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Mark Levine If you’re watching carefully, you may’ve noticed that the man who plays Deacon Claybourne‘s sponsor-turned-business-partner on ABC’s Nashville is actually a country hitmaker in real life. Mark Collie made two trips to the top five in the early nineties with “Even the Man in the Moon Is Cryin’” and “Born to Love You.”

Deacon’s alter ego, Charles Esten, confesses he’s always been a fan of Mark’s and was a big proponent of casting the singer and actor as Deacon’s friend from Alcoholics Anonymous, Frankie.

“When they were talking about who could play that role, I …read more

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Country Star Trivia

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Comstock/ThinkstockWhich Brad Paisley video features Taylor Swift and Kellie Pickler as his backup dancers? ANSWER: “Online,” from 2007.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Sandbox Entertainment“Wait a second! I can’t have any cornbread if I have it that tight,” Kimberly Schlapman joked, retying her official brown Cracker Barrel apron as she prepared to visit with customers at the Boise, Idaho, location on Friday. The Little Big Town soprano stopped by to check out her new Oh Gussie! line of home goods and kitchenware during its first week in the restaurant, before the CMA Vocal Group of the Year’s concert that night.

“I don’t want to cry!” she said, as she laid eyes on the store display for the first time, …read more

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Nashville Notes

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockHunter Hayes will play the T.J. Martell Foundation’s 16th annual New York Family Day to raise money for cancer and AIDS research December 13 in Brooklyn.

CMT will give Chris Stapleton its Breakout award December 2 during the live Artists of the Year special from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center at 8 p.m. ET.

With “Are You Ready for the Country” debuting on the Billboard Country Airplay chart this week, Hank Williams, Jr. becomes one of the rare artists to have charted a song in six different decades, putting him in the same class as George Jones, Johnny Cash, …read more

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Natasha Moustache/CMAThis week, Darius Rucker plays his last shows of the year, bringing the Southern Style Tour with David Nail and A Thousand Horses to a close for 2015. Given that first-time dad David is expecting twins any time, we wondered if Darius is nervous he might miss some dates.

“David’s gonna be good! He’s a good friend of mine,” Darius says, going on to say he may’ve given David a little parenting advice, since he is a father of three himself. “We have talked about kids a little bit. I’m excited for him. He’s such …read more

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Piper FergusonCMT will honor Kenny Rogers as its Artist of a Lifetime next month, at the same celebration where Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt and Little Big Town will be named Artists of the Year. CMT has only given the award once before, to Merle Haggard in 2014.

“You go through your life and your career and you try to do the right things and make the right decisions. You don’t always do that, but I have been very lucky,” the legendary singer and actor says. “I am grateful for it all. This …read more

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Credit: Ed RodeJust a couple weeks after the premiere of her new hit show on CMT, Kellie Pickler is back with new music — this time, a holiday tune. “My Christmas Caroline” was written with her husband and reality-TV co-star Kyle Jacobs and takes Kellie back to the seasons she spent in North Carolina growing up with her grandmother. She’ll perform the song on the December 17 episode of I Love Kellie Pickler on CMT. You can download her new single at all the usual outlets now.

This Thursday, Kellie and Kyle guest on the nationally syndicated …read more

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Photo Credit: Dusty Draper / CMAOne of the most moving performances you’ll see during this year’s CMA Country Christmas special didn’t take place during the show’s taping earlier this month at the Grand Ole Opry House. Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett were on tour together that night, but they found time to surprise a special country music fan with a once-in-a-lifetime duet.

Fourteen-year-old Tennessee native Kinsee was diagnosed with leukemia when she was eight, but thanks to the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, she’s now celebrating five years that her cancer has been in remission. …read more

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Image Courtesy Todd Owyoung/Big MachineRascal Flatts had such a good time earlier this year in Vegas, they’re going back. The trio will return to The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for nine more shows starting February 17 and continuing through March 5 for a show they’re calling Rhythm & Roots.

“Being the first country act to have a residency there we didn’t really know what to expect,” says Joe Don Rooney. “The shows were wild and we knew that if given the chance we would come running back.”

If you saw the band’s Riot! residency …read more

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Warner Music NashvilleAs Cole Swindell‘s latest single, “Let Me See Ya Girl” ascends to the top of the Mediabase country airplay chart this week, he sets a record. He’s the only male artist ever to have his first four singles all go to number one.

“4 #1’s in a row…I can’t even describe this feeling!!” Cole tweeted, adding “Love everyone who helped make it happen. #letmeseeyagirl.” His previous chart-toppers — “Chillin’ It,” “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” and “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” — are all from his self-titled debut album, which has …read more

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