Aug 06

Jennifer Nettles lends her voice to the National 4-H Council’s campaign to close the opportunity gap

ABC/Image Group LAJennifer Nettles is the voice behind a PSA by the National 4-H council, in support of its newly-launched Opportunity4All campaign.

The project marks a push to close America’s education and economic opportunity gap, which affects millions of children across the country. In the PSA, Jennifer seeks to raise awareness about the lack of opportunities that children face as a result of their race and economic status, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s time we provide opportunities for all our kids,” she declares in the short video. “It’s time to invest in their potential, so they can help our communities and our country thrive: Not in the future. Right now.”

Jennifer, who is a 4-H alumna herself, spoke out on social media about her role in the new partnership.

“55 million kids face a widening opportunity gap in America. Nothing should hold them back,” she wrote. “Not now. Not ever.”

The singer also shared a montage video featuring an array of young girls explaining what opportunity means to them.

As one half of country duo Sugarland, Jennifer is hard at work on new music with her band mate Kristian Bush. The pair postponed their planned spring tour due to the pandemic, but hinted that they would have brand-new music to share soon.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aug 06

The Cadillac Three enlist Kristian Bush, Hailey Whitters and more for curated global livestream series

Courtesy of The Cadillac ThreeAs the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep country artists off the road, The Cadillac Three have found a creative way to safely return to the stage.

The band is establishing a curated livestream series called Country Fuzz Presents, which will feature performing acts like Hailey Whitters, Kristian Bush’s Dark Water, A Thousand Horses and many more.

Broadcasting from Nashville venue The Basement, the series will use specially-installed autonomous cameras, enabling a crew-less production, and provide thorough cleaning services between performances. The series kicks off on August 13 and will run through September.

“We are so excited to partner with Grimey and the Basement in our hometown to bring high quality livestream concerts from not only TC3 but a number of our artist friends that have been sidelined from touring as well,” explains the band’s Neil Mason. “Country Fuzz Presents is a way to give fans direct access to music in a time when we all desperately need and miss it.”

You can pick up your tickets to the virtual event now. Country Fuzz Presents will also drive donations to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, with a goal of providing 100,000 meals in 100 days.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aug 06

Maren Morris’ Heroes Fund makes donation to local Tennessee high school band program

ABC/Image Group LASince she established her Heroes Fund charity in 2017, Maren Morris has been allocating a portion of the proceeds of her “Meet and Greet” packages to support of music education and fine arts programs in public schools.

Now, the Heroes Fund, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, has donated $70,000 to Nashville Metro Schools and the East Nashville Magnet High School Band Program.

According to a tweet from local music education initiative Music Makes Us, the grant will be used to buy instruments and supplies, as well as tuxedos and gowns for students who are part of the program.

Both Maren and the school showed their excitement about the grant on social media following the announcement. However, Maren’s husband, fellow artist Ryan Hurd, had one tiny, joking gripe about her fund’s donation.

“My wife donated all of her meet and greet money instead of buying me a jetski, and I have to say…I am very proud of her,” he tweeted, along with the hashtag “#stillnojetski.”

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic forced Maren to postpone her planned tour this summer, she’s still been keeping busy. She and Ryan are adjusting to life as parents to their new baby boy Hayes and in July, Maren hinted that she was also beginning to get back into songwriting and working on new music.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

My wife donated all of her meet and greet money instead of buying me a jet ski and I have to say…I am very proud of her. #stillnojetski

— Ryan Hurd (@RyanHurd) August 6, 2020

Aug 06

“Beers and Sunshine”: Darius Rucker’s breezy single toasts the good kind of “B.S.”

Capitol Records NashvilleDarius Rucker returns to country radio this week with “Beers and Sunshine,” a summery antidote to stress and anxiety during a tumultuous year.

“‘Cause everybody’s down in a world gone crazy / Don’t know how to fix it, but I think maybe / Turn on the good times, turn off the TV,” Darius sings in the song’s chorus. “Yeah, the only B.S. I need is beers and sunshine.”

When he first started teasing the song last month, Darius explained that he hopes “Beers and Sunshine” will serve as a much-needed breath of fresh air.

“It’s certainly been a hard year so far, with a lot of heaviness around us constantly,” the singer noted during an early July appearance on NBC’s Today. “Like it says in the song, I don’t know how we fix any of those big, real issues that we’re facing, but while we work through this time, I think it’s important that we find the silver lining where we can really enjoy the little moments and the simple joys of time spent together with friends and family.”

“Beers and Sunshine” headed to country radio Thursday.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aug 06

Luke Bryan “sat up at night” after hearing from Black fans who’ve felt uncomfortable at his shows

ABC/Gavin BondAmid growing nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, country music has had to confront and question some of its own Southern symbols in recent months.

Lady A opted to drop “Antebellum” from their name, The Chicks scrapped “Dixie,” and Mississippi native Faith Hill called for the removal of the Confederate emblem from her home state’s flag — a measure that state’s governor signed into law June 30.

Luke Bryan says that the conversation has been a sobering educational experience, especially when he hears from fans who feel unwelcome at his concerts because of the color of their skin.

“I have sat up at night after hearing from African American audience members who say they’ve felt uncomfortable at my shows through the years,” the singer admits during an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

As a high-profile performer, Luke acknowledges that he always chooses his words carefully before speaking out about issues he believes in.

“I’m always gonna walk a smart line, but I’m not scared,” he reflects, citing his 2018 hit “Most People Are Good.” That song contains the line “I believe you love who you love / It ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of,” which stood out to many as a statement of support for the LGBTQ community.

“I had a lot of people ask me, ‘Well, does that mean you want to plant a flag and support the gay and lesbian community?’ I’m like, ‘I’m not saying I’m gonna go fly that flag…but I’m not saying I’m not, either.’”

Although Luke errs on the side of remaining diplomatic, he’s glad to see that conversations surrounding race and equality are taking place in country music.

“It’s a delicate conversation, and do I think we may take a little longer in country to have it? Probably,” he adds. “But it’s the conversation we’re having more and more.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aug 06

Dolly Parton is sharing the stories behind her best-loved songs, in her own words, in new audiobook

ABC/Image Group LAFor over six decades, Dolly Parton has shared the story of her life through her songs. Now, the country superstar has announced the release of a new audiobook, called Dolly Parton, Storyteller: My Life in Lyrics.

In her own words, Dolly will share some of the stories that inspired beloved hits like “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You” and nearly 100 more country classics. Along the way, the singer also offers memories of her extraordinary career and life, beginning with her childhood growing up in a one-bedroom log cabin with 11 siblings.

“Across my life, I’ve written thousands of songs. This fall, for the first time ever, we’re spotlighting 100 of my favorites in my new audiobook,” Dolly notes. “…Not only will you be able to revisit my life in lyrics, but I’ll tell you never-before-heard stories behind the songs.”

Dolly Parton, Songwriter: My Life in Lyrics will be released on RBMedia, produced by flagship publishing brand Recording Books. The audiobook will be available on November 17 as both a CD and in digital audiobook form, and it’s available for preorder now ahead of the release date.

An illustrated book of the same name is also being released as a companion to the project.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aug 06

The guys in LOCASH are “blessed” ‘Brothers,’ enjoying the journey, as “One Big Country Song” hits #1

Broken BowThis week, LOCASH is all gratitude, as “One Big Country Song” ascends to the top of the country chart, becoming their second career number one.

“We’re blessed to do this, you know what I mean?” Chris Lucas asks. “And it’s good to be around people that kinda understand that, too. There’s a lot of people that are like, ‘Look what we do for a living!’ You know what I mean?”

“Sometimes you have to stop and enjoy the journey you’re on,” Preston Brust reflects, “because sometimes the rewards and what you think is the end, you know, peak is not exactly what you thought it would feel like or be like or wanted anyway. And sometimes it’s the journey.”

It’s has been quite a journey for the duo, who put out their first single in 2010 and didn’t make it to number one until 2016 with “I Know Somebody.” 

“I can say for sure that it’s been a long, tough journey for us,” Preston tells ABC Audio. “I wouldn’t really change anything, maybe make it move a little bit faster.”

“But so many experiences and lessons in life we learned, we could have never learned in college or at a structured job someplace,” he adds.

For Chris, it all comes down to the effect the music has on the fans.

“It could be one fan saying, ‘I just want you to know this song right here, man, me and my wife, you know, went through a hard time,'” he offers as an example. “‘You know, this was going on. This saved us. This saved my life.'”  

“One Big Country Song” is also LOCASH’s first number one in Canada. It’s from their 2019 album, Brothers

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aug 05

Female country artists have highest percentage of number-one hits on Country Airplay chart in 14 years

ABC/Image Group LAWomen have seen an uptick in airplay on country radio lately.

Published this week, a new study by Billboard shows that five female artists have had number-one singles on the Billboard Country Airplay chart so far this year, the most in a four-year span. 

Additionally, women have accounted for 21% of number-one songs on the chart in 2020, the highest percentage since 2006, when women made up 23% of the chart-toppers. 

Miranda LambertMaren Morris and Gabby Barrett are among the artists who have topped the charts this year — Miranda with “Bluebird,” her first solo number-one since 2014, and Maren and Gabby scoring multi-week hits with “The Bones” and “I Hope,” respectively. 

Gwen Stefani and Carly Pearce also found themselves at the top with duet partners Blake Shelton and Lee Brice. Gwen and her longtime boyfriend Blake hit number one with “Nobody but You” while Carly and Lee reached the top with “I Hope You’re Happy Now” earlier this year.  

The last time that five or more female singers had number-one hits on the Country Airplay chart was in 2016, when Carrie Underwood reigned with “Church Bells” and “Heartbeat,” while Kelsea Ballerini scored with “Dibs” and “Peter Pan.” 

Karen FairchildCassadee Pope and pop star Pink also made it to the top of the country charts alongside their male collaborators in 2016. 

The data comes in the wake of multi-year conversations surrounding the lack of airplay for female artists on country radio. 

Women saw a record high of airplay in 1998 when they accounted for 52% of number-one singles on the charts. Overall, women have accounted for 17% of all number-one singles on the Country Airplay chart since it launched in 1990.

By Cillea Houghton
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aug 05

Keith Urban debuts ‘Speed of Now Part 1’ track list

ABC/Image Group LAKeith Urban has unveiled the track list for his upcoming album, Speed of Now Part 1. 

Keith shared the news via social media Wednesday, debuting a photo of the album cover that shows the singer with his eyes closed and hands lightly touching his face over a neon yellow backdrop with the album’s title written in purple lettering. 

Speed of Now Part 1 will feature 16 tracks and three surprise guests. The album’s opening numbers “Out of the Cage” and “One Too Many” both feature collaborators, but their names are obscored in yellow, rendering the identities a mystery for now. The former song includes two singers, while the latter is a duet. 

Speed of Now Part 1 includes lead single “We Were” and a version that features its co-writer Eric Church, along with the other previously released songs “God Whispered Your Name,” “Polaroid” and “Superman.” Other titles are “Soul Food,” “Ain’t It Like a Woman,” “Better Than I Am,” and more.

Urban’s 11th studio project was nearly completed before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown earlier this year, but in a recent interview with VarietyKeith says that his time in solitude allowed for more time to write and make changes to the project

Speed of Now Part 1 will be released on September 18.

By Cillea Houghton
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


— Keith Urban (@KeithUrban) August 5, 2020

Aug 05

Trailer released for Rascal Flatts’ star Jay DeMarcus’ new reality show ‘DeMarcus Family Rules’

NetflixJay DeMarcus and family are offering a preview of their upcoming Netflix show, DeMarcus Family Rules.

Described as an “unfiltered” look at the lives of the Rascal Flatts star and his family, the format of the show features Jay, his wife Allison and their two children — nine-year-old Madeline and eight-year-old Dylan — doing sit-down interviews in front of the cameras in between clips of the family’s hectic lives. 

In a trailer released today, the singer describes himself and his wife as the “ultimate odd couple,” noting that Alison is a stickler for rules, while he’s more free-wheeling.

“My philosophy is kids grow up way too fast, you’ve got to create lifelong, lasting memories for them,” he says,  over clips of camping trips, extravagant birthday parties and basketball games.

Jay’s sense of humor is also on full display, as we see some of his antics, like dressing in a hazmat suit to deep fry a Thanksgiving turkey and scaring his loved ones sitting around a campfire with a chainsaw.   

“It was fun to have the cameras follow us around for awhile – our family is crazy, I didn’t realize just HOW crazy we were,” Jay reflects in a statement. 

“I’m excited for everyone to see what life is REALLY like once someone like me, who has spent most of their adult life on the road, comes home and is back in the mix, trying to fit in and follow all the RULES!!”

DeMarcus Family Rules is available on Netflix on August 19. 

By Cillea Houghton
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.