Ashley Monroe and Dan + Shay Head “Home for the Holidays”

Warner Bros. NashvilleAshley Monroe and Dan + Shay are set to sing alongside Jennifer Hudson, Train, Earth, Wind & Fire and Katharine McPhee on the upcoming A Home for the Holidays special. This is the 16th year for the Christmas tradition that pairs musical performances with heartwarming stories of children adopted from foster care.  The show airs Friday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

Ashley also recorded a new version of the Amy Grant classic “Tennessee Christmas” for Amazon’s new All Is Bright holiday playlist.


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LBT’s Kimberly Schlapman Wants You to Lend a Ham This Holiday Season

Sandbox EntertainmentThis holiday season, Kimberly Schlapman from Little Big Town wants you to lend a ham. The play on words is part of a campaign to inspire folks to donate food to feed hungry families.

“I’m excited to join Smithfield in their effort to lend a ham to those in need this season,” Kimberly says with a wink. “Since I was a little girl, Smithfield has always been a part of my family’s holiday tradition, and to now have the opportunity to help provide that to someone in need means the world to me.”

For every act of kindness posted on Twitter or the Smithfield Facebook page with the hashtag #LendAHam, the company will donate a serving of protein to a local food bank. Kimberly also teamed up with Smithfield to surprise Thanksgiving shoppers with $100 gift cards, in hopes of inspiring them to do good deeds themselves. You can see the video that captures Kimberly going undercover as a grocery cashier on YouTube.

The campaign goes through Christmas Eve, with Smithfield planning to donate up to a million servings to help feed the hungry this holiday season.


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Trisha Yearwood and Lady A Go Viral for No Shave November

Image Courtesy Vector ManagementTrisha Yearwood and Lady Antebellum are going viral for No Shave November. Typically, for the campaign, men grow beards and mustaches to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. But when Trisha heard about a female friend in the business who vowed not to shave her legs for the month, she decided to help her out, taping a YouTube video that changed the words of her first hit to “She’s Got Leg Hair Like a Boy.”

Then, Lady A got in on the act, with a little help from Meghan Trainor. The trio changed the lyrics of “All About That Bass” to “I’m all about that beard, no stubble.” So far, Team Lady Antebellum has more than tripled its $1,000 fundraising goal, with more than a week still left in the month. Meanwhile, Trisha’s friend has raised nearly thirteen times her $100 goal.


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Lee Ann Womack Adds Steel Guitar to Thanksgiving Day Performance of National Anthem

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.


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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockWhat was Luke Bryan‘s least successful single on the country charts? ANSWER:  “We Rode in Trucks” only made it to number 33 in 2007.



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Darius Rucker Enjoys His European Adventure

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.

 
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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockThe new CD from two-time CMA Vocal Group of the Year the Mavericks will be released February 17 by the Valory Music Co. It’s titled Mono.

When she’s not dueting with Blake Shelton on his new single “Lonely Tonight,” Pistol Annies’ Ashley Monroe is busy finishing up her next solo album with Vince Gill.


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Billy Gilman Reveals He’s Gay

One Voice ProductionsBilly Gilman 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.”


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Miranda Lambert Raises $66,000 for Rescue Dogs

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.

 
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Ty Herndon Comes Out to “Entertainment Tonight”

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.


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