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Jeff Gross/Rick Diamond/Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images
Jeff Gross/Rick Diamond/Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images
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Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, and Taylor Swift to Perform at 2011 CMAs

You already know Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are going to return for another round as hosts when the 45th annual CMA Awards roll around this year. But with the gala ceremony looming on the calendar, we still don’t know which performers will be joining them on stage.

Well, the night’s full lineup is still a closely guarded secret, but the first few names have been announced and it looks like viewers are in for another year of top-notch entertainment.

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Scotty
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Scotty McCreery Tells the Stories Behind the Songs on ‘Clear as Day’

 

19 Entertainment

Scotty McCreery has just two weeks to go until he releases his debut album, ‘Clear as Day,’ so you can hardly blame the reigning ‘American Idol’ champ if he’s excited to talk about it.

Taste of Country caught up with McCreery to do just that recently, and he shared the inside scoop on the stories behind the album’s 12 tracks, which he promises will give listeners an honest picture of who he is. “I’m 17, and that’s me,” he insists. “This album’s gonna relate to that, and hopefully people like it. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished these last couple months.”

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Roger Kisby, Getty Images
Roger Kisby, Getty Images
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How Did Lady Antebellum Get Through Their ‘Really Hard’ Early Years?

Lady Antebellum struck platinum with their first album and they haven’t looked back, sending each of their first nine singles to the top 20 and selling more than five million albums in the U.S. since 2008. It’s a success story that plenty of bands would love to duplicate, to say the least.

But no matter how quickly they found their audience, or how tightly the trio might harmonize at the mic, things haven’t always been easy for Lady Antebellum behind the scenes. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that they had to call in a third party to help them communicate.

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Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images
Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images
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Miranda Lambert Urges Young Songwriters to ‘Know Who You Are’ [VIDEO]

If you want to make a living as a songwriter, Nashville is unquestionably the best place to be — even after a decade of dwindling record sales, it’s still home to a thriving publishing industry, as well as some of the most seasoned tunesmiths in the business.

But that doesn’t mean a good song is necessarily easy to find. In fact, Miranda Lambert found the experience so frustrating that she ended up learning how to play guitar just so she could write her own material.

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Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
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Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Australian Tour Won’t Lead to US Shows

The last time they toured together, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shattered records, so when they announced they’d be teaming up again for a string of Australian dates next year, American promoters — and plenty of American fans — were hoping it’d be the prelude for a stateside sequel.

Better start saving up for those plane tickets now, though, because McGraw and Hill say their Australian shows will be the only ones they do together in 2012.

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Roger Kisby, Getty Images
Roger Kisby, Getty Images
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How Was Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott Inspired by ‘Sister Act 2?’

With millions of albums sold and a growing list of hits to their name, Lady Antebellum are one of the fastest-rising young acts in the music business. As they gear up to promote their just-released third album, ‘Own the Night,’ they’re on the verge of delivering one of the biggest sales successes of 2011.

And according to singer Hillary Scott, none of it might have happened if it wasn’t for Whoopi Goldberg.

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Brad-Paisley
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Brad Paisley’s First Book, ‘Diary of a Player,’ Set for November 1 Release

 

Howard Books

For most people, it would be more than enough to achieve success as an award-winning recording artist, prolific hit songwriter, and highly-respected musician. But Brad Paisley is not most people.

Having conquered the Billboard charts, Paisley decided to tackle a different kind of bestsellers’ list with his upcoming book debut, titled ‘Diary of a Player: How My Musical Heroes Made a Guitar Man Out of Me.’

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George-Strait21
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George Strait’s ‘Here for a Good Time’ Debuts at Number One

 

MCA Nashville

Congratulations are in order for George Strait, who just added yet another number one record to his awe-inspiring list of chart-topping hits.

Strait’s new album, ‘Here for a Good Time,’ debuted on top of the Billboard country charts this week, surging past Jason Aldean and Jake Owen with more than 91,000 copies sold.

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Isaac Brekken, Getty Images
Isaac Brekken, Getty Images
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Taylor Swift and Her Amazing Music Sales Enter the Guinness Book of World Records

Over the last few years — and multi-platinum albums — Taylor Swift has taken up seemingly permanent residence on the charts, not to mention the hearts and iPods of millions of fans.

Now, she also has a pair of spots in the Guinness Book of World Records to call her own.

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Jag Gundu/Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Jag Gundu/Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Winners of 2011 Canadian Country Music Awards Announced

The Canadian country music scene is arguably best known as the breeding ground for Shania Twain‘s early work, but there’s a lot more to it than that — and the Canadian Country Music Awards have been working to get that message across since they were founded in 1976.

This year’s crop of CCMA winners were announced Sunday night, in a ceremony that included appearances from Ronnie Dunn and Derric Rutan, as well as performances from Luke Bryan and Johnny Reid.

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Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images
Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images
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Blake Shelton Tries to ‘Stay Out Of’ Miranda Lambert’s Music

When they got married earlier this year, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert joined the grand country music tradition of couples who have shared a home as well as a microphone. Naturally, there’s been a lot of speculation about when they’ll get around to recording together again — something they acknowledged when they announced they’d be co-producing their friend Neal McCoy’s new album.

According to Shelton, however, fans shouldn’t hold their breath for many musical collaborations between the newlyweds.

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Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Martina McBride to Headline Grand Ole Opry Concert for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The color pink isn’t something most people normally associate with the Grand Ole Opry, but in October, to help spread awareness of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, country’s most venerable institution will be going pink for the third straight year.

Martina McBride has been announced as the headliner for the third annual Opry Goes Pink concert, to be held October 22 in support of Women Rock for the Cure.

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