Stars Descend on Music City Center for Fan Fair X

Country Music AssociationEven though seats have been sold out for some time for the nightly CMA Music Festival concerts at Nissan Stadium, there are still plenty of tickets — and plenty of stars — available for Fan Fair X at Nashville’s Music City Center.

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott will kick things off on Thursday, June 9, performing songs with her family from their forthcoming faith-based album. On Friday, Nashville’s Charles Esten is the featured artist of the day, with Martina McBride stopping by to discuss her new project, Reckless, on Saturday. Hillary’s Lady A band mate Charles Kelley steps up on Sunday, focusing on his solo record, The Driver.

Kelsea Ballerini, Dan+Shay, Cassadee Pope, Maddie & Tae, Jana Kramer and Chase Bryant represent just a fraction of the other celebs set to stop by during the festival. Single day tickets are on sale now, as well as four-day passes. Admission is free if you happen to have seats for the nightly shows.

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Ray J Accuses Naomi Judd of Being Racist

Mike Pont/WireImageRay J is calling out country music singer Naomi Judd for being a racist after she calls grits, “slave food” on the set of the new reality cooking show, My Cooking Rules.

The reality star/singer took Judd to task after she reportedly recently labeled fellow contestant Ray a “bad boy,” and also spoke poorly about other contestants on the show. Ray J fired back at Judd in a new video posted on TMZ, saying, “Yo, just heard some disturbing news. I’m driving over here to do the cooking show for Fox. Ms. Judd got some disturbing things to say about me, about Brandi [Glanville], about people on set.”  Judd is partnered with Glanville on the show.

Ray continues, “Got on set, and maybe I was tripping when she said that she didn’t like grits because it was slave food or that she would rather starve than eat grits. I don’t know what was going on, but I felt uncomfortable. And now this comes out. It’s just not cool. I thought we was just trying to be people in America and kinda look past color. And look past racism. But this smells like some racism.”

The feud doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

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Coming Soon: The Country Version of Easton Corbin's Worldwide Electronic Dance Hit

Mercury NashvilleThere’s new music on the way from Easton Corbin — though the “Roll with It” hitmaker admits his latest single isn’t exactly new. Last year, Belgian DJ Los Frequencies remixed a three-year-old song from Easton, and turned it into an electronic dance hit across the globe. Now, Easton is back with the country version.  

“‘Are You With Me’ is a really special song on my last record, All Over the Road. It means so much to me that we just had to include it on About to Get Real,” he says of the track on his latest album. “It’s one of those songs that deserves to be a single and we are so excited it is finally getting that chance.”

Easton continues on Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller Tour through the end of May, with the trek resuming in the fall.

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"Doing It to Country Songs": Blake Shelton and Keith Urban Lead Superstar Lineup for CMT Awards

Courtesy CMTBlake Shelton will bring the wry track “Doing It to Country Songs” to life on this year’s CMT Music Awards, along with The Oak Ridge Boys. The Country Music Hall of Famers collaborated with the star of The Voice on the tune from his new album, If I’m Honest, which comes out Friday.

Keith Urban is set to deliver a mini-version of his Ripcord World Tour, as he performs his latest hit “Wasted Time” and welcomes tourmates Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris to the stage. Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett and Chris Stapleton also are on deck to sing at this year’s show.

The 2016 CMT Music Awards air Wednesday, June 8 at 8 p.m. ET, live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, with more performers yet to be announced.

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Chris Janson Books 100 Dates for His "Boat" This Summer

Sweet Talk PublicityChris Janson plans to take his “Boat” out this summer. Named for his platinum single that’s up for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the upcoming CMT Music Awards, the Buy Me a Boat Tour kicks off this Saturday in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Performing is one of my favorite things to do,” he says. “I love to be on stage and thrive on the energy from the crowd. With more than 100 dates… it’s going to be in full swing. I’m looking forward to it!”

In addition to showing off his mad skills on the harmonica, look for Chris to also play his new single, “Holdin’ Her.”

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"Nashville" Recap: "It's Sure Gonna Hurt"

ABCOn Wednesday night’s NashvilleRayna Jaymes and Deacon Claybourne worked to pick up the pieces of their shattered union, but a trip to counseling only left them more dejected, feeling like they were repeating the same pattern over and over.

What seemed like a promising romance for Juliette Barnes and Noah West, played by Derek Hough, ended too soon, with Juliette feeling like something was missing between the two. While her ex Avery Barkley grew unnecessarily concerned about the couple’s daughter spending time with another man, any mention of Juliette left the manipulative Layla Grant feeling suddenly needy. Amid her troubled personal life, Rayna skipped her new artist’s album release party, giving Layla one more thing to pout about.

Luke Wheeler braved the criticism and continued to support gay country artist Will Lexington, even at the peril of his family. He rushed to his son’s bedside when he learned the new soldier had been badly hurt in an argument over the issue. In the end, Colt was okay — and Luke was heartened to learn his son had thrown the first punch in support of his dad.

While Autumn Chase whisked Gunnar Scott away to meet guest star Elton JohnScarlett O’Connor came to the end of her rope, finally admitting she’s in love with Gunnar, just as his budding relationship with Autumn was consummated.

Find out what happens next, as Nashville wraps up its run on ABC next Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.

Homegrown at the Hall of Fame: The History of Zac Brown Band

ABC/Image Group LAZac Brown is headed for the Hall of Fame. His Georgia-based band will be the subject of a new exhibit set to open at the downtown Nashville institution this July 22.

“It’s an incredible honor to have the history of our band captured by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum,” Zac says. “From day one, it has always been about connecting with our fans by writing songs that come from our hearts, performing at our best, and creating unique ways to engage with them beyond the stage. It has been a crazy journey, and we’ve grown as musicians, as performers, and as individuals. We thank our fans for all their support and hope they enjoy the exhibit as much as we do.”

“Homegrown: Zac Brown Band” will showcase stage wear, song manuscripts, guitars and more from the “Castaway” hitmakers. It runs through July of 2017 at the Hall.

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Dustin Lynch Helps Music City Give Back

Justin Nolan KeyDustin Lynch will headline this year’s Music City Gives Back concert June 7 in Nashville. Rodney Atkins hosts the show for the sixth year, with Canaan SmithCraig Campbell, and new artist Lanco also set to take the stage at the corner of 5th Avenue and Demonbreun Street downtown.

If you’re not able to make it to Music City on the Tuesday before 2016’s CMA Music Festival, Nashville’s Carl Black Chevrolet plans to stream the show live online. The benefit helps the W.O. Smith Music School, which provides affordable lessons to children from low-income families.

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Why Blake Shelton Is "Doing It to Country Songs" with The Oak Ridge Boys

Warner Music Nashville“Doing It to Country Songs”– that’s the eyebrow-raising title of one of the tracks on Blake Shelton’s new album, If I’m Honest. And while we’ll have to wait until Friday to find out if the song lives up to its title, we do know the comic tune was written by Paul Overstreet, the nineties hitmaker who also had a hand in crafting Blake’s humorous smash “Some Beach.”

Blake says it was a ton of fun to record with Country Music Hall of Famers The Oak Ridge Boys, who lend their trademark vocals to the collaboration. The only problem was, he couldn’t get them to stop!

“They are so sweet and professional and they work so hard. We finally had to go like, ‘Guys, it’s good, it’s good enough! I mean, you can’t get it better!’ until finally it’s like, ‘Man, I’m tired! You guys nailed it on the second take anyway,’” he jokes.

The Voice star’s tenth studio album, which features his current hit “Came Here to Forget,”  is due in stores and online this Friday.

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Charles Esten Speaks Out About the Cancellation of "Nashville," Saying He's Grateful — but ABC Made a Mistake

ABC With the fictional world of ABC’s Nashville now cancelled, it was back to real-life Music City this week for leading man Charles Esten, as he played golf in Vince Gill’s annual charity tournament. Overall, the actor who brought Deacon Claybourne to life is staying positive, even though he’s lost his steady gig.

“Well, I tell you what. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been acting 25 years, maybe something like that, and I’ve never had two seasons of anything, so we had four seasons of Nashville on ABC and I’m nothing but grateful to ABC. It’s a little difficult,” he confesses. “Right now, all I feel is grateful, but I’m sure the different emotions will come as well. We’ll see what happens, if we get to do this with somebody else or where it ends up, or if we’re done or if we’re not done.”

Chip says he’s encouraged by Lionsgate’s efforts to find its show a new home, and he’s particularly impressed by how Nashville’s fans have taken up the fight.

“I was very excited to see what might happen this next season, and I know that a whole lot of Nashville fans are also excited. And to see what they’re doing on social media, and they’re just blowing it up and giving ABC a hard time, and I don’t blame ’em. I’m grateful to ABC, but I know they made a mistake. There’s still some Nashville left to be told. So if somebody else wants to let us tell it, I’m all for that!”

Tonight, the next-to-last episode of the show, titled “It’s Sure Gonna Hurt,” airs at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, with the series finale — at least on ABC — set for May 25.

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