Country Music

Nashville notes

Cody Johnson has shared a new music video to go along with his tender ballad, “‘Til You Can’t.” The song is on the track list of his Human: The Double Album, which came out last week.

Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus is lending his name to a special new Donato’s Pizza menu item, for a good cause. For every 'DeMarcus Pizza' the restaurant sells through the end of November, $1 will be donated to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

“Just the Way” hitmakers Parmalee will bring their new single, “Take My Name,” to the stage of The Kelly Clarkson Show next week. Check local listings to find out when to tune in.

Speaking of “Just the Way,” Parmalee’s collaborator on that hit track, Blanco Brown, has new music out today. On Friday, he dropped “Never Gonna Tame You,” which is an original song from the new documentary The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses. Diane Warren wrote the song.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


“Glow”: Chris Stapleton teams with Kelly Clarkson for a festive new duet

Atlantic Records

Kelly Clarkson’s holiday project, When Christmas Comes Around, arrived on Friday, and the track list boasts some impressive collaborators. Among them is Chris Stapleton, who lends his voice to one particularly soulful song, “Glow.”

Kelly and Chris trade verses on the song, a love ballad about the one special person who’s missing from an otherwise perfect Christmas.

“Nothin’ has changed, I still wish you could be / Wrapped up in my arms, spendin’ Christmas with me,” the pair harmonize in the chorus. “When it gets cold is when I notice the most / With all the lights on the trees, even Christmas can’t compete with your glow...”

This is the first time Kelly’s ever teamed with Chris, but the pop star’s no stranger to country collaborations in general. In fact, “Under the Mistletoe” -- her duet with Brett Eldredge -- is a bonus track on When Christmas Comes Around.

Kelly also snagged a number-one country hit back in 2011, thanks to her duet with Jason Aldean, “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

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Lady A will offer the live premiere of “Swore I Was Leaving” during an upcoming AXS TV special

ABC/Chris Hollo

Lady A is among the acts joining AXS TV’s celebration of National Country Music Month. The trio will be at the center of At Home and Social with Lady A -- An AXS TV Special Event, which airs later this month

That broadcast will include the world performance premiere of the band’s new song, “Swore I Was Leaving.” Also during the special, Lady A will offer an acoustic version of their fan-favorite hit, “I Run to You,” and perform the title track of their new album, What a Song Can Do.

Also during October, AXS TV will celebrate country music with shows spotlighting Luke Combs, Dolly Parton, Keith Urban, Willie Nelson and many more.

Lady A’s At Home and Social with Lady A -- An AXS TV Special Event airs on October 23 at 8 p.m. ET. It will rebroadcast the following day at noon ET.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Jordan Davis + Luke Bryan put an intimate, acoustic new spin on “Buy Dirt”

UMG Nashville

Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan reunite this week for a new version of “Buy Dirt,” a duet that originally came out as the title track of Jordan’s May EP.

This time around, the two stars trade verses on a stripped-down, acoustic version that highlights the song’s message. A new video shows Jordan and Luke performing the song from two bar stools, putting an emphasis on the song’s advice for leading a simple, happy life.

When Jordan first released “Buy Dirt,” he explained that he wanted Luke on the track because the country superstar embodies the message behind the song.

“Luke isn't just a great entertainer; he's a great dad, a great husband, and a great friend, too," Jordan explained. "That's what 'Buy Dirt' embodies. When I wrote 'Buy Dirt,' I knew he could relate to the song's message."

“Buy Dirt” also lends its name to Jordan’s headlining tour, which kicked off in September. Beginning this month, the singer is also a supporting act on Kane Brown’s Blessed and Free Tour.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Following “Fancy Like,” Walker Hayes serves up another dose of twang-filled swagger with “U Gurl”

Matt Bacnis

Hot on the heels of his viral hit, “Fancy Like,” Walker Hayes returns with another taste of his signature rhythm, swagger and authenticity. This time, it’s “U Gurl,” a playfully sultry ode to his partner.

“With ‘U Gurl’ we wanted to capture that feeling when you look at your significant other and you just can’t take your eyes off them, yet in a fresh way,” the singer says. “I get that feeling every day when I look at my wife.”

Walker’s been teasing the release of “U Gurl” all week, and he’s already shared a TikTok dance to go along with the song. Just like the dance that helped send “Fancy Like” viral, the new moves are the brainchild of Walker and his teenage daughter, Lela.

Walker will debut the live version of “U Gurl” tonight during a show in Waco, Texas. Fans worldwide can tune in when it livestreams on Walker’s socials at 10 p.m. CT.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


“If I Was a Cowboy”: Miranda Lambert imagines a different kind of life in her new single

Alexa King

Miranda Lambert is kicking off a new musical chapter on Friday, with the release of her dreamy, mid-tempo new single, “If I Was a Cowboy.”

The track paints a picture of life out on the open plains in the West, chasing freedom on horseback and seeing the world from under the brim of a Stetson hat.

Miranda co-wrote the song with acclaimed Nashville producer Jesse Frasure, whom she met earlier this year while working on a very different kind of project: The dance remix of her song, “Tequila Does.”

Both creators behind “If I Was a Cowboy” had to dig into their imaginations to write the song, Miranda explains, as neither of them have much personal experience with the Wild West. “It’s funny, he’s a Detroit boy, and I’m an East Texan, but somehow we wrote a song about the Wild West together,” she notes.

“If I Was a Cowboy” hits radio next week. In addition to gearing up for new solo music, Miranda recently announced that her band The Pistol Annies -- also featuring Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe -- will have a new Christmas album out this year.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


From Chicago to 'Pelago,' Ryan Hurd's debut album title fits "To a T"

Sony Music Nashville

More than four years after the arrival of his first EP, Ryan Hurd's first full-length album finally arrives today. 

Though he's previously written number-ones for Lady A, Luke Bryan, and Blake Shelton, the record features Ryan's biggest hit as an artist so far, his nearly-top-five duet with his wife Maren Morris, "Chasing After You."

And it's titled... Pelago. 

"It was called RH LP1 Sony Music Nashville for about three months," Ryan laughs, perhaps hinting at some difficulty or delay in finding a name.

"Well, first of all, you have to ask me about it, so that's a good thing," he explains. "Second of all, I needed a word that rhymed with Chicago for my song 'Coast,' and I kind of used that as a placeholder thinking I made it up, and turns out, it's actually a word in Italian and Latin that is actually what it sounds like."

So Ryan's unusual album title is actually a teaching moment.

"It's a word that means 'open sea,' and it's a word that means 'overwhelming passion,'" he reveals. "So I thought that was just a really cool umbrella for all of these songs in this project."

Physical copies and downloads of Pelago offer eleven new songs, all co-written by Ryan, save for "Chasing After You." Streaming versions of the album also add four favorites, including "To a T" and "Diamonds or Twine."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


“If I Were a Cowboy”: Miranda Lambert teases new music ahead

Connie Chronuk/ABC

Miranda Lambert’s had a slew of new songs to share this year, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down now. This week, the singer has been teasing the release of a new track, called “If I Were a Cowboy,” on Friday.

A snippet of the song shows Miranda sitting alone at a bar, drink in front of her, as the song’s mid-tempo, guitar-driven chorus plays. “Wanted by the law, but the laws don’t apply to me,” she sings. “If I was a cowboy, I’d be wild and free...”

The new song appears to fit more into Miranda’s signature, straight-ahead country sound than much of what she’s released thus far in 2021. Previously, she put out a collaboration with rocker Elle King called “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home),” and a stripped-down acoustic project with collaborators Jack Ingram and Jon Randall called The Marfa Tapes.

Whether or not “If I Were a Cowboy” signals a new solo album from Miranda, however, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, fans will have plenty of new music to get their fix from the superstar. She and her trio, The Pistol Annies -- also featuring Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley -- recently announced a Christmas album due out this holiday season, called Hell of a Holiday.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Nashville notes

Reba McEntire has announced the return of her podcast, Living & Learning with Reba McEntire. The second season will be available on Spotify on October 25. Guests this season include Lady A, Trisha Yearwood and Reba’s boyfriend, actor Rex Linn.

Chris Young will perform at the third annual Charlie Daniels Patriot Award Dinner, which will take place on October 27 in Nashville. This year’s recipients include singer Darryl Worley.

Scotty McCreery’s next single, “Damn Strait,” will hit country radio next week. It’s the follow-up to his latest number-one hit, “You Time,” and comes off his newest album, Same Truck.


After her first chart-topping hit, Lainey Wilson is “proud, humbled...and ready to do it again”

Larry McCormack/ABC

Though Lainey Wilson’s still a little in shock that she’s got a number-one country radio hit, the “Things a Man Oughta Know” star says she’s fired up to be a part of where country music is headed next.

“It feels like it couldn’t be a better time for me and my music. I’m proud, humbled, excited and ready to it again,” she tells CMT.

The singer goes on to say that now she’s had a taste of success, she’s “hungry for more,” and she’s hoping to achieve her goals by sticking to the authenticity and heart that helped her create “Things a Man Oughta Know.”

“I’m going to keep saying what people are thinking with my music,” she adds. “If I stay extremely honest and continue to tell it like it is, I believe I’ll remain successful.”

“Things a Man Oughta Know” hit the top of the charts last month. Lainey wrote the song with collaborators Jason Nix and Jonathan Singleton. It's a track from her freshman project, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Luke Combs once partied a little too hard with his country music hero, Eric Church

Larry McCormack/ABC

Luke Combs was among the honorees at Wednesday night’s CMT Artists of the Year ceremony, and on hand to celebrate his accomplishments in country music was one other than the Chief himself, Eric Church.

It’s no secret that Eric has long been one of Luke’s musical idols. Both men hail from North Carolina and favor a country-rock sound, and Luke recently enlisted Eric as a guest artist on his hit single, “Does to Me.”

The old saying “Never meet your heroes” cautions against getting too chummy with your idols, but when Luke finally met Eric, they got along a little too well. The singer tells that story in an installment of CMT’s Probably Shouldn’t Tell You This series, which came out in advance of this week’s awards show.

It all started when Eric invited Luke and his wife, Nicole, over for a steak dinner. Ever the gracious host, he kept the booze flowing all night, and Luke wound up overdoing it.

“I was on the whiskey and the rest of ‘em were on the wine. But whiskey has just a tad more alcohol than wine does,” he recounts. “I was on another plane of existence that evening.”

It wasn’t until 4:30 AM that Luke and Nicole made it to the car, where a driver was waiting to take them home. “And I had to stop in the middle of this really nice neighborhood,” the singer adds.

“Eric Church got me so drunk that I threw up on the way from leaving his house,” he admits. “I didn’t throw up in the house or anything. But in the middle of the road. It was kinda, like, semi-college-ish. I don’t think he knows that, either, so I hope he doesn’t see this.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Darius Rucker featured on carefree new song by singer-songwriter Keb' Mo', "Good Strong Woman"

Rounder Records

Darius Rucker lends his voice to “Good Strong Woman,” a breezy new release off of Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Keb’ Mo’’s forthcoming Good to Be album.

Gently lilting and optimistic, the song celebrates how beautiful life can be with the right partner.

“She will never leave you if you treat her right /She’ll be there in the morning ‘til the late of night,” Darius sings in his verse of the song. “She’s the kind that’s never gonna let you down/ Makes you put the brakes on the world around.”

Keb’ Mo’ co-wrote “Good Strong Woman” with Nashville writers Jason Gantt and Jason Nix, and Darius is one of a handful of country collaborators on Good to Be. Others include roots-leaning act Old Crow Medicine Show and actor/singer-songwriter Kristin Chenoweth. Vince Gill produced a portion of the new record, which will be out in January 2022.

For his part, Darius recently celebrated his latest number-one hit with another carefree anthem, “Beers and Sunshine.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


CMT Artists of the Year 2021 brings genre-defying moments, epic performances

Courtesy of CMT

Stars of all backgrounds and descriptions collided at the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony, which aired live from Nashville on CMT Wednesday night.

A handful of the genre’s biggest and most influential artists were the night’s honorees, while other stars from a diverse background of genres and musical styles were on hand to help celebrate them.

Alongside rising pop-soul act Yola, Breakout Artist of the Year honoree Mickey Guyton gave the world premiere performance of her song, “Remember Her Name.” Christian star Michael W. Smith celebrated honoree Gabby Barrett’s faith-filled roots before her performance, and Kane Brown was paid tribute by rapper Nelly, his musical pal and recent collaborator.

Another honoree, Luke Combs, was introduced by his country-rock hero, Eric Church, before performing recent hit “Forever After All.” Meanwhile, Chris Stapleton got a special tribute performance, with R&B greats Boyz II Men teaming with Pentatonix’s Kevin Olusola to highlight the soulful side of Chris’ song, “Cold.”

Kelsea Ballerini delivered a performance live from her tour with pop act the Jonas Brothers, treating the audience to their version of “With a Little Help from My Friends,” recorded in Franklin, Tennessee.

Of course, traditional country played a big role in Wednesday night’s ceremony, too. Garth Brooks celebrated his fellow traditionalist Randy Travis, who was honored with the Artist of a Lifetime award. Kane also took the stage in honor of Randy, delivering a version of the legendary artist’s “Three Wooden Crosses.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Luke Bryan sees a day when he'll trade in arenas for Friday night football games

Larry McCormack/ABC

Tonight in Irvine, California, Luke Bryan kicks off the final four shows on his Proud to Be Right Here Tour.

And as much as he's enjoying being back on the road, the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year is looking ahead to a time when he won't be hitting it quite so hard, as he steps back to spend more time with his sons, 13-year-old Bo and 11-year-old Tate.

"The boys have been coming out some on the road with me this year," Luke explains, "and I've got hunting trips planned and fishing trips planned."

"And I think as my boys get a little older and really start being in varsity sports and stuff," he continues, "I'm gonna really have to take some tangible, you know, [time off, and] back the afterburners off. And certainly I'm prepared for that."

For now, Luke heads to Fresno and San Bernardino, California on Friday and Saturday, before wrapping the trek October 28 in Brandon, Mississippi.

"Right now, it's like, let's get things rocking," Luke says. "And as long as I'm having fun doing it -- and I mean, my voice feels better than it's ever been, and I've been having a blast out on stage. So as long as I'm having fun, I'm gonna keep doing stuff."

"But then, you know, things will certainly have to naturally slow down," he points out.

There's not much slowing down in the near future, however. Luke plays Florida's Tortuga Music Festival in November before hosting his popular Crash My Playa getaway vacation in Mexico in January. In February, he heads to Sin City to kick off his Vegas residency.  

Meanwhile, Luke's just released "Up," on the heels of his latest #1, "Waves."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Kacey Musgraves weighs in on the exclusion of 'star-crossed' from Grammy country categories

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the Recording Academy revealed their decision to exclude Kacey Musgraves’ newest album, star-crossed, from consideration in country categories at next year’s Grammy Awards ceremony.

That’s due to the fact that the Academy ultimately didn’t believe that Kacey’s new album has sufficient sonic and stylistic elements to be considered as a part of the genre.

The news sent fans reeling, and Kacey’s label -- Universal Music Group Nashville -- also expressed their displeasure at the decision, with label president Cindy Mabe penning an open letter to the Recording Academy that made a case for star-crossed to be considered a country album.

But Kacey herself didn’t offer any thoughts -- until now. The singer shared a quippy, brief and oblique reply on social media, tweeting a snapshot of herself as a child wearing a broad, pink cowboy hat.

“You can take the girl out of the country (genre) but you can’t take the country out of the girl,” she wrote.

Kacey released star-crossed last month. It’s the follow-up to Golden Hour, which won her four Grammy trophies at the 2019 ceremony, including Country Album of the Year -- a title she won’t be eligible for in 2022.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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