The stars were beginning to congregate late Monday afternoon (April 16) on the Belmont University campus in Nashville for the 2007 CMT Music Awards. The show airs live at 8 p.m. ET from The Curb Event Center.
In addition to performances by some of country music's top artists, one of the highlights is the presentation of this year's Johnny Cash Visionary Award to singer, songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson. Rosanne Cash, Johnny Cash's daughter, will present the award to Kristofferson during a segment featuring tributes from Gretchen Wilson, Keith Urban, Willie Nelson, Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, record producer Don Was and actors Luke Wilson and Russell Crowe.
During a recent series of interviews with CMT Radio affiliates, Kristofferson talked about the award and his longtime friendship with Johnny Cash.
"What the award means, I'm not sure, but I love that it has Johnny Cash's name on it," he said. "I always thought a visionary was somebody who looked at the big picture and into the future."
Kristofferson added, "Johnny Cash was my hero before I came to town and was my inspiration throughout the time when I was trying to be a songwriter and long before he ever even recorded my songs. He was also instrumental in getting me out on the stage to perform my songs. He got to be a very close friend, and we got to work together, but he always seemed larger than life to me."
Hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, the awards show features performances by Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Hank Williams Jr., Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, Toby Keith, Bon Jovi and a special performance by Keith Urban from Australia. Among those presenting awards are Barbara Mandrell, Jason Aldean, Josh Turner, Kellie Pickler, LeAnn Rimes, Melissa Peterman (Reba, CMT Comedy Stage), Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, Big & Rich, Blake Shelton, Randy Owen of Alabama, comedians Rodney Carrington and Ron White, WWE wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ross "The Intern" Mathews (The Tonight Show With Jay Leno).
Rascal Flatts will open the show with a performance of one of their hits -- a choice determined by fan voting at CMT.com. The final nominees for video of the year will be announced at the beginning of the show, and fans can vote at CMT.com, as well as via mobile phone, throughout the live broadcast (ET/CT only) to determine the final award of the night.