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ABC/Image Group LAIf imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Nelly is giving Thomas Rhett a giant pat on the back. The new single from the St. Louis rapper is a cover of Thomas’s six-week number one, “Die a Happy Man.”

Nelly is certainly no stranger to country music, having first collaborated with Tim McGraw on his hit “Over and Over,” which made it to number 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 2004. More recently, he was featured on the remix of Florida Georgia Line’s 2013 smash, “Cruise.” Last October, he told Entertainment Weekly even more country collaborations could be in his future, stopping short of committing to a full project.

“I love country music. I respect it to the utmost,” he said. “But there’s nothing in the world that makes me think I can do a country album… I may do an EP that features more than one country artist, so it may have a different vibe, but not a country album.”

You check out Nelly's version of Thomas Rhett's hit on YouTube now. It's also available to download via the usual sources. Thomas Rhett's version competes for Single Record of the Year at the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards.

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Comstock/ThinkstockIn 1994, these four country acts played the Super Bowl halftime show. Can you name them? ANSWER: Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The JuddsWynonna and Naomi.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockMartina McBride is set to make “a very special announcement” Monday morning at 11 a.m. CT inside the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater, according to a release from her label, Big Machine. It involves the Cancer Institute of Hospital Corporation of America, named for Sarah Cannon, the legendary comedienne who brought Minnie Pearl to life.

Former longtime Alabama drummer Mark Herndon has written his autobiography. The High Road: Memories from a Long Trip is set to come out April 1.

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Eric AdkinsScotty McCreery and five other American Idol winners return to the show that made them famous this Thursday, to mentor contestants during the farewell season. Though the identity of the two singers he worked with is top secret, the season-10 winner says he knows how valuable the three days he spent with them is.

“I remember how important it was to me during my time on Idol to meet and learn from all the great artists who visited the set and offered their advice. I was proud to be able to come back and offer whatever guidance I could to my two talented contestants. This is their season and their show. I was there to help them shine… and I believe they both did!” he brags.

While most people may not realize exactly how hard the Idol contenders work, the 22-year-old certainly does.

“That was honestly probably one of the most stressful times of my life,” he recalls. “I was just 17, so that's a time when you should be having fun -- and I was. I was having a blast! When you're looking from the outside in, you see the singing day and you see the elimination day, and it was seven days a week.”

On May 3, the 2011 champion will reveal even more when his memoir, Go Big or Go Home:  The Journey Toward the Dream comes out -- including more details about the kind of pressure the Idol contestants face.

“Stress and hard work and decisions -- having to stand up to the head of the biggest label in the country and just make decisions -- that's what I'm saying. In the book, you're going to really hear about a kid at 16, 17 that had to grow up in an adult world and make decisions.”

Just days ago, Scotty faced another very adult decision, as he and his record label parted ways. Though he’s been working on finishing the album to follow his single “Southern Belle,” so far there are no details about when it’s coming out or who will release it.

Tune in to see Scotty Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox, when he’ll also perform duets with two of the contestants in the top 24.

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ABC/Image Group LADierks Bentley will soon have his own place in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The new exhibit, Every Mile a Memory, opens March 4 and will showcase the singer’s stage clothes, guitars, song manuscripts and more.

The always-reverent country fan says he can hardly believe it.

“It’s crazy to be considered for something like this. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is home to the most revered and influential country artists of all time. Just being in the building as a visitor is humbling, but to actually be featured in one of the museum’s exhibits is something I never would have believed if you’d suggested it back when I started chasing this dream down on Broadway," he reflects. "I’m going to have to go down there and see it for myself to really make it sink in.”

The “Somewhere on a Beach” singer will, of course, have the chance to do just that. Dierks will make a special appearance in the Hall’s 800-seat CMA Theater on Saturday, March 12 at 2 p.m. You can access ticket information on the Hall of Fame’s website. If you can’t make it in person, you’ll also be able to watch the interview and performance online.

Dierks Bentley: Every Mile A Memory will run through September 6.

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Columbia Nashville/Dack Janiels RecordsChase Rice is re-teaming with the writers behind his hits “Ready Set Roll” and “Gonna Wanna Tonight” for “Whisper,” the lead single from his forthcoming album.

"Personally, I believe my writing has evolved since we put out the last album and it's been a hell of a ride so far, so this one will have a more mature sound to it,” the North Carolina native reveals. “‘Whisper’ is an example of that, having some of those different production elements that push the music beyond where we’ve been before.” 

The nominee for ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year also considered feedback from his fans as his crafted the follow-up to his current album.

Ignite the Night was great for us, and it opened a lot of doors both creatively and professionally. This new album is still going to have some of those songs, songs that make people want to get up and dance and party at a show, but it also takes fans on our journey with us and has a lot more depth musically because of what I see our fans craving online and at our shows," he says.

Chase’s new single “Whisper” is available now via all the usual digital outlets.  

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Warner NashvilleDan Shay are back with their follow-up to their first number one. Just two months after “Nothin’ Like You” topped the charts, they’re releasing  the lead single from their sophomore album, as well as its accompanying video.

“‘From the Ground Up’ is a song that started with a conversation about our grandparents and the love that they shared for the 65-plus years that they were married,” Dan Smyers shares. “It tells the story of the life that they built through their power and dedication to each other, and the perseverance to endure whatever would come their way.” 

“We put our hearts and souls into every word and every note of this song,” Shay Mooney says of the composition the two wrote together. “We just hope that it’s as special to our fans as it is to us.”

You can check out the romantic video for “From the Ground Up,” shot just outside Nashville, on YouTube now.

Currently up for the Academy of Country Music’s Vocal Duo of the Year award for the third year in a row, Dan Shay head back out on tour next month, before joining Darius Rucker on his Good for a Good Time trek this summer.

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ABC/Image Group LAFour-time nominee Chris Stapleton is the latest country artist now set to perform on the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. He’ll team up with Bonnie Raitt and Gary Clark Jr. to pay tribute to blues legend B.B. King, who passed away last May.

Chris’s debut solo effort Traveller is up for both the all-genre Album of the Year as well as Country Album, while its title track competes for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song.

He joins fellow nominees Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt, who are already set to represent the country genre at the prestigious show. You can watch it live from Los Angeles Monday, February 15 on CBS.

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Columbia Nashville/Dack JanielsThese days, there's more than one current country singer who once had a promising career in college football. Sam Hunt was the quarterback for the University of Alabama at Birmingham, while Chase Rice was a linebacker at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Even though he's a native Tar Heel, Chase says it's still not easy picking a side when it comes to Super Bowl 50.

"Yeah, the Super Bowl’s tough for me this year," he admits. "I’m a huge Peyton Manning fan. Love who he is as a person, love his character, and love his passion for the game of football, ’cause I’m a huge football guy. Grew up playin’ football, played in college, almost played in the NFL. And seein’ Peyton Manning’s love for the game is awesome. But, it’s hard to pull against the Carolina Panthers."

Chase says a friendship he made after college makes it even harder.

"I’m from Asheville -- Fairview, North Carolina -- right outside of Asheville, I lived in Charlotte for about a year and a half, two years when I worked in NASCAR. Actually, one of my roommates when I was workin’ in NASCAR was Hilee Taylor, who played for the Panthers for a couple years. So, it’s really hard for me to pull against the Panthers, but lucky for me, I get a win-win situation Super Bowl Sunday, ’cause if the Broncos win, I’m very, very happy for Peyton, and if the Panthers win, then we finally brought a Super Bowl home to Carolina."

While Chase may have a hard time deciding whether he wants the Carolina Panthers or the Denver Broncos to win Sunday's game, there's one thing he does know for sure- - he doesn't want to host the party!

"The first Super Bowl party I’ve ever thrown was last year, and I actually hated it...I’m a huge football guy. I love watchin’, breakin’ down the game. So havin’ all those people around, everybody cheerin’, everybody screamin’, everybody talkin’ ’bout maybe even things other than the Super Bowl, I wanted to tell ’em, ‘Get outta here! I’m watchin’ the game!’ So it was tough for me to throw a party. I’d rather go to someone else’s party and not have all the stress of havin’ people over and all that and havin’ food made and all that. I’d rather just kinda sit there and watch the game."

While the lead single from Chase's sophomore album was likely not inspired by the advice he'd like to give at Super Bowl parties, it is appropriately titled -- "Whisper" is due out Friday. 

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Comstock/ThinkstockThis Pennsylvania native spent five seasons playing for the Cincinnati Bengals before hitting number one on the Billboard Country Singles chart in 1990 with "Walk on Faith." Can you name him? ANSWER:  Mike Reid.

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ABC/Image Group LASam Hunt and Peyton Manning are both set to take the field this Sunday for Super Bowl 50. Sam will be performing as part of the pregame festivities, while Peyton, of course, will be playing quarterback as the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers. Since Sam himself is a longtime 'baller, having played QB for the University of Alabama at Birmingham in his college days, it turns out he has a little bit of history with the five-time MVP.

"When I was in high school, I went to a camp called the Manning Academy," he recalls. "It’s a quarterback camp down in Louisiana. And I got to spend some time with Peyton and Eli, and they have another brother. I’ve followed his career for a long time."

Several years later, Sam the country singer came face to face with his football hero.

"Actually, a couple of years ago, I was at a concert of Kenny Chesney’s in Denver, and I was standing there side stage and Jake Owen was there. He had opened up for him, and I’ve been a friend of his for a little while, and he turned and introduced me to the guy behind us, who I wasn’t aware of at the time, but it turned out to be Peyton Manning. He was just a really nice guy, and it was just pretty cool to be on the stage with two people who inspired me in two different arenas, with Peyton with football and Kenny with music," Sam remembers.

So when it comes to this Sunday's matchup, it's no surprise who he'll be rooting for- - even though he does have a bit of a conflict.

"First off, I’d like to see a really good game. I’m a big Peyton Manning fan, and I always have been. But I have a good friend that I played ball with in college; he’s playing with the Panthers, and their season’s been unbelievable. Just to watch the energy of that team grow throughout the year made it hard not to pull for ‘em, but I guess when it comes down to it, I’m gonna have to go with Peyton, because it could be his last go at it. He deserves it more than anybody. He’s one of the best that’s ever played."

The "Break Up in a Small Town" hitmaker plays the Super Bowl 50 Tailgate Party Sunday at Levi's Stadium in San Francisco. You can catch his performance on The Super Bowl Today, starting at 2 p.m. ET on CBS.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockCountry Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard has cancelled all his February dates, as he continues to recover from double pneumonia. He hopes to be back on the road by spring.

Mary Chapin Carpenter's new album, The Things That We Are Made Of, will be released May 6.

Garth Brooks continues to be a hot ticket as his world tour expands to Canada. So far, fans have snapped up more than 60,000 tickets to his shows at Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre April 1-3, selling out 3 of the 4 concerts. 

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ABC/Image Group LAKeith Urban is adding three new dates to his ripCORD World Tour. He’ll play Bozeman, Montana on August 4 and Sioux City, Iowa on October 7, both places he hasn’t visited in more than a decade. On August 5, he’ll make his first stop ever in Pocatello, Idaho.

Brett Eldredge and newcomer Maren Morris will be along for all the shows, which kick off June 2 in Kansas City, Missouri. Keith's eighth studio album, also called Ripcord, is due sometime before the tour starts. Its second single, “Break on Me,” recently became the Aussie superstar’s 35th top-10 hit.

This week, Keith was nominated for the Academy of Country Music’s Vocal Event of the Year trophy for “Raise ‘Em Up” with Eric Church.

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Image Group LA/ABCWith 17 semi-trucks and eight buses, Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller tour is her biggest production to date. Since the trek is titled Stories in the Round, the “Heartbeat” hitmaker made sure she built a stage that lives up to the name.  

The platform measures 150 feet across the arena floor, with a 48-foot center stage that rotates 360 degrees. It also boasts seven elevator lifts, including a center one that can raise the ACM Female Vocalist nominee 18 feet in the air.

A Carrie Underwood show also wouldn’t be complete without multiple costume changes. The American Idol winner changes no less than five times during her 100-minute-plus set, with new spotlight technology following her, aided by special beacons built into her wardrobe.

Having already sold out her first two shows in Jacksonville, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia, Carrie -- along with Easton Corbin and the Swon Brothers -- swing through Louisville, Kentucky Friday night.

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Capitol NashvilleThese days, Charles Kelley is a busy man. He’s expecting his first child any day now, and he’s prepping for the release of his debut album The Driver this Friday. But he’s not so busy he couldn’t find time to fake his own disappearance.

It all starts with a fictional clip of Ron Burgundy-esque Nashville newsman Bob Mueller reading a story from the news desk about the disappearance of the Lady Antebellum singer. Off camera, the anchorman then utters, “Who the f*** is Charles Kelley?,” the title of a clever teaser clip for the album.

The video goes on to show a caricature of a Music City detective interrogating a who’s who of stars on the whereabouts of Mr. Kelley. Darius Rucker, Eric Paslay, Hunter Hayes, and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook all show up as suspects in the case.

In the end, the clip answers the question it poses -- Charles Kelley is the tall guy from Lady Antebellum.

You can check out the clip now on YouTube.

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ABC/Image Group LAFormer college football quarterback Sam Hunt will now be playing the Super Bowl -- he'll just do it from a stage instead of from the line of scrimmage. Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Beyonce won't be the only ones getting some national TV time on the biggest sporting event of the year, either. You'll be able to watch Sam's performance from the comfort of your living room, too.

The "Break Up in a Small Town" hitmaker will headline the Super Bowl 50 NFL Tailgate Party at Levi's Stadium in San Francisco on Sunday, along with pop superstar Seal. It'll be televised as part of CBS's pregame show The Super Bowl Today, right before the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers.

If you're wondering who Sam's pulling for -- he's said he's a big Peyton Manning fan, so he's rooting for the Broncos, even though one of his former teammates is a Panther. The pregame festivities start at 2 p.m. ET Sunday on CBS.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWhat did "Burning House" hitmaker Cam study in graduate school? ANSWER:  Psychology.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockVince Gill, Charley Pride, The Oak Ridge Boys, Brenda Lee, Tanya Tucker and others will perform on the 2017 Country Music Cruise. The voyage from Key West, Florida, to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, starts on January 27 of next year and goes through February 3.

Chris Young and the Eagles' Joe Walsh will perform at the 8th Annual T.J. Martell Honors Gala in Music City. They join Nashville's Charles Esten, Don Henley and Ronnie Milsap, who were already on the bill for the February 29 gathering at the Omni. Kenny Rogers is one of the honorees.

Just as the Inside the Outsider exhibit prepares to end its run at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the prestigious venue will host Writers' Round: The Songs of Eric Church. The February 20 show will feature Casey Beathard, Jeff Hyde, Luke Laird and Jeremy Spillman, singing tunes they wrote for Eric and sharing the stories behind them. The concert in the Hall's Ford Theater comes one day before the exhibit dedicated to "Mr. Misunderstood" closes.

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Big Machine Label GroupThis summer, Justin Moore heads out on Brantley Gilbert's Take It Outside Tour, and while the "You Look Like I Need a Drink" singer says there's no doubt he loves what he does, he says it's even better when you get to do it with one of your best friends.

"It's fun to go out and tour on a tour bus and play music for a living, but it's magnified when you do it with people who you're genuinely friends with outside of music. Brantley and I, I think we get along so well because we grew up a lot alike, he in Georgia and me in Arkansas. And I think we have a lot of the same philosophies on life and people and how to treat 'em and respect them."

Justin recalls that one of the reasons he feels so bonded to Brantley is because he was there during one of the toughest times of his life.

"The first time we ever met, I don't even know if he had a record deal at the time. The first time we met, we played a show together in Georgia and it was the day that my grandpa had passed away, and I played the show anyway, 'cause I was there," he remembers. "So there's always been something there between us. I always remembered that and I told him years later when we reconnected."

Through the years, Justin says his connection with Brantley has only deepened.

 "Then we became label mates and saw each other at different functions and just became better and better and better friends over the years. And then we played a lot of the same shows together and then we had a big hit record together last year with 'Small Town Throwdown.' He's a great guy. Really, really there's not a better person in this business or on this planet than Brantley." 

Colt Ford, who co-wrote Jason Aldean's hit, "Dirt Road Anthem," with Brantley, will also be along for the trek. The Take It Outside Tour starts June 2 in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and wraps up October 14 and 15 with two dates at Colorado's legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

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Eric AdkinsEven though Scotty McCreery has recently been working on finishing his new album, we now know it won’t be on his longtime label. The American Idol winner announced in a statement Wednesday he’s come to the end of the line with Mercury Nashville/Interscope.

"I enjoyed being on Mercury Nashville/Interscope, and I appreciate all the great people who worked hard on my behalf while I was there. I am excited about what the future holds and the opportunities being presented to me,” he said.

Scotty put out three albums for the label -- Clear as Day, Christmas with Scotty McCreery, and See You Tonight -- with the first making him the youngest male artist ever to have his debut record bow at the top of the Billboard 200 all-genre chart.

Last year, Scotty released the lead single and video from what was supposed to be his next project for the imprint, titled “Southern Belle.” Forbes also ranked him the fifth-most lucrative Idol winner in 2015, raking in $4 million last year. His memoir, Go Big or Go Home:  The Journey Toward the Dream is due May 3.

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