CMA Fest: Thomas Rhett Recalls Fond Childhood Memories of Former Fan Fair

Thomas Rhett has been coming to CMA Fest (formerly Fan Fair), long before he was a singer. The 29-year-old first started tagging along with his dad, Rhett Akins, when Akins was at the height of his country music career – and the music event was much, much different than it is now.

"I can remember being 6 or 7 years old, and it was called Fan Fair," Rhett recalled to and other media. "I remember coming downtown with dad and watching him sign autographs for two hours and playing at the Riverfront stages and all that kind of stuff. So I'm sure that dad now can't believe that it's turned into this four night stadium event where people from Australia, and England, and Canada, from all over the world are coming to Nashville to listen to country four days.I'm sure the evolution for him has been crazy.

Rhett is returning once again to host the upcoming TV special with his good friend, Kelsea Ballerini, which makes the event even more special for both him and his father.

"The fact that I get to host it and be a part of it, I'm sure is really cool for him as well," said Rhett. "So it's always fun when he gets to come out and watch us do what we do out here."

All of the artists performing during CMA Fest perform for free, with a portion of the proceeds from CMA Fest going to the CMA Foundation, whose goal is to keep music education thriving in schools all over the country. For Rhett, it's a cause he proudly stands behind.

"I remember the reason I formed a band in sixth grade was because of our band teacher," Rhett revealed. "Drums were my first instrument that I played, and I joined this thing called the pit band, I think, when I was in fifth grade. I think I did one football game as a pit band drummer and that really encouraged me to start this terrible band called the High Heeled Flip-Flops. It was great. And if it wasn't for that I really don't know if I would have kept pursuing music the way that I did.

"I'm sure it would have come back around at some point, but that really sparked my fire for being in front of people and writing songs," he continued. "I think that's why music education is one of the most important things in the world for a kid to be able to express themselves, whether it's song writing or playing the saxophone or playing the guitar. And so that's why this week is super important and it's amazing that we can help give back to that."


Rhett will leave CMA Fest and return to his Very Hot Summer Tour. Find dates on his website.

Photo Credit: Getty images / Terry Wyatt