Category: Country Music

ACM Awards: After big win, Taylor Swift shouts out to missing date

Taylor Swift at the ACM Awards
Taylor Swift may have gone alone to the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night, but she made sure Kevin McGuire was with her on stage anyway when she accepted the trophy for entertainer of the year.

McGuire, for those who don't know, is the 18-year-old, leukemia-fighting, New Jersey high school senior who invited Swift to his prom, only to have her invite him to the ACMs instead. Unfortunately, McGuire, who is undergoing chemotherapy, fell ill with a 103-degree fever in the days before the show and was unable to attend.

“We work hard and we try to give back," Swift said after taking the prize for the second year in a row, according to Pop & Hiss. "Recently, I have been aware of a different struggle that is going on. My date tonight was supposed to be a high school football player named Kevin McGuire, and he is not here. But I promised him I’d give him a shout-out.

"So Kevin and all your family and friends, thank you for wanting to take me to the ACMs."

Kevin and the gang were watching back home at an Applebee's restaurant where he'd once worked. McGuire, who has battled leukemia since he was 13, had spoken with the country singer on the phone over the weekend, both wishing each other good luck.

"I wasn't expecting such great people," he told New Jersey's Courier-Post of Swift and her staff. "It's amazing to see how people who I don't even know could care that much."

His mom, Vicki, shared an anecdote with the Courier-Post about when her son learned his immune system was compromised to the point that he wouldn't be able to attend the red-carpet affair on Sunday.

"He said to me, 'Well, how many people get to say they turned down Taylor Swift?'"


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— Christie D'Zurilla
Christie D'Zurilla on Google+

Photo: Taylor Swift accepts the Academy of Country Music Award for entertainer of the year at the ceremony in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press


Scotty McCreery: 'American Idol' champ is headed to college

Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery ain't no dummy: Platinum record notwithstanding, the 18-year-old "American Idol" champ known for his folksy, squeaky-clean demeanor is heading to college come fall.

McCreery, who won best new artist Sunday night at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, said he was accepted by four schools but chose North Carolina State University, where his dad is an alumnus.

"We're gonna figure it out and decide as a family," he'd told People. "I grew up rooting for NC State, and that's where my dad went. But also there are schools in Nashville that have been really great — and that's Music City so we'll see." 

Looks as if that legacy thing held sway — not to mention that NC State is very close to home, according to Entertainment Weekly. Perhaps he's looking for balance, because he's already been away from home part time, opening for Brad Paisley and the Band Perry on the road. All that as he aims to keep things on track to graduate high school with his buddies in a few months.

His career is off to a solid start: McCreery's debut album, "Clear as Day," was certified platinum in January with more than 1 million copies sold.

"It's a huge testament to the loyalty of country music fans," he said, "and how great they have been to me this year. 2011 was absolutely an incredible, life-changing year for me."

One thing that's not changed: the squeaky-clean thing. Hanging out in Las Vegas for the ACM Awards, he said, "There ain't no temptations. I have been riding the roller coasters."


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— Christie D'Zurilla
Christie D'Zurilla on Google+

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Scotty McCreery won the award for best new artist Sunday at the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Credit: Isaac Brekken / Associated Press.


Randy Travis arrested on a public intoxication charge in Texas

Randy TravisRandy Travis' arrest on suspicion of public intoxication early Monday has all the makings of a country song: Travis allegedly smelled of alcohol, was slurring his words and had a open bottle of wine on the passenger seat of his '98 Pontiac.

Which was parked in front ofthe  Sanger, Texas, First Baptist Church. 

Yeah, baby -- the devil's in the details, which come via NBCDFW.com. "Mr. Travis was unaware of his location and kept asking me to take him home," the arresting officer said. Instead of being taken to his ranch about 20 miles away, he was taken to jail to sober up and then released a few hours later after being booked on a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication.

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Later Monday, Travis apologized, saying through his rep that the events followed "an evening of celebrating the Super Bowl" and that he took full responsibility for his actions.

Travis, who divorced Elizabeth Travis, his wife-manager of 19 years, in 2010, told the arresting officer he'd had a fight with his girlfriend and was trying to get home. He won't be home for long: The country star is kicking off a North American tour on Friday.


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— Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Randy Travis in a booking photo taken after he was arrested Monday in Sanger, Texas, on a charge of public intoxication. Credit: Denton County Sheriff's Office / Associated Press.

Garth Brooks awarded $1 million over donation made in mom's name

Garth Brooks gets a hug from a fan outside court

Garth Brooks is getting his money back -- and more -- from a hospital in his hometown that a jury decided had fumbled a $500,000 donation from the country music star.

At issue: whether the half-million bucks Brooks donated to Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital back in 2005 was to have been used for a new women's center in his mom's name, or was given no-strings-attached to be used on whatever the hospital chose. Pretty clear which side was Brooks', and which was the hospital's.

On Tuesday night, the jury awarded Brooks $1 million, half of it actual damages and half punitive, according to the Tulsa World, which noted that the award was the legal maximum.

Brooks, who had testified during the weeklong trial -- along with meeting fans and signing autographs -- was greeted by about 40 people and his own music playing loudly in the background when the trial wrapped up around 8 p.m., the Tulsa paper said.

"One day Mom's name is going to go on the women's center right there where the hospital is," Brooks said outside the courtroom. "But that hospital won't be owned by Integris when it happens, I can tell you that. That's my dream."

The country star reportedly became quite emotional at times testifying about his mom. He also held up his cellphone outside the courthouse so fans could yell, "Hi, Trisha!" to his wife, Trisha Yearwood, when she called him to hear about the verdict.

Brooks' lawyer argued that the singer had a verbal agreement with James Moore, the chief executive of the Yukon, Okla., hospital, to put Colleen Brooks' name on a women's center -- that after Moore first suggested naming an intensive care unit, an idea Brooks said he rejected as not suitable for his mom's image.

Moore recalled a discussion involving several naming options, but no solid deal. According to the World, one rejected possibility was a $15-million donation to name the whole hospital after Colleen Brooks. No written correspondence confirmed a deal to name a new women's center. No new women's center was built, and Integris had not spent the donation, Moore testified.

"Obviously we are disappointed, particularly with the jury's decision to award damages above and beyond the $500,000," Integris spokesman Hardy Watkins said. "We're just glad to see the case come to a resolution."

Colleen Brooks died of complications from cancer in 1999. Garth Brooks, who was born in Tulsa, grew up in Yukon.


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-- Christie D'Zurilla

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Garth Brooks gets a hug from a fan outside an Oklahoma courthouse Tuesday night after hearing he'd won his case against a hospital in his hometown. Credit: Cory Young / Tulsa World


Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert move shows after his dad's death

Blake Shelton's father died Tuesday.

Blake Shelton and wife Miranda Lambert have rescheduled concert dates after the death of Shelton's father on Tuesday.

Dick Shelton passed away in Oklahoma "surrounded by loved ones" after a year of declining health, "The Voice" star said Wednesday on his website. No specific cause of death was given, though at last month's American Country Awards, Shelton dedicated his win to his father, who was hospitalized with pneumonia.

"I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time and thank you for all your prayers. Your support means the world to me," Shelton said in the statement. "I love you guys."

"This is a really difficult time for our family and the most important thing is being together," Lambert said in a separate statement. "Tell your loved ones you love them."

Shelton moved shows in South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana from Jan. 19-22 to March 20-23. He'll resume touring Thursday in Georgia. Lambert rescheduled a Charlotte, N.C., show to Wednesday, and pushed weekend shows in Kentucky and Greenville, N.C., to February. 

A photograph of Shelton and his dad was posted to the singer's website Wednesday, in memoriam, and was accompanied by comments from fans expressing condolences.


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-- Christie D'Zurilla

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Blake Shelton speaks during a panel discussion Jan. 6 for the reality series "The Voice" at the TV critics' winter press tour in Pasadena. Credit: Dan Steinberg / Associated Press

Wynonna Judd engaged to drummer Cactus Moser

Wynonna Judd is engaged to Cactus Moser

"I AM ENGAGED!!!," Wynonna Judd tweeted Thursday night, posting the above photo of herself and fiancé Cactus Moser after their announcement went public earlier in the day.

The prickly proposal (we couldn't resist) from a man Wynonna calls "an AWESOME drummer" was popped on Christmas Eve. The two have been dating for two years.

Moser, a founding member of the country group Highway 101, has been touring with country singer Judd under the billing Wynonna and the Big Noise. And, Wynonna pointed out Thursday evening, they toured together in the '80s -- something she proved with charming photographic evidence.

It will be a third marriage for the five-time Grammy winner. Judd split with her second husband in 2007 and has a teenage son and daughter with her first husband, whom she broke up with in 1998.


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— Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Cactus Moser and Wynonna Judd in the photo she posted online with the caption "I AM ENGAGED!!!"  Credit: Wynonna Judd / Twitter


Mindy McCready and son Zander found in Arkansas

Mindy McCready
Mindy McCready’s custody saga is finally over, at least for the time being. The troubled country singer and her son Zander were found late Friday reportedly hiding in a closet in Heber Springs, Ark.

"The child appeared to be in good condition when we found him," David Rahbany, the chief deputy U.S. Marshal in eastern Arkansas, told CNN. "He was in the closet with his mother."

So far, McCready has not been charged with a crime and authorities are focused on bringing Zander back to Florida to reunite him with McCready’s mother, Gayle Inge, who reportedly has legal custody of the boy.

"I'm real excited that he's safe," she told the Associated Press. "But I can't explain what this is like. We feel for Mindy and we feel for Zander."

The drama started on Tuesday when the singer picked up Zander for a visit from her father’s house in Cape Coral, Fla., and reportedly never returned. After the authorities got involved, McCready went to the media, claiming her son was abused at her mother's house, something Inge denies.

"I'm doing all this to protect Zander, not stay out of trouble," McCready wrote in an email to the AP on Thursday. "I don't think I should be in trouble for protecting my son in the first place."

When a Florida judge ordered her to return the 5-year-old by Thursday evening, McCready apparently refused, telling the media she couldn’t travel from Tennessee (where she supposedly was at the time) because she was pregnant with twins.

Zander’s father, Billy McKnight, told the "Today" show on Friday that he spoke with McCready and Zander after the Thursday deadline had passed, telling Matt Lauer that his son sounded “really well” and that his ex "doesn't realize that she's pushing her luck on this one.”

Truth be told, McCready’s life has unraveled a bit like a country song over the past several years. After hitting it big in the 1990s with "Ten Thousand Angels" and "If I Don't Stay the Night," her life took a downturn, including a sex tape and struggles with drugs, depression and, according to her mother, suicide attempts.  She returned to the spotlight in 2010 with a stint on VH1's “Celebrity Rehab 3” with Dr. Drew Pinksy.


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-- Emily Christianson

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Mindy McCready onstage in Nashville. Credit: Mark Humphrey / Associated Press

Mindy McCready ordered to return son or risk arrest

Mindy McCready

Mindy McCready has been ordered to return her 5-year-old son to authorities by Thursday evening or risk arrest, authorities in Florida said Wednesday after the country singer and her son went missing.

In the face of stories about a missing persons report being filed on her and son Zander, McCready told "Access Hollywood" on Wednesday that there was no such report, and that she was working with lawyers to straighten out the mess.

"I did not steal my child, as it would be impossible for me to kidnap what already belongs to me!," she reportedly said via email. "There never was any missing persons report and never an Amber Alert."

McCready reportedly took Zander from her father's house Tuesday night. McCready's mother reportedly has custody, with Mindy allowed visitation at her dad's house. A Department of Children and Families representative said the agency asked for an emergency pickup order, which a judge granted, setting a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline for McCready to voluntarily return the boy to Lee County.

Cape Coral Police Lt. Tony Sizemore told the Associated Press that so far, there's "no criminal act."

"There's a lot more questions than answers at this point," he said.

The boy has been the subject of a years-long custody battle, according to WINK News, a local station that in May said Billy McKnight, Zander's father, was "close to getting sole custody" after passing court-ordered drug tests. WINK said Wednesday that there had been no Amber Alert issued, as authorities were aware that the boy was with his mom.

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Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland marries boyfriend Justin Miller

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland is married

Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles has tied the knot with her entrepreneur boyfriend, Justin Miller.

The country star and her new husband were married Saturday near the Smoky Mountains in Tennesee, People reported. 

Nettles, 37, wore Alexander McQueen (a la Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) at an intimate chapel ceremony that included bandmate Kristian Bush. But the newlyweds will likely have to put their honeymoon plans on hold, as Sugarland will be performing at the Grammy Nomination Concert Live on Wednesday and and then hosting the CMA Country Christmas Special on Thursday.

Miller, a former model who appeared in the video for the band's 2006 single "Want To" (watch it below) and attended the CMA Awards with Nettles earlier this month, have been dating for about two years. Nettles' divorce from first husband Todd Van Sickle, a club owner, was final in March 2007.

But concerts, wedded bliss and thank-you cards aren't the only items on this newlywed's to-do list. Sugarland is facing a newly filed lawsuit over an Indiana State Fair stage collapse last August that left seven dead and more than 40 others injured.

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 23 on behalf of 44 survivors and the families of four of the people killed, alleges that Sugarland "had supervisory authority and discretion" over the stage size and lighting system, among other concert-related aspects. The lawsuit said the duo "failed or refused to cancel the Sugarland concert despite inclement weather."


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-- Nardine Saad

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Jennifer Nettles at the CMA Music Awards on Nov. 9. Credit: Harrison McClary / Reuters

Glen Campbell on Alzheimer's: Needing the ones he loves, Lord

Glen Campbell and wife Kim

Glen Campbell, who revealed his Alzheimer's disease diagnosis in June, will release what he's calling his "final album" next week and go out on a farewell tour starting in October — and in the meantime, he's doing a farewell round of interviews, with wife Kim Woollen filling in some of the blanks. 

"I haven't felt it yet," Campbell said of the Alzheimer's, speaking to ABC News. "I've always been forgetful anyway. I'm only, what, 78?"

Seventy-five, Woollen prompted as he looked her way.

"I just take care of him, which is a big job," said his wife of nearly 30 years. "We'd been noticing short-term memory loss for quite some time. You know, he repeats himself. Tells the same joke several times in a row."

"Well, yeah, it's funny," Campbell joked (watch the interview, below).

The couple went through a similar exchange — presumably intentionally — when they sat down with the Los Angeles Times' Randy Lewis for an profile out this Sunday.

"It hasn't affected me in any way. I haven't felt anything. In fact, I don't even know what it is. Who came up with that?" he said with a laugh.

"Your doctor," Woollen answered.

"Well, he’s probably wrong," Campbell replied.

Photos: Glen Campbell: A career in pictures

The singer also talked to The Times about his years with the Wrecking Crew, studio musicians who had a reputation for knocking out hits with the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, the Monkees and more.

Campbell, in fact, owns the fingers behind the opening riff to the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun" and eventually wound up filling Brian Wilson's shoes in the band when the group's founder traded touring for studio work. "I was very happy to be playing with the Beach Boys. The only thing I didn't like was that I had to play bass.

"Those bass strings can grind your little pinkies down real quick," he said with a laugh.

"Ghost on the Canvas" features some poignant lyrics in "A Better Place," a song Campbell has been performing live for more than a year: "Some days I'm so confused, Lord. My past gets in my way. I need the ones I love, Lord. More and more each day.

"One thing I know, the world's been good to me."



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— Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Glen Campbell and his wife, Kim, at home in July. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press.


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