Natalie Stovall had an unforgettable time at her first-ever CMA Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 5).

The singer and her group the Drive were featured in a five-part digital series, 'On the Road to the CMAs,' that was sponsored by JCPenney. Stovall hosted the segment, and she tells Taste of Country she jumped right into the deep end for her first experience on the other side of the camera.

"They had a teleprompter, but right before I went out the very first thing, they asked me to do all of the stuff off the cuff, that they needed me to say exactly like they handed it to me on a sheet," she recalls. "They said, 'You've got about three minutes, can you just memorize this giant paragraph?' And I was like, 'Oh gosh, oh gosh -- here we go!'"

She came through the challenge like a trouper. "It all ended up well, and I didn't fall on my face, so that's good!" she says.

'On the Road to the CMAs' is currently airing on

Stovall -- who was recently featured alongside Lucy Hale, Sheryl Crow and Kacey Musgraves as one of CMT's Next Women of Country Music -- was also tapped for some red carpet coverage of the CMAs for, as well as the backstage experience. She got to talk to a Who's Who of country music, including RaeLynn and Kelly Sutton, Cole Swindell and even the legendary Garth Brooks, and was kind enough to share these exclusive photos from that memorable night with our readers.

Courtesy of Marbaloo
Courtesy of Marbaloo
Courtesy of Marbaloo

The Drive marked another first at the CMAs, when their first-ever national commercial spot for JC Penney aired live during the broadcast.

The Drive's latest single and video is 'Mason Jar,' a relentless, driving track that's a perfect showcase for their live energy and vocal and instrumental chops.

"We're always looking for things that are fun," Stovall observes. "What we do all year 'round, every year is play live music, so any time that we have something that comes our way or that we write or create that allows us to have a lot of fun onstage and have fun with the crowd, then we really gravitate towards that."

The group have developed quite a following on the strength of their live schedule, which can keep them out on the road 250-300 days a year. They've been pursuing that grueling schedule for nine years.

"We've actually done the math a couple of times," she says with a laugh. "We realized that we've actually driven to the moon and back in miles, a couple of times. Isn't that crazy, when you think about it like that?"

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