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Mark Seliger/ABCIf you're wondering who came up with the idea to use this year's CMA Awards to honor country's most-loved female voices, you probably don't have to look much farther than twelve-time host, Carrie Underwood.

"When we started talking about the CMAs this year, thinking about what theme we might have... I definitely was kind of pushing for a tribute to females in country music," she tells ABC Audio.

While the lack of female voices on country radio has been a hot topic for some time, Carrie sees 2019 as the time quite a few people finally decided to do something about it.

"I feel like right now, this year in country music, a lot of us have decided to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak," she says candidly. "I feel like we've been talking about needing more of a presence of women in country music."

"I'm not the only female headlining tour with all-female acts," she adds. "I feel like we all decided, 'Well, we['re] just gonna have to do it ourselves!'" she laughs.

This year, both Carrie and Miranda Lambert both hit the road on all-girl tours.

On Country Music's Biggest Night, Carrie enlists Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire to continue the cause.

"It's all about just lifting each other up, supporting each other with Dolly and Reba," Carrie explains. "I feel like we all get to be ourselves. We're all adding our own lines to to the script, and wanting to be ourselves, but also just wanting to lift each other up, support each other."  

We'll find out exactly what Carrie, Reba, and Dolly have come up with Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET, as the 53rd Annual CMA Awards air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on ABC. 

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockCraig Morgan will perform "The Father, My Son, and The Holy Ghost" this morning on NBC's Today with Hoda & Jenna. 

Dog Tales, a new podcast focusing on heroic dogs, has donated $10,000 to Miranda Lambert's MuttNation, which helps animals living in shelters.  

Lewis Brice, brother of Lee Brice, was awarded the International Song of the Year at the 2019 British Country Music Association Awards for his song, "Blessed." 

Blane Howard has released the video for his song, "Promise to Love Her." He wrote the song for his wife Megan and presented to her on their wedding day. The video includes clips from that special day. 

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Lady Antebellum is nominated for Vocal Group of the Year at Wednesday's CMA Awards, and they're also performing on the show with pop star Halsey.  Between them, the three members of Lady A have six children, so will they be watching mom and dad on the show?  Well, half of them will.

"My kid'll just love the excuse to stay up!" Charles Kelley says of his son Wade. "But he'll watch for sure, 'cause I think we're [performing] somewhere in the middle of the show."

"Yeah, the older kids will stay up," adds Dave Haywood, referring to his son Cash and Hillary Scott's daughter Eisele. "Our young girls" -- Hillary's twins and Dave's daughter, who are all under two -- "will probably be asleep by the show time."

Hillary adds, though, that when Lady A is on TV in the morning, "They're there for that every time."

"But it's going to be awesome, man!" Dave says of the kids tuning in to the CMAs. "It's so fun to watch their excitement now at this phase of our career with what we're doing." 

Charles, meanwhile, says his, Dave and Hillary's three older kids are their "mini-me's," and they may soon be following in their parents' footsteps.

"We do need to do a video at some point," he says. "If we come out with a really fun song and have the three...of them...play us? That'd be hilarious!"

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Hardy, alias Michael Hardy, has had success as an artist with songs like "Rednecker," and as a songwriter, writing hits like "Up Down," "Simple" and "I Don't Know About You." But co-writing Blake Shelton's #1 hit "God's Country" has now earned him a nomination for CMA Song of the Year, which he says is a very big deal.

"I was a songwriter for so many years, and there's a few really high honors that you can have as a songwriter," he told ABC Audio on Monday. "Song of the Year is obviously, if not number one on the list, it's right there with one of the highest honors."

But even more valuable than that may be Hardy's newfound friendship with Blake and his girlfriend Gwen Stefani.

"He [texted me and] asked if I wanted to come be in the 'Hell Right' music video," Hardy recalled. "So me and my girlfriend went and spent two days with him and Gwen and some of their friends on their ranch...and it was, like, crazy!"

"He's just the coolest guy,  Gwen is super-cool, they were both so down to earth and just made us feel...very at home," he added. "It was just one of the most amazing experiences I've had in my life."

In fact, Hardy said, at one point, he and his girlfriend were riding around in an old truck with Blake and Gwen, looking at all the exotic animals on Blake's ranch.

"We just rode around the farm for like an hour and just talked," he gushed. "And it was like, 'What is our life right now???'"

Tune in to the 53rd annual CMA Awards, airing Wednesday, November 13 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET to see if "God's Country" wins Song of the Year.

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Courtesy of PBSFilmmaker Ken Burns' new eight-part documentary series Country Music has been seen by 34.5 million people, according to Nielsen Live 7 data. That impressive early viewership makes Country Music the most-watched of Burns’ films since The Roosevelts came out in 2014.

Country Music is an all-encompassing documentary that offers an in-depth look into almost a century of musical history, from the earliest days of country music to where the genre is today.

Burns both directed and co produced the series, which premiered on September 15 on PBS, with the first four episodes airing nightly from September 15 through September 18 and the final four episodes airing from September 22 through September 25. During that eight-night premiere span, Country Musicreached an average audience of 6.8 million cross-platform viewers. 

“We couldn’t be happier with the audience we reached with Country Music,” said Burns in a press statement. “We were fortunate to travel across the country to towns large and small to discuss this film and this history, and in each, we were met with new stories about the power of music.”

If you missed Country Music, you'll soon get another chance to see it.  The series will re-air on Friday nights at 8 pm ET on PBS from January 3 to February 21, 2020.

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Chris Janson is one of the many artists who'll be performing at the CMA Awards telecast on Wednesday night.  The "Good Vibes" star thinks it's great that the show will be highlighting the female stars of country music, and that Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton and Reba will kill it as hosts.

When it comes to his personal life, Chris believes the old saying, "Behind every great man is a great woman," should be flipped, because he believes behind every great woman is a man.

"She gets all the credit. I mean, really," Chris says of his wife Kelly. "And she's just smarter and she's more wittier and she just gets it. I hate that old saying, man, 'Behind every dude...' Like, I prefer to reverse that."

He also thinks that the CMA telecast will be "killer" because of the presence of Carrie, Dolly and Reba.

'The hosting is going to be pretty much top tier. I think it's going to be the best. You've got a trio of three great women doing it and they're all really good at it. So that's gonna be amazing," Janson gushes.

As for his part of the show, Chris taking part in an all-star tribute to legendary singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson.

"Front and center, [it's] me, Dierks [Bentley], Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh and my friend Johnny O from Brothers Osborne. So it's gonna be a great tribute," says Chris.  "I'm gonna do what I do best and that's play, and sing if needed. But I'm there to provide my harmonica skills and like stand out and do my soloing and stuff. So I'm excited!"

You can watch the all-star jam Wednesday night when the 53rd annual CMA Awards airing on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

 

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CRBCountry Radio Seminar 2020 has announced the nominees for the New Faces of Country Music Show. 

The nominees consist of nine up-and-coming artists who have achieved success at country radio throughout the year. Nominees for 2020 are Morgan Evans, who had a #1 hit with his debut single, "Kiss Somebody in 2018; Ingrid Andress, whose song "More Hearts Than Mine" is currently climbing the charts; and Riley Green, who went #1 with "There Was This Girl" in 2019.

Additional nominees include Ryan Hurd, the co-writer behind such hits as Luke Bryan's "Sunrise Sunburn Sunset" and "You Look Good" by Lady Antebellum and who released three EPs as a solo artist; and "Rednecker" singer Hardy, who's known as a frequent collaborator with Florida Georgia Line and is one of the co-writers of Blake Shelton's "God's Country." 

Rounding out the New Faces of Country Music Show list is Runaway June, the first all-female trio to earn a top-five hit since 2005; Mitchell Tenpenny, who went #1 with "Drunk Me;" Matt Stell, who reached the top spot on the Billboard Country Airplay chart with "Prayed For You"; and "The Difference" singer Tyler Rich

Full-time radio employees from around the country will vote on the five artists who will be named to the New Faces class. The artists will perform at the New Faces showcase during 2020 CRS, which takes place at the Omni Hotel in Nashville February 19-21.

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ABC/Paula LoboThe 2019 CMA Awards just got a little more colorful. 

Good Morning America announced Monday that Kacey Musgraves is set to perform the famous Muppets song "Rainbow Connection" with Willie Nelson during the 53rd annual broadcast.

Kacey turned to Instagram to share GMA's exclusive announcement, alongside a throwback video of herself performing the song when she was nine years old.  "A [WILLIE] FULL CIRCLE MOMENT," she writes in the caption, alongside a rainbow emoji. 

Willie's performance with Kacey marks the first time in seven years that the legendary star has performed at the CMAs since winning the inaugural Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 ceremony. 

Their collaboration is one of many on the broadcast.  Dolly Parton will perform with For King and Country and Zach WilliamsBrooks & Dunn are teaming up with Brothers Osborne while Lady Antebellum will sing with Halsey, among several others.

The CMAs will open with a superstar collaboration as hosts Carrie UnderwoodReba McEntire and Dolly join forces with The HighwomenMartina McBrideSara EvansTanya TuckerGretchen WilsonTerri ClarkCrystal Gayle and Jennifer Nettles for a tribute to the women of country music.

The 2019 CMA Awards air live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Singer/songwriter Ryan Hurd is ready for a big night at the CMAs on Wednesday: His wife, Maren Morris, is the leading nominee with six nods, including Album of the Year.  Ryan tells ABC Audio that she can't wait to bring home some more CMA Awards.

"Between the two of us. We've got a lot of gold records and a lot of stuff on the wall that we really are proud of," says Ryan. "But...just one CMA, man. She's ready to add to that. And she's kind of got the itch, I think."

And Ryan says he's super proud of Maren's nominations, especially Album of the Year for Girl.

"She deserves it. And she made what I think is the best album of the year. So...it's just really validating to her and to everybody that worked on it: People like me that got to write for it, and producers....she's just really excited, man, and she should be."

But that's not the only exciting thing happening the talented couple's lives: They're also expecting their first child, a boy.

"We're so proud," Ryan gushes. "We had such an awesome year that this is just I don't know, this is better than anything else that we could ever imagine musically, you know what I mean? So this is new for both of us. We have no idea what we're doing. I especially don't, but I'm really excited about learning."

While the couple has a name picked out, they're not revealing it just yet, though as Ryan admits, "We're not good at secrets, so it'll probably just sneak out on Twitter or something."


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ABC/Image Group LAJimmie Allen and his fiancée, Alexis Gale, are expecting their first child together. 

The "Best Shot" singer posted a video on Instagram Monday announcing that he and Alexis will be having a girl. She will join Jimmie's 5-year-old son, Aadyn.

The couple, who share a hometown of Milton, Delaware and were introduced by Jimmie's cousin's wife, took to Disney's Beach Club Resort in Orlando, Florida to share the news. Surrounded by family and friends on the beach, Jimmie pops a balloon filled with pink dust, their loved ones cheering and celebrating at the big gender reveal.

“I’m headed into the girl-dad club. I’m happy and nervous and so excited to meet her," Jimmie shares with PeopleI hear daughters make dads better people, and I’m ready to meet my little princess and give her my love.”

Disney, the parent company of ABC News, is a special place for the couple, who got engaged in July in front of the castle at Magic Kingdom. 

“It’s going to be great watching her and her big brother Aadyn grow up together. And of course she’s going to have custom Disney Princess dresses," Jimmie adds. 

The baby is due in March 2020. 

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ABC AudioReigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year Old Dominion is going into Wednesday night's CMA Awards with their fans' seal of approval -- their new self-titled third album hit number one on the country chart.  Frontman Matthew Ramsey tells ABC Audio it's gratifying that fans are loving their new music.

"Y'know, you never really know. We think it's good, we feel like it's good, but we're so inside," he explained Monday in Nashville. "And then you push it out there and you just kind of, like, wait for the reaction. And...so far, the reaction has been incredible. And for it to hit number one is just awesome."

Also awesome is the fact that at this point, Old Dominion can barely remember how many awards they've won in total.  They think they've got three ACMs, one CMA and, as Trevor Rosen jokes, "Sexiest Men Alive!"

But if their name is called Wednesday night -- and that's a big if, because the band acknowledges the competition is stiff -- don't expect them to take the podium with a prepared speech.

"We don't really plan..." admits Matthew.

"We plan for Matt to give the speech!" jokes Brad Tursi.

"I usually just kind of, you know, wait until we're walking up the stairs to see what comes out," Matthew laughs.

The five-man band will perform "One Man Band" on this year's show.  To see if Matthew will have to come up with a great speech on the spot, tune in to the 53rd annual CMA Awards, airing Wednesday, November 13 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

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dick clark productionsShania Twain is making her grand return to the American Music Awards later this month.

The singer will be performing a medley of her greatest hits, marking her first time back on the AMAs stage since 2003.

Shania joins previously announced performers Camila Cabello, Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez, Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Thomas Rhett and Taylor Swift, the latter of whom will also receive the Artist of the Decade award at the ceremony.

The 2019 American Music Awards will air live on ABC November 24 at 8 p.m. ET.

On December 6, Shania kicks off her Let’s Go! The Las Vegas Residency at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

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ABC AudioReigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban is nominated in that category again this year. On Monday, he told ABC Audio that he can't even begin to predict his chances of repeating on Wednesday's CMA telecast.

"Well...I mean, who knows ever, from year to year to year?" he says. "But I will say to be nominated again was pretty surreal."

But according to Keith, winning Entertainer of the Year multiple times is "one of those classic things that happens to other people...right?"

However, he notes, "I couldn't picture it last year either, so don't ask me!"

Keith has more a concrete opinion on the fact that Wednesday's CMA telecast -- hosted by Carrie Underwood with some help from Reba and Dolly Parton -- will be shining a spotlight on the great female voices of country music.

"I think it's sad that we have to do something to make this intentional recalibrating of what should have been balanced all along. But I'm glad it's happening," he tells ABC Audio.  (AUDIO IS ABC 1-ON-1)

Keith will be performing a stripped-down acoustic version of his hit "We Were" on the telecast.  To see if he wins the prestigious award again, tune in to the 53rd annual CMA Awards, airing Wednesday, November 13 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

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Amy Sussman/E! EntertainmentBlake Shelton brought home the title of Country Artist of the Year at the 2019 People’s Choice Awards Sunday, and he brought his trademark sense of humor to the stage as he accepted his trophy. 

“I’m really glad I won this, because I was the only person at my table who hasn’t won anything yet, and it was starting to get a little embarrassing,” Blake said, according to E! Online. The singer also offered up a sweet, and kind of spicy, message to his girlfriend Gwen Stefani, who won the special Fashion Icon Award.

“Thanks to Pink, because now I know we can cuss on this show," Blake said, referring to Pink's profanity-laden acceptance speech earlier in the night when she received the People's Champion award. 

"And I want to say, Gwen Stefani, I love the s*** out of you. Thank you,” Blake added. 

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Blake won the Country Artist of the Year trophy over Luke CombsCarrie UnderwoodLuke BryanThomas RhettMaren MorrisKelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown.

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Comstock/ThinkstockReigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban took home his first CMA trophy in 2001. Can you recall which award it was? ANSWER: Horizon, which is now known as New Artist of the Year.

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ABC/Image Group LAMiranda Lambert’s newly-released album, Wildcard, is already hitting major milestones. The project, which dropped on November 1, debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200, making it the only debuting project in the Top 10. 

The album breaks into the chart with the #4 spot, with 53,000 album equivalents moved, 44,000 of which are actual sales.  It’s the sixth time one of Miranda’s solo albums has cracked the top 10, and she’s done it twice as a band mate in her group The Pistol Annies, too.

All six solo top 10 records have been consecutive, beginning with Miranda's second album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  That project dropped in 2007, and topped out at #6 on the chart. Miranda has only reached the top spot once: In 2014, with her fifth album, Platinum. 

Miranda’s big debut on the charts kicks off an exciting week for the singer. After celebrating her 36th birthday on November 10, she’s headed into the 2019 CMA Awards, which will take place on Wednesday, November 13. Miranda is nominated in the category of Female Vocalist of the Year.

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Mark Seliger/ABCEarly last month, Miranda Lambert put out an unequivocal endorsement for Carrie Underwood as Entertainer of the Year on social media.

Now, Carrie reveals she wasted no time thanking her friend for the lengthy, emotional post.

"I immediately reached out to her and just said, 'You didn't have to say anything, but thank you so much,'" Carrie tells ABC Audio.

"And that is one wonderful thing that has happened with all of this conversation about women in country music," she adds. "I feel like it's given us all a chance to really kind of band together and support each other and take other females out on tour with us and just encourage each other."

This year, both Carrie and Miranda hit the road with an all-female lineup: Carrie on her Cry Pretty Tour, and Miranda on her Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars run.

But Carrie maintains that Entertainer is about much more than just concert dates.

"I do feel like Entertainer of the Year is just about ALL the things," she explains. "People get really caught up on tour[ing]. And no matter what I do, like, I really want to have an amazing tour for the fans."

"But there's a lot that goes into it," she continues, "and I feel like a lot that should be considered every year."  

In 2019, Carrie's also nominated for Female Vocalist and Album of the Year for Cry Pretty. In addition to co-hosting the show that's a tribute to country music's greatest female voices with Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, Carrie will sing in the show open, and do her new single, "Drinking Alone."

Tune in to watch all the action, live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, Wednesday starting at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockIf you missed Carrie Underwood on Good Morning America and Live with Kelly and Ryan on Friday, you can watch her preview of the 53rd Annual CMA Awards online.

Carly Pearce and Lee Brice sang their new hit, "I Hope You're Happy Now," together for the first time a couple weeks ago on the Grand Ole Opry. You can check out their performance on YouTube.

Frankie Ballard and his wife Christina announced they're expecting their first child on Instagram.

LeAnn Rimes talks about her upcoming You and Me and Christmas Tour Monday on Home and Family. You can tune in to watch at 10 a.m. ET on Hallmark Channel.

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ABC/Image Group LALANCO’s booked to provide the halftime entertainment as the New England Patriots take on the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, November 24 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The match-up at Gillette Stadium is part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service” campaign, so LANCO’s set will include a special tribute to the men and women of America’s armed forces. The five-man band also promises to deliver new music, including their latest single, “What I See.”

It’s a good bet their set will also feature their chart-topping breakthrough hit, “Greatest Love Story.”

You can tune in to watch the game at 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox.

LANCO sets out on their What I See tour early next year, before joining Miranda Lambert on her 2020 Wildcard Tour.

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ABC/Image Group LAWhen Morgan Evans sings “I love you like a diamond, and diamonds are forever” in his new single, he’s talking about his better half, Kelsea Ballerini.

“I wrote ‘Diamonds’ for my wife and I’m so stoked to release it as a single,” Morgan says. “It’s a fun love song, but deeper than that, it celebrates that journey, from lost to found, you feel when you meet that person and everything changes, forever.”

“Diamonds” has already been on quite a journey of its own. Morgan recorded it with a live band at Southern Ground studios in Nashville, and then took it ten thousand miles around the world to his native Australia to finish it.

The new single’s the first taste of new music since Morgan’s debut album, Things That We Drink To. In addition to its chart-topping debut hit, “Kiss Somebody,” the follow-up, “Day Drunk,” spent 23 weeks at number one Down Under.

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