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Original Features

Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery, Carrie Underwood
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

ToC Encore: Country’s Top 5 ‘American Idol’ Singers

Scotty McCreery, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are three 'American Idol' winners who've gone country, but who's the all-time best?

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Miranda Lambert
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

ToC Encore: Everything You Need to Know About Miranda Lambert’s ‘Platinum’ in 30 Seconds or Less

Miranda Lambert's new album 'Platinum' will be available on June 3 and, with 16 tracks, there's a lot to know about the new studio project. Taste of Country writer Billy Dukes has managed to cram it all into one, 30-second-long, video cheat sheet.

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Eli Young Band
Courtesy of St. Jude

ToC Encore: Pushing Pause for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

For 25 years, country radio has stepped up to raise money for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and on Thursday and Friday (March 6 and 7), Taste of Country is joining that effort. Head writer Billy Dukes explains how artists like Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow jumped at a chance to help with the first-annual webathon, and how you can participate.

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Dan and Shay
Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

Dan + Shay: Country’s New ‘Bold’ Hitmakers

Country songs about drinking beer and making love all night have played the role of Goliath for well over a year. The radio is dripping with testosterone -- heck, even females struggle to score a hit unless they’re shooting someone, or so it seems.

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Cole Swindell, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan
Michael Loccisano / Jason Davis / Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images

ToC Encore: Turning Personal Tragedy Into Hit Records

Turning a personal tragedy into a hit record is tricky, and not just for all the normal reasons that it's difficult to make a song into a hit. Artists who write a great personal song may be hesitant to record it for months or years. Taste of Country writer Billy Dukes considers three powerful songs and three artists who dealt with the personal tragedies that inspired them in very different ways. 

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Thompson Square, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen
Jason Merritt / Isaac Brekken / Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Country’s Romantics: How Nashville’s Leading Men Found Their Valentines

It should be no surprise that many of country music's most romantic singers are pretty smooth off stage, as well. However, the most memorable, real-life love stories are honest and spontaneous. They hinge on tiny details, like the emotion she stirred when she walked on his bus, or the dress she wore when he sang to her on the beach during Spring Break.

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Alan Jackson, Gretchen Wilson
Jason Merritt / Alan Poizner, Getty Images

ToC Encore: A Defense for Artists Who Play SeaWorld

Nearly a dozen others refused, but Alan Jackson, Gretchen Wilson and Kid Rock have taken the stage to play SeaWorld's Bands, Brews & BBQ concert series, despite heavy protest from a controversy started after a documentary called 'Blackfish' aired. Should those who play be demonized?

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Gary Allan, Carrie Underwood
Kevin Winter / Rick Diamond, Getty Images

2014 ACM Awards Nominations – Surprises and Snubs

Nominations for the 2014 ACM Awards in Las Vegas cast a refreshing spotlight on a new generation of country stars, plus one veteran seemingly forgotten by voters.

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Super Bowl
Christopher Polk, Getty Images

ToC Encore: Country Music Can’t Win at the Super Bowl

Why isn't a country superstar performing during halftime of the Super Bowl? It's a fair question, and one country fans have asked every year since Shania Twain took the stage in 2003. Surely there are stars big enough to draw the nation's interest, right? Taste of Country writer Billy Dukes argues that fans of Nashville's biggest names should actually be grateful for this missed opportunity. 

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Miranda Lambert
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

ToC Encore: Why Country Women Will Win Big at the Grammys

Sorry, Blake Shelton and Tim McGraw. The big winners at the 2014 Grammys are going to be women. This may not bother the 'Doin' What She Likes' singer, as his wife Miranda Lambert scored multiple nominations and is always a favorite to take home the hardware. Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson are other country female nominees for the Jan. 26 ceremony.

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