Maren Morris and son, Hayes Andrew Hurd.

A new single and a new live EP from new mother Maren Morris, who gave birth March 23 to son Hayes Andrew Hurd. Morris set the record for the largest-ever debut-streaming week for a country album by a female artist for her second album, Girl, and in March it was certified Gold by RIAA. Not only that, she has been recognized for being the first female country artist to have two consecutive No. 1 singles from the same album since 2016. Those singles – “Girl” and “The Bones” – were both certified Platinum, and her current single, “To Hell and Back,” looks set for the same accolade.

Now, for fans who were disappointed when her tour was cancelled due to the pandemic, Morris has just teamed with Amazon Music to release Maren Morris Live From Chicago, a live EP of four songs that were live-streamed globally by Amazon Music.  The EP includes live versions of both “Girl” and “The Bones” plus “A Song For Everything” and “Common”.

Morris said she was “feeling nostalgic” for performing live and wanted to stay in touch with fans who couldn’t see her at her cancelled tour dates. Her tour is now set to get back on the road starting July 24.  Updated tour info and music at https://www.marenmorris.com/

As reported earlier, Taylor Swift has cancelled all her scheduled Lover Fests for 2020.  However, she has just announced that there will be a TV special airing in just a few days. ABC-TV will air Taylor Swift: City of Lover on Sunday, May 17 at 10:00 pm ET. The show captures a performance recoded at L’Olympia Theater in Paris, France.  The show will then be available on demand on Disney+ and Hulu.  The concert features Swift singing songs from the multi-platinum album, Lover.

See https://www.taylorswift.com/ for info about the canceled and rescheduled shows.

Tim McGraw released his first single since returning to Big Machine Records. Titled “I Called Mama,” it dropped – appropriately – just before Mother’s Day.  According to MusicRow magazine, Tim spoke during a Zoom interview about why the song (written by Lance Miller, Marv Green and Jimmy Yeary) meant so much to him.

He said his mom became pregnant and didn’t get to graduate high school because she gave birth to him and “she went through some terrible things early in my life,” he recalled. She was a single mom, working three jobs just to provide life’s basics.

The artwork for the single is a photo of his mom when she was younger.  Tim has a new album on the way, probably arriving in September. He says he’s looking forward to getting out on tour again but said, “I think it’s got to be as safe as you possibly can be and err on the side of caution.”

  • “I Called Mama” gives McGraw his highest career debut on the Country Airplay chart, flying in at No. 20. It was boosted by hourly plays on participating I Heart Media radio stations over the Mother’s Day weekend.

Here’s a link to the lyric video for “I Called Mama.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OshQQjuVDQk

CMT has announced more stars to join their ‘virtual’ TV show, CMT Celebrates Our Heroes: An Artists of the Year Special, which airs June 3.

Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs, Sam Hunt, Brandi Carlile, Darius Rucker, Kane Brown, and Kristen Bell have jest been added. Other artists already announced include Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line, Kelsea Ballerini, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett.

The two-hour program will pay tribute the most vital and inspirational Americans on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. CMT is looking for stories of unsung heroes who are doing exceptional things during the pandemic. Go to http://www.cmt.com/ if you have a story you’d like to submit.

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“I Know Country” Q&A from www.IKnowCountry.com

QUESTION: Kenny Rogers ‘bloomed’ at No. 1 on this date in 2000 with this song that also featured Billy Dean and Alison Krauss. What is the title of this floral-sounding song?

•••

Phase 1 of Nashville’s phased reopening began on Monday, May 11, with restaurants permitted to open at 50% capacity with ‘bar areas’ closed and ‘physical distancing’ of patrons observed. Bars and music venues will have to remain closed and live music will not yet be allowed in restaurants that would normally have music playing.  Nashville Mayor John Cooper has warned that if the city sees an increase in active cases during Phase 1, the stricter social-distancing rules will be resumed.

All the singer-songwriters I know are chomping at the bit to get back in front of audiences.  Playing their songs in public is the best way to quickly see and hear how a new song goes over with listeners.  And right now, they are all hurting financially as many rely on their tip jars when playing live to make ends meet.  We all hope ‘Phase 1’ is successful and we can move on to Phase 2 for entertainment venues to possibly reopen. It is frustrating to see people disregarding the social-distancing precautions, and ignoring the Mayor’s posted measure: “Cloth masks should be worn in public.”

Rock and Roll pioneer Little Richard who died May 9 in Nashville has a country music connection as well.  His duet with Tanya Tucker, “Somethin’ Else,” was a 1994 CMA nominee when the song appeared on the album, Rhythm, Country & Blues.  Also, Waylon Jennings recorded Little Richard’s “Lucille” in 1983, and Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock hit the country charts with his version of Little Richard’s “Slippin’ and Slidin’.”

Before he reached national fame, Little Richard often played in the blues and R&B clubs along Nashville’s Jefferson Street in the early 1950s.  In his final years, he lived in Nashville and was often seen around Music City.  He was 87 years old.

Billboard Country Airplay Top 5 for the week of May 16:  (last week’s position in parentheses)

  1. (3) “Beer Can’t Fix” Thomas Rhett ft Jon Pardi
  2. (2) “Chasin’ You” Morgan Wallen
  3. (1) “Nobody But You Blake Shelton w/Gwen Stefani
  4. (4) “Does to Me” Luke Combs ft. Eric Church
  5. (6) “After A Few” Travis Denning
  • “Beer Can’t Fix” is Thomas Rhett’s 15th No. 1 on the Country Airplay charts, and the third single from his Center Point Road album.
  • Gwen Stefani made her Grand Ole Opry debut – remotely, of course – when she and Blake Shelton performed their hit, “Nobody But You” on May 9.

•••

“I Know Country” Q&A ANSWER: “Buy Me a Rose”. It made Kenny (who was 61 at the time) the oldest country artist to have a No. 1 hit. Kenny died March 20, 2020

•••

On this day in Country Music

May 13, 1975              Western Swing pioneer Bob Wills (the Texas Playboys) passed away. He had been in a coma following a stroke that hit him in 1973 during a recording session with Merle Haggard.

May 13, 1980              No. 1 on Billboard Hot Country Singles: “Beneath Still Waters” recorded by Emmylou Harris. (It was also an album track for George Jones the same year.)

May 13, 1990              Travis Tritt was No. 1 this week in 1990 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart with “Help Me Hold On,” the second single from his album Country Club. It was his first No. 1.  He co-wrote it with Pat Terry.

This week’s Country Music Birthdays

May 11                        Mark Herndon (Alabama), 1955

May 12                        Kix Brooks (Brooks & Dunn), 1955

May 13                        Darius Rucker, 1966

Morgan Wallen, 1993

William Michael Morgan, 1993

May 14                        Dustin Lynch, 1985

May 15                        K. T. Oslin (“80s Ladies”), 1941


Preshias Harris is the author of “I Know Country” with 366 daily country music questions and answers. You can buy and instantly download your e-book copy at www.IKnowCountry.com.

Harris is also a music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Visit www.collegeofsongology.com for more details.   Follow her blog at  www.nashvillemusicline.com

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