I bet you’d never guess that a Jewish girl from Brooklyn loves country music but I have to admit, I have been a fan for more than 25 years and counting. It all started a long time ago when I was a junior publicist for “The Maury Povich Show.” Before the show became a “Who’s Your Daddy Fest,” Maury would feature entertainment guests and one of my favorite memories was the time our staff was flown to Nashville to produce a few shows while the CMA Awards were taking place.
I’ll never forget our talent booker Tricia Daniels attempting to hunt down Billy Ray Cyrus with a golf cart during the height of his “Achy, Breaky, Heart” fame. While she never did book Billy Ray, Tricia was able to land Clint Black and many more country stars on the show that week and I got to take Maury to his interviews on a few local Nashville TV stations. I remember having an amazing group photo somewhere in my house and wish I could find it now because we all looked so young! Plus, so many of those hard working production team members went on to incredible careers and I am always blown away when I get to see them pop up on my Facebook feed.
A few years later, I landed a job at CBS and eventually got the chance to be the publicist for the CMA Awards. The team that I worked with at the CMA’s were nothing short of stupendous. Two of my favorite people in Nashville are Wendy Pearl and Scott Stem who led the public relations efforts on behalf the Country Music Association. Wendy and Scott are two of the nicest people I have ever met and no matter how stressful things got during the show, we always managed to laugh the entire week and I couldn’t wait to come back year after year for more music, mayhem and excitement.
One of the best moments ever was the year I brought my dad to Nashville and he helped out on the red carpet, handing water to Brad Paisley and many more country music stars. Dad even wrote a poem that he shared with Wendy and Scott called “The Jewish Cowboy.” Meanwhile, I invited legendary TV writer Jay Bobbin to spend the week with us in Nashville too and he got to experience what it was like to be a seat filler. Plus, thanks to Jack Sussman, one of my favorite television executives at CBS, Jay was able to get a one on one interview with the legendary Dolly Parton.
There’s one thing I can say about country music artists. They are some of the most talented and nicest people you will ever meet. During rehearsals, I was always mesmerized by their effortless performances and when the show was live, it was amazing to watch the intricate stage movements and changes that took place throughout the telecast. There really isn’t anything that compares to being in the audience at the CMA Awards and I highly recommend a visit to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry house so you can experience it yourself.
Enough of my trip down memory lane. Time to get back to watching the CMA’s. Even though it’s on a different TV network and my dear friends Wendy and Scott have since moved on to even bigger and brighter careers, I’m sure they are somewhere in the audience or backstage tonight reminiscing, smiling and laughing. My two Nashville friends have both figured out the secret to a great career. Do what you love with people you admire and respect and success and happiness are sure to follow.