Country Music

Nashville notes

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Tracy Lawrence has announced a livestream show to take place on April 27, in celebration of his 30th anniversary in the music business. He also released “You Only Get One,” the newest track off his forthcoming album, Volume 1: Stairway to Heaven Highway to Hell.

Clint Black announced on Friday that he’ll host and co-produce Talking in Circles, a new Circle Network TV series featuring conversations with a variety of musical artists. The show premieres May 22 at 10 p.m. ET.

Five decades after he would’ve graduated, Ricky Skaggs revealed that he has finally received his high school diploma. Instead of graduating, the country and bluegrass star opted to take a job touring with Ralph Stanley. However, he announced this week that his alma mater, Kentucky’s Lawrence County High School, awarded him an honorary diploma in 2020.

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After a rough 2020, Brothers Osborne are glad the ACM is shining a light on their 'Skeletons'

EMI Nashville

Brothers Osborne already have an impressive collection of trophies from the Academy of Country Music, including several honors for Duo of the Year. 

But in 2021, they appear for the first time in a new category, grabbing recognition as a contender for Album of the Year for their third record, Skeletons

After a tough 2020, TJ admits it's a pat on the back they were happy to get.

"A lot of work went into that album, as [with] all of our records," he reflects. "And we kind of felt like it was overlooked a little bit just because... intentionally, we put it out when everyone was saying, 'Let's maybe wait.' But we're like, 'Well, everyone's waiting, because people want music now.'"

"And we kind of felt like the album got a little steamrolled in the whole just mess of the world between the pandemic and the election and all the important things that were going on," TJ says candidly.

But the nod for Album of the Year proved that wasn't the case.

"Getting that nomination was an incredible moment for us," TJ reveals, "because in some ways it felt like we had this almost re-release feeling... where it finally got brought back up again, which I thought the record deserved, on top of just the amazing feeling of it having it nominated."

"Port St. Joe was nominated for a Grammy," he says of their previous record, "but it was the first time we'd had a record nominated for ACM for Country Album."

TJ and John are also up for Duo of the Year, an award they won in 2016 and 2017, and they're set to perform as well. You can tune in to watch the 56th ACM Awards live from Nashville next Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. 

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Russell Dickerson, Dustin Lynch, Matt Stell + more sign on for Lathan Warlick’s collaborations EP

Records Nashville/Columbia Records

Newcomer Lathan Warlick got his first taste of fame on TikTok, but now he’s finding camaraderie with some of country’s biggest stars on his My Way collaborations EP.

Dustin Lynch, Lauren Alaina, Matt Stell and Russell Dickerson are just a few of the performers to feature on the eight-song collection, which is due out later in the month. RaeLynn and High Valley also duet with Lathan on his project.

Of course, the EP is named for the singer’s collab with Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard, whose duet, “My Way,” came out last month.

Tyler also serves as executive producer on the EP, which will be a fusion of all the diverse styles that influence Lathan as an artist.

“Merging hip-hop, country and gospel all on one project is definitely something given from The Most High,” he notes. “Time to give the world something different since I get to have it My Way.”

My Way will arrive on April 23, but you can pre-order and pre-save it now.

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Watch Maren Morris get in "The Middle" of some mac 'n cheese & her Spotify awards plaque

Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Target

Because they're silver and concave, the plaques that Spotify gives to artists for racking up one billion streams of one of their tracks have inspired some musicians to turn them into dinner plates.  Now Maren Morris is jumping on that bandwagon.

On her socials, Maren wrote, "Said I'd do it," alongside a black-and-white video of herself cooking mac 'n cheese, dumping it on her plaque, and eating it while wearing a fancy dress.

"thanks for a billion streams on The Middle, y’all," she wrote, referring to her Grammy-nominated smash hit with Zedd and Grey. "And thank you @spotify for the multi-purpose plaque."

"The Middle," released in 2018, was a top-five hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the Grammys in 2019.

In 2018, Taylor Swift invited Maren to join her onstage to perform "The Middle" during the Arlington, TX stop of her Reputation Stadium Tour.  Maren can currently be heard singing on the song "You All Over Me" on Taylor's newly released Fearless (Taylor's Version) album project.


Taylor Swift and Keith Urban spin country storytelling with pop sensibility on “That’s When”

ABC

Taylor Swift’s re-recorded Fearless album arrived on Friday, and with it came six “From the Vault” songs that nearly made the original track list. One of those, “That’s When,” got an extra twist this time around, when Taylor tapped country superstar Keith Urban to be her duet partner.

The song delivers classic country storytelling, re-tooled with a pop sensibility. Keith and Taylor play opposite sides of a tumultuous relationship and breakup, but each ultimately admits they’re hoping for reconciliation.

It’s not the first time the two stars have teamed up. Not only was a young Taylor the opening act for Keith’s tour in 2009, but they later both contributed vocals to Tim McGraw’s hit 2013 single, “Highway Don’t Care.”

Elsewhere on her “From the Vault” collection, Taylor found another country collaborator in Maren Morris, who provides backing vocals on “You All Over Me.”

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Luke Combs partners with Guitars 4 Vets for a second year, ahead of the ACM Awards

ABC

For the second year running, Luke Combs is joining forces with the Academy of Country Music and Ford’s Proud to Honor program in support of Guitars 4 Vets. The non-profit organization helps military veterans process PTSD and other mental health struggles through the power of music.

Luke will appear in a special tribute to the program, ahead of his performance at the ACM Awards show itself. The tribute features a number of last year’s veteran participants, including Damon Williams, who lends his original song, “It’s Alright,” to the tribute.

Additionally, Ford recently donated $500,000 to Guitars 4 Vets chapters around the country, helping the organization expand its nationwide mission of serving veterans through free guitar instruction, acoustic instruments and more.

Before last year’s ACMs, in September of 2020, Luke partnered with Ford to donate $25,000 worth of custom guitars to veterans battling PTSD and other injuries related to their service.

It’ll be a busy night for Luke, who’s nominated for multiple trophies at the 2021 ACMS, including Entertainer of the Year.

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“First Beer”: Lanco’s new song is an ode to memories and the friends who help make them

Sony Music Nashville

On Friday, Lanco shared their nostalgic song “First Beer,” an evocative look back at some of the special moments that never fade, no matter how much time passes.

In this instance, it’s the memory of trying a beer for the first time. It's a milestone moment in many people's lives but even more memorable than the event itself is the memory of the friends who were there with you.

“There are some memories in life where you don’t remember every detail, but one vivid experience that stuck with all of us was our first drink and the people we were with,” says frontman Brandon Lancaster, who co-wrote “First Beer” with the group’s drummer Tripp Howell as well as The Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston.

“[‘First Beer’] is a universal song that’s going to be fun to get back on the road and play for our fans. They might not remember the beer, but they will take away an experience, which is the entire sentiment of the song,” Brandon adds.

Lanco’s new song follows their equally nostalgic “Near Mrs.,” a romantic tribute to all the almost-right relationships men experience along the way to eventually finding true love.

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Eric Church previews “Kiss Her Goodbye,” from his fan club-exclusive album '&'

ABC

The release of Eric Church’s Heart & Soul triple album is fast approaching, but before its arrival later this month, members of the Chief’s Church Choir fan club have one more chance to get an early listen to an album track..

That’s “Kiss Her Goodbye,” which Eric is debuting exclusively for his Church Choir. The song comes from the middle album of the three, &, which will remain a fan club vinyl exclusive: The song won’t be available to the general public.

Heart & Soul’s rollout begins on April 16 with its nine-track first installment, Heart. The six-song & arrives to Church Choir members on April 20, and the triple album wraps with Soul, another nine-track collection arriving on April 23.

In the meantime, fans have quite a few Eric appearances to look forward to: The singer will feature in an Ad Council PSA for the COVID-19 vaccine, which debuts during the upcoming 2021 ACM Awards.

Eric’s also resuming his rigorous touring schedule this fall. He’s booked an ambitious run of dates for his Gather Again Tour, which launches September 17 and runs through May of 2022. 

The country superstar’s current single, “Hell of a View,” is now a top-15 hit.

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Jennifer Nettles revisits beloved American Songbook classics with new album, 'Always Like New'

Shervin Lainez/Concord Records

One half of country duo Sugarland and a genre-defying solo artist and actor, Jennifer Nettles announced on Friday that she’s planning to release an album full of beloved classic songs from American musicals.

“As a child who grew up in musical theater, this album feels like a homecoming to me,” says Jennifer. “...It is thrilling to be able to celebrate this amazing songwriting with arrangements and vocals that allow them to be rediscovered anew.”

Called Always Like New, the collection features hits from perennial favorite shows such as My Fair Lady and Oklahoma!, as well as newer hit productions like Hamilton.

To assist with arrangements, Jennifer tapped Alex Lacamoire, who is best known for his work on shows such as Hamilton, In the Heights and Dear Evan Hansen, and the singer says she “savored” every aspect of the collaborative creative process.

Always Like New comes out on June 25, but it’s available for pre-order and pre-save now. On Friday, Jennifer also previewed her new album with a first taste of the track list: She released “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” which originally appeared in the 1950 Broadway musical Guys and Dolls

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'Here on Earth': Tim McGraw delivers ultimate album and video edition, with new track “God Moves the Pen”

Big Machine Records

This month, Tim McGraw will return to his August 2020 Here on Earth album, delivering a deluxe version of the project that also features a slew of accompanying videos for its songs.

The Here on Earth Ultimate Edition and Here on Earth Ultimate Video Edition will arrive later this month, but they’re both available for pre-order now. The deluxe treatment bumps the album’s track list up to 22 songs, plus two additional bonus movie tracks on the Video Edition.

Among those movie tracks are “Keep Your Eyes on Me” -- featuring Faith Hill, Tim’s wife and fellow country superstar -- from the soundtrack of 2017 film The Shack, and “Gravity,” which comes from 2018 documentary Free Solo.

The other new additions to the track list include “Thought About You” and “Neon Church,” two stand-alone singles that Tim released in 2018 and 2019 before departing Sony’s Columbia Nashville to return to his previous label home, Big Machine Records. Tim also included “Cuttin’ Onions” and “Truth Is,” two songs that were Target-exclusive bonus tracks for Here on Earth’s initial release.

The new package also features “Undivided,” Tim’s collaboration with Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard, which came out early this year. Then, there’s the brand-new “God Moves the Pen,” which Tim dropped on Friday.

Six standouts on the track list -- “Here on Earth,” “I Called Mama,” “Gravy,” “Undivided,” “Thought About You” and “Neon Church” -- get the visual treatment on the Ultimate Video Edition, with special videos for each song.

Both projects come out on April 16, and Tim’s celebration of all things Here on Earth won’t stop there: On June 12, for Record Store Day, he’s dropping a special edition 12” vinyl of “Undivided,” with an acoustic performance of “I Called Mama” as a B-side. 

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Country star trivia

Comstock/Thinkstock

On this date in 1983, two country superstars rode to number-one on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart with their joint project, Pancho & Lefty. It wouldn’t be their last duet album together: Five years later, they joined forces once again for Seashores of Old Mexico. Can you name them? ANSWER: Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

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Luke Bryan makes "Waves," as 'Born Here Live Here Die Here' gets the 'Deluxe' treatment

Capitol Nashville

It hasn't exactly been an easy road for Luke Bryan's seventh studio album. But thanks to some of those setbacks, Luke's fans can today enjoy six new songs, as Born Here Live Here Die Here grows from ten to sixteen tracks with its Deluxe Edition

Originally set to come out on April 24, 2020, the set was delayed until summer due to the global pandemic.

"When we went to release Born Here Live Here Die Here, we kinda got delayed because of COVID," Luke recalls. "So we released Born Here Live Here Die Here here in August."

"And through that process, even through quarantine, I had written a couple songs and we knew that we still wanted Born Here Live Here Die Here to be out there living," he goes on.

In addition to the self-penned "Drink a Little Whiskey Down," "Bill Dance," and "Floatin' This Creek," Luke discovered three more cuts he loved.

"I had these six songs that I found and some of 'em I had already recorded, and I just felt like it was the perfect time to put out a deluxe version of this," he says. "I love these songs. I love what they say."

"They have a lot of rural-ness to 'em," he reflects. "They have a lot of kind of down-home country feels to 'em. And I was excited for my fans to hear 'em as quick as I could get it out to 'em."

"Country Does," "Up," and Luke's new single, "Waves," complete the new additions to the set. 

Look for Luke on both Good Morning America and GMA3: What You Need to Know today, ahead of his regular gig as a judge on American Idol on Sunday and Monday, all on ABC.

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Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock

Brett Eldredge has a stop on Ellen planned for April 14. He’ll perform his current single, “Good Day.”

‘90s hitmaker Mark Collie returns with his latest music video for “The Son of a Gun,” which comes off his upcoming album, Book of My Blues. Mark charted 16 country singles during the late ‘80s and through the ‘90s, including top-10 hits “Born to Love You” and “Even the Man in the Moon is Cryin’.”

Margo Price joins Farm Aid as the first female artist to be appointed to the organization’s board of directors. She’ll serve alongside Farm Aid founders Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp, as well as Dave Matthews and newly-elected board member Annie Nelson, a humanitarian and farmers’ rights advocate who is also Willie Nelson’s spouse.

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Has Lionel Richie ever made love to his own songs? Luke Bryan says "One million percent!"

ABC/Christopher Willard

A few weeks ago, Lionel Richie appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Jimmy asked the famed balladeer if he'd ever made love to one of his own songs, with Lionel answering "Not that I can recall."  Jimmy wasn't satisfied with the answer, so when fellow American Idol judge Luke Bryan appeared on the show Wednesday night, he sought a second opinion.

"I asked Lionel, 'Have you ever made love to one of your songs?' and he dodged the question a little bit," Jimmy told Luke.

"There's no way he hasn't!" Luke responded. 

"He says he doesn't remember, but I know! Even I have made love to one his songs," Jimmy replied.

"Everybody has!" Luke insisted.

Jimmy said, "I guess, yeah, so what I wanted to ask you is, do you think Lionel has made love to one of his songs?"

"One million percent [yes]," shot back Luke.

"A million percent?" said Jimmy.

"That may even be a low percentage," Luke insisted, as the audience laughed.

"Have you made love to one of your songs?" Jimmy then asked Luke.

After stuttering and stammering for a minute, Luke said, "Well..." and then added, "Just let me get back home!"

Hmm. We say the answer to that is also "one million percent."

(The conversation takes place about 9:10 into the video.)

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Chris Stapleton, George Strait + more salute Jerry Lee Lewis in an upcoming Skyville Live CMT broadcast

ABC

Chris Stapleton, Toby Keith, Lee Ann Womack, George Strait and Kris Kristofferson will all take the stage in an upcoming Skyville Live broadcast paying tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis. The one-hour event airs next Tuesday, April 13 on CMT.

It’s part of a series of Skyville Live specials, with CMT premiering the broadcast version of the ten-concert series that took place at Nashville venue Skyville Live. All performances were filmed in front of a studio audience prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After next week’s tribute to Lewis, Skyville Live will return in May for an event spotlighting pop icon Cyndi Lauper. Performing during that event will be Kelsea Ballerini and Ingrid Michaelson.

Previous specials have paid tribute to Emmylou Harris, Graham Nash and other artists.

To watch the next Skyville Live special, tune in to CMT next Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. ET.

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