Photo Credit: Randee St. NicholasThe world was saddened to learn of poet and author Maya Angelou's passing Wednesday at age 86. Martina McBride was one of those fortunate enough to get to know Maya in the past few years. It turns out the author was a big fan of Martina's songs like "Independence Day," "A Broken Wing" and "In My Daughter's Eyes." When Martina was honored for her charity work by Redbook magazine at a 2003 gala in New York City, Maya Angelou presented the award to her and said, "Here, take my hand; I celebrate you."
Martina later attended Maya's 2010 birthday party in North Carolina. She says, "Maya Angelou lived her life inspiring, educating, championing, lifting, nourishing, giving, and loving. Her influence on the world, by speaking the truth and sharing her wisdom and her spirit, is immense and unforgettable. She made you want to be a better person. That was her real gift to us all."
Republic NashvilleFlorida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard may seem like a hard-core party animal, singing hits like "This Is How We Roll" and "Get Your Shine On," but the Georgia native is taking care of his inner self with a little yoga practice. On Wednesday morning, Tyler's girlfriend, Hayley Stommel, posted an Instagram photo of the couple stretching on their mats before starting a yoga session with their friend and instructor, Mary Banker.
Tyler is working on his fitness in preparation for next week's CMA Music Festival in Nashville. Catch them on the 2014 CMT Music Awards Wednesday night at 8 ET.
Valory Music Co.Congratulations to Brantley Gilbert on scoring the third-biggest first-sales week of any album so far this year with his latest offering, Just As I Am. According to Nielsen Soundscan, the album sold 211,000 copies for a #1 debut on Billboard's Country Albums chart and a #2 start on the Billboard 200.
Coldplay's new album, Ghost Stories, bows at the top of the overall chart with the best sales week of any album so far in 2014, with 383,000 copies sold. Eric Church has the second-best first-sales week of the year, with The Outsiders moving 288,000 units back in February.
Sandbox EntertainmentLittle Big Town has signed on to host CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock for a second year. The three-hour special tapes next week at CMA Music Festival in Nashville and will air Tuesday, August 5 on ABC.
LBT's Phillip Sweet says, "We could not be more excited to be coming back as hosts for CMA Music Fest. Last year was incredible and we can't wait to be back in LP Field surrounded by 50,000 screaming fans!"
CMA Music Festival takes place June 5 through 8 with Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, and Rascal Flatts among the stars on the bill. Sara Evans, Charlie Daniels Band and Travis Tritt have also been added to the nightly concert lineup at Nashville's LP Field.
Monarch PublicityCraig Campbell is enjoying the biggest hit of his career so far with the romantic song, "Keep Them Kisses Comin'." When he sings the song, Craig usually wears a smile on his face since the lyrics remind him of quality time with his wife, Mindy.
Craig tells ABC News Radio, "One our favorite things to do is just to hang out at the house and pop open a bottle of wine and pile up on the couch, and then the rest is up for imagination."
"Keep Them Kisses Comin'" allows Craig to display a different side to fans.
"You know, I can be sexy," he says. "That's what it's all about."
Craig will perform "Keep Them Kisses Comin'" Thursday night at his show in Mt. Vernon, Indiana.
Warner Music NashvilleColeSwindell had a party in Nashville Tuesday to celebrate his first #1 hit, "Chillin' It," and he and his family arrived at the event in high style.
About a year ago, Cole introduced his mother, Carol, to his record label president, John Esposito, also known as "Espo." When Espo found out Cole's mom had never been to Nashville, he promised to get her a limousine for the #1 party in Nashville if "Chillin' It" ever topped the country chart. He made good on that promise Tuesday, but Cole had to straighten his mother out on the details with the Nashville limo.
Cole explains, "The funny thing is she thought he was sending a limo to Bronwood, Georgia, where I’m from. I was like, 'Mama, that's seven hours. They're not gonna send a limo down there.'"
The trip to Nashville to celebrate her son's success means a lot to Carol. She was heartbroken when Cole left Georgia for Music City, but she feels a lot better now that he's scored a #1 hit. Cole relishes the opportunity to share in that success with his mom and a few other family members who attended Tuesday's party.
"Just seeing the folks that raised me and the folks that are gonna love me if I don't have another hit -- they're here with me to support me," Cole says. "That's why I'm doing it, man. It's awesome."
Cole's new single, "Hope You Get Lonely Tonight," is now starting its climb up the country chart.
Sony Music NashvilleMiranda Lambert's new album, Platinum, doesn't come out until June 3, but you can hear eight tracks from the project now at CMT.com.
Miranda's collaboration with Little Big Town, titled "Smokin' and Drinkin'," is one of the songs now available for streaming along with "Girls," "Little Red Wagon" and "Bathroom Sink." The lead single, "Automatic," and Miranda's duet with Carrie Underwood, "Somethin' Bad," are now available for download as well. Look for Carrie and Miranda to perform that song on the 2014 CMT Music Awards on June 4.
Here are the eight streaming tracks:
"Girls" "Little Red Wagon" "Smokin' and Drinkin'" (featuring Little Big Town) "Old Sh!t" "Babies Makin' Babies" "Holding on to You" "Another Sunday in the South"
Capitol NashvilleLittle Big Town's new single, "Day Drinking," is hitting radio and digital music outlets on June 3, just in time for them to perform it on the 2014 CMT Music Awards on June 4. The band released a teaser video promoting the new single on Tuesday, and it sounds like "Day Drinking" will feature some whistling and big marching band drum sounds.
Band member Jimi Westbrook says, "It makes me think about those summer days when all that's on the agenda is hanging out, relaxing, and having a good time with friends. So, if that's your plan, here's your song! ‘Why don't we do a little day drinking?’"
"Day Drinking" is the lead single from LBT's upcoming album, due out this fall.