Host Kid Rock, fan favorite Luke Bryan and new artists like The Band Perry and American Idol sensations Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina enthusiastically greeted reporters backstage at the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night (June 8) in Nashville.
Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Without warning, Kid Rock bounded on the press platform, causing photographers to scramble for their cameras and reporters to reach for their recorders. First he fielded a question about when he's going to make a country album.
"Man, that's tough. I just enjoy music, so to narrow it down and say I'm just going to go country ... plus, man, they do so much stuff in country I'm kind of amazed about. I've been touring my butt off for 25 years. They're signing autographs for 24 hours and talking to radio shows. You can't play a show until 11 at night and then get up and go to a radio station and beg them to play your song," he said. "I just like being me. Whatever that is, I own it."
Asked for his reaction to Jason Aldean's rap-infused "Dirt Road Anthem," Kid Rock teased the reporters that he should be thanked for being one of the first artists to blend those styles. Then he noted, "Country and hip-hop are not that far apart in spirit. It's all blues music. Country's really been good about it, especially in my lifetime, about opening up to a lot of genres. ... Country's kind of opened its arms and said, 'If it's cool, we're going to embrace it.' There are so many artists who never get their due who could be rock, could be country, and country's blazing the trail in being open-minded."
The Band Perry claimed two awards at the CMT Music Awards -- for USA Weekend Breakthrough Artist and the Nationwide Insurance On Your Side Award as country music's best new live act. The three siblings posed for photos before tackling questions about their fast-rising career.
"It's huge for us," said lead singer Kimberly Perry. "One thing I love about the CMT Awards is that it's fan voted. And we in The Band Perry believe that country music is the people's music. We're just really honored that they would've voted for us."
In particular, she praised the artists they have opened for, like Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw.
"One thing I appreciate so much is their golden ear," she said. "Those guys know a great song. We were in our dressing room playing some brand new songs that we've been working on. Out of the corner of my eye, I kind of saw this figure in a cowboy hat. So we finished our song and we turned around and it was Tim. He'd been there listening to our new music. We're really keen to pick his brain. ... He's an amazing performer."
American Idol winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina were visibly overwhelmed by the experience.
"It's pretty insane," he said. "I tell you what, living in L.A. was cool, but I can say it wasn't my scene. So it's nice to be back home, have some sweet tea and be around some great people and great artists."
"Country's where our heart is, so we're really happy to be surrounded by country people now," she said. "Everyone here is amazing, and we're just really honored to be here in the presence of all these cool people."
McCreery and Alaina are both signed to Universal Music and will be listening to material this week for their upcoming albums. Asked if they would be collaborating on a duet, both singers stated that they want to establish their careers separately first, then consider a collaboration later.
Meanwhile, Bryan gushed about his memorable performance of "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)." Well, at least it was memorable to the fans, considering all the dancers on stage -- including Bryan himself, who said he blanked out all memory of the performance.
"I cannot remember one thing that I did on that stage tonight. I have no clue," he said, telling reporters that he wasn't supposed to turn his hat around and was wearing the wrong hat in the first place.
"What I'm saying is, it was such a ride for me being up there, the whole moment. I think it's the right song at the right time. For me to get up there and have fun and show personality, I wouldn't have scripted it. I would I have loved to sing better and have a mini oxygen tank to get my lungs back because literally that was the closest I've been to fainting."
Bryan aptly described the tune as "a song that really won't change the world, but it'll make some people have a good time coming together."
He agreed that his career has been a slow build, which he prefers. He told reporters that if he'd started strong, he wouldn't have been able to maintain the success. However, now he's able to appreciate a career that's on the upswing. For example, he'll appear on CMT Crossroads with the Doobie Brothers on June 24, followed by a headlining position on CMT on Tour later this year.
"I do feel it and it's the most incredible thing in the world," he said. "I hope it lasts but it's kind of my mission to make it last and enjoy it and make sure I don't wake up two years from now and I didn't enjoy it."
Taking the stage in the pressroom, Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson were still visibly energized from their performance of "Fake I.D." After a few years out of the spotlight, they'll be traveling as a package tour this summer.
"We all worked really hard for a long time," Big Kenny said. "From the days of the Muzik Mafia, it was a rocket ship taking off. We accomplished great things, and we all have had the opportunity to have families and bring up some children. In the time of doing those things, the energy built up and, wow, we want to get back out there together, too! I miss singing with these guys. ... There's just no way to replace being with your friends. Everybody can sing. Everybody can harmonize. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. We're blessed to be at this place in our lives."
Wilson also appreciated the diverse lineup at the CMT Music Awards this year.
"I think it's pretty amazing that we get to meet people from different genres of music. We invite them into our world a little bit. Every year, there are more and more celebrities that we're not accustomed to being around and they're becoming a part of country music. ... It's good music. There's no reason why we have to segregate -- put pop music over here or rap music. Good music is good music. I think I'm speaking for all of us when I say we just want it to be good music."
Check out full coverage of the 2011 CMT Music Awards.