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Country Update BILLBOARD.COM/NEWSLETTERS FEBRUARY 13, 2017 | PAGE 1 OF 22 INSIDE BILLBOARD COUNTRY UPDATE Tom.Roland@billboard.com Reba McEntire Charts Her Faith >page 4 ‘Resurrecting Memories’ With Randy Travis >page 11 Tim McGraw, Faith Hill Sign New Deals >page 11 Makin’ Tracks: Adam Craig’s Unusual ‘Phase’ >page 16 Stark Report: California Exports New Country Crop >page 17 Country Coda: Jamie O’Neal’s ‘Arizona’ Peaked >page 22 Maren Morris, Sturgill Simpson Help Country Blend At Grammys Observers who want the country categories in the Grammy Awards to fall in line with the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) were likely disappointed when the Recording Academy handed out its 59th annual trophies on Feb. 12. But fans who want the music considered on a level playing field with other formats might well have been heartened by the genre’s influence on the show’s proceedings. Granted, only one country trophy was awarded on the CBS telecast — Maren Morris claimed best solo country performance, for “My Church” — but country acts took the microphone a good number of times in high- profile situations, with Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini and Little Big Town all claiming key performance slots. And the pre-telecast, now dubbed the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony, helped dem- Angeles. onstrate country’s adaptability as the honorees overlapped with folk, gospel, Americana and traditional pop. Morris accepted the best country solo performance award for “My Church” during the 59th Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los While the CMAs are widely regarded as the most significant award for country artists, the Grammys have a history of keeping the legends in focus while also bringing attention to newcomers. No newbie benefited more in this edition than Morris, who nabbed her hardware after garnering a total of four nominations. Morris also shared the stage with Alicia Keys, who partnered with her previously in a CMT Crossroads installment that debuted Dec. 2, 2016, just four days before the final Grammy ballot was revealed. Morris and Keys belted “Once,” a soul-tinged effort that was dressed up with strings in the broadcast from Los Angeles’ Staples Center. It was a full-circle moment for Morris, who tapped into the Academy’s music education efforts when she was still an aspirational teenager. “Eleven years ago, I went to the first-ever Grammy Camp,” she said during her acceptance speech. “It was the first time I ever flew on a plane by myself to L.A., and it’s crazy to be here a decade MORRIS: KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES FOR NARAS

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INSIDE OFFICIAL SINGLES & ALBUMS • AIRPLAY CHARTS ... - MCV
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