Costner Calms Nerves To Host 'Artists Of The Year'

Kevin Costner rocks out with his band Modern West at the McDonalds Fundraising Gala at the Hyatt Hotel in Berlin, Germany on October 17, 2009 Kevin Costner rocks out with his band Modern West at the McDonalds Fundraising Gala at the Hyatt Hotel in Berlin, Germany on October 17, 2009

Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Costner isn’t what he’d call a “natural-born host.”

So when the folks at Country Music Television asked him to emcee their first annual “CMT Artists of the Year” show on Friday, he immediately said no.

“A lot of nerves go with something like this,” said Costner in a recent phone interview.

He said no again and again until executive producer John Hamlin sat him down and brought up Costner’s country band, Modern West. That’s when Costner realized he wasn’t being asked to host solely on his star power as an actor.

“To be honest, how this happened, it happened because of the music, not because of my desire to do a show,” said Costner.

It turns out Hamlin was a fan, both of his movies (“Dances with Wolves,” '‘Bull Durham,” '‘Field of Dreams”) and his music, and had been watching Modern West take a respectable path to success that included a hard-nosed focus on touring.

“I had an instinct about him based on my perceptions of him both as a movie actor and then seeing him perform with his band,” said Hamlin in a phone interview. “There’s a passion in him that permeates his movie roles that felt to me was real in him. Add to that that he’s going about his music career in an appropriate manner, given his circumstances as a movie actor, there was credibility that seemed like it was there.”

According to CMT, the five “Artists of the Year,” Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band, represent this year’s top acts in country music based on touring, radio airplay, album sales and Internet buzz.

“It’s really nothing but a lot of hard work, getting up early, traveling, doing interviews, and so, in a way, it’s not really glitzy,” said Costner. “Every artist is going to be surrounded by the network of people that has supported them probably very early in their career. It’s very much a familial kind of night that way.”

Kevin Costner and Modern West are currently writing and setting up their tour schedule for next year. Their tour will include stops in the United States, Europe and South America. Their debut album, “Untold Truths,” debuted on the Billboard country charts in 2008, followed by a sophomore effort, “Turn It On,” released last year in Europe.

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