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Music News

Keith Urban Leads ACM Nominations


With seven nominations in five categories, Keith Urban leads the field of nominees for the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
 
Lady Antebellum revealed the initial nominations Thursday (Feb. 16) on CBS This Morning, with the remaining nominations announced by Entertainment Tonight hosts Nancy O’Dell and Kevin Frazier additional nominees on ETonline.com.
 
Urban’s latest ACM nominations include his seventh for entertainer of the year and 10th for male vocalist. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Carrie Underwood are also up for entertainer of the year.
 
Urban is nominated twice — as both artist and producer — in the album of the year category for Ripcord. He received an additional two nominations — for both artist and producer — for single record of the year for “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” As an artist, he is also nominated in the ACM song of the year category for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” written by Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey and Steven Lee Olsen.
 
Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley will host the awards show on April 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
 
Here’s a complete list of the artist-related nominations:
 
Entertainer of the Year
Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Florida Georgia Line
Carrie Underwood
Keith Urban
 
Male Vocalist
Jason Aldean
Dierks Bentley
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban
 
Female Vocalist
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood
 
Vocal Duo
Big & Rich
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae
 
Vocal Group
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
 
New Male Vocalist
Kane Brown
Chris Janson
Chris Lane
Jon Pardi
Brett Young
 
New Female Vocalist
Lauren Alaina
Cam
Brandy Clark
Maren Morris
* four nominees only
 
New Vocal Duo or Group
A Thousand Horses
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
LOCASH 
Maddie & Tae
 
Album of the Year
Black, Dierks Bentley
Dig Your Roots, Florida Georgia Line
Hero, Maren Morris
Ripcord, Keith Urban
The Weight of These Wings, Miranda Lambert
 
Single Record of the Year
“Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Keith Urban
“H.O.L.Y.,” Florida Georgia Line
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
“My Church,” Maren Morris
“Vice,” Miranda Lambert
 
Song of the Year
“Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Keith Urban
Songwriters: Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey, Steven Lee Olsen
 
“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett
Songwriters: Thomas Rhett, Sean Douglas, Joe Spargur
 
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
Songwriter: Lori McKenna
 
“Kill a Word,” Eric Church Featuring Rhiannon Giddens
Songwriters: Eric Church, Luke Dick, Jeff Hyde
 
“Tennessee Whiskey,” Chris Stapleton
Songwriters: Dean Dillon, Linda Hargrove
 
“Vice,” Miranda Lambert
Songwriters: Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
 
Video of the Year
“Fire Away,” Chris Stapleton
Director: Tim Mattia
 
“Forever Country,” Artists of Then, Now & Forever
Director: Joseph Kahn
 
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
Director: Wes Edwards
 
“Peter Pan,” Kelsea Ballerini
Director: Kristin Barlowe
 
“Vice,” Miranda Lambert
Director: Trey Fanjoy
 
Vocal Event
“Different for Girls,” Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King
“Forever Country,” Artists of Then, Now & Forever
“May We All,” Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw
“Setting the World on Fire,” Kenny Chesney Featuring P!nk
“Think of You,” Chris Young Featuring Cassadee Pope
 
Songwriter of the Year
Ashley Gorley
Luke Laird
Hillary Lindsey
Shane McAnally
Lori McKenna

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Chris Stapleton's All-American Road Show Starts May 5 in Georgia


Chris Stapleton has a new album in the works and a new summer tour on the way.
 
Stapleton’s All-American Road Show tour starts May 5 in Alpharetta, Georgia, with Anderson East, Brent Cobb, Brothers Osborne, Lucie Silvas and Margo Price opening various dates. Cities on the schedule include Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Toronto, Ontario.
 
Tickets go on sale Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. for most dates.
Here is a complete list of dates for Stapleton’s All-American Road Show:
 
May 5: Alpharetta, Georgia (Verizon Amphitheatre)
May 11: Virginia Beach, Virginia (Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach)
May 12: Raleigh, North Carolina (Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek)
May 13: Charlotte, North Carolina (PNC Music Pavilion)
May 18: San Diego (Mattress Firm Amphitheatre)
May 19: Phoenix (Ak-Chin Pavilion)
May 20: Los Angeles (The Forum)
May 23: Denver (Red Rocks Amphitheatre)
 
June 1: Fresno, California (Save Mart Center at Fresno State)
June 2: Mountain View, California (Shoreline Amphitheatre)
June 3: Wheatland, California (Toyota Amphitheatre)
June 9: Southaven, Mississippi (BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove)
June 10: Birmingham, Alabama (Oak Mountain Amphitheatre)
June 15: Charleston, West Virginia (Charleston Civic Center)
June 16: Cincinnati (Riverbend Music Center)
June 17: Indianapolis (Klipsch Music Center)
June 22: Tulsa, Oklahoma (BOK Center)
 
July 14: Mansfield, Massachusetts (Xfinity Center)
July 15: Hartford, Connecticut (The XFINITY Theatre)
July 16: Darien Lake, New York (Darien Lake Performing Arts Center)
July 20: Holmdel, New Jersey (P.N.C. Bank Arts Center)
July 21: Wantagh, New York (Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater)
July 22: Bristow, Virginia (Jiffy Lube Live)
 
Aug. 3: Duluth, Minnesota (AMSOIL Arena)
Aug. 5: St. Louis (Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre)
Aug. 10: Hershey, Pennsylvania (Giant Center)
Aug. 11: Pittsburgh (KeyBank Pavilion) 
Aug. 12: Philadelphia (BB&T Pavilion)
Aug. 17: Toronto (Budweiser Stage) 
Aug. 18: Cleveland (Blossom Music Center) 
Aug. 19: Clarkston, Michigan (DTE Energy Music Theatre)
Aug. 25: Gilford, New Hampshire (Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion)

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Thomas Rhett and Wife Share Baby News


What a way to jump start a family.
 
Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins announced two huge — but also tiny — pieces of news on Wednesday morning (Feb. 15). She is pregnant, and they are also adopting a baby from Africa. It sounds like the two new stars of their show will be here later this year.
 
All this right on the verge of the country superstar’s Home Team Tour, which starts next week in Michigan and continues through May with dates all across the country and Canada.

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Reba Ascends to Top Album Tier With Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope


Lord a’mighty! The No. 1 country album this week is a collection of gospel and inspirational tunes, Reba McEntire‘s Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.
 
It rides in on first-week sales of 52,039 units, according to Nielsen Soundscan. That number was also sufficient to debut it at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 all-formats chart.
 
On the country airplay list, Dustin Lynch‘s “Seein’ Red” arrives at the top after a 34-week slog. It’s Lynch’s fourth No. 1, his last being “Mind Reader.”
 
Reba’s last No. 1 album was Love Somebody, which made its chart bow in 2015. Unless it’s escaped her discographer’s notice, this is Reba’s first gospel collection, although she’s certainly included such spiritually-infused songs in earlier recordings.
 
There are no other new albums to report, but there are two returnees — Luke Bryan‘s Tailgates & Tanlines (No 42) and Little Big Town‘s Pain Killer (No. 44).
 
We count two new songs — Keith Urban‘s “The Fighter,” featuring Carrie Underwood, punching its way in at No. 44, and Adam Craig‘s “Just a Phase” (No. 60). Casey Donahew‘s “Kiss Me” is back on at No. 56.
 
Rounding out the Top 5 albums, in descending order, are Brantley Gilbert‘s The Devil Don’t Sleep (last week’s No. 1), Chris Stapleton‘s Traveller, Keith Urban‘s Ripcord and Garth Brooks’ The Ultimate Collection.
 
The No. 2 through No. 5 songs are Little Big Town’s ““Better Man,” Chris Young‘s “Sober Saturday Night,” featuring Vince Gill, Thomas Rhett‘s “Star of the Show” (last week’s No. 1) and Blake Shelton’s “A Guy With a Girl.”
 
We could not but notice that there’s a string of songs “featuring” vocals by a second artist in this week’s airplay charts — in addition to the Urban/Underwood and Young/Gill pairings mentioned above. They are Eric Church’s “Kill a Word” with Rhiannon Giddens, Florida Georgia Line’s “God, Your Mama and Me” with the Backstreet Boys, and Drew Baldridge’s “Rebound” with Emily Weisband.
 
Now you know. Use this wisdom wisely.

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Brett Eldredge, Darius Rucker and Chris Stapleton Give Back on CMT Hometown Heroes


Brett Eldredge, Darius Rucker and Chris Stapleton return to their respective hometowns to give back in a big way on an all-new CMT Hometown Heroes, airing March 31 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
 
Powered by Ram Nation, the truck brand’s grassroots volunteer network, the one-hour special will follow each artist as they do good in the places that shaped them and offer in-depth interviews, plus exclusive performances.
 
CMT Hometown Heroes will follow Stapleton’s trip home last year to Paintsville, Kentucky, where he surprised the music program at his high school alma mater Johnson Central High School with new instruments and a new outdoor performance pavilion.
 
Rucker returns home to Charleston, South Carolina, to remodel and redecorate the teen room at MUSC Children’s Hospital, where he spent much of his childhood with his mother who was a nurse.
 
Eldredge goes home to Paris, Illinois, where he helps refurbish Laker Stadium, the baseball fields near where he grew up. His portion of the show will feature a surprise concert at his beloved high school gymnasium.

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Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley Return to Host ACM Awards


Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley will return to host the 52nd annual ACM Awards live from Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on April 2. The news was revealed in a commercial break during Sunday’s (Feb. 12) 59th annual Grammy Awards.
 
This will be the second time the two partnered to co-host the event. Bryan previously co-hosted the ACMs with Blake Shelton at the 50th annual telecast in Dallas in 2015.
 
Lady Antebellum will help reveal the first round of nominees during the 8 a.m. ET/PT hour on CBS This Morning on Thursday (Feb. 16). Nancy O’Dell and Kevin Frazier will reveal the additional nominees on Entertainment Tonight’s website at 8:50 a.m. ET.

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Tim McGraw, Faith Hill Sign With Sony Music


Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have each signed recording contracts with Sony Music Entertainment, Billboard reported Monday (Feb. 13). The move coincides with the couple’s impending Soul2Soul World Tour, which starts April 7 in New Orleans.
 
After a long and acrimonious divorce from his original label, Curb Records, McGraw moved to the Big Machine Label Group in 2012. There he released three studio albums, the most recent being Damn Country Music in November 2015. It debuted at No. 3 on Billboard‘s country albums chart and, according to Nielsen SoundScan, has since sold a modest 251,290 copies.
 
Hill has spent her recording career at Warner Bros. Records. Her last album release on that label was a compilation, Deep Tracks, in November 2016.
 
A measure of the importance of the celebrated couple’s alighting at Sony is attested to by the official signing photo in which Sony Nashville executives are pictured with Doug Morris (Sony Music Entertainment CEO) and Kazuo Hirai (president and CEO of the entire Sony Corporation). Randy Goodman is chairman and CEO of Sony Music Nashville.

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2017 Grammy Awards: The Country Winners


Sturgill Simpson, Maren Morris, Joey + Rory, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott are among the winners Sunday (Feb. 12) at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
 
Here’s a list of the country-related winners:
 
Best Country Album: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson
 
Best Country Solo Performance: “My Church,” Maren Morris
 
Country Song: “Humble and Kind,” Lori McKenna (songwriter)
 
Country Duo/Group Performance: “Jolene,” Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton
 
American Roots Song: “Kid Sister,” Vince Gill (songwriter)
 
Roots Gospel Album: Hymns, Joey + Rory
 
Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song: “Thy Will,” Hillary Scott and the Scott Family
 
Contemporary Christian Music Album: Love Remains, Hillary Scott and the Scott Family
 
Americana Album: This Is Where I Live, William Bell
 
Bluegrass Album: Coming Home, O’Connor Band With Mark O’Connor
 
Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Willie Nelson
 
Folk Album: Undercurrent, Sarah Jarosz
 
American Roots Performance: “House of Mercy,” Sarah Jarosz
 

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Randy Travis Sings at All-Star Nashville Tribute


The biggest question on everyone’s mind at Nashville’s “1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time: A Heroes & Friends Tribute to Randy Travis” on Wednesday (Feb. 8) was this: 
Will he sing?
 
That he did, and it was miraculous.
 
The big moment happened in the finale after Garth Brooks’ handed him the microphone to sing the famous tagline to “Forever and Ever, Amen.” Travis then took his wife Mary’s hand, stood up from his chair on the side of the stage where he sat smiling from ear to ear the whole night and laid into four verses of “Amazing Grace” with the night’s all-star cast. His voice was clear and shook with emotion as he sang, like a gospel radio station coming in and out of the airwaves.
 
A spirited rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” closed the tribute, which lasted nearly four hours.
 
Every act who hugged Travis onstage during their set touched a miracle. In 2013, he suffered a massive stroke that nearly killed him and hospitalized him for more than five months. Since then, Travis has made truly impressive strides in his recovery.
 
A portion of the proceeds from the night’s ticket sales will support stroke research and rehabilitation through the country legend’s nonprofit Randy Travis Foundation. The event’s title comes from Travis’ 1990 duets album Heroes and Friends which features collaborations with Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Vern Gosdin, B.B. King, Loretta Lynn and George Jones.
 
The marathon tribute featured more than 30 acts performing several of Travis’ greatest hits live with his longtime band. Few performers, including Brooks, Kane Brown and Wynonna Judd, actually shared how nervous they were singing in front of one of country music’s most famous baritones.
 
“The thing I love most about country and the voice of Randy Travis is that he’s a stylist,” Judd said before performing a soulful version of “On the Other Hand” from Travis’ 1986 debut Storms of Life. “You know exactly who it is the first couple of seconds you hear the voice.”
 
“There isn’t anybody in country music today or in the last 20 years that doesn’t owe their career to Randy Travis,” Brooks said. “I’m one of those guys.
 
“You totally saved this music and this format,” he said to Travis. “Anything you ever need from me Hoss, it would be an honor to do. I just love you to pieces.”
 
The performances that came close to nailing Travis’ golden tones live were Brooks’ “Forever and Ever, Amen,” Josh Turner’s “Three Wooden Crosses,” Scotty McCreery’s “1982,” Chris Young’s “This Is Me,” and the Daryle Singletary and Mark Chesnutt cover of Heroes and Friends’ Jones duet “Few Old Country Boys.”
 
Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson, Ben Haggard, Neal McCoy and Chris Janson were among the most musically dynamic performers onstage. Johnson helped back Krauss and her angelic voice on “Deeper Than the Holler” from 1988’s Old 8×10. Johnson stayed to deliver a haunting acoustic version of Old 8×10’s closer “Promises” with a seven-piece choir made up of musical friends from backstage.
 
Haggard closed the first act with “Are the Good Times Really Over” by his late father Merle Haggard. Travis recorded the Haggard classic for his 2014 collection Influence, Vol. 2: The Man I Am. McCoy’s longtime piano player played dramatically on a grand piano while he delivered a moving rendition of “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” — one of Travis’ favorite hymns.
 
Armed with just his harmonica and an acoustic guitar, Janson showed he could have played the whole concert with both hands tied behind his back when he laid into “Look Heart No Hands” from 1992’s Greatest Hits, Volume 2. His harp playing between the verses blew the arena away.
 
From Travis’ 1986 debut Storms of Life, Joe Nichols covered the title track, the Bellamy Brothers sang “Diggin’ Up Bones,” Rodney Atkins performed “Honky Tonk Moon,” and hit-maker Paul Overstreet sang his original “No Place Like Home.”
 
From 1987’s Always & Forever, Montgomery Gentry performed a swinging version of “Too Gone Too Long,” Tanya Tucker delivered a powerful version of “I Told You So” and Nashville’s Charles Esten performed “I Won’t Need You Anymore.”
 
Kenny Rogers and Alabama were among the acts who delivered moving performances covering Travis’ faith-based catalogue. After singing “Love Lifted Me” from 2003’s Worship & Faith, Rogers transitioned into his signature hit “The Gambler.” Alabama had one of the loudest standing ovations of the night as they took the stage to sing the title song from their 2014 compilation, Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites, with a full gospel choir in black cloaks.
 
Four songs into the night, his Travis’ older brother Ricky Traywick gave a fiery performance of “Before You Kill Us All” from 1994’s This Is Me.
 
Travis was also surprised with three plaque presentations throughout the night. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry kicked off the show by issuing a proclamation making Feb. 8, 2017 Randy Travis Day in the city. Peter Strickland, Warner Music Nashville’s vice president and general manager, surprised him with an oversized plaque commemorating 25 million in album sales.
 
During another point in the show, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and representatives from his office presented Travis with another plaque naming Feb. 8 as Stroke Awareness Day in the Volunteer state.

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Blake Shelton's Brand New Video: "Every Time I Hear That Song"


Blake Shelton is missing that someone in his new video for “Every Time I Hear That Song,” his latest single.
 
Directed by Kristin Barlow in Nashville, the video features Shelton belting out a heartfelt performance in a shower of rain. He’s haunted by his love’s memory and finds himself unable to keep it together when he hears that one special song.
 
There’s nothing that can stir up a memory quite like music. We all know that.
 
“Every Time I Hear That Song” follows Shelton’s 23rd No. 1 single. Yes, you read that correctly — 23 chart-topping singles for the Oklahoma native.
 
He’s kicking off His Doing It to Country Songs Tour next week in Bakersfield, California, with two familiar faces from The Voice — RaeLynn and season 11 champion Sundance Head.
 
No word on whether Shelton will have rain during his performance on the road, but we’re thinking he should.

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Miranda Lambert: Stories Behind Three of Her 24 Songs


If Miranda Lambert talked about every single song on her new double album The Weight of These Wings, it would be a lengthy proposition.
 
But slowly but surely and bit by bit, she seems to be sharing her thoughts about a handful of the new tunes.
 
Like in a recent radio interview with iHeart Radio’s Colton Bradford, Lambert answers his questions about three of the 24 tracks.
 
On “Runnin’ Just in Case” — a song Lambert wrote with Gwen Sebastian — she talked about how it came to be while she was on the road.
 
“That song kept me up all night long,” she said. “I wrote it from Birmingham to Biloxi. It wouldn’t stop. I was awake until like 4 a.m. and woke back up at 7 a.m. I love those songs that keep you up nights, and then when someone actually mentions it, you’re like, ‘Oh, good. That worked.'”
 
Lambert’s fan favorite “Tin Man” is one she penned with Texas singer-songwriter Jack Ingram.
 
“It’s almost like I’m not sure everyone’s willing to go there, because it’s pretty tough,” she admitted of the downer of a heartbreak song.
 
And on “Smoking Jacket,” one she wrote with Natalie Hemby and Lucie Silvas, Bradford asked her if the lyrics — the ones about looking for a man with a smoking jacket who will love her until it hurts — is about her boyfriend Anderson East.
 
“Hey, he does smoke,” is all she says.

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Nominees for 52nd Annual ACM Awards Coming Feb. 16


Lady Antebellum will help reveal the nominees for the 52nd annual ACM Awards on Feb. 16.
 
The first round of nominees will be announced during the 8 a.m. ET/PT hour on CBS This Morning. Nancy O’Dell and Kevin Frazier will reveal the additional nominees on Entertainment Tonight’s website at 8:50 a.m. ET.
 
Lady A are seven-time ACM Award winners and the 2013 recipients of the Jim Reeves International Award. Available now, the horn-driven “You Look Good” is the first single from their upcoming album Heart Break (out June 9). The You Look Good World Tour will visit 65 cities across six countries starting May 26 in Bakersfield, California.
 
Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena will host the ACMs on April 2.

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Brantley Gilbert's The Devil Don't Sleep Debuts as Top Country Album


Light the fireworks and pop some corks! Brantley Gilbert‘s The Devil Don’t Sleep debuts dramatically (if not grammatically) at No. 1 on Billboard‘s country albums chart and at No. 2 on the magazine’s all-genres list.
 
And, after a 19-week trek, Thomas Rhett‘s “Star of the Show” pulls in at the top of the country airplay rankings.
 
As explained here last week, the country albums chart is now being calculated not only on weekly sales of physical albums, as in the past, but also broadened to include track-equivalent downloads and streaming equivalences. Thus, there will continue to be a difference between the Nielsen Soundscan charts (still based on physical sales) and Billboard‘s.
For example, on this week’s Billboard country chart, Lauren Alaina‘s Road Less Traveled debuts at No. 3. But on Nielsen, it comes in at No. 2. By Nielsen’s count, The Devil Don’t Sleep sold 66,214 physical copies its first week out, while Road Less Traveled scanned 9.717 units.
 
If you are confused by these Jesuitical distinctions, count yourself lucky that you’ve not been driven completely mad.
 
Gilbert’s and Alaina’s are the only new country albums in the Top 50, this week, but Tim McGraw‘s 35 Biggest Hits re-enters at No. 29, and Garth Brooks’ The Ultimate Collection rockets from No. 37 to No. 9. (via selling 7,228 CDs last week, The Ultimate Collection stands at No. 3 on Nielsen.)
 
Only one new song breaks into the Top 60 on the country airplay chart. It’s Sam Hunt‘s “Body Like a Backroad,” which alights at a lofty No. 21.
 
The No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 albums, in that order, are Chris Stapleton‘s Traveller (last week’s No. 1), Keith Urban‘s Ripcord and Thomas Rhett’s Tangled Up.
 
(By the way, why does “travel” take a double “l” in Stapleton’s Traveller but not in Alaina’s Road Less Traveled? Don’t we have enough complexities in our lives?)
 
Rounding out the Top 5 songs, are Blake Shelton‘s “A Guy With a Girl” (last week’s No. 1), Dustin Lynch‘s “Seein’ Red,” Little Big Town‘s “Better Man” and Chris Young‘s “Sober Saturday Night,” featuring Vince Gill.
 
Don’t forget to watch the Grammy awards Sunday night (Feb. 12) on CBS-TV. We understand that competition for best throat-singing album has turned particularly vicious.
 

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Catch Maren Morris' Exclusive Performance on CMT Next Women of Country Live


Maren Morris may not feel like the hero in her hard-hitting song “I Wish I Was,” but she’s definitely the hero in her own story.
 
And a hero in the story of so many others now, too, thanks to her smash debut single “My Church” and album Hero taking over the airwaves and charts. The world took notice of that enormous, soulful voice coming out of that tiny frame. Now, the Texas native is the star aspiring young artists want to be when they grow up.
 
She’s definitely a hero — especially for womankind.
 
Her sass and independence are heard in almost every lyric and melody, but even the most independent women have moments of vulnerability. Morris is no exception, and she freely shows her softer side in songs like “I Wish I Was,” made even more powerful with this acoustic performance for CMT Next Women of Country Live.
 
Morris is the real deal — emphasis on “real.” She’s honest, raw and relatable, like a wise, cool friend there to remind you that you are actually the hero in your own story, too.
 
Stay tuned for more exclusive Next Women of Country Live performances this month from Lucie Silvas, Mickey Guyton, Brooke Eden, Danielle Bradbery, Jana Kramer, Maggie Rose, Clare Dunn, Kelleigh Bannen, Carly Pearce, Brandy Clark, Ruthie Collins, Lindsay Ell, Courtney Cole, Cassadee Pope and Tara Thompson.

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What All My Friends Say: Luke Bryan's National Anthem at Super Bowl LI


In case you missed it, Luke Bryan made the country music community proud when he delivered a powerful performance of the national anthem before kickoff at Sunday’s (Feb. 5) Super Bowl LI.
 
Not once did he falter, and his high vibrato came in clear as a bell as it rang throughout NRG Stadium. Tom Brady was caught on camera singing along on the sidelines.
 
Bryan watched the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34 to 28 from a suite with family and friends, including his wife Caroline and his father, Tommy.
 
The Kill the Lights Tour returns for 16 shows starting Feb. 16 in Huntington, West Virginia with Brett Eldredge and Adam Craig.

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The Band Perry Confirm First Pop Album


“We’ve made an album for you,” The Band Perry wrote on Instagram Thursday (Feb. 2), confirming their first pop collection. “Creating it has been the most exciting thing we’ve ever done.”
 
While the Grammy-winning band didn’t reveal a release date, the new album is called My Bad Imagination and it will include “Stay in the Dark” — a number they performed during an invitation-only preview of their new music in Nashville in July 2016.
 
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned in making it, it’s this – being yourself matters,” they added. “It matters even when not everyone agrees that you should be or understands why it’s important that you are.”
 
Their country No. 1s include “If I Die Young,” “All Your Life,” “Better Dig Two” and “Done.” Their most recent single “Comeback Kid” peaked at No. 39 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart in Aug. 2016 and marked the first release under a new record contract with Universal Music Group in partnership with Interscope Records.
 
“Live Forever” was also the official song of Team U.S.A. at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
 
The Band Perry will be in Houston, Texas this weekend to perform at Saturday’s (Feb. 4) 26th annual Party with a Purpose at the University of Houston.

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Zac Brown Band's Welcome Home and 2017 Tour Arrive May 12


Zac Brown Band’s fifth studio album Welcome Home, out May 12, will close with a cover of John Prine’s “All the Best.” Online pre-orders for the new album come with an instant download of the lead single “My Old Man.”
 
“My Old Man” describes the ever-changing relationship between fathers and sons, while Prine originally recorded “All the Best” for his Grammy-winning ninth album, The Missing Years. The song was written following the end of his second marriage.
 
“2 Places,” another track on the band’s new album, addresses juggling the conflict between life on the road and the comforts of home. The album opener “Roots” reflects the band’s journey from their beginnings.
 
“This is the most personal album we’ve ever done and we’re very proud of it,” Brown said in a release. “Welcome home.”
 
Produced by Dave Cobb and recorded at the Southern Ground Nashville studio, Welcome Home marks a sonic return to the band’s 2008 multi-platinum debut, The Foundation.
 
The new music is the first batch of new tunes released under Southern Ground/Elektra Records and follows Jekyll + Hyde, which was released with Big Machine/Republic in 2015.
 
A sold-out two-night stand starting May 12 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta, Georgia will kick off their 2017 Welcome Home Tour. The schedule includes concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Denver’s Coors Field, George, Washington’s Gorge Amphitheatre and BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey. The two-day Southern Ground Music & Food Festival returns to Charleston, South Carolina on May 20. Every online ticket order comes with the choice of a physical or digital copy of Welcome Home.
 
Here is a complete list of dates for the 2017 Welcome Home Tour:
 
May 12-13: Alpharetta, Georgia (Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park)
May 20-21: Charleston, South Carolina (MUSC Health Stadium)
May 26-28: Gilford, New Hampshire (Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion)
 
June 8: Detroit (DTE Energy Music Theatre)
June 9: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (Blossom Music Center)
June 10: Columbus, Ohio (2017 Buckeye Country Superfest)
June 11: Pittsburgh (KeyBank Pavilion)
June 23: Bethel, New York (Bethel Woods Center for the Arts)
June 24: Syracuse, New York (Lakeview Amphitheater)
June 25: Darien Center, New York (Darien Lake Performing Arts Center)
 
July 1: Milwaukee (Summerfest)
July 6: Hartford, Connecticut (XFINITY Theatre)
July 7-8: Holmdel, New Jersey (PNC Bank Arts Center)
July 14-15: Camden, New Jersey (BB&T Pavilion)
July 16: Bristow, Virginia (Jiffy Lube Live)
July 29: Denver (Coors Field)
 
Aug. 4: Detroit Lakes, Minnesota (WeFest)
Aug. 19: George, Washington (Gorge Amphitheatre)
Aug. 20: Brownsville, Oregon (Bi-Mart Willamette Country Music Festival)
Aug. 25: Indianapolis (Klipsch Music Center)
Aug. 26: Chicago (Wrigley Field)
Aug. 27: St. Louis (Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre)
Aug. 31-Sept. 1: Toronto (Budweiser Stage)
 
Sept. 2: Saratoga Springs, New York (Saratoga Performing Arts Center)
Sept. 3: Hershey, Pennsylvania (Hersheypark Stadium)
Sept. 15: Dallas (Starplex Pavilion)
Sept. 21: Jacksonville, Florida (Daily’s Place Amphitheatre)
Sept. 22-23: West Palm Beach, Florida (Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre)
Sept. 24: Tampa, Florida (MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre)
 
Oct. 5: Charlotte, North Carolina (PNC Music Pavilion)
Oct. 6: Raleigh, North Carolina (Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek)
Oct. 8: Virginia Beach, Virginia (Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater)
Oct. 27: Mountain View, California (Shoreline Amphitheatre)
Oct. 28: Los Angeles (Hollywood Bowl)

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Faith Hill's Backstage Essentials


This is what Tim McGraw is hoping to get out of his upcoming Soul2Soul World Tour with his wife Faith Hill:
 
“I always say that I’m a kind of like a NASCAR trying to run with an Indy car when I’m onstage with Faith, and it makes me better at what I do. So I look forward to that,” McGraw said during the couple’s Facebook Live Q&A with fans on Tuesday (Jan. 31).
 
And as for Hill, she’s looking forward to just being on the road with McGraw, the band, the team, the fans, maybe doing some dancing — she says that’s always been a dream of hers, to go to town dancing to something — and listening to a good jam before each show.
 
Her only other backstage essential? House shoes, for the not-so-luxurious showers at the venues.
 
All McGraw needs, he said, is his hat and his boots.
 
The tour kicks off April 7 in New Orleans.

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Martina McBride: "All Female Voices Are So Important"


The third annual CMT Next Women of Country Tour promises pure vocal power with Martina McBride, Lauren Alaina and new additions, Post Monroe and Maggie Rose. The tour starts Thursday (Feb. 2) in St. Louis, and it serves as the extension of McBride’s Love Unleashed Tour.
 
During our CMT.com interview, McBride said she feels honored to partner with the Next Women of Country franchise as it continues grow with confident, fun and talented female singer/songwriters who are taking the country music world by storm.
 
Since 2015, the program has promoted national female-fueled tours featuring Lindsay Ell, Jana Kramer, Jennifer Nettles, Tara Thompson, plus 2017 Grammy nominees, Kelsea Ballerini and Brandy Clark. In Nov. 2016, 10 new acts joined the program including Rose, Post Monroe, Logan Brill, Jillian Jacqueline, Kree Harrison, Margo Price, Runaway June, Lucie Silvas, Caitlyn Smith and Jamie Lynn Spears.
 
“I feel like all female voices are so important,” McBride said during our CMT.com interview. “It’s a totally unique perspective on the world and I just feel like it’s a definite need that we have. There are a lot of females on pop radio. I heard on pop radio the other day because I was with my 11-year-old daughter, it said, ‘Coming up in the next hour…’ and they named off three – ‘Rihanna, Katy Perry and Adele.’ And I was like, ‘Hm. That’s something we haven’t heard on country radio in a while is three females in a row.’ So, it’s interesting.
 
“But it really comes down to disproving this ‘research,’ that other women don’t want to hear other women sing,” she added. “I feel like the only way we can disprove that is with a voice and your voice is, ‘Yes, I’m going to a show that’s headlined by a woman, by buying their music, by visiting their website and following them on social media — whatever it is I can do to support them.’ And eventually, those voices will be heard.”
 
Alaina is stoked to just travel with McBride and watch a master at work.
 
“I’m pretty excited to get to have VIP passes every night to a Martina McBride concert and she’s super nice,” she told CMT.com. “I got to sing ‘Anyway’ with her on American Idol and then I got to sing it with her at the stadium at CMA Fest. Now, I get to go on tour with her. I just think she’s so great, and she’s such a great example of what I want to do.”
 
Tickets are on sale now. Available through McBride’s website, VIP packages for select shows offer a meet-and-greet, Q&A session, autographed gift and premium seats. Her 13th studio album Reckless was released in April, 2016. Alaina’s sophomore album Road Less Traveled was released on Friday (Jan. 27).
 
Post Monroe’s self-titled EP and Rose’s The Variety Show Vol. 1 were released in spring 2016.
 
Here is a complete list of dates for the third annual CMT Next Women of Country Tour:
 
Feb. 2: St Louis (Peabody Opera House)
Feb. 3: Chicago (Chicago Theatre)
Feb. 4: Louisville (Palace Theatre)
Feb. 9: Pittsburgh (The Palace Theatre)
Feb. 10: Columbus (Midland Theatre)
Feb. 11: Nashville (Ryman Auditorium)
Feb. 16: Minneapolis (State Theatre)
Feb. 23: Indianapolis (The Palladium)
Feb. 24: Atlanta (Cobb Energy PAC)
Feb. 25: Hamlet, North Carolina (Cole Auditorium)
 
March 2: Durham, North Carolina (Durham Performing Arts Center)
March 3: Glenside, Pennsylvania (Keswick Theatre)
March 4: Lancaster, Pennsylvania (American Music Theatre)
March 9: New York (Playstation Theatre)
March 10: Lowell, Massachusetts (Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
March 11: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (Kirby Center)
 
Post Monroe will appear on every day except March 11; Rose will appear on all dates except Feb. 9—11.

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Lauren Alaina Performs on CMT Next Women of Country Live


Lauren Alaina is baring her soul in her brand new, exclusive performance for CMT’s Next Women of Country Live.
 
“I’m Doing Fine” is a story that will punch you right in the gut — made even more powerful because it is actually Alaina’s story.
 
It’s not been an easy road for the Georgia native, but now, all grown up and unafraid to tell her truth, she’s doing just fine.
 
“I’m Doing Fine” — and really her entire new album Road Less Traveled — shows just how much she’s matured as an artist and a woman in the last few years. And that voice is bigger and better than ever before. Whew!
 
Having overcome her own struggles and obstacles in life with such grace, honesty and humility, Alaina’s music and personality are now even brighter lights for those looking for a beacon of hope and inspiration.

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Tim McGraw and Faith Hill to Expand Tour in 2018


During a Facebook Live chat with fans on Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 31), Tim McGraw and Faith Hill announced that they’ll be taking their Soul2Soul World Tour to, well, the world.
 
With more than 13,000 people watching, and the two of them cracking each other up, they confirmed that they will be touring in Europe and Australia in 2018.
 
“We’re gonna make it really special,” McGraw promised.
 
Hill went on to explain that the timing of the tour has more to do with the family than the music.
 
“We have three daughters, and Gracie and Maggie are in college — which is exciting, heartbreaking and great — and Audrey is a freshman in high school,” Hill said. “I’ve been mainly off the road since the last tour. So I think in the back of our minds, it had to be the right time for our family.”
 
McGraw agreed, saying that they had to make sure all the elements were in place.
 
“This tour for us is so special. We don’t want to do it willy nilly,” he said.
 
After the 25-minute Q&A with fans, Hill worried that, “After this, we may not have a lot of fans left.”
 
When the session had to come to an end, McGraw joked to those watching that they got to go away while he was the one who had to take Hill home.

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Welcome Back, Lady Antebellum


Every once in a while, everyone needs to take a time out, look at the big picture, step back and live through all those other clichés about getting a break from yourself.
 
Then when you come back, you’re refreshed and ready to go.
 
In the case of Lady Antebellum, that means a new album — Heart Break, due out June 9 — and a new attitude about the music they’re making after their year-long break.
 
“We felt like our heart, creatively, needed a break. And we felt like our fans needed a break from us,” the band’s Charles Kelley told People. “It was just a constant next thing. You’re on tour and then you turn around and are promoting a record. We needed to freshen up.”
 
During the band’s time out from each other, they were still working hard on their own projects. Kelley put out a solo effort (The Driver), Hillary Scott and her family released a gospel album (Love Remains) and Dave Haywood took on some producing gigs.
 
Kelley admits he missed Scott and Haywood, and being part of something bigger.
 
“I was out doing a handful of solo shows in smaller venues and clubs and that was exciting, but it was exhausting having to reintroduce yourself,” he said.
 
Haywood added that before the break, there was a sense of fatigue. But now?
 
“Now we have that perspective of ‘we get to do this,’ not ‘we had to do this,’” Haywood said.
 
And Scott says that the hiatus gave her a chance for a little self-improvement.
 
“We all had our own space to grow as individuals,” Scott said.

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Keith Urban and Little Big Town Join Grammy Salute to the Bee Gees


Keith Urban and Little Big Town will go disco at the Recording Academy’s concert tribute Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees. The live concert taping is set for Feb. 14 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and honors the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever.
 
The night will feature performances by Andra Day, Celine Dion, DNCE, Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Demi Lovato and Pentatonix.
 
Seven-time Grammy winner and Bee Gees co-founder Barry Gibb will also be on hand to perform a selection of songs from the soundtrack, which won album of the year in 1978. Additional performers and an air date on CBS will be announced in the coming weeks.
 
Urban heads to the Grammys with two nominations. He is the only guy nominated for best country solo performance for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” while Ripcord is up for album of the year. “Blue” is also in the best country song category.
 
Little Big Town have won two Grammys for best country duo/group performance.
 
“Girl Crush” co-writers Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna head to the Grammys as friendly competitors in the best country song category. McKenna, who is a four-time Grammy nominee this year, scored her nod for “Humble and Kind,” while Lindsey is nominated as a co-writer of “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”
 
The 59th annual Grammy Awards show takes place Feb. 12 in Los Angeles.

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Grammy Nominees Celebrated at Annual Nashville Party


n especially wide range of 2017 contenders flocked to Loews Vanderbilt Hotel Thursday evening (Jan. 26) for the annual Grammy nominees party.
 
Among the earliest to inch past television crews on the brightly lighted red carpet were members of the Time Jumpers, whose Kid Sister is up for best Americana album, and Doyle Lawson, resplendent in a black jacket with gold brocade, whose Burden Bearer is vying for the best bluegrass album prize.
 
Also attending were Maren Morris (best new artist, best country album for Hero, best country song and best country solo performance for “My Church”), Kelsea Ballerini (best new artist), Thomas Rhett (best country song for “Die a Happy Man.”), Cassadee Pope (best country duo/group performance for “Think of You” with Chris Young) and Lori McKenna (best country song for “Humble and Kind,” best American roots song and performance for “Wreck You” and best Americana album for The Bird & the Rifle).
 
The gauntlet of interviewers strove mightily to find new ways of asking each Grammy aspirant, “How does it feel to … ?” and “What did you think when … ?”
 
The Nashville chapter of the Recording Academy — the organization that awards the Grammys — has nominees in 24 different categories this year, ranging from best new artist and album of the year to such relatively arcane divisions best classical instrumental solo and best engineered album.
 
Winners will be announced on the CBS-TV Grammy special Feb. 12.
 
Once past the red carpet, guests entered an enormous party room, there to mingle around the three bars and long food table, the latter of which bore such prettily presented comestibles as Kobe beef sliders, barbecued chicken, hot chicken, mushroom and truffles flat bread, fig and duck confit flat bread, truffled mac ‘n’ cheese and apple, pear and walnut salad.
 
We need not dwell unseemly on the table of miniature fruit pies — some so tiny that a single blackberry and half a strawberry filled them entirely — other than to observe they tended to clog the throat when ingested by the handful.
 
This year, instead of being exiled to a remote corner of the room, the oh-so-cool Birdsong jazz trio entertained from an elevated stage, much to the delight of the crowd.
 
Facing the stage on the opposite side of the room was a gigantic replica of the Grammy award, beside and in front of which many a picture was being taken.
 
To seasoned Music Row partygoers, this is the best bash of the year, a chance to drink hard, eat intemperately and rub shoulders with the people who actually make the music.
 
Near the end of the evening, Grammy representatives took to the stage to praise the artists, musicians and songwriters being spotlighted.
 
“There’s a reason the Grammy is considered the industry’s highest honor,” Susan Stewart, the Academy’s southern regional director told the crowd. “It’s a peer-voted award. Your competitors are also your collaborators, your mentors, your friends.”
 
Songwriters Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin were recognized for having co-written “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 recording of which is being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
 
Addressing his remarks to young songwriters, Reid said, “What I wish for you is to write something you love and have absolutely the best artist to sing it.”
 
Shamblin added, “I wish every young songwriter who comes to Nashville could have a mentor like Mike Reid.”
 
Both Reid and Shamblin are members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
 
By the time the stage cleared, the TV crews were starting to pack up their gear and head toward less glamorous assignments.
 
And nearly all the fruit pies were gone.

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Miranda Lambert Tops Nashville Scene's Country Music Critics Poll


Miranda Lambert tops the list of artists on the Nashville Scene‘s 17th annual Country Music Critics’ Poll released Thursday (Jan. 26).
 
In addition to artist of the year and female vocalist of the year, Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings was voted album of the year and “Vice” elected single of the year.
 
Sturgill Simpson topped the male vocalist and live act categories, and he placed No. 2 in the artist of the year field. His A Sailor’s Guide to Earth was No. 4 on the list of albums.
 
Maren Morris won in the new act category and was No. 4 in the artist of the year field. Her “My Church” and Hero claimed the No. 2 and No. 5 slots, respectively, on the single and album tally.
 
Other winners include Brothers Osborne (in the duos and groups category) and Lori McKenna (songwriter).
 
This year’s Nashville Scene Country Music Critics’ Poll represents the views of 89 voting journalists from North America and beyond.

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Brantley Gilbert: "I Enjoy the Opportunity to Be Judged"


Brantley Gilbert feels comfortable driving his motorcycle without wearing a helmet in states with no-helmet laws. But the Jefferson, Georgia, native, joked he might need one if he’s driving in snow.
 
At the time of our CMT.com interview, an inch of the white stuff was accumulating on the streets of downtown Nashville, turning Lower Broadway into a winter wonderland.
 
“I could drive in it, but I wouldn’t want to,” he said. “I don’t do snow well. I used to hate wintertime, but now I don’t mind it as much because it’s hunting season. But this — on a work day — no, sir. I need to be in front of a fireplace with my wife and my dog.”
 
Gilbert forewent the use of a helmet while performing his own stunts driving an ATV in the music video for “The Weekend,” the lead single from his new album The Devil Don’t Sleep. The deluxe edition offers 26 songs all written or co-written by Gilbert himself, except for a cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Outlaw Women,” which was recorded live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.
 
CMT.com: I have to say, you make me nervous riding ATVs without a helmet. I feel like somebody’s mother watching you.
 
Gilbert: Probably because I ride like an idiot. When we do stuff with [ATV manufacturer] Polaris, they make me wear a helmet. I’m trying to get into the swing of wearing one, it’s just not really my thing. If I’m in a no-helmet state on my motorcycle, I don’t wear one. Being married now, I probably wear it more now than I used to. I’m getting there.
 
Is it safe to say the new album is the most soul-baring collection of music to date from you?
 
I think so. With 26 songs, you’re bound to run into something that’s a little deeper than normal. But I’m really proud of this record. It’s actually the most positive record I think I’ve ever released. It’s a feel-good record, and I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do that.
 
The title is all about knowing that even though things are good and even though it is a positive chapter of my life right now, the devil don’t sleep. He’s always there. Whatever your devil is, whatever your temptation is, he’s always there. So you’ve got to stay on your toes.
 
What motivates you to keep the past and vices behind you?
 
I’ve got a great group of people around me. I’ve got my wife. She’s really strong in her faith, and I’m surrounded by people who are morally and spiritually strong. That helps more than anything. I’m a fighter, too. I like to fight, and now I’ve got something I can fight every day, beat it and win. It’s a good battle to win.
 
I wanted to ask about “The Ones That Like Me.”
 
“The Ones That Like Me” is pretty much straight ahead. One of my favorite parts of my job is being able to be the what you see is what you get guy. I don’t have to keep up with a story about something I’m not. I can just do me.
 
For the people who do know me, that song’s me wrapped up in a nutshell. It says it all — “The ones that need me got me/The ones that doubt me can’t stop me/Even the ones that said forget him/You can bet they ain’t forgot me.”
 
Do you feel people judge a book by it’s cover when it comes to you and your music?
 
I enjoy the opportunity to be judged — to be read by my cover — and then to show them that there’s a lot more. You know what I mean? Listen to a whole record and you see every side of me. If you still don’t like me, then, hey, it is what it is.
 
I’ll never tell anybody that what they think about me or their opinion of me is wrong. I’ll never tell you that the way I feel about things is right. I’m not going to waste my time losing sleep over somebody else judging a book by its cover or looking at me one way. I know the people that need me, love me and that are close to me know me. That’s what’s important to me is making sure I stay me for them.
 
You’ve always been one of the most polite artists I’ve ever talked to.
 
But you wouldn’t think that looking at me, would you? I appreciate you saying that.
 
Brantley Gilbert will host CMT all weekend long to celebrate the release of The Devil Don’t Sleep. The tour of the same name starts Feb. 2 in Reading, Pennsylvania with Tucker Beathard and Luke Combs appearing on most dates.

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Kelsea Ballerini's Grammy Wakeup Call


In all of Kelsea Ballerini‘s 23 years, it had to be the absolute best kind of a wakeup call.
 
“I woke up to the sound of my phone just dinging over and over and over again,” Ballerini said of the Dec. 6 Grammy nominations announcement.
 
She admitted to People that she did know the nominations were coming and that, yes, she was wishing and hoping and wanting her name to be on the list.
 
“I would love to say that I casually forgot that the nominations were coming out and it wasn’t on my radar, but that’s just a flat-out lie!” she said.
 
“I was really anxious about it. Being validated by getting played on the radio and getting to headline a tour has been incredible, and it’s been super fulfilling,” she said of her best new artist nomination.
 
The Grammys, though. Ballerini said this awards show is the pinnacle of music.
 
“It’s your peers looking at the work you’ve done and saying, ‘We like this. This is good.’ And I really wanted that,” she said, calling the particular all-genre category one that validates her as a songwriter.
 
“Working on my second album right now, it just gave me this new confidence that I think I really needed that I’m thankful for,” she said.
 
When the Grammys air on Feb. 12, Ballerini will be in the best new artist category with Maren Morris, the Chainsmokers, Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak.

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Lauren Alaina is "All About Acceptance of Others and of Yourself"


When songwriters go to work on Nashville’s Music Row, sometimes they’re paired with complete strangers to create music for the day. They start out by baring their souls in an exchange of ideas before settling on one to set to music.
 
This creative process was like therapy for Lauren Alaina. Life handed her some major changes within a two-year period while writing for her sophomore album Road Less Traveled, which comes out Friday (Jan. 27).
 
Her parents divorced. Her dad had entered rehab for alcoholism. And she was struggling with an eating disorder. She also underwent vocal cord surgery that took her pipes to Ariana Grande and Jessie J registers. Alaina’s top goal post-op was to sing “Bang Bang,” a cover she can sing now with ease.
 
Most of the drama Alaina was handed is addressed within the first minute of the 11-song collection, which kicks off with the uplifting “Doin’ Fine.” In the first verse, she gets candid about her dad getting sober, her mom moving on with his best friend and lying to people when they ask her how she’s been.
 
Then the chorus kicks in, and she sings, “I’m doin’ fine enough to know that everyone’s a little broken/Fine enough to learn that hearts are best when they’re wide open/I’ve still got fear inside of me/I’m not OK, but I’m going to be all right/For the first time in a long time I’m doin’ fine.”
 
In “Three,” she sings addresses the sacrifices artists make to get three minutes on the radio. “Queen of Hearts” is a shot of attitude about what it takes to win in the game of love. Then she goes pure pop in “Crashin’ the Boys Club,” which is about girls taking cues from guys’ laidback hangs.
 
Road Less Traveled is also the inspiration behind a new romance film starring Alaina. She plays the lead role of “Charlotte,” a bride-to-be who struggles trying to find a balance between her upcoming wedding with her songwriting career in Los Angeles. She hopes to do more acting even if it means working 15 hour days on set.
 
During our CMT.com interview, she revealed “Holding the Other” is a beautiful tribute to her boyfriend, Alex Hopkins. He was there for her through it all the change and still is.
 
“He was my constant,” she said. They’ve been dating for more than three years.
 
On Feb. 2 in St. Louis, Alaina starts the CMT Next Women of Country Love Unleashed Tour 2017 with headliner Martina McBride. And she can’t get on her tour bus fast enough.
 
“I’m dying,” she kidded. “I’m obsessed with her. I get to ask her questions, learn from her and grow. And she’s such a nice person, too. So I’m excited to be able to just watch her and take it all in.”
 
CMT.com: Do you have any tour must-haves for this particular run?
 
Alaina: I don’t have those superstitious ticks that people have to have something for the road. I like to have good food on the bus, my own pillow and onesies. Onesies are a must. I own 16. I live in them. I literally sleep in them almost every night.
 
You have 16 onesies?
 
The Little Mermaid one. Nope! The goat one is my favorite right now.
 
I know fans are super pumped about the new album coming out. What was the hardest song to write for this collection?
 
Probably “Same Day, Different Bottle” because I never talked about my dad’s alcoholism before he went to rehab. I literally took him to rehab, and maybe the day after that I wrote this song about his alcoholism. So, it was pretty difficult because people didn’t know my dad had a drinking problem.
 
I went into the writing session with Dan Couch and Caitlyn Smith. I knew them both at the time but not enough to have a nervous breakdown — and that’s exactly what happened. But it ended up getting us that song. We had this huge bonding experience, and I really needed that. It was a really hard week for me.
 
I took the song back to my dad while he was in rehab and he listened to it the whole time he was there and played it for the other people in treatment. So that was definitely the hardest one because it was one of the first ones where I was really honest about my personal life and went in detail with the other writers about what was going on.
 
That’s a groundbreaking moment. That blows my mind because that kind thing happens every day on Music Row where you are paired with complete strangers, but you have to share your feelings right there on the spot.
 
It doesn’t always happen that way, but there are moments where there’s nothing you can do. I went into it crying, and I couldn’t get it together. But I didn’t want to cancel it. They’re like, “Well, what do you want to write about?” And I was like, “Oh, well … my dad,” and I just started crying and we wrote the song. It’s such an important song for my family. My dad listened to it a lot while he was recovering. So, I’m glad I wrote it, but it was definitely the hardest to write.
 
Road Less Traveled touches on other emotional subjects, too. How important was it for you to do that? And how did you muster up the self-confidence to do that?
 
Self-confidence is something I’ve always lacked in. But finally, at some point, I just decided to be honest. I’ve had a lot of things go on in the last few years that were pretty life-changing. I just wanted to write about them. We all have our things that we go through, and I wanted to be an artist that people could listen to and feel like they’re not alone. I want to be empowering.
 
I want to make people feel good about who they are regardless of who they are or where they come from or the color of their skin or what their family acts like or what they look like. I am all about acceptance of others and of yourself.

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Tim McGraw: R&R Before S2S


On Tuesday (Jan. 24), Tim McGraw posted the quintessential fishing picture.
 
It shows him proudly holding a hog fish that he caught with a spear. Something he should absolutely be proud of, because catching fish that way is no easy feat.
 
Since pole spear fishing has to be done in very clear water, I’m guessing McGraw’s excursion took place somewhere near his private island in the Bahamas. I remember when he finally opened up about the island publicly, saying on a red carpet a few years ago, “Country music’s been very good to me.”
 
With his massive Soul2Soul Tour with his wife Faith Hill only a couple months away, I assume McGraw is just getting in some quality down time – -as evidenced by the full beard he’s grown — before the first show on April 7 in New Orleans.

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Allman Brothers Band's Butch Trucks Dead at 69


Claude Hudson “Butch” Trucks, the propulsive drummer and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, died Tuesday (Jan. 24) in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 69. No cause of death has been given.
 
Paired with jazz-inflected drummer Jai “Jaimoe” Johnny Johanson, Trucks was a mainstay with the Allman Brothers Band in all its configurations from its inception in 1969 until the group disbanded in 2014.
 
As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Trucks was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 alongside Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Johanson and the late Duane Allman and Berry Oakley.
 
Born May 11, 1947 in Jacksonville, Florida, Trucks told Billboard magazine last year that he was “about to head back to school and get a degree in math and teach” when Duane Allman persuaded him to join the just-forming band.
 
By this time, he had already established his sound while playing in two local bands, the Vikings and the 31st of February. Betts described Trucks’ sound as “that freight train, meat-and-potatoes kind of thing” that gave the group its momentum.
 
Trucks’ drive and virtuosity can be heard on more than two dozen live and studio albums with the Allman Brothers, including the historic At Fillmore East album and “Ramblin’ Man” single.
 
After the dissolution of that band, Trucks formed the group Les Brers in 2015. It featured former Allman Brothers players Johanson, Marc Quinones, Oteil Burbridge and Jack Pearson, as well as new additions Pat Bergeson, Bruce Katz and Lamar Williams Jr.
 
Several members of Trucks’ family followed his musical lead, among them his son, Vaylor, and nephews Duane and Derek Trucks.
 
No funeral or memorial plans have yet been announced.

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Luke Bryan Joins The Voice


Luke Bryan is going to be Blake Shelton‘s latest sidekick on The Voice.
 
So he will be the one who works with Shelton’s team of contestants during the rehearsals for the battle rounds.
 
And in an interview with The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, Bryan said it kind of reminds him of his days competing in the Colgate Country Showdown.
 
“I think if you’re in the final rounds, you’ve got something to be proud of, in my opinion,” Bryan said. “When I won the Colgate Country Showdown, I was fired up.
 
“I can’t imagine even being on The Voice. What an inspiring moment for them in their lives.”
 
But Bryan thinks this particular part of the reality show’s competition is rough on everyone.
 
“Certainly when you add the dynamic of pairing them together and making them compete, this stuff works for TV, but I just want people that truly love singing,” he said. “I just want them to be put in a situation where they don’t ever have to really give up on it.
 
“The day you quit music, that’s the day you’re done. If you keep at music, I think that’s when you can keep striving and keep making yourself better.”
 
His plan is to tell the contestants on Shelton’s team the best thing he can tell them to lift them up, he said.
 
“Early in my career, I was so nervous about big moments, I didn’t even enjoy them,” he admitted. “I just want to help these people settle into who they are and enjoy the moment.”

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Carrie Underwood on the Mom Thing, Wife Thing


Just like so many other women out there, Carrie Underwood has a lot of titles. And about 99 percent of them have absolutely nothing to do with being a country star.
 
“I feel like with all the hats that I do wear — that’s just a woman thing. That’s a mom [thing], a wife [thing]. We’re all just trying to be everything to everybody and keep it all going,” Underwood revealed to Elle.com.
 
Because of that kind of life she’s living right now, she doesn’t hold herself some kind of unachievable standards, either.
 
In fact, sometimes, it’s just a monkey bars kind of day.
 
“You fit workouts in whenever you can. Sometimes I take my son to the park and I’m like, you need to play [and] I need to work out.
 
“Hey, there’s some monkey bars — I can do some pull-ups. There’s some steps — I can do some step-ups. There’s a bench — I can do some dips,” she said.
 
Her son Isaiah doesn’t care what she’s doing, she said, because he’s just going down the slide and having a grand time.
 
“So sometimes, your life and the things that you wanna do all collides and you’re just trying to make it all happen at the same time,” she said.

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Luke Bryan's Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day Tour Launches in May


Days after wrapping the 2017 Crash My Playa concert vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico, Luke Bryan announced he will start a new summer tour in May.
 
The Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day Tour kicks off May 5 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena with Brett Eldredge. Lauren Alaina, Craig Campbell, Adam Craig, Seth Ennis and Granger Smith will open for various dates. Tickets for select shows go on sale Friday (Jan. 27) through Live Nation’s Country Megaticket.
 
Bryan will perform the National Anthem before kickoff at Super Bowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium on Feb. 5. The final 16 shows of the Kill the Lights tour starts Feb. 16 in Huntington, West Virginia with Eldredge.
 
Bryan will advise Blake Shelton’s team on season 12 of The Voice. His episodes were taped in Los Angeles last week.
 
Here’s a list of Luke Bryan’s concert dates, including various festival appearances which are not part of his Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day Tour:
 
May 5: Nashville
May 12: Bristow, Virginia
May 13: Hartford, Connecticut
May 18: Moline, Illinois
 
June 1: Cincinnati
June 2: Cullman, Alabama (Rock the South Festival)
June 3: St. Louis
June 9: Little Rock, Arkansas
June 10: Tulsa, Oklahoma
June 16-17: Atlanta
June 23: Hershey, Pennsylvania
June 24: Mansfield, Massachusetts
June 25: Columbia, Maryland
 
July 1: Dauphin, Manitoba (Dauphin’s Countryfest)
July 13: Bethel, New York
July 15: Cleveland, Ohio
July 16: Holmdel, New Jersey
July 21: Kansas City
July 22: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
July 26: Cheyenne, Wyoming (Cheyenne Frontier Days)
July 28: Central Point, Oregon (Country Crossings Music Festival)
July 29: Mountain Home, Idaho (Mountain Home Country Music Festival)
 
Aug. 5: Detroit Lakes, Minnesota (WE Fest)
Aug. 12: Syracuse, New York
Aug. 13: Oro-Medonte, Ontario (Boots and Hearts Music Festival)
Aug. 17: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Aug. 18: Charlotte, North Carolina
Aug. 19: Raleigh, North Carolina
Aug. 25: Darien Center, New York
Aug. 26: Saratoga Springs, New York
Aug. 27: Jones Beach, New York
 
Sept. 1: Lexington, Kentucky (Red, White & Boom Festival)
Sept. 6: Scranton, Pennsylvania
Sept. 8: Philadelphia
Sept. 9: Pittsburgh
Sept. 15: Indianapolis
Sept. 16: Chicago
Sept. 21: Austin, Texas
Sept. 22: Houston
Sept. 23: Dallas
 
Oct. 12: Concord, California
Oct. 13: Wheatland, California
Oct. 14: Mountain View, California
Oct. 19: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Oct. 21: Salt Lake City, Utah
Oct. 26: Phoenix
Oct. 27: San Diego, California
Oct. 28: San Bernardino, California

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Keith Urban: A Guy Among Girls at the Grammys


In just a few short weeks, on Feb. 12 to be exact, Keith Urban will find himself surrounded with women.
 
When the 59th annual Grammy Awards show airs, he will be the lone man in the category for best country solo performance. And when the Academy of Country Music’s Tempo magazine asked him how he felt about that, it sounds like he cares less about what it says about men and more about what it says about women and the music they’re making.
 
“I just think of it in terms of the work itself,” Urban said. “I think there’s always been a rich history of strong female artists and country music, that’s never changed.
 
“It’s just the cycle of what the music is in at any given time. The bro-country thing happened and that has been what it’s been.”
 
And looking back on this particular Grammy category — which became a combination of best female and best male performances starting in 2012 — the list of male nominees definitely gets shorter every year, and the list of females gets longer.
 
In 2013, there were five males and one female.
 
In 2014, there were four males and one female.
 
In 2015, there were three males and two females.
 
In 2016, there were two males and three females.
 
“Women were still making great records all through there, and I think these results at the Grammys is sort of a testament to that, too,” Urban added.
 
In the best country solo performance category, Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color” is up against Brandy Clark’s “Love Can Go to Hell,” Miranda Lambert‘s “Vice,” Carrie Underwood ‘s “Church Bells” and Maren Morris’ “My Church.”

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Luke Bryan: "It's a Little Chance to Serve"


When Luke Bryan was asked to sing the national anthem at the 2017 Super Bowl, he didn’t say yes.
 
He said, “Hell yes.”
 
According to People, Bryan was 100 percent in when he was asked to sing at the big football game on Feb. 5 in Houston.
 
“I never served in the military — that’s something I wish I had had the opportunity to do, but I feel like this is my way of honoring my country. It’s a little chance to serve,” Bryan said.
 
As enthusiastic as he is, though, that doesn’t mean he won’t be a little anxious about the two-minute performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
 
“Is the anthem challenging? Yes. Is it nerve-wracking? Yes. But I moved to Nashville to follow my dreams and singing the national anthem on that stage doesn’t get any bigger,” he said.
 
Bryan may be pulling for the Atlanta Falcons, but mostly, he’ll be focused on doing the anthem justice. And once he walks off the field, he said, he will shake off that pressure and be ready to enjoy some football.
 
The Kill the Lights tour picks up Feb. 16 in Huntington, West Virginia with Brett Eldredge and Brett Young.

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Dierks Bentley Brings What the Hell Tour to Nashville


Dierks Bentley may never come down from Saturday’s (Jan. 21) headlining debut at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
 
After 23 years of calling Nashville home, attracting thousands of fans for his annual Miles & Music for Kids benefit concerts at Riverside Park and performing several CMA Music Festivals at Nissan stadium, Bentley sold out the arena — a bucket list venue for any country artist. The concert fell on night three of the What the Hell Tour 2017.
 
“I’ve been to so many Predators games,” he said three songs into his set, “and let me tell you, tonight is my Stanley Cup game seven right now. This is the biggest show of my whole life. I’ve got the home team. I’ve got the home crowd. We’re in our hometown, but if I don’t leave the stage with any voice left, I’m not doing my job. I’m going to give you guys all I got tonight.”
 
The concert kicked off with a fiery rendition of “Up on the Ridge” that had five pyro torches igniting the stage. Then Bentley rolled into “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go),” “Am I the Only One,” “5-1-5-0″ and “Say You Do.”
 
Surprise guest Elle King joined him onstage for their award-winning “Different for Girls,” which is the reigning CMA musical event of the year. Then King stayed onstage to sing “Ex’s & Oh’s.”
 
During “Every Mile a Memory,” video of previous tours and personal family photos flashed on mega-screens behind the band, and then Bentley brought out opener Jon Pardi for a cover of George Strait’s “Carrying Your Love With Me.” He said their top goal of the tour is to cover a different Strait No. 1 every show.
 
After “Black” and “Feel That Fire,” security guided Bentley through the audience to a satellite stage in the back of the arena for “Riser” and “Home.” After inviting his tour bus driver onstage to share the spotlight, Bentley returned to the main stage and brought up his direct support Cole Swindell to perform their new collaboration and Swindell’s current single, “Flatliner.” “Somewhere on a Beach,” “What Was I Thinkin’” and “Sideways” wrapped the first portion of his set.
 
“I do wish my mom and dad were here now,” Bentley said at one point during the night. “My mom’s back in Phoenix. My dad’s got the best seat in the house. He’s up top up there watching but he would love this. My dad and I, we drove out here in 1994 together in a truck that was titled under his name and he would love this.”
 
Bentley’s father Leon Bentley passed away on June 1, 2012. He was 88.
 
“I’ve been through some high and some lows,” Bentley added. “I started off playing all those bars down there and then playing for free beer, playing for tips and I never imagined getting the chance to play this place.”
 
For the encore, Bentley returned to the stage piloting a big Dude Air jetliner to sing “Drunk on a Plane.” For the final chorus, he was joined by stage crashers Kelsea Ballerini, Cassadee Pope, Chase Rice, King, Swindell and Pardi.
 
 
Swindell’s set included his four No. 1s “Middle of a Memory,” “You Should Be Here,” “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight,” plus a mashup originals he co-wrote for other acts including Florida Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll” and Thomas Rhett’s “Get Me Some of That.” Before leaving the stage, he paid tribute to the late songwriter Andrew Dorff, who co-wrote “Remember Me,” the closing track of Swindell’s latest album You Should Be Here.
 
Pardi had the arena packed for his opening 30-minute set, which was heavy on his latest album California Sunrise plus “Up All Night” from 2014’s Write You a Song.

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Crystal Gayle Joins the Grand Ole Opry


Crystal Gayle became a member of the Grand Ole Opry during Saturday night’s (Jan. 21) show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Her sister Loretta Lynn oversaw her induction.
 
Gayle made her Opry debut onstage at the Ryman Auditorium when she was 16, singing the Gordon Lightfoot classic “Ribbon of Darkness.” That night, she performed in place of Lynn, who had been too ill at the time to make her scheduled appearance. Born Brenda Gail Webb in Painstville, Kentucky, in 1951, her future superstar sister had already left home by the time Gayle was welcomed to the world.
 
“We’ve been together a long time, honey,” Lynn said. “And we’ve never had a fight. It was the greatest moment of my life when they made me a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1962. I know she is just as happy as I was then.”
 
“Being a member of the Opry is just incredible,” Gayle said. “It’s really hard to comprehend. I have felt like a part of the Opry for all these years. Now, I’m official.”
 
Carrie Underwood invited Gayle to join the Opry family in November.
 
“You are an inspiration to so many of us,” Underwood told Gayle. “You are important to country music, and you are important to the Opry, which is why I asked tonight to ask you if you would like to join our Opry family officially.”
 
Gayle accepted the invitation with a hug and said, “I have always felt like I was a member of the family, and this is just so special.”
 
Gayle’s 1974 self-titled debut featured the first of her 18 No. 1s — “I’ll Get Over You” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” — the latter of which won Gayle the Grammy for best female country performance in 1977. She is a two-time CMA and three-time ACM female vocalist of the year.

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Lady Antebellum Get Back to the Basics with Heart Break


During a Facebook Live chat on Thursday (Jan. 19), Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood reunited as Lady Antebellum and delivered a live premiere of four new songs from their next album Heart Break, which arrives June 9. The 30-minute set included “This City,” the lead single “You Look Good,” “Someone Else’s Heart,” the title track and their last No. 1 “Hey Bartender.”
 
Kelley revealed the band recorded most of the collection with producer busbee in a Los Angeles house studio in an effort to return to the way they made their first two albums.
 
“One of the things that Dave said he wanted to do was not write on the road in between touring,” Kelley said. “He goes, ‘We need to get back to living in a house together and get back to the basics like we did when we wrote those first two records.’”
 
“I think what it was for us was getting back to that little bit of that kind of spontaneous inspiration that you get when you don’t have too many things pulling you in different directions,” he added.
 
The You Look Good Tour starts May 26 in Bakersfield, California with Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young.

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Martina McBride's 2017 will be filled with new music and US tour


Martina McBride will be busy in this 2017. She will kick off her “Love Unleashed Tour” on Feb. 2nd in St. Louis. Also Martina has partnered with CMT for its third annual Next Women of Country Tour.

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Lady Antebellum announces new album and summer tour plans


Lady Antebellum have revealed their plans for a new album and summer tour in 2017. The new album named “Heart Break” will be released in June and are planning to visit more than 40 cities. The first single from the album is “You Look Good” which was released this past Thursday.

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Eli Young Band's bus catches fire in Kansas


The Eli Young Band’s tour bus was completely destroyed in a fire early morning in Kansas, right outside Topeka. The band lost everything on board. There has been no reports of any cancellations yet.

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