Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will have a lot on their minds on Thursday. They're co-hosting the Country Music Assn. awards for the fifth year in a row. In addition, Paisley is nominated for Entertainer of the Year for the eighth straight year, while Underwood is a finalist for Female Vocalist of the Year for the seventh year in a row.
By now, both artists are used to juggling their host duties and their hopes as nominees. Paisley won Male Vocalist of the Year the first two years he co-hosted the show and Entertainer of the Year the third. Underwood won Female Vocalist of the Year in 2008, which was the first year she co-hosted.
Several other CMA show hosts have won key awards in years they hosted. Barbara Mandrell and Vince Gill both won Entertainer of the Year (among other awards) in years they hosted or co-hosted the show.
Kenny Rogers hosted the show in 1979, when he won three awards, including Album of the Year for The Gambler and Male Vocalist of the Year. Brooks & Dunn hosted the show from 2004 to 2006, when they were in the midst of a long winning streak in the Vocal Duo of the Year category. Anne Murray won in that same category in 1985, when she co-hosted the show with Kris Kristofferson. (She shared the prize with Dave Loggins.)
Paisley and Underwood are the first twosome to co-host the CMA show more than three times. Barbara Mandrell and Mac Davis co-hosted the show from 1980 through 1982. Brooks & Dunn hosted from 2004 through 2006.
Sonny James and Bobbie Gentry co-hosted the first CMA show in 1967, which was held at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville. The show wasn't televised. James had amassed 23 #1 country hits between 1957 and 1974. Gentry had a big crossover hit that year with the enigmatic "Ode To Billie Joe," which was a CMA nominee for Single of the Year and Song of the Year.
Roy Rogers & Dale Evans hosted the show in 1968, which marked the first time it was televised. It also marked the year the show moved to the legendary Ryman Auditorium, where it remained through 1973. The legendary Western movie stars are the only married couple to have co-hosted the show.
Tennessee Ernie Ford was the show's first solo host. He hosted the show three years in a row from 1969 through 1971.
Johnny Cash was the host in 1974, the year the show moved from the Ryman to the Grand Ole Opry House, which was its home through 2004.
Charley Pride, country music's first African American superstar, co-hosted the show in 1975 with Glen Campbell.
Dolly Parton was the show's first solo female host. She hosted the show in 1988. Reba McEntire, who hosted the 1991 show, was the second.
Vince Gill is the show's most frequent host. Gill hosted or co-hosted 12 consecutive shows from 1992 through 2003. The show boosted his profile. He is one of two artists who served as host before winning their first award as Entertainer of the Year. Paisley is the other. (Mandrell won her first Entertainer of the Year title the same year she hosted for the first time.)
Brooks & Dunn hosted the show from 2004 through 2006. The show was broadcast from a different venue in each of those years. 2004 marked the show's last year at Grand Ole Opry House. The show was broadcast from Madison Square Garden in 2005. (This marks the only time the show has been held outside of Nashville.) 2006 marked the show's first time at its current home, Bridgestone Arena.
There were five co-hosts in 2007, only two of whom (Sara Evans and LeAnn Rimes) are country stars. The other three are TV stars: James Denton (Desperate Housewives), Kate Walsh (Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice) and Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According To Jim). Williams-Paisley is married to Brad Paisley.
Paisley and Underwood, whose collaboration "Remind Me" hit #1 on Hot Country Songs in September 2011, are the fourth host pair who have recorded a hit collaboration. Reba McEntire and Vince Gill teamed for "The Heart Won't Lie," which hit #1 on Hot Country Songs in April 1993, six months after they co-hosted the 1992 show. (They had also teamed in 1990 for "Oklahoma Swing.")
Anne Murray and Kenny Rogers teamed for "If I Ever Fall In Love Again," a top 30 hit in 1989. The song was released on the eve of the show.
Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, who co-hosted the 1986 show, had teamed for "How Do You Feel About Foolin' Around," a top 50 hit in 1984.
Here's a complete list of CMA hosts through the years.
1967: Sonny James and Bobbie Gentry.
1968: Roy Rogers & Dale Evans.
1969-1971: Tennessee Ernie Ford.
1972: Glen Campbell.
1973-1974: Johnny Cash.
1975: Glen Campbell and Charley Pride.
1976: Johnny Cash and Roy Clark.
1977-1978: Johnny Cash.
1979: Kenny Rogers.
1980-1982: Barbara Mandrell and Mac Davis.
1983: Willie Nelson and Anne Murray.
1984: Kenny Rogers.
1985: Anne Murray and Kris Kristofferson.
1986: Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
1987: Kenny Rogers.
1988: Dolly Parton.
1989: Anne Murray and Kenny Rogers.
1990: Reba McEntire and Randy Travis.
1991: Reba McEntire.
1992: Vince Gill and Reba McEntire.
1993: Vince Gill and Clint Black.
1994-2003: Vince Gill.
2004-2006: Brooks & Dunn.
2007: Sara Evans, LeAnn Rimes, James Denton, Kate Walsh and Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
2008-2012: Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley.