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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockJake Owen will perform his latest hit, “Beachin,” Monday morning on NBC’s Today.

Blake Shelton will headline the 2015 Kicker Country Stampede Festival June 25 through 28 in Manhattan, Kansas.

According to Pollstar, George Strait has the highest-grossing tour in North America so far this year with $61.8 million coming in for 26 dates on his final trek, The Cowboy Rides Away.

Tyler Farr has earned a gold single certification for his latest hit, “Whiskey in My Water.”

Shania Twain is the first performer to sell out two back-to-back shows at the Calgary Stampede in Canada. The concerts took place last week at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Jon Pardi worked as a lifeguard when he first moved to Nashville.

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Keith Urban Performing with Fans in Australia Thanks to His New Hologram

Image Courtesy Capitol NashvilleKeith Urban just wrapped a run of shows in Australia, but fans Down Under can still see him perform virtually. Keith has partnered with ANZ Bank to present a hologram of himself performing his latest single, “Somewhere in My Car.”

Keith tells ABC News Radio with a laugh, “Somewhere in my hologram, right?”

Fans can actually perform the song onstage with Keith as the hologram travels from city to city over the next few weeks. Keith sees the hologram as an interesting way to stay connected to fans.

“I like the whole idea of that and what can be done with that,” Keith told ABC News Radio backstage after his performance on ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday. “We’ve already seen it a little bit at Coachella [with the late rapper Tupac Shakur] and places like that, so it’s interesting to see how that’s going to evolve as a technology.”

So, would Keith consider staying home while his hologram goes on a full-fledged tour?

Says Keith, “No, ’cause I love the crowd. I love the whole experience. I wouldn’t want to miss that. The traveling is so horrendous that the crowd make it all worthwhile.” 

He laughs, “Jackson Browne says he plays onstage two hours for free, but they pay him for the other 22 hours. I think that’s [about] right!”

Keith his now on the road in North America on the Raise ‘Em Up Tour. Go to KeithUrban.net for dates.

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The Band Perry’s “Pioneer” Album Launch Honored by Tennessee Tourism Association

Image Courtesy CMAThe Band Perry received some hometown love last week from the Greene County Partnership. According to the Tennessee’s Greeneville Sun, the sibling trio was honored with the 2014 Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association Pinnacle Award in recognition of their Pioneer album launch event in Greeneville in March 2013.

The band performed for a huge crowd at the event, which required government cooperation on the state, regional and local level. The event took place on the Saturday night before Easter, so Greeneville’s Public Works Department had to toil late into the night to clean up the downtown area before church services the next morning.

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National Blood Drive Protests Ban on Gay Donors

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For the second year in a row, groups held a national blood drive to protest the ban against gay and bisexual men donating blood. Grassroots organizations collaborated Friday to draw attention to the policy and call for ch…

Government Shutdown Baby Boom: Real or Coincidence?

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s been nine months since the government shutdown, and some D.C. area hospitals are reporting a surprising development: Babies. Lots of them.Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., has seen an additional t…

Oldest Case of Down Syndrome Discovered in 1,500-Year-Old Skeleton

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A 1,500-year-old skeleton has shed new light on how ancient civilizations viewed those with genetic disorders. French researchers have found the oldest confirmed case of Down syndrome after uncovering the skeleton of a child with the genetic disorder.

A case study published in the International Journal of Pathology showed pictures of the skeleton buried near a church in Chalon-sur-Saône in eastern France. The skeleton featured a broad skull with flattened base and thinner skull bones, all telltale signs of Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that is associated with intellectual disability, a characteristic facial appearance, and mild to moderate cognitive delays.

The researchers also noted that in spite of the evident genetic disorder the child did not appear to be stigmatized by the community, at least in its burial.

“This Down syndrome child was not treated differently at death than others in the community,” wrote lead author Maite Rivollat. “We interpret this as meaning that the child was maybe not stigmatized during life, the first time a Down syndrome individual has been so viewed in the context of the ancient community.”

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Joe Nichols Ready to Go Eight Singles Deep with “Crickets”

Image Courtesy Red Bow RecordsJoe Nichols is on track to score his second consecutive #1 hit from his album Crickets with the mid-tempo track “Yeah.” It’s the follow-up to his most recent chart-topper, “Sunny and 75,” and Joe thinks there are plenty more hits from Crickets waiting in the wings.

He tells Canada’s Regina Leader Post, “It certainly was part of the plan to have back-to-back hits and try to keep having hits, but with this album I think with can go eight singles deep — there’s just that many songs that are made for country radio.”

Joe will perform several of those hits at his show in North Myrtle Beach, SC later this week.

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Girl Mauled by Raccoon Gets Man-Made Ear

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SPRING LAKE, Mich.) — An 11-year-old girl mauled by raccoon as a baby is recovering from surgery to attach a makeshift ear that was grown on her arm.Charlotte Ponce of Spring Lake, Michigan, lost her right ear, nose and part of …

Taylor Swift’s “Head Is Spinning” After Seeing “The Giver”, Watch Her at the Premiere at a Theater Near You

Photo Credit: Sarah BarlowTaylor Swift filmed her role in the movie The Giver quite some time ago, but she recently go to see the finished product — and boy, did she like it.

“Just saw a screening of The Giver. Honestly, I can’t believe I got to be a part of something so poignant and beautiful. My head is spinning,” she tweeted.  As previously reported, Taylor plays the small but crucial role of Rosemary in the movie, based on the popular 1993 young adult novel of the same name.  Her co-stars include Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.

You’ll be able to see Taylor walk the red carpet at the premiere of the movie on August 11 at a theater near you.  The Giver: World Premiere Red Carpet Event will be available at 250 select theaters nationwide, and tickets are available now.  During the presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. local time, you’ll not only be able to see all the action, but you’ll also be able to interact with the stars, including Taylor, as they speak directly to the theater audiences from the red carpet.

Tickets to the screening are available now; visit FathomEvents.com to see if it’s playing near you.

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