News And Notes

All posts in "Top Stories of 2011"

Dec 30

Rewind 2011: No. 1 – Stage Collapses Before Sugarland’s Indiana State Fair Performance

The main concert stage collapses during a storm at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The stage fell just before country duo Sugarland were scheduled to perform, killing at least four people and injuring as many as 40 more. (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images)

Moments before Sugarland was scheduled to take the stage at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, a deadly storm with wind gusts of 60-70 mph rolled in, causing the main stage to collapse.  Seven people were killed and dozens more were injured.

This raw video clip posted by a concert-goer on YouTube shows the stage collapsing as the storm hit. (WARNING – this video contains disturbing images):

YouTube Preview Image

Indianapolis Star music reporter David Lindquist was in the fifth row of the Grandstand when the storm hit. According to him, opening act Sara Bareilles finished her set by commenting what a beautiful night it was. Less than 30 minutes later the stage was on the ground. “The gust of wind came, there was no rain yet and the production fell from left to right,” he said. “And you could see, you could clearly see people were under the footprint of the rigging.”

Pollstar reported that a last-second decision by Sugarland’s tour manager, Hellen Rollens, likely saved the lives of Sugarland and their band. She made the decision to hold everyone backstage just minutes before they were scheduled to go on and moments later, the stage collapsed. As the stage fell, Sugarland and their crew hit the ground and took cover against a wall, thinking the structure was going to collapse on top of them. ­­

View photos of the stage collapse »

Sugarland released an emotional letter to their fans, friends and family following the tragedy. Read it HERE. The duo returned to the stage for the first time on August 19 in Albuquerque, NM. At the beginning of the show, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, along with their entire band and crew, took the stage and asked the crowd to join them in a moment of silence honoring all the victims and their families.  Jennifer and Kristian went on to play a stirring acoustic version of “Love.”

Watch the performance:

  Continue Reading


Posted at 9:05 am | Permalink
Dec 28

Rewind 2011: No. 3 – Blake & Miranda Get Married!

Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert on the cover of Us Weekly. Photo courtesy of Us Weekly.

There was more than one Royal Wedding in 2011. The world’s eyes may have been on Prince William and Kate Middleton, but the May 14th wedding of Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert were the nuptials that had country fans buzzing. The couple tied the knot at the Don Strange Ranch in Texas in front of 550 friends and family. The guest list included  Reba McEntire, Cee Lo Green, MartinaMcBride , Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum‘s Charles Kelly and the Bellamy Brothers.

Miranda chose to wear her mother’s dress for the ceremony. “My parents have been married for 33 years, so this dress is already a good-luck charm,” she told Us Weekly. Under the dress, Miranda wore custom-made Casadei cowboy boots. She changed into a shorter dress for the reception. Her bridesmaids wore Old Gringo boots and custom-made gowns by Priscilla of Boston’s Mark Bower.

The wedding was full of personal touches by the bride and groom. As the wedding party took their places, Blake sang a song he’d written for the wedding, called “Let’s Grow Old Together.” Bridesmaid and fellow Pistol Annie member Ashley Monroe sang “Makin’ Plans,” a song Miranda wrote for Blake that appears on her Revolution album. “I was thinking about not crying, then when I got close, I didn’t think of anyone else,” Miranda told Us Weekly. “It was just me and Blake.”

Browse photos from some of Blake and Miranda’s most memorable moments »

Even Blake couldn’t hold back the tears on his wedding day. He became emotional when Miranda’s dad, Rick, gave her away. “I couldn’t get over how beautiful she was,” Blake told the magazine.

“Blake is a jokester,” Miranda said, “but he was really serious when he said his vows.” But Blake couldn’t be entirely serious. Within his vows, the pastor included “to put Miranda before hunting,” causing the guests to erupt into laughter. Continue Reading


Posted at 8:55 am | Permalink
Dec 27

Rewind 2011: No. 4 – Glen Campbell Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

Grammy-winning artist Glen Campbell.

In June, Glen Campbell revealed in an exclusive interview with People magazine that he has Alzheimer’s disease. The “Rhinestone Cowboy” singer and his wife, Kim, decided to go public with Glen’s diagnosis because they wanted his fans to know what was wrong.

“Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer,” Kim said. “But if he flubs a lyric or gets confused onstage, I wouldn’t want people to think, ‘What’s the matter with him? Is he drunk?’”

The couple told People he had been suffering from short-term memory loss for years before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Glen embarked on a farewell tour in the fall of 2011 and also released his last studio album, Ghost on the Canvas, in August. “I still love making music,” Glen said. “And I still love performing for my fans. I’d like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin.”

Glen and Kim sat down with ABC’s Terry Moran, co-anchor of Nightline, to discuss Glen’s disease and how the family is coping. Married for nearly 30 years, Kim said Glen’s sense of humor has helped the family deal with the difficult time.

“He’ll tell a joke, laugh at it and a few minutes later tell the same joke, laugh, and then we laugh at him because he’s just enjoying it so much,” she said. “You just make the best of each day and try not to worry about tomorrow.” Continue Reading


Posted at 10:51 am | Permalink
Dec 26

Rewind 2011: No. 5 – Trace Adkins Loses Home in Fire

Trace Adkins photo courtesy of Show Dog-Universal Music.

Trace Adkins lost his Brentwood, Tennessee home to a fire on June 4. Trace was on a flight to Alaska and his wife, Rhonda, was traveling home from Atlanta when the fire broke out. The couple’s three daughters were home, but they had a fire plan in place and the three children and their nanny escaped unharmed. The fire started in the garage and because it reached the attic, it spread quickly and was hard to contain.

Trace’s daughter, Brianna, 9, along with a neighbor, went back into the house to save the family’s two dogs. She was awarded PETA’s Compassionate Action Award and received a framed certificate and vegan chocolates for her heroics. Trace reported that the children were doing well post-fire during an interview with The Today Show. “My girls are very resilient, as most kids are,” he said. “They’re adjusting well, they’re very brave young ladies. I’m very proud of them.”

Following the fire, both friends and fans reached out to Trace and his family to offer their help. Trace, however, re-directed their help towards other organizations, thanking them for the generosity in the process.

“We are blessed and very fortunate,” Trace told the Patriot Ledger. “We are not destitute. There are people who aren’t as fortunate as we are who really need help. In light of all the tornadoes and the flooding in the South this year, we wanted to make sure that my fans directed their generosity that way. I’ve already accepted that I probably lost everything that was in that house. All that really matters, however, is that we have a place to stay and the kids are safe. I have a saying, ‘Get out of the problem, get into the solution,’ which I’ve always believed was the right thing to do.” Continue Reading


Posted at 8:36 am | Permalink
Dec 23

Rewind 2011: No. 6 – Jason Aldean & The Band Perry’s Stars Rise

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 05: Singer Jason Aldean poses in the press room with the awards for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Singer of the Year: Male, Single of the Year: Vocal Collaboration, Touring Artist of the Year and Music Video: Group or Collaboration at the American Country Awards 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Slow and steady wins the race and Jason Aldean is proof of the old adage. Ever since Jason’s self-titled debut in 2005, he has slowly been working his way up the ladder, scoring hit songs and platinum albums along the way. 2011 turned out to be his year, as his My Kinda Party album, released in November of 2010, catapulted him to new heights.

My Kinda Party went double platinum and was the top-selling country album of 2011. The album was named the CMA Album of the Year as well as iTunes’ Country Album of the Year and came in at No. 4 on Billboard’s all-genre Top 200 Albums of 2011 chart. It produced three consecutive No. 1 hits, including “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” “Dirt Road Anthem,” and “Tattoos On This Town.”

“When we did our annual holiday party, we had more to be thankful for and celebrate than we ever have before,” Jason said. “It’s really cool to be experiencing some of this stuff with a lot of the same guys who have been with me since I started in 2005. We’re definitely a family, and that has made the whole experience even more special.”

While industry awards have alluded Jason in previous years, 2011 changed that. He picked up two CMA Awards for Album of the Year and Musical Event of the Year for “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Kelly Clarkson, won six American Country Awards, including Artist of the Year, and won the Breakthrough Award at the Billboard Touring Awards. Jason was nominated for 20 total awards in 2011, including three for the 2012 GRAMMYs.

One of his biggest accomplishments came in touring, however. Jason’s My Kinda Party Tour played to over one million fans and sold out more than 50 arenas and amphitheaters in advance. The tour was named to the Billboard Top 25 Tours of 2011 list, coming in at No. 24, one of just four country acts to make the cut. Continue Reading


Posted at 8:11 am | Permalink
Dec 22

2011 Rewind: No. 7 – Taylor Swift Takes On The World

Taylor Swift accepts award for Entertainer of the Year at the 45th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 9, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Taylor Swift has been a force in the music industry since her self-titled debut in 2006. In 2011 alone, Taylor toured the world, tripped the 20 million mark on number of albums sold and won numerous awards, including two Entertainer of the Year trophies.

Taylor spent 2011 touring the world on her Speak Now World Tour. Taylor played shows in Asia, Europe, the United States and Canada in 2011 and will take the Broadway-inspired show to Australia and New Zealand in 2012. In total, the tour will have played more than 100 shows once the Australian leg wraps. The Speak Now World Tour was ranked as the fifth-biggest tour of the year by Billboard, behind the likes of U2 and Bon Jovi, grossing $97,368,416 and playing for 1,356,720 fans.

Before a show in London during the European leg of her tour, Taylor was surprised with a plaque commemorating more than 20 million albums sold world wide. Taylor also surpassed more than 40 million digital single downloads in 2011.

Watch our exclusive Taylor Swift videos >>

“I’m absolutely blown away by the 20 million records plaque,” Taylor told the Associated Press. “It’s just sort of beyond my comprehension to get a plaque like that. The fact that the fans have done that much for me in such a short period of time is just unreal and I’m so excited and so thankful.” Continue Reading


Posted at 8:02 am | Permalink
Dec 21

2011 Rewind: No. 8 – Martina, Sara, Shania & Faith Return

Martina McBride photo courtesy of Republic Nashville.

This year saw the return of four of country music’s biggest female stars: Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Shania Twain and Faith Hill.

Martina changed records labels and released her first new album, Eleven, since 2009. The album spawned the hits “Teenage Daughters” and “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” Martina celebrated the release by embarking on a cross-country train tour, which ended with a special performance at the Empire State Building.

Read our review of Martina McBride’s Eleven! >>

“This is such an amazing time in my life and my career,” Martina said when she announced her new album’s release. “I feel like I’ve been given the support and power to go into the studio and write and create an album that pushes the boundaries of what people expect of me, while still being true to myself.”

Sara released her first new music since 2005’s Real Fine Place when Stronger hit store shelves on March 8. The album featured the No. 1 hit CMA-nominated hit “A Little Bit Stronger,” which was also a part of the movie Country Strong. Sara also returned to the road, touring with Rascal Flatts on their Flatts Fest summer tour and performed on both the ACM and CMA Awards.

“This song has had the biggest emotional response of any other single I’ve ever released,” Sara said after “A Little Bit Stronger” reached No. 1. “I think it is because almost everyone has gone through a difficult time in their life and most people can relate to the line in the song ‘even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger.’” Continue Reading


Posted at 8:58 am | Permalink
Dec 20

2011 Rewind: No. 9 – Country Stars Shine on Reality TV

THE CELEBRITY APPRENTICE -- 7UP Finale Part 2: Sweet Victory -- Pictured: (l-r) Donald Trump, John Rich -- Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBC.

Country stars were well-represented in reality TV in 2011. From The Voice and American Idol  to Celebrity Apprentice and The Biggest Loser, stars were giving up their guitars and putting on their game faces or else signing for their chance to be music’s next big thing.

Perhaps the biggest reality star from the country music realm ended up being Blake Shelton. Blake took on the role as a coach on NBC’s The Voice alongside artists Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine. Blake coached team member Dia Frampton all the way to a second place finish, winning over America in the process. Blake will take Dia on tour with him in 2012 and he’ll return to the coach’s chair when the second season of The Voice premieres on NBC January 5.

American Idol has been known to springboard the careers of several country artists — and season 10 proved no different. It was an all-country Top 2 with Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina being voted into the finale by fans across America. Scotty went on to win, but both artists released highly-successful debut albums and singles in 2011 and will hit the road on major tours in early 2012.

“This is pretty wild, I gotta say,” Scotty told Billboard after winning. “It’s a whole lot more than I bargained for coming into this. I never would have expected it. But I’m handling it well — this is what I asked for, and it’s my new life, so this is a really crazy ride so far.”

American Idol Finale Photo Gallery >>

John Rich continued the country tradition of doing well on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. John won the competition over Marlee Matlin in what Trump’s daughter Ivanka said was the closest finale in the show’s history. John was awarded $250,000 for his charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, bringing his total for the hospital to over one million dollars. Continue Reading


Posted at 8:53 am | Permalink
Dec 19

2011 Rewind: No. 10 – Kellie Pickler, Shania Twain Among Country Stars to Get Married

Shania Twain and her husband, Frédéric Thiébaud, on their January 1, 2011 wedding day. Photo credit: Robert Evans,

Several country stars tied the knot in 2011. Two of them even kicked off the year with New Year’s Day nuptials in tropical places! Shania Twain married husband Frédéric Thiébaud in Puerto Rico on New Year’s Day in front of 40 close friends and family. Shania announced their engagement on her website on December 21, 2010.

Kellie Pickler and husband Kyle Jacobs also tied the knot on New Year’s Day. The pair scraped their plans for a big Nashville wedding and eloped to Antigua where they were married at sunset. “We didn’t have anything but us and God and our minister,” Kellie told People, “and I can’t think of a word that can quite describe how perfect it was.”

LeAnn Rimes married actor Eddie Cibrian on April 22 at a private home in California. The 40 guests invited believed they were attending an engagement party but were surprised with a wedding ceremony. The couple exchanged personalized vows and Eddie’s sons Mason and Jake, from his previous marriage, were in attendance. “I’m looking forward to settling down,” LeAnn told People before her wedding. “Settling into our life.”

Chely Wright, who made headlines in 2010 when she came out, married her partner, Lauren Blitzer, during a ceremony at Lauren’s aunt’s home in Connecticut on August 20. Since Lauren is Jewish and Chely is Christian, both a rabbi and a reverend presided over the wedding. “The freedom of being out and open about who I am allowed me to find and fall in love with Lauren – the most amazing woman I’ve ever known,” Chely told People. Continue Reading


Posted at 11:16 am | Permalink