Set to pour out on Jan. 24, Kellie's new album promises some strong stuff. Heck, the lead single is called 'Tough,' and the lead-off track namechecks a powerhouse country star in 'Where's Tammy Wynette.' There's also 'Mother's Day' to remind us, as Kellie notes, "Wow, she's not the little girl on 'American Idol' anymore. She's a woman now."
Pre-Order '100 Proof'
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A double winner at this year's CMA awards and six-time winner at the ACAs, those victories only tell a small portion of the story that is the the Jason juggernaut. Look for the high-octane performer to fire up the new year with more awards possibilities (we love his plan to get cozy with his Grammy should he win on Feb. 12!) And in case you forget, he's sure to remind us with his live show that, as he admitted to The Boot, "I've been waiting for this kind of thing to happen since I was 14. You can't help but get a little jacked up when you go out there and see 22,000 people screaming and hollering for you." Might be a good idea to carry earplugs if you plan to get anywhere near Jason in 2012.
Watch Jason's 'Tattoos on This Town' Video
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Technically, Kix made his solo recording debut in 1989, with an album that quickly passed into obscurity. But two years later, he teamed with Ronnie Dunn as Brooks & Dunn and began a record-setting, award-winning, 20-year run as the most successful country duo of all time. While Ronnie's gig as a solo act began right away, with a No. 1 album earlier this year, Kix has taken his time and along the way become quite the renaissance man -- involved in everything from wine-making and acting in films to continuing to host the American Country Countdown radio show, for which he won his second CMA Broadcast Personality of the Year award earlier this year. If he finally finds time to make a solo album, fans will reconnect with the voice they heard singing lead on such B&D chart-toppers as the prophetically-titled 'You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone.'
Read About Kix's New Film Roles
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We probably won't know who the next new members of the iconic Hall of Fame will be until some time in the late winter or early spring and the field is always hard, if not impossible, to predict. But there's one name we can't get out of our heads, one artist who more than deserves to be enshrined there based on his stellar 25-plus-year career: Randy Travis. Come to think of it, 'On the Other Hand,' we'd love to see plaques for songwriters Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet there, too. And while we're at it, it's way past time for Connie Smith's induction.
Watch Randy's 'Everything and All' Video
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The Perry siblings have been not so slowly headed toward the dizzying heights achieved by a another superstar trio, Lady Antebellum, recently. With the huge crossover success of 'If I Die Young' at pop radio, the threesome had their work cut out for them to keep the momentum going. That mission was accomplished, as 'You Lie' and 'All Your Life' hit the Top 10 on the country charts and enjoyed pop airplay, too. The Band Perry's debut album is a million-seller but all eyes (and ears) will be on the Grammy nominees' follow-up. As Kimberly told Billboard recently, "Every line that we're writing and singing is something that we feel deep down in our gut."
Watch an Exclusive Live Performance of 'If I Die Young'
Now that Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Jake Owen are in country music's big leagues, it's time for some hot new hitters to step up to the plate. Waiting on deck for 2012 is a promising crop of newcomers which includes (but won't likely be limited to) Eric Paslay, Kip Moore, Casey James, Brent Anderson, Hunter Hayes and Bradley Gaskin. Tough to say which of them will knock it out of the park but, after this ringing endorsement from Little Big Town, we'd suggest putting Eric in the clean-up position.
Watch LBT's Funny Eric Paslay Video
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Call us crazy, but we are over-the-moon excited that Lee Ann finally has a new album coming next year. There's even a rumor that the as-yet-untitled disc, which also has no official release date so far, contains a song that could rival her 2000 mega-hit 'I Hope You Dance.' A self-professed "traditional country music freak," Lee Ann insists that is the common thread of all her albums. Something else her albums have in common: her husband Frank Liddell (who has helmed all four Miranda Lambert albums thus far) will once again serve as producer.
Watch Lee Ann's 'I Hope You Dance' Video
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No, we're not referring to the infamous headline-grabbing incident from 2000 involving these two superstars and a policeman's horse outside a Buffalo, N.Y. venue that summer. But it's hard not to wish for a little bit of mischievous behavior from these longtime pals when they mount (sorry, couldn't resist) their Brothers of the Sun tour in June. Maybe they'll leave the offstage antics to tourmates Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Jake Owen. There's still bound to be plenty of horseplay on stage. Or at the very least some incredible music. Either way, we're there.
See Brothers of the Sun Tour Dates
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We've been getting teased with her performances of 'Come Home' but with an expected February release date, it's almost time for Faith's new album. And when she does return, we expect her to do it in a big, big way. (Think lots of TV appearances). After all, it's been six years (!) since the release of her last album, 'Fireflies' (which is impressive considering the average firefly has a lifespan of about 2-3 months). "I've actually been in the studio a couple of times in the last six years," the superstar revealed recently, adding, "I'm just trying to find that spark, that thing that's exciting for me and that feels inspired and true and honest." We think it'll be worth the long wait!
Listen to Faith's 'Come Home'
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Think six years between albums is a long gap? Faith has nothing on Shania, whose last studio disc dropped nearly a full decade ago! But when your last three albums have sold more than 40 million copies in the US alone, you can be cut a little bit of slack. Throw in a messy split from her husband/producer, a new marriage, a reality show detailing, among other things, a crisis of confidence and a Las Vegas concert gig that's now less than a year away and you have the makings of a full-scale comeback. Although it's still tough to figure exactly what shape the new music will take now that her longtime collaborator is out of the picture, there's no doubt Shania the songwriter has plenty of life experience to draw from, ensuring her Vegas audiences (and fans worldwide) that she remains a sure bet!