CMA Music Festival Kicks-Off

CMA Music Festival Kicks-Off

June 8, 2016

Nashville’s annual CMA Music Festival has opened in a multitude of ways throughout its history. From large crowd-drawing parades to simple speeches, this afternoon’s opening ceremony at Ascend Amphitheater was somewhere in between.

Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association opened up the celebration. Her opening speech highlighted the ultimate goal of the 45-minute event kicking off the start of Nashville’s most popular weekend: gratitude.

Throughout the ceremony, it was made evident that the CMA Music Festival would not be possible without three key groups: the music industry spearheaded by the CMA board of directors, the city of Nashville, and the country artists themselves willing to perform for free to benefit music education programs across Nashville.

“With fans here from every state and 25 foreign countries, you can imagine that it would be impossible to put on this event, to take over the full downtown, without the full support of the music industry.” Trahern said.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African-American a cappella ensemble from Nashville’s Fisk University, helped Trahern to open the ceremony by singing their resounding take on the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

When Nashville mayor Megan Barry gave a speech on stage following the performance, she pointed out that while Nashville’s title “Music City” is now associated with country music, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were originally at the root of the name.

Barry honed in the economic impact that the CMA Fest has on the city.

“There are about 87,000 fans that are going to be enjoying this [the CMA Fest] this week,” Barry said. “We hope that the other thing you’re going to do while you’re here is spend a lot of money. This event has a $50 million economic impact to our city.”

The ceremony, filled with spiritual and country performances, fireworks, and a drumline made up of music students from metro-area schools, closed with country singers Chris Young and Tristan McIntosh performing their cover of Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All.”  

Young, a Murfreesboro native, has been attending the CMA Fest since he was just a fan. Now a CMA Board member and a well known artist, Young finds performing at the Music City festival more rewarding than any money he might receive playing somewhere else.


“This week, all the artists donate their time, but what we get in return is priceless when you consider the long term impact of music education,” Young said. “Schools with sustainable music education programs have higher graduation rates, better test scores, higher attendance rates and that’s something that we can all support.”

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