Saturday 28 April 2012

Country Bites News snippets April 23 – April 27, 2012

Country Bites News snippets April 23 – April 27, 2012

Links / Sources shown in RED

UK & IRISH News have designed and built a new website for UK artist Tim McKay.
They first heard Tim when they were photographing the International Festival of Country Music at Wembley in February. Tim loved the initial visual mockups and the explanation of the site architecture and gave the nod to start building his site. Tim jets off to Nashville for several important meetings that will carve the path of his career. In seven weeks Tim and his band go to Europe to play with Dwight Yoakam, Joey & Rory and Laura Bell Bundy. Featuring dates on the Scandinavian subcontinent including Oslo, Norway and the famous High Chaparral Country Music Festival in Sweden, the boys are gearing up for a great summer.
Tim Mckay – “Goodbye Would Go” from Tim’s album, CHASING DREAMS (Video By Don Binns Clear Cut) >>    YouTube

Lee Williams owner of CMR Nashville talks to new UK country duo Travellin Rose (Kelly Lee and Talia Smith) at a London Hotel about their recently recorded Nashville album to be called OMG (OH MY GOSH ) and their plans to represent the UK at the CMA Arists Global Artist Showcase event in June. Also they are to take part at a Fashion and music event at The Hard Rock in Nashville.
Listen to some of their new songs and interview on

Christy Moore has announced a one-off date for Dunlewey Theatre on Friday, June 15th next.
The former lead-vocalist and chief song-writer of Planxty and Moving Hearts, Moore helped to bring the musical traditions of Ireland up to modern standards and he has been a major inspiration to many modern Irish artists.

Billy Yates is coming to Ireland in May to perform 5 Concerts of Traditional American Country Music and will be joined on all five concerts by Robert Mizzell and on some by Matt Leavy, CC Cooper (photo) and Donegal's newest Country sensation, Sarah-Louise.
The following are the venues: Thursday 17th May - Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny,  Sunday 20th - Red Cow Inn, Dublin, Tuesday 22nd - Riverbank House Hotel, Wexford, Wednesday 23rd - Four Seasons Hotel, Monaghan and Thursday 24th - Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran
Making sure Donegal is well represented is young Sarah Louise from Gweedore, whose bi lingual country renditions have just got her noticed in all the right circles.
The announcement of this special evening at the Great Northern Hotel comes after the release of a duet by Mizzel and Yates “Just Be You”, which is getting lots of airplay. Yates' songs have been recorded by the who’s who of Country Music all over the world, including George Jones, Gene Watson, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Sarah Evans, Tracy Lawrence, The Oak Ridge Boys, Robert Mizzell. Yates has built a large and loyal fan-base in Ireland and is, as he says himself, long overdue a trip to the ‘True Home of Country Music”.
Donegal’s own Sarah Louise has been steeped in country music from an early age. Her earliest memory is attending Line Dance Classes at the tender age of 5 and getting a taste for American Country Music. Ever since then, Sarah Louise has been a natural performer, singing and playing the guitar to her family, peers and just about anyone who’d call to her house to hear her play!
Sarah Louise has been gifted with the type of voice you’d only hear in Tennessee or Texas, and not her native Gaoith Dobhair! But ask her who her influences are and she’ll tell you straight – anything American Country! Where else can you hear Bi-Lingual American Country Music?
Sarah Louise has one of those rare qualities these days, an old fashioned sweetness that truly endears her to your heart. Well, Sarah Louise’s dream came true this Year when she recorded her first single, ‘Biouchas Do Dhia Ar Do Shon’(Thank God For You’) and is set to shoot a video in her native Donegal. Sarah Louise sang alongside Tammy Wynette’s daughter, Georgette Jones, when she played in Donegal earlier in 2012

Carrie Underwood Graphi

Carrie Underwood, 29, who has sold 13 million albums will perform at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday June 21, 2012.
She said: “It will be my first time with a UK audience. There needs to be a few country artists out here, to let people know what they’re missing. "I really hope to be one of those voices and show everyone this great genre of music. There is so much talent in country music and I’d love to be an ambassador for it.“I like to think that I play everyone’s country music. It’s a great show and it’s high energy. I think that people can come out and dance"

Carrie told “I’ve heard that it’s quite the big deal. I’ve only been to London as a tourist before.” She added: 'I'm a huge fan of George Michael, Annie Lennox, The Rolling Stones, and of course, Adele.  I want to do that tradition proud. 
'There are so many great British artists doing well in the US at the moment; I want to show the UK another side of America.'
Tickets went on general sale at 10:00 on Friday 27th April.
Standing and Seating £30.25 (£27.50 Ticket + £2.75 Fees) and £49.50 (£45.00 Ticket + £4.50 Fees) – Buy on

Blown Away
Cover Art (Sony Music)

Carrie Underwood's fourth studio album delivers a 14-song collection, BLOWN AWAY, will be released May 1 in America and on June 18th in the UK just 3 days before her London show. ** NOTE * - The Blown Away: Special Edition: UK Version will have 4 bonus tracks
15. Cowboy Casanova (from 'Play On') , 16. Before He Cheats (from 'Some Hearts'), 17. Last Name (from 'Carnival Ride')  &
18. Jesus, Take The Wheel (from 'Some Hearts') – See Full tracklisting
 "I'm excited about Blown Away because I really think it will blow people away," Carrie says. "I felt so great writing for this album. I feel like we really just took it to new places. I feel like I have better stuff than ever and the songs are incredible. There's something for everybody on this album, and I am very excited."

The Country star talks about a song with ABC news that touched her hear on the new album >>  Audio Link
She said one of the writers wrote the song about his mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, but Underwood said it reminds her of her grandmother’s death.“I get emotional even talking about this song to be honest. It’s just beautiful,” Underwood said, tears welling up. “It just becomes very real… and I remember my grandmother at the end of her life, looking at my dad and thinking that that was my grandfather.” “I can never sing this song, like on stage in front of people. I could barely get through it in the studio,” she added.
Carrie Underwood called into KILT’s Foley & Thunder Show to talk about her new album they audio bombed her with David Lee Roth and his screams from the Van Halen song Runnin’ With The Devil… >>  Audio

Canadian singer-songwriter and 2010 CCMA Female Vocalist Victoria Banks has a  NEW single "Jackson" hitting radio in Canada May 1st!  Says Victoria of her new tune, "If this song leaves you with an image of a rusty dark blue 1964 Cadillac Deville speeding through southern Mississippi at midnight with a bloody handprint smeared across the trunk lid, then I've done my job.  I can't say that I'd advocate fighting firepower with firepower, but if you've got any stored up tension or frustrated dreams of avenging an injustice. just sing along with this song as loud as you can and it should clear them right up."
The song is drawn from from 2011 album Never Be the Same
In the Autumn Victoria heads out on her first tour in the United States kicking off in Marysville, OH September 13, and includes dates throughout New England and the Midwest.

Little Big Town (nominated in the CMT performance of the year category) along with Today host Hoda Kotb and guest co-host Willie Geist revealed the 2012 CMT Music Awards Nominations. Carrie Underwood leads the way with five nominations, Miranda Lambert got 4 (two as a member of country trio and first-time nominees Pistol Annies), Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, The Civil Wars and Thompson Square are next in line, tied for three nominations each.
The 2012 CMT Music Awards marks the 11th anniversary of the show and will air live from Nashville on June 6
(UKPA) Taylor Swift could be playing legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell on the big screen. The US country music star - who has previously appeared in romantic comedy Valentine's Day - is currently in talks about portraying the music icon in upcoming drama Girls Like Us, reports Variety.The film will follow the careers of Mitchell, Carly Simon, and Carole King.

Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner
 (Associated Press )

Willie Nelson helped unveil a statue honouring him in downtown Austin by singing his new song "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die."The faint smell of marijuana smoke wafted through a crowd of about 2,000 people as Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell accepted on the privately funded statue as a gift from a private arts group. Organizers said they didn't intentionally choose April 20 for the event, but once they found out, they scheduled the unveiling at 4:20 p.m. as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Nelson's openness about his marijuana use and advocacy for its legalization.The statute stands in front of the Moody Theater, where the Austin City Limits Studio is now located. Nelson, a 10-time Grammy Award winner who has sold more than 40 million copies of his 150 albums, appeared on the first episode of the public television show in 1974."He is the man who more than other made Austin the live music capital of the world," Leffingwell said.
 - Country singer Willie Nelson looks at his statue during the unveiling of an eight-foot statue of himself, Friday, April 20, 2012 in Austin, Texas. The privately-funded monument near the new Moody Theater shows Nelson in a relaxed, standing pose and holding his guitar to the side, as if in conversation."
The Willie Monument is the third statue put up by Capital Area Statues Inc., a group of prominent Texas writers, film producers and musicians. Lawrence Wright, one of the group’s founders, said April 20 was chosen because Nelson was scheduled to perform at a tribute to Johnny Cash in Austin that night, not because of the counterculture significance. “We didn’t know anything about it; it seems everyone else knew the story on this,” Wright said, laughing. He said he didn’t think Nelson was doing it intentionally either, but said the group decided to embrace the city’s unofficial motto of “Keep Austin Weird” by scheduling the unveiling at 4:20 p.m. (Associated Press –

The Band Perry are building their International fan base, after playing a couple of shows in Europe earlier this year and they head back overseas for some shows in July, which they're very excited about because, as Kimberly Perry explains,"We're just kind of getting to know the international community.  That's a big goal of ours this year is to begin to collect fans overseas." The Band Perry has five shows planned in Ireland and the UK in early July, so unfortunately they won't be able to send home a "Postcard From Paris," but they might be able to drop some in the mail from Dublin or London. (Neil Haislop - Country Forever Productions)

It's been seven years since The Mavericks played a live show as a group and now that they are back together and have recorded a new album they are about to hit the stage in a pretty big way.  Their first official show, aside from a few industry showcases and charity events, will be at Southern California's Stagecoach Festival (Fri 27 April – Sun 29 April - See Flyer) , an event that draws over 100,000 people annually.  Robert Reynolds explains, "Well we committed to Stagecoach because A, it's a prestigious festival that we respect … and also committed to it being our coming out party and it is that.  So we didn't want to compromise that by doing a private ten day sweep through the Midwest to get ready.  So we are really gonna go out with nervous energy.  But when we hit Stagecoach Festival it will really be, 'Are we on? I think we are, let's go,' you know?"  The first new Mavericks single is due to drop in coming weeks. (Neil Haislop - Country Forever Productions)

Keith Urban, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Croc Dundee are personalities you might not expect to see sharing the same stage. But in the wax world anything can happen. Madame Tussauds wax museum opened it’s doors down under in Sydney, Australia last week. Among the usual suspects of Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth is Keith Urban and his famous actress of a wife Nicole Kidman.

Keith’s doppelganger took 60 artists close to 800 hours to finish and is worth about $220,000, according to the museum.
Meanwhile in London England Keith’s “You’re My Better Halve” wife is a lone figure at Madame Tussauds. (See Flickr Photo)
Urban married Kidman in 2006.

The wax model of Keith Urban.

(Left) A model of Angelina Jolie gets a finishing touch as Zoe Walton fixes her makeup.
Picture: John Grainger Source: The Daily Telegraph

Country music Hall of Fame member George Jones is recuperating from upper respiratory infection and continues to rest at his Franklin, Tennessee home.  Although, George is doing much better, doctors are ordering mandatory recovery time forcing all tour dates through May 20th, including the entire Canadian run to be postponed - Nashville, Tenn(April 26, 2012)
Meanwhile The Tennesan reports that George Jones and daughter Georgette Lennon are in the middle of a now-public family feud
"I would like to apologize for my daughter Georgette and her new husband (Jamie Lennon) for putting so much bad things about me on the Internet and Facebook," said Jones in the video. "None of these things are true. They are all about money. I have gave and gave until I can no longer give. I will never let her go hungry, but I am tired of putting out, and I am not the person they claim I am."
Georgette Jones & husband
Jamie Lennon
 photo by Jerry overcast

Lennon, 41, said she is "completely devastated" by his message and denies making any negative statements about him. Georgette’s mother was country singer Tammy Wynette, who died in 1998.

"All I've ever wanted is to have a relationship with my dad and for him to know how much I love him and for him to love me and want to be a part of my life," she told The Associated Press. "I had hoped that we could resolve this between the two of us privately and at some point he would talk to me. Unfortunately, things have escalated even further."
Lennon said their relationship became strained a couple years ago when she became friends with her two brothers from Jones' second marriage. She said Jones had a falling out with his two sons about 20 years ago, and does not communicate with them.
She said her relationship with her father reached a breaking point last year when she was planning her Oct. 29 wedding.

Bonnie Raitt
Photo by: Marina Chavez

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) April 26, 2012 – The  Americana Music Association announced the selection of  Bonnie Raitt to receive its coveted Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance at the Association’s 11th Annual Honors and Awards ceremony, slated for Wednesday, Sept. 12 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.  As this year’s honoree, Raitt joins a distinguished list of previous recipients, which includes Gregg Allman, Wanda Jackson, Asleep at the Wheel, Jason & the Scorchers, Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo, Chris Hillman, Levon Helm and Emmylou Harris. 
Raitt will also participate in the Artist Keynote Interview during the Americana Music Festival & Conference. The in-depth interview, hosted by NPR Music’s Ann Powers, is slated for Wednesday, Sept. 12 and is open to conference attendees.
Throughout her career, Bonnie Raitt has celebrated and shaped American roots music. More than just a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer and accomplished songwriter, Raitt has become an institution in American music. A nine-time GRAMMY winner, Raitt was named one of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" by Rolling Stone and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Throughout her career, she’s combined old-school, country-blues grounding with a contemporary outlook and a willingness to experiment.  Bonnie Raitt has left an indelible mark Americana Music as we know it today.

Miranda Lambert side project girl group the Pistol Annies will perform on her ‘On Fire’ tour starting April 26, so in effect Miranda will now be opening for herself!
Miranda also made People’s Most Beautiful list this week. She said she knows that being a country superstar comes with pressure to look a certain way. "All these stars are so tiny, and they spend their lives trying to be skinny," she told Health in 2011. "I'm representing normal girls. It's OK to have a little bit of curve. I'm happy with my body. So many girls come up to me and say, 'Thank you for being normal,' and I'm proud of that." the California, online magazine publisher has announced their 4th Annual list of 100 Hottest Celebrity Couples.
What makes a couple hot? Well in the case of their listing, they loked at four criteria:
 Popularity, Success, Attractiveness, and Staying Power. Through a complicated system best described as "science," they have come up with a score for each category and compiled a total score for each couple, which ultimately decides their rankings.

LeAnn Rimes & Eddie Cibrian
 Bonafide country couple Faith Hill & Tim McGraw (#28) top the listing with new music out and hot off an Australian tour. CMA’s reigning Female and Male award winners Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton (#50) have moved up 8 places. London, England bound Carrie Underwood and her Canadian ice hockey player Mike Fisher who plays for Nashville Predators are at #39 down from last years #22. The couple met at one of Underwood's concerts in Toronto in 2008
Josh Kelley, (the brother of Charles Kelley from member of Lady Antebellum) who is married to American actress and producer Katherine Heigl made a bid to break into the country scene in 2011 and met with limited success. They are the proud parents of one daughter, 3-year-old Naleigh, who they adopted from South Korea. Now the couple have reportedly expanded their family with the adoption of another little girl. The news was confirmed by Heigl’s rep Jill Fritzo to People saying only, “Yes they have adopted a baby”. No further details available at this time.
Julianne Hough the former Dancing with the Stars pro tried breaking into the country music scene in 2010, but didn't gain commercial success. She scored better on the big screen as danced through 2011's Footloose. American Idol TV host and personality Ryan Seacrest has been romancing her.
LeAnn Rimes released a critically acclaimed covers project LADY & GENTLEMEN and has another new album slated for release in the pipeline. LeAnn Rimes and her American actor husband Eddie Cibrian are celebrating one year of wedded bliss. They met when they starred in the 2009 made-for-tv movie Northern Lights. The two exchanged gifts of jewelry, a ring for her and a watch for him, enjoyed romantic meals, and stayed at the house they got married in. The couple were even presented with a tiny replica of their wedding cake. See the Full listing at

Of Country interest on the Top 100:
12. Miley Cyrus & Liam Hemsworth (Photo by Getty Images)
18. Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin, Last year's rank: 50 (Photo by Getty Images)
24. Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban,  Last year's rank: 26  (Photo by Getty Images)
28. Faith Hill & Tim McGraw, Last year's rank: 19 (Photo by FameFlynet Pictures)
39. Carrie Underwood & Mike Fisher, Last year's rank: 22 (Photo by Getty Images)
47. Katherine Heigl & Josh Kelley, Last year's rank: 75 (Photo by Getty Images)
50. Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton, Last year's rank: 58  (Photo by Getty Images)
52. Ryan Seacrest & Julianne Hough, Last year's rank: 52  (Photo by Getty Images)
96. LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian, (Photo by Bauer Griffin)

Instagram photos

Taylor Swift and her friends got all dressed up for a party now and then. No black miniskirts and red high heels but opting for ribbons and lace, looking more like something out of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ than ‘Sex and the City.’ Swift and friend Claire Kislinger hit the town adorned in more vintage lace dresses accompanied by two friends — one of whom was Dianna Agron from ‘Glee’ — to celebrate the 77th birthday of actress Shirley MacLaine. “We dressed up full-time fancy and went out in celebration of Shirley MacLaine’s birthday,” Swift shared.

She got legs and she knows how to use em’ but now Hollywood plastic surgeons are speculating that Taylor Swift may have breast implants or could it be she is wearing a special bra? The Hollywood lifestyle may finally be rubbing off on Tay Tay. Recent photos of the 22-year-old singer suggest she may have undergone breast augmentation — and experts agree!
The country star appears to be following in the footsteps of another female country singer, Dolly Parton, and enhanced her breasts,” plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn tells
Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Fleming agrees, adding, “I think it’s pretty obvious that’s she’s had breast enhancement. It looks very nice and proportional.” Dr. Youn believes Taylor increased her cup size from a small A to a striking.
Before and after - photo

Alan Jackson‘s lake house is back on the market. Several years ago, the house went up for sale for $3.9 Million. Now, the house is about 6,100 square feet and boasts a theater room and a new kitchen. The house has stunning views, stone fireplaces, and a helicopter pad. The 3.6-acre estate, on a gated, private peninsula near Smithville, Tenn., is now listed for $4,995,000 !!  Take a look around the property at the

Brad Paisley  made a guest appearance as an animated version of himself on South Park. Over the weekend, Paisley visited the South Park Studios in California and was invited to be part of the next episode. Paisley's cartoon likeness was seen twice in the episode, first while singing the national anthem at a Denver Nuggets game and again in a duet with Cartman, one of the main characters.

BNA/COLUMBIA RECORDS artist Joanna Smith, is participating in the Country Music Marathon in Nashville this weekend, running her very first half marathon (13.1 miles), and will also be singing the “National Anthem,” to kick off the race for 30,000 runners and walkers, who will be converging on MUSIC CITY for the big event. JOANNA is supporting St. Jude Children’s Research.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Chris Talbott, AP) - Zac Brown Band's new album UNCAGED out July 10, 2012.
Describing the new Zac Brown Band album is anything but simple."It's your basic country-Southern rock-bluegrass-reggae-jam record," Brown joked. Brown says its 11 tracks further push the boundaries of what fans can expect from the Atlanta-based band.
He said the group has added Daniel de los Reyes, a percussionist who's worked with Earth, Wind & Fire, Sting and Jennifer Lopez among others. His addition to the already existing rhythm section of bassist John Driskell Hopkins and drummer Chris Fryar has allowed the band to expand its sound into new territory.

Kasey Chambers’ writes on her  Facebook page: Shane [Nicholson] and I are heading into the studio on Monday to start recording another album together!

Jana Kramer
Album Artwork

Nashville’s newest breakout singer/songwriter, Jana Kramer, will release her self-titled debut album on June 5th, 2012, which she is currently finishing with award-winning producer Scott Hendricks (Blake Shelton, Brooks & Dunn). With an audience over 10.6 million in only 10 weeks since it’s country radio debut, “Why Ya Wanna” continues to climb the chart at a record setting pace, already moving to the Top 25 on the charts.
Kramer, who starred as Alex Dupre on the CW hit One Tree Hill, has sold almost 250,000 digital singles to date, including “Why Ya Wanna” which racked up an impressive 55 radio adds upon release and solidified her as the most added debut artist in the history of Country Aircheck. The country newcomer made her Grand Ole Opry debut when she took the legendary stage on April 13th.
“Why Ya Wanna” Official Video >>   YouTube

The Boot reports Lee Ann Womack is back in the studio doing what she does best: putting vocals on a set of carefully-chosen songs for an upcoming album.
Picking songs for the new project was an interesting process for the singer. "I didn't write anything on it," Lee Ann tells The Boot. "It's funny, I was feeling weird about that and my husband (producer Frank Liddell) said, 'If outside songs are good enough for Willie Nelson, they should be good enough for you!' I had to agree with that."
"When we sat down to meet with her before we began recording," Frank recalls, "she was sitting there ... and my wife's not the tallest person in the world. She was swinging her feet and she said, 'I've never made a record where it was all about me'! As you grow as an artist, you want to do different things. Lee Ann wanted something wide open ... so we immediately tracked the record with a handful of sides, just six people, and the rest of it with four people. So it's a very sparse record and hopefully her voice is wide open and right in the middle of it. That's our focus. We didn't get too worried about songs or what she needed to say. We just took a bunch of great songs we'd amassed over the years and went into the studio. We've always gotten along real well song-wise."

Lee Ann Womack
at TheNashville Film Festival

While the new album doesn't have a release date yet, it does have a title: THE WAY THAT I'M LIVING. "That probably tells you right there it's a classic record dealing with the themes I always sing about, which is real life," she notes.

On Wednesday night (April 25) Lee Ann walked the red carpet at the Nashville Film Festival for the world premiere of "Hank Cochran: Livin' for a Song." When asked if there was one of the late songwriter's tunes on her new CD, Lee Ann had to stop and think a moment, since she's recorded his tunes in the past and also shared a friendship with him until his death in 2010. "No not this time. I met Hank through our mutual friend Dale Dodson. The three of us would write or go to eat or I'd go out to Hank's house to hang out and talk about music and just listen to Hank's stories." Cochran, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer who composed “I Fall to Pieces” and “Make the World Go Away,” died in 2010 at 74“
It’s a very special event for me because I get to see other people see Hank Cochran’s story,” said Lee Ann Womack, who counted cut his “He’ll Be Back.” ..“Hank is truly a superstar in this town. ... He was one of the people that made Nashville what it is.”

Inside Music Row

(Nashville, Tenn. – April 25, 2012) Country music news and entertainment program Inside Music Row is celebrating the airing of its 250th episode this week, April 23-29. With the recent addition of Rural TV network to its list of affiliates, the Nashville-based television show now broadcasts to more than 83 million U.S. households via a cross-section of  major network affiliates, satellite and cable systems.  This week’s episode of Inside Music Row includes coverage of the ACM Awards, Darryl Worley and the new Grascals CD release.
We pride ourselves on bringing a variety of stories and unique events to the fans each week on Inside Music Row,” says Inside Music Row Director Brian Covert.  I think it’s particularly gratifying to watch the careers of new artists take off.  To think that we may have helped to expose them to new audiences around the world is a great feeling.”
In addition to its list of U.S. affiliates, the weekly program also airs internationally in more than 40 million households overseas.  It is currently available through Sky/Showcase TV (403) in the UK (Monday) and Ireland, CMC Australia and Country 99 TV in New Zealand. Inside Music Row News - Week of April 23, 2012  >>   YouTube
I’m really proud of our entire team at Inside Music Row. They all work very hard and are dedicated to bringing viewers all over the world the latest happenings and Country music news each week,” says IMR Executive Producer Jeff Moseley.  “After 250 episodes, we are still breaking new ground and watching our viewership expand, which means a lot to us.”

Nashville, Tenn. Curb Records – (April 25, 2012) – Award-winning singer/songwriter, Lee Brice, launches his new album, Hard 2 Love, with the lead single, “A Woman Like You,” having reached No. 1 and the next single, “Hard to Love,” hitting radio now. With Hard 2 Love, an ACM Award for “Song of the Year,” and his first No. 1 as a vocalist, Brice’s career is soaring to new heights.
HARD 2 LOVE gives audiences a glimpse into Brice’s current place in life.  In addition to songs explicitly written by Brice for his fiancé and son, the album contains an assortment of songs that cover a multitude of emotions from boisterous party songs to songs about coping with the loss of a loved one.
Brice commented on the selection of tracks: “Everything on the new album is very pertinent to who I am right now and where I am in my life. I have some very personal stuff on there, and had to be really honest with it. Hopefully, folks will see that.”
In addition to co-producing the album, Brice has co-written eight of the 13 tracks. 12 of these songs are currently charting inside the iTunes Top 200 songs on the Country chart.

Journalist Peter Cooper has a Tennessean article which features Phil Madeira, the man behind the new MERCYLAND: HYMNS FOR THE REST OF US project , which includes contributing artists Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris and the Carolina Chocolate Drops..

CMT/ NASHVILLE SKYLINE columnist Chet Flippo writes about the ebb and flow of country music over past decades, its innovators and the primitive touring conditions and situations of country music's true pioneers.

Released this week (25 April 2012) by publisher  University of Illinois Press in hardback is the 304 page Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins (Music in American Life) . It is the first biography of this legendary country music artist and NASCAR driver who scored sixteen number-one hits and two Grammy awards"The e arly years of Marty's career are well covered and he topped the country charts for 13 weeks with Singing the Blues in 1956... It is a well-told and informative biography of a great but over looked country star." - Spencer Leigh, Country Music People, February 2012.

Carrie Underwood
Billboard Q & A Interview

Before Carrie Underwood's hotly anticipated fourth album release (Tuesday 1 May, 2012) she sat down with Chuck Dauphin for a Billboard Live Q&A on April 27.

She answered fan questions live on camera, discussed her album and chatted about life on the road.

Peter Cooper of The Tennessean talks with Tim O’Brien about his family bandYou read about the average American family, and that’s so many times equated with normal,” says O’Brien, a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, who with his kids, sister, brother-in-law and nieces has just recorded an album of Roger Miller songs called REINCARNATION under the name O’Brien, Party of 7. “But have you ever met the average person?”

Darryl Worley’s first album in two years, ONE TIME AROUND, is slated for June release, the same month he’ll host the three-day BamaJam music extravaganza, and that’s just for starters.The man behind more than twenty charted hit singles including “A Good Day to Run,” “I Miss My Friend,” “Have you Forgotten” and more took some time from his busy schedule to talk to OurStage for an exclusive Q & A about his latest single, his new album and more.

Americana act Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three drop into the Proper Music studio to chat to Trevor Dann and play some live tracks from their latest album Middle Of Everywhere. Pokey & Adam talk archtop guitars, Joey unveils the Chadwick folding bass and Ryan gives us the low-down on his customised washboard - Listen on

Aussie duo McAlister Kemp’s (Drew McAlister and Troy Kemp) new video “Cold Beer, Hot Women” from the ARIA #1 Country album COUNTRY PROUD through ABC Music/Universal Music >>    YouTube

The video features a number of exciting cameos including an appearance from Australian born Italian Playboy Playmate of the Year, Lauren Vickers (pictured).

Keith Urban was formerly inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday, April 21, 2012. Keith cutting the cake with the knife Marty Stuart gave him that night - Photo

Saturday 21 April 2012

Country Bites News snippets April 16 – April 20, 2012

Country Bites News snippets April 16 – April 20, 2012

Links / Sources in RED

UK & Irish NEWS
Gene Watson & Jerry Kilgore to tour together - From his success supporting Johnny Rodriguez on his recent UK tour
Jerry Kilgore has been invited to support Gene Watson on his UK tour in July. Gene and Jerry will be backed and supported by UK Band C’est La Vie. Dates:
Friday 6 July 2012 - Moss Bank Labour Club, St. Helen’s, Merseyside ( 0151 488 0678 )
Saturday 7 July 2012 - Debenham Sports and Leisure Centre Debenham Sports and Leisure Centre, Suffolk (01728 861101)
Sunday 8 July 2012 - Americana International Festival , Newark, Nottinghamshire (01159 390 595)
Monday 9 July 2012 - Queens Hall, Watton, Norfolk (Mike Rix on 01953 889890 or 0777 4640936 )

(CMA News - Apr 18, 2012)
UK & Irish 2012 CMA Global Showcases set for June 4th-5th
Scottish duo Raintown

A diverse lineup of International Country Acts have been announced for the Global Events Showcases during the 2012 CMA Music Festival Week in downtown Nashville
No less than Twenty-Two artists representing five different countries and territories have been announced for the 2012 Global Events showcases, held June 4-5 during 2012 CMA Music Festival week.
Legendary Gene Watson to Perform Duet with Ireland’s Lisa McHugh
“Chevrolet Presents The CMA Global Artist Party” will be held Monday, June 4 (6:00–10:45 PM/CDT) at The Stage on Broadway.
The 2012 lineup includes Bob Corbett (Australia), Emerson Drive (Canada), Morgan Evans (Australia), Vickie Evans (New Zealand), Adam Harvey (Australia), High Valley (Canada), Lisa McHugh (Ireland) with the legendary Gene Watson (U.S.), Craig Morrison (Australia), Jess Moskaluke (Canada), Gary Quinn (UK), and Joe Robinson (Australia). Australian husband and wife duo O’Shea return as hosts from last year’s event.

“CMA Presents The Aristo Global Show” will be held Tuesday, June 5 (12:30–3:45 PM/CDT) at The Second Fiddle.This year’s performers include Baylou (Australia), Clayton Bellamy (Canada), Rick Caballo (Australia), Adam Gregory (Canada), Pete Kennedy (Ireland), Colm Kirwan (Ireland), Josh Macumber (Canada), Raintown (UK), Jessica Ridley (Canada), and Travellin Rose (UK).  Australian artist Adam Harvey is hosting the Aristo Global Show.
One of CMA’s missions is to help spread Country Music around the globe,” said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “We are always excited to see international Country Music performers grow and develop in their own countries, and then visit Nashville to build their relationships with both the fans and the industry. We look forward to celebrating and showcasing them in Music City during the week of CMA Music Festival”

Colm Kirwan
Amazon CD Artwork
Colm Kirwan has just released his debut self titled album  on 19 April (Country House Records) It was produced by Grammy Nominee singer-songwriter Victoria Shaw, (Garth Brooks, Lady Antebellum) and the release in Europe co-incides with his scheduled tour in the UK and Ireland with Country Star Don Williams.
 The album has 2 cuts by ace songwriter/musician Gary Burr and 4 songs were co-written by Victoria.
 ‘I Love The Way You Love Me’ a duet with Shaw, was a #1 for John Michael Montgomery in 1993 and was covered by the Irish Boyband Boyzone. It was released in November 1998 and made #2 on the UK Chart.
The song ‘Never Alone’ (written by Gary Burr, Sara Buxton and Victoria Shaw) has previously been recorded by Jim Brickman/Sara Evans, The Rankin Family, Robin Meade and Susie McEntire (formely Luchsinger)
Bonus track ‘The Lumber Song’ written in 1996 by Bob Halligan, Jr/Linda Halligan and Rick Cua was pitched to Colm by his friend Rory Feek (of Joey + Rory) .
It is the first single from the album >>   YouTube
Colm writes on his Facebook page “Just done with sound check for my first night opening for Don Williams!!! Truly excited and I have to say a little nervous!!! But just wanna go out there and have fun!!! :0)) Good Times!! Namaste!!
Colm, who is the son of Dominic Kirwan, relocated to Nashville - “I moved from Ireland because I always thought outside the bubble. It just wasn’t big enough for what I wanted to do,” he explains. “But equally I don’t want to be an artist that’s big just in America. I want to be an artist who tours worldwide. There’s such a big world out there that loves a lot of this music.”
Colm’s objective for the album and the tour is simple-to continue creating that elusive sound he’s trying to find, sifting through the ideas until they come together to create his signature country Celtic sound.

Australian-born Country entertainer Craig Morrison has released his debut U.S. single, “Fences,” to Country radio in advance of his May 1 self-titled album release. Morrison’s U.S. debut features a pair of singles that made strong impressions recently with fans in Australia. “Hot Kinda Love,” written by Morrison, was named Country Song of the Year at the 2011 Australian Songwriter’s Awards, while the music video was a Top 30 fan-favorite on Australia’s Country Music Channel (CMC).
When I first started to put this album together, I didn’t have a specific direction initially, but I knew we wanted it to have a fun, up-tempo feel,” says Morrison. “As time evolved, I found the album’s natural progression was describing my journey through music and life. ‘Fences’ is a daily testament to how I live this musical journey... I climb.”
Fellow Aussie and Grammy nominated record producer Mark Moffatt (Keith Urban, Gloriana, Jason Aldean) produced the project after Morrison relocated to Nashville in 2011.
Recording with Nashville session players is an experience every artist should have,” says Morrison. “We tracked live with six amazing players and then did incidental instruments like mandolin, banjo and backing vocals at Mark Moffatt’s Big Dog Studios. No shortcuts were taken, and I have no regrets. This is truly the most amazing album, and I have enjoyed every minute of the recording process.” Single Artwork (“Fences”)

Dave Haywood and Kelli Cashiola
Photo by Skip Hopkins,
courtesy of The Greenroom.
Lady Antebellum's Dave Haywood Ties the Knot – Groom Dave, 29, & his now wife Kelli Cashiola were married on Saturday, April 14th, right outside of Nashville, TN in a secret location. It now means it’s a three-for-all with all 3 members of Lady A having now tied the knot!
Another Nashville based trio, the country band Mockingbird Sun, were apparently in attendance, too. “The Dave Haywood/Kelli Cashiola wedding was AWESOME. like a movie. wish them the very best!” they shared via Twitter (Quote from
People  magazine reported that Dave’s band mates, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott, attended the sunset wedding and that artist Dave Barnes (who wrote the Blake Shelton hit “God Gave Me You”) provided the ceremony music which was followed by dinner and dancing.
The sun was setting over a breathtaking view from a hill as family, friends and Haywood's bandmates, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott, gathered around the couple at longtime Nashville publicist Front Porch Farms in Ashland City on a private farm outside of Nashville.
The couple, who have been friends for nearly six years, publicly revealed their romance on Nov. 9, 2011 when Cashiola walked the CMA Red Carpet with him.

Kenneth J. Allen, an attorney for several of the victims, said he was “struck by the lack of emotion and compassion” of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush during their depositions in the Indiana State Fair stage collapse case on Thursday (Apr 12) and Friday in Charleston, West Virginia. According to reports, Nettles never got emotional during the  four-and-a-half-hour deposition. Attorneys said she was personable and described her demeanor as “calm and cool.”

Luke Bryan’s third studio album on Capitol Records Nashville, TAILGATES & TANLINES, has earned RIAA Platinum status by selling one million copies to retail.

Lee Brice’s single, “A Woman Like You,” has officially been certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of over 500,000 digital downloads. The hit single was  #1 last week on both Billboard Hot Country Songs and Mediabase charts. “A Woman Like You,” is the lead single from Brice’s forthcoming Curb Records album, HARD 2 LOVE, due out April 24. (Curb Records Press Release)

“A Woman Like You,” penned by Johnny Bulford, Phil Barton and Jon Stone, resonates with both men and women alike.  The heartwarming yet honest song is a man’s response to his wife’s question about where he’d be if he hadn’t met her.  Brice commented on the lyrics, “The girl in the song asks, ‘What would you do if you never met me?’ And the guy goes, ‘You want to know the truth? I’d probably be doing just what I was doing then, looking for you.’ He’s walking a thin line there for a minute, but then he’s able to hook it to say something every woman wants to hear…I think people dig it because the guy is being pretty darn honest.”

The Pistol Annies (Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley) will commemorate Record Store Day with the vinyl release of their critically acclaimed album, HELL ON HEELS. The vinyl version will be released on Record Store Day which is Saturday, April 21. The album was first released in Digital format only and debuted at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 (41,980 sales)and made country music history as the first Digital-only album to top the Billboard Country Album chart. Due to that success, retail stores like Walmart then made physical CD copies album available in stores. The title track gained Gold status. Fans can listen to the album with the “fuzz and crackle” feel of a well-loved and worn vinyl record at
Levon Helm in days of
 Credit: Polaris

Levon Helm, legendary drummer and singer of the immensely influential group The Band, has passed away, aged 71. He died Thursday afternoon of complications from cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said Lucy Sabini of Vanguard Records.
Helm's family released a statement on his website today (Thursday April 19) saying that he had finally succumbed to throat cancer, which he had been battling since the late 1990s.Here is the statement:
"Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon. He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul."
Helm, who was found to have throat cancer in 1998.
Helm's guitarist Larry Campbell tells Rolling Stone. "All his friends were there, and it seemed like Levon was waiting for them. Ten minutes after they left we sat there and he just faded away. He did it with dignity." Campbell, 57, adds: "It was even two days ago they thought it would happen within hours, but he held on. It seems like he was Levon up to the end, doing it the way he wanted to do it. He loved us, we loved him”
Image Credit: Douglas Mason/Getty Image
Levon Helm performs at the Life is Good Festival
at the Prowse Farm in Canton, Massachusetts.

A message posted Tuesday on the 71-year-old musician's website written by his daughter Amy and wife Sandy said that the multiple Grammy-winning solo artist was in “the final stages” of his battle with cancer. The Woodstock, NY-based rock legend was diagnosed with throat cancer in the late ’90s and for a period was unable to sing. But Helm eventually recovered his voice and in 2007 released the acclaimed Grammy-winning album DIRT FARMER. However with the Tuesday statement, it appeared that the drummer’s health had declined significantly.
Helm and The Band came to prominence originally as Bob Dylan's backing band, before stepping out to have their own career and releasing one of the most acclaimed albums of all time, MUSIC FROM BIG PINK.
Helm also penned the brilliant autobiography THIS WHEEL'S ON FIRE: THE STORY OF LEVON HELM AND THE BAND, in which he documented his entire life from growing up in rural Arkansas through to being a member of one of the world's most revered rock bands. Here is footage of Helm performing 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' in the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz, a documentary made about the groups last ever performance in 1976.  >>    YouTube

Helm a Rock multi-instrumentalist and actor achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band. As a  key member of The Band Levon lent his distinctive Southern voice bringing an urgent beat and a genuine Arkansas twang to classics like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." He helped turn a bunch of musicians known mostly as Bob Dylan's backup group into one of rock's most legendary acts. In truth, the group had only one American — Levon Helm

Helm and his bandmates — Canadians Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel — were musical virtuosos who returned to the roots of American music in the late 1960s as other rockers veered into psychedelia, heavy metal and jams. The group's 1968 debut, "Music From Big Pink," and its follow-up, "The Band," remain landmark albums of the era, and songs such as ''Dixie Down" and "Cripple Creek" have become rock standards.
Early on, The Band backed Dylan on his sensational and controversial electric tours of 1965-66 and collaborated with him on the legendary "Basement Tapes," which produced "I Shall Be Released," ''Tears of Rage" and many other favorites.

Dylan said on his website Thursday: "He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation. This is just so sad to talk about."
Hudson said on his website that he was "terribly sad."  "Thank you for 50 years of friendship and music," he posted. "No more sorrows, no more troubles, no more pain. He went peacefully to that beautiful marvelous wonderful place. ... Levon, I'm proud of you."
While Helm's illness reduced his voice to something close to a whisper, it did not end his musical career. Beset by debt, in 2004 he began a series of free-wheeling late night shows in his barn in Woodstock that were patterned after medicine shows from his youth. Any night of the bi-weekly Midnight Rambles could feature Gillian Welch, Elvis Costello or his daughter Amy on vocals and violin.

Levon Helm at the 2008 Americana Music Awards
in Nashville. (Courtesy BBC Photo image) 

At this years 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards he won Best Americana Album for RAMBLE AT THE RYMAN ( On September 17, 2008, the legendary Levon Helm took his beloved Midnight Ramble on the road to one of America’s treasured venues, Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium. 
Accompanied by such luminaries as Buddy Miller, John Hiatt, Sheryl Crow, George Receli, Sam Bush and Billy Bob Thornton, the Levon Helm Band created an unforgettable night of stage magic. >>   YouTube
RAMBLE AT THE RYMAN (Live CD & DVD) captures the joy, essence and reverence of Helm’s live shows. It features the Levon Helm Band in a veritable tour through the American songbook, performing classics from Helm’s tenure with The Band, as well as song’s from his Grammy winning release DIRT FARMER (2007) and selections from artists such as Chuck Berry, the Carter Family and more. Ramble at the Ryman came on the heels of Dirt Farmer’s stunning debut which won a Grammy in 2008 for Best Traditional Folk Album and landed Helm a spot in Rolling Stone’s The 100 Greatest Singers of All. Time.  -  (Sources, Associated Press)


Toby Keith Talks European Success of “Red Solo Cup” - “They kept singing like a bunch of frat guys,” says Toby.
Toby told Country Countdown USA of his recent tour though Europe, where his German fans’ reaction to the song stunned the singer. “I’d never played Germany,” Toby said. “Our first night in Germany . . . it was over the top. We’d released a video [of “Red Solo Cup”] on the internet. By the time I get to Scotland, and then we get on down to Germany and by the next weekend the whole crowd has red Solo cups, and they were real Solo cups. I said, ‘Where did you find red Solo cups in Germany?’ and they said, ‘The internet.’ They knew [the song] word for word.”

(April 17, 2012 - NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) George Jones postpones shows due to health
George Jones needs more time to recover from a recent upper respiratory infection. The 80-year-old country music singer is postponing his upcoming shows on April 20 and 21 in Minnesota and South Dakota. A statement from Jones' publicist, Kirt Webster, says doctors have advised Jones to continue resting at his Tennessee home for another week. The shows will be rescheduled. Jones was scheduled to perform Friday at Shooting Star Casino, Hotel and Event Center in Mahnomen (muh-NOH'-min), Minn. That concert has been rescheduled for Nov. 8.

Carrie Underwood is thrilled her husband Mike Fisher and his hockey team, the Nashville Predators, have made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs. She’s not as excited about the facial hair that comes along with a trip to the post-season.
"I'm not looking forward to the playoff beard," she joked to PEOPLE while promoting Olay's new "Beauty by Example" campaign in New York on Thursday. “[The players] all grow out their facial hair during the playoffs. So before they started, I told Mike, ‘You need to shave close.’ He always looks good with a little stubble, but it’s probably going to get out of hand soon.”
Carrie Underwood
Billboard Cover Girl
While Carrie fully supports Mike, she has retaliation in mind for the excess facial hair. “I’m going to stop shaving, too,” she said. “Just kidding!”

Carrie goes for the “blown away look” on the front of Billboard Magazine and is their cover story artist. It is Underwood's appreciation for varied musical styles and her perpetual thirst for a creative challenge that laid the foundation for "BLOWN AWAY," her fourth and most adventurous album, due May 1 on 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville.
"I never feel like I've pigeon-holed myself into a certain kind of song," Carrie tells Billboard. "I've taken all of my albums into as many different directions as possible, while still keeping them coherent. This is just a whole new level of that. I really do think there's something for everyone….Underwood says she took longer in making her new album. "It seems like people have an album out every year and they are on a 'perma-tour' is what I call it. They tour permanently, all the time. I think I just made that word up," she says with a smile. "They live on tour and when they aren't on tour, they are making an album. To me, if you have no life in between albums, you have nothing to write about . . . I have to live." To read more from Carrie’s interview go here.

This week Reba McEntire becomes just the second female country artist to top the 30 million mark in album sales since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. Shania Twain is #1 with sales of 34,175,000. Reba was an active force in country music for nearly 10 years before Nielsen SoundScan scanned its first bar code. She first hit Top Country Albums in October 1981 with HEART TO HEART.

Joe & Heather Nichols with
baby Dylan
(Taste Of Country)

Joe Nichols wife Heather gave birth to little girl Dylan River Nichols (7 pounds, 5 ounces -photo) on Tuesday. The couple just announced the pregnancy in February. “Our prayers have been answered,” Heather Nichols said in a statement at the singer’s website. “We went through years of loss and heartbreak to get to this point and now our little baby girl is here.” The couple suffered a miscarriage at the beginning of 2008.
Heather and Joe have been married since 2007. Dylan River is the couple’s first child together, though Joe has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship. As for the choice of name “Dylan was inspired by Heather’s childhood friend Dylan who passed away after college. She says she has felt his presence as her guardian angel since,” Heather’s mother Sharon Singleton explained. “River comes from the song Joe sang to Heather on their wedding day, ‘That Would Be Her,’ which Heather listened to over and over during her fertility treatments.”

Baillie And The Boys
Facebook promo image
After almost exactly 25 years after Baillie And The Boys had their Billboard chart debut with “Oh Heart” (Apr. 18, 1987) – the trio is together again, touring and recording for the first time in years. The band is Kathie Baillie and her husband Michael Bonagura, along with Alan LeBoeuf. Baillie and Bonagura have been living in Nashville for years, while LeBoeuf lives back in his home state of New Jersey, between stints playing Paul McCartney in touring companies of “Beatlemania.”
Singing together is so natural for the three of us,” Bonagura says in March from New Jersey, where the band was rehearsing for a group of reunion concerts. “We have the same spark. Till you feel it, you don’t really know. Life has matured us all.”
Being together again feels the same, but I feel it’s more exciting,” Baillie says. “When we were signed to RCA, everything happened so quickly there was no time to sit back and figure out who we were.
It was really the music business back then. It wasn’t all about the money and all about, ‘How beautiful are you? How handsome are you? How many records can you sell in the first month?’ ”
LeBoeuf says that the trio is “re-learning some of the old songs. It came back pretty quickly. It sounds surprisingly good.”
They were sitting around a kitchen table once again, singing the Crosby, Stills & Nash hit “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” which played a huge part in their original record deal.
Turns out that Baillie And The Boys, three Yankees from New Jersey and New England, became a favorite of one of the day’s most famous country boys, Jeff Cook of the band Alabama. Cook adored the way the trio sang “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” and urged Alabama’s label, RCA, to sign them.
Tickets for their reunion shows have been selling so well that additional shows have been added.
I thank God that people remember us. That’s the gratification,” Cathie says. “We did have a signature sound, and it’s never been done again. Now there are Lady A and The Band Perry, with one girl and two guys. We were first to ever do that.”
One of the keys to the band’s immediate success 25 years ago was producer Kyle Lehning, who had just helped Randy Travis break out as a traditional country star before he began working with Baillie And The Boys. A quarter century later, Lehning is their producer again, as the trio begins finding and cutting songs for a new album.
“Kyle always got us really well,” Baillie says. “It’s so funny to be working with him again. It’s like a total 360.”
Kathie Baillie (Twitter 24 March) - "Rehearsing on some new material today for our new CD... It's been a while and we are pretty excited about it"
Long Shot" video from RCA recording artists Baillie and the Boys,  
first aired in 1988  >>    YouTube

Jake Owen & Fiance Lacey
(Image at )
Jake Owen’s fiancé Lacey now has her engagement ring. When country star Jake recently presented now-fiancé Lacey Buchanan with an engagement ring, “I told her, ‘The sparkle is never going to go away in that ring, and I don’t want our sparkle to ever go away either,’” he tells PEOPLE. “‘On your darkest days, I want you to look at it and see that there’s a glimmer of light in it. I want it to always remind you of the possibilities of our relationship.”
Owen, 30, designed the ring with Lizzy Raye Jewelers in Atlanta, and he had a classic look in mind. So the singer selected a 2.5-carat oval-cut diamond set in platinum with a “little bitty halo around it” and small diamonds on the band. “I want that ring to be timeless,” he says. “When my mom saw it, she said, ‘That looks like something Princess Diana would wear.’ I was so excited to give it to her.”
He got a lesson in diamond selection in the process, too. “I think the color is E color, E/SI1,” he says proudly. “I know all of it. No inclusions! You can always go bigger with less clarity, but with hers I really wanted it to be bright white, sparkling.“I’m pretty spontaneous about a lot of things but that,” he continues, “look, she’s the most unique, amazing person I’ve ever met and I needed something on her finger just as unique as she is.”

The word on the street is that Wynonna Judd is recording a new album not in a Nashville studio but a work shed on her property. She is working on it with her drummer fiancé Cactus Moser. The new record is slanted as being more rock oriented than anything she’s done before.

Australian newspaper, The Herald Sun, got an interview Harry Styles from UK boy band ONE DIRECTION and asked him about Taylor Swift. Harry reported he and Taylor Swift are just friends. Harry did confirm that he and Taylor exchanged numbers, and he called her "very talented." But, Harry adds, "She's very nice. We're friends."

After signing a record deal with Entertainment One Music Group late last year, country music star Bucky Covington is excited to release his long-awaited new singleI Wanna Be That Feeling” to country radio. “I Wanna Be That Feeling,” the lead single from Bucky’s sophomore album expected mid 2012, is the perfect up-tempo country love song, written by Jimmy Yeary and Ben Hayslip.  The song delivers to country radio today via digital delivery system PlayMPE with an add date set for May 7th.

A new album from outlaw country legend Waylon Jennings will be released this September, filled with recordings the icon made during the last few years before his death in 2002. Jennings spent hours in a recording studio with his longtime accompanist, Robby Turner and together they laid down twelve tracks (Jennings wrote 11 of them) using just Waylon’s guitar and vocals and Turner’s bass.  All songs were personally selected by the country star, ones that resonated in a deeply personal way and reflected his state of mind, his passions, and important statements he wanted to make about his life. With his family’s blessing, GOIN’ DOWN ROCKIN’: The Last Recordings OF WAYLON JENNINGS will be available on September 11 (Saguaro Road Records). No one has ever heard these performances before; they are Waylon’s last gift to his fans.  

The Choice
Amazon Artwork

Multi-platinum selling Grammy nominee Billy Gilman spearheads historic project to sponsor 500,000 pairs of shoes with the writing, recording and sale of charity single, 'The Choice' co-written by Gilman. Determined to bring attention to the world wide plight of children in desperate need of shoes. Billy and fellow country artists Rodney Atkins, Montgomery Gentry, Amy Grant, Steve Holy, Alan Jackson, Wynonna Judd, Richie McDonald, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, Craig Morgan, Kellie Pickler, LeAnn Rimes, Diamond Rio, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Josh Turner, and Keith Urban donate time, talent and royalties to record song.
Released on the Cotton Valley Records (CVR) label through the generous support of recording studio veteran J. Gary Smith 100% of the proceeds from digital download of The Choice go directly to Soles4Souls, one of the fastest-growing nonprofits in the country whose goal is simply to put shoes on people in need.

Drinkin’ Man’ is a courageous choice for George Strait as his third single released from ‘HERE FOR A GOOD TIME’

Little Big Town have a new single coming out called ‘Pontoon’ from their upcoming album (due in September). It hits radio on April 30th.  >>   Listen  
They are heading to NEW YORK to announce this years CMT Music Awards on NBC’S “Today” show on Monday, April 23rd.

The Inspirational Country Music Association Faith (ICM Faith), Family & Country™ 20th Anniversary Awards Week, to be held on Oct., 14 – 18, 2012 at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel (2025 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard) in Nashville, TN is set to celebrate two decades of success and growth that has occurred in the Inspirational and Christian Country music genre since the foundation of the original Christian Country Music Association in the 1990’s.

(CMA News - Apr 17, 2012)
The legendary Glen Campbell, Ronnie Milsap, and Kenny Rogers, and reunited multi-Platinum certified group The Mavericks have joined the performer lineup for the Nightly Concerts at LP Field held during 2012 CMA Music Festival. The event takes place Thursday through Sunday, June 7-10, in downtown Nashville.
Campbell will deliver the opening performance on the Nightly Concerts on Thursday, June 7; Milsap will open on Friday, June 8; Rogers will open on Saturday, June 9; and The Mavericks will open on Sunday, June 10.
The current lineups for the Nightly Concerts are as follows in alphabetical order:
Thursday, June 7:  Jason Aldean, Glen Campbell, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, and Zac Brown Band
Friday, June 8:  The Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert, Ronnie Milsap, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, and Carrie Underwood
Saturday, June 9:  Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, Faith Hill, and Kenny Rogers
Sunday, June 10:  Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, The Mavericks, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, and Rascal Flatts.

Don Williams “What If it Worked Like That” , taken from his new album AND SO IT GOES which is released in the UK April 30th, and 19th June in USA -
Don also made a surprise perfomance at the Bridgestone Arena April 10, 2012 in Nashville for the annual 'All for the Hall' fundraiser concert. Don joins Vince Gill and Keith Urban on stage to perform new song “Imagine That”   >>      YouTube

HEAR IT FIRST ~ Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us which includes tracks by The Civil Wars, Shawn Mullins, Buddy Miller, Dan Tyminski, and Emmylou Harris. Hear the songs in Full at

Week two of behind the scenes footage in the studio with Brad Paisley starting work on the next record >>    YouTube
Brad Paisley: “I always have to find inspiration to do an album, especially if it’s a collected grouping of songs that are supposed to have something to do with one another. I’m not a fan of the records that feel like somebody just cut ten songs and put it out.”

Pistol Annies perform "Hell On Heels"at the American Country Awards Dec 2011
 >>   YouTube