Nashville News and Notes for MONDAY

"CMA Country Christmas" Airing Monday Night


Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles are some of the stars helping to spread some holiday cheer with the TV special "CMA Country Christmas."  The two-hour show will air on ABC Monday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.  Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, and Jake Owen also participate in the show, along with Kellie Pickler, Rascal Flatts, Trace Adkins, and others.  The show features the stars singing songs and sharing stories of the holiday season, while "Duck Dynasty's" Robertson family is on hand for a fireside chat.  Nettles is serving as host for a fourth consecutive year.  "CMA Country Christmas" was taped at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena last month.


Carrie Underwood Shares Hopes For "Sound Of Music" Broadcast


Carrie Underwood says she's hoping the upcoming broadcast of "The Sound Of Music Live!" will do more than simply entertain TV viewers for an evening.

Carrie adds that she has a great deal of respect for any performer who's willing to display their talents live on the stage.  The country singer stars as Marie von Trapp in "The Sound of Music Live!," which will be presented on NBC Thursday night.


Garth Brooks Concert Special Brings Ratings To CBS


Garth Brooks is helping CBS to a ratings win.  "The Hollywood Reporter" says the country star's concert special, "Live From Las Vegas," was the top draw on Friday night, even without much of a lead-in.  Viewership was down compared to last year for the holiday specials that opened the night -- "Hoops & Yoyo Ruin Christmas" and "The Elf on the Shelf" -- but CBS still won with six-point-seven-million viewers tuning in during primetime.  On ABC, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Shrek the Halls" also saw a drop in viewers, and along with "20/20" attracted five-point-one-million viewers Friday night.


NBC fared slightly better, with a primetime audience of five-point-two-million for "Dateline," "Grimm," and "Dracula." Fox aired episodes of "Bones" and "Raising Hope" for two-point-three-million viewers.  One-point-one-million tuned in to The CW for "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and "Nikita."


Keith Urban, Taylor Swift Fall Short At ARIA Awards


Neither Keith Urban or Taylor Swift are adding new Australian honors to their awards collections.  The country stars were among the nominees for the 27th annal ARIA Awards -- Australia's equivalent to the Grammys -- and they both fell short in their respective categories.  Keith was in the running for two awards.  But electronic artist Flume captured the Best Male prize, while soul singer-songwriter Guy Sebastian was recognized as the Best Live Act.  Taylor was up for Best International Artist, which went to the British boy band One Direction.  Flume and the rock band Tame Impala were the big winners at the event, which took place at the Event Centre at The Star in Sydney, Australia on Sunday.


Trace Adkins Pleased With His Career


Trace Adkins says he's in "a real good spot" in his career.  The country star tells he currently has the freedom to do what he wants, and isn't "too concerned about what the industry" thinks he should or shouldn't do.  Adkins' current project is his "Christmas Show" tour, in support of his new holiday album, "The King's Gift."  He says the album was something he first considered recording 15 years ago, but he "got busy doing other stuff."  Trace adds that recording the collection of Celtic Christmas songs was "just a lot of fun."


Adkins is bringing the music to the stage in a show he describes as "more of a theatrical production than anything" he's done before.  He says it's "not just a straight-up concert," and that his film and voiceover work has served as the best preparation for the trek.  The singer launched the tour a couple of weeks ago.  He has performances this week scheduled in cities in Ohio and Illinois.  His full schedule is available at


Florida Georgia Line Celebrating A Big 2013


Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard say 2013 has been "so crazy and awesome" for the duo that it's hard to pinpoint any one thing as a big accomplishment for the year.  But he and Brian Kelley can point to a number of highlights.  Tyler tells "CMT Top 20 Countdown" working with Nelly was "a big thing" for them.  Their collaborative remix of "Cruise" sent the 2012 hit back to the top of the charts for several weeks.  Hubbard adds that collaborating with the rapper was "definitely a huge honor and really cool and a great experience."  And Kelley says another collaboration was very meaningful to them.  He says "being on the 'Alabama and Friends' tribute album was huge."  Brian explains that they're "huge Alabama fans," so he's "very proud" that he was a part of that.


Florida Georgia Line is among this year's CMT Artists of the Year.  The duo will celebrate that accomplishment on the "CMT Artists of the Year" special, airing live on CMT on Tuesday.


Songwriter Dean Dillon Recalls Start Of George Strait Connection


Singer-songwriter Dean Dillon can still remember giving George Strait the song that became the country legend's first single.  Dean says he was with "Unwound's" co-writer, Frank Dycus, when Strait's producer came looking for material.


Dillon says he and Dycus had just written "Unwound," so they gave the song to Mevis.  Dean adds that they ended up providing more than half the tracks for Strait's debut album, because at that time "King George" was an unknown artist and nobody was pitching material to him.


Dean also admits nobody knew back then just how significant he and George would become in each other's careers.  While he's has had his songs recorded by a number of stars, Strait's catalog features more than 50 Dean Dillon compositions -- including songs they've written together.  Dillon was recently recognized for his successful songwriting career with the BMI Icon Award.


Phil Robertson Slow To Warm To "Duck Dynasty" Christmas CD


"Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson admits his father, Phil, wasn't immediately on board for "Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas."  Willie says Phil remained a hold-out even after they started receiving commitments from celebrity guests.


Willie adds that Phil's reluctance actually gave him more confidence in the project.  He explains that he's used to Phil "shooting down" his ideas, and Phil's criticism this time around left him believing that a family Christmas album "probably will work."  "Duck the Halls" is spending its fourth consecutive week in the top spot on the Billboard Country Albums chart.  In addition to Strait, other guests on the project include Luke Bryan, Josh Turner, and Alison Krauss.


Rock Hall Unveils New Elvis Exhibit


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a new Elvis Presley exhibit.  The fresh display has been created in conjunction with Elvis Presley Enterprises, and features material on loan from the rock icon's Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.  Highlights include Presley's "SuperTrike" motorcycle and the white suit he wore to sing "If I Can Dream" during his legendary 1968 "comeback" TV special.  Elvis' Army induction portrait and a number of pieces of jewelry are also on display, which the Rock Hall says helps "tell the Presley story."  The exhibit also features a new film made specifically for the exhibit, which includes performance footage from throughout his career.   The new Elvis exhibit opened at the Rock Hall in Cleveland on Friday.


Country TV Today And Tonight


CMA COUNTRY CHRISTMAS (ABC) Jennifer Nettles hosts the holiday special, featuring appearances from Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and many others.

AMERICAN COUNTRY AWARDS: VIDEO PREVIEW (GAC) Trace Adkins and Danica Patrick give a behind-the-scenes look into the upcoming American Country Awards.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1967, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner hit the charts together for the first time with "The Last Thing On My Mind."


Today in 1979, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge divorced.


Today in 1980, the "Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hits" album was certified Gold and Platinum.


Today in 1988, Ricky Van Shelton's album "Loving Proof" was certified Gold.


Today in 1991, Glen Campbell's "Greatest Hits" collection was certified Platinum.


Today in 1999, the Dixie Chicks' "Fly" album was certified triple-Platinum.


Today in 2000, Heather Kinley married pharmaceutical sales rep Mark Mendenhall.


Today in 2000, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill performed a benefit concert for the USS Cole Fund at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia.  The couple added this special performance to the last leg of their "Soul2Soul Tour 2000" with proceeds benefiting the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society USS Cole Fund, which supports the families of the 17 American sailors who were killed in the bombing of the vessel.


Today in 2002, Lee Greenwood sang "God Bless The USA" at the 79th annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony in the Wall Street district of New York City.


Today in 2004, Marty Stuart and Connie Smith participated in The 2004 Christmas Pageant of Peace Gala in Washington, DC.


Today in 2006, Dolly Parton attended a White House reception as part of the Kennedy Center Honors, for which she was an honoree.


Today in 2007, Darryl Worley and his girlfriend, Kimberly Perkins, were married in a ceremony in Columbia, Tennessee.  The singer's dad and his co-manager, Rendy Lovelady, officiated, while his brother Tom served as best man.  Guests included Worley's band and road crew.


Today in 2007, Trace Adkins sang the national anthem at the start of the Tennessee Titans-Houston Texans football game at Nashville's LP Field.


Today in 2007, Steve Azar played an hour-long free concert at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina in advance of the Carolina Panthers and the San Francisco 49ers football game.  He also sang the national anthem before kickoff.


Today in 2007, Carrie Underwood took part in the taping of the TV special "Movies Rock," a salute to movie music.  Underwood sang the title song from "The Sound of Music" for the event. 


Today in 2007, Jason Aldean's CD/DVD set "Soundcheck" was released exclusively via Wal-Mart.


Today in 2009, Taylor Swift was a top nominee for the 52nd annual GRAMMY Awards, with bids in eight categories.  Sugarland and Dwight Yoakam were among the stars who helped reveal hopefuls, which were named during the CBS special "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live! - Countdown to Music's Biggest Night."


Today in 2009, Jo Dee Messina sang "Sleigh Ride" on NBC's holiday special "Christmas In Rockefeller Center."


Today in 2009, Billy Currington announced the establishment of Global South Relief, a charity providing humanitarian aid to countries across Central America.


Today in 2010, Taylor Swift was named "Entertainment Weekly" magazine's 2010 Entertainer of the Year.


Today in 2011, Taylor Swift headlined Billboard's Women in Music event, and was named Billboard's Woman of the Year.


Today in 2011, Mindy McCready and her then-five-year-old son Zander were found in Arkansas at the home of McCready's boyfriend David Wilson, a few weeks after the singer took the boy from her father's home in Florida.


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