Nashville News and Notes for MONDAY

Underwood, Rascal Flatts Among Early ACM Winners


Carrie Underwood is among the artists who will receive off-camera honors for the 49th ACM Awards.  Because of time constraints, the Academy of Country Music has already announced winners of several awards ahead the April 6th presentation ceremony in Las Vegas.  Carrie Underwood has been tapped for this year's Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, which recognizes "unique and outstanding" achievement in country music.  Toby Keith and Ronnie Milsap will both receive the Career Achievement Award, while Rascal Flatts and Steve Buchanan will take home the Jim Reeves International Award.  The Academy also revealed that Shane McAnally will be this year's Songwriter of the Year.  While they won't be honored at the ACM Awards, these winners will be celebrated at the 8th Annual ACM Honors event on September 9th in Nashville.


The Academy of Country Music previously announced that Merle Haggard will be honored with this year's Crystal Milestone award.  CBS will air the ACM Awards live from Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 6th at 8:00 pm Eastern.   


Gary Allan, Love & Theft Talk ACM Nominations


Gary Allan and Love and Theft are just two of the acts with a lot to look forward to at next month's Academy of Country Music Awards.  Allan is up for Song of the Year for "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)," and he says it's nice to be acknowledged as a songwriter with a tune that checked off a lot of firsts for his career.


Meanwhile, Love and Theft's Eric Gunderson says he and bandmate Stephen Barker are thrilled to be included in the Duo of the Year category, which he says is more competitive than ever this year.  But win or lose, Gunderson says they're also excited to head out to Las Vegas to catch up with their fellow artists and be a part of the show.  The 49th ACM Awards will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena April 6th on CBS.


George Strait Makes Final Stop In Nashville


George Strait is giving fans in Nashville a concert to remember.  The country star enlisted some friends to join him on stage when his farewell tour stopped at the Bridgestone Arena on Friday night. says Eric Church and Kenny Chesney both made surprise appearances at the sold-out show.  Church came out to sing "Cowboys Like Us" with Strait, and he was later joined by Chesney who accompanied him on "Amarillo by Morning."  Strait is approaching the final dates of his "Cowboy Rides Away" tour, making it his last visit to Bridgestone.  Sheryl Crow served as his opening act. 


The tour continues on with dates in Wichita, Denver, Portland, Tacoma, Des Moines and Tulsa during the month of April. 


Taylor Swift Visits Sick Children At NYC Cancer Center


Taylor Swift is reaching out to the children at a cancer center in New York City.  The country star spent her Saturday visiting sick youngsters at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, according to  Some of the patients she visited have posted photos with Taylor to their social media pages.  Jennifer Huff, the mother of one of the sick children there, posted an account of Taylor's visit to her Facebook page.  She says the singer stayed on her daughter's floor for four-and-a-half hours, even though she was scheduled to move on after one.  The mother called Taylor "a beautiful woman inside and out," adding that she stayed in their room for at least 20 minutes, and even took the time to Skype with the patient's sister. 


Fighting childhood cancer has been a cause close to Taylor's heart for some time.  In 2012, she wrote and released a single called "Ronan" based on one child's battle and donated all the proceeds to charity.


Brantley Gilbert Getting Ready For "Let It Ride" Tour


Brantley Gilbert is gearing up for his "Let It Ride" tour alongside Eric Paslay and Thomas Rhett.  Apart from taking the stage with Paslay and Rhett, Gilbert says he's also looking forward to penning some songs with the up-and-comers. 


While on the road Eric Paslay will show off hits from his recently released self-titled, debut album.  Gilbert explains that he "couldn't be more stoked and proud" of Eric's success, which includes his first number one song, "Friday Night."  As for Thomas Rhett, Brantley says he's had his eye on him for a long time.  Gilbert's been able to watch Rhett's rise to stardom "since almost the beginning" of his career.  He calls Rhett "amazing," adding that he's made vast strives as both a songwriter and artist.  The "Let It Ride" tour will kick off Thursday in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  The tour will also take the three to North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas and more.  For a full list of dates and ticket information, check out 


Brantley Gilbert is getting ready to release his third album this spring.  Titled "Just As I Am," the project is set to hit stores on May 20th. 


Clay Walker Announces Chords Of Concert Lineup


Clay Walker is heading to Nashville this spring for the fifth installation of his Chords of Hope Multiple Sclerosis Benefit Concert.  Joining the singer -- who was diagnosed with MS in 1996 -- at the June 3rd show will be duo Montgomery Gentry and Dustin Lynch, who will perform as the night's special guests.  Clay says that line up will help make this year's concert the "best one yet."  Taking place at Nashville's 3rd & Lindsley, the concert will benefit MS research and awareness with proceeds going to the MS Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  For ticket information check out the website for Clay's charity, 


Vince Gill To Become A Grandfather


Country great Vince Gill is about to become a grandfather.  Gill's daughter, Jenny Gill and her husband Josh Van Valkenburg, are expecting their first child together - a baby boy due in August. Jenny made the announcement at an industry mixer in Nashville last week.  She also showed off her handed-down talents as a singer-songwriter with a performance at the event. 


CMT Launches App For Android Devices


Android users can now get the latest updates from Country Music Television on their smartphones.  CMT has expanded the compatibility of their CMT App to include Android devices.  Launched last fall, the app was previously only available on the iPhone operating system.  The app allows users to access videos from CMT's most popular shows.  With select TV service packages, users may also have access to full length episodes, deleted scenes and other exclusive content.  Users can find the app in Google Play or the App Store. 


Erika Page White Talks About Decision To Join "Nashville Wives"


Erika Page White -- wife of country singer Bryan White -- is explaining why she decided to join the cast of TNT's new reality series, "The Private Lives of Nashville Wives."


The show, which premiered last month, follows the lives of six influential families in Nashville.  Her cast mates include Cassie Chapman, wife of Christian music singer Gary Chapman; Betty Malo, wife of Mavericks frontman Raul Malo and Sarah Davidson, wife of country music songwriter Dallas Davidson.  Erika says shooting the "Nashville Wives" series alongside these women has "opened a lot of doors" for her, adding that it has allowed her to meet others she might not have otherwise crossed paths with. 


Erika has had acting roles of TV shows like "One Life To Live," Days Of Our Lives" and "Second Noah."  "The Private Lives of Nashville Wives" airs Mondays at 11 p.m. Eastern on TNT.


Today In Country Music History


Today in 1958, Private Elvis Presley was sworn into the U.S. Army.


Today in 1973, Tanya Tucker's first number one single "What's Your Mama's Name, Child" charted.


Today in 1984, Toby Keith married his wife, Tricia.


Today in 1984, Alabama scored their 12th number one hit as "Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)" reached the top of the "Billboard" country singles chart.


Today in 1995, Trisha Yearwood was at number one with her single "Thinkin' About You."


Today in 2001, Sara Evans, Alan Jackson, Lonestar, and Brad Paisley were part of the lineup as George Strait kicked off his fourth and final Country Music Festival tour in Tampa, Florida.


Today in 2002, Faith Hill performed the Oscar-nominated song "There You'll Be" at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.


Today in 2007, Carrie Underwood made her debut on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."


Today in 2008, Sara Evans announced her engagement to Alabama radio personality Jay Barker.


Today in 2008, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's "Raising Sand" topped the Canadian folk magazine "Penguin Eggs'" list of the Critics' Albums of the Year for 2007.


Today in 2009, new album releases included Martina McBride's "Ride," Eric Church's "Carolina," John Rich's "Son Of A Preacher Man," and Shooter Jennings & the 357's' "Bad Magick: The Best of Shooter Jennings & 357's;" as well as the compilation CDs "NOW That's What I Call Music! 30," which included songs from Keith Urban and Taylor Swift, and "Hannah Montana: The Movie," the soundtrack album with material from Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, and Billy Ray Cyrus.


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