Country Music

Even though they're finding pop success with Justin Bieber, Dan + Shay promise they're "not trying to chase anything"

ABC/Image Group LA Dan Shay started last year by finding success on both the country and pop charts with "Tequila," and in 2019, they continued to cross over, first with "Speechless," and then with their Justin Biebercollaboration, "10,000 Hours."

But as Shay Mooney explains, the duo doesn't have any plans to leave country music behind in favor of pop stardom.

"Dan and I are not trying to chase anything. We're trying to write great Dan Shay music and trying to tell a story with our music, and the more people that can hear the music is fantastic to us," Shay says.

He also insists they're not trying to make their music more palatable to the pop audience.

"Whenever Dan and I first started writing songs, we just, I think at the core of it, we wanted to tell a story," Shay says. "That's what we fell in love with."

And if their songs are the gateway to country music for pop fans, well, Shay says that's fine with him and Dan.

"It's amazing to us to have people come out to meet and greets and say, 'Man, we've never listened to country music before, but we've started listening to you guys and we've discovered other country acts because of that,'" he notes.

"And that's...really's such a such an honor, to us, to have people say that." 

Later this month, Dan Shay will perform at New York City's Madison Square Garden.  Then in March, they'll launch a headlining tour that's currently scheduled through April, then resumes in September.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockOn this day in 1983, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers were awarded platinum status for a duet single originally written by pop icons the Bee Gees. Can you guess the song? ANSWER: “Islands in the Stream.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockMaddie & Tae have premiered a festive new music video for their take on the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The clip shows the duo recording in the studio, interspersed with home footage of the holiday season.

John Rich will host a new Fox Nation show called The Pursuit! With John Rich, according to People. Filmed in John’s home, the show will feature an array of guests ranging from personal friends of the singer to celebrities, in conversation about their various paths towards achieving the American Dream. The new show will launch in February of 2020. 

Amazon Music reports that Lil Nas XGarth BrooksMaren Morris and Luke Combs were among the platform's most-streamed artists of 2019. Maren's Girl was among listeners' favorite albums, while the project's title track was one of the year's top-streamed songs. Garth's "Stronger Than Me" was also one of Amazon's year's top-streamed songs of the year. Luke's "Beer Never Broke My Heart," meanwhile, was the most-requested country song by lyrics on Alexa -- behind Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road." 

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Luke Combs spotlights the songwriting process in "The Writer’s Cut" EP

BB Gun PressLuke Combs has shared a new EP that puts a stripped-down spin on two of the songs from his hit-packed sophomore album, What You See is What You Get.

The new project, called The Writer’s Cut, comes with an accompanying short film of the same title. Both are available exclusively through Apple Music. 

In The Writer’s Cut, Luke offers a new perspective on his rowdy Brooks & Dunn collab, “1, 2 Many,” as well as the contemplative “Reasons.” In each, he focuses on the process of creating the song, offering extra insights in the project’s visual component. 

“Songwriting -- it’s always been a teamwork thing for me,” Luke says in the film. “I don’t really like writing by myself that much.”

The new versions find Luke surrounded by his closest collaborators, including songwriters Ray Fulcher and Drew Parker, as well as producer Chip Matthews. As a bonus track on the EP, he includes the guys’ take on “Greystone Chapel,” a late 1960s classic written by Glen Sherley and made famous by its inclusion on Johnny Cash’s iconic At Folsom Prison album. 

The Writer’s Cut is available now. You can check out the EP and watch behind-the-scenes footage on Apple Music.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Garth Brooks sells out Charlotte stadium tour stop in under two hours

ABC / Image Group LAGarth Brooks has notched yet another live show attendance record.

The country superstar has sold 74,000 tickets for his upcoming Charlotte, NC Stadium Tour stop at Bank of America Stadium, which represents the venue’s largest-ever paid audience. 

Garth’s show sold out a whiplash-inducing 90 minutes after tickets went on sale. It’s the latest in a long string of attendance records the singer has set on his Stadium Tour, which launched in March and has been visiting football stadiums nationwide.

He played to record-setting numbers in St. Louis, MO; Glendale, AZ; Gainesville, FL and many more cities. To date, the tour has averaged just over 83,000 tickets per city, with over 914,000 sold cumulatively.

Garth’s Charlotte fans have been waiting quite a while to see the country star: It’s been 22 years since he performed in the city, and the show will be the only North Carolina and South Carolina stop on the Stadium Tour. 

The show will take place on Saturday, May 2 at Bank of America Stadium.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Kelsea Ballerini, Dan + Shay and more added to West Coast portion of "Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020"

ABC / Piper FergusonKelsea BalleriniDan Shay and Blanco Brown will represent the country genre in the lineup for the West Coast celebration portion of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020.

Kelsea, Blanco and Dan Shay join a stacked lineup of performers for the West Coast Party, hosted by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Ciara for the third year in a row.  Other stars who'll be appearing include Paula Abdul, pioneering female rappers Salt-n-Pepa, rapper Megan Thee Stallion and alt-rock legends Green Day.

Country artist Jessie James Decker will make an appearance during the festivities, too. She is set to reveal the first-ever First Powerball Millionaire of the Year during the show just after midnight on January 1, 2020, and will also provide live updates throughout the night from the First Powerball Millionaire of the Year party. 

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 will air on ABC beginning at 8 pm. ET on Tuesday, December 31.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Walker Hayes returns to raw, stripped-down tradition in 8Tracks Volume 3 -- Black Sheep

Monument RecordsFrom his quirky musical style to his creative approach to connecting with fans, Walker Hayes has never been afraid to think outside of the box.  Now, just in time for the holidays, he’s back with his third 8Tracks installment of new and re-imagined recordings.

8Tracks Volume 3 -- Black Sheep features eight fresh tunes, including a stripped-down version of his recent fan favorite, “Don’t Let Her.” The collection also features the tear-jerking new ballad “Dad’s Sailboat,” about the pain of watching a loved one grow older. 

In a statement, Walker admits that the straight-ahead production style that characterizes this project represents his favorite way to record music. 

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to release music this raw. I’m not really a fan of something that is too polished, so releasing these 8Tracks has always been important to me,” he explains.

“To be on my third one now feels really good, and I’m hopeful people will love these songs and have come to expect this type of music from me that is so personal.”

8Tracks Volume 3 -- Black Sheep is out now, and Walker has also shared the music video for the project’s title track. 

Here's the album's full track list:

“Black Sheep”
“Love Hate”
“Dad’s Sailboat”
“Wish I Could Drink”
“Acceptance Speech”
“Don’t Let Her” (stripped-down recording)

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockOn this date in 1998, this singer who is "Always on My Mind" was one of the honorees at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. Can you guess who it is? ANSWER: Willie Nelson

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.   

Dustin Lynch offers up track list, new song from his upcoming album, 'Tullahoma'

BBR Music GroupDustin Lynch has shared more details about his fourth studio album, Tullahoma, which is due out in mid-January. 

The country star has revealed the full track listing for the project, which includes the current Top 5 radio single “Ridin’ Roads,” as well as the 2018 fan favorite, “Good Girl.”  The collection also reveals an impressive list of co-writers, including Old Dominion’s Matt Ramsey and Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley.

Another track on the album, “Thinking ‘Bout You,” is a duet with country star and recent Dancing With the Stars contestant Lauren Alaina

Dustin named his next project after his Tennessee hometown, and in a press release, he says each track reflects a different influence or memory that shaped him in his early years. 

“A lot of that points back to the people who raised me, and growing up with a lifestyle where I could go outside and have fun, explore and try new things in the great outdoors,” he muses. “It’s kind of about being that kid who’s discovering, the kid who’s figuring out love for the first time, all that good stuff.”

Tullahoma is due for release on January 17, but fans can pre-order the album now. Those who do will get an instant download of the album’s just-released lead track, “Momma’s House.”

Here’s the complete track list of Dustin’s new album, Tullahoma:

“Momma’s House”
“Dirt Road”
“Thinking ‘Bout You” (featuring Lauren Alaina)
“Ridin’ Roads”
“Old Country Song”
“The World Ain’t Yours and Mine”
“Country Star”
“Workin’ on You”
“Little Town Livin’”
“Red Dirt, Blue Eyes
“Good Girl”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dan + Shay to spend "10,000 Hours" on the ice at NHL Winter Classic

ABC/Image Group LADan Shay will provide the entertainment at the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, an outdoor match up between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars that'll take place outdoors on New Year's Day at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.

The duo will perform during the game's first intermission, and it'll be televised on NBC in the U.S. and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada at 2 p.m. ET.  Additional performers will be announced soon.

Considering that Dan Shay's latest hit "10,000 Hours" features Justin Bieber, who, being Canadian, is a massive hockey fan, perhaps it's not out of the realm of possibility that he might show up for the performance.  We'll just have to wait and see.

The 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is the first regular NHL regular-season outdoor game for both teams, and is part of a tradition the league established in 2008.

And speaking of Bridgestone, Dan Shay's 2020 headlining tour kicks off March 6 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The Thing That Wrecks..." Lady Antebellum is singing with Little Big Town

Big MachineIf you dive into Lady Antebellum's new album, Ocean, you'll find a collaboration with the trio's fellow CMA Vocal Group of the Year winners, Little Big Town

"The Thing That Wrecks You" was co-written by up-and-coming female vocalist Tenille Townes. Lady A's Charles Kelley explains how the mega-duet came together. 

"You know, it was a song that a songwriter friend, Kate York, sent me," he tells ABC Audio. "And Tenille [was] singing the demo! And it just floored me. There was something very dark. I just kept coming back to it."

"And so it's funny," he continues. "After we recorded, I was down at the beach with Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook. I said, 'We've got to do something together.' And they said, 'Well, what do we want to do?' And I said, "Well, we've got a couple songs.'"

"I sent them two songs and they flipped out over 'The Thing That Wrecks You,'" Charles recalls. "And so to put together seven voices on one song was such an interesting, fun challenge. It's definitely an art piece on the record."

In fact, it's the first time in Lady A's more-than-ten-year history they've ever had a guest on one of their recordings.

"We've never had a feature on one of our albums ever, and so this is our very first one," Dave Haywoodpoints out. "That song and working with Little Big Town was a dream. Love their harmonies." 

This isn't the first time Little Big Town's recorded with another CMA Vocal Group of the Year, however. They're on "Stars in the City" on Old Dominion's 2017 album, Happy Endings, as well. 

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockRaeLynn's music video for her new single, "Bra Off," premieres today. It will make its debut on the Viacom billboards in New York's Times Square at 6 a.m. ET. 

Justin Moore will host the 2020 St. Jude Golf Classic in Little Rock, Arkansas on June 15. Proceeds from the event benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which provides treatment for childhood cancer and works to find a cure for it. 

Hailey Whitters has released the video for her song, "Heartland," traveling back to her hometown of Shueyville, Iowa to shoot the video. 

The Oak Ridge Boys have released an original Christmas song titled "Don't Go Pullin' on Santa Claus' Beard." The song is featured on the band's new holiday album, Down Home Christmas.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Brett Eldredge to deliver holiday performances on the Today show

ABC/Mark LevineBrett Eldredge has booked another holiday gig. 

The country crooner is set to perform on the Today show on December 16, scoring three time slots at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. This follows his set during the Christmas in Rockefeller Center special that aired on NBC Wednesday night.

The TV appearances come in the midst of Brett's Glow Live Tour, which kicks off with a pair of shows at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Thursday and Friday night. The tour continues through December 21, making stops in such cities as Boston, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Georgia along the way.

Bret will also deliver back-to-back shows at the Beacon Theatre in New York on December 17 and 18 before closing the tour in his home state of Illinois with shows at the Chicago Theatre on December 20 and 21. 

Brett will perform songs off his 2016 album Glow that features holiday classics like "I'll Be Home For Christmas," "The Christmas Song" and "Winter Wonderland." A deluxe edition was released last year.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Darius Rucker to perform at Daytona 500 pre-show

ABC/Randy HolmesDarius Rucker is heading to the race track.

The star is set to headline a concert before the 2020 Daytona 500 race. Titled the "Great American Race," the event marks the beginning of NASCAR's 2020 season. Darius will take the stage before the 500-mile race on February 16 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“Darius Rucker’s appeal is massive, encompassing fans of both rock and country music, making him a perfect fit for fans attending ‘The Great American Race,'” says Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. “A talent like this is rare. Darius is a true American success story and we are proud to welcome him back once again.”   

This serves as the fourth time Darius has performed at the iconic speedway. Tickets for the show are available now.

Darius recently reunited with his pre-country pop-rock band Hootie & The Blowfish for Imperfect Circle, the band's first album since 2005. They also embarked on the Group Therapy Tour that wrapped in October. 

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Lady Antebellum, Thomas Rhett and more join St. Jude's 2019 "This Shirt Saves Lives" campaign

ABC/Image Group LAThomas RhettLady Antebellum and Florida Georgia Line are among the country stars supporting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's third annual "This Shirt Saves Lives" campaign, launching today. 

The campaign features a variety of celebrities donning a charcoal gray shirt with the phrase "This Shirt Saves Lives" written in white lettering, all of them posting photos of themselves wearing the shirt across social media. The initiative began in 2017 and has achieved more than one billion online impressions.  

The campaign's goal is to encourage people to become monthly donors to the hospital that provides treatment for children who have cancer. A majority of St. Jude's funding comes from donors, making it so children who need treatment and their families never receive a bill from the hospital.   

"Throughout our career we have been fortunate enough to see firsthand the positive impact St. Jude has had and continues have for so many children and their families," Hillary Scott of Lady A says. "As a band and as parents, this organization is near and dear to our hearts and we will continue to advocate for them any chance we can." 

Little Big TownDarius Rucker and Cole Swindell are also participating in the campaign alongside other celebrities including Jennifer AnnistonModern Family star Sofia Vergara and Good Morning America host Michael Strahan.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Watch now: Keith Urban is Christmas classy in "I'll Be Your Santa Tonight" video

ABC/Image Group LAKeith Urban has released his new original Christmas song, "I'll Be Your Santa Tonight." 

The classy video for the song casts Keith in a winter wonderland, playing piano and guitar amongst a sparkling Christmas display of festive trees and lights. Light snow flurries blow around him as he croons, "I'll bring the magic/I'll bring the lights/I'll make you a star/At the top of the tree/Shinin' so bright." 

The country superstar wrote the song with Shane McAnally, which he describes as having a "classic melody" blended with a "retro 50s vibe."

"I wanted to keep the video loose and a bit more performance-based than the actual story line, because everybody has their own version of what a song should look like, so I didn’t want to touch on that too much," Keith explains of the video's concept. 

"I'll Be Your Santa Tonight" is the first Christmas song Keith has released.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Thomas Rhett tapped for Trailblazer Festival

ABC/Mark LevineThe Trailblazer Country Music and Camping Festival will bring superstar acts Luke BryanDierks Bentley and Thomas Rhett to the mountains of New York in 2020. 

The rebranded event, which used to be Taste of Country Music Festival, will set up shop at Hunter Mountain Resort in Hunter, N.Y. for the eighth year. Luke, Dierks and Thomas will headline the main stage throughout the three-day festival, taking place June 12-14. 

Other artists scheduled to perform include Kelsea BalleriniCole Swindell, "The Git Up" hitmaker Blanco Brown, top songwriter HardyAmerican Idol finalist Gabby BarrettThe Cadillac Three and more. The 2020 festival is spearheaded by Live Nation, which will present the "Next From Nashville" stage that showcases up-and-coming artists.  

Passes for the festival go on sale December 13 at 10 a.m. ET. 

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Thomas Rhett reveals he'd love to collaborate with Ed Sheeran or Post Malone

ABC/Mark LevineThomas Rhett's made no secret he's a huge fan of pop music, and with his contemporaries like Maren MorrisKelsea Ballerini, and Dan Shay crossing over, he confirms it's just a matter of time until he dips his toes into the waters as well.

In fact, TR predicts it'll happen in 2020.

"Over the years, especially coming to events like this and the Grammys, you do get to meet just a lot of really cool people," he told ABC Audio on the red carpet at the American Music Awards. "And you strike up relationships, and you start writing with each other, and you get in the studio with each other."

"So we're just waiting on the right one I think," he adds. "But hopefully next year, we get to do a pop collab for sure."

So who would TR's dream duet partner be?

"There's a lot of people," he explains. "Ed Sheeran's one of my favorites. I got to see Posty [Post Malone] today. Who knows, man? I think any and all would be really cool."   

Right now, Thomas Rhett's current country single, "Remember You Young," sits at number three, as it closes in on number one. Meanwhile, his latest album, Center Point Road, is nominated for a Grammy next month.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani team up for duet on his 'Fully Loaded' album: "It is our song"

John Shearer/Getty Images via ABCBlake Shelton and Gwen Stefani tell their story in a new song. 

The superstar couple sing a duet called "Nobody but You" on Blake's upcoming album, Fully Loaded: God's Country. The track was written by top Nashville songwriters Shane McAnallyRoss CoppermanJosh Osborne and Tommy Lee James and is one that Blake describes as "magic." 

"This was one of those songs where the more I heard it, the more I fell in love with it, Blake explains. "I also realized how important it is for me and where I am in my life, and I think that's why Shane was trying to get it to me.  It fits my story. I was about to go in and record when I decided that it needed Gwen on it -- because it is our song. I think it's magic."

This marks the third time the powerhouse pair has recorded a song together, following "Go Ahead and Break My Heart" on Blake's 2016 album, If I'm Honest, and the holiday duet "You Make it Feel Like Christmas" on Gwen's 2017 Christmas album of the same name.

"Nobody But You" is one of five new songs featured on Fully Loaded.  The remainder of the track list features Blake's previously released hits, including "A Guy with a Girl," "Turnin' Me On," and "Came Here to Forget."

Fully Loaded drops on December 13.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Brad Paisley Thinks He's Special' draws 6.3 million viewers

ABC/Mark LevineIt turns out Brad Paisley is pretty special. 

The country hitmaker raked in 6.3 million viewers Wednesday night with Brad Paisley Thinks He's Special, his variety show starring Carrie Underwood, the Jonas BrothersKelsea BalleriniHootie & The Blowfish, former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and more. The special was the most-watched show of all ABC's nighttime programming yesterday. 

Brad Paisley Thinks He's Special featured such skits as Carrie and Brad off-roading in a truckKevinand Joe JonasDarius RuckerTim McGraw and others auditioning to be Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, and Brad and The Bachelor host Chris Harrison joining a group of bachelorettes on a pedal tavern in downtown Nashville.

Brad also performed with some of his famous friends during the special, which was recorded at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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