Dierks Bentley has a lot to look forward to when CMA Fest airs next week on ABC.
In addition to his own solo set during the annual festival held each summer in Nashville, Dierks is also co-hosting the special with his "Worth a Shot" duet partner, Elle King.
But before he was one of the headliners at Nissan Stadium, Dierks recalls being an up-and-coming artist who had to work his way up to that stadium level, and he says putting in the work made the reward all the more worth it.
"You really can count your career based on how many years you've had a chance to be part of CMA Fest. I remember my first time playing the main stage, you went on at noon and you worked your way up to one of the later slots and eventually got to headline one of the nights," he explains. "So it's a really big deal for us as artists, and obviously for fans too."
Among the artists he's looking forward to watching perform are fellow superstars Luke Combs, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban. He's also excited to watch the rising stars shine.
"It's always great seeing my friends and contemporaries and some of the guys who've been doing it for a bit longer. But I get excited about seeing an artist their very first time on the main stage. I'm sure this is Lainey Wilson's first time to be on that stage in front of that many people. Parker McCollum, also brand new artist who's on fire," Dierks said. "So the first time back after three years of being off due to the pandemic is huge. The energy is going to be crazy."
CMA Fest airs on ABC on August 3 at 8 p.m. ET.