From Surprise Collaborations to Electrifying Performances: 13 Highlights of CMA Fest in Nashville
From Miranda Lambert, to Corey Kent, to Megan Moroney, and Cody Johnson, here are 13 unforgettable moments from CMA Fest.
Miranda Lambert, Corey Kent, Megan Moroney, Cody Johnson; Photos by Andrew Wendowski
CMA Fest marked its 50th Anniversary with a record-breaking celebration in Nashville, June 8 through June 11.
The four-day event hosted an estimated daily attendance of over 90,000, a 12% increase from 2022, according to the Country Music Association. Additionally, the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium saw 10% growth from 2022.
The festival also hosted fans from all 50 states as well as a record-breaking 51 countries.
“What a weekend! As we’ve spent the past year reflecting on this milestone celebration, one theme has persisted—the incredible connection between Country Music fans and the artists,” Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer, shared in a statement. “It’s magical because it still matters after all these years. From first-timers to legends, so many artists started as fans—some as far back as Fan Fair. Almost every artist who performs during the festival has had their own experience as a fan, so for many of them, taking the stage at CMA Fest is a full-circle moment. We only get the chance to celebrate our 50th anniversary once, and to do so in such an impactful way has meant the world to us. Thank you, Country Music!”
More than 300 acts took part in CMA Fest this year, including performances at the Chevy Riverfront Stage, Dr Pepper Amp Stage, Chevy Vibes Stage, Maui Jim Reverb Stage and the Hard Rock Stage as well at Fan Fair X inside Music City Center.
Here are the 13 highlights from CMA Fest 2023.
Miranda Lambert Welcomes Superstar Guests
The 14-time CMA Awards winner brought the star power during her electric set at Nissan Stadium. In addition to treating fans to performances of some of her biggest hits, Lambert also joined forces with Elle King (“Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home),” Leon Bridges (“If You Were Mine)”, and Avril Lavigne (“Kerosene” and “Sk8er Boi”).
Tim McGraw Touches Hearts With “Humble And Kind”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house on Sunday evening when Tim McGraw invited 5th and 6th-grade students from Metro Nashville Public Schools to join him on stage to perform his chart-topping hit, “Humble and Kind.” The performance was coordinated through the CMA Foundation.
Lainey Wilson Dominates On The Big Stage
Reigning CMA New Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year, Lainey Wilson solidified her superstar status with her standout performance on the Nissan Stadium stage. If festival attendees weren’t a fan of Wilson when they walked into the stadium on Friday evening, they were by the time they left.
Cody Johnson Surprises With Reba McEntire
Texas came to Tennessee on Friday night when Cody Johnson brought his energetic live performance to the main stage of CMA Fest for the first time ever. Johnson had fans in the palm of his hands during “‘Til You Can’t” and “Human,” and their excitement went through the roof when he was joined by Reba McEntire for a performance of her breakthrough hit, “Whoever’s In New England.”
Lauren Alaina and Lainey Wilson Debut Cheeky Duet
Fans at the Chevy Riverfront witnessed the first-ever performance of Lauren Alaina and Lainey Wilson’s red-hot new duet, “Thicc As Thieves.” Wilson surprised the audience when she joined Alaina on stage just hours after the song’s official release. The show-stopping performance was undoubtedly a highlight of the week.
Corey Kent Shines During Breakout Moment
The Oklahoma native drew an impressive crowd at the Chevy Riverfront. Fans flocked to the free show to experience his undeniable stage presence and witness his just-released debut album, Blacktop, come to life. His performance of his first-ever No.1 single, “Wild As Her,” had fans singing along at the top of their lungs.
Luke Combs Delights With Surprise Vince Gill Duet
Two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year, Luke Combs, never ceases to impress and his set on Thursday event during CMA Fest was no different. He seemed to have an extra pep in his step all night as he was grinning ear-to-ear. Maybe it was the support from the fans, or maybe it was his surprise deut with his musical hero, Vince Gill, that has him smiling. Either way, it was a memorable performance.
Jordan Davis Proves He’s A Superstar
Celebrating his first-ever full set at Nissan Stadium during CMA Fest, Jordan Davis had the crowd rocking with an energetic performance that included hits like “What My World Spins Around,” “Almost Maybes,” and “Singles You Up.” Fans lit up the stadium during his tender rendition of “Buy Dirt.” This was his first, but definitely not his last performance on the big stage.
Alabama Receives High Honor
CMA Fest attendees were shocked to see the legendary band Alabama take to the Nissan Stadium stage on Sunday evening. The nine-time CMA Award winners performed “Mountain Music” a medley of “Dixieland Delight” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” They were also surprised with CMA Pinnacle Award. Previous recipients of the honor include Garth Brooks (2005), Taylor Swift (2013), and Kenny Chesney (2016).
Megan Moroney Hosts Riverfront Sing-Along
Moroney proved her rising star power as she brought a brought a capacity crowd to the Chevy Riverfront Stage. The standout singer/songwriter had fans singing along to several tracks from her just-released debut album, LUCKY. “Tennessee Orange” drew the biggest reaction as she closed out her set with a massive sing-along.
Jo Dee Messina Reminds Us Why She’s A Star
Fans had the chance to re-live Jo Dee Messina’s incredible catalog of hits when she opened Thursday’s Nissan Stadium concert. Her vocals shined throughout performances of “Bye, Bye,” “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” and more.
Jelly Roll Gets Emotional
Nashville native experience a dream come true moment when he stepped onto the stage at Nissan Stadium to perform “Need A Favor” and “Son Of A Sinner.” Jelly Roll was overcome with emotions at the conclusion of his performance and tears began to stream down his face as fans began to chant his name.
Luke Bryan Closes Out CMA Fest On A High Note
CMA Fest 2023 came to a close with a bang when Luke Bryan lit up the stage with his hit songs and signature dance moves. There’s a reason why Bryan was crowned CMA Entertainer of the Year twice, and this performance reminded fans why.
CMA Fest was taped for television and will air on ABC on Wednesday, July 19 at 8/7c.
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