Jelly Roll and Ashley McBryde to Co-Host a ‘CMA Fest’ Special Airing Far Earlier Than Usual

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Country stars Jelly Roll and Ashley McBryde will team up as hosts for ABC’s annual “CMA Fest” special, set to be taped at the festival this week and then air on the network June 25. It’s the first time either singer has hosted a prime-time special.

The 16-day window between the end of CMA Fest and the ABC special bearing its name will seem like a short one to those who remember the long period of years when the special was held back for airing in the dog days of August or September. But the June 25 date represents a big jump even on last year’s accelerated schedule, when “CMA Fest” aired on July 19. The bumping up of the air date suggests a belief that country’s current hot streak merits a more immediate commemoration of the genre’s biggest annual live event, rather than putting it on ice in the editing room for weeks or months.

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CMA Fest takes place in Nashville Thursday through Sunday. Although no announcements have been made about who will be featured on the ABC special, the likeliest suspects include the top performers slated for the festival’s nightly Nissan Stadium concerts. The two hosts have their own spots on that performing schedule, with McBryde playing Thursday night and Jelly Roll wrapping up the main stage with a late night appearance on Saturday.

Others booked for sets at the stadium this week and good candidates to make their way to the special include Lainey Wilson, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Cody Johnson, Kelsea Ballerini, Parker McCollum, the War and Treaty and the currently very hot Shaboozey.

Last year’s special was co-hosted by Lainey Wilson, Dierks Bentley and Elle King. Bentley and King also hosted, sans Wilson, in 2022. The festival did not take place due to COVID in the two years prior to that.

“CMA Fest,” now reaching its 21st year as a broadcast network special, will again be set up for prime time by longtime veterans who’ve helmed multiple CMA awards or festival programs in the past, executive producer Robert Deaton and director Alan Carter.

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