Five Acts Making Their #CMTawards Debut

Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell, Carly Pearce, Walker Hayes and LANCO Preview Ram Trucks Side Stage Sets

Every year, the CMT Music Awards specializes in curating eclectic performances by country music’s hottest rising acts.

Backstage at rehearsals, we caught up with a few of the artists who are about to step into the spotlight and deliver their first major awards show performances at the #CMTawards to see how they’re feeling.

Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell, Carly Pearce, Walker Hayes and LANCO will all light up the night with electric performances of their breakout hits on the Ram Trucks Side Stage.

Little Big Town hosts the 2018 CMT Music Awards live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (June 6) at 8 p.m. ET.

  1. Russell Dickerson

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    “It’s when everybody comes together,” Dickerson says of the CMT Music Awards. “Everybody’s always out on the road in different places. You get to hang out at work, but this is fun. This is a vacation. This is a celebration time of everybody’s hard work … I think it’s amazing how country music’s grown because the audience keeps getting broader and broader. I want as many people listening to country music as possible.”

  2. Lindsay Ell

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    “CMT is so good at showcasing new artists and new songs you fall in love with,” Ell says. “And I get to perform with a bunch of my friends on that stage … The one thing I love about country music as a genre is it knows how to be so progressive while still being a flare of its tradition and what country music is meant to be about, which is the song and the songwriters. It’s awesome to see the genre growing as a format, bringing in more listeners and bringing in more people to our country music family.”

  3. LANCO

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    “It’s cool to see your name up there with so many other artists you respect,” frontman Brandon Lancaster says. “We’re honored that we’re here … I worked the event once because I used to work in [the Bridgestone Arena]. But we’re excited about watching the performances and we’re excited about being one of the performers.”

  4. Carly Pearce

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    “My mom and I came as fans when they were the Flameworthy awards,” Pearce says. “I came last year with a baby single on country radio and sat in the artist section, but I knew that if I just kept going, I would get here. To have this full-circle moment and to be part of the awards show, it is just a huge honor.”

  5. Walker Hayes

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    “I’m going to be nervous as crap, but the house band is amazing,” Hayes says. “I feel comfortable with them. The fans are going to be amazing I’m sure. It’s going to be neat to look some peers in the eye and have that moment where I’m like, ‘Hey, this is happening, and we always said it would.’ And it is. I’m sure it’s going to be a blur and take me a minute to digest what really happened.”

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.