Thursday night’s lineup of artists at Nissan Stadium was a strong start for the weekend of singers.
The show started with the National Anthem sung by a choir of students from the Nashville School of Arts and a flyover in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Tanya Tucker, who’s been in the country music scene since 1972 with her first hit “Delta Down" at the age of 13, was the opening artist of the evening. Originally a Grand Ole Opry star and five time GRAMMY award winner Marty Stuart was supposed to open the show Thursday evening, but the singer had to cancel due to a personal family matter.
In a news release, the CMA gave their official statement letting fans know that Tucker would open the show.
“Due to a personal family matter, we regret to inform fans that Marty Stuart will no longer be able to perform at Nissan Stadium Thursday night during CMA Fest,” the release said. “We are pleased to have Tanya Tucker now performing as the night’s opening act.”
Tucker sang her heart out in the rain with the crowd, even performing a song which she said took her “40 years and 15 minutes to write” after three time GRAMMY award winning singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile stepped in to help finish the song after she heard. Carlile stepped onto the stage to help sing the song as the rain fell into the crowd.
Following Tucker, Kane Brown stepped onto the stage. Brown, who released his second album "Experiment" last year in November, ended his performance by encouraging the crowd to join in and wave their phone's flashlight.
Stepping into the rain with the crowd, Texas band Midland made an appearance for a moment, interacting with the crowd.
Following them was Kelsea Ballerini, who was recently invited to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
During her set, Ballerini expressed "I'm so happy to be here with everyone" and that "rain, shine it's still a party."
Among the songs Ballerini performed included "Legend" and "Miss Me More." Ballerini also brought on surprise guest duo The Chainsmokers to perform "This Feeling," getting the crowd to dance in the rain.
The rain began to let up around 10 p.m. just in time for the last three performances.
The Brothers Osborne country duo of John and T.J. Osborne stepped onto the stage next and brought with them their hard guitar riffs. The brothers performed their song, "Hard Workin' Man." They also had surprise guests Ashley McBryde and Brooks & Dunn come on stage to perform.
The last two acts, Rascal Flatts and Florida Georgia Line, ended the night on a high a note and looking forward to the next three night of big headliners.
Rascal Flatts trio Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney celebrated the 19th anniversary of their first album in stage with the audience.
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line ended the night with more surprise guest performances by Morgan Wallen, who recently released his third single "Whiskey Glasses," and singer-songwriter HARDY, known for writing "Rednecker."