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Country Music News
MCA Nashville

Sam Hunt's hit single "23," was years in the making. In fact, it originally had a different title and hook until he and co-writers Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Chris LaCorte landed on the defining version of the track.

"That was one that I've tried to write for a couple of years. I started writing it, it was '22' originally. 'I'll never be 22 with anyone but you,'" Sam describes of the initial approach. "And for whatever reason, one day we decided to try '23,' and that was the thing that broke it open for us and [we] ended up writing it in a couple of hours." 

While the Georgia native has a skill for writing hit songs, he reveals that the songs he writes evolve over time and sometimes end up on future projects.

"You try to write a good handful of songs and then you hope a few of those songs end up making it on the record," he explains of his songwriting process. "Then you also have an excess of ideas that maybe are skeletons or bones that never really get finished and they float around, and then you hope one day maybe they will get finished." 

"23" is the lead single from the superstar's forthcoming third studio album. It's currently climbing its way up the top 10 on country radio. 

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Garth Brooks is resuming his weekly Facebook Live show, Inside Studio Gtonight. It airs at 7 p.m. ET. 

Runaway June's Jennifer Wayne has opened a custom hat store, American Paint, in Nashville. 

Presale tickets for the new dates added to Jimmie Allen's Down Home Tour go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time. Tickets for the general public are available on Friday. 

Members of Jordan Davis' fan club, The Parish, will have early access to tickets for the new leg of his Buy Dirt Tour beginning tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time. Tickets will become widely available on Friday. 

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ABC/Randy Holmes

Maren Morris is adjusting to the "new normal" when it comes to touring. 

Over the weekend, the superstar headed out on the road with husband Ryan Hurd during his tour stop in Kansas City, Missouri, and took to Twitter to share some behind-the-scenes photos of life on the road with her family.

Among the series of snaps are ones showing the husband and wife curled up on a couch backstage and performing onstage together. Another pic sees Maren tending to the couple's one-year-old son, Hayes, who's watching soundcheck while wearing a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

"New normal. Thanks for getting me outta the house last night @RyanHurd," Maren captions the candid moments. 

The hitmaker is currently prepping for the release of her new album, Humble Quest, set for release on March 25. The lead single, "Circles Around This Town," has leapt into the top 30 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

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ABC/Paula Lobo

Days before the official launch of his Down Home headlining tour, Jimmie Allen is expanding the trek. 

The outing, which is Jimmie's debut headlining tour, is scheduled to kick off on February 3 at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, California, and he has added four new dates to trek, including a stop at the famed Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth on May 21. 

The singer's other new dates will take place at the Orpheum Theatre in Wichita, Kansas, on April 22; The District in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on April 23; and the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey, on May 14.

American Idol season 19 contestant Chayce Beckham and Madeline Merlo have been added as opening acts, alongside previously announced opener Neon Union, made up of the duo of Leo Brooks and Andrew Millsaps, who are the inaugural act signed to Jimmie's management and production company, JAB Entertainment.     

Additionally, Jimmie has announced that he will headline his second annual Bettie James Fest on August 13 in his hometown of Milton, Delaware. Named after his late grandmother Bettie and father James, the country singer hosted the inaugural event in August 2021.

In 2020, Jimmie released the seven-track Bettie James EP, featuring his hit collaboration with Brad Paisley, "Freedom Was a Highway," followed by the Bettie James Gold Edition full-length album released last year.

"I'm looking forward to the start of my first headlining tour 'Down Home' Tour. We are gonna be play a lot of songs from Bettie James Gold Edition album," Jimmie reveals on Twitter

Tickets for the newly added dates go on sale to the public this Friday, January 24, at 10 a.m. local time.

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ABC

Jordan Davis is planting deeper roots with the extension of his Buy Dirt Tour.

On Monday, the singer announced he is extending the tour named after his hit single "Buy Dirt" featuring Luke Bryan -- which is #1 on the country charts this week -- with new dates scheduled in the spring.

Throughout April and May, Jordan and opening act Tenille Arts will visit 11 cities across the U.S., beginning on April 8 in Orlando, Florida and concluding on May 14 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Along the way, they'll stop in Atlanta, Dallas, Baltimore and other major markets. The trek also includes a pinnacle headlining show at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on September 27, with Seaforth set to open. 

"Pumped to extend the #BuyDirt tour in 22 with @TenilleArts and play at @theryman this fall," Jordan shares on Twitter

"My buddy @JordanCWDavis has the number one song in the country today ANDDD we’re going on tour together!" Tenille writes. "So excited to open up the #BuyDirt Tour this spring." 

Jordan launched the Buy Dirt Tour in fall 2021. Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the public on Friday at 10 a.m.  Visit Jordan's website for a full list of dates.  

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ABC

Luke Bryan and friends had an epic weekend in Mexico at 2022 Crash My Playa. 

Luke's annual event brought the singer and pals Jason Aldean, Dustin Lynch, Jordan Davis, Darius Rucker and others to Cancun for the four-day festival at the Moon Palace. A series of photos from the extravaganza show Luke performing with Jordan and Dustin, embracing his wife Caroline onstage and donning a festive lei while posing in front of a crowd of thousands of fans. 

"@crashmyplaya 2022 was one for the books. Didn't want it to end," Luke captions the gallery of photos from the weekend. "Good times!" Darius agreed in the comment section. 

Fellow headliner Jason also enjoyed the experience, so much so he is already planning for next year's event. "I love this guy to pieces!! My brother for life, thanks @lukebryan for having us back at @crashmyplaya this year," he professed on Instagram alongside a video of him and Luke hugging onstage and throwing beers into the crowd. "See y’all in 2023." 

"Unreal weekend @crashmyplaya," Jordan remarked alongside a series of photos from his headlining set.

"@crashmyplaya is in the books! Thanks @lukebryan and @dariusrucker for letting me join the night 4 fun," Dustin shared on Instagram Stories over action shots of himself performing with the aforementioned artists. 

Crash My Playa launched in 2014. 

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ABC

Kelsea Ballerini is appreciating the little joys in life in a new song. 

Kelsea treated the audience at the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night to a brand new song which she debuted live for the first time.  The singer shared she is in the early stages of making her new album, and one of the themes that keeps arising is using the forced downtime of the COVID-19 pandemic to take into account what we're grateful for.

"It's made you look at what you have differently. For me, I've started to really appreciate the little things a lot more," she expressed. 

Kelsea carries this mentality into the unreleased track wherein the lyrics state that comparison is the thief of joy, while encouraging others to honor where you're at in life. "I got a roof over my head/I've got a warm body in bed/I'm doing alright/Right where I'm at/With what I have," she relays in the chorus. 

"This is a song that I'm really proud of," Kelsea told the audience. "Maybe if you like it, I'll put it on the album." 

Kelsea's current single "Half of My Hometown," a collaboration with Kenny Chesney, is climbing up the charts, sitting inside the top 10 on country radio.  

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Hachette Books

Accomplished biographer Marc Eliot tackles the tale of one of country music's greatest legends in his new book, The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard.

Previously, the best-selling author's written books with James BrownDonna Summer, and Barry White, and taken on the stories of the EaglesBruce SpringsteenJohn Wayne and others.

Since Haggard's death in April 2016, Eliot's uncovered a little-known fact about the Country Music Hall of Famer.

"His wife had him cremated," he tells ABC Audio, "and all he wanted was to be put in the family plot with his mother and dad, Jim Haggard."

"But the wife [Theresa], the widow, still has the ashes," Eliot explains, "and there's some kind of dispute going on between whether she will give some to be buried there."

"I'm not sure what the facts are," he adds, "but he's not in the family plot and that's what he wanted."

Eliot counts Haggard's daughter Kelli -- who rarely speaks about her father -- and Merle's closest friend and advisor of 30 years as two of his primary sources.

"He knew the end was coming," the writer says of Merle, "and he told his best friend, Frank Mull, 'I want to be with my parents.' But so far -- he's been passed away five years now -- and that hasn't happened." 

The cemetery's located in Bakersfield, California, near Oildale, where Haggard grew up. Eliot adds Haggard also believed he'd be reunited in heaven with his beloved mother, Flossie Mae, and his father as well. 

You can check out the 400-plus-page The Hag now. 

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Kip Moore is sending a revamped, re-produced version of "Crazy One More Time" to country radio this week. Originally appearing on Kip's 2012 debut album, Up All Night, the song has been a fan favorite ever since.

Lauren Alaina's Grand Ole Opry induction date has been set for February 12. She got her invite last month from Trisha Yearwood, who will also return to the Opry stage as part of Lauren's induction night.

CMT has announced its Next Women of Country Class of 2022. Included on the list of fast-rising newcomers are Lily Rose, Amythyst Kiah, Callista Clark and many others. Check out CMT's website to learn more.

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ABC

Fans of all ages will soon be getting a dreamy new perspective on Blake Shelton’s biggest hits: They’re being released as lullabies. Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Blake Shelton will be out February 4.

Country radio favorites like “Ol’ Red,” “Boys ‘Round Here” and “Happy Anywhere” will be transformed into gentle, xylophone-laden lullabies for the littlest country fans -- and their parents -- to enjoy.

Ahead of release day, you can check out the first track off the project, which is a Rockabye Baby! spin on “God’s Country.”

The song comes with a colorful cartoon music video full of playful nods to Blake’s songs and their subject matter. The main character teddy bear drives along a backroad with his dog riding shotgun, Oklahoma plates on his truck in homage to Blake’s home state.

As the song progresses, a tornado passes by and drops a guitar and drums in the bed of the truck, and the bear and dog park by a field for an impromptu jam session.

In non-lullaby news, Blake dropped the deluxe version of his Body Language album last month.

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ABC

If you keep up with Kane Brown, you probably know the singer's on a path to "be the fittest guy in country music," as he recently told Men's Health

If you happen to be on a similar journey, you'll be interested to know the "One Mississippi" hitmaker's also giving us a glimpse at how he plans to do it. 

On the road, he likes to do high reps of simple exercises that use only his body weight for resistance, like pushups, squats, and planks that add a shoulder tap. If he can find a boxing gym, he'll head there, too.

If your gains aren't equal to Kane's, don't worry. He also revealed to Men's Health something he hasn't talked about a lot: In high school, he was the QB of the football team, the captain of the basketball squad and a baseball pitcher, while also running track.

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Mickey Bernal/Getty Images

Chris Janson’s next studio album is officially on the way. On Twitter, he shared that the project, called All In, is “coming this spring.” To kick off the song rollout, he released the title track.

All In” is a catchy, irrepressible declaration of love, and it’s firmly rooted in the singer’s real life. The music video for the song features snapshots of Chris and his wife Kelly Lynn, piecing together a collage of the early days of their relationship and their life together as a married couple.

It’s not the first time Kelly has inspired one of Chris’ songs: In 2020, he topped charts with the romantic “Done.”

Beyond saying it’ll arrive in the spring, Chris didn’t offer up too many details about when fans can expect his new album to arrive. In the meantime, though, you can catch him live on the road, since his Halfway to Crazy Tour launches next month.

Last year, Chris released his heartstring-tugging single, “Bye Mom.”

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ABC

Thomas Rhett has some big tour news to share this week: He’s hitting the road for his Bring the Bar to You headlining trek in June.

“Man, it feels good to share this tour news,” the singer says. “I’ll never take for granted being able to come see y’all and I’m so fired up to play some of these new ones that were made for these nights in mind. I have a feeling things are gonna get loud -- I’m counting down the days already!”

Joining Thomas on tour this year are “Pretty Heart” hitmaker Parker McCollum and up-and-comer Conner Smith. Tickets go on sale next Friday, January 28 at 10 a.m. local time, but there’s a special pre-sale available for members of the star’s fan club, HomeTeam.

The tour takes its name from a yet-to-be-released song off of Where We Started, a new album he’s planning to put out on April 1.

Fans will have plenty of opportunity to listen to that track and the rest of Where We Started before they catch Thomas on tour. He’s kicking things off with two back-to-back nights in Gilford, New Hampshire on June 17 and 18.

The party will wrap up in mid-October. For full dates and details, visit ThomasRhett.com.

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ABC

Luke Combs is a first time dad-to-be. The singer and his wife, Nicole, shared on social media this week that they’re expecting their first child, a baby boy.

“Here we go y’all!” wrote Luke, alongside a series of pictures showing off Nicole’s baby bump and a sonogram image. “Lil dude Combs is coming this spring! Couldn’t be more excited to start a family with this babe. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride.”

Nicole also shared the same snapshots on her socials, writing that “this may be the best year yet.”

The couple have been married since August 2020, and they got engaged in 2018. Some of Luke’s greatest hits were written as love dedications to his wife, and the music video for his “Forever After All” even features footage of their wedding.

Luke’s fellow country stars were quick to jump into the comments section with their congratulations. Maren Morris, Gabby Barrett and Carly Pearce were just a few of the singers offering their excitement, and Kane Brown -- another country superstar dad -- also expressed his congrats, along with a warning.

“Congrats my guy!” Kane wrote. “Gonna be a lot harder to jump on Call of Duty now though.”

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ABC

The full-length version of Walker HayesCountry Stuff arrives today, and the singer’s career is in a very different place now than it was when he first put out the project as an EP.

That’s because he skyrocketed into superstardom with the viral success of “Fancy Like,” one of the songs on the EP-turned-album. It all started with a TikTok post and a dance that the singer came up with with his teenage daughter Lela, which turned into his first-ever chart-topping hit at country radio.

Now, even Lela’s got fans, Walker reveals.

“I’ve honestly been hit up by so many artists saying, ‘Can your daughter choreograph a dance?’ So I’m trying to help her navigate that,” he explains. “You know, [teaching her how to] do business with people and work hard and use our gift to share that. And she has a lot to learn, but yeah, she’s on her way.”

“Fancy Like” changed everything for Walker, too: His hit song has earned him high-profile performance slots, awards show nominations and -- he’s hinted -- some big tour plans for 2022.

As he sings in the chorus, Walker still likes to take his wife Laney to “Applebee’s on a date night,” but their experience at the restaurant chain is quite a bit different nowadays.

“When we walk into Applebee’s it turns into a meet-and-greet,” he admits. “But man, people are sweet, and we appreciate it. I mean, honest to God, we’re just so glad that happens, you know? Because that means [the song] has worked.” 

Country Stuff also includes Walker’s current single, “AA.”

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