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HBO Max releases trailer for Carrie Underwood's festive Christmas special

HBO MaxThe trailer for Carrie Underwood's HBO Max special is giving fans a preview of what will be a truly festive holiday event. 

My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood finds the superstar singer performing a myriad of Christmas classics and original songs from her album My Gift. 

Poised on an elaborately decorated stage adorned with elegant Christmas trees, Carrie is seen in the trailer crooning "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," followed by a jubilant performance of "Let There Be Peace" supported by a socially-distanced choir. 

In between a pitch-perfect duet with John Legend on "Hallelujah," Carrie can be seen belting out "O Holy Night" and offering the festive "Favorite Time of Year." 

"More than anything, I wanted to make this album full of so much love and so much heart and we wanted to bring it to life in a visual way," Carrie says in the clip, as she reflects on the meaning of Christmas growing up.  

The special also offers an inside look at the recording process of "Little Drummer Boy," which features vocals by Carrie's five-year-old son, Isaiah

My Gift: A Christmas Special debuts on HBO Max on December 3. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Lady A celebrates Christmas past and present with "Christmas Through Your Eyes" video

BMLG Records Lady A walks down memory lane in the video for their original song, "Christmas Through Your Eyes." 

The trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood share a compilation of Christmases past with vintage clips of their childhood memories, including snowball fights, pictures on Santa's lap and Charles opening a guitar on Christmas morning.

But the Grammy-winning trio now see Christmas through their own children's eyes. They include Hillary's eldest daughter, Eisele, and twin girls Betsy and Emory posing with Santa, to Charles passing on his love of music to his son Ward, who can be seen playing his own toy guitar before his dad teaches him how to play his mini drum set. A sweet snap also shows Dave teaching his daughter, Lillie, how to play guitar.

Other precious memories featured include the trio and their kids dressed in their finest matching holiday pajamas for a special performance for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital before the video ends with a young Hillary singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

"Christmas Through Your Eyes" is featured on the recently released deluxe edition of Lady A's 2012 album, On This Winter's Night. 

The group will perform two songs tonight on CMA Country Christmas, airing at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Brad Paisley to ring in holiday season with Elf on the Shelf

Mark Horton/WireImageBrad Paisley is getting into the Christmas spirit with Elf on the Shelf. 

The singer has partnered with The Lumistella Company, the creators of Elf on the Shelf, to kick off the holiday season by reciting "The Elf on the Shelf's Night Before Christmas Storytime." 

The original story follows a Scout Elf's journey to salvage Christmas Eve after it's almost ruined before Santa steps in and saves Christmas.

Brad is a longtime fan of the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon and is known to share photos and videos on social media of his Scout Elves, Snowflake and Pinocchio, getting into mischief. 

"Around our house, the Christmas season is full of family time and fun traditions. One of my favorites is waking up every morning to discover what kind of happiness and hoopla The Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves got in to while we were asleep," Brad says. "Our Scout Elves, Snowflake and Pinocchio, know how to make the holidays a time of joy, celebration and craziness."

Brad's "Storytime" session will stream on the Elf on the Shelf YouTube channel on December 2.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Matt Stell strikes gold with "Everywhere but On"

Dustin HaneyMatt Stell is going for gold. 

During a Grand Ole Opry performance over the weekend, Matt was surprised backstage with a plaque signifying that his single, "Everywhere but On," has been certified Gold by the RIAA. 

"That is incredible," Matt marveled after opening the wrapped plaque presented to him by Runaway June member and Circle All Access host Natalie Stovall. "This song means as much to me as any song that I've ever written because I've lived so much of this song and once I released it, I lived a bunch more of it," he continued. "So this is really special." 

"Everywhere but On" recently became Matt's second consecutive number-one single following his debut hit, "Prayed for You." Both tracks are featured on the Arkansas native's latest EP, Better Than That, released in October.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Keith Urban lends his voice to animated film 'Back to the Outback'

ABCKeith Urban is heading back to his native land in Back to the Outback

The country superstar has joined the cast of the upcoming animated Netflix movie that follows a group of Australia's venomous animals, who are well-meaning on the inside, as they escape from captivity at a zoo and travel across the country to find freedom in the remote land of the Outback. 

Keith, who was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, voices the character of a cane toad named Doug in a cast led by Isla Fisher, the voice behind main character, Maddie, a snake who leads the escape. 

Australian actors Eric Bana, Tim Minchin, Guy Pearce and Miranda Tapsell are among the others offering their voices to animated animals including Zoe, a thorny devil lizard, and Nigel the scorpion. 

Back to the Outback is slated to debut in fall 2021.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Country star trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockOn this date in 1990, a celebrated country traditionalist who hails from North Carolina was at the top of the albums chart with his duets project, Heroes & Friends. Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and Tammy Wynette were just a few of the big names to grace this album’s track list. Can you name the artist who released it? ANSWER: Randy Travis.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockLee Brice has signed on for next year’s LPGA Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. The golf event will take place in Orlando in January; other famous participants include ABC’s The Bachelor alum Ben Higgins, Larry the Cable Guy and more.

RaeLynn dropped a pair of Christmas tunes last week. Those are the singer’s rendition of “Silent Night” along with a quirky and slightly NSFW original, “Jingle Bell Drunk.”


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


"It’s gonna have a family vibe": Lady A get into the holiday spirit for 'CMA Country Christmas'

John Russell/CMALady A will get festive on the CMA Country Christmas stage when the special airs tonight, and the three band mates agree that they’re more than ready for the holiday season to kick off.

“It can’t get here fast enough,” laughs Hillary Scott. “But then at the same time, I want it to last forever, because it’s the most enjoyable part of the year.”

The special includes Lady A’s performances of “Wonderful Christmastime” and “Little Saint Nick,” two of the additions included on the new deluxe version of their holiday album, On This Winter's Night.

“We love Christmas songs and the harmonies, especially these two,” Hillary continues. “Particularly the harmonies. These songs are just really fun for us to sing.”

“You say fun, I say tortuously difficult,” jokes singer Charles Kelley, adding that nailing the harmonies in the Beach Boys classic “Little Saint Nick” was especially tricky.

But demanding vocal challenges aside, the trio couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the annual holiday tradition, especially at the end of what has been such a challenging year. Due to social distancing protocols, the special wasn't able to have its usual live audience in 2020. Instead, CMA Country Christmas this year focuses on a relaxed and cozy aesthetic. The special will trade glitzy, expansive stages for an at-home feel, dressing the performance sets to look like a family’s living room.

Plus, having Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins as hosts will add to the homey feel.

“It’s gonna have a family vibe,” Hillary says. “I feel like the holidays are always so much about family, and having the two of them host the night will just be really special.”

CMA Country Christmas airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Tim McGraw puts “Gravy” front and center on his Thanksgiving table with family-focused new video

John Russell/CMAThanksgiving might look a little different this year than normal, but Tim McGraw is keeping things in perspective with the heartwarming new music video for his song, “Gravy.”

In the clip, Tim spotlights cherished family memories, with a montage of home movies showing families -- including his own -- spending time together. The video even features throwback snippets of memories Tim shares with his wife, Faith Hill, and their three now-young adult daughters, Gracie, Maggie and Audrey.

It’s the perfect visual treatment for a song that underscores the most important message of Thanksgiving.

“Biscuits in the oven, chicken in the fryer / Lights turned on, cable paid / If you ask me, I got it made,” Tim sings in the chorus of the song. “If I could hug my kids and kiss my wife / One more day in this crazy life / Take a second to stop and smell the daisies / Everything else is gravy...”

“Gravy” is one of the tracks on Tim’s 15th studio album, Here on Earth, which dropped in August of 2020.


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Chris Stapleton makes his first-ever stand atop the 'Billboard' Country Songwriters Chart

ABCEarlier this month, Chris Stapleton dropped his fourth studio album, Starting Over. The project soared to number-one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and also swept into the top five on the all-genre Billboard 200.

Now, Starting Over has earned Chris yet another chart accolade. On the Billboard Country Songwriters chart dated November 28, he comes in at the number-one slot for the first time in his career.

The achievement's thanks to five songs that he co-wrote on his new album, all five of which have entered into the Hot Country Songs’ Top 50. “Maggie’s Song,” which Chris wrote solo as a tear-jerking tribute to his beloved family dog, enters in at number 50 on the chart. “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice,” “Cold” and “You Should Probably Leave” come in at number 46, 40 and 24, respectively.

Starting Over’s title track and lead single is currently in the Hot Country Songs chart’s top 10.

Following its release, Starting Over notched 103,000 equivalent album units earned, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. It’s also Chris’ fourth album to hit number one on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, following Traveller, From A Room: Volume 1 and From A Room Volume 2.


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Morgan Wallen is getting a second chance at a 'Saturday Night Live' debut next month

ABC/Image Group LAMorgan Wallen is getting a Saturday Night Live do-over in December, as he’s booked to give his performance debut on the show during one of the final three episodes of the year.

Variety reports that Morgan will perform during the December 5 episode, which will be hosted by Jason Bateman.  Morgan was previously scheduled to debut on SNL in October, but he lost his slot after a series of TikTok videos emerged showing the singer partying maskless in multiple bars and crowded rooms, raising concern over his lax approach to social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Morgan announced his new December 5 SNL date to fans on social media, along with the wry caption, “Let’s try this again.”

Getting pulled from SNL was a catalyst of Morgan to take a self-imposed break from the spotlight, after subsequently admitting to fans that he had “lost myself a little bit.”

But the tail end of 2020 has been good to the singer. Not only did he score his fourth consecutive number-one hit at radio with “More Than My Hometown,” he also brought home the title of New Artist of the Year at the 2020 CMA Awards.

The other performers taking the stage on SNL next month will be Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and Dua Lipa, while Timotheé Chalamet and former cast member Kristen Wiig are hosting on December 12 and 19, respectively.

Let’s try this again pic.twitter.com/v1CS9c1Kza

— morgan wallen (@MorganWallen) November 25, 2020

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


With help from Chris Young, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee declares Nov. 24 'Tracy Lawrence Day'

Jordan SmithTracy Lawrence is now the recipient of an official day of recognition, with November 24 dubbed “Tracy Lawrence Day.” 

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee bestowed the honor on Tracy, and Chris Young officially presented it to his fellow country star on Tuesday. “Tracy Lawrence Day” recognizes the singer’s commitment to supporting the homeless community of Middle Tennessee.

Also on Tuesday, Tracy held his 15th annual Mission: Possible Turkey Fry and Benefit Concert. Each year, the event raises funds for the Nashville Rescue Mission, as well as preparing turkeys for families in need across Music City just in time for Thanksgiving.

This year, the day started in the Nashville Rescue Mission parking lot, where volunteers began arriving first thing in the morning and fried birds through the afternoon. Tracy then hosted a livestream benefit concert, which also included appearances from Chris Young, Tim McGraw, Cole Swindell and more.

While this year’s Tracy Lawrence Day may now be behind us, you can still get involved in Mission: Possible by visiting the event’s virtual auction and bidding on items and experiences such as dinner with the singer and his wife, Becca.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Dierks Bentley trash-talks Thomas Rhett -- for a good cause -- in the #GoodHandsChallenge

ABCAs country stars and fans gear up for Thanksgiving, Dierks Bentley and Thomas Rhett have some downtime on their hands -- and they’re using it to help raise money for a good cause.

A few days ago, Thomas tried his luck at flick football as part of the #GoodHandsChallenge, which college football commentator Kirk Herbstreit launched in partnership with insurance company Allstate.

The challenge calls on fans to film themselves playing flick football, and Kirk will judge the best videos on social media. Meanwhile, Allstate will donate up to $150,000 to scholarship funds.

Kirk challenged Thomas to get the ball rolling, and the singer obliged, sending his paper football smack into the center of the goal post on his first try. He then challenged Dierks, who of course had to put his own comedic spin on the stunt.

“Here we go! Thomas Rhett said he did in the first try. Yeah, right,” Dierks joked as he got ready to take his shot, and send the paper football flying over its target.

“I mean, it was such a good kick, it went over the goalposts, but instant replay shows it was actually inside the posts, much further back than Thomas Rhett,” the “Gone” singer crowed, doing his best sports commentator impression. “I win.”

Every video submission in the #GoodHandsChallenge will be matched with a $10 donation to college scholarship funds. Anyone can participate, though Dierks singled out singer Chuck Wicks to try his hand at the challenge next.

Thanks @KirkHerbstreit for challenging me in the @Allstate #GoodHandsChallenge #ad. I challenge @DierksBentley. You’re up, buddy! Let’s see what you got! pic.twitter.com/AtxpsZGrEX

— Thomas Rhett (@ThomasRhett) November 23, 2020

Join me in the #GoodHandsChallenge where every video submission = a $10 donation to college scholarship funds via @Allstate #ad. BONUS: @KirkHerbstreit might commentate on your video. Thanks @ThomasRhett for the challenge. You're up next @ChuckWicks. pic.twitter.com/4BWXIGaYsf

— Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) November 25, 2020

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


LoCash will keep holiday traditions rolling this year with their Christmas Bash livestream concert

Courtesy of BBR Music GroupThrowing a holiday party is a yearly tradition for “One Big Country Song” duo LoCash, and this year, they’re taking the festivities virtual. The band has just announced their Christmas Bash, which will livestream next month.

“Every year we have our LoCash holiday party and this year is no exception! Like 2020, it’s going to be different than in years past -- we’re going virtual,” explains duo member Chris Lucas. “We all have so much to celebrate and want to give folks a reason to laugh and smile -- and we are ready to bring that to our families and friends.”

The Christmas Bash is set for December 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET.  Tickets are on sale now.

Fans will have two purchasing options: For $15, you can snag a seat in the virtual “balcony,” and for $30, you can grab a “front row” seat, with the band mates being able to see and hear you throughout the show. The “front row” ticket also includes admission to a pre-show hang with the band. 

LoCash has a lot to celebrate this holiday season. Not only did they score a chart-topping hit this year with “One Big Country Song,” but their current single, “Beers to Catch Up On,” is beginning to light up country radio, becoming the second-most added song to rotation last week.


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Country star trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockThis Christian, pop crossover singer is celebrating her 60th birthday. Known for her popular cover of "Sleigh Ride," she and husband Vince Gill also host a yearly holiday show at the Ryman Auditorium. Can you guess who it is? ANSWER: Amy Grant. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Morgan Wallen’s small-town anthem reaches way “More Than My Hometown” with latest chart success

John ShearerMorgan Wallen’s homage to his hometown has reached listeners in small towns nationwide, as “More Than My Hometown” ascends to the top spot on country radio.

That makes the single Morgan’s fourth in a row to go number one, giving him something extra to be grateful for this Thanksgiving week.

“Thank you, country radio, my incredible fans and my relentless team for making this our fourth consecutive number one,” the singer shared. “Also, thank you to my co-writers for collaborating with me on this song and for just being some damn good friends. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”

Morgan is rounding out his 2020 with some major career successes: Before earning his latest number-one hit, he was also named the 2020 CMA Awards New Artist of the Year. That extra validation is especially sweet coming at the tail-end of what’s been at times a challenging year in his personal life.  Earlier in 2020, he was arrested on drunk and disorderly charges in Nashville. He also revealed that he fathered a son in recent months, and he lost his debut performance slot on SNL after a weekend of partying that went against the late-night show’s strict COVID-19 social distancing protocols.

Following that setback, the singer announced he was going to take a short break from the spotlight. When he returned, he announced his new double album, Dangerous, a mammoth 30-song collection due out at the top of 2021.

“More Than My Hometown” is included on the track list for that project, and Morgan also recently shared three more of its songs. One of those, “Livin’ the Dream,” is a poignant and self-reflective song that confronts the darker aspects of celebrity.


By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman has the secret for preparing a "mighty fine" turkey

Reid Long and Becky FlukeIn addition to being one-fourth of Little Big Town, Kimberly Schlapman is known for her Southern cooking, and she's offering all the inside details for an ideal turkey this Thanksgiving.  

While the singer acknowledges that preparing the turkey can often be a challenging process, she has a tried and true way to cook a delectable bird. 

"I do have a really yummy turkey recipe. Turkey's tricky because it can be super dry, but I believe my mother-in-law taught me that if you baste a turkey the whole time you're cooking it, you can come out with a mighty fine, juicy turkey," Kimberly reveals. 

For the Georgia native, what takes the main course up a notch is her signature peach sauce from her beloved 2015 cookbook Oh Gussie!: Cooking and Visiting in Kimberly's Southern Kitchen

"In my cookbook, I have a recipe for peach sauce, so you make this peach sauce and then you inject it into the bird and then as you're cooking it, when that juice runs out of the turkey, you suck it up with the baster and drizzle on top just every 15, 20 minutes, if you can," she explains. "And it makes for a super juicy bird." 

Kimberly recently released a children's book, A Dolly for Christmas, inspired by the true story of how her daughter Dolly was adopted just before Christmas. Fans can also catch Little Big Town's performance of "Christmas Time Is Here" on CMA Country Christmas, airing Monday night at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockPriscilla Block has unveiled the video for her viral hit, "Just About Over You." Priscilla released the song independently through social media earlier this year and is now signed to UMG Nashville. 

Niko Moon recently paid a virtual visit to Notes For Notes, aiding students in a virtual songwriting and production session. Niko shared demos of unreleased songs while the students shared their own original demos with the singer. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Sam Hunt's "Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s" video offers a fresh start

Steven WorsterSam Hunt chronicles the journey of a man starting life anew in his "Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s" video.   

The clip follows a man named James as he's released from prison and now re-acclimating to civilian life. Upon returning to his mother's house, he comes across an old letter received from a past love named  Loren. He takes the letter signed "yours always" with him to the church to seek sanctuary, as Sam plays and sings on the front steps of the home. 

As James exits the church, a stranger hands him a piece of paper with Loren's number. After getting a job at a local restaurant, the video ends as James sees Loren through the window from the kitchen, walking in with her new boyfriend.  

"Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s" is the third single off Sam's sophomore album, Southside, following the consecutive chart-toppers "Kinfolks" and "Hard to Forget." Southside debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart in April.  

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton & more react to Grammy nominations

ABCMany country stars turned to social media to share their gratitude following Tuesday morning's announcement of the 2021 Grammy Award nominations.

Mickey Guyton made history by becoming the first Black female solo artist to be nominated for a Grammy in a country category, when "Black Like Me" earned a nod for Best Country Solo Performance.

“I am speechless,” Mickey shared in a statement. “This nomination is a testament to never give up and live your truth.  I can’t think of a better song to make history with than ‘Black Like Me’ and I hope that I can continue to help open doors for other women and people who look like me.”   

Fellow first-time nominee Ingrid Andress was blown away by her nominations for Best Country Album, Best Country Song and Best New Artist. 

"THIS. CANNOT. BE. REAL. 3 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS ARE YOU KIDDING ME RN????? IM SCREAMING," she professed on Instagram. "I am truly honored that the music my friends and i write is something you all can relate to. I will never forget this feeling. Thank you thank you thank you."

For Dan Shay, their collaboration with Justin Bieber on "10,000 Hours" is the hit that keeps on giving, scoring them a nod for Best Country Duo/Group performance.

"Thank you so much to the nomination committees for considering us, it truly means the world. we’re proud to share this moment with our friend @justinbieber, and all the wonderful fans who got us here," the duo wrote on Instagram.   

Maren Morris used social media to congratulate her fellow nominees for Best Country Song, for which she earned two nominations: for "The Bones" and The Highwomen's "Crowded Table." Ashley McBryde also commended the artists she's nominated alongside for Best Country Album, stating, "excited isn’t a big enough word for this feeling." 

Here are other country stars' reactions to their Grammy nominations: 

Lady A: "Thank you to every single person that has listened to this song and made it part of their story." 

Old Dominion"It’s incredibly rewarding to be recognized in such a huge way for putting ourselves out there."  

Little Big Town"Beyond grateful and completely blown away." 

Brandi Carlile"I am so unbelievably proud to be nominated in these categories!"

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Will President Trump be Re-Elected?