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Sundance Head Transforms Miley Cyrus' 'The Climb' Into Country Ballad on 'The Voice' [Watch]

Sundance Head secured his spot on Team Blake during a knockout round with his memorable performance of "The Climb."

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Vince Gill Among Songwriter's Hall of Fame 2017 Nominees

Vince Gill has been nominated for induction into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2017.

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Kelly Clarkson Surprises at Garth Brooks Diamond Concert With 'We Shall Be Free' [Watch]

Kelly Clarkson surprised Garth Brooks fans at Nashville's Ascend Amphitheater on Monday night (Oct. 24), joining country legend onstage for "We Shall Be Free." Continue reading…

Germany nixes Armenian 'genocide' concert in Istanbul

Germany's Foreign Ministry has halted plans for a classical concert about the Armenian genocide that was due to be held at its consulate in Istanbul.

The ministry confirmed media reports Tuesday that it had informed the Dresden Symphony Orchestra the venue wouldn't be available Nov. 13.

The orchestra had planned to perform "Aghet ," a special concert commemorating the mass killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I.

The killings are viewed by many scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century and Germany's Parliament recently passed a resolution describing them as such, much to Turkey's anger.

German news agency dpa reports that the orchestra had invited Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to the concert.

A stripped, emotional Lady Gaga comes to life on 'Joanne'

It's 1:30 a.m. and Lady Gaga is on the brink of tears.

The pop star's new album has been out for 90 minutes and she just celebrated by wrapping up two performances: first inside the New York City bar she used to sing as an unsigned teenager, and then on top of the venue for all of her feverish fans screaming loudly outside.

A lot has happened to get to this moment: She dealt with the constant reminder of 2013's "ARTPOP" not matching the success of her previous albums; she parted ways with her manager; and she announced she and her fiance, actor Taylor Kinney, were taking a break.

But since "ARTPOP," she picked up her sixth Grammy for her jazz album with Tony Bennett; performed at the Oscars — twice — and earned a nomination for an original song; won a Golden Globe this year for her role in "American Horror Story"; and drew raves for her national anthem performance at this year's Super Bowl.

Sitting inside her trailer parked outside The Bitter End, Gaga is teary-eyed as she discusses the new sound she delivers on "Joanne," a rock-pop-country adventure that's a departure from the dance-flavored electronic sound that made her a multiplatinum juggernaut.

"Yeah. I mean, I've changed a lot. I've healed a lot. I've healed a lot," she said, pausing. "Period."

"But I " — she paused again — "I feel like it would be so strange to hear my music, or hear anyone's music really, and not hear the change. I change a lot and that's just who I am. And I'm just going to keep (expletive) being that way, you know.

"The happiest that I am is when I'm just really truly being myself and I've always said that to my fans and guess what, they help me make that real," she said.

"Joanne," released Friday, embarks on new territory as Gaga's voice takes the center stage. "There's no Auto-Tune on any of my vocals. Not one," she said.

She started writing new material two years ago, and then at this year's Super Bowl she gave Mark Ronson a demo of some songs (he performed "Uptown Funk" there with Bruno Mars).

"He said to me, 'I know you can write great songs,' (but) he said, '...What do you HAVE to write about? That's what I want you to write,'" she recalled.

The result is more emotional tracks compared to past hits, ranging in topics from her love life to her friend's battle with cancer (the bonus track "Grigio Girls") to her aunt Joanne, who died from lupus before Gaga was born (Joanne is also Gaga's middle name). The closing track, "Angel Down," is about Trayvon Martin.

"It was really hard," she said of writing personal songs. "But it was the best thing I ever did going there, because once you go there, you can't get darker than there 'cause you just got to look inside and whatever it is it is, and then you pick yourself up and keep going."

"Sinner's Prayer" sounds like it could be played in a Western with lyrics like, "Hear my sinner's prayer/I am what I am/And I don't wanna break the heart of any other man but you." Other songs have lyrics that could be about Gaga's own relationship: "Million Reasons" is about a failing relationship, and on the first single, "Perfect Illusion," she sings: "I still feel the blow/But at least now I know/It wasn't love, it wasn't love/It was a perfect illusion."

"This album is about being tough," she said. "My dad was tough, he lost his sister out of nowhere, you know. My grandma lost her daughter out of nowhere. My other grandma, she raised herself. I come from a long line of tough family (members) and ... I wanted to write a record that reminded people that no matter what perfect illusion you have of me — right — that I'm probably a lot like you."

The album features some respected musicians helping Gaga round out her sound, including frequent collaborator RedOne, Josh Homme of Queen of the Stone Age, Beck, Florence Welch, Hillary Lindsey and Jeff Bhasker, who won producer of the year at this year's Grammys. Ronson led the team as executive producer and co-wrote each song alongside Gaga.

"I'm not Calvin Harris or some mastermind of dance music at all, but I think, I just kind of obviously guess that the reason she asked me to work on this record with her was because she was probably looking to do something that was a departure from what she's done," said Ronson, who has produced for Amy Winehouse, Mars and others.

"I enjoy like a really big pop song that's about nothing as well — I DJ'd and played songs like that in the club for 22 years — but I think that as soon as I was aware that she sort of had so many stories to tell ... that was going to be able to fill an album ... it felt like a really great place to go," he added.

Some have not been accepting of the new sound: The New York Times said the album "fishes for inspiration" and The Chainsmokers and Patrick Carney of the Black Keys dissed "Perfect Illusion," which peaked at No. 15 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

"She's earned the right to experiment and do things differently," said John Janick, the president of Interscope Records, where Gaga debuted as a nascent dance singer in 2008. "It doesn't sound like everything else on the radio, but we take that as challenge to say, 'We want to shift culture. We want the world to move toward her and not move toward everybody else."

Gaga has showcased the new songs in a small environment — on her Dive Bar Tour with Bud Light. She will perform the songs on even a bigger stage when she headlines the Super Bowl halftime show next year.

"I think it's always a challenge honestly with album-to-album with me because I'm always changing (and) I've never made an album that was like the one before it. So I don't know if everyone's waiting for me to do that, but it might be easier if everyone just got the memo," she said.



Kenny Chesney Will 'Pull Back Just a Little Bit' From Touring in 2017

Kenny Chesney won't be on the road as much in 2017 ...

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Jana Kramer Saved After Samba on 'Dancing With the Stars' [Watch]

Jana Kramer managed to pull out another week on Dancing With the Stars Monday night (Oct. 24), winning her way to safety after turning in two very different dance performances.

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The Lumineers Talk 'Cleopatra', Writing on the Road and More

At September's Americana Music Awards, The Boot caught up with the Lumineers on the red carpet to discuss their latest album, Cleopatra, writing on the road and more.

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Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson + More Help Garth Brooks Celebrate Seven Diamonds

Monday night's (Oct. 24) Garth Brooks concert in Nashville promised special guests, and the world's only seven diamond album-certified singer didn't disappoint. In fact, even Brooks was surprised by a few of his collaborators. Continue reading…

Songwriter Sager reflects on music, marriage, friendships

Oscar-winning songwriter Carole Bayer Sager had no idea how many stories she had to tell until she worked on her memoir.

"For the first time it occurred to me, 'My God, I've had a really big life,'" she says. "There are moments, 'Wow, I'm sitting on Elizabeth Taylor's bed and she's showing me her jewelry,' or 'Wow, I'm sitting on a cot across from — Bob Dylan?' And I'm writing a song?' There are those moments, but for the most part, they're like moments, but you don't really get the scope of your life."

Sager's "They're Playing Our Song," which has just been published, tells how she crafted lyrics for "It's My Turn," ''Don't Cry Out Loud," ''That's What Friends are For" and many other hits and offers intimate takes on such friends, lovers and collaborators as Taylor, Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, Marvin Hamlisch and ex-husband Burt Bacharach. The book also traces the inner journey of a woman who reached the heights of professional achievement despite deep and long-held insecurity, starting from her mother's taunts about her weight and continuing through her relationships with Hamlisch and Bacharach, "the great, fake love of my life."

"I thought my book would help a lot of people, because I think so many people compare their insides to other peoples' outsides. I can imagine people looking at me through the years when I was with Marvin Hamlisch and Burt Bacharach and thinking 'What a great life she has,'" says the 69-year-old Sager.

A native of New York City who now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bob Daly, Sager discovered a gift for words early in life and was still in her teens when she helped write the hit "A Groovy Kind of Love," later a No. 1 song for Phil Collins. By the 1970s, she was working with Midler, Melissa Manchester and other performers and took over the vocals herself for "Carole Bayer Sager," her first of three solo albums.

She soon found success on stage and in film. She and Hamlisch teamed with Neil Simon on the Broadway musical that provides the title for her memoir and she's had a long run of hits for movies, whether teaming with Hamlisch on "Nobody Does it Better" from the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me" or with Bacharach, Peter Allen and Christopher Cross on the Academy Award-winning theme song from "Arthur."

During a recent interview with The Associated Press, Sager talked about some of her most personal songs, her years with Bacharach and her famous friends. She is articulate and exacting about herself, and an accomplished mimic of the people she knows, whether Bacharach's seductive rasp, Midler's brassy candor or Jackson's fragile whisper.

Here are some highlights:

On writing the hit "You're Moving Out Today" with Midler, who became a close friend:

"She criticized me and said 'WHY ARE ALL YOUR SONGS ABOUT HOME AND LIGHT AND FINDING YOURSELF?! WHY DON'T YOU WRITE SONGS WITH SOME INTERESTING WORDS?!' ... I said, 'Bette, that's kind of what I do. I try and synthesize feelings into their simplest form and share them and connect with other people.' 'WELL YOU'D HAVE MORE HITS IF YOU USED BETTER WORDS.' And she'd pull a book off the shelf and say, 'NOW, HERE'S A WORD, "IMMORTAL." WHY DON'T YOU USE THAT WORD?!'"

On her friendship with Taylor:

"In the summertime, I lived in white linen pants and a white T-shirt and I had another shirt that was kind of sheer that I'd wrap around my hips, and tie it in the front. She'd called me 'little one' or sometimes 'mighty mouse.' I didn't mind either because they were said with such affection. But she'd say, 'Little one, why are you wrapping that thing around your bottom? Take it off, you look perfectly fine. What are you hiding? You don't have to hide anything, sweetheart.'"

On the different "channels" of Michael Jackson, who dedicated his "Invincible" album to Sager:

"You have one channel that comes in perfect and that was Michael's talent. It never wavered, only when he wavered in self-doubt. ... But then you'd go to a channel about his interaction with people and it's just static, complete static, because he couldn't connect to most people. He was terribly shy. He spoke in a child's voice, 'Carole, will you come sit upstairs with me until Elizabeth (Taylor) comes because I'm frightened.'

On "The Prayer," the ballad she co-wrote with David Foster, and how its theme of "safety" is so important to her work:

"I think it embodies everything I looked for my whole life. 'Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace, to a place where we'll be safe.' I didn't find that safety until my mid-40s, when I met my current husband, Bob Daly."

On the end of her marriage to Bacharach, who had confessed he was seeing another woman:

"The saddest thing about it, I think, is that when he left me I was in agreement with him — that I was indeed very leaveable. And I would leave me, too. So there was no one there to say, 'Isn't this a shame for both of us. We're both losing something here. ... I feel sad about that now, for that person, then, who was me. I'm not that person today, thank God."

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