One of the things I desperately wanted to do this CMA Fest was go to the Opry. I’d never been able to fit it in in years prior, and being that it’s an important part of Country Music History, it seems an important experience to have each time I’m in Nashville. I was blessed to be given tickets to the 9:30 performance on Tuesday night. Basically the kick-off to the entire CMA Festival experience. The line-up was phenomenal and the show went off without a hitch. We arrived early to a completely packed venue, with people already lined up outside, awaiting the opening of the doors and the prospect of a night full of music. For me, going into the Opry is almost the same as walking in to church, I can feel the magic all around me, the importance of what it means to the world of country and how lucky I am to have such an amazing place to share my love.
The entire show was great, but there were some obvious highlights for me, none of them will come as a surprise to anyone that’s been reading this blog for more than a month.
Lennon & Maisy
I’m a huge fan of ABC’s Nashville, and knowing that they were performing was really exciting to me, for all the obvious reasons. These two young girls are as talented off-screen as they seem to be on. Their harmonies and precise and impeccable, their two voices become so hard to distinguish at some points that it’s hypnotizing, and the amount of control they have over their vocals for being so young is astonishing. They are the true definition of what natural talent is. Their beautiful rendition of “Ring of Fire” almost brought me to tears, not just because it’s one of my all time favorite Johnny Cash songs, but because even at 8 and 13, these young girls know how to capture emotion in such a distinctive way. Of course, they did their version of “Hey Ho” and had the entire room singing right along with them. They are humble and endearing on stage, knowingly aware of how important it is that they’re standing in that circle playing music on the Opry stage, and I honestly can’t get enough of them.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen Rascal Flatts live. I’m pretty sure they’ve been to every single CMA Fest I’ve attended in one way or another. They never cease to bring a song to life and allow energy to flow right out into the very audience they’re performing in front of. They get people moving, they move people to tears, and they never allow themselves to be anything less than amazing. I’m obviously a huge fan of any harmony heavy music. I grew up singing in choirs, performing in school musicals, singing along to the radio with my best friends. Harmony was pretty much how I learned to sing in the first place, and when people do it well, it drives me wild. Because let me tell you, not everyone does it well, even some people who get hired to do it don’t do it well. Rascal Flatts… well, they’ve been making album after album for a reason. They work together. And they do it well.
I didn’t see one episode of American Idol this season. In general, singing competitions on television aren’t really my thing, and I haven’t watched American Idol since the season that Carrie Underwood won. Nor have I really been a fan of any country singer that’s come out of the show since her year. But Kree Harrison is something truly special. She opened with her first single “All Cried Out” and from the very first note she captivated everyone in the audience. THE GIRL CAN SANG, YALL. And she can do it well. Not only can she sing, but she can make you feel as if your heart is breaking apart at the seams with her voice alone. It’s not at all surprising that Keith Urban was such a champion for her throughout the season, or that he wanted her on the Opry stage immediately, because the girl has the chops for it all. Her rendition of they hymn “In The Garden” was haunting, and when she finished, people were on their feet cheering for her. I don’t think this is the last the Opry is going to see of Kree.
There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. Keith Urban is an out of this world guitar player, his vocals are spot on, and he has enough energy to light up LP Field on the darkest of nights. He’s the only one that came out onto that stage and immediately played music that got the audience up and moving. You get the feeling that if it were up to Keith Urban you’d be sitting in those pews all night stomping and clapping and singing right along with him. He comes across as incredibly humble and kind, one of those artists that is all for his fans, and would do absolutely anything to make sure they get the show they deserve. Including taking requests from the audience members. It was truly a blessing to see Keith in such a small setting, having only ever seen him in large arena’s, it was really special for me. Though, I can see now why he plays arena’s, they’re pretty much the only thing that can contain him.
It was a truly magical night at the Opry and I wouldn’t choose any other way to kick of the exciting CMA Fest week that came after. Check out a few more of my pictures below! Sorry for the quality, my camera is on the verge of death and I was trying to keep it hanging on for dear life.