‘American Idol’s’ HunterGirl Fulfills Lifelong Dream At CMA Fest: ‘I Am Freaking Out!’

American Idol runner-up HunterGirl made her CMA Fest debut during the 49th edition of the annual country music festival in…


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

June 13, 2022


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HunterGirl; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

American Idol runner-up HunterGirl made her CMA Fest debut during the 49th edition of the annual country music festival in Nashville, Tennessee.

On Thursday (June 9), GRAMMY-nominated country singer Jimmie Allen, who served as a mentor on the latest season of Idol, surprised fans at the Riverfront when he allowed the Platinum ticket recipient to live out her dreams of playing CMA Fest.

Allen exited the stage after performing several tunes as HunterGirl took to the microphone with her acoustic guitar alongside Allen’s band to perform her debut single, “Red Bird.” 

Following her performance, HunterGirl took to social media to gush over the special moment.

“​​OH MY GOSH WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! I can’t believe I got to play on the Chevy Riverfront Stage at @cma fest,” HunterGirl wrote. ”I am freaking out!! Huge thank you to @jimmieallen for inviting me on stage to sing “Red Bird”. You are the best! I have dreamed of playing CMA Fest for forever. ❤️ #redbird #cma

HunterGirl also performed “Can’t Do Without Me” with Season 19 winner of American Idol, Chayce Beckham. The tune is originally a duet by Beckham and Lindsey Ell.

“Huge thank you to @chaycebeckhammusic for letting me get up on stage and sing “Can’t Do Without Me” with him!” HunterGirl shared following her performance with Beckham. ”I had so much fun! 🙌🏻 💙 You are the best. First CMA Fest has been INSANE!!!!”

Additionally, HunterGirl joined Idol alum, Laci Kaye Booth, on Saturday (June 11) to perform a song together in front of festival-goers.

“Love you so much @lacikayebooth 💛,” the 23-year-old said on Instagram. ”thank you for letting me get up on stage with you today. You are the sweetest person!”

In the comment of the post, Booth praised the Season 20 Idol runner-up’s vocals and graciously thanked her for joining her on the Chevy Vibes stage.

“Love YOU so much!” Booth commented. ”You are the most precious soul with the most beautiful voice. Thank you for singing with me 💜”

Throughout CMA Fest weekend, HunterGirl also hosted meet and greet opportunities at Fan Fair X in Music City Center at several different booths. 

Noah Thompson and HunterGirl Meet Fans at CMA Fest; Photo by Hunter Berry, CMA
Noah Thompson and HunterGirl Meet Fans at CMA Fest; Photo by Hunter Berry, CMA

In addition to meeting fans and sharing the stage with Allen, Booth and Beckham, HunterGirl also met several country stars such as Lainey Wilson, Lindsey Ell, and more.

HunterGirl recently released her debut single, “Red Bird,” co-written by HunterGirl (Hunter Wolkonowski) alongside Austin Goodloe and Matt McKinney and produced by Jimmy Robbins.

“Red Bird” brings the age-old belief that seeing a cardinal means that a loved one is visiting you from Heaven to life. Throughout the lyrics, Huntergirl begs for a red bird to appear to help her get through the tough times.

“My momma told me when I was a kid / When a red bird flies close your eyes / Makes a wish here it is / Right around the time my faith went missing / I was praying for angel, but the wings looked different / God if you’re listening could you send me one on down,” she sings on the chorus.

YouTube video

The song is extremely personal to HunterGirl, who admits that she teared up during the “Red Bird” writing session. 

“When I was a little girl my family always told me ‘when you see a red bird, it is a sign from Heaven that a family member is looking after you,’” Huntergirl explains. “Cardinals have been a big sign in my life and really important to my family. Red Bird is a song that I wrote from my heart with Matt and Austin. I cried in the writing room with this song. I want people to know that we are never alone and the ones we love are always watching over us. Sometimes you just need a red bird.”

Click above to listen.

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.