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Country 12/06/2007

2007 CMA Music Festival Breaks Attendance Record With More Than 191,000 Country Music Fans Attending

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NASHVILLE, TN. (Top40 Charts/ CMA Music Festival) - CMA Music Festival set a new aggregate attendance record in 2007 with 191,154 people attending the four-day Festival, June 7-10, in Downtown Nashville.

"It was an amazing event on many different levels - from the outstanding lineup of artists; to our incredibly enthusiastic fans, who traveled from around the globe to be here; to the outpouring of support from Nashville and our surrounding communities," said Tammy Genovese, CMA Chief Operating Officer. "Each year I find myself saying this, and it is happening again in 2007, but this is the best CMA Music Festival ever."

Attendance at the Festival hit an all-time high. Single concert tickets for the Nightly Concerts at LP Field were up 14 percent from 2006. In fact, CMA opened the upper level of LP Field to meet the demand for four-day ticket packages and single night concert tickets. CMA also experienced a 20 percent increase in the sale of four-day ticket packages.

"Increased single concert ticket sales are an indication of increased local support and participation in the Festival," Genovese said. "It is a trend that started two years ago and we are seeing it grow from year to year. Local companies and individuals are embracing this event as never before - especially now that it benefits music education. In fact, we had 400 Metro Nashville students attend Saturday night thanks to the generosity of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce."

Fans enjoyed themselves and made it known at the Box Office. Tickets for CMA Music Festival 2008, June 5-8, went on sale Saturday and Gold Circle four-day ticket packages sold out in a record 90 minutes. By Sunday, advance sales bested sales during the same period in 2006, by a robust 25 percent.

"You know you are giving the fans what they want when they put down their hard-earned money for an event and we haven't even announced who will be performing," Genovese said. "That speaks to the dedication of our fans, the popularity of the Festival and the strength of our format."

Aggregate attendance has grown from 124,000 in 2003, to 132,000 in 2004, 145,000 in 2005, to 161,000 in 2006, and now more than 191,000. Increased sales of four-day ticket packages and single concert tickets at Riverfront Park and LP Field contributed to the growth, as well as record attendance at CMA Music Festival's free areas - including the Crisco Family Zone, CMT Fun Zone, and Chevy Sports Zone.

Several factors accounted for the increase attendance: sales of four-day ticket packages outpaced 2006 sales; there was an extensive local advertising campaign to drive awareness; additional free performance stages were added; and with the exception of a brief storm Friday, hospitable weather helped stimulate sales of single-day tickets. Even on Sunday, four-day tickets, which allowed access to LP Field, the Convention Center and the Riverfront concerts, were still being sold.

Surprise appearances are a hallmark of this event. And 2007 didn't disappoint. The first night at LP Field included an unannounced appearance by first season "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, who joined Reba McEntire on two songs - "Does He Love You" and their recent duet release "Because of You." On Friday evening Motor City madman Ted Nugent joined Montgomery Gentry onstage for a ferocious rendition of his classic "Cat Scratch Fever." And reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year Rascal Flatts made a surprise concert appearance the following night.

"We love giving our fans something special and unexpected," Genovese said. "It is amazing to hear the stadium erupt in applause when an unannounced guest steps out on that stage."

And it all benefits children and music education in Nashville. The artists and celebrities participating in CMA Music Festival donate their time. They are not compensated for the hours they spend signing autographs and performing. In appreciation of their exhaustive efforts, CMA donates half the net proceeds from the event to music education on their behalf through a partnership with the Nashville Alliance for Public Education called "Keep the Music Playing."

To date, CMA has donated more than $1.1 million to worthy causes on behalf of the artists who participate in the Festival for free - including $368,500 from the 2006 CMA Music Festival for "Keep the Music Playing." Several students groups participated in the Festival including drum corps from Hillwood High School and Hunters Lane High School, who marched in the Kick-Off Parade along with students from the Nashville School of the Arts, which received a Chevy Silverado truck to transport band equipment to community performances as part of the "Keep the Music Playing" campaign.

During opening night ceremonies, CMA Board member Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn presented $10,000 to "Keep the Music Playing" on behalf of Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell in appreciation of his support of the Festival during his tenure.

The $10,000 donation has been earmarked by the Nashville Alliance and Metro Nashville Public Schools to purchase a sound system and lighting for the performance center at Isaiah T. Creswell Middle Arts Magnet School.

The charity donation is appreciated, but at its heart, CMA Music Festival is - and always will be - about the fans and their relationship with the artists and the music. The theme is universal and in 2007, Festival attendees came from every state and 21 foreign countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Fans ranged in age from 1 to 92-year-old Sylvia Leeper of Tennessee.

The Festival got underway Wednesday with "The Third Annual CMA Music Festival Kick-Off Parade" with an estimated crowd of 10,000 spectators Downtown. Following the procession, the fun kicked into high gear with "The Second Annual CMA Music Festival Block Party" at the Chevy Music Tour Stage on the plaza at The Sommet Center, formerly Nashville Arena. Jason Michael Carroll, Mark Chesnutt, Elizabeth Cook, Cowboy Troy, Jennifer Hanson, and Darryl Worley performed for an estimated crowd of 5,000 according to police.

Nightly Concerts at LP Field
In all, 32 acts participated in the star-packed Nightly Concerts at LP Field. The lineup Thursday included Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire with special guest Kelly Clarkson, The Wreckers, and a two-song acoustic performance by Jason Michael Carroll. Pre-show activities included Jennifer Hanson, singing the national anthem, the participation of the United States Marine Corps Recruiting Station Nashville Color Guard, and a fly over by three Air Force F-16s from The Checkerboards of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312, from Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, S.C.

During her first performance at the Festival in 11 years, McEntire, was obviously moved by the adoring crowd's thunderous welcome. She spoke with heartfelt gratitude when she said, "Ah, it's good to hear that."

Fans were treated to performances Friday by Jason Aldean, Sara Evans, Little Big Town, Montgomery Gentry with guest Ted Nugent, Sugarland, and Carrie Underwood, who made her first Festival appearance in 2005 after being named American Idol. Former "American Idol" finalist Bucky Covington performed an acoustic set.

Saturday's lineup included Billy Ray Cyrus, Martina McBride, Jo Dee Messina, surprise guest Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes, and Josh Turner. "Nashville Star" winner Angela Hacker delivered an acoustic performance.

Sunday rocked the house with Rodney Atkins, Big & Rich, Billy Currington, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Kellie Picker, Taylor Swift, Gretchen Wilson, and an acoustic performance by Telstra Road to Tamworth winner Morgan Evans of Australia. Apollo Ohno's professional dance partner Julianne Hough from "Dancing with the Stars" introduced Big & Rich.

"This is the best night of the year for people who love Country Music," Wilson proclaimed to her cheering supporters.

Greased Lightning Daytime Stages at Riverfront Park
Fan favorite Terri Clark got the 2007 CMA Music Festival off to an energetic start Thursday morning with her distinctive brand of power Country at the kick-off concert at Riverfront Park. Fans were waiting before dawn to see the leave-'em-rockin' singer/songwriter. And the concert venue on the banks of the Cumberland River stayed packed all day and every day after.

Clark bonded with her audience immediately through a subject that was on everyone's mind - the already-rising temperature that morning: "This is supposed to be the hottest day this year, of course, because it's the first day of CMA Music Festival!"

Joining Clark in the opening morning show were John Anderson, Craig Morgan, Jamie O'Neal, and Chris Young. And the dual stages bustled throughout the four days with a rich array of performers from both major and independent record labels. In all, 101 acts performed more than 33 hours of concerts. The concerts stopped for 90 minutes Friday due to a downpour with lightning and high winds, but the artists and fans returned when the storm passed without a single missed performance.

A half block away on the third-floor, rooftop patio at Graham Central Station overlooking Riverfront Park, "Good Morning America" Weather Anchor Sam Champion interviewed artists Bucky Covington and The Wreckers live on the ABC Television Network in front of an enthusiastic, sign-toting crowd.

Fan Fair Exhibit Hall
The state of continuous commotion that's been the standard for the Fan Fair Exhibit Hall was back in force with 349 artists and celebrities appearing at the Nashville Convention Center. Exhibit booths sold out with 212 exhibitors. Attendance over the four days was up 15 percent from 49,507 in 2006 to 56,244 in 2007.

As in previous years, dedicated fans camped out on the street outside of the Exhibit Hall starting at 8:00 PM, not only in hopes of being the first in line for autographs when the doors opened the following morning but also to share in what has become a special tradition for this group. As one of these early arrivers commented, "We're friends from all over the country. It's like a reunion."

Observers estimate that Carrie Underwood attracted the longest autograph lines, due in large part to the fact that she dedicated the bulk of her time Saturday to meeting her fans and signing more than 600 signatures. Other popular artists included Trace Adkins, Big & Rich, Jason Michael Carroll, Billy Currington, Billy Ray Cyrus, Beverley Mitchell, Montgomery Gentry, Gretchen Wilson, Chris Young among many, many more. Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn made a surprise appearance in the Exhibit Hall Thursday. One of the Fan Fair highlights was when Big Machine Records presented Taylor Swift with a Platinum plaque in their booth for her self-titled debut so she could share the moment with her fans. Rock singer John Waite ("Missing You") made his CMA Music Festival debut by signing in the Borders Books & Music booth on Friday. And CMA COO Tammy Genovese stopped by to congratulate Country Music Hall of Fame member Bill Anderson on having an Exhibit Hall booth every year since the Festival began as Fan Fair in 1972.

The Acoustic Corner Presented by Mary Kay, which launched in 2004 as a showcase for independent artists, featured 24 solo or group performers. The area on the second floor of the Convention Center hosted a steady stream of fans.

Premiere on the Air
CMA's official radio partner, Premiere Radio Networks, brought 20 of Country radio's top-rated stations including Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington, D.C., and overnight syndicated radio program "After MidNite with Blair Garner" to Nashville for three days of remote broadcasts from the Convention Center. Seventy-five artists, celebrities and athletes participated in the remotes reaching nearly 10 million listeners.

Borders Books & Music
Borders had locations at the Exhibit Hall, Riverfront and LP Field. The Top 5 selling titles belonged to Jason Michael Carroll, Stephen Cochran, Beverley Mitchell, Carrie Underwood, and Chris Young. Other bestselling artists included Jason Aldean, Big & Rich, Bucky Covington, Emerson Drive, Little Big Town, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, and Josh Turner. Organizers said autograph sessions for several of the top-selling artists in the Borders' booth contributed to their sales success.

"One of the goals with this event is to help build a marketing platform for developing artists," Genovese said. "With the variety of artists on the list, it tells me that our fans are discovering new music at CMA Music Festival and they aren't waiting until they get home to buy it."

CMA Music Festival Merchandise
The official CMA Music Festival merchandise line was very popular with attendees. According to Music City Merchandise, which designs and produces the 20-piece collection, sales were up 25 percent over 2006. Extra inventory was printed during the Festival to meet the demand and quickly sold out. Music City Merchandise, which had booths at the Fan Fair Exhibit Hall, Greased Lightning Daytime Stages, Crisco Family Zone, The Sommet Center, and LP Field, has been CMA's merchandise partner for the past 13 years.

Chevy Sports Zone
CMA's free Chevy Sports Zone was a huge hit with participants and fans looking for fun and friendly competition among celebrities, artists and athletes.

On Thursday the surest shot at the "The Sixth Annual Andy Griggs Celebrity Archery Tournament" was Rusty Tabor, winner of the 2006 tournament. He retained his crown after tying with Craig Morgan at 43 points each and then winning a five-target shootout (42 to 39). Rhean Boyer of Carolina Rain finished third with 41 points.

On Friday, "The Steve Azar Celebrity Sports Challenge" proved to be a fan favorite with an amazing array of sports champions and celebrities competing along with Azar and other artists. In the end, the Blue Team was victorious with Andrew Abide (a.k.a., the "dentist to the stars"), Rocky Calmus (linebacker, Titans/Colts), Jeanne Cho-Hunicke (LPGA Tour player), Ray Lloyd (pro wrestler), Ryan Lucotch (PovertyNeck Hillbillies), and Scott Reeves (Blue County) winning with a score of 98.

Sunday's "The Michael Peterson/New Holland Celebrity Tractor Race" had fans revved up. Country Music artists and celebrities raced against the clock through an obstacle course on a New Holland compact tractor and the winner was Todd Fritsch, with a track time of 52.6 seconds, followed by Tennessee Titan Ben Hartsock (54 seconds) and artist Billy Yates (54.5 seconds). Fritsch shaved 1.4 seconds off 2006 victor Wade Hayes' winning time of 54 seconds.

As an added attraction, Jay Leno's Eco-Jet, biodiesel-powered automobile was on display at the Sports Zone on Saturday and Sunday.

Chevy Music Tour
The Chevy Music Tour free area on The Sommet Center plaza buzzed with activities featuring vehicle displays, interactive consumer experiences, games, and the Chevy Ride & Drive event. The Chevy Music Tour Stage featured 25 daily performances including a showcase of Bluegrass music and a Latin Country Music Show. Visitors were also able to test-drive an Avalanche, Cobalt SS, Colorado Crew Cab, HHR, Impala SS, Tahoe or one of three Silverados (1500 Crew Cab, Extended Cab or HD with Duramax).

Crisco Family Zone
Growing in popularity each year since it was introduced in 2001, the free Crisco Family Zone was buzzing during CMA Music Festival with activities for youngsters and the young at heart.

The Crisco Family Zone was a popular destination Sunday for the Crisco Family Picnic, featuring free lunch for the first 500 attendees. The meal was made from recipes found in the Crisco Country Favorites Vol. III Recipe Book. Nationally-recognized chef Jon Ashton conducted cooking demonstrations throughout the Festival.

Before the Festival got officially underway, the Crisco Country Favorites Cook-Off Contest took place Wednesday at the Downtown Hilton Hotel. The Cook-Off winner was culled from thousands of mouth-watering entries. Of the 12 finalists who competed in Nashville, Beth Royals, of Richmond, Va., was the Grand Prize winner for her tasty Coffee Toffee Tart.

Saturday fans gathered under a tent in the Family Zone for "The 24th Annual YWCA Celebrity Auction hosted by Martina McBride" with proceeds supporting programs to benefit victims of domestic violence. The auction, which has been hosted by McBride since 1995, raised $103,603. The highest bid was $12,000 for a collection of six Platinum albums McBride solicited on the spot from some of her famous friends; an autographed photo paired with a VIP package from McBride brought $7,250; and a meet and greet and tickets to see Reba McEntire raised $3,400.

CMA and The Tennessean's Newspaper in Education program teamed up again in 2007 to present "The Fourth Annual Color Me Musical" poster and essay contest. Students in grades K-8 were asked to submit essays and posters describing their feelings about music or the importance of school music programs. The winner in the K-4 division was Tara Lang, 10, of Overbrook School, Nashville. In the 5-8 division, Jordan Shumate, 12, of Pioneer Christian Academy, Nashville, was the winner. Honorable mentions were awarded to Anna Berry, 7, of Grassland Elementary, Franklin, Tenn., in the K-4 group; and Nisha Bhuva, 10, of Brentwood Edmonson, Brentwood, Tenn., in the 5-8 division.

The Music City's Rising Star Youth Vocal Soloist Competition was held in the Crisco Family Zone with students from 35 states competing. The Top 5 finishers were announced Saturday on the Greased Lightning Daytime Stages. Earlier that day artist Erika Jo participated in a separate award ceremony at the Wildhorse Saloon. Winners included: Tara Clance, 16, of Georgia, fifth place; Brianna Tyson, 14, of California, fourth place; Keeghan Nolan, 15, of Vermont, third place; Amanda Stathos, 16, of Virginia, second place; and 16-year-old Avery Hovey of Tennessee was the first place finisher.

On Sunday, Greased Lightning and stars gave back to those in need by helping to construct the frame of a Habitat for Humanity home for a Nashville family. Artists participating in the construction project included Clayton Bellamy of The Road Hammers, Blue County, Ty Herndon, Jason Meadows, and Bryan White.

Chris McCarthy, President of the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity remarked: "CMA Music Festival fans are like our volunteers - eager to help out and have a great time in the process."

CMA Celebrity Close Up Presented by Great American Country
The inside track is what CMA Celebrity Close Up is all about with a lively question and answer format hosted by media personality Lorianne Crook. And she treated the audience of more than 2,500 to a bit of insider information with guests Trace Adkins, Terri Clark, Charley Pride, Neal McCoy, Montgomery Gentry, and Josh Turner during two sessions on Thursday.

Great American Country (GAC) was the presenting sponsor of the celebrity gab sessions, which were taped for two television specials by the same name on the Country-themed cable network. "CMA Celebrity Close Up" will premiere on Wednesday, July 18 (9:00 PM/ET); and the second special premieres on Monday, July 30 (8:00 PM/ET). Schedule subject to change.

CMA Music Festival After HoursT
A record 19 Downtown Nashville clubs participated in CMA Music Festival After HoursT offering drink discounts and special events for festival goers and Nashvillians.

Setting the tone for each night's revelers was "The Official CMA After Hours Kick-Off Concerts" following the Nightly Concerts at LP Field in the Hard Rock Cafe parking lot. The free concerts Thursday through Saturday featured Emerson Drive, Lantana, and PovertyNeck Hillbillies.

Another new feature of After Hours in 2007 was the Hard Rock Cafe Writers Night, Thursday through Saturday, featuring some of Nashville's most successful tunesmiths in the round - trading stories and playing the songs that made several artists household names.

ABC Daytime
Real life drama is a staple of both Country Music lyrics and daytime television series, and the artists and actors met at the crossroads during 2007 CMA Music Festival when the ABC daytime stars of "All My Children," "One Life to Live," and "General Hospital" made their first appearance during the Festival.

Daytime actors that attended CMA Music Festival included Colin Egglesfield (Joshua Madden) and Justin Bruening (Jamie Martin) from "All My Children"; Kathy Brier ("Marcie McBain"), John-Paul Lavoisier ("Rex Balsom"), and Kassie DePaiva (Blair Cramer) from "One Life To Live"; and Rebecca Herbst ("Elizabeth Spencer") and Greg Vaughan ("Lucky Spencer") from "General Hospital."

The actors made several appearances in the Fan Fair Exhibit Hall and introduced concerts, but the highlight for fans had to be "Fun in the Sun," Saturday at the Wildhorse Saloon, with interviews, performances, dance lessons, and many more activities for more than 1,200 faithful fans.

ABC Block Party
The ABC Block Party hosted by Matt Gallant on Saturday included "Ugly Betty" look-alikes, "Dancing with the Stars" champion Cheryl Burke, and ABC trivia games testing participants knowledge of "Brothers and Sisters" and "Grey's Anatomy." Jason Michael Carroll also performed for the packed crowd.

Media Coverage
Nearly 700 journalists were credentialed for 2007 CMA Music Festival representing more than 200 domestic and international media outlets. Among the domestic outlets at CMA Music Festival were "48 Hours,", ABC Radio Networks, Associated Press, Blender, CMT, CNBC, Country Weekly, "Fox & Friends," GAC, Getty Images, "Good Morning America," People, Premiere Radio Networks, Reuters, The Sportsman Channel, The Tennessean, TV Guide, and USA Today. International media from 11 countries were credentialed as well, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Among the 59 international outlets represented were Bayern 3 (Germany), BBC Radio Lancashire (UK), Country Music Channel (Australia), CMT Canada, Disney Tribune (France), Moray Firth Radio (Scotland), Personalities Magazine (Ireland), RTL (France), Stadtspiegel (Germany), The Music Network (Australia), Voice of Country Radio (UK), and more.

Sponsorship is a key element to the marketing, fan experience and financial support of the Festival. More than 55 partners gave out more than 300,000 product samples. Greased Lightning Cleaning Products passed out more than 33,000 samples of their product and ran out Sunday afternoon. In addition to food samples and coupons, Crisco and The J.M. Smucker Company distributed more than 140,000 premium items.

"In our second year as a sponsor, the CMA music Festival has once again helped us to connect with our customers, to find who they are and who we can better fit into their lives," said Jennifer Villani, Account Supervisor, DDB Worldwide, the agency for On the Run at Exxon.

Villani said they gave away more than 18,000 pieces of merchandise in the Chevy Sports Zone including branded stress balls, tote bags, coupons for free Bengal Traders pastries, 2,000 soccer balls including the ones used in Steve Azar's Sports Challenge, and samples of freshly brewed Bengal Traders coffee (even with temperatures in the mid-90s, they gave away almost 2,000 coffee samples). "I can safely say we have some converts," Villani said.

The CMA Music Festival Fun Team treated fans to a wide array of premiums and samples including Cutter Wipes, Yankee Candle TCAR JAR air fresheners, Crest Toothpaste, CMA Awards T-shirts, Mary Kay lip gloss samples, and iTunes digital sampler cards.

2008 CMA Music Festival Tickets

2008 CMA Music Festival will take place Thursday through Sunday, June 5-8, in Downtown Nashville and tickets are available now. Tickets for 2008 CMA Music Festival were available to Music Festival attendees during the event and available nationally, today. The Gold Circle section is already sold out and tickets are selling at a rapid pace - up 25 percent over 2006 and 76 percent over 2005. Fans are encouraged to order early for best available seating.

To order, call 1-800-CMA-FEST (262-3378); visit to download an order form to fax or mail; visit to buy online or charge-by-phone at (615) 255-9600. Prices do not include applicable handling fees. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice. All sales are final and non-refundable.

Four-day ticket package categories correspond to a different level of seating at LP Field. Children 3 years and younger are admitted FREE.

Gold Circle (Floor) SOLD OUT N/A
Floor Level $165 $116
Lower Level $145 $102
Club Level $135 $95
Upper Level (GA) $110 $78

ABC Television Special - Monday, July 23
As previously announced, the Festival was filmed for a two-hour television special "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock" scheduled to air on the ABC Television Network Monday, July 23 (9:00-11:00 PM/ET). Robert Deaton is the Executive Producer. Gary Halvorson is the Director. The special was shot in high definition and will be broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.

This is the third year the special will air on ABC. The primetime special debuted on the CBS Television Network in 2004.

Both the concerts and the interaction between the artists and fans will be captured in the special with heart-pounding performances interspersed with heart-warming encounters between the artists and their avid admirers. Taped exclusively for the special, cameras followed the stories of several Festival attendees, who had their dreams come true when they were granted a once-in-a-lifetime meeting and personal encounter with their favorite Country stars.

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