• DAVID NAIL WEIGHS IN ON KEITH URBAN’S ROLE AS AN ‘AMERICAN IDOL’ JUDGE. (AUDIO)

    Keith Urban begins his role as a judge on the 12th season of American Idol tonight (January 16th). Everyone, including his fellow country stars, agree that the show’s producers couldn’t have picked a better judge than Keith, including David Nail. “”He’s arguably one of the more talented individuals in music period, if you look at it across the board — singing and playing an instrument [and] co-producing a lot of his records and songwriting,” says David Nail. “Of all the people that’s been on there, arguably the most talented judge would be him.”

    Check out the season premiere of American Idol at 8pm ET on FOX.

    AUDIO: David Nail says Keith Urban has more to offer contestants on American Idol than just performance skills. [AUDIO COURTESY OF Albright & O’Malley & Brenner]

    David Nail (Keith Urban AI Judge) OC: …would be him. :15

    ”He’s arguably one of the more talented individuals in music period, if you look at it across the board — singing and playing an instrument [and] co-producing a lot of his records and songwriting. Of all the people that’s been on there, arguably the most talented judge would be him.”

  • GARY ALLAN OFFERS UP LIGHTER FARE ON NEW ALBUM. (AUDIO)

    Gary Allan arrives in stores with his new album, Set You Free, next Tuesday (January 22nd), and he tells us the songs are more upbeat than his previous projects contained. “I think it’s a lot lighter. It’s kind of a double-edge sword for me, because I don’t like the happy songs,” says Gary. “And [then comes] ‘Every Storm Runs Out of Rain,’ so I think that is more what this album is all about is me coming up for air, and I’m in a lot better spot.”

    Gary’s latest single, “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain),” is closing in on the top spot on the country charts.

    • Gary is scheduled to perform his single next Wednesday (January 23rd) on NBC’s Tonight Show With Jay Leno (11:35p ET) and NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on February 11th (12:35a ET).
    • You can also catch Gary on GAC Daily Countdown all next week as well as upcoming episodes of CMT Insider, CMT’s Top 20, GAC’s Top 20 and Headline Country and The Travel Channel’s Trip Flip.

    AUDIO: Gary Allan says his new album, Set You Free, is a lighter fare than his previous offerings.

    Gary Allan (album is lighter) OC: …better spot. :25
    “I think it’s a lot lighter. It’s kind of a double-edge sword for me, because I don’t like the happy songs. Nobody gives a Sh [BEEP] if you’re happy. I want the cutting ones that make you like, I am drawn to those anyway, plus I’ve been through a lot, so I think everybody was like looking at it like, ‘Wow- he’s like really spinning out. And [then comes] ‘Every Storm Runs Out of Rain,’ so I think that is more what this album is all about is me coming up for air, and I’m in a lot better spot.”

  • KEITH URBAN SHOWS OFF HIS ‘PASSIONATE’ SIDE ON ‘AMERICAN IDOL.’ (AUDIO)

    The feuds and disagreements hit the internet and went viral as the new panel of judges on American Idol were getting to know each other at the same time as they were choosing which unknown talents were going to Hollywood to compete on the 12th season of the popular FOX TV show. We all viewed the video, which featured Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj going at it with our own Keith Urban sandwiched between them. He often says when word of the disagreements between the two female superstars hit the news, he’s like the country of Switzerland and tries to remain neutral.

    He said part of the reason that there were a few, shall we say, discussions early on during the audition process was because the four of them were basically thrown together and put to work. “You’ve got four very passionate artists all sort of thrown onto a dance floor, and they’re saying, ‘OK, dance together in perfect synchronized movements,’ and we stepped on a few toes at the beginning while we were getting our groove on; because we had no direction,” says Keith. “We all met [for the first time] the night before [we started auditions] in New York for dinner, and that’s the first time I ever met Nicki and Mariah. I’d met Randy [Jackson] and Ryan [Seacrest] before. So, we all had dinner that night, and then the next day showed up on set and saw the set, and they led us up to the desk and we sat behind the desk, and the next thing we know, they’re like, ‘OK, and off we go.’ And I thought, ‘Well, surely we’ll have some ‘fake’ contestants first, you know, coming through and then they’ll bring out the real artists.’ Nope! That was it. We were just diving into it.”

    Keith adds that the way they were put together was probably a good thing. “I think that kind of anxiety and strange energy and uncertainty and all of that went into the mix. I think it makes for great viewing, but it certainly caught all of us off-guard.”

    The new season of American Idol premieres Wednesday (January 16th) at 8pm ET on FOX.

    AUDIO: Keith Urban explains why this year’s American Idol judges have been portrayed as explosive, which the country singer deems “passionate.”

    Keith Urban (AI passionate lot) OC: …passionate lot. 1:23
    “It took a little while. [laughs] I mean, look, you’ve got four very passionate artists all sort of thrown onto a dance floor, and they’re saying, ‘OK, dance together in perfect synchronized movements,’ and we stepped on a few toes at the beginning while we were getting our groove on; because we had no direction. Nothing. It was interesting that we all met [for the first time] the night before [we started auditions] in New York for dinner, and that’s the first time I ever met Nicki and Mariah. I’d met Randy and Ryan before. So, we all had dinner that night, and then the next day showed up on set and saw the set, and they led us up to the desk and we sat behind the desk, and the next thing we know, they’re like, ‘OK, and off we go.’ And I thought, ‘Well, surely we’ll have some ‘fake’ contestants first, you know, coming through and then they’ll bring out the real artists.’ Nope! That was it. We were just diving into it [laughs], so I think that kind of anxiety and strange energy and uncertainty and all of that went into the mix. I think it makes for great viewing, but it certainly caught all of us off-guard. Randy was the only one who knew what he was doing. So, the three of us are trying to figure it out and we finally got our groove on. We’re a passionate lot, no question.”

    Video / Keith Urban: Idol Transformations - American Idol

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  • KING GEORGE GETS READY TO LAUNCH HIS FINAL TOUR. (AUDIO)

    King of Country George Strait Soon to Saddle Up for The Cowboy Rides Away Tour

    Tour dates commence Jan. 18 at the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas

     NASHVILLE, Tenn. – George Strait announced the news of his two-year final U.S. tour last fall, and now the time has come to saddle up for the 2013 leg of The Cowboy Rides Away Tour, opening at the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas this Friday, Jan. 18.  Joining the icon on tour will be special guest Martina McBride, who is not only a fan, but a longtime friend of Strait’s.

     The excitement surrounding this tour was evident when tickets in most markets sold out within mere minutes of going on sale.  Sharing in the fans’ enthusiasm, Strait reveals, “I’ve got over 30 years of great memories out on that road.  I’m sure these last two are going to be just as good or better. It’s going to be fun but at the same time sad. I can’t wait!”

    With 59 No. 1 hit songs under his belt, concert-goers can expect to hear many of their Strait favorites plus new music including his latest single, “Give It All We Got Tonight,” one of the first releases from Strait’s forthcoming album due out later this year. “Give It All We Got Tonight” is currently available on iTunes.

    For news, information, photos, and more on King George, please visit www.GeorgeStrait.com.  Updates can also be found on www.Facebook.com/GeorgeStrait and by following Strait on Twitter @GeorgeStrait.  

    The Cowboy Rides Away – 2013 Tour Dates

    Jan 18  |  United Spirit Arena   |   Lubbock, Texas

    Jan 19  |  Chesapeake Energy Arena  |  Oklahoma City, Okla.

    Jan 25  |  EnergySolutions Arena  |  Salt Lake City, Utah

    Jan 26  |  Idaho Center  |  Nampa, Idaho

    Jan 31  |  Sleep Train Arena  |  Sacramento, Calif.

    Feb 1   |  SaveMart Center  |  Fresno, Calif.

    Feb 2   |  MGM Grand Garden Arena  |  Las Vegas, Nev.

    Feb 15 |  Xcel Energy Center  |  St. Paul, Minn.

    Feb 16 |  Alerus Center  |  Grand Forks, N.D.

    Feb 22 |  First Niagara Center  |  Buffalo, N.Y.

    Feb 23 |  XL Center  |  Hartford, Conn.

    Mar 1   |  Thompson-Boling Arena  |  Knoxville, Tenn.

    Mar 2   |  Rupp Arena  |  Lexington, Ky.

    Mar 17 |  Reliant Stadium  |  Houston, Texas

    Mar 22 |  Bi-Lo Center  |  Greenville, S.C.

    Mar 23 |  Greensboro Coliseum  |  Greensboro, N.C.

    Apr 5   |  The Pit  |  Albuquerque, N.M.

    Apr 6   |  Pan American Center  |  Las Cruces, N.M.

    Apr 12 |  Verizon Arena  |  N. Little Rock, Ark.

    Apr 13 |  New Orleans Arena  |  New Orleans, La.

    Jun 1    |  Alamodome  |  San Antonio, Texas*

    * On sale date March 9, 2013

    AUDIO: George Strait talks about touring with Martina McBride.

    George Strait (on touring with Martina) OC: …about that. :13
    “Martina’s certainly one of the greatest female artists out there, and she’s just an incredible, incredible singer and a great person. We have a lot of fun out there with her, so we’re happy about that.”

  • DIERKS BENTLEY AND JAKE ARE BACK TOGETHER AND AT TOUR REHEARSALS. (VIDEO)

    Jake’s back home and makes an appearance during Dierks’ rehearsals in DBTV Ep. 92. Also, Dierks preps to go all out for the Locked & Reloaded Tour. Take a look at a brand new feature of the stage.

    Video / Dierks Bentley - DBTV - Episode 92: Jake & Rehearsals

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  • ALAN JACKSON WILL PERFORM BENEFIT SHOW AT THE RYMAN. (PRESS RELEASE)

    ALAN JACKSON TO PERFORM
    AT HISTORIC RYMAN AUDITORIUM ON MARCH 20
     
    5TH ANNUAL “STARS GO BLUE” CONCERT TO BENEFIT
    COLON CANCER ALLIANCE’S BLUE NOTE FUND
     
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 14, 2013) Country superstar Alan Jackson will headline the 5th Annual “Stars Go Blue” benefit on Wednesday, March 20 at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. Jackson’s rare, intimate performance at this historic music venue will be hosted by the oldest and largest national colon cancer patient advocacy organization, the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA). All proceeds from the concert will benefit the CCA’s Blue Note Fund, helping colon cancer patients in need, a program founded by Nashville’s own Grammy-nominated artist/producer Charlie Kelley. The CCA holds the “Stars Go Blue” concert annually in support of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. During March, organizations across the nation will place an emphasis on educating the public about colon cancer prevention and detection.

    In 2010, Alan’s wife Denise was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. “It knocked us both down. It was so hard to watch her go through that,” he recalls. “We were dating at 16 and 17, and I pretty much took care of her from that point on. But when it came to this, I felt like there wasn’t a thing I could do.”

    “That rocked my world, as I’m sure it does every person who gets a cancer diagnosis,” she explains. “That really brought to my attention the CCA and what the organization does, and more specifically what the Blue Note Fund does for the Nashville area and the rest of the country as well.”
    Tickets for “Stars Go Blue” go on sale Fri., Jan. 18 at 10:00am Central and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations, Ryman Box Office, www.ryman.com and by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets are $75, $45 and $35.
    Alan recently released a limited number of copies of his book Seasons of Sweetbriar – A Photographic Collection of Home by Alan Jackson. Seasons of Sweetbriar can be purchased through www.alanjackson.com for $25 or $50 for a book autographed by Alan, while supplies last. 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to the CCA’s Blue NoteFund.
    About Alan Jackson:
    Alan Jackson is one of the most successful and respected singer-songwriters in music. He is in the elite company of Paul McCartney and John Lennon among songwriters who’ve written more than 20 songs that they’ve recorded and taken to the top of the charts. Jackson is one of the 10 best-selling artists since the inception of SoundScan, ranking alongside the likes of Eminem and Metallica. His most recent album, Thirty Miles West, topped the country chart when it was released in June – the album features the Grammy®-nominated song, “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore.”
    Jackson has sold nearly 60 million albums worldwide, topped the country singles charts 35 times, and scored more than 50 Top-10 hits. He has written or co-written 24 of his 35 #1 hit singles. Jackson is a 18-time ACM Award winner, a 16-time CMA Award recipient, and a two-time Grammy-winning artist whose songwriting has earned him the prestigious ASCAP Founders Award and an induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame as a 2011 Songwriter/Artist inductee.
    About Blue Note Fund:
    The Blue Note Fund was created by Charlie Kelley, Grammy-nominated country artist/producer, colon cancer survivor and CCA Board member. It gives one-time grants to colon cancer patients struggling to meet their financial obligations, giving hope to families who desperately need it. While other financial assistance programs might be specifically for co-pays or drug fees, the Blue Note Fund allows patients to use the grant money in whatever way helps them most.
    About ColonCancer Alliance:
    The Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) is the leading national patient advocacy organization dedicated to increasing colon cancer screening rates and survivorship. The CCA is an active, caring community that provides hope and support to patients and their families while saving lives through screening, access, awareness, advocacy and research.
  • KEITH URBAN CHECKS IN FROM BACKSTAGE AT THE ‘ELLEN DeGENERES SHOW.’ (VIDEO)

    For this week’s Urban Chat, Keith Urban checks in from backstage after filming Ellen and Leno! Check your local listings to catch the Ellen DeGeneres Show on Monday (January 14th)!

    Video / Urban Chat: Video 37: Backstage from Ellen!

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  • A HAPPY ENDING FOR DIERKS BENTLEY AND HIS DOG, JAKE. (PHOTO)

    It was a sleepless night for Dierks Bentley and his family. During the severe storms Middle Tennessee was having, his beloved dog, Jake, went missing after he jumped a fence during the thunderstorms. Dierks took to Facebook and Twitter to see if he could be located. “Praying someone found him. A cold, wet, white dog. Red collar,” he first wrote, setting off a frenzy of tweets and re-posts on Facebook, as well as launching a search party in the cold and wet weather. “The President of my record label, Mike Dungan, and many other friends decided to drive around as well in the middle of the night. Means a lot.”

    While they seemed to call off the search in the wee hours of the morning, the thousands of posts online worked wonders—Jake was returned. “OMG. My wife just told me someone found Jake on Facebook and is bringing him to our house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,” the ecstatic singer wrote on Monday morning. “One of the happiest days of my life. Grown men don’t cry…yeah, right. Thank you to everyone on Facebook and Twitter that spread the word.”

    Dierks then posted a photo of the happy reunion, which included Jake’s rescuer, a young lady named Anna Belle. “And here he is!!! Thank you, Anna Belle!! She swooped in and picked Jake up after he was almost hit by another car…” (see the photo below)

    Jake is famous in his own right, having appeared in numerous Dierks’ videos, “What Was I Thinkin’,” “Feel That Fire” and “Up on the Ridge.” Dierks rescued Jake from the pound more than 10 years ago and has been the singer’s constant companion at home, in the studio, at the lake and on the road.

  • KEITH URBAN SAYS THE THE DIVERSITY OF THE JUDGES PANEL ON ‘AMERICAN IDOL’ IS WHAT MAKES IT SO INTERESTING. (AUDIO)

    Keith Urban was drawn to the role as a judge on American Idol not only because he enjoyed the show, but mainly because he could bring something different to the panel…and the other judges – Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and the returning Randy Jackson – do as well. “The diversity is the thing I was most interested in because there’s four people that come from very, very different places that have very, very different views,” says Keith. “When we stumble upon somebody who all four of us unanimously agree upon, it’s an extraordinary moment, because more often than not, we’re a 180 from each other on some of the artists that we hear.”

    The two-hour premiere of American Idol airs on Wednesday (January 16th) at 8pm ET on FOX.

    AUDIO: Keith Urban says the American Idol judges panel is so diverse, but that’s what makes it so cool.

    Keith Urban (diversity in judges) OC: …for that day. :44
    “I think first and foremost is the diversity of [the panel]. I mean, the diversity is the thing I was most interested in because there’s four people that come from very, very different places that have very, very different views, and when we stumble upon somebody who all four of us unanimously agree upon, it’s an extraordinary moment, because more often than not, we’re a 180 from each other on some of the artists that we hear. So, it’s made for an interesting audition process as well, because we had to incorporate this thing someone in every city where somebody was chosen as a tie-breaker, because a lot of times it was two-and-two – two of us wanted it and two of ‘em didn’t, and we would just single one of us in each city to be the tie-breaker just for that day.”

  • LUKE BRYAN WILL DELIVER BIG ON DIRT ROAD DIARIES TOUR. (AUDIO)

    Luke Bryan is in the final days of rehearsals for his upcoming Dirt Road Diaries Tour, which kicks off Thursday (January 17th) in Evansville, Indiana. The Georgia native will be taking a few more bells and whistles on tour, along with his ever-present upbeat personality and numerous hit songs. As he headlines his own (pretty much sold-out) tour, he says he learned a lot from some of the other artists he toured with previously, especially to deliver the best show he can. “You always learn from the big pros – they go out there and deliver it night in and night out, and you just want to conduct yourself in that fashion too,” says Luke. “Go in and be ready to put on a show night in and night out, and don’t take any second on stage ever for granted, and take your audience on rides, and let ‘em enjoy it and be a part of it. You kind of learn that by watching the guys that have been so successful doing that.”

    The first leg of the tour will hit 20 markets through March, and features Thompson Square and Florida-Georgia Line.

    Luke is set to co-host this year’s ACM Awards with buddy Blake Shelton. The 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas April 7th on CBS.

    AUDIO: Luke Bryan talks about taking all he’s learned from other artists on the road and applying it to his own headline tour.

    Luke Bryan (learning from other artists) OC: …doing that. :32
    “You just kind of have to take all that knowledge and wrap it up into performing. And you always learn from the big pros – they go out there and deliver it night in and night out, and you just want to conduct yourself in that fashion too. Go in and be ready to put on a show night in and night out, and don’t take any second on stage ever for granted, and take your audience on rides, and let ‘em enjoy it and be a part of it. You kind of learn that by watching the guys that have been so successful doing that.”