NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The country music world is coming together this week for the CMA Summer Jam. It's the return of live country music and the stars are ready to shine.
The two-night event took place at Nashville's Ascend Amphitheater in late July. It will be broadcast as a three-hour primetime special on ABC on Thursday.
The lineup includes Luke Bryan, Mickey Guyton, Carly Pearce, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Cole Swindell, Carrie Underwood, Lainey Wilson, Dwight Yoakam, Jimmie Allen, Gabby Barrett, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Luke Combs, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Jon Pardi and Thomas Rhett.
Additional performances announced for the primetime special include Bentley with Breland and Hardy live from Bentley's Whiskey Row nightclub on Broadway, Eric Church from the center of the city's John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and Darius Rucker taking the outdoor stage at Nashville's brand new Fifth & Broadway complex downtown.
"I'm always excited to be in front of country music fans," Blake Shelton said. "It's a blast to step out there."
"That's really fun to see friends and look out on this great crowd of die-hard country music fans," Dierks Bentley added.
"Stand on that stage and just feel that energy from the crowd," Lainey Wilson said. "Feeling like we're on the same page. It really does my soul some good."
Twenty of the top acts in country music will perform, with many of them hitting the stage for the first time since the pandemic.
"My goodness, fans were so good to me during quarantine and I'm just so excited to tell them thank you," Carley Pearce said.
"I think the thing about COVID, I don't think I took things for granted. I try to soak in the moment. If I did take anything for granted, I won't do it again," Eric Church said.
For these musical superstars, Summer Jam is a family reunion.
"It's always nice to have a bunch of artists you look up to, the ones you call friends on the same bill," Cole Swindell said.
"I do have a special guest Dwight Yoakam and he will be joining me and we sing a couple of his songs together which I'm super excited about," Carrie Underwood said.
"I get to sing during Carrie Underwood's set. That is not anything that I pictured two years ago," Mickey Guyton said.
It's nothing but a big ole Nashville party!
"Loose and free and connect with the crowd but play songs that fans want to hear," Luke Bryan said.
"It's gonna be a big, sweaty mess, but it's gonna be fun," Miranda Lambert laughed.
You can watch the CMA Summer Jam Thursday at 8 p.m. ET /7 p.m. CT on ABC.
CMA Summer Jam 2021: Country music stars return to stage in ABC primetime special