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CMTIt'll be a night filled with firsts on Wednesday, as 2020 finds the annual fan-voted CMT Music Awards moving from their usual week of CMA Fest to fall, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kane Brown and Ashley McBryde host the night for the first time, along with Modern Family actress Sarah Hyland

Both Kane and Ashley admit to stepping outside their comfort zone.

"I am a little bit nervous, actually..." Ashley confesses. "It's something I've always wanted to do."

"And so what I've really had to learn is how to slow down when you're reading a teleprompter," she explains. "And so I've been reading out loud a little more, because it's not a race. It's not gonna go ahead of you. So I've had to learn that."

Kane's leaning on some advice from his team.

"What I've learned from my publicist [is] always try to smile," he says. "And I'm gonna read as best as I can!"

Kane's dedicating his performance of "Worship You" to his wife Katelyn and his daughter Kingsley.

"When I wrote this song, it was about my wife," he recalls. "And then my beautiful baby came into our picture and now it's kind of around both of them."

"I worship them," he continues. "You know, they're my family. I love 'em to death."

Ashley's number, on the other hands, promises some intrigue.

"We'll be doing 'Martha Divine,'" she reveals, "which is a chilling love story about someone else's husband and someone else's wife. And it involves a big guitar boat full of shovels."

The 2020 CMT Music Awards start at 8 p.m. ET tonight, with performances from Dan ShayKelsea BalleriniLittle Big TownLuke BryanLuke CombsMaren Morris, Morgan WallenSam HuntShania Twain, and many more. 

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

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockTanya Tucker will perform during the third hour of the Today show this morning in celebration of the release of her new album, Live from The Troubadour. 

Mitchell Tenpenny and Seaforth's collaboration, "Anything She Says," has been certified gold. This marks Seaforth's first gold single.  Mitchell surprised them with plaques during a recent songwriting session.  

Duo Lakeview have released the video for their current single, "In Case You Forgot (My Hometown).”

Exile has released an original Christmas song, "Kid at Heart," co-written by band member JP Pennington and John Bizzack

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

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Copyright 2018 Blue Rose, Inc.Garth Brooks has something special planned for fans to celebrate the upcoming release of his FUN album. 

During an appearance on Good Morning AmericaGarth revealed that tomorrow night, fans will get to hear some of his highly anticipated new album during a live event streaming on his website.

Garth will present a "FUN bundle," as he calls it, playing tracks off the FUN album and Triple Live Deluxe, a 30-track compilation of songs performed across his multiple tours that will be released with FUN on November 20. He will also take questions from fans. 

Garth admits that while he misses doing live shows, hosting virtual events amidst the COVID-19 pandemic allows him to still maintain a connection with fans. 

"It puts you one-on-one with people right there in their own living room where I think we're all the most comfortable anyway, so it's more like a conversation than it is a show," he says of the event. "I'm going to enjoy it and I hope other people do too."

You can tune in to the live FUN preview on Wednesday on GarthBrooks.com at 7 p.m. ET.

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

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Robby KleinGabby Barrett is on a hot streak with "I Hope." 

The crossover star and her duet partner, Charlie Puth, have locked in the number-one spot on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart this week, which measures radio airplay on select pop music stations, with the remix of "I Hope." It also currently sits at number eight on the Hot 100. 

The song's ascension to the top of the all-genre chart follows the original version of the song, which climbed to number one on both the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs chart earlier this year, making Gabby the first female artist in country music since 2006 to have a number-one hit with her debut single. 

“I’m so grateful for this amazing achievement. ‘I Hope’ continues to do more than I ever imagined," Gabby raves, thanking her husband Cade Foehner, who met as contestants on season 16 of American Idol, as well as her team and fans for their support.  She also thanks Charlie, whom she credits for making the song "bigger."

"I’m so thankful for all of this and I don’t take an inch of it for granted! THANK YOU!” Gabby declares.

Gabby will perform "I Hope" Wednesday night on the CMT Music Awards, where it's nominated for Female Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year.

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

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Country Music Hall of Fame and MuseumGearing up for its virtual fundraiser next week, BIG NIGHT (At the Museum), the Country Music Hall of Fame will host a pre-show event featuring Tenille Townes and Carly Pearce

Tenille will host Countdown to BIG NIGHT (At the Museum) with Carly as a special guest, airing 30 minutes before the main event. 

During the stream, each singer will perform a song by an artist who has influenced them. It leads up to the organization's fundraiser that will see several modern country artists performing on the historic instruments belonging to artists from across generations before them. 

Performances include Kane Brown playing Randy Travis' guitar, Miranda Lambert using a custom-made guitar owned by the late John PrineAshley McBryde playing Loretta Lynn's Gibson guitar, and many more. 

The livestream pre-show airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on October 28 on the CMHOF YouTube channel before the fundraiser kicks off at 9 p.m. ET. 

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

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CMTJennifer Nettles will be recognized for her advocacy for women and diverse voices at the 2020 CMT Awards.

The Sugarland star will receive the inaugural CMT Equal Play Award during the broadcast for her loyal support for women in country music.

As an outspoken advocate for equal airplay for women on country radio, Jennifer made a powerful statement at the 2019 CMA Awards when she attached a fabric train to the back of her outfit, bearing the handwritten message "play our fu**** records please & thank you."

“As a proud part of the beautiful legacy of women in country music, I am honored to be the first recipient of the ‘CMT Equal Play Award,’” Jennifer says. “I look forward to celebrating the contributions of women, and all marginalized communities, within the country music format, and I am motivated in encouraging the non-artists, executives and investors in the industry, to do the same. There is much work still to be done.” 

The award is named after the CMT’s Equal Play initiative that began in 2019 in response to the lack of representation of women artists on radio and streaming services.

Kane BrownAshley McBryde and Modern Family's Sarah Hyland are co-hosting the CMT Awards, airing Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

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

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Flamingo BooksJimmie Allen is now an author in addition to his career as a country star. 

The "Best Shot" singer is sharing a message with children about the power of their voices with his debut children's book, My Voice Is a Trumpet, set for release next year. 

Written by Jimmie and illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson, the book encourages young readers to speak up for what they believe, a lesson Jimmie aims to instill in his own children, six-year-old son Aadyn and six-month-old daughter Naomi

The book features a cast of diverse young characters who find confidence in themselves and see the good in the world around them.

“It’s very important to me that kids learn at a young age that they have a voice, and that it is powerful. It is up to us as adults to teach them to use their voice to encourage and show love,” Jimmie shares with People.  “Being a father of two kids, I try to encourage them to be themselves and love everyone around them. I’m hoping this book inspires at least one child and they always remember their voice is a trumpet."

My Voice Is a Trumpet will be released via Flamingo Books on July 13.

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

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Comstock/ThinkstockTwo years ago today, this music megastar headlined the first concert in the history of Notre Dame Stadium, performing such hits as "Unanswered Prayers" and "The Dance." Can you guess who it is? ANSWER: Garth Brooks. 

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

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockRising country star Tiera has released her new single, "Found It in You." This summer, she became the first songwriter signed to the publishing arm of Nashville's female-centered music brand Songs & Daughters, helmed by hit songwriter Nicolle Galyon

New country artist Robyn Ottolini has released her debut single, "F-150." She was recently signed to Warner Music Nashville after the song gained popularity on social media. 

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

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ABC/Image Group LAMaren Morris' latest hit, "To Hell & Back," is a love letter to her husband, Ryan Hurd

What's surprising is that she wrote it so early in their relationship, it actually pre-dates the time they became a couple.

"I wrote it back when -- I don't even think we were really dating yet," Maren tells ABC Audio. "It was very early."

"It's an older song of mine," she continues, "but I held on to it for years because I just loved it so much. And I loved the sentiment behind, you know, someone loving you because of your flaws, not despite them."

For Maren, "To Hell & Back" describes the ultimate love relationship.

"You have to accept the whole picture to really love someone, and not ignore certain parts," she explains. "I don't think you can fully love a person if you're, like, sweeping some things under the rug."

"So I was just wanting to write a song that thanked him for loving every good, bad and ugly thing about me," she laughs.  

Maren and Ryan tied the knot in March of 2018, and welcomed their son, Hayes, two years later. 

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

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Disney Channel/ABC Image Group LACarly Pearce turned to Instagram over the weekend to treat fans to a preview of a new song she recorded in the middle of quarantine called "Heart First."

Revealing that she sang it in one take while recording in a closet, the piano ballad features her signature voice backed by serene harmonies, narrating a battle between her head and heart and the pain that comes with a broken heart. 

"Cause when you fall you fall heart first/And when you hit the ground it hurts/Wish there was another way without the crash and burn/That I could learn/But when you fall you fall heart first," she sings with passion.

"This is so good," comments friend and peer Cassadee Pope, with hit songwriter Shane McAnallyadding "Love love LOVE." 

The demo comes hot on the heels of Carly's current single, "Next Girl," a 90s country-esque bop that serves as a warning to her ex's next lover. She also topped the charts earlier this year with her duet with Lee Brice on "I Hope You're Happy Now." 

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

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ABC/Gavin BondOne is the luckiest number in Luke Bryan's new single, "Down to One." 

The consistent hitmaker takes a down-to-earth tone with the track off his most recent album, Born Here Live Here Die Here. The song finds Luke in his familiar setting in the back of a truck bed, falling in love under the moon and starlit sky as the clock strikes 1 a.m., getting down to that last Bud Light and one defining kiss. 

"Down to one beautiful smile/I was done with the girl I want/Straight falling in love/Right there that night/Down to one," the Georgia native croons in his southern drawl. 

"From the first time I heard this song I could not get it out of my head. The melody just roped me in. Excited to officially have #DownToOne as my next single," Luke shares on Instagram

"Down to One" follows the American Idol judge's 25th number one hit, "One Margarita." 

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

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Riker BrothersBrett Young and his wife Taylor are throwing their daughter Presley a pandemic-friendly birthday party. 

The couple is celebrating their daughter's first birthday on October 21, and while it may not be the party they originally envisioned, they are taking extra precaution to keep the infant and family members safe. 

The couple plan to have a very small gathering at their home in Nashville, with Taylor's parents and a close group of friends joining in the festivities. The singer says that attendees have not been traveling and have been tested for the virus.

"We’re kinda gonna treat it like a work day, unfortunately for Presley. It’s gonna be a little less exciting and a little less extravagant while being safe and responsible," he explains.

"We still want to make sure we celebrate her because she’s the best thing that ever happened to us, so her first birthday is really special to all of us," he continues. "So, it’ll be limited, it’ll be safe and tasteful and responsible but she’s gonna have a little birthday.” 

Presley and Taylor are the inspiration behind Brett's current single "Lady" that leads off his upcoming third studio album. 

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

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ABC/Mark LevineMiranda Lambert and her husband Brendan McLoughlin take center stage in the upcoming video for her current single, "Settling Down." 

Last night, the country superstar shared a teaser of the video, dropping in full on Wednesday. The opening shot sees Miranda donning a pair of cowboy boots with a satin blue gown adorned with white tulle that blows in the breeze as she gallops on a majestic black and white horse.

The three-shot preview includes a smoldering shot of her husband in a tuxedo, along with the two clasping hands.

Brendan recently joined Instagram, the trio of photos posted thus far capturing life on their Tennessee farm. The couple wed in January 2019.  

"Settling Down" is the third single off Miranda's chart-topping 2019 album Wildcard, its predecessor being the number one hit "Bluebird." Wildcard is nominated for Album of the Year at the CMA Awards. 

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

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Comstock/ThinkstockToday, the crossover country star best known for her 1968 number-one hit, “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” is celebrating her 75th birthday. This Texas native also had five more top-ten hits in the ‘70s, including “Country Girl” and “Good Enough to Be Your Wife.” Can you name her? ANSWER: Jeannie C. Riley

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

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Copyright 2018 Blue Rose, Inc.Garth Brooks is ready to have some FUN.

The country superstar unveiled the news today that his latest studio album FUN will be released on November 20.

The album has been in the works for nearly two years, Garth releasing lead single "All Day Long" in June 2018. He announced earlier this year that he was waiting for the right time to share the project, hoping to avoid releasing it in the middle of a pandemic. 

But in an interview with People, the singer says he had delayed its release long enough.

"Truthfully, I just think I ran out of time. This should have been released last Christmas because we'd been working on it forever," he explains. "So I think it's just time, you know?" 

The project features 14 new songs, including the hit collaboration with Blake Shelton on "Dive Bar," "Stronger Than Me," a touching ode to his wife Trisha Yearwood with whom he recorded a cover of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga's "Shallow" from A Star is Born. 

Unreleased songs fans have to look forward to are "It's a Hard Way to Make an Easy Living," "Sometimes You've Got to Die to Live Again" and "Amen."  

"It's something we keep saying: How wrong is it to have fun when everybody's suffering?" Garth continues, adding that seeing fans' reactions to his virtual performances throughout the year, calling them an "escape," encouraged the album's release.

"...You kind of walk that line as an entertainer. What's your job? Even though times are hard for people, aren't they looking to the entertainment business for an escape?" he says. "I would just love to see us all kind of take a deep breath, maybe smile a little bit." 

FUN follows Garth's 2016 album Gunslinger.  

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

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockMichael Ray began hinting at the release of a music video for his new single, “Whiskey and Rain,” last week, dropping a “prequel” to begin building anticipation for his forthcoming clip. As the song plays, the video takes fans through footage of an empty house, with a half-full bottle of whiskey sitting on a coffee table, as a storm brews outside.

Honey County have shared two singles, “Ghost Town” and “Cry Wolf,” as a pair of “Double A-Sided”-style releases.

Duo Lakeview dropped their latest track, “In Case You Forgot (My Hometown)” last week. Keep an eye out for the song’s music video on Monday.

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


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Broken BowThe cover of Runaway June's new holiday EP, When I Think About Christmas, gives the impression Jennifer WayneNaomi Cooke, and Natalie Stovall are standing in a snowy, tree-lined scene. 

But that's actually far from the truth.

"Nothing like being in fur coats in a hundred degrees in a field in Tennessee," Natalie laughs.

"It was fun though. Yeah, I mean it was hot!" Naomi agrees.

The "We Were Rich" hitmakers set out to forego traditional silver, gold, and green trappings, in favor of a more rustic look.

"We really wanted the visual side of the music to feel and look and capture the sound," Naomi explains. "You know, there's a lot of like Appalachian kind of mountain sounds in this music. There's fiddle and banjo."

"And we just wanted something a little different," she continues. "Normally, like Christmas album covers have got a lot of red and it's very glam."

Though you could certainly argue the three women still look plenty glamorous, at one point, they worried they might be going a little too far with their "blue steel" and furs.

"We just really wanted to step outside of that box a little bit and bring more wintery elements," Naomi reflects. "But it was funny because we had to kind of fight with that a little bit, because we were like, 'Maybe this looks a little too a Game of Thrones.'"

"And then we were like making jokes about 'Winter is coming,'" she adds, as the three laugh. "And we're like, 'Oh, okay, this is really fun. Let's just do this.'" 

The five-song EP combines favorites like "Sleigh Ride," "O Holy Night," and "Let It Snow" with two new songs, "Christmas on the Radio" and the Jennifer-Wayne-penned title track. It's available now. 

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

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UMG NashvilleIn his pulsing, mid-tempo new song, “Lose You,” Jordan Davis makes time to appreciate a relationship worth hanging on to, no matter what.

“People break up, fall in and outta love / But giving this up is something I just won’t do,” he sings. “And I don’t wanna give you a reason to leave me / Watch you drive off in the night / I never wanna feel that freedom that people say they find...”

It’s a song ripped straight from the pages of Jordan’s own life, as a husband and new dad to baby daughter Eloise Larken. He came up with the idea for the song while comparing relationship notes with his co-writers, who are also happily coupled up.

“When I sat down with the guys in the writer’s room that day, we were all just talking about our wives and we realized, ‘Hey, we are all married to amazing women so let’s not mess this up,’” the singer remembers.

Fun fact: One of the co-writers of “Lose You,” Josh Kerr, is a newlywed who married Maddie & Tae bandmate Tae Dye back in February.

“Lose You” follows Jordan’s current single, “Almost Maybes.” He decided to release the track after teasing it on social media, a pandemic-era alternative to testing out unreleased material live during shows.

“In a normal year we’d have our live show to try out new music and see what connects with the audience. Since we can’t do that, it has been fun to share on social media and see the response,” he explains. “Fans were loving this one, so we thought, ‘Why wait to release it?’”

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


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Chase Lauer Trace AdkinsAin’t That Kind of Cowboy EP arrives today, and the singer celebrated his six-song batch of tunes with a performance of “Better Off,” the leading track, on NBC’s The TODAY Show.

Trace tuned into the show from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, with a performance airing Friday morning during the 10AM hour.

“Better Off” came out in March, the first taste of Ain’t That Kind of Cowboy and the first new music from the “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” hitmaker since 2017. It’s also his first project since inking a new deal with Verge Records, and Trace said he was thrilled to celebrate the release of his next musical chapter.

“It was a lot of fun to get back into the studio with [Verge Records head] Mickey Jack [Cones] and [songwriter/producer] Bart [Butler] on this EP, and I couldn’t be prouder of these songs from some of my favorite writers,” the singer reflects. “I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”

Among the impressive roster of songwriters Trace tapped to help him write his new EP are two names likely familiar to country fans. TJ Osborne and John Osborne of the duo Brothers Osborne co-wrote “Big,” the fourth track on the EP.

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


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