Day one of the 2016 CMA Fest went off with a bang in downtown Nashville. Here is our wrap up from the first day of the festivities.

 

Ashley Monroe performing at CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Ashley Monroe performing at CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Ashley Monroe

Though a modern day artist, Ashley Monroe charmed the audience at Ascend Amiptheater with her authentic country sound. The singer opened the show with two of the tracks off her latest album “The Blade” titled “I Buried Your Love Alive” and “If the Devil Don’t Want Me.” Highlights from the show include a performance of the uptempo, bluegrass-style track called “Bad Example,” the first song that she and close friend Miranda Lambert wrote for their group, Pistol Annies. The lively track really came to life with the presence of the fiddle and a fabulous piano solo. She also told the crowd a humorous story of how Vince Gill said he would refuse to produce her album “Like a Rose” if she didn’t record the song “Weed Instead of Roses,” which she ultimately did, and dove into the track. Other songs performed include “Heart Like Mine,” another song she co-wrote with Lambert that turned into a No. 1 hit, the title track from “Like a Rose,” and “Dixie.” She closed out her show with a lively, old-timey gospel song that had audience members gathering at the barricades to clap and sing along.

Hillary Scott & the Scott Family

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, alongside mom Linda Davis, father Lang Scott and sister Rylee Scott, appeared on the CMA Close Up Stage inside the Music City Center for a Q&A and performance. One attendee who has been an avid fan of Lady Antebellum’s for the past eight years, asked how exactly the group came up with their name. She told the interesting story of how the trio was taking a photo for their MySpace page at the time in Franklin, Tennessee where there’s a lot of Antebellum style homes. After that, the word kind of stuck and fellow band mate Charles Kelley pitched the idea of Lady Antebellum. “It was very natural and organic,” she said of the process.

Hillary Scott answers fan questions at the CMA Close Up Stage at CMA Fest. PHOTO BY LARRY DARLING

Hillary Scott answers fan questions at the CMA Close Up Stage at CMA Fest. PHOTO BY LARRY DARLING

After the enlightening Q & A, Scott and family treated the audience to a truly incredible performance of songs off their new gospel album, “Love Remains,” a project she describes as her “family’s heart poured out in song.” They kicked off the show with a song called “Beautiful Messes” co-written by the Lady A member that describes how in spite of our imperfections, we’re all still beautiful in our own way. They then jumped into the album’s title track, showcasing their beautiful harmonies as a family. Hillary then embarked on a solo performance of her current single “Thy Will,” a haunting song that she hopes “encourages you that your story matters,” adding that she feels connected to people all over the world because of her bravery. Her family joined her back on Stage for a final performance of the Lady A classic “American Honey” which had the audience on their feet and singing along.

Marie Osmond

Marie Osmond’s media presence puts her in the rarefied air of bona fide celebrity, but her trio of chart-topping country hits is proof that her across-the-board stardom includes at least “a little bit country.” The singing star/actress/author/TV personality attracted an overflow crowd to the CMA Close Up Stage early on Thursday afternoon (June 9) for an onstage interview in which Marie answered personal questions with warmth, honesty and humor. Clad in form-fitting black, she talked frankly about her famous family, facing crippling depression, and how Nutrisystem helped her lose 50 pounds and prepare for a demanding role on “Dancing With the Stars” after her mother, paralyzed from a stroke, urged her to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Her new contemporary country album, “Music Is Medicine,” recently debuted at No. 10 on Billboard’s Top Country Album chart. Choking up while sharing this news, she said, “It’s not because of radio; it’s because of you guys.” The video for the album’s upbeat title track was screened before Marie met with fans at a CMA booth. Her love of fan interaction, she shared, stems from being the only female Osmond sibling and once having to answer fan mail for her pop-star brothers. “I really loved that kid-sister thing with the fans,” she said. “I like the personal approach.”

Lauren Alaina 

Stepping onto the small, intimate Radio Disney Country Stage on Thursday morning (June 9), American Idol alum Lauren Alaina oozed easy enthusiasm about CMA Fest and its eagerly awaited opportunity for both singer and fans to connect. “[It’s] a huge blessing―we don’t get to see our fans as much as we want. . . . We’re excited to be here and get to see you up close.” After chatting with a Radio Disney host about the week’s full slate of festivities and the below-freezing film set she’d endured for her most recent video, the Georgia-born performer regaled the faithful who were bunched around the stage with “My Kind of People,” an ode to acceptance and equality. Her soon-to-be-released next single, “Road Less Traveled,” revealed a similar but more personal theme of empowerment under fire. Setting up the pop-infused contemporary country song, she disarmingly shared how unprepared she was as a 15-year-old Idol contestant, “in my awkward chubby phase,” to weather mean-spirited comments, adding that she’d subsequently battled an eating disorder. Her casual confidence and well-toned arms spoke volumes about her victory, which she knowingly used to spread inspiration and create a bond with the supportive, largely youthful crowd. “God made me the way He made me for a reason,” she said, “and you, too.”

Lindsay Ell performing at CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Lindsay Ell performing on the Radio Disney Country Stage at CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Lindsay Ell

Lindsay Ell was just one of the stars that took over the Radio Disney Country Stage, along with fellow beauties Kelsea Ballerini and Lauren Alaina. We learned several interesting facts about Lindsay like:

Q: How old she was when she wrote her first song

A: 10 years old and it was a “mushy” song for her parents.

Q: First concert

A: Metallica

Q: First album she bought

A: “The Woman in Me” by Shania Twain, calling her an “inspiration” and a “strong woman.”

Q: First summer crush

A: Garth Brooks

Q: Her favorite CMA Fest moment

A: Walking the pink carpet at the CMT Awards as a nominee.

Q: Who is her inspiration in country music

A: Carrie Underwood, saying that she’s “always on point” and her voice “always sounds perfect, like she is.”

The up and coming country star also had to make up a song on the spot using words written on a beach ball. She cleverly, and appropriately, sang about going to a pool party.

Scotty McCreery drew a large crowd to his show at Riverfront Stage. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Scotty McCreery drew a large crowd to his show at Riverfront Stage. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Scotty McCreery

Scotty drew hundreds of fans to his performance on the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, opening with the upbeat “Now” that’s all about getting the party started – the perfect way to start the show. He kept the energy going with “Water Tower Town” and “Whiplash.” He then thanked the crowd for getting him to the winning spot on the 10th season of “American Idol,” joking that he was initially “just going to meet JLO.” The crowd excitedly sang along to his first hit “I Love You This Big,” along with his last single on country radio “Southern Belle” before diving into his first top 10 single “See You Tonight.” The field at the riverfront was jam-packed with fans as far as the eye could see with the crowd enthusiastically singing and waving along to “Feelin’ It” – and the audience certainly was.

Tucker Beathard

Big Machine Label Group artist Tucker Beathard also played to a crowd of excited audience members at the Chevrolet Cruze Park Stage. The up and coming singer demonstrated a more rock-leaning sound, especially on his kickoff song “Better Than Me.” He then discussed the inspiration behind “I’ll Take on the World With You,” a track he wrote about the funny things he used to do with his brothers growing up, but in spite of their past mischief, they’d still do anything for each other. He closed the show with his current radio single “Rock On,” a catchy number that had the crowd engaged and singing along.