If Keith Urban's top-five hit "Coming Home" makes it to the top of the chart, it'll be the first #1 for the late Merle Haggard since 1987's "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star."
The latest single from Graffiti U was inspired by Merle's 1968 classic, "Mama Tried," and includes the song's signature guitar lick in its intro.
Merle passed away two years ago and for Keith, it was important to have the seal of approval of his widow, Theresa. "I called her up and said, 'I've written this song that was inspired by "Mama Tried," and we ended up using a piece of the sample from the original recording," the Aussie superstar says. "So it means Merle will be a writer on this song. But I'd love you guys to like it.'"
"'If you love the song and give it its blessing,'" he recalls, "'that would mean the world to me, because I have a lot of reverence for Merle.'"
Both Theresa and Haggard's son, Ben, ultimately agreed and were happy for Keith to honor Merle. Keith confesses he had multiple motivations for wanting to release "Coming Home."
"That's not something I do gratuitously," he clarifies. "It's something I wanted to be able to do for many reasons. One was because I got to write with Merle Haggard," he laughs. "That's fantastic!"
The other has to do with expanding the legend's legacy.
"There will be a lot of people outside of our genre that will go and find out who Merle Haggard is," Keith tells ABC Radio. "They'll wanna go hear 'Mama Tried,' and that can open up that to a whole lot of people who've never heard him before. Samples can do that in songs. So it was just a win/win across the board."
Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock The new album from two-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Kathy Mattea arrives September 7. Though the Kickstarter campaign for the independent record Pretty Bird is already fully funded, you can check out the remaining incentives online. You can also preview the track, "I Can't Stand Up Alone," on YouTube.
Tune in to watch Michael Ray make his late-night-TV debut Monday on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The Florida native will perform his new single, "One That Got Away," on the show that starts at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC.
You can check out the video for newcomer Ruston Kelly's latest single, "Mockingbird," on YouTube now. His debut album, Dying Star, is due September 7.
Big Label RecordsAaron Watson’s new album was recorded Live at the World’s Biggest Rodeo Show.
The Texas hitmaker laid down the thirteen-track set in front of 65,000 people on the opening night of Rodeo Houston in 2017. Aaron’s first live project in more than a decade includes his very first top ten on the country charts, “Outta Style.”
His 14th career album will arrive on August 24, the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey hitting the Lone State State. Part of the proceeds from each record will go to the Rebuild Texas Fund.
“We had planned on releasing this album in the second half of 2017, but after the storm it just didn’t feel right,” Aaron reveals. “I’ve always wanted my music to do good in the world and it became clear that there was a real opportunity to hold onto this project and release it on the one year anniversary of the hurricane.”
“So much of my home state of Texas was affected,” he adds. “Hopefully by bringing the recovery efforts back to the forefront, it will remind people that there is still so much work left to do.”
In addition to the live retrospective of Aaron’s 18-year career, the set also includes the acoustic bonus track “Higher Ground,” which he wrote while the storm was happening.
Here’s the complete track listing for Aaron Watson Live at the World’s Biggest Rodeo Show, which comes out August 24:
“These Old Boots Have Roots” “Freight Train” “Real Good Time” “Raise Your Bottle” “That’s Why God Loves Cowboys” “That Look” “Outta Style” “Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song)” “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To” “Fence Post” “Wildfire” “Getaway Truck” “July in Cheyenne (Song for Lane’s Momma)” “Higher Ground”
ABC/Image Group LA The video for Eric Church’s new single, “Desperate Man,” will debut early Monday morning on Amazon Music at 3:01 a.m. ET.
The “cinematic and high-flying video” co-stars Eric's collaborator, Texas singer/songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, and finds Eric on a “mission to fight for what’s right.”
The full Desperate Man album won’t arrive until October 5, but Eric says he knows the kind of suspense his fans are experiencing.
“Excitement for new music from my favorite artists is a feeling I can remember from my formative years,” the North Carolina native reflects. “The unknown and the possibilities of the anticipation are one of the true joys of music.”
“Well, even though how we discover songs from our favorite performers may have evolved,” he adds, “the feeling remains the same.”
Eric’s new “Desperate Man” video will be exclusive to Amazon Music for its first 48 hours, before becoming available on other platforms. You can check out a short tease on Amazon now.
Country Music AssociationCMA Fest 2018 will live again on Wednesday, August 8, as the annual three-hour music special airs on ABC. But if you’re planning to come to Nashville for the 2019 edition of country music’s largest gathering, it’s time to get out your calendar.
CMA Fest 2019 starts Thursday, June 6, and as usual, will go through the following Sunday. Pre-sales for the nightly concerts at Music City’s Nissan Stadium start Monday, July 30 at 10 a.m. CT. To get the best seats this year, you’ll need to register before Friday, July 27 through Ticketmaster.
General ticket sales begin Monday, August 6 at 10 a.m. CT, with the lineup for 2019 to be announced at a later date. You can find complete info at CMAFest.com.
Then on Wednesday, August 8, you’ll want to be sure to tune in as Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini host CMA Fest for the second year in a row, starting at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo by Chris Hollo for the Grand Ole OpryWhen Chris Janson takes over New York City’s Opry City Stage on July 23, he’ll not only be doing a concert, he’ll also be recording an episode of Front and Center.
It’ll be the first time the PBS series has shot a show at the Grand Ole Opry’s home-away-from-home in the Big Apple. It’s an appropriate venue, since the “Fix a Drink” hitmaker happens to be the youngest member of the esteemed country music institution.
Tickets are available now online, with the episode likely to air as part of Front and Center’s 2019 season. Chris’s latest single, “Drunk Girl,” is currently on the verge of breaking into country’s top 20.
Warner Music NashvilleAs Cole Swindell’s latest hit, “Break Up in the End,” makes its way into country’s top 20, the Georgia native is releasing both the cover and the track listing for his third album.
The artwork for All of It shows Cole in an outdoor setting, wearing his signature ball cap and a bomber jacket. The prolific songwriter had a hand in crafting five of the record’s dozen tunes, including the opening cut, “Love You Too Late.”
Cole’s also releasing a concept video for the song, which you can check out on YouTube.
Here’s the complete track listing for All of It, which comes out August 17:
“Love You Too Late” “All of It” “Somebody’s Been Drinkin’” “Sounded Good Last Night” “Break Up in the End” “I’ll Be Your Small Town” “The Ones Who Got Me Here” “20 in a Chevy” “Reason to Drink” “Her” “Both Sides of the Mississippi” “Dad’s Old Number”
Comstock/Thinkstock Five years ago this week, this three-time ACM Entertainer of the Year became the first country artist to headline Boston's Fenway Park. Can you name the Georgia-born singer? ANSWER: Jason Aldean.
ABC/Image Group LA Brett Eldredge loves his home state so much, he even called his second album Illinois.
So it follows that the "Love Someone" singer is pretty excited about his gig in the Land of Lincoln this weekend.
"Windy City [Smokeout], I'm headlining that," Brett explains. "I started playing that a long time ago, and it started out pretty small and they were just building it. Now it's become this huge thing."
Brett admits he's a little obsessed with all things related to Chicago.
"Just playing in that city, I mean I could play there every week if somebody would let me," he smiles. "You know, I just love it so much. I know I come from Illinois, and it is my heart and soul."
"But there's something magic about that city, whether it's the fact that I love all the sports teams and love all the atmosphere and the environment and the culture and everything. I just love going there. So to be the headliner there for the second time -- and now it's become this huge thing -- is really special."
Brett is set to take the stage at the Windy City Smokeout on Saturday. Later this month, he returns to Chicago to lead a special edition of the CMA Songwriters Series at Joe's on Weed St. on July 24.
Big LoudIf Chris Lane's sophomore effort, Laps Around the Sun, sounds a little bit like a Kenny Chesneyrecord, it's not entirely by accident.
The North Carolina native admits part of his vision for his second album came from seeing the East Tennessee superstar in concert.
"Last year, I was out in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina watching Kenny...onstage," Chris recalls. "I had just finished my show, and I got to watch as a fan AND as an artist this time around."
"I grew up going to all of his concerts," he explains, "And for me, the takeaway was, not only did he make me connect to what he was doing, he made everyone in that crowd connect to what he was doing."
"And I kept saying, 'Man, I want songs that do this, that tell a story or just have so much truth in 'em that people just relate to it.'"
Chris tells ABC Radio the authenticity he tapped into even translated into how he recorded the album itself.
"We went into the studio this time around, [and] did it much differently, just took an organic approach and did it full-band, live," he says. "And I'd never done it that way before. It's always been one instrument at a time. And I think it gave more of an organic sound."
Now, the "Take Back Home Girl" hitmaker is anxious to take Laps Around the Sun to the stage: "It's gonna be a lot of fun playing these songs live. I can't wait, because it's gonna add an extra energy to my show, once I can get some of these songs in my live set."
On Saturday, Chris will have that chance, as he plays California's Del Mar Fairgrounds. Laps Around the Sun is out today.
Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Chris Janson's July 23 show at the Big Apple's Opry City stage will be recorded for a new episode of the PBS series, Front & Center.
Jake Owen, Tyler Farr, Chuck Wicks and songwriter Dallas Davidson will join Lee Brice for his first Monday night show at Nashville's Analog at the Hutton Hotel on July 16. The concert will raise money to help veterans through Folds of Honor.
Legendary Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel will release its first album of new material in more than a decade, titled New Routes, on September 14.
Dan Shay, Lauren Alaina, Parmalee and Love and Theft are all set to play the Shine for Susie benefit next Monday in Clarksville, Tennessee. You can find out more about the fundraiser for ALS at ShineForSusie.org.
ABC/Image Group LA Reigning ACM Group of the Year Old Dominion isn't afraid to admit that they've written quite a few songs about sex, particularly their latest hit, "Hotel Key."
"That is definitely a sex song," lead singer Matthew Ramsey tells HITS Daily Double. "It’s about a one-night stand. But the truth is, it could just be one night where you get crazy, and it’ll never be like that again. You got drunk together, laughed together, talked and talked together, and you were all there was in the world."
"Sure, you had sex together," he goes on, "and it was this amazing thing. But there’s so much more to it than just the sex. It was everything. That line, 'We danced by the TV we never turned on' -- that line is the whole song."
Friday night, OD plays Hard Rock Country Fest in Sioux City, Iowa, before opening Kenny Chesney's Trip Around the Sun date Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri.
SpotifyIf you pay attention to the socials of Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, or Kelsea Ballerini, you’ve probably noticed the three stars sharing photos of some pretty impressive crop art bearing their likenesses.
Since none of the artists offered any details or explanation about the pictures initially, it wasn’t clear at first what was going on. But on Thursday, all was revealed: Spotify commissioned noted crop artist Stan Herd to create the likenesses to promote its new Hot Country brand.
“When you operate heavy machinery while listening to the Hot Country playlist,” Spotify tweeted, along with the giant agricultural recreations of Luke, Jason and Kelsea, as well as another that bears the Hot Country logo.
You can also check out a new YouTube video that shows exactly how Herd created the one-of-a-kind images.
EMI Records NashvilleEric Church’s new album, Desperate Man, is set to arrive October 5, nearly three years since the surprise release of Mr. Misunderstood.
The North Carolina native announced the project to his fan club, the Church Choir, in a video clip posted to his socials on Thursday morning.
“It’s been a while,” Eric says. “I just want to say I have missed you. I have good news…the album is done, and we are back. It’s called Desperate Man and the first single is called ‘Desperate Man,’ which everybody in the Church Choir can hear right now.”
“And just like last time,” he continues, “just like Mr. Misunderstood -- if you’re in the Church Choir, on October 5th you’re going to get the album.”
You can join the Church Choir at EricChurch.com. “Desperate Man” will be available for everyone to stream or download on Friday.
ABC/Image Group LA Cam gets philosophical on "Road to Happiness," the new track that's the latest preview of her forthcoming sophomore album.
"It's the wild unknown, it's a ball and chain," she sings on the song that's similar stylistically to her chart-topping breakthrough from 2015, "Burning House."
She continues: "It's a knowing destination, we keep driving anyway/Is the future that we're chasing worth the right nows that we miss/On this road to happiness."
"Road to Happiness" is the follow-up to Cam's most recent single, "Diane." It's also one of the tunes she's been performing in the opening spot on British sensation Sam Smith's The Thrill of It All Tour.
You can stream or download the new song now, or check out an audio-only version on YouTube.
This weekend, Cam and the "Too Good at Goodbyes" hitmaker pass through Tampa and Miami, Florida. So far, we don't know when Cam's successor to her debut, Untamed, will be released.
ABC/Image Group LA Carly Pearce is currently enjoying her second top-25 hit with "Hide the Wine," on the heels of her breakthrough chart-topping single, "Every Little Thing."
The Kentucky native certainly seems to be the "it" girl this year when it comes to new female vocalists, as she heads out on no fewer than four major tours.
"I'm such a fan [of] Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Thomas Rhett," Carly says of her tour mates. "And the fact that they thought I was the right girl power to be on their tour is such an honor."
"Because all of those men represent a different part of country music," she explains, "and I think you have a wide variety. There's a very different audience and a different show when you look at Blake Shelton than there is to Luke Bryan."
While Carly is quick to admit she stills get a little starstruck, she also takes her task very seriously.
"All of them have been so gracious to me and when I got the call for each tour I freaked out," she confesses. "Because it was the fan girl in me, but also understanding that, wow, I have a responsibility to make sure that I open their show in a way that makes them happy to have me on tour."
The former Dollywood performer started out the year on Blake's Country Music Freaks trek before joining TR on his Life Changes shows. Right now, Carly's busy on Rascal Flatts' Back to Us Tour, with her stint on the stadium dates on Luke's What Makes You Country Tour starting in September.
Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Ashley Monroe's new single, "Wild Love," was inspired by her first trip to London. You can check out the new video for the song from her Sparrow album on YouTube now.
The video for the debut single from newcomer Travis Denning premiered on CMT on Wednesday. You can watch the "David Ashley Parker from Powder Springs" clip via CMT.com.
Stock car driver Mark Harmon debuted his new Camaro that features the face of Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels at Daytona International Speedway this past weekend. It also showcases the logo of Charlie's veterans' non-profit, The Journey Home Project.
ABC/Image Group LA Little Big Town hasn't hit the stage for the first time on The Bandwagon Tour with Miranda Lambert, but they're already joking there may be problems between the two A-list acts.
"She's gonna be super-hard to tour with," Kimberly Schlapman grins, as the rest of her band mates erupt in laughter. "I'm not sure what's gonna happen!"
In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth.
"We've loved her forever," Kimberly confesses. "We were fans first and then friends, and [we've] been talking about trying to do something together on the road forever. Finally, all the schedules worked out, so we're gonna make it happen this summer."
Thursday night, the CMA Vocal Group of the Year plays their first date with the CMA Female Vocalist in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"It's gonna be a true collaboration, which we've never really done, ever," Kimberly reveals.
"We're gonna sing some songs," Phillip Sweet elaborates, "she's gonna sing her...set, then we're gonna do equally as long a set together. It's gonna be like a big jam."
"And the best thing about Miranda is," Phillip goes on, "she's such a lover of music and we can sit in a patio and open a bottle of wine and just have a great jam session with her. So that's gonna be kinda what this party's gonna be."
"It's gonna be a real event," Karen Fairchild continues, "versus just somebody opening, somebody closing, doing one finale song."
"We may sing each other's songs. We may cover things. I'm acting like I don't know," Karen smiles. "I do know what we're gonna do, but I think it's gonna be really special...for us. I hope the fans feel the same way."
LBT just released "Summer Forever," the lead single from their follow-up to The Breaker.