Jess Wright

jess

Jess Wright won the ACM Award for Personality of the Year while working at a radio station in the Washington, D.C. area, where she was also nominated for the CMA Award and named Best Radio Personality in a local magazine's reader poll. She grew up in Ithaca, NY and worked at radio stations in Wichita, Wilkes-Barre, PA and Tyler, TX, among others. She lives in Nashville now, and joined Slacker in 2013 as your expert on everything country music. She hosts New Country First, '90s Country and the Slacker Country Countdown. When she's not working (and sometimes when she is) she's probably drinking wine.

Billboard Music Awards Nominees

Here are the nominees for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. Winners will be revealed May 21 on ABC.

Top Artist:
Adele
Beyonce
Justin Bieber
The Chainsmokers
Drake
Ariana Grande
Shawn Mendes
Rihanna
Twenty One Pilots
The Weeknd

Top New Artist:
Alessia Cara
Desiigner
Lil Uzi Vert
Lukas Graham
Zayn

Billboard Chart Achievement Award Presented by Xfinity:
Luke Bryan
Nicki Minaj
The Chainsmokers
The Weeknd
Twenty One Pilots

Top Male Artist:
Justin Bieber
Drake
Future
Shawn Mendes
The Weeknd

Top Female Artist:
Adele
Beyonce
Ariana Grande
Rihanna
Sia

Top Duo/Group:
The Chainsmokers
Coldplay
Florida Georgia Line
Guns N’ Roses
Twenty One Pilots

Top Billboard 200 Artist:
Beyonce
Drake
Prince
Twenty One Pilots
The Weeknd
Top Hot 100 Artist:
The Chainsmokers
Drake
Rihanna
Twenty One Pilots
The Weeknd

Top Song Sales Artist:
The Chainsmokers
Drake
Prince
Justin Timberlake
Twenty One Pilots

Top Radio Songs Artist:
Justin Bieber
The Chainsmokers
Drake
Rihanna
Twenty One Pilots
Top Streaming Songs Artist:
The Chainsmokers
Desiigner
Drake
Rihanna
Twenty One Pilots

Top Social Artist:
Justin Bieber
BTS
Selena Gomez
Ariana Grande
Shawn Mendes

Top Touring Artist:
Justin Bieber
Beyonce
Coldplay
Guns N’ Roses
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Top R&B Artist:
Beyonce
Bruno Mars
Frank Ocean
Rihanna
The Weeknd

Top R&B Tour:
Beyonce
Lionel Richie
Rihanna

Top Rap Artist:
J. Cole
Desiigner
Drake
Future
Rae Sremmurd

Top Rap Tour
Drake
Future
Kanye West

Top Country Artist:
Florida Georgia Line
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban
Chris Stapleton
Jason Aldean

Top Country Tour:
Luke Bryan
Kenny Chesney
Dixie Chicks

Top Rock Artist:
Coldplay
The Lumineers
Metallica
Twenty One Pilots
X Ambassadors

Top Rock Tour:
Coldplay
Guns N’ Roses
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Top Latin Artist:
J Balvin
Juan Gabriel
Los Plebes Del Rancho De Ariel Camacho
Maluma
Nicky Jam

Top Dance/Electronic Artist:
The Chainsmokers
Calvin Harris
Major Lazer
DJ Snake
Lindsey Stirling

Top Christian Artist:
Lauren Daigle
Hillsong Worship
Hillary Scott & the Family
Skillet
Chris Tomlin

Top Gospel Artist:
Jekalyn Carr
Kirk Franklin
Travis Greene
Tamela Mann
Hezekiah Walker

Top Billboard 200 Album:
Beyonce, Lemonade
Drake, Views
Rihanna, Anti
Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface
The Weeknd, Starboy

Top Soundtrack/Cast Album:
Hamilton: An American Musical
Moana
Purple Rain
Suicide Squad: The Album
Trolls

Top R&B Album:
Beyonce, Lemonade
Bruno Mars, 24K Magic
Frank Ocean, Blonde
Rihanna, Anti
The Weeknd, Starboy

Top Rap Album:
J. Cole, 4 Your Eyez Only
Drake, Views
Kevin Gates, Isla
DJ Khaled, Major Key
A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service

Top Country Album:
Jason Aldean, They Don’t Know
Florida Georgia Line, Dig Your Roots
Blake Shelton, If I’m Honest
Chris Stapleton, Traveller
Keith Urban, Ripcord

Top Rock Album:
The Lumineers, Cleopatra
Metallica, Hardwired…To Self Destruct
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool
Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway
Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface

Top Latin Album:
J Balvin, Energia
CNCO, Primera Cita
Juan Gabriel, Los Duo 2
Juan Gabriel, Vestido De Etiqueta: Por Eduardo Magallanes
Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho, Recuerden Mi Estilo

Top Dance/Electronic Album:
The Chainsmokers, Bouquet
The Chainsmokers, Collage 
Flume, Skin
Kygo, Cloud Nine
Lindsey Stirling, Brave Enough

Top Christian Album:
Casting Crowns, The Very Next Thing
Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be
Joey + Rory, Hymns
Hillary Scott & The Family, Love Remains
Skillet, Unleashed

Top Gospel Album:
Tamela Mann, One Way
Kirk Franklin, Losing My Religion
Travis Greene, The Hill
Tasha Cobbs, One Place: Live
Hezekiah Walker, Better: Azusa – The Next Generation 2

Top Hot 100 Song:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”
Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Selling Song:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Drake Featuring, WizKid & Kyla “One Dance”
Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”
Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Radio Song:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
Sia Featuring Sean Paul, “Cheap Thrills”
Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”

Top Streaming Song (Audio):
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
Rihanna, “Needed Me”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top Streaming Song (Video):
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
Desiigner, “Panda”
Zay Hilfigerr & Zayion McCall, “JuJu On That Beat (TZ Anthem)
Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”
Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Collaboration:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
Sia Featuring Sean Paul, “Cheap Thrills”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top R&B Song:
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
Bruno Mars, “24K Magic”
Rihanna, “Needed Me”
Rihanna Featuring Drake, “Work”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top R&B Collaboration:
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
PARTYNEXTDOOR Featuring Drake, “Come And See Me”
Rihanna Featuring Drake, “Work”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk “I Feel It Coming”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top Rap Song:
Desiigner, “Panda”
Drake, “Fake Love”
D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad And Boujee”
Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”

Top Rap Collaboration:
D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
Zay Hilfigerr & Zayion McCall, “JuJu On That Beat (TZ Anthem)
Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello, “Bad Things”
Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee”
Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”

Top Country Song:
Kenny Chesney Featuring Pink, “Setting The World On Fire”
Florida Georgia Line, “H.O.L.Y.”
Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw, “May We All”
Little Big Town, “Better Man”
Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

Top Country Collaboration:
Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King, “Different For Girls”
Kenny Chesney Featuring Pink, “Setting The World On Fire”
Eric Church Featuring Rhiannon Giddens, “Kill A Word”
Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw, “May We All”
Chris Young Featuring Vince Gill, “Sober Saturday Night”

Top Rock Song:
Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons with Logic & Ty Dolla $ign Featuring X Ambassadors, “Sucker For Pain”
Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”
Twenty One Pilots, “Ride”
Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”
X Ambassadors, “Unsteady”

Top Latin Song:
Daddy Yankee, “Shaky Shaky”
Enrique Iglesias Featuring Wisin, “Duele El Corazon”
Nicky Jam, “Hasta El Amanecer”
Shakira Featuring Maluma, “Chantaje”
Carlos Vives & Shakira, “La Bicicleta”

Top Dance/Electronic Song:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Calvin Harris Featuring Rihanna, “This Is What You Came For”
Major Lazer Featuring Justin Bieber & MO, “Cold Water”
DJ Snake Featuring Justin Bieber, “Let Me Love You”

Top Christian Song:
Lauren Daigle, “Trust In You”
Hillary Scott & The Family, “Thy Will”
Skillet, “Feel Invincible”
Ryan Stevenson Featuring GabeReal, “Eye Of The Storm”
Zach Williams, “Chain Breaker”

Top Gospel Song:
Jekalyn Carr, “You’re Bigger”
Tasha Cobbs, Featuring Kierra Sheard “Put A Praise On It”
Kirk Franklin, “Wanna Be Happy??”
Travis Greene, “Made A Way”
Hezekiah Walker, “Better”

When you’re a new artist with style, you get a magazine spread. It’s what you do.

Midland is brand new. Like, their new song “Drinkin’ Problem” has only been out for a few months (listen to it on New Country Now here). So, it’s kind of surprising to find them in their own spread in Man of Metropolis magazine, right? And yet, there they are in the spring issue. In fact, they’re being called the “fashion centerpiece” of the issue. Of course, the pictures show their style, but the interviewer doesn’t ask them about it… but whatevs. Check it out here: manofmetropolis.com/austin-style-featuring-midland/

Midland

Keith Urban joined by two amazing guitar players for an EPIC jam!

A few weeks ago at an event for people in the country radio and records industry, Keith Urban was playing “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” which was amazing. And then he was joined by Chris Stapleton… and a few minutes later Vince Gill. EPIC. Watch.

GRAMMY Noms Are Out!

15338487_337801916603958_4263201876792573952_nMaren Morris rocked the Grammy nominations, which were released this morning. She and Kelsea Ballerini are the only ones to represent Country in the all-genre categories — they’re both up for Best New Artist. Maren also grabbed nods for Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song for “My Church” and Best Country Album for Hero. Interestingly, Willie Nelson got a nomination for Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Summer Time: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. The GRAMMY Awards air live Feb. 12.

Below are the Country-specific nominations, and the full list of all categories is here.

Best Country Solo Performance

Love Can Go To Hell
Brandy Clark
Track from: Big Day In A Small Town
Label: Warner Bros. Records

Vice
Miranda Lambert
Label: Vanner Records/RCA Nashville

My Church
Maren Morris
Track from: Hero
Label: Columbia Nashville

Church Bells
Carrie Underwood
Track from: Storyteller
Label: 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville

Blue Ain’t Your Color
Keith Urban
Track from: Ripcord
Label: Capitol Records Nashville

 

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

Different For Girls
Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King
Track from: Black
Label: Capitol Records Nashville

21 Summer
Brothers Osborne
Track from: Pawn Shop
Label: EMI Records Nashville

Setting The World On Fire
Kenny Chesney & P!nk
Label: Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville

Jolene
Pentatonix Featuring Dolly Parton
Label: Dolly Records, LLC/RCA Nashville

Think Of You
Chris Young With Cassadee Pope
Track from: I’m Comin’ Over Label: RCA Nashville
Best Country Song

Blue Ain’t Your Color
Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen, songwriters (Keith Urban)

Die A Happy Man
Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur, songwriters (Thomas Rhett)

Humble And Kind
Lori McKenna, songwriter (Tim McGraw)

My Church
busbee & Maren Morris, songwriters (Maren Morris)

Vice
Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

 

Best Country Album

Big Day In A Small Town
Brandy Clark
Label: Warner Bros. Records

Full Circle
Loretta Lynn
Label: Legacy Recordings

Hero
Maren Morris
Label: Columbia Nashville

A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
Sturgill Simpson
Label: Atlantic

Ripcord
Keith Urban
Label: Capitol Records Nashville

Strait Up Awesome

George Strait singing right to me

George Strait singing right to me

VIP Swag and Strait Out Of The Box 2

VIP Swag and Strait Out Of The Box 2

Last night I had the honor of being at an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime show, and it’s one I will never forget.

George Strait is releasing Strait Out Of The Box: Part 2 tomorrow (11/18). It’s three discs with 56 tracks — most of which you know and will sing along with, but there are also two new songs he co-wrote, “Kicked Outta Country” and “You Gotta Go Through Hell.”

Last night, to celebrate this monumental new release, George took it back to where it all began. Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in the state of Texas, and the place where George Strait and the Ace In The Hole Band got their start a few decades ago. In front of the 200 or so invited guests, he told the story of how the owner said, “We’ll let you play a Sunday night, we’ll charge $0.25 at the door and we’ll see how you do.” George said, “we made $7 that night.” But they kept coming back and became regulars at the dance hall. The last time they played there was in 1982.

So if you were watching the live stream last night when he sang, “The Fireman,” “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” “The Chair” and “Check Yes Or No,” you know he’s still got it, and every single person in that room was singing along at the top of their lungs. He sang for two hours and we all sang along to the songs we knew, and listened intently to the new ones. I can’t WAIT for you to hear “Kicked Outta Country,” which he wrote with Jamey Johnson.

By the way, right before he took the stage, it was announced that George has added eight dates to his Strait To Vegas residency, including something that’s never been done: over two nights he will sing ALL 60 of his number one songs. Details here.

I hope you were watching the live stream last night, but if you missed it, you can see part of it here.

–Jess

You can be at George Strait’s album release show! Well, kind of.

image002The King of Country Music returns to Texas for an exclusive Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 album release show this Wednesday, Nov. 16. The impressive three-disc, 56-track collection is available this Friday, Nov. 18 exclusively at Walmart and Walmart.com. Featuring 36 of Strait’s hit singles including 26 No. 1s, Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 also offers fans two new songs with “Kicked Outta Country” and “You Gotta Go Through Hell.” Strait is a co-writer on both tracks.

In celebration of the box set, Strait and his Ace in the Hole Band will take it back to the dusty floors and intimate setting of a historic Texas dancehall for a memorable night of music. While tickets are not available for purchase, fans can live-stream the event Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT on Strait.WranglerNetwork.com.

Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 spans 20 years of Strait’s career from 1996 to 2016 and follows the highly successful, 8x Platinum-selling 1995 release, Strait Out of the Box. The two new songs offered in the set, “Kicked Outta Country” (George Strait/Jamey Johnson) and “You Gotta Go Through Hell” (George Strait/Bubba Strait/Dean Dillon) are the first new recordings released from Strait since last year’s surprise Cold Beer Conversation album.

Strait fans have the opportunity to pre-order Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 along with select merchandise, including a silver-plated belt buckle identical to the one featured on the collection’s cover. The limited-edition buckle arrives in an autographed craft wooden box suitable for display. All fan packages and pre-order information available HERE.

Strait is one of the most celebrated country music stars in history and Billboard recently named him No. 1 on the Greatest of All Time: Country Artists list. With 60 No. 1 singles and more than 70 million records sold, Strait has more No. 1 songs than any other artist, and is third only to Elvis Presley and The Beatles with the most Gold and Platinum albums in history. He is the most nominated artist in CMA Awards history and was the first country music artist honored with Billboard’s Legend of Live Award.

Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 is now available for pre-order HERE.

CMA Awards Drama? Now I Have To Rant.

When the news leaked that Beyonce would be performing on the 50th CMA Awards with the Dixie Chicks, a lot of country fans and even industry people voiced objections to it — some fans on my Facebook page and others said they wouldn’t watch the show! That’s right, they would choose to ignore a three-and-a-half-hour celebration of our music’s history and current artists because of a five-minute segment they didn’t approve of. Crazy, right?

Beyonce (r) with Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks at the CMA Awards

Beyonce (r) with Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks at the CMA Awards

After the awards, there were a lot of negative comments about the performance. I heard about, but didn’t see, some racial comments that have no place in ANY forum and certainly don’t represent country music fans as a whole (so if you’re one who is feeding into THAT stereotype, knock it off). What I did see were complaints about the fact that, yet again, producers at ABC thought a bunch of hillbillies could never pull the ratings they wanted unless they brought some pop stars on the show. If you check my page, you’ll see I’ve complained about the same thing — especially when the country artists are largely put in the background of those “collaborations,” which they were the other night.

That said, I was there in the auditorium and can tell you that every single person in the room was on their feet for that performance. It was fun. It was a good song — I’d dare say it was as country a song as any other that was performed that night. I never had a problem with Beyonce herself (or the Dixie Chicks, whose lead singer has continued to spew disgusting comments about country fans and radio stations even 15 years after “the incident” and wonders why we haven’t all “just let it go” by now) performing on the show.

Then, on top of the negativity about the performance (or the race of the performer — y’all knock that crap off), I hear that Bey’s fans think Kenny Chesney dissed their girl by not smiling enough or dancing during the set. Seriously? So, the following comes from a press release that came out today:

…to be told the following afternoon that there was a buzz about him dissing Beyonce, the 8-time Entertainer of the Year was astounded. With an interview with ABC completed, Chesney thought people who knew him at all would more than know if anything his serious expression was one of respect, a man knowing he was seeing a once-in-a-lifetime performance.

“I love Beyonce… I loved her Super Bowl performance, her sense of how to make the music hit really hard – and give it drama when she’s onstage,” Chesney responded. “The idea her fans were so quick to judge me, or know what I was thinking doesn’t feel like the woman I’ve always imagined Beyonce to be – and honestly, the people who love her music, either.

“As someone who believes in the message of Spread the Love, we try to find the best in people – and in this case, that meant really watching the musicianship on that stage, as well as a guest in our format who’d written an incredible song. I am amazed and saddened this is the response my respect for her art gets.”

“I believe music is great or not,” says Chesney. “It has nothing to do with genre, gender or color. Just did you bring it, and how great are your songs? To me, there’s no question about Beyonce – or my response to their performance.”

What the hell is going on???

If I had a choice, would I have wanted Beyonce to play the 50th CMA Awards? No, because that show was to celebrate the history of country music and that spot could have been used to spotlight a current artist or a legend, but not because Beyonce is black or the song wasn’t good. But she DID play and she did a great job, and y’all? That horn section was the BOMB.

Do me a favor: quit hating. Believe it or not, there is room for everyone in music and the walls are crumbling between any genres that have traditionally been established. You don’t have to like her performance or her music, but the hate is getting out of control in every aspect of public pop culture and it needs to quit. There’ is no room for hate in music! There’s no room for hate in LIFE. It’s too short.

What are your thoughts? Comment below or on Facebook or Twitter.

The EPIC 50th CMA Awards!

50th CMA Awards

50th CMA Awards

If you watched the 50th CMA Awards on ABC, you got an idea how incredible the anniversary celebration was. Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Charlie Daniels and so many more were there, some performed and Randy Travis SANG. That’s huge — he hasn’t been able to speak for the last three years. It was an emotional night and a reminder of how incredible the music and people are that shaped our format. Also, Beyonce performed. What?! Yeah, I don’t know. But she was good.

Congratulations to the winners:

Entertainer of the Year
Garth Brooks

Male Vocalist of the Year
Chris Stapleton

Female Vocalist of the Year
Carrie Underwood

Vocal Group of the Year
Little Big Town

Vocal Duo of the Year
Brothers Osborne

New Artist of the Year
Maren Morris

Album of the Year
Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood

Song of the Year (goes to the songwriter)
“Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna (performed by Tim McGraw)

Single of the Year (goes to the artist)
“Die A Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett

Music Video of the Year
Chris Stapleton – “Fire Away” (director Tim Mattia)

Musical Event of the Year
“Different For Girls” – Dierks Bentley with Elle King

Musician of the Year
Dan Huff (guitar)

 

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