Kelly Clarkson Sets the Bar for Martina McBride on “Everlasting”

Photo Credit: Randee St. NicholasEven though Martina McBride‘s new CD is a collection of R&B covers, she doesn’t believe Everlasting is that much of a departure for her.

“I just follow my instincts, and in thinking about what I wanted to sing next, and what I wanted to do next, I thought, ‘Well, I’m a country music artist, and a very proud one. But at the end of the day, I'm a vocalist,’” she says. “You know, I love to sing everything. So, in my shows over the years, we've done everything from ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ to Pat Benatar to Aretha Franklin to Journey, whatever. So I just wanted to kinda stretch and do something a little different.”

Martina even picked a title that continues the thread she started with her 2005 collection of country classics. “This music is timeless, but I couldn't call it Timeless, 'cause I've done that already. So, it seemed like Everlasting was kind of the same idea. And I just love the idea. It's very musical and poetic.”

The four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year also welcomes a couple of guests on the disc. Gavin DeGraw duets with her on the Sam Cooke classic “Bring It On Home to Me,” while Kelly Clarkson helps her sing Etta James’ “In the Basement.”

“It's a good jumping off place singing with her,” she says of Kelly. “She's an amazing singer-- we all know that. And she has that R&B kinda thing naturally. So yeah, she set the bar,” Martina laughs. “She did. She raised the bar a little bit, and I had to rise to the challenge. I love singing with her, and I love that song.”

Everlasting is new in stores and online today.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Rascal Flatts Admits Lip-Syncing at ACM Awards

Bret Hartman/CBSRascal Flatts admits they lip-synched their performance of "Rewind" at Sunday night’s ACM Awards.

The group says in a statement released on Twitter Monday night, “After having performed several shows earlier in the week, Gary lost his voice. So, instead of canceling our commitment to do the show, we made a last minute decision to lip-sync."

Twitter blew up with comments following the group’s performance. One fan tweeted, “Rascal Flatts is probably wishing they could rewind and not lip sync terribly and so obviously,” while another wrote, “Rascal Flatts next time you want to lip sync please practice a little more.”

The Rascal Flatts statement concludes: "We’ve never done it before, and we’re obviously not very good at it. We look forward to singing live again in the very near future!”

Flatts performed at Monday's taping of ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.  The special airs May 20 on CBS.

The group's next stop on its Rewind Tour 2014 is Saturday, April 12, in Laughlin, Nevada.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Miranda Lambert Lifts the Curtain on Star-Studded “Platinum”

Sony Music Nashville(NOTE LANGUAGE) With three new ACM wins to her credit, including a record-setting fifth trophy for Female Vocalist, Miranda Lambert is lifting the curtain on her new album, Platinum. With guest vocals from Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town and The Time Jumpers, it’s an all-star affair.

Miranda calls the track “Somethin’ Bad” a “rocker” perfect for a “bad*ss singer” like Carrie. “To me, this song meshes our styles,” she says. “It gives her time to be ‘Before He Cheats’ Carrie, and it gives me time to take off running and jump to hit some of those high notes.”

“Smokin’ and Drinkin’” is a song Miranda and Little Big Town both wanted, but she got it first. The idea for a collaboration came backstage at last year’s CMT Awards.

Karen [Fairchild] told me, ‘You have a song I want!’ So I said, ‘If I cut it, will y’all sing on it?’” Miranda remembers. “When I went in to record it, I thought, ‘If Little Big Town wants to sing on my record we are damn sure taking advantage of it!’ I can’t even imagine what it would sound like without them.”

Miranda discovered the Tom T. Hall composition “All That’s Left” while listening to the radio driving back from a Beyonce concert in Dallas. She decided to give it a western swing feel by adding renowned band The Time Jumpers, of which Vince Gill is a member.

The sixteen-song set arrives June 3.

Here’s the Platinum track list:

“Girls”
“Platinum”
“Little Red Wagon”
“Smokin’ and Drinkin’”
“Priscilla”
“Automatic”
“Bathroom Sink”
“Old Sh!t”
“All That’s Left”
“Gravity Is a B**ch”
“Babies Makin’ Babies”
“Somethin’ Bad”
“Holding On to You”
“Two Rings Shy”
“Hard Staying Sober”
“Another Sunday in the South”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Toby Keith Turns Auctioneer to Help Kids with Cancer

Show Dog/UniversalOn May 16 and 17, Toby Keith will show off his skills as both an auctioneer and a golfer, as he raises money for families dealing with pediatric cancer.

The 11th Annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic starts with an invitation-only event Friday night where Toby himself will auction off everything from an African safari to a black-and-white crystal chandelier. Saturday morning, he hits the links with 200 golfers for a day that ends with one of them winning a new Ford truck.

Money from the event helped build the OK Kids Korral in Oklahoma City, a facility that provides a home-away-from-home for families of kids dealing with cancer. Since opening in January, it’s hosted more than 75 stays for families, ranging from one day to eight weeks.

You can find out more about the Golf Classic at www.tobykeithfoundation.org.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan Return to Helm ACM’s 50th Anniversary

ACMEven though viewership for Sunday’s ACM Awards was down 23 percent from last year’s 12-year high, the show still easily won the night for CBS. More than 14 million people watched the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Now, the Academy of Country Music turns its attention to the 50th anniversary celebration next year.  Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan will return to host the 2015 show live on CBS from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, April 19.

Festivities kick off the previous Friday, as ACM Party for a Cause:  50 Years of Music & Memories takes over nearby Globe Life Park. The concert event promises more than 30 artists performing on multiple stages on April 17 & 18, 2015.

Tickets for the 50th Anniversary events go on sale April 15 at ACMCountry.com.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Country Star Trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockWhere were the ACM Awards held before they moved to Las Vegas? ANSWER: Los Angeles.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Luke Bryan’s Wife Caroline Surprised at His Now-Famous Backside

AMA/Dick Clark ProductionsLuke Bryan's hip-shaking stage moves are a big reason female fans flock to his concerts. No one is more surprised about Luke's now-famous backside than his wife, Caroline.

He tells Parade, "My wife and I laugh about it, because she always thought I had a flat [rear end] until I started working out."

Coming up with those dance moves was essential to keeping the crowd's attention back when Luke was playing bars in college.

"Look, when you roll into a college bar bringing country music, you better have something else going on," Luke explains. "I’ll shake it all night long."

A lot of Luke's dance moves were inspired by Michael Jackson. Thriller was the first cassette Luke owned as a kid.

He adds, "At school I could moonwalk all the way to the pencil sharpener and back."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockThompson Square teamed up with Blues Traveler onstage in Las Vegas Saturday night to sing "Everything I Shouldn't Be Thinking About."

Gary Allan performed a small private show for the media and music industry insiders Saturday night at the House of Blues Foundation Room atop Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley, Scotty McCreery, Cole Swindell and Jake Owen were among the stars playing golf at TPC Las Vegas Saturday for the 2014 ACM Lifting Lives Celebrity Golf Classic. Proceeds go to the Diane Holcomb Emergency Relief Fund to help music-related organization and individuals in times of need.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Taylor Sends Special Birthday Wish to Abigail, Inspiration for Her Hit, “Fifteen”

ABC/Jon LeMayTaylor Swift may be one of the biggest stars in the world, but she doesn't forget her old friends.  One of her oldest, Abigail Anderson, received a very special birthday wish from Taylor, and she showed it off on Instagram and Twitter on Sunday.

Taylor fans may recall that "red-headed" Abigail inspired Taylor's hit song "Fifteen," which was about their freshman year of high school at Hendersonville High School in Tennessee, and how they both fell in love and experienced heartbreak for the first time.  It contains the line, "Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind/And we both cried."  The song was so personal and specific that Taylor asked Abigail for permission to record it and use her name; Abigail granted it.

On Sunday, Abigail posted a photo of a framed, handwritten, handpainted note reading, "Once upon a time, there lived a girl named Abigail, whose spirit was as fiery as her hair. She never did anything the way they told her to, fell hopelessly in love, and turned 24 without one single regret. Happy Birthday. Love, Taylor."

Abigail captioned the photo, "Words cannot describe how grateful I am for your friendship (and the absolutely breathtaking package of presents I just received). You truly are the most wonderful human being. From the bottom of my heart...thank you @taylorswift I love you."  Taylor retweeted Abigail's message.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

ACM Awards 2014 Backstage Report

ABC News RadioGeorge Strait won his first ACM Entertainer of the Year trophy back in 1989 before fellow nominee Taylor Swift was even born. After taking the top category Sunday night, George said of fellow Entertainer nominees Taylor, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert, " A lot of those people… most of 'em are friends of mine, you know I've worked with 'em and they're all deserving of this award."

George thanked his fans for giving him the Entertainer of the Year trophy as he looks towards wrapping up his final tour this summer.

"I couldn't have written this you know," George said. "No way I couldn't have dreamed it like that."

Miranda Lambert made a point to acknowledge all of her fellow Female Vocalist nominees when she accepted her fifth-consecutive trophy in that category, but she forgot to mention nominee Taylor Swift. Miranda revealed backstage she'd cleared it up with Taylor.

"She's kind of like her own animal. She's ridiculous," Miranda said of Taylor.  "I talked to her, and she's cool. Taylor's cool anyway, but we're cool with it."

Jason Aldean was surprised to win his second-consecutive Male Vocalist of the Year trophy going up against show hosts Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton. Jason said backstage, "It doesn't get much hotter than those two guys so the fact that you know we were able to come there and pull that off is… I was probably the most shocked person in the room."

The Band Perry spent the past 11 days in Las Vegas perfecting their opening performance of "Chainsaw." Lead singer Kimberly Perry was happy to see a man with a shocked face on the front row as they sang. She said backstage, "When we started working on it we said, 'I just want people to say what the heck is going on up there.'"

Band mate Neil Perry added, "The opening performance is a lot of pressure and we put a lot more on the three of us just 'cause that's what we do and we worked a long time on this performance. We wanted to give this show the energy it deserved."

New Artist of the Year winner Justin Moore fought back tears after winning his first ACM trophy. He said,"I wanted this so bad I mean, I really, really did. This was not make or break in our career, we've put out three albums two of which have gone gold, the next one's about to, we've had a lot of hit records but this was very very important to me and my team."   

Since that category is fan-voted, Justin was quick to give credit to his followers for the win.

"Anytime my fans are in the fold, any time my fans are involved, any time they have a voice, they got a big freakin' voice man," he said.

Album of the Year winner Kacey Musgraves actually crashed the press room during George Strait's interview session to declare her love for the country legend.

She said backstage, "Growing up in Texas, George Strait has been a huge influence on me. He has stayed so true to what he is since day one. He has never wavered. It's just quality."

Kacey added, "He's just so classy, and he's not hard to look at either."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio