Country Music News

Crystal K. MartelNineties country hitmaker Joe Diffie passed away Sunday in Nashville of complications from the COVID-19 coronavirus. He was 61.

It was only Friday that his family announced through his publicist that Diffie was sick. So far, they haven't released any details or arrangements, simply asking for privacy.

The much-revered traditionalist broke onto the scene in 1990, sending his debut single, "Home," all the way to number one. His first album, A Thousand Winding Roads, boasted three more hits, including the chart-topping "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)."

Diffie continued to be a country mainstay through the rest of the decade, sending songs like "Third Rock from the Sun," "Pickup Man," and "Bigger Than the Beatles" to the pinnacle of the country chart. His most recent top ten came with 2001's "In Another World."

The Oklahoma native won a Grammy in 1998 for his contribution to Marty Stuart's "Same Old Train" Collaboration.

In recent years, both Jason Aldean and Chris Young have name-checked Diffie in their songs "1994" and "Raised on Country," respectively. An inductee of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, Diffie was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry for a quarter century. 

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Joel DennisGrand Ole Opry star Jan Howard passed away Saturday, at the age of 91. 

The Missouri native was twice nominated for a Grammy, for "Evil on Your Mind" in 1966 and "My Son" in 1968, the latter a tribute to the child she lost in Vietnam. While "Evil" became her biggest hit, she also scored top twenty singles with "The One You Slip Around With," "Bad Seed," and "Count Your Blessings, Woman."

Formerly married to legendary songwriter Harlan Howard, Jan sang the demos for classics like "I Fall to Pieces," becoming close friends with icons like Patsy Cline and Dottie West along the way. She also had a long association with Johnny Cash and the Carter Family. In fact, it's Jan who utters the "Mama sang tenor" line on Cash's "Daddy Sang Bass" from 1969.

Howard penned her autobiography, Sunshine and Shadow, in 1987, while simultaneously becoming revered as one of the Grand Ladies of the Grand Ole Opry. 

Graveside services for the 49-year member of the Opry will be private, with a public memorial to be held later.

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ABC/Image Group LAMaren Morris and husband Ryan Hurd welcomed their first child, Hayes, earlier this week. The proud new parents are overjoyed to have the new addition in their lives, but in a new social media post, Maren reveals that she endured a difficult birth process.

“30 hours of labor ended with an emergency C-section,” the singer explains. “Not what we planned, but I learned pretty quickly that night that having a plan for bringing a human into the world is a fool’s errand. All that matters is that he got here safely.”

On top of those challenges, Hayes was born in the middle of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

“Having him in the middle of a global health crisis was also not in the baby prep books, but here we are,” she went on to say. “Holding him and healing my body in a maternity ward that’s eerily quiet from us not being allowed visitors or family at this time, but strangely serene.”

Maren also thanked all the health care professionals that helped her safely deliver her child, concluding her post by saying that she has a newfound respect for mothers everywhere. 

“Ultimately, I can’t thank every single mother enough for going through what you’ve gone through,” she reflects. “I had NO idea how hard it could be, and I’m a measly four days in. The world is changing before our eyes and so am I.”

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Matthew BerinatoMatt Stell can’t let go of a long-gone love in the music video for his new single, “Everywhere but On.” 

The clip follows Matt as he tries everything he can to ease the pain, traveling from city to city, performing a sold-out show and even trying to numb his memories with a glass or two of whiskey. No matter what, the clip keeps flashing back to a breakup scene in an apartment overlooking Nashville at night. 

“Everywhere But On” follows Matt’s breakout chart-topping hit, “Prayed for You.” The new single is currently a top-40 hit at country radio.

The singer premiered his new music video on Friday, celebrating its release with a live fan Q&A. “From the studio to the road, I had a blast bringing the story to life,” he says of the song on social media

While he’s off the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Matt has been hosting a weekly Instagram livestream series called Penned Up. The virtual shows began on March 25, and will feature appearances from special guests such as Lindsay EllHardy and Jameson Rodgers. Matt hosts Penned Up every Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. CT. 

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Crystal K. MartelJoe Diffie has contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus. The singer released a statement to his fans on Friday sharing his health update, and asking for privacy during his illness.

“I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment,” the 61-year-old singer explained. “My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.”

Known for hits such as “Pickup Man” and “Third Rock from the Sun,” Joe is one of the ‘90s most successful country stars. He is also one of the era’s most name-checked stars, with the likes of Chris Young and Jason Aldean tipping their hat to his influence in their songs. 

Diffie's among the only mainstream country performers to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis, although Americana mainstay John Prine’s wife, Fiona Whelan, also announced last week that she's been diagnosed with the virus.

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ABC/Mark LevineBrett Young has spent the better part of two weeks self-isolating on his tour bus. The singer doesn’t have any symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but after returning from an overseas trip, he wants to make sure he’s keeping his wife and five-month-old daughter Presley safe. 

“As much as it sucks not to be with my family and see my daughter, it seemed like a small sacrifice compared to what the alternative could mean,” he explains to ET

The most difficult part of the experience has been being separated from his loved ones, Brett adds, especially since Presley is at an age where every day brings new growth and developments.

“She’s gained almost two pounds in the last month and I’ve been gone for three weeks of it,” he reflects. “The hardest thing is just how much she’s changing and growing right now.”

On social media, he posted a snapshot of a smiling baby Presley.

"As difficult as it is to be away from my girls right now, it's easy to remind myself how blessed we are that our family is safe and healthy," he wrote.

Still, the singer says he’s grateful that he and his family are healthy, and he’s trying to keep busy and stay positive while sequestered on the bus. 

“I’ve been wearing more of the work hat lately, trying to make sure everything is running smoothly and the things that need to be taken care of still are, even though we’re not on the road,” Brett says.

“I think that has probably helped me deal emotionally with the personal stuff...I’ve been handling dad stuff in a boss headspace. I haven’t gotten super emo about it.”

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Courtesy of Scott Henrichsen/PBSEarlier this month, Garth Brooks took home a huge honor when the Library of Congress awarded him its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Now, the country superstar is reliving that unforgettable night in a new TV special, set to air on PBS this Sunday.

“That was a fun week. And everybody was really, really, really sweet,” Garth reflected during a recent installment of his live Facebook series, Inside Studio G

Not only did Garth perform a medley of his own all-time favorite songs during the event, but he was lauded by some of today’s biggest artists. Keith UrbanChris StapletonRicky Skaggs and Lee Brice all performed, as did Grammy-winning blues musician Keb’ Mo’ and Garth’s wife and fellow superstar, Trisha Yearwood.

Garth is also slated to receive the Billboard Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards, but that event has been postponed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. In the meantime, the singer is tiding fans over with the new TV special.

Garth Brooks: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song airs on PBS on Sunday, March 29 at 9PM ET.

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Universal Music GroupKip Moore has announced plans to drop his fourth studio album, Wild World, on May 29. Ahead of the full project’s release, he’s sharing the title track, a timely meditation on finding moments of sweetness in an uncertain world. 

Kip co-wrote 12 of his album’s 13 tracks, and the singer says he hopes fans will find just as much meaning in the collection as he does.

“My first hope at all times is that it does something to your soul when you’re listening to it,” the singer tells Billboard. “I never want it to be fodder and just words and melodies. I hope that it somehow applies to other people’s lives and brings them a little peace with questions they have and their own internal struggles they’re having.”

He adds that “Wild World” comes directly from personal experience. The song was inspired by advice Kip got from his parents at a young age. 

“They were always inspiring me to chase joy and keeping things simple and that’s how ‘Wild World’ came about,” he explains. 

Kip will go live on Instagram and Facebook today at 3PM CT to discuss the new music with his fans. His next album is available for pre-order now.

Here’s the full track list for Wild World

“Janie Blu”
“Fire and Flame”
“Wild World”
“Red White Blue Jean American Dream”
“She’s Mine”
“Hey Old Lover”
“Grow on You”
“More Than Enough”
“Sweet Virginia”
“Crazy for You Tonight”
“Payin’ Hard"

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RCA RecordsAfter teasing a forthcoming collaboration with John Legend for months, Kane Brown has finally shared the new song with fans. “Last Time I Say Sorry” is a piano-driven power ballad that vows to prove the singer’s love and dedication through actions, not words. 

“I won’t say I’m sorry over and over / Can’t just say I’m sorry, I’ve gotta show ya,” John and Kane harmonize in the song’s chorus. “I won’t do it again, I’ll prove my love is true / I hope the last time I said sorry is the last time I’ll say sorry to you...”

Back in January, Kane posted a snippet of the song on Instagram, explaining at the time that he and John had just finished a writing session and couldn’t wait to share the results. 

Fans will likely hear a live acoustic version from the two superstars very soon. They’re scheduled to perform together during ACM Presents: Our Country, which will air on April 5 in place of the postponed 2020 ACM Awards.

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Diego PerníaA stark spotlight and a sweeping, birds'-eye view of snow-capped mountains set the tone for Zac Brown Band frontman Zac Brown’s new “Dream Sellin’” music video. The clip features pop musicians and producers Poo Bear and Sasha Sirota, who also appear in the song. 

The song is from Zac’s first-ever pop solo album, The Controversy, which came out in 2019 and will be re-released in 2020. The project, including “Dream Sellin’,” marks a bit of an experiment for the country-leaning star, who explores a dance-driven, electronic style with the album. 

Still, “Dream Sellin’” captures plenty of Zac’s trademark soul and emotion.

“‘Dream Sellin’’ is when someone sells a reality that’s less than real. This song is a reminder to everyone; don’t let people dreamsell you and don’t DS yourself,” the singer explains. “Especially now, in this time of uncertainty, don’t let misinformation get the best of you. Look out for yourself and your loved ones.”

In addition to his solo project, Zac also recently released a new album with ZBB called The Owl.

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Comstock/Thinkstock55 years ago this week, Roger Miller was at the top of the country charts with a smash hit that was subsequently covered by everyone from George Jones and Johnny Paycheck to Randy Travis and Jerry Lee Lewis. Do you know what it was called? ANSWER: “King of the Road.”

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BMLG RecordsFlorida Georgia Line are no strangers to larger-than-life hits. From their 2012 windows-down breakout anthem, “Cruise,” to 2017’s harmony-rich Bebe Rexha duet, “Meant to Be,” the duo have a history of dropping monster songs that break chart records and win them legions of fans.

Now, FGL are back with their next boot-stomping sing-a-long.  It's called “I Love My Country,” and they’re hinting that it’s the first taste of a whole lot more new music to come.

“This was one of the first songs we did for our upcoming project,” the duo's Tyler Hubbard reveals to Esquire. “And it’s just made us feel so good and gave us so much joy.”

Though they’ve cracked the code for writing a country radio hit, the band says they won’t be content to rest on their laurels: FGL is continuing to grow and evolve. 

"We’re not afraid of change. We're proud of where we came from, but we're excited to grow,” Tyler points out. “We’re always evolving -- whether it's our personal lives, whether it's our career, whether it's our marriages, whether it's friendships. We're always trying to better ourselves and just continue.”

“I Love My Country” follows FGL’s fourth album, Can’t Say I Ain’t Country, which dropped in 2019. They also recently debuted a country remix of Justin Beiber’s “Yummy.”

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Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesLionel Richie and Kenny Rogers' friendship goes way back -- like four decades back. 

Rogers passed away at 81 on Friday, March 20.  In the wake of Rogers' passing, Richie reminisced about how the two became best buds. In an interview with People, he opened up about writing the No. 1 hit song "Lady" for the country star.

It all started in 1980 when Richie was still a part of the Commodores

"I had written ‘Lady’ for the Commodores, and they didn’t want it," Richie explained. "'Kenny wants to have the song,' they told me."

"When 'Lady' came out, it was an explosion onto the music scene," he said. "It was a mutual admiration society."

Thus began a long-lasting friendship and mentorship. 

"Everything that happened in my life, truthfully, from that moment on, had a Kenny Rogers stamp on it. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor," the American Idol judge revealed. "When I was going through everything, leaving the Commodores, trying to be a solo artist, trying to figure out what that means — he was that guy."

Richie also shared how Rogers had no qualms in keeping it real with him saying, "'Listen Lionel, this is what’s going to happen, this is what you’re going to feel.'" 

The 70-year-old "All Night Long" singer added, "Everything I thought was the end of the world, he would start laughing. And would ask him, 'Why are you laughing? I am telling you something dire.' And he said, 'I’m from Houston, Texas. I’m from a poor family. You don’t know what hardship is.'"

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ABC/Image Group LAWith people staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some artists are getting a little creative with their hair and a pair of scissors.  Days after Pink revealed she gave herself a haircut while drunk,  Blake Shelton turned to his girlfriend Gwen Stefani to give him a makeover.

After declaring on March 17 that he would be spending the entire quarantine period growing his old mullet back, the "God's Country" singer let Stefani jazz it up on Thursday.

"Quarantine mullet update 3/26/2020," tweeted Shelton.  "@gwenstefani has decided to take it to the next level.. Stripes."

He included a short video loop with the announcement, which shows Gwen gently playing with his new hairdo that now sports two noticeable stripes on the side.


Quarantine mullet update 3/26/2020... @gwenstefani has decided to take it to the next level.. Stripes.

— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) March 26, 2020


Some fans did point out his new style doesn't exactly scream "mullet" but more like "mohawk" since the hair on top of his head is much longer than the buzzcut on his sides.

That said, with much of quarantined America tuning into Netflix's latest smash hit Tiger King, fans are urging Shelton to call himself "Blake Exotic," a nod to the star of the documentary, exotic cat breeder Joe Exotic.  

Shelton revealed that his decision to grow his hair out was inspired by "basically EVERYTHING I had scheduled being canceled" and that he wanted his mullet to be a "symbol of hope or some s*** like that."

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Warner Music NashvilleLady Like, the debut album by Ingrid Andress, arrives today, just as her first single, "More Hearts Than Mine," is only a couple steps away from the top five. 

The Colorado native's finding that lots of folks relate to her story about a family who loves her boyfriend every bit as much as she does.

"It's been crazy hearing everybody's stories that they have about it," Ingrid tells ABC Audio. "That's been the most fun interaction, is people coming up to me and being like, 'Oh, that's just like my dad.' Or like grandparents who come to my shows [and are] like, 'Oh, this was our story.'"

Ironically, the wholesome hit isn't necessarily having a positive effect on Ingrid's actual dating life.

"I get zero creepy DMs..." she laughs. "Nobody's ever hitting on me, which I'm like, 'Okay! Can somebody please hit on me and not talk about their family?'"

The singer/songwriter is getting plenty of compliments from male fans, even if they are a bit left-handed.

"It's really great, because these guys are like, 'Oh, yeah, I don't normally listen to female country artists, but I really like your stuff,'" Ingrid explains.

"And I'm just like, 'Thank you for that. Appreciate it,'" she says with a quizzical smile. "How do I respond to that?"  

Ingrid's already made history, along with her label mate, Gabby Barrett. "More Hearts Than Mine" and Gabby's "I Hope" mark the first time in Billboard history two new female country artists have landed their debut singles in the top ten at the same time.

Lady Like is available to stream or download now.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockChris Lane hopped on the (virtual) stage on Thursday night, and he brought his wife, Lauren, along for the ride. The “Big, Big Plans” hitmaker performed some songs, and the couple chatted with fans. 

Margo Price taped a three-song NPR Tiny Desk Concert from her Nashville home. Accompanied by her husband, fellow musician Jeremy Ivey, the singer debuted the unreleased “Somebody Else’s Problem,” a new song off of her upcoming album, That’s How Rumors Get Started

Lainey Wilson has shared her new, Dolly Parton-inspired song, “WWDD,” an uptempo and all-purpose mantra for life. Lainey performed the song live over social media on Thursday night, and fielded fan questions about the song.

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Diego PerníaZac Brown Band bandmate Coy Bowles is planning to release a children’s album, Music for Tiny Humans. According to People, the singer has moved up the release date for his new project in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. 

Now, the record will be available on Friday, more than a month ahead of schedule, in order to “get the music out to the people when they need it most,” the singer says. 

Coy is also a children’s book author, with three published kids’ books to his name. His most recent, When You’re Feeling Sick, came out in 2017. 

Now, he’s adding his musical skills into the equation. “I put more heart and soul and love into this album than anything I’ve ever done professionally,” Coy explains. 

Part of the proceeds from the project will go to Save the Children and MusicCares, two organizations dedicated to supporting those in need through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, Coy’s project includes a learning kit that he created in partnership with Lakeshore Learning.

“We are all in this together and I want to be part of the positive influence,” the singer added. 

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Jeff NelsonBrantley Gilbert is the ringleader of a fiery, hard-rocking “redneck circus” in the music video for his new song, “Fire’t Up.” The clip ups the ante for the country rocker, featuring a fire-breather, a pair of stunt motorcyclists and, of course, plenty of pyrotechnics. 

“It was a good time, man! It was a party all day long,” the singer tells CMT about the shoot. “It was an awesome experience and that’s one video shoot that I would do all over again, several times.”

“Just because we’re all stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t still Fire’t Up,” Brantley wrote on Instagram, alongside a clip of his new video. The singer had to put the brakes on his 2020 Fire’t Up Tour as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Still, he’s finding creative ways to connect with fans and celebrate the new song. He recently debuted Fire’t Up Fridays, a weekly check-in with his fans over Instagram Live. On tomorrow’s installment, Brantley will be joined by comedian Josh Pray.

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ABC/Image Group LALike their country music peers, Old Dominion have had to cancel their spring 2020 tour dates due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and they miss their fans. 

“With everything going on, we’re missing playing for y’all,” the band wrote on social media. “The shows lift us up more than you know.”

In order to ease their loneliness, and make their fans smile, the band plans to relive a particularly memorable concert. In September of 2018, Old Dominion headed to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium stage, bringing special guests Kenny ChesneyKelsea BalleriniSam Hunt and Michael Ray along for the ride. 

“It was one for the ages,” they said of that show. “We figured we’d take the audio (mistakes and all!) and stream it for you to listen to wherever you are. Hopefully it’ll be a small distraction from everything else.”

The show will stream on Old Dominion’s YouTube channel on Friday at 12PM CT.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

We Miss y’all. The shows lift us up more than you know. In 2018 we played an OD and Friends show at @theryman and had some buddies join us. It was one for the ages. We’ll stream the audio (mistakes and all!)on YouTube FRI @ Noon CT - crank it!

— Old Dominion (@OldDominion) March 25, 2020


Warner Music NashvilleIn May, Kenny Chesney will drop Here and Now, a new album the singer says is all about unforgettable moments and common, defining experiences. Now, he’s putting names on that collection of snapshots from life, revealing the full track list for the 12-song project.

“I’d say it’s weird, the way people hear songs and say, ‘That’s me!’” the Kenny reflects. “Except I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, ‘That’s me.’ When it started happening, I was honored...and as it went on, I started to realize how important music is in all of our lives.”

That’s fan conversations and shared moments onstage are so important to him when he’s putting an album together, Kenny goes on to say. 

“And when I looked at these songs, this dozen recorded over the last two or three years, they were Polaroids from the parking lots, back home, the islands, my friends’ lives. Every single one is someone I know, you know or may even be -- and right now, our friends are absolutely the most precious thing we have,” he adds. 

The track list for Here and Now includes a few songs fans have already heard, including Kenny's hit, “Tip of My Tongue,” as well as the album’s title track

Here’s the full track list for Here and Now, which is due out on May 1:

“We Do”
“Here and Now”
“Everyone She Knows”
“Knowing You”
“Someone to Fix”
“Happy Does”
“Tip of My Tongue”
“You Don’t Get To”
“Beautiful World”
“Guys Named Captain”

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