ABC - Country Music News

ABC/Image Group LAMorgan Wallen’s finally making it to the stage of Saturday Night Live this weekend, and the singer has shared a pandemic-themed clip ahead of his appearance on the show.

One day before his performance, the singer shared a teaser clip of himself standing alongside this week’s host, Jason Bateman, as well as cast member Heidi Gardner. Standing side by side and wearing masks, the trio offer a comedy-laced peek into this week’s episode of SNL.

All jokes aside, it’s been a long road for Morgan to get to the SNL stage. He was first scheduled to give his debut performance on the show in October, but lost his slot after a series of TikTok videos emerged of the singer partying without a mask and kissing multiple women. His lack of social distancing cost him his spot on the episode, and rocker Jack White stepped in as a substitute.

But despite some ups and downs over the course of the past year, Morgan’s ending 2020 on a high note. He walked away from this year’s CMA Awards ceremony with the title of New Artist of the Year, and also recently announced a double album, Dangerous, due for release in mid-January.

On SNL this weekend, Morgan’s planning to perform two songs off Dangerous, which became the most pre-added country album in Apple Music history after the singer announced it last month.

See y’all Saturday 😷

— morgan wallen (@MorganWallen) December 4, 2020

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Big Machine RecordsIn 2019, the country community mourned the loss of producer and songwriter busbee, who died of a rare form of brain cancer.

Among the artists personally touched by this loss was Carly Pearce: busbee co-wrote and co-produced her breakthrough single, “Every Little Thing,” and he also produced her self-titled sophomore album, which came out in February.

Carly’s been open about the impact busbee had on her as an artist, and the loss she’s felt since his death. Now, she’s unveiling the studio version of a song she wrote in tribute to him: “Show Me Around,” which she first performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry back in June.

The song, Carly explains, was inspired by a speech that fellow songwriter Barry Dean gave at busbee’s funeral, which described an idea of what heaven might be like and what busbee might be doing there right now.

“There is no way to ease the pain of losing someone you love, [but] this felt like a really hopeful way to look at our loved ones meeting us again one day and showing us around,” Carly says of the song.

“As my mentor and friend, busbee helped me share the parts of my own life that I could only explain through music,” she adds. “He holds such a sweet place in my heart, and I truly hope ‘Show Me Around’ brings comfort to his wife Jess and their three little girls.”

This Saturday, Carly will return to the Opry stage to perform “Show Me Around.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mercury NashvilleCountry duo Maddie & Tae stress the importance of finding joy in the holiday season, particularly during a year when joy has often been hard to come by, in their powerful ballad, “We Need Christmas.”

Now the band’s Maddie Font and Taylor Kerr offer up a music video that celebrates the holiday’s beloved traditions. The Christmas imagery they focus on is grown-up and glamorous: No matching Christmas PJs or mugs of hot cocoa this time around. Instead, the two singers wear gorgeous, floor-length red and green gowns as they perform the song from inside a beautiful home, trimmed with white lights for the holiday season. Toward the end of the video, Maddie & Tae light candles in celebration of the holiday’s message of hope and renewal.

“We Need Christmas” is the title track of the duo’s holiday EP, a six-song mix of originals and Christmas classics. The project dropped back in October.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Hallmark Channel/Warner Music NashvilleFor the second year running, the Hallmark Channel teamed up with Music City-based record label Warner Music Nashville to compile some of the best holiday music of the season.

Hallmark’s Christmas Album Vol. 2 features contributions from a healthy sampling of country artists, including Brett Eldredge, Gabby Barrett, Ingrid Andress and many more.

As the modern-day king of country Christmas, Brett drops not one but two tracks into the collection. His renditions of “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” are both featured.

Meanwhile, Gabby and Ingrid contribute newly-released Christmas music, with Ingrid’s original “Christmas Always Finds Me” and Gabby’s 2020 take on “The First Noel” both making the track list.

Elsewhere on the project, fans can find holiday tunes from Randy Travis, High Valley, Jessie James Decker and Shy Carter. Broadway stars Aaron Tveit and Laura Osnes and singer and actor Alicia Witt also add their vocals to the project.

The Hallmark Channel's Christmas Album Vol. 2 is available digitally now.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Stacie Huckeba/Butterfly Records, LLC As we near the end of 2020, Dolly Parton is sticking a little bit of extra Christmas magic in fans’ stockings.

Her newest release is the hopeful “I Still Believe,” a new bonus track on her holiday album, A Holly Dolly Christmas. The song expresses optimism and hope for better times ahead, even during a year that has been difficult on people around the world.

“I believe to my very core / We’ll walk again in the sunshine / By the seashore / That we’ll dance and sing / And be happy again,” Dolly sings in the soaring chorus. “Don’t know how or when / But we will again / You’ll see / I still believe...”

Dolly will perform the new song during her upcoming A Holly Dolly Christmas television special, which airs on Sunday, December 6 at 8:30PM ET on CBS.

The new song comes at the end of a banner year for Dolly, both musically and in terms of her humanitarian contributions. In addition to her Christmas album, she also released a song called “When Life is Good Again” earlier in 2020 as a powerful message of hope for listeners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This spring, the superstar also offered a $1 million donation to help fund Moderna’s vaccine research. This November, early data from the company revealed that the vaccine that the singer’s contribution helped fund is 94.5% effective, and they've already asked the FDA for an Emergency Use Authorization.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

BMLG RecordsAfter teasing something big on social media yesterday, Florida Georgia Line has delivered on their promise of an exciting announcement. The superstar country duo told fans Friday morning that they’re fifth studio album, Life Rolls On, will be out next year.

“This year has been a wild ride, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned, you have to keep your head up high,” the pair reflected on social media. “This new music truly represents where we are in our lives right now and we can’t wait for y’all to hear it.”

While FGL hasn’t yet shared an official track list, Life Rolls On will likely include their latest single, “Long Live,” which the band dropped in September. That song plays in the background of their social media teaser for their new album’s announcement.

Furthermore, it seems fans may be able to get an additional sneak peek into the track listing: FGL said when they announced their new album that anyone who pre-orders the album now will “get a bunch of tracks instantly.”

Life Rolls On comes out in full on February 12.

It’s time y’all! Humbled and excited to announce our fifth studio album, #LifeRollsOn, is out February 12th! This new music truly represents where we are in our lives right now and we can't wait for y’all to hear it. Pre-order now 🙌🏼 #FGL5

— Florida Georgia Line (@FLAGALine) December 4, 2020

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Comstock/ThinkstockOn this day in 2012, a now-superstar country duo dropped their full-length studio debut, Here’s to the Good Times. The track list included a song that would go on to become the best-selling country digital single of all time. Can you name this twosome? ANSWER: Florida Georgia Line

By Carena Liptak

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

RCA Records Many fans know Old Dominion as the hitmaking country group with songs like “Some People Do,” “One Man Band” and “Hotel Key” under their belts.

But in addition to being prolific recording artists, they’re also successful songwriters who’ve penned hits for many fellow country stars. That’s the side of themselves the group is spotlighting in their new EP, Band Behind the Curtain.

“Once you write a great song, it’ll find its home,” reflects band member Trevor Rosen. “But first and foremost, you just gotta try and write a great song.”

Old Dominion’s new project spotlights three songs that did just that, going on to make powerful impressions on fans and at radio with the artists who recorded them.

The tracks are Kenny Chesney’s “Save it for a Rainy Day,” Sam Hunt’s “Make You Miss Me” and Dierks Bentley’s “Say You Do.” All three tracks were big hits for the artists that recorded them, and in this new collection, Old Dominion share their performances of the songs.

Beyond that, the band also shared a 10-minute film that details how each song came together, and the story of how each track ultimately landed in the lap of the artists who wound up recording it.

In addition to writing big hits for their fellow stars, Old Dominion has had a banner year as artists in 2020. They brought home numerous trophies and nominations at the ACM and CMA Awards, and most recently, they notched their first two Grammy nominations.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

ABC/Image Group LABack in 1982, Dolly Parton released “Hard Candy Christmas” as part of the soundtrack to The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.   And while the top 10 single is often thought of as one of the genre’s classic Christmas songs, Dolly says that strictly speaking, it’s not a holiday tune at all.

“It’s kind of funny that people think it’s a Christmas song, and it’s really not,” the singer reveals to ABC Audio. “It’s really just about people having hard times and saying, ‘It’s like a hard candy Christmas,’ like when you’re so poor that all you get for Christmas is a piece of hard candy.”

Still, Dolly says that it makes a good seasonal song, too, and plenty of other country stars agree with her. June Carter Cash, Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper, LeAnn Rimes and, most recently, newcomer Kassi Ashton have all recorded or performed their own versions of “Hard Candy Christmas.”

The song’s not included on A Holly Dolly Christmas, Dolly’s latest holiday album, but many other classics are, including a duet version of Mariah Carey's “All I Want for Christmas is You” with late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon.

Dolly got the idea for the duet after being impressed with Jimmy’s singing on his show. But when she suggested the collaboration, he had his doubts.

“He said, ‘I’m not a real singer.’ I said, ‘Well, I think you are,’” Dolly recalls. “He said, ‘I’ll sing it if you promise me you won’t use it if I don’t sing good.’ I said, ‘That’s a promise.’ And he did sing it good!”

A Holly Dolly Christmas came out in early October.

By Carena Liptak and Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockGranger Smith and his wife, Amber, are making a stop on NBC’s Today show this morning to talk about the singer’s new album, Country Things. You can catch him at 10 a.m. local time. 

Country Music Hall of Famer Whisperin’ Bill Anderson has shared a light-hearted music video for his sunny new song, “It’s a Good Day to Have a Good Day.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImagesBlake Shelton and Gwen Stefani found the sweeter side of a tough year back in October, when they finally got engaged after about five years of dating.

Now, the big question on fans’ minds is when the superstars’ nuptials will take place, and what the details will be. Per Us Weekly, a source hints that the ceremony will likely take place in a venue that’s being hand-crafted by the groom himself.

“Blake built a chapel on the grounds of his Oklahoma ranch. He did it himself with help,” the unnamed source details, adding that Gwen offered some thoughts and opinions on its construction.

“It’s really a tribute to their love,” the source continues. “They are going to get married in the chapel, most likely early next year.”

Gwen and Blake first met on the set of The Voice, where they’re both coaches. Since announcing their relationship, the two stars have released a handful of high-powered duets, including a Christmas song for a holiday album of Gwen’s as well as two hit country singles, “Nobody but You” and “Happy Anywhere.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

ABC/Image Group LAAs one of the undisputed living legends of songwriting, Dolly Parton has dozens of hits and even more songs to her name. But she’s not done yet.

The superstar tells Billboard that when she turns 75 next month, she’ll mark her birthday the way she always does: By writing a song.

“It’s a commemorative thing to write something on my birthday -- it’s what I do and what I am,” Dolly explains as part of the magazine’s Women in Music Issue, in which she's honored with Billboard's Hitmaker Award. “I just think it’s my gift to myself.”

Of course, Dolly’s songwriting has been her gift to the world, too. Throughout her career, she’s put out songs that have helped her fans celebrate good times and make it through bad ones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the singer released “When Life is Good Again” as an anthem of solace for a difficult era. She also provided some lighthearted comfort this year in the form of a Christmas album, A Holly Dolly Christmas.

Part of the reason Dolly is able to use her songwriting to help others is because it’s helped her, too, especially during some difficult times in the 1980s.

“My guitar and my songwriting: That’s my therapy,” she relates. “That’s my doctors, my nurses, my medicine. I really think my music has saved me -- and saved a lot of other people because I’m able to write the feelings of people who are broken and don’t know how to express it.”

Billboard’s new issue arrives in conjunction with its annual Women in Music Event, which will take place December 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

ABCThis week, the Grand Ole Opry’s Circle Network announced a stacked lineup of holiday programming throughout the month of December.

To kick things off, the network’s Circle Sessions enlisted Carrie Underwood to discuss some of the highlights from My Gift, her first-ever holiday album, which came out this year. The project features a couple of standout collaborations, including a duet with John Legend as well as a performance of “Little Drummer Boy” with the superstar’s five-year-old son, Isaiah.

Other stars joining in on the holiday fun include Runaway June, Lauren Alaina, Ricky Skaggs, Jeannie Seely and many more. The network will air holiday movies each Monday, and Dailey and Vincent band mates Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent will host a quartet of Christmas specials over the course of December.

In case you missed the first broadcast of Carrie’s Circle Sessions episode last night, there will be a number of chances to watch it again this month. The episode will re-air on the Circle Network tonight, as well as on December 6, 8, 24 and 26.

On Christmas Eve, you can tune in for special festive programming throughout the day. For a complete programming schedule, visit the network’s website.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

John ShearerIn a year that presents unique challenges for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s fight against childhood cancer, country stars are coming together for the new We Won’t Stop movement.

Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker, Kelsea Ballerini, Florida Georgia Line and many more are among the stars who’ve signed up to support the cause, modeling their new “We Won’t Stop” shirts on social media.

The movement launched Thursday in order to encourage fans to donate to St. Jude’s lifesaving mission. Thanks to those donors, families fighting pediatric cancer will never receive a bill from the Memphis-based hospital for treatment, travel, housing or food.

Effective beginning with the new campaign’s launch on Thursday, anyone who registers as a monthly St. Jude donor will receive their own We Won’t Stop shirt. You can continue to be a part of the movement by sharing a snapshot of your new shirt on social media, along with the hashtag #StJudeWontStop.

For more information, or to make a donation and become one of St. Jude’s Partners in Hope, visit the campaign’s website.

We are thrilled to debut our new We Won’t Stop t-shirt, available when you become a Partner in Hope monthly donor! Thank you to our #StJudeCountryCares friends who help ensure #StJudeWontStop until no child dies from cancer. Get your shirt:

— St. Jude (@StJude) December 3, 2020

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

John ShearerThe band mates of Florida Georgia Line have got something up their sleeves.

This week, the duo took to social media to tease something new, posting a montage video of the cover art of all four of their albums. “Big announcement coming tomorrow morning...” they wrote in the caption, alongside the hashtag “#FGL5.”

FGL will share their big news on Friday morning. Until then, fans are speculating in the comments section of the band's post what that announcement might be. Many wondered if the duo are gearing up to announce their fifth studio album.

That’s an especially compelling possibility since their newest single, “Long Live,” is playing in the background of their social media teaser video. That’s the first release to come off FGL’s as-yet-unannounced next project.

FGL band mates Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley have also said that they’re at work on their next musical chapter. Last month, they brushed off rumors of a breakup after Tyler briefly unfollowed Brian on social media during the height of an especially fraught presidential election season.

Though the pair might not always see eye to eye in terms of politics, they assured fans that their musical partnership was stronger than ever. In fact, last month, the duo signed a multi-year touring deal in North America with Live Nation.

Big announcement coming tomorrow morning… 🚀🚀🚀 #FGL5

— Florida Georgia Line (@FLAGALine) December 3, 2020

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

ABCBillboard released its year-end charts this week, and it’ll come as no surprise to many country fans that Luke Combs reigns as the Top Country Artist of the year overall.

That’s a repeat title for the “Better After All” star, who nabbed the title in 2019 as well. He’s also listed as top name in the male-artist category, also landing that spot for the second consecutive year.

In fact, Luke was the top artist of the year on four out of Billboard’s five major year-end charts, coming in second only on Country Streaming Songs, which Morgan Wallen dominated. Luke came in the number-one spot on the Hot Country Songs, Country Airplay Songs, Top Country Albums and Country Digital Song Sales charts.

Meanwhile, Maren Morris hangs on to her 2019 title of Billboard’s top female country artist of the year. She’s also the only country artist to slide into the Top 10 of Billboard’s Top Hot 100 Songs of 2020, with “The Bones” sitting in ninth place.

But while Luke and Maren are accustomed to topping the charts, Gabby Barrett’s rise to the top is a breakout for the new star. She stands as Billboard’s top new artist for 2020, and her single “I Hope” even edged out “The Bones” to reign atop the Hot Country Songs year-end chart.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

ABC/Image Group LARussell Dickerson is a new dad after he and his wife, Kailey, welcomed baby boy Remington this fall. And though the singer’s a prolific songwriter who’s been hard at work on an album recently, he admits that he has yet to successfully write a song about his son.

“Whew, I have tried, honestly,” he tells Billboard during a recent “20 Questions” feature. “But I just end up crying too much! I’ll get there, though, I promise.”

Russell’s not shy about the fact that he’s an easy crier and that it doesn’t take much to make him emotional. “Where do I even start?” he jokingly replied when asked what movies or songs always get his waterworks going.

“I’m a softie. Toilet paper commercials make me cry,” he adds.

Softie or not, Russell seems to have tapped into a winning formula when it comes to radio hits. His latest chart-topper, “Love You Live I Used To,” is his fourth consecutive number-one hit. That means that every single song he’s sent to country radio since debuting has landed on top of the charts.

The singer’s hoping to keep that hot streak going as he gears up to release his new album, Southern Symphony, this Friday.

“Honestly, [it’s] just that feeling of, ‘Man, our hit radar really works!’” Russell reflects. “We felt it in those moments in the writer room, but to have all three singles off the first record go number one was a huge confirmation to just keep following the same instincts that brought us here.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Universal Music Spain S.L.Carrie Underwood dips her toe into the world of international pop with “Tears of Gold,” her new collaboration with Spanish superstar David Bisbal. The single is epic, up-tempo and bilingual, with a stunning video to match.

The two singers might come from very different ends of the musical spectrum, but they’re both champion vocalists with a flair for musical drama. David explains that he’s especially proud of the new collaboration because of his admiration for Carrie as an artist.

“...I love Carrie and truly admire her courage,” the singer says. “She has shown a profound admiration for the Spanish language with her wonderful vocals on the track and I am honored to collaborate with Carrie on her first bilingual Spanish song.”

Shot in Los Angeles, the video for “Tears of Gold” ups the dramatic elements of the song even further, with the two singers performing it against an elegant nighttime backdrop, interspersed with dazzling shots of a starry sky.

In addition to her work on the new duet, Carrie’s been busy lately with plenty of music of her own. This fall, she dropped her first-ever Christmas album, My Gift.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

On this day in 2013, Dolly Parton's signature hit about a woman with "flaming locks of auburn hair with ivory skin and eyes of emerald green" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Can you name the tune? ANSWER: "Jolene." 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Adam Hambrick will perform his song "Between Me and the End of the World" on The Bachelorette on December 8, airing at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Adam wrote the song as a tribute to his wife Merritt Hambrick, a physician's assistant working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tyler Rich has unveiled a live performance video for his song "Real Love." It's featured on his debut album, Two Thousand Miles. 

Up-and-coming country artist Alyssa Micaela has shared her debut holiday single, "Cowboy for Christmas."

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.