‘CMA Best of Fest’ TV Special Aims to Fill Void Left by Canceled CMA Fest
UPDATE (6/23): CMA’s Best of Fest special has been moved to another day due to a programming change. It will now air at 7 p.m. CT Monday, July 13th on ABC.
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The Country Music Association has announced a pair of new musical events for the beginning of July. The organization, which was forced to cancel CMA Fest 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is producing CMA Best of Fest as a three-hour television special for ABC, as well as the CMA Summer Stay-Cay livestream event.
Luke Bryan will host the Best of Fest special, which airs Thursday, July 9th, on ABC and takes a look back at some of the biggest moments at CMA Fest since it moved downtown in the early 2000s. Artists to be featured include Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, and Carrie Underwood. It will also include appearances by Peyton Manning, Lionel Richie, Gwen Stefani, and Michael Strahan, among others.
“I’ll be glad to get to relive some of those moments — everything from Billy Ray [Cyrus] and Lil Nas X doing ‘Old Town Road’ with Keith Urban sitting in, to Garth Brooks, the big medley he did when he surprised everybody and walked into the stadium,” Sarah Trahern, CEO of CMA, tells Rolling Stone about the lineup.
A few days earlier on July 1st, the organization will also present CMA Summer Stay-Cay, a livestream variety event hosted by Jimmie Allen and Lindsay Ell. Fans can watch on CMA’s YouTube or Facebook to see performances, interviews, games, and more. A full lineup has not yet been announced but a release notes that more than 50 artists will be featured.
“It’s a present from CMA to the fans, to kick off your July with us and the artists and then come back next week and watch on ABC,” Trahern explains.
Originally started as Fan Fair in 1972, CMA Fest will return for its 49th year June 10th through 13th, 2021, in downtown Nashville.