Blake Shelton Racks Up New Gold and Platinum Certifications

Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleBlake Shelton‘s latest #1 hit, “Neon Light,” has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for 500,000 combined downloads and streams. It’s not the only heavy metal Blake picks up this week. His 2010 album, Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton has also been certified platinum for sales of one million copies.

“Neon Light” and Blake’s new single, “Lonely Tonight,” are both featured on his latest album, Bringing Back the Sunshine, which has been certified gold.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockJerrod Niemann and his wife, Morgan, are featured on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress Friday night at 9 ET.

Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts and his wife, Allison, appear on ABC’s The Chew Friday. Check local listings for air time.

Brett Eldredge thinks the plots in Liam Neeson‘s Taken movie franchise may be running thin now that they’re on the third installment. He tweeted, “Just saw preview for Taken 3?! By “Taken12“, they’ll be abducted by aliens and super dad will have to fight them with laser guns!” Taken 3 opens Friday.

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Sam Hunt Smooth Talks His Way Through the Verses on New Single, “Take Your Time”

Image Courtesy UMG/David McClisterSam Hunt sings all the way through his debut #1 hit, “Leave the Night On” but he usually moves between singing and speaking the lyrics on many of his songs, including his latest single, “Take Your Time.” The song’s lyrics about smooth-talking a beautiful girl into a date lend themselves to Sam’s spoken-word delivery. While there are some R&B elements to the song, “Take Your Time” wouldn’t be considered a rap song. It turns out Sam is just fine with “Take Your Time” being a little hard to define.

“When I wrote it, it was the first time I sort of questioned the parameters of what I thought I could write and started to say, ‘Why not?'” Sam tells ABC News Radio. “I really like this direction, and even though folks might not consider it within the genre’s boundaries, I’m just gonna write it anyway whether it ever has a life or not. I just love this style.”

While some of country music’s biggest legends — like George Jones and George Strait — often included spoken-word sections in their songs, one of Sam’s early co-writers wouldn’t even consider letting Sam speak his lyrics instead of sing them.

Looking back on a session with hit writer Josh Osborne and another unnamed writer, Sam says, “[I] started doing this talking thing, and the other co-writer we were writing with sort of looked at me like, ‘What in the world? We can’t do that. We’re not doing that.’ But Josh spoke up afterwards and was like, ‘Man, I really loved what you were doing. I thought that was really cool.'”

Sam and Josh left that negative writer behind and moved on to work with Shane McAnally, who just won CMA Song of the Year for co-writing Kacey Musgraves‘ “Follow Your Arrow.” That co-writing session produced “Take Your Time.”

“He had the same open mind that Josh did,” Sam says of adding Shane to the writing mix. “So, we went with it.”

“Take Your Time” is the lead track on Sam’s hit debut album, Montevallo, available now.

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Sam Hunt and Jerrod Niemann Among Stars Playing ACM Lifting Lives Club Shows

Image Courtesy ACMSam Hunt, Jerrod Niemann, Eric Paslay, Gary Allan and Easton Corbin are among the stars playing club shows to benefit the ACM’s Lifting Lives organization. Lifting Lives funds organizations and programs that improve lives through the power of music. The club dates start with Tyler Farr’s Friday night show at Joe’s Bar in Chicago and continue through Sam Hunt’s March 15 show at the same venue.

Fans who attend any of the ACM Lifting Lives Club Shows can enter to win a trip to the 50th Annual ACM Awards April 19 in Texas. To enter, fans must tweet a photo of their ticket and tag @ACMAwards using the hashtag #ACMLiftingLivesBenefit.

Here are the ACM Lifting Lives Club Shows dates:

1/9 — Tyler Far, Joe’s Bar, Chicago, IL
1/9 — Gary Allan, Wild Bills, Duluth, GA
1/10 — Easton Corbin, The Bluestone, Columbus, OH
1/10 — Tyler Farr, The Rave, Milwaukee, WI
1/13 — Sam Hunt, Jerrod Niemann and The Swon Brothers, Coyote Joe’s, Charlotte, NC
1/17 — Eric Paslay, Midnight Rodeo, Springfield, MO
3/15 — Sam Hunt, Joe’s Bar, Chicago, IL

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Garth Brooks Presented with Platinum Plaque for “Man Against Machine”

Image Courtesy Pearl/RCAGarth Brooks took over all four hours of NBC’s Today to discuss his latest album, Man Against Machine, and his ongoing World Tour. Today show staffers brought their own mothers on set for Garth’s performance of his latest single, “Mom.” Garth also was presented with a platinum plaque for Man Against Machine. He said, “I never thought I’d seen another one of these.”

The album is available at various bricks-and-mortar retail outlets, but only available digitally at Garth’s GhostTunes store.

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Little Jimmy Dickens Remembered with Star-Studded Funeral Service at Grand Ole Opry House

Image Courtesy Chris Hollo/Grand Ole OpryCountry Music Hall of Fame member Little Jimmy Dickens was remembered with a Celebration of Life service Thursday at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House. His friend Brad Paisley served as the emcee of the two-hour service and remembered Jimmy as a man who took chances, enjoyed life, treated people very well and found his true love in his wife of nearly 43 years, Mona. Brad also said Little Jimmy Dickens was just the right height at 4’11”.

Brad said with a laugh, “I, for one, don’t want to live in a world of Big Jim Dickens.”

Brad later paid tribute to his friend with a performance of “When I Get Where I’m Going.” Chris Young recalled his time spent fishing with Jimmy before singing “No Tears in Heaven.” Vince Gill played a guitar that had once belonged to Jimmy’s late guitar player, Jabbo Arrington, for his performance of “Go Rest High on That Mountain” with Carrie Underwood. Carrie shared a very funny story about her mother warning her about meeting Jimmy when she made her Opry debut in 2005.

“She told me, ‘Watch out for Little Jimmy Dickens, because he likes the pretty girls,'” Carrie said with a laugh. “And every single time I ever got to meet him or see him from that moment on, he would always kiss my hand. Definitely had a little piece of my heart, for sure. Gladly gave it to him.”

A video montage shown during the service featured Little Jimmy’s funniest jokes and skits on the Opry stage as well as bits of his recent comedic appearances on the CMA Awards with hosts Brad and Carrie.

Connie Smith, Old Crow Medicine Show and Steve Wariner also performed in Little Jimmy’s honor. Trisha Yearwood, Trace Adkins, The Oak Ridge Boys, Lorrie Morgan, Lee Greenwood and several cast members of ABC’s Nashville were spotted in the crowd paying their respects to the Opry star.  The service closed with everyone in the Opry House singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” before Little Jimmy Dickens’ casket was rolled out down the middle aisle.

He was 94-years-old when he died from cardiac arrest on January 2.


Miranda, Carrie, Keith, Eric and More Featured on “2015 Grammy Nominees” Album

Image Courtesy RCA/The Recording AcademyThe 2015 Grammy Nominees album features quite a few nominated country songs, including Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood‘s duet on “Somethin’ Bad.” Little Big Town‘s “Day Drinking,” “Gentle on My Mind” by The Band Perry, Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill on “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s and Keith Urban and Eric Church‘s “Raise ‘Em Up” are also included on the compilation.

The 21st installment in the Grammy Nominees album series will be in stores and online January 20. The 57th Annual Grammy Awards will be handed out Sunday, February 8 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Here’s the 2015 Grammy Nominees album track list:

Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off”
Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX, “Fancy”
Ed Sheeran, “Sing”
Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azaela, “Problem”
Meghan Trainor, “All About That Bass”
Katy Perry featuring Juicy J, “Dark Horse”
Coldplay, “A Sky Full of Stars”
Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
Sia, “Chandelier”
John Legend, “All of Me” (Live)
Hozier, “Take Me to Church”
Beyoncé featuring Jay Z, “Drunk in Love”
Pharrell Williams, “Come Get It Bae”
Sam Smith, “Stay with Me” (Darkchild Version)
Beck, “Blue Moon”
Keith Urban featuring Eric Church, “Raise ‘Em Up”
The Band Perry, “Gentle on My Mind”
Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s”
Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”
Little Big Town, “Day Drinking”
Pharrell Williams, “Happy” (Live)

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockWhat was Dustin Lynch‘s major while attending Nashville’s Lipscomb University? ANSWER: Pre-med.

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Chris Young Looks Back on His World-Expanding Experience in the YoungArts Program

Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleChris Young will be in Miami this Saturday to be recognized as one of the 2015 Alumni Honorees at the National YoungArts Foundation’s Backyard Ball. Fellow alumnus Josh Groban will be honored at the event, too. 

Chris was chosen to participate in the YoungArts student program in 2003, and he still sees the benefits of attending the event to this day. “”It expanded my world,” Chris tells South Florida’s Sun Sentinel.  “I knew I wanted to be a country artist, but I have such a love for arts as a whole that that week was something I really treasured.”

The YoungArts program also gave Chris the opportunity to work with experts in the field of dance, acting and visual arts.

He adds, “I got to talk to others doing the same thing but in a different genre or in a different medium, and we’d go back and forth. And I was still studying jazz and classical, so I got to go in and work with a lot of really, really great teachers in the master classes.”

Chris is keeping it country with his latest single, “Lonely Eyes,” now climbing the chart.

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Lady Antebellum Wins, Performs at People’s Choice Awards

Capitol NashvileThe country music world made its presence felt at the People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles Wednesday night. Lady Antebellum made a couple of appearances during the CBS telecast. They were on hand to accept the award for Favorite Country Group, and were also one of the musical performers on the evening. They delivered a rendition of their song, “Freestyle.”

Hunter Hayes won the prize for Favorite Male Country Artist. He was there to accept.

Carrie Underwood was named Favorite Female Country Artist, a category that was not announced during the telecast.

Here are the winners in the music categories:

Favorite Male Artist
Ed Sheeran

Favorite Female Artist
Taylor Swift

Favorite Group
Maroon 5

Favorite Breakout Artist
5 Seconds of Summer

Favorite Male Country Artist
Hunter Hayes

Favorite Female Country Artist
Carrie Underwood

Favorite Country Group
Lady Antebellum

Favorite Pop Artist
Taylor Swift

Favorite Hip-Hop Artist
Iggy Azalea

Favorite R&B Artist
Pharrell Williams

Favorite Album
X, Ed Sheeran

Favorite Song
“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift

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