Morgan Evans opens up about his CMC love story
COUNTRY music fans didn't know it at the time, but during the broadcast of the 2016 CMC Music Awards they were watching a romance blossom.
Australian singer Morgan Evans teamed up with rising American star Kelsea Ballerini to host the annual event, always held the night before the start of the three-day CMC Rocks music festival.
The two artists didn't meet until they started rehearsing for the awards, which are now broadcast live on Foxtel.
Now, a year later, Morgan and Kelsea are engaged and live together in Nashville.
"If all the hosting duties ever did was introduce me to her then that's great, but they've done a whole lot more for me," he tells The Guide.
Four years ago the Newcastle native won New Oz Artist of the Year and then went on to win back-to-back Male Oz Artist of the Year awards.
He returns to host the 2017 CMC Awards, solo this time as Kelsea is in the middle of a US tour, for the third year running.
"I'm almost a veteran of it now," he laughs.
"The year before last was my first year and it was just completely crazy. I had no idea what to expect and just when I thought I was getting comfortable they made it live, which brings this whole other element of 'don't mess it up'."
Morgan did anything but mess things up. His performance last year alongside Kelsea helped the CMC Awards earn AACTA and Logie nominations.
"That's a credit to the whole team," he says.
"This year I'll be way more comfortable about it because I know how it feels to be up there and I know how it looks now. I think I'm more excited this time."
Lee Kernaghan will be inducted into the CMC Hall of Fame during tonight's ceremony, held for the first time on the Gold Coast at The Star (formerly Jupiters).
There will also be performances by Kernaghan, Little Big Town, Kip Moore, The McClymonts and Travis Collins.
Tonight's live broadcast is just the start of a long weekend of work and play for Morgan, who hosts the CMC channel's coverage of CMC Rocks. He also performs on the main stage at Willowbank on Saturday night just before headliners Little Big Town.
Moving to Nashville has given him a new appreciation for Aussie country music fans.
"They're harder to impress," he says. "If you can get it right in the pubs of Newcastle then you can get it right anywhere. It's a great way to learn how to perform, and every time I get on stage in the States I'm grateful for having that experience."
He also can't wait to get in a sneaky trip to the beach.
"I still wake up every day (in Nashville) missing the beach," he says.
"I'm glad the awards are on the Gold Coast this year because that stretch between the Gold Coast and Byron is one of my favourite places in the world."
The seventh annual CMC Music Awards air tonight on Foxtel's CMC channel at 7.30pm Qld, 8.30pm NSW.