Apr 11

Country Music Hall of Famer Jeff Cook comes off the road with Alabama to battle Parkinson's disease

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame & MuseumCountry Music Hall of Famer Jeff Cook will come off the road with Alabama at the end of the month, after revealing that he’s been battling Parkinson’s disease for the past four years.

“This disease robs you of your coordination, your balance, and causes tremors,” the original member of the legendary band told USA Today. “For me, it has made it extremely frustrating to try and play guitar, fiddle or sing… I’m not calling it quits but sometimes our bodies dictate what we have to do, and mine is telling me it’s time to take a break and heal.”

Cook first noticed a problem when he had trouble accurately casting his fishing line, and then his struggle progressed to playing the guitar. Even though Jeff will be coming off the road, he’s insisted that his cousins continue.

“He wants us to go on,” lead singer Randy Owen says. “We want the music to go on. I’m going to be very honest. I don’t know if I have the fire. The only way I do, is knowing that Jeff is totally, ‘Go get it.’”

Cook will play a fan event, as well as a May 27 show in Orange Beach, Alabama. Beyond that, he plans to drop in on the band’s shows as he’s able. Both Owen and Teddy Gentry hold out hope he’ll someday be able to return to regular performances with Alabama.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apr 11

Why Darius Rucker and his friends are on the move in 2017

ABC/Image Group LA For its eighth year, Darius Rucker’s annual CMA-Music-Festival-week fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is getting an upgrade.

In 2017, the Darius and Friends benefit show will move from its longtime home at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon to the larger Ryman Auditorium just down the street.

This year’s concert will be Monday, June 5, with tickets going on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. CT. Look for Darius to announce who’ll be joining him in the coming weeks.

The event, which typically sells out, has raised more than $800,000 to help fight childhood cancer during its nearly-ten-year history.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apr 11

Together again: Deacon and Rayna's doubles reunite, as CMT promises “Nashville” season 6

CMTFans of the TV show Nashville can rest easy. Not only has CMT announced the drama will return June 1 with the second half of season five, the cable network has also revealed Nashville has been renewed for season six.

And even though Connie Britton is now only a memory on Nashville after her character was killed off, leading man Charles Esten says there’s one place the love story of Rayna Jaymes and Deacon Claybourne will continue to play out: at Music City’s new Madame Tussauds at Opry Mills.

“Both Connie and I sat for these wax figures… of Deacon and Rayna,” Charles says. “It’s really kinda sweet. We’re on a park bench, with a spot or two there in the middle, so any of the fans that want to take a quick seat with Deacon and Rayna can sit there.”

“I’m wearing my, they call it a Canadian tuxedo I believe, denim on denim,” he goes on. “I’ve got the guitar with the Deacon strap. They were able to capture that Connie Britton hair, which is a feat unto itself!” he jokes.

The new tourist attraction is set to open on Friday.

Nashville returns to CMT on Thursday, June 1 at 9 p.m. ET. The 16-episode sixth season will follow in early 2018.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apr 11

Sam Hunt scores the biggest crossover hit of his career with “Body Like a Back Road”

ABC/Mark LevineIt’s not just country fans who are clamoring to hear Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road.”

While it’s no surprise Sam’s lead single from his forthcoming sophomore album is currently sitting at #3 on the country chart, this week, the track also becomes the Georgia native’s first top-10 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100, alongside tunes by Ed SheeranColdplay and Bruno Mars.

What’s even more impressive is that “Body Like a Back Road” is the fourth best-selling song in any genre so far this year. The tune has moved more than 616,000 copies since it was released February 1.

“Body” also follows in the footsteps of other memorable hits like Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” which crossed over to the Hot 100 in 2013.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apr 10

“Life made”: Lauren Alaina celebrates her very first #1

ABC/Lou RoccoLauren Alaina celebrates a career milestone this week, as her very first #1 song tops both the Billboard and MediaBase country charts.

“I cannot  believe I have the number one song in the country,” she says of her current single, “Road Less Traveled.”

“I have dreamed of this day my entire life. The five singles, the ups and downs, the tears, the smiles, and the six years of hard work have made this moment so much sweeter…” Lauren goes on.

“Regardless of my future, I get to live the rest of my life saying I have written a number one song. Life made,” she adds.

Lauren co-wrote “Road Less Traveled” with Best New Artist Grammy winner Meghan Trainor, who previously hit #1 on the country chart after penning Rascal Flatts’ “I Like the Sound of That.”

This summer, Lauren hits the road with Luke Bryan, opening select dates on his Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day trek.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apr 10

“She's with Me”: High Valley's Curtis Rempel welcomes baby girl

ABC/Image Group LAThe population of High Valley just went up by one.

This weekend, Curtis Rempel and his wife Myranda welcomed their second little one. Millie June was born on Friday, and joins her big brother, 3-year-old Ben. You can catch a glimpse of the new baby girl with her mom and dad on High Valley’s Instagram.

Curtis and brother Brad will take some time off from the road for the next couple weeks, so they can spend some time with their growing family. The siblings’ next date is April 22 at Toronto’s Great Hall in their native Canada.

The duo is following up their top-20 breakthrough in the U.S., “Make You Mine,” with their new single, “She’s with Me.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thrilled to welcome our baby girl to the family! Millie June arrived on Friday and her mommy and I couldn’t be more in love ?? – Curtis pic.twitter.com/O6QN1rr8j2

— HIGH VALLEY (@HIGHVALLEY) April 10, 2017

Apr 10

Florida Georgia Line dominates the country categories at 2017 Billboard Music Awards

Image Courtesy BillboardFlorida Georgia Line is the most-nominated country act at this year’s Billboard Music Awards, picking up a total of six nods for Top Duo/Group, Top Country Artist, Top Country Album and Top Country Collaboration. Tyler Hubbard and Bryan Kelley are nominated twice for Top Country Song, for both “H.O.L.Y.” and “May We All” with Tim McGraw.

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott continues to make an impressive showing with her faith-based album with her family, picking up nominations for Top Christian Artist, Top Christian Album for Love Remains, and Top Christian Song for “Thy Will.”

Luke Bryan also vies for the Billboard Chart Achievement Award alongside acts from other genres like The Chainsmokers, Nicki Minaj, Twenty One Pilots and The Weeknd. Online voting for the fan-based award starts May 1.

The 2017 Billboard Music Awards will air live on ABC Sunday, May 21 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Here are the nominees in the country categories:

Top Country Artist
Florida Georgia Line
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban
Chris Stapleton
Jason Aldean

Top Country Tour
Luke Bryan
Kenny Chesney
Dixie Chicks

Top Country Album
Jason Aldean — They Don’t Know
Florida Georgia Line — Dig Your Roots
Blake Shelton —  If I’m Honest
Chris Stapleton — Traveller
Keith Urban — Ripcord

Top Country Song
Kenny Chesney featuring P!NK — “Setting the World on Fire”
Florida Georgia Line  — “H.O.L.Y.”
Florida Georgia Line featuring Tim McGraw — “May We All”
Little Big Town — “Better Man”
Keith Urban — “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

Top Country Collaboration
Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King — “Different for Girls”
Kenny Chesney featuring P!NK — “Setting the World on Fire”
Eric Church featuring Rhiannon Giddens — “Kill a Word”
Florida Georgia Line featuring Tim McGraw — “May We All”
Chris Young featuring Vince Gill — “Sober Saturday Night”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apr 10

Love & Daisies: Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman offers you a piece of her kitchen on HSN

ABC/Image Group LAIf you’ve followed the culinary endeavors of Kimberly Schlapman from Little Big Town, you know she’s already had her own cooking show, a cookbook, and a signature houseware line at Cracker Barrel.

Next up, the bubbly soprano takes to the airwaves of HSN to launch a new line of kitchen products, as part of the shopping network’s Music City Nashville promotion this month.

“Love & Daisies is southern, feminine and beautiful,” Kimberly says of her new offerings. “It is a collection inspired by exactly what is in my kitchen. [It] is an extension of me and my heart and my home,” she adds.

You can check out Kimberly’s new kitchenware in a series of YouTube videos to promote Love & Daisies, which is named for her daughter Daisy. If you look closely, you’ll also spot Kimberly’s husband Stephen, who happens to be holding the family’s newly-adopted daughter, Dolly.

Kimberly rolls out her new venture on HSN April 19 starting at 8 a.m. ET.  Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and rocker Sheryl Crow are also launching fashion lines as part of the Music City Nashville theme this month.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apr 07

Thomas Rhett's going into business with his dad… and Jay Z

Valory Music CompanyThomas Rhett is expanding his Home Team empire, opening a new publishing company with his dad, hit songwriter and 90’s hitmaker Rhett Akins. TR’s longtime manager Vanessa Davis will also be a partner in Home Team Publishing, and so will the entertainment company Roc Nation, which was founded by rapper Jay Z.

“I was a songwriter before I was an artist,” TR tells Billboard. “I was lucky enough to find a team that believed in me really early on.”

“Songwriting is the foundation for my artist career,” he adds, “so I’m excited and honored to be able to invest in the future of the songwriting community.”

TR has also revealed that he’ll duet with his dad on a song on his upcoming album. Thomas Rhett’s Home Team Tour resumes April 20 with two dates at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apr 07

“Happy People”: Little Big Town's antidote for troubled times

ABC/Image Group LA“Happy People” is both the opening track on Little Big Town’s new The Breaker album and the band’s latest single, and the foursome is hoping the happy tune can also help soothe some of the political tension in the U.S. right now.

“There’s probably not a house in America that’s not divided right now, disagreeing about things going on in the country,” Karen Fairchild tells Billboard.

“If you can’t learn to look across the table and go, ‘I love you and I totally disagree with you, but hey, let’s have a glass of wine…’” she adds, before trailing off.

Kimberly Schlapman hopes “Happy People” can also serve as the antidote to some of the vitriol on social media these days.

“Why is it now okay to say horrible things about people?” she asks. “Why is it now normal?”

“Because they didn’t go to Camp Elegance,” Karen jokes. “They didn’t go to Mr. Manners class like we all did.”

“Hashtag ‘bring back manners,’” Kimberly adds, as the band laughs.

Look for the music video for “Happy People,” which the band shot just this past week, to premiere soon.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.