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The final Pistol Annie is officially off the market! Congrats are in order for Ashley Monroe, who wed her longtime boyfriend, John Danks of the Chicago WhiteSox. The pair married on Thursday evening, October 24, at Blackberry Farms in Knoxville, Tennessee. The ceremony was held at the same location as Kelly Clarkson‘s picturesque wedding just four days earlier, and included the bride arriving at the ceremony via horse-drawn carriage in a custom Haute Hippie gown while her groom wore Armani.
The wedding was officiated by Blake Shelton, while the bride’s best friend and the officiant’s wife, Miranda Lambert, served as maid of honor. “They’re my dearest friends,” Monroe told PEOPLE. “And we wanted someone with personality to marry us!”
And Ashley was no bridezilla leading up to the wedding. “Miranda was the one who cared about all the details!” said Monroe to PEOPLE. “It was magical.”
Congrats to the happy couple!
Hunter Hayes is about to join an exclusive club of country’s elite. He will be embarking on the 21-city CMT Tour this fall, a spot reserved for country’s fastest rising stars. Previous headliners have included the likes of Sugarland, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and more of the biggest names in country music.
CMT on Tour: Hunter Hayes Let’s Be Crazy Tour will kick off October 10 in Knoxville, TN. The tour will also feature rising solo artist and Pistol Annie, Ashley Monroe, as the supporting act.
“The fall is going to be a production, a show, an experience based on years of my dreaming about it,” Hayes tells USA Today. “It’s kind of like my first record — you have your entire life to make your first record, I’ve had my entire life to plan for this tour.
“This is my first chance to look at a stage and go, ‘What do I want to do?’ as opposed to ‘What can we do?’ I’ve got truck space, I’ve got a crew that can really put on a show, we’ve got a band that is more than capable.”
While Ashley Monroe is riding high on the success and acclaim of her solo album, Like a Rose, she’s also excited about another soon to be released album: The Pistol Annies sophomore disc, Annie Up. The first single, featuring Monroe and bandmates Angaleena Presley and Miranda Lambert, “Hush, Hush” was just released to country radio, and the full album will hit stores on May 7th.
Chatting recently with radio.com, Monroe discussed the upcoming release, “We sat and listened to it at the studio when it was finished and all three of us were bawling hysterically,” Monroe said of Annie Up. “It’s very special. I feel like a lot of the songs were gifts given to us. We wrote a lot of it on the road and it’s hard to write on the road. When we’re together, there’s just something that happens. When we write, when we’re on stage, when we’re hanging out – there’s just a buzz.”
Thrilled for the upcoming Pistol Annies release, Monroe has been pulling double duty, recently promoting her stellar solo effort on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and at South by Southwest. She’ll also be appearing with Train at select dates this summer, but it’s performing with the Annies that has truly bolstered Monroe’s confidence. “Touring with them and seeing the fans sing back songs that were album cuts, it’s so encouraging and it really gave me confidence that it was OK to make a record that is exactly me,” she said. “This year I’ll be an Ashley and an Annie, and I’m excited.”
With the release of her first solo album on Warner Music Nashville on March 5th, “Like A Rose,” Ashley Monroe is going to be a little bit everywhere. She’ll be appearing on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Catch her appearance on NBC on March 11th at 11:35 pm EST, where she’ll perform her title track single.
It’s going to be a busy year for Ashley, who will be releasing her second album with the Pistol Annies later this year. She finished recording the sophomore album for the very country trio with friends Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley.
Which album are you more excited for? Ashley’s solo “Like A Rose” or the still-untitled Pistol Annies follow-up to “Hell On Heels”?
She may be one of Miranda Lambert‘s cohorts in the Pistol Annies, but Ashley Monroe is prepping to release her solo album, Like A Rose, with the help of Miranda’s hubby, Blake Shelton. The album hits stores on March 5th, but is available for pre-order now. Pre-order now to get an instant download of “You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter)” which features Monroe trading barbs with Shelton.
Take a listen here:
Pistol Annies’ band member Ashley Monroe launched a new official website re-design earlier today, and to celebrate that news, she’s giving fans a free unreleased track from the songwriter! To get your free download of “Carry On”, enter your e-mail address to be added to her newsletter list and you’ll get a link to download it in your inbox. If you’d rather just stream it online for free, you can go ahead and click the play button right on her website. Make sure you get your copy and let us know if you like the Pistol Annies better as a group or all solo!
According to Ashley Monroe’s twitter, she and Miranda are off to Nashville tonight to celebrate their number one hit “Heart Like Mine.” Miranda Lambert wrote the song with Ashley Monroe (her friend and fellow member of the Pistol Annies) and Travis Howard.
Me and the puppies and Miranda are heading back to Nashville to celebrate our number one tonight!!!!! Yay!!!!- Ashley Monroe
“Heart Like Mine” is the 5th single off Miranda’s album “Revolution.” Miranda is currently in the studio working on her next album and will be appearing at CMA Music Festival this upcoming week on June 12th.
Congratulations Miranda, Ashley, and Travis!
This past week, we caught up with country/pop duo Jenny & Ashley while out on the road in California. They spent last year touring summer camps, festivals and middle schools, making TV appearances and singing the national anthem at ballparks. Now it’s time to see what they’re up to this year! See what these two teenage stars had to say about staying grounded, writing, what it was like to record with Tim McGraw’s co-producer Darran Smith, who they would love to go on tour with, some of their favorite fan encounters, funny stories on the road, and a little get to know them better session!
For some of our readers who might not know much about you, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Jenny: Absolutely! We were born in Wisconsin and we always loved to sing! We would sing in our backyard, to our neighbors, then our dad got a job transfer out to California right around the time we were 7 and 9. We started doing acting and everything in LA, and we just loved the entertainment business so much. We fell in love with country music so that took us out to Nashville. We also love writing music. In Nashville we’ve been pursuing things for about 2 years now as Jenny & Ashley. Our dad works in Miami so we’re between the two places.
Ashley: And we’re sisters! I’m 14 almost 15 and Jenny is 16. Ever since then we’ve been pursuing our county music dream and just seeing where it takes us!
Although everyone on our staff loves country music, we have different tastes and don’t always agree. For this reason, we didn’t compile a comprehensive list of our favorite collective country albums of the past year. Instead, some of our staff picked their individual faves. Make sure to let us know your faves of 2013!
Cassadee Pope – Frame By Frame: I am admittedly one of those music lovers who listens to an album the first time and is simply incapable of forming an opinion. No matter how much I love the artist, I sit there with a blank stare after the first spin. So, in all fairness to the artist, I listen again. That was my experience with Frame By Frame. I listened the first time, and the true stand outs to me were, the already loved, “Wasting All These Tears,” “Easier to Lie,” “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart,” and “11.” And for me to find four songs I like in the first spin is pretty impressive. In subsequent attempts to listen to Frame By Frame, I have found myself loving every track and even using Cassadee’s debut country album to accompany me during long, tedious runs to help the time go by. Each track exemplifies Cassadee’s gorgeous vocals, versatility, and incredible range. Give it a whirl … you will be begging for more from this CRS New Face!
Country music certainly gave us many memorable moments over the last year. Whether it was new artists making their way into the industry, smash hits climbing the charts, notable feuds sprinkled throughout tabloids, or live television performances of classic Broadway shows, our beloved genre definitely did not disappoint. The staff here at Keepin’ It Country was incredibly fortunate to attend many live shows of some of our favorite artists throughout the last year, from which we brought our fans and followers real time coverage. We collectively compiled some of our most memorable live performance moments of 2013, which we witnessed as members of the audience. In reverse chronological order, we bring you Keepin’ It Country‘s first-hand year in review:
Jo Dee Messina - December 22, 2013, Casino Miami – In anticipation of her upcoming album, Me, Jo Dee Messina brought her show to Miami, Florida. In the review heard around the world (thanks to Jo Dee herself!), we excitedly reported about Jo Dee, whose vocals are deserving of a myriad of accolades, undoubtedly re-entering the country music scene with a bang. With stellar performances of well-known hits, sure-to-be future number ones, and incomparable covers, Jo Dee brought the crowd to its feet multiple times. Mark our words — 2014 will be Jo Dee’s year, and we cannot wait to watch her soar.
Kelly Clarkson‘s Acoustic Show for Green Mountain Coffee – October 10, 2013, New York’s Highline Ballroom – As the ambassador for Green Mountain Coffee, Kelly Clarkson went to Peru to learn about coffee farming and fair trade. She brought her newfound knowledge and out-of-this-world vocals to an invite-only acoustic show at New York’s Highline Ballroom. Joined by only a keyboardist and pair of acoustic guitarists, Kelly wailed through some of her biggest hits, her voice shining in the intimate space. Highlights of the show included a haunting, acoustic solo rendition of “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” and the fan request, “Sober.”
Brad Paisley at the New Yorker Festival – October 5, 2013, New York’s Gramercy Theater – This was a far cry from a usual Brad Paisley spectacle, but instead featured Paisley in an intimate setting, on-stage with only an acoustic guitar and interviewer, Kelefa Sanneh. It was much a storytellers night, as Paisley traded stories with Sanneh, intertwined with acoustic performances of both his biggest hits and some of his deepest cuts. The night also included an audience Q&A and insight into what was arguably Brad’s most controversial cut, “Accidental Racist.”
Jennifer Nettles for NASH-FM, August 17, 2013, Hill Country BBQ – It’s not every day that you get to catch one of country’s biggest names in the basement of a BBQ restaurant. However, it was Jennifer’s voice that overpowered the smell of ribs and pulled pork, as she performed a sampling from her forthcoming album, including the album’s first single and title track, “That Girl” while also trading stories with NYC’s NASH-FM’s Blair Garner.
The Band Perry – July 21, 2013, NYC’s Roseland Ballroom – The singing siblings rocked New York’s historic Roseland Ballroom with a polished and poised performance that would make even the most seasoned veterans jealous. Although their Pioneer album didn’t receive as much acclaim as it deserved in 2013, there is no doubt that the Perry siblings are here to stay with their dynamic stage presence.
Jason Aldean – July 20, 2013, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois – In one of two memorable 2013 live moments selected by our staff involving Jason Aldean, we were lucky to be in the sold out Wrigley Field crowd. Jason, along with Kelly Clarkson, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, and Nashville’s first signed DJ, Dee Jay Silver, rocked Chicago like no other country acts have done before. Despite the pouring rain, the sold out crowd stayed put, drank, danced, and sang to their favorite Jason songs, including his award-winning smash hit duet with Kelly Clarkson. Even the White Sox owner, White Sox players, and Atlanta Braves players braved (pun intended) the rain and celebrated country music in the heart of Chicago on that stormy night.
Striking Matches, Ashley Monroe and Hunter Hayes – MTV’s Artist to Watch show – June 18, 2013, New York’s Webster Hall – Although the night belonged to Hunter Hayes, the highlights of this show were country duo Striking Matches and the woman behind one of 2013′s best country albums, Ashley Monroe. Although the show itself was a bit of a mismatch with the Hunter fans not paying appropriate respect to the openers, both Ashley and Striking Matches held their own. Ashley especially shined on the tongue-in-cheek, “Weed Instead of Roses” and her version of Jason Aldean‘s #1 hit, “The Truth,” which she co-wrote.
Cassadee Pope – June 8, 2013, Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, Florida – Cassadee Pope took the world by storm during Season 3 of The Voice as a member of Team Blake. Soon after being crowned “The Voice,” Cassadee hit the road with vocal superstar trio, Rascal Flatts. At her hometown show (which was featured on CMT’s Frame By Frame), Cassadee shared her talents with her family, friends, and fans. Witnessing this young artist catapult into stardom and return to her roots for the first time in a large venue was an absolute privilege, as Cassadee wow’ed her hometown with her stunning vocals and gave us just a small glimpse of what is yet to come.
Blake Shelton – iHeart Radio Show – March 27, 2013, iHeartRadio Theater – To go with the release of Based On a True Story…, Blake took the stage for iHeartRadio. The show was streamed online and included Blake’s biggest hits combined with some of his newer tracks. Definite crowd-favorites included sing-along performances of “Austin,” “Honey Bee,” and “Old Red.”
Jason Aldean – March 2, 2013, Madison Square Garden – It’s not every day that a country artist headlines New York’s legendary, Madison Square Garden. Joined by Thomas Rhett and Jake Owen, Jason owned MSG with his biggest hits, as the audience sang along and hung on to every word. Although he sang some of his newer hits, set list highlights included “Big Green Tractor” and “Amarillo Sky.”
Miranda Lambert – January 26, 2013 – Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City – Although there were no low points in Miranda Lambert’s performance at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall during the first leg of her Rocked and Reloaded Tour (with Dierks Bentley), it was her performance of “Over You” that left us speechless that night. Performing on the one year anniversary of the death of her childhood friend, Mark Adams, tears streamed down Miranda’s cheeks as she held the microphone out to the audience to help her through the song. And help her they did, singing back each word of “Over You” in a moment that gives me chills just thinking about it.
We bid adieu to a fabulous year of country music and eagerly look toward 2014. Country music continues to make huge strides as the years progress, and it is foreseeable that the next year will be filled with landmark tours, chart-topping albums/singles, and the continuance of country music flourishing as a whole. What were some of your most memorable concert moments of 2013, and what are you most looking forward to in the 2014 country concert circuit?