PHOTOS: CMT’s Best Quotes from CMA Fest

Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett Co-host 2018 ABC Special Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. ET

Nashville has become a must-see international destination because of groundbreaking shows like CMT’s Nashville and concert events like CMA Fest.

Everywhere downtown during the 47th annual event in June was packed with fans from all over the world including all 50 states, Puerto Rico and 36 foreign countries.

Concert magic from the 2018 concerts will be showcased during a three-hour concert special airing Wednesday (Aug. 8) with hosts Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett.

The ABC television event will feature performances by 29 of country music’s hottest acts including Lauren Alaina, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kane Brown, Brothers Osborne, Luke Combs, Ballerini and Rhett.

The night will also feature all-star collaborations by Alaina and Brown; Julia Michaels and Keith Urban; Morgan Wallen and Florida Georgia Line; and Bentley and Dwight Yoakam.

Performances by Brown, Combs, Charles Esten, Wallen, Michaels, Midland and Carly Pearce and the CMA’s reigning new artist of the year Jon Pardi are their CMA Fest stadium debuts.

Since 2006, the CMA and the CMA Foundation have invested more than $21 million to sustainable music education initiatives throughout the U.S. thanks to the fans who attend CMA Fest and the artists who donate their time.

CMT was backstage at the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium. Enjoy some of our best quotes from our exclusive backstage interviews:

  1. Jon Pardi

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    “I would say it’s about time ‘cause it’s been a long time. But we’re ready cause we’ve been spoiled playing stadiums with Luke Bryan … It’s crazy, but I got a couple under my belt, and it took the edge off playing a stadium. So, I’m like, ‘Alright. We got this.’”

  2. Lee Ann Womack

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    “The diehard fans come to Nashville, and [we’re] all in one place. So, we as artists can bop from one venue to the other and have so many opportunities to see people and see fans. That’s what makes it really cool… [It’s] a lot of energy, too.”

  3. Carly Pearce

    “I have been in the stadium as a fan for CMA Fest forever, and this is definitely my first time to step into a stadium and sing. It’s going to be mind-blowing and one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

  4. Charles Esten

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    “Deacon never got to play a stage this big. Rayna did and Luke Wheeler, and we shot scenes on the field. But I’ve never been in here playing as me. So this is something way out there. I was fortunate enough to play [Nashville’s] New Year’s Eve, and there were 130,000 people there, I’ve never done a stadium like this. My thoughts are all over the place, but the trick is to do what you do at any show and bring it as hard as you can.”

  5. Lauren Alaina

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    “I got to play with Kane. And [it was] one of the best moments of my career. I love him so much, and it’s just such a crazy moment. I’ve known him forever, and that song obviously changed his career and mine. It was a huge song for both of us, and we just got to celebrate it with 50,000 people. So, that’s pretty awesome.”

  6. Midland’s Jess Carson

    Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Spotify

    “There’s no one path for an artist trying to make it and come up. Everybody has to find their own path and niche. And it’s a lot of work. You can’t skip steps.”

  7. Dustin Lynch

    Jason Davis/Getty Images for HGTV

    “We’ve met people from all over the world every year we’ve done this, and that’s really neat.”

  8. Keith Urban

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    “It’s always the fans, the electricity from them; especially in Nissan stadium. It’s insane. You feel it from the top all the way down to the field, and it comes at you like a wave. It’s amazing!”

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.