Tribute and triumph are the focus of the 51st annual CMA Awards

NASHVILLE (WLS) -- Hollywood has the Oscars, but for country music it doesn't get bigger than the CMA Awards, and for the 10th-straight year it will be Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hosting together, which is quite a feat in itself.

There are also rumors this year's opening will be the most powerful show open ever.

"A CMA Award show is like you're at a family reunion for everybody. You get to come in and see your buddies and your pals that you maybe haven't seen in a while, so it's a lot of fun to hang out backstage in the audience, everybody is cutting up and having a great time, so it's always great just to see everybody," said Reba McEntire, female vocalist of the year nominee.

"I always look forward to Brad and Carrie's shenanigans. They always find something or some way to roast me somehow, and this year I'm not going to be a good sport about it, though. I'm charging the stage. I need some more TV time," said Luke Bryan, entertainer of the year nominee.

On a more serious note, initially the Country Music Association released media guidelines restricting journalists from asking artists about the Las Vegas tragedy, which happened at a country music festival. But things changed almost immediately after Paisley tweeted, "I'm sure the CMA will do the right thing and rescind these ridiculous and unfair press guidelines in 3...2...1..."

"There is no ignoring what we've been through in country music and in America this year," Paisley said. "On one hand, we can acknowledge that, and it is our job to lift people up this week and celebrate this music."

"It's been a difficult year, a tough year, still is. With the CMAs, try to find a way to have a great night, honor the nominees, and have a fun night, but at the same time be respectful and be real about the situation," said Dierks Bentley, nominee for male vocalist of the year.

The CMA Awards will air on ABC Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. Central Time.
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