Nashville News and Notes for FRIDAY

Merle Haggard To Make Grammy Performance Debut


Merle Haggard will be marking a career first next month.  The 76-year-old country legend will be making his performance debut on the Grammy Awards.  He's slated to take part in a special "Grammy Moment" that will also feature Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton and Kris Kristofferson -- one of 2014's Lifetime Achievement Award recipients.  The country stars are just some of the artists who have been confirmed for the upcoming event.  Nominees Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, and Imagine Dragons have also been tapped to perform.  LL Cool J is slated to host the ceremony, which will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  The 56th annual Grammy Awards will air live on CBS on January 26th.


Zac Brown Band, Jake Owen Playing Super Bowl Concerts


Zac Brown Band and Jake Owen will be contributing to the festivities surrounding the Super Bowl.  The country stars are on the lineup for the Bud Light Hotel Super Bowl concert series.  The performances will take place on a cruise ship docked on the Hudson River starting on January 30th -- four days before Super Bowl Sunday -- with a tribute to hip-hop in New York City featuring The Roots, Busta Rhymes, and Run-D.M.C.  Rockers Imagine Dragons will perform on January 31st,   Zac Brown Band is sharing the bill with Foo Fighters on February 1st.  The country group recently released the album, "The Grohl Sessions Volume 1," a collaboration with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl.  Jake Owen and Fall Out Boy will wrap up the event on February 2nd -- Super Bowl Sunday -- with pre-game concerts on the ship.


Miranda Lambert Launches Shoe Line


Miranda Lambert has a treat for her fans' feet.  The country star is launching her own line of shoes.  Miranda by Miranda Lambert footwear is arriving this week at select DSW, Shoe Show, and Shoe Dept. locations, as well as on the stores' websites.  A post on the singer's website describes the shoes as "just like Miranda - feisty, sexy, confident," adding that they're "bold beyond all expectations with just the right combination of edgy and feminine."  Styles include a Western cowgirl boot; an ankle-high boot detailed with a buckle and strap, side stitching, and stud accents; and an open-toe shoe with a four-inch heel, fringe, and stud accents.  A photo on her website shows six different designs, including two in black, three in varying shades of brown, and one pair of silver boots.


Taylor Swift Prominent In Billboard 2013 Readers' Poll


Taylor Swift's accomplishments and expectations -- dating back to last year and extending into next year -- have captured the interest of fans.  The country pop superstar is featured in several categories in the "Billboard" 2013 Readers' Poll.  Her "Red" trek tops the Best Tour list, while "Red" ranks second behind Lady Gaga's "ARTPOP" among Favorite Number One Billboard 200 Albums.  She's taking third place for Best Music Video with the clip for "I Knew You Were Trouble," behind Gaga's "Applause" and Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball."  Meanwhile, "Taylor Swift's Next Album" has the number three spot under Most Anticipated Event of 2014.  Gaga's next tour leads that list, followed by Britney Spears' Las Vegas residency.


LeAnn Rimes, Billy Ray Cyrus Perform At Hollywood Christmas Parade


LeAnn Rimes and Billy Ray Cyrus are some of the stars lending their talents to the 82nd annual Hollywood Christmas Parade.  The country singers performed at the charity event, which took place in Hollywood earlier this month.  A host of other celebrities also took part in the festivities.  Stevie Wonder, Kenny Loggins, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Daughtry were also featured at the event, along with William Shatner, Marie Osmond, Erik Estrada, Dean Cain and others.  Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin served as the Grand Marshall of the parade, which raised money for Toys For Tots.


"The Hollywood Christmas Parade" is slated to air on the Hallmark Channel Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. Eastern and again on December 24th -- Christmas Eve -- at 11:00 a.m.  Other stations throughout the country will also present "The Hollywood Christmas Parade" over the next two weeks.  Check local listings for broadcast details in your area.


Kenny Chesney, Lauren Alaina Share Favorite Christmas Songs


Kenny Chesney says the holiday season just isn't complete without hearing  Alabama's "Christmas In Dixie." 


And Kenny hasn't just become friends with the guys in Alabama.  He also recorded his own version of "Christmas In Dixie" with Randy Owen for his 2003 holiday album "All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Good Tan."


But Lauren Alaina has a tough time singling out one Christmas song as her favorite.  She says she's "crazy about" Mariah Carey's "Oh Santa," while "O Holy Night" really helps her "get into the Christmas spirit."  She adds that the traditional carol is special to her because it was her grandmother's favorite holiday song.


"Duck Dynasty" Christmas Album Sales Rising


The controversy surrounding "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson doesn't seem to be stopping people from buying the family's holiday album. says "Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas" is expected to sell 125-thousand copies by Sunday's end of the sales week.  That would be a 16-percent increase from last week, and bring the album's total sales to 575-thousand -- making it the second-best selling holiday album of the year.  Kelly Clarkson's "Wrapped In Red" has done slightly better, with total sales to date of 578-thousand.  However, "Billboard" notes that an uptick in sales of Christmas albums over the holiday season isn't unusual, especially as it gets closer to Christmas.


Phil Robertson caused a stir this week with his comments about homosexuality and African-Americans in an interview in the January issue of "GQ" magazine.  His inflammatory and controversial remarks have led to him being suspended from the A&E series "indefinitely."


Video Of Teenage Keith Urban On Reality Show Surfaces Online


These days Keith Urban is sitting behind the judges table on "American Idol," but 30 years ago he was facing judges on Australia's "New Faces" talent competition show.  Brisbane's "Courier Mail" has a video of the country star's performance on the Channel Nine show from 1983.  Then 16 years old, the aspiring singer did his best to impress the judges with a cover of Air Supply's "All Out Of Love."


The show's two judges were both impressed with Urban's efforts, but heard room for improvement.  One judge suggested he take singing lessons to learn breathing techniques and other ways to strengthen his voice.  The other said Keith seemed to have an instinctive feel for singing, but would benefit from formal training.  He added that he wasn't sure Keith was a strong enough performer to be a solo artist, which he admitted could simply be because of Keith's age.  He also said he thought Keith would make a good frontman in a band.


Urban will be dishing out his own opinions, suggestions, and advice to young hopefuls trying to launch a music career when "American Idol" returns next month.  The show will debut on Fox on January 15th.


Taylor Swift Credits Family's Consistency For Keeping Her Grounded


Taylor Swift credits her family for helping her keep a level head throughout her skyrocketing ride to fame.  The country-pop singer quickly became an international superstar following her breakthrough in 2006.  But Taylor says her loved ones never got caught up in the hype.


Taylor adds that she's looking forward to spending time with her family over the holidays, now that she's finished her Australian and New Zealand tour.  But she'll be returning to the road and leaving the country again early next year.  She has a five-concert run at the O2 Arena in London as well as a show in Berlin coming up in February.


Thomas Rhett Needs His Vacation Time


Thomas Rhett admits that every few months he needs to take several days for himself, and just get away from it all.  But the country singer says career has taken away his freedom to be spontaneous with his downtime.


So Thomas already knows what he'll be doing for his summer vacation next year.  He says his grandparents will be renting a house in Myrle Beach, South Carolina for the season, and he'll be joining other family members in a week-long trip to visit them.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1986, Randy Travis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.


Today in 1989, Charlie Daniels' single "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" was certified Platinum -- ten years after it was released.


Today in 1991, Collin Raye's "Love, Me" topped the country singles charts.


Today in 1992, Alan Jackson was number one on the charts with "She's Got the Rhythm (I've Got the Blues)," which he co-wrote with Randy Travis.


Today in 1997, Martina McBride was number one on the singles charts with "A Broken Wing."


Today in 1999, country music legend Hank Snow died in Nashville at age 85.


Today in 2000, the January issue of "Ladies Home Journal" magazine featured Faith Hill as one of "The Most Fascinating Women To Watch of 2001."  She shared the distinction with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julia Roberts, and Bette Midler.


Today in 2000, "Entertainment Weekly" magazine's year-end special issue dubbed Lee Ann Womack's album "I Hope You Dance" as the top choice on their annual "Best Country Albums" list.


Today in 2000, Faith Hill was named "Billboard" magazine's Top Country Female Artist, and her hit "Breathe" landed at the top of the 2000 "Billboard" year in review Hot 100 chart -- despite the fact that the song never made it to number one on the singles chart.  It spent three weeks at number two, but sustained airplay helped it earn top honors in the year-end tally.  Her husband, Tim McGraw was named "Billboard's" Top Country Male Artist of the Year, while Toby Keith topped the country singles category with "How Do You Like Me Now?!"  Phil Vassar, who had the chart-topping song, "Just Another Day in Paradise," was named Top New Country Artist.


Today in 2000, Shania Twain's album "Come On Over" was voted one of music's "new classics" by  The other albums on the list included  U2's "Joshua Tree," Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales," Madonna's "Ray of Light," and Andrea Bocelli's "Romanza."


Today in 2000, Faith Hill's "Breathe" and the Dixie Chicks' "Fly" were tied for the honor of best-selling albums of the year by the Recording Industry Association of America.


Today in 2000, Brad Paisley's hometown posted a new sign that read, quote "Glendale, West Virginia - Home of Brad Paisley, Member of the Grand Ole Opry."


Today in 2002, Faith Hill participated in the TV special "A Home for the Holidays."  The show focused on finding adoptive homes for children in foster care.


Today in 2005, Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger's annulment was completed, which formally un-married the couple.


Today in 2005, Craig Morgan's "That's What I Love About Sunday" was named the Most Played Song of the Year by "Billboard" magazine.


Today in 2005, Brooks & Dunn made a guest appearance on "The Dr. Phil Show," performing the song "Believe" on the program dedicated to miracles.


Today in 2006, Tim McGraw was named the overall top artist by the "Country Weekly's" critics panel.


Today in 2007, Blake Shelton's Oklahoma City group took third place on NBC's "Clash of the Choirs."  Team Shelton won 50-thousand-dollars their charities -- for Project Rebuild, which helps with natural disaster recovery; and MWR, which supports members of the military and their families.  Nick Lachey's Cincinnati choir won the 250-thousand-dollar grand prize, while Patti LaBelle's Philadelphia ensemble came in second.


Today in 2009, Carrie Underwood became an engaged woman when boyfriend Mike Fisher popped the question.  The couple had been dating for about a year.  They held their wedding in Atlanta in July 2010.


Today in 2009, Sugarland was among the performers on the holiday special "Christmas In Washington."  The show was taped at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.  The President and First Lady and other Washington dignitaries were among those in the audience.


Today in 2010, reps for Shania Twain confirmed that the singer was engaged to Frederic Thiebaud.  Frederic's ex-wife is the woman with whom Shania's ex-husband allegedly had an affair, which led to the end of her first marriage.  Frederic reportedly popped the question a few months earlier.  Shania and Frederic were married on New Years Day 2011.


Today in 2011, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott were both included in "Forbes" magazine's "30 Under 30 - Music" list, which highlights the 30 top achievers under the age of 30 in the music industry.


Today in 2012, Tate Stevens was named the season two winner on "The X Factor."  His success on the show earned him a five-million-dollar recording contract.


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