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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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockBrett Eldredge and Ashley Monroe will join Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member John Oates for a concert at Nashville’s City Winery on Monday, January 26 to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation.

Garth Brooks appears on all four hours of NBC’s Today Thursday.

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Dustin Lynch Explains Why He’s No Longer Opening Shows with His Latest Single, “Hell of a Night”

Image Courtesy Broken Bow RecordsDustin Lynch opened his 2014 shows with his brand-new single, “Hell of a Night,” but he’s taken it out of the opening spot now that the song is on the radio. Since Dustin is still building his arsenal of hits, he wants to save his most-recognizable hits, including “Cowboys & Angels” and “Where It’s At,” for later in the show.

Dustin tells ABC News Radio, “We don’t want to play those songs up top, because then people are gonna go, ‘Well, the show’s kind of hit its high spot.’”

Dustin is replacing “Hell of a Night” in the opening spot with another new song, “To the Sky,” which is all about the concert experience.

“It’s about just having hands in the air and drinks in the air and girls in the air,” Justin explains. “It’s about that moment — those moments that I get to share a lot of times throughout the year with my fans.”

That moment Dustin hits the stage every night is a big energy rush for the singer and his fans, too.

He says, “A lot of people get there four or five hours early, and they’re just standing, waiting. So, when we hit the stage, that first song, the phones are out, the Snapchats are going off, and they’re videoing and taking the pictures.”

While some artists don’t like fans taking photos and videos during their concerts, Dustin admits he has his phone out when he attends concerts as a fan. Plus, he sees the benefit of having his fans plaster his concert photos and videos all over the Internet.

Dustin says, “When they post it to social media and to Snapchat, it’s the whole, ‘Wish you were here,’ or ‘You shoulda came.’ So, it’s a great advertisement, too, for us.”

Dustin heads out with Luke Bryan on the That’s My Kind of Night tour starting February 10 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Reba Thanks Fans for Taking “Going Out Like That” to #1 on iTunes Country Songs Chart

Image Courtesy BMLG/StarstruckReba released her brand-new single, “Going Out Like That,” on Monday, and it hit #1 on the iTunes Country Songs chart in the U.S. and Canada in a matter of hours. It’s just the latest achievement in the Country Music Hall of Fame member’s storied career.

Says Reba, “One thing that has been a constant in my career is the loyalty of fans. I am so grateful to them for their confidence and passion in taking ‘Going Out Like That’ to #1!”

The excitement over Reba’s new song led other country stars, like Blake Shelton and Little Big Town, to tweet  about the iTunes release, too. “Going Out Like That” is the lead single from Reba’s new album, due out this April.

In June, Reba teams up with Brooks & Dunn for a residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Go to for a full list of tour dates.

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Brad Paisley, Joe Don Rooney and John Rich Pay Respects to Late Little Jimmy Dickens

Image Courtesy Chris Hollo/Grand Ole OpryRascal FlattsJoe Don Rooney, Brad Paisley, John Rich and Vince Gill were among the stars paying their respects to Little Jimmy Dickens at the late Opry star’s visitation Tuesday in Nashville. According to The Tennessean, Opry stars Jeannie Seely and Bill Anderson were also on hand sharing remembrances of Jimmy, who passed away last Friday at age 94.

Little Jimmy Dickens will be remembered with a Celebration of Life Service Wednesday morning at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

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David Nail Benefits from a Random Act of Kindness

Image Courtesy MCA NashvilleDavid Nail benefited from a random act of kindness Wednesday morning in Nashville. He was out in the freezing temperatures to fill up his car with gas when it happened.

David tweeted, “To the person who prepaid $20 on the gas pump I pulled up to, thank you. I love this stuff! Now gotta find a way to pay it forward.”

David is enjoying some downtime at home before heading back on the road February 7 with a show in Illinois.

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockWhat is the title of Jerrod Niemann‘s first #1 hit from 2010? ANSWER: “Lover, Lover.”

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Tim McGraw Announces Follow-Up to Latest #1 Hit, “Shotgun Rider”

Image Courtesy Big Machine RecordsTim McGraw is following up his #1 hit, “Shotgun Rider,” with “Diamond Rings and Old Bar Stools,” a duet with his cousin, Catherine Dunn. Tim tells Rolling Stone, “It’s a good country song with a real bite to it.”

Tim goes on to say he doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about musical trends, but he does stay up-to-date with the current artists, including “Take Me to Church” singer, Hozier.

Tim says, “I love that record. It’s probably one of my favorites of the year.”

Tim’s hit with wife Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s,” is up for two Grammy Awards. Those trophies will be handed out Sunday, February 8 in a ceremony airing on CBS.

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“American Idol” Returns for a 14th Season Tonight with “Really Good,” “Really Surprising” Contestants

Image Courtesy FoxIs this the year that American Idol stages a big comeback?  We’ll find out, starting tonight, as the 14th season of the once-legendary Fox reality competition premieres at 8 p.m. ET.

Last year, viewers were positive about the show’s new judging panel, featuring Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr., all of whom are returning this year.  But still, USA Today reports that for season 13, ratings were down for the third year straight, and for the first time, the show was out-gunned by NBC’s The Voice.  Then, longtime Idol mainstay Randy Jackson left the show, Coca Cola pulled out as a sponsor, and later this season, the show will cut back to just one night a week.

On the positive side, the show is adding a new mentor, Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Records and the man who turned Taylor Swift and Florida Georgia Line into superstars.  And the judges are bullish on this year’s batch of contestants. 

“There’s probably, maybe, five, six, seven people that I think are really gonna be duking it out, and then all the others that we’ve chosen have shown sides that are really surprising,” says judge Keith Urban. “When they get the right song, they really step up. It’s that classic thing where the dark horse can just completely trump the expected winner, and I think there’s gonna be a lot of that happening this season.”

Keith is also happy about the addition of Borchetta.  “I think it’s terrific,” he says. “I think he’s got such a good sense of how to find great talent and how to make the right record and get the right people assembled. I think he’s going to be an extraordinary addition to the whole family.”

Asked what’s changed about this season, host Ryan Seacrest jokes to ABC News Radio, “Jen has a whole new closet of shoes. So her shoes are very different this year. We’ve auditioned some of the shoes. And we’ve also auditioned the contestants.”

Seriously, the host adds, “We brought back a bunch to Hollywood who are really good. They’re all very different…there’s a lot of different textures on the show this year, so looking forward to introducing that crop to the audience.”

As for Scott Borchetta, the newest member of the family, he tells ABC News Radio, “You know, I’m having a blast. Working with these kids, it’s what we do every day at the Big Machine Label Group, as far as developing talent. So the fact that we can get in there and work with them now, before they win….when we’ve been involved with other shows, we don’t get to even talk to them until after they’ve won.” 

He adds, “Now, we have an opportunity to start very early on and really help them develop and make sure they’re ready for what their life could look like after they win.”

Borchetta notes though, that these days, if you want to win a reality singing competition, it takes a lot more than just a killer voice.

“What these shows have done is they’ve kind of leveled the playing field for great singers,” he explains. “So now, you have to be a great singer, but a lot more. You’ve got to have artistic vision, you’ve got to be great socially, et cetera. So I think there’s a real opportunity for us to go in and make them aware of all the things that they need to be, you know, to, to win this and be successful in 2015.”

What fans may be most excited about this season is the prospect of not having to sit through the dreaded results show.  As Borchetta explains, that’s a very good thing.

“In this media moment, we can tell the whole story in one night,” he says. “So many times, whether it’s Idol or The Voice or some of these other shows, that second night you’re going, ‘Alright, I’m waiting around all this time just to get to the last three minutes.’ So now you don’t have to. So now it will be a really great episode every night and every night counts, which I think is, is really important.”

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