If you were watching the 2020 CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night (Oct. 21), it was abundantly clear that rising country stars Hardy, Ingrid Andress and Caylee Hammack were on cloud nine when they took to the Ram Side Stage in Nashville to perform.
All three brought their A game, as usual. They always have, and they always will. Because they were born to be on stage.
When CMT caught up with the three artists for an episode of Night Out Nashville — behind the scenes before the show started — they talked about how good it felt to finally get to perform again. It’s what artists truly love and what they’ve missed the most during the COVID-19 quarantine and the social distancing that’s kept us all at least six feet apart since the middle of March. And has put real-life concerts indefinitely on hold.
Back when they were first testing the country music waters, Hardy, Andress and Hammack all took their shot at singing for crowds in the small venues all around Nashville. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, it’s those very same venues that are struggling to survive and to continue to bring intimate shows to their loyal audiences.
For Andress, that was The Listening Room. “That was probably one of the first Nashville venues I performed at to test out some of my music,” she tells CMT. For Hammack, she says she’d love to go back to her roots. “I would love to play a show at The Basement.” And Hardy — who got his start at Rocketown — adds, “Small venues are really important. You cut your teeth playing those venues. And if you don’t do that, I feel like it’s really hard to level up, because where do you start then?”
Inspired by the #SaveOurStages movement, CMT and Ram Trucks have partnered to donate $25,000 directly to each of those three independent Nashville venues. And here’s what those venues had to say when they got the good news:
“I was shocked when Leslie (Fram) called and informed me of the amazing gift that was offered, I cried. The tornado of March 3rd affected so many people in Cookeville and Nashville, devastating our Basement East venue. When COVID-19 hit a week later, it ground all live venues to a halt including The Basement, our 15-years-and-running labor of love. Our passion for helping those just starting out with their music careers — up to established national acts — burns strong. We are entertaining weekend safe, socially distanced, limited capacity shows in our back parking lot presently, but they will not generate significant income, again a labor of love, we have to do them!! We cannot thank CMT and Ram Trucks enough for this amazing token that will without a doubt help us continue to forge our continued path to support our local up and comers and all walks of musicians on our stage. We are honored and humbled for the recognition.”
The Listening Room
“One of the things that has always astounded me is the strength of Nashville’s community, and the ability for this city to come together when times are tough. Music and hospitality were two of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, and while The Listening Room seeks to be a place that supports the livelihood of musicians, songwriters, and restaurant workers, we have struggled to do so over the past few months. When I received the call that CMT and Ram Trucks had selected The Listening Room as one of the the recipients of the Save Our Stages donation, I was blown away. This donation is a blessing that will help us keep our doors open, keep jobs active, and keep Nashville’s songwriters performing. I am beyond grateful.”
“We are BEYOND thankful for Ram Trucks and CMT’s generosity towards our venue! As you all know, due to the pandemic we have had numerous cancellations and setbacks because live music has been at a halt. When I got the call from Leslie (Fram), the team and I were both overjoyed and surprised- this blessing could not have come at a better time! Now more than ever, this assistance helps Rocketown keep live music and events coming. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has played a role in making this donation possible! Your support is very much appreciated!!!”
Visit SaveOurStages.com to find out how you can help spread the word and contribute to the National Independent Venue Association’s Emergency Relief Fund for the most vulnerable venues. According to the website, the fund will be administered by The Giving Back Fund, which is a separate non-profit group that will collect the money and oversee the application process for venues to receive grants from the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund.