With the arrival of the first-ever People's Choice Country Awards on Thursday night (Sept. 28), country music now has two entirely fan-voted awards shows (the other is the CMT Music Awards, which focuses primarily on music videos and televised visual moments.)

For the show's inaugural hosts, country quartet Little Big Town, the fan voting element makes the show even more special, and ensures that the unique passion country listeners have for their favorite artists will be reflected in the winners list.

"Fans: Trust yourself. Trust your heart. Trust what moves you," the band's Phillip Sweet said in a press conference ahead of the show, in response to a question about what qualities fans should take into consideration as they vote. "They're gonna vote for what they really love, and that's what we're gonna see."

"Country music fans, they have no problem showing their love for the people that they follow," agrees Jimi Westbrook. "I expect that's exactly what it'll be. Their hearts will vote for them.

"The most important people in country music are the fans," he adds.

As hosts, Little Big Town are "Switzerland" — they're not particularly rooting for one artist or another, and they won't venture any predictions about what will happen on awards show night. But they have noticed that some of the newer artists, including top nominees Morgan Wallen and Jelly Roll, have armies of fans on par with even the most seasoned country acts.

"You never wanna be in a category with Blake Shelton or Taylor Swift in any fan-voted thing, because they have this army of people [who will turn out to vote for them]," jokes LBT singer Karen Fairchild. "But I think we're seeing these younger artists like Kane [Brown] and Jelly Roll and Lainey [Wilson] that have that same kind of force. Morgan [Wallen]. Kelsea [Ballerini.] It's gonna be fun to watch."

"I think Jelly Roll is gonna surprise us all," Sweet muses.

But of course, Little Big Town aren't just show hosts. They're also Group/Duo of 2023 nominees, so they couldn't resist a little light-hearted plug when asked what fans should consider as they vote.

"I would like them to take us into consideration and vote for us!" Kimberly Schlapman jokes.

The 2023 People's Choice Country Awards air on Thursday night (Sept. 28) from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. The show will broadcast on NBC and will be available to stream live on Peacock.

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