Ed Rode / The Recording Academy
The ballroom at the Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel in Nashville could've been a set for one of the scenes of the popular new ABC-TV drama, "Nashville," Wednesday night (Jan. 22), as dozens of stars, record label execs, managers, and other power players (including "Nashville" star Jonathan Jackson himself) filed in for NARAS' glamorous kickoff party for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. The red carpet was abuzz with excitement as Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Hunter Hayes, Ronnie Dunn, Little Big Town, Vince Gill, Janis Ian, Toby Mac, the Time Jumpers and tons of other artists headed into the event to celebrate their prestigious Grammy nominations with plenty of friends and Music City family.
The giant gold gramophone sitting inside the glittery, star-filled room set the tone for the glitzy evening full of food and fun, and Nashville had plenty to celebrate, as the city's artists and songwriters captured some of the most important nominations out of this year's crop, including Hunter Hayes and The Lumineers in the all-genre Best New Artist category.
Decked out in a gorgeous bright orange dress and gold heels, Carrie Underwood added plenty of glamour to the room, and seemed excited to be celebrating her Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance nominations for "Blown Away." The Grammy winner fondly recalled some of her favorite Grammy moments of years past.
"The new artist nomination was one of my favorite awards I've ever been nominated for and ever won, because it's all genre, and you're up against people that have had incredible years and deserve it just as much. Everybody has worked really hard and caught everybody's attention. And singing with Tony Bennett, that was really wonderful, and being part of the Michael Jackson tribute – I couldn't even believe they even asked me to do that! The people that were in charge said we're picking artists that we know he would've wanted us to pick, so to have that honor bestowed upon me and sing with Celine Dion and Smokey Robinson and Usher -- that was such a wonderful thing."
First-time nominee Hunter Hayes walked the carpet and admitted to press that he was enjoying visiting with some fellow artists at the event, including his tourmate Carrie, whom he hadn't seen since the first leg of their "Blown Away" tour ended last year. The young artist also nervously eyed one of his heroes nearby on the carpet, Ronnie Dunn, and said he hoped to shake Ronnie's hand once inside the star-studded event.
Obviously impressed by her tourmate's talent, Carrie had some kind words for Hunter on the carpet about his three nominations at this year's Grammys.
"Hunter is so talented and such a nice guy, and I'm so lucky to have gotten to know him a little bit while touring with him. Every night, I get to see how the fans go nuts when he comes out and we sing together, so he deserves it for sure. I voted for him. He's really talented. He's a great vocalist, and he plays everything on his album, which I think is something he doesn't get enough credit for. He's a great guy and a hard worker. He really wants it, bad. It couldn't go to a better, more talented young artist than him."
Hunter knows he has at least one vote for that Best New Artist gold gramophone in the bag, and fans will have to stay tuned to see if he beats out the Alabama Shakes, fun., The Lumineers, and Frank Ocean on Grammy night, Feb. 10 at 8:00 PM ET on CBS.