ABC - Country Music News

Mercury NashvilleIt's been nearly five years since Maddie & Tae's debut, Start Here, came out in August of 2015. After a long wait and a label change, the duo's sophomore album, The Way it Feels, finally arrives Friday. 

"This album really represents perseverance and redemption for us, with how many struggles it took to get here," Maddie Marlow tells ABC Audio. "So we are just really celebrating this big win of finally getting to tell our story, and share this project -- that we've worked on for years -- with our fans."

Along the way, Maddie and Tae Dye haven't done too badly for themselves. They scored a number one and won a CMA Award for their debut single, "Girl in a Country Song."

Now, their current single, "Die from a Broken Heart," is in the top twenty-five -- plenty of reason to celebrate, even in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I think me and my husband may pop open a bottle of champagne or something fun like that," Maddie predicts. 

Fans have gotten a preview of The Way It Feels, thanks to Maddie & Tae's two EPs, One Heart to Another and Everywhere I'm Goin', which came out in April and October of last year.

Among the new songs, Maddie points to "My Man" as a favorite, no doubt related to the fact that both she and Tae got married in the past few months.

"I feel like it is a little song of sunshine," Maddie says. "It just makes my heart so happy. It's so fun and upbeat and I feel like it's a really accurate representation of where we are in our lives right now. And so I can't wait for [fans] to hear that, and I hope it kind of lifts their spirit in this crazy time." 

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockBlake Shelton will virtually return to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday for a special “At Home” edition. Blake will chat with show host Jimmy Fallon and bring his pop superstar girlfriend, Gwen Stefani, along for a special performance of their duet, “Nobody But You.”

In case you missed it, Brad Paisley performed on last night’s Risky Jam, the live streamed iteration of bi-weekly Nashville singer-songwriter showcase Whiskey Jam. Brad took the virtual stage alongside CJ SolarBobby Pinson and many more. 

Rising country trio Avenue Beat also went live on Instagram last night with featured guests Maddie & TaeRaeLynn and songwriter Laura Veltz. The group drop their next song, “thank you anxiety,” today. 

The Bellamy Brothers have partnered with Florida-based medical cannabis company Trulieve to develop their own product line, Old Hippie Stash. Taking its name from the band’s 1985 tune, “Old Hippie,” the Brothers’ product is available at Trulieve dispensaries across Florida. 

Rising singer and former The Voice finalist Emily Ann Roberts shared the music video for her reflective new song, “How the Car’s Running.” She celebrated the new clip in a live streamed show on The Voice’s Instagram on Thursday night.

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Piper FergusonCMT will rebroadcast its CMT GIANTS Kenny Rogers: A Benefit for MusiCares special, a tribute to the life and legacy of Kenny Rogers, via YouTube tonight beginning at 8PM ET. 

The special, which originally aired on Wednesday, includes performances and interviews from a number of Kenny’s musical friends. Artists such as Dolly PartonLady AntebellumRascal Flatts and Vince Gill selected their favorite songs from the legendary performer’s discography and performed from home.

CMT Giants will continue to raise money for MusiCare’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which provides financial aid to those in the music industry impacted by the epidemic. During the rebroadcast, viewers will be able to make donations to the fund.

Actress and singer Rita Wilson hosted the event. Rita and her husband, actor Tom Hanks, were among the first celebrities diagnosed with COVID-19. Shortly before the special aired, they returned to the U.S. after spending two weeks in quarantine in Australia. 

Additional encore screenings of the special will take place on April 10 on MTV Live, April 11 on CMT and April 12 on CMT Music.

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ABC/Image Group LAOn the heels of the eighth number-one single of his career, “Homemade,” Jake Owen has announced that the next song he’s planning to send to country radio is “Made for You.” 

A romantic ballad professing eternal love and dedication, “Made for You” comes off of Jake’s newest album, Greetings From...Jake. He’s already seen the song’s power in action: Last year, he performed it at Carly Pearce and Michael Ray’s wedding at the star couple’s request. 

Though he joked about becoming a wedding singer at the time, Jake admitted that showcasing the song during such an important moment in his friends’ lives meant a lot. 

“As funny as that is, it really is a true testament to...I mean, the fact that I’m going to be singing it at two singers’ wedding with a song that honestly means something to them,” he explained to Billboard. “This is a powerful song about life and love.”

The singer broke the news over social media that “Made for You” would be his next single.

“This song has been so special to me and many others,” he wrote. “I’m excited to finally hear it on the radio.”

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I couldn’t be more excited to announce that my 4th single off of my #GreetingsFromJake album will be “Made For You”...this song has been so special to me and many others. I’m excited to finally hear it on the radio.

— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) April 8, 2020

ABC/Image Group LAAs the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep country artists and fans alike inside their homes in order to help halt the spread of the virus, Kelsea Ballerini has posted a heartfelt message of support to those struggling in quarantine. 

“Whatever you’re feeling is ok,” Kelsea wrote, going on to say that there’s no one right way to react to the quarantine, and the dramatic change it has brought to everyone’s lives. 

While some people have found the unexpected free time to be a chance to rest and recharge, others have found it to be a deeply stressful time. All responses are valid, Kelsea reminded her fans. 

“This is an uncharted, uneasy, unsettled time. There is no guide. Getting through it is the priority, and however we do that is OK,” the singer reflected. “Don’t guilt yourself because your journey through this looks different than someone else’s.”

The most important thing, she added, is that people keep themselves and those around them healthy, both physically and emotionally.

“Call your mom. Hug your dog. Learn to cook. Dance around your living room,” Kelsea said.

“Or don’t,” she concluded. “It’s ok.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

my heart to yours. 🤍

— Kelsea Ballerini (@KelseaBallerini) April 8, 2020

Good Morning AmericaChase Rice had plans to head to New York City for a stop on “Good Morning America” before the COVID-19 shutdown took effect, and though he won’t be there in person, the singer has found a creative way to keep his date with the show.

“We always have such a fun time bringing the band up to Times Square to perform, but when it became clear that everyone needed to stay home, our friends at ‘GMA’ really thought outside the box to still make this performance possible,” the singer says.

Chase plans to join the show by video, live from his Nashville farm, in the 8AM hour next Tuesday, April 14. You can tune in on ABC.

He’ll perform his current single, the top twenty-five hit “Lonely If You Are.” Additionally, the singer hints that he’s got an exciting announcement to share on the show.

“I’m excited to strip this song back to just me and a guitar, and hopefully bring a little much-needed joy to everyone’s morning!” he adds. 

“Lonely If You Are” comes off of Chase’s project, The Album Part I, which he surprise-dropped in January. More recently, the singer has been putting his time in quarantine to good use, adding the finishing touches to The Album Part II and teasing his next release on social media.

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Erika Goldring/Getty ImagesIn the music video for his tumultuous new song, “You Would Think,” Tucker Beathard tells a powerful story that the singer says is intentionally left open to interpretation.

The story centers on a daughter’s role as conflicted caregiver for her alcoholic mother. But in a climactic scene set in Dee’s Cocktail Lounge, a beloved dive just outside of Nashville, things take a turn for the unexpected. 

That ambiguity fits perfectly into the concept behind the song, Tucker explains.

“We purposely left ‘You Would Think’ open for interpretation as a song,” he tells Rolling Stone. “Although most people naturally assume it’s a song about a breakup with someone, for me it was more inspiring writing it from the perspective of a son talking to his dad or a daughter talking to her mom.”

Tucker doesn’t appear in the video’s main cast of characters, though shots of him strumming an acoustic guitar and singing by a campfire are interspersed throughout the video. 

“I knew I wanted the music video to shed light on the different perspectives this song can take,” Tucker says. “In the last music video I shot, ‘Better Than Me,’ I was the main character of the story, but for this song it was important for me to be nothing more than the narrator.”

“You Would Think” will head to country radio on April 13.

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ABC/Image Group LAAcross social media, country stars have been heeding the call of the “Demo Challenge,” a viral game that calls on artists to post the earliest versions of their songs. 

Jake Owen offered up an unreleased cover of John Prine’s “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian,” which he posted in tribute to the songwriting great after John died of complications of COVID-19 on Tuesday. 

Jake explained that the demo dates back to a day when he was in the studio recording, and had a little extra time left over. A photo of John hanging on the wall inspired him to cut his own rendition of “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian.”

More stars quickly jumped on board, including Morgan WallenLuke Combs and Kelsea Ballerini. Kelsea shared a peek into the demo of “needy,” one of the songs off her recently released, self-titled third album. 

Luke not only shared an inside look into his songwriting process, he also gave fans a taste of a tune they’d never before heard: a snippet of an unreleased song called “South on Ya.”

Morgan took the opportunity to offer a glimpse into new music, too, posting a track called “7 Summers” that, he said, he was “a little on the fence about” including on his next album. Chris Lane also shared an unreleased “quarantine one,” asking fans if they thought he should officially cut the track.

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RCA NashvilleIn the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown, it’s been weeks since country fans got to gather live and watch their favorite artists perform. Now, Ryan Hurd is reliving a little bit of the magic of connection in the live music video for “Wish for the World,” the song he used to close each stop on his now-postponed Platonic Tour. 

“It was one of my favorite moments from on stage, and something special to experience with each audience,” Ryan remembers. 

He’s hoping that the live footage-based video will remind quarantined music lovers that they’re not alone.

“Given what the world is experiencing right now, the song has taken on a new meaning and I wanted to share some of the love, friendship and happiness we got to witness and absorb each night with anyone who needs a little more of it right now,” the singer goes on to say.

The video begins with a shot of Ryan’s pre-show huddle with his crew, complete with the mantra of “Breathe in, breathe out.” The footage goes on to show highlights from his tour, onstage and off: Two fans get engaged, a crew member gets a surprise birthday cake, and a packed venue sings along to Ryan’s set.

“Wish for the World” comes off of Ryan’s 2019 Platonic EP, a project that also features his latest single, “To a T.” 

Last month, Ryan and his wife, fellow country star Maren Morris, also welcomed their first child.

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Comstock/ThinkstockOn this day in 2013, Brad Paisley released his ninth studio album. It debuted at the top of the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, making it the seventh number-one album of Brad’s career. Do you know what it was called? ANSWER: Wheelhouse.

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ABC/Image Group LAGabby Barrett is taking her debut single, “I Hope,” to historic new heights on the Billboard Country Streaming Songs chart for the survey dated April 11, with her song rising from the number-four slot all the way up to the top. 

That’s big news, not just for Gabby, but for female artists everywhere: “I Hope” is the first debut single to top the chart since its inception in April of 2013, Billboard reports. 

In fact, it’s the first time that a woman has been at the number-one spot on the Country Streaming Songs Chart since the 2019 holiday season, when Brenda Lee ruled for five weeks with her 1958 classic, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” 

Pop artist Bebe Rexha also enjoyed a lengthy, 55-week stay at the top spot, thanks to her massively popular collaboration with Florida Georgia Line, “Meant to Be.” That run wrapped in February of 2019. 

But setting aside collaborations and holiday hits, a female artist sitting at the top of the chart has been a much rarer occurrence: It last happened in 2015, when Miranda Lambert reigned with “Little Red Wagon.” 

Gabby’s chart-topping milestone comes with a 7% bump in streams of her single, notching a hefty nine million U.S. streams during the week ending April 2. 

"I Hope" is also on the rise elsewhere. It ascended from number three to number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and from number six to number three on the Country Airplay chart. Gabby is also enjoying some success outside of the country format, entering the all-genre Streaming Songs chart in the 41st spot.

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CMTThough the COVID-19 pandemic made a traditional public memorial for Kenny Rogers impossible, CMT still managed to stage a proper socially-distant remembrance for the legend on Wednesday night. The Texas native died of natural causes at the age of 81 on March 20. 

Actress/singer Rita Wilson -- recently recovered from the coronavirus herself -- hosted the one hour Giants: Kenny Rogers, with the help of The Gambler's fellow superstars like Dolly PartonLionel Richie and more. 

Lady Antebellum kicked off the tributes with an elaborate, emotive update of "Islands in the Stream" that stayed true to the original while also managing to bring it into 2020. 

Gavin DeGraw accompanied himself on piano to recreate Kenny's version of "We've Got Tonight," though his soulful take often seemed more reminiscent of Bob Seger's original, because he lacked a duet partner like Sheena Easton

Jennifer Nettles also went it alone, playing keys for herself on another Kenny collaboration, the Kim-Carnes-penned "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer." The Sugarland front-woman reminisced about how she was "always in love" with the "smoky voices" of both Kenny and Kim. The "Bette Davis Eyes" hitmaker herself revealed her famous, earth-shattering vocal was so because it was "not a good key" for her, since she recast it for Kenny.

Michael McDonald soloed on guitar for "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)." Americana favorites Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires took on "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)." 

Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill chose a song he co-wrote that Kenny recorded, "The Rock of Your Love." Rascal Flatts relived "Through the Years," while Randy Houser ably re-created "The Gambler."

The most anticipated number of the night came from Dolly, of course. She revisited her own version of "Sweet Music Man," the hit Kenny himself wrote after allegedly taking a flight beside Jessi Colter, the wife of the legendary Waylon Jennings

Lionel Richie may have written Kenny's crossover smash "Lady," but that wasn't how the show ended. The American Idol icon introduced another song he crafted, as an answer to his own monster hit, "Hello." 

Kenny himself closed the show with one of his final Capitol recordings, "Goodbye." 

The hour-long tribute was a benefit for MusiCares, the charitable arm of the Grammys, to help all the members of the music family, who are unable to work during the COVID-19 crisis. 

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Mason AllenIf you haven't seen Old Dominion's moving video for "Some People Do," it's worth taking time to check it out.

In lieu of shooting a traditional music video, the five-man band spent a day in L.A. in early February with Jason Schneidman. The celebrity stylist now gives haircuts to the homeless and works to help them turn their lives around. 

It's a personal cause for Schneidman, since he himself once lived on the street and fought addiction. 

"We met Jason probably four years ago," OD lead singer Matthew Ramsey tells ABC Audio. "He was just the hair and makeup guy on a photo shoot..."

"He was just a great person..." Matthew continues, "We just liked him, and so we kept using him... any time we had a... shoot he was available for... and [we] started to learn a little bit more of his story."

One night on the OD bus, the idea for the video was born.

"I was just... looking at his Instagram," Matthew recalls, "and seeing all these stories where he was going out and talking to homeless people and trying to clean 'em up and help 'em get their life on track. And it just clicked. And I thought, 'Man, this would be an amazing video for this song.'" 

"It's... about change and saying 'I'm sorry,' and just trying to be better and different," Matthew adds. "And he really exemplifies that. So, thankfully, I texted him right then and he was up for."

For OD, the result was nothing short of life-changing.

"That day was such an amazing day," Matthew reflects. 

Today, Old Dominion releases the long-form version of the "Some People Do" video. You can go to their socials and their YouTube channel to find out more about Schneidman's Men's Groomer Foundation.  

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockRonnie Milsap is readying a new greatest hits collection, The Best of Ronnie Milsap, for release on May 29 via Craft Recordings. The 12-track album, sampling the best of Ronnie’s multi-decade career, will be available on CD as well as in an expanded digital version.

Charlie Worsham enlisted an extensive cast of artists, including the Brothers Osborne’s John Osborne and bluegrass up-and-comer Molly Tuttle, for a quarantined virtual rendition of the Beatles apropos classic, “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

Matt Stell hosted a new episode of his Penned Up Series on Instagram last night, featuring guests artists Lindsay Ell, Travis Denning and Jameson Rodgers. Each week, the Penned Up Series spotlights brand-new songs from a wide variety of performers.

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ACMACM Lifting Lives, the charitable arm of the Academy of Country Music, has announced that its COVID-19 response fund reached $1 million less than a week after the special broadcast of ACM Presents: Our Country on Sunday night. 

The TV special, which aired on CBS, featured intimate, from-home performances from the likes of Eric ChurchKelsea BalleriniFlorida Georgia LineMiranda LambertLady Antebellum and many more. 

Additionally, the show featured a special tribute performance honoring the life and legacy of Kenny Rogers, who died last month.

Viewership reached almost eight million music fans, and the show also introduced, and invited audience members to donate to, the COVID-19 response fund. With contributions to the fund, ACM Lifting Lives was able to distribute over $500,000 to country music industry professionals directly impacted by the virus’ spread. 

In response to massive demand, ACM Presents: Our Country will rebroadcast on Saturday, April 11 at 8:00 PM ET on the CBS television network and CBS All Access. 

Additionally, the ACM recently launched In case you missed it, you can head to the website now to watch the pre-show for the event, which includes Chris Young’s tribute to Joe Diffie. Joe, who died on March 29, was the first mainstream country star we lost to the virus.

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(L-R) Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp - Photo Credit: Scott StrebleWillie Nelson’s non-profit organization to support agriculture in America, Farm Aid, is joining forces with AXS TV to launch a special broadcast called At Home with Farm Aid

The hour-long special will feature performances from Willie along with his fellow famous Farm Aid board members John MellencampDave Matthews and Neil Young. Also making an appearance will be Willie’s musical sons, Lukas, of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, and Micah

The special will raise awareness and funds to benefit farmers whose livelihoods have been threatened by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus has disrupted our entire country and is a grave threat to all of us,” Willie explains. “One of its many impacts is that it has helped us to better see the value of essential people like healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, delivery truck drivers and farmers and ranchers. 

Now, he continues, that essential class of workers need support. 

"Farm Aid has worked for 35 years to build a family farm centered agricultural system, and we are here now to support farmers and ranchers in this crisis, without whom we could not eat. The time to build a resilient family farm food system is now!" the singer concludes. 

At Home with Farm Aid will air on Saturday beginning at 8PM ET. You can tune in on AXS TV as well as on Farm Aid’s website, and across the network’s social media platforms.

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ABC/Randy HolmesKip Moore has launched an acoustic video series called the “In the Wild Sessions,” giving new perspective on the songs on his upcoming album, Wild World, through acoustic outdoor performances directed by the singer’s longtime collaborator, PJ Brown

The first installment of the series is a take on the album’s title track that Kip filmed in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. Against a stunning, rocky backdrop, his performance gets a boost from guest vocalist India Carney and guitarist Melissa Dougherty

“The ‘In the Wild Sessions’ began as a way to tell the story of these songs in a kind of bare bones way,” the singer explains. “I love to travel, and so PJ and I scouted a spot in the desert in California and hand-picked some independent artists to do the sessions with, as a way of highlighting their amazing talents, too.

Amid the COVID-19 shutdown, Kip has had to get creative. In more recent installments, he’s filmed his “In the Wild Sessions” solo from isolation at his rock-climbing facility in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge.

“The scenery here in Red River Gorge is also one of my favorite places to be and so I'm looking forward to also sharing this pocket of the world in some of the videos to come,” the singer adds.

Wild World is due out on May 29.

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ABC/Randy HolmesJust days after dropping his highly-anticipated sophomore project, SouthsideSam Hunt is offering some insights into his songwriting process in a new interview with songwriting giant Shane McAnally

Their conversation is the first installment of Shane’s new Instagram series, Behind the Hit, which features conversations with artists with whom he's written about the writing sessions that led to some of their best-known songs. 

Sam recalls that “Hard to Forget” started as an idea that remained unfinished well into the process of recording Southside. Still, he always knew that he wanted to come back to the track. 

“I just felt like that idea was too good to let by the wayside,” the singer remembers.

Shane adds that early on, the song was much darker and more introspective than it wound up being in the recorded version. Over the process of writing it, they changed almost everything about “Hard to Forget,” except for its hook.

Another important piece of the song is its sampling of Webb Pierce’s “There Stands the Glass.” Sam says that the idea to include that tune came from co-writer Luke Laird, and instantly changed the vision he had for his new song.

“He plays and I immediately was like, ‘Okay, we gotta scrap what we’re doing, we gotta work on this track,’” the singer explains. “Because we’d talked about finding a way to sample an old country song before, but to me, this hit me as the perfect song to sample.”

“Hard to Forget” is Southside’s second single, following the chart-topping “Kinfolks.”

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Daniel VorletHeartbreak takes a fiery turn in the music video for “Momma’s House,” the latest single from Dustin Lynch’s new album, Tullahoma

Shot in Lafayette, Tennessee, the clip finds Dustin brooding over a bad breakup, and tempted to set fire to the town that holds all his painful memories. No mailbox, park bench or apartment building is safe from the blaze -- that is, until the singer realizes that if he burns down the whole town, he’ll also have to destroy the house where he grew up. 

Sitting alone on a bar stool at the end of the video, Dustin chooses to walk away before striking the first match. In the closing shot, he stands in front of his mom’s unscathed house and smiles at the mailbox, which reads, “Lynch.”

“Momma’s House” follows Tullahoma’s first two singles, “Good Girl” and “Ridin’ Roads,” which both hit the number-one spot at country radio.

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Spencer CombsThe music video for Russell Dickerson’s new single, “Love You Like I Used To,” tells the story of a guy who’s packing up his suitcase and leaves a note by his sleeping wife’s bedside.  But it’s not because he’s fallen out of love. 

Instead, the song is an ode to love that gets sweeter as years go by. In the clip, the man leaves his family at home as he heads out the door for a business trip.  Between meetings, he takes time to video chat with his wife and three children. 

Even when a beautiful woman slips her phone number to him in a coffee shop, the man remains faithful to his own lasting love and the message of the song. 

For Russell, “Love You Like I Used To” is personal. It’s an ode to his wife, Kailey, who also directed the song’s music video alongside her directing partner and brother, Toben Seymour. 

"Like all of my songs, I’ve lived it. I started dating my wife 10 years ago and it is true -- I don’t love her like I used to and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this song," the singer explains.

“Love You Like I Used To” is a preview of Russell’s upcoming sophomore album, which is due out later in the year.

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