Country singers share their lives through their songs. And at events like the CMA Music Festival, they get to know their fans too.
Artists say it’s a connection that speaks volumes about the genre.
“Bill Anderson said something to me early on, he said, ‘You see those people out there?’ It was before we were going to play the Opry or something. He said, ‘You treat them right, they’re never going anywhere. They will always be there for you.’ And he’s right. That’s unique – I don’t think that’s the case in other forms of music, necessarily,” Brad Paisley said.
“A lot of these people come out all over the country to see us play and when they come to Nashville, wanted to have a party where it felt like what we do. We’re all about having a good time,” Jake Owen said.
They actually know their fans.
“It’s awesome to be able to see t hem and get to know them, the family, to see a friendly face,” Keifer Thompson said.
“We call them our Fam-club. We’ve actually spent more time with them, especially early on in our career, more than with our families. So, they know our birthdays, we know theirs," Gary LeVox said.
"They know what we like on our birthdays, for sure…buckeyes….cookies,” Joe Don Rooney said.
During CMA Fest, it’s nice to have audiences come to them.
“We travel all around the world and all around the country playing this music, but everybody can meet in one place and celebrate where it’s all created,” Brett Eldredge said.
On the road, they do have these moments too.
“I leave the stage and walk around the whole amphitheater, and you’re high-fiving veterans, you’re holding somebody’s baby, I’m massaging the lady who’s working there like, back massage. You get a chance to make a real, physical connection with people,” Dierks Bentley said.
And it’s a way to say “thank you” – especially because they know what it means to be fans themselves.
“I grew up going to CMA Fest as a fan, so I feel like I’ve gotten to be on both perspectives. So whether fan or artist, it’s a celebration on both sides of just country music and getting to be a part of it,” Kelsea Ballerini said.
“This is the only genre of music that has a week that’s totally for their fans,” Darius Rucker said. “All the artists come in and make themselves accessible, and that’s a wonderful thing to watch.”