Tonight, the 47th Annual CMA Awards broadcasts from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, and as usual, the show promises more than a few memorable collaborations. Dave Grohl will jam with the Zac Brown Band; George Strait and Alan Jackson will duet on an inevitably moving tribute to the late
George Jones; Taylor Swift will perform alongside Vince Gill and Alison Krauss; and, for the sixth year in a row, country stars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will co-host the ceremony, which will also boast appearances from Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum, Eric Church and the Band Perry, among others.
Rounding out that heavy-hitting bill, respective 2013 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the year nominees Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert will sing on live TV together for the first time, when they perform their stadium-sized duet "We Were Us," the current single off Urban's latest chart-topper Fuse.
It's actually a moment that's nearly a decade in the making; on tour as Urban's opening act in 2005, then up-and-coming Lambert routinely joined Urban on stage.
"I think we have a lot in common because I learned a lot from [Keith]," Lambert told Rolling Stone yesterday during rehearsals. "Watching him and sort of coming in not knowing what to do, coming straight out of the clubs [and into arenas] going, 'Oh, OK, that's what a concert is supposed to look
So why did the pair wait eight years to cut a track together?
"I think just finding the right song," Urban said, standing at Lambert's side. "I'd never done a duet before, and when this song came along it was just, for me, her voice was immediate in my head as soon as I heard the song."
"I actually didn't realize this was his first duet ever so I'm pretty honored, actually," Lambert chimed in with a chuckle. "It's weird too, because usually on a duet on someone else's album, you don't start the
song," which Lambert kicks off, singing in a breathy rasp.
Although Urban and Lambert started singing together on arena stages like the one they'll appear on tonight, the former says their mutual history cutting their teeth in Music Row's trenches explains their chemistry on stage, as well as the setting for the song's forthcoming video.
Later backstage, Lambert jokingly (or perhaps not) invited Urban to sing on her next record.
"Yes, anytime," he replied.
"Now it's on [the] record," she exclaimed.
Jokes aside, the singer shared little about the follow-up she's working on to her 2011 hit album Four the Record. "It's kind of all over the map," she said of the album. "I never have a plan, I just kind of go in and let the songs lead themselves. I'm really excited about it; I'm nervous, I'm always nervous, but I guess that's because I care."
As for Urban, between his role judging American Idol and the rigors of the road, his 2014 itenerary is already filling up. The current leg of his "Light the Fuse Tour" wraps in Nashville in early February. "I'm doing a little TV gig and then I think I'm going to start touring again," he said, suggesting fans might have to wait a while for the follow-up to Fuse.