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ABC/Eric McCandlessCaleb Lee Hutchinson might have missed out on winning American Idol -- his girlfriend Maddie Poppe ended up winning the crown --  but the Georgia native doesn't seem to mind, especially since he got to perform on the finale with one of his heroes.  

Monday night, Caleb sang "Wagon Wheel" with Darius Rucker, who he tells ABC Radio is "a huge idol to me."  He adds, "I grew up listening to Hootie and the Blowfish...all his country albums and all his work is just incredible."

"Meeting him was one of the best experiences I've ever had with anyone that's famous like that," he continues, "'cause he's just the coolest guy ever." 

Caleb worked to keep his cool during his time with Darius, but admits he might have lost it just a little bit.

"I tried my best to contain myself when I was talking to him," he explains. "But then I was like, 'Okay, I have some questions.' You know, I was trying to get my way into a concert or two."

"I asked him all about Hootie... I asked him if he could sing 'Let Her Cry' for me, 'cause that's...a good tearjerker that I hold very close to my heart."  Caleb also got some advice from Darius.

"He told me I had an old country voice," he reveals, "and just to keep going."

But did Darius sing "Let Her Cry" for him?

"Not yet! But I have faith. I think we're fast friends!" Caleb says. "Maybe he'll call me... and let me come to the reunion concert."  

Darius and Hootie will reunite this summer to play Braves' Stadium in Atlanta with Jason Aldean.   We don't think Caleb, whose new single "Johnny Cash Heart" was written by Rascal FlattsJay DeMarcus, should have any trouble scoring a ticket. 

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Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Keith Urban is set to sponsor the 32nd Annual Music Row Ladies Golf Tournament for the third year in a row in 2018. The fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee takes place August 20 at Nashville's Old Natchez Country Club. 

David Lee Murphy's mother, Jessie L. Murphy Kibler, passed away on Friday. In lieu of flowers, her family is directing donations to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. 

If you missed Brothers Osborne delivering "Weed, Whiskey and Willie" on Late Night with Seth Meyers, you can check out John and TJ's performance on YouTube

Maren Morris and Zedd met in "The Middle" to perform their smash pop hit on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday. You can watch their collaboration online now. 

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ABC/Image Group LADo you have what it takes to play a young George Strait? If so, start working on your virtual audition now. 

A Broadway-style musical called Tennessee Whiskey is in the works, based on the life of singer/songwriter Dean Dillon, a frequent Strait collaborator.  Naturally, the producers are looking for someone to play George in the production.

To be considered, submit a video of yourself singing your favorite King George song that was written by Dillon. At last check, there were more than 60, including favorites like "The Chair," "Nobody in His Right Mind Would've Left Her," "It Ain't Cool to Be Crazy About You," "Ocean Front Property" and "I've Come to Expect It From You."

You can find everything you need to know online at TennesseeWhiskeyTheMusical.com. The most promising contenders will get a callback for auditions this summer in Nashville, New York City and Las Vegas. 

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Wendy Pearl Public RelationsThe trio of hit Nashville songwriters who call themselves The Peach Pickers will once again host the Georgia on My Mind benefit this summer to raise money for music education in their home state. 

Led by ACM Songwriter of the Year Rhett Akins -- who happens to be Thomas Rhett's dad -- the group also features "Rain Is a Good Thing" writer Dallas Davidson and "Mind Reader" tunesmith Ben Hayslip

Georgia natives Lauren Alaina and newcomer Travis Denning will join the trio for their fifth annual show, along with their neighbors from Florida and Missouri, Michael Ray and Chris Janson.

Tickets are on sale now for the Tuesday, June 26 fundraiser at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium. So far, the concerts have raised nearly $300,000 for the Georgia Music Foundation.

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ABC/Kelsey McNealAs Florida Georgia Line's "Meant to Be" spends its 25th week atop the Hot Country Songs chart, it officially passes "Cruise" as the duo's biggest hit ever on that particular Billboard ranking. 

FGL's debut single spent 24 weeks at #1 back in 2012-2013. "Cruise" is now the third biggest hit in the chart's 59-year history; their collaboration with Bebe Rexha is now the second biggest.

Tyler Hubbard, who co-wrote the tune with Rexha, admits he wasn't the one who came up with the idea. 

"Essentially, I've got to give my wife, Hayley, the credit here," he tells Billboard

She uttered the phrase "'If it's meant to be...,' and the rest is history," Tyler continues. "[Brian Kelley] and I get inspired by everything... and we're blessed to have these amazing women in our lives."

To grab the biggest Hot Country Song ever, Tyler and BK will have to hang on to the top spot for ten more weeks.  That will allow them to beat Sam Hunt's 34-week record with "Body Like a Back Road."   

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MCA NashvilleIf its first-week performance is any indication, Sam Hunt's "Downtown's Dead" could become a bigger hit than his record-breaking smash "Body Like a Back Road." 

Sam's new single debuts at #18 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, the best first-week performance of his career so far. By comparison, "Body" emerged at #21 in February of last year. 

On Sunday, the quintuple-platinum single was named Top Country Song at the Billboard Music Awards. Later this summer, the Academy of Country Music will give Sam its Gene Weed Milestone Award in honor of the single's phenomenal chart run.

As for "Downtown's Dead," Sam will get his first chance to perform the new single live at the Firestone Legends Day concert Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ahead of the 102nd Indy 500 on Sunday.

Next week, Sam heads out on Luke Bryan's What Makes You Country - XL Stadium Sized Tour. 

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Capitol NashvilleMaren Morris happens to have a very personal interest in Luke Bryan's latest release.

Luke debuted "Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset" on the American Idol finale, and Maren wasted no time taking to Twitter to tell the rest of the story.

"My husband Ryan Hurd wrote the new Luke Bryan single and I couldn’t be prouder," she explained. "GET IT IN YO EARHOLES BECAUSE WE WANNA TAKE A TRIP," she added, along with three sunshine emojis.

Ryan wrote the third single from Luke's What Makes You Country album with Zach Crowell and Chase McGill. Now that Luke's wrapped his first season as an Idol judge, he's ready to hit the road again. 

“I’m excited to kick this summer tour off and get back in front of the fans,” Luke says. “To think about the opportunity to also include 13 stadiums is unreal!  This line up is going to have so much energy. Can’t wait!”

Sam HuntJon Pardi and Morgan Walden kick off the stadium leg of the What Makes You Country Tour with Luke May 31 in Toronto. 

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ABC/Image Group LA When Brett Young's not working his own Calville dates these days, he's opening Thomas Rhett's Life Changes Tour. 

The California native admits he's trying to pick up all he can from TR, who also happens to be his label mate. 

"Such a great performer!" Brett remarks. "There's always something to learn with every new tour, with their behavior onstage and what kind of a performer they are."

"But also there's a lot of stuff behind-the-scenes..." he goes on. "You know, for somebody like me, I've been on the scene for two years, so everybody has something to offer. And he's such a good guy, and you know that trickles down. And you start to see how his team treats everybody, you know that's a reflection on him. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes learning going on."

The other major thing going on in Brett's life? His upcoming wedding to fiancee Taylor Mills. But Brett is quick to point out he's leaving most of the planning to his bride.  

"That's all her!" he laughs. "I do all the honey-do's and I kinda let her go with it."  

Brett's latest single, "Mercy," just broke into country's top 20. His previous three releases have all gone to number one. 

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Comstock/Thinkstock In 1992, Wynonna Judd scored her first solo #1 with this song, which was also her first release without her mother Naomi. Can you name it? ANSWER: "She Is His Only Need." 

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ABC/Randy HolmesWith a couple weekends' worth of capacity crowds already in the books, Jason Aldean's High Noon Neon Tour is already off to a pretty spectacular start.

"It's been really fun," opener Luke Combs says. "We just wrapped week two. It's been really great. You know, great crowds, sold-out every night so far. So it's been awesome."

As a relative newcomer who'll likely soon have his third #1 on his hands, Luke is taking notes as he watches the three-time ACM Entertainer of the Year work.

"You learn [that] how [you] command an audience that big is different," Luke says of Jason. "You know, we've done a lot of club shows and a lot of amphitheater stuff. But doing a 25,000-plus-crowd a night is very different..."

"Trying to entertain the people all the way back in the back is what I'm trying to learn," Luke explains. "I can take care of the people right here, but the people all the way in the back is a little bit more difficult."

Meanwhile, Luke's latest hit, "One Number Away," is only "one number away" from the pinnacle of the country chart. The North Carolina native admits the #2 hit is based on personal experience. 

"It is," he tells ABC Radio. "And everybody has that person that maybe they've had a couple too many drinks and felt like they shouldn't call, but they do anyway. That's how we came up with the idea for that tune, and I'm glad we pulled it off."  

Starting Thursday, Luke, Jason and Lauren Alaina play Columbia, Maryland; Hartford, Connecticut; Mansfield, Massachusetts; and Bangor, Maine. The deluxe edition of Luke's debut album, titled This One's For You Too, comes out June 1.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Steve Wariner will be honored with the 2018 Artist Career Achievement Award at the Country Radio Hall of Fame Dinner on Wednesday, June 20, in Nashville.

Music City's historic Ryman Auditorium will kick off its six-week Americana at the Ryman series Sunday, July 15, with Buddy Miller and Friends, including 2001 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Lee Ann Womack, the McCrary Sisters and more. 

You can check out the video for newcomer Jimmie Allen's debut single, "Best Shot," on YouTube now. 

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Warner Music NashvilleAfter opening for Eric ChurchChris StapletonMiranda Lambert and Luke CombsAshley McBryde is ready to head out on her own this fall. 

Named for her debut album, the Girl Going Nowhere Tour cranks up September 5 in Atlanta, before Ashley reunites with Luke in October for shows in the United Kingdom and Scotland. The trek will wrap December 15 in Rochester, New York. 

Fans can count on hearing Ashley's breakthrough hit, "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega," during her first headlining trek.

Here's a look at the itinerary for the Girl Going Nowhere Tour, with tickets going on sale this Friday:

9/5 -- Atlanta, GA, Terminal West
9/6 -- Athens, GA, 40 Watt Club
9/7 -- Greenville, SC, Blind Horse Saloon
9/8 -- Rome, GA, Rome City Brewing Company
9/11 -- Bardstown, KY, Mammy's Kitchen
9/12 -- Abington, VA, Washington County Fair
9/13 -- Washington, DC, The Hamilton
9/14 -- Lynchburg, VA, Phase 2 Nightclub
9/20 -- Morrison, CO, Red Rocks Amphitheatre (with Little Big Town)
9/22 -- Mountain Home, AR, Arkansas State University
9/27 -- Nashville, TN, The Basement East
9/28 -- Birmingham, AL, Zydeco
10/3 -- Birmingham, England, O2 Institute
10/4,5 -- London, England, Shepherd's Bush Empire
10/7 -- Glasgow, Scotland, O2 ABC
10/8 -- Manchester, England, O2 Ritz Manchester
10/10 -- London, England, Islington Assembly Hall
10/13 -- Greenville, MS, Mighty Mississippi Music Festival
10/25 -- Grand Rapids, MI, Elevation
11/1 -- Oxford, MS, The Lyric Theatre
11/2 -- Panama City, FL, The Barn at the Wicked Wheel
11/7 -- Oxford, OH, Brick Street Bar
11/8 -- Columbus, OH, The Bluestone
11/9 -- Indianapolis, IN, Eight Seconds Saloon
11/10 -- Rootstown, OH, Dusty Armadillo
11/29 -- Columbia, MO, The Blue Note
11/30 -- Little Rock, AR, Revolution Music Room
12/5 -- New York, NY, Gramercy Theatre
12/7 -- Philadelphia, PA, The Foundry at the Fillmore
12/8 -- Lancaster, PA, Chameleon Club
12/12 -- Warrendale, PA, Jergel's Rhythm and Grill
12/13 -- Buffalo, NY, Iron Works
12/14 -- Cambridge, MA, The Sinclair
12/15 -- Rochester, NY, Anthology

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pfa Entertainment Media & MarketingCassadee Pope wants to "Take You Home... to Nashville" for CMA Fest this year.

This week, the "Think of You" hitmaker kicks off a contest to bring one lucky fan and a friend to Music City from June 7-10. The winner will get two round-trip airline tickets to Nashville, plus accommodations and passes to the nightly CMA Fest shows at Nissan Stadium.

You can enter online at CassadeePope.com, but you'd better hurry. A winner will be randomly chosen this Friday, and will also get the VIP treatment at Cassadee's first fan celebration.  

The contest takes its name from the Florida native's new single, "Take You Home." 

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ABC/Craig SjodinLuke Bryan is set to unveil his new single, "Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset," on tonight's season finale of American Idol. He'll also perform his most recent #1, "Most People Are Good," with finalist Gabby Barrett.

In fact, every member of the Top 3 will be singing a country tune at one point or another. Caleb Lee Hutchinson will do the chart-topping "Wagon Wheel" with Darius Rucker. All three -- including Maddie Poppe -- will join pop star Bebe Rexha to recreate "Meant to Be," the crossover smash she originally did with Florida Georgia Line

Look for Luke's fellow judges Lionel Richie and Katy Perry to sing as well, along with visiting superstars Nick JonasPatti LaBelle, and Kermit the Frog

American Idol crowns its first winner since returning on ABC starting tonight at 9 p.m. ET.

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BMLGThomas Rhett is definitely feeling the love for his latest single, "Life Changes," which also happens to be the title track of his latest album and the name of his current tour.

"Just wanted to say thank you so much to country radio for playing 'Life Changes,'" TR shared on his socials. "This song is so personal to me and my family and it is literally the coolest thing in the world to hear it being played out of my truck speakers."

The autobiographical "Life Changes" documents what TR's 2017 was like: he and his wife Lauren both adopted their daughter, Willa Gray, from a Ugandan orphanage, and they welcomed their first biological child, another little girl, named Ada James

TR's note of gratitude continues: "Also, thanks to everyone who comes to see us on the road and shows continued love and support for me and my family. This is one of those feeling very blessed posts..." 

This Saturday night, Thomas Rhett brings his show to Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

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ABC/Image Group LA Jason Aldean's new single, "Drowns the Whiskey," will have its TV premiere during Tuesday's season finale of The Voice. Since the song happens to be a duet with coach Blake Shelton's ex, Miranda Lambert, it's pretty safe to assume someone else will be singing her part.

In fact, the two-hour episode will feature the Top 4 -- Spensha Baker from Team Blake, Britton Buchanan from Team Alicia, Brynn Cartelli from Team Kelly, and Kyla Jade from Team Blake -- pairing up with various stars to collaborate. 

Kane Brown, who sang his current #1, "Heaven," on the show last week, will return to recreate his chart-topping duet "What Ifs," with Spensha Baker subbing for Lauren Alaina

Julia Michaels, who has a hit right now with Keith Urban on "Coming Home," guests on the episode as well, along with Jennifer HudsonRyan Adams, and others.

You can tune in to find out who wins Tuesday starting at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. 

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ABC/Mark LevineMaren Morris may be making some major strides in pop music, but she's keeping her feeling firmly planted in the country world.

"Can't get over how much of a fan girl I got to be tonight," she tweeted after Sunday night's Billboard Music Awards, where she beat out both Miranda Lambert and Kelsea Ballerini to become country's Top Female Artist. She also performed her pop smash, "The Middle," with DJ/producer Zedd and electronic duo Grey

"Thank you Zedd for changing my career with 'The Middle,'" she went on. "Proud to dip my toe in the water of pop music but am so glad to be representing country music... Texan at heart forever."

Maren's currently in the studio working on her sophomore album, as "Rich" -- which is likely the last single from her debut album, Hero -- climbs the country chart. 

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Comstock/Thinkstock Country legend George Jones added his vocals to the lead single from Patty Loveless's 1997 album, Long Stretch of Lonesome. Can you name the #14 hit? ANSWER: "You Don't Seem to Miss Me." 

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MCA NashvilleThe anticipation's been building for Sam Hunt's sophomore album ever since he released the quintuple-platinum crossover smash "Body Like a Back Road" more than a year ago. 

Now that he's back with "Downtown's Dead" -- the song that's presumably the second single from his second record -- there's even more excitement about the elusive project. 

Sam estimates he's written between fifty and sixty songs for the follow-up to 2014's Montevallo, but so far, only "Body" and "Downtown's Dead" have made the cut. 

"That song seemed to... [check] all the boxes that I needed to check in a song," he explains. "And I felt like it was lyrics that I felt comfortable saying. The idea I thought was relatable to people, and it just sounded like a song that people would come out to shows to sing and would inspire people to come out to shows."

When it comes down to it, Sam says it was simply instinct that made "Downtown's Dead" his new single.

"It’s hard for me to really say for sure what made that song stand out," he admits. "I can break it down, I guess theoretically. But I just have those moments where there’s just a gut feeling that says, ‘Okay, this is the song you need to put out. This is how you need to say it. This is what you need to say. This is how it should sound.’"

"And when I get to that point, I put it out," Sam goes on. "That song was the one that sort of rose up from the batch that I’ve been working over the past year or two."

The Georgia native will get his first chance to play "Downtown's Dead" in concert this weekend at the Indianapolis 500. 

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Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Joe Diffie's first new single in five years, "I Got This," is available to stream or download now. 

The new album from Gretchen PetersDancing with the Beast, is out now. The singer/songwriter is perhaps best known for crafting hits like "Independence Day" for Martina McBride and "You Don't Even Know Who I Am" for Patty Loveless

The debut single from Midland, Texas-born newcomer Abi is called "A Day Without," and it was co-written by the late Andrew Dorff, who penned hits for Blake Shelton and Kenny Chesney. You can sample it on Soundcloud.  In 2015, Abi opened for Kelly Clarkson on her summer tour.

You can check out Danielle Bradbery's new video for "Worth It" on YouTube

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