Brad Paisley knows he’ll have a somber task ahead of him when he co-hosts the 51st Annual CMA Awards next week: acknowledging the tragic loss of life that took place at Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas on October 1st.
“There’s pressure if you don’t handle it right,” the singer told Rolling Stone at a recent video-game event he hosted with his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley at the Ruby event space in Nashville. “If you deal with it wrong, there’s an enormous amount of pressure.”
On November 8th, Paisley and fellow country star Carrie Underwood will co-host the awards ceremony for the 10th year in a row. And according to Paisley, honoring the 58 festival attendees who died at the Route 91 mass shooting will be a part of the pair’s responsibilities.
“We’re not going to ignore it, but we’re not going to also dwell on that,” he says. “We have to make sure we honor those we’ve lost, but we also [have to] celebrate this music, which lives on, and do a good job having the heart we need to have on that night. And also the theme of the show this year is very much about unity and coming together as a format.”
But the CMAs will have their lighter moments too. Paisley and Underwood have developed a chemistry as co-hosts over the past decade that fans have come to expect, and he knows that.
“With us, we have this thing, we have this shtick now, which we can build on,” he says. “When you do something like this, we take on personas a little bit beyond who we really are, as a duo. So I get to play the idiot, which obviously …”
“You’re very familiar with,” Williams-Paisley interjects.
“No, it’s a total stretch for me,” Paisley continues with a laugh. “And [Underwood] gets to sort of be the voice of reason up there.
“This is a challenging year in some ways, but at the same time I’m really honored we have the keys.”
The CMA Awards will be broadcast live Wednesday, November 8th, at 8:00 p.m./ET on ABC.