RaeLynn has a lot to celebrate today. First, the release of her much-anticipated album Wildhorse, and also being honored with her very own holiday.
RaeLynn has a lot to celebrate today. First, the release of her much-anticipated album Wildhorse, and also being honored with her very own holiday.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has dubbed March 24, 2017 ‘RaeLynn Day’ in honor of the singer, celebrating her commitment to helping people who, like herself, suffer from diabetes. The artist is spending her release day giving back to the Texas Children’s Hospital and making the inaugural donation to the RaeLynn Diabetes Fund.
“I have been counting down to this day for so long that I can’t even believe it is finally here,” RaeLynn admits in a press release. “And, to be able to celebrate in my hometown and give back to the hospital that helped make all of my dreams come true makes it that much more special.”
RaeLynn was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at just 12 years old and credits Texas Children’s Hospital with saving her life. She has now clearly learned how to fight the battle well and live a full life, regardless of the diagnosis. She even has a service dog — a German Shepherd named Jazz — that travels with her on tour, currently alongside Blake Shelton. The dog is trained to detect her blood sugar levels and lets her know when they get too low, even in the middle of the night.
“It’s cool to know that a dog is so loyal to you. He is loyal to another level. He never lets me out of sight,” she shares.
In honor of Wildhorse’s release, RaeLynn will perform a pop-up show at the Houston Rodeo and appear on Ellen to perform her deeply personal tune, “Love Triangle,” about being a child of divorce.
The singer has just announced her first headlining tour, the RaVe Tour, which will kick off April 20 in Columbus, Ohio. RaeLynn says it will combine all the elements of her personality: the spunk, the country and, of course, a dance party. Fans can find tickets on her website.
Wildhorse, for which RaeLynn co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks, is now available via iTunes and already hit the No. 1 slot on the iTunes country album chart.
Reba McEntire will kick off the 27th Annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game with a performance of the National Anthem. The country legend is set to take the field on June 10 at First Tennessee Park before the game.
The annual game will take place during the 2017 CMA Music Festival in Nashville, and proceeds from the game will go to support City of Hope’s research and patient care treatments. City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.
Tickets to the softball game are currently on sale via Ticketmaster for $15 and $35. While each team’s roster will be announced in the coming week, the game will bring together some of country music’s biggest talents in the dugout. Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Shania Twain, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks and Vince Gill, among others, have taken to the field in support of City of Hope’s lifesaving mission.
In addition to a Las Vegas residency with Brooks & Dunn, McEntire released her first-ever gospel album Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope earlier this year, which topped multiple charts after its release in February. Sing It Now debuted at No. 1 on both Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and Christian Albums chart, marking it her 13th chart-topping project. She also reached the No. 2 spot on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, selling nearly 55,000 copies.
“This album has been a huge gift to me,” McEntire says of Sing It Now. It has helped heal my heart and has let me know I can move forward with faith and hope. I am so thankful to God for His guidance that lead to this moment.”
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill aren’t just one of country music’s longest-lasting couples, they’re also one of the genre’s most successful duet pairings. They’ve scored some of the biggest and most impactful songs of their respective careers by recording together, as we’ll see in this 5 Best Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Duets list.
The couple first paired up onstage during the Spontaneous Combustion Tour in 1996, and they married later that year. They teamed up on record together for the first time in 1997, beginning a string of hits songs that they’ve sung together with “It’s Your Love.”
As you might expect, some of the top Tim McGraw and Faith Hill duets are romantic ballads, but they’ve also teamed up for some songs that offer themes of heartbreak, pathos and nostalgia, making this list that much more fascinating.
more here: http://tasteofcountry.com/tim-mcgraw-faith-hill-duets/
The 52nd annual ACM Awards has added performances by Sam Hunt, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, Cole Swindell, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Christian artist Lauren Daigle.
They join previously announced performers Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Maren Morris, Jon Pardi and Florida Georgia Line with the Backstreet Boys.
The night will also feature the live premiere of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s new single “Speak to a Girl” from their forthcoming album, due later this year.
On the eve of the telecast (April 1), Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will host the ACM Party for a Cause: The Joint with live sets by Lady Antebellum, Kip Moore, Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Paslay, Brett Young, Ryan Hurd, Drew Baldridge and HISH. Ticket proceeds from the event will support the organization’s charitable arm, ACM Lifting Lives.
Bentley and Bryan will host the ACMs live from Sin City on April 2.
Martina McBride, along with her charitable initiative Team Music Is Love, recently carried out an extra special day for some New York City mothers and mothers-to-be.
On March 9, McBride and her team celebrated young mothers who live at Covenant House, a homeless youth shelter in New York City, by hosting a baby shower for the group. The country star partnered with Huggies Diapers, Cuties Diapers and First Quality to refill the shelter with numerous essentials. Each mother also received a gift bag with educational toys, books and bath supplies for their babies. Additionally, Huggies donated a one-month supply of Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers to each mom as a part of their “No Baby Unhugged” program. Through this initiative, more than 18,000 diapers were donated to the Covenant House.
After an afternoon of meeting with the women and their children, McBride surprised the mothers and Covenant House staff yet again, inviting the entire shelter to her show at PlayStation Theater that night.
The philanthropic crusade is all part of McBride’s all female 2017 Love Unleashed Tour and her continuing efforts with Team Music is Love. Through her charity, McBride partners with non-profit causes to assist the communities she’s performing in, and since 2011, the effort has been responsible for raising funds for hunger relief, cancer research, combating domestic violence and helping children in need.
For more information and to become a part of McBride’s Team Music is Love, visit TeamMusicIsLove.com.
Kelsea Ballerini will have twice the fun performing at the 52nd annual ACM Awards.
She will sing live onstage during the telecast, and immediately following the show, Comcast’s Xfinity TV will offer an exclusive encore performance by Ballerini.
She heads to the ACMs with two nominations including female vocalist and video of the year for “Peter Pan.”
Additionally, the show will feature the live performance premiere of the new Tim McGraw and Faith Hill collaboration “Speak to a Girl.” Available Thursday (March 23), it is the first single from the couple’s forthcoming album, which is due later this year.
McGraw’s four ACM nominations include single, song and video of the year for “Humble and Kind.” He shares a vocal event of the year nomination with Florida Georgia Line for “May We All.”
They join previously announced performers Jason Aldean, Brothers Osborne, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line with the Backstreet Boys, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Maren Morris and Jon Pardi.
Bentley and Bryan will co-host the ACMs live from Las Vegas on April 2 on CBS.
If you had a crazy busy weekend, you may have missed out on some of the crazy. And on all the things the country stars were up to on social media.
Like how Dierks Bentley thanked Kelsea Ballerini for opening his Whiskey Row, Ballerini sang “Dibs” with a little fan, Miranda Lambert recruited her family to sing along with her, Luke Bryan found his NFL doppelganger, Kacey Musgraves thanked her debut album, Maren Morris listened to a friend’s new music, Brett Eldredge went incognito for Bryan’s show, and RaeLynn called Blake Shelton her brother-uncle-dad.
A Thousand Horses are working away on their upcoming sophomore album, and the release of "Preachin' to the Choir" offers fans a pretty good taste of what's to come. The new track sings to the common people, wrapped in a radio-friendly package.
A Thousand Horses are working away on their upcoming sophomore album, and the release of “Preachin’ to the Choir” offers fans a pretty good taste of what’s to come. The new track sings to the common people, wrapped in a radio-friendly package.
Written by the Warren Brothers (“Red Solo Cup,” “Little Bit of Everything,” “Sober Saturday Night”), the band got a call one day from Brett Warren saying he thought the song was a perfect fit for them — and they unanimously agreed.
“As soon as we heard it, from the first lyric ‘All in or all out,’ we were like ‘Damn, that does sound like us’ and kind of what we’re all about,” lead singer Michael Hobby explains. “And we fell in love with it, we thought it was such a great song.”
The singer also says the track serves as a transition from their debut album Southernality to their current project.
“We just feel like it’s a good bridge honestly from our first record to our second record as far as just growth as musicians and singers and artists, and it’s a great way to paint a picture for what’s to come as far as [what] A Thousand Horses is,” he says.
“I think it’s a song that lyrically made us think of our fans and ourselves because I think it very much represents what the band stands for,” adds guitarist Bill Satcher. Just some of those themes include “sticking to your guns” and “staying true to yourself,” says guitarist and vocalist Zach Brown, with Hobby echoing with “work hard, play hard, love hard” and giving “100 percent.”
“I think it kind of carries on from Southernality,” continues Satcher. “We wanted to keep kind of that Southern rock element, but obviously it’s walking the line of Southern rock, country, and we kind of sonically wanted to make it a little bigger.”
“Preachin’ to the Choir” is the first single off the quartet’s second studio album, the title and release date of which are currently unknown.
Dierks Bentley’s wife Cassidy is asking fans to donate and follow along as she’ll be running the Boston Marathon on April 17th and will give donations to Safe Haven.
Blake Shelton sent prayers to a young head that was heading into surgery. After her operation, Brooke Haire was declared legally brain dead. Her last wish was for Shelton to see her performance video.
Little Big Town‘s The Breaker holds the No. 1 spot on Billboard‘s top country albums chart for the second week, while Jon Pardi‘s “Dirt on My Boots” moves into the prime country airplay real estate, concluding a 25-week March.
This is Pardi’s second No. 1 single, his first having been “Head Over Boots” in 2015.
The only album to debut this week is Moonshine Bandits’ Baptized in Bourbon, which staggers in at No. 19.
Returning to action, we have Justin Moore‘s Kinda Don’t Care (back at No. 47) and the Zac Brown Band‘s Jekyll + Hyde (No. 50).
It’s a bit sunnier when it comes to new songs. There are eight of them, including Old Dominion‘s “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart” (No. 31), Big & Rich‘s “California” (No. 47), Dustin Lynch‘s “Small Town Boy” (No. 54) and Reba McEntire‘s “Back to God” (No. 56).
Also, Trace Adkins‘ “Watered Down” (No. 57), Kristian Bush‘s “Sing Along” (No. 58), Michael Tyler‘s “They Can’t See” (No. 59) and Frankie Ballard‘s resurrection of fellow Michigander Bob Seger’s “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” (No. 60).
Following The Breaker in descending order in this week’s Top 5 albums cluster are Garth Brooks’ The Ultimate Collection, Keith Urban‘s Ripcord, Alison Krauss‘ Windy City and Chris Stapleton‘s Traveller.
Aaron Watson‘s last week debut, Vaquero, slides from No. 2 to No. 6.
The No. 2 through No. 5 songs are Michael Ray‘s “Think a Little Less,” Brad Paisley‘s “Today”, Luke Bryan‘s “Fast” and Lauren Alaina‘s “Road Less Traveled.”
Chris Young‘s “Sober Saturday Night,” last week’s top song, now stands at No. 6.
Brothers Osborne, Maren Morris and Jon Pardi are the 2017 ACM Award winners in the new artist categories for vocal duo or group, female and male, respectively.
These are the first ACM wins for each act.
Brothers Osborne are also nominated vocal duo of the year. Morris’ five nominations include nods for female vocalist, album (as artist and producer) and single record of the year (as artist and producer).
The new artist winners were announced Tuesday (March 14), while the remaining categories will be revealed when Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan co-host the 52nd annual event live from Las Vegas. The new artist winners will each perform on the show airing April 2 on CBS.
Previously announced performers include Bentley, Bryan, Morris, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town and Florida Georgia Line with Backstreet Boys.
Frankie Ballard is pretty much guaranteed killer boots for life.
Ballard announced on social media that he married his girlfriend Christina Murphy on Sunday (March 12). She owns the Nashville shoe and accessory store Old Smokey Boots, which specializes in reworking vintage boots into one of a kind, handmade creations.
Ballard revealed the news online using lyrics from his newest single and Bob Seger cover “Someday Baby You’ll Accomp’ny Me.”
Ballard’s 2017 tour continues Thursday (March 16) in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Mick Jagger, John Fogerty and Timbaland are among the guests on Brad Paisley’s new 16-track album Love and War, set for release on April 21. Country Music Hall of Fame members Bill Anderson and the late Johnny Cash are also represented on the project.
Anderson provides guest vocals on “Dying to See Her,” a song he wrote with Paisley. “Gold All Over the Ground” was written by Cash and Paisley.
Paisley opened the Rolling Stones stadium concert in Nashville in 2015 and jammed with them on “Dead Flowers” during the British rock band’s set. He’d previously opened their 2013 show in Philadelphia.
Paisley’s album, Jagger appears on “Drive of Shame,” a song the two of them wrote with -Matt Clifford.
Fogerty and Paisley co-wrote the album’s title track, and the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman performs on it.
Timbaland, the R&B/hip-hop artist-producer, is featured on two tracks — “Grey Goose Chase” and “Solar Power Girl.”
Lakefront Property Gets $3.95 Million Asking Price
“This morning, with her, having coffee.”
That was Johnny Cash‘s answer when he was asked when and where he was happiest in a Vanity Fair “Proust Questionnaire” feature from 1997.
The “her” he’s referring to was his wife June Carter Cash, and it’s safe to say their morning coffee together was enjoyed overlooking the breathtaking panoramic views of Old Hickory Lake at the expansive home they shared for 35 years in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
Today, the 4.6 acres of land at 200 Caudill Drive is on the market for $3.95 million, and the seller hopes to find a potential buyer that will restore the original house to its former grandeur.
Built in 1967, the main house boasted 13,880 square feet of living space with seven bedrooms, five full baths and two half-baths. Tennessee builder Braxton Dixon had been constructing the home for his family, but when the Man in Black saw it, he laid claim to the place.
“One day, Johnny happened along and said, ‘I like this place,'” his brother Tommy Cash recalled in a 2005 interview with CMT.com. “I like the round rooms, and I like the looks of his whole area,’ and said, ‘I want to buy it.'”
Johnny’s favorite music space was the Lake Room for its excellent view of the water. It’s where he wrote several hits, filmed the “Hurt” music video and hosted impromptu jams with several famous friends including Carl Perkins and Bob Dylan.
The home’s most popular space was the 20-by-27-foot great room that contained a beautiful fireplace, in addition to an elevator that was installed in early 2003 because the performers’ frail condition made climbing the stairs difficult.
The Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb bought the estate in 2006, and a fire destroyed the main house in a 2007 remodel. Fortunately, no one was home at the time. In 2014, Gibb sold the property to Texas businessman James Gresham for $2 million. Gresham had plans to build an eating disorder treatment facility on the property, but he abandoned the project after locals protested the idea.
Now, Gresham hopes its new owner will reconstruct the former Cash estate while living in the on-site luxury apartment that was once June’s dressing room.
It’s going to take a lot of love to restore the original house. Visiting the property today is like exploring an ancient ruin of the South. All that remains from the main structure are rocks from the foundation.
There’s a boat dock, a garage, a small pool and a bell garden where June once tended her roses. That same area is where Kris Kristofferson landed a helicopter in a desperate attempt to get Cash to hear “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”
In that same “Proust Questionnaire,” Cash said his favorite journey was the last mile home. And that came from a man who had been everywhere.
Job one is to host the Academy of Country Music Awards. But Dierks Bentley has a couple other things on his to-do list when he’s in Las Vegas for the show on April 2.
Namely, some pool time and some casino time.
When the Las Vegas Review-Journal asked Bentley how he’d spend his down time that weekend, he described what sounds like a perfect getaway.
“Oh, man, sitting by the pool in Las Vegas is the best,” he said. “Having a drink and saving my voice. It’s a great feeling as time allows it. I gamble a little bit, blackjack, but I’ll save craps for Luke Bryan and Charles Kelley for when those high rollers roll into town.”
Then again, with co-hosting duties filling up most of his day, it’s hard to imagine he’ll have time for anything but work. But he admitted that Vegas feels kind of like home to him.
“I’m from Arizona, so I love the desert out West, the dry heat. It reminds me of being home,” he said. “Las Vegas and I fit well together.”
In addition to co-hosting with Bryan, Bentley is nominated for three ACM Awards: album of the year, male vocalist of the year and vocal event of the year.
“You write the songs with a lot of thought and care and love and hope for the best, that fans will hear it and take it to heart and love it like you do,” he said, adding that the awards are “icing on the cake.”
Over the weekend, Thomas Rhett played a show just outside of Chicago. After that, he went on to play for fans in Minnesota. Then he’ll move on to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia and so on.
And wherever he is, he’ll be part of that city’s home team.
In a recent radio interview, Rhett explained the story behind naming his Home Town Tour.
“My Uncle Eli, when I was in about third grade, was battling leukemia,” he said. “And for an entire year, him and a buddy traveled all over the country and went to almost 200 Widespread Panic concerts.”
His uncle noticed that wherever they were, the band would start the show with a shout-out to that city.
“And Eli was just like, ‘God, everywhere they go, they’re just pulling for that town.’ So he started just making stickers and T-shirts and it just said, ‘Home Team.'”
With his uncle’s permission, Thomas Rhett brought that idea back and is using it for his own tour.
“Being in Chicago, it’s like we want to eat local, we want to drink local, we want to pull for your team. If I’m in Cleveland, I’m gonna wear a Cavaliers jersey.
“Really letting those fans know that I am from Nashville, but tonight, I’m with you,” he said.
The next stop on the Home Team Tour is Thursday (March 9) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren walked the red carpet together at the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards on Sunday night (March 5), showing off her baby bump in public for the first time.
Rhett was dressed simply in dark pants, a white collared shirt that was untucked and a jacket, while Lauren wore a short, tight-fitting black dress that was cut off the shoulder.
The couple recently announced that they are not only expecting their first child together, which they have revealed will be a girl, they are also in the process of adopting another child from Africa.
They previously walked the red carpet together at the Grammy Awards in February, where Lauren struggled to conceal that she was pregnant and suffering from the sickness that goes along with it.
Rhett took home Country Artist of the Year at the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards, and he also took the stage to perform his current single, “Star of the Show,” which he wrote for Lauren along with his massive hit, “Die a Happy Man.”
Luke Bryan met his doppelganger in Manhattan.
Before headlining Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (March 1), Bryan came face to face with his new wax figure at Madame Tussauds’ Times Square museum.
Seated on a road case and holding a guitar, the replica could be Bryan’s twin. It’s rocking his signature grin, painted on jeans and a tight V-neck T-shirt with perfectly slicked back hair.
The new figure will be on display in Nashville’s new Madame Tussauds location, opening April 14.
While in New York, Bryan performs Thursday on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The Kill the Lights Tour continues Friday (March 3) in Manchester, New Hampshire with Brett Eldredge and Brett Young.
When Tim McGraw talked to CMT Hot 20 Countdown about his new movie The Shack, the conversation went down three paths: McGraw’s role as Willie in the film, his role as the story’s narrator and his role as a songwriter for the film’s theme song, “Keep Your Eyes on Me.”
“As a singer, I’m a storyteller,” McGraw said. “So to be able to tell the story on different fronts, to be able to act in the movie as an actor — but also to be able to narrate it — was pretty special to me.”
For the acting, McGraw knew that to play the role he was given in the faith-based feature film, he needed it to be his very best.
“I think that was first and foremost in everyone’s minds while making this film: Serve the story, serve the movie, and bring emotion to it when you do it,” he said. And in the scenes he shared with his co-star Sam Worthington, he added, “I was so struck by his presence and his intensity and his depth as a character, and I think it made me rise up.”
Then for the narration inspiration, McGraw pulled from his love for the 1970s TV series The Waltons.
“One of my favorite parts of The Waltons was John Boy’s narration at the end of the night every night. And he would tell the story about everything that happened and what went on,” he said. “That was something I always loved, and getting the opportunity to do that was pretty special.”
And for the songwriter role, McGraw joined forces with his wife Faith Hill, Lori McKenna and Shane McAnally to parallel the emotional rollercoaster that happens throughout the story.
“We tried to write a song that sort of equaled the arc of the movie in a lot of ways and showed the pain and the struggle in the beginning, and the enlightenment at the end,” he said. “And the hope and love at the end of the song.”
The Shack is in theaters now.
An all-star Waylon Jennings tribute is coming to CMT on April 7 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
The two-hour event titled Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings was taped live on July 6, 2015 at Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater with performances by Willie Nelson, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Kris Kristofferson, Toby Keith, Alison Krauss, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Shooter Jennings, Buddy Miller, Jessi Colter, Robert Earl Keen and Bobby Bare. The special will include in-depth interviews and compelling behind-the-scenes footage.
The project was created by Keith Wortman and Mark Rothbaum, along with Colter and Shooter. Wortman, Rothbaum, Colter and Freddy Fletcher are the executive producers. Grammy winners Don Was and Buddy Cannon served as co-music directors for the project.
Was led the all-star house band, which featured guitarists Buddy Miller and Patrick Buchanan; pedal steel player Robby Turner, drummers Raymond Weber and Richie Albright; keys and accordion player Matthew Rollings, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and backing vocalists Kari Kimmel, Carmel Echols and Sara Mann.
A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Jennings released more than sixty albums and changed the world of country music with his imposing baritone and stripped-down musical style. The Nelson duet “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” won the two outlaws a Grammy for best country performance by a duo or group in 1979.
Pre-orders for the CD/DVD set and digital download are available through Amazon.
Here is the CD/DVD track listing for Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings:
Chris Stapleton and Morgane Stapleton — “I Ain’t Living Long Like This”
Shooter Jennings — “Whistlers And Jugglers”
Jessi Colter — “Mona”
Bobby Bare — “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”
Lee Ann Womack — “Ride Me Down Easy”
Lee Ann Womack and Buddy Miller — “Yours Love”
Sturgill Simpson — “Memories Of You And I” (DVD only)
Kacey Musgraves — “The Wurlitzer Prize”
Jamey Johnson — “Freedom To Stay”
Robert Earl Keen — “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way”
Kris Kristofferson — “I Do Believe”
Ryan Bingham — “Rainy Day Woman”
Alison Krauss — “Dreaming My Dreams With You”
Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson — “I Ain’t The One”
Toby Keith — “Honky Tonk Heroes”
Eric Church — “Lonesome, On’ry And Mean”
Willie Nelson — “Till I Gain Control Again”
Willie Nelson and Toby Keith — “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”
Willie Nelson and Chris Stapleton – “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”
Willie Nelson and Sturgill Simpson — “I Can Get Off On You” (DVD only)
Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Shooter Jennings and Jamey Johnson — “Highwayman”
Willie Nelson and Full Ensemble — “Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love)”
Stars were practically coming out of the light fixtures Monday night (Feb. 27) at the ninth annual T.J. Martell Foundation’s Nashville Honors gala held at the plush Omni Hotel.
Before the evening ended, the crowd of some 500 well-heeled and well-connected donors were serenaded by and/or mingling with George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, Charlie Daniels, Frankie Ballard, Craig Campbell, Styx’s Tommy Shaw and singer-actress Clare Bowen.
“As you might have heard, my character has had a tough week,” said actor Charles Esten as he welcomed the crowd. He was referring, of course, to the widely-reported tragedy that beset the family of Deacon Claybourne, the character he portrays on CMT’s Nashville.
It was Esten’s fifth year of hosting the banquet and auction that raises funds for cancer research.
This year’s honorees were cancer research pioneer Dr. Joseph Smith, Olympic skating gold medalist Scott Hamilton; former Nashville Chamber of Commerce economic development officer Janet Miller, talent agent Rod Essig and concert and tour promoter Louis Messina.
Ballard opened the musical proceedings, accompanying himself on guitar and singing his 2013 hit, “Helluva Life.”
He was followed by Warner Music Nashville chief John Esposito, who paid tribute to the late music executive Tony Martell. Martell started the charity in 1975 after his son, T.J., died of leukemia. The fund has subsequently raised nearly $300 million for research, Esposito reported.
The elder Martell died last November at the age of 90.
Urging the audience to do even more for the cause, Esposito said, “I want 2017 to be the year of Tony,” and with that he raised a glass of champagne and invited everyone to join him in a toast to Martell with the flutes of champagne already conveniently placed at each table setting.
It was an elegant dinner that featured rosemary-seared beef tenderloin steak and soft, butter-poached shrimp. Uniformed waiters stood at the ready to pour more wine as each glass was emptied. Bars remained open outside the dining area to service more resolute drinkers.
Esten returned to his hosting duties to introduce Bowen, who plays his niece Scarlett on Nashville. Diagnosed with cancer when she was 4 years old, the Australian actress sang “Love Steps In” to honor her brother, who was found to have cancer at 25.
Almost everyone who spoke during the evening had a cancer story to tell about themselves or someone close to them. Most of the stories were ones of triumphing over the disease.
Charlie Daniels, a cancer survivor himself, presented Dr. Smith the medical research advancement award and told how the physician had comforted, reassured and treated him after his diagnosis. He also noted that Smith, who is at the forefront of high-tech cancer treatment, also goes regularly to Third World countries to apply his medical expertise to impoverished patients who would otherwise have no hope of cure.
The reliably humorous Brad Paisley came out to roast and toast Hamilton, his longtime friend. After singing his latest single, “Today,” Paisley picked up on Esten’s reference to Hamilton as “an American treasure.”
“He’s not big enough to be a treasure,” the less-than-towering Paisley mused. “He’s more of an American trinket.”
Paisley praised Hamilton for his look-on-the-bright-side attitude, even after three separate bouts with cancer. He said that after Hamilton was operated on for testicular cancer, he brandished a license plate that read “RT1LFT.”
Hamilton took the ribbing in good humor. Accepting the lifetime humanitarian award, he paused to explain that after Paisley’s Grand Ole Opry friend Little Jimmy Dickens died, he’s become the butt of all the singer’s “short jokes.”
Esten related a cancer story that hit close to home. He said that after his 2-and-half-year old daughter was found to have leukemia, he was told that there was a good chance she would survive it. And, she has, he reported. “She’s now a junior at Brentwood High School and looking toward going to college.”
Next up was Ballerini, who sang her No. 1 single from last year, “Peter Pan”
Nashville Mayor Megan Berry presented Miller the Spirit of Nashville award for her work in bringing industries to the city and for the example of achievement she set for other women.
In tribute to Essig, his friend and talent agent, Shaw sang an acoustic version of Styx’s 1978 single, “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” which he said he wrote for his father.
John Huie, Essig’s partner at Creative Artists Agency and board chairman of the T.J. Martell Foundation, presented Essig the Frances Preston outstanding music industry achievement trophy. The late Preston was president was CEO of BMI, the performance rights organization, and inspiration for the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville.
Strait kicked off the final award round of the evening.
“From one old troubadour to another,” he said from the stage, gesturing toward the table at which Messina sat. With that, he sang “Troubadour,” his wistful hit from 2008.
Chesney, another of Messina’s superstars, came out to join Strait, who seemed in an unusually expansive mood.
“What have you gotten me into?” Chesney demanded of Messina. “You know I can’t do this.” But on he went.
He said that in honor of the occasion he had given a writer $20 to write him a speech, which he then began to read, painstakingly reciting the opening gibberish of the song “Louie Louie.”
Then, adopting a Donald Trump tone of delivery, he said that Messina was “a huge idea guy … huge … believe me.”
“I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll promoter,” Messina said, as he stood holding the Tony Martell lifetime entertainer achievement award. “All I do is bring a little music to America. And, actually, now global.”
In addition to Strait and Chesney, his vehicles for bringing “a little music” now include Taylor Swift, Eric Church and Ed Sheeran.
Messina said he’s wanted to promote concerts ever since he was 7 years old and saw Elvis Presley perform.
If any kind of Warren Beatty situation goes down at the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards, hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley have a plan.
They would, in Bryan’s words, “train wreck the show.”
He joked with The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville that if something went wrong, like it did on Sunday night (Feb. 26) at the Academy Awards when Beatty accidentally announced the wrong winner for best picture, they’d be ready with some kind of diversion.
“Luke’s going to have a wardrobe malfunction. At least that way everyone talks about that and not the show,” Bentley said. “We played it so loose last year at the top, we could have had our own Oscar moment.”
“What a debacle, but it gets a lot of press,” Bryan added.
“It’s sad nobody is talking about what happened at the Oscars. That’s our approach, Dierks,” he said, “train wreck the show.”
The ACM Awards show takes place April 2 in Las Vegas.
You know what’s adorable about 2-year-olds? Everything. And Carrie Underwood just posted proof of that on her social media pages.
It’s a photo of her son Isaiah, who is celebrating his second birthday Monday (Feb. 27), in his little Levi’s, doing his very best to reach a balloon that’s hovering above him.
And what’s even sweeter is the caption Underwood posted along with the photo. All about the struggle of raising a child who is growing up way too fast, and all the holding on and letting go you have to do as a mother.
“Where did two years go? My angel is getting so big! On one hand, it’s so fun to see him learn and grow, but on the other, it’s all happening so fast! Happy birthday, little monkey! You are my world… my heart … and I thank God for you each and every day! The two years you have been on this earth have been the best of our lives! Mommy and Daddy love you so much!”
Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert are part of the all-star cast scheduled to pay tribute to the late Merle Haggard during an April 6 concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
Billed as “Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard,” the concert taping is also scheduled to include performances by John Mellencamp, Dierks Bentley, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Jr., the Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Ronnie Dunn, Warren Haynes, Jamey Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lucinda Williams, John Anderson, Connie Smith and Bobby Bare.
April 6 would have been Haggard’s 80th birthday and also marks the one-year anniversary of his death.
Ben Haggard, the Country Music Hall of Fame’s son and a longtime band member, will join Don Was and Buddy Cannon as musical directors for the concert. Additional performers to be announced in the coming weeks.
The event was announced by Haggard’s family, Willie Nelson and Blackbird Presents, a media company that has produced and recorded similar concert tributes to Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennnigs, Gregg Allman, John Lennon and Jerry Garcia.
Tickets to the Haggard tribute go on sale Friday (March 3) via Ticketmaster and the Bridgestone Arena box office.
Maybe it was the recent Grammy Awards show, maybe it was low hanging clouds of fairy dust, but something boosted country album sales a few thousand units this week over last, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
But let us first note that Little Big Town is back at the top of the country airplay chart with “Better Man,” a single that took a mere 18 weeks to make the journey.
And let the record also show that Reba McEntire holds onto her No. 1 country album post for the second straight week with Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.
Brett Young has the only debuting album in the Top 50, with his self-titled collection popping in at No. 2.
Now, let’s return to those grand totals mentioned above. The weekly Nielsen Soundscan listing of top country albums shows sales of the Top 75 country titles zooming from 175,101 the week before to 218,351 this week, a gain of 43,250 units.
One of the biggest gainers was Sturgill Simpson, who saw sales of his Grammy-winning A Sailor’s Guide to Earth vault from 2,494 to 11,151 during this period, a chart leap from No. 34 to No. 8.
Six albums re-entered the charts — Eric Church‘s Mr. Misunderstood: On the Rocks: Live and (Mostly) Unplugged EP (back at No. 23), Joey + Rory‘s Hymns (No. 27), Tim McGraw‘s 35 Biggest Hits (No. 33), Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (No. 42), Brothers Osborne‘s Pawn Shop (No. 46) and Hillary Scott & the Scott Family’s Grammy-winning Love Remains (No. 49).
There are four new songs to cheer — Blake Shelton‘s “Every Time I Hear That Song” (bowing at No. 48), Kip Moore‘s “More Girls Like You” (No. 56), Ryan Kinder‘s “Close” (No. 59) and Kane Brown‘s “What Ifs,” featuring Lauren Alaina (No. 60).
The No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 albums, in that order, are Keith Urban‘s Ripcord, Garth Brooks’ The Ultimate Collection and Brantley Gilbert‘s The Devil Don’t Sleep.
Completing the Top 5 songs cluster after “Better Man” are Chris Young‘s “Sober Saturday Night,” featuring Vince Gill, Michael Ray‘s “Think a Little Less,” Brad Paisley‘s “Today” and Jon Pardi‘s “Dirt on My Boots.”
Dustin Lynch‘s “Seein’ Red,” last week’s top song, now resides at No. 6.
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