NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With just a few hours left until the 2017 CMA Awards, the stars were out in full force for a media event Wednesday.
Knoxville-native and Central High School graduate Kelsea Ballerini, who is nominated for her first-ever CMA award, will perform alongside a country music legend and fellow contender for Female Vocalist of the Year,” Reba McEntire.
“I’m not competing against reba ever. She wins all the time,” said Ballerini. “She is such a legend and to be able to sing my song with her is just going to be magical.”
McEntire was excited, too.
“I was very thrilled when they said, ‘would you like to sing a song with Kelsea Ballerini,” said McEntire. “I hope everybody likes our performance as much as I’m gonna enjoy getting to sing with her.”
The female vocalist award could also go to Carrie Underwood, who’s taking her 10th year of hosting duties very seriously.
Underwood’s partner-in-crime, Brad Paisley, is looking forward to his other collaboration of the night with singer Kane Brown.
“To be able to usher someone new onto this stage that I believe so strongly in is really an honor,” Paisley said. “It’s like the kid on the bike and you shove the bike and then they start pedaling and they don’t need the training wheels and there they go.”
“I’m super excited but super nervous, Brown said. “It’s my first performance, so I’m really excited to be on the stage. It means a lot to me.”
Past winner Kenny Chesney is waiting to see if his partnership with singer Pink will nab Musical Event of the Year.
“There’s a lot of great music out there and I’m really happy to be doing what I’m doing for a living and have the connection with my audience that I have,” Chesney said.
But the competition takes a back seat for Dierks Bentley, who is vying for Male Vocalist of the Year.
“The cool thing for all of us is just seeing each other. All of us in one building,” Bentley said. “Folks you toured with or started off playing bars together. You haven’t seen in other in a long time. You’re just backstage hanging out. I just don’t take it for granted that every year, this is a really lucky thing to be a part of.”
The CMA Awards air Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on WATE 6 On Your Side.