Although the CMA Awards' first soiree in New York will be peppered with cameos by Elton John, Billy Joel, Donald Trump, James Gandolfini and Bon Jovi, don't expect Nashville's influence to be diluted in the process.
"I think they're going to come in there and try and make it as country as we can," country singer Pat Green said of Tuesday's ceremony at Madison Square Garden.
The Country Music Association uprooted the awards show from its traditional home in Nashville to shine in New York's international spotlight. While country generates plenty of multiplatinum superstars and New York is one of its top markets in terms of album sales, it lacks a major presence here, including a radio station devoted to the genre. It's something the CMA hopes to change with a one-time stint in New York, airing live on CBS. (The show will return to Nashville for its 40th anniversary next year.)
But producer Walter Miller promises there won't be a change in the show's accent: It will retain its country twang.
"We want them to see exactly the way we do it in Nashville there's no reason to change," said Miller.
Indeed, the pop and rock acts who will perform on the CMA awards will conform to the flavor of the evening even John.