THE SINGER OPENS UP ABOUT GETTING EMOTIONAL ON HIS FAREWELL TOUR
George Strait may be ready to hang up his ten-gallon hat when it comes to touring, but he definitely wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions he felt during the first leg of this year’s The Cowboy Rides Away farewell tour. (The last leg kicks off Jan. 9 in Louisiana and wraps at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium next summer.) “The first three or four shows were the toughest. I knew I’d be emotional, but I was still surprised at how strongly I felt,” he says. “Every night it was in the back of my mind to take it all in, because I’d think, ‘I probably won’t ever come back here again.’ It made me want to put on the best shows we’ve ever done, and I felt like we did.” During each set Strait, 61, regaled the audience with the stories behind some older songs. “That brought back a lot of memories,” he says. “Time flies, but it’s been so much fun for all these years. I don’t have many regrets. I really don’t.” And he has big plans for 2014, with artists like Miranda Lambert and Jason Aldean set to open for him. He even threatens to dance a little. “I’ve got some pretty awesome James Brown moves that people haven’t seen yet,” he jokes.
IN THE STUDIO WITH
Alabama (& Friends!)
STARS PAY TRIBUTE TO THE COUNTRY LEGENDS ON A NEW CD
It’s been 40 years since a trio of cousins from tiny Fort Payne, Ala., began making music together and transformed themselves into country’s first superstar band. Now a whole generation of country artists who grew up listening to the music of Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook is celebrating that milestone by putting their own twists on some of Alabama’s biggest hits. “What all three of us wanted was for them to do what they wanted to do with the songs,” Alabama lead singer Randy Owen says of recording the new tribute album Alabama & Friends. “I didn’t want them to be persuaded by anything that I might have done.” Luke Bryan brought his own upbeat energy to the studio for his version of “Love in the First Degree” (“Luke’s not shy!” Owen says); Aldean powered up “Tennessee River” with rock guitars, while Alabama-born Jamey Johnson “was a perfect fit” for “My Home’s in Alabama” and Trisha Yearwood amazed with her powerhouse vocals on “Forever’s as Far as I’ll Go” (“She’s crazy good”). “I couldn’t believe this many great artists would want to sing our songs,” says Owen. “I was humbled. It was very, very touching.”
CELEBRITY Dream ANALYSIS
“When I was in my freshman year in college, I had a dream that I was riding in my truck with my girlfriend at the time, and she looked at me and smiled, then turned into a dragon, flew out the window and chased behind me breathing fire at my car. Her face was on the head of a dragon! I started seeing the evil after that, and we broke up.”
“Of course a dragon is a pro at lighting a fire, so I’d think about the expression of ‘lighting a fire under …’ ” says dream coach Paula Scardamalia of diviningthemuse.com. “If Kip’s dream were my dream, I’d feel that this girlfriend was trying to light a fire under me, to get me moving faster. What was she trying to get me to move faster on? The relationship? My career? Whatever it was, as Kip I’d feel that she had another side to her that was intimidating and demanding and that I just couldn’t move fast enough for her. Her being outside of the truck meant that she was unlikely to finish the journey with me.”
ME & MY DOGS
THE SINGER REVEALS FIVE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT HER FURRY BEST FRIENDS
1. DELTA LIKES TO HOBNOB
“Delta was abandoned at Sonic. I drove up to get a Diet Cherry Limeade one morning, and she looked up with a big ol’ ‘HELP’ look. When I brought her home, Blake said, ‘What the hell is that, a fruit bat?’ We cleaned her up, and the next day flew her to Vegas for the ACMs, where she rubbed noses with Carrie Underwood‘s dog Ace.”
2. CHER ALSO HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
“I took a friend to a shelter in Ada, Okla., to get a rescue for his daughter. While I was there, a person came in with the smallest dog I’d ever seen. They found the puppy in a Dumpster. So of course I walked out with a dog that day. I named her Cher because the idea was for my mother-in-law and me to ‘share’ custody of her. But I’m not very good at sharing Cher.”
3. DELTA IS A BIT OF A THIEF
“If you leave your purse open, she will steal all your gum and mints. She also loves tomatoes and lettuce. I guess that’s a reminder of her Sonic days.”
4. CHER IS A BIT OF A DIVA
“She sleeps until noon, will not lie on the ground, and she howls and sticks out her tongue. But she’s also the cuddly one.”
5. THEY ARE BEST FRIENDS
“Delta is older and acts like an older sister. When any other dogs are play-fighting with Cher, she’ll run around barking to say, ‘Leave my sister alone!’ And Cher acts like the spoiled baby sister. They are as close as two dogs can be. And they clean each other’s eyes every morning.”
7 THINGS WE LOVE!
KENNY’S TEES, KEITH’S CARDS AND MORE STUFF WE ADORE
No. 1 Johnny Cash LIFE Unseen
LIFE marks the 10th anniversary of Cash’s death with a new book featuring 192 pages of rare photos of the Man in Black and interviews with those who knew him best.
Shop it: $29.95; amazon.com
No. 2 OKLAHOMA NECKLACES
The silver necklaces featuring bronze pendants from Tulsa’s the Vintage Pearl help raise money for victims of the tornados that hit the state.
Shop it: Love for Oklahoma necklace, $48; thevintagepearl.com
No. 3 KENNY’S BIG HEART
Putting his lyrics into action, the singer established the “Spread the Love” Fund to support victims of the Boston bombings. Proceeds from sales of the single and the tees benefit the charity.
Shop it: kennychesney.ras.bustores.com
No. 4 THE REBA EXHIBIT
A self-described “pack rat,” Reba turned over much of her private stash of costumes, awards and memorabilia (the Reba Barbie!) from her 37-year career for this exhibit at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. On display until next summer.
For more info: countrymusichalloffame.org
No. 5 FROG TROUBLE
Kids’ author Sandra Boynton teamed with such stars as Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Dwight Yoakam for a CD and illustrated songbook of original country songs.
Shop it: Frog Trouble: … and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs, $16.95; amazon.com
No. 6 JIMMY WAYNE’S DOG BISCUITS
IN HONOR OF HIS BELOVED CHIHUAHUA RUBY, THE SINGER AND ACTIVIST PARTNERED WITH COST LESS PET TREATS TO LAUNCH RUBY’S PET TREATS TO BENEFIT NEEDY CHILDREN AND PETS. A PERCENTAGE OF EVERY PURCHASE GOES TO HIS PROJECT MEET ME HALFWAY, AND THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF GENESEE COUNTY.
For more info or to buy: rubyspettreats.com
No. 7 Keith Urban Greeting Cards
Talk about a sweet thing! Hallmark launched a new line of greeting cards featuring 15-second clips of Urban songs.
Shop it: $4.99; at Hallmark stores
CMA AWARDS BALLOT
WHO WILL WIN?
THE 47TH ANNUAL CMA AWARDS AIR NOV. 6 ON ABC. HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR WHO’S LIKELY TO TAKE HOME THE TROPHIES
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
• Jason Aldean
• Luke Bryan
• Blake Shelton
• George Strait
• Taylor Swift
Sentimentalists may want to tip the hat to King George, but there’s no underestimating the appeal of Mr. Shelton.
• Eli Young Band
• Lady Antebellum
• Little Big Town
• The Band Perry
• Zac Brown Band
After all the years they spent breaking through, LBT isn’t giving up this trophy without a fight!
• Lee Brice
• Florida Georgia Line
• Kip Moore
• Kacey Musgraves
• Brett Eldredge
After a record-setting 22 weeks at the top of the charts, expect FGL to “Cruise” to victory.
• Based on a True Story Blake Shelton
• Blown Away Carrie Underwood
• Red Taylor Swift
• Same Trailer Different Park Kacey Musgraves
• Tornado Little Big Town
Taylor’s had the megasales, Kacey won the critical acclaim, and Carrie and LBT both have their share of supporters. But Blake’s no-fuss brand of straight-ahead country could earn him the win.
• Miranda Lambert
• Kacey Musgraves
• Taylor Swift
Big album, big tour, and still no Entertainer of the Year nomination? Voters may try to make it up to Carrie here.
• Jason Aldean
• Luke Bryan
• Eric Church
• Blake Shelton
His new CD sold 528,000 copies its first week! Nov. 6 is shaping up to be Luke’s kind of night.
• Big & Rich
• Florida Georgia Line
• Love and Theft
• The Civil Wars
• Thompson Square
If voters feel they’ve rewarded FGL with a New Artist nod, Thompson Square could repeat here.
Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly
• “Boys ‘Round Here”
Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies
• “Highway Don’t Care”
• “Don’t Rush”
Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill
• “The Only Way I Know”
Jason Aldean featuring Luke Bryan and Eric Church
Tim, Taylor and Keith? That kind of star power is tough to beat, even by Blake and Co.
ON THE SET
Kenny & Dolly
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
If fans have been wondering why it’s taken nearly three decades for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton to get back in the studio together, according to Parton, it’s simply because they never came across the right tune—until now. The great pals recently reunited to record the aptly titled duet “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” which will appear on Rogers’s album of the same name, coming out Oct. 8.
“When Kenny sent me the demo, I cried,” says Parton, 67. “I related it to us, but also to so many of my friends. Some I’ve lost, some who are sick. It’s not a sad song, but it’s melancholy.” Rogers agrees. “That’s what I liked about it,” he says. “It examines those relationships. What makes a special friend?” Rogers, 75, says he always had it in his mind that it would be a duet and that Dolly should sing it with him. “Who else is he such old friends with?” Dolly quips. “All his other old friends are dead!”
Rogers and Parton didn’t actually become close until after “Islands in the Stream” came out in 1983 and they began touring together. “We’d eat, hang out, and we found we really liked each other,” Parton says. “Everybody was like family.” So there was nothing to the rumors that they may have become more than friends? They both laugh. Parton says, “We never did go there. There was always other stuff going on between us, so much love and friendship.” Rogers concurs. “We may have been tempted, but we didn’t want to ruin a good friendship,” he says. “And she’s been married for 40 years.” Adds Parton: “And he’s been married about 40 times—I couldn’t catch him between wives!”
STARS STRUCK A POSE AND SHOWED OFF THEIR SELFIE SKILLS ON TWITTER THIS SUMMER
Bryan showed off his new boat—and his wake-surfing form—on video.
Girl power! The singer seemed to best her husband, rodeo champ Ty Murray, without breaking a sweat.
Capturing a moment with her rescue pup Penny, she tweeted, “I love my baby girl!”
“Me + @DuckDynastyAE = THIS,” the singer wrote.
Blake’s Mom Wrote a Book!
Blake Shelton’s mama, Dorothy Shackleford, teamed up with novelist Travis Thrasher for a story based on the Christmas tune she cowrote and sang with her son last year. The book, due out Oct. 29, tells the tale of a successful country star who realizes the only place he wants to be for the holidays is home in Oklahoma but whose journey to get there is fraught with challenges. Hmm, is Mom dropping a hint, Blake? With anecdotes inspired by Shelton and Shackleford’s own Christmas memories, the book is her first novel.
(Time for Me to Come Home, $19.95, amazon.com)
Florida Georgia Line’s
from the band Creed both rock long locks, earrings and a cheeky grin. And Stapp is a Florida boy to boot! Must be something in the Gulf waters.
Zac Brown Band guitarist-keyboardist Coy Bowles, 34, wed Kylie Evans, 28, on Sept. 7 outside of Atlanta. The bride glowed in a gown designed by Zac Brown’s wife, Shelly, 29, and Bowles says that the vows were “so sweet and heartfelt” that they almost turned him “into a puddle of tears.” Afterward, the Wood Brothers serenaded the guests, with Zac, 35, joining them to sing “Georgia on My Mind.”
Jana Kramer, 29, and Brantley Gilbert, 28, who got engaged in January at the Ryman Auditorium, have called off their wedding. “They are both on the road and have to spend a lot of time apart, which isn’t ideal for any couple—let alone a couple trying to plan a wedding,” said a source close to the couple. “There was no foul play involved.”
Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and her husband, drummer Chris Tyrrell, 27, welcomed daughter Eisele Kaye, July 22. “Two months ago my life revolved around a promo schedule … now it revolves around a poop schedule!” the singer, 27, tweeted July 27. “Oh how fast things change! Love it!” • Garth Brooks, 51, has joined the grandparent club. His daughter August, 19, and Chance Michael Russell welcomed Karalynn in late July.
Cowboy Jack Clement, (inset) who wrote such hits as Johnny Cash’s “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and helped Charley Pride land a recording contract, died Aug. 8 in Nashville of liver cancer at age 82. • Outlaw country musician Tompall Glaser died at age 79 on Aug 13. Tompall and his brothers Chuck and Jim toured with Johnny Cash, sang on his hit song “Ring of Fire” and were voted CMA’s Vocal Group of the Year in 1970.
Linda Ronstadt revealed in August that she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The “Blue Bayou” singer, 67, said she began showing symptoms of the disease eight years ago and that it had robbed her of the ability to sing.
ON THE MEND
As Jake Owen described it, he just “flipped a go-cart” on July 7. But Owen, 32, ended up shattering his right ring finger, and soon doctors had to amputate the tip. The loss, though, has not stopped the singer from performing or playing guitar. • Loretta Lynn was at home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., during the Labor Day weekend when she pulled her guitar out of her closet and reported on Facebook that “the dang thing fell on top of me,” breaking two ribs. The accident forced the singer, 81, to cancel several concerts. Later this year the legend is scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.