With the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) annual awards show set for this Sunday, here’s what to look for….

Dallas Smith is co-hosting for the very first time and he head into the show with the #1 song in Canada! His current single, “Drop,” his eighth #1 hit, BTW, reached the top of the Billboard Country Canada Airplay chart yesterday. While it seems logical to think he’ll be doing that song on the show, don’t be surprised if he performs a brand new song, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Alone.” Dallas has recorded the song with special guests Dean Brody and Mackenzie Porter and both are scheduled to perform on the show. With them all hitting the road this fall with the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Tour Alone” tour, a play on the song title, it seems only natural they’d do the new song. Smith might even do both songs.

Dallas’ co-host, Billy Ray Cyrus, although no stranger to Canada – his TV series “Doc” was filmed in Toronto for the first few years of the new millennium – is making his first-ever appearance on the awards show. His collaboration with Lil Nas X on the controversial “Old Town Road” (is it country?) has become such a huge hit that Billboard named it the official Song of the Summer. While there has been a little blow-back about having an American co-host the show, it’s not the first time. Legends like Charley Pride, John Conlee, Janie Fricke, Marie Osmond and Crystal Gayle have co-hosted the show before. Crystal was the last American co-host back in 1990. The decision to involve our neighbours in the show goes back to the days of the CCMA trying to make the show more marketable to foreign networks by having some big American stars on it. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to have them bragging about being on the Canadian show when they get home!

Other Americans on Sunday’s show include singer/songwriter Mitchel Tenpenny, who’ll be performing with his girlfriend Meghan Patrick, the reigning Female Artist, Old Dominion, Morgan Wallen and Pam Tillis, who made an appearance on last year’s show.

During the course of the two-hour broadcast, eight awards will be presented on television: Entertainer, Fans’ Choice, Male Artist, Female Artist, Group or Duo, Rising Star, Single and Album of the Year. That’s a small fraction of the 40-plus awards that will be handed out in the next few days. A gala luncheon tomorrow (Friday) will see 21 industry and musician awards handed out with another 13 awards presented at the Gala Dinner the night before the awards show. Like all the other music awards show, the Canadian Country Music Awards show has morphed into a showcase for the artists and their new, upcoming or current singles…with some awards presented on live TV.

A highlight to watch for will be a tribute to this year’s Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Major. Last year’s winner, Terri Clark, will no doubt lead the tribute with contributions from some of today’s young bucks like Shawn Austin, Andrew Hyatt and JoJo Mason.

Other performers on the show will include award nominees the James Barker Band, Paul Brandt, Jade Eagleson (a Rising Star nominee who’ll be making his award show performance debut), Lindsay Ell, Aaron Goodvin, Tim Hicks, High Valley, The Hunter Brothers, Jess Moskaluke, The Reklaws, Tebey and Tenille Townes. Aaron Pritchett is also scheduled to perform and Gord Bamford, Chad Brownlee, Brett Kissel, Madeline Merlo, Deric Ruttan, The Washboard Union, Jim Cuddy and Alan Doyle will be attending. There will be several opportunities for some unique collaborations in order to squeeze in all the performers on the show.

Those not performing will be doing award-presenting duties. Joining them will be Alberta gold medal Olympian Erica Wiebe, “ET Canada” co-host Cheryl Hickey, plus Dane Rupert and Anthony Douglas, the winner and runner-up of season seven of “Big Brother Canada.” The non-Canadian country artists on the show are usually added to give a moment of promotion to TV shows airing on the hosting television network.

While most of the televised award shows have been produced and shown on the CBC or CTV national networks, this year’s show will be on the Global television network at 9pm Eastern. It’s kind of fitting that Global has the broadcast rights to this year’s show, through their parent company Corus Entertainment. In 1986, CKND-TV in Winnipeg, a Global TV affiliate, broadcast the show marking the first time the Canadian Country Music Awards were televised nationally.

And if you’re not a fan of country rap or country trap or country hip-hop, should Billy Ray happen to perform “Old Town Road,” a button on your remote or Siri can mute the sound.

Good luck to all the nominees!