54th Annual CMA Awards face unprecedented changes during pandemic

CMA Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — It’s country music’s biggest night to shine, but officials with the CMA Awards are dealing with some of the biggest changes in the awards show’s history.

For the first time in its 54 years the CMA Awards will be held at the Music City Center, and it won’t be open to a public audience.

“This is not a forever change. This is a Covid change. We love being at Bridgestone. We love being at Bridgestone with so many fans in our business, so many people in our business, but certainly we have all had to pivot repeatedly in this year of Covid,” CMA CEO Sarah Trahern told News 2.

With tickets closed to the public, Butch Spyridon with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. said the city is counting on the national broadcast.

“We need it, and we need it to be good, and we are really looking forward to it,” said Spyridon.

In about 5 weeks, Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker will host the live CMA Awards show unlike any other.

“It will certainly be different than being at Bridgestone, but I think they are going to set the bar high to try and make it a great experience for the fans on channel 2 and all around the world,” Trahern explained. 

There may be a few zooms or remote performances, but Trahern said there will be three stages inside the MCC and as many artists live in the room as possible with hopes that fans at home can feel the renowned intimate country music engagement.   

“Anytime Nashville can put something out that is kind of above the noise in terms of what we are all dealing with from the election to Covid to economy, yeah it’s exponentially more important than in a normal year,” proclaimed Spyridon. 

“The MCC will give the awards show a sense of place,” said Spyridon. It is important as the show usually brings about 15 to 20 million dollars in direct spending to the city.

CMA officials visited about a dozen venues before settling with the move across the street. As for audience size and configuration, the CEO said they have at least 5 scenarios they can put into place depending on where the city is regarding Covid protocols.

“All year long we’ve had the idea that if the awards show can bring the music to people all around the country in what’s been such a difficult year and really be as live as possible and really feel like we are all in this together the night of November 11th would be wonderful.

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