She may now be one of the biggest – if not THE biggest – pop star in music these days, but good ole’ Taylor Swift hasn’t forgotten her country roots. 

Last night in Nashville, she made a surprise appearance at Kenny Chesney’s tour kick-off concert! As you can see here in this video posted on YouTube, Taylor joined Kenny on stage for his song ‘Big Star’ and even pulled up a young fan to join them. 

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Also making cameos at the show? Grace Potter and Uncle Kracker, among others. 

But one of the most buzzed-about guests at the gig? DJ Calvin Harris, who’s been photographed this week hanging around Nashville with Taylor. Fans were posting photos of the two as they watched Kenny’s show together from the audience. 

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Perhaps he’ll accompany her next month to the 50th annual Academy of Country Music awards in Dallas? Taylor is being honored along with Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Brooks and Dunn AND Kenny Chesney with the 50thAnniversary Milestone Award for their achievements in advancing country music. 

So like we said before, she may be a global pop superstar now – but she’ll always have a special place in Nashville and country music.

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Just when you think things can’t get better for Luke Bryan – he goes and scores another home run.

Or at least, in this case, keeps adding to his batting average.The country star joined the Chicago White Sox this week for Spring training and stepped into the batting cage, as can be seen from a video that the team posted on social media.

Bryan joked to reporters that he realized back in 10th grade he was better suited to handle a guitar over a baseball bat – but if he really wants some pointers, he can get them from his long-time good friend, newly-minted White Sox player Adam LaRoche.

Or even team pitcher John Danks, who is married to Luke’s fellow country music singer – and Miranda Lambert’s BFF – Ashley Monroe!

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If Bryan is too intimidated by the pros, he could always ask his friend Jason Aldean for some practice, who turned down a baseball scholarship in order to pursue music and likely knows a thing or two about the sport’s technique.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Luke is always welcome to sing the national anthem at a game.

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Photo: Charles Sykes/AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Even though Taylor Swift has officially gone pop, she still has a special place with the Academy of Country Music, which will be giving her and superstars like Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Miranda Lambert and Garth Brooks a special honor at next month’s ACM Awards.

The Academy is handing out a 50th Anniversary Milestone Award to celebrate seven of their biggest winners, also including Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn. The honorees will be given a trophy specially designed by jeweler David Yurman, complete with black diamonds, sterling silver and white gold.

Garth Brooks has gotten the most ACM Entertainer of the Year trophies with six; Chesney has four and also got the first fan-voted Entertainer of the Year. Lambert has 18 ACM Awards, making her the most awarded solo female artist; McEntire has the most female vocalist of the year trophies with seven; Strait has won 21 ACMs over four consecutive decades; Swift was the youngest Entertainer of the Year winner at 21; and Brooks & Dunn have the most ACMs in total with 27.

The Milestone Awards will be presented April 19 at the 50th annual ACMs, to be held at AT&T Stadium outside of Dallas and broadcast live on CBS. 

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by Sophie Schillaci/ET Online

Florida Georgia Line is burning up the Las Vegas desert in their new music video, “Sippin’ on Fire.”

"It’s a hot spot," Brian Kelley tells ET. "The song’s hot, so the video needs to match that." 

WATCH: Beer Bongs and Belly Flops on FGL’s Cruise

FGL burst into the spotlight back in 2012 with “Cruise,” which remains the top-selling country music digital single of all time. “Sippin’ on Fire” is the third single off the boys’ sophomore album Anything Goes, which debuted atop the Billboard 200 albums chart late last year. Kelley and Tyler Hubbard tell ET that they’re “already working on record three” and open up about their recipe for success.

"There’s a lot of great recipes for a great country song, and definitely whiskey is part of that," Kelley says with a laugh. Adds Hubbard, "I think there’s more depth to our music than whiskey, beer, pretty women and big trucks, you know. I mean, that’s part of our lifestyle. We have two beautiful girls in our life and we like to drink and have a good time, and we both have jacked up trucks, so we’re gonna sing about that. But at the same time, our music is deeper than that."

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Speaking of “beautiful girls,” Kelley recently celebrated his first wedding anniversary with wife Brittney Cole and Hubbard is set to wed longtime girlfriend Hayley Stommel this summer.

WATCH: How Jason Aldean Snagged This Sexy FGL Song

"I couldn’t be more excited, it’s gonna be awesome," Hubbard gushed of his upcoming nuptials.

"They’re a great couple, they’re perfect," Kelley adds. "I’m excited about the wedding — pumped! I’ve actually deemed myself the wedding planner, the best man, kinda everything. I’m running the ship here for the wedding," he says with a laugh.

That includes the bachelor party.

"We’re gonna actually kick it at Tyler’s farm," Kelley says. "We’re gonna have all the groomsmen up and I think the recipe for that would be dirt bikes, some whiskey, some cigars, and probably a lot of fires, man. It’s gonna be a good time."

Looks like they’re off to a good start: there’s plenty of fire in their full-length music video, debuting Wednesday on Vevo.


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On a recent stop by the RAM studios, Dwight Yoakam pulled out a guitar and showed off some blazing new tracks from his upcoming new studio album, Second Hand Heart, which hits the streets early next month. 

Although Yoakam’s been rocking Nashville for three decades strong, and has explored myriad styles over those years, his latest set is drawing comparisons to his 1986 debut, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. Yoakam himself encouraged this line of thinking by treating us to a rendition of a song from that very album, “Miner’s Prayer.” 

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The song is a special composition about Yoakam’s grandfather, who was a Kentucky coal miner. The rare look back to this gem was inspired when, according to Yoakam, a fellow artist (whom he declined to name) expressed interest in the song recently. 

Yoakam’s new record will be out April 14. For more of his interview with RAM, check here.

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member and Grammy nominee Gretchen Peters is one of those can-do-it-all artists; in addition to winning praise from fellow songwriters such as Brandy Clark, the singer has won scores of chart and critical acclaim in the fields of country, pop, and Americana.

Her latest release, Blackbirds, came out last month and features roots luminaries including Jason Isbell and Suzy Bogguss. Yahoo Music is excited to debut the video for the title track for fans to enjoy.

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Additionally, Peters — who writes movingly of such rare subjects such as female aging — has had her songs picked up by artists including Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, the Neville Brothers, Patty Loveless, George Strait, Bryan Adams, Faith Hill and Martina McBride.

For more information on Blackbirds and to keep up with Peters’s schedule, check here.

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by Jessica Roy/ET Online

It’s official: Jason Aldean is off the market!

The country singer and his 26-year-old fiancee Brittany Kerr confirmed to Us Weekly that they got hitched in Mexico on Saturday.

"This is the best day ever — I’ve got my girl here, my friends, my family — it’s the best day ever!" Aldean said in a statement. He RT’d the Us Weekly announcement from his official Twitter account.

The two got engaged in September 2014 after 2 years of dating. Kerr is a former American Idol contestant. Aldean is a country star with five platinum albums and a slew of hit songs on the Hot Country charts.

Their relationship had a bit of a rocky start: They were photographed getting close and personal at a bar in Hollywood in 2012 — while Aldean was still married to his first wife, high school sweetheart Jessica Ussery. They filed for divorce in April 2013, and Aldean and Kerr announced they were officially dating in March 2014.

NEWS: Jason Aldean Tells Relationship Haters to ‘Get Over It’

Several friends and family members were on hand to watch the couple exchange vows, including Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson, with whom Aldean co-owns a hunting business. Aldean's two daughters from his first marriage, Keeley, 12, and Kendyl, 7, were also in attendance.

Since his debut album Montalvo went straight to the top of the country charts in November, Sam Hunt has become the breakout star of the genre.

The former football player-turned-country artist already has a platinum single, “Leave The Night On,” and has become the talk of Music City for his unique mix of ’90s R&B-infused country music.

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Now, he’s making headlines about the new music video for his song “Take Your Time.” The track itself is a love song, but the video veers into what director Tim Mattia calls “darker, grittier” territory: It features a storyline about domestic violence. In the video, Hunt helps a woman and her child flee an abusive partner.

Hunt’s fellow country artists like Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and singer Mickey Guyton have praised the video, and music critics are applauding Hunt for not only pushing the envelope, but also bringing country music into the current national dialogue about domestic violence.

It shows that the genre has come a long way since 1991, when Garth Brooks addressed the same subject in his video for the song “The Thunder Rolls.” The clip was banned by CMT - but ultimately, won the CMA trophy for Video of the Year.

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If you’re a true Elvis Presley fan, you’ll probably be - here it comes - “all shook up” to hear that a new auction of the King’s memorabilia has been announced. Famed celebrity auction house Julien’s is putting up some pretty unique items in May at the Hard Rock Café in New York.

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The big-ticket piece is the touring bus which Elvis personally bought for his backing group, the TCB (Taking Care of Business) Band. Not only did the King design the groovy 70’s interior himself – he also liked to drive it and reportedly accidentally crashed it into a cornfield once! The bus was repaired and comes with copies of the original check he wrote for the down payment. It’s expected to fetch up to $200,000.

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Also on the auction block if you have a chunk of change to spare? His 1967 marriage certificate to Priscilla Presley, his military dress uniform from 1969, a Gibson J-200 Guitar…and even one of his prescription pill bottles.

We can’t help but wonder if Jack White is getting his checkbook ready. It was revealed earlier this month that the rock star was the anonymous buyer who purchased Elvis’s first record for $300,000 in January.

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On a recent stop by the RAM studios, country (and cowpunk and rock and film) icon Dwight Yoakam pulled out a guitar and showed off some blazing new tracks from his upcoming new studio album, Second Hand Heart.

The performances proved that Yoakam has learned a thing or two over the past three decades about shaking Nashville up with cutting-edge sound: The set is being compared to Yoakam’s earliest musical stylings; most specifically his 1986 debut.

I think there’s a sense of immediacy about this record,” he said. “Energetically it has to do with the spontaneity of the scene that I broke out, which they used to call cowpunk here in LA in the early ’80s.”

Between Second Hand Heart and his critically acclaimed 2012 predecessor, Three Pears, Yoakam’s music is poised to capture an entire new generation of country fans — ones who are seeking something different from the current crop of radio hits available.

“I hope it’s something that captures the imagination of the new audience that has arrived for country music,” the singer/songwriter, who has recently been on tour with Eric Church and performed with Brandy Clark at the 2015 Grammy Awards, noted.

Yoakam’s new record will be out April 14. For more of his interview with RAM, check here.

Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

by Stephen L. Betts

In 1925, Mount Rushmore was established, future First Lady Barbara Bush was born, and the theory of evolution went on trial in Tennessee. Also in Tennessee that year, on November 28th, to be exact, the Grand Ole Opry began broadcasting on Nashville’s powerful WSM radio. On Tuesday, March 24th, the longest-running live radio show in the country will kick off a nine-month celebration of its 90th birthday with two shows at the Grand Ole Opry House, featuring Brad Paisley, Del McCoury Band and Old Crow Medicine Show, and including Western swing legends Asleep at the Wheel.

Flashback: Jerry Lee Lewis Drops F-Bomb on the Opry

To help commemorate the anniversary kick-off, the artists appearing on stage that night will share stories behind some of the seminal instruments and artifacts that have been a part of the venerable institution for the past nine decades. The artifacts will then become part of a backstage display at the Opry House throughout the celebration.

Among the one-of-a-kind items featured will be the fiddle played by Uncle Jimmy Thompson on the very first broadcast of what would become the Grand Ole Opry; the steamboat whistle used by Opry founder George D. Hay to introduce countless Opry broadcasts (with his cry of “Let ‘er go, boys!”); and a guitar used by Opry icon Little Jimmy Dickens, who passed away at the beginning of this year. Contemporary Opry inductees, including Paisley, Darius Rucker and Josh Turner, will also be represented in the display.

As the night’s two shows unfold, the Opry will also announce plans for the nine-month celebration. Florida Georgia Line, Charlie Daniels Band, Oak Ridge Boys, Racal Flatts and Reba McEntire are among the acts slated for upcoming appearances.

Originally called the WSM Barn Dance, in 1927, following a classical music program, “the Solemn Old Judge” George D. Hay spoke the line that would rename the show and rewrite music history. “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera,” Hay announced. “From now on, we will present the Grand Ole Opry.”

Originally owned by the National Life and Accident Insurance Co., WSM was housed in the company’s downtown Nashville headquarters (the stations call letters were derived from the company slogan: We Shield Millions) and the first Opry broadcast took place in a tiny fifth-floor studio. As the show’s popularity grew, it was staged in other venues, including the Hillsboro Theatre (now home to the Belcourt Theatre in Hillsboro Village), East Nashville’s Dixie Tabernacle, the downtown War Memorial Auditorium, and from 1943 to 1974, the Ryman Auditorium, which still hosts Opry shows on occasion.

Forty-one years ago today, on March 16th, 1974, with then-President Richard Nixon on hand, the 4,000-seat Grand Ole Opry House opened. Situated next to the new Opryland USA theme park (which closed in 2007) and the still-vibrant Opryland Hotel, the Opry House sustained significant damage in the devastating flood of the Cumberland River in May 2010. Temporarily relocated to other venues throughout town, the show returned to the Opry House in September of that year.

In January of this year, the Grand Ole Opry House was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Ryman Auditorium also earned that distinction in 1971.

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Shania Twain recently announced she’s heading out on her final tour this summer. On Wednesday, she visited Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live to promote her new live concert album, Shania: Still The One Live From Vegas.

Guests on the program always seem to open up to host Andy Cohen and Twain was no exception. The country star was candid about a variety of topics, but the biggest headline-making moment came when Cohen asked her what she would say to her former best friend who famously had an affair with Twain’s then-husband, producer Mutt Lange, in 2008 – eventually leading to the collapse of their marriage. 

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“I wish I’d never met you,” Twain said, looking directly into the camera. She added, however, that she’d learned a lot from the incident and had no regrets.

Her frankness didn’t end there! Twain – one of the first country artists to successfully move over into pop music – had lovely things to say about today’s current crossover queen, Taylor Swift.

“I love Taylor first of all… I would imagine that she enjoys being a multi-genre artist, she said. “It does probably keep life interesting for her as a songwriter, as well. She gets to tap into a lot of different emotions.”

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Twain even showed support for fellow Canadian Justin Bieber, who as we all know, has had his fair share of headline-grabbing antics in the past few years.

“He’s young and he’s got to go through all of the stuff that he goes through,” Twain said. “I think he’s a great kid and I hope Canada still loves him very much. He’s a very talented guy.”

Another highlight of the episode? Riffing off of one of her best-known hits, Cohen gave her a list of things and asked her if they impressed her much. What made the cut? Kanye West, three-legged dogs, living on Mars and poutine - which she schooled Cohen on after he called it a dessert. 

“That’s not a dessert! It’s savory, it’s like French fries with gravy and cheese!” Twain said. 

“That do impress me much!” he replied.

Us too. But what probably impresses us the most is that Twain, who has sold over 75 million albums and is the best-selling female country artist of all time, still keeps delivering. She’s set to release a new studio album soon and as mentioned before, is kicking off her first tour in 11 years beginning on June 5th in Seattle.  

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by Joseph Hudak

For Frankie Ballard’s third single off his hit album Sunshine & Whiskey, the Michigan singer-guitarist decided to seize the moment. He’d been riding high on back-to-back Number Ones in “Helluva Life” and “Sunshine & Whiskey,” and wanted to release something that reflected his “live now” worldview. Ballard settled on the uptempo rocker “Young and Crazy,” which he describes as a “call to action.”

See Intimate, Backstage Frankie Ballard Photos

"I see so many people living in a bubble. They want to be safe, they want their kids to be safe and they want their friends to be safe. And I get that. That’s awesome and really admirable," Ballard tells Rolling Stone Country. “But life is not about who gets out the cleanest at the end, or who’s the most well-preserved and healthiest. I refuse to believe that is what life is about — life is about living.”

The lyrics of “Young and Crazy,” written by Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley and Shane McAnally, speak to that belief. With lines like “I want to sit out on the porch telling stories of my glory days when I’m pushing 80,” the song doesn’t look back in nostalgia, but anticipates a well-seasoned future.

"The best times I’ve ever had and the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned were when my feet were out over the edge of the line and I was at risk of getting a little beat up, physically and emotionally," Ballard says. "That’s what I hope people take from this song. I hope they hear it and go, ‘I’m going to interview for this job’ or ‘I’m going to move to L.A. I’m going to build this motorcycle that I always wanted to build. I’m going to f**king do it.’"

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For the video, directed by Glen Rose, Ballard put his live show into focus. While previous videos featured the guitarist performing, none were authentic concert experiences. With “Young and Crazy,” Ballard, who is currently on the road with Florida Georgia Line, was filmed onstage over three nights in his native Midwest.

"There were performance pieces in the other videos, but not real performance pieces. They weren’t plugged in. But this is us actually playing those songs, so those emotions are real,” he says. Like the song itself, he hopes the clip serves as inspiration for people to leave the house and experience the world. Or at least one of his concerts. “Hopefully, they look at this video and go, ‘That looks like a lot of fun. I want to see those guys live.’”

Ballard is practicing what he’s preaching too. For his next album, he reveals that he’ll be leaving the comfortable — some might say safe —confines of Nashville’s studios for a facility farther south. For 10 days, he and his band will hole up in an undisclosed studio to write and record the way his heroes did.

"We’re going off-campus. This follow-up to Sunshine & Whiskey is very important to my career, so at a time like this to do something weird is risky,” admits Ballard, turning suddenly animated. “But it makes me feel alive, man! We’re going to go in with nothing and we’re going to come out with an album. And that’s the way all my favorite albums were made. You slept at the studio — we’re going to do that. If we feel like putting down some guitars at two in the morning, we will.”

Through the prism of “Young and Crazy,” Ballard’s roll-the-dice approach to recording makes perfect sense. It’s keeping in line with that carpe diem attitude.

"It’s all or nothing, man," he says. "But I want to record under those conditions. I know for a fact that it’s going to make the music better. I’m chomping at the bit for that red light to flash."

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