Nashville bloggers Malia, Tori, Alli Worthington, Busy Mom, and I hit the town for CMA Fest thanks to ConAgra Foods. We had a great dinner at Cabana in Hillsboro Village and rode to LP Field in style. One of us may or may not have stood up through the sunroof to wave to adoring fans. Ahem. (And actually it was NOT me!)
Downtown Nashville is alive, well, and open for business. She’s decked out in her best shined up boots and cowboy hat, just a little more than a month after the horrific flooding that left many landmarks on the Cumberland River, from the Opryland Hotel to the Country Music Hall of Fame, with devasating damage. So many in my own community are still displaced, children who attend my daughter’s elementary school and people I’ve run into at the neighborhood grocery store, their homes gutted and empty.
Music has always been the lifeblood of downtown Nashville and last week’s CMA Fest was no exception.
I sat at dusk and listened to Alan Jackson croon about it being hotter than a hoochie coochie with 49,000 fellow lovers of country music. I sang along with Lady Antebellum and Tim McGraw (who does a pair of jeans and white t-shirt like nobody’s business.). I grabbed my Flip camera and taped Jason Aldean singing Big Green Tractor for my 5-year-old nephew. I looked at the beautiful Nashville skyline rising above the Cumberland River and the throngs of country music fans and marveled at how far our city has come just weeks since the flood that left much of our city paralyzed. CMA Fest 2010 was a chartbuster, with attendance over the four-day music festival at a nearly 17 percent increase over 2009. It was also the first year that all four nights at LP Field were sold out.
The annual CMA Fest, its roots in the Fan Fair event that launched in the 70s, is vitally important to the Nashville economy. The downtown restaurants and honky tonks and tourist destinations that were damaged during the May flooding needed this affirmation that while we may have been knocked down, we have brushed off our jeans and are back on our feet. Seeing and hearing a vibrant downtown filled my heart with pride.
As in the past, half of the proceeds from the CMA Music Festival will go to Metro Nashville Public Schools for music education. The other half, which totals about $1 million, is normally earmarked for special initiatives of the CMA but will be given to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for flood relief efforts.
We are Nashville!