Country Stars The Scoop

The Scoop

Leesa Mitchell scoops out the nuggets on Big Cat 105.5.

Trisha Yearwood is letting fans hear her new single.  The country star debuted the song "Prizefighter" online Thursday.
Trisha recorded "Prizefighter" with Kelly Clarkson.  It's the title track to Yearwood's upcoming album, which will be her first collection of new studio material in seven years.  The single is slated for release on September 15th.  An arrival date for the album hasn't been announced yet.

Lee Ann Womack is on board for the next installment of "CMT Crossroads."  The country star is teaming up with R&B singer-songwriter John Legend for the show, which they'll tape in the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee.  CMT's John Hamlin says he expects them to make "an incredible pairing," explaining that they're "both among the most respected singers in their genres."  Womack and Legend's "CMT Crossroads" episode will debut on CMT on September 26th.

"CMT Crossroads" brings together country stars and artists from other genres to share stories and perform each other's songs to see where their musical paths intersect.  And for their show Womack and Legend have plenty of material to choose from, including John's chart-topper "All of Me" and Lee Ann's signature hit "I Hope You Dance."

George Strait fans who couldn't be in Arlington, Texas for the country legend's tour finale are now getting a chance to see the performance.  "George Strait: The Cowboy Rides Away" will debut on CMT Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.  Strait recalls preparing for the show, saying he and his team knew this wasn't going to be an ordinary concert.

The concert drew a record crowd of a crowd of nearly 105-thousand fans, who saw George perform with a host of guests, including Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, and many others.  George says for his tour finale he invited the artists who had previously joined him at shows over the course of the trek.  He adds that the star-packed celebration made the concert more exciting for him as well as the fans.

Rascal Flatts' Gary LeVox says the group is proud to be part of this weekend's MDA telethon.  The country star admits they enjoyed taping a performance of their hit "My Wish" for the fundraiser, but "the real highlight of the whole experience" was meeting 14-year-old MDA Ambassador Bryson Foster.  Gary says he and his bandmates were "inspired by him and all that MDA does to help the families it serves."

And Rascal Flatts aren't the only country stars featured on the show.  The upcoming special will also include Sara Evans singing her hit "A Little Bit Stronger" and LeAnn Rimes performing her single "Give," while Brad Paisley is among the stars who makes an appeal for donations.  The star-packed lineup also features "Nashville" star Charles Esten, former "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks, Poison frontman Bret Michaels, actress Alyssa Milano, and others.  The 49th annual MDA Show of Strength Telethon will air on ABC Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

The Alan Jackson exhibit opens Friday at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  "Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin' It Country" showcases the singer's life -- both in and out of the spotlight -- with memorabilia chronicling his quarter-century as a recording artist.  Visitors will see career-related material along with more personal items.  Displays include the front of the Ford pickup Alan used as his first Fan Fair booth and the water ski Jackson rode in the "Chattahoochee" video, as well as his childhood tricycle and his collection of "The Andy Griffith Show" memorabilia.  Handwritten lyrics, musical instruments, Alan's Houston Rodeo belt buckles, and other objects are also used to tell his story.

The museum will host a number of special programs this weekend in conjunction with the exhibit's launch.  In addition, Jackson's first car -- his 1955 Thunderbird -- will be on display through Monday only.  But "Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin' It Country" will remain open through March 15th.

The Swon Brothers have their first album on the way.  The country duo will release their self-titled debut effort on October 14th.  And the guys admit they're excited about the release.  Colton Swon says he and Zach put a lot of effort into the project, which created a lot of anxiety in them.  He tells "People" they know they have a lot riding on this album.  The singer explains that "you get one shot at this," so they were "so picky" about the songs they included.  Colton adds that they "said a little prayer before every session with the musicians, just praying that it goes well."

The Swon Brothers are giving the public a chance to check out some of their material this weekend.  They're previewing four songs from the album, and asking listeners to vote for their favorites.  The tracks will remain posted on People.com through Monday.  The Swon Brothers' album will also feature their current single, "Later On."

Blake Shelton admits he has a lot on the horizon.  The singer tells "Rolling Stone Country"  it's "definitely going to be a big fall," packed with live performances, season seven of "The Voice," and the arrival of his new album.  It's also a schedule he's been trying to avoid for a decade.  Shelton explains that he's told his manager "every year for the past 10 years" that he wants to just "be home" in the fall because "that's when deer season starts."  But while he laments the situation, he's not complaining.  Blake says he's fortunate to be at a point in his career that he can just do the things he's excited about -- even if it means he doesn't bag a buck this fall.

Shelton will be back in his red swivel chair when "The Voice" returns to NBC on September 22nd.  He'll release his new album, "Bringing Back the Sunshine," on September 30th, while his "Ten Times Crazier" tour continues into early October.  Blake will be performing in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday.

Tyler Farr says he got his strong work ethic from his dad.  The country star says he's never seen his father allow himself much leisure time.
Tyler will be working this Labor Day weekend, opening shows on Jason Aldean's "Burn It Down Tour."  They'll start in New York, with concerts in Saratoga Springs on Friday and Syracuse on Saturday.  They'll be performing in Bangor, Maine on Sunday.  Florida Georgia Line is also on the bill for the shows.  But the guys are getting the holiday off -- there's no show scheduled for Monday.

Labor Day has special significance to Alan Jackson.  The country star recalls it was on the holiday in 1985 that he and his wife Denise arrived in Nashville.  He adds that their new apartment didn't exactly match the description they were given. But Alan says they got lucky, because he knew somebody who had an apartment for rent that was "cheap, safe, and a wonderful place" for them.  The singer adds that he and Denise stayed there for five years, remaining even after he'd had a couple of hit singles.

Dolly Parton has joined the list of Americans taking the ice bucket challenge.  The country legend accepted the challenge from fellow country megastar Kenny Rogers.  She says Rogers didn't think she would dump ice water over her head with her wig, fake nails and false lashes.  But after taking the challenge with the help of her nieces, a drenched Parton said, quote, "you'd be surprised at what all I do with my falsies."

Birthdays 8/29...Diamond Rio's Dan Truman is 58.


 

Blake Shelton says his new album reflects a return for him -- on a couple of levels.  The singer tells "Rolling Stone Country" that his recent albums have "been so positive" because he's "been in this awesome place."  He explains that with "Bringing Back the Sunshine" he felt a need to get back to the "drinking songs" and "heartbreak songs," and start singing again to the people who "have had their heart broken, or they've had a tough day at work, or they get stabbed in the back."  Shelton adds that it's "the only way to be a little more political about where we are in country music."   He admits today's stars are "pushing boundaries" -- and he's "as guilty of it as anybody."  And while Blake's proud of his accomplishments, he says with his new album he's "bringing back some country into this thing." "Bringing Back the Sunshine" features Shelton's new single, "Neon Light."  The album will be in stores September 30th.

Brad Paisley says fans who buy the special ZinePak edition of his latest album, "Moonshine in the Trunk," won't be disappointed.  The country star explains that it's packed with photos and other behind-the-scenes details on the album. Brad admits if the albums he bought came in a ZinePak, he "would have eaten this up."  The "Moonshine in the Trunk" ZinePak is available exclusively from Walmart, and costs a few dollars more than the album alone.  But Paisley says he thinks buyers definitely get their money's worth from it.

Chase Rice has his first chart-topping disc.  The singer's new studio effort, "Ignite The Night," is starting its run at number one on the Billboard Country Albums list, with first week sales of 44-thousand.  That figure is also good enough to land Chase at number three on the all-genre Billboard 200, behind leader Wiz Khalifa's "Blacc Hollywood" and the "Guardians of the Galaxy" soundtrack.  Meanwhile, the compilation "Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute To Motley Crue" had opening sales of 31-thousand to take the number two spot on Country Albums.  It's falling in at number five on the Billboard 200, after the "Now 51" collection.

Justin Moore might not be surprised to learn the Motley Crue country tribute album is making a top five chart debut.  Justin's cover of "Home Sweet Home" was the lead-off single from the project, and the country star admits he thought it had hit potential.  But he says Motley Crue's catalog is full of great songs.
Justin says he chose to record "Home Sweet Home" because it's not only one of his favorite Motley Crue tracks, but it's "just a great song."  "Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute To Motley Crue" also features Florida Georgia Line, Rascal Flatts, Brantley Gilbert, and other country stars performing their own versions of the rock band's music.  The disc is starting its run on the Country Albums chart at number two behind Chase Rice's "Ignite The Night," while it's debuting at number five on the all-genre Billboard 200.
Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush continue trying to reassure fans that the duo is still intact, despite their concurrent solo projects.  But the two country stars aren't quite in alignment regarding their attitudes toward their independent work.  When Hartford, Connecticut's Country 92-5 separately asked each of them about promoting their solo albums with a collaborative tour, Kristian enthusiastically embraced the suggestion, saying "nothing's impossible" and they "could certainly do that." Bush apparently didn't know Jennifer's not on board with the idea.  She said teaming up with Kristian for a tour would "undercut what the whole intention of doing separate projects is."  She explained that their solo work had to remain independent, so when the reunite as Sugarland "it is fresh."  Nettles has spent this year promoting her solo album, "That Girl," which arrived back in January.  Bush has released several solo singles, but hasn't yet announced a release date for his album.

Trisha Yearwood is receiving more recognition for her cooking show.  The country star is among the nominees for the upcoming Cablefax Awards, which honors the best in cable TV and online-mobile programming.  Yearwood is in the running for Best Host - Food with her Food Network series, "Trisha's Southern Kitchen."  She took the prize at last year's event.  The singer is one of nine contenders this time around.  Her competition includes Florence Henderson, Guy Fieri, and Anthony Bourdain.  The Cablefax Program Awards winners will be announced at an event in Hollywood on October 14th.  

 

Nominees for this fall's Country Music Association Awards are on the way.  Little Big Town and Darius Rucker have been tapped to make the announcement.  They'll unveil the hopefuls in five  categories on ABC's "Good Morning America" on September 3rd.  Rucker and the group will then head to New York's Best Buy Theater to reveal the contenders for the rest of the categories.  That presentation will be streamed online at CMAawards.com starting at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.  Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will once again host the 48th annual CMA Awards, which will be presented in a ceremony in Nashville and air on ABC on November 5th.
 
Trisha Yearwood says the title track to her upcoming album, "Prizefighter," is "an anthem."  The country star adds that the song, which will be the disc's lead-off single, triggered some powerful memories for her. Yearwood adds that she can identify with the concept of stepping into the ring for a fight.  The  singer admits that as a woman who's well past the age of 25, she knows she's facing an uphill battle for airplay in today's youth-driven, male-dominated country radio climate.  Trisha will release the single "Prizefighter" on September 15th.  An arrival date for the album hasn't been announced yet.  "Prizefighter" is Yearwood's first collection of new studio material in seven years.

Tim McGraw is offering up another single from his next album.  The country star unveiled "Shotgun Rider" on Tuesday. McGraw says "Shotgun Rider" is "one of those songs that really paints a picture and sets a mood."  He explains that there's "a certain warmth to this song and several others like it" on "Sundown Heaven Town" that "really establish the tone for the whole album."  "Shotgun Rider" is the third single from the disc, following "Lookin' For That Girl" and the Faith Hill duet "Meanwhile Back at Mama's."  "Sundown Heaven Town" will arrive on September 16th.

The name of Tim's new single might sound familiar to longtime fans -- and with good reason.  It's the second song he's recorded called "Shotgun Rider," and not a remake of the Faith Hill duet on his 2007 album "Let It Go."

Martina McBride isn't ready to bring her "Everlasting" tour to a close.  The country star has added over 30 more dates to the trek, which now extends into December.  Martina is on the road in support of her most recent release, which lends its name to the trek.  "Everlasting" features the singer's versions of pop and R&B classics originally made famous by Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and others.  She says for the tour she's "worked hard to put together a show that is visually entertaining as well as very rich musically."  Martina adds that her performance "takes the audience on a musical journey," which features a blend of these vintage covers with her own hits.

McBride's upcoming run includes two shows in Nashville -- both of which are already sold out -- as well as a two-night stand in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She'll also make three stops in Northeastern Canada.  Martina's next show will be in Meridian, Mississippi on Thursday.

Kenny Chesney says it's hard to describe just how much he enjoyed his recent beachfront concert at the Flora-Bama Lounge in Pensacola, Florida.  The country star admits he'd love to play all his concerts in that kind of environment. Chesney adds that it was his audience that made his Flora-Bama show special.  He explains that fans responded to the event "because they care, and they love music, and they love life, and they love combining all those things with their friends and their family," and it was "just beautiful to see."

More than 40-thousand people packed the area along the Florida-Alabama border to see the concert, which was Kenny's only live show this year.  The singer staged the performance to promote his upcoming album, "The Big Revival," which will be in stores September 23rd.  The disc features Chesney's current single "American Kids" as well as the song "Flora-Bama." his tribute to the Florida club.

Rascal Flatts strives to give the most to their fans as well as their loved ones back home, which singer Gary LeVox admits is not easy.  The country star adds that it's a challenge every artist tackles differently.
Rascal Flatts has two shows coming up this weekend.  On Friday the trio will be performing at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma.  The guys will then travel to the Bahamas for a show at the Atlantis - Paradise Island on Sunday.  The shows are part of Rascal Flatts' tour in support of their latest album, "Rewind."

Kenny Chesney's latest efforts as a filmmaker are hitting the small screen.  The country star's new football documentary, "The Believer," will debut on ESPN's SEC Network Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.  Chesney teamed up with video director Shaun Silva to create the film about the University of South Carolina's head football coach Steve Spurrier.  In college, Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy with the Florida Gators, then went on to a pro career in the NFL.  In over 30 years as a coach, Spurrier has brought championships to Duke and the University of Florida, and he's the most successful football coach ever at South Carolina.

"The Believer" continues Chesney's relationship with ESPN.  He also helped create the high school football documentary "The Boys Of Fall" and "The Color Orange," which told the story of the University of Tennessee's Condredge Holloway, the first African-American starting quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.

 

 

MILEY WINS TOP PRIZE AT THE MTV VMAS

During Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus took home the Video of the Year trophy in a surprise upset -- and then turned her acceptance speech into a powerful call to action. Miley's "Wrecking Ball" clip beat out much more recent and talked-about clips -- from "Fancy" to "Happy" to "Drunk in Love" -- to take the top prize of the night. But instead of coming onstage to accept it, Miley sent an unknown young man instead. Identifying himself as Jesse, he said he was accepting the award for the "1.6 million runaways and homeless youths who are starving, lost and scared right now." While Miley watched from the side, tearing up, Jesse went on to note that L.A., the entertainment capital of the world, has a disproportionate number of young homeless people. He then invited everyone to visit Miley's Facebook page to see how they could help. She's asking her fans to donate money for "My Friend's Place," a homeless center for young people in Hollywood. Beyonce was the biggest winner on the night, taking home three trophies in addition to the Video Vanguard Award.

During the ceremony, rapper Common mentioned Ferguson, Missouri, which has been a hotbed of protests and occasional violence since unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot by a police officer there in early August. "The people have used their voices to call for justice and change, and to let everyone know that each and every one of our lives matters," said Common, noting that hip-hop has "always been about truth, and a powerful instrument for social change." Before handing out the award for Best Hip-Hop Video, he called for a moment of silence for Brown, "and for peace in this country and in the world." During the show, a brief public service announcement about Ferguson was also shown.

One of the highlights of the night was when Taylor Swift gave her first performance of "Shake It Off," which she sang wearing a two-piece, midriff-baring fringed sequin number, accompanied by dancing acrobatic men in tuxedos and female backup singers. At one point, she ascended to the top of a giant "1989" sign onstage -- that's the title of her album -- looked over the edge and said, "Nuh, uh. I don't care if it's the VMAs. I'm not jumping off there. All kinds of people are getting bit by snakes...it's dangerous!" That was a reference to the fact that, during rehearsal, one of Nicki Minaj's backup dancers was, in fact, bitten by a snake. She's OK, though.

 

MOONSHINE IN THE TRUNK IS RELEASED

After much anticipation and a lot of leaking, Brad Paisley's Moonshine In the Trunk album is released today in stores and online. Brad says that he sees his fans — and himself — in his new album:

(Brad Paisley) "This is the record where I am seeing the faces of the people I look at every night on these songs. I’m looking at the coolest fan base. And this album I think describes them. I know it describes me to a T, in many ways, you know? This is an album that doesn’t necessarily ignore the trials and tribulations of living in 2014, but what it really says is, 'Okay, things aren’t perfect, but it’s Friday.'"

Paisley is also releasing a special Zine-Pak to extend the content you get with the new album. As he shares, he would have loved if he could have gotten a ZinePak-styled version of some of his favorite artists’ records:

(Brad Paisley) "I would have eaten this up if I could have gotten something like this back in the day when I was buying Clint Black albums or something, you know? And to be able to see pictures of how they did it in the studio — Restless Heart, that would’ve blown my mind to see them or Alabama or something the way it was goin’ down and how they recorded and what they looked like when they were recording it, and it’s a really neat, in-depth look, and I hope that fans will take the time to look through it ’cause it’s really worth seeing what went into this record."

 

A MAN HIS MUSIC AND CARS

It's no secret that Keith Urban loves cars and he likes to sing about cars too as his latest single "Somewhere In My Car' continues to climb the country charts this week. His Fuse album also features a few other songs with a car in the title – "Cop Car" and "Red Camaro," among them.

Keith talks about how the car theme figures prominently in his songs.

(Keith Urban) "The car theme figures heavily in a lot of my songs, ‘cause I love cars and I love listening to music in cars, and I love all of the moments – all kinds of moments that we humans experience only in cars, you know? As couples and arguments and makeup sessions and make-out sessions and everything, I just love everything to do with cars."

 

DIRT GIVES CHILLS

Florida Georgia Line's latest single "Dirt" continues to rise on the country charts this week in the top ten. As Tyler Hubbard shares, the first time he heard the song it gave him chills:

(FGL's Tyler Hubbard) "When we first heard ‘Dirt’, I mean, we were blown away. It was one of those songs, you kinda get done listenin’ you have chill bumps on your arms, and you’re just like, wow, I can really relate to that. So, it his us hard the first time we heard it. Kinda felt, hey this is somewhere we need to go, just at least for the next single. ‘Cause we’ve done the party songs, we’ve done the upbeat fun stuff, and this is just a song that everybody can relate to. People young or people older, everybody kinda has that place in their life that’s home and that they have a special spot in their heart for. So I think that’s the kinda thing we’re tryin’ to capture with this song. Just kind of a little reminder of the importance of where you came from, where you grew up, and just in general where you live now and whatever that area is for you in your life."

 

GILBERT STILL LOOKS TO PARENTS WHEN THINGS GET BIG

Brantley Gilbert is a grown man with a successful career on his hands and several people in his employ. However, as Brantley shares, he still looks to his parents now and then for advice:

(Brantley Gilbert) "We’re at kind of a point in all of our lives right now where I lost my Grandfather on my Dad’s side and that was pretty hard. They both got a lot on their shoulders and a lot goin’ on and it’s kinda one of those things where I try my best not to put anything else on ‘em than they already got. I feel like I’m at the age now, and don’t get me wrong, there’s always situations where when it gets bigger than me it’s time to go talk to Mamma and Daddy and God. But for the most part, I feel like I’m at the age now where I’ve learned enough to where I can handle situations, and maybe even be the anchor in certain situations, more often than not."

 

DEEP SONGWRITING

Newcomer Leah Turner says that she’s willing to be very personal when it comes to her songwriting:

(Leah Turner) "You know, I don’t ever think too personal because my mom and dad would always say, just don’t forget that you’re not the only one going through this. And I have been given…the Lord’s given me a gift to be able to write down what I’ve gone through, and I actually want to be as real as possible when writing because what music has done for me in certain situations, I want to do that for somebody else. And if I can help one person — lift them out of a moment, keep them in that moment to make them feel like this is worth fighting for — I’ve done my job, and I’m doin’ what I’ve been put on this earth to do."

 

COUNTRY MUSIC IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL

Blake Shelton talked with Rolling Stone Country recently about his brand new radio single "Neon Light." He said, "The song, the melody, the chorus is so George Jones or George Strait. It really is. Of course, I’m always going to have the haters and critics out there that say it's not. But then, kiss my ass! I know more about those records than a lot of people." As for musical genres, Shelton won't be going pop like Taylor Swift did anytime soon. He said, "We do include elements in our music today that sonically make them different. But the heart of country music is still alive, and still there." Shelton's 11th studio album, Bringing Back the Sunshine is set for release on September 30.

 

A LOVE AND THEFT WEDDING

Stephen Barker Liles of Love And Theft, married his longtime girlfriend Jenna Michelle Kennedy on Sunday evening. The couple wed at Ruby Nashville, located just a few blocks from Nashville’s famed Music Row. The bride wore David Tutera for Mon Cheri. The ceremony included a dedication for their son Jett Barker Liles. Guests included Love And Theft member Eric Gunderson, his wife Emily and their son Camden.

 

HUNTER HAYES ANNOUNCES FALL TOUR

Hunter Hayes has officially announced his fall headlining tour, the "Tattoo (Your Name) Tour," set to kick off Thursday, October 30 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pennsylvania. Warner Music Nashville label mates Dan + Shay and The Railers will join Hayes as supporting acts for the tour. Hunter says, "This tour is definitely going to be different than anything we’ve ever done before…and maybe anyone has ever done. It's a lot of firsts not only for us, but even for the fans who have seen our show before. Every tour is all about the fans, but this one proves it. Not only are they going to be part of the show, they are the show…you’ll see what I mean!"

In anticipation of the tour announcement, Hayes met up with Dan + Shay and The Railers at Safe House Tattoo Studio in Nashville. To see what happened when the three acts got together, go to http://smarturl.it/TattooTourTeaser.

 

THE OPRY DEBUT OF SAM HUNT

Newcomer Sam Hunt made his Grand Ole Opry debut last week joining Carrie Underwood, Craig Morgan, Trace Adkins and more on country’s most famous stage. Eager to hit the stage, Hunt shared, “this is such an unbelievable experience. I’m so excited and nervous and just happy my family was able to come up for this!” In addition to his Opry debut, Hunt’s "Leave the Night On" continues to climb up country radio’s Top 20.

 

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