One day before Wednesday night’s (Nov. 13) CMA Awards, as country fans everywhere started counting down the hours until showtime, I had the chance to catch up with Jessie James Decker about everything country.
Starting with the end of the night.
You know, that moment when they finally announce the artist who will take home the CMA Awards’ coveted grand prize: entertainer of the year.
This year’s nominees include the show’s host, Carrie Underwood, along with Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban. And side note: The CMA hasn’t selected a female entertainer of the year in almost a decade. Taylor Swift took it home in 2011, and since then it’s just been men, men, men and more men.
But Decker feels very strongly that this year will be Underwood’s year. “Oh, Carrie is gonna win it. Absolutely. It’s a premonition,” she told me, “and I will be so happy for her.”
Beyond that, Decker and I talk about getting ready for the show, how much she feels at home in Nashville, and how she’s mentoring new artists the way her “big brothers” mentored her.
CMT.com: What are your glam plans for tomorrow night’s CMA Awards?
Jessie James Decker: I’m pretty hands-on. I don’t really love all the hoopla. I can take care of most of it myself. I ordered a dress online, I already own the shoes, and then when it comes to hair and make-up I definitely stick with the same help. I feel like everyone gets a little stressed out, and I do get kind of flustered because you want to look your best. So I have someone do it for me.
And once you get there, and after you’ve walked the red carpet, what do you look forward to the most?
I obviously care about the performances and the awards themselves, but I’ll be honest, it’s just fun to see all your friends. You get to hang out with them, see the people you haven’t seen in a while, catch up with everyone and just celebrate music together. My husband Eric (Decker) loves it, too, because he’s friends with so many of the artists himself. So he’s always down.
I know you moved around a lot as a kid, so does life in Nashville feel like home to you now? Like you’ve settled down for good?
I’ve been here in Nashville since I was 19 and got an apartment. Then I met Eric in 2011, and now this is home to us. It’s actually always felt like home, ever since the very beginning, and going from a young artist to a mother of three. Our kids feel that way. My husband feels that way. My sister lives a mile up the road. And my mom and dad are about to move here. I’ve convinced everybody.
Your “Roots & Wings” from earlier this year is always on my Most Played playlist. I literally listen non-stop. Please tell me you’re making more country music just like it.
After that last release and the tour, I wanted to take a break and really tap into my creativity. And then figure out my next move. So I took a mental pause, and now I’m feeling the most creative I’ve felt in a long time. I did get back into the studio — I can’t talk about it just yet — but I can’t wait to share the next chapter of my music. Then I do plan on getting back out on tour probably starting in March or April.
Tell me about the mentoring you’re doing right now with What’s Your Cue?
I feel so fortunate to have the platform that I have, so I can help other aspiring artists get inspired, find confidence and overcome obstacles. That’s what these artists shared with me during my one-on-one time with them, and it’s cool to hear about their hunger for music and the struggles they face. I still feel that way myself sometimes. It reminded me of how you always feel so vulnerable as an artist. It’s so great to be a part of that.
Who was there for you when you were just getting your music career off the ground? Did anyone mentor you?
I had so many artists friends in Nashville. I like to call these guys my big brothers: Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser and John Rich. Those are the guys who always looked out for me. Especially John. He played a tremendous part in my career. I could call him all the time, and when I had a problem, he always had a solution. It was so cool of him to do that for me, and he’s still such an advocate for so many artists.
You can follow Decker on Instagram for a steady stream of real-life pictures of her husband, her kids, her dogs, her Kittenish store in Nashville, and her dream car: a 1966 turquoise Chevy pick-up truck.