On the eve of their first official visit to the CMT Music Awards, Florida Georgia Line could hardly contain their excitement about being nominees and performers on Wednesday night's (June 5) star-packed broadcast.
Photo Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
"We're pumped. We've been dreaming of playing this awards show and coming and being involved, legally, for years," said Brian Kelley, who admitted that he and bandmate Tyler Hubbard definitely snuck into the proceedings to watch in the past. "We've had some good times here. It feels good to be part of the country music family, and CMT's been very good to us, so we're excited about the night."
And they couldn't have picked a better partner to crash the party with than rapper Nelly, who will also be making his debut at the 2013 CMT Music Awards airing live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.
The other thing that makes the CMT Music Awards special for Hubbard is that the show takes place in the duo's home base of Nashville.
"There's a great energy in Nashville in the air and all the fans are here," he said of the buzz in the city building up to the show.
The night could be a capper to what has been an amazing ride for the twosome, whose debut album, Here's to the Good Times, struck gold with its very first single, the No. 1 smash, "Cruise," landing them three nominations, including video, duo and breakthrough video of the year.
They've been rehearsing for the awards show this week with Nelly, who helped the song cross over even bigger, thanks to their hit remix.
"I love country music," Nelly said on Monday. "I've always had a spot in my heart for country music. People know that. If you've been a fan of Nelly for a long time, you've definitely heard my music. You've heard a lot of my collaborations from the beginning with Tim McGraw and moving things forward. I love the stories. I love the passion. I love the feeling in it. Other than R&B, I think, for me, it's the next [most] soulful music there is."
Mr. "Hot in Herre" definitely brought his unique swagger to the single, which Kelley and Hubbard said worked out better than they could have ever imagined.
"We couldn't have been more excited about [the remix]," said Hubbard. "We've been a big fan of Nelly for a long time, so it's a huge honor to work with him. I think he made the song that much better, and we couldn't have had a better dude to do it with."
They promised some surprises for their performance and, if nothing else, they're proud to be part of the continuing wave of songs that have brought rap and country together.
"We love it. It's cool to see country music getting out of the box a little bit and other genres being willing to work together," Hubbard said. "Music's always evolving, and everybody's wanting a fresh sound. Why not mix it up a little bit?"
This year's show, co-hosted by Jason Aldean and Kristen Bell, is packed with the most performances ever, including performances by Darius Rucker with Lady Antebellum, Aldean with Lenny Kravitz, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Hunter Hayes, 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, Jana Kramer, Journey, Musgraves, Little Big Town and Tim McGraw scored two each.
View photos from the CMT Music Awards rehearsals.