Courtesy Sugar Hill RecordsTexas native Lee Ann Womack will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game, and she’s got something unusual planned — steel guitarist Paul Franklin will accompany her.
“When I was asked, I didn’t just want to go and sing, I wanted to really invest this performance of our national anthem with something that makes us all reconsider what the song is expressing,” she says. “If you’ve ever heard… or really listened to Paul’s musicianship and the emotions he brings out… I think having him play opens up so many aspects of what Francis Scott Key was celebrating when he wrote that.”
Lee Ann’s first CD in seven years, The Way I’m Livin’, came out this fall. Paul Franklin’s collaboration with Vince Gill called Bakersfield was recently nominated for a Grammy.
You can watch Lee Ann and Paul perform at 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX, before the Cowboys take on the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium.
Image Courtesy Chris Hollo/OpryWhen Darius Rucker wraps up the European leg of his True Believers tour this Sunday in Dublin, Ireland, chances are he’ll have taken in a historic building or two in his spare time.
“The thing I really love to do is I love to go around and see old churches and museums and stuff,” he says, “because we think if something was built in the 1800s, we think it’s old. You know, you go over there and something was built in 39 B.C. and it’s still up. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Darius’s trip took him to Berlin and Munich, Germany, in addition to England and Ireland. The “Homegrown Honey” hitmaker says he also appreciates the differences in the audiences.
“I love going over to Europe because the cultures are so different. From here, you go state to state, and there’s differences in accents and everything, and the cultures are a little different. But when you’re in Europe, you go from country to country, just like you go from state to state, and there’s different language and totally different cultures, and I love being a part of that.’
As Darius prepares to slow down for the Christmas season, fans all across the globe can celebrate with his first yuletide album Home for the Holidays, which is new this year.
One Voice ProductionsBillyGilman has come out as gay. The 26-year-old singer made the announcement via a YouTube post on Thursday, the same day his friend and fellow country artist, Ty Herndon, revealed he was gay.
“It’s taken me a good many weeks to figure out how I was to approach this video that you’re watching right now,” Gilman begins the video. “But today, actually, a fellow country artist and friend made it easier for me to make this video. And I wanted my fans, who have stuck by me for many, many years, to know.”
Gilman went on to explain that he decided to come out after he was spotted with his partner by a local reporter.
“We filmed a video for the single ‘Say You Will’ in Rhode Island and was getting ready to do an interview with a reporter, locally,” he recalls. “And coincidentally I ran into this reporter at a local fall festival with my partner, someone who I am happily now sharing my life with.”
“This reporter took a picture of us and it was in that moment that I knew that I’d rather it be from me, than you reading it somewhere else, and probably filled with not truth,” he adds.
Gilman also expressed his displeasure at the Nashville establishment, which he claims discriminates against gay artists.
“Being a gay male country artist is not the best thing,” he says, explaining, “You know, if people don’t like your music, that’s one thing. But after having sold over five million records and having a wonderful life in the music industry, I knew something was wrong when no major label wanted to sit down and have a meeting and listen to the new stuff.”
Gilman, however, had nothing but praise for his fellow artists.
“I want to say that all of the country artists that literally I grew up in front of, Keith Urban, Vince [Gill] and LeAnn Rimes and all of these wonderful friends of mine, have been nothing but supportive,” he insists. “Not that they knew, but they have been such wonderful people.”
“So I thank you for your support,” he concluded, noting, “I know some people won’t agree with this. And that’s OK. To each his own. But I felt it was time for me to be honest and to be truthful. I love you all and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.”
Image Courtesy Becky FlukeMiranda Lambert’s custom Ram Laramie Longhorn truck helped raise nearly $66,000 for her MuttNation Foundation. The truck itself netted just shy of $55,000 in an online auction, with the remaining $11,000 coming from signed guitars, CD’s and 2015 concert tickets.
“I’m happy to see everyone come together to raise so much money for MuttNation Foundation, which is so close to my heart,” Miranda says. “I appreciate Ram for donating the truck to me to auction off and for making this all possible. So many dogs will have happier holidays and lives thanks to this generosity.”
In the past seven years, Miranda’s charity has raised more than two million dollars to help make life better for animals. So far, Miranda herself has adopted seven dogs.
Valeisha Kelly-PedigoAfter years of speculation about his sexuality, Ty Herndon officially went on the record, acknowledging that he’s gay in an interview with Entertainment Tonight on Thursday. “I went to great lengths to cover up that fact to be a country star,” Ty says, “and today I get to tell the world that I’m an out, proud and happy gay man.”
“I have an awesome relationship that I’ve been in for a good number of years,” he says, “[I] love him very much and he loves me.” Ty even went on to say he hopes a proposal from his partner of five years might follow his public revelation.
Rumors about his orientation date back to a 1995 incident where an undercover male police officer accused the country singer of exposing himself in a park. Ty says he doesn’t remember much about the episode.
“I wish I had really great recall or memory about that. I think I had been up for like six days doing drugs. The night and the day was really a huge blur for me,” he recalls.
Ty also reveals that both his wives knew about his homosexuality. “I had a lot of people around me that I trusted at a time and I was like, ‘Hey, you know this about me but the world doesn’t. So I’m gonna need to call on your services for a little while.’ It was unfortunate that I had to do that, but I felt that’s what I had to do to have my career.”
In the nineties, Ty scored three number ones with “It Must Be Love,” “Living in a Moment” and “What Mattered Most.” His last top 40 country hit was 2001’s “Heather’s Wall,” which went to number 37.
The 52-year-old says this month’s CMA Awards give him hope that country music is becoming more accepting of the LGBT community. “Kacey Musgraves won Song of the Year for “’Follow Your Arrow’…and two amazing songwriters that happened to be gay wrote that song.” His most recent CD is 2013’s Lies I Told Myself.
Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleIf you’d like to get up close and personal with Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift or The Band Perry, now is your chance. You can bid on one-of-a-kind experiences with the superstars from now through December 10 at CharityBuzz.com.
Carrie will treat the winner of her package to a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry before her concert, while Taylor’s top bidder will be invited to the pre-show party. A one-on-one Skype session with Hunter Hayes is also up for grabs.
The second annual holiday auction helps the Grammy Foundation and MusiCares pay for educational programs and help members of the music community who’ve fallen on hard times.
Image Courtesy Sony Music NashvilleKenny Chesney won’t head out on The Big Revival Tour until next year, but he gave fans a foretaste with his free Flora-Bama-Jama show back in August. Two years ago, he did a similar thing, offering his fans a preview of his Brothers of the Sun Tour, with a beachside show on an outdoor stage that turned out to be one of the most memorable of his career.
“The Wildwood, New Jersey show a couple years ago was the most — surprised me a lot,” he recalls. “The connection we had with that audience was unbelievable. Not that — that didn’t surprise me. It was just that in that environment that it would be so wonderful.”
For Kenny, it solidified the notion of his very favorite place to perform his music — the beach.
“It was a learning experience for me, because I love that environment,” he confesses. ” If I could do every show, every show that I do from now on and smell the ocean, that would be really great. And smell fried food and smell spilled beer and see people out there really loving that atmosphere, ’cause it’s the atmosphere that I really love. When I’m busy on the road, and when I’m out there in the middle of the grind, that’s what I think about. So, I loved playing out there in Wildwood, New Jersey that night.”
Fans who can’t wait to see Kenny’s new tour next year can relive the memories on the Internet. The Wildwood, New Jersey show is available on YouTube, while the Flora-Bama-Jama is streaming at CMT.com.