk about the special, special night:
“This show is so different, in a way because it’s so encompassing of not just the artists, but the people behind the scenes that people may not know about. So this show is a chance to honor so many more people that make the industry what it is.”
“It’s a small group of people in here tonight. It’s like a very calm, cool, collected environment. I’m here to honor Billy Joe Shaver, so that’s like a lifetime achievement award for me. If I had to step back and look, there have been years I wasn’t here. But this is the event I always wanted to do, and to present the Poet’s Award. These are legendary people. It’s really validating because I have a great deal of pride in my songs and my songwriting.”
“We’re from Austin, so a night like this is just fun for us to be in this Nashville world. Shane (McAnally) is family to us, and it’s always an honor to play at the Ryman. It’s spiritual to be in the Mother Church of country music.”
“Tonight I have the pleasure of singing Barbara Mandrell’s ’Sleeping Single in a Double Bed’ honoring Kye Fleming, as a legendary poet and the beautiful powerhouse songwriter she is. And I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate the sense of honesty that comes from expressing real topics that can take you to those places that you’re scared to go on your own. When you hear something in a song, that gives you courage.”
“This night is all about gathering together to love on each other, and it means the world to me. Martina McBride inspired me since I was a little girl. She has told the stories that no one else was willing to say. For most of my life, ’Broken Wing’ was my way of making money. For years, I’d go into Tootsies every single night and sing ’Broken Wing.’ It paid my rent. It’s why I’m here. So to honor her tonight makes this so personal. This feels like such a full circle moment. A really happy full circle.”