Atlanta Music Scene

Melissa Ruggieri covers the Atlanta’s vibrant and evolving music scene. From hot new artists to Music Midtown to shows at the Tabernacle, she’s got you covered.

CMA Awards 2016: 3 things to know about 50th anniversary show

Perhaps you’ve seen a commercial or 700 about the 50th annual CMA Awards that will air Wednesday from Nashville.

Actually, the hype is worth it this year considering the anniversary factor as well as the mountain of talent primed to take the stage.

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley return as hosts for the ninth time, but the DVRs will be poised to race through to a couple of special moments – a tribute to Dolly Parton, who will be honored with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, and a performance from Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, who are expected to sing a medley of famous country duets.

The CMAs will air live from Bridgestone Arena at 8 p.m. on ABC.

A few other things worth noting:

1. As usual, the nomination list is stocked with musicians who call and/or called Georgia home. Keep an eye out for: Glennville native - and onetime Georgia Southern attendee - Cole Swindell (New Artist of the Year); Valdosta’s Thomas Rhett (Single of the Year and Song of the Year for “Die a Happy Man”); Leesburg son Luke Bryan (Entertainer of the Year, Musical Event of the Year with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, who has ties to Marietta, for “Home Alone Tonight”); Florida Georgia Line, whose Tyler Hubbard hails from Monroe (Vocal Duo of the Year); Atlanta’s Zac Brown Band, as well as Lady Antebellum (Augusta roots) and Little Big Town (aforementioned Karen Fairchild, as well as Kimberly Schlapman from Cornelia) will battle for Vocal Group of the Year.

2. For years, the CMAs have taken their cue from the Grammys and stocked their broadcast with performances. This year, the show boasts more live presentations than ever before in its history and has taken great care to acknowledge the veterans while making way for the new generation. This year’s parade spotlights Bryan, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Maren Morris, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Charlie Daniels, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Roy Clark, Clint Black, Martina McBride, Chris Stapleton, Elle King, Pentatonix, Dwight Yoakam, Macon native Jason Aldean and one-time Atlantan Jennifer Nettles.

3. Along with the luminous lineup of performers is a parade of familiar names to hand out the awards. Breakout  singer Cam, who is nominated for Song and Music Video of the Year for “Burning House,” made the cut, as did Swindell, Lee Greenwood, “Whisperin’” Bill Anderson (reared in Griffin and Decatur) , Olivia Newton-John, the Oak Ridge Boys, Barbara Mandrell, Brenda Lee, Lily Tomlin, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey and members of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team.

Stay tuned to the Music Scene blog and follow me on  Twitter and Facebook.  for full coverage of the CMAs on Wednesday.

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for Atlanta Music Scene blog on