Following the cancellation of the afternoon shows due to severe weather warnings, thousands of country music fans flooded into Nissan Stadium under cloudy skies for the final night of CMA Fest on Sunday night (June 11). The energy was electric for the closing performances of the legendary 50th anniversary year.
Throughout the night, those on stage regaled the early days of CMA Fest and thanked the fans for their continuous support through the years.
“There is nothing in the world like a country music fan, and we got a lot of them here tonight,” said Josh Turner, his voice booming as he opened the night.
Fans didn’t miss a beat as they sang along to his classics like “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” “Would You Go With Me” and “Your Man.” Turner also celebrated the newly 4x Platinum-certified “Long Black Train” with a rousing performance to close his set.
With over 40 total No. 1 country hits, more than 75 million records sold and over 200 awards from a variety of organizations, Alabama is one of the most successful bands in country music history. As they took the stage next for a surprise performance, the stadium was full of fans on their feet, jamming along to “Tennessee River,” “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” and “Mountain Music.” Blending “Dixieland Delight” with “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” the entertainers celebrated over 50 years of music and honored their late bandmate, Jeff Cook.
The Country Music Association presented Alabama with the Pinnacle Award to honor their career and accomplishments. The Pinnacle Award recognizes an artist or group who has undeniably redefined the pinnacle of success in the genre by achieving prominence through concert performances, consumption numbers, record sales and/or other significant industry achievements at levels unique for country music.
Following the legends, country newcomer Megan Moroney took the Platform Stage in Nissan Stadium. Donning Georgia red for her home state, she sang her rising hits “I’m Not Pretty” and “Tennessee Orange.” She thanked the fans for helping her grow her career over the last year to heights she had only dreamed.
With an electric set, Ashley McBryde and her band kept the energy high after sundown. She thrilled fans with “Made for This” and her spunky hit “Brenda Put Your Bra On” before performing “Light On In The Kitchen” and “The Devil I Know.” Everyone was singing along at the top of their lungs to her closing song, “One Night Standards.”
Nate Smith then took the Platform Stage for a heartfelt performance of “World On Fire,” reminiscing on how far music has brought him over the last year. Fans were sticking it out through the rain to hear him play “Whiskey On You” as he closed his set.
The rain did not hold Dierks Bentley back as he doubled as a co-host and performer for CMA Fest’s final night. From the main stage, he had the fans on fire with “Burning Man,” “Gone,” “Gold” and “Up On The Ridge.” Joined by Charlie Worsham, his stellar set included a cover of Garth Brooks‘ “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” with both Worsham and Bentley on the mics.
Bentley wowed the crowd with an energetic lineup of “Free and Easy (Down The Road I Go)” and “5-1-5-0” before closing with a his hits “I Hold On” and fan-favorite “Drunk On A Plane.”
Award-winning country superstar Tim McGraw packed punch after punch in his set, starting with his charged performance of “How Bad Do You Want It.” The crowd was keeping up with the energy, singing along to “Something Like That,” “Just To See You Smile,” “Southern Girl” and McGraw’s current single “Standing Room Only.”
He had the fans swooning as he sang “Real Good Man” and roaring to “Truck Yeah.” McGraw closed his set with some special guests—fifth and sixth grade students from the Metro Nashville Public Schools joined him onstage to sing and sign along to “Humble and Kind.” Ticket proceeds from CMA Fest go to the CMA Foundation’s work to provide students around the country with quality music education.
Luke Bryan had the fans’ full attention as he took the stage for the last set of the 50th anniversary weekend. He opened with “That’s My Kind of Night” and had fans cheering to “Rain Is A Good Thing,” despite the afternoon’s weather.
Bryan’s newest single “But I Got A Beer In My Hand” helped fans forget their troubles as they raised their hands high to “Country On” and “What Makes You Country.” Early into the morning hours, Bryan hyped the crowd with the “Drunk On You,” “Down To One” and “Play It Again.”
Everyone was on their feet for Bryan’s finales, kicking it back with “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and dancing it out to “I Don’t Want This Night To End”—a sentiment shared by all in attendance.
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