Thomas Rhett Brings the ’70s Funk with His Latest Hit, “Make Me Wanna”

Image Courtesy Valory Music Co.Thomas Rhett‘s latest hit, “Make Me Wanna,” is the fifth single from his debut album, It Goes Like This, but he actually wrote it pretty early on his career. The song features a ’70s funk/disco sound, and it wasn’t an immediate hit with Thomas’s record label.

He tells Billboard, “It took a lot of convincing to even get it on the record because at that point, I don’t think the song would have ever worked on country radio. But thank goodness that the label let me cut it and put it on the album.”

Thomas is glad fans get to see the more soulful, artistic side of his sound with “Make Me Wanna.”

He adds, “Maybe this is a breath of fresh air for people. You can’t deny that it makes you feel good — whether you like the song or not, you can bump it on the beach or in your car and it’ll make you feel good.”

Thomas plans to chase more funky sounds on his upcoming sophomore album. He’s halfway finished with the project, but a release date hasn’t been set just yet.


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Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox Says His 10 Years as a Social Worker Shaped the Man He Is Today

Image Courtesy Sheryl Nields/Big MachineBefore he shot to fame as the lead singer of Rascal Flatts, Gary LeVox spent a decade as a social worker helping developmentally disabled people back home in Ohio. He calls that time “an amazing 10 years of my life.”

Gary tells Vegas Seven magazine, “I learned so much from that experience — how to be patient, how to be honest, how to embrace life and have a positive perspective. It was just a wonderful time for me, and it really helped turn me into a man. The lessons I learned from working in that field have helped me in so many other parts of my life.”

Though his job with Rascal Flatts comes with a lot more perks and a much bigger paycheck, Gary adds, “I do miss my old job at times, more often than you might suspect.”

Rascal Flatts launches their Vegas Riot! residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Wednesday, February 25.


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Cole Swindell Celebrates ACM New Artist of the Year Nod One Year After His Debut Album’s Release

Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleCole Swindell is riding high this year with a spot among the final three nominees for New Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards coming up this April. He’s competing against Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett for the fan-voted honor, and Cole got the good news earlier this week on the one-year anniversary of his self-titled debut album’s release.

Cole says, “It’s been an incredible ride so far and I could not have done this without the support of all the country music fans out there. I’m going to keep working hard on the road this year for them.”  

Cole will be on hand for the 50th Annual ACM Awards on April 19. The show airs live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.


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Reba Celebrating 60th Birthday at Celebrity Fight Night Event with Pals Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson

Image Courtesy CMABlake Shelton, Ronnie Dunn and Kelly Clarkson will be on hand to celebrate their friend Reba‘s 60th birthday at the 21st annual Celebrity Fight Night event in Phoenix on Saturday, March 28. Reba will once again emcee the event, held each year in honor of Muhammad Ali.

Blake, Ronnie and Kelly will perform at the event, and proceeds go to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. Several other charities benefit from Celebrity Fight Night as well.

For more information, go to CelebrityFightNight.org.


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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockLittle Big Town shared the stage with which pop star at last year’s CMA Awards? ANSWER: Ariana Grande.


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Billy Currington, Eli Young Band, Frankie Ballard Added to Country Jam Music Festival in Colorado

Image Courtesy Mercury NashvilleBilly Currington, Eli Young Band, Kacey Musgraves, Frankie Ballard, Thompson Square and Parmalee are among the stars joining the lineup for the 24th Annual Country Jam Music Festival in Grand Junction, Colorado. The event takes place June 18 through 21 with Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Toby Keith and The Band Perry as the previously announced headliners.

Tickets for the festival are available now at CountryJam.com/Tickets.


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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockLittle Big Town performs “Girl Crush” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Tuesday, February 24.

Maddie & Tae‘s new video for “Fly” will premiere on the CMT Hot 20 Countdown Saturday at 9 a.m. ET. A trailer for the video is now posted at CMT.com.


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Cole Swindell’s Country Ballad, “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” Inspired by Real-Life Heartbreak

Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleCole Swindell’s first two #1 hits, “Chillin’ It” and “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight,” have been uptempo affairs, but he’s tapping into some real-life heartbreak on his latest single, “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.”

“It was a real thing,” Cole says. “I had just broken up with this girl. She had me crazy. Just like, could not shake it. Finally, my buddy threw out that title, and I was like, ‘I know somebody that might not be worth it that we could write this about.'”

They went on to write the song from the perspective of a guy who is too proud to admit he’s drinking to forget his ex-girlfriend. Instead, Cole raises a toast to things like the end of the work week or a buddy who is serving in the military overseas.

Says Cole, “If you listen to it, obviously I’m not over her. It’s just kinda like I’m saying I’m doing this and saying I’m doing that.”

While Cole has moved on from pining for that girl who broke his heart, he is glad to show a different side of his music to fans who have just heard his radio hits.

Cole adds, “I’m glad I’m getting to put out a country ballad, ’cause me growing up loving ’90s country music, there were so many great ballads and just great songs. I’m not always just ‘Chillin’ It.’ You know, I’m a real person. There’s heartbreak. There’s trials.”

It’s hard to argue that life is pretty sweet for Cole these days. He’s nominated for New Artist of the Year at the 50th Annual ACM Awards, broadcasting live Sunday, April 19 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.


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Rascal Flatts and CMA Foundation Make Big Donation to Help Fund Music Education

Image Courtesy CMA/Greenroom PRRascal Flatts surprised a group of students at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles with a special delivery of new musical instruments. The Flatts teamed up with the CMA Foundation to announce a $150,000 donation to Little Kids Rock, an organization donating music teacher training, instruments and other resources to public school districts facing budget cuts.

Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney says, “With all three of us having children ourselves, organizations like Little Kids Rock really resonate with us. To be able to give back to young music makers and to do it with our friends at the CMA Foundation is really humbling and the best part of what we do.”

The students at Miramonte Elementary in L.A. are among the kids at 1,300 schools nationwide benefiting from the efforts of Little Kids Rock.


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Chris Young Hosting 14th Annual Fan Club Party June 10 at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House

Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleChris Young will hold his 14th Annual Fan Club Party at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville the morning of Wednesday, June 10. Tickets go on sale Monday, February 23 to current and new members of Chris’s fan club at ChrisYoungCountry.com. The party includes a performance, a meet-and-greet with Chris, and a guided backstage tour of the Opry House.


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