After the Country Music Association released its all-star medley “Forever Country” in September, pundits, fans and media outlets have been speculating whether the 30 artists featured in the song will perform the tune onstage at the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards on Nov. 2. According to CMA board member and “Forever Country” producer Shane McAnally, the answer is no.
“There won’t be, no,” said Shane, who addressed the media yesterday (Oct. 4) during Dierks Bentley’s No. 1 party for “Different for Girls,” a tune Shane co-wrote. “They’re gonna try and use [“Forever Country”] in some way [at the CMA Awards] but the amount of rehearsal time and the number of people that are in it . . . they just couldn’t get everyone to commit to that. But they’re gonna try and use it in some way if they can.”
In addition to handing out hardware in a number of categories, the CMA Awards also serve as a showcase for artists to perform their current or upcoming singles, and the show regularly features unique collaborations with cross-genre artists. In 2015, Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake stole the show by teaming together on “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink You Away,” but there were also a number of instances where artists performed their new singles, including Florida Georgia Line (“Confession”), Zac Brown Band (“Beautiful Drug”) and Eric Church (“Mr. Misunderstood”). That may not be the case this year.
“I don’t know what’s going to be sung on the CMAs, I’ve heard different talk,” says Shane. “I do know there’s going to be a lot of heritage artists, so you’re going to see a lot fewer current singles being pushed. Everybody this year has kind of—[CMA executive producer] Robert Deaton sort of sat down with managers and producers and said ‘This year we are going to honor the history of country music,’ so everybody has kind of taken their respective hats off of trying to promote something that’s happening right now. That doesn’t mean there won’t be some of that, but I think we’re definitely going to see a lot of throwback, and I’m really excited about that.”
The 50th annual CMA Awards will air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. CT.