Chris Young offers a sneak peek into his album-making process with new studio session snippet

John Shearer/Getty Images for Academy of Country MusicWith his next musical chapter on the horizon, Chris Young is busy perfecting his new batch of songs: And he offered fans a sneak peek into that process on social media on Thursday.

On Instagram, Chris posted a video snippet of himself in the studio, masked up and listening to his band hard at work. “Just vibing,” he captioned the clip, which shows him nodding along to the music.

He shared a similar post on Twitter, uploading a snapshot of himself in the studio with songwriter and producer Josh Gleave.

“Getting some studio work done today,” Chris said. “Love seeing your growth and your desire to continually top yourself day after day! Cheers bro!”

Chris has already shared three singles off of his upcoming project, “Raised on Country,” “Drowning” and “Famous Friends.” The latter song, a duet with Kane Brown, is currently a Top 40 hit at country radio.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Heart & Soul’: Eric Church announces a three-album project on the way

Reid LongOver the past several months, Eric Church has been slowly releasing music and teasing that his next album was on the horizon. In a video message to his Church Choir fan club on Thursday, the singer finally revealed the full picture: A three-part album project called Heart & Soul.

The 24-song collection is broken up into three discs, with nine on the first (Heart) and the last (Soul). The middle record, &, consists of six songs and will be available exclusively for Eric’s Church Choir fans as a vinyl record.

The project was born during Eric’s writing retreat in the North Carolina mountains, he explains, and towards the end of his stay, the singer and his producer Jay Joyce began to try to figure out exactly what the shape of the music would be.

“I kept saying, ‘God, this is going to be really hard. There’s a lot here. Is this a double album? And if it’s a double album, how do we leave out these five or six songs?’” the singer recounts. “I am the hardest critic in making sure every song deserves to be on the record, and I beat this thing to death going, ‘This can’t be that good.’ But it was just a special, special time and a special, special project that I think will be among our best.”

The three albums will arrive on April 16, April 20 and April 23, with the middle album, &, available only to Church Choir members. Preorder is available for all three albums beginning January 29.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

2000s country hitmaker Darryl Worley has announced he’ll resume touring this month

Courtesy of Absolute PublicityAmid the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person country concerts are few and far between. However, Darryl Worley is heading back out on the road, beginning Friday, for his Country Rewind Tour.

Darryl is best known for his chart-topping early 2000s hits “I Miss My Friend,” “Have You Forgotten?” and “Awful, Beautiful Life.” Over the course of that decade, he charted 18 singles in total.

Launching this weekend in Fernandina Beach, Florida, the Country Rewind Tour also features appearances from supporting acts Bryan White and Wade Hayes.

“Everyone needs to work and pay the bills, so for me, this is another prayer answered,” says Darryl of his return to the road after nearly a year being benched by the pandemic.

“I’m so thankful to be going out and making some music with my friends and for my friends. I hope we can make everybody forget about all the difficult times we are experiencing, relax for a while and enjoy an evening together,” he adds.

The Country Rewind Tour is set to run through April. Tickets are available now; it is not immediately clear what social distance and safety protocols will be in place at the indoor shows.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tim McGraw + Tyler Hubbard on singing “Undivided” on Inauguration Day: “It’s been one miracle after the next”

Courtesy of Big Machine Label GroupTim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard made a stop on NBC’s Today Thursday to share the story behind “Undivided,” the duet they performed last night during the Celebrating America TV special to cap off Inauguration Day.

“It’s just been one miracle after the next,” recounts Tyler, who wrote the song while quarantined on his tour bus as he recovered from COVID-19 last fall. “It’s so surreal, the opportunity we had last night -- even the opportunity to get to sing with Tim, for me, was a huge honor.”

Tim adds that he first heard the song while on a cross-country road trip with his wife, fellow superstar Faith Hill.

“I had to stop at a gas station because I’m so technically challenged, and download the song, and then listen to it,” the singer jokes, adding that the song’s message immediately moved him.

“This song really made me check myself,” he explains. “Am I living up to what I sang five years ago on ‘Humble and Kind’? This song was just an add-on to that, to me.”

The pair gave their performance against the backdrop of downtown Nashville, with a bridge in the background -- imagery that they hope lends itself to “Undivided”’s message of solidarity.

“This song’s bigger than us,” says Tyler. “We’re just honored to be able to share such a positive to the world on such a large platform.”

The Celebrating America performance marked the live debut of “Undivided,” which came out just days ago.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Morgan Wallen “struggled” with the idea of fatherhood when he first found out he was going to be a dad

ABC/Image Group LAIn July of 2020, Morgan Wallen surprised fans by introducing the newest member of his family: His baby boy Indigo Wilder, who was born to the rising country star and his ex-girlfriend, KT Smith

And though Morgan was over the moon about his son’s arrival, he admits that at first, he found the prospect of being a co-parenting single dad a little daunting. He’d always envisioned raising kids with someone with whom he was in a committed relationship, the singer explains to People.

“[Being a single dad] is definitely not how I imagined parenthood. I wanted to have a family like my parents,” he notes. “...Obviously, that’s not the way it turned out. And I struggled with that a little bit when I first found out.”

Navigating a co-parenting relationship isn’t easy, and Morgan admits that he and KT had “some difficulties” early on in that role. But fortunately, the two parents have always been able to keep the health and happiness of their son as their first priority.

“We’re doing our best to figure it out, just trying to do the best we can with the situation,” he says. “I mean, a lot of people have obviously been in this situation before -- having a kid with someone you’re not with -- but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.”

Now six months old, Indie is spending more time with his dad, including some overnight stays. “KT’s worked with me throughout the whole time, so I’ve been able to see him a lot since he was born. So if you walk in my house now, you think a baby lives here,” Morgan relates.

When not adjusting to his new role as dad, Morgan spent 2020 at work on his sophomore double album, Dangerous. That project dropped this January.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dolly Parton’s younger brother, singer-songwriter Randy Parton, dies of cancer at 67

ABC/Image Group LADolly Parton shared a sad update with fans on Thursday morning, announcing that her younger brother, Randy Parton, has died. He was 67 years old.

“My brother Randy has lost his battle with cancer,” the singer wrote. “The family and I are grieving his loss but we know he is in a better place than we are at this time. We are a family of faith and believe that he is safe with God and that he is joined by members of the family that have gone on before and have welcomed him with joy and open arms.”

Randy was one of Dolly's 11 siblings, and he shared her passion for country music. He was an avid singer-songwriter who charted two singles in country radio’s top 30 in 1981, and in 1982 he became the first artist to record “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler),” which was subsequently a hit for Alabama.  Randy also often collaborated with his legendary musical sister, playing in her band for several years and duetting with her on her 1980 hit, “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You.”

Most recently, Randy joined Dolly on her 2020 Christmas album, A Holly Dolly Christmas. They sang “You Are My Christmas,” a song Dolly wrote that was inspired by memories of their childhood together.

“‘You Are My Christmas,’ our duet on my latest Christmas album, joined with his daughter Heidi, will always be a favorite,” Dolly reflected in her statement announcing Randy’s death. “It was his last musical recording and he shined on it just like he’s shining in heaven now.”

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Country star trivia

Comstock/ThinkstockOn this date in 1957, one of country music’s best-known legends made her debut appearance on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts TV show. She won that night’s contest with what would go on to become one of her signature songs, “Walking After Midnight.” Can you name her? ANSWER: Patsy Cline.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nashville notes

Burke/Triolo/ThinkstockWynonna Judd is among the acts scheduled to perform during the rock-focused, virtual Big Love Benefit Concert, which supports the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Bret Michaels, Billy Idol and more are performing; the event will be hosted by Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen and his wife, singer-songwriter Lauren Monroe.

On the 20th anniversary of Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly” landing at the top of the charts, the singer tells CMT that the milestone meant a lot to her in more ways than one. “I was SO extremely honored and proud of course as an artist, but also as the songwriter!” Sara points out.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Luke Combs and wife Nicole are “Better Together,” even if he’s “all gushy” and she’s “to blame”

ABC This week, Luke Combs extends his string of number ones to ten, as "Better Together" tops the country chart.

Having inspired hits like "Beautiful Crazy," "Lovin' on You," and his current chart topper, there's no denying that Luke's wife Nicole is his muse -- one with a sense of humor.

"She always loves it, you know, I mean, she's always pumped about it," Luke says of his tributes in song. "But me and her have a really good back and forth, you know, and we don't take almost anything too seriously."

"So we joke around a lot," he reveals, "and she jokes around with me about that stuff, too, saying I'm all gushy and everything like that. So we do enjoy giving each other crap from time to time."

If we seem to be seeing a more laidback side of Luke these days, he says it's solely Nicole's fault. 

"I enjoy writing that kind of stuff, and it's something that I feel like I have a little bit of a knack for," he admits. "I don't necessarily want to be the love song guy, but I feel like kind of I am right now, which is just kind of where I was and happened to be at the moment."

"So I don't really have any control over that. You know, if she wasn't so great, then this wouldn't be happening..." he laughs. "I got her to blame!"

Luke's sophomore album, What You See Is What You Get, has just been certified Double Platinum. And you can check out its deluxe edition, titled What You See Ain't Always What You Get.

By Stephen Hubbard
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Russell Dickerson takes fans behind the scenes of his immersive ‘Southern Symphony’ mini-movie

ABC/Image Group LAWhen Russell Dickerson put out his new album, Southern Symphony, he paired the project with a unique album experience video, which featured a snippet of each song on the record paired to a larger, cohesive visual element.

Now, the singer is sharing a video explaining how he came up with the idea for the video, and how he managed to tie his songs together.

“The Southern Symphony experience started as the tiniest little idea of, I wanted to just combine the entire album into one video,” he says at the start of the clip. “So from top to bottom, every single song, one clip, that’s all I wanted.”

The singer brought his idea to director Spencer Combs, who had the idea to use an old Nashville motel as the backdrop of the video. The location’s different rooms and different characters all correspond to different songs on the album, Russell explains.

In one moment that the singer describes as his favorite to shoot, the story line turns to Russell and his real-life family -- his wife Kailey and baby boy Remington -- as they check into the motel and head to their room to get settled.

“When ‘Home Sweet’’s playing, it’s me, Kailey and Remington, and we fall back on the bed, and the camera continues through the wall,” he recalls, describing a moment when the focus shifts to the next room in the motel. “The sound fades out, and there’s this girl [in the next room over] on her phone.”

“That to me is when it goes from kind of a music video to full-on cinema, Hollywood production,” Russell adds.

Southern Symphony is Russell’s sophomore album. It arrived in December.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.