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Watch the “Forever Country” Music Video

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It takes more than a village – it takes an industry to pull off “Forever Country,” the biggest music video and single in Country Music history. CMA celebrated with key industry stakeholders Monday night at a viewing party presented by YouTube at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville.

CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern welcomed the guests and acknowledged the dedicated work of the CMA Board of Directors – many of whom were in attendance – for spearheading the project through numerous committees and developing a global release plan over the past 18 months.

“I mean it from my heart when I say that ‘Forever Country’ would never have been possible without the industry putting aside individual interests for the opportunity to help us promote the genre around the world and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the CMA Awards,” said Trahern.

The evening also featured a panel with Karen Fairchild a CMA Board member and member of CMA Award-winning act Little Big Town; Joseph Kahn, Grammy Award-winning director of “Forever Country”; and Shane McAnally, “Forever Country” producer, also a CMA Board member and CMA Award winner. The panel was moderated by Lon Helton, CMA Board member and CMA National Broadcast Award winning host of “Country Countdown USA.”

The music video is set to a beautifully entwined medley of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Denver, Nelson, and Parton are all former CMA Entertainers of the Year.

Following remarks from Trahern at the industry party, Vivien Lewit, a member of the CMA Board and YouTube Director of Music Content Partnerships, and John Esposito, CMA Board Chairman and CEO/President of Warner Music Nashville, addressed the audience. Also in attendance was CMA Award winner and 2016 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee Randy Travis, who makes a special appearance in the “Forever Country” music video.

For more information on “The 50th Annual CMA Awards” and to sign up for CMA emails and exclusives, visit CMAawards50.com.

The Story Behind Country Music’s Epic Mash-Up! Plus: Hear Blake, Carrie, Miranda and 27 Other Stars Sing ‘Forever Country’

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Shane McAnally was nothing short of terrified when he stepped into the studio to begin a project that, on paper, looked a little crazy.

The challenge of melding three iconic country song – John Denver’s “Country Roads, Take Me Home,” Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” – into one new piece of music to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association Awards, was “a very scary process,” McAnally tells People.

In fact, when a mash-up was first proposed as a way of marking the anniversary, McAnally, who’s written hit songs for Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and Kacey Musgraves among others, argued against it.

“I didn’t think it would work in our genre,” he says. “I said, ‘Maybe in pop music you can just take a piece of a song, but we tell stories. And we can’t just cut into them and take a piece.'”

But as McAnally, a CMA board member as well as a top producer in town (he’s behind albums by Sam Hunt and Musgraves), and other CMA members began to consider what songs could work, the idea took shape.

“I Will Always Love You” was a song that everyone felt like needed to be a part of it but I was having a hard time with the story – it’s such a personal song. It’s to one person,” he says. “But when you play that song over, ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, they somehow take on a life together and it feels almost like you’re speaking more to the music, and to country music specifically, when you say, ‘I will always love you.’ It feels meant to be.”

An ode to the life of a traveling musician, Nelson’s classic seemed a natural addition to the mix.

“The line ‘The life I love is making music with my friends,’ kept coming into my mind and ‘On the Road Again’ felt essential,” McAnally says.

The result, dubbed “Forever Country,” was born and McAnally took on the task of producing the recording, a monumental undertaking with 30 artists, including one whom he especially wanted to impress.

“I was very scared when Dolly heard it that it might seem like a bit of a compromise to the integrity of the original song,” he says. “The song is such a simple, perfect sentiment. It was really important for her to know we handled it with care. She just listened and said, ‘Wow. That really works!’ It was really hard not to cry in front of her. I’ve cried a lot since then!”

The tune begins with West Virginia native Brad Paisley singing the opening lines of “Country Roads” (“Almost heaven, West Virginia) followed by a host of stars – Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Shelton”, George Strait – adding line after line until Musgraves begins “I Will Always Love You” (“If I should stay/I Would only be in your way”). Lyrics from the two songs weave in and out with different Nashville voices as Jason Aldean begins “On the Road Again,” joined by Rascal Flatts and many more.

The song premiered on country radio stations around the country Friday, but you’ll have to wait ’til Tuesday for the video, directed by Joseph Kahn, who won a VMA Award for Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”.

“The responsibility of this feels greater than anything I’ve done,” McAnally says of the project. “I hope this is a great timepiece for the legacy of country music.”

Profits from the sales and streaming of “Forever Country” will go toward music education causes supported by the CMA Foundation.

CMA to Release Star-Studded “Forever Country” Music Video

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In celebration of “The 50th Annual CMA Awards,” CMA has created the biggest music video in Country Music history. Titled “Forever Country,” the single and accompanying music video features 30 CMA Award-winning acts. This single was produced by CMA Board member and CMA Award winner Shane McAnally and the video was directed by Grammy Award-winning director Joseph Kahn.

The music video is set to an intricate medley of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” All are former CMA Entertainers of the Year.

In another historic move, the single will be unveiled to the public Friday, Sept. 16th in a global roadblock across Country radio, premiering on hundreds of radio stations simultaneously at 8:30 AM/ET across the U.S., in addition to premiering in key international markets. But fans will have to wait a few more days to see the full length music video; the video will make its worldwide premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 20th.

For the past week fans have been buzzing across social media platforms trying to guess what the “Forever Country” project might be as the 30 acts featured in the video have been posting mysterious teasers created by CMA tagged with #ForeverCountry and driving fans to the website ForeverCountry50.com to see all of the artist teasers as they are released. Social teasers will continue to roll out this week until CMA announces the full list of participating artists.

“’Forever Country’ is a moving tribute to Country Music, Country Music fans, and the artists who have built this format into what it is today,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “This music video is the product of the CMA Board of Directors who came together in support of this project as a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the CMA Awards, a statement on the heritage and future of the Country Music industry, and a reflection of this year’s Awards theme — ‘Then. Now. Forever Country.’”

“The 50th Annual CMA Awards” will be hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and broadcast live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday, Nov. 2ns (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on ABC.

“The 50th Annual CMA Awards” is a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton is the Executive Producer and Paul Miller is the Director. The CMA Awards will be shot in high definition and broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.

For more information on “Forever Country” visit ForeverCountry50.com.

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Mickey Guyton Wants to Walk the CMA Awards Red Carpet With You

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Mickey Guyton is flying one lucky fan to Nashville to attend the CMA Awards with her and walk the Red Carpet! Visit MickeyGuyton.com/CMAawards for details on how to enter!

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