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Grand Ole Opry Star George Hamilton IV Dead at 77


Image Courtesy Grand Ole Opry/Chris HolloGrand Ole Opry legend George Hamilton IV died Wednesday at a Nashville hospital at the age of 77, ABC News has confirmed. He'd suffered a heart attack last weekend.

Hamilton IV released his signature hit, "Abilene," in 1963. However, he'd scored a number of hits before then, including "A Rose and a Baby Ruth," "Before This Day Ends," "Three Steps to the Phone (Millions of Miles)" and "If You Don't Know I Ain't Gonna Tell You."

Hamilton was known as “The International Ambassador of Country Music,” a title he earned after becoming the first American country singer to perform in the then-Soviet Union and in Prague.

Hamilton had been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1960.

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Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott Headed to the Beach for Some Downtime with Loved Ones


Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleLady Antebellum's Hillary Scott is taking some downtime at the beach with her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Eisele, this week.  She'll also meet up with a close friend who is raising her children while her military husband is deployed overseas.

Hillary posted a photograph of New York City on Instagram as she took off Wednesday morning with the message, "Off to meet Chris and Eisele in VA Beach to get some quality time with my best friend and her boys!!! #bff #militarymom #myhero."

In other Lady A news, fans can get their new song, "Long Stretch of Love," by signing up for their Passport Challenge at LadyAPassport.com.  That song and their latest hit, "Bartender," are both included on Lady A's new album, 747, due out September 30.

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Joe Nichols Having a Blast Navigating Life with His Three Daughters


Image Courtesy Red Bow RecordsJust like any 16-year-old girl, Joe Nichols' oldest daughter, Ashelyn, is totally embarrassed when her dad shows up at her high school.  What makes it even worse is that Joe often performs at acoustic charity events to help out around the school.  Some of Ashelyn's teenage girlfriends get a little star-struck when Joe shows up to sing, too.

Joe says with a laugh, "Her friends start giggling and they huddle up, and she's like, 'Oh my God! It's my dad, y'all!  Stop talking like this!'  That's kind of fun.  I love that -- embarrassing her in all kinds of ways."

Ashelyn has gotten star struck herself when she attended awards shows with her famous dad.

Says Joe, "My 16-year-old has definitely experienced some of this stuff with me and been around at some high-profile things and seen some really cool stuff and met Hunter Hayes, which is all she wanted to do."

Introducing Ashelyn to Hunter didn't up Joe's hip factor at all, though.

He says, "[Ashelyn] still thinks I'm completely the most uncool person in the world."

As for his two younger daughters, Joe says his baby girl, Georgia, is always "super-chill" and "smiling."  The two-year-old, Dylan, is a little more high-strung.

Joe explains, "She's a good kid, but I think she has a strong chance of either being class president and running for office or a serial killer.  I'm not sure which one she's gonna be yet.  I'm not sure yet.  She's capable of either one."

Joe is scheduling time with his three girls in between his busy tour schedule.  See where he's playing next at JoeNichols.com.

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Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert Make "People" Magazine's Style Hall of Fame


CMABlake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are always dressed to the nines when they hit the red carpet together.  Now People magazine has inducted the Sheltons into their Style Hall of Fame.

Blake and Miranda are listed among the "Best Dressed Couples" in People's Best-Dressed issue. They join celebrity couples John Legend and Chrissy Teigan, Seth Meyers and Alexi Ashe, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita on the list.

Taylor Swift is crowned as People's Best Dressed of the Year for 2014. About her style, Taylor tells People, "I’m more willing to take a risk this year than ever before."

People's Style Special issue is out Friday.

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Thomas Rhett Has 32 Songs Under Consideration for Upcoming Sophomore Album


Image Courtesy Big Machine Label GroupThomas Rhett is climbing the country chart with "Make Me Wanna," which is the last single from his debut album, It Goes Like This. That project earned Thomas two #1's with the title track and "Get Me Some of That," and he's got plenty more material ready to go for his upcoming sophomore album. In fact, Thomas has too many potential hit singles he could record for that project.

He says, "I think I have, like, 32 songs that I want to put on the record, which is physically impossible unless I go ahead and do a greatest hits now, which is not gonna happen."

Since Thomas is a songwriter himself, he's pulling from his own batch of songs on top of the ones he gets from his other songwriter friends in Nashville. As for which songs make the final cut, Thomas has some thinking to do about where he wants his music to go on album number two.

He explains, "Now it's to the point of just like, 'What do I want the second record to sound like? Who do I want to be on this record? How much of the same do I want to stick with that was successful on the first, and how much of a departure do I want to make?'"

Thomas has already started working on his new album. He adds, "I’m jumping out of my seat to let people hear new music."

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Country Star Trivia


Comstock/ThinkstockCole Swindell is a co-writer on which one of Luke Bryan's hits from his latest album, Crash My Party? ANSWER: "Roller Coaster."

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Garth Brooks Announces Lexington, Kentucky Shows


John Russell/CMAGarth Brooks fans in Kentucky got some sweet news this morning as the country superstar continues to announce dates on his current world tour.  Garth and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, will be returning to the Bluegrass State for two shows, October 31 and November 1, at Lexington’s Rupp Arena.  It’s Garth’s first Kentucky concert appearance in 16 years.

Tickets for the shows go on sale September 26 at 10:00 a.m. ET via Ticketmaster only.

Garth kicked off his world tour with a series of shows in Chicago earlier this month.  He plays five dates in Atlanta this Friday through September 27 before heading to Jacksonville, FL for another five dates, October 10 through 18.  Head to GarthBrooks.com for more info.

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Emotional Miranda Lambert Holds Hands with Cancer-Stricken Child at Texas Concert


Randee St. NicholasIt was an emotional night for Miranda Lambert when she performed in Corpus Christi, Texas, last Saturday.

As seen in a video posted on YouTube, Miranda was singing "Over You" when she reached out her hand to a seven-year-old girl named Brooke Hester, who was near the stage. Hester is battling stage four neuroblastoma cancer.

Overcome with emotion, a teary-eyed Miranda held hands with Hester and held out her microphone to the crowd as the music continued to play.

You can learn more about Hester as well as her family's charity, Brooke's Blossoming Hope for Childhood Cancer Foundation, Inc., by visiting BrookesBlossoms.org.

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Dustin Lynch's Band Members Double as His Best Friends On and Off the Road


Image Courtesy Broken Bow RecordsDustin Lynch spends about 250 days a year on a tour bus traveling with the guys in his band, so you'd think they'd be ready for some time away from each other when they got back home to Nashville. Not so, says Justin.

He tells ABC News Radio, "We come back to Nashville, and within three or four hours of doing laundry, going to the gym and getting something to eat, we're all texting going, 'Hey, what do y'all want to do tonight?'"

Since they're out of town all the time, Dustin and his band mates don't actually have a ton of friends who live in Music City. Luckily, the guys all get along famously.

"It's great to have a band with chemistry like that, and to have those guys that you really, genuinely enjoy being around, 'cause we're around each other a whole lot," Dustin says. "You know, even when we don't have to be around each other, we choose to be around each other."

Dustin and his crew will head out on a Christmas tour starting November 1. Here are the dates and cities he's got lined up:

11/1 -- Lubbock, TX
11/6 -- San Angelo, TX
11/7 -- Midland, TX
11/13 -- Abilene, TX
11/14 -- Wichita Falls, TX
11/15 -- Lawton, OK
11/20 -- Killeen/Temple, TX
11/21 -- Tyler/Longview, TX
12/5 -- Lafayette, LA
12/6 -- Texarkana, TX
12/11 -- Lifkin/Nacogdoches, TX
12/12 -- Lake Charles, LA
12/13 -- Victoria, TX

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Nashville Notes


Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockCole Swindell will make his Grand Ole Opry debut on October 7.

Sam Hunt was presented with a gold certification plaque for his debut hit, "Leave the Night On," at a party in Nashville Tuesday previewing his upcoming album, Montevallo, due out October 27.

Here's a random Brett Eldredge tweet:  "If I was to get married, I'd want people to throw fruit loops instead of rice and I'd just walk out with a glass of milk."

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The Swon Brothers, Dustin Lynch and Kristian Bush Taking Country Music to New York City


Sony Music NashvilleThe Swon Brothers, Dustin Lynch and Kristian Bush are teaming up with the Grand Ole Opry and Southwest Airlines to take country music to New York City in the coming weeks. The Nashville's New Music in New York City series kicks off September 29 at the Southwest Porch at Bryant Park in celebration of the Grand Ole Opry's 89th birthday.

Go to Opry.com/NYC for more details and show dates and times.

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Kacey Musgraves Receives a Backhanded Compliment from One Direction's Harry Styles


Image Courtesy Kelly Christine Musgraves/SandboxOne Direction's Harry Styles, a.k.a. Taylor Swift's ex, is a fan of Kacey Musgraves' music, but he doesn't want you to know about it.

Harry tweeted this week, "It's impossible to listen to Kacey Musgraves too much. Don't tell anyone."

Kacey tweeted in reply, "Thank you?"

CMA voters feel differently about Kacey. She's up for three trophies, including Song of the Year for "Follow Your Arrow," at the 48th Annual CMA Awards, broadcasting live on ABC Wednesday, November 5 at 8 p.m. ET.

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Florida Georgia Line Getting Crazy with Upcoming "Sun Daze" Video


CMAFlorida Georgia Line's new song, "Sun Daze," is now available for instant download when you pre-order their new album, Anything Goes, at iTunes. FGL filmed a video for the song last week in Nashville, and they've posted a few sneak peeks on Instagram.

The duo's Brian Kelley posted one photo of himself sitting in an office setting, wearing glasses and a suit and tie.

In another clip, a group of guys and girls in swimwear are cheering on another guy in a monkey suit who's jumping on a trampoline.

Looks like a pretty wild time.

We'll keep you posted on where to find the "Sun Daze" video when it comes out. FGL's new album will be released October 14.

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Kenny Chesney Now Streaming Six New Songs from "The Big Revival" Online


Sony Music Nashville/Blue ChairKenny Chesney's new album, The Big Revival, comes out next Tuesday, but you can hear six songs from the album streaming now at KennyChesney.CMT.com. The preview tracks include "Wild Child," featuring Grace Potter, and "Don't It," featuring Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski.

Kenny has also included "Drink It Up," "'Til It's Gone," "Rock Bottom" and "Save It for a Rainy Day" in the live stream.

Kenny's also featured in the first installment of the new CMT series, Instant Jam, premiering Saturday, September 27 at 10 p.m. ET. The surprise pop-up concert was filmed in front of a small audience at the Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA.

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Country Star Trivia


Comstock/ThinkstockWhat is the title of George Strait's most recent #1 hit? ANSWER: "Give It All We Got Tonight."

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Big & Rich Head to Las Vegas for Brand-New "Look at You" Video


Image Courtesy Webster PRBig & Rich's new video, "Look at You," premiered Monday, featuring a couple falling in love while visiting Las Vegas hot spots like Brooklyn Bowl, the Cromwell hotel and Caesars Palace. "Look at You" is the first of four videos in Big & Rich's Gravity Quadrilogy, featuring songs from the duo's new album, Gravity, due out Tuesday, September 23.

Big & Rich will celebrate the release of Gravity with a release-date performance at Brooklyn Bowl in New York City.  

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Tim McGraw Hopes His Fans Find Themselves in His New Album, "Sundown Heaven Town," Available Now


Image Courtesy Big Machine RecordsListening to Tim McGraw's brand-new single, "Shotgun Rider," it's easy to think he's singing a song of devotion to his wife, Faith Hill. You shouldn't assume you'll see Faith acting out that role in Tim's upcoming video for the song, though. In fact, Tim doesn't want fans to think of him or his famous wife much at all as they're listening to his new album, Sundown Heaven Town. Instead, he hopes his listeners find pieces of their own stories in his new collection of songs.

Tim says, "They might not necessarily have lived thematically what that song is talking about, but I think they find a way to adapt a part of their life to what that song is talking about or sort of superimpose a piece of what they've done in their life, or what they think they might wish they'd have done in their life, and they find a way to live through that vicariously."

Tim and Faith's video for their collaboration on "Meanwhile Back at Mama's" left room for fans to create their own story line for the song. The traditional-leaning song also served as a contrast to the rock and hip-hop influences heard on country radio lately. Tim is excited to see country music evolve so fast in the last few years, and a few of those new sounds show up on Sundown Heaven Town, too.

"I love the broad spectrum of music that you can find on country [radio] these days. I think it's the most dynamic and diverse genre of music that's out there," Tim explains. "'Meanwhile Back at Mama's' was a spot that needed to be filled -- that needed to be filled in the entire landscape of country music, and it's cool that you can do that. It's cool that you can have a genre that allows that big of a spectrum."

Tim will promote Sundown Heaven Town with a performance on ABC's Good Morning America Tuesday, followed by an appearance on ABC's The View on Wednesday. He follows that up with another performance on NBC's Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Wednesday night.

Passengers flying on Southwest Airlines flights to Los Angeles Tuesday evening will also get free wifi and exclusive content from Tim on the Rapid Rewards in-flight network in celebration of Tim's new album. The airline is also offering fans a chance to win a VIP trip to Los Angeles to meet Tim and see him perform at a private event.

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Nashville Notes


Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockNew duo Maddie & Tae will release a self-titled, four-song EP featuring the debut hit, "Girl in a Country Song," through all digital outlets on November 4.

Garth Brooks' 18-year-old daughter, Allie, joined him on background vocals for his entire Sunday night show in Chicago, according to CMT.com.

Luke Bryan has added a show at The Forum in Los Angeles on October 26 to close out his That's My Kind of Night tour. He'll play the Hollywood Bowl on October 25, too.

Eric Church has released "Talladega" as the new single from his current album, The Outsiders.

Blake Shelton has released a snippet of his new song, "Bringing Back the Sunshine," in a new YouTube clip. It's the title track from Blake's new album, due out September 30.

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George Strait's New Live Album, "The Cowboy Rides Away," Features Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney and More


Image Courtesy MCA NashvilleGeorge Strait's new concert album, The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium, is available now, featuring performances from his final tour stop last June. To make the evening even more special, George invited special guests Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride and more to join him singing their favorite songs from his catalog. Having his friends pick which songs they wanted to sing made it easier on George when it came time to put the final set list together.

He says with a laugh, "Once I had that list, that was like 18 songs, then I got to pick all my favorite ones. So, that’s basically what I did. I picked the songs that were my favorites."

When it came time for Jason Aldean to pick which song he'd sing with Strait, he went with George's first #1 hit, 1982's "Fool Hearted Memory." That was one of the early George Strait hits Jason grew up listening to with his dad.

"I love George Strait from top to bottom, but that was my favorite era was that early '80s into the mid-'80s kinda thing," Jason tells ABC News Radio. "Those are songs that I just grew up as a kid listening to, and then I got to be a teenager and the George Strait box set, and I'm still listening to 'em. As an adult, they're still some of my favorite songs."

Jason later joined the other stars and George for a sing-along of "All My Ex's Live in Texas," and the whole experience was pretty surreal for the Georgia native.

When asked how it felt to be onstage singing '80s hits with Strait that night, Jason says, "Are you kidding me? Now, I get a chance to get onstage with him and sing some of these things? It was like, that was insane to me."

Here's the live album track listing:

"Check Yes or No"
"Love Bug" (with Vince Gill)
"Fool Hearted Memory" (with Jason Aldean)
"Arkansas Dave" (with Bubba Strait)
"Cowboys Like Us" (with Eric Church)
"That's What Breaking Hearts Do"
"Marina Del Rey"
"Here for a Good Time" (with Sheryl Crow)
"I Can Still Make Cheyenne"
"Jackson" (with Martina McBride)
"A Showman's Life" (with Faith Hill)
"Murder on Music Row" (with Alan Jackson)
"The Chair"
"Give It All We Got Tonight"
"Run" (with Miranda Lambert)
"I'll Always Remember You"
"Ocean Front Property" (with Kenny Chesney)
"Troubadour"
"All My Ex's Live in Texas" (with Jason Aldean, Ray Benson, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride)
"The Cowboy Rides Away"

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Chris Young Sells Out Billy Bob's in Ft. Worth for the Second Time in His Career


Image Courtesy Chris Spinks/Billy Bob's TexasChris Young played the second sold-out show of his career at Billy Bob's in Ft. Worth, Texas over the weekend. Nearly 6,000 fans were on hand for the show, which was Chris's first time playing the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in almost three years.

He says, "Billy Bob's is one of my absolute favorite venues to play. I always say I love playing anywhere in Texas and that goes double for this venue."

Chris has more headlining shows coming up this weekend before he rejoins Dierks Bentley's Riser tour later this month. Go to ChrisYoungCountry.com for a full list of tour dates.

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