Keith Urban Performs Live on SiriusXM's The Highway Channel at the SiriusXM Studios in Nashville 2015

Keith Urban takes pictures with fans after performing live on SiriusXM's The Highway Channel at the SiriusXM Studios in Nashville on June 11, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  

Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Here is your weekly roundup of goings on -- staffing moves, good news and more -- in the wide world of country music.

There's money to be made at CMA Music Festival -- which is great news for the charities that line up for the event. Darius Rucker's benefit on June 8 with Little Big Town, Brett Eldredge, Scotty McCreery and others brought in $220,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "Live Like You Were Dying" songwriter Craig Wiseman's Stars for Second Harvest concert rode Dierks Bentley and Cole Swindell to $140,000 for hunger. And the 25th annual City of Hope softball tournament collected more than $200,000 for bone and blood marrow diseases. That event also packed some drama as Bret Michaels smacked a two-run homerun to lead Team iHeart -- including Bobby Bones, Lauren Alaina and Lindsay Ell -- to a 6-5 win over Team Opry in the last half-inning.

Hunter Hayes and Alabama have signed on for A Capitol Fourth, the annual PBS concert that airs on the Fourth of July from Washington, D.C. This year's lineup also features Barry Manilow, KC & The Sunshine Band, classical pianist Lang Lang and former Steel Magnolia vocalist Meghan Linsey.

Waylon Jennings will get a big tribute on July 6 in Austin, when a bundle of artists -- including two former partners in The Highwaymen, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson -- gather for Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings. The bill also features Eric Church, Toby Keith, Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and others, with plans to record and distribute it via multiple platforms.

The annual CMT on Tour becomes a co-headlining arrangement this year as Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett join forces on the Suits & Boots Tour. The package also includes Danielle Bradbery with dates and locations for the run, which begins in October, to be announced at a later date.


Disney plans to launch Disney Radio Country this fall in conjunction with the Country Music Association Awards. The channel will focus on the genre's younger-leaning acts and will exist on the Radio Disney app, as well as other third-party platforms.

Glenn "Qtip" Johnson started June 15 as executive producer for America's Morning Show. Johnson arrived at Cumulus after a stint in mornings at WCYQ Knoxville, Tenn.

Cumulus/Salt Lake City tapped Patrick Reedy as vp/market manager for the cluster, which includes country KUBL. The job marks a return to terrestrial broadcasting for Reedy, who spent the last 12 years as senior vp sales for InStore Audio Network, a Utah firm that provides music for retailers.

KFDI Wichita, Kan., morning team Brian Pierce and Kellie Michaels announced that July 29 will be the duo's final day on the station. The married couple explained the move in a post on the station website, noting they are bound for Springfield, Ill., to be closer to family.

WPOC Baltimore morning-show producer/evening talent Jeff St. Pierre is adding music director to his roles, reported.

iHeart/Sacramento, Calif., hired Ann Postell as director of sales, according to Country KBEB is part of the new domain for Postell, who arrives from KTXL-TV Sacramento.

Hubbard Radio added Greg Strassell as senior vp programming, reported. He was most recently iHeart senior vp strategic services, national programming platforms. Hubbard's country signals include WIL St. Louis and WUBE Cincinnati.


Nathan Cruise joined Curb on June 15 as Southeast regional, replacing Annie Sandor, who becomes Northeast regional in the transition. Cruise was most recently Southeast regional for Show Dog-Universal. Additionally, Curb named Lori Hartigan West Coast regional, replacing Joe O'Donnell, who retired. Hartigan was previously vp promotion for Sidewalk, before Curb shut down the label.

The Country Music Association added four new staff members. Senior manager of market research Carolyn Szczurek arrives after nearly two years as a research manager for Chico's FAS; digital marketing manager Mary Overend was previously Carter's/OshKosh B'gosh eCommerce marketing coordinator; manager of media relations Krista Dial had been festival manager for the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, Tenn.; and marketing coordinator Alina Thompson spent two years in CMT's music strategy department.

Blaster signed James Otto to a new recording deal.

Tammy Jones Robinette joined the roster at bluegrass label Rural Rhythm.

Texas act Reckless Kelly aligned with New Frontier for concert booking.

Songwriter Josh Osborne ("Sangria," "Take Your Time") joined Shane McAnally's SmackSongs as a partner.

Songwriter Max T. Barnes ("Love, Me," "How Your Love Makes Me Feel") signed a publishing deal with Jewel Coburn's Eleven Eleven Music.

Singer-songwriter Radney Foster will hold a writing workshop, the inaugural
Radney Foster Songwriting Revival, Sept. 25-27 in Nashville. Go here for more info.

The Country Music Association presented Australian Morgan Evans its CMA global country artist award when he hosted the CMA World GlobaLive! on June 9 in Nashville. The CMA also recognized Big Machine Label Group president/CEO Scott Borchetta with the Jo Walker-Meador International Award.

Former Warner/Atlantic artist Randy Howard died June 9 in a shootout with a bounty hunter in Lynchburg, Tenn. Howard was wanted for missing a court appearance. He twice charted on Billboard's Hot Country Songs list with the Warner Bros. release "All-American Redneck" (No. 84, 1983) and the Atlantic America single "Ring of Fire" (No. 66, 1988).


Keith Urban became the face of a new Country Music Association campaign when he was unveiled June 11 as the ambassador for a Music Education Matters initiative.

Urban pledged 60 guitars for the program, which seeks to provide musical instruments and instruction to inner-city youth and extends CMA's ongoing commitment to music education. Since 2006, the organization has donated $11 million to music-ed programs through its Keep the Music Playing effort, which honors the power of music in character development.

"I'm very passionate about making sure that music education isn't just pushed to the edges," said Urban. "Academics is very important, athletics is very important, but the music gets sort of thrown over almost as a luxury. It's very crucial for a lot of guys and girls … there are so many kids that are frustrated, troubled, they're very inward, but you put an instrument in their hand and they come to life."

Nashville music education teacher Linda Friend cited 2014 Antioch High School graduate Rex Yape as a prime beneficiary of the CMA's music-education drive. Yape received a recorder through the CMA, and his abilities on that instrument led to the oboe. He's now studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. 

But future musicians are not the only beneficiaries. Studies have shown students who receive music education stay in school longer, have higher graduation rates, score higheron SAT tests and get better grades, said CMA CEO Sarah Trahern

"For us, it's not just about educating the next generation of country performers," said Trahern. "It's about getting students to learn and appreciate music and find their voice."

Urban's donated guitars are being distributed this year to five programs, including Notes for Notes, an agency that has built recording studios for students in multiple cities. Additional studios are expected in other markets in 2016.


June 15

2006 -- Chris Young makes his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

1985 -- Ricky Skaggs reaches No. 1 in Billboard with "Country Boy," the only chart-topping single to feature the Looney Tunes theme in an instrumental break.

June 16

2000 -- Fan Fair events are held for the last time at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville, ending a 19-year run at the venue. 

1978 -- Kenny Rogers records "The Gambler" in a morning session at Nashville's Jack Clement Studios. Rogers returns in the late afternoon to cut "All I Ever Need Is You" with Dottie West.

June 17

2013 -- Blake Shelton sings "Timber, I'm Falling in Love" with Danielle Bradbery and "Celebrity" with The Swon Brothers during finals week on NBC's The Voice.

June 18

1915 -- A.P. Carter marries Sara Dougherty, uniting two of the three performers who will comprise The Carter Family, in Clinch Mountain, Va.

June 19

2008 -- Loretta Lynn joins the Songwriters Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York. 

2007 -- Arista releases Brad Paisley's album 5th Gear.

June 20

2005 -- Gretchen Wilson receives the key to the city of Pocahontas, Ill., when she returns to her hometown to cut the ribbon on a new ball field concession stand she donated to the community. 

June 21

2014 -- Luke Bryan headlines a stadium for the first time at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Supporting acts include Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice and Cole Swindell, who reappears during Bryan's set to duet on "This Is How We Roll."

1955 -- Sun Records releases Johnny Cash And The Tennessee Two's first single, "Cry! Cry! Cry!" It is backed with "Hey Porter."

This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update newsletter -- sign up here.