Image Courtesy Valory Music Co.Brantley Gilbert will tie the knot with his fiancée, Georgia school teacher Amber Cochran, at the end of June 2015. He revealed the date backstage at the American Music Awards Sunday night after winning Country Album of the Year for Just as I Am. Brantley and Amber met 10 years ago, and were together for five years before splitting up. They reconnected after Brantley got sober.
He says, "I had some things going on in my life that she wasn't really willing to be a part of. I understand that completely now, and I'm so, so thankful that that was the way it was."
Brantley has said Amber inspired several of his hit songs, including "More than Miles." Amber was with Brantley at the AMAs Sunday night.
Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleLittle Big Town has scored another chart topper with their latest single, "Day Drinking," the lead single from their new album, Pain Killer. It's the first time the group's Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook have been co-writers on a #1 hit.
Jimi says, "This feeling will never get old. Thank you so much to the fans and country radio for making our first song from Pain Killer such a success."
"Day Drinking" has also been certified gold for 500,000 downloads and streams. The next single from Pain Killer is "Girl Crush." Listen for that track to hit the airwaves December 15.
New duo Maddie & Tae might take aim at some of the cliches about women in country music in their first top five hit, but the pair confess they are much more put together than any “Girl in a Country Song.” Furthermore, the duo is well-matched, since they’re both neat freaks.
“On the road, oh my gosh, it's so awesome,” Maddie says. “We both have our toiletry bag and then we've got our sections of PJs and jeans and… it's just really nice to not have clutter everywhere… We're both kind of weird in that. We love, like, to be organized.”
Image Courtesy Big Machine Label GroupIt seems the term “domestic goddess” might also apply to the two.
“I like to cook. It's one of my escapes. Like, working out, cooking, and this is weird, but cleaning really helps, too,” Maddie confesses. “Oh, cleaning. Organizing my closet is therapy,” Tae chimes in. “Like color-coordinating my clothes. Love it.”
And if you suspect that might mean they have expensive tastes, you’d be wrong.
“We're both, like, really frugal and kind of bargain Betties. I got, like, a bunch of my clothes, that either I just don't wear or don't fit or whatever. And I went and sold them and made, like, 20 bucks,” Maddie brags.
So far, “Girl in a Country” song has been certified gold, selling half a million digital downloads.
George HolzBy the time his new single “Lay Low” started climbing the charts several weeks ago, Josh Turner already had more than ten years of chart success under his belt. The 37-year-old believes he owes at least part of his good fortune to those who came before him.
“I feel like you can learn a lot from artists who have had a really long career and that have had a lot of longevity,” he says. “The reason they've had that longevity is that they're willing to adapt and bend a little bit here and there, but at the same time, continue to make their music.”
Josh admits he’s been doing some bending and adapting himself, as he’s finishing up his forthcoming sixth studio album.
“Good music takes on a lot of different forms. So, I definitely pay attention to that and with Nashville and country radio being so song-driven, you know, I try to really just make sure that the songwriting and the pitch meetings and the listening and all that kind of stuff is a priority.”
Right now, Josh is already road-testing four of the new tunes from the new CD, due out next year.
ABCLukeBryan was named Favorite Male Country Artist at the 2014 American Music Awards, which aired Sunday night on ABC from the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. Carrie Underwood was named Favorite Female Country Artist and Florida Georgia Line took home the trophy for Favorite Band, Duo or Group -- Country.
Brantley Gilbert won for Favorite Country Album for Just As I Am.
The only country music performance came via satellite from Greensboro, North Carolina. Garth Brooks was shown onstage live performing his new song "People Loving People."
Image Courtesy ABCWithout a doubt, Luke Bryan is the country torchbearer at this year's American Music Awards, as the only artist from the genre nominated in the all-inclusive Artist of the Year category. Luke confesses it's a little hard to believe he's up against the likes of Beyonce and One Direction.
"Anytime I'm in the room with all of music, I get really, really inspired. I'm very flattered. I always think about representing country music in the best way I know," he says. "I just love being in that room. It's always fun going out to the AMAs and seeing all of the talent in the room. And knowing that this year I'm nominated in the category of overall artist is really, really hard for me to wrap my head around. It's amazing."
Even though he's also competing against Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton for Favorite Male Artist in the country category, Luke vows he won't let the pressure get to him.
"I just wanna go out there and enjoy it. I love meeting all of the people in all of music. At the end of the day, I think we're all in there to make the art of music better. Hopefully, I can represent Nashville."
On the female side, Carrie Underwood squares off against Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves for Favorite Female Artist - Country. Carrie says the fan-voted awards remind her of the beginning of her career.
"I'm excited to be nominated for an AMA. I see every day on my Twitter feed, people have been retweeting and doing all that stuff, which is really cool. They've always had my back, and seeing their enthusiasm about voting for me is something that is really cool because that's how I got here in the first place with American Idol," she remembers. "So, it makes me feel good to know that there are still people out there that are voting their fingers off."
Whether or not Florida Georgia Line is able to wrestle the country Band, Duo or Group trophy from Lady Antebellum and Eli Young Band, Tyler Hubbard thinks it's just fun to get to rub elbows with artists from other kinds of music.
"It's a huge honor, to be honest, to be a country artist and then to be able to be at an all-genre awards show feels great. It's definitely humbling, and so it's cool," he says. "And we're excited. You get to see a lot of cool people and meet a lot of nice people and see a lot of different, basically, music cultures. It's neat for us, you know. "
Garth Brooks, who's up for country's Favorite Album, is set to perform on the show, while his fellow nominee Brantley Gilbert will help hand out one of the trophies. You can find out who wins Sunday, November 23 at 8 p.m. E.T. on ABC.
The nominees in the country categories for the 2014 American Music Awards are:
Favorite Male Artist -- Country Jason Aldean Luke Bryan Blake Shelton
Favorite Female Artist -- Country Miranda Lambert Kacey Musgraves Carrie Underwood
Favorite Band, Duo or Group -- Country Eli Young Band Florida Georgia Line Lady Antebellum
Favorite Album -- Country Garth Brooks, Blame It on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences Eric Church, The Outsiders Brantley Gilbert, Just as I Am
Warner Bros. NashvilleAshley Monroe and Dan Shay are set to sing alongside Jennifer Hudson, Train, Earth, Wind & Fire and Katharine McPhee on the upcoming A Home for the Holidays special. This is the 16th year for the Christmas tradition that pairs musical performances with heartwarming stories of children adopted from foster care. The show airs Friday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.
Ashley also recorded a new version of the Amy Grant classic "Tennessee Christmas" for Amazon's new All Is Bright holiday playlist.
Sandbox EntertainmentThis holiday season, Kimberly Schlapman from Little Big Town wants you to lend a ham. The play on words is part of a campaign to inspire folks to donate food to feed hungry families.
"I'm excited to join Smithfield in their effort to lend a ham to those in need this season," Kimberly says with a wink. "Since I was a little girl, Smithfield has always been a part of my family's holiday tradition, and to now have the opportunity to help provide that to someone in need means the world to me."
For every act of kindness posted on Twitter or the Smithfield Facebook page with the hashtag #LendAHam, the company will donate a serving of protein to a local food bank. Kimberly also teamed up with Smithfield to surprise Thanksgiving shoppers with $100 gift cards, in hopes of inspiring them to do good deeds themselves. You can see the video that captures Kimberly going undercover as a grocery cashier on YouTube.
The campaign goes through Christmas Eve, with Smithfield planning to donate up to a million servings to help feed the hungry this holiday season.
Image Courtesy Vector ManagementTrisha Yearwood and Lady Antebellum are going viral for No Shave November. Typically, for the campaign, men grow beards and mustaches to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. But when Trisha heard about a female friend in the business who vowed not to shave her legs for the month, she decided to help her out, taping a YouTube video that changed the words of her first hit to “She’s Got Leg Hair Like a Boy.”
Then, Lady A got in on the act, with a little help from Meghan Trainor. The trio changed the lyrics of “All About That Bass” to “I’m all about that beard, no stubble.” So far, Team Lady Antebellum has more than tripled its $1,000 fundraising goal, with more than a week still left in the month. Meanwhile, Trisha’s friend has raised nearly thirteen times her $100 goal.
Courtesy Sugar Hill RecordsTexas native Lee Ann Womack will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game, and she’s got something unusual planned -- steel guitarist Paul Franklin will accompany her.
“When I was asked, I didn’t just want to go and sing, I wanted to really invest this performance of our national anthem with something that makes us all reconsider what the song is expressing,” she says. “If you’ve ever heard... or really listened to Paul’s musicianship and the emotions he brings out... I think having him play opens up so many aspects of what Francis Scott Key was celebrating when he wrote that.”
Lee Ann’s first CD in seven years, The Way I’m Livin’, came out this fall. Paul Franklin’s collaboration with Vince Gill called Bakersfield was recently nominated for a Grammy.
You can watch Lee Ann and Paul perform at 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX, before the Cowboys take on the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium.
Image Courtesy Chris Hollo/OpryWhen Darius Rucker wraps up the European leg of his True Believers tour this Sunday in Dublin, Ireland, chances are he'll have taken in a historic building or two in his spare time.
"The thing I really love to do is I love to go around and see old churches and museums and stuff," he says, "because we think if something was built in the 1800s, we think it’s old. You know, you go over there and something was built in 39 B.C. and it’s still up. I think that’s pretty cool."
Darius's trip took him to Berlin and Munich, Germany, in addition to England and Ireland. The "Homegrown Honey" hitmaker says he also appreciates the differences in the audiences.
"I love going over to Europe because the cultures are so different. From here, you go state to state, and there’s differences in accents and everything, and the cultures are a little different. But when you’re in Europe, you go from country to country, just like you go from state to state, and there’s different language and totally different cultures, and I love being a part of that.'
As Darius prepares to slow down for the Christmas season, fans all across the globe can celebrate with his first yuletide album Home for the Holidays, which is new this year.
One Voice ProductionsBillyGilman has come out as gay. The 26-year-old singer made the announcement via a YouTube post on Thursday, the same day his friend and fellow country artist, Ty Herndon, revealed he was gay.
“It’s taken me a good many weeks to figure out how I was to approach this video that you’re watching right now,” Gilman begins the video. “But today, actually, a fellow country artist and friend made it easier for me to make this video. And I wanted my fans, who have stuck by me for many, many years, to know.”
Gilman went on to explain that he decided to come out after he was spotted with his partner by a local reporter.
“We filmed a video for the single ‘Say You Will’ in Rhode Island and was getting ready to do an interview with a reporter, locally," he recalls. "And coincidentally I ran into this reporter at a local fall festival with my partner, someone who I am happily now sharing my life with."
"This reporter took a picture of us and it was in that moment that I knew that I’d rather it be from me, than you reading it somewhere else, and probably filled with not truth,” he adds.
Gilman also expressed his displeasure at the Nashville establishment, which he claims discriminates against gay artists.
"Being a gay male country artist is not the best thing," he says, explaining, "You know, if people don’t like your music, that’s one thing. But after having sold over five million records and having a wonderful life in the music industry, I knew something was wrong when no major label wanted to sit down and have a meeting and listen to the new stuff."
Gilman, however, had nothing but praise for his fellow artists.
“I want to say that all of the country artists that literally I grew up in front of, Keith Urban, Vince [Gill] and LeAnn Rimes and all of these wonderful friends of mine, have been nothing but supportive," he insists. "Not that they knew, but they have been such wonderful people.”
“So I thank you for your support," he concluded, noting, "I know some people won’t agree with this. And that’s OK. To each his own. But I felt it was time for me to be honest and to be truthful. I love you all and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.”
Image Courtesy Becky FlukeMiranda Lambert’s custom Ram Laramie Longhorn truck helped raise nearly $66,000 for her MuttNation Foundation. The truck itself netted just shy of $55,000 in an online auction, with the remaining $11,000 coming from signed guitars, CD’s and 2015 concert tickets.
“I’m happy to see everyone come together to raise so much money for MuttNation Foundation, which is so close to my heart,” Miranda says. “I appreciate Ram for donating the truck to me to auction off and for making this all possible. So many dogs will have happier holidays and lives thanks to this generosity.”
In the past seven years, Miranda’s charity has raised more than two million dollars to help make life better for animals. So far, Miranda herself has adopted seven dogs.
Valeisha Kelly-PedigoAfter years of speculation about his sexuality, Ty Herndon officially went on the record, acknowledging that he's gay in an interview with Entertainment Tonight on Thursday. "I went to great lengths to cover up that fact to be a country star," Ty says, "and today I get to tell the world that I'm an out, proud and happy gay man."
“I have an awesome relationship that I’ve been in for a good number of years,” he says, “[I] love him very much and he loves me.” Ty even went on to say he hopes a proposal from his partner of five years might follow his public revelation.
Rumors about his orientation date back to a 1995 incident where an undercover male police officer accused the country singer of exposing himself in a park. Ty says he doesn’t remember much about the episode.
“I wish I had really great recall or memory about that. I think I had been up for like six days doing drugs. The night and the day was really a huge blur for me,” he recalls.
Ty also reveals that both his wives knew about his homosexuality. “I had a lot of people around me that I trusted at a time and I was like, ‘Hey, you know this about me but the world doesn’t. So I’m gonna need to call on your services for a little while.' It was unfortunate that I had to do that, but I felt that’s what I had to do to have my career.”
In the nineties, Ty scored three number ones with “It Must Be Love,” “Living in a Moment” and “What Mattered Most.” His last top 40 country hit was 2001’s “Heather’s Wall,” which went to number 37.
The 52-year-old says this month’s CMA Awards give him hope that country music is becoming more accepting of the LGBT community. “Kacey Musgraves won Song of the Year for “'Follow Your Arrow'…and two amazing songwriters that happened to be gay wrote that song.” His most recent CD is 2013’s Lies I Told Myself.
Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleIf you’d like to get up close and personal with Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift or The Band Perry, now is your chance. You can bid on one-of-a-kind experiences with the superstars from now through December 10 at CharityBuzz.com.
Carrie will treat the winner of her package to a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry before her concert, while Taylor’s top bidder will be invited to the pre-show party. A one-on-one Skype session with Hunter Hayes is also up for grabs.
The second annual holiday auction helps the Grammy Foundation and MusiCares pay for educational programs and help members of the music community who’ve fallen on hard times.
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