CMTIf 2020 had gone as planned, the annual CMT Music Awards would've been passed out at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday night. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, made that impossible, bringing the virtual CMT Celebrates Our Heroes: An Artists of the Year Special in its place.
The two-hour extravaganza featured much-loved covers appropriate to the times, as well as several songs inspired by life during coronavirus.
Darius Rucker lent his baritone to Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen," while Kelsea Ballerinitook on the Carole King/James Taylor classic, "You've Got a Friend." Sam Hunt did a deep dive into Bruce Springsteen's catalog for "Jack of All Trades," tipping his hat to "American resolve."
Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire highlighted the contributions of educators, while Thomas Rhettgave a shout-out to his daughters' teachers before doing his uplifting single, "Be a Light." Luke Combs reminded us to stay "Six Feet Apart," whileFlorida Georgia Line got patriotic on "U.S. Stronger."
Keith Urban thanked those who keep the food cycle going, while Blake Shelton profiled the town of Kodiak, Alaska, where they've transformed schools into food pantries. Brothers Osborne gave two frontline workers in their Delaware hometown $25,000 each.
Morgan Wallen’s gearing up to record a new album, and before he heads into the studio, he’s sharing a snippet of a just-written song to see what fans think.
The singer posted a voice memo recording to Instagram this week, explaining that he had written it only one day before. Called “Wasted on You,” the song is a painful ballad about a dead-end relationship that he just can’t help returning to, even though he knows it’s not going anywhere.
“All of this time and all of this money/All of these sorries I don’t owe you honey/All of these miles on this Chevy/And prayers in a pew/All them days I spent wasted on you,” Morgan sings in the chorus.
Heartbreak is fertile subject matter for Morgan these days: His latest single, “Chasin’ You,” recently reached number-one at country radio, becoming the singer’s third chart-topping hit. At the time, he reflected that it was especially gratifying to see the song’s success due to the fact that it is inspired by a real-life story from his past.
In his new song, Morgan sings about drowning his sorrows in a glass of something strong, and he’s also got real-world experience with being a little over-served. Late last month, the singer was arrested on charges of public intoxication and disorderly conduct in downtown Nashville.
He was subsequently released from jail on a $500 bond, and promptly took to social media to apologize for the incident and "clear the air."
Jason Merritt/ACMA2018/Getty Images for ACMAlanJackson is postponing two “Small Town Drive-In” events scheduled for this week due to potentially inclement weather.
The country superstar originally planned the events as his first drive-in concerts, reconfigured in order to comply with social distancing guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The shows were originally scheduled for June 5 and June 6 in Cullman, Alabama and Fairhope, Alabama, respectively.
However, the weather forecast hasn’t been cooperative with Alan’s plans to get back onstage. Projections of potential tropical storms have caused concert organizers to postpone the Fairhope show, in the interest of keeping fans and crew safe.
Due to the unique staging logistics of the drive-in format, Alan’s Cullman show will also be postponed in order to take place in conjunction with the second concert. All purchased tickets will be honored at the new dates.
Alan’s Cullman show will now take place next Friday, June 13, with the Fairhope performance happening the following day, on Saturday, June 14.
Last week, Alan also revealed that he’s adding face masks to his merchandise collection. Fans can now purchase cloth masks bearing some of the singer’s best-loved lyrics, such as “It’s five o’clock somewhere” and more.
Randy Travis is adding yet another milestone to his collections of awards, honors and accolades. His 2019 memoir, Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith and Braving the Storms of Life, tops Book Authority’s Best Country Music Books of All Time list.
Randy’s memoir, which he wrote with the help of best-selling author Ken Abraham, tells the story of the country legend’s personal life and long, tumultuous career. It includes a recount of the devastating stroke he suffered in 2013, which rendered him unable to sing.
“I didn’t really feel I had a book to write until I stood on the distant shore and looked back over the ripples my life has made -- on myself and on others,” Travis explained when his book was first released. “My songs were the stories of my life and I learned from those who listened [that] they were theirs too. My fans inspired me and continue to do so.”
Other high-ranking country titles on Book Authority’s 82-book list include Scotty McCreery’s memoir, a biography of Guy Clark, Merle Haggard’s autobiography and more.
Garth Brooks has postponed his upcoming stadium show at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, which was planned for June 27. Though he hasn’t yet announced when he plans to reschedule the concert, Garth did assure fans that originally purchased tickets will be honored at the new date.
It’s the second time the superstar has had to push his Cincinnati performance, which was originally planned for May 16. However, stay-at-home regulations caused by the pandemic continue to make gatherings unsafe, especially due to the massive audience turnout expected for Garth’s performance.
When tickets for the show first went on sale, Garth set an all-time record for the city of Cincinnati, selling out the stadium’s 70,000 seats in just 75 minutes. It is the only stop planned for Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia on Garth’s Stadium Tour.
During a recent installment of his Facebook series, Inside Studio G, Garth focused on the future, looking ahead to a busy touring year in 2021 even if it means running himself a little ragged.
“You hope that you’re running your tail off ‘cause this is something you want to do. You know, we’re talking about that this is the job you want,” he explained. “This is the job -- you roll in, you get to play. You run as fast as your crew guys are safe."
Garth was also recently forced to postpone his Charlotte stadium tour stop, which was planned for June 13. The singer rescheduled that show for October.
BBR Music Group/Night Train RecordsIt’s been five years since Tyler Farr released a new project, but on Friday, he’ll return with his new, four-song EP, Only Truck in Town.
The project also marks Farr's first release since inking a deal with Jason Aldean’s Night Train Records, who also signed on to produce the new music.
Only Truck in Town takes its name from Tyler’s latest single, which he released early in 2020. The blazing anthem of small-town love shows a more mature take on a party anthem from the singer, whose previous hits include 2013’s “Redneck Crazy” and 2014’s “A Guy Walks into a Bar.”
“It’s been five years since I put out the Suffer in Peace album -- I love my fans and they have been waiting patiently for new music and now I can finally say that the new music is here...for them,” Tyler says.
“These songs really speak to who I am -- my good buddy, Jason Aldean, produced the EP and knows me better than most people, so working with him just felt right,” he adds. “Together, we created something very real, and that’s exactly what I want my fans to hear from me.”
In addition to the single, Only Truck in Town features three new songs, including “Soundtrack to a Small Town Sundown,” “I Wish Dogs Could Live Forever,” and “Heaven on Dirt.”
ABC/Image Group LABrandi Carlile celebrated her 39th birthday this week by performing her landmark 2018 album, By the Way, I Forgive You, from start to finish, along with her band mates Phil and Tim Hanseroth.
The show livestreamed via Veeps.com, and for a minimum entrance price of $10, viewers could watch the Highwomen band mate and solo Americana act’s full, 75-minute set. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the closest thing to a live show Brandi has been able to provide for fans in months.
During her performance, Brandi called on listeners to donate to the Looking Out Foundation, a justice relief fund founded by the singer and the Hanseroths in 2008. Her fundraising efforts came in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in Minneapolis when white police officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee into his neck for more than eight minutes.
The Looking Out Foundation’s fund benefits Black Visions Collective and and Campaign Zero, two advocacy groups for equality. Before her show, Brandi posted a video to social media explaining the function of each organization and why she supports them. According to the Tennesseean, Brandi’s show raised over $100,000, with about 15,000 viewers tuning in.
Brandi, who is gay and a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights, also highlighted during her set the fact that June is Pride Month.
The singer will return later this month for another full album performance on Veeps.com. On June 14, she’ll spotlight her 2015 project, The Firewatcher’s Daughter.
Comstock/ThinkstockFour years ago today, this country superstar released her debut studio album, Hero, featuring the hit song that won her the 2017 Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance. Can you name this new mom? ANSWER: Maren Morris.
Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockCB30, the brother duo of Christian and Brody Clementi discovered by Luke Bryan, have released a new song, "We Are Right Now."
Caitlyn Smith, Adam Doleac and Drake White are among the artists hosting live stream concerts today. Adam will perform as part of #SingForStJude at 5 p.m. ET on the organization's Facebook page, while Caitlyn will set up shop on The Current's Facebook page at 6 p.m. ET. Drake will perform on Instagram at 8 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, Aaron Watson's Facebook set begins at 8:30 p.m. ET.
BBR Music Group The latest hit by LOCASH is "One Big Country Song," an uptempo tune that points out the things we all have in common.
It's the duo's first top-ten single in almost four years, and a message that seems to be hitting home with listeners as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and grapples with racial injustice after the death of George Floyd.
But Chris Lucas believes "One Big Country Song" is an expression of the unity you'll always find in country music.
"I had this conversation the other day with... my neighbor..." Chris tells ABC Audio. "He was a football player and he comes over and he starts talking to me. And he's like, you know, 'Why do you sing country music? You like a bunch of music.'"
"I said, 'We can all be like, you know, Brothers Osborne or any duo, Florida Georgia Line -- Tyler [Hubbard]'s our producer," he explains. "But there's a connect, even though we're not at each other's throat, but we're against each other, you know? We're competition.'"
When times get tough, Chris says the rivalries are forgotten.
"If something happens to any of us, country music comes together," he reflects. "And you see the family. There's nothing more important than the family in country music."
"And that's why I love this. I love country music because of that," he says.
"One Big Country Song" is LOCASH's first top-ten hit since they topped the chart in October of 2016 with "I Know Somebody." It's from their latest album, Brothers, the title track of which was inspired by the relationship of Chris and musical partner, Preston Brust.
ABC/Image Group LAGarth Brooks is hopeful that the world is on its way to becoming a better place.
In the Monday-night episode of his Facebook Live show, Inside Studio G, Garth took an optimistic tone in the midst of the protests and riots, some of which have been violent, that have come in response to the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis who died after a former white police officer, Derek Chauvin, was caught on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.
One of Garth's many famous tunes is the 1992 hit "We Shall Be Free," which calls for unity among the human race, a reality he believes we can achieve.
“We’ll get there. It might not be in our lifetime. It might not be in my children or my grandchildren’s lifetime, but we’ll get there," he says. "This world’s a lot better -- I know a lot of people think this world is going the other way, but I think this world’s a lot better than it used to be. I really do.”
Garth also told fans about a humbling moment he shared with wife Trisha Yearwood this weekend. As Trisha expressed her anguish over the situation, saying that it feels as though the world is on fire, Garth led her outside on their Tennessee property to get perspective.
"I said, ‘The world isn’t burning. And the reason why the world isn’t burning is because there’s a lot more people that believe in loving one another than they believe in burning the world,'" Garth comforted. "So just believe that the person next to you is a good person. We’ll get through this.”
ABC/Image Group LACountry artists continue to share their voices in response to the death of George Floyd that's sparked national protests.
In a tweet Monday, Kacey Musgraves expressed outrage over systematic racism and promises to take action to bring about positive change in society.
"It’s been hard to find the words to adequately convey how outraged and sad I am. WHITE PEOPLE HAVE HAD IT SO F****** WRONG SINCE THE BEGINNING and I will do whatever I can I help break the DISGUSTING, damaging cycle racism and systemic privilege causes. I will not be a bystander," she vows.
Kip Moore has also pledged to bring about change, extending an apology to the black community for the oppression they've experienced. He also praised police officers who are doing their jobs ethically.
"To the black community...I’m Srry that you’ve screamed for so long about feeling oppressed and it’s fallin on deaf ears. I hear you, i see you, and I have nothing but love for you," Kip writes alongside a video of him sitting in the park with two friends, watching children of different races play together.
"It's a beautiful thing how when kids are born they don't see color, they don't feel hate. It's a really sad thing that we teach them how to do both," he says in the video before the words #bethechange appear on the screen.
Lindsay Ell also turned to social media to share her experience attending the peaceful protest in Nashville on Saturday, and used her post as a call to action.
"We have to start speaking up and teaching each other there is only one kind of love. Racism is a learned behavior and we are far too educated of a society to let this injustice continue to happen," she professes. "Let’s use our voices to instill change in the heart off equality and love."
Ahead of #BlackoutTuesday, "Family Tree" singer Caylee Hammack also made a statement of love for the black community.
"If you feel unsafe bc of the color of your skin, please know that there are so many of us in the music industry, me myself included, who love you without even knowing you yet. We love you, we mourn with you for your losses, and we are here to help," she says.
Members of the country music community are taking part in #BlackoutTuesday as the music industry has ceased doing business for one day, using it as a time to reflect on racial injustice.
ABC/Image Group LAWith her new song "Black Like Me," Mickey Guyton is using the power of music to share her story as a black woman in America.
The first verse has Mickey telling the story of her first broken heart as a child on the playground when she was told she was "different," and reveals that even in adulthood, that perception of her hasn't changed.
The second verse puts her father Michael in the spotlight, praising the hard work he put into building a quality life for himself and his family, while recognizing that he had to work twice as hard to achieve such success.
"It's a hard life on easy street/Just white painted picket fences far as you can see/If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be black like me," Mickey sings in the chorus.
But in spite of the pain she details with the lyrics, Mickey ends the song with a powerful statement: "I'm proud to be black like me."
"Black Like Me," written in 2019, was released on Monday, one day before the music industry instituted #BlackoutTuesday to support the fight against racial injustice in America.
On Instagram, Mickey reveals, "Our world is on fire right now. There is so much division and hate. I wrote this song over a year ago because I was so tired of seeing so much hate and oppression. And yet here we are in the exact same place!"
She continues, "We must change that. I hope this song can give you a small glimpse into what my brothers and sisters have endured for 400 years."
"Black Like Me" follows Mickey's other impactful song, "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?," which was released in March.
ABC/Image Group LAIn correlation with #BlackoutTuesday, members of the music industry have launched DonateMyWage.org to support black organizations working toward racial justice.
Launched Tuesday morning, the site prompts users to type in their hour or salaried pay to be calculated into a total one-day wage that can then be donated to a series of organizations working to end racism and injustice in America.
Fifteen organizations are available for users to donate to, including the Nashville chapter of Black Lives Matter and Gideon's Army, a Nashville-based nonprofit that creates restorative justice programs with the goal of "dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline through social activism by children in the prison pipeline, their families, and their community," Gideon's Army states.
Other organizations are the Equal Justice Initiative that works to end mass incarceration across the country; Color of Change, described as a "racial justice movement" that designs campaigns aimed to end the practices that suppress the Black community; and the National Urban League, a 110-year-old organization that works to "provide economic empowerment, educational opportunities and the guarantee of civil rights for the underserved in America," as stated on their website.
Lindsay Ell has pledged her support for the initiative on Instagram alongside the statement, "Donate your wage for a day because Black Lives Matter and lasting change requires the support."
Lindsay is one of many of her country music peers participating in #BlackoutTuesday, a music industry-wide initiative that stands in support of Black Lives Matter.
ABC/Mark LevineSeveral country artists have stepped up to support #BlackoutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused, an initiative founded by Atlantic Records executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang that's led to a one-day shutdown of the music industry to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Thomas and Agyemang created the platform in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor,Ahmaud Arbery and many other black civilians at the hands of police. "It is a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community," the two state on the initiative's website.
Carrie Underwood, Maren Morris, Jimmie Allen and Keith Urban are among the many artists participating in the virtual campaign that sees them posting a black square on social media.
In addition to posting a blank square, Mickey Guyton shared another photo of a black backdrop, with white lettering that reads, "To every country artist not speaking up. Now is your chance. We see you and need you to use your platform to be a part of the change."
"I’VE GOT YOUR BACK," Kacey Musgravescaptions her blank image, while label mate Carrie posteda message from their record label, UMG Nashville, that states "We must use our voices to confront and protest the injustice that surrounds all of us."
Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum shared her own compelling statement alongside a black square to serve as a symbol of "taking a stand." "To all of my black brothers and sisters I love you," Hillary writes. "I want to be a part of change. I want to learn how to do better, be better. Teach my children. Use my voice."
Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town, Brandi Carlile, Brett Eldredge, Brett Young and Tenille Townes are among the many other country acts taking part in #BlackoutTuesday.
ABC/Randy HolmesDarius Rucker is expressing his remorse over the tragic death of George Floyd.
In a lengthy Instagram post on Monday, Darius shared a three-page statement detailing the pain and sorrow he felt watching the harrowing video of former white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd, who's black, as Floyd repeatedly declared he couldn't breathe before he became unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.
In addition to stating that the officers involved in the incident be brought to justice, Darius reveals that he's experienced racism his entire life, from childhood to the present.
"As an American, a father, a son, a brother, a singer, a man... I have faced racism my whole life, from kindergarten to the life I live today. Racism is not a born thing; it is a taught thing. It is not a strong belief; it is a weak belief. It is not a financial issue; it is a hatred issue," he proclaims.
"Over the course of my life, I guess I had just put it down to 'that's just the way it is.' No, I know I had. It is no longer alright for me to perpetuate the myth that things are okay," he continues.
Rucker says he's compelled to create a world that is safe for his children, believing that we can transform our culture by looking inward and changing our hearts.
"I have kids whom I love and cherish, and to watch them go through this, to feel their anguish and anger trying to deal with this is heartbreaking for me. The question that keeps coming up is 'will it ever change?' And my answer now has to be 'YES.'"
He also commends the peaceful protests taking place around the country over the past several days, citing them as an "extension" of the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.
Darius ends his statement with a pledge for unity, encouraging readers to weed out their own biases to help make the world a better place.
"I really hope that we get better as a nation. My request to you guys is to search your heart on behalf of all of us, and root out any fear, hate or division you have inside of you," he prompts. "We need to come together."
Darius is among the many country artists who have raised their voices in response to Floyd's death, including Kane Brown, Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins, Jimmie Allen, and Dan Shay.
Comstock/ThinkstockOn this day in 1986, this Country Music Hall of Fame member's debut studio album, Storms of Life, was released, featuring the hits "Diggin' Up Bones," "1982" and "On the Other Hand." Can you name him? ANSWER: Randy Travis.
Broken BowThe first sound you hear at the start of Jason Aldean's new single, "Got What I Got," is the crackle of a vinyl record. And if it invokes a feeling of nostalgia, the ACM Entertainer of the Decade says that's all by design.
"When it first comes on, it kinda reminds me of, like, a nineties Boyz II Men record or something," Jason says. "You know, I just thought it was cool."
"And 'You Make It Easy' was kinda like that," he adds. "It kinda had a little bit of a throwback feel on it too."
That's not the only thing Jason's number one from May of 2018 has in common with his current hit. His wife Brittany happens to love them both.
"That's her favorite song on the album," he says of "Got What I Got." "So that's always a thing."
"It's like on the last album, it was 'You Make It Easy,'" Jason explains. "You know, that was the one she flipped out about. And obviously that was a good call."
"So whenever she goes, 'All the girls are gonna love that song,'" he continues, "I'm like, 'All right. Well, that's why I cut it. But I'm glad that it's making the connection here.'"
Fifteen years into his career, Jason's still working hard to keep things fresh.
"Nine albums in, you know, you're just trying to go in and do some things that you feel like you haven't done before..." he reflects. "We still get in there and I kind of turn everybody loose and see what they come up with and, you know, just play around with different things until we feel like we got it right."
"Got What I Got" is the second single from Jason's current album, 9.
Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockLynn Andersonis commemorating the 50-year anniversary of her 1970 album Rose Garden -- featuring her signature hit "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" -- with a Deluxe Collector's Edition pressed on rose-colored vinyl. The record includes previously unreleased notes to Lynn from Reba McEntire and producer Clive Davis. It will be released on June 13.
The Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Owen of Alabama, Crystal Gayle, Ray Stevens and more appear in Beau Weevils' new social distance-friendly video for the song, "Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues.” Beau Weevils is a band fronted by Charlie Daniels and the song is featured on their 2018 album, Beau Weevils — Songs in the Key of E.
T. Graham Brown is releasing four of his albums digitally this week. In collaboration with Time Life, T. Graham will be making From a Stronger Place, The Next Right Thing, Christmas with T. Graham Brown and Forever Changed available on digital platforms on June 5. He is also expected to release a new album in the fall.
Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Alyssa Trahan has been selected as Breedlove Guitars’ Featured Artist for the month of June. Alyssa is a longtime customer of BreedLove, a company that constructs guitars from sustainably sourced wood. She'll also release her new single "Ain't Ever Goin' Back" next week.
ABC/Image Group LAKane Brown is contributing his voice to the discussion of racism and injustice in America.
In a tweet Monday, Kane focused his message on how to bring about peace and unity in a world that's divided, encouraging that we all need to see one another as human beings.
"We will never see peace in this world until we ALL see each other as PEOPLE. We will never understand each other when you have people on 2 different sides. We have to become 1 to be at peace," Kane writes, alongside a peace symbol and heart emoji.
He later expanded on this point in an Instagram post, admitting that he's not a confrontational person and wanted to express his view point in an effective, yet sensitive manner.
"I’ve been trying to think of how to say this as easy as possible and not be bashed because of the different sides. I hate confrontation but this is the truth whether you wanna Believe it or not," he continues. "Any questions I’ll answer as many as I can."
Kane is one of the many country artists who have turned to social media to decry racism in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody a week ago today in Minneapolis. Others who've spoken out include Thomas Rhett, Dan Shay, Jimmie Allen, Lady Antebellum, Mickey Guyton and many more.