At 7:15pm on Sunday, April 7, Luke Bryan tweeted a picture of Blake Shelton and him with the caption, “In the cop car. We are going 110 in downtown Vegas.”From the moment the crazy co-hosts arrived at the ACM Fan Jam in the back of a police car, last night’s ACM Awards festivities comprised an energetic (and tearful) evening full of meaningful moments, exhilarating highlights, and powerful performances.
In one of the most memorable underdog victories of ACM Awards history, Luke Bryan claimed the coveted Entertainer of the Year award. The 36-year-old master of the spring break soundtrack, who recently launched his first headlining arena tour, beat veteran superstars Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, and Taylor Swiftto win the fan-voted title.
Luke tearfully acknowledged his fans: “Thank you so much for making my life what it is. What I always wanted to be was just a country singer who got to ride on a tour bus and show up on a new stage and play music every night.”
Miranda Lambert received substantial honors throughout the evening, earning the designation of the evening’s most-awarded artist with four total awards. Her hit single “Over You” was declared Single Record of the Year as well as Song of the Year, resulting in two awards for Miranda as both artist and composer of the song. The culmination of Miranda’s evening came when she won her fourth Female Vocalist of the Year award, joining ranks with Reba McEntire and Loretta Lynn as the few artists who have ever won Female Vocalist of the Year four or more times.
The Male Vocalist of the Year award went to Jason Aldean, who also took away the prize for Vocal Event of the Year with Luke Bryan and Eric Church for their collaboration on “The Only Way I Know.”
Little Big Town was recognized as Vocal Group of the Year and for their Video of the Year, “Tornado.”
This year’s New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year award went to Florida Georgia Line. The group also won the fan-voted New Artist of the Year award. Not bad for their first ACM Awards show!
Each award announcement was surrounded by stellar musical performances, the most unforgettable being Garth Brooks and George Strait’s tribute to Dick Clark, the recently deceased former executive producer of the show. Their performances of “The Dance” and “The Cowboy Rides Away” were introduced by a noticeably moved Reba McEntire.
“He would slap me if he saw me crying up here,” Reba remarked in Dick’s memory.
The night opened with a rollicking rendition of “Boys ‘Round Here” featuring Blake Shelton and friends Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, Gwen Sebastian, and Pistol Annies.
Lady Antebellum debuted its latest single “Downtown,” giving band member Hillary Scott a chance to show off her baby bump. Carrie Underwood performed her hit “Two Black Cadillacs” with appropriate props onstage, and Hunter Hayes debuted his new song “I Want Crazy” and invited R&B legend Stevie Wonder to join him in performing Stevie’s classic, “Sir Duke.”
The 2013 ACM Awards was an exciting evening of celebration, talent, creativity, commitment, and, of course, the country music we love so well. We wish all the winners, performers, and producers a most hearty congratulations!
On February 2, 2013, The Henningsens made their Grand Ole Opry debut. We caught up with the sibling trio shortly afterwards to chat about their experiences.
While growing up with 10 children on a farm in Illinois, how did you all find enough downtime to write songs?
During the winter/farming down time, we’d go down to Tennessee to our house in the country and we’d write in the evenings. Aaron and Dad would work construction and write on the way to their jobs. I’d sneak out to the porch and write!
Do you have a favorite song out of those you’ve written thus far?
Brian: “Down.” Aaron: “I Miss You.” Clara: “American Beautiful.”
How did the idea for “American Beautiful” come about?
The title, “American Beautiful,” was Aaron’s idea. When we got together to write with Brett Beavers, we thought it sounded like a love story and an American spirit song. So we combined the two!
There have been many great family groups in country music from The Carter Family to The Whites to The Band Perry. Was there anyone in particular who had a big influence on your dreams of a career in music?
Country music has strong family roots, and we are certainly honored to continue that tradition. We’ve admired many family groups, from the classic songwriting and harmonies of The Carter Family, to the Kendalls, the Judds and our friends The Band Perry. Sometimes it’s the easiest thing in the world to work closely with your family and sometimes it’s the hardest, but it’s really been worth it!
If you could perform one song with an artist (past or present), who would it be and what song would you choose?
“Sweet Baby James” with James Taylor. That’d be a dream come true!
If we looked at your iPod or turned on the radio in your car, what would we be likely to hear?
Anything from Queen to Glen Campbell to Miranda Lambert.
Are there any other Henningsens we can expect to hear music from in the future?
That’s a story in the making.
Did you listen to or watch the Grand Ole Opry growing up? Who’s your favorite performer?
Sometimes at night up in Illinois you can get 650 AM on the radio. One of Dad’s favorite Opry shows was when he got to see Jack Greene sing “Statue of a Fool.” That was a real highlight for him.
How did you find out you were invited to play the Grand Ole Opry? What were your first thoughts?
Our manager called us to let us know, and we were so excited. February 2, 2013 will always be a special day for The Henningsens!
Who were you most excited to cross paths with backstage at the Opry?
Of course The Band Perry, and it was definitely a highlight meeting John Conlee and Holly Williams!
Did anything else interesting or unexpected happen behind the scenes that night that fans would like to know about?
The Band Perry brought us some wonderful cupcakes . . . They were tasty!
We heard you brought quite the crowd with you that night. Were all of the other siblings able to make it?
Yes, ALL ten brothers and sisters of the Henningsen family were there, including their spouses and children. It was such a cool thing to experience the Opry with our whole family!
In five words or less, how would you describe your Opry experience?
1. Welcome back to the Grand Ole Opry! What are some of your best memories from the Opry stage?
Cruz:It’s always an honor to perform on the Opry Stage! I’d have to say our first performance will always be the most memorable. We were all waiting in our dressing room and I figured I better scope out the stage before it was actually time to play. I walked down the hallway and came around side-stage. I got close enough to look out at the audience, the lights, the sound, the energy…and then without any warning, all the air in my lungs was involuntarily pulled out! Hello, nerves! I hurried back to the dressing room and told everybody they ought take a look at the stage before we actually played – we didn’t need anyone passing out in our debut performance! When we walked out on stage, my nerves weren’t much better. I couldn’t even plug in my own guitar! (Thank you, Opry stagehands…!) Well, Little Jimmy Dickens introduced the “Americana band from Knoxville”, and we got our shot. I think we shook ‘em up, and now I believe The Black Lillies are pushing on twenty performances at the Opry! Every performance has been a wonderful experience, but the first…well…you only get to do that once.
There was also the time Vince Gill poured water in my mouth in the middle of a song … that was definitely memorable! I mentioned, just before starting a song that my throat was dry – just making an offhand comment – then launched into our song “Whiskey Angel.” I didn’t realize that Vince, who was hosting our segment, had heard me and had run backstage searching for a bottle of water. He came out on stage, ready to hand the bottle to me … but I was in the middle of playing guitar and singing. In between verses, I kind of stepped toward him and somehow, I ended up opening my mouth and he poured the water in … the audience went wild! It was one of those completely unplanned moments that ended up being incredibly memorable for everyone there (but probably sounded really strange on the radio!).
2. How did the five of you find each other to form The Black Lillies?
It must be destiny when you think of what it takes for any good relationship to form. Try getting five musicians on separate paths in life to converge and dedicate their talents and energy to one common goal. Well, we’ve done it, and it has been a process. I began singing and writing the songs that have become The Black Lillies repertoire in 2008. I’d been looking for an opportunity to collaborate with Tom Pryor, our guitar player, and Jamie Cook, our drummer. We booked a show at The Preservation Pub in Knoxville, which became the beginning a year-long process of creating material and finding the right band and sound. It was another year before we found the lineup to perfect our chemistry, and pursue the musical dream full time. In 2010, Trisha Gene Brady and Robert Richards joined the band and we’ve been a five piece chicken dinner ever since!
3. You have a busy performance schedule ahead of you this year. What are you most looking forward to about the tour?
Doing what we love. Performing music all around the country, meeting great people, seeing the countryside, and hopefully making a positive impact on peoples lives through music. Festivals are most enjoyable. They’re much like reunions, and very welcome when you’re on the road away from friends and family. Touring is hard work, but we give it all we got and do our best to make everyone at home proud.
4. How do you keep each performance fresh and exciting in the midst of a relentless tour schedule?
Energy, focus, and spontaneity. Luckily, we don’t have a set show. I usually make a set list five minutes before we go on, and we try to custom tailor each show for each individual audience. We may not always have the most polished show, but its honest, real, and sincere.
5. What’s your favorite thing to do when you have downtime while on tour?
We do a pretty good job taking in the local color. We often stay with friends or family – which sure beats staying in a hotel. We love checking out local restaurants … of course we spend a lot of time staying in touch with family back home, sight seeing, hiking or other outdoor sports or activities, and thrifting…you can’t have too much polyester.
6. What was your favorite moment of recording Runaway Freeway Blues?
Recording “By the Wayside” acoustic and live with the whole band. It’s a bluegrass-style gospel song. We sat around in a circle and performed it a couple times till we got a take we were happy with. That, and singing the vocals for “Glow.” It’s a lullaby-type love song. I wrote it with my son Cash in mind. It was the last thing I recorded for the record. It was just Cash, our sound engineer, and myself. Cash got to play producer, and I got to sing the song to him in person. He sure looked satisfied through the glass.
7. Your career thus far seems to be the dream of every independent artist. What’s it like?
It is extremely gratifying. We’ve tried to create our own good luck. I think the songs are the most important thing. Then the best recording you can make … and then, you just have to get out there and deliver. Without a “machine” behind the band, you have to make one fan at a time. We’ve been patient, and as a result we get to make the music we want, and how we want. Our fans love and respect us for this, and we let them know that we could not do it without them.
8. You have performed in a variety of settings in the past year, from large-scale music festivals to small, intimate venues. Which setting do you prefer and why?
The variety is key. I always want our band to be flexible musically. We should be able to perform at a bluegrass festival acoustically as well as a rock festival turned up to eleven! An intimate venue is great for telling stories and cutting up, a big stage is great for rocking out and creating that magical musical experience. We love both.
9. Trisha, how does your background as a visual artist influence how you create music?
Trisha:The creation of music is not unlike the making of a sculpture or a painting, you start with a clean canvas and one stroke, one note, and it sets the tone for the entire piece. I think that with every new song you must open your yourself to new ideas and know that there are any number of ways, or mediums, to approach it with… and that it can evolve time and time again during its creation.
10. What is it like to spend so many days on the road together?
Cruz:It is a most excellent challenge. You become family. You learn to look out for each other, how not to get on each others’ nerves too much. You learn to share silence, excitement, nervousness, doubt, hope, humor, and stinkiness!
11. Describe the group’s dynamic in 5 words.
Cruz:Melodic Magical Country Carpet Ride … or Classic American Mountain Country Jam Trisha: We’re gonna bring it! (I guess that’s four with the contraction.) Tom:Homespun wholesome conservative improvised mayhem Robert:“Everything’s fine when we’re rested!”
12. As Tennessee natives and veterans of the Opry stage, what are your favorite things to do in Nashville?
Cruz:Check out music at Roberts Western World, go to the 5 Spot Old Time Jam, perform in studio on WSM, catch up with family and friends, hang out in East Nashville, thrift shop, go to the YMCA, eat at La Hacienda, and check out Cheekwood!
Trisha: The Opry is my all time all time favorite!! How can it not be?!
I also love to try and catch a show, take a summer stroll through Centennial Park, or hit one of the many amazing restaurants. And really I always try to catch up with friends because as a musician I am always traveling and you have to make those moments happen when you can!
Tom:Disc golf at Seven Oaks Park.
Robert: Gruhn Guitars is a must-see!
Jamie: Definitely the Opry itself.
13. What song would each of you recommend for the perfect road trip playlist?
Cruz: “Driving My Life Away” by Eddie Rabbit Trisha: There are many songs that come to mind, you gotta have some CCR & The Band, but If I have to choose just one I think (today) I’ll have to go with “Would You Go With Me” by Shawn Camp… Tom: “Truckin’” by Dwight Yoakam Jamie: “It’s a Beautiful Day Today” by Moby Grape Robert: “Highway Child” … Jimi Hendrix
Runaway Freeway Blues will be released on March 26, 2013. The Black Lillies will be returning to the Opry stage on Friday, March 29. Buy your tickets here.
Country music stars Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan appeared on “Good Morning America” today to announce the list of final nominees for the 46th Annual CMA Music Awards. Opry members Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will return as hosts for the fifth consecutive year, live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Thursday, Nov. 1.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Love and Theft
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Eli Young Band
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Big & Rich
Love and Theft
The Civil Wars
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
“Dirt Road Anthem”
“God Gave Me You”
Little Big Town
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Four the Record
Own the Night
Tailgates and Tanlines
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
Will Hoge and Eric Paslay
“God Gave Me You”
Dan Wilson, Brett Beavers and Dierks Bentley
Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton
Eric Church, Ryan Tyndell and Jeff Hyde
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
Alan Jackson featuring Zac Brown
“Feel Like a Rock Star”
Kenny Chesney (duet with Tim McGraw)
“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”
Willie Nelson with Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson
“Safe and Sound”
Taylor Swift (featuring The Civil Wars)
“Stuck On You”
Lionel Richie (with Darius Rucker)
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Little Big Town
“Red Solo Cup”
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Sam Bush (Mandolin)
Paul Franklin (Steel guitar)
Dann Huff (Guitar)
Brent Mason (Guitar)
Mac McAnally (Guitar)
Check out our Show Calendar to see when your favorite nominee with be playing at the Opry.
Opry and country music icon George Jones has announced plans for his final tour in 2013 to say farewell to fans before taking time off to be with his with family. The tour will stop in approximately 60 cities and is appropriately titled “The Grand Tour” after his chart-topper from 1974. During the tour, fans can expect to hear some of Jones’ biggest hits including “White Lightning,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” and “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair.”
There is also new music in the works for “The Possum” and he has enlisted the help of friend and fellow Opry member, Dolly Parton to pen some of the songs for a new studio album.
Though Ricky Skaggs may be more widely known for his Country and Bluegrass music, there is another format that remains very near and dear to his heart — Gospel. In fact, it was Gospel hymns that ignited Ricky’s love affair with music. To date, almost every album he has released has included at least one Gospel, Christian, or inspirational Country song. On August 14, Ricky’s adoration for the genre comes full circle when he is inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
“For someone who has spent my entire career playing music in the marketplace, not in the church, this is quite an honor,” says Ricky. “I’ve always loved the Gospel and I sing about it in many different ways. I’ve never seen myself as a Christian artist, just an artist who is a Christian. I’m very grateful for this award.”
The GMA Foundation (GMAF) will induct Ricky into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame on Tuesday, August 14 at the Trinity Music City Auditorium in Hendersonville, TN.
Ricky will take that music back to the Opry stage the Friday after the induction. See him Friday, August 17 alongside Joe Diffie and the Opry debut of Florida Georgia Line. He will also be back for both weekend shows August 24 & 25. Click here for tickets. Until then, enjoy a video of him with fellow Opry members The Whites performing “Big Wheel.”
This episode of Noteworthy at the Opry on GAC-TV features heartache songs performed by Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery, and Brad Paisley right on the Opry stage. Anguish, grief and despair caused by lost love is something everyone can relate to – and country artists tell that story better than anyone. Lee Ann Womack, Montgomery Gentry, Jana Kramer, actor Justin Deely and pop singer Natasha Bedingfield talk about their favorite country heartache songs, and share the ingredients that make a heartache song great throughout the interview portions of the show. They also reveal their first heartbreak, contemplate what causes people to cheat, and offer advice they’d give a friend recovering from a broken heart.
CARRIE UNDERWOOD’S “GOOD GIRL” VIDEO BREAKS CMT RECORD FOR MOST WEEKS AT NO. 1
Opry member Carrie Underwood‘s “Good Girl” video held the No. 1 spot this past weekend on CMT’s Top 20 countdown for a record breaking 14 weeks. After being released in March, the video has spent more time on top of CMT’s Top 20 Countdown than any other video in history, even topping herself. In 2010, Carrie’s “Undo It” video held the No. 1 spot for 12 weeks.
“Good Girl” is the lead single of Carrie’s latest album, Blown Away. Carrie co-wrote eight of the 14 tracks on the album, including this first single.
“‘Good Girl’ was one of the last ones I wrote for the album,” she says. “We wanted something a little more fun and up-tempo. Chris DeStefano is just a mad scientist with his Pro Tools, and he can play every instrument. We walked out of that writing session with a demo. It sounded awesome. It was ready to go. We let everybody hear it, and everybody was so excited.”
Here’s the video again, because, well, we just can’t stop watching this No. 1 CMT Countdown video. Plus, watch below to see Carrie perform it on the Opry stage. Enjoy!
Most artists can only dream of performing at the White House, but Opry member Brad Paisley has received that honor twice in the past four years. President Obama and the first lady invited Brad to headline their fourth annual “Salute the Military” USO concert. This year the event featured Brad’s performance, a barbeque, family-friendly games and more for over 1,200 troops and family members, all taking place on the South Lawn of the White House.
Although this wasn’t his first go-around playing for the president, Brad was just grateful for the opportunity again. July 4is an especially meaningful holiday to Brad whose grandfather fought for our country in World War II.
“The Fourth of July has always been about family, freedom, and celebration,” Paisley said in a statement from the USO. “I am so honored to be spending my holiday performing a USO concert for our troops and their families, and to be celebrating those freedoms with the men and women who put everything on the line to defend them.”
Unfortunately most did not receive invitations to attend the lavish event but fans were able to be a part of the experience by watching the live stream of the show on the White House’s official website yesterday evening. Brad and his wife, Kimberly Williams Paisley, also shared photos via Twitter. As expected, Brad’s tweets aren’t lacking that witty sense of humor the country music community has come to love. Now that he has another performance at one of America’s most treasured “venues” under his belt, Brad is returning to the road on this summer’s Virtual Reality tour.
The show that made country music famous literally rolled out the red carpet to salute heroes of the U.S. military and artists like Rascal Flatts, Alan Jackson, Ronnie Milsap, Kellie Pickler, and more were on hand to salute right alongside us in this episode of Noteworthy at the Opry on GAC-TV.
Tune in THIS WEEKEND to catch the show again, just in time for the Fourth of July holiday.
June 30 – 8pm CT
July 1 – 12am, 9:30am, and 5:30pm CT July 3- 7:30pm and 11:30pm CT July 4- 9am and 5:30 CT
Click here for more information and additional episode airings.