Grand Ole Opry Presents Star-Studded Lineup For CMA Music Festival Fans

Keith Urban performs during the Grand Ole Opry at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday, February 3, 2012.  JEANNE REASONOVER/THE TENNESSEAN
Keith Urban performs during the Grand Ole Opry at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday, February 3, 2012. JEANNE REASONOVER/THE TENNESSEAN

CleveRock’s Chad Carlson is live in Nashville covering the 42 annual CMA Music Festival! Stay tuned for daily updates this week and into the weekend!

As we all know, the CMA Music Festival is one of the most highly anticipated events of the entire year, for the artists and for the fans.  And event planners and promoters understand that this week in June is one that fans save up their money for all year round, in order to make this week in Nashville the best it can be.  The Grand Ole Opry treated fans to an incredible show tonight, one that serves as a prelude to what is expected to be an incredible week of country music.

For anyone who has been to the Grand Ole Opry, the lineups that fans are treated to include two and a half hours of the best that country music has to offer, from legends to rising stars to current superstars.  Tuesday night’s lineup, though, which served as one of the unofficial kickoffs to this week’s CMA Music Festival, is going to be difficult to surpass anytime soon.

The first half hour of the show belonged to Kellie Pickler and Diamond Rio.  The lovely winner of “Dancing With The Stars” flaunted her petite figure around the stage while belting out her latest single, “Someone Somewhere Tonight,” as well as her first single to country radio, “Red High Heels.”  Meanwhile, Diamond Rio kept it simple, playing the songs that put them on the Opry stage in the first place, including their set opener, “Beautiful Mess.”

Bill Anderson was one of the more impressive sets of the evening, opening with his catchy comical “Good Time Gettin Here.”  His set closer, “Too Country,” drew a mixed review from the audience, but gave him a rousing applause as he walked off the stage with a smile.

Lennon & Maisy have garnered quite the reputation for their roles on ABC’s hit show “Nashville,” leading to their appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage.  Tonight, the audience in attendance was appreciating the girls before they even opened their mouths of sing.  Their young genuine charm is immediately evident, as is their undeniable talent.  In just their short three song set, Lennon & Maisy showed exactly why we will be hearing much more from them in the future.

Ricky Skaggs opened up the second hour of the Opry lineup on Tuesday, treating fans to his unique blend of bluegrass intertwined with traditional country roots, including a touching duet with his wife.  He enthused the crowd with help from his band, Kentucky Thunder.  Ricky appreciated the audience every bit as much as the crowd did him.

Even though the Grand Ole Opry is full of rich tradition with some of the more prominent country musicians in history, when Rascal Flatts took the stage on Tuesday, it was more reminiscent of a rock concert and a high school prom.  Audience members young and old could be heard belting out the words right along with Gary LeVox on the songs “Banjo” and “What Hurts The Most.”

Keith Urban occupied the remainder of the evening on the Opry stage, both as a presenter and a performer.  He first introduced Kree Harrison, who was making her Opry debut after finishing as the runner-up at last year’s season finale of “American Idol.”  She sang her first single, “All Cried Out,” as well as fulfilling a promise to her father by performing “Into The Garden.”  The performance brought tears to Kree’s eyes and the audience gave her a standing ovation and she exited the stage.

Finally, we know that Keith Urban is a country music singer, but he’s a rock star in concert.  He proved that once again tonight, keeping the audience in the palm of his hand from the very first chord of his three song set.  His upbeat, energetic, and captivating renditions of “I’m In,” “Little Bit of Everything,” and “Somebody Like You” left the crowd standing, cheering, and begging for more as the curtains closed.

What a way to kick off the CMA Music Festival at the Grand Ole Opry.  Keith, Rascal Flatts, Kellie, and the rest of Tuesday’s lineup showed exactly why CMA Fest is the greatest week in country music.  And the official beginning of the event isn’t even until Thursday!  For the latest news as well as a schedule of events for the Grand Ole Opry, check out their official website.

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