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Maren Morris onstage at the 2019 CMA Fest held at the Bridgestone Arena on June 9, 2019 in Nissan Stadium, TN. © Tammie Arroyo / AFF-USA.COM

The 48th Annual CMA Fest is in the Books

Four straight days of sold-out shows and capacity crowds, as well as surprise performances and collaborations, made CMA Fest 2019 one for the record books.

At Nissan Stadium, Lil Nas X created one of the festival’s most talked-about moments Saturday night, joined by Billy Ray Cyrus and reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban for an epic surprise performance of “Old Town Road,” the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks and running.

Country Music Hall of Fame’s newest inductees, Brooks & Dunn joined Brothers Osborne Thursday night to perform “Hard Workin’ Man” as well as “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” including Ashley McBryde, while Tanya Tucker brought out surprise guest Brandi Carlile to perform multiple songs during her opening set. Kelsea Ballerini welcomed The Chainsmokers for an explosive performance of “This Feeling” on Thursday night, Carrie Underwood brought out rock ‘n’ roll legend Joan Jett for a five-song medley performance of Jett’s hits including “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” “Bad Reputation,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Fresh Start” and “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” on Friday night, Luke Combs joined Tim McGraw Saturday night to perform “Real Good Man,” and Maren Morris welcomed Carlile back to perform their striking song “Common” Sunday night. Florida Georgia Line was joined by HARDY during “Y’all Boys” and Morgan Wallen for “Up Down,” with an additional surprise including Midland performing “Mr. Lonely” Thursday night. Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell performed “What Happens In A Small Town” Friday night ,and Dierks Bentley welcomed Tenille Townes to the stage Saturday night, celebrating women in Country with cover performances of Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s in Love with a Boy” and Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.” Luke Bryan had the entire stadium on their feet dancing, closing out the festival on Sunday night.

“CMA Fest,” the three-hour primetime television special hosted by Thomas Rhett and Ballerini alongside special guest host Bobby Bones airs Sunday, August 4 at 8/7c on the ABC Television Network.

“Despite some weather challenges, this year’s CMA Fest was truly one to remember,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “It’s a great event for fans to see their favorites and discover new artists. The feedback I received from artists is how much they enjoy the more intimate interactions with fans that CMA Fest offers. We managed to integrate the CMA Foundation and our music education efforts throughout the festival, which culminated with the Eagle Honor Choir belting out Carrie Underwood’s ‘The Champion’ to a packed house at Nissan Stadium Sunday night. It was certainly one of the highlights of the festival.”

Rain didn’t damper the spirit of festival goers, as fans came out in droves Thursday, June 6 through Sunday, June 9. The festival took over downtown Nashville, with more than 300 acts performing on 11 official stages. The nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium were sold out, with more than 50,000 in attendance each night. Tens of thousands of fans attended the festival’s outdoor stages and activations as well as Xfinity Fan Fair X inside Music City Center. Chevy Riverfront Stage, Budweiser Forever Country Stage and the Nashville Acoustic Corner Stage all reached capacity during CMA Fest.

The Firestone Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater, which returned for a third year, sold out Friday and Saturday nights with a capacity of 6,800. BBR Music Group led the charge with co-headliners Randy Houser and Chase Rice getting the party going Thursday while Red Light Management offered a Friday lineup that drew capacity crowds topped by Brett Young. Former rodeo champion turned rising Country talent Cody Johnson co-headlined Saturday with Hunter Hayes, drawing another standing-room-only crowd partying to a lineup programmed by Warner Music Nashville. Johnson thanked military, law enforcement and firefighters, asking anyone who’s served or works in these areas to stand and be recognized.

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About Jerry Holthouse

Jerry Holthouse
Music editor for Nashville.com. Jerry Holthouse is a content writer, songwriter and a graphic designer. He owns and runs Holthouse Creative, a full service creative agency. He is an avid outdoorsman and a lover of everything music. You can contact him at JerryHolthouse@Nashville.com

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