Check out Luke Bryan‘s new music video for his latest single “Move.”
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The Story Behind Country Music’s Epic Mash-Up! Plus: Hear Blake, Carrie, Miranda and 27 Other Stars Sing ‘Forever Country’
Shane McAnally was nothing short of terrified when he stepped into the studio to begin a project that, on paper, looked a little crazy.
The challenge of melding three iconic country song – John Denver’s “Country Roads, Take Me Home,” Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” – into one new piece of music to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association Awards, was “a very scary process,” McAnally tells People.
In fact, when a mash-up was first proposed as a way of marking the anniversary, McAnally, who’s written hit songs for Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and Kacey Musgraves among others, argued against it.
“I didn’t think it would work in our genre,” he says. “I said, ‘Maybe in pop music you can just take a piece of a song, but we tell stories. And we can’t just cut into them and take a piece.'”
But as McAnally, a CMA board member as well as a top producer in town (he’s behind albums by Sam Hunt and Musgraves), and other CMA members began to consider what songs could work, the idea took shape.
“I Will Always Love You” was a song that everyone felt like needed to be a part of it but I was having a hard time with the story – it’s such a personal song. It’s to one person,” he says. “But when you play that song over, ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, they somehow take on a life together and it feels almost like you’re speaking more to the music, and to country music specifically, when you say, ‘I will always love you.’ It feels meant to be.”
An ode to the life of a traveling musician, Nelson’s classic seemed a natural addition to the mix.
“The line ‘The life I love is making music with my friends,’ kept coming into my mind and ‘On the Road Again’ felt essential,” McAnally says.
The result, dubbed “Forever Country,” was born and McAnally took on the task of producing the recording, a monumental undertaking with 30 artists, including one whom he especially wanted to impress.
“I was very scared when Dolly heard it that it might seem like a bit of a compromise to the integrity of the original song,” he says. “The song is such a simple, perfect sentiment. It was really important for her to know we handled it with care. She just listened and said, ‘Wow. That really works!’ It was really hard not to cry in front of her. I’ve cried a lot since then!”
The tune begins with West Virginia native Brad Paisley singing the opening lines of “Country Roads” (“Almost heaven, West Virginia) followed by a host of stars – Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Shelton”, George Strait – adding line after line until Musgraves begins “I Will Always Love You” (“If I should stay/I Would only be in your way”). Lyrics from the two songs weave in and out with different Nashville voices as Jason Aldean begins “On the Road Again,” joined by Rascal Flatts and many more.
The song premiered on country radio stations around the country Friday, but you’ll have to wait ’til Tuesday for the video, directed by Joseph Kahn, who won a VMA Award for Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”.
“The responsibility of this feels greater than anything I’ve done,” McAnally says of the project. “I hope this is a great timepiece for the legacy of country music.”
Profits from the sales and streaming of “Forever Country” will go toward music education causes supported by the CMA Foundation.
Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett have been selected by CMT as the premiere country artists of 2016 and will be celebrated at the seventh annual CMT Artists of the Year special, it was announced Tuesday (Sept. 13).
Additionally, Kelsea Ballerini is set to receive the second-annual Breakout Artist of the Year honor.
The 2016 CMT Artists of the Year special premieres from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Each artist will be honored with never-before-seen performances alongside lighthearted and emotional moments fueled by plenty of champagne during the 90-minute special on CMT.
Following last year’s nod as breakthrough artist, Chris Stapleton joins first-time recipient Thomas Rhett and veteran CMT Artists of the Year Carrie Underwood (2010, 2012, 2016), Florida Georgia Line (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and Luke Bryan, who now ties with Jason Aldean as the artists with most wins with five consecutive years (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016).
This year’s five honorees collectively dominated the last 12 months in country music, ruling CMT’s platforms and country radio, scoring chart-topping album and singles and selling out concerts across the nation.
Reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan announces the guest artists that will join him on his eighth annual “Bayer Presents Luke Bryan Farm Tour 2016” set to run October 5 to October 15. Joining Luke this year will be Chris Janson, Peach Pickers, Granger Smith and Jon Langston. See below for more details on dates for Luke’s Farm Tour openers.
This year, for the first time, Luke will also release a Farm Tour EP of all new music, Farm Tour…Here’s To The Farmer, to be released September 23. Beginning today, Farm Tour…Here’s To The Farmer is available for preorder HERE.
VEVO premiered the video today for “Here’s to the Farmer” from the Farm Tour EP. Click HERE for the video.
During last year’s tour, Luke performed for over 110,000 fans during the eight-city run. A portion of the ticket proceeds are granted for local college scholarships (“Luke Bryan Farm Tour Scholarship”) to students from a farming family within the communities the tour plays.
The “Bayer Presents Luke Bryan Farm Tour 2016” is sponsored by Bayer, Chevrolet, Citi®, Miller Lite, Cabela’s and Polaris.
“Bayer Presents Luke Bryan Farm Tour 2016”