Maren Morris is walking with a lot of feelings to the 2019 CMA (Country Music Association) Awards.
As the most-nominated act at an occasion for a music genre dominated by its male performers, Morris has become one of the female faces of all country music. She’ll pay tribute to her producer Busbee, who passed away on September 29,2019, at age 43 and shares two nominations with Morris on her acclaimed project, “GIRL.” And Wednesday night’s program will indicate the pregnant singer’s”child’s first awards show” — as she put it.
“Dolly Parton touched my stomach earlier while we’re rehearsing, so he’s been touched by an angel,” Morris said in an interview with The AP this week.
Morris, who won a Grammy in 2017 for her debut hit”My Church”, has an opportunity to win around numerous awards at the Country Music Association due to her work as a songwriter, artist, and producer. The six nominations of Morris include female vocalist of the year and album of the year for”GIRL,” which she co-produced and co-wrote, while the title track is up for a single of the year and song of this year. “GIRL” topped Billboard’s country airplay chart this season, the first time a female had a No. 1 hit on that chart in well over a year.
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Morris, 29, said getting the album of the year award would be a big deal, particularly since Busbee, who produced her debut album”Hero,” worked on most of the songs on”GIRL.”
“It is bittersweet heading into Wednesday since it just seems like he should be here,” she explained of the producer, who worked with Pink,” Florida Georgia Line and Shakira. “He just had this impact on this city, for me as an artist, as a neighbor, as a friend. So it feels like we are going to be celebrating no matter what happens on Wednesday. And we are going to be just like sad that our friend is not here to celebrate with us since this record wouldn’t seem the way it does without him.”
Busbee has an opportunity to win record of the year for”GIRL posthumously.”
“(Busbee) and I were freaking out when the nominations came in,” Morris said, “and now I understand he would have worn out the most badass tux and watch and likely sneakers, but now he’ll be there in spirit.”
Another early winner was Kacey Musgraves'”Rainbow” for the music video of this year.
Morris will kick off the CMA Awards with her supergroup, The Highwomen, which comprises Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, and Natalie Hemby. They’ll perform with several top female performers in the music genre’s history — such as Tanya Tucker, Parton, Reba McEntire, and Carrie Underwood — showing that although feminine acts are infrequent in the country charts and state radio, they continue to be around and setting out epic music.
“I feel as if this is a fantastic blessing that we had been awarded, and we are going to have the time of our lives,” Morris said. “Opening the show and it being all about honoring women in country music the whole night is simply ideal. It’s very on-brand.”
Morris is not the only female who could make history in CMAs, Underwood, who’s currently hosting the show with McEntire and Parton, could be the first female. Underwood is the women competing for the top prize along with Garth Brooks, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church Keith Urban, and Keith Urban (last year’s winner). No females nominated for the top category in 2017 and 2018.
When asked regarding the CMAs deciding to honor women with an opening performance and with three female hosts, Urban stated: “It is insane it’s to come to that.”
“You’d think that it’s just a balanced, honest, here it is, here’s all the music that we make along with a wonderful big mix of it. However, high time this is happening. I mean, all you have to do is play with it, play the records. That is it. There is so much amazing music being produced by girls in this town. Just play it,” he explained.
Underwood’s additional nominations include female vocalist of the year and album of the year for”Cry Pretty,” which marks the first time the singer co-produced and co-wrote every tune on a project. Others competing for record of the year comprise Thomas Rhett’s”Center Point Road”, Church’s”Desperate Man,” and Dan + Shay’s self-titled third album, which featured the hits “Tequila,” “Speechless,” and “All to Myself” which won the duo its first Grammy earlier this year.
Kris Kristofferson will be rewarded with a performance featuring Dierks Bentley, Sheryl Crow, John Osborne, and Chris Janson. Brooks & Dunn, Luke Combs, Blake Shelton, Kacey Musgraves with Willie Nelson, Stapleton with Pink, and Lady Antebellum with Halsey are also set to take the stage.
The CMAs will broadcast live at 8 p.m. Eastern in the Bridgestone Arena at Nashville, Tennessee.