NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The energy inside Bridgestone Arena is off the charts ahead of the 55th Annual CMA Awards. It’s a bit of a homecoming for “Country Music’s Biggest Night” this year. The CMAs air live from Nashville Wednesday at 8 p.m.
“It’s choreographed chaos,” described Robert Deaton, the CMA Awards Executive Producer.
Despite back-to-back rehearsals in the final days before the show, there is still time to pause, remembering how far they have come since the last pre-pandemic awards. “When you come in here, it’s like, oh my gosh we are back. We’re back in its full glory,” Deaton said.
The venue wasn’t the only change in 2020, there was no public attendance allowed. With fans back for 2021, Deaton said he can’t wait to see the reaction when the show kicks off. “You can’t not feel it when you walk in this room—I can’t wait for that first downbeat on Wednesday night.”
The setup for the show has been a massive undertaking. Two stages are installed with more than 800 motors in the ceiling to hold special effects together. But there are some changes.
Last year’s show was held at the Music City Center due to the COVID pandemic. This year, for the first time, artists will sit at tables and chairs. “If those are the compromises we have to make to be able to be together as a group and bring this for the fans, that’s such a great experience,” said Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association.
Trahern also described the COVID protocols to help put on a safe show. “All of our audience is either vaccinated or has been tested within a three-day window,” she said.
Above all else, Deaton said the music is the heart behind the show. “We want to represent Nashville. We want to represent our music that we love. And we love our community.”