CMA Awards: Illinois natives Ryan Hurd, Brett Eldrige take part in 'country's biggest night'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Rehearsals, the set, the stars - country is ready to sing out and celebrate with the 2021 CMA Awards on Wednesday night.

Two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year winner and American Idol judge Luke Bryan is hosting the show for the first time.

"To be behind the curtain, behind the scenes, when the lights come on and I get to go out and stand in front of my peers and the greatest fans on the earth, sit back and enjoy the realness and relatability of the songs that you're hearing, and how the artist gives you where they're from, who they are through their music," said Bryan.

Nominee Ryan Hurd was born in Chicago and raised in the south suburbs, just like "Our Man in Nashville," George Pennacchio!

"I'm from Chicago so I get to do a lot of work with the Chicago Cubs, Aurelios Pizza in Homewood, Illinois that's the end all be all to me. Everybody here is from somewhere else, this truly is a place you come to make your dreams come true," said Hurd.

Hurd and wife Maren Morris share nominations as a duo.

"We're gonna be doing this for the rest of our lives one way or another, I'm thankful for this moment and every opportunity we get is a huge blessing," Hurd said.

Brett Eldredge who hails from Paris, Illinois is part of the CMA tribute to 30 teachers who've nurtured artists now in the CMA spotlight.

"You're so inspiring to someone who's been shaped a lot by my musical teachers growing up the fact that you stick with these students to not only help them grow as musicians but as people is something that will continue to give on for generations to come," Eldredge said.
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