Kenny Chesney Celebrates Spiritual Attributes of Women in Latest #1 Hit, “Wild Child”

Sony Music Nashville/Blue ChairKenny Chesney scores his third consecutive #1 country hit from The Big Revival this week with “Wild Child.” The ballad features Grace Potter on harmony vocals and celebrates the spiritual attributes of women in a time when many country songs focus solely on their physical qualities.

Kenny says, “It was everything I wanted to say about what makes a woman alluring…about those things that capture your imagination and make you want to be closer. It certainly wasn’t the norm of what was happening with country radio, but it felt like something I wanted people to remember, to think about.”

Kenny thanks country radio for “thinking outside the box” on “Wild Child.” He adds, “Your support made this possible.”

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Chris Young Surprises His Former Music Teacher with Grant for Classroom Funds

Sony Music NashvilleChris Young surprised his former Seigel High school music teacher, Brenda Gregory, with a $2,500 grant for classroom funds Saturday in Nashville. She was giving a music lesson at the CMA Music Festival’s Fan Fair X when Chris surprised her with the check. Chris teamed up with Farmers Insurance Thank America’s Teacher initiative to make the donation possible.

Chris tells People, “She is so deserving. Ms. Gregory has always been supportive of my musical side, both in and outside of school. I’m glad I had a chance to help recognize all her hard work.”

Chris goes on to say his favorite memory of his former teacher is the time she took their school choir to London to perform.

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockCarrie Underwood hails from which Oklahoma town? ANSWER: Checotah.

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Toby Keith Says Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Is His “Ultimate Trophy”

Show Dog/UniversalToby Keith has about 60 or 70 awards at his home in Oklahoma, but his Songwriters Hall of Fame induction coming up Monday night trumps them all.

Toby tells The Oklahoman, “This is my ultimate trophy. There’ll never be anything you can give me that’s bigger than this.”

Toby goes on to say he’s shocked some of his own songwriting heroes aren’t in the Songwriters Hall of Fame yet.  “Merle Haggard‘s not in there,” Toby says. “Roger Miller‘s not in there. And I’m gonna champion both those guys when I get there.”

Toby will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame at a formal ceremony Monday night at New York City’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockGrand Ole Opry star Jim Ed Brown‘s funeral will take place Monday morning at 10 a.m. CT at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. The service is open to the public.

Keith Urban presented Brad Paisley with the CMA’s International Artist Achievement Award Sunday night prior to their respective performances at the CMA Music Festival concert at LP Field in Nashville.

Kacey Musgraves performed “Family Is Family” on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers last week. The song is included on her new album, Pageant Material, due out June 23.

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CMA Music Festival Wraps Up with Performances from Carrie, Luke, Zac Brown Band and Many More

CMAHere’s a roundup of what the stars said over the weekend backstage at the CMA Music Festival’s nightly concerts at LP Field in Nashville:

Carrie Underwood returned to the concert stage at the CMA Music Festival over the weekend after giving birth to her son, Isaiah, earlier this year. The appearance came just days after she performed at the CMT Music Awards, and Carrie feels great being back amongst her fans.

She says of the CMT performance, “I was nervous just because I had been away from big, public events for a while. This is one of the funnest weeks we have in country music, and it really is all about the fans, and I definitely felt very welcomed at the CMT Awards.”

Isaiah is the first child for Carrie and husband, Mike Fisher, but they’ve had their dogs Ace and Penny for quite a while now. Carrie thought Ace would really bond with Isaiah, but that hasn’t been the case.

Carrie says, “The puppy that I thought would be super-excited about the baby has ended up kind of being a little sad, I think. His world has definitely been rocked. I thought he would be my playful one and my sweet one, and he’s kind of ignored Isaiah.”

As for Penny, Carrie adds, “The one I thought would be my problem child, my problem dog has actually been the super-sweet, cuddly one towards him.”

Carrie feels like all of her babies will eventually live in harmony.

She says, “[The dogs will] love him once he starts dropping food and things like that. They’re gonna be best friends.”

— CMA Music Festival gives Luke Bryan the chance to play for tens of thousands of fans just miles away from his house in Nashville.

Before taking the stage at Music City’s LP Field, Luke said, “It’s a great, great week for me. And then I get to be home and do all this stuff. I was at the house playing with the boys and came in.”

Proceeds from the CMA Music Festival go to the CMA Foundation’s efforts to fund music education programs in Nashville and around the country. Participating in music programs at his school helped Luke prepare for his current career headlining stadiums on his Kick the Dust Up tour.

He says, being a pro is similar “when you look at the pressures of being a kid, having to perform at state, high-intensity state competitions and how you learned about the show always goes on kinda deal.”

That experience came into play as Luke recently played Denver’s Mile High Stadium and rainstorms put them 10 hours behind schedule setting up the stage.

Luke was also fighting a bad cold at that show, but he adds, “The show went on, and that’s all a part of show business. So yeah, I think that [music education] was laying the framework and the groundwork. At the time I didn’t know it. At the time I was just being a kid.”

As for the school musicals he starred in growing up in Georgia, Luke says, “I was not a good actor, but I was lucky enough to have this big ‘ol loud theater voice that always kind of put me in really, really high-profile roles in that world, but yeah, it was fun doing that.”

Zac Brown Band returned to the CMA Music Festival for a performance at LP Field over the weekend. After their set, the guys stuck around to see some of the other superstars on the bill. The festival’s stellar lineup makes it a big treat for the fans, according to Zac Brown.

He says, “They know they’re gonna get to see a lot of the folks that are out and about and touring and playing and everything. It’s exciting for us. Everybody’s ramped up.”

Zac adds, “We’re glad to be here as always.”

Little Big Town‘s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman were giddy when they interviewed Tim McGraw last year for the annual CMA Music Festival special on ABC. This year, the man People magazine named the Hottest Guy in Country Music, Dierks Bentley, had Karen and Kimberly majorly crushing.

Kimberly says, “We interviewed Dierks a couple days ago, and we were sitting back in the dressing room very casually. ‘Oh, this is gonna be easy and fine. We’ll figure it out on the fly,’ and then when we got up there, my armpits started sweating and my hands started shaking. I was like, ‘Oh Lord, it’s Dierks Bentley. What am I gonna say?'”

Dierks was a little embarrassed to have Karen and Kimberly fawning over him, but Karen adds, “It was good. It’s gonna make for good TV.”

Karen also loves seeing acts like Brett Eldredge and Sam Hunt make their debut at LP Field during CMA Music Festival.

She says, “Just the excitement when they come off that stage. That’s my very favorite thing.”

Little Big Town hosts the CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock special August 4 on ABC.

Randy Houser last played LP Field at the CMA Music Festival in 2010, but he had a lot more #1 hits to play for his fans when he returned to the big show this weekend.

“I think this is the first time I’ll get to play it where actually anybody might know who I am,” Randy joked before going on stage.

As for the crowd in Nashville for the CMA Music Festival, Randy says, “This is the cream of the crop, elite country music fans from all over the country and all over the world are here.”

— Money raised from ticket sales at the CMA Music Festival benefit the CMA Foundation’s music education programs across the country, and that cause is very dear to the heart of Lady Antebellum‘s Dave Haywood. He grew up playing clarinet in the high school band as well as guitar in the school’s jazz band. His sister is a music teacher back home in Georgia, so Dave still feels the impact of school music programs to this day.

He says, “It’s so critical when I hear stories that she tells about how this music impacts people and it really affects these families in a powerful way. It did me, and it did mine, and I’ve always been a proponent for it.”

Over the past few years, the CMA Foundation has donated millions of dollars to music education thanks to CMA Music Festival ticket sales.

“It’s exciting to see that organizations like this can make an impact in that way,” Dave says. “Because it’s such a great form of development for people. Such a great form of, for me, it was camaraderie, friendship.

Chris Young celebrated his 30th birthday Friday night at a low-key party with his friends and family.

Says Chris, “[I] actually had two of my friends play, and then we had karaoke, which was awesome.”

Chris didn’t stay out too late, though. He had to be at the CMA Music Festival’s Fan Fair X Saturday morning to sign autographs and do a question-and-answer session with fans in town from around the world. He then played a set at LP Field Saturday night.

Chris says, “There were people in my meet-and-greet from Australia and the U.K. and Canada. It’s so great to see that, to be a part of it, especially at LP Field, and just to see the CMA doing such big things for country music during this week.”

As a special birthday present, reps from Chris’s record label surprised him at LP Field with a gold record plaque to celebrate his album, Neon, hitting the 500,000-sales mark. He just turned in his upcoming fifth album to the label. It’s due out later this year.

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Sam Hunt Trying to Find a Way to Write New Songs While on the Road

UMG/McClisterSam Hunt requires a very specific environment in order to write hit songs like “Take Your Time” and “House Party,” so that makes it difficult for him to come up with new songs while on the road.

Sam tells Entertainment Tonight, “A lot of artists write on the road but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. I kind of have my little OCD wood shed at my house where everything is just right when I go write. I haven’t figured take that on the road yet.”

Now that he’s starting to think about recording his sophomore album, Sam is looking for a solution to help him write songs and tour at the same time. Sam is currently on the road with Lady Antebellum‘s Wheels Up tour.

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Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton and More Featured on Upcoming Don Henley Album

James GladerMiranda Lambert, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood are featured on Don Henley‘s new album, Cass County, his first solo project in 15 years. According to Rolling Stone, the Eagles singer/drummer also recruited Merle Haggard, Alison Krauss, Mick Jagger and Dolly Parton to sing on the album.

As for why he’s going with a country flavor for the new album, Henley says, “I’m a Southerner and a Texan.  I have ancestors in Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia.  So this is a natural progression for me.  It’s not me trying to do the ‘Don Henley country album.’  It’s who I am and where I come from.”

An official relate date hasn’t been set for Henley’s new album.

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Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard Planning a Chill Wedding Day with Fiancée, Hayley

Republic NashvilleFlorida Georgia Line‘s Tyler Hubbard will tie the knot with his fiancée, Hayley, in just a few weeks. When it came to planning the big day, Tyler had to make sure his groomsmen knew the dress code.

He says, ” I just pretty much had to make sure my guys had their clothes right, but Miss Hayley really did a great job and we have a great wedding planner.”

Since Florida Georgia Line is headlining massive concerts several days a week, Tyler and Hayley are working hard to make sure their wedding doesn’t become a hassle.

“[We] try to take as much stress out of that situation as possible, “Tyler explains. “The last thing you want to do is be stressed out when you get married. So, we’re just chilling.”

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Rascal Flatts Adds New Band Members and Backup Singers for Riot Tour

Big Machine RecordsRascal Flatts kicks off the third weekend of their Riot Tour Friday night in Virginia, so we asked bass player Jay DeMarcus how the brand-new live show is working out so far.

“Oh, the tour. It’s awful,” Jay says before adding, “No, I’m kidding.”

In fact, Jay says the Riot tour is up there among his favorites among any trek they’ve  done in the past 10 years.  He explains, “We’ve got a new infusion of some new band guys up there with us. We’ve got three of the best background singers in the city of Nashville behind us, and they kill it every night. It’s new and exciting for us.”

Having those new players and singers in the mix helps the Flatts deliver a fresh show to the fans who come to see them year after year.  “This show is different than anything we’ve ever done before, and I’m having a blast,” Jay says.

For a list of tour dates, go to RascalFlatts.com.

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