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Memorial service set for 'Hee Haw' host, guitarist Roy Clark

A public memorial service is planned in Oklahoma for singer-guitarist Roy Clark, who headlined the TV show "Hee Haw" for nearly a quarter century.

A "celebration of life" service will be held Wednesday at Rhema Bible Church in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. Clark was 85 when he died last week at his home in Tulsa from complications of pneumonia.

Clark was a guitar virtuoso known for hits including "Yesterday When I was Young" and "Honeymoon Feeling." He also played the banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and other instruments.

Clark was the "Hee Haw" host or co-host for the variety show's entire 24-year run. He also was a frequent guest performer with top orchestras, including the Boston Pops, and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Roy Clark, country guitar virtuoso, 'Hee Haw' star, has died

Country star Roy Clark, the guitar virtuoso and singer who headlined the cornpone TV show "Hee Haw" for nearly a quarter century and was known for such hits as "Yesterday When I was Young" and "Honeymoon Feeling," has died. He was 85.

Publicist Jeremy Westby said Clark died Thursday due to complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Clark was "Hee Haw" host or co-host for its entire 24-year run, with Buck Owens his best known co-host. Started in 1969, the show featured the top stars in country music, including Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, as well as other musical greats including Ray Charles, Chet Atkins and Boots Randolph. The country music and comedy show's last episode aired in 1993, though reruns continued for a few years thereafter.

"'Hee Haw' won't go away. It brings a smile to too many faces," he said in 2004, when the show was distributed on VHS and DVD for the first time.

"I've known him for 60 years and he was a fine musician and entertainer," Charlie Daniels tweeted on Thursday. "Rest In peace Buddy, you will be remembered."

Keith Urban, who won entertainer of the year Wednesday night from the Country Music Association, also honored Clark on Thursday. "My first CMA memory is sitting on my living room floor watching Roy Clark tear it up," Urban tweeted. "Sending all my love and respect to him and his family for all he did."

Clark played the guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and other instruments. His skills brought him gigs as guest performer with many top orchestras, including the Boston Pops. In 1976 he headlined a tour of the Soviet Union, breaking boundaries that were usually closed to Americans.

And of course, he also was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

His hits included "The Tips of My Fingers" (1963), "Yesterday When I Was Young" (1969), "Come Live With Me" (1973) and "Honeymoon Feeling" (1974). He was also known for his instrumental versions of "Malaguena," on 12-string guitar, and "Ghost Riders in the Sky."

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and emotionally told the crowd how moving it was "just to be associated yourself with the members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and imagine that your name will be said right along with all the list."

Clark won a Grammy Award for best country instrumental performance for the song "Alabama Jubilee" and earned seven Country Music Association awards including entertainer of the year and comedian of the year.

In his 1994 autobiography, "My Life in Spite of Myself," he said "Yesterday, When I Was Young" had "opened a lot of people's eyes not only to what I could do but to the whole fertile and still largely untapped field of country music, from the Glen Campbells and the Kenny Rogerses, right on through to the Garth Brookses and Vince Gills."

Clark was guest host on "The Tonight Show" several times in the 1960s and 1970s when it was rare for a country performer to land such a role. His fans included not just musicians, but baseball great Mickey Mantle. The Yankees outfielder was moved to tears by "Yesterday When I Was Young" and for years made Clark promise to sing it at his memorial — a request granted after Mantle died in 1995.

Beginning in 1983, Clark operated the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre in Branson, Missouri, and was one of the first country entertainers to open a theater there. Dozens followed him.

He was a touring artist as late as the 2000s. Over the years, he played at venues around the world: Carnegie Hall in New York, the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo, the Grand Palace in Brussels and the Rossiya Theatre in Moscow.

Clark was born in Meherrin, Virginia, and received his first guitar on his 14th Christmas. He was playing in his father's square dance band at age 15.

In the 1950s, Clark played in bands in the Washington, D.C., area. In 1960, he got the chance to front the band of country singer Wanda Jackson. He also performed regularly in Las Vegas. He got his first recording contract, with Capitol Records, in 1962.

He appeared on Jimmy Dean's TV show "Town and Country Time" and took over the show when Dean left.

Clark and Owens worked together for years, but they had very different feelings about "Hee Haw." Owens, who left the show in 1986, later referred to it as a "cartoon donkey," one he endured for "that big paycheck." Clark told The Associated Press in 2004 that "Hee Haw" was like a family reunion.

"We became a part of the family. The viewers were sort of part owners of the show. They identified with these clowns, and we had good music."

Clark said the hour-long program of country music and corny jokes capped off his career.

"This was the icing on the cake. This put my face and name together."

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Former AP writer Joe Edwards contributed to this report.

CMA Awards 2018: Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves score big

For only the second time in his career, Keith Urban walked away from the Country Music Association Awards cradling the most notable award – entertainer of the year.

>> On AJC.com: CMA Awards 2018: Backstage with Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks and more

The gracious musician, who earlier in the show blasted through his sexy funk jam, “Never Comin’ Down,” reacted with genuine shock, likely assuming that the night’s other major winner, Chris Stapleton, would prevail.

Urban hugged wife Nicole Kidman tightly and wiped tears from his eyes before bounding onstage.

>> PHOTOS: Stars shine on the CMA Awards red carpet

“I wish my dad was alive to see this, but I think he’s watching over me tonight,” he said. “God bless country music.”

Urban reiterated backstage after the show that he harbored no expectations of winning.

“Someone said, ‘Did you do any campaigning?’ and I said, ‘We just played every night.’”

The 52nd annual awards otherwise unspooled with comforting consistency. 

Hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley’s easy chemistry was evidenced in jokes that ranged from cute to corny, Stapleton continued his reign as the shaggy savior of soulful country and Kacey Musgraves represented for the women with an album of the year win for her excellent “Golden Hour.” 

But for the second year in a row, the awards show opened with a dedication to country music fans killed while enjoying their pastime.

In 2017, it was the victims of the Route 91 Harvest music festival massacre in Las Vegas. 

>> CMA Awards 2018: Complete winners list from star-studded Nashville event

On Wednesday, a solemn Garth Brooks stood alone on stage to offer comforting words and a moment of silence for the 12 people gunned down at the Borderline bar and music venue in California last week. 

The tragedy hung in the air during the three-hour show, which aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Soft-spoken male vocalist of the year winner Stapleton noted while picking up a second award for “Broken Halos” (song of the year, single of the year), that it was written “about people who have gone on long before their time. I want to be thinking about the people in California right now.”

Midway through the telecast, Paisley and Underwood also acknowledged the firefighters battling the California blazes.

But the show adeptly balanced tragic and triumph with numerous inspiring performances.

Underwood’s potent rendition of her ballad of hopefulness, “Love Wins,” felt particularly poignant as she delivered it with a choir surrounding her onstage. She later scored her fifth female vocalist of the year win. 

Backstage, the pregnant Underwood – she revealed during the show that it’s another boy – welled up while talking about her life. 

“I’m honored to hold so many incredible titles – mom is definitely one of them,” she said tearfully. “Hopefully I can be an inspiration to my children and to other moms out there. We got this.”

Luke Bryan tagged a cadre of newish-comers for his Georgia-pines saluting “What Makes You Country” (Cole Swindell, a Bronwood native, and Lindsey Ell, a protégé of Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, were among those sharing the stage). 

Brooks took the guy-and-a-guitar approach to debut a tender ballad, “Stronger Than Me,” as a surprise to wife Trisha Yearwood, who was seated a few feet in front of him.

“I didn’t cry, so I was happy about that,” a black-hatted Brooks said backstage, and then added with a smile. “She lost the bet, man.”

The triple play from Stapleton, Maren Morris and Mavis Staples unfurled as fiercely as expected, with the trio trading lyrics on Stapleton’s “Friendship” and the twosome wisely stepping back to allow Staples to improvise and roar during the Staple Singers classic, “I’ll Take You There.”

Musgraves, who noted during her acceptance speech that the date marked the 10-year anniversary of her move to Nashville, captivated with her ethereal “Slow Burn.”

“The best things in life are a slow burn, what you enjoy the journey of. It’s about enjoying the ride along the way … It’s one of my most autobiographical songs. It’s very personal to me,” Musgraves said backstage. 

>> Read more trending news 

As with most awards shows, the actual winners become secondary to the performances, but there were several notables.

New artist of the year winner Luke Combs choked up while receiving his award (“God, I love country music, man.”), while Old Dominion also celebrated their first CMA, for vocal group of the year.

Brothers Osborne maintained their hold on the vocal duo of the year category, wining for the third time. 

“I don’t know why we keep winning this. If this was Florida, there’d definitely be a recount,” said John Osborne to much laughter. He then added, “Work hard, be diligent, be good to people.”

The CMA awards are voted on by the 7,300 members of the Country Music Association. 

CMA Awards 2018: Backstage with Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks and more

Unlike other award shows, the CMAs usually deliver the biggest winners of the night to the media center backstage.

>> PHOTOS: Stars shine on the CMA Awards red carpet

Some pop in during the telecast – as Garth Brooks, Brothers Osborne and Old Dominion did – while others, usually the major names nominated in later categories, swing through after the show.

>> On AJC.com: Click here for a recap of the performances and winners from the 52nd annual CMA Awards

This year, the press room was especially busy with heavyweights, including entertainer of the year winner Keith Urban, multiple trophy-snagger Chris Stapleton and co-host/female vocalist of the year victor Carrie Underwood.

>> CMA Awards 2018: Complete winners list from star-studded Nashville event

Here is what they had to say:

Keith Urban

On the support he receives from wife Nicole Kidman: “I feel very blessed that I have the support of my family like I do. It’s a beautiful thing having two artists (in the family). We understand the passion, and the responsibility, of what we get to do. It’s very important.”On his unfailing passion for his work: “I love people. I love people. Every single person’s got a story. We have SO much more in common than different. We all have fears and hopes and dreams and insecurities and dysfunctional families. For me, I feel that in my life more than I’ve ever felt it … I’m perpetually curious. I don’t think of reinvention. I love curiosity and I love passion and I feel fortunate that I have both of those in spades. I feel exactly the same as I did when I moved to (Nashville) 26 years ago. I feel excited to get in the studio, I feel excited to put a show on.”About the remembering his father – who died in 2015 – during his acceptance speech: “I mentioned my father because he’s such a huge influence in my life – my mom and dad both are. I wish he could have seen this tonight; he set me on the path that I’m on. But I feel his presence and I’m very, very grateful for that.”

Chris Stapleton

On his blazing performance with Maren Morris, Mavis Staples and other musical talents: “I brought a bunch of ringers out there – Maren, Marty Stuart on guitar, all the guys on my band and from Anderson East’s band on horns. I tell you what, it’s a real treat to be up there with so many great musicians and artists. But to have Maren and Mavis and Marty and my wife up there, that’s a real treat. Mavis, we all owe her so much musically – some of us might not even realize it. She’s electricity. She’s so inspiring to be around as a person and a singer. If we can use some of our time to put her front and center, that’s exactly what we should be doing.”

Carrie Underwood

Underwood, who reveled during the show that she’s having another boy, joked about her numerous costume changes: “The wardrobe is definitely a challenge when you don’t recognize your own body,” she said with a laugh. “But I feel bad for returning dresses that aren’t maternity dresses all stretched out in the middle! I’m gonna go put my jammies on soon.”

About winning her fifth female vocalist of the year honor: “I think I’m still in shock, to be honest. When we were making this album, I would be lying to say I didn’t want awards. I’m competitive and I love these. I love the CMAs. I have such respect for the show and this organization. When you’re making an album, you want it to be better. For all the ups and downs we’ve been through and to make an album on top of that, this one definitely means a lot.”

Garth Brooks

Brooks reiterated that wife Trisha Yearwood didn’t hear the song he wrote for her, “Stronger Than Me,” until he performed it on the show: “The more I’d wait (to debut it here), it seemed like a bad idea! If you’re married there are points in your life that you never get across and we have three of those. That song addresses two of those three points. When I looked up at her at those points, she was laughing and crying at the same time. This song will make our relationship better whether it does anything in the business…I really wanted this to be a surprise to her. When it came to the last verse, that was a little… I couldn’t get to it. (Trisha) took it very well. She’s classy.”

Kasey Musgraves

Musgraves, clad completely in orange, shared her excitement about winning album of the year (for “Golden Hour”) for the first time: “This album is probably my most personal yet. What I was craving was time to make it. I took almost a year and a half. Going into the record, I was kind of in a confused place. I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence. I just wanted to find that thing that made my soul really happy again. I got off the road, blocked the schedule off for about a year, got with (producers) Ian (Fitchuk) and Daniel (Tashian) and when we got together it was an instant fit. I started imagining this land musically where it was possible to keep elements of country intrinsic in my music, but I wanted to explore this new frontier for myself with electronic elements. It was a big deal for me to give people kind of a hiding place with this record. We live in such a tumultuous time, but I wanted to turn away from (political commentary). I was inspired to write about this beautiful world we live in…getting married, leaving my 20s. It was a really positive time and my music is really inspired by that.”

Brothers Osborne

T.J. Osborne opined on the duo’s continued success (they won best vocal duo for the third time): “If I had to guess, John and I are unabashedly ourselves and sometimes that gets us in trouble! It’s nice to know where people stand on who they are and I think we’ve done that… I’m genuinely just as shocked as the first year I won one of these.”John Osborne made many instant media friends when he proclaimed on his way out: “Free press, speak loud! You are not the enemy of the people! You have a voice, use it!”

>> Read more trending news 

Old Dominion

Old Dominion scored its first CMA win (for vocal group of the year, unseating Little Big Town after six years. Singer Matt Ramsey had this to say about current single, “Make it Sweet”: “It was such a pure and honest moment for us. We wrote and recorded it in the same day. It really captured who we are as musicians right now and we’re really confident in our place right now. That feeds our soul.”

The Latest: Keith Urban wins entertainer of the year at CMAs

The Latest on the presentation of the Country Music Association Awards being presented Wednesday at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee (all times local):

10 p.m.

Keith Urban has been named entertainer of the year at the 2018 Country Music Association Awards.

His wife, actress Nicole Kidman, was in tears as her husband walked onstage to collect the prize Wednesday night.

The country superstar told Kidman: "Baby girl, I love you so much." He continued that he was "shocked beyond shocked."

Urban beat out Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney for the prize.

The Australian performer said he wished his dad was alive to see him win.

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7:10 p.m.

The 2018 Country Music Association Awards have started with Garth Brooks leading a solemn tribute to the 12 people killed during a shooting at a Southern California country music bar last week.

Brooks said the victims were "lost too soon" and urged viewers and the audience to "celebrate their lives." He then took off his hat and asked everyone to join him in a moment of silence. The names of those killed were shown on a black screen for television audiences.

Authorities are still trying to determine what led a former Marine to attack the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7 during a country music dance night that drew area college students and other young people.

After the moment of silence, the show began with a rousing performance of Luke Bryan's song "What Makes You Country."

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9 a.m.

Carrie Underwood will be working triple-duty at the 2018 Country Music Association Awards as co-host, performer and nominee.

The singer, who is hosting the show alongside Brad Paisley for the 11th time, is pregnant and will hit the stage Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee.

Underwood says it will be interesting to try to sing with her baby bump. She says, "I can make it through one song."

The CMA Awards will also feature performances by Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha.

The show may also pay tribute to the 12 people who were killed at a Southern California country music bar last week. Paisley says the producers will figure out an appropriate way to honor the victims.

Chris Stapleton wins big at CMAs, Keith Urban nabs top prize

Chris Stapleton won the most awards at the 2018 Country Music Association Awards and had the show's best performance, almost capping a perfect night.

That was until Keith Urban surprisingly won the top prize — entertainer of the year — moments before the three-hour show wrapped Wednesday night.

Urban's actress-wife, Nicole Kidman, was in tears as the singer walked onstage to collect the award at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

"Baby girl, I love you so much," he said. "I'm shocked beyond shocked."

Urban last won entertainer of the year in 2005 and also beat out Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney for the prize.

"I wish my dad was alive to see this," the Australian performer said.

Stapleton, however, cleaned house at the CMAs, winning four awards including male vocalist, song and single of the year.

"I want to thank my kids who put up with me being gone quite a bit and not getting to be as a good daddy that I would always like to be," said the father of four and soon to be five, since his wife, singer-songwriter Morgane Stapleton, is pregnant.

Stapleton also won the performance of the night: His supergroup featuring Mavis Staples, Maren Morris, Marty Stuart and his wife gave a soulful and powerful performance of "Friendship," a song made famous by Pop Staples, the iconic singer's late father. They then performed "I'll Take You There," jamming onstage along with a choir. They earned a standing ovation from the audience.

When Stapleton won single of the year — where he won as both a performer and producer — earlier in the show, he said he was "thinking about the people in California right now" and he wants to "dedicate this award to them."

He was referring to the 12 people who were killed at a Southern California country music bar last week, who were also honored at the top of the show when Garth Brooks held a moment of silence as the names of the victims were displayed on the screen.

"Tonight let's celebrate their lives. Let the music unite us with love," Brooks said.

The CMAs, which aired on ABC, also took time to honor those affected by the deadly wildfires in California.

"We send our love to you," said Carrie Underwood, also mentioning the "brave firefighters."

Underwood worked triple-duty as co-host, performer and nominee at the CMAs. She was teary-eyed when she won female vocalist of the year.

"Thank you God. I have been blessed with so much in my life," she said. "Thank you family. Thank you country music. Thank you country music family. ...It's all about family around here."

She kept the positive and uplifting theme of the show going when she gave a rousing performance of her song "Love Wins." It features the lyrics, "I believe you and me are sisters and brothers/And I believe we're made to be here for each other."

Kacey Musgraves, the only woman nominated for album of the year, won the prize for "Golden Hour."

"This is really, really crazy timing — 10 years ago today I moved to Nashville. That's so crazy," she said.

"I'm so proud of it," she said of the pop-leaning country album, which was inspired by Sade, the Bee Gees and others. "It's inspired by this beautiful universe, and all of you, and mostly love."

Dan + Shay lost in all four categories they were nominated in but gave an impressive performance of their hit "Tequila." When Brothers Osborne won vocal duo of the year, John Osborne said, "I thought this was going to go to Dan + Shay. Make some noise for those boys."

"I don't know why we keep winning this," John Osborne said when he first walked onstage.

"If this was in Florida there definitely would be a recount," added T.J. Osborne, which earned laughs from the crowd.

Luke Combs, who has the year's most-streamed country music album, sang onstage with a red cup in his hand and won new artist of the year.

"God, I love country music, man," said Combs.

Brooks performed a touching new song dedicated to his wife, Trisha Yearwood, who was teary-eyed and was hearing the song for the first time. Recent Country Hall of Famer Ricky Skaggs performed alongside Brad Paisley and Urban.

Underwood and Paisley returned as CMA hosts for the 11th time this year, telling jokes at the top of the show, which ranged from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's "A Star Is Born" to Underwood's pregnancy.

Underwood seemingly revealed a secret about the child, saying it will be a "Willie" after Paisley repeatedly asked about the sex of the baby.

Trump says 7 to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Donald Trump has announced his first recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and they include the wife of a major Republican Party donor, the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth.

Trump will also posthumously recognize the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Medals are going to Miriam Adelson, a doctor and wife of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a Republican donor; Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is retiring after more than 41 years in the U.S. Senate; former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and Alan Page, who began a legal career after leaving the NFL.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest honor for a civilian.

Joni Mitchell thrills concert audience just by showing up

As an adoring-but-anxious crowd wondered if she'd appear at an all-star concert celebration on her 75th birthday, Joni Mitchell was stuck in traffic.

It was only fitting for a singer and songwriter whose music helped define the experience of modern Southern California.

Glen Hansard could have been describing the guest of honor when he sang of "a prisoner of the white lines on the freeway" in his rendition of Mitchell's "Coyote" soon after the show finally began, nearly an hour late.

James Taylor, Chaka Khan, Kris Kristofferson, Rufus Wainwright and Seal were also among those serenading Mitchell with her own songs Wednesday night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Mitchell didn't speak or say a word all night, but just showing up was a triumph. For 3 1/2 years, she has been almost completely absent from public life after an aneurysm left her debilitated and unable to speak, and little has been revealed of her condition since.

"You know, Joni has had a long and arduous recovery from a really major event," Taylor, one of Mitchell's oldest friends, told The Associated Press before the show. "But she's doing so much better."

Mitchell needed help walking in and getting to her seat in a front corner. The audience greeted her with a standing ovation and spontaneous chorus of "Happy Birthday."

The crowd's love for Mitchell was matched by the artists themselves, especially the women, many of whom said Mitchell was much more than a musical influence.

"I want you to know how many times you have saved my life," Khan said to Mitchell from the stage before ripping into a sizzling take on Mitchell's "Help Me," with backing from Wainwright and Seal, who like other performers spent much of the night sitting on couches on a stage that looked like a living room.

"Joni Mitchell is an inspiration to every girl who ever picked up a guitar," Emmylou Harris said after singing Mitchell's "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire." That inspiration apparently has its limits. Harris didn't play guitar on the song, saying with a laugh that the "chords are too hard for me."

The songs were interspersed with photos of Mitchell and audio clips of her speaking throughout her career, allowing her to serve as the evening's narrator even as she remained silent.

Later in the evening, film director and Mitchell mega-fan Cameron Crowe presented her with the Music Center's Excellence in the Performing Arts Award at a dinner gala whose guests included David Geffen, Lily Tomlin, Anjelica Huston and Tom Hanks.

The concert brought four decades of songs that showed the twisting career path of the onetime Canadian folkie who became the quintessential California singer-songwriter behind albums like "Blue" and "Court and Spark" and then took her music to places her soft-rock contemporaries would never dare go.

Diana Krall showed the depth of Mitchell's jazz influence as she sat at the piano and sang "Amelia" from 1976. Kristofferson and Brandi Carlile showed that Mitchell could be a little bit country with their version of 1971's "A Case of You" and its memorable chorus, "I could drink a case of you darling. Still I'd be on my feet."

Mitchell's "Dreamland" sounded like it was always meant to be a Latin tune when Los Lobos with La Marisoul played it. And James Taylor's solo acoustic "Woodstock" gave a necessary nod to Mitchell's simple hippie roots.

The only song not written by Mitchell was written for her. Graham Nash sang "Our House," his 1970 song about life with Mitchell when the two were dating in their 20s.

As the show approached its end, the curtain fell and the crowd chanted for an encore. They went wild when it rose to show Mitchell standing at the front of the stage in a long red coat, black hat and cane.

She blew out candles on a birthday cake and swayed to the rhythm as all of the night's musicians combined for 1970's "Big Yellow Taxi."

"They paved paradise, put up a parking lot," they all sang, in a building that was surrounded on all sides by parking lots. It was paradise anyway. At least for a night.

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Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .

APNewsBreak: Elliott, Hynde and Gill up for Songwriters Hall

Missy Elliott, one of rap's greatest voices and also a songwriter and producer who has crafted songs for Beyonce and Whitney Houston, is one of the nominees for the 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Elliott is the first female rapper nominated for the prestigious prize and could also become the third rapper to enter the organization following recent inductees Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri.

The Songwriters Hall gave The Associated Press the list of nominees Wednesday, a day ahead of its official announcement.

Joining Elliott as performing nominees are Mariah Carey, Chrissie Hynde, Vince Gill, Mike Love, Jimmy Cliff, Jeff Lynne, Cat Stevens, John Prine, Lloyd Price, Tommy James and the Eurythmics (Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart).

Non-performing nominees are Jack Tempchin, Dean Dillon, Jerry Fuller, Tom T. Hall, Roger Nichols and Dallas Austin, who wrote hits for TLC, Madonna, Monica, Pink and Boyz II Men.

Nominated non-performing songwriting duos include P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, Russell Brown and the late Irwin Levine, musical theater writers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, Bobby Hart and the late Tommy Boyce.

Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years.

Six songwriters, or songwriting groups, will be officially inducted at the Hall's 50th annual Induction & Awards Gala in New York on June 13, 2019. Eligible members can vote for three non-performing songwriters and three performing songwriters until Dec. 17.

Elliott, often praised for her wild, colorful style and playful lyricism, has been one of pop music's most sought producers and songwriters, in addition to creating her own well-known hits, from "Get Ur Freak On" to "Work It" to "Lose Control."

R&B singers and girl groups heavily benefited from her songwriting work in the '90s and '00s. Elliott churned out hits like "Where My Girls At," which reached No. 4 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and Monica's "So Gone," a No. 1 R&B hit and Top 10 pop success. Though it sampled LaBelle's mid-'70s hit "Lady Maramlade," Elliott re-worked the song into a modern classic in 2001, starring Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim and Mya. It went on to win a Grammy and top the Hot 100 chart for five weeks.

Elliott, who came on the music scene alongside mega-producer Timbaland, also worked on multiple songs for the late icon Aaliyah as well as Carey, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, Fantasia, Jazmine Sullivan, SWV, Total, Tweet and others.

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Online: http://www.songhall.org

Billboard names Ariana Grande 2018 Woman of the Year

The music industry is honoring Ariana Grande.

Billboard on Tuesday named the 25-year-old award-winning singer its 2018 Woman of the Year. Grande will receive the award at Billboard's 13th annual Women in Music event on Dec. 6 in New York City.

Previous recipients include Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Selena Gomez.

In a statement Billboard's vice president of content Ross Scarano says Grande "consistently stands up for herself and her decisions in a world that often isn't hospitable to that sort of strength in young women."

In the past year, Grande has had Top 40 hits including "No Tears Left To Cry," ''Breathin'" and "God Is A Woman."

She helped organize the One Love Manchester concert last year, raising more than $23 million for victims of the Manchester bombing.

Bruce Springsteen, Seth Meyers headline veterans fundraiser

Bruce Springsteen teamed up with country star Eric Church on a version of "Working on the Highway" and Jon Stewart laced into Donald Trump at a bawdy event Monday in New York that gathered comedians and musicians to help raise money for military veterans.

Springsteen, a vocal critic of several White House policies, avoided politics completely at the Stand Up for Heroes show, instead offering a few off-color jokes and four songs, including "Dancing in the Dark," ''The Hard Land" and "If I Should Fall Behind" with his wife, Patti Scialfa.

The Boss, in jeans, a white shirt and a jean jacket, was returning to the event now in its 12 year, having been the musical guest since the beginning. Last year, the Red Hot Chili Peppers took his spot as he worked on his one-man "Springsteen on Broadway."

Stand Up for Heroes is co-presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival. It kicks off the festival and raises money for the Woodruff foundation, which funds programs for injured veterans and their families. The foundation is named for the ABC news anchor injured in Iraq in 2006. It raised over $5.4 million at the event, held at the 6,000-seat Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Stewart, also a veteran of the event, opened his set ridiculing the notion that America faced a threat from thousands of Central American migrants traveling northward in a caravan. "I'm so scared," he said. "There's thousands of sharecroppers coming at America at 1 to 2 miles per hour. They'll be here by April."

Jimmy Carr, a British comedian, hit the stage with mostly blue, edgy material, but had some jokes at the expense of the commander in chief. "Walls work," he deadpanned. "I was in China last year. I didn't see one Mexican."

But the other comedians on the bill stayed away from politics, despite the event being held on the eve of divisive midterm elections. Last year's event was more political, with comics such as John Oliver and Trevor Noah attending.

This time, Jim Gaffigan poked fun at his able girth and told a story about having his appendix removed in Alaska and then going for a hike when he and his family encountered a bear. "I looked at the tour guide. He said, 'Don't worry, I have bear spray.' I was like, 'Do you have anything stronger?'"

Seth Meyers returned to a very personal source of material, namely the birth of his children. For his first, his wife was in so much discomfort that she was on her hands and knees in the back of an Uber on their way to the hospital with her head out the window, screaming, "I do not like this." Myers noted: "In New York City, nobody blinked an eye."

Church played three songs, including "Desperate Man," ''Hippie Radio" and the unreleased "Still Standing Their Ground." He strapped on a guitar to join Springsteen on "Working on the Highway."

The audience also cheered dozens of servicemen and servicewomen from Iraq and Afghanistan who were seated in the first few rows. "These wars are not over," Woodruff said. "There is still a need for our mission and there will be that need for years to come." He and his wife also urged everyone to vote on Tuesday.

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Online: http://sufh.bobwoodrufffoundation.org/

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

Julianne Hough will play Jolene in Parton anthology show

Julianne Hough is the other woman. She will play Jolene in Netflix's upcoming anthology series based on Dolly Parton's music.

"Dolly Parton's Heartstrings" will consist of eight episodes, each inspired by one of Parton's songs.

In the "Jolene" version, Hough will play a free spirit with big dreams to leave her small town. Parton will act as the owner of a local country bar where Hough's Jolene is a waitress.

Hough co-starred with Tyler Hoechlin in the movie "Bigger" about Joe Weider, who co-founded the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness and who created the Mr. Olympia contest. She played his wife, fitness model Betty Weider.

"Dolly Parton's Heartstrings" is set to debut next year.

TVLine first reported the casting.

Diana Ross, John Legend set for Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Diana Ross, John Legend, Bad Bunny, Kane Brown and Ella Mai will be among the stars celebrating at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Macy's said Thursday that Martina McBride, Pentatonix, Rita Ora, Sugarland and Anika Noni Rose also will participate in the 92nd annual parade on Nov. 22.

The special will air at 9 a.m. EST on NBC's "Today" show.

Ross will perform a song from her new Christmas album. She'll also be joined on her float by her some of her family members, including Tracee Ellis Ross and Evan Ross.

Others part of the lineup include the cast and Muppets of "Sesame Street," Barenaked Ladies, Leona Lewis, Fifth Harmony's Ally Brooke, Bazzi, Ashley Tisdale and Carly Pearce.

Blake Shelton Announces 2019 Tour With Legends

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – NOVEMBER 24: Singer Blake Shelton attends NBC’s “The Voice” Season 7 Red Carpet Event at Universal CityWalk on November 24, 2014 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images) Blake Shelton is heading back out on tour and this time with some really amazing, legendary country music bands and artists! And, there’s three Florida dates!

 

It was announced yesterday that Blake would be bringing along The Bellamy Brothers, John Anderson, Trace Adkins, and Lauren Alaina.

Blake Shelton’s 2019 Friends and Heroes Tour Dates:

Feb. 14 — Oklahoma City, Okla. @ Chesapeake Energy Arena

Feb. 15 — Kansas City, Mo. @ Sprint Center

Feb. 16 — Sioux Falls, S.D. @ Denny Sanford Premier Center

Feb. 21 — Indianapolis, Ind. @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Feb. 22 — Buffalo, N.Y. @ Keybank Center

Feb. 23 — Pittsburgh, Penn. @ PPG Paints Arena

Feb. 28 — Peoria, Ill. @ Peoria Civic Center March 1 — Louisville, Ky. @ KFC YUM! Center

March 2 — Evansville, Ind. @ Ford Center

March 7 — Jacksonville, Fla. @ Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena

March 8 — Tampa, Fla. @ Amalie Arena

March 9 — Sunrise, Fla. @ BB&T Center

March 14 — Des Moines, Iowa @ Wells Fargo Arena

March 15 — St. Paul, Minn. @ Xcel Energy Center

March 16 — Green Bay, Wisc. @ Resch Center

March 21-22 — Uncasville, Conn. @ Mohegan Sun Arena March 23 — Albany, N.Y. @ Times Union Center

 

Recording Academy to honor Willie Nelson

The Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing will honor Willie Nelson days before the 2019 Grammy Awards.

The academy announced Tuesday that Nelson's career and achievements will be celebrated on Feb. 6, 2019, at The Village Studios in Los Angeles.

Neil Portnow, the academy's president and CEO, says in a statement that "Willie Nelson has inspired generations of musicians and fans, and continues to set precedents of excellence within the music community."

Past honorees include Quincy Jones, T Bone Burnett, Alicia Keys and Neil Young.

The annual event also highlights producers and engineers in the music industry. More than 6,400 members make up the academy's Producers & Engineers Wing.

Nelson has won eight Grammys throughout this career. The 61st annual Grammy Awards will air live Feb. 10 on CBS.

Jason Aldean Wins Money From Mega Million Lottery

Jason Aldean is a huge jokester. And after the Mega Million lottery went to 1.6 Billion dollars, he decided to make a few jokes. He posted to social media that he won $2 from the lottery and would really like privacy for him and his family. LOL his daughter, Keeley, commented on the picture asking for a new car and Aldean quickly denied it with a laugh too.

Kane Brown Gets His Dream Truck

Country bluesman, hit songwriter Tony Joe White dies

A record label representative says Tony Joe White, the country bluesman and hit songwriter behind such successes as "Polk Salad Annie" and "Rainy Night in Georgia," has died. He was 75.

A statement released Thursday from the record label Yep Roc Music Group said White's family confirmed the rocker died Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee. The label did not have any details on his cause of death. Yep Roc released his last album in September called "Bad Mouthin,'" a collection of blues classics.

White, originally from Louisiana, had a hit in 1969 with "Polk Salad Annie" and his songs were covered by Elvis Presley, Hank Williams Jr., Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings and many more.

In his five decades as a singer-songwriter, White was best known for his swamp rock style mixing blues, country and rock 'n' roll, which earned him the nickname the Swamp Fox especially with his fans overseas. With his deep growling voice, his song about the Southern greens wasn't an immediate hit, but months after its release it eventually became a pop hit.

White told The Associated Press in 2006 that in the late '60s many people thought he was singing about something else.

"Back then, people thought polk salad was grass," White said. "They'd bring me bags of grass backstage and say, 'Hey, we brought you a little polk.'"

Presley often covered the song in the 1970s and performed it with relish, waving his arms over his head and dancing throughout the song. He would later record more of White's songs, including "I've Got a Thing About You Baby."

Raised on a cotton farm in Goodwill, Louisiana, about 20 miles west of the Mississippi River, he became infatuated with the hypnotic sound of Lightnin' Hopkins and has often cited hearing the song "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry as his inspiration for songwriting.

After the success of "Polk Salad Annie," R&B artist Brook Benton had a hit in 1970 with White's song "Rainy Night in Georgia," which also became a song often covered by other artists.

Jennings and White also wrote "Trouble Man," which Jennings recorded in 1989. White worked with Turner on her critically acclaimed and popular "Foreign Affair" album in 1989, contributing four songs and playing guitar and harmonica.

White said also in 2006 that Turner was taken aback when they first met.

"She turned around and looked at me and started hysterically laughing and couldn't get her breath," he recalled. "She was doubling over and I thought, 'Are my pants unzipped or something?' Finally she got her breath and came over to me and gave me a big hug and said, 'I'm sorry, man. Ever since 'Polk Salad Annie' I always thought you were a black man.'"

Turner recorded his song "Steamy Windows," which was later recorded by John Anderson and Kenny Chesney.

Tanya Tucker, who recorded his song "Gospel Singer," said in a statement that White's writing and voice were both raw and pure.

"A big part of the South is quiet now with his passing," she said. "Reckon God wanted a little polk salad!"

Shooter Jennings, Waylon's son, wrote on Twitter that his father would often record White's songs or have White play on his records.

"He was always the Swamp King living in a modern world," Jennings wrote. "His shows and his style were one of a kind and untouched by anybody else."

Tim McGraw Supports Rita Wilson at Opry Debut

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 05: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson attend the Tom Ford fashion show during New York Fashion Week at Park Avenue Armory on September 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Amongst Hollywood, there are quite a few friends who also run in the Nashville world.

Rita Wilson had her Opry debut this week and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were there to support their friend, alongside Rita’s husband, Tom Hanks.

Brittany Aldean Shares Baby Bump Picture and Update

PASADENA, CA – JULY 25: Jason Aldean performs during Kenny Chesney’s The Big Revival Tour & Jason Aldean’s Burn It Down 2015 at Rose Bowl on July 25, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Brittany Aldean is very open on social media about her life and her pregnancy. Recently she updated fans on the progress she has made in her pregnancy Tuesday by sharing a new bump photo and revealing her due date. “Bump update…24 weeks,” she captioned the shot, which tells us that her precious Baby Girl Aldean is due on or around February 12, 2019. This is the 4th child to enter the Aldean family, the youngest after 10-month-old  Memphis, and  Jason Aldean’s 2 daughters from his first marriage, 11-year-old Kendyl and 15-year-old Keeley.

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