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Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Kelsea Ballerini gifted Nashville Public Schools with a $1 million grant from the CMA Foundation, during a visit with Oliver Middle School's wind ensemble. The money for music education is just part of what was raised at this year's CMA Music Festival. 

Billy Currington marked the success of his two-week number-one hit "It Don't Hurt Like It Used To" Tuesday afternoon at a party at South near Music Row in Nashville. Even his grandmother made the trip to Music City to help him celebrate.

All-female band Farewell Angelina will sing the national anthem Thursday before the Chiefs take on the Oakland Raiders in Kansas City. You can catch the game starting at 8:25 p.m. ET on NBC.

Shenandoah will kick off their 30th Anniversary Tour January 22 in Annapolis, Maryland. 2017 will mark three decades since the "Two Dozen Roses" hitmakers released their debut album.

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Hatchette Book GroupFans and even Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks noticed the absence of nine-time CMA winners The Judds at last month's 50th anniversary awards show.  In a new interview with ABC’s Robin RobertsNaomi Judd opened up about some of the likely reasons the country legends weren’t able to be there for the celebration.

While discussing her own ongoing battles with anxiety and severe depression, Naomi revealed that she and daughter Wynonna are “a little estranged from each other.”

She went on to explain, “From the day I knew she existed, it was the two of us against the world. And then through the decades we kind of grew up together, ‘cause it was really just the two of us. And I’m always tellin’ her, ‘If I’d know better, I would have done better.’” 

Naomi says her relationship with daughter Ashley Judd is a bit better, recalling how at her worst times, she’d often walk the mile from her house to the actresses' for a hug, to help make her feel better.

You can read more about Naomi’s struggles in her new book, River of Time:  My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, which is out now.

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Atlantic/Warner NashvilleBrett Eldredge will bring his own cold front to Live with Kelly on Friday, as he performs “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” from his new holiday album, Glow. Earlier in the day, he’ll also do “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on Good Morning America.  

You can catch GMA starting at 7 a.m. on ABC. The syndicated Live with Kelly typically airs after GMA on most ABC stations.

While Brett may be focusing on his big-band Christmas tunes right now, his straight-ahead country ones certainly aren’t suffering. His latest single, “Wanna Be That Song,” currently sits at number three on the chart, on its way to number one.

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Webster Public RelationsReba, Kenny Rogers and Alison Krauss are the first stars confirmed to join Dolly Parton for Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund. The three-hour telethon will air next Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Great American Country, and will be simulcast on radio as well.

“My home in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee is some place special,” Dolly says. “Wildfires have affected many of the people -- my people -- who live in those beautiful mountains. We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires. I know it has been a trying time for my people and this assistance will help get them back on their feet.”

Dolly’s My People Fund is providing $1,000 per month to families in Sevier County, where she was born, who lost their primary residences in the fires last week. During the telethon, viewers will be able to call 1-866-CARE-MORE to donate to the cause.

Expect more announcements about more of Dolly’s celebrity friends who’ll be joining her as next Tuesday’s fundraiser approaches.

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ABC/Randy HolmesIf you’ve checked out Keith Urban’s Ripcord World Tour, you know there’s typically a time in the show where he picks one lucky audience member to come on stage and chat. That’s resulted in many memorable moments since he hit the road last June, and his first night in his native Australia was certainly no exception.

“Do you bring a guitar to every concert?” Keith asked, as he welcomed flummoxed fan Amy Jennifer to the stage, with her axe in tow.

“No just yours,” she replied, giggling, “I’m sorry. You’re so beautiful!” somewhere along the way.  

“I’ve become a bloody guitar tech!” Keith quipped, as he got the young girl situated.  

“What can’t he do, ladies and gentleman?” she countered, before delivering her original song called “Closing That Door.”

You can relive the moment in Adelaide, Australia via YouTube. Keith continues his string of dates Down Under with Carrie Underwood with two shows in Melbourne Thursday and Friday.

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Trae Patton/NBCBlake Shelton will ring in 2017 with his Voice cohorts Carson Daly and Alicia Keys.

Carson will host NBC's New Year’s Eve special from New York's Times Square for the 14th year, with Spice Girl Mel B by his side. Blake will perform, as will Alicia and a capella sensations Pentatonix.

NBC’s New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly starts at 11:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 31.

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ABC/Image Group LAGarth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood want to see your biggest holiday fashion disasters! Inspired by a song on their new holiday album, the two launched 12 days of their own #UglyXmasSweater movement on Facebook Monday.

Garth explains how the idea for the track on Christmas Together came to be.

“I love this song!” he tells ABC Radio. "John Martin came to me and says 'I got this idea called "Ugly Christmas Sweater",' and the first thing I said was, 'Oh my God, how do you even make that lyrically work and how does it rhythmically work?' But it fell out -- it's like Bing Crosby meets Elvis Presley, if that tells you anything. I hope it becomes a Christmas standard!”  

To participate in the #UglyXmasSweater madness, all you need to do is share your photo of your own unattractive seasonal threads and add the hashtag. You can also upload your picture to UglySweater.GarthBrooks.com. After a dozen days have passed, Garth and Trisha will share their favorites in a video montage on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWho was the most recent country contender to take home the Best New Artist trophy at the Grammys? ANSWER:  Zac Brown Band, who won in 2010.

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Disney/Mark AshmanThe Virginia cancer survivor who gained notoriety after Garth Brooks brought her on stage to sing with him at the Richmond Coliseum in November, is recording an album.

Danielle El-Jor got her big break when she met Garth Brooks during a meet-and-greet arranged by a local country radio station. Brooks was so impressed with her he invited her to join him the following night.

Now, WTVR reports the Midlothian High School graduate is collaborating with a producer at Sony on four original songs for an album she hopes will land her a record deal. 

“Something just clicked,” she says, “it was amazing.”

El-jor was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2014. She was supposed to audition for The Voice but her chemotherapy treatments forced her to miss out.

El-jor was given a clear bill of health this year.

You can keep up with Danielle's progress via her Twitter and Instagram.

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Gwendolyn Records/Pearl Records, Inc.For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, Garth Brooks accomplishes a rare feat on the country albums chart this week. With Christmas Together with wife Trisha Yearwood at #2, the Walmart-exclusive combination of the holiday record and his tenth studio album at #3, and the single-disc edition of Gunslinger at #four, Garth officially occupies three of the top-five spots on Billboard’s Top Country Albums tally.

While Christmas Together is composed of multiple Garth/Trisha collaborations as well as solo songs, Gunslinger also boasts a new duet from the two called “Whiskey to Wine.”

After a hit in 1997 with “In Another’s Eyes,” Garth tells ABC Radio it was high time for the two to make a record together.

“We're finally on the same label,” the CMA Entertainer of the Year says. “I think a Christmas album is the perfect way to kinda debut a duets thing because a Christmas album really lends itself to duets a lot. So we just wanted to get a low-pressure, kind of all-fun kind of thing together to see how the first one went, and it was a dream! It was great. She was fantastic, and you knew she was gonna be, but you never want to put everything up on the table and roll it not knowing. So now that we've got this behind us, I look forward to the first duets record.”  

If you’re wondering who the last artist was to notch three albums in the top five, you don’t have to look very far. It was none other than Garth himself, who did it in 1992 with The ChaseBeyond the Season, and No Fences.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockMiranda Lambert stops by the syndicated The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday.

Luke Bryan’s new single is “Fast.” It’s the sixth release from his 2015 album, Kill the Lights.

Newcomer Kane Brown starts the day Wednesday on the Today show, while you can find Kacey Musgraves at the other end of the spectrum, guesting on Late Night with Seth Meyers. You’ll find both on NBC.

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Blue Chair Bay/Columbia NashvilleKenny Chesney fans snapped up more than 106,000 tickets for his only two stadium shows next year in several hours, after they went on sale Friday morning.

After deciding not to tour in 2017, the “Setting the World on Fire” Grammy nominee admits he wondered if he’d done the right thing, after agreeing to two dates at the home of the New England Patriots.

“It feels a little like cheating,” Kenny says, “because I said I was taking the year off. But once we sent the trucks and the gear home and I stopped for a little bit, I was still hearing the cheers… in my ears,” adding “How often can you tap into energy that carries you for weeks, that inspires you and stays with you? So I called my manager and my promoter and said, ‘I know it’s unconventional, but I’d really like to play Boston…”

The Cosmic Hallelujah hitmaker has sold out the stadium 15 times since first playing it in 2005.  

As of Monday night, only a few hundred seats remained for the August 25-26 shows. Kenny jokes the winter will pass a whole lot faster knowing these two summer dates are on the way.

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ABC/Image Group LAWilliam Michael Morgan will welcome 2017 by making his national TV debut on the Today show. He’s set to perform his breakthrough hit, “I Met a Girl,” during the fourth hour of the NBC morning show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, starting at 10 a.m. on January 4.

Both the Mississippi native’s first number-one and his current single “Missing” are from his debut album, Vinyl, which appropriately will be available as an LP for the first time on December 16. That same day, he'll play the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman, before signing copies of his record at the historic venue.

On February 24, William Michael will occupy a coveted spot on the yearly New Faces show during Country Radio Seminar in Nashville.

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ABC/Image Group LAWith a coveted nomination in the much-watched Best New Artist category at the 59th Grammys, Kelsea Ballerini confesses she’s had her eye on the gramophone trophy for some time.

“I was 15 the first time I saw a Grammy. It was in a studio I was recording some of my first demos in. I remember asking if I could hold it, being its biggest fan, and knowing how important it was," she recalled on Instagram. "I wish I could go back and tell that 15-year-old starry-eyed girl that she’d be nominated a few years later.”

Kelsea also took time to tape a special thank you for her fans, admitting in a Twitter video she has “zero percent chill” about getting the prestigious nod and adding how proud she is to represent Nashville along with Maren Morris, who’s nominated as well. 

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Today is the best day. pic.twitter.com/ygiAioMubS

— Kelsea Ballerini (@KelseaBallerini) December 6, 2016

 

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ABC/Image Group LAWith four nods -- for Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song, Best Country Album and in the prestigious all-genre Best New Artist category -- Maren Morris is the most-nominated singer in her genre at this year’s Grammys.

“I’ve grown up watching the Grammys, and they are such a pinnacle for an artist,” the reigning CMA New Artist of the Year said in a statement from her label. “I’m so honored to be nominated by my peers who I am so inspired by every day.”

On social media, the “80s Mercedes” hitmaker was a little less reserved, tweeting, “Four Grammy nominations?! I’M SHOOK,” then adding, “Between the Grammy nominations and playing [Saturday Night Live] this Saturday, I might pass out. I hope [John Cena] gives me a hug,” referencing the wrestler-turned-actor who’ll host this weekend.

If that weren’t enough for Maren to be overwhelmed, Billboard will give her its Breakthrough Artist honor Friday at this year’s Women in Music event.

Both Grammy nods for Solo Performance and Country Song are for Maren’s first single, “My Church,” while her debut project Hero is nominated in the Country Album category. The trophies are set to be handed out February 12 in L.A.

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ABC/Randy HolmesThough he’s cancelling his dates for the rest of the year, Granger Smith is back home in Texas recovering after a serious fall at his show in New Jersey this past Saturday. The “If the Boot Fits” hitmaker was standing on a speaker when it collapsed, causing him to break two ribs, which punctured one of his lungs and caused it to partially collapse.

By Tuesday morning, Granger had shared a photo of himself looking healthy, resting on a pillow, while giving a thumbs up. He added that he’s starting to be more mobile, before issuing a thank you to the staff of the New Brunswick, New Jersey hospital who took care of him.

“I truly appreciate all the doctors and nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital,” he said in a statement. “Their resolve and professionalism were reassuring during a pretty rough few days for me.”

Though he’ll be off the road for several weeks, the man who recently scored his first number-one with “Backroad Song” is vowing to come back strong.

 “I’ve has so many emails and tweets. It’s pretty amazing that so many people have reached out from across the country," he reflected. "I feel so blessed to have more than just support for my music from fans and radio. It’s deeply humbling to have fans that personally care so much.”

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Update: Out of the hospital, back in TX & starting to regain movements. The outpouring of support has me feeling VERY blessed. Thank y'all! pic.twitter.com/LagwDYPFpJ

— Granger Smith (@GrangerSmith) December 6, 2016

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ABC/Image Group LA News of Kenny Chesney’s Grammy nomination served as the ultimate wake-up call for the country superstar Tuesday morning

“You’re kidding me. That’s fantastic,” he reacted in a statement from his publicist. “What a thing, what news to wake up to.”

Kenny is up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for his duet with Pink on “Setting the World on Fire.”

“When I heard the song, I knew it was pretty special,” he recalls. “But when we got Pink on there, it was something else. She captures all the emotion, all the joy of being alive, being free and in the moment -- and brought everything inside the song to life. I couldn’t be happier this morning, knowing the people who vote for the Grammys heard in that song all the things that I do.”

"Setting the World on Fire" went on to spend two weeks at the top of the charts, becoming Kenny’s 29th number-one.

This year’s Grammys will be handed out Sunday, February 12 in Los Angeles. You can watch starting at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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ABC/Randy HolmesThree-time Grammy contender Keith Urban reacted to his nominations for the 59th annual awards Tuesday morning, even though he was a world away, continuing his world tour in his native Australia.

“It’s 2 a.m. and I’m just coming down from a crazy great show overseas,” he said in a statement. “I’m totally blown away with these nominations. Making RipCord was really a collaborative labor of love both for the music and all the people that helped me bring my vision to life. I’ll stay up anytime to hear news like this… just not sure of how to get to sleep now!!”

Keith is up for both Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for his current single, “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” while RipCord competes for Best Country Album.

You can find out if Keith wins when the Grammys air Sunday, February 12 on CBS.

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Courtesy The Recording AcademyCountry music made an impressive showing across the board, as the nominees for the 59th Grammys were announced on Tuesday. Both Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris will vie for the all-genre Best New Artist trophy, with critical favorite Sturgill Simpson also competing against the likes of Beyonce and Adele for the prestigious Album of the Year honor.

Artists who are traditionally confined to the country categories made quite a few appearances outside their expected genre. Hillary Scott & the Scott Family picked up Contemporary Christian nods for both the single “Thy Will” and their album Love Remains, while the Red-Headed Stranger found himself in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category for Summertime:  Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin.

The Opry itself will compete against Beyonce’s Lemonade for Best Music Film, with a nomination for American Saturday Night:  Live from the Grand Ole OpryVince Gill garnered acclaim for Best Americana Roots Song for writing “Kid Sister,” the title track of his contender for Best Americana Album with his band The Time Jumpers.

The country categories themselves held some surprises as well. Dolly Parton’s new version of “Jolene” with Pentatonix is up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, while Loretta Lynn comes Full Circle with a nomination for Best Country Album. Females dominated Best Country Solo Performances, with only Keith Urban making a showing with “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”

Here are the country nominees for the 59th Grammys, which will be handed out Sunday, February 12 on CBS:   

Best Country Solo Performance:
“Love Can Go To Hell” — Brandy Clark
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert
“My Church” — Maren Morris
“Church Bells” — Carrie Underwood
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Keith Urban

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
“Different For Girls” — Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King
“21 Summer” — Brothers Osborne
“Setting The World On Fire” — Kenny Chesney & P!nk
“Jolene” — Pentatonix Featuring Dolly Parton
“Think Of You” — Chris Young With Cassadee Pope

Best Country Song:
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” —  Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen, songwriters (Keith Urban)
“Die A Happy Man” — Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur, songwriters (Thomas Rhett)
“Humble And Kind” — Lori McKenna, songwriter (Tim McGraw)
“My Church” — busbee & Maren Morris, songwriters (Maren Morris)
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

Best Country Album:
Big Day In A Small Town — Brandy Clark
Full Circle — Loretta Lynn
Hero — Maren Morris
A Sailor’s Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson
Ripcord — Keith Urban

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Comstock/Thinkstock Released in March 1994 as the second single from Tim McGraw's Not a Moment Too Soon album, this song would go on to become the Louisiana native's first #1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. Can you name it? ANSWER:  "Don't Take the Girl."

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"Always in our Heart! "

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