Nashville notes: Kelsea Ballerini’s pop collab, Chase Rice’s new album + more

Kelsea Ballerini is collaborating with pop act Fletcher. The two stars are planning to release a duet rendition of “Better Version” this Friday. The song originally appeared on Fletcher’s Girl of My Dreams album.

Chase Rice announced his next album, I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go to Hell, on Thursday morning. It’s got a February 10 release date and features a couple of songs he has recently shared, including “Way Down Yonder.”

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are the newest artists to sign on for a CMT Crossroads special. The 90-minute presentation, which also commemorates the franchise’s 20th anniversary, will air November 29 at 9 p.m. ET. Ahead of the full special, you can watch a sneak peek of the two artist’s “Can’t Let Go” performance.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Carrie Underwood + more country stars rev up for Hy-Vee Indycar Race Weekend


You can catch Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band on the Iowa Speedway next summer.

All three superstar country acts have signed on to play the Hy-Vee Indycar Race Weekend, with Carrie and Kenny taking the stage on Saturday, July 22. The next day, ZBB will rock out with the racing fans, sharing the bill with pop superstar Ed Sheeran.

In 2022, over 80,000 fans turned out to celebrate the jam-packed weekend of racing and music. Next year’s event promises to be even more special, with the weekend planned for the 2023 NTT Indycar Series schedule.

The Hy-Vee Indycar Race Weekend is set for July 21-23, 2023. Tickets go on sale to the general public on December 5, but fans can register now for a pre-sale that will open prior to the onsale date.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Bluebird Days’: Jordan Davis pulls back the curtain on his next album

UMG Nashville

Hot on the heels of his CMA Awards Song of the Year victory for “Buy Dirt,” Jordan Davis is ready to announce his second full-length album.

The project is called Bluebird Days, a nod to his passion for duck hunting, according to American Songwriter, who had a first look at the album and cover art on Thursday morning. In hunting terms, a “bluebird day” is a warm, sunny day.

“It’s been an evolution, and not just from a songwriting standpoint,” Jordan says, describing the album-making process for his latest musical chapter.

“I feel like it’s allowed me to have some more fun in the studio, to be able to bring in some instruments that you never would have heard on my records three years ago,” he continues. “Everything matches the song. It’s not just putting instruments on songs because you think they need to be there…nothing feels forced. To me, it’s an album expressing exactly where I’m at right now.”

The track list of Bluebird Days features several recently-released songs, including “Buy Dirt,” “Next Thing You Know” and his current single “What My World Spins Around.”

The album will arrive on February 17, 2023.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Maren Morris will lend some festive musical magic to two Disney holiday specials

ABC/Randy Holmes

Maren Morris is lending her voice to not one but two upcoming Disney holiday specials.

In this year’s installment of The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration, fans can catch Maren’s performance of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

The annual celebration, hosted by siblings Julianne and Derek Hough, returns on Sunday, November 27 and features performances filmed at California’s Disneyland and Florida’s Disney World. The fun begins at 8 p.m. ET and will feature a few sneak peeks at what’s new and exciting at Disney, including a glimpse at the newest Disney Cruise Line ship.

On Christmas Day — December 25 — Maren will return for Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade with a performance of “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

For both specials, Maren’s repping the country genre on an all-genre bill. Black Eyed Peas, Meghan Trainor, Ne-Yo and Chloe Flower are just a few of the acts who will perform during both seasonal presentations.

The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. ET. The Houghs will return as co-hosts, along with Good Trouble’s Sherry Cola and grown-ish’s Marcus Scribner.

Both specials will air live on ABC. The Magical Holiday Celebration will be available to stream the next day on Hulu and Disney+, while the parade will stream live on Hulu.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jimmie Allen, Elle King to co-host this year’s ‘New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash’

ABC/Eric McCandless

Jimmie Allen and Elle King will be ringing in the New Year in downtown Nashville.

The two singers are co-hosting this year’s New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash along with Entertainment Tonight’s Rachel Smith.

According to ET Online, Jimmie’s excited to host the Bash not only because of his love of Nashville, but also because his hosting gig will allow him to shed some spotlight on his home state.

“I get to represent not only Nashville and country music but my home state of Delaware — primetime television on New Year’s Eve! Let’s bring this new year in right!” he states.

For her part, Elle says she’s excited to embrace Music City on New Year’s Eve, just weeks before her first full country album, Come Get Your Wife, drops in late January.

“Nashville has been so amazing and welcoming to me this year and I can’t wait to see what next year brings. I am so excited to be hosting the festivities live in Music City!” she adds.

Nashville’s Big Bash will air live on December 31 on CBS. Spanning five hours, the special will feature 50 performances from a host of country music’s biggest stars. Brooks & Dunn, Little Big Town, Kelsea Ballerini and Zac Brown Band are among the performers who have already been announced, with many more on the way.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ingrid Andress isn’t sure kickball’s a sport, but she knows it leads to “Wishful Drinking”


Kickball can lead to a little “Wishful Drinking” — just ask Ingrid Andress and Sam Hunt

You see, the pair’s recent number one can be credited to the fact that Ingrid’s boyfriend and Sam both love to play some ball. 

“I met Ingrid three or four years ago,” Sam explains. “I played basketball with a group of guys out at a songwriter-buddy’s house and Ingrid dates one of the guys that played ball with us, and he put together this little kickball league.”

“So I joined them a couple of nights playing kickball at one of the Nashville leagues — one of the rec fields in town,” Sam continues, “and met Ingrid and just hit it off with her. She’s great. We had a couple of nights where we were like the substitutes. So we were on the sidelines, just kind of cutting up and hanging out.”

Fast-forward several months to Ingrid sending Sam a song she thought he’d be perfect on: “Wishful Drinking.”

The singer/songwriter confirms Sam’s version of events, even though her opinion of kickball may put her at odds with her significant other.

“Shout out to kickball,” she laughs, adding, “even though to me, it’s not really a real sport.” 

“Wishful Drinking” is Ingrid’s second number one, following her breakthrough from a couple years ago, “More Hearts Than Mine.” Meanwhile, Sam’s latest in a string of successful singles, “Water Under the Bridge,” is currently nearing country’s top 25. 

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nashville notes: Billy Ray Cyrus gets engaged + more

Billy Ray Cyrus announced via People that he is engaged to singer-songwriter Firerose. The couple have collaborated musically, too; their latest song together is called “Time.”

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has announced a partnership with the University of Illinois to release books on country music. The first release, a companion book to a current Hall of Fame exhibit called Western Edge, is available now.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Thomas Rhett wishes his daughter “Lillie bug” a happy first birthday


Thomas Rhett and his family are celebrating a very special birthday this week. The youngest of the singer’s four children, Lillie, is officially a one-year-old.

“Lillie bug…how are you one already?” TR wrote on social media. “It seems like yesterday. For real.”

In his birthday post, the singer shared a snapshot of little Lillie offering the camera a grin with big, purple sunglasses on her face. That sunny demeanor is pretty typical of his baby girl, Thomas says in the rest of his post’s caption.

“Every time I look at you you are smiling!” he goes on to say. “Don’t ever lose that! Happy birthday to you little baby.”

Thomas and his wife, Lauren Akins, share four daughters, whose ages span from 7 to 1. Over on Lauren’s social media, she shared a snapshot of the family’s “hot tub party” celebrating Lillie’s birthday.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Kelsea Ballerini jumps in “Heartfirst” to celebrate her “cosmic” Grammy nomination


Kelsea Ballerini had a reason to celebrate when the 2023 Grammy nominations were announced on Tuesday: Her new single “Heartfirst” is nominated in the Best Country Solo Performance category.

The singer was watching the nominees announcement in real time, and she shared video of her immediate reaction on social media. When the news broke, she was at a restaurant with some friends, and she immediately screamed with emotion when she heard her name called in the category.

“The song about following your heart no matter where it leads just [got] nominated for a Grammy,” Kelsea wrote in the caption of her post. “Couldn’t be more cosmic. Here’s to always jumping right in baby with your heart first.”

Kelsea’s new Grammy nod is the third of her career. The 65th Grammy Awards are set for February 5 in Los Angeles.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Shania Twain explains why her ‘Queen of Me’ album is extra “precious” after voice-saving throat surgery

Louie Banks/Republic Records

Shania Twain’s new Queen of Me album is the first full-length project she has recorded since her open-throat surgery in 2018, which was one of several procedures intended to help her recover from her lengthy battle with Lyme disease.

“Every day that I was recording I was testing the new voice,” she explained during a TalkShopLive appearance celebrating her new album, which comes out early next year.

While Shania found triumph in her experience of re-learning to sing, she knows that at some point in the future, her voice might give out again.

“What’s even more precious to me is that I don’t know if the procedure I had will last forever,” the singer explained. “With age, it could just not hold up, and that could be it.”

If that happens, she’ll be faced with some tough choices.

“Will I do the operation again or not? Do I just now write music for other people’s albums at that point?” Shania continued. “I will gladly do that, and again, it will be another decision that I will have to make as the queen of me. Some decisions are tougher than others.”

Those uncertainties only make Shania’s upcoming album cycle that much more special. Queen of Me arrives on February 3, and in April, she’ll take her new batch of songs out on the road for her The Queen of Me Tour.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.