Kelsea Ballerini Gives a Voice to Her Female Fans on Debut Album, “The First Time”

Black River EntertainmentKelsea Ballerini had a hand in writing every song on her debut album, The First Time, including the lead single, “Love Me Like You Mean It.” While she considered cutting a few songs by other writers around Nashville, Kelsea ultimately decided recording her own songs would be the best way to introduce herself to country fans.

She tells ABC Radio, “I wanted it to be the best album that it could be, but I also wanted it to be my album. I’ve been writing since I was 12. I signed my publishing deal with 240 songs, so I just had a ton to sort through.”

The result is a collection of songs that capture Kelsea’s confident approach to life while also showing her vulnerable side on songs like “Second Hand Smoke,” which addresses her parents’ divorce. Even when the subject matter is sad, Kelsea works to include a twist in the lyrics to provide a positive spin on things for both the singer and her audience.

“I am a girl. I struggle with insecurities all day, every day,” Kelsea admits, “but even when I get to sing these songs, it helps me to remember to be confident and remember to stand up for myself and that kind of stuff. But I think it’s really important for girls to have that voice, and I just kinda want to be that for them.”

Kelsea’s empowering message is getting across through her debut hit, “Love Me Like You Mean It.” As the song hits the top 10 at country radio, Kelsea is amazed to hear fans singing every word of the song during her concerts.

She says, “I mean, it’s my first single. It’s my first time experiencing all of this. So, that’s all you could ever ask for.”

The First Time is now available in stores and at all digital outlets.


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Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Sam Hunt and More Featured on “Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 8″

Image Courtesy UMG NashvilleThe eighth volume of the Now That’s What I Call Country series is due out June 9 featuring hits from Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Sam Hunt and many more. There are 18 tracks in all, including 14 #1 hits. Look for the compilation in stores and on all digital outlets.

Here’s the Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 8 track listing:

Luke Bryan –“Roller Coaster”
Jason Aldean — “Just Getting’ Started”
Sam Hunt — “Leave the Night On”
Darius Rucker — “Homegrown Honey”
Florida Georgia Line — “Sun Daze”
Jake Owen — “Beachin'”
Brantley Gilbert — “Bottoms Up”
Eric Church — “Give Me Back My Hometown”
Lady Antebellum — “Bartender”
A Thousand Horses — “Smoke”
Cole Swindell — “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey”
Keith Urban — “Somewhere in My Car”
Miranda Lambert — “Automatic”
Brad Paisley — “Perfect Storm”
Tyler Farr — “A Guy Walks into a Bar”
Lee Brice — “Drinking Class”
Chris Young — “Lonely Eyes”
Eric Paslay — “She Don’t Love You”


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Randy Houser Looks Back on the Big Break David Letterman Gave Him in 2008

Image Courtesy Stoney CreekAs David Letterman prepares to host his last installment of The Late Show May 20, Randy Houser is looking back on the big break the host gave him back in 2008.

Before he became a regular at #1 on the country charts, Randy was struggling to break through with his emotional debut single, “Anything Goes.” Letterman heard the song while working on his ranch, loved it, and booked Randy to perform a special version of the song on The Late Show.

Randy tells Rolling Stone, “He loved the second verse of the song so much he wanted to hear it twice. The arrangement was literally in Dave’s request. ‘Anything Goes’ was the first single I ever put out, maybe in the fifties on the chart at the time.”

Letterman is known for taking a chance on new artists, as he did recently booking country newcomer Chris Stapleton to perform on The Late Show.

Randy says of Letterman’s music booking approach, “It doesn’t have to be a big hit — if Dave digs it, he pushes it.”


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Carrie Underwood Releases Live Performance Video for “Little Toy Guns”

Image Courtesy Jeremy Cowart/SonyCarrie Underwood has posted a live performance of her latest hit, “Little Toy Guns,” on Yahoo! Music.  The clip is part of the outlet’s Ram Country series and was taped in Nashville.

“Little Toy Guns” is the second single from Carrie’s Greatest Hits: Decade #1 compilation. She’s expected to perform the song on the Grand Ole Opry on June 9.


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Miranda Lambert Reveals How Blake Shelton Helps Her Keep from Stressing Out

Image Courtesy SuccessMiranda Lambert is opening up about the role husband Blake Shelton has played in helping her maintain her platinum-selling country career. While she used to freak out about every little thing that didn’t go her way, Blake has inspired her to pick her battles and relax a little bit when it comes to business.

Miranda says in the cover story of Success magazine‘s June issue, “I never take a deep breath or just sit on the couch. Blake can just let it all go, and I’m trying to do more of that because you need downtime to be re-inspired and not wear yourself down. But it’s hard.”

Reaching the top of the country music world also has helped Miranda let go of the chip she had on her shoulder as a new artist.

She adds, “I think once you’ve proved your point, you don’t have to scream. With a little bit of success, I calmed down. I realized people were listening to me.”

For more of Miranda’s interview, check out the June issue of Success magazine, on stands now.


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Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line Headed to “Good Morning America” This Summer

Image Courtesy CMASeveral country stars are included in the lineup for Good Morning America‘s Summer Concert Series on ABC. Dierks Bentley will perform on GMA live from Central Park June 26. Luke Bryan will follow on August 7, and Florida Georgia Line will close the series out on September 4.

Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj and WALK THE MOON are among the other acts GMA has lined up this summer.



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Country Stars React to B.B. King’s Death

Image Courtesy Kevin WestenbergCountry stars are sharing their remembrances of blues legend B.B. King, who died Thursday at the age of 89 after years of ill health. Here’s a round-up of their reactions:

Brad Paisley: “Sad to hear B.B. King has left us. I loved collaborating with him, loved his music, & his spirit. He changed music forever. God bless him.”

Lee Brice: “B.B. King. My heart just broke into a million pieces. Not enough space to describe my feelings of the man. Legend, pure, real, teacher.”

The Band Perry: “RIP #BBKing… One of the true greats.”

Frankie Ballard: “The thrill most certainly is gone…The King of the Blues has gone home. Lucille is without her man.”

Chris Young: “Rest in Peace B.B.King… Met him in a hotel lobby in New York when I was 16. So much great music and such a kind man.”



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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockJake Owen grew up in which Florida town? ANSWER: Vero Beach.


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Country’s Collaborative Spirit on Display with Tonight’s “ACM Presents: Superstar Duets” Special

Heather Wines/CBSCountry’s biggest stars ranging from Luke Bryan and Kenny Chesney to Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley are featured on the ACM Presents: Superstar Duets special Friday night on CBS. Most of the artists are collaborating with either their peers or one of their country star heroes. Keith Urban teams up with John Anderson to perform “Swingin'” on the special, and Keith says this idea for a country duets special is a good fit for the format.

“Our genre’s got such a great history of legendary duets, you know, all the way from Conway [Twitty] and Loretta [Lynn] to Dolly [Parton] and Porter [Wagoner],” Keith says. “The list goes on and on. I’ve been lucky to have a few on this last record, too, including the one right now with Eric Church, [‘Raise ‘Em Up’]. So, I’m all about the collaborative spirit.”

Brett Eldredge and Hunter Hayes team up to salute the late Marty Robbins with a performance of his 1959 classic “El Paso.” The ballad is a favorite of Brett’s with its Spanish guitar introduction and tale of love and murder in the Wild West.

Says Brett, “It takes you to that place. ‘Out in the West Texas town of El Paso,’…as soon as you hear that, you’re there, and that’s what I love about songwriting and music, and Marty Robbins was a master at that.”

Lady Antebellum and Brandy Clark duet on the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers classic “Islands in the Stream,” and Sam Hunt joins Dwight Yoakam on Dwight’s ’90s hit, “Fast as You.” Jake Owen, Alabama, Eli Young Band, Brantley Gilbert, Brooks & Dunn, Reba, Darius Rucker and Sara Evans are among the other stars performing on ACM Presents: Superstar Duets Friday night at 9 ET on CBS.


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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockJake Owen is featured on the song “Back Home” from pop outfit Owl City‘s new album, Mobile Orchestra, coming out July 10.

Chase Bryant will host the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Annual Words & Music Night May 21 in Nashville. The program will feature local students performing the songs they have written as part of the Hall of Fame’s education program.


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