THE BLOG

My New Country Home: The "CMT Music Awards"

06/05/2013 08:16 am ET | Updated Aug 05, 2013

Tonight I'm excited to be co-hosting the "CMT Music Awards" for the second year in the row -- this time around with the amazing Jason Aldean. It feels wonderful to be so warmly welcomed back to my new country home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Last year was my first time ever in Nashville, and I loved this town right away. For one thing, the food is almost as good as the music here -- which is really saying something. The whole world knows about the music made in Nashville. As for the food, let's just say I already split a zipper on my dress last night. And the people here are so warm they somehow make Nashville feel like a small town -- which it is definitely not.

My own first love in music was musical theater -- and specifically, Stephen Sondheim. Starting when I was eleven, I trained operatically. I was always singing around the house, so my mother thoughtfully arranged for me to have voice lessons. After that, I took part in lots of solo and ensemble competitions growing up. At the time, I was singing in Italian, so I didn't necessarily understand exactly what I was singing about most of the time. But as homework one day, I was assigned Sondheim's "Green Finch & Linnet Bird" from "Sweeney Todd" to sing. That song absolutely blew my mind because I could understand what it was about, and even better it was even from a young woman's perspective. Singing that extraordinary Sondheim song took the idea of putting a story to a song to a whole new level for me.

That great storytelling tradition is also what I love the most about country music. I feel like country music is the most stealth storytelling genre today. So now I love being around so much great country music, treated like a queen at the "CMT Music Awards." Fortunately, I like to host parties and I am very talkative. Those are two qualities that come in handy in this extremely fun gig. I also love getting to get out of Los Angeles and especially spending some time in Nashville. There's such a sense of hospitality here, and there's a true celebratory feeling around the award shows here. At the "CMT Music Awards," it feels like everybody actually likes each other and that they really want to jam.

I'm looking forward to the whole CMT show this year. Carrie Underwood is giving a very special performance for her home state of Oklahoma, and we have so many other exciting performances from my co-host Jason, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan and Taylor Swift to name a few. And as anyone who knows me can tell you, I'm a big Miranda Lambert fan, and Miranda happens to be playing a song that's right at the top of my playlist, so I can't wait to see her play it live. And of course, I'm already enjoying the experience of co-hosting this year with Jason Aldean who is such a great artist and a really nice guy. Speaking of which, please don't miss our little opening film with some very surprising and helpful group of guest stars.

So as a host, I gladly invite you all into my country home this evening on CMT. No RSVP is required, but a TV might help.