Darius Rucker has done a lot of things in his nearly 30-year career as a rock and country star. But on Wednesday night (June 5) he will check off one of the missing items on his bucket list: playing the CMT Music Awards.
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The hitmaker has been going through the paces this week in preparation for his CMT performance debut. When we caught up with him after a rehearsal on Monday, he had plenty of reasons to be pumped up for the broadcast.
"This is my first time. I'm really excited about it," said Rucker of playing on the show, which airs live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.
"This is the only time Lady A and I have ever played it together since we recorded it," he added of his No. 1 collaboration with Lady Antebellum on a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel." "I'm excited to sing with them, I'm excited to be on an awards show. CMT Awards, everybody's watching it, and it's really cool to get invited to come play."
Though they performed the song one time at a recent festival date to work out the live arrangement for the CMT Music Awards, Rucker said he couldn't imagine playing the song without Lady A.
"They really made the record for me," he said. "I liked it a lot before they got on it, but when they got on it, I really fell in love with it. ... It's an honor. They're the biggest band in the world."
The show, whose "laid-back" vibe Rucker loves, will also feature performances by Taylor Swift, Hunter Hayes and Carrie Underwood, as well as just-added collaborations between Lenny Kravitz (who will team up with the night's co-host, Jason Aldean and "Country Grammar" rapper Nelly, with breakout jam-of-the-summer act Florida Georgia Line for a version of their crossover hit, "Cruise."
In addition to Kravitz and Nelly, "Merry Go 'Round" singer and female video of the year nominee Kacey Musgraves will take the CMT Music Awards main stage for the first time alongside just-added presenters and appearances by Blake Shelton, AnnaSophia Robb, Cassadee Pope, Dax Shepard, Sheryl Crow, Vince Vaughn, Kenny Rogers, Jana Kramer, Dr. Drew, Lorraine Bracco, Reba McEntire and The Band Perry.
This year's show, co-hosted by Aldean and Kristen Bell, is already packed with the most performances ever, including songs by Aldean, Keith Urban, Little Big Town and Luke Bryan. Recently reunited group the Mavericks will serve as the night's official house band.
Bryan, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert lead all nominees for the 2013 awards with four each. Just behind them with three each are Aldean, Swift, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and first-time nominees Florida Georgia Line, while Underwood, Hayes, Brad Paisley, Kramer, Journey, Musgraves, Little Big Town and Tim McGraw scored two each.