CMA Awards Will Kick Off With Eric Church and Hank Williams Jr.

Logo for the 49th Annual CMA Awards

Eric Church and Hank Williams Jr. will open the 49th Annual CMA Awards with a premiere performance of “Are You Ready for the Country,” Williams’ first single on Nash Icon. The three-hour show will air live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Wednesday, Nov. 4 on ABC.

This is Church’s first year to be nominated in the CMA Entertainer of the Year category. Williams won the top award in 1987 and 1988.

Church is also nominated in the Male Vocalist category, as well as Single of the Year for “Talladega,” Song of the Year for “Like A Wrecking Ball,” and Musical Event of the Year for “Raise ‘Em Up” with Keith Urban.

The song, which was written and recorded by Neil Young and later recorded by Waylon Jennings, “is the perfect narrative for the night,” said CMA Awards Executive Producer Robert Deaton. “It sets up musically everything that is going to happen for the rest of the show.”

The performance by Church and Williams will lead into the opening monologue by hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

“They have impeccable timing as hosts and then in the next segment you see them with their bands blowing the roof off the arena with an amazing performance,” said Deaton. “They are the whole package.”

“If you don’t see the first 15 minutes of the CMA Awards live, you will be grasping for straws at the proverbial water cooler the next morning,” said CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern. “It is that good and it is just the beginning of a great night of entertainment.”

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Craig Shelburne is the General Manager at MusicRow.

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