Sunday night’s 2016 American Country Music Awards will kick-off with style thanks to a superstar trio featuring Martina McBride, Jennifer Nettles and Cam performing McBride’s classic female-empowerment anthem “This One’s For the Girls.”
Planking. Push ups. Jump squats. Russian twists. In any other universe, that would be more of a punishment than a prize.
But for one San Diego woman, it was the win of a lifetime, because she was doing it all with Carrie Underwood.
Through her local radio station , Leslie was the chosen one to go to San Antonio and work out with Underwood.
And here’s how the day went down:
“She pulled up in an old beater white truck. She gives me this big hug. And we just started talking like we’d been friends for ever,” Leslie said in an interview with the radio station. “I was thinking, ‘Why me?’ I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I felt so comfortable with her, like I’d known her forever.”
And even though Leslie says she never felt intimidated and that Underwood never pressured her or judged her, it does sound like she couldn’t help but compare herself to the star.
“I could not keep up. She’s a beast. I was doing 5 to 8-pound weights, while she was doing 20. She did half-hour planks, I swear to God. I could do a minute and a half plank, and then I was on the treadmill, and she was still planking,” she said.
Oh, and Underwood was singing Van Halen songs the whole time.
“She’s just tiny and she’s beautiful and she’s perfect,” Leslie confirmed.
Even though the rest of the world got to know Thomas Rhett a little better when he won his first Academy of Country Music Award in early April, his diehard fans have been with him for a while now. Because Rhett’s been at this country music thing for more than four years.
His debut song “Something to Do With My Hands” was released in February 2012.
Them there was his “Beer With Jesus” follow-up.
“It Goes Like This” and “Get Me Some of That” came out the next year.
Then in 2014, there was “Make Me Wanna.”
Then in 2015, there was “Crash and Burn” and Rhett’s ACM Award-winning “Die a Happy Man.”
All those hits, and Thomas Rhett is only 26. So he has got a lot of life left to keep turning out country tunes. Which is why he hopes that little kids are listening to him now so they can kind of grow up with him and his music.
“I would love for a kid who’s 8 right now, when he gets to high school to be like, ‘Man, I listened to your old stuff,’” Rhett said in a recent radio interview. “Like, tell me that ‘Crash and Burn’ was one of his jams in high school. That’d be pretty cool.”
Rhett and Nick Jonas taped an episode of CMT Crossroads last week in Nashville, so look for that to premiere this summer.
As it turns out, though, the first song Swift learned to play on the guitar wasn’t a country song at all. It was “Kiss Me,” the crossover pop hit from the Christian rock band Sixpence None the Richer. The song was off their 1997 self-titled album. So even though Swift was destined for country stardom early in her recording career, the song that paved the way for her as a guitar player — and maybe even influenced some of her own music later on — was this up-tempo love song.
Jennifer Nettles’ “Unlove You” is possibly the saddest country song on the radio right now. It’s all about loving an ex so much, you wish you never loved him.
It’s moving, but in that kind of been-there-hated-that way.
Nettles wrote the song with Brandy Clark, and in a recent radio interview, she talked about what the song means to her as a writer, a singer and even as a listener.
“It offers a different kind of emotional stirring to perform it than it does to write it or to hear it actualized in a recording than it does to perform it,” Nettles said. “For example, each of them offer something really special, but when you hear it all together, and I’m able to listen to it as a listener as well, it does offer a different power when it’s fully realized.”
With lyrics like, “I can’t unlove you/My heart can’t unbreak/I can’t unfeel how it felt and I can’t unknow this/Lord, I wish I knew how/But I can’t unlove you/So come love me for now,” Nettles knows what a heartbreaker it is.
“Sometimes I also hear myself as a third person observer, like it’s not me, if I’m listening to it in that way,” she explained, “and sometimes, especially with this song, I think, ‘Oh, how sad. Oh, that’s so sad.’”
And you just can’t unhear that.