Last month, I had the most amazing opportunity to head down to Nashville, Tennessee and attend the 2012 CMA Festival. When I found out I was going, I immediately started looking online for pictures and videos from previous festivals. Country music is a huge part of my life and I love it. I arrived in Nashville on June 6, just in time for the eighth annual CMA Fest Kick off Parade. Country artists Little Big Town, Florida Georgia Line, Craig Campbell and so many more joined in on the big opening festivities.
I had the honor of attending the 2012 CMT Music Awards. When I walked through the Bridgestone Arena doors, it felt as if I were dreaming. I was shaking with excitement because every country music artist I loved would be sitting in the same room as me. The award show opened with Lady Antebellum who brought out a special guest, Hot Chelle Rae. The two groups performed a mash-up of their hits "We Owned the Night" and "Tonight Tonight." I knew from that moment on it would be a night I would never forget. Hosts of the evening Kristen Bell and Toby Keith kept a smile on the crowds' face throughout the entire night. Country music fans took charge and voted for weeks! The very talented Carrie Underwood received a CMT Award for video of the year for her newest single "Good Girl." Jason Aldean also had the honor of taking home his first CMT Award. He won CMT Performance of the Year for his hit song "Tattoos on This Town." To end the night, Rascal Flatts and Journey came out and performed "Banjo" and "Don't Stop Believin." Having the chance to attend the 2012 CMT Music Awards live was an experience I will never forget. The festival was just beginning, and then I had four days and nights filled with concerts to look forward too.
When night one of four arrived, it finally hit me that I made one of my dreams a reality. I've wanted to attend the festival for the longest time. As I walked onto LP Field in Nashville and found my seat near the stage, my happy tears went running down my face. The 2012 CMA Fest performances included David Nail, Glen Campbell, Miranda Lambert, Lauren Alaina, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, Kellie Pickler, Brad Paisley, Ronnie Milsap, Brantley Gilbert, Jake Owen, The Band Perry, Gwen Sebastian, Blake Shelton, Randy Houser, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Rogers, Hunter Hayes, Love and Theft, Little Big Town, Eric Church, Kip Moore, Faith Hill, Luke Bryan, The Mavericks, Bill Anderson, Scotty McCreery, Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, Alan Jackson, Steel Magnolia and Martina McBride. Each night and each performance was truly amazing. If I had to pick my favorite performance of the week, I would have to choose Miranda Lambert. Miranda is such a true and talented woman. She also brought out her girls from Pistol Annies to perform "Hell on Heels" and "Takin' Pills."
The week was filled with amazing performances at the Riverfront Stage and vendors were lined up all down Broadway. I was able to meet two of my favorite country music artists, Little Big Town and Lee Brice. If you haven't checked out Lee Brice's new album Hard 2 Love, you have to go buy it! Little Big Town is set to release their fifth studio album, Tornado, on September 11.
As I was walking around, I also found Chris Lambton, you might remember him from the ABC hit series The Bachelorette. Chris is now married to Peyton Wright, who was a former contestant on ABC's The Bachelor. He is keeping busy with his new show, Going Yard on HGTV. I got to do so many fun things while I was in Tennessee, including the Grand Ole Opry Tour and the celebrity house tour. The coolest part of the whole festival was seeing how amazing country fans truly are.
These country music artists not only know how to sing, but some of them know how to play a great game of softball. I was able to attend the City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge at Greer Stadium in Nashville. There were two teams, Grand Ole Opry and After Midnite. The MC of the game was the one and only Storme Warren. Players included Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, David Nail, James Otto, Jessie James and so many others. The City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge has raised over $2 million over the years for the Cancer Institute. It is a great cause and I am so happy I had the chance to be a part of it this year.
Over all, Nashville, Tennessee is a magical place and I can't wait to go back. The 2012 CMA Festival was a week filled with memories that I will cherish forever. A big shout out to my Aunt Gina for bringing me along this year, love you!
The 2012 CMA Festival will be airing on September 17 at 8/7c on ABC. Check out my videos I took while I was in Nashville on YouTube!