Oct 052013

When the 12th Annual Americana Music Honors & Awards were handed out last month at the famed Ryman Auditorium, some of country music’s classic artists made a huge mark. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell earned the Album of the Year award for their Old Yellow Moon, and the critically-acclaimed collaboration also earned them the Duo of the Year trophy. Pikeville, Kentucky native Dwight Yoakam took home the highly coveted Artist of the Year Award, and Old Crow Medicine Show, the newly inducted members of the legendary Grand Ole Opry, was awarded the Trailblazer Award. Country royalty Hank Williams was posthumously awarded the President’s Award.

And the winners are: Artist of the Year: Dwight Yoakam; Duo of the Year: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell; Trailblazer Award: Old Crow Medicine Show; Emerging Artist of the Year: Shovels & Rope; Instrumentalist of the Year: Larry Campbell; Song of the Year: Shovels & Rope’s “Birmingham”; Album of the Year: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell’s Old Yellow Moon; Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award: Stephen Stills; President’s Award: Hank Williams; Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive: Chris Strachwitz; Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist: Duane Eddy; Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance: Dr. John; and Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter: Robert Hunter.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Oct 032013

Taylor Swift took home her first-ever MTV Video Music Award on August 25 when her “I Knew You Were Trouble” was named Best Female Video of the Year, and a couple weeks later when the nominees were announced for the 47th Annual Country Music Association Awards, she, along with hot newcomer Kacey Musgraves, topped the list of nominees with six nods each. Swift will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist, Album of the Year for Red, and she is up for Single, Video, and Musical Event of the Year along with Tim McGraw & Keith Urban for “Highway Don’t Care.” Musgraves’ first-ever CMA nominations include Female Vocalist of the Year, New Artist, Album of the Year for Same Trailer Different Park, and Single of the Year for “Merry Go ‘Round.” As a songwriter, she received nominations for Song of the Year for “Merry Go ‘Round” and Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

Following behind Swift and Musgraves with five nominations each are Mr. & Mrs. Blake Shelton. Shelton will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist, Album of the Year for Based on a True Story, and Musical Event and Video of the Year for “Boys ‘Round Here” along with wife Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley, better known as Pistol Annies. Lambert will vie for Female Vocalist of the Year, and Single and Video of the Year for “Mama’s Broken Heart,” in addition to the collaboration nods with Shelton.

And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, George Strait, and Taylor Swift; Female Vocalist of the Year: Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood; Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, and Keith Urban; Vocal Duo of the Year: Big & Rich, Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, Sugarland, The Civil Wars, and Thompson Square; Vocal Group of the Year: The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, and Zac Brown Band; and New Artist of the Year: Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Kip Moore, and Kacey Musgraves.

Album of the Year: Little Big Town’s Tornado, Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park, Blake Shelton’s Based on a True Story, Taylor Swift’s Red, and Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away; Single of the Year: Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban’s “Highway Don’t Care,” Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round,” and Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel”; Music Video of the Year: Lady Antebellum’s “Downtown,” Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Little Big Town’s “Tornado,” Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban’s “Highway Don’t Care,” Blake Shelton & Pistol Annies’ “Boys ‘Round Here,” and Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away”; Musical Event of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan & Eric Church’s “The Only Way I Know,” Kelly Clarkson & Vince Gill’s “Don’t Rush,” Florida Georgia Line & Nelly’s “Cruise,” Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban’s “Highway Don’t Care,” and Blake Shelton & Pistol Annies’ “Boys ‘Round Here”; Song of the Year (songwriter award): “I Drive Your Truck,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Merry Go ‘Round,” “Pontoon,” and “Wagon Wheel”; and Musician of the Year: Sam Bush—mandolin, Paul Franklin—steel guitar, Dann Huff—guitar, Brent Mason—guitar, and Mac McAnally—guitar.

The CMA Awards will be handed out in Nashville on November 6. The awards ceremony will be hosted once again by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

Congratulations and best wishes to all the nominees!

Oct 022013

The ACM Honors, which are recognitions the Academy of Country Music Awards are unable to include during the ACM’s annual televised awards program, were handed out last month and a couple Kentucky acts were among the honorees. Ashland, Kentucky natives Wynonna and Naomi Judd, better known simply as The Judds, and Sandy Hook’s late, great Keith Whitley were recognized during the honors. These Kentucky artists were honored with the prestigious Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. Whitley’s widow, Lorrie Morgan, and children Morgan and Jesse Keith Whitley accepted this honor after Lorrie and Jesse performed “‘Til a Tear Becomes a Rose.”

The Voice coach Blake Shelton, who has mentored three of the show’s four winners thus far, was honored with the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award. Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood, who make up the trio Lady Antebellum, were awarded the Jim Reeves International Award for taking country music around the world on their last international tour. Jason Aldean was honored with the Crystal milestone Award for his outstanding concert ticket sales, including the sell-out of two shows at Boston’s Fenway Park, a whopping 70,000 tickets.

And the winners are: Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award: The Judds and Keith Whitley; Jim Reeves’ International Award: Lady Antebellum; Mae Boren Axton Award: Tommy Wiggins; Songwriter of the Year: Dallas Davidson; Poet’s Award: Guy Clark and Hank Williams; Casino of the Year: Red Rocks Casino & Resort in Las Vegas; Venue of the Year: Ryman Auditorium; Nightclub of the Year: Joe’s Bar in Chicago; Promoter of the Year: Ed Warm of Joe’s Bar; Talent Buyer of the Year: Jerry Hufford of Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California; Audio Engineer of the Year: Chuck Ainlay; Producer of the Year: Jay Joyce; and Musician of the Year: Matt Chamberlain—percussion & drums, J.T. Corenflos—guitar, Aubrey Haynie—fiddle, Mike Johnson—steel guitar, Michael Rojas—piano & keyboard, Jimmie Lee Sloas—bass, and Ilya Toshinsky—specialty instruments.

Sep 052013

Butcher Holler, Kentucky’s favorite “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn, has been on an emotional roller coaster as of late. On July 29, Lynn lost her second child when her 64-year-old daughter Betty Sue Lynn lost her battle with emphysema, leaving behind two daughters and five grandchildren. The country legend lost her first child, son Jack Benny Lynn, in a drowning accident back in 1984. On a more uplifting note, a week following her daughter’s death, it was announced that Lynn is one of 16 recipients to be honored this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Barack Obama will present this great honor to the music legend at the White House later this year, this honor being “the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Lynn is among very prestigious company as other recipients this year include former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, late astronaut Sally Ride, women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, and Chicago Cub Ernie Banks.

When the 2013 Teen Choice Awards were handed out last month in Los Angeles, country music was well represented. Taylor Swift took home two awards: Female Country Artist of the Year and Country Song of the Year for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Hunter Hayes was crowned the Male Country Artist of the Year, while Lady Antebellum was named Country Group of the Year.

The next batch of inductees into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame will officially be welcomed into the hall next month. Alabama frontman Randy Owen will be inducted in the songwriter/artist category, having written chart-topping hits like “Feels So Right” and “Mountain Music” for the band. Jeffrey Steele, the songwriter extraordinaire and former Boy Howdy member, will be inducted in the songwriter category for writing hits like Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most,” “These Days,” “Me and My Gang,” and “My Wish,” Tim McGraw’s “The Cowboy in Me,” and Montgomery Gentry’s “My Town,” “Something To Be Proud Of,” and “Gone.” Will Jennings, who has written tunes such as Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” Tim McGraw’s “Please Remember Me,” Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” and Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?,” will also be inducted in the songwriter category. And being inducted into the veteran songwriter category will be Layng Martine, Jr., who has written hits such as Billy “Crash” Craddock’s “Rub It In,” Elvis Presley’s “Way Down,” and Reba McEntire’s “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.”

Last month, “Wagon Wheel” singer Darius Rucker received a special honor when a road was named after him in his native Charleston, South Carolina. Announcing the honor on his Facebook page, Rucker stated, “Want to take a stroll down Darius Rucker Boulevard? Charleston, what an honor. Thank you.” The road leads up to the North Charleston Coliseum.

Aug 032013

Nickelodeon’s 2013 Teen Choice Awards nominees were revealed last month and there were plenty nods for country artists. Taylor Swift received a whopping seven nominations, including: Choice Female Artist, Choice Female Country Artist, Choice Smile, Choice Summer Tour for “Red Tour 2013,” Choice Country Song and Choice Break-Up Song for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and Choice Single: Female Artist for “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Hot country duo Florida Georgia Line will vie for Choice Summer Music Star: Group, Choice Country Group, Choice Country Song for “Cruise,” and their remix of “Cruise” featuring Nelly will compete for Choice Summer Song. Blake Shelton will vie for Choice TV Personality: Male for The Voice. Choice Country Song nominees are Blake Shelton, Pistol Annies & Friends’ “Boys ’round Here,” Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” Hunter Hayes’ “I Want Crazy,” and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Choice Female Country Artist nominees are Jana Kramer, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. Choice Male Country Artist nominees are Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, and Blake Shelton. Choice Country Group nominees are Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, The Band Perry, and Thompson Square. The Band Perry’s “DONE.” will also vie for Choice Break-Up Song. Nashville is up for Choice TV Show: Drama. Teenage fans can vote online at www.teenchoiceawards.com. The winners will be announced live on FOX on August 11.

The 2013 MTV Music Video Awards nominees were announced last month on MTV’s Vine and Instagram accounts, and Taylor Swift appeared in two of the categories. Her “I Knew You Were Trouble” will compete again Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors,” Macklemore, Ryan Lewis & Wanz’s “Thrift Shop,” Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” and Robin Thicke, T.I. & Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines” for Video of the Year. The same video is up for Best Female Video against Rihanna & Mikky Ekko’s “Stay,” Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop,” P!nk & Nate Ruess’s “Just Give Me a Reason,” and Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack.” In related country news, Kelly Clarkson’s “People Like Us” will vie for Best Video with a Social Message. The VMA’s will be handed out in Brooklyn, New York on August 25, airing live on MTV. To vote for Swift or Clarkson, log onto VMA.MTV.com for details.

When the nominations were announced last moclaynth for the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which are given to the best in television, actress Connie Britton was nominated in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category for her portrayal of country singer Rayna James on ABC’s “Nashville.” She will compete against Claire Danes of “Homeland,” Michelle Dockery of “Downton Abbey,” Vera Farmiga of “Bates Motel,” Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men,” Kerry Washington of “Scandal,” and Robin Wright of “House of Cards.” The Emmy Awards will be handed out on September 22 and the ceremony will air live on CBS, just three days before Britton and the rest of the Nashville gang return for the critically acclaimed series’ sophomore season.

Jul 112013

When the 2013 CMT Music Awards were handed out in Nashville last month, Florida Georgia Line took home two belt buckle trophies: Duo Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year for “Cruise.” Miranda Lambert also took home two buckles: Female Video of the Year for “Mama’s Broken Heart” and CMT Performance of the Year for “Over You.” Carrie Underwood took home the coveted top prize, Video of the Year for “Blown Away.”

And the winners are: Video of the Year: Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away”; Female Video of the Year: Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart”; Male Video of the Year: Blake Shelton’s “Sure Be Cool If You Did”; Duo Video of the Year: Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”; Group Video of the Year: Lady Antebellum’s “Downtown”; Breakthrough Video of the Year: Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”; Collaborative Video of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan & Eric Church’s “The Only Way I Know”; CMT Performance of the Year: Miranda Lambert’s “Over You”; and Nationwide Insurance “On Your Side” Award: Hunter Hayes.

Jason Aldean made his hosting debut during this award show’s ceremony along with actress Kristen Bell, and he turned in a less than stellar, stiff job as co-host. In addition, some country fans were disappointed at the inclusion of Lenny Kravitz and rapper Nelly, and a lack of respect for the recently departed country legend George Jones during the ceremony. In a scathing letter to Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper, Ashland, Kentucky native Naomi Judd, who made up famed country duo The Judds along with daughter Wynonna, offered her displeasure of what she felt was an extremely disrespectful and underwhelming tribute to Jones:

“George Jones is to country music what The Beatles are to pop, the Rolling Stones to rock, Elvis to rockabilly, Mozart to classical and Aretha to soul.

Yet, the ‘Country’ Music Television awards show allowed only a ‘by the way’ mention of Jones’ death and legacy. Incongruously, they chose alternative music group the Mavericks to perform their short version of George’s ‘The Race Is On.’

True country music fans are a loyal bunch and are passionate about our roots and heritage.

Every year, CMT includes artists of unrelated genres, many of whom some country music fans don’t even know. I suggest the CMT Awards show change its name. Perhaps to ‘the Multi-Genre Awards Show, Featuring Artists under 30.’

I realize speaking out will cause me to now be forever banned by CMT. But I’m tired of folks messing with my country music. Especially when it involves my dear friend George Jones.”

Naomi Judd Leiper’s Fork 37064

Jul 102013

The “King of Country Music,” George Strait, recently made history when he became the first artist in history, among all genres of music, to top the music charts with 60 #1 tunes. Strait’s first #1 was his 1982 release “Fool Hearted Memory,” and his latest single, “Give It All We Got Tonight,” became his 60th chart-topper. Speaking of the honor, Strait states, “I didn’t realize we were making history. I just hoped we were putting out music that my fans would enjoy. As always, I’m thankful to the fans and country radio for their support on all 60 of these number one songs as well as my entire career. They are the ones who made this happen.”

Hot country duo Georgia Florida Line also made country music history recently when their smash hit “Cruise” became the longest-running #1 song for a duo on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The single first topped the charts in December, and thanks to the recent release of the remix with rapper Nelly, it has resided at the #1 spot for 12 weeks. The previous record was held by Carl and Pearl Butler for their 1962 hit “Don’t Let Me Cross Over.”

Jul 092013

When the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were handed out in Los Angeles last month, believe it or not, two country acts were among the winners. Trisha Yearwood‘s Food Network cooking show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, tied with Best Thing I Ever Made for the Best Culinary Program award. Little Big Town members Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook, along with co-writers Brad and Brett Warren, won an award for Best Original Song for “Good Afternoon,” which LBT recorded for ABC’s Good Afternoon America, which aired last summer.

Congrats Trisha, Karen, Kimberly, Phillip, and Jimi!

Jun 092013

When country crooner Trace Adkins first appeared on NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” five years ago, he finished the competition as runner-up to CNN anchor Piers Morgan. Well, in this year’s 13th season of the Donald Trump reality competition show, “The Celebrity Apprentice: All-Stars,” Adkins once again survived to the very end, this time squaring off with magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller fame. Well, Adkins pulled off the win when Mr. Trump hired him as the Celebrity Apprentice All-Star. This season’s competition and resulting victory helped Adkins raise more than $1.5 million for the American Red Cross!

Secondly, when former American Idol Top 10 contestant and country sweetheart Kellie Pickler took to the dance floor (along with Ashland, Kentucky native Wynonna) on the 16th season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” everyone was surprised how she blossomed each week. Before long, she and her professional dance partner, Derek Hough, were getting top scores from the judges and their free-form dance on the first of the two night finale seemed to seal their fate as the winners as the couple’s performance brought judges to tears as they deemed the routine a beautiful work of art that touched the heart. Pickler’s momentum continued to the very end and she and Hough were crowned the DWTS winners, taking the coveted mirrorball trophy back to Nashville!

And finally, this year’s edition of “American Idol” almost crowned another country winner last month, but 23-year-old Kree Harrison fell just shy of the Idol crown, finishing the competition as the Season 12 runner-up. Although she doesn’t officially have a record deal just yet, she plans to start writing songs for her debut album as soon as possible. In the meantime, fans can download her debut single, “All Cried Out,” right now. Fans can also see Harrison performing live on concert on the “American Idols Live Tour,” which kicks off in St. Louis on June 29 and will roll into the KFC Yum! Center on August 30.

Congratulations, Trace, Kellie, and Kree!

Jun 072013

Nashville’s CMA Music Festival will kick off in high gear on June 5 with the 2013 CMT Music Awards ceremony at the downtown Bridgestone Arena. Jason Aldean and actress Kristen Bell will host the ceremony which will air live on Country Music Television. When the nominees were recently announced, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, and Miranda Lambert were the top nominee grabbers with four nods each. Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Florida Georgia Line, and Rascal Flatts each received three nominations, followed by Hunter Hayes, Jana Kramer, Journey, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood with two nods each.

And the nominees are: Video of the Year: Jason Aldean’s “1994,” Luke Bryan’s “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” Kenny Chesney’s “Come Over,” Eric Church’s “Springsteen,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted,” Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Little Big Town’s “Tornado,” Tim McGraw’s “One of Those Nights,” Brad Paisley’s “Southern Comfort Zone,” Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away”; Female Video of the Year: Faith Hill’s “American Heart,” Jana Kramer’s “Why Ya Wanna,” Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round,” Taylor Swift’s “Begin Again,” and Carrie Underwood’s “Two Black Cadillacs”; and Male Video of the Year: Jason Aldean’s “Take a Little Ride,” Luke Bryan’s “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” Kenny Chesney’s “Come Over,” Eric Church’s “Creepin’,” Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted,” and Blake Shelton’s “Sure Be Cool If You Did.”

Duo Video of the Year: Big & Rich’s “That’s Why I Pray,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” Love and Theft’s “Runnin’ Out of Air,” and Thompson Square’s “If I Didn’t Have You”; Group Video of the Year: The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” Lady Antebellum’s “Downtown,” Little Big Town’s “Pontoon,” Pistol Annies’ “Takin’ Pills,” Rascal Flatts’ “Come Wake Me Up,” and Zac Brown Band’s “Goodbye in Her Eyes”; and Breakthrough Video of the Year: Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” Randy Houser’s “How Country Feels,” Jana Kramer’s “Why Ya Wanna,” Dustin Lynch’s “Cowboys and Angels,” Kip Moore’s “Beer Money,” and Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round.”

Collaborative Video of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan & Eric Church’s “The Only Way I Know,” The Avett Brothers & Randy Travis’s “Three Wooden Crosses,” Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw’s “Feel Like a Rockstar,” Kelly Clarkson & Vince Gill’s “Don’t Rush,” Brad Paisley & Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way,” and Rascal Flatts & Journey’s “Changed”; CMT Performance of the Year: Dierks Bentley’s “5-1-5-0,” Luke Bryan & Ryan Tedder’s “Drunk On You/Feel Again,” Eric Church’s “Homeboy,” Toby Keith’s “Beers Ago,” Miranda Lambert’s “Over You,” and Rascal Flatts & Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”; and Nationwide Insurance “On Your Side” Award: Lee Brice, Florida Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes, and Kip Moore.

Fans can vote for their favorite nominees through June 2 at midnight for all categories except Video of the Year. Final nominees for that category will be announced during the live telecast of the awards ceremony and final voting will take place during the live show. Fans can vote by logging onto www.CMT.com or by using the CMT Insider app on their mobile device.

As of press time, artists scheduled to perform during the awards ceremony include: Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes, Little Big Town, the Pistol Annies, and Taylor Swift.

Congratulations and best wishes to all the nominees.