The challenge? Finding a way to celebrate 50 years of celebrating country music. The solution? According to Shane McAnally, blending together three iconic country songs and getting the biggest country stars on the planet to sing it.
Sounds easy, right? Not so, says the country music producer.
Mashing up John Denver’s “Country Roads, Take Me Home”, Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” was “a very scary process,” McAnally shares.
“The first conversation I remember having about the CMA project was at CMA board meeting when everyone was just sort of brainstorming about an interesting, unique way that we might bring light to the 50th anniversary,” he explains.
“I didn’t think it would work in our genre,” he says. “I said, ‘Maybe in pop music you can just take a piece of a song, but we tell stories. And we can’t just cut into them and take a piece.’”
A top country music producer, it wasn’t hard to get the genre’s biggest stars like Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Blake Shelton to sign on.
“When I first heard the idea of them mashing up ‘I Will Always Love You,’ ‘Take Me Home Country Roads’ and ‘On The Road Again’ I was like ‘how’s that going to work?,'” Underwood says.
“As geographical as the song sort of is,” Urban adds about the John Denver classic, saying he has a underlying theme that resonates with everyone, adding “it’s also incredibly universal, so I think that’s why songs like that transcend everything because it’s about home and very universal human things.”
Directed by “Bad Blood” helmer Joseph Khan, all profits from the sales and streaming of “Forever Country” will go toward music education causes supported by the CMA Foundation.