Lionel Richie, George Strait Light Up CRS in Nashville
Lionel Richie, George Strait Light Up CRS in Nashville

Day one of the 2012 Country Radio Seminar is in the books. The day started with the opening ceremonies at the Nashville Convention Center with the presentation of the annual Humanitarian Awards to stations in small, medium, and large markets following an opening keynote address by Bob Pittman and a performance of the National Anthem by Lauren Alaina.

Rascal Flatts received the 2012 Artist Humanitarian award for their charitable contributions and humanitarian endeavors throughout their career. In 2010, the group donated $3 million to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt's Pediatric Surgery Center. They currently serve as celebrity spokespersons for the national suicide prevention organization, The Jason Foundation, and have been members of the American Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet for the past seven years.

"It's a little uncomfortable to be recognized for something we feel we should be doing," remarked Jay DeMarcus after the band received their award on stage. "We have been so blessed with an amazing career, to pay the blessings forward seemed the most natural thing to do."

Following the presentations, Universal Music Group hosted a show at the Ryman Auditorium that promised performances by acts such as Lee Ann Womack, David Nail, and Laura Bell Bundy. However, they had a very special opening act. George Strait, the longest tenured act on the label, made a surprise appearance on the legendary stage to perform a pair of songs, including his 2008 hit "Troubadour." Strait also received awards for co-writing his most recent chart-topper, "Here For A Good Time." Lionel Richie closed the show by inviting Luke Bryan to join him on "Easy." Richie will release "Tuskegee," featuring duets with country artists of several of his biggest hits, on March 26.

The afternoon continued with several industry panels, as well as the KCRS Live writers showcase -- which featured rising star Andy Gibson, in addition to Aaron Lewis, Jim Collins, and Bobby Pinson.

Evening events included the Artist Attendee Reception, which included acts such as Gary Allan and Craig Morgan. Many headed from there to Nashville's Municipal Auditorium for the first Music City headlining appearance by Capitol Nashville's Lady Antebellum. Other nighttime happenings in downtown included showcases hosted by Black River (featuring Craig Morgan showcasing material from his This Ole Boy album, which will be released next week) and new Nashville label Tenacity (Darryl Worley and Bill Gentry).

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from this year's CRS.