Cole Swindell, Little Big Town, Lee Ann Womack, Margo Price Talk Anticipation of 2019 Grammy Awards

We’re only two days away from the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, and the excitement is building, even here in Music City.

Scores of Nashville’s big nominees have already boarded their planes and made the trek west in anticipation of a night that could change their lives and their careers forever.

To even be nominated for a Grammy or just to perform on the show is the ultimate dream for many artists, and a handful of the brightest are seeing that dream realized for the first time this year.

CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown caught up with Best New Artist nominee Margo Price at last week’s Nashville Grammy Nominations reception, where she talked about the surreal reality of being a first-time nominee.

“I’m really thrilled that I get to be there and even if I don’t get to perform, just being able to go to the Grammys and hang out is its an honor. I know with the Americana Awards and a lot of time even with the country awards sometimes they don’t televise it,” she said.

“It’s pretty cool.”

Price’s husband, Jeremy Ivey, chimed in on the nomination, saying, “It’s a proud feeling, I’m proud of her. This is a long time coming so with every step that she takes it makes me feel good.”

Ed Rode/WireImage

The journey to the Grammys was long and hard, but even at the top of the mountain, he notes, “You can’t ever get conformable, that’s the main thing. Even if you got your foot in the door you have to prove yourself all the time so I know that as far as being a writer or whatever…”

“…one bad tweet your career is over,” Price added with a laugh.

The members Little Big Town are no strangers to the Grammy Awards, but even still, any nomination or opportunity to go feels brand new.

“It’s thrilling, always thrilling, ” the group’s Jimi Westbrook told CMT.

His wife, Karen Fairchild, says this nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance is even more special because of the song that got them there: “When Someone Stops Loving You.”

“It’s like the thing that you don’t, you want to pretend you’re not paying attention to and then when you are and then when it happens it’s like… especially for this song ‘When Someone Stops Loving You’,” Fairchild said.

“It didn’t really get the radio play we felt like it deserved because it’s such a beautiful, really country song and we were just shocked when we woke up and saw that it was nominated, because we just thought ’Oh man, it’s one of those beautiful stories that’s getting passed over.’ But that’s the great thing about the Grammys, anything goes you know they’re watching, it doesn’t have to have commercial success for them to notice.”

“It meant a lot,” Westbrook added.

So what will happen if their names come up in their category?

“Well I get sweaty,” Kimberly Schlapman revealed.

“My fingers get sweaty, my hands start clamping together and I probably have my shoes off, so I slip my shoes on just in case, just in case they call our name. I used to never even put my shoes on, but then when we started winning a few things I was like ’I better slip my shoes on so I just do that now for good luck!’” she said.

Country star Lee Ann Womack, a nominee for both Americana Album and Americana Roots Song, also says a Grammy nod never ever gets old and this time, it feels even more special.

“Well I think it feels different,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for about 20 years and it took me many years to get comfortable.

“I grew up in East Texas, I spent a lot of time alone in my room and this red carpet kind of thing is glamorous–the kind of thing which I never had any exposure to in my life up until I was thrown in the middle of it. So you get more comfortable. Maybe I’m not as nervous, angry as I used to be over things,” she said with a laugh.

So what would it mean to Womack, who was welcomed with open arms as the toast of the Americana genre, to actually take home a Grammy this year?

“I think it would be probably the best thing ever in my career because I took a stand to do some changes in my career and do some things a little bit differently. Just to know that ’Ok, maybe I did the right thing,’ or to think somebody else thinks I did the right thing.”

Clearly, she did.

At his recent number one party for the smash, Grammy-nominated ballad “Break Up In The End,” country star Cole Swindell talked about what the nomination for songwriters Jon Nite, Chase McGill and Jessie Jo Dillon means to him, despite actually not be a writer on the hit.

“Honestly I think this one means just as much or more as any of them,” he told reporters.

“The fact they trusted me with it. I wanted to get it to the top of the charts but not just that but a Grammy nomination. No one can ever take that away, for me just as an artist. And it’s about the writers. I posted that immediately. They deserve this nomination. This song hit me hard enough to make me want to record it, make me wish I hadn’t lived it, wish I had written it.”

For Swindell, the Grammy Awards have always been at the top of his bucket list.

“I remember before I ever moved to Nashville I was hanging out one night and we ended up over at Hillary Lindsey’s place and she had a Grammy for a Carrie Underwood song up there. I remember seeing that and thinking, ‘I just want to write a song.’ The Grammy may not ever be in my future, but seeing that and thinking about that. You watch the Grammy Awards and it’s the biggest stars in music, country, whatever genre it is and it’s just cool to have a song and be a part of a song that’s nominated. I just love representing this genre. To be a small part of it is amazing.”

Country music is set to be a dominating presence Sunday night (Feb. 10) during the Grammy ceremony. Brandi Carlile, Dan + Shay, Maren Morris, LBT and Kacey Musgraves will represent country and Americana in the performance lineup.

And let’s not forget that tribute to Dolly Parton.

Tune in to see it all when the 61st Annual Grammy Awards air live from Staples Center in Los Angeles at 8 PM ET on CBS.

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.