When CMT debuted the genre-mixing concert series CMT Crossroads in 2002 with Americana darling Lucinda Williams and English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello performing each other’s songs, the network established a musical mutual admiration society that continues to this day.
A year after CMT Crossroads premiered, the network was slowly but transitioning from primarily a music-video channel to one occasionally featuring special programming. Music videos became the focus of their annual fan-voted awards show, then called the Flameworthys, which remains one of the channel’s highest-rated events and continues to present one-of-a-kind artistic collaborations.
Such was the case when globally recognized country-pop superstar Shania Twain teamed with acoustic bluegrass-country band Union Station, fronted by Alison Krauss, at the 2003 Flameworthys. Twain’s dystopian clip for “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” won for “Concept Video of the Year” the same night, but for her performance of the ballad “Forever and for Always,” the Canadian stripped away the glossy production of the original and allowed the breezy, unplugged instrumentation to take center stage. With a band that features Jerry Douglas on Dobro, Dan Tyminksi and Ron Block on guitars, Barry Bales on bass, Larry Atamanuik on drums, and the angelic-voiced Krauss on fiddle and harmony, Twain shines in a glorious performance that keeps her seated throughout, even as the crowd’s excitement and appreciation reaches its crescendo near the song’s end.
Krauss and Union Station would join Twain later in 2003 for Up! Close and Personal, an in-concert video album which took much of its inspiration from Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special. It was released on DVD in 2004. Among the songs covered was “You Shook Me All Night Long,” from one of Krauss’s favorite bands, AC/DC, whose 1980 recording of the song was produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange,” Twain’s then-husband and producer.
Collaborations in the spotlight at tonight’s CMT Music Awards include Video of the Year finalist “Coming Home,” by Keith Urban and Julia Michaels, as well as Brandi Carlile and Tanya Tucker, Brett Young and Boyz II Men, and Toby Keith with Cole Swindell. The show airs Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. ET, live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.