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CMTCMT took to the great outdoors around Nashville and Middle Tennessee Wednesday night to put on a socially-distanced version of the 2020 CMT Music Awards. A sparse, spaced-out audience even got to watch in Music City's Cumberland Park -- all sporting masks emblazoned with the show's logo.

Carrie Underwood preserved her record as the winningest artist in the show's history, picking up her twenty-first and twenty-second trophies for the night's top honor, Video of the Year, as well as Female Video of the Year, both for "Drinking Alone." 

Luke Combs kicked off the night with an amphitheater performance of the album cut, "1, 2 Many," that found him shotgunning a beer as he welcomed Brooks & Dunn onstage. 

Kane BrownAshley McBryde, and Modern Family's Sarah Hyland hosted the evening that mixed plenty of pop star power with country's biggest and brightest. Taylor Swift gave Gabby Barrett her first-ever CMT trophy for Breakthrough Video for "I Hope," an award the superstar took home just thirteen years ago. 

Katy Perry introduced fellow American Idol co-host Luke Bryan's performance of "What She Wants Tonight," shortly after he nabbed Male Video for "One Margarita." 

Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani toasted after the rock star won her first CMT statue for Collaborative Video for "Nobody But You." Their Voice co-star Kelly Clarkson intro'd Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey's bar-themed take on "The Other Girl."

DJ/producer Diplo brought on his pal Morgan Wallen to sing his number one, "Chasin' You," while Rob Thomas introduced Jimmie Allen's duet with Noah Cyrus, who perhaps sported the night's most memorable ensemble -- a white bodysuit and cowboy hat reminiscent of Cher

But it wouldn't have been a country music awards show without a tug or two on the heartstrings. An emotional moment came early, as Chris Young won his first CMT honor for CMT Performance of the Year for "Drowning," the song he wrote about the loss of a close friend. He stepped in at the last moment to perform in Kane Brown's place at the 2019 CMT Artists of the Year special, after the sudden death of Kane's drummer. 

Jennifer Nettles accepted the inaugural CMT Equal Play Award for her work to further a more inclusive atmosphere for women in country music. CMT did their part, showcasing up-and-coming artists like Mickey GuytonIngrid AndressCaylee Hammack, just to mention a few.

Little Big Town closed with a last call for "Wine, Beer, Whiskey" from Dickson, Tennessee's Ruskin Cave. Ashley and Sarah wrapped up with quick birthday wishes for Kane, who turned 27 on Wednesday. 

Here's a complete rundown of the night's winners:

Video of the Year 
Carrie Underwood -- “Drinking Alone”

Female Video of the Year 
Carrie Underwood -- “Drinking Alone”

Male Video of the Year 
Luke Bryan -- “One Margarita”

Group Video of the Year
Old Dominion -- “One Man Band”

Duo Video of the Year
Dan Shay -- “I Should Probably Go To Bed”

Breakthrough Video of the Year 
Gabby Barrett - “I Hope”

Collaborative Video of the Year
Blake Shelton with Gwen Stefani -- “Nobody But You”

CMT Performance of the Year 
From CMT Artists of the Year: Chris Young -- “Drowning”

CMT Equal Play Award
Jennifer Nettles

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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ABC/Image Group LAOf course, Maren Morris would rather be on the road, performing in front of a cheering crowd and getting to see and hug her fans in person.

But the singer tells People that her new five-city virtual tour -- a partnership with Verizon's loyalty program Verizon Up -- is helping her stay connected to fans during a time when connection isn’t easy to come by.

“I’m just excited even for rehearsals, because that feels at least some semblance of normal for me,” Maren points out. “...You know, no matter what walk of life you’re coming from, to stand in a room with a bunch of strangers that just want to hear live music and their favorite song -- I mean, I will treasure it even more so now, when we get to go back for real.”

Maren and her band are filming the shows for their remote tour at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and they’ll be broadcast in five cities between Oct. 20-23.

Maren is one of an all-female lineup of acts headlining the Verizon Up remote tour. Kelsea Ballerini and Brandi Carlile are also scheduled to perform, and outside the country genre, pop star Billie Eilish, alt-rocker Brittany Howard and R&B duo Chloe x Halle will also deliver remote shows.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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ABC/Chris HolloDierks Bentley has been out of the spotlight for a little while, but it seems like he might be ready to make his return to country music.

The “Living” star started posting a series of enigmatic teaser clips to social media this week, hinting at something to come in the not-so-distant future. Each video gives a little bit of a clearer picture of what may be coming, although the details are still murky.

The first clip merely pans across Dierks’ face as he stares off into the distance, idly holding a whiskey glass, before the date “10.22” flashes across the screen. Later in the week, though, the singer started to fill in the gaps. We see him in the studio, singing the lyrics “I’ve been gone...”

Finally, on Wednesday, Dierks revealed that he’s got a world premiere of...well, something, planned for Thursday at 12pm ET. He also reflected a bit on a return to music that, for him, has been a long time coming.

“Music has always been one of those things that has always been there,” he says. “We’re all singers. We’re all storytellers. That’s how we communicate as a society. Certainly there’s nothing like country music. I sure do miss it.”

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. early this year, Dierks high-tailed it out of Nashville for an extended vacation in Colorado, to soak up much-needed family time and enjoy the outdoors.

He’s got the haircut to prove it, too: In the new teaser series, the singer’s sporting a longer, shaggier, mullet-esque look.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

10.22 | 12pm EST | World Premiere pic.twitter.com/smFtxezgls

— Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) October 21, 2020

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ABC/Image Group LAMorgan Wallen’s son, Indigo Wilder, may only be three months old, but he’s already proving that he takes after his famous papa.

The singer’s ex-fianceé, KT Smith, shared a photo on social media this week showing off their son’s new Halloween costume, and it’s a perfect replica of Morgan’s signature look. In the snapshot, little Indie dons a sleeveless flannel shirt, jeans, a clip-on earring and a ball cap.

Of course, the look wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the “7 Summers” star’s signature mullet, and Indie brings the whole thing together with his dad’s unmistakable crooked grin.

Back in July, Morgan shared the news with fans that he was a new dad, vowing in an emotional social media post that he was dedicated to being a good father and co-parent with KT. He admitted that the prospect of having a child initially scared him, but that after his son’s birth, it was “the coolest damn feeling.”

In recent weeks, Morgan has taken a step back from the spotlight, following his removal from a Saturday Night Live episode. He was scheduled to give his first performance on the show but in the days leading up to the event, the singer appeared in several TikTok videos partying without a mask on and kissing multiple women.

“I think I’ve lost myself a little bit,” he reflected after losing his SNL spot, going on to say that he planned to avoid the public eye for a little while and work on himself.

Fans can still catch Morgan during tonight’s CMT Music Awards: He’s among the acts scheduled to perform during the show.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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ABC/Image Group LA2020’s been hard on everyone, and Stephen Colbert is no exception.

The Late Show host got unexpectedly misty-eyed during an interview with Dolly Parton Tuesday night, after Dolly broke out into a verse of Carter Family folk tune “Bury Me Beneath the Willow.” It’s a song that Dolly remembers her mom singing to her as a child.

But her delivery produced a surprising result from the seasoned show host, who can be seen telling someone off-camera that he’s getting goosebumps as she sings.

“Aw, you’re crying?” Dolly chirped in between verses, but didn’t seem to realize at first that Stephen’s tears were more than just good acting.

“So I better hush before you cry yourself to death and we can’t finish the show,” Dolly added. Stephen wiped his eyes, laughing through his tears and explaining that it was the uncertainty of a tough year that caused him to cry so easily.

“Like a lot of Americans, I’m under a lot of stress right now, Dolly!” he declared. “You got under my tripwire right there. That was pretty beautiful.”

It’s likely to be an emotional holiday season for more of Dolly’s fans, too. The singer’s just-released Christmas record, A Holly Dolly Christmas, mixes in sentimental old childhood memories with fun-loving seasonal tunes. Among the tracks is a duet with her brother, Randy, called “You Are My Christmas.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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Kit WoodBrett Young’s baby girl, Presley, celebrated her first birthday on Wednesday. To celebrate the big day, the singer shared a very special video of himself performing “Lady,” a song that he wrote for his daughter shortly before her birth.

“Lady” is a tribute not only to Presley, but also to her mom, Taylor. In the song’s lyrics, Brett expresses his hope that the couple’s first child will not only take after his wife physically, but also look to Taylor to learn patience and grace.

“You can always run to daddy / You’ll always be my baby / But look at her, baby girl / And you’ll learn how to be a lady,” he sings in the song’s chorus.

The performance that Brett shared comes from a show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium that he gave last month. It was one in a series of socially distanced concerts sponsored by the venue, which welcomed back a limited number of in-person fans as well as livestreaming the event.

“Lady” is currently climbing the charts at country radio, and may be poised to become Brett’s seventh consecutive number-one hit.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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ABC/Image Group LAAhead of this year’s presidential election, Dan Shay are lending their voices to an upcoming CBS special, Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy.

Per Billboard, the superstar duo is representing the country format in a star-studded, all-genre line-up that also includes Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, rapper Offset and more. Alicia is also hosting the show, alongside Kerry Washington and America Ferrera.

Other artists, actors and entertainers taking the stage include Jennifer Lopez, Coldplay, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amy Schumer, Colbie Smulders, Leonardo DiCaprio, Shaquille O’Neal, Wilmer Valderrama, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, Tan France and more.

The nonpartisan special airs on October 29 at 9PM ET, with the aim of encouraging viewers to get out and vote in the upcoming election.

In addition to airing on TV, Every Vote Counts will stream on a number of other platforms, including YouTube, TIDAL, Facebook, Twitter, Apple Music and the Apple TV app.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Brighter Day RecordsSara Evans and Dolly Parton are among the artists lending their voices to “PINK,” a new collaboration that  benefits the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, a non-profit working to end breast cancer.

The star-studded, cross-genre single also features appearances from Jordin Sparks, Monica and Rita Wilson, the latter of whom is a breast cancer survivor. Sara, who has long been passionate about raising funds and awareness for this cause, says that the new song is even more special because it represents women coming together in solidarity for a common cause.

“There is something magical that happens when women band together to have a positive impact on the world for our sisters and our daughters,” the singer notes.

“PINK”’s lyrics offer support for those battling the disease, looking forward toward a better day when nobody has to face breast cancer. It’s a powerful message for nearly any listener: One in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease during her lifetime, meaning that nearly everyone will be touched by cancer at some point, either personally or through someone they love.

Each year, breast cancer kills over 42,000 women and men in the U.S. To learn more or make a donation, visit the Susan G. Komen website.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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Comstock/ThinkstockThis country superstar is celebrating his 27th birthday today. Born in Georgia in 1993, he's become one of modern country music's biggest hitmakers, with songs including "What Ifs," "Heaven," and "Good as You." Can you guess who it is? ANSWER: Kane Brown

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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CMTIt'll be a night filled with firsts on Wednesday, as 2020 finds the annual fan-voted CMT Music Awards moving from their usual week of CMA Fest to fall, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kane Brown and Ashley McBryde host the night for the first time, along with Modern Family actress Sarah Hyland

Both Kane and Ashley admit to stepping outside their comfort zone.

"I am a little bit nervous, actually..." Ashley confesses. "It's something I've always wanted to do."

"And so what I've really had to learn is how to slow down when you're reading a teleprompter," she explains. "And so I've been reading out loud a little more, because it's not a race. It's not gonna go ahead of you. So I've had to learn that."

Kane's leaning on some advice from his team.

"What I've learned from my publicist [is] always try to smile," he says. "And I'm gonna read as best as I can!"

Kane's dedicating his performance of "Worship You" to his wife Katelyn and his daughter Kingsley.

"When I wrote this song, it was about my wife," he recalls. "And then my beautiful baby came into our picture and now it's kind of around both of them."

"I worship them," he continues. "You know, they're my family. I love 'em to death."

Ashley's number, on the other hands, promises some intrigue.

"We'll be doing 'Martha Divine,'" she reveals, "which is a chilling love story about someone else's husband and someone else's wife. And it involves a big guitar boat full of shovels."

The 2020 CMT Music Awards start at 8 p.m. ET tonight, with performances from Dan ShayKelsea BalleriniLittle Big TownLuke BryanLuke CombsMaren Morris, Morgan WallenSam HuntShania Twain, and many more. 

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockTanya Tucker will perform during the third hour of the Today show this morning in celebration of the release of her new album, Live from The Troubadour. 

Mitchell Tenpenny and Seaforth's collaboration, "Anything She Says," has been certified gold. This marks Seaforth's first gold single.  Mitchell surprised them with plaques during a recent songwriting session.  

Duo Lakeview have released the video for their current single, "In Case You Forgot (My Hometown).”

Exile has released an original Christmas song, "Kid at Heart," co-written by band member JP Pennington and John Bizzack

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Copyright 2018 Blue Rose, Inc.Garth Brooks has something special planned for fans to celebrate the upcoming release of his FUN album. 

During an appearance on Good Morning AmericaGarth revealed that tomorrow night, fans will get to hear some of his highly anticipated new album during a live event streaming on his website.

Garth will present a "FUN bundle," as he calls it, playing tracks off the FUN album and Triple Live Deluxe, a 30-track compilation of songs performed across his multiple tours that will be released with FUN on November 20. He will also take questions from fans. 

Garth admits that while he misses doing live shows, hosting virtual events amidst the COVID-19 pandemic allows him to still maintain a connection with fans. 

"It puts you one-on-one with people right there in their own living room where I think we're all the most comfortable anyway, so it's more like a conversation than it is a show," he says of the event. "I'm going to enjoy it and I hope other people do too."

You can tune in to the live FUN preview on Wednesday on GarthBrooks.com at 7 p.m. ET.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Robby KleinGabby Barrett is on a hot streak with "I Hope." 

The crossover star and her duet partner, Charlie Puth, have locked in the number-one spot on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart this week, which measures radio airplay on select pop music stations, with the remix of "I Hope." It also currently sits at number eight on the Hot 100. 

The song's ascension to the top of the all-genre chart follows the original version of the song, which climbed to number one on both the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs chart earlier this year, making Gabby the first female artist in country music since 2006 to have a number-one hit with her debut single. 

“I’m so grateful for this amazing achievement. ‘I Hope’ continues to do more than I ever imagined," Gabby raves, thanking her husband Cade Foehner, who met as contestants on season 16 of American Idol, as well as her team and fans for their support.  She also thanks Charlie, whom she credits for making the song "bigger."

"I’m so thankful for all of this and I don’t take an inch of it for granted! THANK YOU!” Gabby declares.

Gabby will perform "I Hope" Wednesday night on the CMT Music Awards, where it's nominated for Female Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Country Music Hall of Fame and MuseumGearing up for its virtual fundraiser next week, BIG NIGHT (At the Museum), the Country Music Hall of Fame will host a pre-show event featuring Tenille Townes and Carly Pearce

Tenille will host Countdown to BIG NIGHT (At the Museum) with Carly as a special guest, airing 30 minutes before the main event. 

During the stream, each singer will perform a song by an artist who has influenced them. It leads up to the organization's fundraiser that will see several modern country artists performing on the historic instruments belonging to artists from across generations before them. 

Performances include Kane Brown playing Randy Travis' guitar, Miranda Lambert using a custom-made guitar owned by the late John PrineAshley McBryde playing Loretta Lynn's Gibson guitar, and many more. 

The livestream pre-show airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on October 28 on the CMHOF YouTube channel before the fundraiser kicks off at 9 p.m. ET. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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CMTJennifer Nettles will be recognized for her advocacy for women and diverse voices at the 2020 CMT Awards.

The Sugarland star will receive the inaugural CMT Equal Play Award during the broadcast for her loyal support for women in country music.

As an outspoken advocate for equal airplay for women on country radio, Jennifer made a powerful statement at the 2019 CMA Awards when she attached a fabric train to the back of her outfit, bearing the handwritten message "play our fu**** records please & thank you."

“As a proud part of the beautiful legacy of women in country music, I am honored to be the first recipient of the ‘CMT Equal Play Award,’” Jennifer says. “I look forward to celebrating the contributions of women, and all marginalized communities, within the country music format, and I am motivated in encouraging the non-artists, executives and investors in the industry, to do the same. There is much work still to be done.” 

The award is named after the CMT’s Equal Play initiative that began in 2019 in response to the lack of representation of women artists on radio and streaming services.

Kane BrownAshley McBryde and Modern Family's Sarah Hyland are co-hosting the CMT Awards, airing Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Flamingo BooksJimmie Allen is now an author in addition to his career as a country star. 

The "Best Shot" singer is sharing a message with children about the power of their voices with his debut children's book, My Voice Is a Trumpet, set for release next year. 

Written by Jimmie and illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson, the book encourages young readers to speak up for what they believe, a lesson Jimmie aims to instill in his own children, six-year-old son Aadyn and six-month-old daughter Naomi

The book features a cast of diverse young characters who find confidence in themselves and see the good in the world around them.

“It’s very important to me that kids learn at a young age that they have a voice, and that it is powerful. It is up to us as adults to teach them to use their voice to encourage and show love,” Jimmie shares with People.  “Being a father of two kids, I try to encourage them to be themselves and love everyone around them. I’m hoping this book inspires at least one child and they always remember their voice is a trumpet."

My Voice Is a Trumpet will be released via Flamingo Books on July 13.

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Comstock/ThinkstockTwo years ago today, this music megastar headlined the first concert in the history of Notre Dame Stadium, performing such hits as "Unanswered Prayers" and "The Dance." Can you guess who it is? ANSWER: Garth Brooks. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockRising country star Tiera has released her new single, "Found It in You." This summer, she became the first songwriter signed to the publishing arm of Nashville's female-centered music brand Songs & Daughters, helmed by hit songwriter Nicolle Galyon

New country artist Robyn Ottolini has released her debut single, "F-150." She was recently signed to Warner Music Nashville after the song gained popularity on social media. 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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ABC/Image Group LAMaren Morris' latest hit, "To Hell & Back," is a love letter to her husband, Ryan Hurd

What's surprising is that she wrote it so early in their relationship, it actually pre-dates the time they became a couple.

"I wrote it back when -- I don't even think we were really dating yet," Maren tells ABC Audio. "It was very early."

"It's an older song of mine," she continues, "but I held on to it for years because I just loved it so much. And I loved the sentiment behind, you know, someone loving you because of your flaws, not despite them."

For Maren, "To Hell & Back" describes the ultimate love relationship.

"You have to accept the whole picture to really love someone, and not ignore certain parts," she explains. "I don't think you can fully love a person if you're, like, sweeping some things under the rug."

"So I was just wanting to write a song that thanked him for loving every good, bad and ugly thing about me," she laughs.  

Maren and Ryan tied the knot in March of 2018, and welcomed their son, Hayes, two years later. 

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 

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Disney Channel/ABC Image Group LACarly Pearce turned to Instagram over the weekend to treat fans to a preview of a new song she recorded in the middle of quarantine called "Heart First."

Revealing that she sang it in one take while recording in a closet, the piano ballad features her signature voice backed by serene harmonies, narrating a battle between her head and heart and the pain that comes with a broken heart. 

"Cause when you fall you fall heart first/And when you hit the ground it hurts/Wish there was another way without the crash and burn/That I could learn/But when you fall you fall heart first," she sings with passion.

"This is so good," comments friend and peer Cassadee Pope, with hit songwriter Shane McAnallyadding "Love love LOVE." 

The demo comes hot on the heels of Carly's current single, "Next Girl," a 90s country-esque bop that serves as a warning to her ex's next lover. She also topped the charts earlier this year with her duet with Lee Brice on "I Hope You're Happy Now." 

By Cillea Houghton 
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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