Backbeat: Florida Georgia Line, Sheryl Crow, CMA’s Ed Hardy, Clear Channel’s Julie Talbot Hit 'Country’s Biggest Morning'

(L-R) President of the CMA Board of Directors Ed Hardy with Sheryl Crow and Billboard director of charts Silvio Petroluongo. (Photo credit: Tawni Bannister)

Nearly two months before "Country Music's Biggest Night" -- the 47th Annual CMA Awards -- the Country Music Association held what president of the CMA Board of Directors Ed Hardy described as "country's biggest morning" at the 47th CMA Awards Nominee Announcements. Sheryl Crow and Florida Georgia Line were on hand at New York's Best Buy Theater on Tuesday morning (Sept. 10) to deliver the major nominees for the upcoming CMA Awards, to be broadcast live on ABC from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 6.

Florida Georgia Line and Sheryl Crow with an Education Through Music children's choir, who performed at the event. (Photo credit: Tawni Bannister)

In front of an audience that included Marc Bracco (VP, Alternative Series and Specials for ABC), Julie Talbott (President of Content and Affiliate Services for Clear Channel's National Media Groups), Jan Sage (VP of Marketing & Promotion, ABC National Television Sales) -- who joking that they were hoping to attend this year since Hurricane Sandy kind of got in the way last year -- and dozens of Nashville FM listeners, Crow and Florida Georgia Line took turns reading off the competitors in major categories like Entertainer of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year, among others. Crow was celebrating Tuesday's release of her debut country album, "Feels Like Home," while Florida Georgia Line scored four nominations, including a Single of the Year nod for their No. 1 hit "Cruise."

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"It was perfect timing, because today Sheryl's new country album is being introduced, so that was good," Hardy told Billboard at the event. "And Florida Georgia Line -- as you can see from the nominations they've gotten -- are a hot young act. They actually moved another date to come up here and do it, so that was really cool." Hardy also mentioned that it was great to have a Country station back in NYC thanks to Cumulus’ NASH-FM, which supplied the fan gallery with contest winners.

Ed Hardy, president of the CMA Board of Directors, with Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley (L) and Tyler Hubbard (R). (Photo credit: Tawni Bannister)

As Florida Georgia Line's latest single "Round Here" rises 2-1 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, the duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley becomes the second duo/group in the chart's 23-year history to score three straight career-opening No. 1 singles, along with Brooks & Dunn. The popularity of the pair's debut album "Here's to the Good Times" earned Florida Georgia Line a nomination for New Artist of the Year, along with Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore and Kacey Musgraves.

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When asked about the new crop of country talent making waves, Hubbard said, "We really love and believe in Cole Swindell. He's doing great things, and he's got a bright future ahead. One of our favorite bands is the Cadillac Three. We're fans of Brett Eldredge, and Kacey Musgraves. There are a lot of great artists coming up, and we're just excited for them." He noted that that the mix of fresh and seasoned talent was a good thing for the format.

Along with the CMA Award nominees, the Country Music Association also announced a partnership with Billboard for an official Voter Guide for the upcoming CMA Awards. The 32-page Guide, which will be available in October, will be similar to the comprehensive Voter Guide that Billboard has provided for the Grammy Awards over the past two years.

"We saw what [Billboard] did with the Grammys, and we thought that it could be really cool to do that with country music," says Hardy. "It's a great fit, and a win-win."