Jan 21

Morgan Wallen “struggled” with the idea of fatherhood when he first found out he was going to be a dad

ABC/Image Group LAIn July of 2020, Morgan Wallen surprised fans by introducing the newest member of his family: His baby boy Indigo Wilder, who was born to the rising country star and his ex-girlfriend, KT Smith

And though Morgan was over the moon about his son’s arrival, he admits that at first, he found the prospect of being a co-parenting single dad a little daunting. He’d always envisioned raising kids with someone with whom he was in a committed relationship, the singer explains to People.

“[Being a single dad] is definitely not how I imagined parenthood. I wanted to have a family like my parents,” he notes. “…Obviously, that’s not the way it turned out. And I struggled with that a little bit when I first found out.”

Navigating a co-parenting relationship isn’t easy, and Morgan admits that he and KT had “some difficulties” early on in that role. But fortunately, the two parents have always been able to keep the health and happiness of their son as their first priority.

“We’re doing our best to figure it out, just trying to do the best we can with the situation,” he says. “I mean, a lot of people have obviously been in this situation before — having a kid with someone you’re not with — but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.”

Now six months old, Indie is spending more time with his dad, including some overnight stays. “KT’s worked with me throughout the whole time, so I’ve been able to see him a lot since he was born. So if you walk in my house now, you think a baby lives here,” Morgan relates.

When not adjusting to his new role as dad, Morgan spent 2020 at work on his sophomore double album, Dangerous. That project dropped this January.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 21

Dolly Parton’s younger brother, singer-songwriter Randy Parton, dies of cancer at 67

ABC/Image Group LADolly Parton shared a sad update with fans on Thursday morning, announcing that her younger brother, Randy Parton, has died. He was 67 years old.

“My brother Randy has lost his battle with cancer,” the singer wrote. “The family and I are grieving his loss but we know he is in a better place than we are at this time. We are a family of faith and believe that he is safe with God and that he is joined by members of the family that have gone on before and have welcomed him with joy and open arms.”

Randy was one of Dolly’s 11 siblings, and he shared her passion for country music. He was an avid singer-songwriter who charted two singles in country radio’s top 30 in 1981, and in 1982 he became the first artist to record “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler),” which was subsequently a hit for Alabama.  Randy also often collaborated with his legendary musical sister, playing in her band for several years and duetting with her on her 1980 hit, “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You.”

Most recently, Randy joined Dolly on her 2020 Christmas album, A Holly Dolly Christmas. They sang “You Are My Christmas,” a song Dolly wrote that was inspired by memories of their childhood together.

“‘You Are My Christmas,’ our duet on my latest Christmas album, joined with his daughter Heidi, will always be a favorite,” Dolly reflected in her statement announcing Randy’s death. “It was his last musical recording and he shined on it just like he’s shining in heaven now.”


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 20

Russell Dickerson takes fans behind the scenes of his immersive ‘Southern Symphony’ mini-movie

ABC/Image Group LAWhen Russell Dickerson put out his new album, Southern Symphony, he paired the project with a unique album experience video, which featured a snippet of each song on the record paired to a larger, cohesive visual element.

Now, the singer is sharing a video explaining how he came up with the idea for the video, and how he managed to tie his songs together.

“The Southern Symphony experience started as the tiniest little idea of, I wanted to just combine the entire album into one video,” he says at the start of the clip. “So from top to bottom, every single song, one clip, that’s all I wanted.”

The singer brought his idea to director Spencer Combs, who had the idea to use an old Nashville motel as the backdrop of the video. The location’s different rooms and different characters all correspond to different songs on the album, Russell explains.

In one moment that the singer describes as his favorite to shoot, the story line turns to Russell and his real-life family — his wife Kailey and baby boy Remington — as they check into the motel and head to their room to get settled.

“When ‘Home Sweet’’s playing, it’s me, Kailey and Remington, and we fall back on the bed, and the camera continues through the wall,” he recalls, describing a moment when the focus shifts to the next room in the motel. “The sound fades out, and there’s this girl [in the next room over] on her phone.”

“That to me is when it goes from kind of a music video to full-on cinema, Hollywood production,” Russell adds.

Southern Symphony is Russell’s sophomore album. It arrived in December.


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 20

Chris Young got the idea to shout out “Famous Friends” from another one of his hits

Monarch Publicity/Sony Music NashvilleChris Young’s upbeat new duet with Kane Brown is an ode to the hometown heroes they knew and loved growing up. An award-winning school teacher named Megan, a star high school quarterback named Brandon and more are the stars of this song.

Chris, who co-wrote “Famous Friends” with Cary Barlowe and Corey Crowder, says that the names listed in the lyrics represent real people, many of whom are buddies of his from his hometown in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

But he might never have gotten the idea to spotlight his not-so-famous friends without the help of his 2019 single, “Raised on Country.”

“With ‘Raised on Country,’ what we were trying to write was an anthem about the music I grew up on,” Chris explains to Billboard. “And obviously, when you start talking about how you grew up and what shapes you outside of your town and the music you listened to, it’s definitely your friends.”

From there, the connection was clear. “I think that was kind of the seed in ‘Famous Friends,’” the singer adds.

“Famous Friends” is the third single off Chris’ upcoming album, following “Raised on Country” and “Drowning.” He hasn’t shared an exact timeline for the project’s rollout, but has hinted that the release day may be nearing. Last weekend, he posted a photo of himself to Twitter, captioning the image, “Feeling album cover, might delete later” along with the hashtag “#FamousFriends.”


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 20

Morgan Wallen admits that stardom is a little like “a drug” — with some harmful side effects

ABC

On his massive new sophomore effort, Dangerous: The Double Album, Morgan Wallen gets honest about the ways in which his celebrity status has impacted his life.

The title track, for example, is a cautionary tale about the perils of drinking and getting into trouble. That’s a lesson that Morgan has learned first-hand, when he was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct last May in downtown Nashville.

Then there’s “Living the Dream,” a track that flat-out states that fame isn’t always everything it’s hyped up to be. In the lyrics, he describes “drinking ‘cause I need to” and repeats the song’s haunting refrain, “This living the dream is killing me.”

In a new interview with People, Morgan doesn’t mince words about the ups and downs he’s experienced. He speaks in particular about his now-infamous spree of maskless partying at the height of the pandemic, where a series of TikTok videos showed him kissing multiple women. Those antics cost him his debut performance spot on Saturday Night Live.

“It’s fun,” Wallen admits, talking about all the adulation from women he receives due to his fame. “I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun. It’s a high, in a way. It’s almost like I have access to a drug that a lot of people don’t have access to.

But like any drug, he says, it has its downsides. Looking back at the experience, he understands why his behavior was seen as irresponsible.

“I’m not a malicious person,” he reflects. “Just kind of…I should have been more aware.”

Fortunately, not only did Morgan learn his lesson, he ultimately got a second chance. He made his SNL debut in December, two months after his originally-planned performance.


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 20

Garth Brooks delivers “Amazing Grace” and an unforgettable exit at President Biden’s inauguration

Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesGarth Brooks offered the final musical performance of President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, delivering an a capella rendition of the classic hymn, “Amazing Grace.”

Clad in a dark shirt and jacket, the seven-time CMA Entertainer of the Year wore his signature cowboy hat as he walked to the podium, but removed it before he began to sing. Taking his initial pitch from a trumpet, Garth launched into what are traditionally considered the first and last verses of the John Newton standard, encouraging everyone both at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and watching at home to join him as he reprised the initial stanza.

Though his performance was stellar, it’s perhaps his exit that most will remember, as Garth couldn’t help but display his innate warmth and humanity. The Oklahoma native began by shaking hands with newly-inaugurated President BidenVice President Kamala Harris and former Vice President Mike Pence. As he continued to recede through the audience, Garth forgot all social-distancing, stopping to hug the ObamasClintons and more, as the former presidents seemed to recognize they were seeing their friend.

Previously, Garth performed his anthem “We Shall Be Free” at the 2008 first inauguration of President Barack Obama, and has shown up for every president since Jimmy Carter in some capacity, with the exception of Ronald Reagan.

Today, Garth followed the same convention as fellow superstars Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, forsaking their own songs for traditional fare, with Lady Gaga performing the national anthem, and J-Lo offering a medley of “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful.”

Tonight, Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard continue country’s inaugural contributions, as they deliver their new hit “Undivided” on the Celebrating America special, which begins airing at 8:30 p.m. ET on all the major networks.

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 20

Mickey Guyton posts sweet pregnancy update: “Baby I’m so glad that you’re mine”

ABC/Image Group LAMickey Guyton is gearing up to welcome her first child any day now, and the singer posted a sweet and glamorous snapshot from her maternity shoot on social media.

In the photograph, the “Black Like Me” star cradles her stomach, dressed in a black top with her hair styled into flowing “Stop for a minute. Baby I’m so glad that you’re mine,” Mickey captioned her post, nodding to the lyrics of the 1991 hit “Baby, Baby,” by singer, and wife of Vince Gill, Amy Grant.

It’s the second maternity photoshoot shot Mickey’s shared in the past week. The first was a powerful black and white image of Mickey and her baby bump, accompanied by a quote on motherhood from Maya Angelou.

Late last year, Mickey revealed she’s expecting a boy, adding that the prospect of raising a Black son weighed heavily on her in light of the racial injustice she’s seen happen both to her husband and also across the nation, especially during 2020. Still, in conversation with People, she described her baby-to-be as “an absolute miracle.”

While the singer hasn’t shared her exact due date, Mickey did recently joke that her labor was fast approaching. “I’m officially 9 months pregnant,” she tweeted last weekend. “Lord give me strength and comfort for what is coming next.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 20

C2C Music Festival pushed to 2022 due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic

Courtesy of C2C FestivalThough promising news of a vaccine is on the horizon, the COVID-19 pandemic still poses significant concerns for concert-goers and large-scale events organizers.

As a reminder of that fact, the C2C Music Festival, Europe’s largest annual country music event, has postponed its 2021 festivities until 2022. The news came via a social media update, in which the organization explains that due to the current restrictions on mass gatherings and travel, it will be impossible for this year’s event to go on as planned.

C2C was originally scheduled to take place in March. The 2020 iteration of the fest became one of the first major events affected by the pandemic, as it was canceled on March 12, 2020 — just one day before it was set to begin.

“In March of 2020, we could never have foreseen the extent of what has unfolded and the prospect that we would be without C2C for two years running was unthinkable,” organizers share. “We are devastated that we are unable to deliver you the event that we all love.”

At the same time, they assure fans that plans for C2C 2022 are already underway. Tickets purchased for 2021 will remain valid for next year’s event, and ticket-holders can also get a refund by contacting the point of purchase.

The C2C Festival is now scheduled to resume March 11-13, 2022.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 20

Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and Tyler Hubbard are “Undivided” in their belief America can come together

Big MachineOn Wednesday, three of the biggest names in country music take part in the inauguration of the next President of the United States, Joe BidenGarth BrooksTim McGraw, and Florida Georgia Line‘s Tyler Hubbard

Tim and Tyler will perform their new hit, “Undivided,” which Tyler wrote while quarantining with COVID-19.

For Tim, the song encapsulates an idea he recently heard his friend, historian Jon Meacham, express particularly well. 

“I’m not gonna say it as well as he did,” Tim asserts, “but what he said is, sort of the nature of nature is war, right?  And as humans, what we do is we enter this sort of warring nature, and we try to carve out communities and societies out of it.”

“And in order to do that,” he continues, “there has to be social contracts that we have with each other: how we’re gonna treat each other, and how we’re gonna expect to be treated, and how we’re gonna operate as a community and as a society.  And when those things start to fray, then the war of nature starts coming in.”

“And I think that this song sort of outlines how we’re supposed to operate and part of what our social contract is,” Tim adds.

You can catch “Undivided” during the Celebrate America special, which starts at 8:30 p.m. ET on all the major networks.

Garth’s performance comes during the swearing-in ceremony, which starts at noon at the U.S. Capitol, and he sees it as a moment when America can begin to heal its divisions.

“You must rise beyond red and blue,” he says, “you must rise beyond black and white, gay, straight, male, female. Look at it from above. Look at it as America. And so that’s always been kind of my thing.” 

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jan 19

Luke Combs takes “Better Together” to #1

Zack MasseyLuke Combs has scored his 10th consecutive #1 single with “Better Together.” 

The romantic song tops the Billboard Country Airplay chart this week, continuing the superstar’s #1 streak with previous singles including “Even Though I’m Leaving,” “Does to Me” featuring Eric Church and “Lovin’ On You.”

This marks the first time an artist has accumulated 10 straight #1 hits on the chart. 

Additionally, Luke’s sophomore album, What You See Is What You Get, was recently certified double platinum by the RIAA.

“Better Together” is one of five new songs featured on the deluxe edition of the album, What You See Ain’t Always What You Get, which debuted at #1 on the all-encompassing Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts after its October 2020 release. 

The success of “Better Together” comes after “Forever After All” debuted at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, earning Luke the distinction of having the highest entrance for a male country solo artist in the chart’s history. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.