Bob Harris launches the four day celebration of country music with his show ‘Welcome to Radio 2 Country’ (Thurs 10th March, 12-1pm), previewing the upcoming delights, and looking ahead to the weekend’s C2C: Country to Country festival which features some of the biggest country music names and rising country talent. Acts include the six-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year winner Miranda Lambert, honky tonk legend Dwight Yoakam, crossover country star Thomas Rhett, country duo Maddie and Tae, reigning CMA Male Vocalist Chris Stapleton, and country rock sensation Eric Church.
Highlights in the ‘BBC Radio 2 Country’ schedule include a celebration of country pop with Sara Cox, and a look at storytelling in country music with Steve Wright. Paul Sexton predicts Nashville’s next big stars and breakout artists of 2016, Paul Gambaccini presents ‘America’s Greatest Country Hits’, and CMA winning singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters presents ‘Sad Songs Make Me Happy’, with tracks from Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood and Vince Gill.
On Friday 11th March, presenters Bob Harris and Jo Whiley introduce music from the C2C: Country to Country festival at The O2 in London (6-11pm). Some of the world’s hottest country acts take to the main stage, and listeners can hear their performances, plus behind the scenes action, live on ‘BBC Radio 2 Country’ (and simulcast on BBC Radio 2 from 8pm). Alex Lester and Paul Sexton join Bob at the festival on Saturday 12th March (4-11pm), with Baylen Leonard joining him on the final day (13th March, 4-11pm).
For the first time this year there will be a ‘BBC Radio 2 Country’ stage, taking place during the day at indigo at The O2 on Saturday 12 March and Sunday 13th March (midday to 4pm). Presented by BBC hosts over the two days, the daily programme will also include CMA Talks, artist signings and live music, including performances by David Nail, Lauren Alaina, Brooke Eden, and Old Dominion, with more to be announced.
Other highlights on the four day pop-up digital radio service include ‘Jeremy Vine’s Stompin’ Country’, plus the Eagles front man, Don Henley, selects his favourite country music including tracks from George Jones, Dolly Parton and Lee Ann Womack. Cerys Matthews presents a special programme exploring the roots of country in old time Appalachian and American folk music, and the reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year, Little Big Town, introduce their favourite road songs.
Further special country programming comes from Alex Lester, Michael Ball, Ken Bruce, Liza Tarbuck, Patrick Kielty, Ricky Ross, Sally ‘Traffic’ Boazman and Simon Mayo.
For more details on BBC Radio 2 Country go to bbc.co.uk/radio2, plus follow the build-up on Twitter at @bbcr2country