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Felicity Warner / HCM
Life > Experiences

My Backstage Experience at the CMT Awards 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

As I showed up to the UT Tower for part of the filming of the CMT (Country Music Television) Awards on April 3rd, 2024 I suddenly felt like I was being filmed for National Geographic instead.

My friend and I along with 500+ people stampeded like a herd of animals from The Lawn to the top of the steps in front of The Tower, trying to get the best possible spot in front of the stage where stars like Megan Moroney, Kelsea Ballerini, and Old Dominion would soon be performing. 

Prior to the National Geographic-like stampede towards the stage where part of the CMT Awards would be filmed, my friend and I had waited about 30-45 minutes with little to no instruction or expectation of what was going on. We just knew we were probably going to be on TV (we were not), and that this event was going to take a while (it did). 

After finding our spot around the stage, we realized we were nowhere near the water stations. While we were told that water would be readily available, this was not the case. After me and a few other girls held up our phones illuminating the word WATER on our screens, production finally passed water around.

We had been told a few times that the show was starting soon. After “soon” was long gone, the first artist came out – Bailey Zimmerman. He played his song “Where It Ends” a handful of times until production told him he was good to go. He was very lively, not to mention his performance included a spectacle of fireworks. 

After more waiting and an exchange of complaints between my friend and I about the heat, Jason Aldean came out to perform “Let Your Boys Be Country.” His performance was good and quick – he sang and off he went to what seemed to be better places. 

Now, it was time for what I came for – Kelsea Ballerni. One of my all-time favorite artists was going to be right in front of me.

My heart sank as a production employee told us we would all be moving and essentially, losing our spots. I was happy with my spot and became riddled with nerves. Kelsea had her own stage and it was going to be right in the middle of where we were all standing. 

After many anxious minutes that felt more like hours, we watched the stage get rolled in. While it was so fascinating to watch the production crew do their thing, I was focused on getting the best spot possible.

Soon enough, I was in the front row. Kelsea was on a circular stage, just a matter of feet in front of me. The camera crew was going to circle her while she sang so I knew I had to be camera-ready, but I was mostly focused on gawking at Kelsea and waiting on her every word. 

She engaged with nearly everyone that talked to her. Took selfies, made conversation, etc. She was so down-to-earth and I was in awe. 

After her mesmerizing performance that I will never forget, we waited for the last performance – Megan Moroney and Old Dominion. 

Once they ran through their song one time, my friend and I decided after 5 long hours, it was time to go home. 

Fast-forward to April 7th, me and my same friend arrived at the filming of the CMT Red Carpet.

Dressed to the nines, we stood in line and sweated nearly all of our makeup off and got pretty bad sunburns. I was also stung by a bee. Despite those inconveniences, this was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. 

Herded like cows yet again, we shuffled into bleachers that were going to witness all of country music’s biggest stars arrive and get interviewed. 

This event was a lot less fast-paced than I anticipated, but that was not necessarily a bad thing – we got to mingle with some people sitting around us. 

Stars arrived with minutes between each, which meant this was going to be a long ordeal. However, my friend and I along with everyone else watching the carpet brought great energy. Not to mention, we were in direct shot of the camera the whole time, so we had no choice but to be excited and energetic. 

After a long 5 hours, we mosied over to the actual awards show. Relieved to have seats in the AC and access to water, food, and a bathroom put some pep in our step. 

We watched electrifying performances, tear-jerking awards, and nostalgic clips from the filming we were at on April 3rd.  

It was a long, but exciting and unique experience. While some parts were disorganized and tiring, watching production work, seeing grateful artists win awards, and hearing mesmerizing music made it all worth it.

Getting to be a part of the CMT Awards’ backstage experience and watching the awards themselves was an experience I will never forget. 

Hi! I'm Abby! I'm a proud Longhorn studying speech-language-hearing sciences. While most of my background is in language, communication, and disability advocacy and awareness, I also love to read, write and journal, make bracelets, get outside, and spend time with my dog, family, and friends. One day I hope to work for a magazine as a writer and editor, or work for a company like Disney or Universal, where I can really unleash myself creatively. I love to write about my personal experiences with mental health, college, relationships and friendships, and pop culture, especially Taylor Swift. Happy reading! XOXO, Abby