Nashville News and Notes for FRIDAY

George Jones Remembered At Public Memorial


Thousands gathered in Nashville Thursday to pay their last respects to the man widely regarded as the greatest singer in country music.  At Thursday's public memorial for George Jones, Kenny Chesney shared the deep impact the country legend had on his life.


Former First Lady Laura Bush, CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer and country singers Brad Paisley and Barbara Mandrell were also among the many stars and dignitaries who offered eulogies.  The two-and-a-half hour ceremony was held at the Grand Ole Opry House and also included memories and performances from Tanya Tucker, the Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels, Wynonna, Vince Gill, Kid Rock and others.  Alan Jackson closed the service with Jones' most famous song "He Stopped Loving Her Today."  George Jones died last Friday at the age of 81.


George Jones Music Sales Surge In Days Following His Death


People appear to be taking Brad Paisley's advice.  Following George Jones' death last Friday morning, Paisley urged those who aren't familiar with the country legend's music to "discover him now." says Jones' sales surged in the three days after he died, increasing a total of one-thousand-and-two-percent from the previous week.  His best-of sets have seen the biggest sales increases.  The 1998 collection "16 Biggest Hits" logged sales of nine-thousand -- up 441-percent from the previous week -- and is debuting at number 42 on the Billboard 200.  That's also Jones' highest placement on the all genre list.


Meanwhile, Jones downloads were up by two-thousand-739-percent.  His total digital sales of 149-thousand last week more than doubled his cumulative sales for 2013.  Jones' signature song, "He Stopped Loving Her Today," was the biggest seller.  It's entering the Country Digital Songs chart at number 15 with sales of 34-thousand -- up from one-thousand a week earlier.  "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" was also a popular download with eleven-thousand in sales, which says is "up from basically nothing" the previous week.


Keith Richards Mourning, Praising Country Legend George Jones


Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards says he "cannot express the emptiness" he feels over the the death of country legend George Jones.  The rocker also praises the Country Music Hall of Famer in his statement Thursday, calling him "one of the most individual singers of all time" who had "the most touching voice" and "the most expressive ways of projecting that beautiful instrument."  Keith says George was "as country as it can get" but was "beyond any bag you want to put him in," and was "pure American music without ever waving a flag."  Richards adds that you can "hear a million imitations on the radio every day -- but there was, and ever will be, only one George Jones."  A public memorial for Jones took place in Nashville on Thursday.


Richards was among the artists Jones had personally invited to take part in his final Nashville concert.  The all-star event was slated to take place in November.  Jones died last Friday at the age of 81, just a couple of months into his year-long, career capping "Grand Tour."


Kix Brooks, Luke Bryan Headlining Kentucky Derby Events


Kix Brooks and Luke Bryan are taking part in the festivities surrounding this weekend's Kentucky Derby.  Louisville's "Courier-Journal" says Kix will be headlining the Derby Eve Jam, taking place at the Tricia Barnstable Brown mansion Friday night.  Greg Bates will serve as the opener for the show, which is part of the 25th anniversary Barnstable Brown Gala.  Bryan is on board for Unbridled Eve.  The country singer is headlining the fundraiser, which this year is supporting the childhood hunger charity Blessings in a Backpack and other organizations.  Jo Dee Messina and Alabama's Randy Owen are also expected to attend the event, along with former NFL star Warren Moon, racing legend A.J. Foyt, actors Anthony Anderson and Jane Seymour, and others.  Unbridled Eve is set to take place at the Galt House Hotel Friday night.


Martina McBride will be taking part in the Kentucky Derby itself.  She's slated to sing the national anthem as part of the pre-race events.  NBC's coverage of the 139th Kentucky Derby will begin Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.


Jason Aldean Hosting CMT Awards; Nominees Announced Next Week


Jason Aldean will be at the helm for this spring's CMT Music Awards.  The country star has been tapped to host this year's ceremony with actress Kristen Bell.  The "House of Lies" star will be making her return to the event.  She hosted the 2012 show with Toby Keith.  The 2013 CMT Music Awards will be presented at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on June 5th.  The fan-voted event will be carried live on CMT and starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.  Nominees will be revealed on Monday, with performers and presenters expected to be announced in the coming weeks.  Tickets for the show go on sale May 11th at 11:00 a.m. Eastern through the Bridgestone box office and Ticketmaster.


Pistol Annies Making Release-Day Appearance On "Today" For "Annie Up"


Pistol Annies will be celebrating next week's arrival of their new album on TV.  The country trio will make a release day appearance behind their sophomore effort, "Annie Up," on NBC's "Today" on May 7th.  The group is slated to perform the album's lead-off single, "Hush Hush," on the show.  Miranda Lambert says she and her bandmates are excited about seeing their second album arrive in stores.  She admits that it can't happen soon enough, explaining that it's "been like waiting for Christmas morning to come."  Ashley Monroe adds that she, Miranda, and Angaleena Presley are all "super proud" of the record and they're "ready for it to be out."  "Annie Up" is the Pistol Annies' follow up to their 2011 chart-topping debut, "Hell On Heels."


Jason Aldean Warned Brittany Kerr About Divorce


Jason Aldean is reportedly showing concern for more than just his immediate family as he goes through his divorce. says the country star called former "American Idol" finalist Brittany Kerr to notify her in advance of filing his court documents.  Aldean and Kerr caused a stir last fall when flirtatious photos of the two of them surfaced online.  Sources said to be close to Kerr say Aldean wanted her to know he and his wife were splitting up, so she could be prepared for any media attention or fallout that would come from it.  Aldean filed for divorce last Friday, ending his eleven-year marriage to wife Jessica Ussery.


But Brittany's mom says her daughter is no homewrecker.  Debbie Kerr tells RadarOnline that Brittany is "not responsible for any breakup," and insists that allegations to the contrary are "simply not true."  A source close to Jason has also said that Brittany isn't to blame.  The Aldean insider told "Us Weekly" last week that there were "obvious problems" in Jason and Jessica's relationship before the incident with Kerr occurred.


Keith Urban Tops Best "American Idol" Judge List


Keith Urban is apparently making a strong impression on "American Idol."  The country star has been named the Fox reality show's best judge in a new readers' poll.  He received 30-percent of the vote to take the top spot on the list.  Urban's fellow judge Mariah Carey is landing in second place.  She's getting nods from 23-percent to just edge out original "Idol" judge Simon Cowell, who's earning support from 22-percent.  No other "Idol" judge past or present received even ten-percent of the vote.  Seven-percent like former judge Jennifer Lopez to put her at number four on the list.  Current "Idol" judge Nicki Minaj rounds out the top five.  Original judge Paul Abdul ranks eighth, while Randy Jackson -- the only original judge still on the show -- follows at number nine.  Nearly 14-hundred people took part in the poll.'s Readers' Poll Best "American Idol" Judge List


1. Keith Urban

2. Simon Cowell

3. Mariah Carey

4. Jennifer Lopez

5. Nicki Minaj

6. Ellen DeGeneres

7. Steven Tyler

8. Paula Abdul

9. Randy Jackson

10. Kara DioGuardi


Thomas Rhett Recalls Opry Debut


This month Thomas Rhett will mark the first anniversary of his debut on the Grand Ole Opry.  The country newcomer admits he was very apprehensive about performing on the hallowed stage.


Rhett made his first Opry appearance on May 19th 2012.  He says it's always special to perform on the Opry, but noting is quite like that first time.


Willie Nelson Says Thanks For Birthday Wishes


Willie Nelson is saying thanks.  After receiving scores of video birthday wishes, the country legend has posted a clip of his own in gratitude.


Numerous stars took part in the special video campaign in recognition of Nelson's 80th birthday, which was this past Tuesday.  Country singers including Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood, and Brad Paisley submitted videos for the occasion, along with an array of other celebrities ranging from Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Keith Richards to Barbra Streisand, Ringo Starr, Tony Bennett, and even SpongeBob SquarePants.  The videos are posted at


Country Birthdays Include


Highway 101 drummer Cactus Moser is 56.  He's also Wynonna's husband, and the drummer for her backing band, The Big Noise.

Shane Minor is 45.

Brad Martin is 40.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1952, Kitty Wells recorded the song "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels."


Today in 1983, Alabama's album "The Closer You Get" was certified Gold and Platinum simultaneously.


Today in 1986, Dolly Parton opened her Dollywood amusement park in Tennessee.


Today in 1993, the "Some Gave All" album by Billy Ray Cyrus was certified for sales of seven-million.


Today in 1994, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks were the big winners at the 29th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Los Angeles.  Garth skipped the show to be in Nashville with his then-wife, Sandy, as she gave birth to the couple's second child, August Anna.


Today in 1996, John Michael Montgomery hit number one with "Long As I Live."


Today in 1996, yodeling cowgirl Patsy Montana died.  She was 81.


Today in 1997, Travis Tritt, Bill Anderson, Stonewall Jackson and others attended the 50th anniversary celebration for the Ernest Tubb Record Shops in downtown Nashville.


Today in 2000, Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me" video made its debut on CMT's "Delivery Room."  Other videos premiering included the Kinleys' "She Ain't The Girl For You," Billy Gilman's "One Voice," and Sonya Isaacs' "Since I Gave My Heart Away."


Today in 2000, Roseanne Barr crashed the party that Lonestar's record company hosted following the ACM Awards show.  Lonestar and their friends were busy celebrating their ACM Single of the Year win for "Amazed," and didn't notice that someone had walked away with the trophy.  A few days later, Roseanne admitted that she hid the award under her jacket as she left the celebration at the Posto Restaurant in Los Angeles.  She followed her confession by sending the trophy to Nashville, where it was placed on display at the record label's office.


Today in 2002, Chely Wright was among "People" magazine's annual "50 Most Beautiful."  She was the only country singer on the list.


Today in 2003, Buddy Jewell became the first "Nashville Star."


Today in 2004, Keith Urban's "You'll Think Of Me" hit number one on the "Radio & Records" Country Top 50 chart.


Today in 2004, Kenny Chesney's album "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" was certified multi-Platinum, while his DVD "Roadcase" was certified Gold and Platinum.


Today in 2005, Shelly Fairchild's album "Ride," Keith Anderson's debut "Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll," Billy Gilman's "Everything and More," and The Wrights' "Down This Road" were among the new CDs arriving in stores.


Today in 2005, contestant Carrie Underwood performed "Bless the Broken Road" during an episode of FOX-TV's "American Idol." Rascal Flatts saw the episode and called her the following day with a thumbs-up.


Today in 2006, Lynn Anderson was arrested in Espanola, New Mexico, on suspicion of careless driving and aggravated DWI. According to police reports, Anderson rear-ended another vehicle. She had been arrested previously for DUI and shoplifting.


Today in 2006, Country superstar Reba McEntire began the first of 28 shows at the Las Vegas Hilton.  The singer's "Key to the Heart" concerts also supported Habitat for Humanity.


Today in 2006, Brooks & Dunn announced a tour partnership with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. that extended through 2008.


Today in 2006, Vince Gill and Amy Grant were the headliners for the 4nd annual "Max It Out for Meningitis" benefit at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville.


Today in 2007, for a second consecutive year, Tim McGraw took the title of "Mr. Mom" in a Lifetime Network survey asking which man moms would most like to have help them with childcare and other housekeeping chores.


Today in 2008, Charlie Daniels and his wife Hazel were honored with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award by Cumberland University in recognition of their service and dedication to others.  Charlie and Hazel will be recognized at the University's commencement on May 3rd.


Today in 2008, Chris Cagle took Danielle "Bella" Romeo to the Junior/Senior Prom at her high school in Victoria, Texas.  A rare seizure disorder had kept the 17-year old from attending public school, but the high school made a special exception for her to go to the prom with Cagle.


Today in 2009, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, and k.d. lang took part in the Kennedy Center's Spring Gala "A Celebration of Women in the Arts" at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, DC.


Today in 2009, Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris joined numerous rock and folk artists for "The Clearwater Concert" in celebration of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday.


Today in 2009, Clint Black was fired on "The Celebrity Apprentice" after losing in a task he was considered a favorite to win -- creating a jingle and commercial for Chicken of the Sea tuna.


Today in 2010, Chely Wright became the first openly gay country singer when she revealed to "People" magazine that she is a lesbian.  She made her announcement in conjunction with the release of her autobiography, "Like Me," which hit stores the next day.


Today in 2010, Sammy Kershaw announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana.  The launch of his "Real People" campaign marked the singer's second bid for the office, following an unsuccessful run in 2007.


Today in 2010, Jimmy Wayne was in Sacramento, California for the launch of National Foster Care Month.


Today in 2011, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Trace Adkins, Luke Bryan, and members of Alabama took part in a special Grand Ole Opry show commemorating the first anniversary of the 2010 Nashville flood.


Today in 2011, Shania Twain's autobiography, "From This Moment On," arrived in stores.  Other new releases included Chris Young's video for "Tomorrow," Colt Ford's CD "Every Chance I Get," and the Blind Boys of Alabama's album "Take the High Road," which features guest appearances from Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, and the Oak Ridge Boys.


Today in 2012, Carrie Underwood returned to "American Idol" to perform the title track to her album, "Blown Away."


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