Country Stars Are Just Fine with Taylor Swift’s Move to Pop

Image Courtesy ABC/Ida Mae AstuteTaylor Swift has made it very clear her latest album, 1989, is a pop project, and that’s just fine with the country stars in Nashville. Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum points out Taylor’s strong songwriting skills are still in effect with the new music.

Hillary tells Billboard, “You can tell she takes so much pride in that and that’s what I respect.”

New duo Maddie & Tae also support Taylor’s move to pop, saying, “She’s killing it over at pop, and we’re just really happy for her.”

In going full-on pop, Taylor hasn’t closed the door to making a country album at some point in the future either.  Dustin Lynch says, “You know what she’s setting herself up for? A huge comeback. Three years down the road, she’s gonna come back and make a stone-cold country album, and it’s gonna be amazing too.”

Tickets are now on sale for Taylor’s 1989 tour, launching in the U.S. May 20 in Bossier City, LA.


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Kenny Chesney Hints at Italian Vacation with Girlfriend, Says It’s Harder to Stay Private Nowadays

Image Courtesy Sony/Blue ChairKenny Chesney is very protective of his private life, so it’s a little startling to hear him hint at a recent trip to Italy with his girlfriend. Kenny tells Billboard, “We hung out and drank a little too much red wine.”

That’s all the information Kenny is giving up on the girlfriend or the vacation. Even his hideaway on the beach in the Virgin Islands isn’t as private as it once was. Kenny explains that iPhones have made it hard to keep his location private.

He says, “It’s harder now, because everybody is paparazzi.” Kenny adds that the islands are not “the place of peace they used to be for me.”

Luckily, Kenny has a $7 million speed boat he can use to get away from the island.

He says of his time in the Virgin Islands, “It’s still rejuvenating — I just have to walk a little more carefully.”

Kenny will get back on the road for The Big Revival tour starting on his 47th birthday, March 26, 2015, in Nashville.


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Garth Brooks Breaks His Own Tulsa, OK Attendance Record; New Single, “Mom,” Out Now

Image Courtesy Sony/Pearl RecordsGarth Brooks‘ World Tour continues to surpass his previous attendance numbers, and his latest record has been set in his home state of Oklahoma. Garth has already sold 90,000 tickets for his seven shows at the BOK Center in Tulsa. His previous attendance record in Tulsa was set back in 1997 with more than 79,000 tickets sold.

Garth’s run of shows in Tulsa starts January 9 and runs through January 17. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster.com/garthbrooks.

Garth is touring in support of his new album, Man Against Machine. The second single from that album, “Mom,” was released Friday.


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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockWhat is the name of Justin Moore‘s hometown in Arkansas? ANSWER: Poyen.


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Eric Church’s “Austin City Limits” Performance Premieres Saturday

Image Courtesy John Peets/Capitol NashvilleEric Church‘s performance on PBS’s Austin City Limits premieres Saturday night at 9 ET. The show will be available for a limited time at PBS.org as well. Eric calls the show “iconic.”

He says, “I grew up watching Austin City Limits, and it’s really cool to be a part of it. It’ll be something that we try to make sure we do something unique or different that allows that to live forever.”

Eric’s set includes his big hits “Smoke a Little Smoke,” “Give Me Back My Hometown” and “Springsteen.” Fan favorites “These Boots,” “Sinners Like Me,” and “Guys Like Me” round out the set list.

You can check out a preview of Eric singing “Drink in My Hand” now at PBS.org.


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Brantley Gilbert Reveals Fiancée

James MinchinWhen Brantley Gilbert announced his engagement last month, he didn’t reveal his fiancée’s name. However, he’s now identified the lucky lady to People magazine.

Her name is Amber Cochran, and she’s a schoolteacher from Gilbert’s Georgia hometown whom he’s known for many years. He tells People, “Amber is an amazing person and has inspired a lot of my songs from ‘More than Miles’ to ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do’ for the last 10 years.”

Gilbert adds, “I’m a blessed man to have her back in my life and can’t wait to make her my wife.”

Gilbert was previously engaged to fellow country star Jana Kramer, but they called it off in August 2013.


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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockKellie Pickler is a guest co-host on ABC’s The View Friday.

Blake Shelton was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Thursday night in Oklahoma City. Miranda Lambert was also on hand to honor another inductee, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Wanda Jackson.


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Justin Moore Prefers to Keep His Three Daughters Out of the Spotlight

Image Courtesy Valory Music Co.Justin Moore doesn’t share many photos of his three young daughters even though he knows his fans would love to see more of his kids. Instead of thrusting them into the public eye at a young age, Justin hopes to let them make their own decisions about how much media exposure they want when they get older. Plus, he’s concerned about the girls’ safety since their dad is a country star.

“Let’s be honest, there’s a lot nut jobs out there, who, you just never know,” Justin says. “And if I ever, because of a decision I make to have a picture of them out there or something that causes them harm, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”

Justin is looking forward to spending two months off the road with his family in Arkansas this holiday season. After seven years on the road, Justin has finally reached the place in his career where he can play about 80 to 100 shows a year. For now, Justin enjoys having his family with him when he tours.

He says, “Ella, my oldest, starts school next year. So, I really want to take advantage of all the time I can with her while she can still come out on the road during the week and stuff.”

Justin closes out his 2014 tour dates with a November 23 show in Missoula, Montana.


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Josh Turner Shares Stories and Advice with Students at His Alma Mater, Belmont University

Image Courtesy MCA NashvilleJosh Turner returned to his alma mater, Nashville’s Belmont University, on Wednesday to speak with students. The interview-style session featured Josh telling the story of writing his debut hit, “Long Black Train,” while a student at Belmont in 1999.

Josh says of his time at the school, “Although I was only able to attend Belmont for three years, if I had it to do all over again, I’d come back to Belmont.” 

Josh delivered an acoustic performance of “Long Black Train” for the students. His new single, “Law Low,” is currently climbing the country chart.


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John Fogerty Defends Bruce Springsteen and Zac Brown’s “Fortunate Son” Performance at Tuesday’s Concert for Valor

Image Courtesy Vanguard RecordsJohn Fogerty has responded to the controversy that arose after Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Zac Brown performed his classic song “Fortunate Son” at the star-studded Concert for Valor event on Veterans Day in Washington, D.C.  Some conservative media outlets in particular maintained that performing the song, which addresses the circumstances of soldiers in the Vietnam era, wasn’t appropriate for an event honoring U.S. military members.  Fogerty disagrees.

In a statement on his official website, the ex-Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman explains, “‘Fortunate Son’ is a song I wrote during the Vietnam War over forty-five years ago.  As an American and a songwriter I am proud that the song still has resonance.  I do believe that its meaning gets misinterpreted and even usurped by various factions wishing to make their own case.  At its core I believe the issue is really about what a great country we have that a song like this can be performed in a setting like Concert for Valor.”

Fogerty adds, “Years ago, an ultra-conservative administration tried to paint anyone who questioned its policies as ‘un-American.’  That same administration shamefully ignored and mistreated the soldiers returning from Vietnam…As a man who was drafted and served his country during those times I have ultimate respect for the men and women who protect us today and demand that they receive the respect that they deserve.”

It’s worth noting that Fogerty also performed the song last week at the White House at the “A Salute to Our Troops” concert, which was attended by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.  The show aired on PBS as an episode of the In Performance at the White House series.

The Concert for Valor, meanwhile, aired live on HBO on Tuesday, and also included performances by Carrie Underwood, Metallica, Jennifer Hudson, Rihanna, Eminem and The Black Keys.



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