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ABC Country Music News

“Tequila on a Boat”: Dustin Lynch and Chris Lane dream up a perfect summer day in their new duet

Caleb Donato

Dustin Lynch and Chris Lane join forces for their new carefree summertime anthem, “Tequila on a Boat,” a song that Dustin says sums up everything he loves most about summer.

“‘Tequila on a Boat’ is a song that points to the absolute perfect day during the summertime,” the singer explains. “I love being on the water. There’s just something that’s grounding to me, and I’ve made so many memories over the years with great friends, being on a boat and just doing life together. ‘Tequila on a Boat’ puts me in that headspace no matter where I am, and I hope it does to you, too.”

The song’s music video shows a series of boat parties in slow-motion, with different groups of friends -- including Chris and Dustin themselves-- hanging out on the water.

Next month, Dustin will bring the waterfront fun to life with his Las Vegas Pool Situation, a curated three-day pool party featuring performances from the singer as well as Jordan Davis and Hardy, plus DJ sets from Brandi Cyrus.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

“Memorize You”: Laine Hardy gears up for a hot summer with his beachy new love anthem

Dustin Haney

Laine Hardy returns this week with “Memorize You,” a feel-good new single that the singer says he can’t wait to play live.

“Let’s go!” gushes Laine. “I’ve been so excited to get this out since the moment I heard the mix. I’ve been asking and asking when we could put it out. Well, it’s here and it’s time to hit the road and play it for the fans.”

Bubbly and flirtatious, the song captures all the butterflies and carefree euphoria of a summer fling with a new love interest. “What makes you laugh, makes you dance, makes you fall / Like only love can do / Gimme some time with your smile, baby / I just wanna memorize you,” Laine sings in the chorus.

To go along with his new song, Laine premiered a music video on Friday that follows a young couple as they fall in love across a number of different beach-side settings in Florida.

Laine, who is a former American Idol champ, will head back to the familiar stage during this Sunday’s episode of Idol on ABC. He’ll perform during the penultimate show of the season, as the top four artists compete for their chance to head to the finale next week. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dolly Parton shares one of her own anxiety struggles to de-stigmatize mental health issues

Mickey Bernal/WireImage

Dolly Parton was one of the guest speakers at the #WOW: Whole Health Includes Mental Health virtual event, which took place this week. The country legend performed her 1977 song “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” and reflected on the period of anxiety and depression that she experienced leading up to writing it, People reports.

Dolly spoke about a major career shift she was going through at the time, admitting that she felt so anxious she “couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think straight.”

The song arrived just three years after Dolly’s professional break with Porter Wagoner, after getting her first taste of success while singing on his television show. In the years that followed, both artists admitted the split was a painful one.

“But, through much prayer and the support of my friends, I finally stood my ground and I walked away,” Dolly explained during her #WOW2021 appearance, speaking generally of the growing pains her career underwent in the mid-’70s. “And on my way home, I wrote this song, and I hope it’ll lift you up like it did me.”

In her speech, Dolly stressed how common mental health issues are. “We all experience moments of anxiety or depression at one time or another,” the singer noted. “And I believe it’s how we handle those moments that ultimately define us.”

She also brought her trademark sense of humor to the conversation, quipping, “I’m often told I look so happy, but to be honest -- that’s the Botox. Well, not all of it, but some of it, anyway!” 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Luke Combs, Mickey Guyton + more will perform on the American Idol finale

ABC/Eric McCandless

Luke Combs, Mickey Guyton and Sheryl Crow are among the guest stars who’ll hit the stage during the American Idol Season 19 finale, which takes place Sunday, May 23. 

The all-genre, all-star lineup also includes acts like Macklemore, Chaka Khan, Fall Out Boy and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. All three of the show’s judges -- Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry -- will also perform.

The special finale episode will follow the season’s three finalists as they vie for the title of American Idol champ. Before whittling the remaining contestants down to three, the show’s top four contestants will each perform this Sunday, May 16.

Those four would-be Idol champs are Chayce Beckham, Casey Bishop, Willie Spence and Grace Kinstler. Another country-leaning contestant, Caleb Kennedy, was scheduled to perform in what was originally supposed to be the Top 5 episode. However, Caleb left the show this week after an old social media post surfaced featuring him alongside a friend who was wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan uniform.

In addition to performing for the finale, judge Luke Bryan will take the stage this Sunday night, too. He’s performing his new single, “Waves.” 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Blake Shelton will interview himself on TikTok’s Headstream to celebrate Body Language’s release day

Warner Music Nashville

Blake Shelton’s 12th studio project, Body Language, arrives on May 21, and the country star will celebrate its release with an interview unlike any he’s done before.

That’s because the interviewer will be none other than Blake himself. The singer will be a guest on TikTok's Headstream, an interactive livestream that launched on the platform early this year, which features an artist as both host and guest as fans listen in and engage with a live chat.

The event takes place at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, May 21, the same day Body Language comes out. In addition to the interview, it’ll feature some of the music off of Blake’s new album.

Body Language includes previously-released songs such as “Happy Anywhere,” the singer’s chart-topping duet with his pop star fiancée, Gwen Stefani. Also on the track list is “Bible Verses,” an intimate ballad that Blake released just a few weeks ago.

The title track is a duet with The Swon Brothers, a duo that Blake previously mentored on The Voice, who also wrote the song. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Alan Jackson’s personal tragedies delayed his new album -- but they inspired it, too

Russ Harrington and Gregory Ballos/Universal Music Group Nashville

Alan Jackson’s Where Have You Gone arrives on Friday, the first new album he’s put out since 2015.

That six-year gap between projects wasn’t intentional, but the singer’s had to grapple with two major personal tragedies in recent years: the 2017 loss of his mom, Ruth Musick Jackson, followed by the untimely death of his son-in-law, Ben Selecman, in a boating accident the following year.

“It took a couple years to get through all that. I just didn’t feel like writing,” Alan tells Yahoo Entertainment, explaining that Ben’s death was even more painful because of the pain he watched his daughter go through as she lost her husband.

“When you’re the daddy and you kind of feel like you’re the head man, and you’ve got your wife and daughters and everybody, you really hurt more for them going through it,” he adds.

But when he did return to music, the singer’s love for his daughters inspired him. Where Have You Gone includes not one but two songs for his children: “You’ll Always Be My Baby” and “I Do,” which were written for his daughters’ weddings.

Another personal tribute on Alan’s album is “Where Her Heart Has Always Been,” a song he wrote for his mom’s funeral, which includes his mom’s voice reading from the Bible.

As always, Alan says, he tried to strike a balance between personal songwriting and universal relatability.

“I’ve written a lot of songs in my career about things that happened in my life -- good and bad and happy and sad and all that stuff,” he notes, pointing to his 2002 single “Drive (for Daddy Gene)” in particular. “A lot of them are real personal, but I’ve always tried to write them where they’re not just about me.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia


Country music’s very own “Small Town Boy” is celebrating his 36th birthday today. This Grand Ole Opry member named his last album after his hometown of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Do you know who he is? ANSWER: Dustin Lynch.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"Like a Lady" on the road: Lady A can't wait to roll with the changes and get back onstage

Big Machine

On Saturday night, new members of the Grand Ole Opry Lady A will play country music's most famous stage. Then in July, they venture back into the world of touring, playing dates in both Minnesota and Texas.

While we don't know their plans for hitting the road beyond that, the threesome agrees they can't wait to get back onstage in front of live audiences, though they're prepared for some changes, both due to the pandemic and the fact that their children are getting older. 

"Touring is definitely gonna, I mean, it may look different," Charles Kelley points out. "I don't know. I mean, we've even talked about if three of us gotta get back into a bus again, we can make that actually turn into something really fun, where you kind of turn a negative into a positive."

"And our kids are gonna be, at some point here, all in school more," he continues, "and they won't be able to come out as much as they used to. So naturally, we're gonna have to be more intentional about our dates and how we do it."

Hopefully, it won't be long before Charles, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood are back in front of crowds, recreating the music that made them famous.

"I will say right now, we're dying to get back out on the road," Charles adds. "And so it's looking like sooner than later that's gonna happen. And so I think we're very excited about the prospect of that."

In the meantime, the trio's been working on the follow-up to 2019's Ocean, the as-yet-untitled album that features their current hit, "Like a Lady."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock

Chase Rice is headed to ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Monday. He’ll perform his single, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.”

Songwriter and ‘90s hitmaker Rhett Akins joins newcomer Noah Hicks for the latter’s new song, “No More of ‘Em.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Kelsea Ballerini ponders the road not taken in her “half of my hometown” music video

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for ACM

In the music video for her new single, “half of my hometown,” Kelsea Ballerini ponders what might have been if she’d opted for a different life path.

The video rewinds Kelsea’s life back to the fateful day when she decided to leave her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee in pursuit of country stardom in Music City. She replays the road not taken: What life might’ve been like if she’d stayed in Knoxville, gotten married and raised a family.

The song is a duet with Kelsea’s fellow Knoxville native Kenny Chesney, and while he doesn’t appear directly in the music video, there are references to him throughout the clip. A young Kelsea unpacks her suitcase in her new Nashville apartment, as a blurry TV behind her barely hints at a man on the screen wearing Kenny’s signature cowboy hat.

Then, towards the end of the clip, the version of Kelsea who stayed in Knoxville sees Kenny’s name on the marquee of a venue, wondering briefly what it might have been like to see her name in lights.

Kelsea went home to Knoxville to film the music video, even shooting one scene in the football field at her alma mater, Central High School.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Luke Bryan will make “Waves” on the American Idol stage this Sunday night

ABC/Randy Holmes

Country star and American Idol judge Luke Bryan will take the stage during Sunday night’s episode of the show, performing his new single, “Waves.”

The song is the fifth single off of Luke’s Born Here Live Here Die Here album, and arrived as one of six new tracks on the singer’s April 2021 deluxe edition of the project. Originally, the album came out in August of 2020.

Previous singles are “Knockin’ Boots,” “What She Wants Tonight,” “One Margarita” and “Down to One,” all of which have topped the country radio charts. “Waves” seems poised to continue that hot streak, as it’s nearly inside the Top 20 after just five weeks at country radio.

Luke’s performance on Idol will take place during the show’s usual 8PM-10PM ET Sunday night timeslot on ABC. The show follows Luke along with his co-judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie as they mentor another round of would-be superstars, ultimately crowning one the season champ. This season of Idol runs through May 23.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Darius Rucker explains why "My Masterpiece"'s positive message and music video are particularly timely


Darius Rucker fans will get a treat on Thursday night, as the singer debuts his music video for “My Masterpiece” at 7PM CT while chatting live with fans on his Facebook page.

The song is Darius’ new single from a forthcoming album, and he thinks its positive message is especially timely after a year like 2020.

“The song is about a guy who really just wants to be known for the tremendous amount of love he has for this woman, and I think that’s beautiful,” the country star reflects. “During a tough time like this past year has been, I think upbeat songs like this are important because they remind people that even when things are tough, there’s also a lot of good in life and good in the world.”

He adds, “I hope people enjoy this song as much as I do, and I hope they enjoy seeing it come to life in the video.”

As Darius looks ahead to getting back on the road, he’s got a busy schedule coming up, beginning with an appearance as a guest panelist on The Masked Singer next Wednesday, May 19. Tune into Fox to watch. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dan + Shay’s Dan Smyers mourns the loss of 16-year-old rescue dog to cancer


Dan + Shay band mate Dan Smyers is saying goodbye to a beloved member of his household: A 16-year-old rescue chihuahua named Missy.

Fans who follow Dan on social media have gotten regular updates from the singer and his wife, Abby Smyers, about Missy’s ongoing health challenges. The couple, who are passionate advocates for shelter pets and have four other dogs, adopted her just weeks ago after first taking her in as a foster. At the time, Missy had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so they knew her time in the family would be brief.

Still, as Dan wrote in his social media post tributing Missy, “It’s never easy saying goodbye to a loved one.” The singer shared a number of photos and videos of the elderly chihuahua during the time she spent in the Smyers household.

“She was safe in our arms as she left us peacefully, and for that we are grateful,” he continued, going on to mention his wife’s dedication to taking care of their dog.

“Can’t say enough about the grace and patience of my superhero wife [Abby Smyers] for dedicating every waking minute to this sweet girl: From hand-feeding each meal to giving her all the happy days in the sun,” he said.

“Missy, we love you and you’ll always hold a special place in our hearts...someone once said, ‘Dog’s lives are too short. Their only fault, really,’” he concluded. “Truer words have never been spoken.” 


A post shared by Dan Smyers (@dansmyers)

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert lead 2021 CMT Music Awards nominations


The full list of nominated artists for the 2021 CMT Music Awards was revealed on Thursday morning, and Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini are among the most-mentioned acts.  Maren and Miranda are the leading nominees, with four nods each.

This year’s show boasts 13 first-time nominees, including Mickey Guyton, Hardy, Hailey Whitters, Niko Moon and Parmalee. There’s also a wide range of genre crossover on the nominees list, with acts like Elle King, Halsey and more scoring mentions. Unlike at last year’s show, the Duo Video of the Year and Group Video of the Year categories have been combined into one for 2021.

Hosted by Kane and Kelsea, who have three nominations each, the 2021 CMT Music Awards will take place Wednesday, June 9 at 8PM ET. The show will broadcast live from Nashville.

The top award of the night, Video of the Year, is currently in its first round of voting and includes 14 nominees. Among the nominees is Carrie Underwood, who claimed her record-setting eighth win in that category last year for her “Drinking Alone” video.

Fan voting is open now, and will whittle the preliminary 14 nominees down to five by June 1. On June 8, the top three Video of the Year contenders will be announced ahead of the live show.

Carrie’s the most-awarded artist in CMT Music Awards history with 22 trophies, and has the chance to expand on that again this year. Her duet with John Legend, “Hallelujah,” is nominated twice: Once for Video of the Year, and once for Collaborative Video of the Year.

Here’s the complete list of nominees for the 2021 CMT Music Awards:

Carrie Underwood with John Legend -- “Hallelujah”
Dierks Bentley -- “Gone”
Elle King and Miranda Lambert -- “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Ingrid Andress -- “Lady Like”
Kane Brown -- “Worldwide Beautiful”
Keith Urban with P!nk -- “One Too Many”
Kelsea Ballerini -- “hole in the bottle”
Kenny Chesney -- “Knowing You”
Maren Morris -- “Better Than We Found It”
Mickey Guyton -- “Heaven Down Here”
Miranda Lambert -- “Settling Down”
Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris -- “Chasing After You”
Sam Hunt -- “Breaking Up Was Easy in the ‘90s”
Willie Jones -- “American Dream”


Chris Stapleton -- “Starting Over”
Darius Rucker -- “Beers and Sunshine”
Kane Brown -- “Worship You”
Luke Bryan -- “Down to One”
Luke Combs -- “Lovin’ on You”
Thomas Rhett -- “What’s Your Country Song”

Carly Pearce -- “Next Girl”
Gabby Barrett -- “The Good Ones”
Kelsea Ballerini -- “hole in the bottle”
Maren Morris -- “To Hell & Back”
Mickey Guyton -- “Heaven Down Here”
Miranda Lambert -- “Settling Down”

Brothers Osborne -- “All Night”
Lady A -- “Like a Lady”
Little Big Town -- “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”
Old Dominion -- “Never Be Sorry”
Parmalee and Blanco Brown -- “Just the Way”
Runaway June -- “We Were Rich”

Dylan Scott -- “Nobody”
Hailey Whitters feat. Little Big Town -- “Fillin’ My Cup”
Hardy -- “Give Heaven Some Hell”
Lainey Wilson -- “Things a Man Oughta Know”
Mickey Guyton -- “Black Like Me”
Niko Moon -- “Good Time (Ride Along Video)”

Carrie Underwood with John Legend -- “Hallelujah”
Chris Young and Kane Brown -- “Famous Friends”
Elle King and Miranda Lambert --“Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Keith Urban with P!nk -- “One Too Many”
Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris -- “Chasing After You”
Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard -- “Undivided”

From the 2020 CMT Music Awards: Brooks & Dunn and Luke Combs -- “One Too Many”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards: Dan + Shay -- “I Should Probably Go to Bed”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards: Jimmie Allen and Noah Cyrus -- “This is Us”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards: Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey -- “The Other Girl”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards: Little Big Town -- “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”
From CMT Crossroads: Nathaniel Rateliff and Margo Price -- “Twinkle Twinkle”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia


On this date in 2006, a beloved trio had the top album on the country charts for the fourth week running with Me and My Gang. Including hits like “My Wish” and “What Hurts the Most,” the album would ultimately spend seven weeks atop the chart and become the best-selling country album of the year. Do you know which band released it? ANSWER: Rascal Flatts.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Will the St. Louis Cardinals make the playoffs this year?