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Image Courtesy ACMBlake Shelton and Luke Bryan are back for a third turn as co-hosts of ACM Awards, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this Sunday. Instead of airing from its traditional locale in Las Vegas, this year's big anniversary show broadcasts live from the 60,000-seat AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the hosts want viewers to know it's taken a lot of planning to get to this point.

Luke says, "Some of the people in charge showed me and Blake plans of it the first year we hosted, so this hasn't been just a snap your fingers and make this thing happen. They've worked hard."

The talent lineup will be just as impressive as the massive production elements producers have in store for Sunday night's show.

Says Blake, "It's gonna be the biggest stars in country music, and when I say biggest stars, I mean from past, present, future. It's all gonna come together."

So, why are the ACM Awards organizers allowing Luke and Blake to come back and emcee the entire evening?

Blake says with a laugh, "We're the only two in country music that can read. I'm telling you. Have you met some of these artists? God almighty. Idiots."

When Luke suggests the illiterate country stars try Hooked on Phonics, Blake shoots back, "I think you gotta be able to read to even start that."

Luke and Blake are also set to perform on the ACM Awards along with Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Reba, George Strait, Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town. Rascal Flatts will sing a duet with Christina Aguilera, and Dan Shay are teaming up with Nick Jonas. New artist nominees Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell and Sam Hunt are also performing.

Here are the nominees for the 50th Annual ACM Awards:

Entertainer of the Year
Jason Aldean
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Miranda Lambert
Florida Georgia Line

Female Vocalist of the Year
Brandy Clark
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood

New Artist of the Year
Sam Hunt
Thomas Rhett
Cole Swindell

Album of the Year
Old Boots, New Dirt, Jason Aldean
Pain Killer, Little Big Town
Platinum, Miranda Lambert
Riser, Dierks Bentley
The Outsiders, Eric Church

Song of the Year (Award to Songwriter)
"American Kids," Kenny Chesney
"Automatic," Miranda Lambert
"Drink a Beer," Luke Bryan
"Follow Your Arrow," Kacey Musgraves
"Give Me Back My Hometown," Eric Church
"I Hold On," Dierks Bentley

Single Record of the Year
"American Kids," Kenny Chesney
"Automatic," Miranda Lambert
"Dirt," Florida Georgia Line
"Drunk on a Plane," Dierks Bentley
"I Don't Dance, "Lee Brice

Vocal Group of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year
Brothers Osborne
Dan Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae
The Swon Brothers

Vocal Event of the Year
"Lonely Tonight," Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe
"Meanwhile Back at Mama's," Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill
"Somethin' Bad," Miranda Lambert Duet with Carrie Underwood
"The South," The Cadillac Three featuring Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley and Mike Eli
"This Is How We Roll," Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan

Video of the Year
"American Kids," Kenny Chesney
"Cop Car," Keith Urban
"Drunk on a Plane," Dierks Bentley
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You," Glen Campbell
"Somethin' Bad," Miranda Lambert Duet with Carrie Underwood

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Image Courtesy MCA NashvilleSam Hunt continues to rack up more career milestones. Sam's record company UMG Nashville reports that this week Sam's album, Montevallo, has reached a half million in sales, climbing to that mark faster than any debut album since 2012.

Meanwhile, Sam's single “Take Your Time” is spending its 10th week atop Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.  According to the magazine, "Take Your Time" is one of only sixteen tunes to accomplish that feat since the chart was launched in 1958. 

This Sunday, the former college football quarterback will performs at the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards where he's vying for the New Artist trophy. The ACM Awards air Sunday night at 8 on CBS.

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Image Courtesy Arista Nashville/Jeremy CowartDJ Earworm, who’s known for producing annual five-minute long mashups that include all the big songs from the year, has now applied his technique to a decade of hits from Carrie Underwood.  

The DJ's audio and video montage, posted to YouTube,  contains more than fourteen songs, including Carrie’s number ones “Something in the Water,” “Good Girl,” “Undo It” and “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” as well as her current single “Little Toy Guns.”

All the songs are included on Carrie’s latest album, the 25-track Greatest Hits: Decade #1. She’s up for Female Vocalist, Vocal Event and Video at this the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, airing Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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Image Courtesy MCA NashvilleCountry fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this weekend have a chance to win a free invitation to an exclusive post-ACM Awards concert by David Nail, courtesy of ride-sharing service Uber and Ram Trucks. From now through noon Central time on Saturday, anyone who enters the promo code UBERCOUNTRY on the Uber app will have a chance to go to the show.

The lucky winners will be notified by 5 p.m. on Saturday and told the secret location of the concert. Uber riders will have a second opportunity to score tickets  at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, after the ACM Awards are handed out.  In addition to his number ones “Let It Rain,” “Red Light” and “Whatever She’s Got,” Nail teases he may also unveil some of the new music he’s been recording. You can find out more details about the contest on the Uber blog.

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Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleLittle Big Town will perform their latest hit, "Girl Crush," on Sunday night's ACM Awards. It's included on their latest project, Pain Killer, which is up for Album of the Year. Speaking of that nod along with their mention in the Vocal Group of the Year category, band member Kimberly Schlapman says, "We've been on both sides of the spectrum. So, these nominations really, really do mean a lot to us, because there were so many years when there was just birds chirping in the background."

The 50th Annual ACM Awards broadcast live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Sunday night at 8 ET on CBS.

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Comstock/ThinkstockThe Academy of Country Music is not based in Nashville like the Country Music Association. Where are the ACM offices located? ANSWER: Encino, California.

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Nino Munoz/Big Machine RecordsTim McGraw’s facing some online backlash for his scheduled performance in Hartford, CT this July -- a performance that benefits Sandy Hook Promise, an organization founded in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, whose stated purpose is to help protect children from gun violence.

McGraw on Monday announced the show, dubbed the Concert for Sandy Hook Promise, part of his ongoing Shotgun Rider tour with supporting acts Billy Currington and Chase Bryant.  But because the show’s proceeds go to what some are calling a pro-gun control cause, the criticism from some parties has been harsh --  particularly from gun rights supporters, including the National Rifle Association, which tweeted, “Country musicians @TheTimMcGraw and @billycurrington to promote and play at gun control fundraiser.”

That NRA tweet, reported by the Washington Post, has since been deleted, but others from critical parties haven’t been.  Many critical comments were posted to McGraw’s Facebook page, with some noting the alleged hypocrisy of McGraw’s Shotgun Rider tour name, given the Sandy Hook benefit, though the “shotgun” in that context refers to a vehicle’s front passenger seat.

McGraw responded in a statement to the Washington Post, declaring, “As a gun owner, I support gun ownership.  I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety -- most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children.  I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that.  Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families and I felt their pain. The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering.”

The “personal connection” to which McGraw refers is his fiddle player, Dean Brown, a longtime friend of Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Even so, the fallout was apparently enough to cause Billy Currington to back out of the concert altogether.  He posted a note on his own Facebook page, declaring in part, “I've never been one to take on controversial issues -- I'm a singer. I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the Sandy Hook community and will be making a donation to a local organization.”

TIME magazine on Thursday named McGraw one of its 100 most influential people.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockTim McGraw will perform on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live next month. We'll keep you posted on exact airdate.

Martina McBride will headline the St. Jude Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon concert April 25 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. 

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Image Courtesy Republic NashvilleFlorida Georgia Line has their first-ever nomination in the Entertainer of the Year category going into Sunday night's ACM Awards. The duo's Brian Kelley admits he and singing partner Tyler Hubbard were "blown away" by the nod.

"That's something that we've been working for for a long time," Brian says. 'It's been a dream. It happened so fast for us. We're very, very blessed and honored. "

The nod comes just months after FGL released their sophomore album, Say Anything, and Brian says that project has made them step up their game on the road.

He says, "It's changed our show. I think there's just a new breath of fresh air with the whole tour, the whole crew. It's just exciting."

Fan voting in the Entertainer of the Year category is now open at VoteACM.com. The 50th Annual ACM Awards broadcast live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Sunday night at 8 ET on CBS.

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Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleMiranda Lambert grew up just 80 miles from Dallas, Texas, in the town of Lindale, so it's only fitting she is the lead nominee going into Sunday night's ACM Awards in nearby Arlington. Miranda has eight nods including Entertainer of the Year and Album of the Year for Platinum.

She says, "I feel like of all the times for it to be in Dallas, now is perfect for me because I'm still on a high from this album, and from everything that's going on. Now to be like, at home doing the ACMs, is kind of crazy."

As for that Entertainer nomination, Miranda adds, "That's what I said from day one when I started first playing the guitar and learning to sing. It was like, I really wanna be -- I at least want to be nominated for Entertainer of the Year at some point. Winning would be great, too."

Miranda is also a favorite to win her sixth consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year trophy this weekend. Look for her to perform on the 50th Annual ACM Awards Sunday night at 8 ET on CBS.

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Image Courtesy Stoney CreekRandy Houser is on the road with Luke Bryan all year long on the Kick the Dust Up tour, but he still remembers when they were newcomers to Nashville trying to make it in the music industry.

Randy says in the latest installment of his House Band TV series, "We were playing bars around Nashville, sitting on stools playing our acoustic guitars. And then I get to see all the new toys he gets to go and play with every night and I’m like, ‘That looks like fun!’”

Could it be Randy is making the move to permanent headliner status in 2016? Check out his latest YouTube video to find out.

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Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleMiranda Lambert has written and recorded a new song for the upcoming Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara comedy, Hot Pursuit. The song is called "Two of a Crime," and Miranda wrote it after getting a text from Reese asking her to contribute a track to the movie. Reese wanted the song to mix Southern and Latin flavors, and Miranda was very inspired by the source material.

She says, "[The movie] was a bit of a Thelma and Louise theme and that’s totally up my alley. It is really so fun to be part of it. It was the first time I wrote a song specifically for a movie, so it was a different experience for me.”

"Two of a Crime" will be available on iTunes on April 28. The movie, Hot Pursuit, opens in theaters May 8.

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Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleBrett Eldredge will release his brand-new single, "Lose My Mind," to radio Tuesday, April 21. The song's groove came to Brett one night and actually kept him from sleeping before he went into a writing session that next day, where they wound up writing the lyrics about a love interest that completely takes over your thoughts.

"That’s what this song’s about," Brett explains, "when you literally feel like you’re going crazy, but it’s because you’re so crazy about them and shows you how much you love them and you can’t get enough.”

"Lose My Mind" is the lead single from Brett's upcoming sophomore album. Look for him to serve as a presenter on Sunday night's 50th Annual ACM Awards at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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Image Courtesy ACM Modern Family star Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon have signed on as presenters at this Sunday's 50th Annual ACM Awards. The two co-star in the upcoming comedy, Hot Pursuit.

Keith Urban, Jake Owen, Brett Eldredge, Darius Rucker, Kelly Clarkson, Brantley Gilbert, Thomas Rhett, Alabama, Big & Rich, Lee Brice, Hunter Hayes, Mickey Guyton, Justin Moore, Steven Tyler, Trisha Yearwood, Troy Aikman, and Tony Romo have also been added as presenters.

Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Reba, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Martina McBride, Florida Georgia Line, and Brooks & Dunn are set to perform on the show. Pop star Christina Aguilera will perform with Rascal Flatts, and Nick Jonas will take the stage with Dan Shay.

Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton co-host the 50th Annual ACM Awards Sunday night at 8 ET on CBS.

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Image Courtesy Big Machine RecordsTim McGraw has made Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People for 2015, along with Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Jon Meacham wrote Tim's profile story, and calls the country star "a kind of Renaissance man in a cowboy hat."

The Time article applauds Tim for his continued success in country music with hits like "Shotgun Rider" and "Diamond Rings and Old Bar Stools." The writer also point out Tim's love of reading "serious novels and history."

Look for Tim to continue his film career with the new movie, Tomorrowland, coming out next month.

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Image Courtesy EB Media PREric Church is looking forward to performing at the 50th Annual ACM Awards Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. In a time where a new awards show comes along almost every week, Eric says of the ACMs, "The fact that it's 50 years and there's a history there, there's a heritage, I love that, and I love that they're celebrating that."

More than 60,000 fans will be in the audience for the show, and Eric can't wait to see that energy from the crowd captured for the live broadcast.

"It's a big room," Eric says of AT&T Stadium. "I've played that room with [George] Strait. That's a big room."

Eric is up for three trophies, including Album of the Year for The Outsiders, at the ACM Awards. The show airs Sunday night at 8 ET on CBS.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWhich up-and-coming country group has a member named Zach Brown, who is no relation to Zac Brown of Zac Brown Band? ANSWER: A Thousand Horses.

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Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleLady Antebellum's Hillary Scott had a close call Thursday morning when her tour bus caught fire on the way to Dallas for the ACM Awards. Everyone is safe and back on the road.

 

 

Hillary posted a picture of the burned-out bus on Instagram with the caption, "EVERYONE IS SAFE AND SOUND. It was me, my husband, our tour manager, and driver. Thanking God for our safety and the safety of all of those who helped put this fire out and keep us safe. Love you all!!"

Hillary's daughter, Eisele, was not on the bus, and her band mates, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, were traveling to Dallas separately.

Lady Antebellum will perform at the ACM Lifting Lives Charity Gala Friday night at the Omni Hotel in Dallas.

Of note, Hillary was asleep in the bus's back lounge when she had to evacuate. Later on, Hillary got a message saying all off her personal items were destroyed except for her Bible. She posted a picture of the Bible on Instagram saying, "The outside cover was burned and messed up but NOT ONE PAGE was missing. Yall, God's Word will always stand. He is FOR YOU, WILL PROTECT YOU, AND HIS LOVE FOR YOU WILL NEVER FADE. My faith is forever deepened because of today. I hope this story deepens yours."

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Image Courtesy Bob D'Amico/ABCPop superstar Christina Aguilera made her debut on ABC's Nashville Wednesday, playing another pop star named Jade St. John. The pink-haired diva was in Music City playing two sold-out shows at the Bridgestone Arena, and Jade's ex-fiancé, Jeff Fordham, convinced her to use his management client, Layla Grant, as one of her opening acts. This is just the beginning of Jade's role in Layla's life.

Christina says, "Jade takes Layla under her wing a little bit, and kind of plays the big sister to her and wanting to encourage her growth and coming up in the business."

Jade also finds herself in the middle of some drama between Layla and Juliette Barnes in the next few episodes.

Christina adds with a laugh, "Juliette definitely tells me where to go."

During Wednesday night's show, Jade also performed a new song, "The Real Thing," which is now available on iTunes as part of the Nashville soundtrack. So, does this mean Christina is planning a move to country music in her real life?

She says, "Jade definitely makes me discover a new side to who I am and what more I have to offer, even as an artist, you know, crossing into a little bit of experimenting with country. So, it’s fun and it’s music and, you know, it’s all love."

Elsewhere in Nashville, Juliette Barnes isn't adjusting well to life as mother to her baby girl, Cadence. While husband Avery Barkley is off performing the new song "On a Rail" with his band, The Triple Exes, Juliette gets word that the producer of her Patsy Cline biopic wants her to write and record a new song for the film.

Grasping this opportunity to get away from the screaming baby, Juliette hires a nanny without telling Avery and boards a private plane to Los Angeles to work on the movie. Once Avery finds out about the situation, he decides to leave The Triple Exes. The act is now a duo consisting of former lovers Gunnar Scott and Scarlett O'Conner.

Closeted country star Will Lexington's songwriting sessions with the openly gay Kevin Bicks may be over, but it looks like their personal relationship is just heating up. After a few missed opportunities, Will finally let Kevin know he's interested in going out on a date. Kevin said yes by planting a big kiss on Will's lips.

Nashville mayor Teddy Conrad managed to embezzle the $500,000 his hooker, Natasha, needed to get out of town before the feds learned he was her client. It turns out she's working as a witness for the FBI and got Teddy's drop-off of the money on tape.

Deacon Claybourne decided to move in to Rayna Jaymes' house after their daughter, Maddie, noticed he has stayed over several nights in a row. There was no update on Deacon's liver cancer as he continues waiting for a donor liver.

Nashville returns with an all-new episode featuring Christina Aguilera next Wednesday night at 10 ET on ABC.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockChris Young will perform at the 20th Annual Key West Songwriter's Festival May 6 through 10 in Florida.

Darius Rucker appears on ABC's The Chew Thursday.

Florida Georgia Line played a secret show for 150 fans Tuesday afternoon at Nashville's Sutler Saloon. According to People, the show celebrated FGL's new drink with Mountain Dew, DEWShine.

Tune in to catch Reba on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live Thursday night.

Scotty McCreery performed for patients at Nashville's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt earlier this week. The appearance is part of the Grand Ole Opry's Cause for Applause initiative to support nine important causes through 2015 in celebration of the Opry's 90th anniversary.

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