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PR- 418-05
November 9, 2005


“Country Takes NYC” Celebrations Hit Big Apple Highlighting New York City’s Tourist Destinations and World Renowned Attractions

2005 CMA Awards Marks First Time Ever That “Country Music’s Biggest Night” Will Take Place in New York City

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, country music sensations LeAnn Rimes, and Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn, Country Music Association (CMA) Executive Director Ed Benson and NYC Big Events President Maureen J. Reidy today kicked off “Country Takes NYC,” a five-borough, week-long series of events leading up to the 39th Annual CMA Awards on Tuesday, November 15th.  “Country Takes NYC” promotes tourism and highlights the very best of the City’s country music-related venues, restaurants and retailers.  Programming features performances, exhibits, educational, culinary and cultural activities as well as promotional events from the fashion industry.  The 39th Annual CMA Awards marks the first time ever that the show will be held outside of Nashville and instead will be broadcast live from New York City’s Madison Square Garden.  Bringing the Awards to New York is part of a concerted effort by NYC Big Events to bring new, high-profile events to New York, and market the City’s unique assets to a new target audience.  Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff, NYC & Company President & CEO Cristyne L. Nicholas and Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too Owner Norma Jean Darden joined the Mayor for the event at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill, which included a performance by Staten Island’s Nashville Attitude.

“We’re thrilled that the CMA has chosen us to host this spectacular show right here in New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “The CMA Awards are going to bring thousands of visitors to New York.  That’s going to translate into a $36 million-plus impact on our economy, which will mean more customers at restaurants like Norma Jean Darden’s Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too in Harlem, and an increase in the wages of waiters and hotel workers, cab drivers, musicians and thousands of other hardworking New Yorkers.  When we created NYC Big Events, our goal was to attract big events never before held in New York City.  This mega-event will be a chance for us to show – as we did with the Grammy Awards in 2003, the Republican National Convention last year, and ‘The Gates’ back in February – that as a venue for world-class events, there’s only one New York.  It’s the kind of aggressive and imaginative marketing of our city that has helped bring our economy back, and it’s a big factor in why 150,000 more New Yorkers are working today than were just two years ago.”

The City’s Economic Development Corporation projects that the 2005 CMA Awards will have an economic impact in excess of $36 million, and hosting the CMA Awards will stimulate future tourism dollars by exposing a new worldwide audience to New York City.  Over 130 restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues in all five boroughs have joined the “Country Takes NYC” promotional program to celebrate their country-inspired goods and services.  Over 32,000 seats will be filled in venues across the City including Joe’s Pub, B.B. Kings Blues Club & Grill, Irving Plaza, Nokia Theatre, Birdland, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Roseland Ballroom, Carnegie Hall, Gotham Hall, Museum of Television and Radio, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and Madison Square Garden.

“It hardly seems like 2 ½ years since we started working with the City of New York to bring the CMA Awards here,” said Country Music Association Executive Director Ed Benson. “Throughout that time, we’ve had great support, commitment and enthusiasm from Mayor Bloomberg and his entire administration. When New York City rolls out the red carpet, they do it like no one else.”

“Bringing an event such as the Country Music Association Awards to New York City offers residents and guests alike the opportunity to experience our warmth, hospitality and family-friendly environment,” said Deputy Mayor Doctoroff.  “At the same time, an event that is one of the highest rated award shows each year will generate tremendous media exposure and, with the thousands of visitors expected, will yield a positive economic impact, projected in excess of $36 million.”

“We are honored that the Country Music Association has decided to stage its biggest night on the world’s greatest stage,” said NYC Big Events President Reidy.  “This week-long series of events, promotions and celebrations is sure to generate unprecedented interest and excitement for New York City, country music and our promotional partners.  ‘Country Takes NYC’ week provides great opportunities for New Yorkers from all five boroughs to get involved in this historic event.”

“Country Takes NYC” takes place from Wednesday, November 9th through Tuesday, November 15th.  Each day is themed to showcase New York City’s industries, tourist destinations and world renowned attractions.  The official theme days, including highlights of each day, are as follows:

  • Culinary Day (Wednesday, November 9th):   Restaurants from all over New York City will feature special discounts, promotions and country-themed menu items, highlighting the culinary excellence for which New York City is well recognized.  The Food Network will celebrate Culinary Day with a special episode of “Emeril Live” featuring The Charlie Daniels Band and other activities in New York City.
  • Education Day (Thursday, November 10th):  Some of country music’s top songwriters have arranged music to lyrics written by New York City public school children from selected schools in all five boroughs.  This two-and-a-half month curriculum will culminate with a recital performance by the students accompanied by legendary CMA Award Triple Play Award winner, songwriter Bob DiPiero.  In addition, rising country music star and Nashville Star winner Brad Cotter will perform for the students.
  • History Day (Friday November 11th):  In honor of Veteran’s Day, country music stars Keni Thomas and Montgomery Gentry will offer patriotic vocal performances at the Veteran’s Day Eternal Light Monument Ceremony, while Trace Adkins will offer a special performance at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s Veteran’s Day Ceremony. In addition, the Annual American Freedom Festival decided to relocate from Tampa to NYC’s Roseland Ballroom for a special night of music including Darryl Worley, Mark Wills, Charlie Daniels and New York’s own Michael Amante.
  • Culture & Entertainment Day (Saturday, November 12th):   Country music will be featured in famous New York City locations ranging from trendy downtown clubs to upscale uptown venues.  For the first time ever, Broadway and country music stars will join together for a historical performance, “Broadway Meets Country,” at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Saturday evening.
  • Sports & Parks Day (Sunday, November 13th):  Country music stars take center field and join the legendary New York City sports scene.  Country music star and veteran Keni Thomas will sing the National Anthem at the New York Giants home match-up versus the Minnesota Vikings.  Other country stars, including Kimberly Roades of Little Big Town, will take to the track in the Bronx to participate in the New York Road Runners Cross Country Championship 5K Race in Van Cortlandt Park.
  • Fashion & Shopping Day (Monday, November 14th):   The “Fashion Capital of the World” will present a citywide retail shopping promotion, and participating retailers in all five boroughs will offer discounts and special offers throughout the week.  Superstar Faith Hill will be hosting a special fashion event at Saks Fifth Avenue’s landmark store.
  • CMA Awards Day (Tuesday, November 15th):   The official CMA Awards Day will begin with CMA Awards hosts Brooks & Dunn ringing the Opening Bell for the New York Stock Exchange.  That evening, the 39th Annual CMA Awards will be broadcast live nationally on CBS from 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM (EST) from Madison Square Garden.

“Country music has become a part of America’s pop culture,” said Rick Murray, CMA VP of Strategic Marketing.  “The City of New York is made up of so many facets from sports to theater to fashion.  One of our goals in locating the 2005 CMA Awards in New York was to illustrate the breadth and depth of the music and how it is woven into the fabric of American culture. ‘Country Takes NYC’ is a perfect vehicle to accomplish this.”

The official “Country Takes NYC” guide was distributed with the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, November 6th; for a comprehensive listing of all themed-day activities and promotions, the guide can be found online at

In addition to the “Country Takes NYC” themed day activities, there are A-List country music performances taking place throughout the week in many of the City’s top music venues and clubs including Tracy Lawrence and Montgomery Gentry at B.B. King’s, Cliff Richard at Joe’s Pub, Keith Urban at Irving Plaza, and a special Grand Ole Opry 80th Anniversary Show at Carnegie Hall with performances by Trace Adkins, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Alan Jackson, to name just a few of the over twenty shows and events taking place.  The City also launched a comprehensive citywide decoration program to promote the 2005 CMA Awards and the “Country Takes NYC” celebrations including street pole banners, bus stop shelters and phone kiosks.  And the City’s own WNYE 91.5 FM radio station will take country music to the airwaves so New Yorkers can tune into country music programming from November 2nd through November 15th. 

“‘Country Takes NYC’ is a great celebration capturing the City’s excitement to host the 2005 CMA Awards with restaurants, retail stores and nightlife venues citywide welcoming ‘Country Music’s Biggest Night’ with special themed menus, in-store promotions, and live entertainment,” said NYC & Company President & CEO Nicholas.  “This special promotion is a fantastic showcase of the diversity, culture and excitement that makes New York a top destination for millions of country music fans from around the globe.”

NYC Big Events proactively approached the CMA in May 2003 about hosting the CMA Awards in New York.  Over the next few months, NYC Big Events developed a pitch highlighting the City’s unique ability as the #1 media market to increase the awareness, exposure and ratings of the CMA Awards.  In September 2003, the NYC Big Events team led by Deputy Mayor Doctoroff and President Reidy traveled to Chicago to pitch the CMA Board on the idea of holding the event in the Big Apple, the “Media Capital of the World.”  The team presented a plan that would benefit CMA by providing a platform for reaching the media and marketing capital of the world, and demonstrated that hosting the CMA Awards in New York City would expand media awareness and access as well as broaden the consumer base.  In October 2004, the Mayor and CMA announced that the awards show would move to New York City at a City Hall press conference.    

New York City has a strong history with country music.  When Garth Brooks took to the Central Park stage in 1997, he broke television and audience records when almost one million fans showed up to take part in country music history.  His legendary performance propelled New York to the top position in terms of country music sales, and the City has remained in the 1st or 2nd position ever since.  Over the years, New York City has played host to countless, sold-out country music concerts as far back as Gene Autry’s record-breaking attendance performance at Madison Square Garden in 1940 and more recently, other sold out shows have included Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. 

Beginning in 1968, the CMA Awards was the first music awards special to be broadcast annually on network television.  Since then, the program has consistently earned top ratings and is always one of the highest-rated specials in the television season.  More than 37 million people watched all or part of the 2004 CMA Awards, placing it behind only the Academy Awards and in a statistical tie with the GRAMMY Awards in ratings.  The 38th Annual CMA Awards, held on Tuesday, November 14th recorded a rating/share of 11.5/18.


Edward Skyler/Jennifer Falk   (212) 788-2958


Dara Busch   (Rubenstein for NYC Big Events)
(212) 843-8079

Bridget Klein (Edelman for CMA)   (212) 704-4453

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