James Minchin IIIIn a year that saw Jason Aldean celebrate his wedding to Brittany Kerr in March and wrap his successful Burn It Down Tour in October by giving $615,000 to breast cancer research, the "Gonna Know We Were Here" singer says this Thanksgiving, the things he's grateful for really haven't changed much.
"You know my thing is pretty much the same every year," he reflects. "You know as long as I didn't have any tragedies happen in my life and my kids are healthy and my family's healthy, and both my parents are still here. You know all that stuff-- that's about all I can ask for at this point."
Jason adds that continuing to be able to successfully do what he loves is something he never takes for granted.
"Being able to do this for another year and everybody allowing us to keep doing this is obviously high on the list too," he points out. "But the fact that I haven't had any big tragedies, I guess in my life, losing anybody-- that's a huge thing for me."
In January, Jason kicks off his We Were Here Tour with Thomas Rhett and A Thousand Horses, before playing his first dates in Australia in March.
MCA NashvilleWhile Sam Hunt has had plenty of success this year, what he hasn't had much of is time at home in Georgia with his family.
"I haven't been home, so it'll be really great to see my parents, my mom and dad," he says of his plans over the Thanksgiving holiday. "I get to talk to them on the phone, but seeing them in person and hanging out in the home I grew up in is even more special. And then most of my family is pretty close to where my parents are in Georgia, so I get to see aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmother and all other folks that I don't get to see nearly as much as I'd like to."
So while he'll be traveling home with four platinum singles under his belt, plus an all-genre win for New Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards earlier this week-- Sam's greatest reward for all his hard work this year may be a little extra time with his folks.
"Last year we had a show in Florida the day after Thanksgiving, so we took the bus from Nashville to Florida and all the band and everybody was on the bus and they joined us for Thanksgiving that day with my family," he recalls. "This year... I'll have a few more days around Thanksgiving, so I'm going to get to go home and maybe do some hunting and get out in the woods a little bit and hang out a little longer than just an afternoon like last year."
December 4, Sam is due back at work, with a sold-out show at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Brad Lovell/Iconic EntertainmentIt's been quite a year for Kelsea Ballerini -- she had her first number one with "Love Me Like You Mean It," then almost immediately followed that up with CMA nominations for New Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year, then found herself again competing against the likes of Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood for the Favorite Female Artist -- Country trophy at the American Music Awards. So this Thanksgiving, the newcomer says she's most looking forward to taking a little time to count her blessings.
"I am excited for a little bit of time off," the 22-year-old says. "I haven't had that in awhile, to just kind of like let stuff soak in, eat some food, you know, just hang out for a little bit."
The Knoxville, Tennessee, native also confesses that she's anticipating adding a little spice to her life -- a little pumpkin spice, that is. "I'm cliche. I like pumpkins. So pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin anything is good. Pumpkins!" (AUDIO IS ABC 1-ON-1)
The holiday will be fairly short-lived for Kelsea, though. On December 3, she performs at the National Christmas Tree Lighting in Washington, which you can see throughout the yuletide season on PBS. That night, you can also catch her version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on CMA Country Christmas at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. Then on December 11, Billboard honors her as its Rising Star at the Women in Music event in New York City. You can catch that show December 18 on Lifetime.
Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockJennifer Nettles performed her new single, "Unlove You," Tuesday Night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
According to Variety, Kevin Bacon will produce and star in a TV remake of Tremors. There's no word yet on whether Reba might be interested in recreating her role from the 1990 sci-fi film that follows the residents of Perfection, Nevada as they cope with unsavory creatures that live underground.
Kacey Musgraves sold out every date on the European leg of her Country & Western Rhinestone Revue. Her eight-city trek across four countries ended Sunday.
Sweet Talk PR/Justin MrusekWith a new single called “Confession,” Florida GeorgiaLine’s Tyler Hubbard admits he has one to make, just in time for Thanksgiving.
“Sweet potato casserole. That’s my favorite. Can’t wait to get into that. That’s gonna be awesome!” he confesses.
But if you put Tyler in charge of making it, it sounds like you might be in trouble. “I don’t know. I guess...” he trails off, when asked what goes into whipping up his favorite. “My grandma’s special, man. My grandma’s love I guess. I don’t know exactly what it is. But it’s some good stuff. I’m excited!”
While his partner’s culinary skills may not necessarily inspire gratitude, Brian Kelley says the duo certainly has plenty to be thankful for this holiday. “The fans, man. They have changed our lives… Just getting to meet so many of our fans this past year. We’re thankful for that and that’s what keeps this thing going,” he reflects.
“This year was a first on many levels,” he looks back. “Getting through our first worldwide headline tour was incredible. We did a whole bunch of dates, took it through Europe, all the way across I think everywhere -- it was crazy. But thankful for that tour. We didn’t have to cancel a show or anything like that. Good health out there for everybody and just a ton of memories. “
Florida Georgia Line will be making more memories around the globe next year. Right now, their first dates scheduled in 2016 kick off March 8 in Melbourne, Australia.
ABC/Fred LeeMichael Ray’s latest single may be “Real Men Love Jesus,” but with his family at Thanksgiving, he says real men love grandma’s calorie-laden desserts.
“My grandmother makes this thing called a Dump Cake and it’s like super bad for you. There’s no healthiness in the whole thing,” he asserts. But the “Kiss You in the Morning” chart-topper says the treat is so tasty, it inspires a little competition.
“It like causes almost a family feud every holiday... It’s so good… It’s like chocolate cake and chocolate pudding and Cool Whip, I guess it is, and crushed up Heath bars, and it’s layered like that for four layers, so we try to sneak it before everybody else gets it,” Ray confesses.
After enjoying some Turkey Day Dump Cake, Michael continues the Wild Ones Tour with Kip Moore Friday night at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Natasha Moustache/CMAOn Thanksgiving, you’ll find Darius Rucker watching football and eating sweet potato pie, if the “Southern Style” hitmaker has his way.
“I’m a big food guy, as you can tell by looking at me up here. I like food a lot!” he jokes. “My favorite thing is my sisters' sweet potato pie. I just, I love sweet potato pie so much and I don’t get it very often and my sisters always make sure I get a couple during Thanksgiving and Christmas. So that’s my favorite thing, sweet potato pie.”
For the avid sports fan, his other favorite thing is to kick back and take in some football on the fourth Thursday in November.
“Thanksgiving I always go to the Clemson/Carolina game, but Thanksgiving Day is my favorite sports day of the year. It’s crazy how much football you get to watch on Thanksgiving Day,” he laughs. “I really like that a lot! But I’m a homebody. I don’t really go a lot of places. I don’t go to a lot of games. I like to watch ‘em on TV, but you know Thanksgiving Day is big for me.”
You might spot Darius in the stands next Saturday when the Clemson Tigers take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia. The game will be televised at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Next week, Darius performs on the CMA Country Christmas special December 3 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
ABC/Image Group LAHaving picked up both his second CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy and the American Music Award for Favorite Male Artist -- Country just this month, Luke Bryan admits he certainly has plenty to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
"I'm thankful certainly for my health and the health of my family and my fans and that every year it seems like I've been blessed that things do get bigger and better every year, and I feel like I have cheated the system for quite a few years now," he says slyly, "so I'm excited by that and very thankful for it."
This year, Luke and his family won't be gathered around the table at home for the traditional feast, because he's helping the Salvation Army kick off its holiday Red Kettle Campaign.
"For Thanksgiving I’m doing the halftime show at the Cowboys’ game, so we’ll be eating Thanksgiving dinner in AT&T Stadium, which’ll be amazing. We’re excited to team up with the Cowboys and the Salvation Army and do that," he says.
As for what he's most looking forward to eating this Turkey Day, Luke jokes "... whatever Jerry Jones serves me...!", dropping the name of the Cowboys' owner. You can check out his Thanksgiving Day show as Dallas takes on the Carolina Panthers Thursday at 3:30 p.m. CT on CBS.
Southern ReelZac Brown Band’s latest song may be “Beautiful Drug,” but there’s another tune featuring Zac you may soon start hearing a lot. The band leader contributes vocals to Avicii’s “Broken Arrows,” the third single from the Swedish DJ and producer’s million-selling STORIES album.
The just-released video for the song was inspired by the true story of an unnamed Olympic high jumper who overcame his struggles with alcohol to win a gold medal in 1968. Neither Avicii nor Zac actually appear in the clip, which goes on to depict the athlete's struggles raising a young daughter.
“Broken Arrows” will also be featured Tuesday night in the two-hour season finale of Dancing with the Stars. You can catch it at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockTim McGraw will be one of the main speakers at Country Radio Seminar 2016. He’ll give a talk called ”Transcending/Evolving with Tim McGraw” at the annual disc jockey convention in Nashville in February.
Florida Georgia Line will play the Carolina Country Music Fest June 10-12 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Michael Ray performed his number-one hit “Kiss You in the Morning” at a surprise presentation Monday at Nashville’s Hunters Lane High School, where StubHub and The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation gave close to $40,000 worth of instruments to the band program.
Natasha Moustache/CMAIf you feel like you haven't seen much of Jennifer Nettles lately -- well, the female half of Sugarland is about to change all that. In fact, she's pretty much taking over your TV during the 2015 holiday. For the sixth year in a row, she'll host CMA Country Christmas on ABC on December 3, and then a week later, she'll play Dolly Parton's mother Avie Lee in the NBC movie Coat of Many Colors. But her TV takeover starts this Thursday as she gets up early to do the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
"My first time to do that!" she exclaims excitedly. "And what an iconic celebration for what is really my favorite holiday. I mean, I love Christmas and clearly I get the honor of hosting the CMA Country Christmas, you know, when it happens, but yeah, I’ve never done the Macy’s Parade and Thanksgiving is all the family, all the fellowship, all the food and none of the fuss and stress of presents so -- and it’s about gratitude, so that to me is my favorite."
Since Turkey Day is high on Jennifer's list, you can bet she'll be bringing son Magnus Hamilton to New York City -- just don't expect to spot him in his mama's arms. "Oh yes, always!" she replies, when asked if the soon-to-be three-year-old will be along. "I mean, he won't be on the float. I'm sure he'll be snuggled up and warm and cozy at home watching all the balloons go by."
Jennifer's early-morning TV appearance will also be a little preview of her debut project for Big Machine Records, which is due sometime in 2016. "I will be on the Domino’s Sugar float," she reveals, "and I will be singing a song called ‘Sugar’ that-- appropriately, yes-- will be on my new album."
She won't be the only country star on the route, either. Jake Owen is also set to make an appearance on the parade that kicks off at 9 a.m. all across the country on Thanksgiving Day.
Schmidt Relations/Kristy BelcherAlan Jackson’s song “You Can Always Come Home” is the centerpiece of a new campaign to build more than 300 Habitat for Humanity homes around the U.S. The “Home for Good” project, sponsored by building products maker Ply Gem, kicks off today with a two-week online contest that will fly two winners home to be with their families during the holidays. Alan will also be a part of a Builders Blitz in the Nashville area next June during CMA Music Festival.
The father of three wrote the song a year ago when his middle daughter, Ali, moved to California in the fall. “It reminded me of when I moved to Nashville and didn’t know anybody,” he told Parade. “I’d call my folks at home. My mama and daddy were supportive even though they were worried about me coming up here. My daddy said, ‘You can always come home. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come home.’ I’ve always remembered that.”
The lyric video for the track from his latest album, Angels & Alcohol, showcases photos of Alan and his family. You can check it out now on YouTube.
RCA NashvilleSeven is Chris Young’s lucky number, so he made it a point to buy seven copies of his new album I’m Comin’ Over on the day of its release. His purchase in a Muncie, Indiana Walmart apparently paid off, as his fifth project debuts at number one on Billboard’s country album chart, selling 57,147 copies in its first week out.
He also tallies an impressive fifth-place finish on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, with close to 65,000 equivalent album units, which figures in digital sales and streams. Only Justin Bieber, One Direction, rapper Logic and hip-hop artist Jeezy sold more albums than Chris this week-- and the good news just keeps on coming. His gold-certified title track, the seventh chart topper of his career, also spends its second week atop Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
Chris takes a little time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, before resuming his tour December 3 at Duluth, Minnesota’s Amsoil Arena with Eric Paslay and Clare Dunn.
Warner Music NashvilleBefore Sam Hunt had his breakout success as a solo artist, he wrote chart-topping hits like “Come Over” for Kenny Chesney and “We Are Tonight” for Billy Currington. Now, he may’ve done it again for new Warner Brothers artist William Michael Morgan. Sam co-wrote his debut single “I Met a Girl.”
“You know, we just fell in love with that song immediately when Sam’s publishing company sent that to us. With the lyrics, the melody, the way it all painted that picture, you know. It doesn’t have to have all those lights and smoke for you to get the picture. You know, I really think it says something that’s missing in today’s country music as far as holding the girls up on high and putting them on that pedestal that they deserve to be on, you know. Maddie & Tae, I think personally they hit it right on the head when they said, Conway [Twitty] and George Strait wouldn’t have done it this way," William Michael says, referring to the duo's hit "Girl in a Country Song."
“I Met a Girl” originally appeared on Sam’s Between the Pines: Acoustic Mixtape album of demos. Even though William Michael is more of a traditionalist while Sam tends to be more progressive, the newcomer says he’s still a major admirer of his talent.
“I’m a big fan of the way he paints pictures when he writes and I’m a big fan of what he’s doing. You know, it’s so different than everything going on today, and... I’m a big fan of originality and he’s doing it,” he says.
William Michael recently shot the video for “I Met a Girl” just outside Nashville in Ashland City, Tennessee. You can check it out on YouTube.
Image Group LA/ABCThe country winners were happy to give back to their fans Sunday night at the American Music Awards.
Florida Georgia Line claimed two awards: favorite duo or group -- country and favorite album -- country. Backstage, they said they were happy to represent country music.
"The fans got our back," they continued, noting how "faithful" their followers are.
Similarly, Carrie Underwood, who was named favorite female artist -- country, said backstage, "To be able to get up and thank your fans in front of that audience....To be able to declare your love and say thanks on a big, big, big stage like that is really awesome."
Sam Hunt was stunned to win the prize for New Artist. "I was flattered to be nominated but I knew I was in such great company that I thought the likelihood I'd win this award was probably slim," he admitted.
Here's a rundown of the country winners:
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY KOHL’S Sam Hunt
FAVORITE MALE ARTIST -- COUNTRY Luke Bryan
FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST -- COUNTRY Carrie Underwood
FAVORITE DUO or GROUP -- COUNTRY Florida Georgia Line
FAVORITE ALBUM -- COUNTRY Florida Georgia Line, Anything Goes
Photo Credit: Nash Icon RecordsWhen Hank Williams, Jr. and Eric Church start performing in the new video for “Are You Ready for the Country,” it looks like they’re in a barn with their band and backup singers. But by the time they get about halfway through the song, the barnyard scene starts disappearing, revealing they’re actually in a downtown parking garage.
Hank says that’s not the only surprise associated with this song. Earlier this year when he started performing it on the road, he was shocked to find audiences don’t seem to remember it was a top ten hit for Waylon Jennings in 1977. Instead, perhaps because he spent so many seasons asking “Are You Ready for Some Football?” before Monday night games, fans already associate the song with Bocephus.
“The second song of the tour this year was ‘Are You Ready for the Country.’ And it got real obvious to everybody that, my God, they already think it’s a hit,” he says. “They already think that’s yours. They actually don’t-- they’re not putting Waylon together with it. I said, ‘Are you kidding?’ They said, ‘Hank, you know that was a long time ago. So these twenty-somethings and all, they think that’s your song, because it fits so perfectly.’”
The second-generation country star says the song remains special to him, both because of his relationship with Waylon, and the reverence the legendary outlaw held for his iconic father.
“Man it means a lot to record the ones -- not to mention the love factor of Waylon, because I’m out there opening shows for him and he starts the show with ‘Are You Ready for the Country’ back when and he closes the show with a little ditty called ‘Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way’,” Hank recalls.
Hank's new video with Eric Church premiered on CMT this weekend.