Country Music

Carrie Underwood delivers early Christmas present with deluxe 'My Gift' release

Joseph Llanes

The deluxe version of Carrie Underwood's 2020 My Gift album is out! The new record includes all 11 songs on the original My Gift, along with three new tracks: “Favorite Time of Year," "All Is Well," and "Let There Be Peace/Something in the Water."

“My Gift is an album I’ve wanted to make from the beginning of my career,” Carrie says  “It’s been such a blessing to share this special music and I’m excited to share even more with the release of My Gift (Special Edition).”

The "Let There Be Peace" and "Something in the Water" medley was recorded live, as part of HBO Max’s MY GIFT: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood, which aired last year. She will likely perform songs from the holiday record during her upcoming Reflection: The Las Vegas Residency. The show, at the The Theatre at Resorts World, will kick off on December 1.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jameson Rodgers already feels like a seasoned pro at being married

Columbia Nashville/River House Artists

It might be too soon to predict how Jameson Rodgers will enjoy married life, but after tying the knot with longtime girlfriend Sarah Allison Turner on September 5, he says he is loving everything about being a husband so far.

"It's been good," Jameson tells Lyric magazine. "Nothing feels different. I've been dating Sarah for six years now and I've known her for 10, so I already know every bad thing about her already. It's all good!"

Jameson has plenty of other things to celebrate besides his new relationship status, including his recent number-one hit, "Some Girls." The song is from his recently released debut album, Bet You're from a Small Town.

"It definitely changes things," he says of the song's success. "Absolutely. You have more fans at shows and it makes them a little more fun because people know your songs now.

"The more success you have, the more street cred you get," he adds with a laugh.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mickey Guyton's husband reminded her who she was ahead of 'Remember Her Name'

Capitol Records Nashville

Mickey Guyton's Remember Her Name album is out.

The record, released almost a decade after she signed a recording contract, might never have been released if not for the urging of her husband, Grant Savoy.

“It has been a long time coming. Like, the fact that I'm here is a miracle,” Mickey told Yahoo! Entertainment. “In 2019, I was ready to stop it all. Really, 100 percent, sometimes on a daily, I was like, ‘Why did I choose to do this? Like, this makes no sense.’"

Mickey admits she got angry at Grant, who refused to let her quit, although his reasoning made sense to her.

'He kept saying, ‘Because you need to be here. If you're not out there, then for every Black girl that wants to sing country music, that dream has gone if you're not there,'" she recalled. "Then I was like, ‘OK, fine.’ And I'm so glad I didn't stop.”

Mickey will be honored next month as the Breakout Artist of the Year at the CMT Artists of the Year ceremony.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Carly Pearce learns from the past as she starts dating again

Allister Ann


Carly Pearce isn't about to let her divorce to Michael Ray keep her from finding love again.

The singer, who has been quietly seeing former MLB player Riley King for a few months and speaking about it mostly in photos shared on social media, says she learned plenty from her brief marriage, lessons she is using as she starts dating again.

"I think anytime you go through something painful and unexpected, you have a decision to make: Is this going to define you or refine you and for me, I feel like this chapter in my life refined me and will only make me better in my next chapter," Carly told E! Online. "I think, hindsight is always 20/20. And for me, I learned a lot through that relationship. Now, I know better as I enter into a new one."

Carly's 29: Written in Stone album is out now. She will kick off her own headlining The 29 Tour in November.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dan + Shay are still pinching themselves after selling out Madison Square Garden

Patrick Tracy

One week ago, Dan + Shay achieved what very few country artists have done, by selling out the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City. Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney spoke out about the achievement in a touching post on social media, along with photos of the unforgettable night.

"It’s been exactly one week since y’all sold out Madison Square Garden for us. and it has taken every bit of those 7 days to fully process it," Dan + Shay shared on social media. "[We] spent the last few hours scrolling through these photos and all the emotions are coming right back.  We’ve dreamed of this moment since we were little kids, and y’all made it come true for us when we needed it most."

"Can’t say this enough, but thank you," they continued. "Thank you for absolutely everything. We’re the luckiest guys in the world and will never take a single second of this for granted."

The concert was part of their rescheduled The (Arena) Tour, which heads to Wisconsin and Minneapolis this weekend.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia

Seven years ago today, this country music superstar got engaged to a former NBA cheerleader and American Idol contestant. The couple went on to have two more children, in addition to the two he had from his first marriage. Who is he? ANSWER: Jason Aldean.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Brett Young enlists his friends to help create his first Christmas album

BMLG Records

Brett Young is doing his part to help usher in the holiday. The father of two just announced his very first Christmas album, Brett Young & Friends Sing the Christmas Classics, featuring an all-star cast of guest collaborators including Colbie Caillat, Sam Fischer, Dann Huff, Darius Rucker, Maddie & Tae, Chris Tomlin and Phil Wickham.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to make a Christmas album one day, it was just a matter of figuring out how I could do something a little bit different," Brett says of the project. "We tapped into an old school, lo-fi sound with 'Silver Bells,’ and knew we had the blueprint for a full album."

Brett's eclectic list of guests is what he believes makes the project stand out. "It means the world that so many incredible artists who I respect were open to singing with me on the project… we don’t take the title ‘Brett Young and Friends' lightly," he adds.

Brett Young & Friends Sing the Christmas Classics will be released on October 22.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Old Dominion's unlikely, unplanned visit to the "Lonely Side of Town" with the Empress of Soul

Arista Nashville

When Kenny Rogers tried to record "Islands in the Stream" solo, it just didn't work. But it wasn't long before he and producer/writer Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees suspected Dolly Parton might be what was missing. She happened to be nearby in Los Angeles, and a country/pop classic was born.

Last year when CMA and ACM Group of the Year Old Dominion traveled to North Carolina to write and record their fourth album, a similar thing happened on a song called "Lonely Side of Town."

"We weren't thinking about having a collaboration on it," lead singer Matthew Ramsey tells ABC Audio. "We had written it, and we'd tracked it, and were just listening to it and thought, like 'Man it would be cool to have somebody like Gladys Knight on this thing.'"

"It's this weird mix of like Motown and the Eagles kind of in one song," he explains, "and we could just hear her on it. And when we said her name, somebody was like, 'She lives in Asheville... right down the street from us.'"

"So it was just kinda like this moment of 'This has to be meant to be then,'" Matthew remembers.

From there, it wasn't long before the 77-year-old "Midnight Train to Georgia" hitmaker arrived.

"We talked to the studio manager and she was like, 'Oh, yeah. I'm great friends with them, I'll call her,'" Matthew recalls in minor disbelief. "And so she called her and Gladys was like, 'I love those guys. I don't even need to hear the song. I'll be a part of it.'"

"So it was amazing," he laughs.  

You can hear Matthew and the soul legend contemplate a trip to the "Lonely Side of Town" when Time, Tequila, & Therapy arrives October 8.


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Nashville notes

Lindsay Ell has scored five Canadian Country Music Association Awards nominations, making her the most-nominated female artist. Her nominations include Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year, for heart theory.

Kacey Musgraves will perform on the upcoming season of Saturday Night Live. The singer will appear on the show, now in its 47th season, on October 2, with Owen Wilson serving as the host. Brandi Carlile will perform later in the month, on October 16.

Jana Kramer is releasing a new song, "Voices." on Friday, September 24. The former One Tree Hill star says the song helped her heal following her recent divorce to Mike Caussin, after almost six years of marriage.

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Darius Rucker's biggest accomplishment might be changing country music

David McClister

When Darius Rucker first announced that he was focusing on a career in country music, after years spent fronting Hootie & the Blowfish, it wasn't an easy transition. The South Carolina native admits that it was hard getting radio to play his music at first, only because of the color of his skin.

"When I came to Nashville 14 years ago, I was going into the radio stations and being told that they didn't think it was going to work because I was African American," he tells The Tennessean. "That was tough. But I was glad to get the truth, and it was what it was."

Now, with numerous chart-topping singles to his credit, and several  Black artists joining him on the charts, including Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen and Mickey Guyton, Darius is optimistic about the future of country music.

"Country music has this stigma of rebel flags and racism, and that's changing," Darius says. "I think it's changing drastically. And I'm just glad. I hope I'm remembered as one of the people that tried to fight that, and one of the reasons that changed."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jennifer Nettles to return to Broadway as lead in 'Waitress'

Concord Records

Jennifer Nettles is returning to Broadway! The singer-songwriter, who previously played Roxie in the musical Chicago, will show off her acting skills in the lead role of Jenna in Waitress. The role is currently being played by pop star and Waitress creator Sara Bareilles, with Jennifer set to begin her run on October 19, and starring in the musical through November 24.

"It is an absolute dream," Jennifer tells People of performing in the musical. "There are so many layers to Waitress that make it so meaningful to me. It is heart-warming, heart-breaking at times, and absolutely heart-inspiring. I'm thrilled to be able to finally get to wear the apron."

Waitress is scheduled to run through January 9, 2022 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. 

Jennifer's latest solo album, Always Like New, was released in June. The record includes covers of Broadway classics, from musicals like My Fair Lady, Hamilton, Oklahoma!, Annie and more. "She Used to Be Mine," from Waitress, appears on the deluxe version of the record.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mickey Guyton named Breakout Artist of the Year at CMT Artists of the Year ceremony


Mickey Guyton will be honored as the Breakout Artist of the Year at the upcoming CMT Artists of the Year celebration.

“We are thrilled to honor the immensely talented Mickey Guyton as this year’s ‘Breakout Artist of the Year,'" says Leslie Fram, CMT's senior vice president of music and talent. "After relentlessly chasing her dreams in country music for years, her perseverance, tenacity and spirit have culminated in this spectacular moment of recognition where she’s finally receiving the credit she deserves.

"Congratulations Mickey!" Fram adds. "We look forward to celebrating with you, and all of our honorees on October 13th.” 

Mickey is only the fourth artist to be named Breakout Artist of the Year, following in the footsteps of Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini and Ashley McBryde.

Chris and Kelsea will be honored at this year's CMT Artists of the Year celebration, along with Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown and Luke Combs. The ceremony will air live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, on Wednesday, October 13, at 9:00 p.m. ET on CMT.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Carly Pearce changed Kelsea Ballerini's "Diamondback" to make it her own

Allister Ann

Carly Pearce kicks off her 15-track 29: Written in Stone album with "Diamondback," a feisty song that she wrote with Kelsea Ballerini, Tofer Brown and Shane McAnally. The song was actually Kelsea's first, with Carly changing parts of it to make it fit her own story.

"I actually was never in the room with Kelsea for this one," Carly tells Lyric magazine. "Kelsea, Tofer Brown and Shane McAnally had started the song, almost as if Kelsea was playing a character, but the only part of the song that really stayed the same was the post-chorus."

It's as easy to imagine Kelsea singing "Diamondback" as Carly, but Carly says the song, about love gone wrong, was more suited for her, after her split from Michael Ray, than Kelsea.

"Honestly, Kelsea just didn’t feel like it was for her at that time and so Tofer and Shane sent it over to me," Carly shares. "The three of us finished it very quickly and it was very easy for me to go there in that song ... I picked it for the album opener because that was exactly what happened, it was a fairytale that went wrong."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia

A well-known country singer walked off The Late, Late Show on this day in 1998, when he found out that the time he was promised to be on air was cut by two-thirds. His sudden departure left host Tom Snyder with 15 extra minutes to fill. ANSWER: Waylon Jennings.

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Keith Urban still can't cook, even after more than a year at home

Brent Harrington/CBS

Keith Urban can no longer say he doesn't have time to learn a new skill. The New Zealand-born star spent most of 2020 at home, with lots of time on his hands. Early in the lockdown, Keith and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, determined to try to each learn something new, although Keith's didn't go entirely according to plan.

"I was gonna learn cooking and I said, 'I can't cook!'" Keith recalls to People. "I think Nic was gonna learn a language and didn't. Yeah, we had all sorts of plans that just ... no."

While Keith might not be able to make his own dinner, his wife did improve on her goal, at least a little.

"That's not true actually, Nic got better at her Italian," he says.

Keith has a couple more dates for his Las Vegas residency this month. He will wrap up 2021 by performing a series of shows in Australia.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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