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■ JEWEL ANNOUNCES COMPANION ACOUSTIC TRACKS TO ‘SWEET AND WILD’…’SWEET AND MILD’: Jewel’s second release on Valory,SWEET AND WILD (in stores June 8th), will offer fans not one, but two versions of the songs on the album.  The alternate versions of the studio tracks will be acoustic in nature and will represent the songs in their original state.  “The only other difference is how I color my songs. My fundamental songwriting has not changed one bit,” Jewel says of presenting two different snapshots of the same song on her second Country project.  “How I produce the music does change.  Now I can add weeping steel to emphasize a poignant lyrics…or I can use a rolling picked banjo to bring an uplifting forward movement to a chorus, instead of layering another electric guitar to get some lift for a chorus. To drive this point home - I decided to release a double album called ‘Sweet And Mild’.  It's the exact same record and the exact same sequence, but it's all solo acoustic.  Zero production.  It's just me and my guitar.  These are the tracks I cut at my home studio by myself, and these are the tracks I took to Nashville that Nathan [Chapman] and I created the album around.  Here they exist in their most pure state, as they were written.  They are blank canvases that can still go any which way.  Naked songs, waiting to be dressed and told what they are.  Sometimes we really changed the song when we dressed them up, [while] others stayed very similar to what was already there.”  For a full explanation of the recording process for this album and details on the songs included, click here to read Jewel’s latest blog from her website.

■ REBA SAYS SHE’S HAVING MORE FUN IN HER CAREER NOW THAN SHE EVER HAS: It’s no secret that Reba loves what she does.  She always approaches each chapter in her career with her signature drive and dedication, but what may come as a surprise to some is that she says she’s never enjoyed her career more than now.  “I think I’m having more fun now that I did 10, 15 years ago,” Reba tells ACM Tempo in a recent interview.  “There are so many new people.  To get to see and meet the new people, that’s the fun part!  It’s so exciting in country music right now.  The veterans are still there, but the newcomers are coming on.  It’s just so much fun to see the newcomers coming on, and still be part of it – and I’m grateful that they’re still letting me be part of it.”  And part of it is she ever!  With “I Keep On Loving You”, the follow-up single to the longest-running #1 of her career “Consider Me Gone”, quickly headed for the chart’s pinnacle, her latest album being certified Gold, and a wildly successful co-headlining tour with George Strait poised to unveil a fall leg, Reba’s career has never been hotter.  This week, Reba will tape an edition of CMT Unplugged at Studio 330.  Reba was selected to represent Country music as part of MTV Networks’ multi-genre re-launch of their Unplugged series, which will be featured across CMT, MTV and VH1’s multi-media platforms when it premieres in May.

■ JUSTIN MOORE TALKS ABOUT STAYING FLEXIBLE TO ‘BACK THAT THING UP’: Female fans attending Justin Moore’s concerts certainly know the rising star moves a lot, with hip-swivels and a stage persona reminiscent of Dwight Yoakam and Trace Adkins.  With all the moves he pulls on stage, we asked Justin if it takes a lot of warming up to perform like that each night.  “You know, I’m an idiot, ‘cause I don’t stretch or nothin’,” Justin notes with a sigh.  “I just take a couple shots of whiskey and that seems to do the trick.  I get out there and feel fearless.  I just let the music lead me and, man, I do get into it.”  The music has been leading Justin into a lot of great places lately, including the radio top 10, where just this week the Arkansas native picks up his second consecutive Top 10 record.  “To be serious though, about the warming up, I should definitely start doing that, or I’m bound to hurt myself.  I have been working out a lot lately.  I still look scrawny, but I feel better than ever.”  Fans will be able to check out Justin’s signature stage moves this week when his solo tour picks up in Manhattan, KS.  Justin will also begin his run on Brad Paisley’s H2O World Tournext month.

■ JIMMY WAYNE EARNS PRAISE FROM ‘LADIES HOME JOURNAL’ FOR HIS ‘CRAZY IDEA’: Jimmy Wayne is currently featured on Ladies Home Journal’s popular website, where he is praised for his Meet Me Halfway initiative. Written by managing editor Ron Kelly, the piece can be found in the ‘Do Good” section of the website here. The feature applauds Wayne for his work on behalf of homeless teens, particularly foster children who ‘age out’ of the foster care system.  Meet Me Halfway began as what Wayne himself called “a crazy idea.” That idea was to walk halfway across America in order to generate awareness of homeless teens, especially foster children.  Wayne himself was in and out of the foster care system throughout his childhood, and even homeless at one point as a teenager.  So on January 1, 2010, Wayne began his approximately 1700-mile walk from Nashville to Phoenix, departing from Monroe Harding Group Home, with the ultimate destination, HomeBase Youth Services in Phoenix, AZ. Both facilities serve foster children.  Now closing in on nearly 1,000 miles of walking, Wayne is expected to reach Phoenix by mid-June, a longer amount of time than originally expected, but according to Wayne, well worth the journey.  “I have met some incredibly kind and generous people along the way,” Wayne said “I have been able to talk to them and tell them about these foster kids who, when they reach  the age of 18, often end up homeless because they have no support system and nowhere to go.  We need to do something about that.  We need to make changes.”  To keep up with Wayne’s journey, click here.

■ RANDOM NOTES: With the intriguing title ‘Jewel Really Can See Russia From Her House’, fans of the superstar will want to check out the latest in her series of exclusive AOL blogs hereJustin Moore performed a high-energy version of “Backwoods” last weekend in Seattle at the Puyallup County Fair.  Click here to watch it courtesy of KMPS…In case you haven’t checked out Valory artist iPhone Apps, be sure to discover Reba’s hereand Jimmy Wayne’s hereReba performed “I Keep On Loving You”, from her #1-selling album KEEP ON LOVING YOU, on last weekend’sAcademy of Country Music Awards.  Click here to watch the performance.


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