NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Thousands of fans came out for the official kick-off to CMA Music Festival Monday night at Ascend Park.

This is the 9th annual Music City Gives Back Concert featuring Rodney Atkins.

Carly Pearce, Tyler Rich and Michael Ray were among the other artists that performed.

Music and autograph sessions began at noon and hours later fans were still thirsty for the party.

The event started as a thank you to the sponsors and volunteers who helped rebuild Nashville following the floods. 

Now it benefits W.O. Smith Music school, which helps children of low-income families with music lessons.

“I’m constantly amazed by the generosity shown by so many artists and friends. To have this much fun while also raising money for the good work being done here in

Nashville by the W.O. Smith Music school remains a dream come true for me,” said Atkins. 

Michael Ray headlined the night and talked about how music makes an impact.

“When you can change an adults life it’s incredible when you can change a child’s life you are changing not only their life right at that moment but possibly forever,” Ray told News 2. 

Carly Pearce agreed, “I think it’s so important for music education and anything I can do to give back just as an artist and use the platform of music is something that I am always ready to do.”

The event has raised more than $100,000 over the years.

(This article was originally published June 5, 2019)