By late Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 10), the full rehearsal was complete for the 44th annual CMA Awards show. The media began gathering outside Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, and the artists knew everything about the show, except for one important detail -- the winners.
Airing live at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, this year's awards show has a Hollywood connection through Country Strong, a film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw.
Paltrow will sing the film's title song during a performance with Vince Gill. The CMA announced Wednesday that another star of Country Strong, actress Leighton Meester, will appear on the awards show to introduce Taylor Swift's performance of "Back to December." Meester also stars in the TV drama, Gossip Girl.
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host the awards show and also perform. Other performers include Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Sugarland and Keith Urban. In addition to Paltrow's live debut as a country singer, other special performances include Lambert and Sheryl Crow's tribute to Loretta Lynn, a duet by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson and a collaboration featuring the Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson.
Lambert has nine nominations to lead the field at the awards ceremony. The nominations include her first in the entertainer of the year category. She's also up for album, single, song and video of the year, along with a musical event nomination for her recording of "Bad Angel" with Bentley and Jamey Johnson.
Among those presenting awards are McGraw, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Easton Corbin, Sara Evans, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Jerrod Niemann, Kellie Pickler, LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker and Chris Young. Other presenters include NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and ABC's JoAnna Garcia (Better With You) and Ty Pennington (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition). Rodney Atkins will present awards during pre-telecast ceremonies.