Beville is Slacker's country correspondent and host of our New Country First station. A CMA award winner for music journalism, she can't carry a tune in a bucket but spends a lot of her time in Nashville enjoying those who can.

Kenny Rogers Hosts Country Duets Station on Slacker

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 2.36.49 PMThere is no artist more fitting to host Slacker’s brand-new 77 Greatest Country Duets station than The Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers. The music legend has recorded some of the most beloved collaborations in both country and pop history, and has made entire albums of duets. Just a few of the many we all know by heart are “Islands in the Stream” with Dolly Parton, “Everytime Two Fools Collide” with Dottie West, “We’ve Got Tonight” with Sheena Easton and “Lady” with his old buddy, Lionel Richie.

In hosting our new 77 Greatest Country Duets station, Rogers tells the stories behind some of his own duets and gives commentary on a wide range of other country collaborations, from Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” to Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift’s “Highway Don’t Care.” We also hear personal stories about some of his friends on the countdown, including Reba McEntire, Naomi Judd and, of course, Miss Dolly.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 2.32.05 PMRogers and Parton have a new duet, “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” on his new album of the same name. The song comes three decades after “Islands in the Stream” and reunites the platonic friends who have weathered 30 years of romantic rumors.

“People always thought we were having an affair and we didn’t want to ruin it because if we’d had an affair, we’d lose that spark. We just flirted a lot,” Rogers tells the Associated Press. “I can’t explain it but flirting is more electric than passion, it’s the anticipation … She does it better than anybody I’ve ever seen, and it’s just fun.”

Tune in to our 77 Greatest Country Duets station, hosted by Kenny Rogers, here.

CMA Awards Preview: Country Music’s Biggest Night!

1378839266_stretchCountry music’s biggest night is right around the corner! The CMA Awards (basically the Oscars of country music) will air live from Nashville on Nov. 6. The star-studded show will be co-hosted for the sixth straight year by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, and will feature performances by Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves, Tim McGraw and many more. Listed below are some of our early thoughts about the show. And be sure to listen to New Country on Slacker to hear all of the nominees!

lukebryan2Most Predictable Category: Male Vocalist of the Year. We will be shocked if Luke Bryan doesn’t walk away with this honor for the first time in his career. The Georgia native has dominated the charts in the past year, shattered sales records with his “Crash My Party” album and has sold out show after show on the road. Blake Shelton has had Male Vocalist bragging rights for the past three years in a row and is Luke’s biggest competition, but don’t expect a Shelton fourpeat. Other nominees are all dark horses in the category: Jason Aldean, Eric Church and Keith Urban.

carrie-underwood-2013-cma-music-festival-04Most Unpredictable Category: Album of the Year. All five nominees in this category are equally strong contenders. Sure, some projects sold triple the amount of copies than others, but keep in mind that the CMA Awards are voted on by people who work in the industry, and they always love a critic darling as much as a sales titan. The nominees are Blake Shelton’s “Based on a True Story,” Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away,” Taylor Swift’s “Red,” Kacey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer Different Park” and Little Big Town’s “Tornado.”

Most Unique Performance to Watch: Taylor Swift’s collaboration with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss. Sure, they’re all lumped into the country genre together, but let’s face it, Swift’s signature sound is about as similar to Gill and Krauss’ style of music as Lil Wayne is to Little Jimmy Dickens. Still, that’s all the more reason to expect this performance to be spectacular, and most likely more country-friendly than anything Swift has had on the radio this year. Other noteworthy collaborations will include Zac Brown Band with Dave Grohl, and Hunter Hayes with Jason Mraz.

Most Fabulous Fashionista to Watch: Carrie Underwood.  At last year’s CMA Awards, the blond beauty changed clothes 12 times! Expect no less this year, as the night’s hostess is sure to dazzle us with fantastic frocks, flowing locks and a whole lotta leg.

Stagecoach Music Festival Reveals Star-Studded 2014 Lineup

Three guys at the top of their country music game will co-headline the 2014 Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Eric Church lead the names on a long roster of talent for the three day event, set for April 25-27 at the Polo Empire Club.

The full lineup of more than 60 artists includes mainstream country singers along with Americana and Alt-Country acts, plus a few country legends. Eric Church will close Friday’s show, after performances by Loretta Lynn, Brantley Gilbert, Easton Corbin, Jon Pardi, Eric Paslay, Thomas Rhett and more.

Jason Aldean has headlining duties Saturday night, with his opening acts including Ashley Monroe, Crystal Gayle, Danielle Bradbery, Holly Williams, Hunter Hayes, Jennifer Nettles and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, among many others.

Luke Bryan will close the festival Sunday after sets by Asleep at the Wheel, Charlie Worsham, Dustin Lynch, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice and more. See a full roster for all three nights here.

Tickets go on sale Oct. 18, with the three-day general admission price set at $249. Get tickets here, and get the party started early by listening to our Stagecoach 2013 station here.


“The Voice” Winner Danielle Bradbery Announces Debut Album

Danielle-Bradbery-album-coverJust as Season 5 of “The Voice” is heating up, the show’s Season 4 winner is making fireworks in country music. Danielle Bradbery has revealed the cover art (left) and Nov. 19 release date for her self-titled debut album.

“It feels like I just walked off ‘The Voice’ stage, so it’s crazy to think I’m about to release my first album,” says the 17-year-old singer. “Nashville has been so welcoming to me throughout this entire process and I couldn’t be more proud of the music we’ve created. I am so excited to get all the songs into the hands of the fans who gave me this amazing opportunity in the first place!”

Produced by legendary musician Dann Huff (Faith Hill, Keith Urban), the album features Bradbery’s debut single, “The Heart of Dixie,” along with a soaring ballad called “Never Like This,” the fun-loving “Young in America” and sentimental tearjerker, “Daughter of a Working Man.” A full track list should be released soon.

The high school junior will have a busy November. In addition to what’s bound to be a whirlwind media tour in support of the new album, she is also set to start opening shows on Brad Paisley’s Beat This Summer tour next month.

Taylor Swift Wraps Up Red Tour at Home

1379696341-t_swizz-2616Taylor Swift performed the first of three sold-out shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Thursday night Sept.19), with Saturday’s concert marking the end of the US leg of her Red Tour. Slacker joined the music superstar at a pre-show reception, where she explained the decision to wrap up the trek in the city she has called home for almost a decade.

“This is not only my hometown but is one of the craziest crowds that we play to. So on the last tour, I made a mental note: we need to end the tour in Nashville next time,” she told partygoers. “I see faces here I’ve known for years, and I’m so happy that you still want to come see me play a show. This is the most exciting night of the tour for me.”

The beaming beauty was presented with several plaques at the reception, commemorating her staggering album and single sales. Her latest album, “Red,” has now sold six million copies, and she was also surprised to discover Thursday that she’s up to four million in album sales in the U.K. alone.

Swift is hard at work to keep that momentum going. “Up next, I’m going to make another album,” she told the crowd, adding sarcastically, “I mean, I think I want to keep doing this.

“I really like to take two years to write a record. I’ve been writing for the last year, and this is the year that it goes into overdrive,” she continued. “It’s all I think about and I become obsessive over it … I’m hard to talk to. It’s a weird thing that I need to work on!”

taylor swift and luke bryan nashville Swift did a lot of talking to the thousands of fans packed in the downtown Nashville arena – telling stories behind the songs and profusely thanking everyone for their support over the years. Her high-energy, explosive set included fan favorites ranging from her very first No. 1 hit, “Our Song,” to her current duet with Red Tour opening act, Ed Sheeran, “Everything Has Changed.” A second duet partner was a huge surprise to the audience – country superstar Luke Bryan, who sang one of his biggest hits, “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” with Taylor.

Proving her concerts are as much of a theatrical event as they are a music show, Swift had no fewer than seven costume changes throughout the night (though we lost count!). She incorporated more choreography into the set than on any previous tour, and played out several songs as if she were creating their music videos right there on stage. For “You Belong With Me,” she and her backup singers wore red cocktail dresses with long red gloves and delivered the tune in ‘50s Motown girl group style — through both their vocals and dance moves. For “I Knew You Were Trouble,” the stage and backup dancers transformed into what looked like a scene from “Phantom of the Opera.” She literally flew while singing “Sparks Fly,” performing from a stage suspended over the audience. And she ended the show by taking fans to the circus – the “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” circus, that is, complete with stilt-walkers, clowns and Swift herself dressed as the ringmaster for the colorful finale.

Up next for the Grammy winner is the Australian leg of her Red Tour, followed by stops in other parts of the world that have not yet been announced – all while feverishly writing for her next album, of course.

David Nail Hints New Album Will Reflect New Mindset

davidnailCountry star David Nail has a good sense of humor about people who don’t realize that it’s him singing the infectious new song, “Whatever She’s Got.”

“At first, people were saying, ‘Is this really David Nail? But he only sings sad songs!’” the singer tells Slacker with a laugh.

Nail says “Whatever She’s Got” was a no-brainer when choosing the first radio single from his upcoming fourth studio album. Its romantic lyrics and up-tempo beat set the tone for the entire project, which he hints has much more of an energy boost than his previous efforts.

“I’ve had the reputation of being a balladeer, but I’m in a happier place in my life, both personally and professionally,” the vocal powerhouse reveals. “So with this record, we just wanted to have fun and that’s translated into the music.”

So far, so good. “Whatever She’s Got” is among the Top 5 highest-rated songs on our New Country First station. Nail has also been leaking other tracks from the album, which is due early next year, and has been getting great feedback.

“People are either really good liars or they like it,” he says. “I choose to think the latter!”


Kelly Clarkson Announces Holiday Album

Kelly-Clarkson-Wrapped-in-RedChristmas is coming a little early for Kelly Clarkson. “Wrapped in Red,” the singer’s first collection of holiday tunes, will hit stores Oct. 29.

“I have been dying to make this album since I was a kid!” Clarkson tweeted this week.

The pop star recruited some of her country heroes to lend their voices to the project. She duets with Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire, who just happens to be her future stepmother-in-law. (Clarkson is engaged to the country icon’s stepson, Brandon Blackstock.) Additionally, Ronnie Dunn recently revealed on Facebook that he sang on the album.

“Wrapped in Red” includes Clarkson’s take on holiday classics such as “Silent Night, “Blue Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Original songs include the title track and “Underneath the Tree.”

While it may be a bit early for holiday tunes, you can hear Kelly Clarkson 365 days a year on our Ladies That Rock station, and also check her out on Slacker’s countdown of the 33 Greatest All-American Divas.

“Country A – Z” Gives Alphabetical Snapshot of Nashville’s Greatest Music

COUNTRY A-Z Music Guide2How about a history lesson that doesn’t make you fall asleep? On our brand-new station, Country A-Z, Slacker gives you a compelling country music history lesson that spans almost a century, from the genre’s earliest roots to the pop-laden tunes of today.

Our country experts have gone through the alphabet and chosen for each letter one artist, song, album or event that has defined the genre. We’ve included the music your grandparents probably loved, from the likes of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, all the way to the Taylor Swift tween-country phenomenon of today. There are the quintessential country heartbreakers, like Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” mixed in with tracks for your party playlist, such as Kenny Chesney’s “Young,” and everything in between. There’s even a classic movie and TV show thrown into the mix, both of which helped popularize tunes with twang.

If you’re a fan of country music, you’ll probably know the lyrics to each song played on Country A-Z by heart. And if you’re not a fan, we challenge you to listen with your most critical cap on … and maybe you’ll find that country is pretty cool after all.

Tune in to Country A-Z on Slacker here.

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