Spotlight Artist Grace Leer Costars in Hallmark Movie

Music Spotlight artist Grace Leer made her acting debut in a Blake Shelton-produced new Hallmark Movie, Time For Her To Come Home For Christmas. Leer costars alongside Shenae Grimes-Beech and Chris Carmack in a holiday romance mystery that is airing during Hallmark’s annual “Miracles of Christmas” programming event.

To many, the words “Hallmark Movie” and “Blake Shelton” don’t appear to belong together, but this movie is the sixth installment of the popular movie franchise based upon the book Time for Me to Come Home by Dorothy Shackleford and Travis Thrasher and Shelton’s song of the same name. Leer performs Shelton’s hit “Time for Me to Come Home” in the movie as well.

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Music Spotlight: David Morris

One thing that I have learned by writing my column is that even though I prefer traditional country music, hip-hop, and rap are tremendously popular with the younger set. There have been a few country artists who have dipped their toes into the hip-hop music scene, but the most successful one I have encountered is David Morris.

Hailing from Charleston, West Virginia, country, hip-hop artist Morris is trailblazing a path by mixing trap-style beats with slide guitars, banjos with catchy hooks, and lyrical mastery with relatable lyrics. Morris has over 120 million global streams and has supported Kidd G and Jelly Roll on tour. The song, “Dutton Ranch Free Style,” recently received its RIAA Gold Certification.

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Jamie O’Neal And Ty Herndon Bring Us ‘Merry Christmas Baby’

Two of the biggest voices from the early 2000s, Jamie O’Neal and Ty Herndon, have joined together to bring us the original Christmas song, “Merry Christmas Baby.” Last year, O’Neal put out a memorable Christmas record, Spirit & Joy, which I have added to my collection of favorite Christmas CDs.

This year, O’Neal released a deluxe edition of her holiday album, which includes the original song “Merry Christmas Baby” and a cover of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Both songs follow the same theme of missing someone you love at Christmastime.

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Commentary: The Surprising Christian Values in ‘The Exorcist’

In his four-out-of-four review of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, film critic Roger Ebert wrote that the picture “transcends the genre of terror, horror, and the supernatural.” However, Ebert did not address perhaps the most compelling element of the 1973 classic horror film: that buried deep within the gruesome story of a demon-inhabited 12-year-old girl is one of the most authentically theological films ever made.

The protagonist of The Exorcist is not, as one might expect, either the possessed Regan MacNeil or her mother, Chris (each of whom take up a majority of the screen time). After all, neither of them complete a character arc during the film.

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New Documentary Film Pokes Holes in False George Floyd Narratives

George Floyd Protesters

A sobering new documentary aims to debunk the false narratives surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the trial of Officer Derek Chauvin.

“The Fall of Minneapolis,” produced by Alpha News journalist Liz Collin, also examines the tragic impacts of the Black Lives Matter riots, including the collapse of law and order, that continues to this day.

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Music Spotlight: Drew Haley

Drew Haley

The first time I heard of Drew Haley was when I interviewed a remarkable group of country vocalists in 2020 called The Highway Women. I was impressed at how good each artist was and how they easily blended their unique voices.

But like so many who got their start during a pandemic, they just couldn’t keep the momentum going without being able to get out and tour.

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Brei Carter Releases ‘Twinkling Tales of Christmas’

Crossover country and southern pop recording artist, and U.S. Army veteran and Music Spotlight artist, Brei Carter just can’t wait to usher in the holiday season with her new seven-song debut Christmas EP, Twinkling Tales of Christmas. Known for having a festive and vivacious personality year-round, Carter’s new EP is a multi-faceted genre-hopping collection of originals that draws upon her established country, southern pop, soul, and R&B musical influences.

And while many cling to the cherished Christmas carols on which we were raised, at one time, each of those familiar favorites had their debut.

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Music Spotlight: Storme Warren

I often ask artists who influenced their careers. Well for me, not being a musician, the person who has most influenced me is the television and radio broadcaster, Storme Warren. Although I have little desire to become a television personality, I have learned so much about interviewing artists by listening to Storme nearly every day for 16 years on Sirius XM’s The Highway.

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Music Spotlight: Adam Hood

When I was sent the artist Adam Hood to consider, I listened to one of his songs, “22 Days Too Long.” I wondered, “How in the world has he not crossed my radar until now?”

Hood has labeled his music as “southern soul” and has collaborated with artists like Brent Cobb, Josh Abbott, Jason Eady, and Miranda Lambert (to name a few). He is known to the music world as a songwriter’s songwriter as he effortlessly tells stories of everyday life in a meaningful way.

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Governors Ask NCAA to Reconsider Transgender Athlete Policy

Nine governors are asking the National Collegiate Athletics Association to rewrite its policy on transgender participation in sports, saying it is unfair to female athletes.

The NCAA updated a 2010 policy last year that requires transgender females to show they have undergone a year of testosterone suppression treatment. Testosterone levels are also checked before competitions.

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Music Spotlight: William Michael Morgan

William Michael Morgan has been in Nashville since he was 19. Many country music fans will remember his gold-certified hit “I Met a Girl” from 2016, which continues to be a favorite at engagement parties and weddings.

Morgan hails from Vicksburg, Mississippi, which is the heart of the Delta Blues and a seven-minute drive from the Louisiana state line. His dad introduced him to country music by covering Marty Robbins and George Jones tunes on his guitar. Then, when he was 12, he got his own guitar, locked himself inside, and learned to play by watching YouTube videos.

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Music Spotlight: Alexandra Kay

Alexandra Kay hails from the small town of Waterloo, Illinois, right outside of St. Louis. Like most people I’ve interviewed, Kay grew up singing in church. At a young age, she discovered she had a gift for creative writing/poetry. Her work was entered into contests for young writers. She got some national recognition from her short stories, and her parents were like, “Okay, She ‘s a pretty creative kid.”

Like many her age, Kay was greatly influenced by Taylor Swift. She wrote down her feelings in a journal, and many of these poems eventually turned into songs.

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Music Spotlight: Orlando Mendez

 I’ll admit that I don’t watch music competition shows like I did when I was younger. When I watch TV, it’s usually a mind-numbing procedural or mystery.

But thankfully, a lot of the people I interview got their start on a show and if they are country, they often find their way into my email inbox. Because the competition is so fierce, most of the artists pitched to me are outstanding performers. Orlando Mendez is one such artist and I feel privileged to tell his story.

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‘The Chosen’ Season Four to Debut in Theaters This February

“I know it’s hard,” Jesus (played by Jonathan Roumie) says in a voiceover for “The Chosen’s” Season 4 teaser. “Man makes it much harder when he leans on his own understanding.” 

The smash hit’s fourth season premieres in theaters on Feb. 1, 2024, producers announced Monday. The rollout will begin in the U.S. and Canada with a two-week run of episodes 1-3 on Feb. 1, followed by episodes 4-6 beginning Feb. 15, and Episodes 7-8 beginning Feb. 29, according to a news release. 

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Music Spotlight: Stoned Cold Country

Several years ago, when we were listening to the Rolling Stones on the radio, my husband remarked, “Listen to that. That’s country music.”

Evidently, others agree.

Long fascinated by the Rolling Stones, and specifically their country roots, CMA producer, Robert Deaton spent the past several years on a specific mission: namely, to shine a light on the Stones’ influence not only on country music at large but more specifically on some of its most convention-busting contemporary artists.

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Music Spotlight: Annie Bosko

A California farmer’s daughter, Annie Bosko’s soulful, honey-soaked vocals and neo-traditional country sound has been perfected throughout her 10,000 + hours in the music industry. And while she doesn’t quite have that southern twang, her voice is exquisite. Even more importantly, she was raised on traditional country music.

She recalled, “My dad was a farmer. We would drive around in his truck and go look at the crops and he would play me country music. The first person I remember hearing is Patsy Cline. I remember this voice jumping at me through the speakers of his truck and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what is this?’”

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Joe Galante, Duane Eddy, Don Mclean, and Darius Rucker Have Been Added to Music City’s Walk of Fame

Four extremely deserving individuals on Wednesday received their star on Nashville’s Walk of Fame: Music executive Joe Galante, rock guitarist Duane Eddy, singer/songwriter Don McClean, and rock and country artist Darius Rucker.

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Music Spotlight: Onoleigh

Onoleigh is a Nashville singer-songwriter from Mohomet, Illinois, outside Champaign. Growing up, she was involved in her school band and choir. She sang in musicals and variety shows and even won a talent contest.

But her goal in life was always to help others. That is why she studied to become a school counselor.

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Circle TV Announces New Season of ‘Talking in Circles With Clint Black’

Circle Network, the official TV and media home of the Grand Ole Opry, announced Tuesday the return of one of the network’s hit programs, “Talking in Circles with Clint Black,” for a highly-anticipated fifth season, premiering on Saturday at 10/9c. Hosted by Country Music icon Clint Black, the sit-down interview-style talk show brings intimate, exclusive conversations to Circle’s viewers, bringing fans closer to their favorite entertainers. This season’s roster of guests includes legendary singers/songwriters, TV personalities, and athletes, including Bret Michaels, Elle King, Jimmie Vaughan, John Oates, Marcus King, Paula Abdul, and more.

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‘Playin’ Possum’: Nancy Jones Remembers George Jones

FRANKLIN, Tennessee-Many have been fascinated by George Jones’ storied life. He is possibly the greatest male vocalist in county music history with 79 top ten hits and 10 number ones including “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a song often considered as the greatest country song of all time. But his addiction to drugs and alcohol nearly destroyed his career.

This addiction affected his relationships with women, including his volatile marriage to Tammy Wynette. However, when he met Nancy Sepulvado in 1981, his entire world changed.

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Music Spotlight: Whey Jennings

Whey Jennings is as great a performer as you would expect him to be, but his path to stardom has not been an easy one.

When the singer was around six years old, he picked up a microphone that Jessi Colter left on a chair backstage at his grandpa’s show. Young Whey Jennings pranced out onto the stage and began singing “Mamma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” Jennings’s grandpa Waylon Jennings shouted out, “Hey hold up there Hoss…wait for me!” Waylon went to pickin’ and when the song was finished, the crowd went nuts.

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Music Spotlight: Erin Kirby

Erin Kirby is a country music singer from the small town of Jasper, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. She got her start in music by being in pageants, the kinds that have talent as part of the criterion. She did community service-based, natural pageants that don’t allow makeup for ages nine and under. Erin completed in pageants singing pop tunes until she was about 12 years old. Pageants gave her a place to sing and showcase her talent.

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Music Spotlight: Heartland

Heartland is back and better than ever says People Magazine and I couldn’t agree more. The ACM, CMA nominated, and platinum-selling group returns for the first single in over a decade with “No Tomorrow.” The “live-for-today anthem” (MusicRow), is available now from Yellowhammer Music Group.

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Travis Tritt Releases Country Chapel

Travis Tritt released his first-ever gospel project, Country Chapel, on Friday, a record that was more than three decades in the making. Comprised of original songs informed by his childhood roots along with several favorite gospel covers, Tritt brings new life to these touching tunes which are sure to please the country and gospel fans alike.

The album was produced by Dave Cobb and released by the Gaither Music Group. Tritt filmed a segment at the Lovelace Barn with the talented Gaither band, where he shared the sentiments behind several of the songs.

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Music Spotlight: Alyssa and Wayne Brewer

I get sent tracks from artists daily, so many that I can’t listen to everything that gets sent to me. But when I happened upon Alyssa and Wayne Brewer’s cover of George and Tammy’s “Golden Ring,” I stopped in my tracks. They were so good that I wanted to learn more about the gifted duo.

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Commentary: Parents Must Teach Their Kids Discernment

Entertainment today is extremely accessible. We can watch videos and read articles whenever we want. Each of these pieces of media, however, has its own ideology. But often, we do not even notice this ideology that is being presented to us, or the underlying assumptions of the creators.

As Frances Schaeffer explained: “The results of [people’s] thought world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external world. This is true of Michelangelo’s chisel, and it is true of the dictator’s sword.” Everything people create is the product of their worldview, so being able to recognize the underlying beliefs in media and entertainment is an important skill.

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Previously Censored Trump Movie to Relaunch in October with High-Tech Virtual Arena Experience

The 2020 censored movie titled The Trump I Know is set to relaunch in October inside a high-tech virtual arena where audiences can ask questions and participate during in the livestream from the comfort of their homes.

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Music Spotlight: Johnathon Heilbroun

When I went to see Music Spotlight artist 12-year-old Brooklyn Summer play at Opry Mills last year, her then 14-year-old friend, Johnathon Heilbroun, played too. I already knew how good Brooklyn was but was quite surprised at how talented Heilbroun was. I knew I would eventually get around to learning his story as well.

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Music Spotlight: Tyler Reese Tritt

When I received information about Tyler Reese Tritt, I knew she belonged to someone famous (Travis Tritt is her dad). But what mattered to me was whether she could sing.

The answer is a resounding “yes.” Tyler Reese Tritt sings as naturally as many of us breathe. She said that her dad got her the Disney Princess videos when she was a tot, and her mother added that she would run around the house in her diaper singing “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid.

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Music Spotlight: NEEDTOBREATHE

When I saw the rock band NEEDTOBREATHE had new music coming, a bell went off. Weren’t they a band that my kids used to listen to? Indeed, they are.

NEEDTOBREATHE is an American rock band from Seneca, South Carolina. The band is composed of Bear Rinehart (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Seth Bolt (backing vocals, bass), Josh Lovelace (backing vocals, keys), Randall Harris (drums, percussion), and Tyler Burkum (guitar). I interviewed Lovelace to get more information on their band and their upcoming 9th album, CAVES.

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International Chess Federation Bars Transgender Women from Women’s Only Events

The International Chess Federation has barred transgender individuals who are biological men from competing in its women’s only events pending “further analysis.”

The decision will not affect the open play tournaments, CNN reported. The majority of FIDE’s events are open play, while only a handful of events are exclusive to women.

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John Rich Roasts the Major Labels for Trying to Sign Oliver Anthony: ‘Their Greed Is Overriding Their Wokeness’

Viral sensation Oliver Anthony has taken the music world by storm with his hit song “Rich Men North of Richmond.” The catchy tune has captivated listeners across the nation, skyrocketing Anthony to instant stardom. As one can imagine, every major label and other various interested parties are desperately trying to contact Oliver Anthony to partner with him on his music.

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Wisconsin Parents Report Daughters’ Bruises, Injuries After Practices with Trans Athlete

In Wisconsin, a group of parents are expressing outrage over what they believe to be injuries caused to their daughters due to a “transgender” athlete participating in their sports practice.

According to Fox News, the parents said that their daughters have begun coming home from practice with bruises and welts that they had never seen before. Due to confidentiality concerns, the parents have not yet revealed which school their daughters attend, nor which sport they play. All that is known for now is that they are located somewhere in the Green Bay Area Public School District.

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Music Spotlight: William Beckmann

When I was sent William Beckmann’s song, “She Can’t Be Found,” I was mesmerized. It sounded like something from Johnny or Waylon with a little bit of Elvis thrown in. Surely that young man who I saw on Instagram wouldn’t be singing a song that sounded like it was straight out of 1970s country. I was impressed.

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‘Jesus Revolution’ Immediately Lands in Netflix’s Top Ten

The faith-based film Jesus Revolution soared to popularity on the big screen in early 2023, and now has become an immediate hit on Netflix, landing in the streaming service’s Top 10 in the United States.

The film, which first hit theaters February 24, debuted on Netflix on July 31 and, by the next morning, was ranked in the number 8 spot of the top 10 movies viewed in the United States, reported What to Watch.

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Music Spotlight: Johnny Dailey

Johnny Dailey discovered his love for country music as a kid riding around in his cousin’s truck listening to songs in the rural town of Argo, Alabama, just north of Birmingham.

“I had two sisters, so my cousin became more like a brother. He would always have the latest and greatest country albums to come out like Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Montgomery Gentry, Dierks Bentley, and even some Texas songwriters like Jack Clark and Jerry Jeff Walker,” he said.

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Oklahoma Governor Signs Executive Order ‘Women’s Bill of Rights’ Defining Male-Female Biological Sex

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed an executive order Tuesday that clearly defines male-female sex based on the biological reproductive system.

A press statement from Stitt’s office said he is the “first governor to issue an executive order to boldly stand with women.”

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Rep. Chris Smith to Introduce Federal Child Trafficking Legislation Drafted in Collaboration with ‘Sound of Freedom’ Producer

U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) announced Friday in advance of Sunday’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons that he is planning to introduce legislation that would require the federal government to provide reports on its work investigating potential child trafficking related to the unaccompanied minors released from federal custody and with whom contact has now been lost.

“In the near future, I will be introducing new legislation drafted in collaboration with Eduardo Verastegui—the producer of ‘Sound of Freedom’ and Roger Severino of The Heritage Foundation,” Smith said in a press statement sent to The Star News Network, further detailing that the legislation would “require the federal government to report on efforts to locate, establish contact with, conduct wellness checks on, and investigate any suspicion of human trafficking related to the approximately 85,000 unaccompanied minors who were released from federal government custody and with whom subsequent contact has been lost.”

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Mark Levin: ‘Not a Single Democrat Congressman Attended’ Capitol Hill Showing of ‘Sound of Freedom’

Conservative author and host Mark Levin took to Twitter to observe that “not a single Democrat congressman” attended a special showing this week of the true-to-life film Sound of Freedom, arranged by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and to which the speaker invited members of both parties.

Levin explained in his post that, for the first time, he skipped his own radio show Tuesday night to attend a movie.

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Music Spotlight: Radney Foster

Not being raised in the world of country music, I missed out on knowing about a lot of key players who are part of the foundation of what Nashville has become. Radney Foster is one such person.

While writing my column for the past six years, Foster’s kept coming up, but I was unfamiliar with his work. Then I saw an interview where Darius Rucker credits Foster for the reason he is in country music.

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Swimming Officials to Trial an ‘Open Category’ for Transgender Athletes

World Aquatics, the world swimming governing body, announced Tuesday that it will set up an “open category” that will include transgender athletes, according to The Associated Press.

The governing body banned most male athletes from competing in the female division in 2022 following uproar over Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer who won a national title in women’s swimming after competing in the men’s collegiate division for three years. The president of World Aquatics, Husain Al-Musallam, said an “open category” swimming event will take place alongside other races, according to the AP.

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Commentary: The Man Behind the Movie ‘Oppenheimer’

This weekend, thousands of Americans will go to movie theaters across the country to watch Christopher Nolan’s newest film, “Oppenheimer.” A star-studded cast of talented actors, including Cillian Murphy, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, and Emily Blunt, will bring to the big screen the life of Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant theoretical physicist often called “the father of the atomic bomb.”

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