Highlights of this year's CMA Music Festival as well as performances by most of country music's biggest stars will be the focus of this year's ABC-TV special, called CMA Fest: The Music Event of Summer, airing on Wednesday (August 16th) beginning at 8 p.m. The three-hour event was filmed back in June and features 28 performances by the likes of Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Brothers Osborne, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Dustin Lynch, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Cole Swindell, Keith Urban, Brett Young, Chris Young and this year's CMA Fest hosts Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini.
This was Thomas' second time to handle hosting duties, but he tells us that this year he was a lot more prepared. “You know, I think last year was obviously my first time ever hosting anything and so I think anytime you do something for the first time you're always gonna have some hiccups every now and then but I feel like this year I just have been more — this sounds dumb — but just a smoother reader, more energy. I started to learn how to kind of host something, I guess, and Kelsea has done some hosting gigs as well, too, so I kind of feel like us together kind of made for a really great combination, but last year was a little bit different cause I had shows during CMA Fest. This year, I get to be here like every single day and get to watch all the shows and get to hang with the artists before they go on stage so I think just having that makes me more prepared this year than last year.” In addition to performance footage, CMA Fest includes backstage interviews and various footage from all the events and happenings at the Festival.