Thomas Rhett explains how music education fueled the High-Heeled Flip Flops that started his caree

ABC/Mark Levine On Sunday, Thomas Rhett hosts ABC's CMA Fest special for the fourth time, his third with Kelsea Ballerini by his side.

Just like all the other performers at Nashville's Nissan Stadium, TR and Kelsea donate their time, so all the profits can go to music education.

Even though his dad Rhett Akins is a successful singer/songwriter, TR says he owes his career to music education at school.

"The reason I formed a band in sixth grade was because of our band teacher," Thomas explains. "Drums was my first instrument... I think I did one football game as a pit band drummer, and that really encouraged me to start this terrible band called the High-Heeled Flip Flops.""

"If it weren't for that, I really don't know if I would have kept pursuing music the way that I did it..." he admits. "That really sparked my fire for being in front of people and writing songs."

For the "Remember You Young" hitmaker, that makes being able to give back through CMA Fest all the more gratifying.

"I think music education is one of the most important things in the world for a kid to be able to express themselves, whether it's songwriting or playing the saxophone or playing the guitar," TR says. "So that's why this week is super important."

Thanks to what TR calls Nashville's "unique charm," CMA Fest just "keeps getting bigger."

"People come in from all over the world, and they go back and tell all their friends how awesome it was," he observes. "And it just keeps multiplying and multiplying."

Thomas Rhett will do his most recent #1, "Look What God Gave Her," and "T-Shirt" on the 3-hour CMA Fest special that premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. 

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