New Albums In The Works From ACM Award Nominees Aaron Lewis, Love & Theft
• First Lady Michelle Obama will make an appearance on the March 31 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards to present Taylor Swift with this year’s The Big Help Award in recognition of Swift’s philanthropic endeavors, including her work with tornado and flood survivors in the United States. The show, to be hosted by Will Smith, will air live from Los Angeles on Nickelodeon at 8 p.m. (ET). The Big Help Award recognizes individuals who take actions to better the world and whose significant impact on their community has inspired kids to do the same.
• Jägermeister Herbal Liqueur will sponsor Randy Houser (right) as the headliner on the Jägermeister Presents Tour, which kicks off April 26 in Knoxville, Tenn., and will hit 16 cities across the nation with Rick Monroe as the opening act. The tour wraps July 27 in Chicago.
Says Houser in a press release announcing the tour, “In 2009 I had the chance to be out on Jägermeister’s first country tour with my buddy Pat Green right as I was about to put out my first single, so I couldn’t be more excited to be out on this Jägermeister Presents Tour. It’s gonna be one hell of a party!”
Houser, who is best known for his hits “Boots On” and “Anything Goes,” is currently recording his third album, which will be his first on his new record label, Stoney Creek Records.
• Aaron Lewis (left), best known as a member of hard rock band Staind, is readying his first full-length country album, “The Road,” for release on June 26. Lewis previously released country EP “Town Line,” last year, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and included the song “Country Boy,” which is nominated for vocal collaboration of the year in the April 1 Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS. That song, which has sold more than 500,000 copies, also features country legends George Jones and Charlie Daniels.
Lewis’ new album contains 10 new songs, including first single “Endless Summer.” Lewis wrote all but one of the songs on the set. He’s offering fans a free download of album track “Red, White & Blue” here.
• ACM Awards vocal duo of the year nominee Love and Theft will release their new album June 5 on RCA Records. The duo, comprised of Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson, landed a top 10 hit in 2009 with “Runaway.”
Says Liles of the project, “The way we recorded our new album is the way our influences made records: live with a band. It’s a lot more organic.”
Adds Gunderson, “We feel like we have made the record we’ve always wanted to make.”
The lead single from the forthcoming album, “Angel Eyes,” is currently at No. 31 and climbing on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Couple Will Tie The Knot As McBride Sings With Train’s Pat Monahan
Martina McBride and Train front man Pat Monahan are set to perform their new country single, a re-make of Train’s “Marry Me,” on the April 1 Academy of Country Music Awards, but the performance will include an unusual twist—a live wedding. As the two artists duet on the song, which was previously a single for Train in 2012, a couple chosen by McBride will get married on the stage.
That couple, Christina Davidson and Frank Tucci, each tragically lost a spouse in 2009, and they met in a support group for widows and widowers founded by Davidson in New Jersey. Fans can follow the couple along their journey to the chapel (or stage, in this case) at www.ACMwedding.com.
A three time ACM female vocalist of the year winner, McBride is nominated in that category again this year. The show will air live on CBS Sunday night.
They’ll Perform A Song Written By ACM Nominee Hunter Hayes
Little Big Town is preparing a special performance for the April 1 Academy of Country Music Awards with the aim of raising awareness about child hunger in the U.S. The vocal group will perform a song co-written by ACM new artist nominee Hunter Hayes, titled “Here’s Hope.” Hayes will introduce the quartet, who will be joined onstage by the Clark County Children’s Choir for their performance.
That performance will be presented by ConAgra Foods’ Child Hunger Ends Here campaign and the ACM’s charity arm, Lifting Lives.
“When I first learned about ACM Lifting Lives a few years ago, I immediately asked to be a part of this amazing organization,” says Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman in a press release. “Lifting Lives seeks out needs and takes care of people. They work hard at giving both children and adults comfort, contentment and happiness. We are so honored and excited to be a part of the very special Lifting Lives moment to end child hunger on the ACM Awards. We can’t wait!”
Hayes (left) specifically wrote the song as a way to inspire people to join the fight against child hunger.
“What I didn’t realize, and what most people may not know, is that child hunger is not a faraway problem; it’s a problem right here in our own backyards,” says Hayes. “The good news though is that this is a problem we can all help solve together. My hope is that through music, we can inspire people to get involved and finally put an end to child hunger in our country.”
The awards show airs live on CBS Television Network Sunday night.
ConAgra Foods’ Hunger Ends Here campaign will donate up to five million meals this school year to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. To help the cause, consumers can purchase specially marked packages of select ConAgra Foods brands, including Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Hunt’s, Marie Callender’s, Manwich, Orville Redenbacher’s, Peter Pan and Snack Pack, and then visit ChildHungerEndsHere.com to enter the eight-digit code found on participating product packages. For each code entered through August, the equivalent of one meal will be donated to Feeding America. In return for entering the code, consumers can download their favorite version of “Here’s Hope” from Jewel, Owl City and Jay Sean.
Daytime Chat Show Plans Two Days Of Special Country Programming
As the “Today” show did this week in its fourth hour, daytime talk show “The Talk” plans to go country next week with a schedule of special guests, segments, and live performances on March 29 and 30 leading up to the April 1 “47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards” on CBS.
Among the artists set to appear are ACM co-host Reba McEntire (left), plus Miranda Lambert and Chris Young.
On Thursday, Lambert will guest host and Young will perform his hit “You.” Both are ACM nominees.
On Friday, McEntire will be in the guest host seat to preview Sunday’s awards show, which she will co-host with Blake Shelton.
Academy Also Singles Out Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs And Roger Miller For Special Recognition
Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill and numerous other country stars have been singled out for special recognition by the Academy of Country Music. The winners of these special awards, chosen by the ACM board of directors, will be honored at a Nashville ceremony in September.
The Crystal Milestone Award will go to Chesney (right), who has sold more than 10,500,000 tickets on his 11 national tours, selling out stadiums across the country. The Academy is honoring him for this achievement.
Jackson has been chosen to receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.
Gill (left) will receive the Career Achievement Award, which goes to an artist who has advanced the popularity and acceptance of country music through their endeavors in the entertainment industry.
The Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award, which honors pioneers in the country music genre, will be awarded to artists Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs and Dwight Yoakam, as well as legendary producer and songwriter Billy Sherrill.
Hit songwriter Bobby Braddock and the late artist/writer Roger Miller have been selected to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in country music.
The ACM’s Songwriter of the Year prize goes to current hit maker Dallas Davidson. Frank Liddell has been named producer of the year.
Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill Are Among His Guests
The largely retired Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams has made a surprising return to the studio with longtime producer Garth Funds, and is set to re-emerge in the spotlight with a new album, “And So It Goes,” to be released June 19 on Sugar Hill Records. It will be his first new project since 2004. He plans to tour to support the release.
Williams, known as the “Gentle Giant,” had a long string of hits between 1972 and 1991 that included 17 No. 1 singles, among them, “I Believe In You,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Tulsa Time” and “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.” He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
In a press release announcing the project, Williams is understated. “I didn’t do this album because I just felt that I was going to die if I didn’t do another one, but because of all of that encouragement to do it,” he says. “So here we are—and now I’m feeling good about it.”
Among the longtime Williams admirers who contribute to the 10-song album are fellow stars Keith Urban, Alison Krauss and Vince Gill, who add key instrumental and vocal backing. Krauss duets with Williams on the album track “I Just Come Here for the Music.”
Band Will Play For High School Students, Plus A Community Benefit
Lady Antebellum may be touring arenas these days, but on May 16 they’ll scale back a bit and perform for a group of high school juniors and seniors in Louisville, Ky.
Three weeks ago, the group launched a contest, offering to perform at the prom of a winning high school this spring. After reviewing all of the submissions, the trio unanimously chose the community of Henryville, Ind., for their story of resilience and unity following devastating tornados earlier this month. The school not only submitted their own moving submission, but other schools across the country also submitted videos campaigning on behalf of Henryville High School.
Due to a previously scheduled commitment, the trio won’t be able to make school’s scheduled prom. So instead, the band will throw a larger event on May 16 in nearby Louisville for the school’s juniors and seniors, followed by a benefit for the community.
“The Voice” Contestant Gwen Sebastian Joins Shelton On Tour, And On ACM Awards
Toby Keith (left) will kick off his “Live In Overdrive” tour June 14 in Salt Lake City. The 39-date tour, which includes two shows in Canada, will feature Brantley Gilbert as the opening act. Gilbert is currently on tour with Eric Church. Keith’s tour is scheduled to run through Sept. 22, when it wraps in Boston.
In other news, Blake Shelton has recruited recently eliminated “The Voice” finalist Gwen Sebastian (right) to join his “Well Lit & Amplified” tour. Sebastian had been part of Shelton’s team on the NBC show until he sent her home in the battle founds this week. She had recently been named by Entertainment Weekly as the No. 4 artist to watch this season.
She will also perform with Shelton on the April 1 Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS.
“The first time I ever heard Gwen’s voice I knew it was something special,” says Shelton. “She has the rare ability to combine power with passion in her singing abilities. Although our journey together has ended on ‘The Voice,’ it’s just beginning in real life. I’m so proud every night to share the stage with her out here on [tour]. She is a star!”
“Never in a million years would I think that this journey would lead me to be on stage with Blake,” Sebastian says. “I am honored he asked me to become a part of his show and a member of his ‘road family.’ Watching him perform is a learning experience in itself. He has a big heart and an infectious laugh. Plus, he’s pretty darn funny!”
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