How Super-Producer Shane McAnally Turned 40 Songs and 30 Superstars into "Forever Country"

CMAThe countdown is on to Friday morning’s release of “Forever Country,” the new single commissioned by the Country Music Association to mark 50 years of the CMA Awards. Put together by super-producer Shane McAnally, the new recording combines Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and the late John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

But the man behind the hits of Kenny Chesney and Old Dominion wasn’t always sure it would work.

Joseph Kahn, the video director, was the one who… said that he liked the idea of a mashup and I was really opposed to it," Shane confesses. "I thought that...might compromise the integrity of the full songs. Country music is about...stories and I certainly didn't want to go in and start chopping up people's songs. And he said, 'Why don't you just try? Just throw some ideas around and see what happens.'”

So Shane set about trying to turn a list of 40 classic country songs into something new.

“I was literally laying in bed thinking about these songs,” he recalls, “and I could hear 'I Will Always Love You' over 'Take Me Home, Country Roads.' And I wasn't sure that it would work, but I was like, 'If this is a possibility, this might really work!' So I got up and sort of sang the idea into my phone.”

With the help of 30 CMA winners, Shane’s initial idea evolved into “Forever Country,” which premieres Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET, with Joseph Kahn’s epic music video following on Tuesday.

You can get a sneak peak of the artists involved, from Keith Urban to Dierks Bentley to RebaTrisha Yearwood and many more, at ForeverCountry50.com.

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