Singer To Star In ABC’s “Duets” with Kelly Clarkson, Lionel Richie and Robin Thicke
The musical reality series genre on TV is getting even more crowded this year. On the heels of news that John Rich will take part in a new series called “The Star Next Door” on the CW network (see story below) comes word that Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles will join fellow stars Kelly Clarkson, Lionel Richie and Robin Thicke as judges/mentors on yet another new series, ABC-TV’s “Duets," set to debut this summer.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the four stars will be “combing the country in search of undiscovered talent to mentor. Each of them will choose two singers to be their duet partners for weekly performances, with one winner getting a recording contract with Hollywood Records.” It will be interesting to see what happens in the event a country singer wins, as Hollywood Records no longer has a Nashville arm since the shutdown of Lyric Street Records a couple of years ago.
Nashville insider Robert Deaton will serve as the executive producer of “Duets,” a role he also handles for the annual Country Music Assn. Awards, which also air on ABC.
The new shows join such established musical reality programs as “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “X Factor.”
Tim McGraw’s “Please Remember Me” Chosen To Usher Contestants Off This Season
Reigning “American Idol” Scotty McCreery has been tapped to record the goodbye song that will be used to usher eliminated contestants off the FOX show for season 11, which is currently airing. McCreery recorded his own version of Tim McGraw’s 1999 hit “Please Remember Me.” It will be used for the first time on Thursday’s show, and every week thereafter until the finale.
“It’s always a sad time whenever this song is played, but it’s definitely a really big part of the show,” McCreery says in a statement issued by his record label. “I never had to experience that feeling personally, but I always felt the pain because we became such a close family on the show. We were such a tight-knit group of people, so it was always sad to see people go. The send-off song was always a way to stay connected to the show. I’m glad they chose me to do it.”
McGraw’s original version of “Please Remember Me” spent five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and McCreery says it was an appropriate choice for this years sayonara song.
“When you are eliminated, whether it’s early on or down the road in the competition, you always want people to remember you,” he says. “You want to get to work and put out some good music, and through that music, people will remember you. This is one way this lyric can be interpreted for this goodbye song.
“Tim did such a fantastic job with it when he cut it. Hopefully we will live up to his expectations and he will like it,” McCreery continues. “I sent Tim a message and told him that we cut it and I hope that he liked it. He told me, ‘Great man. I can’t wait to hear it. I’m sure you nailed it.’ It was cool hearing that feedback from a country superstar.”
As HitFix.com points out, there’s a precedent for past “Idols” doing the exit songs: Chris Daughtry’s “It’s Not Over” was used for season six. And Last year, season 7 winner David Cook recorded a version of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” as the farewell song.
McCreery, who won the show last May, will return to perform on “American Idol” later this season.
“I am pumped,” he says. “That was my launching pad and what gave me my platform to do what I’m doing now. Anytime I can go back and see some familiar faces and say thanks, I will be the first one to do it.
“I am excited to go up there and sing and hopefully have some one-on-one time with contestants and see what they are up to and maybe have a chance to give them some advice and some of my ins and outs of the competition that I learned through my experience.”
Gloria Estefan Will Be Among His Co-Stars
John Rich will be among the judges in a new musical reality TV series, “The Star Next Door,” according to TheWrap.com. Gloria Estefan will also star in the series, which will air on the CW network. Queen Latifah is an executive producer.
The show “will feature Estefan, country singer John Rich and other musicians scouring the nation for homegrown talent, grooming and mentoring the local performers as they prepare to ready themselves for a nationwide audience,” The Wrap reports.
Additional mentors and a host to be announced at a later date.
Series—To Star TV Vets Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere—Is Set Within The Country Music Business
The Hollywood Reporter breaks news that ABC is working on a new drama pilot titled “Nashville” that will star former “Friday Night Lights” actress Connie Britton (pictured) as an "aging" country star forced to tour with an up and coming younger female singer. The Hollywood Reporter describes the show as “a family soap set against the backdrop of the Nashville music scene revolving around one star at her peak and another on the rise.”
Britton, who is 45 in real life, will play a 40-year-old country music superstar named Rayna, who is being forced to team with teen breakout star Juliette Barnes (played by Hayden Panettiere, 22) on tour as her own album sales are struggling. The plot is not unlike that of the 2010 Gwyneth Paltrow film “Country Strong.”
Callie Khouri (“Thelma & Louise”) and R.J. Cutler will write and executive produce the drama project from ABC Studios, Lionsgate and Gaylord Entertainment. The latter’s Opry Group president Steve Buchanan, a genuine Nashville music business insider, will serve as an executive producer and, hopefully, add some authenticity to the scripts.
Also cast in the show are actors Powers Boothe, Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen, Jonathan Jackson, Robert Wisdom and Eric Close, who will play Britton’s on-screen husband.
Plus, News From Brad Paisley, Randy Houser, Katie Armiger
• The new ABC Television Network series “GCB,” which debuted this week, will spawn a soundtrack album, set for release May 8 on Elektra Nashville. “GCB” star Kristin Chenoweth (pictured), who released a country album last year, contributes three tracks to the compilation, including a duet with co-star Miriam Shor on the gospel song “This Little Light of Mine.” Other contributing artists include John Rich (of Big & Rich), the JaneDear girls, and Emily West. Damien Horne, Joanna Cotten, Don Derby, Jaime Hanna, Bum Steers, and Dean Alexander round out the soundtrack.
Fans can click on www.abcmusiclounge.com or visit iTunes each week to purchase a featured song from the soundtrack. The JaneDear girls’ “Good Girls Gone Bad,” Chenoweth’s “Blessed Be the Ties That Bind,” and West’s “Cross My Heart” are all available now.
• After wrapping the first leg of the successful Virtual Reality World Tour this past weekend, Brad Paisley announced an additional 43 dates this week. Continuing on the tour will be reigning ACM and CMA new artist of the year The Band Perry, reigning “American Idol” Scotty McCreery, and Mercury Records recording artist Easton Corbin on select dates The new leg kicks off May 18 in St. Louis and wraps Oct. 20 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
• Katie Armiger (right) will kick off her “Get Smart Tour” (named by her fans on Armiger’s social media pages) on March 23 in West Hartford, Conn. The 26-city tour will be sponsored by Great American Country (GAC). Armiger’s first headline tour will make stops at colleges, universities, and major fairs and festivals across the country, and she is expected to try out some new songs from her forthcoming fourth studio album. The tour is slated to run through August.
• Randy Houser and his wife, Jessa Lee Houser, welcomed their first child, a baby boy, into the world on Tuesday. His name has not been announced. The baby weighed in at 6 lbs., 11 oz. and 19 inches long. The couple married in a private ceremony in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in September.
Singer Co-Produced And Wrote Most Of The New Set
Lee Brice will release his second album, “Hard 2 Love,” April 24 on Curb Records. It features his current, nearly top 10 (and climbing) single, “A Woman Like You.”
Brice co-produced his new album, and co-wrote eight of the 13 tracks. It follows his debut set, “Love Like Crazy,” which included the hit single of the same name.
Other hits Brice had a hand in writing include the Eli Young Band’s recent No. 1, “Crazy Girl,” and Garth Brooks’ “More Than A Memory.”
For the album cover (right), Brice is sporting a new and much improved style, but he's hard to recognize without his signature backwards baseball cap.
Veteran Session Musician Hargus “Pig” Robbins Also To Be Inducted
The Country Music Association announced today that Garth Brooks (left), piano/keyboard player Hargus “Pig” Robbins, and Connie Smith will become the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Induction ceremonies for all three will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum later this year. Following their induction, the Hall of Fame will number 118 members. Brooks will be inducted in the “Modern Era Artist” category, while Smith will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category. Robbins will be inducted in the “Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980” category, which is awarded every third year.
Brooks’ hit streak includes 36 top 10s between 1989 and 2007, 19 of which went all the way to No. 1. To date, Brooks has sold more than 128 million albums. He has won 11 CMA Awards, 17 American Music Awards (including being named "Artist of the Decade for the ’90s”), two Grammy Awards, and 12 People's Choice Awards.
Smith (right) notched 20 top 10 hits between 1964 and 1976 the first of which, “Once A Day,” was her only No. 1, although it spent eight weeks at the top of the Billboard chart. Last year, Smith released her 53rd album, “Long Line of Heartaches,” on Sugar Hill Records.
Robbins, who has been blind since the age of four, is one of the most accomplished Nashville session pianist/keyboardists in history. As a longtime member of what was known as the Nashville “A” Team, a group of A-list studio musicians, he performed on hundreds of hits including Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “I Fall to Pieces,” and Smith’s “Once A Day.”
Robbins won CMA instrumentalist of the year in 1976. Thirty-four years later, he won the CMA musician of the year award in 2000. He and his fellow members of the Nashville "A" Team were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007.
“I am astounded and honored to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame,” said Brooks in a statement released by the CMA. “At the same time, I can’t help but feel guilty going in when there are so many deserving artists that came before me who are yet to be inducted.”
“I just couldn’t believe it the other day when [CMA chief executive officer] Steve Moore called and informed me that I had been chosen to become one of the new members of the Country Music Hall of Fame,” said Robbins (left). “All I could say was ‘thank you, thank you, thank you!’ I have always considered myself lucky, and I guess my good luck has struck again. I am so honored to be named one of the new members.”
“I've had the privilege of participating in several Hall of Fame inductions,” said Smith. “They were all very special. But now to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame myself is an honor for me and my family. So touching, it’s difficult to find the words to express my gratitude.”
CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format.
Singer Say 'Reality' Was Hatched In The Dentist's Chair
A visit to the dentist's chair may be unpleasant, but for Kenny Chesney it sparked the idea for his latest hit, "Reality," which just became his 23rd No. 1 single. Chesney co-wrote the song with longtime writing partner and Brett James, but the idea was hatched while Chesney was getting his teeth worked on.
Chesney explains, “I was lying in the chair. I had the mask on, you know, where they give you that funny gas so they can work on your mouth without you feeling it, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I haven’t been this relaxed in a long time.’ That was my escape from reality, and that’s what the song is about.
"When people come to our shows, they’re not thinking about what’s going on in their job or school, they’re having fun, escaping reality and I’m glad to be a part of that," Chesney continues. "I say it every night on stage, we all got problems but for the next couple of hours, let’s push them aside and relax. That’s how I feel about it!”
He'll be back on the road June 2 when his "Brothers of the Sun" tour with Tim McGraw kicks off in Tampa, Fla.
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