Taylor Sends Special Birthday Wish to Abigail, Inspiration for Her Hit, “Fifteen”

ABC/Jon LeMayTaylor Swift may be one of the biggest stars in the world, but she doesn’t forget her old friends.  One of her oldest, Abigail Anderson, received a very special birthday wish from Taylor, and she showed it off on Instagram and Twitter on Sunday.

Taylor fans may recall that “red-headed” Abigail inspired Taylor’s hit song “Fifteen,” which was about their freshman year of high school at Hendersonville High School in Tennessee, and how they both fell in love and experienced heartbreak for the first time.  It contains the line, “Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind/And we both cried.”  The song was so personal and specific that Taylor asked Abigail for permission to record it and use her name; Abigail granted it.

On Sunday, Abigail posted a photo of a framed, handwritten, handpainted note reading, “Once upon a time, there lived a girl named Abigail, whose spirit was as fiery as her hair. She never did anything the way they told her to, fell hopelessly in love, and turned 24 without one single regret. Happy Birthday. Love, Taylor.”

Abigail captioned the photo, “Words cannot describe how grateful I am for your friendship (and the absolutely breathtaking package of presents I just received). You truly are the most wonderful human being. From the bottom of my heart…thank you @taylorswift I love you.”  Taylor retweeted Abigail’s message.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

ACM Awards 2014 Backstage Report

ABC News RadioGeorge Strait won his first ACM Entertainer of the Year trophy back in 1989 before fellow nominee Taylor Swift was even born. After taking the top category Sunday night, George said of fellow Entertainer nominees Taylor, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert, ” A lot of those people… most of ‘em are friends of mine, you know I’ve worked with ‘em and they’re all deserving of this award.”

George thanked his fans for giving him the Entertainer of the Year trophy as he looks towards wrapping up his final tour this summer.

“I couldn’t have written this you know,” George said. “No way I couldn’t have dreamed it like that.”

Miranda Lambert made a point to acknowledge all of her fellow Female Vocalist nominees when she accepted her fifth-consecutive trophy in that category, but she forgot to mention nominee Taylor Swift. Miranda revealed backstage she’d cleared it up with Taylor.

“She’s kind of like her own animal. She’s ridiculous,” Miranda said of Taylor.  “I talked to her, and she’s cool. Taylor’s cool anyway, but we’re cool with it.”

Jason Aldean was surprised to win his second-consecutive Male Vocalist of the Year trophy going up against show hosts Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton. Jason said backstage, “It doesn’t get much hotter than those two guys so the fact that you know we were able to come there and pull that off is… I was probably the most shocked person in the room.”

The Band Perry spent the past 11 days in Las Vegas perfecting their opening performance of “Chainsaw.” Lead singer Kimberly Perry was happy to see a man with a shocked face on the front row as they sang. She said backstage, “When we started working on it we said, ‘I just want people to say what the heck is going on up there.’”

Band mate Neil Perry added, “The opening performance is a lot of pressure and we put a lot more on the three of us just ’cause that’s what we do and we worked a long time on this performance. We wanted to give this show the energy it deserved.”

New Artist of the Year winner Justin Moore fought back tears after winning his first ACM trophy. He said,”I wanted this so bad I mean, I really, really did. This was not make or break in our career, we’ve put out three albums two of which have gone gold, the next one’s about to, we’ve had a lot of hit records but this was very very important to me and my team.”   

Since that category is fan-voted, Justin was quick to give credit to his followers for the win.

“Anytime my fans are in the fold, any time my fans are involved, any time they have a voice, they got a big freakin’ voice man,” he said.

Album of the Year winner Kacey Musgraves actually crashed the press room during George Strait’s interview session to declare her love for the country legend.

She said backstage, “Growing up in Texas, George Strait has been a huge influence on me. He has stayed so true to what he is since day one. He has never wavered. It’s just quality.”

Kacey added, “He’s just so classy, and he’s not hard to look at either.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

ACM Awards: The Performances

ACMViewers could be forgiven for thinking that the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards telecast Sunday night wasn’t an awards show at all, since the first award wasn’t given out until an hour had passed.  The three-hour show was definitely all about the music, and there were 24 performances in all. Here’s a rundown of who played what:

The Band Perry opened the show with “Chainsaw,” which ended with tons of confetti falling from the ceiling and covering everyone.  It led co-hosts Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton to joke that $20 million worth of hairdos had just been ruined.  Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood were among those spotted with confetti all over their hair.

Florida Georgia Line performed “Stay”

Brad Paisley performed the song “Riverbank” at the pool at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where the awards show took place.  While he was singing, he managed to grab a fan’s phone, take a photo of the crowd, and then hand it back to her.

Blake Shelton sang “My Eyes,” sitting on a stool and playing guitar.

New Artist nominee Brett Eldredge sang “Beat of the Music.”

George Strait performed “I Got a Car.”

Lee Brice Sang “I Drive Your Truck,” which won Song of the Year.

Eric Church gave a powerful performance of “Give Me Back My Home Town.”

New Artist nominee — and eventual winner — Justin Moore sang “Lettin’ the Night Roll.”

Fellow Voice coaches Blake Shelton and Shakira got together for “Medicine,” their duet on Shakira’s new self-titled album.

Lady Antebellum teamed up with their friend Stevie Nicks for “Golden,” and then Stevie’s classic, “Rhiannon.”  If you thought the lyrics sounded different, you were right: they sang the slightly different version that Stevie and her band Fleetwood Mac performed on their 1997 live album The Dance.

Keith Urban gave a rockin’ performance of “Even the Stars Fall 4 U” — he had not one, not two, but three drummers backing him up.

New Artist nominee Kip Moore sang “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck.”

Luke Bryan sang “Play It Again.”

Jason Aldean performed “When She Says Baby.”

Miranda Lambert sang “Automatic.”

Tim McGraw, joined by wife Faith Hill on harmonies, sang “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s.”

Florida Georgia Line teamed with Luke Bryan for “This Is How We Roll,” as motocross racers did crazy tricks on ramps behind them, and flames shot all over the place.

Toby Keith had everyone’s heads bobbing to “Shut Up and Hold On.”

Hunter Hayes sang his emotional ballad “Invisible.”

Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum sang “Wagon Wheel,” and at one point, Darius had the entire arena sing along a cappella.  Taylor Swift was dancing in the front row, singing her heart out.

George Strait and Miranda Lambert paid tribute to Crystal Milestone winner Merle Haggard by performing, respectively, “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” and “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.”

Rascal Flatts sang “Rewind.”

Dierks Bentley teamed with Sheryl Crow for “I Hold On.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

“King” George Crowned Entertainer, Miranda Wins Record Fifth Consecutive Female Vocalist Trophy at 49th ACM Awards

Francis Specker/CBS“King” George Strait took another victory lap Sunday night at the 49th annual ACM Awards, held Sunday night in Las Vegas.  After picking up his third Entertainer of the Year trophy at the CMAs this past November, the retiring country legend won the same award from the Academy of Country Music. “I’ve always said I had the best fans in the world,” George said at the podium. “I hear this was a fan-voted thing, so…I rest my case!”

The night’s big winner, however, was Miranda Lambert, who took home three trophies, including her history-making fifth consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year trophy.  She and Reba McEntire had previously been tied with four straight wins each; now Miranda holds the record.  “I can’t believe this; I really didn’t expect it, y’all,” she told the crowd. “I’m so grateful and thankful and humbled….I love my job!”  She dedicated that award to a friend who she said was “going through a hard time.”  Miranda also won Vocal Event of the Year for her duet with Keith Urban, “We Were Us,” and Single of the Year for “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

Speaking of “Mama’s Broken Heart,” the woman who co-wrote it, Kacey Musgraves, won the Album of the Year award for Same Trailer, Different Park.  “I just wanna say that I’m really proud to be a woman representing country music,” said the singer, who was the lone female nominated in that category, and who beat out Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Tim McGraw to take home the prize.

A female-fronted band — The Band Perry — took home the trophy for Vocal Group of the Year; it was their first win in that category.  Onstage, Kimberly Perry said, “This is a mountaintop moment in the life of The Band Perry, because we started at the bottom of the mountain.”  Recalling their early days playing in venues where the band members outnumbered the audience members, Kimberly said their grandfather always told them, “Kids, this ain’t no hill for a climber,” and then added, “We accept this for the climbers tonight!”

As for the men, Jason Aldean won his second consecutive Male Vocalist of the Year Award.  “It’s been one helluva ride,” he said at the podium. “I hope it doesn’t end any time soon.”  Florida Georgia Line won Duo of the Year, while Justin Moore picked up the trophy for New Artist of the Year.  Song of the Year went to “I Drive Your Truck,” recorded by Lee Brice.  The trio who wrote the song took the stage to accept, and one of the writers, Connie Harrington, said in her emotional acceptance speech, “To every person in America who knows what it’s like to live the words of the song day in and day out: God bless you!”

Garth Brooks led a tribute to country legend Merle Haggard, whose 77th birthday happen to fall on Sunday night.  He received the Crystal Milestone Award, and the entire audience serenaded him with “Happy Birthday.”  George Strait and Miranda Lambert also paid tribute to Hag by performing “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” and “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down,” respectively.

Taylor Swift was front row during the telecast, and presented the Vocal Group of the Year award, but only took home one trophy: Video of the Year, for “Highway Don’t Care,” her collaboration with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.

Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan returned to host the awards, and provided a steady stream of jokes and insults throughout the night.  When Luke told the audience they were in for a great night of live music, Blake cracked, “And if you don’t like live music, you need to go down the block and see Britney Spears.”   There were also the now-standard jokes about Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, as well as jokes about a couple of hot topics: same sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Blake joked,  “I thought same-sex marriage meant after you got married, you had the same sex, over and over again.”  Blake said that to buy marijuana in the past, you used to have to go to an official marijuana dispensary.  “We call it Eric Church‘s dressing room,” Luke joked.

The two also called attention to the presence of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the audience, and announced that next year’s 50th anniversary installment of the ACM Awards will take place in Dallas, Texas, at Cowboy Stadium.  When Blake said, “That’s great, you never see an awards show at Cowboy Stadium!” Luke snarked gleefully, “You never see a playoff game there, either!”

When Luke asked Blake about competing against his wife Miranda Lambert for Entertainer of the Year, Blake said, “As far as Miranda’s concerned, I’m already Entertainer of the Year.”  To which Luke responded, “More like Entertainer of the Minute, and I’m spotting you 30 seconds!”

The one thing some viewers found disappointing about the telecast is that it literally took an hour for the first award — Vocal Duo of the Year — to be handed out.  Some 90 minutes into the three-hour show, just two awards had been presented.  As usual, the show was all about the music, showcasing an unbelievable 24 performances in those three hours.  In addition to songs from most of today’s biggest country stars and promising newcomers, fans also got to see unexpected pairings like Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks, and Blake Shelton with Shakira.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

ACM Awards Winners List

ACM

Here are the winners of the 49th Annual ACM Awards, held Sunday night in Las Vegas:

Entertainer of the Year
George Strait

Male Vocalist of the Year
Jason Aldean

Female Vocalist of the Year
Miranda Lambert

Duo of the Year
Florida Georgia Line

Vocal Group of the Year
The Band Perry

New Artist of the Year
Justin Moore

Album of the Year
Kacey Musgraves — Same Trailer Different Park

Song of the Year (Award to Songwriter)
“I Drive Your Truck” — Lee Brice (Jimmy Yeary, Connie Harrington, Jessi Alexander)

Single Record of the Year
Miranda Lambert — “Mama’s Broken Heart”

Vocal Event of the Year
Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert — “We Were Us”

Video of the Year

Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban — “Highway Don’t Care”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Superstar Collaborations and Surprises in Store for Sunday Night’s ACM Awards

ACMAs always, the ACM Awards, now in their 49th year, will be packed with superstar performances, including a duet between co-host Blake Shelton and his co-star on The Voice, Shakira. They’ll sing their duet, “Medicine,” from Shakira’s new self-titled album.

Co-host Luke Bryan is teaming up with Florida Georgia Line to sing their latest hit, “This Is How We Roll,” and The Band Perry will kick the night off with an “explosive” performance of “Chainsaw.”

Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow are teaming up for a duet on “I Hold On,” and Brad Paisley is set to debut his new single, “River Bank,” with a special performance from the MGM Grand’s Talent Pool in Las Vegas. Hunter Hayes is singing his latest hit, “Invisible,” in a special performance tied in with the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign.

In addition, Rascal Flatts is slated to sing their new single, “Rewind,” from the ACM Fan Jam at Mandalay Bay Events Center, and Darius Rucker will sing his nominated song, “Wagon Wheel.” Male Vocalist of the Year nominee Lee Brice will perform “I Drive Your Truck,” and Tim McGraw will take the stage, too.

George Strait, Miranda Lambert and Garth Brooks are set to pay tribute to this year’s Crystal Milestone recipient, Merle Haggard. Lady Antebellum will reunite with their friend, rock legend Stevie Nicks, for a performance of “Golden.”

Eric Church will reveal the latest installment of his San Destino Rising video series during his ACM Awards performance. Jason Aldean, Toby Keith and Keith Urban are slated to sing on the show as well, along with ACM New Artist of the Year nominees Justin Moore, Kip Moore and Brett Eldredge.

Miranda Lambert and Tim McGraw are the lead nominees with seven nods apiece. Miranda joins Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift and George Strait in the Entertainer of the Year category. Fans can vote in the Entertainer and New Artist of the Year categories through Sunday at VoteACM.com.

The 49th Annual ACM Awards air live Sunday night at 8 ET on CBS.

Here are the nominees:

Entertainer of the Year
Luke Bryan
Miranda Lambert
Blake Shelton
George Strait
Taylor Swift

Male Vocalist of the Year
Jason Aldean
Lee Brice
Luke Bryan
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year
Sheryl Crow
Miranda Lambert
Kacey Musgraves
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Duo of the Year
Big & Rich
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Love and Theft
Thompson Square

Vocal Group of the Year
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

New Artist of the Year
Brett Eldredge
Justin Moore
Kip Moore

Album of the Year
Blake Shelton — Based on a True Story…
Luke Bryan — Crash My Party
Florida Georgia Line — Here’s to the Good Times
Kacey Musgraves — Same Trailer Different Park
Tim McGraw — Two Lanes of Freedom

Song of the Year (Award to Songwriter)
“Every Storm Runs Out of Rain” — Gary Allan (Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey, Matthew Warren)
“I Drive Your Truck” — Lee Brice (Jimmy Yeary, Connie Harrington, Jessi Alexander)
“Mama’s Broken Heart” — Miranda Lambert (Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves)
“Mine Would Be You” — Blake Shelton (Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan)
“Wagon Wheel” — Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum (Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor)

Single Record of the Year
Florida Georgia Line — “Cruise”
Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban — “Highway Don’t Care”
Lee Brice — “I Drive Your Truck”
Miranda Lambert — “Mama’s Broken Heart”
Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum — “Wagon Wheel”

Vocal Event of the Year
Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends  – “Boys ‘Round Here”
Florida Georgia Line with Nelly — “Cruise (Remix)”
Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban — “Highway Don’t Care”
Darius Rucker featuring Lady Antebellum — “Wagon Wheel”
Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert — “We Were Us”

Video of the Year
The Band Perry — “Better Dig Two”
Kacey Musgraves — “Blowin’ Smoke”
Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban — “Highway Don’t Care”
Lee Brice — “I Drive Your Truck”
Miranda Lambert — Mama’s Broken Heart”
Carrie Underwood — “Two Black Cadillacs”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Dustin Lynch Reveals “Where It’s At” with Brand-New Single

Photo Credit: Justin Nolan KeyDustin Lynch is back with a brand-new single, “Where It’s At,” that’s perfect for soaking up the sun with that special someone.

Dustin says, “There’s nothing more real than just being with somebody else. Having someone else in your life that makes good days better is unmatchable.  Having the love of someone to come home to at night…that’s really ‘Where It’s At.’”

“Where’s It’s At” is the lead single from Dustin’s upcoming sophomore album. Check out the lyric video now on Vevo.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Taylor Swift Buys NYC Penthouse for Nearly $20 Million

ABC/Richard HarbaughThere’s been much speculation over the past week as to whether or not Taylor Swift really laid out close to $20 million for a swanky New York City residence.  Well, E! News has confirmed that the singer did, in fact, splash out on a fancy penthouse — two of them, in fact.

According to E!, Taylor spent $19.9 million to buy not one but two penthouse apartments in a building in New York’s trendy Tribeca neighborhood.  Together, they total more than 8,000 square feet.  By comparison, the mansion she purchased in Rhode Island last year for close to $18 million was just 3,000 square feet larger.

Taylor’s new Manhattan neighbors include Beyonce and Jay Z and Gwyneth Paltrow, according to E!.  The singer’s been spotted out and about in the Big Apple over the last two weeks, shopping and hanging out with friends.

Despite owning residences in Los Angeles, Rhode Island and, now, New York, Taylor recently told Time magazine that Nashville, where she also owns a condo, will always be her real “home.”  She says she likes it because she’s not bothered by paparazzi as she is in other cities.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tim, Taylor and Keith Could Sweep the ACM Awards with “Highway Don’t Care”

CMATim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban are up for Single, Vocal Event and Video of the Year at this Sunday’s ACM Awards for their collaboration on “Highway Don’t Care.” Recording with Tim and Keith was a real full-circle moment for Taylor.

“Those are two huge influences of mine musically,” Taylor explains. “And to get a call from one of them and say, ‘Hey, want to sing the pre-chorus on this song, and Keith’s gonna play on it?’ Like, it was the most exciting thing because my career started out with a song called ‘Tim McGraw’ when I was 16.”

Tim knew having Taylor and Keith on his song would probably make it a hit, but he’s quick to point out that “Highway Don’t Care” is a well-crafted song.

Tim says, “I think the record, the video, the feel of the song, the performance that Keith did on the guitar, the performance that Taylor did on her vocals, it’s just a very cinematic sort of project, and I think that just rings bells for everybody.”

Find out if “Highway Don’t Care” takes home any hardware this Sunday night when the 49th Annual ACM Awards broadcast live on CBS starting at 8 ET.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Taylor Swift Sets New Chinese Record for Fastest Ticket Sell-Out

ABC/Chris HolloHere’s something you don’t see every day.  Taylor Swift now holds the record for the fastest show sell-out in Chinese history.

According to her label, tickets for Taylor’s May 30 show at Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena sold out in just one minute after they went on sale Thursday.  The show is one of seven Asian dates that Taylor added to her RED tour just last month. 

If you were hoping to see Taylor in Asia, you’re too late: all of the dates are now sold out.

For more info on the RED tour, visit Taylor’s website.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio