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Apr 16

Martina McBride Rides Her Soul Train

Martina McBride Rides Her Soul Train

Martina McBride’s 2014 album, Everlasting.

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Country Music headliner Martina McBride’s catalog overflows with powerfully communicative performances. The playful “I Love You,” the heartbroken ballad “Wrong Again,” and the empowering anthems “Independence Day,” “This One’s for the Girls” and “Wrong Baby Wrong” unfold along clear lines of melody, which the five-time CMA Award winner animated with her own distinctive phrasing and interpretive sense.

In contrast, much of her new album, Everlasting, pays homage to R&B and showcases vocal improvisation. A perfect example would be “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” which in essence was a sketch over which Otis Redding unleashed his volcanic and highly extemporized performance. Speaking generally, the emphasis in soul music is often on the performance, while to paraphrase a familiar line in Music City, Country recordings start with and often stay grounded on the song.

“There are some differences in phrasing,” McBride noted. “When I was first thinking about making this record and finding songs that would fit my voice, I was a little bit overwhelmed. Tackling some of these songs was a bit intimidating. But then Don (Was, producer) helped me a lot. He said, ‘Just be you. Sing it how you would sing it.’ That was a liberating moment for me. I was like, ‘Oh! That makes sense!’” Continue Reading


Posted at 10:38 am | Permalink
Mar 27

Trace Adkins’ Wife Files for Divorce

Trace Adkins' Wife Files for Divorce

Trace Adkins photo courtesy of Show Dog-Universal Music.

Trace Adkins has had a difficult year thus far — and it looks like there are more challenges to come. Nashville newspaper The Tennessean reports Trace’s wife of 16 years, Rhonda, has filed for divorce.

The filing comes after Trace went to a rehabilitation center in January to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. The singer had previously been sober for 12 years. During his stay, Trace checked out of the facility to be with his dying father. After his father passed away, Trace returned to rehab and completed the program.


Posted at 9:33 am | Permalink
Mar 26

John Carter Cash Honors His Family Name

John Carter Cash

John Carter Cash at Cash Cabin Studio. Photo courtesy of John Carter Cash.

By Crystal Caviness

© 2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Welcome to the Cash Cabin Studio, nestled among tall, strong trees on a 40-acre property in Hendersonville, Tenn. Up three steps, across a wooden porch and inside the nondescript door is where John Carter Cash does his work while also maintaining the legacy of his parents, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

Johnny and June recorded prolifically inside these walls, particularly in their later years. As head of the House of Cash, John Carter Cash weaves the business of his father’s music publishing and recording catalog with recording, producing, songwriting and occasional book-writing via another company he leads, Cash Productions.

“I have to have a balance,” he explained. “The House of Cash is about furthering the legacy. I’m vibrantly excited about the legacy — my parents’ and the Carter Family’s. I embrace it, but I have aspects of my life that are outside of that.”

Within the House of Cash, John Carter Cash has the final word on administering and licensing his father’s deep catalog. While much is handled by BMG Publishing, Cash generally tackles the harder issues, along with his father’s longtime manager, Lou Robin. “I handle the things that are gray,” Cash noted. “We try to make decisions the same way as if my dad were in the room.” Continue Reading


Posted at 3:35 pm | Permalink
Feb 27

Last Chance to Watch & Win TONIGHT on Farm Kings

Farm Kings -- Watch & Win Sweepstakes

February’s almost over and that means this is your last week to win during our “King of the Week Watch & Win Sweepstakes.” Tune in to Farm Kings TONIGHT, starting at 8/7c, to get the exclusive on-air code. You could win $2,000!

Farms Kings photos, recipes, videos and more >>

But that’s not all– we’re also giving away Farm Kings calendars on Twitter! Starting at 8/7c, we’ll give away one calendar an hour for the next eight hours. See the official rules below. Continue Reading


Posted at 11:10 am | Permalink
Feb 20

CMA Close Up New Artist Spotlight: Parmalee


Photo courtesy of Dashboard Media.

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

A Southern rock patrimony, dues paid in church gigs, a player too drunk to pick, and a late-night gunfight: Parmalee’s Country pedigree is as real as it gets.

Brothers Matt and Scott Thomas tagged along on their father’s blues/rock band gigs around Greenville, N.C. Soon they started playing on their own, joined by their cousin Barry Knox, a church choir drummer. After their dad’s inebriated guitar player failed to appear for a show, Matt took his place, with Scott assuming the drum chair and Barry switching to bass. When guitarist and keyboard player Josh McSwain came onboard, Parmalee was born.

Their road led eventually to Nashville — specifically, to a parking lot on Demonbreun Street, where they lived in their RV for a month of intensive writing and demo recording. Even the 2010 flood didn’t stop them, but a bullet almost did: After a North Carolina show in September 2010, Scott suffered a near-fatal wound during a robbery attempt. (He did, however, kill one of his assailants with his own legal weapon.) Ten days in a coma and 35 days of hospitalization were his first steps toward recovery, which culminated in his rejoining the band to audition successfully for Stoney Creek Records. Continue Reading


Posted at 10:23 am | Permalink
Feb 12

Eric Church Looks Inside The Outsiders

Eric Church Looks Inside The Outsiders

Eric Church photo by John Peets, courtesy of EMI Records Nashville.

By David Scarlett

© 2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Eric Church has spent nearly two hours in an old church-turned-recording studio in East Nashville, playing his new album, The Outsiders, for a group of Nashville media reps gathered to hear his latest offering. And when the listening session ends, the sense of satisfaction and, yes, pride that Church exudes as he answers questions about the project is undeniable. And justified.

The album, Church’s fifth (four studio and one live), is ambitious in its musical and lyrical scope and fearless in continuing the mission of Church and his producer Jay Joyce to push the boundaries of Country Music. Whether by adding a 90-second instrumental section to the end of the title cut and first single (written by Church and Casey Beathard), cleverly reflecting the lyrics in the melody of “Roller Coaster Ride” (Church, Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell), pulling no punches in describing a passionate reunion with his wife after a long road trip in “Like A Wrecking Ball” (Church and Beathard) or including a powerful three-and-a-half-minute spoken word section during what he describes as “the trilogy” near the end of the record, the album is unpredictable.

“For this record, we did ‘A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young’ (Church and Jeremy Spillman) first,” said Church, speaking later during a quiet moment on his bus. “Then we did ‘The Outsiders.’ And I’m looking at these two very different things, thinking, ‘What is this? Where are we going?’ I hate to use the word ‘artistic,’ but it was just so damn artistic, I couldn’t wait to see where it was going from there.” Continue Reading


Posted at 11:58 am | Permalink
Feb 5

New Artist Spotlight: Eric Paslay

Eric Paslay

Eric Paslay photo by Eric Adkins, courtesy of the CMA.

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Eric Paslay’s story is familiar, from his upbringing in Waco and Temple through his gigs on the Lone Star circuit and inevitable move to Nashville.

Eventually hired by Cal IV Publishing, the tall Texas redhead penned several hits. He won CMA’s coveted Triple Play Award for writing or co-writing three songs that hit No. 1 in 2012: “Angel Eyes,” “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” which also was honored as ASCAP’s Country Song of the Year. Impressive, but not unique … yet.

The epiphany comes with his self-titled inaugural album, released Feb. 4 on EMI Records Nashville. Produced by Marshall Altman and Daniel Hill/Billy Lynn, its 11 tracks reflect the strength of this young artist’s work. Compositionally, he cultivates simplicity. Many of his verses cycle just three or even two chords. “Country Side of Heaven” (Paslay, Dylan Altman and Shane McAnally) hangs entirely on the I and V. But on that track, Paslay’s organic dynamics, his inspiring vocals and especially his ability to conjure compelling images enrich both his sound and his story. Continue Reading


Posted at 11:47 am | Permalink
Jan 9

New Artist Spotlight: Kayla Calabrese

New Artist Spotlight: Kayla Calabrese

Kayla Calabrese photo courtesy of the CMA.

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

You can thank the CVS drugstore chain for getting Kayla Calabrese excited about Country Music. After all, she was born in Pine Beach, N.J., far from the nearest ranch or honky-tonk. Her family is pure Italian-American. Though she definitely enjoyed singing, Calabrese grew up dreaming more of being a doctor than a Country crooner.

All of that changed when she and her mother took part in a scavenger hunt for tickets to a Martina McBride concert in Reading, Pa. Amazingly, they beat everyone else to the CVS pharmacy where the prize was hidden behind some greeting cards. With that, a new dream took shape.

At 17, Calabrese made the pilgrimage to Nashville. There, she earned a nursing degree from Belmont University, worked at Baptist Hospital and taught gymnastics. She also met Kent Wells, who mentored her as she began writing songs and produced her as she recorded her debut EP. Continue Reading


Posted at 6:15 pm | Permalink
Jan 6

Top 50 Country Videos of 2013

Top 50 Country Videos of 2013

Blake Shelton photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Nashville.

Each year, we ask fans to help choose the best country music videos of the year for our year-end Top 50 Country Countdown. The fans have spoken and Blake Shelton tops the chart for the fourth year in a row, this time with “Boys ‘Round Here.” Last Year, fans voted Blake at No. 1 with “Over.” He topped the chart in 2011 with “God Gave Me You” and in 2010 with “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking.”

Here are the Top 50 Videos of 2013, chosen by you!

  1. “Boys ‘Round Here” – Blake Shelton
  2. “See You Again” – Carrie Underwood
  3. “Mama’s Broken Heart” – Miranda Lambert
  4. “Southern Comfort Zone” – Brad Paisley
  5. “Two Black Cadillacs” – Carrie Underwood
  6. “Hey Girl” – Billy Currington
  7. “Someone Somewhere Tonight” – Kellie Pickler
  8. “Cruise” – Florida Georgia Line
  9. “Sure Be Cool If You Did” – Blake Shelton
  10. “Wagon Wheel” – Darius Rucker
  11. “Crash My Party” – Luke Bryan
  12. “See You Tonight” – Scotty McCreery
  13. “Blue Ridge Mountain Song” – Alan Jackson
  14. “Highway Don’t Care” – Tim McGraw w/Taylor Swift, ft. Keith Urban
  15. “Don’t Rush” – Kelly Clarkson w/Vince Gill
  16. “Downtown” – Lady Antebellum
  17. “Little Bit of Everything” – Keith Urban
  18. “Wasting All These Tears” – Cassadee Pope
  19. “Tie It Up” – Kelly Clarkson
  20. “Aw Naw” – Chris Young
  21. “Goodbye In Her Eyes” – Zac Brown Band
  22. “Red” – Taylor Swift
  23. “You Can’t Make Old Friends” – Kenny Rogers w/Dolly Parton
  24. “That’s My Kind of Night” – Luke Bryan
  25. “All Kinds of Kinds” – Miranda Lambert
  26. “Done” – The Band Perry
  27. “Night Train” – Jason Aldean
  28. “If I Didn’t Have You” – Thompson Square
  29. “Beat This Summer” – Brad Paisley
  30. “Goodbye Town” – Lady Antebellum
  31. “I Drive Your Truck” – Lee Brice
  32. “Don’t Ya” – Brett Eldredge
  33. “Like A Rose” – Ashley Monroe
  34. “Southern Girl” – Tim McGraw
  35. “Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain” – Gary Allan
  36. “American Heart” – Faith Hill
  37. “22” – Taylor Swift
  38. “Tornado” – Little Big Town
  39. “Easy” – Sheryl Crow
  40. “The Only Way I Know” – Jason Aldean w/Luke Bryan, Eric Church
  41. “Like Jesus Does” – Eric Church
  42. “The Heart of Dixie” – Danielle Bradbery
  43. “Too Drunk To Karaoke” – Jimmy Buffett w/Toby Keith
  44. “More Than Miles” – Brantley Gilbert
  45. “Imagine That” – Don Williams w/Keith Urban
  46. “Better Dig Two” – The Band Perry
  47. “Changed” – Rascal Flatts
  48. “Everything Has Changed” – Taylor Swift w/Ed Sheeran
  49. “That Girl” – Jennifer Nettles
  50. “I Want Crazy” – Hunter Hayes


Posted at 11:00 am | Permalink
Dec 22

Property Brothers Host Top 50 Country Countdown Starting December 23

The Property Brothers Host Top 50 Country Countdown December 23

HGTV’s Property Brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott, will count down YOUR picks every night, starting Dec. 23 at 10/9c.

We once again turned to the experts – YOU – to determine the list of the top music videos of 2013. Top 50 Country Countdown airs in a special five-night event Monday through Friday, Dec. 23-27 at 10 p.m. ET on Great American Country.

Hosted by HGTV’s popular Property Brothers Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott, Top 50 Country Countdown looks back at the year in music, revealing fan favorites in a list that includes country superstars and hot newcomers. Filmed at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Jonathan and Drew had plenty of company stop by, including country stars Brett Eldredge, Darius Rucker, Thompson Square and Chris Young; Farm Kings star Dan King; rodeo star Trevor Brazile; and The Jubilee Showgirls.

Fans logged on to throughout November to weigh in on their favorite music clips of the past year. With full results just days away, a preview of the chart reveals Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan tied for most entries on the list with three videos apiece. Meanwhile, Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton own bragging rights for most appearances inside the Top 10 with two each.  Fans also took a liking to several collaborations, a rock star equally at home on the country charts, and even a few members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Following the nightly premieres Dec. 23-27, Top 20 Country Countdown runs in a marathon event Saturday, Dec. 28 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, leading into Great American Country re-airs of CMA Awards Red Carpet Live and The 47th Annual CMA Awards.


Posted at 10:07 pm | Permalink