“Dancing With the Stars” champs welcomed back to Tennessee
Recent “Dancing With the Stars” champ Kellie Pickler was welcomed back to Nashville this week with a party thrown in her honor backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, where she also performed on both shows that night. On hand for the June 4 festivities was her pro dancing partner Derek Hough, whose win with Pickler made him a four-time “Dancing With the Stars” champ.
The event was a family affair as Pickler’s husband and grandfather were also present, as was Hough’s older sister—one of his two siblings who reside in Nashville.
The reception was festively decorated, with each table holding a small mirror ball centerpiece surrounded by roses. A massive video screen showed a constant loop of Pickler and Hough’s best performances on the show, which often distracted Hough’s attention as Pickler answered questions during the interviews. Among the gifts Pickler received was a key to the city and—from her record label—a trophy case to hold the large mirror ball trophy she won on the show.
Clad in a skintight purple bandage dress and high heels, a delighted Pickler made a few remarks to the crowd before turning to the assembled media for interview opportunities, where she was accompanied by Hough (pictured with her below).
In her remarks, she said of Nashville, “The people here have been so good to me.” She added, “This year has been amazing so far, and I feel like we’re just getting started . . . I’m excited that we got to bring that shiny ball to Tennessee.”
Earlier in the night, Pickler opened the first of the two sold-out Opry shows with three songs, including her current single, “Someone Somewhere Tonight,” and discovered the first of the night’s planned surprises when the Opry audience held up “10” paddles reminiscent of those the judges use on “DWTS.” Said Pickler when she spotted the paddles, “That is so sweet. I wish y’all could’ve been the judges!”
She then answered a series of questions from the media. Here are some of the highlights.
On potentially performing on Broadway one day: “I would love to try Broadway. I look at someone like Reba who has done it all, and she’s a legend. You could only hope to accomplish this much of what she has. As long as my country music could always be there—because this is my No. 1 priority and passion—if the right thing came along on Broadway or TV or film . . . I would absolutely do it in a heartbeat.”
Added Hough: “Kellie [is] . . . incredibly charismatic and she’s an entertainer. I think whatever stage she’s on, whether it be Broadway or film, or TV, or ‘DWTS,’ or the Grand Ole Opry, she’s a great entertainer all around . . . She really is going to shine in anything she does.”
On her new single, “Someone Somewhere Tonight”: “I’m so excited about this new song. It’s so special to me . . . Every person in that song, in some way, I identify with from someone that I know. So every time I sing it, I see all these different people in my mind and it makes I even more personal. I love that it’s a real song. It’s about life, and I think most anybody could identify with it. I hope that everyone loves it as much as I do . . . And we’re gearing up to release the album this fall.”
Teasing the new music video she’s shooting this week for “Someone Somewhere Tonight,” in which Hough reportedly plays a role: “It will be very special and different than anything we’ve ever done, and I think it’s the first time it’s ever been done in country music.”
On whether she’d incorporate any of her newfound dancing skills into the staging for her next tour: “Maybe so . . . I’ve discovered a passion that I didn’t know I had, and Derek helped me discover that. I love dancing, and since the show’s been over, I’ve really had a hard time being still and accepting the fact that I’m never going to be out there on that dance floor again. It’s sad. It’s bittersweet, but hopefully I will find and other dance floor and another dance partner . . . Maybe I’ll be able to incorporate this into the music, because I love both.”
Hough on Picker’s bond with her fellow “DWTS” cast members: “Something about Kellie that I noticed, having been on many different seasons with different casts, she really set the tone backstage, behind the scenes with the cast members. She was always the first one to congratulate them and support them. She really set the tone of just being supportive, and not being so competitive . . . There was a great camaraderie between the cast members because of Kellie. She really made a big difference.”
On being at the Grand Ole Opry: “This is the biggest stage in country music and, in my opinion, the biggest stage in the world. My grandpa is standing behind you. We took our first trip to Nashville before I did ‘American Idol.’ We took a road trip here and got tickets to the Grand Ole Opry. Fast-forward a year later, I’m standing out there on the Grand Ole Opry stage, and I literally sat down in the circle when I sung my first song just to soak it up. I was like ‘This might be the first and last time I ever get to do this, so I’m going to milk it for everything it’s worth.’ So it’s always a special feeling anytime I’m out there.”
On what she took away from “DWTS” other than a passion for dance: “The spray tan [laughs]. It’s just now starting to flake off. But now I’m addicted. I got another one. Actually, I loved all the spray tans and costumes. It was really neat to just embrace the whole show and just lose myself in it. I think because I was open minded about everything, and just went in with a positive attitude, I fell in love with it. I learned so much and I made friends for life.”
Photos: Chris Hollo
Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum among show’s other winners
Florida Georgia Line had a big evening full of celebrations at the 2013 CMT Music Awards in Nashville tonight. The young duo not only won two awards, but its members—Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard—also got to close the show alongside Nelly, performing their collaborative remix of FGL’s first No. 1 country hit, “Cruise.”
The clip for that song earned FGL (left) both the Breakthrough Video of the Year Award, and also the Duo Video of the Year trophy.
The evening’s only other dual winner was Miranda Lambert (below), who won for two different songs. Her “Mama’s Broken Heart” clip was named Female Video of the Year, while her performance of “Over You” from the “2012 CMT Artists of the Year” special won for “Performance of the Year.” It was her fourth consecutive win in the Female Video category.
Carrie Underwood was awarded the show’s top prize, Video of the Year, for “Blown Away.” The show’s other winners were Blake Shelton (Male Video of the Year for “Sure Be Cool If You Did”); Lady Antebellum (Group Video of the Year for “Downtown”); and Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church, who won the Collaborative Video award for “The Only Way I Know.”
Aldean served as the show’s co-host, alongside actress Kristen Bell. He also opened the live telecast by performing “American Woman” with Lenny Kravitz, and returned later to perform his new single, “Night Train.”
Hunter Hayes was given a sponsored prize called the “Nationwide Insurance On Your Side” award in a short, pre-taped piece during the show. The significance of the award was not explained.
Other than a funny, taped piece at the top of the show featuring cameos from Vince Vaughn, Kelsey Grammar, Reba McEntire, Shelton, Bryan, Underwood, Lorraine Bracco and others, the usually reliably entertaining show provided few water cooler moments this year. Several of the performances—particularly in the early part of the show—proved pitchy.
The 150-minute show offered 13 full-length performances and another six truncated versions of songs played into commercial breaks. The Mavericks served as the evening’s house band.
The evening also offered several collaborations in addition to that of Aldean (left) and Kravitz. Lady Antebellum joined Darius Rucker on “Wagon Wheel,” just as the band does on the recorded version of that song. Also, Keith Urban played guitar during Little Big Town’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” Carrie Underwood performed with a 24-person gospel choir on her current single, “See You Again.”
Lambert provided one of the show’s funnier spontaneous moments. When she took the stage to accept one of her awards from Kravitz, she gushed, “I just got a kiss from Lenny Kravitz. That’s an award in itself.”
Singer is expected to make a speedy recovery
Tracy Lawrence was the first artist casualty of this year’s CMA Music Festival—a day before it officially began. While preparing for his annual fan club party today in Nashville, Lawrence “experienced an allergic food reaction, which caused him to seek immediate medical treatment,” according to his publicist.
Lawrence was hospitalized for observation at a local hospital, but is expected to recover in time to make it to LP Field Thursday night, where he’ll perform in front of 70,000 country music fans on the festival’s biggest stage.
Plus, Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis team up for first release as a duo
Vince Gill, who recently re-signed with his longtime record label MCA Nashville, is prepping the release of a very special new project for the label. Gill has teamed up with famed steel guitar player Paul Franklin to record “Bakersfield,” a tribute to the Bakersfield sound and, specifically, the songs of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Haggard wrote the liner notes for the project, which will be released July 30.
Gill and Franklin share producing duties on the 10-song set, which was tracked in two days at Gill’s Nashville home studio with Gill playing all the acoustic and electric guitar fills and solos.
“This is just as much a guitar record for me as it is a singing record,” Gill says in a press release, “but it was fun for me to sing a whole record of the greatest songs ever . . . What I’m real proud of is that when it’s one of Buck’s songs, I sing it very much in that vein. And the Haggard songs are very much in the vein he sang. With Buck’s songs, you won’t find much vibrato in my vocals, and with Merle’s, it will come down to a low note and that quiver.”
Franklin says of Gill’s vocals, “I’ve heard him sing for 30 years, but he sings licks on this record I never heard before.”
In his liner notes, Haggard writes, “Vince and Paul offer a great new touch on a great old sound. It was great, certainly, to hear my music done with the great touch of Vince and Paul. I feel highly complimented. But it was especially great to hear what they did with Buck’s stuff.”
Adds Haggard, whose self-penned hits “The Bottle Let Me Down” and “The Fightin’ Side Of Me” are included on the set, “I can only give the entire project a big ole double, thumbs up! Well done guys, the West Coast takes a bow.”
Chris Young (right) will release his fourth studio album, “A.M.,” on September 17. It includes his current single, “Aw Naw,” which has become popular in his concert appearances.
“We’ve been hard at work in the studio picking songs and recording an album that really reflects my live show,” says Young in a media release.
He is currently on the road with Brad Paisley’s “Beat This Summer Tour,” which runs through August.
Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis teamed up last year to form a duo called Grits and Glamour (not to be confused with the 1996 Sam Bush album “Glamour and Grits”). Now, they’re set to release their first collaborative album, “Dos Divas,” on July 23.
The singers, both daughters of country music stars and hit-makers in their own right, have assembled an album that includes six duets, plus four solo numbers each. Their uptempo first single, “I Know What You Did Last Night,” has been sent to country radio stations.
Morgan, the daughter of Grand Ole Opry star George Morgan, landed 14 top 10 hits between 1989 and 1997, including three No. 1s. Tillis, the daughter of singer/actor Mel Tillis, enjoyed a similar career path, scoring 13 top 10 hits between 1990 and 1997, including the No. 1 “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life).”
The duo will perform the national anthem June 9 at Nashville’s LP Field as part of the CMA Music Festival.
Set includes guests stars Brad Paisley, Dwight Yoakam, Darius Rucker and more
While best known as a children’s book author and illustrator, as well as creator of a popular line of greeting cards, Sandra Boynton is also a songwriter and music producer, and she’s preparing to release her first country album this fall with an impressive list of celebrity collaborators.
Boynton’s “Frog Trouble,” due for a Sept. 3 release on Warner Music Nashville, features 12 new, original songs she authored and produced largely in Nashville. Her musical styles on the project range from country and bluegrass to rockabilly and blues.
Among the musicians from a variety of music genres contributing their talents to the set are: Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Dwight Yoakam, Alison Krauss, Josh Turner, Kacey Musgraves, Fountains of Wayne, Ben Folds and Ryan Adams.
With composer Michael Ford, Boynton has previously written and produced five albums, three of which have been certified gold. One of those albums, “Philadelphia Chickens,” received a Grammy nomination. She has also authored more than 50 children’s books since 1977 featuring an immediately recognizable cast of hippos, dinosaurs, barnyard animals and more.
Plus, Tate Stevens’ Grand Ole Opry debut, and news from Florida Georgia Line
This evening in downtown Nashville, Rodney Atkins will help raise funds and supplies for Oklahoma tornado relief efforts via his annual Music City Gives Back benefit concert. The show will also feature performances by Justin Moore, Jana Kramer, and Josh Thompson. While the event is free, organizers will be accepting donations of duct tape, work gloves, flashlights and other materials to aid in the relief of Oklahoma’s recent devastating tornado, as well as money.
“Each year I gather some of my friends together to put on this show and have fun with our fans before CMA Music Fest, but the reason we get up here is to help the community come together to give our support to those in need,” says Atkins in a prepared statement. “With the recent disaster in Moore [Okla.], I knew that’s where we had to focus our efforts this year.”
You don’t need to be in Nashville to catch the show, taking place at 6 p.m. (CT) on a stage set up on Broadway at Fifth Ave. You can stream the concert live at www.facebook.com/WranglerWestern.
Adkins is pictured performing at his inaugural Music City Gives Back show in 2011.
Reigning “The X-Factor” champ Tate Stevens will make his Grand Ole Opry debut June 8. The show begins at 7 p.m. (CT)
“This is a dream come true,” says Stevens of the performance. “I have wanted to perform on the Opry stage since I was a kid. I cannot wait until Saturday.”
Earlier in the week, Stevens will also make his CMA Music Festival debut with a free, open to the public performance on the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage June 7. That will be the first of several CMA Music Festival performances and appearances for the singer.
Florida Georgia Line will make an appearance at Nashville’s Hard Rock Café this afternoon to donate instruments and clothing featured in the music video for their platinum-selling, multi-week No. 1 hit “Get Your Shine On” to the Café’s collection. The duo’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard recently shot the music video for the song at Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, and played a concert for fans on the property.
In honor of the donation, Hard Rock will make a monetary donation to the hunger relief organization Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
Plus, Lauren Alaina records theme song for new SeaWorld attraction
• Carrie Underwood played for more than a million fans in 110 cities in six countries on three continents on her recently wrapped Blown Away Tour. Now, the show will be available to all of her fans in the form of a DVD set for release August 13. “The Blown Away Tour: LIVE” was shot this past March in Ontario, Calif., and includes performances of more than 20 songs, including hits “Before He Cheats,” “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” and “Blown Away.”
Alongside the nearly 100 minutes of performance footage are exclusive bonus clips offering a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the tour, including interviews with Underwood and tour director Raj Kapoor, who speak about the tour’s visual elements, Those effects including the flying secondary stage—weighing nearly 6,000 pounds—that transported the singer and her band 150 feet above the audience each night, and the 450 CO2 tanks and 222 nitrogen tanks used during the life of the tour to create the “Blown Away” tornado effect at each performance. Also included in the package is a selection of music videos from Underwood’s platinum-selling “Blown Away” album.
The Blown Away Tour launched in the spring of 2012 and continued through May 23 of this year, playing a total of 112 dates, all of which were sold out, according to her record label.
• Gretchen Wilson will release a self-produced new album comprised exclusively of her versions of ’70s classic rock songs on June 4 (it was released digitally last week). Wilson turned to her band to help pick the 12 songs for “Under The Covers.”
“I basically asked my band to give me a list of their favorite classic rock songs, and then we went through all of them and decided what to include,” says Wilson, who calls the process “a blast.” She adds, “We’ve included rock songs in our sets for years, and I have always wanted to record an album like this.”
The album includes hits made famous by rockers including Rod Stewart, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Foreigner and more.
“My band loves to cut loose during our classic rock medley on stage, and they did an amazing job recording these tracks,” adds Wilson.
Here’s the full track listing:
1. Stay With Me
2. Doctor My Eyes
3. Everybody Wants You
4. Bell Bottom Blues
5. Funk #49
6. Hot Blooded
7. Over the Hills & Far Away
8. I Want You To Want Me
10. Her Strut
11. Bad Company
12. Into the Mystic
Wilson’s next project is her first, full-length Christmas album, set for release in October.
• Lauren Alaina has partnered with SeaWorld Parks to record the theme song for the newest attraction at SeaWorld Orlando, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Alaina was on hand to host the grand opening at the park on May 24.
To mark the partnership, SeaWorld made a donation to Special Olympics, and a Special Olympics athlete and their family members also received visit to SeaWorld Orlando, courtesy of Alaina, who is the Special Olympics Project UNIFY Ambassador for North America. In that role, she traveled to Pyeongchang, South Korea, in January for the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
She recently released the first single, “Barefoot And Buckwild,” from her sophomore album, due in the fall.
Alaina is pictured above performing at the grand opening of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.
Says Rimes of the project, “People have been laughing at us. We want them to laugh with us!”
LeAnn Rimes and her actor husband Eddie Cibrian are developing a TV sitcom based on their lives, reports Us Weekly and People, and have reportedly met with a few networks about the project.
“It's not a reality show,” she told Us Weekly. “If anything, it would be based around our normal lives, but it would be scripted. We want to take our lives and laugh as much at ourselves as we think other people do.”
“For some reason, everyone is so interested in our lives but they don’t actually know about them,” Rimes told People. “What they read is what they see. We want to be able to take control of our lives again, so we want to do a show about us, about our lives, but scripted.”
She added to People, “We're doing a TV show based on our reality. We’ll take things out of our lives and elaborate them and make them funny. People have been laughing at us. We want them to laugh with us!”
She also said she hoped the series would also be an opportunity to set the record straight about the couple and their relationship.
“People think we take ourselves so seriously, and it would be fun to be able to play with it, make fun of it, and have fun,” she told US Weekly. “Everyone seems to think they know who we are, but to be able to show that—but not have it be a reality show where cameras follow us around 24/7—would be so fun
“It would be taking our regular life and elaborating on it to make it really over the top and funny,” she added. “After all these years of having stuff thrown at us, it would be great to laugh at it all.”
Rimes, 30, and Cibrian, 39, have been the subjects of tabloid attention ever since their relationship began in 2008 while both were married to other people. They married each other in 2011. Rimes has been publicly feuding with Cibrian’s ex-wife, reality show personality Brandi Glanville, ever since news of their extra-marital relationship became public.
about the blogger
Veteran entertainment journalist Phyllis Stark has been reporting extensively on the music industry for two decades. As a freelance writer, her work appears regularly in numerous publications and sites. She previously was Nashville Bureau Chief at Billboard magazine.