When the idea of headlining Nashville’s 2019 Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4 was first pitched to Brett Eldredge, he was instantly game. But it was Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley who confirmed to him that it’s a gig of a lifetime.
“I go on vacation sometimes on the Fourth [of July],” Eldredge tells CMT.com, “and I hit up Charles because Lady Antebellum played it last year and you can ask other artists, ’What was it like? Was it so much fun? Should I cancel my other plans?’ He said, ’You’ve got to do it. It’s a blast!’ I was already sold, but he sealed the deal for me.”
CMT will premiere the Cody Alan-hosted live event in a 90-minute special starting Thursday (July 4) at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT. Eldredge will headline the Broadway Stage at Fifth and Broadway in front of thousands of people with the soundtrack of his hit-filled originals and the buzzing neon lights of Lower Broadway’s honky-tonks setting the patriotic mood for all the action. He promises it’s going to be fire personified because July Fourth and Christmas are his all-time favorite holidays.
“I grew up on a lake where I’d get up first thing in the morning on the Fourth of July like it was Christmas morning,” Eldredge adds. “I just loved it, and I loved the way it felt. I loved how everyone always came together as a community, and everybody would get out on the lake and boat. We have a big family and tons of friends, and we’d all cookout. The togetherness, the whole patriotic feel of everything, really does make you feel like you’re in an awesome place.”
Performances by Jessy Wilson, Mac McAnally and Dylan Scott will precede Eldredge’s performance. After the concerts, the fun will transition to Ascend Amphitheater where the Nashville Symphony will accompany a firework show with a finale that is set to be the most powerful in the city’s history. This is the 15th annual celebration the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp has produced and the 35th in Music City.
The concerts and fireworks are free and open to the public. Mayor David Briley will welcome attendees at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday on the Broadway Stage at Fifth and Broadway.
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Enjoy more from CMT.com’s Q&A with Eldredge below:
CMT.com: What is it about performing for your adoptive hometown on July Fourth that sets this concert apart from other gigs?
Eldredge: Headlining the Fourth of July celebration in Nashville, now my hometown, is very exciting. I already have the rush and the feeling with some of the guys in my band talking about the set and how it’s going to go down. We’re all just really excited. So, I think to be in front of hundreds of thousands of people and [have] the best fireworks show there is and get to play it, it’s going to be energy unlike any summer show I’ve probably ever felt.
You can never have a bad time on Lower Broadway.
No doubt. I used to make my way down there, and I still do from time to time. I would run around where the stage is set up when I was still in college and dreaming about [the future of my career]. When we’d go on vacation and drive by Nashville, every time we’d get off the exit, we’d see downtown and think how cool that place must be. Now downtown is three times bigger and has even more energy going on down there. I’m just going to feel like a big ole kid up there.
You’ve performed a couple of military entertainment tours. What has interacting with America’s military and first responders taught you about the cost of freedom and what they do to keep our country safe?
My roommate in college, Lee Krabel — I’ll never forget this, and I always talk about this because it’s important to me — he was in an Army Reserve unit in Iraq, and he was always talking about how excited everybody got when artists would come over and play for them. It hit me in the heart because whenever I’m around anyone who serves this country and puts in the ultimate sacrifice, I almost get star-shock. It is such a sacrifice to fight for your country and have the commitment to do that. The least I can do is go play a show.
I went over and played in Europe on several Naval Bases, and the excitement I felt made me I feel right at home even though we were thousands of miles away. That was the proudest I’ve ever been to be from this country. It’s left a huge mark on me, and I’ll never forget that, and it will always be a part of who I am and what I support.
Do you remember your first major National Anthem performance?
It would have been in the living room at a family event when I was a kid. I used to hide behind a door because I was so nervous. I would hide behind a door, I would sing, and they’d pay me $5. As soon as I would get done, I would take the $5, and I would go play outside.
But I think the very first time I did it in public was at one of my brother’s little league tournaments. It was about as American summer as you can get. It was at Frost Field in Paris, Ill, and there was a little one-story tower. To me, it felt like it was way up in the sky back then, and I got up there and sang the National Anthem. I remember thinking it was a huge deal. It felt like I was singing it at Freedom Sing! in front of 300,000 people even though there’s probably only 70 people there. But it felt like a million. I was just a little kid then.
After the fireworks are over, what late-night Nashville eatery is going to be your last call before you wrap your Fourth?
Good call. I would normally say Robert’s for the Recession Special. That’s what they call the fried bologna sandwich, sweet potato fries and a beer. Their sweet potato fries there are incredible, and I just love the vibe there. It’s like stepping back in time, and I love that feeling. I love nostalgia.