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Taylor Swift Joining "The Voice" as Season Seven Mentor


Sarah Barlow/Big Machine RecordsGet ready to see a lot of Taylor Swift on your TV this season.  The singer has joined The Voice as a mentor for all four teams, US Weekly reports.

Taylor will be working with the show in the same way that Coldplay's Chris Martin did last season: she'll advise the contestants on the teams of veteran coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, as well as new coaches Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams.

As previously reported, each team will also have its own advisor: Stevie Wonder will work with Adam, while Alicia Keys joins Pharrell. Gwen's husband, rocker Gavin Rossdale, will advise her team, and Little Big Town will work with Blake.

A source tells US Weekly, "Taylor was an absolute pleasure to work with. She had great feedback for all the contestants. She made for an amazing mentor." 

The new season of The Voice begins September 22.  Taylor's new album, 1989, is out October 27.

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Taylor Swift Loves Blake Shelton's Pizza Hut Spots


Warner Music NashvilleTaylor Swift is apparently a fan of Blake Shelton's Pizza Hut commercials.

"I saw Taylor Swift this week," Blake tells Rolling Stone Country. "She said, 'You're so funny in those Pizza Hut commercials!' And I said, 'Yeah, Taylor. That was my goal all along as a kid: to make it to this level in country music so I could sell the most amount of pizzas possible… reach the biggest audience of pizzas that I possibly can," he jokes.

Next up, Blake returns to his regular TV gig when the new season of The Voice starts September 22. The avid sportsman's only regret is that he'll be so busy he won't be able to spend much time in a tree stand this year.

"It's funny, because every year for the past 10 years, I've had this phone call with my manager where I say, 'Hey man, this fall… I'm not kidding this time, I'm not doing it. I don't care what it is. I'm tired, I want to protect my fall — that's when deer season starts. I just want to be home.' And here we go again."

Blake's new album, Bringing Back the Sunshine, comes out September 30, right before he wraps up his tour at the Hollywood Bowl on October 4.

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Country Stars Take Center Stage on MDA Show of Strength


Big Machine Label GroupRascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, LeAnn Rimes, Sara Evans and Nashville's Charles Esten all take center stage on this weekend's MDA Show of Strength Telethon. Rascal Flatts' performance of "I Wish" and Sara's "A Little Bit Stronger" were both taped on the Grand Ole Opry stage.  The traditional Labor Day weekend special raises money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. You can catch this year's two-hour version this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Lee Ann Womack and John Legend Team Up for CMT Crossroads


Sugar Hill Lee Ann Womack teams up with John Legend for CMT's next episode of Crossroads. The pair will sing alternate versions of each other's hits and duet on others, in a taping outside Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee before the special  premieres in September.

Legend won the 2005 Best New Artist Grammy and performed his most recent smash hit "All of Me" at June's CMT Awards with Jennifer Nettles and Hunter Hayes. Lee Ann's latest single is the title track from her new album The Way I'm Livin', her first in almost six years.

Fans can enter CMT's Destination Crossroads sweepstakes to win airfare, hotel and spending money for the taping between now and September 10. CMT Crossroads:  John Legend and Lee Ann Womack airs September 26 at 10 p.m. ET, just a few days after Lee Ann's album comes out on the 23rd.

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Jason Aldean Rolls Out Steamy Clip for "Burnin' It Down"


Image Courtesy Jim Wright/Broken BowYou can check out Jason Aldean's steamy new video for "Burnin' It Down" on E!'s Music Channel.  The sexy clip, shot in Nashville earlier this month, features a scantily-clad brunette seducing a guitar player at home, while Jason and his band perform the song amid a pyro-laced backdrop.

Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are two of the song's co-writers. It's the first single from Jason's sixth studio album, titled Old Boots. It's due October 7, before Jason wraps his tour in Texas on October 25.

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Brad Paisley Calls Out E! News over Taylor Swift Headline


Arista NashvilleBrad Paisley is apparently not too happy with E! News. In response to E!'s online article titled Taylor Swift’s ‘Becoming More of a Product’ as a Pop Music Singer, Says Brad Paisley,” the singer tweeted, "Bulls**t headline, E. Nice interview. Go taylor.”

Though the headline seems to indicate that Brad has some problem with Taylor’s acknowledgement that her forthcoming album 1989 will be her first full-blown pop effort, the article itself points out that she and Brad are longtime friends.  He goes on to call the crossover “admirable” and to say she “has the vision for who she wants to be going forward.”

In the quote where he actually uses the world “product,” Brad is talking about how Taylor has grown from her Music City roots.

"People are going to have to get used to it cause it's not the Taylor Swift obviously that you knew,” he told E! News. “Because this is somebody -- like, she was talking about how she cut her hair, and she is spending time in different cities more and becoming more of a product -- and she is a world famous superstar now. She is just not Nashville's, [and] we just have to kind of get used to that."

So far, there’s no response from Taylor on the minor brouhaha. Her new album is due October 27, while Brad’s latest, Moonshine in the Trunk, came out last Monday.

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Country Star Trivia


Comstock/ThinkstockOn which hit reality show was Chase Rice a runner-up? ANSWER:  Survivor: Nicaragua in 2010.

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Little Big Town Explains the Politics of Whistling "Day Drinking"


Capitol NashvilleThere's no denying that "Day Drinking" is one of the most infectious songs of the summer, thanks in part to the chorus Little Big Town whistles near the end. And sure enough, when they look out over their audiences while they're performing their hit, they often find folks whistling along.

"I do see them whistling, which is kinda funny," Jimi Westbrook laughs. "It's hard to whistle when you drink too much, you know, I think," Karen Fairchild interjects.

When it comes to the band members themselves, the four agree that Jimi and Kimberly Schlapman have to carry the bulk of the whistling load, while Karen calls herself a "below-average whistler," and Phillip Sweet admits his challenges are even greater.

"I am the weakest link in the whistling chain," he laughs. "I mean, I really have always struggled with whistling. I almost have to sing it just to get it out." Karen clarifies that she and Phillip did both whistle on the record, though.

Kimberly goes on to demonstrate that she is indeed the best whistler in the bunch, even performing an impromptu version of "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at her band mates' urging.

"That's not my best either," she exclaims.

Next Wednesday, LBT joins Darius Rucker to announce the nominees for this year's CMA Awards on Good Morning America. Their new album, Pain Killer, comes out October 21.

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Toby Keith Opens "Big Dog Daddy's" in Time for First OU Game


Show Dog/Universal Though his name is already over the door in at least sixteen locations of I Love This Bar & Grill, Toby Keith can now count one more restaurant as part of his empire. This week, Big Dog Daddy's Ice House opened in Norman, Oklahoma, achieving its goal to be ready for this year's first University of Oklahoma home football game on Saturday.

Big Dog Daddy's is a "casual, college bar setup" with an "old classic Texas Ice House feel," according to The Norman Transcript. Toby's partners in the venture are the Hal Smith Restaurant Group, who also run the Oklahoma locations of I Love This Bar & Grill.

The menu revolves around build-your-own hot dogs, burgers and pizza, and also features Toby's signature fried bologna sandwich.  Big Dog Daddy's also serves up jalapeno Spam on Texas toast, along with "Red Solo Cup" specials, in a tip of the hat to Toby's hit song.

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Nashville Notes


Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockNashville Outlaws:  A Tribute to Motley Crue debuted at number two on Billboard's Country Albums chart, just behind Chase Rice's Ignite the Night. The country take on heavy metal sold 31,000 copies in its first week.

Former Amazing Race contestant Canaan Smith's new single is called "Love You Like That."

Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Marty Stuart will all appear at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium for the 13th Annual Americana Honors & Awards September 17. It will air as a special edition of PBS's Austin City Limits on November 22.

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Florida Georgia Line Says "Anything Goes" Has Something for Everybody


Republic NashvilleFlorida Georgia Line's forthcoming sophomore album is called Anything Goes, and the duo believes it has something for everybody-- from the good-time songs they're known for to more serious songs like their current hit, “Dirt.”

“We really do feel like there's a song for everybody on the album. A little bit of this, a little bit of that,” Brian Kelley says. “There's a song called ‘Confession,’ that's different than ‘Dirt,’ but it's a ‘make you think’ [kind of song]. It's a deeper song for us. It's a song that every time that dang hook hits, it's goose-bump city again.”

At the same time, Brian says every song means something different for him and his musical partner Tyler Hubbard.

“I mean, you literally go down the line. Each one of 'em means a lot to us, and there's a reason why we put that on the album. Getting down to the end of the album, and we wrote two more songs back in June, and those made the album. It just feels like every little piece fit. It's the strongest piece of work we've ever done.

Florida Georgia Line’s second album will be available in stores and online October 14.

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Martina McBride Sets Out on Fall Leg of Everlasting Tour


Image Courtesy Vinyl RecordingsAs Martina McBride embarks on the fall leg of the tour to support her Everlasting album, seven of the dates are already sold out. She believes part of the reason why is that her new versions of R&B standards from the fifties, sixties and seventies mix so well with her hits like “Independence Day” and “This One’s for the Girls.”

"I feel like this show really takes the audience on a musical journey,” Martina says. “The songs from Everlasting and my hits blend seamlessly together throughout the night."

Accompanied by an eleven-piece band, including a horn section and a group of background singers, Martina delivers her take on songs ranging from the Supremes’ “Come See About Me” to Van Morrison’s “Wild Night.” Everlasting debuted at number one on the Billboard Country Albums chart when it was released in the spring.

Martina’s first cookbook, Around the Table, will be out October 7.

These are the fall dates for the Everlasting tour, with the sold-out shows marked with an asterisk:

*8/28 -- Meridian, MS, MSU Riley Center for the Performing Arts
*8/29 -- Forrest City, AR, East Arkansas Community College Fine Arts Center
*8/30 -- Lake Charles, LA, L'Auberge Casino and Hotel
*8/31 -- Nashville, TN, 3rd and Lindsley
9/5 -- Carmel, IN, The Palladium
9/6 -- Wabash, IN, Honeywell Center
9/11 -- Deadwood, SD, Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center
9/12 -- Mahnomen, MN, Shooting Star Casino
9/13 -- Waukegan, IL, Genesee Theater
9/18 -- Saratoga, CA, The Mountain Winery
9/19 -- Lincoln, CA, Thunder Valley Casino Resort
9/20 -- Pomona, CA, Los Angeles County Fair
9/22 -- San Diego, CA, House of Blues
*9/25 -- Midland, TX, Wagner Noel PAC
9/26 -- Durant, OK, Choctaw Event Center
9/27 -- San Antonio, TX, Majestic Theatre
10/2 -- Dartmouth, NS, Dartmouth Sportsplex
10/3 -- Moncton, NB, The Center at Casino New Brunswick
10/4 -- St Johns, NL Canada, Mile One Centre
10/9 -- Westbury, NY, Theatre at Westbury
10/10 -- Albany, NY, Palace Theatre
10/11 -- Waterbury, CT, Palace Theatre
10/16 -- Sarasota, FL, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
10/17 -- Melbourne, FL, King Center for the Performing Arts
10/18 -- Niceville, FL, Mullett Festival
10/24 -- Athens, GA, Classic Center Theater
*11/1 -- Nashville, TN, Ryman Auditorium
11/7 -- Dearborn, MI, Ford Community & Performing Arts Center
*11/8 -- Dayton, OH, Schuster Center
11/13 -- Jim Thorpe, PA, Penn's Peak
11/14 -- Utica, NY, The Stanley
11/15 -- Lynn, MA, Lynn Auditorium
11/21 -- Brookings, SD, Swiftel Center
11/29 -- Kansas City, MO, Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
12/3 -- Glenside, PA, Keswick Theatre
12/4 -- Northfield, OH, Hard Rock Live
12/5 -- Red Bank, NJ, Count Basie Theatre
12/11 -- Milwaukee, WI, Northern Lights Theatre
12/12 -- Milwaukee, WI, Northern Lights Theatre
12/13 -- Omaha, NE, Orpheum Theatre

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Tim McGraw Takes Aim with "Shotgun Rider;" Readies for Release Day Livestream


Big Machine RecordsAs Tim McGraw gets ready to release his new CD, Sundown Heaven Town, next month, he’s taking aim at the charts with his new single, “Shotgun Rider.” Tim says he loves the way the song paints a picture and sets a mood.

"In my mind, you look over and see the person that you love next to you sitting in the front seat, and you think, 'How good do I have it?  Life is perfect’,” he reflects. “There is a certain warmth to this song and several others like it that really establish the tone for the whole album."

On release day, Tim will team up with the man who directed the films Moneyball and Capote, Bennett Miller, to livestream a new episode of American Express Unstaged. You can watch the performance live from New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom starting at 9 p.m. ET on September 16.

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Country Star Trivia


Comstock/ThinkstockMiranda Lambert's Platinum album track "Another Sunday in the South" is a tip of the hat to which Shenandoah song? ANSWER:  "Sunday in the South," which went to #1 in 1989.

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Toby Keith Answers Ice Bucket Challenge with Sooners


Show Dog/Universal Toby Keith is the latest country star to complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig's disease. Toby responded to about 60 challengers by dousing himself with ice water during football practice at the University of Oklahoma in his hometown of Norman. He nominated retired baseball pitchers Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux before getting soaked.  Former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys Coach Barry Switzer and University of Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione joined Toby in the challenge.

Meanwhile, four of Toby's number one songs made the official Tonight Show Truck Playlist:  "American Ride," "How Do You Like Me Now," "Red Solo Cup," and "Who's Your Daddy." Jimmy Fallon compiled the 57-track collection after deciding to buy a truck earlier this year.

Fans who'd like to have Drinks After Work with Toby also have only a few more days to enter the contest named after his latest CD. The Facebook sweepstakes wraps up August 31.

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Brett Eldredge Says "Sexiest" Honor and Love Songs Haven't Changed His Bachelor Status


Image Courtesy Warner Music NashvilleBrett Eldredge admits being one of People Country’s sexiest men is a pretty good gig-- until you’re in the airport early in the morning.

“I literally was sitting on an airplane, and a girl was reading a People Country or one of the magazines with the hottest guys or whatever,” he recalls. “It was like six in the morning, and I'm on the airplane and I slept, like, one hour, and I'm like, ‘Oh my God. She's, like, turning to the page that I’m on.’  I'm like, ‘Please don't look over here! Please don't look over here!’  I've got bags under my eyes.”

Having just logged two number one hits that were both love songs,  Brett admits the “sexiest” label still hasn’t helped him shake his bachelor status.

“I am single. I'm always looking,” he confesses. “ I'm not afraid to look and find that right one. I am a very focused guy with my music right now. That right one comes along and hits me over the head and says, ‘You'd be dumb not to follow this,’ then I'll do it. But right now, it's just like I’m living by the song, and maybe I'll find that one in the process.”

Brett’s current single, “Mean to Me,” is climbing the charts now.

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Dolly Parton Accepts ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Kenny Rogers


Webster & AssociatesWhen Kenny Rogers challenged his good pal Dolly Parton to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, he never thought she'd go through with it -- but she's now proved him wrong.

"Kenny Rogers dared me!  He said you'll never do it with your false hair, your false eyelashes, and your false nails,” Dolly says in her video accepting the challenge.  “Kenny, you'd be surprised at what all I do with my 'falses' for a good cause and a good laugh.”  The icon then removes her earrings and her scarf, but when someone off camera suggests she remove her shoes, she says, "My shoes are plastic. But then again, so's the rest of me!"

Dolly then enlists two of her nieces, Rebecca and Hannah, to pour two buckets of ice water over her head, as she screams.  "Yes, I have on a bra!" she yells. "Kenny, you gotta pay extra for the wet t-shirt contest!"

In a statement, Dolly says, "Although I didn’t challenge anyone, I do challenge everybody to make a generous donation like I did!”

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Chase Rice Ignites the Country Albums Chart


Image Courtesy Columbia NashvilleNewcomer Chase Rice is currently savoring the success of his first major release, Ignite the Night, as it debuts at the top of Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, selling 44,000 copies in its first week. He finds it particularly satisfying, since along the way he's been an NFL hopeful, a contestant on Survivor, and a member of a NASCAR pit crew.

"We've built things a little bit differently, starting with live shows and building up our fan base through touring," Chase says. “Now people are showing up night after night to sing these songs right along with me, and to do it the way we’ve done it and have the No. 1 country album in the nation this week is unbelievable. It's surreal.”

Chase wrote twelve of the fifteen songs on Ignite the Night, with his current single "Ready Set Roll" having already gone gold before the CD even came out. He kicks off the Ignite the Night Tour September 5 in Denver.

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Brad Paisley Challenges College Football Fans to Wear Their Colors


Image Courtesy Arista NashvilleSince Brad Paisley namechecks 18 mascots in the song "Country Nation" from his new CD Moonshine in the Trunk, it seems appropriate he's the face of College Colors Day this Friday. He's partnering with 12,000 U.S. retailers to encourage fans to wear their gear during the official kick-off of college football season this weekend.

Brad himself is an avid fan of West Virginia University.  You can see his challenge to his fellow WVU Mountaineers on YouTube.

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Nashville Notes


Burke/Triolo Productions/ ThinkstockZac Brown Band will be one of the headliners at this year’s Music Midtown festival in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park on September 19 and 20. They’ll join heavy-hitters from mainstream rock and pop like Eminem, Jack White, John Mayer, Lana Del Ray, Iggy Azalea, Gregg Allman and Run DMC.

The self-titled debut EP from new band Old Dominion is due out October 7, featuring their new single "Shut Me Up." This fall, they open for Chase Rice on select dates.

After a 17-year departure, lead singer Marty Raybon will reunite with the band Shenandoah in October for a reunion tour. Miranda Lambert references the late 80s and early 90s hitmakers in her Platinum track "Another Sunday in the South."

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