Since the 2020 CMA Fest was canceled due to coronavirus, the annual celebration of country music will instead be celebrated on television. The 2020 CMA Fest three-hour special, called “CMA Best of Fest,” airs on Monday, July 13 at 8/7c on ABC.
ABC’s description of the event explains that it is “A retrospective of more than 25 performances from 16 years of CMA Fest; Luke Bryan hosts.” The press release says that the night will include a total of 28 performances.
The ‘CMA Best of Fest’ Features Past Performances From the Biggest Country Music Stars
A press release promoting the special revealed that the night’s curated acts includes performances from Trace Adkins, Lauren Alaina, Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dan + Shay, Lzzy Hale, Sam Hunt, Joan Jett, Lady A, Miranda Lambert, Lil Nas X, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Maren Morris, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Thomas Rhett, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Dwight Yoakam, and Zac Brown Band. It will also include special guest appearances from Bobby Bones, Jim Gaffigan, Kirk Herbstreit, Peyton Manning, Lionel Richie, Rob Riggle, Gwen Stefani, Michael Strahan, and Rita Wilson.
While CMA Fest had to be canceled this year to prevent further spread of COVID-19, they’re already gearing up to restore the in-person festival in 2021. Four-Day Passes for the celebration, scheduled to take place from June 10 through June 13 at Nissan Stadium, will go on sale this September.
Luke Bryan Filmed His Host Segments of the Show in an ‘Empty Football Stadium’
With COVID-19 ongoing in the US and social distancing orders making large crowd gatherings unsafe and impossible, the CMAs had to get creative about how they could bring country music to the genre’s biggest fans without a live, in-person event. While they settled on airing performances from past years of the CMA Fest, they did have host Luke Bryan record new material to keep the three-hour show flowing on television.
Billboard reports that Luke Bryan explained his hosting role and how they were able to accomplish it as a guest on Good Morning America. He said, “I’m so glad that we were able to put a show together with CMA Best of Fest and let the fans at home relive a lot of these memories. I had to go host – I hosted this show in an empty football stadium and it was very emotional. It was just heartbreaking that all of our fans couldn’t be there this year, but it’s just one more testament of how crazy this year is.”
Viewers should also anticipate a never-before-seen and newly recorded performance by Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker.
Ahead of the show, Bryan promoted his hosting gig on Instagram. In a caption, he wrote, “TONIGHT at 8|7c on ABC, I’m hosting “Best of #CMAfest!” Join me & Country Music’s biggest stars for epic past performances you can’t see anywhere else, new celebrity appearances, plus don’t miss a NEW performance by me and my buddy @dariusrucker.”
CMA Best of Fest airs on Monday, July 13, 2020 from 8/7c PM until 11/10c PM on ABC.