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Eric Church and Hank Williams Jr. to Open CMA Awards With Waylon Jennings Song

Eric Church Hank Williams Jr.
Christopher Polk / Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Chief and Bocephus will sing Waylon to begin the 2015 CMA Awards on Nov. 4. Eric Church and Hank Williams Jr. will open the ABC broadcast by debuting a song from Williams Jr.’s upcoming Nash Icon album.

The two will sing “Are You Ready for the Country,” a Neil Young original that Jennings recorded in 1976. The show’s executive producer says the song sets up everything that is going to happen during the remaining three hours of television. The 2015 CMA Awards begin at 8PM ET on Nov. 4.

Church is up for five awards, including Entertainer of the Year and Single and Song of the Year. It’s his first nomination in the night’s biggest category — one Williams knows well. He won the CMA’s top honor in 1987 and 1988 and continued to record on Curb Records through 2009.

Williams’ next album will be his first on Nash Icon Records, a partnership between Cumulus Media and the Big Machine Label Group. Reba McEntire, Ronnie Dunn and Martina McBride are other Nash Icon artists, but McEntire is the only one of the group who has released an album. Williams’ debut on the label is expected in early 2016.

In 2012, Williams Jr. also appeared during the CMA Awards’ opening segment, although he took everyone by surprise. Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood sang a song spoofing the controversy that resulted in his song being removed as the theme for Monday Night Football. As they sang, he snuck up behind them.

See 2015 CMA Nominations Surprises and Snubs:

Next: See All 2015 CMA Award Nominees

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