OFFSTAGE: Observations From the CMA Awards Black Rubber Carpet

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Yes, I worked on the official red carpet before Wednesday night's (Nov. 9) CMA Awards in Nashville. But after that, when I was escorted into the arena to watch the show, I was invited to watch it from under the stage. Where the little black indoor/outdoor rug gives the artists and presenters a quick way to get backstage. It doesn't sound glamorous, but it was the very best vantage point for watching the artists when they were not on the stage. And here's what I saw:

• Kenny Chesney walking up to The Band Perry after their big wins to introduce himself and tell them very sincerely how much he loves their album. They seemed almost too thrilled to talk. For me, it was just cool to watch a veteran artist take time to compliment some relative rookies.

• A very witty country singer admiring an industry insider's low cut dress, and asking her about her boobs, "Are those up for duo of the year?"

• The always-gentlemanly Jake Owen helping Lauren Alaina navigate the dark and treacherous hallway that leads from the artists' seats to the dressing rooms.

• Watching from the side as the artists started what I think was one of the only standing ovations of the night -- for the spectacular Lionel Richie performance.

• The inner beauty of Grace Potter as she smiled from ear to ear whenever she was talking to a friend, fan or complete stranger. Honestly, she was smiling even when she wasn't talking. I know it sounds so cliché, but her kind of beauty seems to come from being a genuinely happy person.

• Luke Bryan apologizing to me that I hadn't made the cut to be one of his "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)" dancers on the show. Because he knows I love to shake it.

• Fans, crew, talent escorts and other artists bestowing high praise for Eric Church's performance of "Drink in My Hand."

• Gregg Allman was standing next to me when Jennifer Nettles said from the stage "Gregg Allman, that was me who reached out and shook your hand on the red carpet." And honest to God, he was blushing.

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