Feb 07

Vince Gill reveals being abused as a child during performance at Ryman Auditorium

Rick Diamond/Getty ImagesVince Gill revealed his own story of sexual abuse as a child before he performed at the Ryman Auditorium as part of Universal Music Group Nashville’s CRS showcase in Nashville Tuesday afternoon.

Prefacing “Forever Changed,” a song about a woman dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse, he told the audience that the track was inspired by a similar situation he faced in middle school.

“Maybe this song came from a personal experience for me. I was in seventh grade and a young, dumb kid,” he said. “I had a gym teacher that acted inappropriately towards me and was trying to do things that I didn’t know what the hell was going on.”

He continued, “I was just fortunate that I got up and I ran. I just jumped up and I ran. I don’t know why. I don’t think I ever told anybody my whole life. Even what’s been going on has been giving me a little bit of courage to speak up too.”

While Vince wrote “Forever Changed” several years ago, he decided to debut it at the famed venue in light of the #MeToo movement, and dedicated “Forever Changed” to those suffering in pain following sexual assault.

Powerful lyrics include, “Too afraid to tell someone/You might as well have used a gun/She cries to Jesus to ease the pain/Because of you/She’s forever changed.”

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Feb 07

Mitchell Technical Institute wins a major award

Mitchell Technical Institute has been named a winner of the inaugural Siemens-Aspen Community College STEM Award by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program (CEP) and the Siemens Foundation.

MTI’s Power Line Construction and Maintenance program will receive an award of $50,000 and is among eight exceptional community college programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), recognized for providing outstanding preparation for high-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing, energy, healthcare, and information technology. Half of this award will be allocated for further program development, and half will be allocated as scholarships to students, known as Siemens Technical Scholars.

MTI president Mark Wilson was very pleased with the award.  “MTI has a 50-year reputation for preparing new generations of skilled technicians.  Our Power Line faculty members focus on student learning to ensure that students learn proper technical skills, safety and work ethics, all keys to success.   Students excel at their education both inside and outside a typical classroom setting through hands-on learning, and employers of our graduates are great supporters of our program in multiple ways.   We are happy that this program is being nationally recognized as an outstanding technical career choice.”

Overall, jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are projected to grow at almost double the rate of non-STEM occupations. Community and technical colleges like MTI are playing a huge role in working to meet this demand. More than half of all STEM jobs across the United States require no more than an associate’s degree and pay wages that average more than $50,000 annually.

“Community college STEM programs are a strong pathway to job security and financial success for many students —  whether that means heading right into a great paying job or getting a more advanced degree,” said David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation. “This award recognizes the colleges that provide an excellent STEM education and develop talent from every community.”

The Siemens-Aspen Community College STEM Award committee identified exemplary community college STEM programs, like MTI’s Power Line program that deliver exceptional training for jobs that require strong STEM technical skills, some college hands-on training, and a postsecondary credential below the four-year degree – known as middle-skill jobs – in areas ranging from advanced manufacturing and energy to information technology and healthcare.

As part of the award, MTI will help select students in partnership with the Aspen Institute to be recognized as a Siemens Technical Scholar and to receive a scholarship of between $3,500 and $10,000 to continue their education or pay existing student loan debt. The Siemens Technical Scholars program recognizes an exceptional group of diverse students from across the country who demonstrates the rewarding careers and opportunity that result from completing an excellent STEM program.  These Scholars will share their stories with other young adults to demonstrate the economic opportunity available in STEM middle-skill jobs.


Feb 06

Watch Now: Kane Brown teases another song with Lauren Alaina: “It might make the next album”

ABC/Image Group LAKane Brown and Lauren Alaina may be old junior high school friends, and they may have scored a #1 duet together, but that doesn’t mean they’re constantly talking or texting with each other. At Tuesday’s Country Radio Seminar, Kane told ABC Radio that he and Lauren haven’t discussed their latest milestone: “What Ifs” has gone double platinum.

“I haven’t talked to her much since the first [time it went platinum],” Kane admitted. “When it went platinum, she got excited…we were talking about [how] she needed a plaque, and we were getting her plaques and all this, and we haven’t really talked since it went double.” 

“Which is also a crazy feeling,” he added. “‘Cause I was excited it just went platinum! I never even thought, ‘Well, this will be double platinum.'”

But even though they don’t talk all the time, Kane and Lauren may work together again in the future.

“We actually had another song that we talked about,” he teased. “It might make the next album. We’ll see!”

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Feb 06

Watch Now: Thanks to #1 success, LANCO feels like they’ve been “shot out of a cannon”

ABC/Image Group LAFollowing the #1 success of their single “Greatest Love Story,” LANCO is now celebrating the historic #1 debut of their first album, Hallelujah Nights.

The five-man band is the first group to claim the top spot with their initial effort since Lady Antebellum did in 2008. At Tuesday’s Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, lead singer Brandon Lancaster explained that LANCO isn’t an overnight success.

“We’ve been working on that thing for years,” Brandon told ABC Radio about the album. “And just seeing the single, ‘Greatest Love Story,’ do as well as it did, and then releasing this album, it’s been a lot of work and it kind of feels like there’s a tipping point where all of a sudden everything’s catching up and the hard work is paying off.”

Of course, things have been a little crazy for Brandon and the guys since their single took off. They’re currently part of Chris Young’s Losing Sleep World Tour, and in May, they head out with Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne on the Mountain High trek.

“Mentally and physically, we feel like we’ve been shot out of a cannon,” Brandon laughed. “But we’re not complaining. It’s a surreal thing that dreams are coming true. It’s awesome.”

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Feb 06

Watch Now: Cam on her collaboration with British pop superstar Sam Smith: “He’s just a real person”

ABC/Image Group LALately, there’s been a lot of cross-pollination between country stars and pop stars: Florida Georgia Line has recorded hits with Backstreet Boys, Hailee Steinfeld and Bebe Rexha, while Maren Morris just did a song with deejay/producer Zedd. You can add Cam to that list, too: She co-wrote and sings on “Palace,” a song from The Thrill of It All, the #1 album by British pop superstar Sam Smith.

“My producer, Tyler [Johnson], actually showed some of the music [I was working on] to Sam Smith and that’s when he said he wanted to write,” Cam told ABC Radio at Tuesday’s Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. “And so, we wrote a song that’s on his album now and is apparently a hit in Japan, which is really cool!”

Cam said of the Grammy and Oscar-winning star, “I really admire him and he is such a sentimental, in-touch person. He seems so real. He’ll just say, like, ‘We have so many songs in us.’ And, ‘Did you like the record?’ He’s just a real person asking those kinds of things. It’s really nice.”

What’s also nice, Cam said, is that Sam is “so sweet about updating” her on how their song is doing.

“[He’s] like, ‘Guess what? Our song…I’ve been playing it on all these huge TV shows in Japan because it’s a hit here,” Cam laughed. “I’m like ‘Cool! I love Japan!’ So, I gotta prepare my Japan tour!”

Cam will be releasing the video for her new song “Diane” later this week.

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Feb 06

Watch Now: Carly Pearce will spend 2018 “holding the torch” for women in country music

ABC/Image Group LACarly Pearce is going to spend 2018 hanging with some of the hottest men in country music, and she says she can hardly believe her luck.

Speaking to ABC Radio at Tuesday’s Country Radio Seminar, Carly said, “I can’t even really believe I’m about to say all this to you, but next week, I start the Blake Shelton Country Music Freaks Tour and I’m representing the ladies on that. And then I jump over to the Rascal Flatts Back to Us Tour.”

She continued, “I do a couple dates with Thomas Rhett on his Life Changes Tour and then I finish up my year playing arenas and stadiums with Luke Bryan! So it’s a really good year. Saying it out loud is weird!”

The “Hide the Wine” hitmaker says she’s proud to be holding it down for the women of modern country music on all these tours, and she takes that role very seriously.

“I feel a responsibility to continue to carve out my lane the way that Kelsea and Maren and all of the females that I’ve loved and idolized — like Dolly and Reba and Trisha and Faith — [have done],” she said. “[And] to hold country music precious, and continue to hopefully hold a torch and keep allowing there to be a place for women.”  

On Wednesday, Carly performs as part of the Country Music Seminar’s prestigious New Faces show. Her first date with Blake is February 15.

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Feb 06

Watch Now: LOCASH’s origin story involves the police, a stolen U-Haul…and an arrest warrant?

ABC/Image Group LABefore the chart-topping hits and the CMA nominations, LOCASH was just a struggling duo trying make a living on the road. But as the duo’s Preston Brust and Chris Lucas told ABC Radio at Tuesday’s Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, the road isn’t easy when the police think you’re car thieves.

“I met Chris in ’02…and we set out on tour in my Jeep Grand Cherokee with a stolen U-Haul, and the rest is history!” Preston told ABC Radio. It turns out they’d borrowed that U-Haul from an acquaintance and weren’t aware that it was stolen until they ran into some mechanical trouble.

“We stole it by accident,” explained Preston.

“We didn’t steal it. We didn’t know it was stolen,” added Chris. Preston chimed in, “Til the wheel fell off. And that’s when we found out it was stolen.” “When the cops came, and that was ugly,” recalled Chris. 

Preston also claimed that as a result of that incident, “There’s a warrant out for our arrest [in Alabama].” Chris disputed that, but Preston insisted, “We left, we gave ’em a t-shirt and a hat and we made a deal, and I don’t think the deal held.”

But with their new single “Don’t Get Better Than That” climbing the charts, and more new music on the way, those days are far behind them, right?

“Yeah, now we’re on a stolen bus,” Preston laughed. “I’m just kiddin.'”

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Feb 06

Garth Brooks plays Nashville’s Lower Broadway for the first time

ABC/Image Group LAGarth Brooks has played his fair share of concert venues over the years but the country legend had never performed on Nashville’s famed Lower Broadway — that is until last night.

On Monday evening (Feb. 5), Garth was in Nashville as part of the annual Country Radio Seminar and after surprising an audience at the Omni Hotel when he popped on stage to join Jason Aldean for two songs, he decided to bring the party to Broadway.

Garth and his band took the stage at Layla’s where he performed a slew of his hits including “Ain’t Going Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)” and “Two of a Kind Working on a Full House.” Even the country superstar found it hard to believe that it was his first time playing the honky tonk: “First time on Broadway and it was AWESOME!!! I LOVE this town #Nashville!!!!” he shared alongside two photos on Twitter.

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Feb 06

Chris Stapleton ties Garth Brooks’ record with top three album spots on Billboard chart

ABC/Image Group LAChris Stapleton continues to break records and this time he ties one held by none other than Garth Brooks. Following his sweep at the 2018 Grammy Awards, where he took home three trophies and performed with Emmylou Harris, the singer recently returned to the top of the country charts.

According to Billboard, Chris is the first artist to hold the top three spots on the Top Country Albums chart since Garth did so in 1992. The singer’s latest album, From a Room: Volume 2, currently sits in the top position while previous releases Traveller and From a Room: Volume 1 hold the second and third position, respectively, on the chart.

An impressive feat that hasn’t been accomplished in 25 years, Chris finds each solo album he has ever released dominating Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart (dated Feb. 10). Garth originally accomplished this major milestone on April 11, 1992, when Ropin’ the WindNo Fences and his self-titled debut album occupied the top three slots.

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Feb 06

Watch Now: Maren Morris gushes over meeting and singing for Elton John: “It was just epic”

ABC/Image Group LALast week, Maren Morris was one of the many artists who took part in the taping of the CBS TV special I’m Still Standing: A Grammy Salute to Elton John, which will air in April. But as Maren told ABC Radio at Tuesday’s Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, it turns out that Elton John is actually a fan of hers.

“I have a very crazy timeline history with Elton John,” Maren revealed. “Like, growing up listening to his music, and then when Hero, my album, came out, he called me on the phone to say that he was a fan of it.”

Maren says she’s “so excited” to have been part of the taping, adding, “It was just epic.”

“I can’t say which song I did, but it’s one of my favorite Elton songs, and I love that I got the chance to perform it in front of him and [his lyricist] Bernie Taupin,” she gushed. 

Maren also admired the Gucci outfit and red-tinted shades Elton was wearing to the taping — “very classic Elton,” she said. But what was most surprising about meeting the rock legend, Maren said, was how much Elton knew about her career.

“When I finally met him this past week at the Grammys, he’s so tapped into the music industry and the charts, he was like ‘Congratulations on your song “The Middle,” it’s #3 on iTunes right now!'” Maren said, incredulous. “And I’m like, ‘I love that Elton Johnyou, Elton John — knows this!'”

There’s no set airdate for the Elton John special, but we know it’ll air on CBS in April, and in addition to Maren, Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert were on the bill.

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