Front and Center, which has delivered a series of first-rate live music performances on Public Television since 2012, first joined in partnership with the Country Music Association last year for a pair of episodes spotlighting the long-running CMA Songwriters Series. Adding another pair of specials to their upcoming season, Front and Center has announced four all-new CMA Songwriters Series-themed episodes, which will feature Brandy Clark, Hunter Hayes, Little Big Town, Sara Evans, Martina McBride and esteemed Music City tunesmiths Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby, Hillary Lindsey, Aimee Mayo, Shane McAnally, Lori McKenna, Gretchen Peters, Liz Rose, Gordie Sampson, the Warren Brothers and Charlie Worsham. The episodes begin airing on Public Television on Saturday, April 4th.
In the episode featuring Hayes, the CMA-award-winning singer and multi-instrumentalist performs songs from his Number One album, Storyline, including “Invisible,” as well as tunes from his million-selling debut LP, such as “I Want Crazy” alongside its co-writer, Lori McKenna. Also taking the stage for the episode are songwriters Barry Dean (“Pontoon”) and Gordie Sampson (“Jesus, Take the Wheel”).
“It was really a privilege to be invited to do a performance during the CMA Songwriter Series,” says Hayes. “Not only did we get the chance to do a different show highlighting the songs and stories behind them, but I had the unique chance to share the stage with three fantastic songwriters who I look up to and admire. What a special evening that I’m so thankful for.”
Evans and McBride will combine their powerhouse vocal talents for an episode titled “CMA Songwriters Series: Ladies Night Out,” where the multi-award-winning singers will be joined by Gretchen Peters (“Independence Day,”) Aimee Mayo (“Let’s Make Love”) and the Warren Brothers (“Red Solo Cup”). Expect career-defining smash hits from McBride and Evans during the hour-long show, as well.
Grammy- and CMA-winning foursome Little Big Town will be joined on their episode by writers Hillary Lindsey (“Two Black Cadillacs”), Natalie Hemby (“Downtown”), Liz Rose (“Girl Crush”) and McKenna. In addition to tracks from their latest LP, Pain Killer, which features the latter song, Little Big Town will perform their hits “Boondocks” and “Tornado.”
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Bob DiPiero (“Blue Clear Sky,” “Southern Voice”) who co-created the CMA Songwriters Series, will be joined by two-time 2015 Grammy nominee Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, Clark’s writing partner on the 2014 CMA Song of the Year, “Follow Your Arrow,” and Miranda Lambert smash, “Mama’s Broken Heart.” Also featured in the episode will be singer-songwriter-guitarist Charlie Worsham.
“Hearing the passion and the stories that surround [the songs] was something that captured us and, for lack of a better word, was so real,” series executive producer Don Maggi tells Rolling Stone Country. “That’s something that we always try to capture on Front and Center.”
Calling the CMA Songwriter Series “the best representation to date of what the Nashville songwriter community has offered and has to offer the world,” DiPiero adds, “When people ask me ‘What is a songwriter show?’ I’m gonna tell them to go look up this performance and see for themselves.”
Check local Public Television listings for dates, times and details of each upcoming episode.