Nashville News and Notes for THURSDAY

Luke Bryan Leads Country Nominees For Billboard Music Awards


Luke Bryan is the top country contender heading into the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.  The singer has seven bids in six categories -- he has two tracks vying for Top Country Song.  He's also a contender for the all-genre Top Male Artist, Top Billboard 200 Artist, and Top Billboard 200 Album, as well as Top Country Artist and Top Country Album.  Florida Georgia Line is receiving recognition as well, getting four nods include the all-genre Top Duo/Group.  Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, and Darius Rucker also have multiple chances to win, while Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks each earned a nomination.  Imagine Dragons and Lorde lead the lineup of hopefuls with 12 nominations apiece. 


Luke Bryan is also in the running for the Billboard Milestone Award.  He and Carrie Underwood are among the six semifinalists vying for the fan-voted honor.  The three finalists will be named on April 21st.  The winner will be announced during the awards ceremony.  The 2014 Billboard Music Awards will be presented in a ceremony in Las Vegas, and air on ABC on May 18th.


A rundown of the 2014 Billboard Music Awards country-related categories follow


Top Billboard 200 Album


Beyonce, "Beyonce"

Luke Bryan, "Crash My Party"

Drake, "Nothing Was The Same"

Eminem, "The Marshall Mathers LP 2"

Justin Timberlake, "The 20/20 Experience"


Top Duo/Group


Florida Georgia Line

Imagine Dragons

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

One Direction



Top Male Artist


Luke Bryan



Bruno Mars

Justin Timberlake


Top Billboard 200 Artist



Luke Bryan


One Direction

Justin Timberlake


Top Social Artist


Justin Bieber

Miley Cyrus

One Direction


Taylor Swift


Top Country Artist


Luke Bryan

Florida Georgia Line

Darius Rucker

Blake Shelton

Taylor Swift


Top Country Album


Garth Brooks, "Blame It All On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences"

Luke Bryan, "Crash My Party"

Florida Georgia Line, "Here's To The Good Times"

The Robertsons, "Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas"

Blake Shelton, "Based on a True Story..."


Top Christian Album


Alan Jackson, "Precious Memories: Volume 2"

Skillet, "Rise"

Third Day," "Miracle"

Chris Tomlin, "Burning Lights"

Various Artists, "WOW Hits 2014"


Top Country Song


Luke Bryan, "Crash My Party"

Luke Bryan, "That's My Kind Of Night"

Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, "Cruise"

Darius Rucker, "Wagon Wheel"

Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies, "Boys 'Round Here"


Billboard Milestone Award (semifinalists)


Luke Bryan

Ellie Goulding

Imagine Dragons

John Legend


Carrie Underwood


Eric Church Launching "The Outsiders World Tour" This Fall


Eric Church will be hitting the road behind his latest album.  The country star has announced the initial dates to his "The Outsiders World Tour."  Eric will kick things off with a 31-date North American run, beginning in Bossier City, Louisiana on September 11th.  The trek will keep Church on the road through the end of the year, wrapping up in Birmingham, Alabama on December 13th.  Dwight Yoakam will also perform at all shows.  The Brothers Osborne are slated to start the trek with Eric, and Brandy Clark will take over as the opener in Charlottesville, Virginia on October 16th.  Church will finish the tour with the rock group Halestorm opening the shows.  Ticket information is available at


Eric Church's "The Outsiders World Tour" North American Dates


Sept. 11 - Bossier City, La. - CenturyLink Center - with the Osborne Brothers

Sept. 13 - St. Louis, Mo. - Scottrade Center - with the Osborne Brothers

Sept. 16 - Minneapolis, Minn. - Target Center - with the Osborne Brothers

Sept. 17 - Des Moines, Iowa - Wells Fargo Arena - with the Osborne Brothers

Sept. 18 - Omaha, Neb. - CenturyLink Center - with the Osborne Brothers

Sept. 25 - Louisville, Ky. - KFC Yum! Center - with the Osborne Brothers

Sept. 26 - Charleston, W.Va. - Charleston Civic Center - with the Osborne Brothers

Sept. 27 - Greensboro, N.C. - Greensboro Coliseum - with the Osborne Brothers

Oct. 9 - Grand Rapids, Mich. - Van Andel Arena - with the Osborne Brothers

Oct. 10 - Cleveland, Ohio - Quicken Loans Arena - with the Osborne Brothers

Oct. 11 - Pittsburgh, Pa. - Consol Energy Center - with the Osborne Brothers

Oct. 16 - Charlottesville, Va. - John Paul Jones Arena - with Brandy Clark

Oct. 17 - New York, N.Y. - Madison Square Garden - with Brandy Clark        

Oct. 18 - Philadelphia, Pa. - Wells Fargo Center - with Brandy Clark

Oct. 23 - Manchester, N.H. - Verizon Wireless Arena - with Brandy Clark

Oct. 24 - Uncasville, Conn. - Mohegan Sun - with Brandy Clark

Oct. 25 - Uncasville, Conn. - Mohegan Sun - with Brandy Clark

Oct. 30 - Knoxville, Tenn. -Thompson-Boling Arena - with Brandy Clark

Oct. 31 - Memphis, Tenn.- FedExForum - with Brandy Clark  

Nov. 1 - Tulsa, Okla. - BOK Center - with Brandy Clark 

Nov. 13 - London, Ont. - Budweiser Gardens - with Brandy Clark

Nov. 14 - Hamilton, Ont. - FirstOntario Centre - with Brandy Clark

Nov. 15 - Ottawa, Ont. - Canadian Tire Centre - with Brandy Clark

Nov. 20 - Green Bay, Wis. - Resch Center

Nov. 21 - Peoria, Ill. - Peoria Civic Center - with Halestorm

Nov. 22 - Evansville, Ind. - The Ford Center - with Halestorm

Dec. 5 - Kansas City, Mo. - Sprint Center

Dec. 6 - Sioux Falls, S.D. - Denny Sanford Premier Center - with Halestorm

Dec. 11 - Atlanta, Ga. - The Arena at Gwinnett Center - with Halestorm

Dec. 12 - Lexington, Ky. - Rupp Arena - with Halestorm

Dec. 13 - Birmingham, Ala. - BJCC Arena - with Halestorm


Dan + Shay Make Chart History With Debut Album


New country duo Dan + Shay is starting their chart career at the top.  Their debut album, "Where It All Began," is opening at number one on the Billboard Country Albums, with sales of just under 29-thousand.  With the accomplishment Dan + Shay has also become the first duo in the Soundscan era to debut at the top of the Country Albums list.  They're also making a top ten entry on the all-genre Billboard 200, landing at number six.  "Where It All Began" features the hit "19 You + Me."  The song is at number eleven on the Hot Country Songs chart and number 12 on the Country Airplay list, and still rising on both charts.


Carrie Underwood Honoring Linda Ronstadt At Rock Hall Induction Ceremony


Carrie Underwood will help the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebrate the Class of 2014.  The country star will be on hand to help salute inductee Linda Ronstadt, whose health is preventing her from attending the ceremony.  Carrie has been tapped to join Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, and Stevie Nicks in performing a tribute to Ronstadt.  The Eagles' Glenn Frey, who was once in Linda's backing band, will handle her induction.  The Rock Hall's 29th Annual Induction Ceremony will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York Thursday night.  A highlights special from the event will air on HBO on May 31st.


Kellie Pickler Likes Tone, Message Of Current Single


Kellie Pickler says she enjoys her current single, "Closer To Nowhere," for a few reasons.  The country star tells she likes that it's "a love song that's not too heavy."  She explains that it's "about getting away from the craziness and the hustle and bustle of the world and just being with your significant other," which she believes is important to any relationship.  Kellie says all couples "need to make time" for one another, because "you don't want to be married to a stranger."  She adds that she and her husband, Kyle Jacobs, make their marriage their top priority, and "work always comes second."  "Closer To Nowhere" is the third single from Pickler's most recent album, "The Woman I Am."


Keith Urban Shares His Advice To "American Idol" Hopefuls


Keith Urban says being on "American Idol" isn't a free ticket to fame.  The country star explains that competing on the show helps aspiring singers gain exposure and name recognition, but it's only a stepping stone.

Urban adds that he'd give the same advice to the "Idol" winner that he would to any of the show's finalists.  He says he'd remind them that "winning 'Idol' doesn't automatically catapult you into the stratosphere," but it's what they do "going forward" that will determine their future in the music industry.


Thomas Rhett Both Pleased, Frightened By His Star Power


Thomas Rhett admits he finds his star power a little intimidating.  But the country star says he's glad he can use his celebrity to support important causes, like ending hunger in America..


Rhett was among the stars who took part in last weekend's two-day ACM Party for a Cause Festival.  The singer performed on the event's first day, which supported the organization Outnumber Hunger.  Thomas says it's "mind-boggling" to realize just how extensive the issue of hunger is just in Nashville alone.  He adds that it's "very rewarding" to be able to do something to help.


Hough Siblings To Be Honored At UCLA Children's Hospital Event


Julianne Hough and her brother Derek are being honored for their humanitarian efforts with a Los Angeles children's hospital.  Dr. Sherin Devaskar at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA says the brother and sister duo will receive this year's Kaleidoscope Award at Thursday night's second annual Kaleidoscope Ball charity event.


Vince Gill and Amy Grant are slated to perform at the event, while TV personality Maria Menounos will serve as the host.  The Kaleidoscope Ball is a fundraiser for the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute, which works to improve children's healthcare around the globe.  Also being honored at this year's event is nine-year-old Grace Suomi , a former Children's Hospital UCLA patient who will receive the Innovator Award for her work in helping the families of children at the hospital.


Country Thunder Begins In Arizona


Thompson Square is the opening day headliner as the Southwestern edition of this year's Country Thunder gets under way.  The music starts in Florence, Arizona this afternoon with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Will Hoge among the performers.  The Band Perry tops the bill for Friday, which also features Easton Corbin, Cassadee Pope, and others.  Craig Morgan and Mark Chesnutt are among the stars who'll perform Saturday before Miranda Lambert delivers her headlining set.  Jason Aldean will close the festival on Sunday, capping off a lineup that also features Tyler Farr, Joe Diffie, and more.


Lambert and Aldean are also slated to perform at the summer edition of Country Thunder.  Gary Allan and Brantley Gilbert are the other headliners for that festival, taking place in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin from July 24th through the 27th.


Today in Country Music History


Today in 1971, John Denver made his pop chart debut with "Take Me Home Country Roads."


Today in 1982, the single "Always On My Mind" by Willie Nelson entered the Top 40 chart.


Today in 1989, after winning countless awards, racking up over 20 number one hits,and selling 50 million records worldwide, Alabama was named "80's Artist of the Decade" by the Academy of Country Music.


Today in 2002, after enjoying more than four decades of success in the music business, the Statler Brothers announced plans to say goodbye to touring.


Today in 2002, Lonestar's album "I'm Already There" was certified Platinum, while Brad Paisley's album "Part II" was certified Gold.


Today in 2003, Sara Evans visited Vanderbilt Childen's Hospital in Nashville to sing to the young patients and spotlight the annual Music City Tennis Invitational, which raises funds for the hospital.  Songwriters Marcus Hummon and James Slater accompanied her on the mission.


Today in 2006, "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood won two awards at the 2006 CMT Music Awards, including Female Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year for her clip "Jesus Take The Wheel."  Keith Urban's "Better Life" captured the top prize of Video of the Year.  Brad Paisley's duet with Dolly Parton, "When I Get Where I'm Going," took the title of Most Inspiring Video of the Year.  Other winners include Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, and Billy Currington.  Hank Williams, Jr. was a special honoree, receiving CMT's Johnny Cash Visionary Award.


Today in 2007, The Hendersonville, Tennessee house of the late country legend Johnny Cash, which the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb had purchased in January 2006, was destroyed in a fire sparked by workers restoring the home.


Today in 2008, Brad Paisley was honored at a "ten" party in Nashville.  The event recognized the country star for selling ten-million records and logging ten number one hits over the course of his ten-year career.


Today in 2008, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Lari White, and Jimmy Dean were among the performers at a benefit for the Vanderbilt Voice Center at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.


Today in 2009, George Strait lost his older brother.  John "Buddy" Strait was found dead in a hotel room in San Antonio, Texas.  Buddy was 58.


Today in 2010, Dolly Parton, Wynonna, the Oak Ridge Boys, and Alison Krauss were among the many stars who took part in a special tribute concert in Ledyard, Connecticut celebrating Kenny Rogers' 50th anniversary in music.  The lineup also featured Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Chris Isaak, Sheena Easton, and original members of The First Edition -- Rogers' band from 1967 until 1975.  In addition, Tim McGraw, Billy Currington, and Darius Rucker contributed taped segments which were included in the TV special, "Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years."


Today in 2011, Willie Nelson was among the performers at the Kokua For Japan Benefit Concert in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The event raised one-point-six-million-dollars for the American Red Cross' efforts in Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan a month earlier.


Today in 2011, The Judds' self-titled docu-series debuted on the Oprah Winfrey Network.


Today in 2013, Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare, and "Cowboy" Jack Clement were named as the new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.


Today in 2013, Craig Morgan officially began the 6th annual Fjällräven Polar .  The five-day, 200-mile dogsled race takes place north of the Arctic Circle, from Signaldalen, Norway to Jukkasjärvi , Swedish Lapland.


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