Blake Shelton Will Be Host and Musical Guest on “Saturday Night Live” January 24

Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleBlake Shelton will be the host and musical guest on NBC’s Saturday Night Live January 24. He joins the ranks of Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Taylor Swift as country artists who have performed double-duty on the show. Of course, Blake is one of NBC’s biggest stars these days, thanks to his role as a coach on The Voice.

It doesn’t look like Blake’s wife, Miranda Lambert, will be making a cameo on SNL, though. She’s got a show in West Virginia that night.

Blake was also rumored to be performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl coming up February 1, but his rep tells ABC News Radio those reports are false.

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Garth Brooks Taking World Tour to Denver March 20 and 21

Image Courtesy Pearl/RCAGarth Brooks is taking his World Tour to Denver for the first time in more than 18 years. As always, Trisha Yearwood is on the bill with Garth for the two shows, set for March 20 and 21 at the Pepsi Center. Tickets go on sale Friday, January 16 at or 1-844-63GARTH.

Garth may add more shows once ticket demand is determined on the on-sale date.

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Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockMiranda Lambert and Chris Young both got their first national TV exposure competing on which singing competition? ANSWER: Nashville Star.

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Scotty McCreery Digging Deeper into His Country Roots on Next Studio Album

Image Courtesy Mercury NashvilleScotty McCreery first got the nation’s attention trying out for American Idol with Josh Turner‘s decidedly country hit, “Your Man.” Since winning Idol in 2011, Scotty has blended his love of classic country with the current pop-influenced sounds of today to produce hits like “See You Tonight.” That’s all changing with his next album, though.

Scotty tells Rolling Stone, “I’m going to make a country music record. That’s what I had to try to convey to the label, and they were all for it. The stuff I grew up with was that kind of music — I want to have some depth and portray a different side.”

Scotty will be writing a lot more on his new album, which he expects to release later this year.

“I love songwriting,” he says. “It’s a way to explore what’s going on upstairs.”

Look for Scotty’s next single to be the lead release from the new album.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockKenny Rogers will reunite with the original members of The First Edition for a panel discussion at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville Saturday, January 17. The program is being presented in conjunction with Kenny’s current Hall of Fame exhibit, Kenny Rogers: Though the Years.

Zac Brown Band will debut their new single, “Homegrown,” on ESPN’s College Football Playoff Championship Tailgate on Monday, January 12.

According to Billboard, Luke Bryan‘s name was the most-searched subject of 2014 on Ticketmaster’s website.

Singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc will join Lady Antebellum for a special performance on the CMT Ultimate Kickoff Party Live from the College Football Playoff National Championship special. The show premieres Friday night at 9 ET on CMT.

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Tim McGraw Loves Seeing Keith Urban Represent Country Music on “American Idol”

Image Courtesy Big Machine RecordsTim McGraw has served as country music’s ambassador to the mainstream many times through his work in movies or performances on multi-genre TV shows. So, Tim’s endorsement of his “Highway Don’t Care” collaborator Keith Urban as a judge on American Idol carries some real weight.

“He’s one of my favorite people,” Tim says of his pal Keith. “He’s a really good guy, and as far as somebody who represents country music and the face of somebody, and the music of somebody that you would want out there representin’ what you do, he’s certainly somebody that I would want to hold up and put a light on, for us.”

Look for Keith to return to American Idol Wednesday night at 8 ET on Fox.

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Maddie & Tae Look to Marilyn Monroe and Dolly Parton for Career Inspiration

Image Courtesy Dot RecordsIt looks like country duo Maddie & Tae are laying the groundwork for a long-lasting career, based on the women they look up to for career guidance. Tae Dye points to the late screen legend Marilyn Monroe as the person she’d most like to chat with, because of her her intelligence and beauty. Tae feels Marilyn’s status as a timeless, yet curvy beauty ties in nicely with their debut anthem, “Girl in a Country Song.”

Tae says of the Marilyn, “Back then, she was beautiful and perfect and now days she’d be considered a plus-size model, which is ridiculous.”

Tae’s duo partner, Maddie Marlow, wants to meet up with another larger-then-life blonde for advice.

“I really wanna sit down with Dolly Parton,” Maddie says, “and just see how she has been so poised throughout her whole entire career, but still like a strong, take-no-prisoners, very strong, independent woman. I would love to get some advice from her.”

Maddie & Tae have just released their brand-new single, “Fly,” to country radio. It’s the second release from their self-titled EP, available now.

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Toby Keith’s Restaurant Chain Closes Three Locations, Announces Plans for Three New Markets

Image Courtesy Show Dog/UniversalToby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is going through some strategic changes with plans to open three new locations in College Station,TX; Lansing, MI; and Phoenix, AZ in the first quarter. The announcement comes as the restaurant’s parent company, Boomtown Entertainment, closed locations in Houston, TX; Folsom, CA; and Newport News, VA, over the holiday as part of a restructuring.

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill currently operates in 14 cities.

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Florida Georgia Line, Kacey Musgraves Make “Forbes” 30 Under 30 in Music List

Image Courtesy Dick Clark Productions/ABCFlorida Georgia Line and Kacey Musgraves have made Forbes magazine’s annual 30 Under 30 in Music list for 2015. As always, the list includes the most influential and successful music acts under 30, although musicians who made the list in previous years, like Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, weren’t eligible for repeat appearances this time around. That means new faces — including pop acts Ed Sheeran, Meghan Trainor, Sam Smith and Iggy Azalea — are also among those making the list for the first time.

Florida Georgia Line, who earned an estimated $24 million last year, leads this year’s pack with a full interview accompanying the 30 Under 30 countdown. The guys are definitely honored to be on the Forbes‘ radar.

“It’s a huge honor to be named one of the 30 Under 30. For us, it’s something that if you’d asked us three years ago, we would’ve laughed at you,” says FGL’s Tyler Hubbard. “We had about negative $30 in our bank account about two years ago. I’m not really exaggerating.”

Tyler’s duo partner Brian Kelley adds, “Forbes is one of those prestigious outlets, you feel like can’t touch it, you can’t get near it. It’s well respected, it’s big time. So it is an honor. Very, very surreal for us to be a part of anything Forbes.”

Florida Georgia Line will take their unique brand of country music overseas to the U.K. and Australia this year. Their Anything Goes tour launches January 15 in Toledo, OH.

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Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard Still Not Able to Fully Grasp Their Runaway Success

Image Courtesy Republic NashvilleFlorida Georgia Line has been one of the hottest acts in country music since their debut hit, “Cruise,” took over the airwaves in 2012.  Now that it’s 2015, you’d think they’d be used to fame and success — but the duo’s Tyler Hubbard insists they’re still blown away by it all.

“We’ve been tryin’ to wrap our mind around just what’s goin’ on,” Tyler says of their success.  “It’s been a dream come true and a huge blessing for us and somethin’ that we could have never imagined.”

Tyler credits FGL’s fans for making all their success possible.

He says, “It’s a huge testament to our fans that have made our dreams come true and sold out all these shows and just showed up and spread the word. We see it every night, it’s unbelievable.”

Of course, country radio has gotten Florida Georgia Line’s music out to those fans, and Tyler applauds the programmers for taking a chance on the duo’s hip-hop influenced sound.

Says Tyler, “Country radio has been amazing to us and truly accepted us for who we are and what we wanna do and our sound, and a sound that we believe in, and kind of a ‘get out of the box’ a little bit — it’s a beautiful thing.”

Florida Georgia Line is racing up the country chart with their latest hit, “Sun Daze.” It’s the follow-up to their #1 hit ballad, “Dirt.” Both songs are included on the duo’s sophomore album, Anything Goes, out now.

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