CMA Awards Insider Scoop Revealed By Executive Producer Robert Deaton

“You do not want to change the channel or you’re going to miss something, and there are going to be some pretty big surprises,” he teased.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

November 6, 2023


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The CMA Awards are known for surprise moments and can’t-miss collaborations, and this year’s show will be no different, according to the show’s executive producer.  

During a recent backstage interview ahead of the 2023 CMA Awards, longtime executive producer Robert Deaton opened up about what viewers can expect from this year’s coveted awards ceremony. 

Everything You Need To Know About The CMA Awards

Co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, the 57th Annual CMA Awards will feature a “new set design,” according to Deaton. 

“We changed some things up. We made it different than it [was] in the past. I mean, it doesn’t look like anything that we’ve done ever,” he explained. “We made the stages bigger so that country music gets what all these artists get, what they should be getting, which is they look like the biggest artist in the world, which is what they are this year.”

Luke Bryan, Robert Deaton; Photo by Josh Brasted, CMA
Luke Bryan, Robert Deaton; Photo by Josh Brasted, CMA

More Surprises Than Ever Before

Deaton went on to share that fans can expect “several surprises” and emphasized that there will be more surprises this year than ever before. 

Deaton Drops “Hints”

“You do not want to change the channel or you’re going to miss something, and there are going to be some pretty big surprises,” he continued. “You do not want to miss the open, you do not want to miss Morgan [Wallen]. So those are some hints there for you.”

As for the highly anticipated collaboration between Wallen, HARDY, and Post Malone, Deaton teased that the songs the artists will be singing will excite “real country music” fans, including himself.  “I wouldn’t want to miss this,” Deaton exclaimed.

Jimmy Buffett Tribute

Another can’t-miss moment, according to the award-winning director, is the star-studded Jimmy Buffett tribute, featuring Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Zac Brown, and Mac McAnally. The performance is expected to be emotional but will also “keep the party going” as Buffett would’ve wanted. 

Robert Deaton; Photo Courtesy CMA
Robert Deaton; Photo Courtesy CMA

“First of all, can we just say that it’s so deserving for us to honor the great Jimmy Buffett. He has been a friend to us for a very, very long time, and it’s such a great honor to have Kenny back,” Deaton added, noting that Chesney hasn’t performed on the CMA Awards for quite some time. 

“It is very nice to have Kenny back and also have Mac McAnally, who was a longtime collaborator with Jimmy and Jimmy’s band. And then of course we have Alan Jackson, the great Alan Jackson and Zac Brown. It’s not just about being the perfect group of artists. It is the group of artists.”

The show will also feature performances by Jelly Roll, K. Michelle, Little Big Town, Megan Moroney, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, Chris Stapleton, Tanya Tucker, Lainey Wilson, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Jordan Davis, Cody Johnson, Ashley McBryde, The War And Treaty, Zac Brown Band and more.

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Presenters include country stars such as Bill Anderson, Jordan Davis, Sara Evans, Brian Kelley, Lady A, Martina McBride, Parker McCollum, Craig Morgan, Darius Rucker, Keith Urban, Hailey Whitters and Chris Young as well as music icon Paula Abdul. 

In addition to musicians, comedian Nate Bargatze, actors Kevin Cahoon and Cynthia Erivo plus 2023 World Series MVP Corey Seager and The Golden Bachelor Gerry Turner will also serve as presenters during the show.

How To Watch The CMA Awards

Fans can tune in to witness these surprises, collaborations, and more when the 57th Annual CMA Awards air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 8 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on ABC. The show will be available to watch the next day on Hulu.  

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.