With the promise of performances by Chris Young, Cassadee Pope, Maren Morris and A Thousand Horses, I knew Monday (Feb. 22) would be a special day when I arrived at the Nashville International Airport. And, boy, did it exceed my expectations.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Southwest Airlines’ service in Tennessee, so to commemorate the momentous occasion, the airline decided to throw a party in true Nashville style — one that started at 10 a.m., lasts all morning and afternoon and comes with sweet tea, biscuits and ham and, of course, some of the best artists on the country scene.
“My Church” singer Maren Morris, one of CMT’s Next Women of Country, performed her new EP for the captivated crowd of employees and customers, which included members of the Southwest team and local and state government officials. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority CEO Rob Wigington and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry were also on hand to welcome the day’s first big surprise: the unveiling of the new Tennessee One, a Boeing 737-700 emblazoned with an artist’s rendition of the Tennessee State flag.
As the doors opened in the hangar, attendees saw the magnificent aircraft parked in its splendor and A Thousand Horses parked on an outdoor stage in front of it to keep the party going.
But the real party was just getting started. Tennessee One would soon be taking her maiden voyage to Memphis, complete with a water arch salute, a fanfare departure and a surprise “Live at 35” in-flight concert for guests with country stars Young and Pope.
“It’s definitely a bucket list thing,” Young told me. “I don’t know how many people have gotten the chance to stand up and play on a plane. It was different, but it was a lot of fun. Obviously singing with someone like Cassadee, she’s always dead on it.”
“Aww, thanks!” Pope gushed.
“I watch his set even when I’m not singing with him,” she told me. “It’s just so good.”
And their performance at 35,000 feet was just as wonderful as a show on the ground. Even a little bit of turbulence couldn’t stop those voices.
“Nothing could really throw us off,” Pope said. “We’ve experienced things a little more intense than just a little bit of a bumpy ride — weird crowds, loud bar crowds and such.”
It was a wildly fun ride and one trip I’d gladly take again.