Ty Herndon’s Love & Acceptance Event Beams with Pride

By Paula Kunatee

The calendar can tell us we are in the year 2017, but it could feel like you’re trapped in a different lifetime when you don’t feel comfortable being who you are. Coming out in 2014, Grammy nominated, Ty Herndon has become a voice in the LGBTQ community. Fortunately for Ty, he says he felt support from family, friends, fellow musicians, as well as fans. Just in time for Pride month, the country singer wanted to shine a light on the LGBTQ youth and the importance of Oasis Center’s Just Us program to help teens transition into a healthy adult.

During the red carpet of the 2017 installment of Ty Herndon’s Love & Acceptance, the stars rolled in and we got to hear how Herndon’s  journey has affected not only the industry, but their own paths as well. Among those guests was The Voice star, Billy Gilman, who shared how Ty’s story gave him the strength to come out. The co-host, CMT’s Cody Alan, recalls how he struggled in the business with his sexuality, but you couldn’t tell that was the case as he walked hand in hand with an electric smile alongside his partner, Trea Smith.

The night was filled with a massive amount of positivity, great music, and incredible stories!

City of Hope’s 27th Annual Celebrity Softball Game

By Paula Kunatee

Teaming up with CMA Music Festival, City of Hope’s 27th annual Celebrity softball game was filled with a star studded lineup! With a record breaking number of attendance, fans got a chance to visit the City of Hope booth and to be apart of the bone marrow registry. US News & World Report has ranked City of Hope as one of the nation’s “Best Cancer Hospitals.” Their mission is finding new methods to cure cancers, diabetes, and other life threatening diseases.

As the crowd piled into their respective seats, they were treated to Nicole Schulz’s journey with City of Hope. Diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 14, Shulz and her doctors found it difficult to find a matching donor. Thakfully, City of Hope came in to help and found that matching donor. It’s been a few years and Schulz has never met her life-saving donor, but would love to thank him for his sacrifice. That was until the softball game. City of Hope brought Nicole Shulz (and her family) and her donor, Air Force Sergeant, Rian Lawrence together for the first time ever! There was not a dry eye in the stadium while the air filled with applause.

Kicking off the game was Reba McEntire to sing the National Anthem followed by Sara Evan’s rendition of, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The team captains, Bobby Bones (for Team iHeartMedia) and Billy Cody (for Team Grand Ole Opry / Sirius XM) for the coin toss. It was followed by surprise appearance from Mötley Crüe’s lead singer, Vince Neil for ceremonial first pitch.

There to announce the play by play were legendary artists Jeannie Seely, Lee Greenwood, and Tim Rushlow, and iHeartMedia’s radio personality, Gator Harrison!  And even though the score was 9-6 (Team iHeart) the real winner is the future of City of Hope, and their fight to beat life threatening diseases! For more information about City of Hope, or to find a location nearest you please visit CityOfHope.org

Pandora’s ‘Sounds Like Country’ Event Kicks Off CMA Fest

By Paula Kunatee

On Tuesday, June 6th it was an evening filled with excitement as fans from all over the globe, lined up for the chance to see live performances at Pandora’s Sounds Like Country show! Headlining was Beach Whiskey owner and RCA’s recording artist, Jake Owen! Also on the line up were ACM’s nominated vocal group, Old Dominion and CMT’s nominated, Raelynn.

Before the show, fans were invited to take part in a scavenger hunt for prizes that ranged from snacks to sunglasses, and free drink tickets! Though some opted for their spot by the front of the stage (or bar), the place was filled with an electrifying buzz of the fans filling every nook and cranny of the venue.

Raelynn opened the show with her latest single, Lonely Call (a personal favorite of ours). The singer was covered in black with encrusted crystals on her top, and boots to match. Singing hit after hit, she took a second to explain the personal connection she had to her previous single, “Love Triangle.” Which is a song she wrote before she signed a record deal; a first hand story of her childhood experience adjusting to shuffling from parent to parent during marital separation.

Nashville’s very own, Old Dominion brought their A game and the fans sang every word back to them. Lead singer, Matthew Ramsey jumped in the crowd, high-fiving all the fans he could reach before joining the rest of his bandmates on stage. But the surprises didn’t stop there, they invited fans on stage to dance with them!

As Old Dominion wrapped their set, the crew broke down their set, and prepped for Jake Owen’s performance. The crew turned the stage into a palm tree, creating a beach vibe paradise to set the mood. The barefoot, Owen took stage with an energy that would make anyone want to do cartwheels (or at least learn how to). Owen heads towards his fans to take selfies with his mic in hand. Singing fan favorites, and even covering his personal hero, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Owen had the audience singing along to every word.

As the lights got brighter, and the stars retreated to their buses, it was just the beginning to an amazing CMA Festival for 2017!