You Look Like You Love Me
Country's newest star, Ella Langley, shares two days in her life performing at the 2024 CMA Fest, fr...

32 Hours With Ella Langley At CMA Fest 2024

The rising country singer details the unforgettable weekend — including her Taylor Swift moment.

Caylee Robillard

Every singer has their dream performance location. For country’s newest star Ella Langley, it’s CMA Fest’s largest daytime stage: the Chevy Riverfront. “Man, I’ve seen so many videos and shows there,” the 25-year-old singer tells Elite Daily. After years of opening at local festivals and shows for other artists in the genre, Langley recently crossed performing on that stage off of her bucket list.

On June 7, Langley appeared at the 2024 CMA Fest, belting her latest singles on the Chevy Riverfront in Nashville. “Getting to play my music there feels like the town’s seeing the hard work and passion that I’ve put in,” she says. “It felt validating, and it was super cool.”

The sprawling festival, which also featured other rising crooners like Kelsea Ballerini and Shaboozey, is located in the city Langley began calling her second home in 2019. (Originally from Alabama, she moved to Nashville after her second year at Auburn University.) She’s been making music there ever since, though she admittedly still has moments where she “doesn’t know how” she’ll make her dreams work.

Those occasional doubts haven’t clouded much of her success. After flirting with TikTok virality with her 2023 EP Excuse the Mess, Langley scored another hit with her latest duet with Riley Green, “you look like you love me.” She’s also gearing up to release her debut album, hungover, in August — which she’ll perform on her first headlining tour that same month.

Langley brought Elite Daily along for her adventure at this year’s CMA Fest, where she gave Nashville the first taste of her hungover album.

Thursday, June 6

9 a.m.: I woke up, immediately excited to get ready for the CMA Fest. One of the best parts of the festival is that it’s hosted in Nashville, so I had the opportunity to sleep and get ready in my own room at home. I then reviewed the day’s schedule and took my two dogs, Crüe and Bee, outside before I started my get-ready routine.

I made sure to put lotion on my new tattoo I got earlier that week with Kameron Marlowe. The tattoo — which says “damned if we don’t, damned if we do” — is a lyric from our song called “Strangers.” It was my very first song that went to radio, and when we recorded it back in March 2023, I knew the song was special. When producer Will Bundy was in the studio with us building the track, I leaned over to Kameron and said, “If this song goes to radio, we have to get a tattoo.” A year later, “Strangers” did just that.

After taking care of my tattoo, I started the day with a sparkling ginger-lime-flavored Eboost energy drink.

You have to learn how to just roll with the flow. Things never go the way you want them to.

11:15 a.m.: My manager, Megan, and photographer Caylee arrived at my house. Our arrival time at Spotify House was at 12:30 p.m., so this 45-minute window helped us finish any last-minute touches. The last key thing I do in my routine is a trick with my bangs. I always start with them wet. Then, I dry the right side, move to the left side, and come back to the right. Then for the middle of the bang, I dry them down — never roll it back.

12 p.m.: My team and I packed up all the items needed for the show and headed to Ole Red, a live music bar, for drop-off. Spotify House is one of my favorite events around CMA Fest, since it’s a great opportunity to get out in front of the fans and engage with their social content team.

As we arrived, my team realized we left my acoustic guitar at home. If you want to be an artist, you have to learn how to just roll the flow. Things never go the way you want them to; electronics can mess up, you might forget things — I would lose my head if it wasn’t attached to me. That moment was stressful, but luckily, we had a team of people to find two guitar options five minutes before I got on stage that day.

Caylee Robillard

1:30 p.m.: With my full band, I played a mix of songs from my debut album and 2023’s Excuse the Mess, such as: “paint the town blue,” “better be tough,” “nicotine,” “Country Boy’s Dream Girl,” “Excuse the Mess,” and “That’s Why We Fight.”

3 p.m.: We walked down the back alleys of Nashville between Ole Red and Margaritaville — another live music bar — to get to Sirius XM’s Music Row Happy Hour stage. After the performance, I was swept to the side for interviews and a slow-mo freeze-frame session.

4 p.m.: Once we wrapped up the Sirius XM show, we headed over to Acme Feed & Seed for my Camp Sony “Hungover Unplugged” session. I was excited to get to this event, since it was a bit more of an intimate crowd and we were playing a preview of my album. Afterward, I was able to catch up with Happenstance Whiskey, which is sponsoring my upcoming tour. I also met up with Graham Barham, who invited me to come out on stage and sing during his set.


6 p.m. to 3 a.m.: During one of the busiest weeks of my career, I moved into a new house. After I finished the “Hungover Unplugged” session, I headed back to the old house with my mom, brother, and sister to help me pack and strategize movers for that coming Saturday. Honestly, I was up until 3 a.m. every night that week handling that situation.

Friday, June 7

8 a.m.: I woke up super pumped for my first appearance at the festival’s Chevy Riverfront stage. I’ve been dreaming about this opportunity for so long, and as I got ready, I kept thinking back to the video of Taylor Swift talking about performing at that same stage in 2006. I believe she also debuted her song “Tim McGraw” there, which was obviously a massive moment for her. She’s so inspiring, so to play on the same stage she did is really cool to think about.

Riding up to one of my dream stages? I wish I had the words to describe my emotions.

9:30 a.m.: My team — alongside my mom, sister, and brother — arrived in the same fashion as the day before to help get everything together. We made sure to grab my acoustic this time and were off to downtown Nashville. I had been in a wonderful mood since my first round of shows the day prior, but in this moment, riding up to one of my dream stages? I wish I had the words to describe my emotions.

10:30 a.m.: We arrived at the Chevy Riverfront, and it was hot. It’s always hot during CMA Fest, which made me wonder why they don’t push it to May instead of the actual summer. Luckily, the heat couldn’t take away how excited I was to get on the stage.

11:30 a.m.: I finally performed. After singing through a similar set from yesterday, I also debuted a new song from my debut album: “hungover.” When I wrote that song with Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, I didn’t know it was going to be the title track. So to release it the day of this show, and then perform to a crowd where a few people already knew some of the lyrics? That was so special.

Caylee Robillard

12 p.m.: While I wish it never ended, the performance wrapped up around 30 minutes later. Afterwards, my band and I cooled down in the industry tent, where I was able to talk to more of my friends and the team. I also watched a bit of Alana Springsteen’s set since she played right after me. She’s also a good friend of mine, so I couldn’t miss it. After a few more minutes at the festival, I headed back home to pack some more — I had movers coming to my old house that next morning — and then changed my outfit for my CMT Sessions show.

5 p.m.: After a busy few hours at home, my band and I arrived at the CMT Sessions. I did two different sets there: one set with my lead guitarist, Ben Flanders, and another with Riley Green to perform “you look like you love me.” That was our first time performing that song in a setup like this.

Every other time, it’s been in the green room for people backstage, our families, friends, or him randomly deciding we’re going to do it on stage in front of an arena full of people. It’s been an unplanned willy-nilly situation every time, but this moment was just as special. As for my set, we did “hungover” and an acoustic version of “cowgirl don't cry” from the album. I’m excited for those to officially come out soon.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.