Carrie Underwood Brad Paisley CMA Hosts - Lead 2016
Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley aren’t technically related, but you might think so upon seeing their on-stage rapport at the Country Music Awards. “Brad is willing to make himself the butt of the joke, which you’ve got to respect,” Underwood says in the September issue of Southern Living. “We’re both willing to look stupid, but he assumes the role of annoying big brother. And I’m sure he would call me the annoying little sister.”

The country stars’ playful banter is what got them asked back to host the CMA Awards together for the ninth time this year, on the show’s 50th anniversary. The duo grace SL’s newest cover and take them behind the scenes in their prep for “Country Music’s Biggest Night.”

Souther Living - Brad and Carrie LEAD
Credit: Courtesy Southern Living

“It’s a big deal, 50 years,” Paisley says. “This is the year to show some class. I will be wearing a tuxedo.” Underwood, for her part, always dresses in a gorgeous gown. “Woo-ooo!” she responds. “Finally, he’ll step it up and match me a little more!”

Their comfortable chemistry goes way back to the start of the American Idol star’s career, when she opened shows for the already-established country crooner. “We’re definitely there for each other,” she says, revealing that they write much of the show’s material by themselves.

“There’s a lot of trust between us,” Paisley says. “That’s key when you’re standing out there on that tightrope.”

There’s also a lot of talent: With 20 CMA Awards between them, these country stars know what it feels like to stand on center stage with a trophy in hand. Watch them show off their “George and Gracie” chemistry when the 50th annual CMA Awards air live on ABC on Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. ET, and read more of their interview in the new issue of Southern Living. We can't wait.