Monday, June 13, 2022
– CMA Fest made its grand return to Nashville this past weekend (June 9-12), following a two-year postponement due to the pandemic.
More than 80,000 estimated attendees from all 50 states and a record-breaking 39 foreign countries came to the festival seeing more than 260 acts.
"We did it! It had been 1,099 days since we last kicked off CMA Fest (in 2019), and to finally be here feels incredible," said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "So many emotions have gone through my head this week, but I think gratitude sums it up best. Seeing the fans return to Nashville or visit us for the very first time is so heartwarming, and welcoming back our artists and the music community after two difficult years means so much. It truly takes a village to pull off this event. Thank you to all of our partners within Nashville and beyond for helping us bring CMA Fest back."
The event kicked off Thursday with Jimmie Allen.
Fans also packed the house at Nissan Stadium every night with surprise collaborations.
Kicking things off on Thursday night was Darius Rucker joining Zac Brown Band for "Chicken Fried." Zac Brown Band also brought out two special guests — blues guitarist Marcus King for "Stubborn Pride" and King Calaway for "When I Get Home." Dustin Lynch and MacKenzie Porter performed "Thinking 'Bout You."
On Friday night, for the first time since 2015, Wynonna Judd joined reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Carly Pearce for "Why Not Me." Cole Swindell was joined by Lainey Wilson for "Never Say Never."
On Sunday night, Billy Ray Cyrus took the stage alongside Dierks Bentley for "Achy Breaky Heart," followed by Elle King stepping in with Bentley during "Devil Went Down To Georgia." King also sang "Ex's and Oh's" with Ashley McBryde. Additional surprises included Lady A bringing BRELAND out for a heartwarming performance of "Need You Now," while Russell Dickerson was joined by Jake Scott for "She Likes It."
The Nighttime Concerts at Ascend Amphitheater returned for a fourth year, with packed crowds both Friday and Saturday night. The party kicked off Friday night with headliner Chris Janson. Additional acts included Boy Named Banjo, LANCO, Mitchell Tenpenny and Peytan Porter. Saturday night attendees were treated to headliner Swindell, who welcomed Randy Travis to the stage Ingrid Andress, Avery Anna, Randall King, Shy Carter and Tyler Braden to the stage.
One feature of the festival are meet-and-greets. Artist of the Day sessions featuring Russell Dickerson on Thursday, Kelsea Ballerini on Friday, Luke Bryan on Saturday and Chris Tomlin on Sunday. Other programming included a She Is the Music songwriters round led by Hillary Scott with Catie Offerman, Sacha, and Caitlyn Smith; a round of acoustic performances curated by the Black Opry featuring Tylar Bryant, Roberta Lea, The Kentucky Gentlemen and Julie Williams.
CMA's international presence included performances by artists from multiple countries including the U.K., Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
CMA Fest performers donate their time to perform so ticket proceeds can directly benefit music education initiatives across the country through the CMA Foundation.
Next year's CMA Fest marks the festival's 50th anniversary and takes place in Nashville Thursday, June 8-Sunday, June 11, 2023.