Best Performer Under Pressure: Jamie Lynn Spears
Before cheerfully greeting her huge, palpably anxious audience, Jamie Lynn Spears shed quite a bit of baggage somewhere backstage: Her set showed no traces of her teen-mom notoriety, hand-me-down hang-ups from big sister Britney, nor the intrinsic challenges of being a country newbie. Even better news? The girl sang her Louisiana guts out. Amid "y'all"-laden banter and a few songs from her brand new debut EP (including the twangtastic romp, "Shotgun Wedding," and the weepy single, "How Could I Want More"), Spears tackled Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" — memo to her critics, perhaps? — and even teased the crowd with a few bars of "Oops I Did It Again." The youngest Spears should look back fondly at the 2014 CMA Fest, as it may have been the unofficial kickoff to her country music career.