Keith Urban Working with Chic Guitarist/Producer Nile Rodgers to Create “EDM-Country”

CMAKeith Urban is the latest country artist experimenting with EDM sounds. He’s been working in the studio with Chic guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers, who was recently featured on the Daft Punk hit “Get Lucky.”

According to Yahoo Music, the songs feature Keith’s banjo playing along with Nile’s signature guitar riffs to create something Nile calls “EDM-Country.” The rough tracks feature those instruments set to a club beat with Keith singing urgently on top of it all.

Nile says, “I really pushed him to sing at the top of his range. Keith was nervous about it; he wanted to do another take. But I told him I loved the way it sounds.”

Keith and Nile first met at a pre-Grammy party in February and instantly hit it off. No word on whether or not their collaboration will make the cut for Keith’s as-yet-untitled studio album, due out later this year. The lead single from that project, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” is now climbing the country chart.

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Dolly Parton Honors Kansas School Teacher with the 2015 Chasing Rainbows Award

Webster PRDolly Parton presented Kansas teacher Dyane Smokorowski with the Chasing Rainbows Award from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. The honor recognizes an outstanding educator who “has overcome great obstacles in his or her life, has captured the rainbow and is helping children.”

The presentation happened at Dollywood in East Tennessee. Dolly was the first recipient of the Chasing Rainbows Award in 2002 in honor of her worldwide reading program, The Imagination Library. She has gone on to present the Chasing Rainbows award every year since then.

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Chris Pratt Reveals Eric Church’s Role in Shaping His “Jurassic World” Performance

CMAIf you’ve caught Chris Pratt starring in the summer blockbuster Jurassic World, you might have noticed a little bit of Eric Church‘s trademark swagger in Chris’s performance. In an interview with GQ, Chris reveals he had “Dark Side,” a song from Eric’s album, The Outsiders, on repeat while making Jurassic World. He even said Eric’s name in a mantra he repeated before before the camera rolled: “Flow core, no TC, volume up point five, Eric Church.”

As for the rest of the mantra, GQ explains, ” ‘Flow core’ to remind him of his posture when he was paddleboarding. ‘Volume up point five’ to remind him to make his voice slightly louder. And as for ‘No TC’, that’s to remind Pratt to lead with his forehead, in a phrase only a formerly fat man would think to use: No triple chin.

Chris Pratt is on the cover of GQ’s July issue, on sale now.

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Jason, Luke and Dierks Team Up for Superstar Fishing Trip in Florida

Broken Bow RecordsTalk about a dream fishing trip. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley all went out on a boat together in Florida Wednesday and caught a huge snapper.

Jason posted a photo on Instagram of the trio posing with their big catch. The caption reads, “Had a blast today fishin’ with my boys.” He added the hashtags #rippinlipsfloridastyle and #snapperfordinner.

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Kelsea Ballerini Feels the Love from Fellow Country Stars After Hitting #1 at Country Radio

John Russell/CMAKelsea Ballerini had a little party with her friend Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum Monday night to celebrate her debut single, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” going to #1. The get-together took place at Hillary’s house in Nashville, and Kelsea posted a photo from the party on Instagram.


REPOST FROM @kelseaballerini: “celebrating. love these sweet friends.” ??????

A photo posted by Hillary Scott (@hillaryscottla) on Jun 22, 2015 at 9:57pm PDT


Several other stars posted their congratulations to Kelsea on Twitter:

Carrie Underwood — “Looks like @KelseaBallerini has a #1 on her hands! So awesome! Congrats…to the first of many! Looks like @KelseaBallerini has a #1 on her hands! So awesome! Congrats…to the first of many! #GirlPower #WomenRock”

Little Big Town — “Congrats to this babe on her first number one!!! We’re so proud of you. @kelseaballerini #LoveMeLikeYouMeanIt.

Dierks Bentley — “congrats to @KelseaBallerini on 1st number one! your next song dibs is money too. don’t know you but happy for ya!”

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Kacey Musgraves Taking Her Country & Western Rhinestone Revue to the US and Europe

Sandbox EntertainmentKacey Musgraves will kick off her new tour, The Kacey Musgraves Country & Western Rhinestone Revue, August 27 in Atlanta. The trek will include iconic venues through the U.S. and Europe including Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, The Apollo Theatre in New York City and London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Kacey is launching the new tour in support of her sophomore album, Pageant Material, in stores today. Tickets go on sale Friday, June 26.

Here are Kacey’s tour dates.  You can find more info at

8/27 — Atlanta, GA, The Buckhead Theatre
9/11 — Los Angeles, CA, The Wiltern
9/18 — St. Louis, MO, The Pageant
9/23 — Nashville, TN, Ryman Auditorium
10/1 — Detroit, MI, Royal Oak Music Theatre
10/3 — Philadelphia, PA, The Trocadero Theatre
10/9 — New Orleans, LA, The Howlin’ Wolf
10/11 — Tulsa, OK, Cains Ballroom
10/15 — Charlottesville, VA, Paramount Theater
10/16 — Washington, D.C., Lincoln Theatre
10/23 — New Haven, CT, College Street Music Hall
10/24 — New York, NY, Apollo Theater
11/9 — Gateshead, UK, Sage Gateshead
11/10 —  Birmingham, UK, The Institute
11/12 — Dublin, Ireland, Dublin Academy
11/15 — Glasgow, UK, Glasgow ABC
11/16 — Manchester, UK, Albert Hall
11/18 — London, UK, Royal Albert Hall
11/20 — Hamburg, Germany, Knust
11/22 — Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Melkweg

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockMiranda Lambert‘s boutique, The Pink Pistol, and her bed and breakfast, The Ladysmith, are located on the main drag in which Oklahoma town? ANSWER: Tishomingo.

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Canaan Smith Developed His Sound for a Decade in Nashville Before Making Debut Album, “Bronco”

Mercury NashvilleCanaan Smith‘s debut album, Bronco, is out this week, featuring his breakthrough hit, “Love You Like That.” Beyond the lead single, Canaan is excited for you to hear the unique sound he’s been developing on the road for the past decade. During that time, Canaan has been like a sponge, picking up whatever he can from the great singers and songwriters he’s met in Nashville over the years.

Canaan tells ABC Radio, “I’m impressed by the people around me, and it encourages me when I see something great or hear something great, it encourages me to go put it into a practice, back to the drawing board, [and figure out] how to become a better version of me because of what I’m inspired by.”

After years of keeping his mind open to new sounds and pushing his own musical boundaries, Canaan feels he’s got his own style that sets him apart from the rest of the male country singer crowd.

Canaan says of developing his music, “You finally realize, ‘Oh, all these songs that I’ve been trying to do new things on actually have their own sound, and I guess that’s my sound. Cool. I think we found something.'”

As for what his listeners will discover about him while listening to Bronco, Canaan says, “They’re gonna learn about my stomping grounds. They’re gonna learn the kind of guy I am. They’re gonna learn about the loss of my brother to a car accident when I was younger. They’re gonna learn about relationships gone wrong, relationships gone right.”

Most importantly, he adds, “They’ll probably find a big piece of themselves in these songs as they’re learning about me.”

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockBlake Shelton will be back as a coach for the ninth season of NBC’s The Voice on Monday, September 21 at 8 p.m. ET.

Jake Owen‘s new video for “Real Life” premieres Saturday, June 27 on CMT.

Hunter Hayes‘ video for “21” premieres this Saturday on the CMT Hot 20 Countdown.

Rascal FlattsJay DeMarcus and his wife, Allison, open up their Nashville home to ABC’s The Chew on Monday, June 29.

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Kacey Musgraves Feeling Laid Back, Opinionated and a Little Glamorous on “Pageant Material”

Mercury NashvilleKacey Musgraves is dressed up like an elegant, ’60s beauty queen on the cover of her new album, Pageant Material, and that look captures the feel of the album, too. While a few tracks maintain the stripped-down arrangements she used on her debut, Same Trailer Different Park, you’ll hear a lot more strings and lush arrangements backing up Kacey on the new project.

“I just was really kind of going for more of a concise, just classic feel this time,” Kacey explains. “You know, like all the records that I really love, like Glen Campbell and Willie [Nelson]. I think of Bobbie Gentry or whatever, they had a sound like that, that you knew this was this record, this was this time period, this was this chapter, and yeah, I wanted to capture that.”

Don’t worry that Kacey has put aside the straight-talking lyrical style that put her on the map, though. Since she made such a splash with “Merry Go Round” and the CMA Song of the Year, “Follow Your Arrow,” Kacey chose to stay the course when it comes to speaking her mind on Pageant Material.

She says, “It would be easy to feel a lot of pressure second time around, but because the first one was received really well, and because I just got to be myself and do my thing on it, it made me feel like, ‘Well, just do that again, and hopefully people will like it.'”

Given the recent success of Kacey’s label mates Little Big Town and their throwback hit, “Girl Crush,” it would seem Kacey’s sound might find a home at country radio. She’s not exactly sure why the lead single from Pageant Material, “Biscuits,” failed to make a dent on the country chart. Even though Kacey’s music sells better than some #1 country radio hits, she hasn’t fared well when it comes to the research numbers radio stations use to program their music.

Says Kacey, “I get that there’s data that radio stations use to make decisions, but music isn’t about data, and I think they’re wrong in a lot of ways. Sometimes in radio, a song could be selling, like, its a** off on iTunes, but it’s not researching well, and I don’t know what that means, you know?”

Part of Kacey’s difficulty getting on country radio could stem from the format’s long-held belief that playing female acts isn’t good for ratings. While Kacey says she isn’t educated enough on the workings of that system to comment on it, she adds, “I can say, however, though, that if I hear a female that makes great music, there’s nothing that’s gonna stop me from listening to her, besides probably a radio station. I don’t know.”

If Kacey’s new music never makes it to the top of the country radio charts, she’s not going to lose any sleep over it. Her outlook on the whole situation can be summed up in a line from Pageant Material’s title track: “I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t.”

Look for Kacey to promote Pageant Material with performances on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday and The View on Wednesday.

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