ABC - Country Music News
Courtesy BMI

Maren Morris took home the top prize at the 2021 BMI Pop Awards for Song of the Year with her crossover hit "The Bones." It marks her first win at the ceremony that celebrates the most performed pop songs of the year.

The Grammy-nominated track reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and clinched the #1 spot on the Billboard Adult Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts, as well as the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

Additionally, songs by Dan + Shay and Gabby Barrett are among the 50 honorees.

The duo of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney were recognized for their Grammy-winning collaboration with Justin Bieber on "10,000 Hours," which debuted at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, while Gabby was also a first time BMI Pop Awards winner for her multi-week #1 hit, "I Hope." 

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ABC/Eric McCandless

Little Big Town is hitting play on the Nightfall Tour

The Grammy winning group has scheduled new dates for the trek that began in January 2020 and was originally postponed to August 2020 before moving to 2021.

The 16-date tour finds LBT hosting multi-night stays at venues across the country, beginning with three consecutive shows in Denver starting on September 3, followed by two-night stops in Salt Lake City, Kansas City and Chicago. 

The "Pontoon" hitmakers will also visit Detroit; Reading, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; and Charlotte before the tour wraps in Greensboro, North Carolina on November 5.  

Caitlyn Smith, writer behind Garth Brooks' "Tacoma" and Meghan Trainor and John Legend's hit duet "Like I'm Gonna Lose You," will open on select dates, along with Ashley Ray

The tour is named after the group's 2020 Grammy nominated album that features current single "Wine, Beer, Whiskey." 

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Catherine Powell

Dan + Shay will re-launch The (Arena) Tour this year. 

The duo announced on Monday that the tour that initially kicked off in March 2020 will resume on September 9 in Greenville, South Carolina and continue through early December.  

Throughout the more than 30-date trek, the Grammy winning duo will headline prestigious venues including Madison Square Garden on September 16 and a newly added stop at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on October 15. They've also added a show in San Diego on October 16.

The tour wraps on December 7 at the TD Garden in Boston, visiting such cities as New Orleans, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago in between. 

"From the bottom of our hearts, thank y’all so much for being patient with us on all of this. We’ve missed y’all more than you know, and promise it will be so worth the wait. Trust us," the duo writes on Instagram

Dan + Shay were three dates into their first arena headlining tour last year when they had to postpone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ingrid Andress and The Band CAMINO will continue to fill their roles as opening acts. 

All previously purchased tickets will be honored at the new dates. Tickets for the shows in L.A. and San Diego go on sale to the general public on Friday at 1 p.m. ET. 

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Zac Brown Band is ready for a "Comeback" 

The superstar band is embarking on The Comeback Tour this summer, which will take them to 21 cities across the country. It includes stops at Fenway Park in Boston, a two-night stay at Fiddler's Green Amphitheater in Denver and a closing date at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

Gabby Barrett and Devin Dawson are among the artists who will open for the "Chicken Fried" group, along with newcomers Adam Doleac, Ashland Craft and Teddy Swims.

The tour marks ZBB's first since 2019's The Owl Tour. The band announced last year that they were cancelling the originally planned Roar With the Lions Tour -- and the remaining dates of The Owl Tour -- due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Comeback Tour launches on August 5 in Holmdel, New Jersey at the PNC Bank Arts Center and concludes on October 17 in Nashville. Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 14 at 12 p.m. local time.

Visit Zac Brown Band's website for a full list of tour dates.  

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Thirty-two years ago this week, the country genre mourned the death of the singer-songwriter known for hits like “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” and “When You Say Nothing at All.” This Kentucky native died at just 34 years old, but he charted 12 singles on Billboard country charts during his life and added seven more to that total posthumously. Can you name him? ANSWER: Keith Whitley.

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Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMA

Thomas Rhett had the perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day.  The country star announced Sunday that his family of five is adding one more, revealing he and wife Lauren Akins are expecting another little girl.

"Well... we are pregnant again," gushed Thomas while sharing a picture of him and Lauren putting their hands on her growing stomach. "Tonight when I was on stage in Fort Worth about to play “to the guys that date my girls” my wife talked to me in my (ear monitors) and said “you can tell them if you want” so anyways, now you know."

The Grammy nominee noted he is "pumped" that he's having another girl.

Thomas also joked about the downside of being a #GirlDad, adding, "Feel free to buy all the merch you want, knowing that all the proceeds are going straight to all these weddings I’ll be paying for one day!"

"Love you so much @laur_akins we always wanted a big thanksgiving table," the "Die a Happy Man" singer concluded, closing out the big reveal with a sobbing emoji.

Lauren also shared the delightful news to her Instagram, writing, "SURPRISE!! he just couldn’t wait any longer, so @thomasrhettakins told our newest little secret onstage at @billybobstexas in Ft. Worth (my mama’s hometown."

Noting that the big reveal came "just in time for Mother's Day," she added, "Akins family expanding in November 2021 with our FOURTH baby girl."

Among the flood of well wishers extending their congratulations to the happy couple was Thomas' fellow country stars Shay Mooney and Maren Morris.

"It’s gonna be Pride & Prejudice up in that house!  Congratulations, y'all," said Morris while the Dan + Shay singer exclaimed "Congrats you guys!!!!"

Thomas and Lauren share five-year-old Willa Gray, three-year-old Ada James and Lennon Love, who's 1.

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Disney Channel/Image Group LA

Mother's Day was Sunday and celebs took to social media to honor those special moms in their life or celebrate being mothers themselves.

Here's how your favorite celebrities marked the holiday:

Lady A: "To always being our own personal rocks, and always being viewed as everyday superheroes in the eyes of our children...we truly don’t know where we’d be without you. Happy Mother’s Day Hillary, Kelli and Cassie -chris & dave & ck"

Jason Aldean: "Happy Mother’s Day to all the mama’s out there. I have been blessed with one amazing mom, one amazing bonus mom and one amazing mom to my babies. #nothinglikemamas"

Gabby Barrett: "A letter to my sweet little girl. Oh Baylah May, how you have flipped my world completely upside down in such a small amount of time. You’re almost 4 months old now. Little did I know, I could fall in love with another human as fast as I did you. Time is flying and it’s hard to describe how amazing it is to see you grow and come into your own. I remember finding out I was pregnant, and wanting to fast forward already so that you’d be here. To see whose features you have, to hear your voice, your giggle. What your name would be, what your personality would be like. All the wonderful attributes you would have.
What a privilege it was to be able to grow you in my tummy. I miss feeling you move around, but you being earth side has been a new kind of joy. The concept “dying to thy self” in the Christian life has become so evident since becoming a mother. And I couldn’t be more grateful to Our Lord and your daddy for giving me you.
Happy Mother’s Day to ALL mothers. Sending my love to you especially today."

Dierks Bentley: "they might not think we’re cool but you always are to me.#happymothersday"

Kane Brown: "We love you so much mama happy Mother’s Day"

Luke Bryan: "Happy Mother’s Day to one of the best of them @linabryan3!"

Luke Combs: "Happy Mother’s Day Momma! I love you a lot. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me and always supporting this crazy dream of mine. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you!"

Mickey Guyton: "Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful momma. I never truly understood the love my mom has for all of her children until I had one of my own. I get it now. Thank you for your love and sacrifice. I took it for granted but I see now. So thank you."

Miranda Lambert: "Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! #bevlambert @muttnation #furmoms #stepmoms #grandmamas"

Shay Mooney: "Mother’s Day should be everyday. You’re a superhuman @hannah.billingsley 3 immature little boys to deal with, and you do it with patience, kindness, and a whole lotta treats. We love you."

Maren Morris: "Thank you to my guys."

Brad Paisley: "A work of art. Also pictured, the Mona Lisa.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom & @kimberlywilliamspaisley

Here’s to all the moms. #happymothersday"

Thomas Rhett: "The rock of our family. The selfless, loving, beautiful, multi tasking, podcasting, book writing, joy giving human that is @laur_akins me, Willa gray, ada James, Lennon and whatever we name our 4th daughter are the luckiest humans in the world. Thank you for existing and shining a light in any room you walk into. Happy Mother’s Day to you! And happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mommas in my family."

Shania Twain: "Being a mom is the greatest job in the world ?? Happy Mother’s Day!"

Carrie Underwood:  "I hope all you mamas out there are taking a break today to enjoy some me-time! #HappyMothersDay #ChooseYou"

Keith Urban: "Happy Mother’s Day to mothers EVERYWHERE!!!! Happy Mother’s Day to Nicole Mary. Our girls are ALL love, color, kindness and compassion, curiosity, and so much more because YOU are all these things .....and so much more We LOVE you !"

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Steven Worster

Later this month, Sam Hunt competes for Top Country Album for Southside at the Billboard Music Awards.

It's an especially gratifying nomination for the "Body Like a Back Road" hitmaker, since making his sophomore record turned out to be particularly challenging.

"I still feel like I'm just now getting into this," Sam muses, "but I've been around now for a few years. And this is my second record, technically, and it took me a little longer than I planned or hoped to get new music out after that first record."

While Sam's triple-platinum Montevallo came out in October of 2014, it took him until April of last year to deliver its follow-up.

"I'd always heard your sophomore record is really hard to get finished," he says. "And a lot of times you're judged by that record more than your first record, because it's like, you know, 'Was the first one just a fluke?' kind of thing."

"But, yeah, I'm just happy to be acknowledged," he adds. "It's really cool to get that recognition."

We'll find out if Sam wins on Sunday, May 23, when the Billboard Music Awards air starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, live from the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.

In the meantime, Sam's latest Southside hit, "Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s," is just one spot away from becoming his newest #1.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock

On Friday, Travis Tritt released his new album, Set in Stone, the first full-length project of original material from the country singer in over a decade. His current single off the project is “Smoke in a Bar.”

The life and legacy of country star and rodeo champ Chris LeDoux is at the center of a new vinyl and digital album, Wyoming Cowboy -- A Collection, which compiles some of the singer’s best-loved songs in honor of the 50th anniversary of his debut album. LeDoux died of cancer in 2005 at the age of 56.

Cassadee Pope enlists Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Lindsay Ell to join her on her newest single, “What the Stars See,” which arrived last week.

Allie Colleen, rising singer-songwriter and the daughter of Garth Brooks, offers a word of warning in her latest release, “Don’t Give Your Heart to a Cowboy.” It’s the second single off her debut album, Stones.

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Monument Records

Flannel shirts, cheese grits, taxidermy and turnip greens: Those are just a few of the things that qualify as “Country Stuff” on Walker Hayes’ just-released duet with Jake Owen.

“Country Stuff” is a fun-loving celebration of all things redneck and backwoods, from chewing tobacco to muddy truck tires and much more. It’s the first taste and title track of a new EP Walker’s got planned for release next month, the singer revealed on Twitter.

Walker’s duet partner Jake adds, “My buddy Walker Hayes is one of the most talented peeps I know and was cool enough to ask me to be a part of this banger. Crank it up and have a great summer, y’all...”

Country Stuff’s track list also includes duets with Carly Pearce and Lori McKenna. The EP arrives in full June 4, but it’s available to pre-order now.

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Big Loud Records

Chris Lane’s been on a musical roll the last three weeks, dropping first his new single, “Fill Them Boots,” and then another new track, “Summer Job Money.” Now, he’s rounding out that trio of songs by showing off his softer side, with “That’s What Mamas Are For."

The singer’s new ballad is a personal Mother’s Day gift to his own mom, as well as a tribute to moms everywhere. This Mother’s Day will be unlike any other for Chris, as he and his wife, Lauren, are preparing to welcome their first child next month.

“As a soon-to-be day, this Mother’s Day more than ever, I’m just so grateful for my mom and the amazing momma my wife Lauren already is to our baby boy,” the singer says. “This song is to celebrate all the mommas out there. We wouldn’t be who we are today without you.”

To go along with “That’s What Mamas Are For,” Chris also dropped a music video that spotlights a mom through the eyes of her child as he grows up.

Chris isn’t done rolling out new music just yet: He recently teased an upcoming collaboration with Dustin Lynch called “Tequila on a Boat.” That song arrives May 14.

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Concord Records

Jennifer Nettles on Friday shared her cover of “Wait for It,” from the hit musical Hamilton, adding some twang and steel guitar to the track.

The singer’s take on “Wait for It” comes off her upcoming album, Always Like New, a collection of Great American Songbook classics. Taking songs from newer hit productions -- like Hamilton -- as well as selections from perennial favorites like My Fair Lady and Oklahoma!, the collection celebrates Jennifer’s lifetime love of musical theater.

“As a child who grew up in musical theater, this album feels like a homecoming to me,” she explains. “...It is thrilling to be able to celebrate this amazing songwriting with arrangements and vocals that allow them to be rediscovered anew.”

To assist with arrangements, Jennifer tapped Alex Lacamoire, who worked on Hamilton as well as shows like In the Heights and Dear Evan Hansen. The singer says she “savored” every aspect of the collaborative creative process.

Always Like New comes out on June 25, but it’s available for pre-order and pre-save now. When she announced it, Jennifer also previewed her new album with a first taste of the track list: She released “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” which originally appeared in the 1950 Broadway musical Guys and Dolls.

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Warner Music Nashville

One year after dropping Here and Now, Kenny Chesney is returning to the project with a new, deluxe version featuring four previously-unheard tracks.

Like many of his fellow artists, Kenny found himself with an abundance of time to create new music during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, he says the time he spent off the road underscored how important it is to him to create music with his songwriter friends.

“I decided I didn’t want to wait for the next album. I wanted these four songs to be a part of what Here and Now is -- making Here and Now Deluxe maybe shows a little bit of a now we never saw coming,” Kenny reflects.

The four new tracks are titled “Fields of Glory,” “My Anthem,” “Streets” and “Wind On.” The latter song was co-written by ‘90s hitmaker David Lee Murphy, who also collaborated with Kenny on their chart-topping 2017 duet, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”

Here and Now Deluxe arrived Friday at midnight ET. The project’s current single, “Knowing You,” is currently a top-40 hit and climbing.

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Chris Hollo/Grand Ole Opry

For the first time in over a year, Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry will welcome full-capacity audiences back to its shows beginning May 14.

The Opry has had a strict capacity cap in place ever since re-opening its doors to the public following the COVID-19 shutdowns, which began in March of 2020. As it resumes full-capacity shows, the venue will continue to follow strict COVID-19 safety protocols, including enhanced cleaning procedures and mandatory mask-wearing for audience members and staff.

The move to full-capacity shows comes ahead of an exciting lineup of performances booked at the Opry this summer. Lorrie Morgan and The Oak Ridge Boys are among the acts scheduled to perform during the first full-capacity show.

Other artists set for spring and summer appearances at the Opry include Luke Combs, Lady A, Carly Pearce, Chris Young, Lauren Alaina and many more. Head to the venue's website for more details.

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Warner Music Nashville

Michael Ray’s just-released new ballad, “Picture,” is a touching tribute to family ties that remain as strong as ever, even if that family is no longer physically together.

Written by the singer alongside David Garcia and fellow country star Hardy, “Picture” honors the time Michael spent with his family at home in Florida during the pandemic, as well as an uncle he lost last summer.

“This past year I was able to go home and reconnect with what made me want to move to Nashville, what made me fall in love with music, the people who made me who I am, the people who believed in me from day one,” he says. 

“I think it helped me re-find myself and re-discover the kind of music I want to make. That’s where a song like ‘Picture’ comes from,” Michael goes on. “After my Uncle Terry passed last June, I wanted to write an autobiographical song about my family and the memories we all have to look back on -- but it’s not a sad song. It’s a song of celebration.”

Following Michael’s latest single, “Whiskey and Rain,” his new song is another piece of an upcoming, as-yet-unannounced album. Along with the song, Michael dropped a music video, which further drives home “Picture”’s message of cherishing loved ones while they’re still around.

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