In between the CMT Music Awards and Bryan's performance on Sunday night (June 9) to close out CMA Fest, the singer performed three shows as part of his Sunset Repeat Tour. If anyone had a reason to skip attending CMA Fest this year, it was Bryan. But because artists perform for free at CMA Fest, with the Country Music Association using a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to support numerous worthwhile causes, including providing music education in schools, Bryan will continue to take the stage every year he is invited.
"When you look at what the CMA has been able to do with giving back to the schools and putting instruments in kids, I mean it's been amazing," Bryan shared with PopCulture.com and other media backstage prior to his performance. "I always think about just the growth of this week from when I moved to town in 2001, people talking about it being, I guess over at the old racetrack.
"Then I remember my first opportunity and they were happy to have the lower level sold out," he continued. "Now they're selling the whole – I don't know what the attendance has been this year, but I imagine they're up in the upper deck and upper levels. I don't know what the monetary figure, I know in the past it's been $20 to $30 million of money generated that gets to go to charitable stuff."
The Georgia native is also thrilled to be able to play in his current hometown, which makes the performance that much easier for him.
"It's an incredible way for me to be at my house, [and] drive in," Bryan said. "That's the thing. I was at my house an hour and a half ago, drove in, got all snazzied up, and you get to help the CMA, and you get to help a lot of other people because of it. I think the artists know that because it's the CMA, we're so confident in their choices and what they're doing with everything and it's fun to support."
Bryan also praises the fans who continue to show up year after year, in spite of sometimes less than desirable conditions.
"I think if you sign up for this week as a country music fan to come to CMA Music Fest, you know some form of the weather always comes in to play when you're in Nashville for a week," Bryan acknowledged. "It is amazing. I mean, we've seen fans bear the unbearable through 100 degree days in the sun all day. We've had rain through my years of being a part of this, and that's just a part of the experience.
"I think the fans understand it, but this is their week," he continued. "This is their week to absorb every bit of Nashville, country music and what CMA Music Fest does. They're not going to let a little lightning or rain get in their way."
Photo Credit: Getty images / Erika Goldring