Country

‘An Opry Salute to Ray Charles’ Featuring Darius Rucker, Boyz II Men & Chris Young Set for Oct. 8

The concert will be taped for a PBS special airing in November. An Opry Salute to Ray Charles will tape Oct. 8 at Nashville’s legendary Grand Ole Opry.  Hosted by Opry member Darius Rucker and featuring Boyz II Men, Cam, Brett Eldredge, Leela James, Lukas Nelson, Allen Stone, Travis Tritt and Chris Young, the concert will pay homage to to the iconic R&B artist, airing on PBS in November.  The PBS special will also feature behind-the-scenes footage, a visit to the Ray Charles Library and rare video of the legendary artist, courtesy of the Ray Charles Foundation. In 1962, Charles recorded the groundbreaking Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which featured the singer interpreting country, folk and western standards, such as Hank Williams’ “Hey, Good Lookin’” and “You Win Again,”...

Rascal Flatts Cancel This Weekend’s Concerts Due to Illness

Rascal Flatts have been forced to call off two concerts on their Back to Us Tour due to singer Gary LeVox being under the weather with an unspecified illness. The canceled dates include Friday and Saturday night’s shows in San Diego and Irvine, Calif. “We’re so sorry to have to let you know that due to an illness in the band, we have to cancel tonight’s show in San Diego,” the band announced on Twitter ahead of Friday night’s (Sept. 14) performance. “Refunds are available at point of purchase. “ On Saturday, they followed up with another cancelation: “Hey y’all –  unfortunately we have to cancel tonight’s show in Irvine. Gary is under doctor’s orders to rest his voice again tonight.  Refunds are available at point of purchase.” Ra...

Yes, Burt Reynolds Had a Hot 100 Hit With an ’80s Country Song and It’s Actually Pretty Good

Not many Oscar-nominated film stars would openly admit to taking the easy way out with their career, but perhaps that’s why few actors were as beloved as the late Burt Reynolds. “I wasn’t interested in challenging myself as an actor,” the star of ’70s and ’80s blockbusters like Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run acknowledged in the 2015 memoir But Enough About Me. “I was interested in having a good time.”  Unsurprising, then, that for Reynolds’ lone turn in the pop spotlight, he didn’t bother making a point of playing against type. After an early-career dalliance as an easy-listening country recording artist — with 1973’s Ask Me What I Am, which failed to make an impact on or off the Billboard charts — he r...

George Strait Pays Tribute to Late Drummer Michael A. Kennedy: ‘Our Hearts Are Broken’

Country music star George Strait says he’s heartbroken over the death of his longtime drummer in a highway accident near Nashville. Strait spokeswoman Ebie McFarland confirmed 59-year-old Michael A. Kennedy of Baxter, Tennessee, died Friday. The Tennessean reported Kennedy had been the drummer for Strait’s Ace in the Hole Band for nearly 30 years. Strait says in a statement that his band “will never be the same.” He adds, “a part of us is gone forever. We all loved Mike and will miss him terribly.” A report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Kennedy was driving on Interstate 40 when he merged into another lane. Authorities say Kennedy’s vehicle collided with a tractor trailer, which then hit a pickup truck. No one else was injured.

Faith Hill Gives Moving Performance Of ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ at Aretha Franklin’s Funeral

Country star Faith Hill paid tribute to Aretha Franklin ​at her Detroit funeral today (Aug. 31) with an emotional performance of the traditional hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Standing in front of the expansive gospel choir that backed her up, Hill poured her heart into a version of the church staple that appeared on Franklin’s landmark 1972 Amazing Grace album as dignitaries including Pres. Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton swayed and clapped behind her. Hill famously wiped away tears after seeing Franklin perform “Nessum Dorma” at the 1998 Grammy Awards in place of opera singer Pavarotti. When the famous opera singer became too ill to perform, Franklin stepped in at the last minute, learned the Puccini classic, an...

Gretchen Wilson Breaks Silence on Airport Arrest: ‘I’m Saddened By the Whole Thing’

Gretchen Wilson has broken her silence about the Aug. 21 incident at a Connecticut airport that resulted in her arrest, telling Taste of Country that she is “embarrassed,” but that she can’t say much more about it at this time. “I’m saddened by the whole thing,” she told the site about the news she had to break to her mother and teenage daughter. “I don’t know that I could say — I mean, I’m embarrassed that that situation got to where it was, but not personally.” A week after her arrest following a “minor disturbance,” the Grammy-winning country singer asked her fans to hang tight as she works her way through the legal system. “I want to thank my fans for their patience,” Wilson wrote on her official Facebo...

Brad Paisley Pays Tribute to the Late John McCain at Virginia Concert

Brad Paisley reserved a moment at his concert Saturday night (Aug. 25) to honor John McCain, who died at the age of 81 after battle with brain cancer. The country singer projected a photo of McCain on the stage in Bristow, Va., after performing the song “When I Get Where I’m Going.” Paisley posted about McCain on Instagram, writing: “We lost an American hero today. Thank you for your service to our country, and your bravery, Sen. McCain.” McCain, a six-term Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee, had recently decided to stop medical treatment. Other artists, including Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum‘s Hillary Scott, also posted to social media this weekend to pay tribute to him. “A true American Hero and patriot,” McGraw said...

Carrie Underwood (And Her Baby Bump) Make an Appearance at Keith Urban Show: Watch

Carrie Underwood‘s next tour isn’t kicking off until May since she has a baby on the way, but being pregnant isn’t stopping her from taking the stage.  Surprising the crowd, the singer — and her well-dressed baby bump — strutted across the stage to join Keith Urban on their duet “The Fighter” in Nashville Friday night (Aug. 24). “Will it ever suck getting to sing with @keithurban ??? No. The answer is no,” Underwood wrote on Instagram after the concert. “Such an incredible and LOUD crowd at the @bridgestonearenaofficial tonight!!! I know you guys all had a blast! Thanks for having me up there with ya’ KU!” The performance took place at the Bridgestone Arena as part of Urban’s tour. Underwood announced her pregnancy in ...

Gretchen Wilson Arrested at Connecticut Airport After ‘Minor Disturbance’ on Flight

Grammy-winning country music star Gretchen Wilson has been arrested at a Connecticut airport after what was described as a minor disturbance on an incoming flight. Wilson has been charged with breach of peace. State police responded to Bradley International Airport, in Windsor Locks, just after 7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 21). Police say while talking to Wilson she “became belligerent toward the troopers and caused a disturbance.” The 45-year-old Wilson was taken into custody. Bail was set at $1,000. Wilson, of Lebanon, Tennessee, is expected in court Wednesday (Aug. 22). Her case was not listed on the docket and it couldn’t be determined if she has a lawyer. She won the Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy in 2004 for the song “Redneck Woman.” She was scheduled to perform an invitation-o...

Country Songwriter Heather Morgan Branches Out on Her Own With ‘Your Hurricane’: Premiere

After a career of writing hits for Brett Eldredge, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Little Big Town and more, Heather Morgan is ready to plant her flag as an artist in her own right. The singer and BMI 2015 Songwriter of the Year will release her debut album, Borrowed Heart — whose “Your Hurricane” premieres exclusively below — on Oct. 5. Produced by Paul Moak and featuring co-writes with Lori McKenna, Trent Dabbs, frequent collaborator Ross Copperman and others, the 12-song set allows Morgan to deliver a different, more personal kind of song than she’d usually compose for somebody else. “I kind of took the long way home to get back to it,” Morgan, a Texas native who moved to Nashville after graduating from Texas Christian University, tells Billboard. ...

Cole Swindell Shows Fans How His ‘All of It’ Video Storyline Reached a Happy Ending: Exclusive

Since Cole Swindell burst onto the scene with his 2013 breakout hit, “Chillin’ It,” his track record has been unbelievable. Four of the country star’s first seven singles hit No. 1 on Country Airplay, with the other three reaching No. 2 on the chart. Along with owning the country radio market, Swindell has carved out a reputation as a rising live act, and he’ll continue his Reason To Drink Tour with part two this fall: The Reason To Drink… Another Tour, which kicks off October 4 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with Dustin Lynch and Lauren Alaina along for the trek. Swindell will be featuring some new music on his next tour, as his third album​, All of It, arrives this Friday (Aug. 17). The singer has been teasing fans with videos for four of the set’s songs: “Somebody’s Been Drin...

Hunter Hayes Explains ‘I Didn’t Move to Nashville to Make Money’ In New Episode of ‘Inspired By’: Premiere

Hunter Hayes made waves with his self-titled debut album in 2011. In addition to having a hand in writing each song on the album, he performed every vocal and played every instrumental track on the Platinum-selling LP. Making music is something that is more than close to the Louisiana native’s heart – it is his heart. The “Wanted” singer guests on the newest webisode of Inspired By, a series produced by music instrument company Ernie Ball. The Hayes episode will be released Tuesday (Aug. 14), but Billboard has an exclusive first look at the clip (below). “The only true addiction I’ve ever had was music. I’ve come close to some others, but that’s the only one I can’t get rid of. Everything else feels foreign, but for some reason, when I grab a...