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Grammys 2013: Country Performances in Short Supply?

Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Country music has been an integral part of the Grammy Awards since the first trophies were presented in 1959, although the first country Grammy was actually awarded to folk group the Kingston Trio for the murder ballad “Tom Dooley.” Country music has also been a presence since the first Grammy live telecast in 1971, although arguably a limited one until recent years.

In 1973, the first year the Grammys aired on CBS (after two years at ABC), the show originated from Nashville, with Donna Fargo and Charley Pride among the country performers presented with trophies during the live telecast. In recent years, the vast number of categories in which awards are presented (81!) have made it virtually impossible to present all the awards during the live show and also include performances representative of as many musical genres as possible. Increasingly, country performances have been featured during the show, yet many country fans may still feel shortchanged. Will this year’s telcast be different? Let’s take a look at who’s slated to perform on this year’s star-studded gala.

Grammy.com, the official site of the Recording Academy and all things Grammy, has compiled an alphabetical list of announced performers slated for the show. Country acts featured include Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown (participating in a tribute to the late Levon Helm, with musical director T Bone Burnett), Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. The remaining 16 live performances will spotlight pop, rock, hip-hop and jazz, with solo performances and one-of-a-kind collaborations. (Sorry, classical music buffs, guess this isn’t your year!)

Country fans — yours truly included, to be perfectly honest — could make the case that that the inclusion of Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson doesn’t exactly increase country’s visibility on the telecast, so we’re really only getting two truly country performances (unless Carrie or Dierks and Miranda plan to surprise us by busting out a hip-hop number, which is, thankfully, highly unlikely).

With country music stronger than ever, and an honest-to-goodness country act (Hunter Hayes) nominated for Best New Artist, it’s a shame one of the performance spots wasn’t offered to him (unless there are more surprises to come). Yes, we do have the ACM, ACA and CMA awards throughout the year to keep us satisfied, but with two of the top Grammy-winning performers of all time, Vince Gill and Alison Krauss (47 between them and both nominated again this year) representing the country genre, it’s tough not to be disappointed there aren’t more country performers in the mix. Now, we’ll just have to wait to see which awards are presented during the live telecast.

Meanwhile, on that subject, here’s a personal plea to our favorite rabble-rouser, nominee Blake Shelton: If anyone in the country world can stir up a good old-fashioned controversy on our behalf, it’s you! You’re nominated for Best Country Solo Performance and the Best New Artist category includes one of your Nashville labelmates. We don’t want you or Hunter to lose, but if it doesn’t happen to go our way, how about pulling a Kanye for us?

Watch a Preview of the 2013 Grammy Awards

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