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Jason Merritt/LP5/Getty Images for TASTaylor Swift's been out of the country music game for a while, but she's still got the magic touch when it comes to penning country hits.

"Better Man," a song written by Taylor and recorded by Little Big Town, has just reached #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart. "Thanks to Taylor Swift for sending us this beautiful song," the group's Karen Fairchild tells Billboard.

The last 12 months have seen many pop stars crossing over to the country charts, either as performers or writers.  Meghan Trainor co-wrote the hit "Rewind" for Rascal Flatts, for example, and scored another hit with Brett Eldredge with the Christmas duet "Baby It's Cold Outside." 

Meanwhile, Pink joined Kenny Chesney and hit #1 with "Setting the World On Fire," and Elle King declared it was "Different For Girls" in a duet with Dierks Bentley

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Warner Music NashvilleThe pews of the Mother Church weren’t used much on Tuesday night as Dan Shay kept the crowd on their feet during the duo’s sold-out show at Nashville’s most iconic music venue, the Ryman Auditorium.

“This is just the best night of my entire life,” Shay Mooney told screaming fans.

The concert, a stop on their spring Obsessed Tour, was the ultimate pinch-me moment for the pair who moved to Nashville five years ago to chase their musical obsession. Dan Shay’s current single “How Not To” has just entered the top 30.

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ABC/Image Group LAPlatinum-selling Cole Swindell is bringing a bit of that bling to Diamond Resorts International: he's the latest artist to sign on as a Brand Ambassador for the hospitality and vacation ownership company.

The celebrity Brand Ambassadors are meant to provide guests of the resorts with unique and memorable vacation experiences.

As part of the deal, Cole will be a featured artist during the 2017 Diamond Resorts Concert Series, and his concerts across North America in 2017 will  include opportunities for members to secure premium seating and private meet-and-greet experiences.

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ABC/Image Group LAYou can now apply for Miranda Lambert's 2017-2018 Women Creators Scholarship at Nashville's Belmont University. Miranda created the program last year to help a female student majoring in music business, songwriting or entertainment industry at Belmont's Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business.

Miranda raised the money for this year's scholarship by turning the rehearsal for her Highway Vagabond Tour at Joe’s Bar in Chicago into a fundraiser.

If you're interested, you'll need to  complete an online application and submit an original song. Miranda herself will choose the winner.

You can find out more at Miranda's official website.

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Comstock/ThinkstockWhat was Tanya Tucker's first #1 on the country chart? ANSWER:  1973's "What's Your Mama's Name."

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Courtesy of BMLG RecordsRemember when Florida Georgia Line did that remix of "Cruise" with rapper Nelly and it was a massive hit?  Now the two musical acts are teaming up for a big summer tour...and bringing Chris Lane along for good measure.

Florida Georgia Line and Nelly have already performed together at a variety of concerts and award shows, but this trek, dubbed The Smooth Tour, will truly be a "genre-busting" experience, according to the announcement.

“It's good to be back out on tour with some of our best friends, Nelly and Chris Lane,” Brian Kelley says in a statement.  “If it's any indication of our ballpark tour a couple years ago, this should be the party of the year! We are excited to see and connect with all of our fans, and make as many memories as we can.”  Chris is currently part of FLG's Dig Your Roots tour.

The Smooth Tour kicks off June 2 in Austin, Texas and wraps up October 21 in Alpharetta, Georgia.  Tickets to 39 shows are on sale now via Live Nation's Megaticket program, at Megaticket.com.  The rest of the dates go on sale February 24.

Here are the dates for the Smooth Tour:

6/2 –- Austin, TX, Austin360 Amphitheater
6/3 –- Dallas, TX, Starplex Pavilion
6/15 –- Wantagh, NY, Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
6/16 –- Darien Center, NY, Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
6/17 –- Philadelphia, PA, BB&T Pavilion
6/24 –- Indianapolis, IN, Klipsch Music Center
6/25 –- St. Louis, MO, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
7/21 –- Raleigh, NC, Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
7/22 –- Hershey, PA, Hershey Park Stadium
7/23 -- Saratoga Springs, NY, Saratoga Performing Arts Center
7/27 –- Tulsa, OK, BOK Center
8/3 –- Charlotte, NC, PNC Music Pavilion
8/4 –- Virginia Beach, VA, Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach
8/5 –- Bristow, VA, Jiffy Lube Live
8/10 –- Bethel, NY, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
8/11 –- Cleveland, OH, Blossom Music Center
8/17 –- Holmdel, NJ, P.N.C. Bank Arts Center
8/18 –- Hartford, CT, Xfinity Theater
8/19 –- Pittsburgh, PA, KeyBank Pavilion
9/7 –- Anaheim, CA, Honda Center
9/8 –- San Bernardino, CA, Glen Helen Amphitheater (formerly San Manuel Amphitheater)
9/9 –- San Diego, CA, Mattress Firm Amphitheatre
9/10 –- Phoenix, AZ, Ak--Chin Pavilion
9/14 –- Wheatland, CA, Toyota Amphitheatre
9/15 –- Concord, CA, Concord Pavilion
9/16 –- Mountain View, CA, Shoreline Amphitheatre
9/21 –- Kennewick, WA, Toyota Center
9/22 –- Missoula, MT, Adams Center
9/23 –- Bozeman, MT, Brick Breeden Fieldhouse
9/29 –- Salt Lake City, UT, USANA Amphitheatre
9/30 –- Denver, CO, Pepsi Center
10/1 –- Albuquerque, NM, Isleta Amphitheater
10/6 –- Seattle, WA, White River Amphitheatre
10/7 –- Portland, OR, Sunlight Supply Amphitheater
10/12 –- Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
10/13 –- Tampa, FL, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
10/14 –- West Palm Beach, FL, Perfect Vodka Amphitheater
10/19 –- Birmingham, AL, Oak Mountain Amphitheatre
10/20 –- Alpharetta, GA, Verizon Amphitheater
10/21 –- Alpharetta, GA, Verizon Amphitheater

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockJason Aldean, Eric Church and Sam Hunt will headline the 4th Annual Route 91 Harvest Festival September 29-October 1 at Nevada’s Las Vegas Village. Tickets go on sale March 3.

Best-known for the original version of “Wagon Wheel,” Old Crow Medicine Show is the newest artist signed to Columbia Records Nashville. The band crafted the eventual Darius Rucker hit out of an unfinished Bob Dylan tune. Their first Columbia release will be the live 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde, which celebrates Dylan’s iconic album record partially in Music City. It’ll be out April 28.

Darius Rucker sang “Love Do What It Do” with Robert Randolph and the Family Band Tuesday on the Today show. If you missed it, you can watch it online.  

Alison Krauss did the Willie Nelson-penned “I Never Cared for You” Monday night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. You can check out her performance with members of The Cox Family on YouTube. The song is one of the covers on her new Windy City album, which came out Friday.

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David LaChapelle/NBCAs the platinum-selling, award-winning star of The Voice, Blake Shelton is in a prominent spot to influence scores of up-and-coming musicians. But when the Oklahoma hitmaker was growing up, he recalls he found his greatest mentor at home.

“My biggest musical influence I guess was probably my brother growing up,” Blake reminisces about his older brother, Richie. “He wasn't a singer or a musician or anything. He was just a guy that just loved music and from the time I can remember, he was in his bedroom listening to whatever record he was into at the time, as loud as he possibly could.”

“It was shaking the house,” he recalls. “My dad would come beat on his door, and you know, 'Turn that down!'”

When Blake was just 14, however, Richie was killed in a car accident. Still, close to thirty years later, his impact remains.

“That was probably the guy that introduced me to… the most important music of my life,” Blake reflects, “because he was listening to a lot of country, a lot of Southern rock… I guess that's probably what planted the seed early on for me."

Blake takes another chance to pay it forward as he kicks off season 12 of The Voice Monday on NBC, alongside his girlfriend, Gwen Stefani.

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BMLGThe Backstreet Boys are one of the unexpected guests on Florida Georgia Line's Dig Your Roots: they duet with the "Cruise" duo on a track called "God, Your Mama and Me."  Now, both acts have teamed up for the song's video, which was just released Tuesday.

The clip features the groups singing on Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, intercut with of each of the guys doing something romantic for their real-life loves. There's champagne, cocktails, an actual gift horse, a candlelit dinner, a rose petal-strewn bathtub and bed, a hot tub dip and more. As the song lyrics say, "No one's ever gonna love you more/than God, your mama and me." You can watch the clip now on BigMachineTV.com.

As for why Florida Georgia Line asked the Backstreet Boys to sing with them in the first place, it turns out that the duo's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley were both huge fans of the group when they were younger.

"We've become friends with them at this point," Tyler told Entertainment Weekly. "And it's become more and more exciting with everything that we do together."

Backstreet's Kevin Richardson added, "We're buds now. It's just a real positive vibe. It's been a pleasure and an honor to do this song with them."

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ABC/Image Group LAThe first time many country fans heard of roots musician Anderson East was when they found out that he’s dating Miranda Lambert. But lately, Anderson’s been making some impressive strides in his own right.

His song “What Would It Take” appears alongside the likes of Taylor Swift, John Legend and Nick Jonas on the soundtrack for the provocative flick Fifty Shades Darker. Even more impressive, the collection just debuted at #1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart.

Anderson also re-teams with his previous tour partner Chris Stapleton on his All American Road Show dates starting June 9 in Southaven, Mississippi.

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Capitol NashvilleAs they celebrate the chart-topping success of “Better Man” this week, Little Big Town will also be busy promoting their new album, The Breaker.

The foursome is set to return to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Thursday, on the heels of their memorable November appearance, which featured them playing the show’s Silly String game, “Stranger Strings.”

Tune in to see if the CMA and ACM Vocal Group of the Year reprise their Taylor-Swift-penned #1, which they’ve already sung on the show, or debut another tune from their seventh album, which comes out Friday.

The record’s release date will find LBT on NBC’s Today show Friday morning, before they head back to Nashville to kick off their Little Big Town at the Mother Church residency at the historic Ryman Auditorium that night.

From there, the media appearances continue. Little Big Town stops by the syndicated The Ellen DeGeneres Show on February 28, before guesting on CBS’s The Talk on March 14.

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BMLGFor the second week in a row, Reba McEntire is hanging on to #1.

Her gospel double album set Sing It Now:  Songs of Faith & Hope remains at the top of both Billboard’s Country and Christian/Gospel album charts in its second week of release. So far, the video for its lead single, "Back to God," has also been viewed close to 5 million times on YouTube.

After two shows last week at Nashville’s historic Ryman auditorium, Reba’s headed back to work in Sin City. She and Brooks & Dunn continue their Together in Vegas residency Wednesday, holding on to their title as the longest-running country show in the history of The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace.

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BMLGOn Tuesday, Florida Georgia Line will roll out their new video with the Backstreet Boys at BigMachineTV.com.

In the meantime, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley have been sharing snippets of “God, Your Mama and Me” on social media. Look for plenty of footage of the guys’ significant others and kids, as well as a performance clip set on the beach.

“God, Your Mama and Me” is the third single from the duo’s Dig Your Roots album. Both “H.O.L.Y” and “May We All” with Tim McGraw have gone to #1.

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Here’s a sneak peek of our new video for “God, Your Mama, and Me” feat. @BackstreetBoys — premiering 2/21 on https://t.co/K2mVchAgdM pic.twitter.com/JATvm86lZl

— Florida Georgia Line (@FLAGALine) February 19, 2017

 

Two days until the world premiere of our new video for “God, Your Mama, and Me” feat. @BackstreetBoys on https://t.co/K2mVchRR5k pic.twitter.com/kJtr8MY3fe

— Florida Georgia Line (@FLAGALine) February 20, 2017

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Comstock/Thinkstock Twenty-one years ago, Joe Diffie went to #1 with this tune that references the Fab Four. Can you name it? ANSWER: "Bigger than the Beatles."

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ABC/Image Group LA Even though Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren went for an ultrasound last week, they opted not to learn the sex of their new baby until a gender reveal party on the weekend.

TR taunted the excited family and friends on-hand for the big announcement by hesitating as he started to cut the cake that would reveal whether the first-time parents are having a boy or a girl. A pink cake confirmed it’s a girl.

The happy couple learned they were expecting a baby of their own after they’d already started the process of adopting a child from Africa. They hope to have that completed before Lauren delivers sometime in early August.

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😜 pic.twitter.com/bDpjGOQhhh

— Thomas Rhett (@ThomasRhett) February 19, 2017

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ABC/Ida Mae AstuteMonday night in Nashville, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood helped out at a fundraiser for the Opry Trust Fund on the stage of the historic venue.

Meanwhile on the charts, the lead single from Garth’s Gunslinger album is closing in on the top 15. The reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year says he believes “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” works simply because it’s so much fun.

“It's real easy to sing, one of those things that kinda just fell out,” he says of his latest hit. “[I] love everything from the double harmony to it to [the fact that I] put a bouzouki on something for the very first time," he says of the Greek stringed instrument he used on the record, "so it's pretty cool.”

It also doesn’t hurt that it has his wife’s seal of approval.

“Miss Yearwood loves it… They all got together and picked this single. There's probably four or five that could've been the first one,” he reveals.

As for the album, Garth sees it simply as an extension of what he’s been doing on the road.

“I think it's kind of more of a reflection of the live show that we've been living for two years,” he adds. “So when you create an album in the middle of a world tour, like In Pieces was, then I think this is what you get.”  

Garth and Trisha wrap up their sold-out run in Edmonton, Alberta this weekend.

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Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Ricky Skaggs headlines this year’s annual Jammin’ to Beat the Blues benefit April 4 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Proceeds help Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee.

Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers will pay tribute to Kenny Rogers Wednesday night, as he’s honored with the Lifetime Achievement honor at the 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Awards in Austin.

Angaleena Presley’s sophomore album will include tunes she co-wrote both with her Pistol Annies band mates Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe, as well as with Chris StapletonWrangled comes out April 21.

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ABC/Image Group LAHunter Hayes wants to take you into a new dimension. He’s partnered with YouTube to offer a new virtual reality version of his latest single, “Yesterday’s Song.”

If you hadn’t guessed it already, the multi-instrumentalist is also a bit of a techno-geek.

“Anyone who knows me knows how much I love technology,” he confesses, “and I’m constantly amazed by all of the things we can do with just the click of a button. The fact that we can bring fans into the room with us… and actually share an experience with them using virtual reality technology opens up a whole new world for us.”

Be prepared to experience at least half-a-dozen hardworking versions of Hunter as you check out the 360-degree cut of “Yesterday’s Song” on YouTube.

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ABC/Image Group LA With less than a week to go before the release of their new album, The BreakerLittle Big Town is taking fans inside the studio for a sneak peek at one of their new tunes.

You can sample the band’s black-and-white clip of the Jimi-Westbrook-fueled ballad, “When Someone Stops Loving You,” on social media.  You can also check out the full version of the song in an audio-only post on YouTube, or download it via the usual digital outlets.

The eighth studio album from the foursome is due next Friday, the same day the band kicks off their Little Big Town at the Mother Church residency at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium.

The Breaker’s Taylor-Swift-penned lead single, “Better Man,” is poised to be #1 at that time.

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'When Someone Stops Loving You' #TheBreaker https://t.co/zjdUpTLWiH pic.twitter.com/ngVRJLrLxT

— Little Big Town (@littlebigtown) February 17, 2017

 

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ABC/Image Group LAMusic City can’t get enough of Luke Bryan. Fans quickly snapped up all the tickets to his May 5 tour kickoff in Nashville, so the four-time Entertainer of the Year is adding a second date.

Luke will also play Saturday, May 6 at the Bridgestone Arena. Tickets for the new show go on sale next Friday, February 24.

Brett Eldredge and newcomer Adam Craig will open both concerts on the Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day trek. 

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