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CATCHING UP WITH ...

ALAN JACKSON

THE SINGER CELEBRATES A NEW ALBUM, A NEW HOME-AND A BRIGHT NEW OUTLOOK FOR THE FUTURE

Even with 17 albums and 26 No. 1 hits under his belt, Alan Jackson admits his excitement for his work isn't waning yet. "Making music is still what keeps a fire going on in me," says Jackson, 53. His latest inner blaze has been sparked by his new CD Thirty Miles West. The title is a nod to growing up in a rural southern town-in his case, Newnan, Ga.-30 miles west of the nearest highway. "I was fishing in Florida last winter, and it just hit me," he says. "It reminded me of the area I grew up in."

These days his digs are much fancier. Having sold their 19,000-sq.-ft. home outside of Nashville a few years ago, he and wife Denise, 53, built a brand new, and equally large, home for their family of five (the couple have three daughters-Mattie, 22, Ali, 18, and Dani, 14). Jackson says the home is just what the family needed, especially after Denise's recent battle with cancer. "With everything we've been through in the last year or two, the house is really just a blessing for us-it's private, safe and cozy," he says. As for Denise's health, "she has checkups every few months, and everything has been clear. We'll just keep on hoping. I've always said, she's the toughest woman I've ever known."



STAR HOBBIES

Clint Digs Up the Past

PBS'S HISTORY DETECTIVES SOLVE THE STAR'S SCRAPBOOK MYSTERY

Fifteen years ago Lisa Hartman Black gave her history buff husband one of the coolest birthday gifts ever: A yellowed scrapbook full of wanted posters dating to 1909 that she bought from an L.A. dealer. "It was fantastic," says Black, "but I didn't know what it was used for." Until, that is, he enlisted the help of the PBS series History Detectives. The episode featuring Black (airing July 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT) reveals that the book was an early criminal database, kept by the sheriff of Leavenworth, Kans., who, it turns out, was the grandson of U.S. President William Henry Harrison. "It's a one-of-a-kind artifact and a turning point in law enforcement history," Black says. "It needs to be studied, and I need to make sure it doesn't get lost to history."



GIVING BACK

Chris's Quilt Auction

RAISING MONEY FOR ST. JUDE HOSPITAL

Long a supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Chris Young has now gotten his "Nanny" involved too. Each month he'll auction off a quilt, handmade by his maternal grandmother, Margaret Yates, to benefit the hospital. (Bids can be made on his official website chrisyoungcountry.com.) "I think it's really cool that Nanny has taken up the cause," said Young.



HOT GEAR

Tim's New Headphones

The singer's new line of JBL Headphones ($49.95-$129.95) may be a hot buy for music fans but with McGraw's signature prominently displayed on them, don't expect to see his three daughters in them. "It's tough to get them to go outside" wearing them, McGraw has joked. "I'm probably the most uncool person they know in their eyes."



ME AND MY DOG

DIERKS & JAKE

HERE'S FIVE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT THE SINGER'S BEST FRIEND

1. He's a pound puppy Bentley adopted Jake from a Nashville shelter while in a previous relationship. After the breakup, Bentley made sure to keep custody of his best buddy.

2. He's a video star Jake steals the spotlight in many of Bentley's videos, including "Lot of Leavin' Left to Do" and "What Was I Thinkin'."

3. He's Bentley's bunkmate When Bentley and his band hit the road, Jake often makes himself comfortable sleeping beside his master-in his bunk.

4. He's a sailor One of Bentley's favorite ways to unwind is to take his boat out on a local lake in Nashville with his furry first mate by his side.

5. He's Bentley's first baby! When Bentley's first child, daughter Evie, was on the way, he practiced his swaddling technique by wrapping Jake up tight in blankets. He's even got pictures of a swaddled Jake on his cell phone to prove it!



EDITORS' PICKS

7 THINGS WE LOVE!

GOOD DEEDS, GOOD READS AND MORE STUFF WE'RE RAVING ABOUT NOW

BRAD ON SOUTH PARK

On the April 25 episode of the Comedy Central hit, Paisley sang the national anthem then dueted with Cartman.

"If I may say, I make a handsome cartoon," he tweeted.



MIRANDA'S PUPPY LOVE

Lambert will headline her fifth annual Cause for the Paws concert June 22 in Beaumont, Texas. The show benefits her MuttNation Foundation which has contributed more than $700,000 over the last four years to help animal shelters and pet adoption programs around the country.

FOR MORE INFO GO TO muttnationfoundation.com



HAPPY 100th Birthday to the Goo Goo Cluster, Nashville's hometown treat!

To find Goo Goos in your area go to googoo.com



NASHVILLE'S HOT TICKET ...

CMA MUSIC FEST

Blake, Carrie

JUNE 7-10 NASHVILLE

Brad, Jason

FOR MORE INFO GO TO CMAWORLD.COM



KELLY GOES COUNTRY

CLARKSON STRIPPED DOWN THE PRODUCTION, SLOWED THE TEMPO AND AMPED UP THE GUITAR TO TURN HER POP SMASH "MR. KNOW IT ALL" INTO A COUNTRY HIT.



A CAT IN RHINESTONES!

Johnny and June's son John Carter Cash teamed with illustrator Scott Nash to create The Cat in the Rhinestone Suit, a children's book about a stylin' feline in the Old West who's out to settle a score with the snake who stole his catnip.



BILLY SAVES THE WORLD-ONE PAIR OF SHOES AT A TIME

Former child star Billy Gilman returns with a "We Are the World"-type single called "The Choice" to benefit Soles4Souls, which provides shoes for those in need around the world. The songs features Gilman and 18 other artists, including Reba, Keith Urban and Alan Jackson. Get it on iTunes.



COUNTRY ON TV

Hot Shows for Fall

REBA RETURNS TO PRIME TIME AND NASHVILLE GETS ITS TURN IN THE SPOTLIGHT IN TWO NEW ABC SHOWS

MALIBU COUNTRY

Fridays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT

Starring Reba, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Rue

Five years after her self-titled sitcom went off the air, Reba is back with a new comedy about an aspiring country singer named Reba Gallagher, newly divorced from her cheating Nashville-legend husband (Jeffrey Nordling). Looking to jump-start the music career she gave up to concentrate on her family, she packs up her mom (Tomlin) and two teenage kids and moves into the Malibu beach-house she won in the divorce. The show premieres in November.



NASHVILLE

Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Starring Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere

The family soap opera stars Britton as Rayna James, an aging former country superstar whose career is beginning to slide, so her label teams her up to tour with the hot, young and not-to-be-trusted ingenue in town, Panettiere's Juliette Barnes. The entire cast, including Britton and Panettiere, who released a single in 2008, will do their own singing.



CELEBRITY DREAM ANALYSIS

KELLIE PICKLER

THE DREAM

"I was a dolphin in the ocean-and this is so weird because I don't even eat meat-but I was trying to find a cheeseburger! I was jumping in and out of the water, swimming to shore, waiting for someone to drop a burger in the water."

THE ANALYSIS

"It's interesting that she's a dolphin, because dolphins sing to communicate," says dream coach Paula Scardamalia. "Kellie doesn't eat meat, yet was searching for a burger. I'd wonder if I had enough protein in my diet. And, since burgers are not normal to a dolphin's diet, I'd ask myself what I am urgently desiring, out of my normal environment, that's not good for me."

Analysis by Paula Scardamalia of diviningthemuse.com



STAR TWEETS

Taylor's Birthday Wishes

SWIFT AND PALS CELEBRATE SHIRLEY MACLAINE'S 78TH

They've never costarred in a movie or collaborated on a duet with her. But that didn't stop Taylor Swift and new pal Diana Agron (Glee) from dressing up "full-time fancy," in Swift's words, and meeting friends at the Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge for brunch in honor of the Oscar-winner's birthday. The foursome even ordered a cake with the inscription "Happy Birthday Shirley." "Had a long day & don't know what to celebrate later... ? Because you need a moment to be young? Find your moments," Agron wrote after posting the photos on Twitter.



HERO OF THE MONTH

Billy Saves a Blue Heron!

While vacationing on Florida's Mexico Beach April 9, Billy Dean, 50, stepped up to help save a great blue heron that had gotten tangled in a fishing line. With the bird biting his hands, Dean grabbed it by its feet and carried it out of the water. "The bird was alive but had several cuts and was clearly distressed," says Dean. Wildlife-management officers took the bird in for treatment.



PASSAGES

ENGAGED

Gloriana's Tom Gossin, 30, popped the question to girlfriend Jamie Moffett, 29, at her home in Atlanta on March 1. Moffett-who inspired Gossin to write the song "Carolina Rose"-was so surprised that "she dropped everything she was holding," said Gossin. She then said, "Yes."



NAMING

The baby isn't due till August, but Jay DeMarcus, 41, and his wife, Allison, 35, have already decided to call their son Dylan Jay. Daughter Madeline, 1, is looking forward to having a brother, and the Rascal Flatts bassist admits, "We're really gonna have our hands full!"



ON BROADWAY

Loretta Lynn, 77, announced on May 10 that actress Zooey Deschanel, 32, who calls Lynn "my hero," will portray the singer in a Broadway adaptation of Coal Miner's Daughter.



INDUCTED

Keith Urban, 44, was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on April 21. As his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, 44, looked on, the singer told the audience, "This is a responsibility that I take deep to the heart of me."



DIED

Banjo musician Earl Scruggs, who with his guitar-playing partner Lester Flatt invigorated bluegrass with such rollicking country songs as "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," died March 28 at age 88 in Nashville. A former member of Bill Monroe's band the Blue Grass Boys, Scruggs pioneered modern banjo playing with his innovative three-finger picking style. • George Lindsey (inset), who appeared on Hee Haw for more than 20 years but is best remembered as Goober Pyle, the good-natured gas station attendant on The Andy Griffith Show and later on Mayberry R.F.D., died May 6 in Nashville at age 83. "I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit," said his former costar Andy Griffith, 86. • Levon Helm, the Grammy-winning drummer and singer of the country-and-blues influenced rock group the Band-which recorded the songs "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Up on Cripple Creek"-died April 19 in New York after a long battle with throat cancer. He was 71.