Nashville News and Notes for TUESDAY

Brad Paisley Kicks Off Commander-In-Chief's Ball


Brad Paisley helped get the inaugural festivities started at last night's Commander-In-Chief's Ball, honoring those serving in the military.  He kicked off the event with his hit "American Saturday Night."


Brad continued his five-song set with his current single, "Southern Comfort Zone," then slowed things down with "She's Everything," which he dedicated to the female service members in the audience.  Paisley picked up the pace again with "Welcome to the Future," his 2009 hit inspired by President Obama's first election win in 2008.  In his introduction Brad called it "a song celebrating our progress."  He ended with his usual closer, "Alcohol."


But the Commander-In-Chief's Ball was just part of Paisley's contribution to the inauguration celebration.  He also took the stage at The Inaugural Ball, the night's only other official event.


Charley Pride Performs At Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball


Brad Paisley isn't the only country star who took part in the events surrounding President Obama's inauguration.  Charley Pride was among the performers at Texas State Society's Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball, which was held in Washington, DC Saturday night.  Charley says he was "pleased and honored" to take part in an event "that celebrates President Obama and the start of his second term in office."  Asleep at the Wheel and Radney Foster also performed at the event.


The Black Tie & Boots gala marked Charley's second time to perform at an event associated with a president's inauguration.  Pride previously entertained the political crowd 32 years ago at a gala in 1981 celebrating President Ronald Reagan's inauguration.


Brantley Gilbert, Jana Kramer Engaged


Brantley Gilbert's latest birthday is one he won't likely forget.  The country star turned 28 on Sunday, and popped the question to girlfriend Jana Kramer.  She said yes.  A rep for the newly engaged couple tells "People" Brantley and Jana "could not be happier," and they are "so excited to share this special time" with their loved ones.  The rep adds that the two "cannot wait" to embark on the rest of their lives together.  Gilbert planned out the proposal, renting out Nashville's Ryman Auditorium and asking Kramer to be his bride at the famed venue where country legends Johnny and June Carter Cash met.  Jana admits she was "so surprised" by the proposal.  She adds that Brantley even asked her mom for permission beforehand, which she admits "meant a lot" to her.  The two haven't said when they want to have their wedding.


Gilbert and Kramer became a couple last year.  Brantley admitted that he and Jana were an item last fall, after they'd been dating for several months.  Jana just recently confirmed the relationship, and that they were now living together.


Taylor Swift Makes Big Book Donation


Taylor Swift continues to promote literacy and support the two communities she calls home.  The country-pop superstar has made another book donation through Scholastic Books, and is giving 15-thousand books to her birthplace, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, and to Nashville.  As a result, the Child Health Center at Reading Hospital -- where Taylor was born -- is adding more than seven thousand titles to its collection.  The medical facility promotes reading by giving children books as part of their well-child visit.


Swift's latest contribution to Scholastic's Read Every Day campaign marks her third major book donation.  Last year Taylor gave 14-thousand books to the Nashville Public Library.  She made a similar donation to the Reading, Pennsylvania library system in 2011.


George Strait Sells 77-Thousand RodeoHouston Tickes In Two Minutes


George Strait is quickly learning just how many people want to see him before he "rides away" for the last time. says tickets for the country legend's March 17th appearance at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo went at an astounding pace, with more than 77-thousand tickets sold in just two minutes.  RodeoHouston is one of the stops on Strait's recently launched "Cowboy Rides Away" final tour.  It will also mark the singer's 29th time performing at the event.  Martina McBride, Strait's tour opener, will also perform with him at RodeoHouston, while the Randy Rogers Band is also on the bill.


Strait headed out on "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour last weekend.  He kicked off the trek with a sold-out show in Lubbock, Texas, performing for more than 15-thousand people.  George followed with another sell-out Saturday in Oklahoma City, playing for a packed house of over 17-thousand.  The next stop on the trek is coming up this Friday in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Thompson Square Releasing Second Album In March


The follow up to Thompson Square's 2011 self-titled debut album will be called "Just Feels Good," and it'll be in stores on March 26th.  The project will feature the duo's current hit single, "If I Didn't Have You."  Keifer Thompson says the disc includes "a lot of fun, upbeat songs," and describes it as "very diverse and kind of all over the map."  He adds that the songs "are autobiographical," and recall his and Shawna's journey over the past few years.  Thompson Square has a full track listing for "Just Feels Good" as well as the cover art posted on their website.


Gary Allan Takes Control Over New Album


Gary Allan says he played a bigger role in making his new album, "Set You Free."  The country star explains that for the first time he laid out the track list and put the songs in sequence -- which is a rather involved process.


Gary says he used pieces of paper to help him sequence his disc, explaining that he "just sort of sat there shifting them around" until he was happy with it.  The singer adds that once he was finished he realized that the album "read like a break up."  He says the album starts with the song "Tough Goodbye" and goes through "all of the emotions of a break up, all the way into the healing part at the end" with the final track, "Good As New."  Allan's "Set You Free," which features the hit "Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)," arrives in stores Tuesday.


Randy Houser Has More Conscious Mix On Latest Album


Randy Houser says he doesn't usually map out his albums as he's making them.


But he says that he didn't have the time to write as much for his new disc, "How Country Feels," which left him "having to find out" what types of songs he already had before he went out to find additional material.  "How Country Feels" is Houser's third studio album, and the follow up to his 2010 effort "They Call Me Cadillac."  The disc arrives in stores Tuesday.


Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw, Grammy Nominees Among New Releases


Darius Rucker's latest studio effort is among the new albums arriving in stores today.  "True Believers" is Rucker's third solo country effort, and his follow up to 2010's "Charleston, SC 1966."  In addition to the hit title track the disc includes Rucker's new single, "Wagon Wheel," which features backing vocals from Lady Antebellum.


The new collection "Tim McGraw & Friends" features tracks the country star has recorded with others over the years.  The eleven-track disc includes collaborations with Lionel Richie on "Sail On" and with Gwyneth Paltrow on "Me and Tennessee."  Other stars featured on the disc include Randy Travis, Jo Dee Messina, Kenny Rogers, and Faith Hill.  Meanwhile, Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and Hunter Hayes' "Wanted" are included on the all-genre compilation "2013 Grammy Nominations."


Casey James Calls "Suitcase" An "Advice Song"


Casey James says his single "Crying on a Suitcase" carries a valuable message.  He calls it "an advice song."


"Crying on a Suitcase" will be part of Casey's set when he performs at a benefit Tuesday night in Nashville for the W.O. Smith Music School.  James is part of a lineup that also features Edens Edge, Kelleigh Bannen, Kristy Lee Cook, High Valley, and the Zac Brown Band's Clay Cook.


Country Birthdays Include


Alabama's Teddy Gentry is 61.



Today In Country Music History


Today in 1955, Porter Wagoner debuted on the Grand Ole Opry.


Today in 1969, Glen Campbell received his first Gold certification for the single, "Wichita Lineman."


Today in 1990, Randy Travis took home three trophies at the American Music Awards.


Today in 1991, an unknown Tracy Lawrence played his first showcase at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe, which led to a management contract, and eventually a record deal.


Today in 1991, Marty Stuart's "Tempted" album was released.


Today in 1991, Shenandoah earned their first Gold album for "The Road Not Taken."


Today in 1993, Doug Stone topped the charts with "Too Busy Being In Love."


Today in 1994, Hal Ketchum became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.


Today in 2001, the antique Farmall tractor used as a prop during Kenny Chesney's CMT "All Access" sold for 59-hundred-dollars in a fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.


Today in 2002, Collin Raye's "Can't Back Down" album arrived in stores.


Today in 2003, Sara Evans and her husband, Craig Schelske, welcomed their daughter, Olivia Margaret in Franklin, Missouri.  Olivia joined her big brother Avery Jack.


Today in 2004, Terri Clark made her Australian concert debut with a show in Tamworth.  She was originally slated to make her first trip to Australia in 2001, but the September 11th terrorist attacks forced her to scrap those plans.


Today in 2005, Keith Urban hosted the 3nd annual "Max It Out for Meningitis" benefit at Rocketown in downtown Nashville.  Proceeds went to the Edwards Pediatric Meningitis Research Fund via Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.


Today in 2007, Gretchen Wilson attended a reception in Nashville for nominees for the 49th annual Grammy Awards, for which she was in the running for Best Female Country Vocal Performance with "I Don't Feel Like Loving You Today."


Today in 2007, Keith Urban addressed his stint in rehab in a video message on his website, thanking his fans for their support and noting that he had various reasons for seeking treatment.


Today in 2007, Trisha Yearwood performed a concert benefiting her husband Garth Brooks' charity Teammates for Kids.  Brooks hosted the event, which was part of the  National Hockey League's All-Star Weekend at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas.


Today in 2008, new CD releases included Chuck Wicks' "Starting Now" and Laura Bryna's "Trying to be Me."


Today in 2010, Keith Urban and Taylor Swift were among the performers at the George Clooney-led "Hope For Haiti Telethon," a multi-network international fundraiser in support of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.


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