As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my hotel bed during the first few hours of down time before I catch a plane home from another whirlwind Canadian Country Music Week. Last night’s CBC-televised CCMA Awards broadcast from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was just the finale to an event that started last Thursday, when I flew in from Nashville.
This annual event is always a bit of a marathon, packed with performances, media interviews, meetings, fan meet and greets, industry cocktail parties, gala events, rehearsals, and jam sessions that last all night long. Put this many musicians in one place, and you’re not gonna get much sleep, but you’re also gonna be thoroughly entertained. It’s kind of like an annual reunion for the family of Canadian country artists, road musicians, managers, agents, producers, songwriters, talent buyers, promoters, radio and TV broadcasters, print media, and quite a few fans too. You can’t walk more than 5 steps without getting a big hug from someone that you know from some aspect of the business. It’s a pretty cool thing.
The televised awards represent just a small portion of the celebrations for the weekend. I performed between awards presentations at the Industry Brunch, backed by the incredibly talented duo Pear. I shared the stage with Lori McKenna in the Songwriters’ Café, and was just mesmerized by her music. I also got to cheer on my friend and mentor, Ralph Murphy, during the Gala Awards as he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which was a wonderful moment.
The day of the televised show is an absolute whirlwind for the nominees. If the fans knew everything that goes on behind the scenes to make this show work, they would be blown away. I was delivered to the arena by the transportation team 8 hours before the show kicked off to be primped, preened, hairsprayed and mascara-ed to the hilt by a team of makeup artists, wrangled around the building by a team of ear-radio-wearing assistants, interviewed and filmed backstage by a team of media, escorted onstage for a series of run-throughs surrounded by scurrying camera teams with a constantly changing teleprompter script. I was driven in a red Mustang to walk the “John Deere green” carpet lined with thousands of fans calling my name for autographs, escorted through a media tent to deliver a series of quick soundbite interviews to everyone from CMT to local cable stations, posed in front of a backdrop for a team of photographers, and finally delivered back to my chair in the second row of the arena for the kickoff of the show at 5pm. Seated in between Miranda Lambert and Jason Aldean, I watched Taylor Swift introduce the Female Artist category and cheered on my fellow nominee Carolyn Dawn Johnson who was crowned this year’s winner. I shared the stage with Aaron Pritchett to present the Stellas with the Video of the Year trophy, and watched fantastic performances by my friends in the industry, and finally got to change out of my painfully high heels to hit the after parties where more jams ensue every year until about 4am.
I think I’m gonna need about a week to recover from this, but it was worth it! Now, time to re-pack my bags with the 20 different outfits from the weekend, and off to Nashville. Next stop, American tour!