CMA Fest: Jelly Roll and Keith Urban Share the Stage—and a Hug, Lainey Wilson Delivers Surprise Terri Clark Duet

Lainey Wilson, Keith Urban, and Jelly Roll captivated 50,000 fans at CMA Fest’s Saturday nightly shows at Nissan Stadium. There were hit songs, happy tears, giggles, stories, dreams, rap, and more. If you couldn’t make CMA Fest 2024 Saturday night 2024, here’s what you missed.

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It’s Lainey Wilson’s World, and We are Just Living in It

And if that wasn’t apparent before CMA Fest 2024, it sure is now. Wilson is everywhere. Friday night, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood inducted her into the Grand Ole Opry, which was quite an emotional experience for Wilson. She brought her entire family to witness the occasion.

Saturday night, Wilson strutted onto the stage at Nissan Stadium as if the space was built for her. Wilson said she’d been to CMA Fest every year since she was 14 years old and knew she’d have the opportunity to be on the stage someday. She told all the little girls in the audience to keep dreaming.

Wilson tore into “Hang Tight Honey.” Then she introduced Terri Clark for their collaboration on Clark’s hit “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” She credited ’90s country females for paving the way for her into country music.

Wilson showcased her vocal prowess in “Heart Like a Truck” with soaring, sustained high notes that wowed the stadium of more than 50,000 fans.

She closed out her set with “Watermelon Moonshine,” “Country’s Cool Again” and “Wildflowers and Wild Horses.”

Wilson was just getting started. She also popped back on stage during Keith Urban’s set for their duet “Go Home W U” and then helped Jelly Roll close the night with their chart-topper “Save Me.”

Keith Urban makes long hot summers a little easier at CMA Fest

Keith Urban has always maintained that his favorite shows were in clubs when fans could be close to the stage. On Saturday night, he recreated the experience at Nissan Stadium, frequently descending onto the shorter stage from the main platform and then into the audience. His joy in being surrounded by enthralled music lovers was impossible to miss, as he even giggled between song lyrics.

Urban kicked his set off with “Straight Line” and then moved into his new single “Messed Up As Me.” Wilson joined him on stage for “Go Home W U.” He ended the song singing, “I think Lainey and I should go home with you.”

He got the crowd singing along with “Blue Ain’t You Color” and “Better Life.” His entire set was punctuated with the blazing guitar work for which Urban is known.

But “Long Hot Summer” was the highlight of his set. Urban went deep into the crowd, carrying the mic stand high in the air. He settled in a spot and then wore a fan’s white, autographed cowboy hat while he performed. Urban took it off and moved along to greet the next set of screaming revelers.

Urban made it back to the stage, where he led each side of the stadium in a sing-off before exiting backstage with a wide, genuine smile.

But fans hadn’t seen the last of him.

Jelly Roll Blossomed at CMA Fest

At this point, is there anything Jelly Roll can’t do? He’s rededicated himself to fitness, revealed he and his wife are trying to have a baby, and co-hosted the nightly shows at Nissan Stadium with Ashley McBryde. On Saturday night, he kept 50,000 fans on their feet with a set of songs that ranged from country to hip-hop to close the show.

Jelly Roll kicked off his set with “The Lost.” Then he introduced himself by his given name—Jason DeFord—and told fans he grew up close to Nashville. He meant it when he said it was his “lifelong dream to play the stadium.”

Fans held up their cellphone lights and sang along to “Son of a Sinner.” He said that fans lighting the stadium up was something he’d dreamed about his entire life.

Jelly Roll told fans he was born right down the street at Baptist Hospital and that his mama raised him listening to George Strait and Garth Brooks. But, his older sister listened to everything from Bob Seger to Metallica. His older brother listened to nothing but gangster rap.

“I was 12 years old and thought I smelled a dead skunk at the house,” he said. “We know what that is now. I didn’t know. I was sniffing around trying to find that dead skunk, and when I was outside my brother’s bedroom door, this is what I heard.”

He said Saturday night at CMA Fest was a judgment-free zone, and fans cheered and danced wildly when he launched into a hip-hop mashup featuring everything from Easy E to Outkast.

He was so overcome by the response that he sat down—and then lay down—on the stage, smiling wide in disbelief. His wife, Bunnie, came out for a kiss, and then he asked fans to listen closely to his new song about mental health, “I Am Not OK.”

“This is a come one, come all kind of crew,” Jelly Roll said. “I am here to represent the lost and the broken.”

Keith Urban and Jelly Roll

Part of the magic of Jelly Roll’s triumphant homecoming is that when he stepped on stage at Nissan Stadium Saturday night, he did so with the No. 1 country song on country radio charts – “Halfway To Hell.” Urban joined him on stage to punctuate the performance with fiery guitar solos. But possibly the most memorable moment was their hug at the end. Both Urban and Jelly Roll have been open about how drugs negatively impacted their lives. When they embraced at the end of “Halfway To Hell,” it felt like a celebration of life and success well beyond the music industry.

Jelly Roll Asks Fans to Cheer Loud Enough for Inmates to Hear Them

“This building right behind me is the juvenile detention center, and when I say right behind me, I mean in the same parking lot,” Jelly Roll said from the stage. “Make some noise because I know they can hear us. I know they can hear us because I was one of them.”

Jelly Roll said he was in that exact facility and that he was in and out of jail and in and out of drug addiction.

“Tonight I’m headlining CMA Fest on Saturday,” he said. “I’m here to tell you that whatever you want to do in your life, you can do it.”

Can’t get enough CMA Fest? The CMA Fest TV special will air on ABC on Tuesday, June 25 at 8/7c. It will be available to stream the next day on Hulu. The special will feature performances from Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Lainey Wilson, and many more spanning across the four-day event.

(Photo by Terry Wyatt/WireImage)

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