From left: Crissy Haslam, Governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, Big Machine Records' Scott Borchetta and Sandy Borchetta at the Grammy Nominations Concert Live pre-show reception at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
Music City more than lived up to its name last night as M aroon 5, Ne-Yo, Hunter Hayes, Dierks Bentley, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan and Fun. took the stage at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena for "The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! -- Countdown To Music's Biggest Night," hosted by Taylor Swift and LL Cool J.
Before the event, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau president Butch Spyridon were among those welcoming out-of-towners at a private reception upstairs in the Patron Platinum Club. The diverse industry-heavy crowd also included Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta, Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, Austin City Limits' Terry Lacona, Mary Ann McCready, of Flood Bumstead Mcready & McCary, CAA's Brad Bissell, Shopkeeper Mgmt's Marion Kraft, the Ryman Auditorium's Sally Williams and Recording Academy Chair Emeritus Jimmy Jam, among many others.
LL Cool J, Neil Portnow and Taylor Swift. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
From left: Neil Portnow, Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, and Austin City Limits producer Terry Lacona (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
"It's an enormous validator of Nashville as Music City," Mayor Dean told Billboard.biz. "The Grammys represent the whole range of musical genres in this country and Nashville has it all. I think this validates that. As Rolling Stone said in 2011, this is the best music scene in America."
"We're enjoying a perfect storm of great high profile events lining up, from the ABC series 'Nashville' to all the great things ABC does with the Country Music Association to CBS and the Grammy noms concert, it's giving incredible exposure to a city that is very deserving of it," said Grand Ole Opry general manager Peter Fisher. "We're an incredibly diverse city from country music and the Grand Ole Opry to some of the most successful and progressive rock and roll."
Governor Bill Haslam agreed. "We love having the attention of the nation on Nashville because we're Music City not just for country music, but music of all kinds." Like most Music City residents, the governor and his wife, Chrissy Garrett Haslam, admit they are hooked on the "Nashville" series. "Everyone in Nashville loves watching it," she said. "They love following the characters and seeing the scenes in Nashville, places they are familiar with. Everybody's talking about it."
From left: Producer/singer-songwriter Chris Young, Marion Kraft of Shopkeeper Management, and Mary Ann McCready, president, Flood Bumstead Mcready & McCary (and a Billboard 2012 Women in Music honoree). (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
NARAS president Neil Portnow offered a bit of the backstory behind the show taking place in Nashville. "When we renegotiated our CBS agreement last year, we extended the Grammys for 10 years," he said. "We also extended the nominations concert for 10 years, so that put us in a position that we knew this was a franchise that had another decade at least to grow. We started thinking about, how do you change it up? What do you do that's different? Meanwhile the Mayor and the city have been very communicative with us about the desire to do more things so it all came together this year."
"Talk about a city where the heartbeat and soul is all into music," veteran songwriter/producer (and Recording Academy Chair Emeritus) Jimmy Jam told Billboard during the party. "Last night I walked down Broadway and there were great sounds coming out of every restaurant, every bar. I love that. It reminded me of New Orleans. I was hearing all different kinds of music. It wasn't just country. It was rock, soul, everything. I couldn't think of a better place to be for the announcements tonight."
Brad Bissell of CAA and Sally Williams of the Ryman Auditorium (Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage)
L-R: Neil Portnow, Hunter Hayes and Recording Academy Chairperson of the Board George Flanigan (Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage)
Manager Mary Ann McReady said, "I'm so excited for Hunter tonight," McCready said of Hayes, who performed a medley of songs from the final five nominees for Best Pop Vocal Album. By the end of the evening the young Atlantic Records artist had received his first Grammy noms in Best New Artist, Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance for his hit single "Wanted."
McCready said one of her pals saw the press release prior to the nominations concert and thought Hayes had scored an unusual coup: "It said ' Hunter Hayes and The Who join the Grammy nominations special.' They thought it meant Hunter was performing with the Who," she said with a laugh.
From Left: Producer Mark Hudson, singer Madame Mayhem, songwriter/producer Victoria Shaw and songwriter Gary Burr (Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage)
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Neil (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage. Courtesy of the Recording Academy) Recording Academy Chairperson of the Board George Flanigan, Dierks Bentley, and Neil Portnow. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)