Dierks Bentley grew up watching the CMA Awards at his home in Phoenix, Ariz., dreaming of the day that he might win a trophy for himself. It's those early years, the singer says -- especially watching the rise of superstar Garth Brooks -- that fueled his determination to pursue music full-time.

"We didn’t have cable, so we had three channels, and that was one of the big moments, when the CMAs came on," Bentley recently recalled to The Boot and other reporters. "It was a chance to see all the artists and your favorite singers in one room, dressed up, doing collaborations and whatnot."

Bentley moved to Music City in the 1990s and scored a job at the Country Music Association, which gave him a chance to work behind the scenes at the show that ignited his passion for country music.

"I remember when the Dixie Chicks came, everyone had the limo that dropped them off, and the Dixie Chicks came in three really cool, old-school cars and broke the rules by having their own ride, back when it was at the Grand Ole Opry House," Bentley recounts. "I remember escorting Shania Twain off the stage, after she performed, back to her bus, which was really cool. It was awesome."

Bentley has now attended the CMA Awards as an artist for 11 years, but it's a recent ceremony -- the 2015 CMA Awards -- that he believes will remain his favorite of all, thanks to one jaw-dropping performance.

"I think my favorite moment, that is probably everyone’s, most recently, was the Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake [collaboration]," Bentley says. "That was amazing. My memory about that is sitting behind Keith [Urban]. I was getting ready to stand up at the top of the song anyway; it was a big deal. Keith jumped up, like 20 seconds early, looked back at me, and was like, ‘Might as well get ready.’

"Everyone was so excited about that performance," Bentley adds, "and it was greater than anyone could have thought."

The 2016 CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2 at 8PM ET on ABC. Bentley is nominated for four awards at the upcoming ceremony, including Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year, the latter for Black.

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