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Capitol NashvilleLast June's church shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina hit very close to home for Darius Rucker

He tells Rolling Stone, "My son goes to school directly across the street from Mother Emanuel. I mean directly across the street. I park in the parking lot to pick him up sometimes. That was . . . home. That was right in the heart of where we live, of our community."

In the time since those shootings, Darius says he's seen a big outpouring love in the Charleston community.

He adds, "It's just love, coming every day and every minute."

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ShorefireZac Brown Band recently scored a #1 at rock radio with the Chris Cornell collaboration "Heavy Is the Head."  Now Zac is headed to the pop/EDM world. He's teaming up with Avicii for a song on their new album, Stories. The project is due out October 2.

Gavin DeGraw and Wyclef Jean are also featured on the Avicii album.

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Republic NashvilleFlorida Georgia Line is taking over your TV on Friday, September 4. The duo will close out Good Morning America's Summer Concert Series that morning on ABC. Later that night, FGL will perform on NBC's Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Florida Georgia Line continues their Anything Goes tour into the fall. Go to FloridaGeorgiaLine.com for details.

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Valory Music Co.Thomas Rhett is releasing a new video every Friday until his album, Tangled Up, comes out September 25. The clips will be posted on Vevo, and you can get a copy of the corresponding song every Friday if you pre-order the album.

The first release in the series, "Vacation," is out now. Thomas says of the song, "Clearly, with lyrics like ‘Billabong bikini’ and ‘solo cup amplifier,’ the song is about having a good time, whether you actually are on vacation -- like we are in the video -- or just kicking back in a kiddie pool in your back yard." 

"Crash and Burn" is the lead single from Tangled Up. It's currently sitting inside the top five at country radio.

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Womanista/Greenroom PRAs part of chart-topping Lady AntebellumCharles Kelley has helped take country music by storm. Now he has another reason to sing: He and his wife, Cassie McConnell Kelley, are expecting a baby after six years of marriage.

"We're almost four months and I'm due in February and we just found out that we're having a boy, which I just get choked up thinking about and we're thankful, we're so -- blessed isn't a strong enough word," Cassie said on Friday's Good Morning America. 

Cassie's road to pregnancy wasn't easy -- in fact, it was a two-year struggle. "When you're young and healthy and you're ready to start a family you just don't envision there will be any problems doing that," she explained.

The couple went through months of negative pregnancy tests before visiting a fertility specialist in November. There, they learned that Cassie doesn't ovulate regularly and also has a blocked Fallopian tube. "Our doctor told us we had a one percent chance of conceiving a child naturally without doing IVF," Cassie said.

Then, just when the Kelleys planned to start IVF, Cassie said she and her husband were surprised to learn she was already pregnant. The baby is due in spring 2016.

Charles and Cassie tied the knot in the Bahamas in 2009.  Cassie's the founder of the women's lifestyle site Womanista.

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CMADustin Lynch spent a lot of time writing songs and practicing guitar in preparation for his career as a country star. He was so set on making it in the music business, Dustin even admits to practicing signing his autograph.

He tells ABC Radio, "Man, signing autographs was nerve-racking. Man, how do I sign my name? You don't think about that. I want it to look cool."

Now that he's been signing autographs for a few years, Dustin has noticed his signature has changed as fans have him sign the same T-shirt  each time they see him.

"I'll have people come back with the same shirt, our first T-shirt we sold, and they've seen me five times, and you can see the progression of my autograph," Dustin explains. "It's a lot more round and loopy now than it was. Used to, it was a D, a line, an L and then a line, and now it's just a D and an L. Now, I'm really efficient."

While the latest version of his autograph looks fancy, Dustin is most concerned with making sure he can sign his name really quickly.

He says, "For me, you want to hit as many people as you can."

Dustin's latest single, "Hell of a Night," could hit #1 at country radio over the weekend.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWhat is the name of Kelsea Ballerini's new puppy? ANSWER: Dibs.

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Dot RecordsMaddie & Tae were so set on keeping their debut album, Start Here, squarely in the country format, they taught veteran producer Dann Huff a thing or two about making a country album. Dann started out playing guitar on classic albums from the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Madonna before coming to Nashville to produce hits for Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Faith Hill and many others.

Maddie & Tae's Maddie Marlow tells ABC Radio, "With Dann Huff, you know, he's, like a rocker at heart, but he loved it, because it was such a challenge. He was like, 'I think this is the most country thing I've ever produced.'"

Over the past decade, the fiddle and steel guitar have been replaced on a lot of country songs with drum loops and loud electric guitars. Maddie & Tae employed a few of those tricks on their debut hit, "Girl in a Country Song," in an effort to prove a point about the state of modern country music.

As for the rest of Start Here, the duo's Tae Dye says their latest single, "Fly," is a better representation of what you'll hear on the rest of the project.

"Everything's country," Tae explains. "The way we write our music. The way we present it. Everything about it."

Maddie & Tae also keep it country with their honest lyrics on "Sierra" -- a song about calling out a female bully -- and "Shut Up and Fish" -- an ode to women looking for a no-nonsense kind of guy.

Tae says of their lyrical approach, "It's a really bold message, so we decided to take those messages head-on. In country, that's what you get to do. You get to speak about things that haven't really gotten talked about."

She adds, "It's like the big elephant in the room. It's like, 'Let's address it and make light of the situation.'"

Look for Maddie & Tae to perform on NBC's Today on Tuesday, September 1.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockJana Kramer's new album, titled thirty one, will be out October 9. The project features Jana's latest single, "I Got the Boy."

George Strait's final show on The Cowboy Rides Away tour is out now on digital and DVD platforms. The star-studded concert features collaborations with Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Alan Jackson and more.

Newcomer Clare Dunn is showing off her impressive guitar skills in her debut video, "Move On."

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Richard Gabriel Ford/FilmMagicCarrie Underwood has scored a new TV gig.  She'll serve as a guest judge on the 14th-season finale of Project Runway next month, joining Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen at New York Fashion Week, People magazine reports.

Season 14 began on Lifetime earlier this month.

Underwood has another TV role lined up for later in the year, when she and Brad Paisley co-host the 49th Annual CMA Awards November 4.

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Capitol NashvilleLady Antebellum's Charles Kelley and his wife, Cassie, are expecting their first child in the spring. The little one will join Dave Haywood's son, Cash, and Hillary Scott's daughter, Eisele, in the Lady A daycare backstage at the band's shows.

Hillary tells E! News Charles and Cassie know the sex of their baby, but they aren't announcing it just yet.

"They're going to be the most amazing parents," Hillary says. "It's just so funny to see how Charles is starting to look at the world differently and through a different lens, and as Cassie continues to carry this baby you're forever changed, and the pregnancy process starts that change, even for the dad, too."

Look for Cassie Kelley to talk about her fertility struggles on ABC's Good Morning America Friday.

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CMALuke Bryan's oldest son, Bo, went from being the "alpha male" in the house to being the middle child when Luke's 13-year-old nephew, Til, moved in with them last year. The adjustment hasn't fazed Bo or his younger brother, Tate, though.

"It's been amazing watching them do so well with it," Luke tells People. "They treat Til like their brother, and Til does the same."

Til has even helped Bo and Tate improve as athletes.

Says Luke, "When I come home, they're throwing the baseball a little farther and hitting the ball a little harder. I know that's 'cause Til's been out in the yard with them."

Til came to live with Luke and his wife, Caroline, late last year when his father, Luke's brother-in-law Ben Cheshire, passed away. Til's mother, Luke's sister Kelly, died in 2007. When it comes to guiding his family through the loss, Luke leans on his faith to see him through.

"I think with everything that's happened in my family, I just have to lean on my faith and the understanding that God has a plan for all of us. We just wake up every day and do our best."

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Sandbox EntertainmentShania Twain is raking in the cash on her Rock This Country farewell tour. According to Billboard, the trek has grossed $40 million so far. More than 407,000 tickets have been sold since Shania launched the tour in June.

Shania will continue the Rock This Country tour this fall with a six-week run of shows starting September 12 in Spokane, Washington.

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James Minchin IIIJennifer Nettles has signed a new contract with Big Machine Records and will release a new single this October. A new album will follow in early 2016.

In celebration of the new music, Jennifer is headed out on the Playing with Fire tour in October with special guests Brandy Clark and Ryan Kinder. She's currently filming her part as Dolly Parton's mother in the new NBC TV movie, Coat of Many Colors, airing December 10.

Here are Jennifer's new tour dates:

10/23 -- Atlanta, GA, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
10/24 -- Clearwater, FL, Ruth Eckerd Hall
10/25 -- Melbourne, FL, King Center for the Performing Arts
10/29 -- Newark, OH, Midland Theatre
10/30 -- Bethlehem, PA, Sands Bethlehem Events Center
10/31 -- Mashantucket, CT, Foxwoods Resort Casino
11/13 -- Red Wing, MN, Treasure Island Resort & Casino
11/14 -- Elkhart, IN, Lerner Theatre
11/15 -- Windsor, ON (CAN), The Colosseum at Caesars
11/20 -- Silver Spring, MD, The Fillmore
11/21 -- Hampton Beach, NH, Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
11/22 -- Westbury, NY, Theatre at Westbury
11/27 -- Johnson City, NY, Magic City Music Hall
11/28 -- Salamanca, NY, Seneca Allegany Casino
12/3 -- Dallas, TX, House of Blues - Dallas
12/4 -- Bossier City, LA, Horseshoe Bossier City
12/5 -- San Antonio, TX, Majestic Theatre
12/11 -- Reno, NV, Silvery Legacy Resort and Casino
12/12 -- Indio, CA, Fantasy Springs Special Events Center
12/13 -- Temecula, CA, Penchaga Resort and Casino

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Sony Music NashvilleCarrie Underwood's latest single, "Smoke Break," is all about stepping back from the worries of your life and giving yourself some time to breathe. While Carrie doesn't have a cigarette in her hand while she's taking a break, she finds it incredibly useful to just sit and think when she's facing a problem.

Carrie says, "It puts things in perspective, and you can come back and actually solve the problem. I just go somewhere where it's quiet. You know, that's kind of my way of handling things. Go sit out on the porch for a second. Just have a moment where nobody is talking at me, you know?"

After taking some time away from distractions, Carrie usually finds the answer to the problem was right in front of her.

She adds, "I think that's kind of a good tool that anybody could use. Just step away from [the problem]. Go to your happy place."

"Smoke Break" is the lead single from Carrie's upcoming, fifth studio album, Storyteller, due out October 23.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWhat is Miranda Lambert's middle name? ANSWER: Leigh.

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Warner Music NashvilleCountry duo Dan Shay consider themselves experts when it comes to hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants in Nashville. If they're downtown, the guys love to go to Las Palmas. While making their debut album, Where It All Began, the duo's Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney spent a ton of time at a little place called Nacho's in the Music City suburb of Bellevue.

Dan tells ABC Radio, "When we were writing most of our album out at [our producer] Danny Orton's house, we went to this place."

Shay chimes in, "I thought you were gonna say we wrote most of it at Nacho's, which is probably true."

Since they were just getting started on their country career, Dan and Shay didn't have much money to buy tacos and burritos. They found a way to make it work.

Says Dan, "We would just get, like, a huge basket of chips. I had, like, 20 baskets of chips."

After 30 minutes of eating chips, the waiters would start to wonder if Dan and Shay were ever going to order. That's when the guys would order a small bowl of the tortilla soup.

Shay says with a laugh, "That's like 89 cents. It's the dream."

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockMiranda Lambert got together for a writing session with her "Automatic' co-writers Natalie Hemby and Nicole Galyon this week. She posted a photo of the spread she laid out for the get-together, including turkey wraps and wine.

 

Carrie Underwood will show off her Calia by Carrie Underwood fitness and lifestyle apparel at New York Fashion Week coming up September 10. According to Women's Wear Daily, the show will take place at a new venue, The HQ. Fans will be able to buy the merchandise immediately at the event.

Lauren Alaina launched her new web series this week with a segment about the most awkward encounters she's ever had with her fans.

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Capitol NashvilleLuke Bryan wrote his sexy new single, "Strip It Down," thinking about his wife, Caroline. It's an indication of where the couple's marriage is these days, which means you likely won't see Luke and Caroline headed for divorce court any time soon.

It's a bright spot for country fans in a summer that has seen Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert end their four-year marriage. Jake Owen and Reba have also announced splits from their respective spouses.

"Any time we hear of couples in the public eye breaking up, me and Caroline talk about it," Luke tells People. "It really hurts our hearts that people arrive at that and can't work it out. Yeah, you do think about it in this business. Caroline and I just say our prayers that we're happy and that things are good."

Luke and Caroline look forward to growing old together as Luke celebrates his 40th birthday next summer.

He adds, "Caroline says growing old is a privilege, so you gotta understand it like that."

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Womanista/Greenroom PRLady Antebellum's Charles Kelley and his wife, Cassie, are expecting their first child in spring 2016. The couple faced infertility issues as they tried to conceive the child. Cassie will be talking about their fertility struggles on ABC's Good Morning America Friday morning. The appearance is a part of GMA's Fertility Week programming.

Cassie is also keeping fans updated on her pregnancy through her women's lifestyle site, Womanista.com. She announced the pregnancy on the site earlier this month.

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