Just one week until the Country to Country festival at Dublin's 3Arena
It's just one week to go to the launch of Country to Country at Dublin’s 3Arena, a three-day festival featuring some of the most exciting acts on the American scene today.
We have the line-up for each day, plus show times for the must-see country music event of the year.
As Country To Country’s media partner, we will be in the heart of the action with a host of top Irish country stars who’ll be dropping by for a chat and a song on the Sunday World Country Stage inside the 3Arena every day.
Fans attending the festival are invited to drop by the Sunday World stage to catch the action and meet our Irish guests in between the performances of the American stars.
Irish country artists including Mike Denver, Robert Mizzell, Lisa McHugh, Johnny Brady, John McNicholl and Marc Roberts are among the home-grown acts who’ll be making a personal appearance.
While the Irish country scene has enjoyed a massive resurgence, the genre has also been growing all over Europe thanks to the appeal of the artists from America.
One of the biggest global stars of country music is Carrie Underwood, who won American Idol in 2005.
Carrie, who headlines next Sunday’s show at Country to Country, has become a global sensation, selling 58 million records and notching up 21 number one hits, 11 of which she co-wrote.
Stunning Underwood’s albums, Some Hearts, Carnival Ride, Play On, Blown Away and her current, Storyteller, have established the singer and songwriter as a country phenomenon.
Carrie, who comes from the small town of Checotah, Oklahoma, has had her songs streamed more than 1.5 billion times worldwide.
In 2013, the country superstar also starred as Maria von Trapp in NBC TV’s three-hour holiday blockbuster the Sound of Music Live!, which attracted 44 million viewers in America.
Underwood says that despite all her achievements since American Idol, nothing compares to marriage and motherhood.
Carrie (33), married her hockey player husband Mike Fisher in 2010, and the couple have a year-old son, Isaiah.
“I never dreamt of my wedding day,” she says. “Then I met Mike and I was like, ‘wow, so now I know what I was missing’. And the same with my son. I was never like, ‘I want kids so bad’ and now that I have Isaiah in my life I’m like, what did I do before?
Like Garth Brooks, 38-year-old Eric Church is a country star with a rock ‘n’ roll mentality.
“Rock ‘n’ roll was part of my DNA as a child growing up int he ‘80s, so it’s very authentic for me to have those elements in my music,” he explains.
“It’s not always been popular. When we started we were considered way too rock. But over time, as the formats changed and got more diversified, all of a sudden we end up being the norm.
“I’m a guy that like to put the boundaries out. Our new album is rootsy and funky. I’m an artist kind of on the edge with people trying to work out where we fit and I kind of like that.”
Miranda Lambert (32) first shot to fame in the Nashville Star TV contest, and she has gone on to become four-time reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year.
“I love songwriting and the road and the family of country music,” Miranda says. “I love being a female in country music and lifting up other females of country.”
Last year Miranda split with fellow country star Blake Shelton.
“We were together for 10 years, married for four, were very quickly divorced, and are friends,” she says. “I’m still processing everything and figuring out where to go and what happened.
Dwight Yoakam (59) has risen from hot country star to being one of the scene’s biggest influences and a critically acclaimed actor. He even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
When he first started out, Johnny Cash called Yoakam his favourite modern country star. Yoakam’s distinctive, supple vocals, accented with his Kentucky croon, sound as strong today as they did on his 1984 debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc, Etc.
LITTLE BIG TOWN
Little Big Town have had a long hard road before making it to the top of the country ladder.
“I’m kind of glad we didn’t know 17 years ago when we were driving around in a van from places like Nashville to Boston that it would take so long to find success,” Kimberly Schlapman says.
“Would those four innocent people have kept going if they had known? I don’t know. I’m glad we didn’t have a crystal ball.”
Kimberly and her three fellow band members Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Philip Sweet, share lead vocals as well as harmonies.
A native of Cedartown, Georgia, Sam Hunt (31) developed a love of songwriting during his college days and relocated to Nashville to establish his career.
“I just wanted to write songs and be in the music business,” he remembers. “I started off doing acoustic shows and it just grew and grew.”
A modern country artist, Sam says his songs reflect country life today and his sound is inspired by the broad range of music he grew up listening to in the 1990s.
Kentucky-born singer Chris Stapleton (37) has enjoyed a 15-year career filled with number one hits and Grammy Award nominations.
Blessed with an otherworldly voice, Stapleton has also written five number one songs for George Strait, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Darius Rucker and Josh Turner.
His songwriting credits span all genres and artists, including pop superstar Adele, who covered his song, If It Hadn’t Been For Love.
Texan Kacey Musgraves (27) has toured the world with a variety of artists, ranging from pop superstar Katy Perry to country legend Willie Nelson.
“It was so great to see the fireworks and the production,” she says of Perry’s tour. “We had amazing fun with her on that tour.”
On starring at Country to Country she said: “It will be my fourth time to play Ireland and I love the audiences there. The appreciation for lyrics is more noticeable in Ireland. I also find that an Irish audience is out to have a good time and are a little rowdy in a good way.”
Growing up Thomas Rhett was used to seeing country idols like Tim McGraw or Brooks & Dunn in his home because his father was famous country music singer Rhett Akins.
When he was old enough he would go on stage with his father and play drums for him.
His albums, It Goes Like This and Tangled Up have been massive success spawning several number on singles including Get Me Some Of That, Make Me Wanna and Die A Happy Man.
Singer Ashley Monroe, who released first self-titled album in 2007, was raised in a family with a great connection to country music – she’s related Carl Smith and members of the Carter family on her father’s side.
Her albums, Like A Rose and The Blade, have both been produced by Vince Gill.
MADDIE & TAE
When Maddie Marlow and Taylor Dye, from Texas and Oklahoma, respectively wrote their smash hit, Girl In A Country Song, they had no idea that it would be the hit to fire up their career.
The song was a shot at the stereotyping of females in country music “wearing cut-off shorts sitting on the tailgate.” But there’s so much more to Maddie & Tae than this song that is either a feminist declaration or this year’s feel-good finger-wag to dumb boys.
THE LINE UP
Chris Stapleton - 6.15pm.
Kacey Musgraves – 7.15pm.
Eric Church – 9pm.
Ashley Monroe -5.40pm.
Thomas Rhett – 6.50pm.
Dwight Yoakam – 8.05pm.
Miranda Lambert – 9.30pm.
Madde & Tae – 5.25pm.
Sam Hunt – 6.35pm.
Little Big Town – 7.50pm.
Carrie Underwood – 9.30pm.