CMA Fest brings out some of Country Music’s biggest stars and even more fans every year. The 47th annual CMA Fest drew tens of thousands of fans to the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium, capacity crowds at Chevrolet Riverfront Stage and the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater, and largest engagement by Country Music fans in the event’s history from visitors from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and 36 international countries. Additionally, millennials made up 41% (the highest share) of new attendees and continue the trend of a growing younger CMA Fest audience which supports the growing younger Country Music audience trend overall.
The longest-running Country Music festival in the world took over downtown Nashville Thursday through Sunday, June 7-10, with more than 300 acts performing on 11 official stages and ticket proceeds going directly to helping enrich and sustain music education programs across the country through CMA’s nonprofit arm, the CMA Foundation, thanks to every artist at the festival donating their time. The festival is filmed for a three-hour special, “CMA Fest,” which will be hosted by Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini and airs Wednesday, Aug. 8 on the ABC Television Network. This year marks the 15th consecutive year of the broadcast.
Below are the highlights from each day…
U.S. Bank and the CMA Foundation partnered together at CMA Fest 2018 to help spread awareness of the importance of music education. During CMA Fest, fans posted pictures on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #itstartswithME and #MusicMadePossible and their photos were placed in the IT STARTS WITH M.E. Mosaic Wall.
Returning as CMA Fest co-host alongside Thomas Rhett for the second year in a row, Kelsea Ballerini introduced some of Country’s biggest acts playing Nashville’s Nissan Stadium while her brand new music video for current chart-climbing single “I Hate Love Songs” (penned by Ballerini, Shane McAnally, and Trevor Rosen) made its debut on the stadium’s big screens on Friday (6/8).
Earlier that day, she surprised her fan club as she had sets from her lovestruck music video, directed by Traci Goudie, reconstructed in the heart of Music City inside Bridgestone Arena. With popcorn popping, there was a special showing of the full-length music video with Ballerini, before she revealed such spots as the “Legends Diner” and the bubblegum pink wall covered with an explosion of streamers, balloons, and flowers. Guests were invited to walk through the sets plus snag a photo with Ballerini, before receiving a box of Russell Stover-brand chocolates as a souvenir. She also made the day super special for one fan, as she had asked to sing “Graveyard” with the Country star during the Q&A, which Ballerini made happen during her mini concert.
Garth Brooks surprised fans on Saturday at CMA Fest, to perform on the CMA Close Up Stage at Xfinity Fan Fair X inside Music City Center. Fans who packed the stage hours before Garth appeared were treated to a medley of Brooks’ hits including “Friends In Low Places,” “The Dance,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” and “The River.” Brooks also participated in a Q&A with SiriusXM’s Storme Warren and answered questions from fans in the audience. Brooks’ appearance, which was live-streamed through CMA’s Facebook page, has been viewed more than 72,000 times.
Tracy Lawrence brought his “Honky Tonkin’” show concept to CMA Music Festival on Saturday, June 10th, again this year with his friends; the legendary Joe Stampley, Grammy Award-winning artist Linda Davis and country artist Adam Sanders. The performance was inspired by Lawrence’s nationally syndicated radio show “Honky Tonkin’” with Tracy Lawrence, which airs on more than 80 affiliates across the country.
Photo: LEFT TO RIGHT: Chuck Pursel (Tour Manager), Adam Sanders, Patrick Thomas (Producer -Silver Fish Media), Tracy Lawrence, Joe Stampley and Steve Emley (Manager-Fitzgerald Hartley).
FRONT ROW- Linda Davis and Brandi Simms (Senior Director of Awards & Industry Relations-CMA)