Country Music News

Carly Pearce, Tenille Townes team up for pre-show for Country Music Hall of Fame fundraiser

Country Music Hall of Fame and MuseumGearing up for its virtual fundraiser next week, BIG NIGHT (At the Museum), the Country Music Hall of Fame will host a pre-show event featuring Tenille Townes and Carly Pearce

Tenille will host Countdown to BIG NIGHT (At the Museum) with Carly as a special guest, airing 30 minutes before the main event. 

During the stream, each singer will perform a song by an artist who has influenced them. It leads up to the organization's fundraiser that will see several modern country artists performing on the historic instruments belonging to artists from across generations before them. 

Performances include Kane Brown playing Randy Travis' guitar, Miranda Lambert using a custom-made guitar owned by the late John PrineAshley McBryde playing Loretta Lynn's Gibson guitar, and many more. 

The livestream pre-show airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on October 28 on the CMHOF YouTube channel before the fundraiser kicks off at 9 p.m. ET. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jennifer Nettles to receive inaugural CMT Equal Play Award

CMTJennifer Nettles will be recognized for her advocacy for women and diverse voices at the 2020 CMT Awards.

The Sugarland star will receive the inaugural CMT Equal Play Award during the broadcast for her loyal support for women in country music.

As an outspoken advocate for equal airplay for women on country radio, Jennifer made a powerful statement at the 2019 CMA Awards when she attached a fabric train to the back of her outfit, bearing the handwritten message "play our fu**** records please & thank you."

“As a proud part of the beautiful legacy of women in country music, I am honored to be the first recipient of the ‘CMT Equal Play Award,’” Jennifer says. “I look forward to celebrating the contributions of women, and all marginalized communities, within the country music format, and I am motivated in encouraging the non-artists, executives and investors in the industry, to do the same. There is much work still to be done.” 

The award is named after the CMT’s Equal Play initiative that began in 2019 in response to the lack of representation of women artists on radio and streaming services.

Kane BrownAshley McBryde and Modern Family's Sarah Hyland are co-hosting the CMT Awards, airing Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jimmie Allen aims to inspire youth with children's book 'My Voice Is a Trumpet'

Flamingo BooksJimmie Allen is now an author in addition to his career as a country star. 

The "Best Shot" singer is sharing a message with children about the power of their voices with his debut children's book, My Voice Is a Trumpet, set for release next year. 

Written by Jimmie and illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson, the book encourages young readers to speak up for what they believe, a lesson Jimmie aims to instill in his own children, six-year-old son Aadyn and six-month-old daughter Naomi

The book features a cast of diverse young characters who find confidence in themselves and see the good in the world around them.

“It’s very important to me that kids learn at a young age that they have a voice, and that it is powerful. It is up to us as adults to teach them to use their voice to encourage and show love,” Jimmie shares with People.  “Being a father of two kids, I try to encourage them to be themselves and love everyone around them. I’m hoping this book inspires at least one child and they always remember their voice is a trumpet."

My Voice Is a Trumpet will be released via Flamingo Books on July 13.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockTwo years ago today, this music megastar headlined the first concert in the history of Notre Dame Stadium, performing such hits as "Unanswered Prayers" and "The Dance." Can you guess who it is? ANSWER: Garth Brooks. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockRising country star Tiera has released her new single, "Found It in You." This summer, she became the first songwriter signed to the publishing arm of Nashville's female-centered music brand Songs & Daughters, helmed by hit songwriter Nicolle Galyon

New country artist Robyn Ottolini has released her debut single, "F-150." She was recently signed to Warner Music Nashville after the song gained popularity on social media. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Maren Morris is proud to have been "To Hell & Back" with husband Ryan Hurd

ABC/Image Group LAMaren Morris' latest hit, "To Hell & Back," is a love letter to her husband, Ryan Hurd

What's surprising is that she wrote it so early in their relationship, it actually pre-dates the time they became a couple.

"I wrote it back when -- I don't even think we were really dating yet," Maren tells ABC Audio. "It was very early."

"It's an older song of mine," she continues, "but I held on to it for years because I just loved it so much. And I loved the sentiment behind, you know, someone loving you because of your flaws, not despite them."

For Maren, "To Hell & Back" describes the ultimate love relationship.

"You have to accept the whole picture to really love someone, and not ignore certain parts," she explains. "I don't think you can fully love a person if you're, like, sweeping some things under the rug."

"So I was just wanting to write a song that thanked him for loving every good, bad and ugly thing about me," she laughs.  

Maren and Ryan tied the knot in March of 2018, and welcomed their son, Hayes, two years later. 

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 

Carly Pearce puts her "Heart First" in a demo of a new song

Disney Channel/ABC Image Group LACarly Pearce turned to Instagram over the weekend to treat fans to a preview of a new song she recorded in the middle of quarantine called "Heart First."

Revealing that she sang it in one take while recording in a closet, the piano ballad features her signature voice backed by serene harmonies, narrating a battle between her head and heart and the pain that comes with a broken heart. 

"Cause when you fall you fall heart first/And when you hit the ground it hurts/Wish there was another way without the crash and burn/That I could learn/But when you fall you fall heart first," she sings with passion.

"This is so good," comments friend and peer Cassadee Pope, with hit songwriter Shane McAnallyadding "Love love LOVE." 

The demo comes hot on the heels of Carly's current single, "Next Girl," a 90s country-esque bop that serves as a warning to her ex's next lover. She also topped the charts earlier this year with her duet with Lee Brice on "I Hope You're Happy Now." 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Luke Bryan is "Down to One" in new single

ABC/Gavin BondOne is the luckiest number in Luke Bryan's new single, "Down to One." 

The consistent hitmaker takes a down-to-earth tone with the track off his most recent album, Born Here Live Here Die Here. The song finds Luke in his familiar setting in the back of a truck bed, falling in love under the moon and starlit sky as the clock strikes 1 a.m., getting down to that last Bud Light and one defining kiss. 

"Down to one beautiful smile/I was done with the girl I want/Straight falling in love/Right there that night/Down to one," the Georgia native croons in his southern drawl. 

"From the first time I heard this song I could not get it out of my head. The melody just roped me in. Excited to officially have #DownToOne as my next single," Luke shares on Instagram

"Down to One" follows the American Idol judge's 25th number one hit, "One Margarita." 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Brett Young honoring daughter's first birthday with "safe and responsible" celebration

Riker BrothersBrett Young and his wife Taylor are throwing their daughter Presley a pandemic-friendly birthday party. 

The couple is celebrating their daughter's first birthday on October 21, and while it may not be the party they originally envisioned, they are taking extra precaution to keep the infant and family members safe. 

The couple plan to have a very small gathering at their home in Nashville, with Taylor's parents and a close group of friends joining in the festivities. The singer says that attendees have not been traveling and have been tested for the virus.

"We’re kinda gonna treat it like a work day, unfortunately for Presley. It’s gonna be a little less exciting and a little less extravagant while being safe and responsible," he explains.

"We still want to make sure we celebrate her because she’s the best thing that ever happened to us, so her first birthday is really special to all of us," he continues. "So, it’ll be limited, it’ll be safe and tasteful and responsible but she’s gonna have a little birthday.” 

Presley and Taylor are the inspiration behind Brett's current single "Lady" that leads off his upcoming third studio album. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Miranda Lambert teases organic "Settling Down" video

ABC/Mark LevineMiranda Lambert and her husband Brendan McLoughlin take center stage in the upcoming video for her current single, "Settling Down." 

Last night, the country superstar shared a teaser of the video, dropping in full on Wednesday. The opening shot sees Miranda donning a pair of cowboy boots with a satin blue gown adorned with white tulle that blows in the breeze as she gallops on a majestic black and white horse.

The three-shot preview includes a smoldering shot of her husband in a tuxedo, along with the two clasping hands.

Brendan recently joined Instagram, the trio of photos posted thus far capturing life on their Tennessee farm. The couple wed in January 2019.  

"Settling Down" is the third single off Miranda's chart-topping 2019 album Wildcard, its predecessor being the number one hit "Bluebird." Wildcard is nominated for Album of the Year at the CMA Awards. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockToday, the crossover country star best known for her 1968 number-one hit, “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” is celebrating her 75th birthday. This Texas native also had five more top-ten hits in the ‘70s, including “Country Girl” and “Good Enough to Be Your Wife.” Can you name her? ANSWER: Jeannie C. Riley

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Garth Brooks' long awaited 'FUN' album gets release date

Copyright 2018 Blue Rose, Inc.Garth Brooks is ready to have some FUN.

The country superstar unveiled the news today that his latest studio album FUN will be released on November 20.

The album has been in the works for nearly two years, Garth releasing lead single "All Day Long" in June 2018. He announced earlier this year that he was waiting for the right time to share the project, hoping to avoid releasing it in the middle of a pandemic. 

But in an interview with People, the singer says he had delayed its release long enough.

"Truthfully, I just think I ran out of time. This should have been released last Christmas because we'd been working on it forever," he explains. "So I think it's just time, you know?" 

The project features 14 new songs, including the hit collaboration with Blake Shelton on "Dive Bar," "Stronger Than Me," a touching ode to his wife Trisha Yearwood with whom he recorded a cover of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga's "Shallow" from A Star is Born. 

Unreleased songs fans have to look forward to are "It's a Hard Way to Make an Easy Living," "Sometimes You've Got to Die to Live Again" and "Amen."  

"It's something we keep saying: How wrong is it to have fun when everybody's suffering?" Garth continues, adding that seeing fans' reactions to his virtual performances throughout the year, calling them an "escape," encouraged the album's release.

"...You kind of walk that line as an entertainer. What's your job? Even though times are hard for people, aren't they looking to the entertainment business for an escape?" he says. "I would just love to see us all kind of take a deep breath, maybe smile a little bit." 

FUN follows Garth's 2016 album Gunslinger.  

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockMichael Ray began hinting at the release of a music video for his new single, “Whiskey and Rain,” last week, dropping a “prequel” to begin building anticipation for his forthcoming clip. As the song plays, the video takes fans through footage of an empty house, with a half-full bottle of whiskey sitting on a coffee table, as a storm brews outside.

Honey County have shared two singles, “Ghost Town” and “Cry Wolf,” as a pair of “Double A-Sided”-style releases.

Duo Lakeview dropped their latest track, “In Case You Forgot (My Hometown)” last week. Keep an eye out for the song’s music video on Monday.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Runaway June goes 'Game of Thrones' on 'When I Think About Christmas' cover

Broken BowThe cover of Runaway June's new holiday EP, When I Think About Christmas, gives the impression Jennifer WayneNaomi Cooke, and Natalie Stovall are standing in a snowy, tree-lined scene. 

But that's actually far from the truth.

"Nothing like being in fur coats in a hundred degrees in a field in Tennessee," Natalie laughs.

"It was fun though. Yeah, I mean it was hot!" Naomi agrees.

The "We Were Rich" hitmakers set out to forego traditional silver, gold, and green trappings, in favor of a more rustic look.

"We really wanted the visual side of the music to feel and look and capture the sound," Naomi explains. "You know, there's a lot of like Appalachian kind of mountain sounds in this music. There's fiddle and banjo."

"And we just wanted something a little different," she continues. "Normally, like Christmas album covers have got a lot of red and it's very glam."

Though you could certainly argue the three women still look plenty glamorous, at one point, they worried they might be going a little too far with their "blue steel" and furs.

"We just really wanted to step outside of that box a little bit and bring more wintery elements," Naomi reflects. "But it was funny because we had to kind of fight with that a little bit, because we were like, 'Maybe this looks a little too a Game of Thrones.'"

"And then we were like making jokes about 'Winter is coming,'" she adds, as the three laugh. "And we're like, 'Oh, okay, this is really fun. Let's just do this.'" 

The five-song EP combines favorites like "Sleigh Ride," "O Holy Night," and "Let It Snow" with two new songs, "Christmas on the Radio" and the Jennifer-Wayne-penned title track. It's available now. 

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 

“Lose You”: Jordan Davis reflects on what a good thing he’s got in his latest tune

UMG NashvilleIn his pulsing, mid-tempo new song, “Lose You,” Jordan Davis makes time to appreciate a relationship worth hanging on to, no matter what.

“People break up, fall in and outta love / But giving this up is something I just won’t do,” he sings. “And I don’t wanna give you a reason to leave me / Watch you drive off in the night / I never wanna feel that freedom that people say they find...”

It’s a song ripped straight from the pages of Jordan’s own life, as a husband and new dad to baby daughter Eloise Larken. He came up with the idea for the song while comparing relationship notes with his co-writers, who are also happily coupled up.

“When I sat down with the guys in the writer’s room that day, we were all just talking about our wives and we realized, ‘Hey, we are all married to amazing women so let’s not mess this up,’” the singer remembers.

Fun fact: One of the co-writers of “Lose You,” Josh Kerr, is a newlywed who married Maddie & Tae bandmate Tae Dye back in February.

“Lose You” follows Jordan’s current single, “Almost Maybes.” He decided to release the track after teasing it on social media, a pandemic-era alternative to testing out unreleased material live during shows.

“In a normal year we’d have our live show to try out new music and see what connects with the audience. Since we can’t do that, it has been fun to share on social media and see the response,” he explains. “Fans were loving this one, so we thought, ‘Why wait to release it?’”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trace Adkins is “Better Off” with the release of his newest EP, 'Ain’t That Kind of Cowboy'

Chase Lauer Trace AdkinsAin’t That Kind of Cowboy EP arrives today, and the singer celebrated his six-song batch of tunes with a performance of “Better Off,” the leading track, on NBC’s The TODAY Show.

Trace tuned into the show from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, with a performance airing Friday morning during the 10AM hour.

“Better Off” came out in March, the first taste of Ain’t That Kind of Cowboy and the first new music from the “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” hitmaker since 2017. It’s also his first project since inking a new deal with Verge Records, and Trace said he was thrilled to celebrate the release of his next musical chapter.

“It was a lot of fun to get back into the studio with [Verge Records head] Mickey Jack [Cones] and [songwriter/producer] Bart [Butler] on this EP, and I couldn’t be prouder of these songs from some of my favorite writers,” the singer reflects. “I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”

Among the impressive roster of songwriters Trace tapped to help him write his new EP are two names likely familiar to country fans. TJ Osborne and John Osborne of the duo Brothers Osborne co-wrote “Big,” the fourth track on the EP.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are voting early, after being challenged by Michelle Obama

Bruce Glikas/WireImageFaith Hill recently rounded up her “#votingsquad” to answer a challenge from former First Lady Michelle Obama.

The country superstar shared a picture of herself on Instagram this week, giving a thumbs up to the camera alongside her fellow artist husband Tim McGraw and their 18-year-old daughter, Aubrey. All three of the family members don face masks as they encourage other people to vote in this year’s Presidential election.

“Challenge accepted [Michelle Obama]! My #votingsquad and I voted together today,” Faith wrote in the caption of her post.

She then called on a number of other members of the country community to join her in getting out the vote. She challenged Dolly Parton, Karen Fairchild, Ingrid Andress and Kelsea Ballerini.

Faith and Tim have long been active supporters of When We All Vote, a grassroots, non-partisan organization aimed at increasing voter participation in every election. Last month, the singer used her social media accounts to help fans figure out how to check their voter registration status and register if necessary.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Happy Voter Registration Day! If you are registered to vote, make sure your friends are registered as well. If you are not registered to vote, now is the time to do it! Click the link below and you’ll find an easy step-by-step guide to register.

— Faith Hill (@FaithHill) September 22, 2020

As he releases his new EP, Parker McCollum brings home some 'Hollywood Gold' of his own

MCA NashvilleParker McCollum’s Hollywood Gold EP, his first major-label project, arrived this week. It contains six tracks, including his first-ever top-ten hit, “Pretty Heart.”

The project’s title is a tribute to his grandfather, who purchased an Australian racehorse named “Hollywood Gold” that was promptly stolen from his property and remained missing for months. But as he celebrates his EP release, Parker is on the receiving end of another kind of “Hollywood Gold” for his work on the project.

“Pretty Heart” recently won him his first-ever RIAA gold certification, certifying 500,000 units sold. The song continues to rake in high sales and streaming numbers.

However, on his new EP, Parker puts his biggest focus on the classic “Gold” sound of traditional country music. One of the tracks, “Like a Cowboy,” is a Chris Stapleton-penned tribute to the rugged work ethic of an earlier generation.

Aside from “Like a Cowboy,” Parker co-wrote every track on Hollywood Gold.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Cam plans an intimate 'The Otherside' album release show from an iconic Music City stage

Courtesy of BB Gun PressAs Cam readies the release of her sophomore studio album, The Otherside, she’s making arrangements for an unforgettable album release show event from the stage of Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe.

During the show, the singer will bring fans along for the emotional ride that led her to make the album. In between performances, she’ll share some of the stories behind the songs on The Otherside.

Tickets for the livestream show are for sale now, with special virtual “meet and greet” options available, as well as add-on purchases of CD or vinyl copies of The Otherside. The show will take place at 7PM CT on October 30, which is the same day that Cam’s new album comes out.

When she first announced the project, Cam explained that the creative process started in a disappointment and disillusionment she was feeling with the world.

“These past few years, my expectations for the world were severely undercut,” she noted at the time. “Honestly, my idealist heart needed some reworking in order to survive. At the same time all this inner development was happening, I was touring the world and getting better at singing & songwriting. Now in hindsight, from The Otherside, I can hear the through-line of how it’s all made me more myself.”

Cam has already shared a handful of tracks off her new album, including “Redwood Tree,” “Till There’s Nothing Left,” “Diane” and her current single, “Classic.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Russell Dickerson readies a 'Southern Symphony' that he hopes will “Never Get Old”

Spencer Combsl/Triple TigersRussell Dickerson has been hinting at new music to come for the past several months, and the singer is finally ready to share what he’s got up his sleeve. He announced his upcoming sophomore album, Southern Symphony, on Friday.

A ten-track project that Russell says is a testament to how he’s evolved as an artist, Southern Symphony will be out on December 4. It’s available to pre-order now, and the singer’s also tiding fans over with a brand-new track off the project, “Never Get Old.”

With a throwback ‘90s twang and a timeless message of celebrating and savoring good times, “Never Get Old” is the leading track off of Southern Symphony. Fans can also find Russell’s previously-released “Love You Like I Used To” and “Home Sweet” on the album.

Plus, it looks like there’s an exciting collaboration in the works: The track list of Southern Symphony reveals a duet with Florida Georgia Line called “It’s About Time.”

Southern Symphony is hands-down the best work I’ve created,” the singer says. “It’s the best songs I’ve written. It’s sonically the best we’ve created. This album is ten honest and true tracks that tell the story of how I’ve grown as an artist and a man. I could not be more proud of every song on this album.”

Southern Symphony will follow Russell’s 2017 full-length debut, Yours. Here’s the full track list for the album:

“Never Get Old”
“Home Sweet”
“All Yours All Night”
“Love You Like I Used To”
“Forever for a Little While”
“It’s About Time” (feat. Florida Georgia Line)
“Southern Symphony”
“Come to Jesus”
“Waiting for You My Whole Life”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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