Grand Ole Opry Goes Idol

Two American institutions will join forces March 17 and 18 for Opry Week on American Idol, and three of country music’s biggest stars — Brad Paisley, Randy Travis and former Idol champ Carrie Underwood — will be appearing on the country-themed edition of the top-rated reality show. Current Idol contestants will also be singing songs made famous by Opry members, while Underwood, Paisley and Travis will take the opportunity to preview their upcoming releases for the massive national viewing audience.

An Opry member for 8 years, reigning ACM and CMA Male Vocalist of the Year Paisley will be making his first-ever Idol appearance during Opry Week and will make the most of the occasion, unveiling his upcoming single, “Then,” a song he previewed for radio executives at last week’s Country Radio Seminar. The song, which is the debut single from Paisley’s upcoming album, American Saturday Night, will be available at online music stores to coincide with his Idol appearance.

Paisley’s labelmate Underwood, of course, is no stranger to the show, having launched her career from the Idol stage back in 2005. Shortly after winning that competition, the singer released her debut album, Some Hearts, which sold over 7 million copies and established the Oklahoma native as one of country music’s first 21st century superstars. She will perform her current hit single, “I Told You So,” as a duet with Travis, who will also serve as “Opry  mentor” for current Idol competitors. While Underwood’s hit version of the Travis classic appears on her sophomore album, Carnival Ride, the two performers have already recorded a duet version of “I Told You So” which is scheduled to arrive at country radio next week. A digital version of the duet single will be available for sale at various online outlets just in time for American Idol’s Opry Week. Underwood has also recorded a cover of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” which will air each week as the farewell theme for contestants leaving the show. On a related note, Travis’ Idol appearance will coincide with the release of a greatest hits package with the same title. I Told You So: The Ultimate Hits of Randy Travis hits stores on March 17.

She’s returned to the show several times since her victory, but for Underwood, even in a career filled with Platinum awards and accolades, this appearance is something special. “I am always thrilled to return to the Idol stage, and am so proud to this time be bringing with me one of my heroes, Randy Travis,” she said. “I knew the Opry first, but Idol gave me my start and helped lead me to the Opry stage. It’s a great feeling to be able to help bring these two worlds together.”

American Idol airs on FOX Tuesday, March 17, 7:00-9:00 PM CT and Wednesday, March 18, 8:00-9:00 CT.

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