Monday, June 12, 2023
– This year's golden anniversary version of the CMA Fest saw an estimated double digit jump in daily attendance as well as stadium shows.
With more than 90,000 estimated daily attendees, this represented a 12 growth over 2022. The stadium saw a 10-percent increase in attendance year over year. Fans from all 50 states and a record-breaking 51 countries saw more than 300 acts taking part in CMA Fest.
"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," said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "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."
Officially kicking off on Thursday morning with the Grammy award-winning Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands, followed by reigning CMA New Artist of the Year Lainey Wilson taking the Chevy Riverfront Stage.
The Nissan Stadium shows each night and had a number of surprise collaborations. Luke Combs welcomed Vince Gill for a performance of "One More Last Chance," while Carly Pearce brought Jo Dee Messina to the stage for an exciting rendition of "I'm Alright." Elle King and Tanya Tucker joined Wilson for an electric performance of "Texas (When I Die)."
Cody Johnson surprised fans, welcoming Reba McEntire to the stage during "Whoever's In New England." The collaborations continued during Miranda Lambert's set as she performed "If You Were Mine," alongside Leon Bridges, brought up Elle King for "Drunk (And I Don't Wanna Go Home)," and brought out Avril Lavigne for a medley of Lambert's "Kerosene" and Lavigne's "Sk8er Boi." HARDY welcomed Wilson for a performance of "wait in the truck," while Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson joined the singer for "One Beer."
Additional performers at Nissan Stadium included opening acts Messina, Tucker, Tracy Lawrence and Josh Turner, as well as performances from the Platform Stage in the center of the stadium, featuring Ashley Cooke, Dalton Dover, Megan Moroney, Ian Munsick, RVSHVD, Nate Smith, Alana Springsteen and Hailey Whitters.
The Nighttime Concert at Ascend Amphitheater also returned for a fifth year with The Cadillac Three, which had special guest Little Big Town. Additional acts taking the stage included Boy Named Banjo, Randy Rogers Band, Elvie Shane and Tenille Townes.
Fan Fair X hosted daily performances on the Spotlight Stage from nearly 50 artists performing to full audiences. Chapel Hart, along with Blanco Brown, Adam Doleac, Tiera Kennedy, Kimberly Perry, Mason Ramsey, Randy Travis, Sam Williams, Bailey Zimmerman and dozens of other artists participated in meet-and-greets with fans.
CMA's international presence featured 23 performances by artists from multiple countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
Unlike other festivals, CMA Fest acts donate their time to perform so ticket proceeds can directly benefit music education initiatives across the country through the CMA Foundation. This year, CMA will donate $2.5 million to the CMA Foundation.
Next year's CMA Fest will take place in Nashville Thursday, June 6 through Sunday, June 9, 2024.
"CMA Fest," the three-hour primetime television special hosted by Bentley, King and Wilson, airs Wednesday, July 19 at 8 p.m. eastern on ABC.