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Behind the Scenes: “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” with hosts Little Big Town

“CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock” is not only a fun night for viewers, but especially for the creators and performers. Crank It Country sat down with executive producer Robert Deaton and hosts Little Big Town to discuss their experiences with the televised special.

Little Big Town CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock

The preparation for the special began close to a month before the opening day of the CMA Music Festival, June 5. For Little Big Town members Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Philip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook, that meant reading through the script, brainstorming ideas and more.

Although this isn’t the first time Little Big Town has hosted the special, executive producer Robert Deaton had slightly different plans for this year.

“From the creative standpoint, in this day and age, from your mobile phones to iPads to social media, the world is fast-paced,” Deaton said. “So I wanted to quicken the pace of the show. I also wanted to do some interviews backstage, see what goes on and give a glimpse of the world behind the stage.”

All of the changes were made with one main goal in mind: to have fun.

“We love, love, love doing this,” said Fairchild. “I hope it shows, because we’ve really had a great time. What’s not to love about standing in the middle of 50,000 screaming Country Music fans and introducing your friends? It’s not a bad gig!”

Some of the fun changes, such as artist interviews, were a bit outside of Little Big Town’s comfort zone, however. Luckily for viewers, the group took it in stride and was able to laugh at its struggles.

“…we realized that we’re better singers than we are interviewers,” said Fairchild. “We only had little, tiny interviews to do, but we did laugh about how we would get nervous and freeze up in front of our friends when interviewing them, or we’d forget to put the microphone in front of their mouth – you know, easy Journalism 101 stuff.”

Besides the meticulously scripted aspects of the special, there’s also plenty of spontaneity. Sometimes the best moments are unscripted, and the hosts and producers weren’t afraid to allow those moments to happen.

“Then [Miranda Lambert] did a song called ‘Little Red Wagon.’ We weren’t scheduled to shoot it, but it turned out to be some of the best television we’ve ever done,” said Deaton. “It was inspiring to see someone so in control of her performance and the audience. It’s actually breathtaking. So we ended up putting it in the television show because it was too good to leave out.”

You can see Miranda Lambert’s stellar performance and others during the three-hour “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock” special on Aug. 5 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. The special will air on the ABC Television Network.

By: Alina Tichacek

Photo Credit: John Russell / CMA

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