Legions of loyal “Nashville” fans proved their love for the drama that weaves life, heartache, and music through the famous haunts of Music City by campaigning for its return. Their efforts and those of the show's producers were rewarded when CMT gave a home to “Nashville” for Season 5. The show has become the highest-rated scripted drama for the network, even though the numbers don't approach those of major network audiences. The commendable draw has continued even after the “final departure” of Connie Britton as the established singing superstar, Rayna Jaymes. Show runners are sure there is “life after Rayna,” and her spirit will be felt palpably as a guiding spirit when Season 5 resumes on June 1.

Fans can celebrate this summer for another reason, too, knowing that their beloved “appointment TV date” already has a Season 6 coming, signed and sealed for delivery in 2018.

Real life learning ahead

Star, Connie Britton, went to great lengths to keep the fate of her on-screen character from being revealed to anyone, making the shock depicted on the small screen, even more, piercing to fans. Showrunner, Marshall Herskowitz, assures that the “deepening” of relationships, as they discover “who they are in their lives” will move forward, and the shift of making storylines more personal will allow very human emotions of life after loss. “Never forget her,” Herskowitz assures of the character of Rayna in his words to Rolling Stone. “She's a presence in each of the episodes [in the resumption of Season 5] because that's what happens in life.”

Major characters have major transitions, as Deacon Claybourne, portrayed by Charles Esten, has to learn single-parenting while steering his departed wife's record label.

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Hayden Panettiere keeps on the path of creating music for higher meaning while working for her return to the stage as Juliette. Scarlett (Clare Bowen) faces the uncertainty of the fatherhood of her unborn baby, and Maddie and Clay (Lennon Stella and David-Joseph Jones) have unforeseen challenges of their own in their newfound love. Other characters will be testing limits of new love, too.

New faces

The “Nashville” cast will grow by a few members. Rachel Bilson of “The OC” and “Hart of Dixie” will come on board, along with Kaitlin Doubleday from “Empire.” Some fans may remember Jeff Nordling from “Desperate Housewives” and lately, “Big Little Lies” as another newbie. It's always fun to have someone to hate on a favorite series, and it seems that Brad Maitland as the big-headed owner of the biggest label in town will fill that bill.

For now, 16 episodes have been ordered to run in early 2018 for the drama that has brought biggest numbers for CMT, and filled hearts of fans with passion and poetry in song. That makes another good start toward many more years for “Nashville” to come.