Annual event is taking place through the weekend in Nashville

CMA Fest kicked off day one with serious star power. Tanya Tucker could be found midday at Fan Fair X on the CMA Close Up stage taping a podcast episode for Amazon Music. Afterward, she was generous with her time as she met fans inside Music City Center. A 2023 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Tucker is working harder than ever.

Billy Currington was performed a rare midday set as a special Spotlight Performer at Spotify House at Blake Shelton and Opry Entertainment Group’s Ole Red venue. Lines were wrapped around the building long before the venue opened.

Another artist experiencing a renaissance is Jo Dee Messina. She took Nissan Stadium back to the 90s as she kicked off night one of the evening headliner shows. Opening with Joe Diffie-penned “My Give a Damn’s Busted” and paired it with “Lesson in Leavin’.” Messina brought out Christian artist Brian Fuller for a stirring ballad of faith that will be released soon, called “He Got a Hold of Me.” Of course, she closed with the classic singalong “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”

A grateful Jordan Davis powered through eight songs in under 40 minutes. It was obvious he was thrilled to play his first CMA Fest, spending much of his time on the lower stage close to fans. He closed with the CMA Award-winning “Buy Dirt,” leaving on a pensive note that showed his versatility. He can bro up, but also elicite raw emotion.

Luke Combs was next, offering numbers from both of his new albums, Growin’ Up and Gettin’ Older. But the biggest surprise happened when he brought out country icon—and erstwhile Eagles member—Vince Gill. They honky-tonked on “One More Last Chance.” After performing his newly-Diamond single “Beautiful Crazy,” Combs did the fans a service by digging back and closing with “When it Rains it Pours” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart.”

Carly Pearce brought her sparkly voice—and sparkly dress—to her first ever Nissan Stadium set at CMA Fest. “Diamondback” has become a traditional opener for her, and she kept it traditional. “Easy Going” in particular could have been released in the 90s. And speaking of 90s, she brought Jo Dee Messina for “I’m Alright.” She closed with cheery “Hope You’re Happy Now.”

Tyler Hubbard and Dan + Shay brought up the rear, as they closed out opening night of the four day music festival.

Day one for us included interviews with Pillbox Patti and others. Stay tuned for those interviews and more later this month.