Performers accustomed to commanding the stage stood meekly in line Tuesday night (Jan. 18) to take their turn at telling a row of television, radio, print and online reporters what it feels like to be competing for Grammy awards.

The occasion was the annual Grammy nominees party, sponsored by the Recording Academy and held at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. Apart from performers, the event also attracted a large crowd of support personnel from the music industry, among them sound engineers, producers, managers, label executives, booking agents, publishers and studio musicians.

Standing behind the rope that separated guests from the working press, one could watch the progress of Ricky Skaggs' impressive white mane, Chris Young's crisp black hat and Dierks Bentley's once-again curly locks as they moved almost imperceptibly from one interview session to the next.

Skaggs is in the running for best pop-contemporary gospel album and best traditional folk album, Young for best male country vocal performance and Bentley for best country album and two best country vocal collaborations.

Other country and bluegrass contenders taking the slow walk were Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Sam Bush, Cherryholmes, Del McCoury, The Band Perry, Dailey & Vincent, the SteelDrivers and Jett Williams, singer and daughter of Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Williams.

Also attending were such non-country nominees as the pop band Paramore, the gospel duo Jeff & Sherri Easter and members of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Guests who had no red-carpet duties to perform gathered in an adjacent room and mingled around two bars and a fancy buffet spread. There they were further entertained -- as they have been in years past -- by the exquisite Birdsong jazz trio.

Circulating through the crowd were Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta, Universal Music Group Nashville chief Luke Lewis, songwriters Frank Myers, Matraca Berg and Sam Tate, producers Tony Brown and Jon Randall Stewart, ASCAP's Tim DuBois, BMI's Perry Howard and David Preston, SESAC's Tim Fink and Shannan Hatch, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Jeff Hanna, writer and record exporter John Lomax III and talent manager Dan Harrell.

The Grammy winners will be announced Feb. 13 on a CBS-TV special broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

View photos from the Grammy nominees party.