The 2014 CMT Music Awards: Behind the Scenes

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cmtMusicAwards-2014Last night I had the opportunity to work backstage at the CMT Music Awards in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena.  But when I say last night, that means I got there at 8 AM that morning…

10401726_499656626801643_121387829_nUpon arrival I had to go through credentials to get my assignments and backstage pass. Then all of the Artist Escorts (aka Me) had to gather together to learn the run down of the arena and the many paths we would need to take throughout the night.  Memorizing dressing rooms, appearance schedules, which elevators and stairs take you where…it was a lot to take in.  Thankfully, the Talent I was assigned to was not performing so I had a low key schedule until they arrived.

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Starting at about 9 AM, the final dress rehearsals began for the show prior to the final show run through.  The ever talented and beautiful Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert took to the stage to sing their new duet “Somethin’ Bad” which is featured on Lambert’s newly released album Platinum.  Between the glitter cannon and the bad ass lyrics, we all knew this performance would be the highlight of the show.

2014 CMT Music Awards_Cham640Then came the rehearsal for the opening act where Luke Bryan, ZZ Top, Florida Georgia Line, and Jason Derulo (and his ever allusive dancers) all performed a mash up of their songs “La Grange”, “This is How We Roll” (which features Luke Bryan), and “Talk Dirty”.  From pyrotechnics to strategically planned remix, the act had the potential to epically fail.  Timing had to be just right, and it took several go throughs to get it down.  However, by the last run through it was show ready.

openingWe broke for lunch around 1:00 PM and that gave me some time to run through my Talent’s schedule and switch out my walkie’s battery pack.

lady-antebellum-cmt-music-awards-2014Next thing we knew, acts were arriving and the buses and dressing rooms were filling up.  Lines began to form around the Bridgestone and press was filing onto the red carpet.  Catering at Craft Services and the Crown Royal Room began to serve up food and drinks.  People were running golf carts to and from the bus lot frantically picking up and dropping off acts to rehearse.  The best way I could explain it is organized chaos.  Everywhere you looked people were running and tracking their acts.

imagesAfter picking my Talent on the red carpet, we took an elevator down to the backstage level. Here we had time for them to access the press room, WonderWall, and the Crown Royal Room to mingle with the other Talent onsite as well as their managers, publicists, and friends/spouses.

2014 CMT Music Awards - ShowYou’re main job as an escort is to be a babysitter for lack of a better term.  You keep track of where they are in the building 24/7.  You make sure they are where they need to be when they need to be.  You keep them calm, fed, glamed up, and hopefully on time.  I think that was the hardest aspect for me; trying to babysit my Talent without feeling weird.  After all, they were adults and honestly I think they were capable of going places and coming back to me on time.  Yet its live TV, and we run on a strict timetable with no room for error.  I had a booklet at least 20 pages long of our detailed schedule down to the second.

By 8:00 PM my feet were toast and we were not even half way through the show.  And I was pretty hungry seeing we hadn’t gotten a dinner.  Yet keeping up with mine and others talent (“Anyone have eyes on Luke Bryan?”, “Jess to Kelly, What’s You’re Twenty?” “Copy that”) made the time pass pretty quickly.

Next thing I knew the show was pretty much over and “ZZ Top has left the building…Lady A has left the building…Tyler Farr has left the building…Can anyone find the Derulo Dancers?” came flooding over the walkies.  As the mass exodus of stars caravaned down our hallway, they for once seemed like normal people.  It was like a college reunion where all these people who lived busy schedules were able to finally reunite and be with people who understood their lives.  They caught up and planned after parties or when they would finally catch up again.  For once, I wasn’t feeling the star struck wide eyed feelings I had to suppress all day.  These were just people under the fancy clothes and makeup.  They work harder than most people and for a few seconds in that tunnel they got to just be themselves.  It was very cool.

CMT-Music-Awards-2014-Show-PicturesAs Miranda and Blake, Carrie and Mike, Dan + Shay, and Brett Eldridge funneled out into their limos and buses, we finally met to turn in our gear and head out.  Sitting in my car had never felt so good, and I was so excited for the thunderstorm we had in Nashville last night to fall asleep to.

Perhaps I’ll get to actually watch the show sometime this week (I honestly only heard a few parts), but if I do so say myself; my view was ten times better.

-Jess