'Pray for me," Brad Paisley requests.
The country-music star means it jokingly, referring to the newly maternal state of his longtime CMA Awards co-host Carrie Underwood. They'll share the job for the seventh consecutive year when ABC televises the 48th annual ceremony tonight at 8 from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
Since Paisley is known for his satirical bent, neither he nor Underwood have any illusions about her current pregnancy going unmentioned.
"She's at this volatile stage, crying every time we sit down to talk about something," Paisley kids. " 'I'm sorry, but that's just so sweet!' She told me about something the other day, 'That's going to upset the baby!'"
As Underwood awaits the birth of her first child with NHL-player and husband Mike Fisher, Paisley surely is no stranger to parenthood: He and actress wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley have two sons.
Still, Underwood doesn't think that will protect her from his humor at the CMA Awards. "I know the wheels are turnin' in Brad's head," she says, "but fortunately, I get to know everything that's going to be said before it gets said. I can be like, 'Ehh, let's maybe not say that' ... but it's all good, and all in good fun.
"I've known Brad for a really long time," Underwood adds. "His was one of the first tours I got to be a part of. After that first year (of sharing the CMA Awards stage), we started getting into our roles as hosts. We definitely have a good rhythm together. You get to play a character onstage and figure out the way you want to come off during the show, and I feel that people get it."
Exclusive subscription offer
Newsday covers the stories that matter most to Long Islanders. We dig deep to uncover the facts, hold the powerful in check and keep a watchful eye on Long Island.
Your digital subscription, starting at $1, supports local journalism vital to the community.SUBSCRIBE NOW
Underwood has three CMA nominations: female vocalist of the year and, in tandem with Miranda Lambert, music video and musical event for "Somethin' Bad." Though 14-time winner Paisley isn't in the running this year, that very well could change next year, thanks to his latest album, "Moonshine in the Trunk."
A new release also looms for Underwood: December's "Greatest Hits: Decade No. 1," which already has yielded the hit single "Something in the Water."
While she's glad her CMA Awards hosting duty gives her something else to focus on besides whether she'll win, recent "Rising Star" judge Paisley maintains one aspect doesn't necessarily affect the other for him.
"It doesn't really occur to us until later in the evening whether we've won something or not," he says. "I don't think that has any bearing on the hosting part. It's very much a 'family' thing for us."
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Little Big Town
Zac Brown Band
The Band Perry
Eli Young Band