The “CMT Crossroads” concert series that pairs country acts with artists outside their genre will celebrate its 50th episode on June 13 with Kacey Musgraves and Katy Perry, airing 10 p.m. ET on CMT.
The intimate performance will tape in Los Angeles this month, and for the first time will air on CMT’s sister Viacom networks VH1, MTV, MTV Hits and Palladia at later dates to be announced soon.
“From the moment I heard ‘Merry Go Round’ by Kacey Musgraves, I knew we were cut from the same songwriter’s cloth,” Perry tells Billboard in a statement. “I have been a fan and a friend of hers from the beginning, always championing her prolific songs every opportunity I get. To me, Kacey Musgraves is an artist that should be a household name because she offers a unique perspective with her writing style. It's going to be a BLAST to play on each other’s songs this Crossroads. It will be a preview to our Prismatic World Tour road trip this summer WHICH I CAN'T WAIT FOR!”
Musgraves adds in a statement, "I've been such a HUGE fan of Katy and her vision since I found out about her. And since she's found out about me she's been an amazing light and friend to me. So, joining forces with her for Crossroads is going to be incredible. In some ways we're on opposite ends of the spectrum, but in a lot of ways our music makes total sense together. Her songs, while having grit, are so fun and it'll be a cool challenge to throw a little country on 'em. I love her brain and her heart and I can't wait for our two musical worlds to collide!"
The singers have already affirmed their shared fandom, from Musgraves’ appearance at Perry’s “We Can Survive” charity concert at the Hollywood Bowl last October to a series of writing sessions together, which Musgraves detailed to Billboard in December to Musgraves scoring a slot as one of several support acts (alongside Capital Cities and Tegan & Sara) on Perry’s aforementioned Prismatic Tour, which kicks off June 22 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Having such a shorthand together made for one of the easier asks in “Crossroads”’ 50-episode history – albeit one that still took half a decade to nail down.
“I’ve been talking to Katy’s manager, Bradford Cobb, for more than five years,” says John Hamlin, senior VP-music events and talent at CMT and an executive producer on “CMT Crossroads”. “He’s always loved the format, understood how important this audience is, and has really been patient with me trying to find the right thing. And then Kacey Musgraves comes along, and her manager Jason Owen instinctively knew what a great pairing this would be. We couldn’t do it until everything lined up properly in their promotional schedules and their careers. Katy just happened to have just enough time before she starts tour rehearsals in the UK, and Kacey had lined up enough hits on the radio, for this to all work out.”
“CMT Crossroads” has hosted many memorable pairings over the years, from a Bon Jovi-Sugarland collaboration so successful it spawned the Hot 100 hit “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”; to John Mayer and Keith Urban, who later toured together; to Stevie Nicks and Lady Antebellum, who became and remain friends as a result of the concert. Just last week, Dierks Bentley and OneRepublic became the latest cross-genre coupling.
Hamlin calls the science behind the perfect artist pairings a “Rubik’s cube” of logistics. “The country artists will ask for Bruce Springsteen, and the rock artists will ask for Willie Nelson,” he says. “That’s a generalization, but when we explain to people that it doesn’t quite work out that way, we need to have a plan B, C or D for those dream pairings sometimes. When it comes to Kacey and Katy, however, there was no question they were each other’s first choice.”