By CHRIS TALBOTT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country music has been good to the rapper Nelly, and he’s back in Music City because of it.
Nelly will perform the crossover hit “Cruise” with country duo Florida Georgia Line during the CMT Music Awards. The imaginary, but once impenetrable, lines between American music genres are blurring more each day, and Nelly’s happy to serve as an eraser.
“Obviously our views today aren’t the same as our grandparents’, so when you look at the way the youth migrates and the way everything intertwines, the Internet has brought so many people together around the world in the same place at the same time,” said Nelly, who’s also scored a hit with Tim McGraw.
“Music was only in line to be integrated like that. It’s a beautiful thing because you want your kids to be multifaceted. You want your kids to experience a lot more than you did as a child,” he said. “So I welcome it. My kids are Taylor Swift fans. They love Florida Georgia Line. But they also love Lil Wayne.”
More than any of the legion of country music honors shows, the CMT Awards have helped push boundaries. Nelly’s not the first rapper to appear, and rockers like Lenny Kravitz, who will perform with co-host Jason Aldean, are common as well.
The fan-voted awards show will air live at 8 p.m. EDT from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Aldean hosts with actress Kristen Bell.
Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Luke Bryan lead with four nominations apiece. They’re among 10 nominees for top honor video of the year. Six finalists will be announced for the award at the top of the show and fans will vote for a winner at the network’s website during the broadcast. Voting in other categories has closed.
Aldean and Kenny Chesney are among the acts with three nominations.
The awards usually are overshadowed by performances, off-brand celebrity appearances and the occasional weird mashup.
Take Wednesday night’s announced kickoff segment. It will feature country heavyweights Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan and … Dr. Drew Pinsky, Kelsey Grammer, Lorraine Bracco and Vince Vaughn.
The network doesn’t describe what this unlikely group of eight will be doing together.
Underwood will pay tribute to the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes during the show. And Swift, Bryan, Keith Urban and Hunter Hayes and Lady Antebellum with Darius Rucker also will perform. Presenters include Sheryl Crow, Ed Sheeran, “Dancing With the Stars” winner Kellie Pickler, brothers Kevin and Michael Bacon, and Lisa Marie Presley.
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