If you’re excited for the CMA Awards, this video will get you even more pumped up.
Under a spotlight stands the two hosts of this year’s awards, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Paisley plucks his guitar as the two stand back-to-back. After a few seconds of guitar, you realize that the stars are singing “Forever Country,” the song put together in light of the CMA’s 50th anniversary. The song is a mashup of John Denver’s “Take Me Home,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” In the video, Paisley and Underwood sing a medley of John Denver‘s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and Dolly Parton‘s “I Will Always Love You.”
Right at the end of the video clip, words flash up on the screen: “Then. Now. Forever Country.” It’s the theme to this year’s awards.
“Forever Country” was quite an accomplishment. Shane McAnally produced and co-arranged the song and its official music video came together thanks to Grammy Award-winning director Joseph Kahn. The song features 30 of the biggest stars in country music.
“We said we’re going to do a mashup like ‘We Are the World,’ and people were like, ‘What?’” McAnally says. “After Dolly and George Strait agreed to do it, it felt like everyone took a step back and were like, ‘Wait, what is this?’ Then we were able to put all of those asks out to the stars.”
McAnally said he figured out how to smash the three songs together one night in bed.
“I was having a hard time figuring out how [‘I Will Always Love You’] could sing with any other song because it’s such a personal song,” he said. “It’s a song to one person. When it’s sung over ‘Take Me Home,’ it takes on a new life. It feels like you’re singing to the music. That was just insight others had that I couldn’t see because I was too in the middle of it. They kept saying just try ‘I Will Always Love You,’ and I’m glad I did, clearly, because being able to end on Dolly singing ‘I Will Always Love You’ feels like you are looking back over the history of country music.
“I was literally laying in bed thinking about these songs and how to make it work and got up and sang the idea into my phone one night.”
For this year’s CMA Awards, Underwood says she wants it to “feel like the 50th year.”
“We want it to be big and be beautiful and be elegant,” she said. “Brad says he’s going to wear a tux. We’ll see. We’ve been kind of already initially starting to talk about the tone we want to set for the awards, because it is, like I said, a special one.”
The 2016 CMA Awards air live on ABC on November 2 at 8 p.m. EST.