Feb 20

Reba McEntire signs to UMG Nashville, readies first arena tour in nine years

Chris HolloReba McEntire dropped a huge surprise on fans today: She is returning to Universal Music Group Nashville, her original label home, which is where she spent the first 32 years of her career. 

Reba spent time with both Mercury and MCA Records, two of the four labels that form UMG. It’s been over a decade since she released an album through the platform: Her most recent project with UMG was her 50 Greatest Hits album, which dropped in 2008. 

In the meantime, though, the singer has kept busy, putting out her most recent album, 2018’s Stronger Than the Truth, via Big Machine Records.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be back with the family where I started,” says Reba, who celebrated 33 chart-topping singles during her time with UMG. “I am thrilled because my catalogue is here at Universal and I’m really excited to revisit all the songs that I recorded many years ago. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”

To that end, Reba’s hitting the road. On March 20, she’ll embark on her first headlining arena tour since 2011. Rising artist Caylee Hammack will join as opening support for the country legend. 

In addition to her own tour, Reba will spend time in Las Vegas with Brooks & Dunn for the two acts’ previously announced residency. For a full list of dates and info, visit Reba’s website.

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Feb 20

“I Hope”: Gabby Barrett crosses 200 million on-demand streams with rising new single

Robby Klein/Sweet Talk PublicityGabby Barrett’s star continues to rise as her soulful new single, “I Hope,” eclipses 200 million on-demand streams. The song ranks in the top five of all on-demand country streams, clocking in at the No. 3 spot in Country song sales. Moreover, “I Hope” is sitting at the top of the Apple Music country chart. 

The searing breakup anthem is climbing at radio, too: Gabby’s single is in the top fifteen on the country radio airplay charts, and broke the top ten on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. That makes her the first solo female to claim that honor with a debut single since 2017. 

“I Hope” is Gabby’s breakout debut, following her run as a Top 3 finalist on American Idol. Highlighting her soulful, powerhouse voice, the song tells the story of coming off a bad breakup, and hoping that the person who broke her heart received the same treatment at the hands of his next love interest. 

Gabby’s looking forward to a busy 2020 ahead. The singer is opening for Brad Paisley on his 2020 World Tour, which kicks off in May.

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Feb 20

New Amazon mini-documentary, ‘Velocity,’ offers a behind-the-scenes look at Kane Brown’s career

ABC/Image Group LAAmazon Music has released a new exclusive mini-documentary, called Velocity, about the rise and reign of country superstar Kane Brown

The short film follows Kane’s journey from a budding artist who gained his first fans through social media covers of artists like Randy Travis, to becoming one of the genre’s top three most-streamed artists in the country genre.

“I’m incredibly proud of the family I’ve been able to build along the way, including not only my wife and daughter, but the family I have out on the road that works so hard behind-the-scenes to make it all happen,” notes Kane. “This Amazon Music mini-documentary gives fans a new glimpse into my world, including some of the incredibly hard moments that have led up to this point.”

He adds, “I appreciate everyone and all the fans who have been there since day 1, and hope that anybody that watches takes away one thing: That this is a family. And we want to do you all proud.”

In addition to watching the new film, you can stream the Amazon Original Live EP, Live from Los Angeles.

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Feb 20

Maren Morris, Jason Isbell to headline 2020 Railbird Festival

ABC/Image Group LAMaren Morris and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit have been named as headliners for this year’s Railbird Festival, which will take place in August in Lexington, Kentucky. 

The festival’s roster skews towards Americana and indie rock, with acts like the Head and the Heart, the Decemberists and Shovels and Rope taking the stage. However, mainstream country is well represented at this year’s Railbird Festival, too: In addition to Maren, Tanya Tucker will also perform during the event. 

The second consecutive year of the Railbird Festival will return to Lexington’s Grounds at Keeneland. A national historical landmark and premiere equine facility, the venue will offer festival-goers a curated bourbon experience as well as opportunities to bet on horse races. 

Remaining tickets for the festival go on sale Friday at 10AM ET. By the time the festival takes place on August 22-23, Maren will likely be taking the stage as a first-time mom — she and her husband, fellow artist Ryan Hurd, are expecting their first child this March.

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Feb 20

Kelsea Ballerini previews her next record with new live song at CRS in Nashville

John Shearer/Getty Images for Amazon MusicKelsea Ballerini headlined the Amazon Country Heat showcase at Nashville’s Country Radio Seminar on Wednesday night, and she took the opportunity to share a bit more of her just-announced third album, kelsea

Kelsea treated the audience to the previously-shared song “club,” as well as her current top-twenty single, “homecoming queen?” She also delivered a brand-new, never-before-played-live tune called “Hole in the Bottle.”

Other artists who took the CRS stage on Wednesday included Niko Moon, Gabby Barrett and Jon Langston. Country rockers The Cadillac Three also served up a slice of their just-released record, Country Fuzz.  The trio’s high-energy performance included new songs “Blue El Camino,” “Heat,” and “Hard Out Here for a Country Boy.”

Aside from “club,” “homecoming queen?” and “Hole in the Bottle,” Kelsea hasn’t shared many hints about the track list for her upcoming new project. We won’t have to wait too long, though: kelsea will drop on March 20.  It follows Kelsea’s 2017 sophomore effort, Unapologetically.

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Feb 20

Luke Combs adds new, in-the-round dates to 2020 What You See is What You Get Tour

ABC/Todd WawrychukLuke Combs just launched his 2020 What You Get Tour earlier this month, but the country superstar is already making big plans for later in the year: He’s extending the run to include several more dates this fall and winter. 

For the newly-confirmed dates, Luke will mount a new, in-the-round style stage design. Joining him will be current opening acts Ashley McBrydeDrew Parker and Ray Fulcher

Additionally, the fall run will include some landmark dates for Luke, including his debut headlining performance at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. He’ll play the iconic stage on Dec. 1; tickets for that show and the bulk of the rest of the new stops go on sale next Friday at 10AM local time. 

Before launching the next leg of his tour, Luke will deliver six consecutive sold-out shows in April and May. The tour is named for his critically acclaimed new album, What You See is What You Get, which came out last November. 

Here’s the itinerary for the newly announced dates on Luke’s tour: 

9/19 — Raleigh, NC, PNC Arena
9/22 — New Orleans, LA, Smoothie King Center
9/25 — Dallas, TX, American Airlines Center
9/26 — Memphis, TN, FedEx Forum
10/2 — Grand Forks, ND, Alerus Center
10/3 — Sioux Falls, SD, Denny Sanford PREMIER Center
10/15 — Eugene, OR, Matthew Knight Arena
10/17 — San Francisco, CA, Chase Center
10/20 — Billings, MT, MetraPark – First Interstate Arena
10/22 — Salt Lake City, UT. Vivint Smart Home Arena
10/23 — Las Vegas, NV, T-Mobile Arena
10/24 — Bakersfield, CA, Mechanics Bank Arena
11/6 — Chicago, IL, United Center (on-sale February 28 at 12:00pm CT)
11/7 — St. Louis, MO, Enterprise Center
11/19 — Jacksonville, FL, VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
11/20 — Fort Lauderdale, FL, BB&T Center
11/21 — Orlando, FL, Amway Center
12/1 — New York, NY, Madison Square Garden
12/ 4 — Boston, MA, TD Garden

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Feb 19

“It was so much bigger than us”: Rascal Flatts discuss their 20-year career and farewell tour

ABC AudioWednesday at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, Rascal Flatts came together for a retrospective look at their 20-year career, which will come to a close in October when they wrap up their farewell tour.

The chart-topping trio discussed their many achievements, such as winning the CMA’s Horizon Award, becoming members of the Grand Ole Opry and picking “killer songs” — classics such as “Bless the Broken Road,” “What Hurts the Most” and “My Wish” — which Gary LeVox described as “songs that have saved lives throughout the world.”

Despite the group using the words “sad” and “bittersweet” to describe the impending finale of their touring career, there were still plenty of moments of levity — mostly made by Jay DeMarcus.  He, Gary and Joe Don Rooney poked plenty of fun at their questionable fashion choices over the years, and shared some hilarious stories about their video shoots.

When asked to sum things up, each man spoke from the heart about the effect that his band mates have had on him.

“Both of you guys saved my life, and gave me reason and purpose,” said Jay.  “It’s been an amazing ride, and I can’t imagine going through all we’ve gone through in the past 20 years without you guys….I love you both.”

Gary spoke about the milestones the group achieved, such as selling out Madison Square Garden and playing Wrigley Field.  “The impact that we had…it was so much bigger than us, and we’ll miss it for sure,” he noted.

As for Joe Don, he added, “The connection the three of us have together is so powerful and so special…now way could I have hand-picked two other people in this world to do this with. What a blessing it’s been.”

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Feb 19

Kenny Chesney receives Humanitarian Award, thrills crowd with acoustic performance at CRS in Nashville

Kayla Schoen for CRS It’s been so long since Kenny Chesney played some of his songs live that, he admitted at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville on Wednesday, he literally had to look up the words to some of them.

But thankfully, he didn’t stumble over any of the lyrics as he performed three of his songs acoustically — “When the Sun Goes Down,” “Save It for a Rainy Day” and “Get Along” — for an appreciative crowd at a luncheon hosted by his record label, Warner Brothers.

Prior to his performance, Kenny was honored with the Country Radio Seminar Humanitarian Award, for all the causes he’s supported over the years, especially his drive to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Virgin Islands, his favorite place.  He humbly thanked his record label for agreeing that all the money from his 2018 album Songs for the Saints would go to that cause.

But Kenny wasn’t the only one who performed during the luncheon — many of his labelmates took the stage as well for special acoustic performances. Here’s who played what:

Chris Janson (debuting his new ukulele) : “Don’t”

Michael Ray: “Her World or Mine”

Gabby Barrett (accompanied by her husband and fellow American Idol alum Cade Foehner): “I Hope”

Cody Johnson: “Dear Rodeo”

Ashley McBryde: “One Night Standards”

Also performing was new artist Shy Carter, who’s written hits like Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue,” Kane Brown‘s “Heaven” and Billy Currington‘s “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To.”  He sang a track called “Good Love.”

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Feb 19

“I’m most proud of the honesty”: Miranda Lambert talks about her life and career at CRS in Nashville

ABC AudioOn her way to perform eight shows in ten days, Miranda Lambert stopped off to make an appearance at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, TN on Wednesday.  In a rare intimate conversation, Miranda talked about her earliest days making music, her current album Wildcard, and more.

Miranda, who said that she was such a shy kid that she wouldn’t even order by herself at McDonald’s,  recalled that her first public performance came in the third grade, when she sang Holly Dunn‘s hit “Daddy’s Hands” in the school talent show. Not long after, she wrote her first song, about a girl named Mandy Lee going to Nashville to become a star.   Her little brother said it wasn’t that great but noted she was “getting there.”

After that, Miranda entered a competition and came in third, which landed her a house gig at a bar at the age of 17.  Onstage, she recalled, “My personality came alive.”  After that, she auditioned for Nashville Star and bombed, because, she says, she didn’t put any effort into it. Her mom forced her to re-audition in a different city — she sang “Crazy” a cappella and made it.  As most of us know by now, she came in third, and admitted she really didn’t want to win.

Miranda then spoke about how making her new album Wildcard was a lot like making her very first album.  Following the somber record that was The Weight of These Wings, Miranda says, she wanted to get back to the kind of sassy, fun material that was on her first album, Kerosene.

Recalling the highlights of her career — singing with Loretta Lynn, paying tribute to Merle Haggard with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, and meeting Dolly Parton — she admitted that sometimes when she gets down, it helps to remind herself, “You’ve done some stuff!”

And when asked to say what she’s most proud of, Miranda said, “the honesty, and that I’ve never strayed away from exactly who I am. I’ve never cut a song I was iffy about…my manager and I have a saying: “If it’s a maybe, it’s a no.”  

And even if her career hasn’t always resulted in her topping the charts, she noted, “It’s real and it’s the truth.”

Moving forward, Miranda says, she’s looking to “quality not quantity” in her life and adds, “I just try to keep growing and moving forward.”

She also treated the crowd to acoustic renditions of two Wildcard songs: “Dark Bars” and “How Dare You Love.”

Copyright 2020 ABC Audio

Feb 19

Garth Brooks says 2020 will be year of “stadium shows and dive bars”

ABC Radio Garth Brooks dominated venues on the opposite end of the spectrum in 2019 as he simultaneously juggled his Stadium Tour with the Dive Bar Tour, and he says that won’t stop any time soon. 

During the most recent episode of his online show, Inside Studio GGarth raved about the fun he had performing inside the massive stadiums and intimate dive bars, a trend he will continue this year.

He already has three stadium shows scheduled, including the first one of the year at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on February 22.

“Stadium shows and dive bars. I didn’t want last year to end, so it’s not going to! This year’s stadiums, the three fastest sellouts we’ve had on this Stadium Tour, which is crazy…to maybe think that this thing might be actually kind of ‘waking up,’” Garth describes. 

Chase Rice will open for Garth in Detroit, the show setting the record at the venue as the biggest attendance ever at a one-night music event.

The country icon also booked shows at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio in May. His first Dive Bar show of 2020 took place at Six String Grill in Foxborough, Massachusetts on February 5. 

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