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Maren Morris, Luke Combs win big at 55th Academy of Country Music Awards

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Sept. 16 (UPI) — Maren Morris and Luke Combs took home big wins at the 55th annual Academy of Country Music Awards Wednesday night following a sixth-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morris was among three artists nominated for five total awards and brought home Female Artist of the Year and Music Event of the Year for her collaboration with Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes, Caylee Hammack and Elle King on “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”

Combs was also nominated for multiple awards and claimed Male Artist of the Year and Album of the Year for What You See Is What You Get.

Other notable winners included Blake Shelton‘s “God’s Country” claiming Single of The Year, Old Dominion winning Group of the Year, Dan + Shay earning Duo of the Year and Tenille Towns and Riley Green being named New Female and Male Artist of the Year, respectively.

Keith Urban hosted the awards show, originally set to be held in Las Vegas in April. It featured two dozen performances across three locations in Nashville: the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe.

Speaking to an empty auditorium and fans watching from home, Urban addressed the delay at the top of the show, in addition to acknowledging wildfires raging in the Western United States and storms in the Gulf Coast.

“This has been an unpredictable and unsettling year for everyone,” he said. “Even as of right now, our friends out West are battling horrific wildfires and our folks on the Gulf Coast are threatened by hurricanes and we want to send our love, thoughts and our prayers out to every one of you affected right now.”

Urban also declared that “we are in the midst of trying to fight two pandemics: COVID-19 and social injustice.”

“Far too many lives have been lost to both, but the examples set by our essential workers and first responders, along with the voices crying out for equality in all walks of life have echoed around the world and right here, in our country community,” Urban said.

The show began with a medley of performances by Combs, Rhett, Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Carrie Underwood.

Urban also debuted a new single with P!nk, while Shelton and Gwen Stefani performed a duet, and Taylor Swift delivered her first performance at the awards show in seven years.

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Folk singer Arlo Guthrie announces retirement from touring

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Oct. 24 (UPI) — American folk singer Arlo Guthrie has announced his retirement at the age of 73.

“It’s been a great 50+ years of being a working entertainer, but I reached the difficult decision that touring and stage shows are no longer possible,” the “Alice’s Restaurant” singer wrote on Facebook Friday.

“I’ve canceled the upcoming shows, and am not accepting offers for new ones. That’s the short version.”

Guthrie went on to say he had mini-strokes in 2016 and 2019, followed by a more serious stroke last year.

“I’d lost some ability to walk, and I wondered if if would be able to play music,” he recalled in his post.

“I spent about a week in a rehab center to re-learn the basics, like walking. I went home after that, and began a regimen of playing guitar, walking… All the things I would need to continue touring and performing. During the entire time, [my girlfriend] Marti kept the family and close friends advised as to my progress, and took really great care of me. I needed all the help I could get. And she was there to see it done right. By the the time our first shows began in 2020, I was at about at 80% and felt like I was improving. Then the pandemic hit.”

Guthrie said he and his girlfriend have been “holed up” at his farm in Massachusetts since June, “trying to keep out of harms way, and also trying to provide some online entertainment” for those doing likewise.

The son of the late Woody Guthrie said he is looking forward to retirement, but promises to continue speaking out against social injustice wherever he sees it.

“I’m happy, healthy and good to go, even if I’m not going anywhere. I’ve taken back 6-9 months that I used to spend on the road, and enjoying myself with Marti, my family and friends. In short – Gone Fishing,” he said.

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Pop Smoke’s ‘Shoot For the Stars’ tops U.S. album chart

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Oct. 24 (UPI) — Late rapper Pop Smoke’s Shoot For the Stars Aim For the Moon is the No. 1 album in the United States.

Coming in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart dated Saturday is 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’s Savage Mode II, followed by Juice WRLD’s Legends Never Die at No. 3, Lil Baby’s My Turn at No. 4 and Machine Gun Kelly’s Tickets to My Downfall at No. 5.

Rounding out the top tier are BLACKPINK’s The Album at No. 6, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours at No. 7, the Hamilton soundtrack at No. 8, YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s Top at No. 9 and Taylor Swift‘s Folklore at No. 10.

Pop Smoke was shot and killed in a home invasion in Los Angeles in February. He was 20.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger recovering from heart surgery

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Oct. 24 (UPI) — Film star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger confirmed on social media he has undergone heart surgery.

“Thanks to the team at the Cleveland Clinic, I have a new aortic valve to go along with my new pulmonary valve from my last surgery,” the 73-year-old actor tweeted Friday.

“I feel fantastic and have already been walking the streets of Cleveland enjoying your amazing statues. Thank you to every doc and nurse on my team!”

His post included one photo of him in a hospital bed and three others of him touring the city.

The Terminator star’s surgery comes two years after he underwent heart surgery to replace a previous pulmonic valve replacement. The operation took place two years after he had heart surgery to replace a previous pulmonic valve replacement.

The actor is known for his roles in the Terminator and Expendables franchises, as well as the movies Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Total Recall and True Lies.

He served as the governor of California from 2003 to 2011.

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