Carrie Underwood, Casey James, & Josh Gracin Play CRS Showcases

Photo credit @BabsinRadioland

CRS stands for Country Radio Seminar: a 3 day event during which country radio DJs from all over the country go to Nashville to be wined and dined by labels and get access to the talent whom labels are hoping DJs will play on their stations. One of the biggest events during CRS is the General Jackson Boat Cruise run by Sony Nashville during which it trots out many of its established stars, rising acts, and even a new act or two to perform a song or two. That event took place tonight.

This year, the show was hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow and featured 15 acts including non-Sony acts Alabama and Tim McGraw. Sony Nashville invited 4 new acts that haven’t even released singles yet to perform and one of those 4 just happened to be Casey James. Also performing was Carrie Underwood. Meanwhile on the comforts of dry land, Josh Gracin played the Wild Horse Saloon for Average Joe’s Entertainment’s showcase. Look for details, photos and when they become available, video from the events, after the jump!

UPDATE: Added Yahoo recap with partial VIDEO of Carrie singing with Jerrod Niemann!
UPDATE 2: Added CMT recap with Carrie and Casey mentions. Also added WXTU picture of Casey performing.
UPDATE 3: We have our very first new Casey James song title courtesy of Country Aircheck!
UPDATE 4: Added FULL VIDEO of Carrie singing “What Do You Want” with Jerrod Niemann and recaps by GAC and The Tennessean.

UPDATE 4: GAC recap

Carrie Underwood. Carrie – who was fighting a cold and could barely talk above a whisper – still managed to wow the crowd when she sang “How Great Thou Art.” Let me repeat: the woman could barely talk and still was able to hit all the notes with precision and power. VERY impressive!

Tennessean recap

Other highlights from the star-packed evening included a two-song set from Carrie Underwood (“Undo It” and “Jesus Take the Wheel”), her appearance as Jerrod Niemann’s back-up singer for his single “What Do You Want, ”

UPDATE 3: Country Aircheck’s Daily Buzz reveals the 1st new Casey James song title: “Drive”

Former American Idol finalist Casey James was next, showing off strong guitar licks on an up-tempo number called “Drive.

Niemann led the crowd through a “Lover, Lover” sing-a-long, then was joined by Arista label-mate Carrie Underwood, who backed him up on his latest single, “What Do you Want.” Niemann thanked Underwood and quipped, “I can scratch that off my bucket list.”

More heavy metal was on the way after Carrie Underwood who, in spite of a bad cold, turned in a typically powerful performance, belting out “Undo It” and “Jesus Take The Wheel, ” which included a moving version of “How Great Thou Art” at the very end. SMN Chairman Gary Overton called Underwood “the best female vocalist in our format, ” then handed over a large plaque to mark two million in sales for Underwood’s Play On album.

UPDATE 2: CMT recap

As the showboat cruised the Cumberland River in Nashville, Sony rolled out the red carpet — not to mention dinner and an open bar — to showcase performances by its established acts (including Sara Evans, Jerrod Niemann, Jake Owen, Josh Thompson and Chris Young) and an array of newcomers (Brent Anderson, Bradley Gaskin, Casey James and an all-female quartet, the Lunabelles).

Along the way, Sony executives presented Underwood a plaque recognizing that her latest album, Play On, has been certified double platinum for shipments of 2 million copies. Young was given a plaque commemorating his three consecutive No. 1 singles.

Underwood provided a powerhouse performance of “Undo It” and followed it with one of her concert staples, making a segue from “Jesus, Take the Wheel” to “How Great Thou Art.”

WXTU picture of Casey performing:

UPDATE: Recap from Yahoo’s Our Country blog by Chris Willman with Carrie and Casey mentions.

On an acoustic stage that was set up in the rear of the showboat’s theater, Jerrod Niemann sang “What Do You Want, ” accompanied by a nicely understated Carrie Underwood on backing vocals. “I can scratch that off my bucket list, ” marveled Niemann.

Carrie Underwood sings backup harmonies for Jerrod Niemann on “What Do You Want”, Video courtesy Chris Willman

* Carrie sang two big hits on the main stage, “Undo It” and a “Jesus Take the Wheel”/”How Great Thou Art” medley. Her propensity for getting seasick has been a running joke on the boat show over the years; this time, she said, “I’m on my Dramamine. I ditched the [nausea-preventing] wristbands, though.” Underwood was also given a plaque for scanning 2 million units of Play On.

Four impressive freshman artists were introduced, including all-female quarter the Lulubelles, singer and slide guitarist Casey James, and Paisley protegee Brent Anderson.

Josh Gracin played a raucous set that included past hits, new songs, and also 2 Green Day covers according to Music Row. He also played a countrified cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”. Josh closed his set with his #1 hit “Nothin To Lose” and played drums for an extended outro of the song. A live stream was available here so check back to see if the show gets archived.

Casey James who has his 1st date opening for Sugarland on Friday, 3/4 was the fourth act to perform. There aren’t a lot of details available about his set yet, but Tony Thomas tweeted this picture of Casey performing. Casey did make an impression on XM Highway 16 DJ Al Skop, who first tweeted:

Wow, Casey James even sounds like Bucky Covington.

But soon followed up by tweeting

Retract last tweet. This guy can PLAY!

Carrie Underwood‘s 1st song of the night came early in the evening and it was a duet, though not the duet that some were expecting. She joined rising new act Jerrod Niemann to sing his current single “What Do You Want” which is on its way to the top-10. As we await video (which will hopefully surface), here are some pictures: Pic 1, Pic 2, Rear view KFKF Kansas City DJ Dale Carter tweeted:

Jerrod Neimann just told me getting intro’d by Gwyneth Paltrow & singing w/Carrie is now OFF the Bucket List. #CRS

Carrie would return later for a 2 song set with her band during which she performed “Undo It” and a mashup of “Jesus Take The Wheel” and “How Great Thou Art” after which she received a plaque marking the double platinum certification of her 3rd album ‘Play On’ (picture at the top of post). Billboard’s Silvio Pietroluongo tweeted:

Carrie Underwood on Sony Nashville CRS show livens up the crowd with Undo It.

Carrie’s mashup of JTTW/HGTA earned her a standing ovation according to multiple tweets:

Carrie Underwood blew the house down w/ “Jesus Take The Wheel” into “how Great Thou Art.” Stunning. Sony boat. #CRS Nashville


Carrie Underwood tops off Jesus Take The Wheel with How Great Thou Art. gets standing ovation. #CRS


Standing ovation for Carrie #CRS Sony boat

We’ll forgive Country Weekly for the song error because of this compliment ;)

Carrie Underwood w/ barely a speaking voice still KILLED on Temporary Home/How Great Thou art to a standing ovation! AMAZING performance!

Another Country Weekly tweet:

Highlights of the Sony Boat Show – @Saraevansmusic; @ChrisYoungmusic and Carrie Underwood

The “mystery” surrounding Carrie’s confirmed duet with Brad Paisley continues. Despite a radio station’s confirmation of the duet’s existence, title and subject, Carrie played coy when asked about it by Seattle WMPS DJ Tony Thomas:

For the awesome Carrie fans who are so great to me: I asked her. She said with the smallest smile: “What…duet?” :)

The ongoing air of mystery is not because “Remind Me” will be Brad’s next single, since Brad did bring out a reunited Alabama to perform what he identified as his next single (a collaboration with them): “Old Alabama.” Tonight on her fan club messageboard, Carrie also played coy, winking while she commented on the possibility of a duet with Brad.

Another picture of Carrie with a DJ on the boat.
Group picture of DJs, Carrie, Brad, & Jerrod Niemann

This is a starter post that will be updated as video and reviews get posted. Expect articles from CMT and probably Music Row about the show sometime Friday, and possibly more. Feel free to post relevant content in comments and I’ll update the post!

About Deb B 432 Articles
Also known as Windmills, I cover country music news and live televised country events, in addition to recapping ABC's 'Nashville.' Additionally, I occasionally do long-form chart analysis that has been cited by Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The New Republic, NPR, and more.