Country duo SmithField puts on their “Sunday Best” with their brand-new release. "'Sunday Best' encompasses everything we are as a duo," SmithField says. “We write stories from our heart about real, genuine experiences, but from two perspectives. This is a feel-good, mid-tempo that allows our fans and listeners to feel accepted and seen for who they truly are. We hope this song makes you think of the person you love every time you listen."
"Sunday Best" was penned by the duo’s Jennifer Fielder and Trey Smith with Trannie Anderson and Ian Christian, and produced by ACM Award-winner Derek Wells and Adam Wood. With cathartic lyrics about accepting a lover's true self, the song nods to the societal expectations that SmithField experienced while growing up in rural Texas.
“Sunday Best” is the latest chapter for the best-of-friends pair who have amassed more than 40 million career streams since turning heads with their infectious breakthrough single “Hey Whiskey." The emerging independent duo have made 30+ Grand Ole Opry appearances, performed at high-profile festivals, and shared the bill with some of Country’s biggest stars including Brothers Osborne, Scotty McCreery and Old Dominion, plus headlined their own nationwide tour.
“Sunday Best” previews SmithField’s anticipated EP, due out in 2021.
The Academy of Country Music®, dick clark productions, and CBS announced today that the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards™ will head back to Nashville, TN. The 56th ACM Awards® will broadcast live from three iconic country music venues: the Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe on Sunday, April 18 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network and will also be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+, ViacomCBS’ upcoming global streaming service.
“We’re thrilled to return to Music City’s most iconic venues as we come together on April 18th to celebrate the best in Country Music, back in our normal awards cycle,” said Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “A huge thank you to the city of Nashville, Grand Ole Opry House, Ryman Auditorium and Bluebird Cafe for welcoming us back to Nashville, where we can look out for the safety of our artists while shining a spotlight on this vibrant city after a tough 2020.”
The 56th ACM Awards®, honoring and showcasing the biggest names and emerging talent in Country Music, will feature exciting performances, unprecedented collaborations, surprising moments and more to be announced in the coming months.
In support of the city of Nashville, ACM Lifting Lives®, the charitable arm of the Academy of Country Music, will donate $25,000 to the Music City, Inc. foundation for their Nashville Christmas Day Explosion Relief Fund, with funds earmarked for local musicians out of work due to damage to venues.
“ACM Lifting Lives is proud to support the city of Nashville, our home of the 56th ACM Awards, through a $25,000 donation to Music City, Inc. foundation for the Nashville Christmas Day Explosion Relief Fund,” said Lyndsay Cruz, ACM Lifting Lives Executive Director. “The impact of the explosion was felt throughout the music community, and we hope this donation can help alleviate some of the burden on the community.”
The health and safety of the artists, fans, industry, staff and partners involved in the ACM Awards is the number one priority. All guidelines set forth by national, state and local health officials will be closely followed and implemented during the production along with additional safety measures to be instated by dick clark productions and the Academy of Country Music.
For more information, visit ACMcountry.com.
Mandi Sagal has released the official video for her debut single "Smoke Your Weed." The song is all about that hot and cold love that we’ve all experienced— making the best of a bad situation when the person you’re interested in only calls you when they’re bored. Mandi adding, "This song is about what so many of us go through in the dating world. You are entertaining someone who is blowing up your socials and seems super interested, which leaves you feeling hopeful and excited. Then, when you are together in person, it falls flat and they become uninterested, which leaves you feeling confused and disappointed. So for this video, I wanted to visually portray the expectations we set in our mind of how we want certain situations to play out. I thought it would be really cool to do a split screen with two scenes happening simultaneously. One side is what we are fantasizing will happen, and the other the reality of what is actually happening."
Mandi, born and raised in Green Bay WI, began singing publicly at age 9. She was well known in her hometown as a singer and artist, seen performing everywhere from Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers games, to high school musicals, summer festivals, and charity benefit shows. Mandi moved to Nashville shortly after high school graduation, leaving her family and friends behind to pursue her dream of making music.
Through her years in Nashville, Mandi has worked full time to support herself while developing her artistry, sound, and her songwriting craft. Her voice contains a richness and maturity beyond her years, showcasing technical prowess as well an ability to imbue every word with raw emotion and purpose. While Mandi’s music is unique, one can hear influences such as Fleetwood Mac and Maren Morris woven into her musical tapestry, creating a blend of country, pop, and rock and roll that is entirely her own.
Rising country artist Carolyn Miller has released her new single, “Flatline” out today. This song is the follow up to her last single "All In" which was named Radio Disney Country Song of the Week.
"Flatline" is an empowerment song with themes of perseverance and coming back stronger. The song was written by Wendy Parr, Parker McKay, and Craig Wlson, with production by Craig Wilson.
Driven by her passion for performing, Miller has turned to live streaming during her time quarantined, delivering over 100 livestream concerts for various radio stations, media outlets, music venues, and even virtually hosting and performing in various high profile events and online festivals. Miller sang the national anthem for the NY Mets and hosted and performed on both of Music Mayhem's virtual country festivals alongside Billy Ray Cyrus, Walker Hayes, Tenille Townes, and more. Additionally, her live acoustic cover of "When You Say Nothing At All'' was featured on Country Rebel, amassing nearly 500,000 views. Miller’s vivacious personality has drawn in followers of all ages from all over the world, and there’s no sign of her slowing down. “Covid can’t stop the music. It can’t stop our passion. It is our duty as artists to spread joy and love, especially in the darkest times. Music is needed now more than ever.”
Considering the recent Nashville news regarding country singer, Morgan Wallen, we must be champions for Black voices now more than ever. Thankfully, a new generation of artists are making their voices heard and not standing for these blatant injustices. Mickey Guyton, the sole Black female signed to a major country label posted to Twitter in response to Wallen using a racial slur saying, “The hate runs deep. How many passes will you continue to give?” Later adding, “So what exactly are y’all going to do about it. Crickets won’t work this time.”
Immediately, radio broadcasters such as iHeartMedia, Cumulus, and Entercom pulled Wallen from rotation. He was also dropped from Country Music Television and removed from potential involvement or eligibility for the 56th ACM Awards cycle.
Mickey isn’t the only one speaking out. Cam, Maren Morris, Margo Price, Amanda Shires, and Rissi Palmer have also put in the work to amplify Black voices. A member of the ACM Diversity and Inclusion taskforce, Cam asks people to educate themselves on what it means to be a Black artist in country music telling the New York Times, “How is it that two white women even partially understand what the experience is like for Black people in country? It’s because we’re learning from Black women. We watched what’s going on with Mickey and talked to her.” Cam often uses her platform to share what she’s learned.
Rissi Palmer, is the host of Color Me Country Radio. Color Me Country was designed to share the history of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx influence in country music and spotlight the artists who are continuing their legacy. The show’s name comes from Linda Martell, the first Black woman to play the Opry, and her debut album “Color Me Country.” Palmer herself has had success when her single “Country Girl” landed on the Billboard Country Charts in 2007. She’s also had the opportunity to perform at The White House, Lincoln Center, and the Grand Ole Opry. Recently, Rissi invited Maren Morris, Cam, and journalist Andrea Williams on the show for a conversation about representation in country music and “what it truly means to be an ally.” The group discusses the problems the country music industry faces with race and gender, current obstacles towards progress, diversifying to support people of color, and how to find the way forward. A bi-weekly show on Apple Music Country, Rissi has had guests Mickey Guyton, Brittney Spencer, Crystal Shawanda, Kamara Thomas, Chapel Hart, and Miko Marks on the show. Announced earlier this week, Color Me Country and Rissi will also be showcased in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s "American Currents: State of the Music” exhibition, opening March 12th.
Also a champion for diversity in country music is CMT’s Leslie Fram who announced the 2021 Next Women of Country Class on January 23rd. A diverse class, four Black artists were represented including Reyna Roberts, Brittney Spencer, Sacha, and the Chapel Hart Band. “We’re thrilled to welcome the newest class of CMT’s Next Women of Country,” said Fram. “These artists represent the best of fresh new talent and the diversity of styles that country music has to offer. We look forward to providing this group more exposure than ever before, particularly within the ViacomCBS family on Pluto TV, as well as providing them with essential resources to help them build their musical careers.”
Two decades in the making, The National Museum of African-American Music (NMAAM) has finally opened. Located in downtown Nashville, the new landmark is bursting with history lessons, educational and networking programs, music history and aspiring musicians with growth opportunities. The museum opened to the public on January 30th and will be open Saturdays and Sundays only through February. Tamar Smithers, director of education and public programs at NMAAM says, “I’ve seen students who, really, their lives are transformed. We know that music is the great unifier and is an outlet for these students who are sometimes dealing with challenging things, especially now with the pandemic.” Youth are primarily reached through an interactive workshop titled “From Nothing to Something.” The workshop teaches history and innovation of instruments once used by enslaved Africans - spoons, harmonica and cigar box guitar, among others.
There’s still a long way to go, but these small movements are making a big impact. It is possible to create an inclusive space for all races in country music, but the burden can’t solely lie on the shoulders of Black individuals. We must come together in the fight against racial injustice. Morris voicing, "we all should be uncomfortable. The nature of it is change, is being uncomfortable. It's breaking out of something that has worked for very few for far too long, and for the many stopped so short."
Authors: Nicole Marchesi and Haley Moloney with contributions from Rissi Palmer.