ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

heavy-rain-night
42°
Showers
H 47° L 44°
  • heavy-rain-night
    42°
    Current Conditions
    Showers. H 47° L 44°
  • rain-day
    46°
    Evening
    Showers. H 47° L 44°
  • rain-day
    47°
    Morning
    Rain. H 63° L 32°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

Blake Shelton, Lauren Alaina, The Bellamy Brothers, John Anderson & Trace Adkins

Thursday

Feb 14, 2019 – 7:00 PM

100 West Reno
Oklahoma City, OK 73102 Map

  • Blake Shelton
  • Lauren Alaina
  • The Bellamy Brothers
  • John Anderson
  • Trace Adkins

More Info

Blake Shelton: Born in Ada, Oklahoma, Blake Shelton took to music from an early age. He learned to play guitar at age 12, and by the time he was 16, he was already an award-winning, amateur musician. After graduating high school, Shelton journeyed to Nashville to pursue his dreams of country music superstardom. The young singer didn’t have to wait long; his debut single, “Austin”, from his self-titled debut album shot to the top of Billboard’s Country chart, and even broke into the Top 100. The album itself quickly went platinum, and set the stage for his illustrious career.

Shelton’s third album, Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill, featured two Top 10 singles (“Goodbye Time” and “Nobody But Me”), as well as the #1 smash hit single “Some Beach”. As with his debut album, Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill also went platinum. In 2007, Shelton began appearing on television singing competitions, appearing as a judge on Nashville Star. He also released his fourth album, Pure B.S., which featured the hit singles “Don’t Make Me” and “The More I Drink”. He scored another hit when the album was re-released the next year, with Michael Bublé’s cover of his song “Home”.

In 2010, Shelton released his first original E.P., Hillbilly Bone, which featured the acclaimed, self-titled duet with Trace Adkins. That same year, he also released his first “Greatest Hits” album. Shortly after the album’s release, Shelton received an invitation to join the prestigious Grand Ole Opry; he was inducted by Trace Adkins in October of 2010. Shelton released his sixth studio album, Red River Blue, in 2011. The album set the record for fastest gold certification by a male country singer, and featured a slew of #1 singles. 2011 was also the year that he became an original judge on Season 1 of The Voice, where he has become a national sensation due to his successful finalists and friendly feud with co-star Adam Levine.

In 2012, Shelton released his first Christmas album, Cheers, It’s Christmas, which topped both Holiday and Country charts. His eighth studio album, Based on a True Story, set yet another record, as Shelton gained the most #1 singles of any male country singer. His next album, Bringing in the Sunshine, topped the Billboard 200 and eventually went platinum. 2016's If I'm Honest was possibly Shelton's most introspective record to date, and was heavily influenced by his tumultuous personal life in 2015. Audiences and critics responded enthusiastically, and the album has since attained gold certification. Also in 2016, the country star earned his fifth victory as a coach on The Voice, mentoring singer Sundance Head to a win in the final round.

Lauren Alaina: Lauren Alaina once told an interviewer that she wanted to perform at the Grand Ole Opry by the time she was 16. "You've got high hopes," she was told. As it turns out, she hadn't begun to envision all that was in store for her before entering her junior year in high school.

She was the runner-up on Season 10 of American Idol, where her strong vocal performances earned comparisons to the genre's premier vocalists, Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride. In January, The New York Times called her "the best singer so far this season." A record-breaking 122.4 million votes were cast for Lauren and Idol winner Scotty McCreery. The final show garnered 29.3 million viewers and 38.6 million people tuned in to see the winner's name announced.

Soon after, she made her much-anticipated Opry debut to sing her debut hit, "Like My Mother Does." "I dreamed since I was a kid of being on that stage because my daddy grew up playing the banjo and he's really good at it," she says. "He always wanted me to perform at the Grand Ole Opry because he never got the chance. When I was little, he told me he wanted me to perform there and it would be as good as him getting to, and he was there. I need someone to pinch me because it was just the way it was supposed to be."

But she barely had time to reflect on her accomplishment because the achievements are coming fast and furious. Last summer, she was a cheerleader and pizza parlor employee. This summer, she signed a record deal with Mercury Nashville/19 Recordings/Interscope, presented at the CMT Music Awards and joined Martina McBride in a duet of "Anyway" at LP Field during CMA Music Fest. She's started recording her debut album and is now on the American Idols Live tour, which travels across the nation through September.

Although the venues and audience sizes have drastically changed in the last year, she's still doing what she's always done--singing for anyone who would listen whenever she got the chance.

She was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., and raised in nearby Rossville, Ga., by her father, J.J., a chemical technician, and mother, Kristy, a transcriptionist. It was a musical household because her mother and older brother, Tyler, sang and her father is a multi-instrumentalist. Her parents played country and rock music in the house and Lauren found that she favored music – adult songs, not those made for children -- to television and was especially drawn to Shania Twain, Aerosmith and the Dixie Chicks.

When she was 3, her mother was listening to the Dixie Chicks' "When You Were Mine" until she turned the car off, but Lauren kept singing. "I heard this little voice continue to sing the song," Kristy says. "I absolutely marveled that she stayed with the music and knew every word to the song. We bought the karaoke version of the Dixie Chicks and we would sit Lauren up on the bar where we ate breakfast in my mother-in-law's restaurant. She would perform at 3 and never miss a beat."

Her first public performances came with a kids choir as well as an annual vacation spot that offered karaoke. "I would sing out by the pool deck for everybody," says Lauren, whose parents held the microphone that was too heavy for a 3 year old. "By four, she could sing like an 8 year old," Kristy says. "It was unbelievable." Word soon spread about her talent and she began receiving invitations to perform.

"As a mother, it was just cute," Kristy says. "But when she was six, my sister said, 'This kid really has a gift. You need to enter her in contests.'" Beginning in elementary school, she routinely landed the lead roles in school plays. "One of her little friend wanted the Dorothy role in The Wizard of Oz and the teacher wanted Lauren to be Dorothy," Kristy says. "Lauren pretended to be sick so she didn't take the role. She was bothered that she was beating out these other kids."

At age nine, she wrote her first song, "She's a Miracle," after her aunt was in a car wreck. She sang in church, restaurants, family holiday gatherings and anywhere else. Says Lauren, "I would grab up every opportunity I could," Lauren says. "I would go karaoke at any place within a 30-mile radius of where I lived. I would drive an hour just to sing. Any competition I would hear about I would enter."

At age 8, she entered the talent competition of the Southern Stars Pageant at the last minute and won. The next year she was among those selected to perform on the Kids talent stage at Chattanooga's Riverbend festival. She continued to perform on that stage annually until age 12, when she won the competition at age 12 that allowed her to perform on the festival's big stage. She traveled to Orlando when she was 10 to compete in the American Model and Talent Competition. She won the event, beating out 1,500 kids. She later joined the Georgia Country Gospel Music Association's children's group that performed at places such as Six Flags.

"I started coming to Nashville when I was about 12," she says. "I would go into the bars on Broadway before 6 p.m. and walk up to the people on the stage and ask if I could sing and they would let me. Half the time people weren't listening to me, but I thought I was cool." That's where she developed her stage presence and ability to feed off of a crowd. Offstage, she was continuing to develop as a songwriter and completed 10 that were considered worthy to record, so she began working with two producers about the time that the Idol opportunity presented itself at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

"I have always wanted to try out," she says. "When they lowered the minimum audition age to 15, I thought it was a sign I needed to try out. It's funny because I actually sang at Tootsies Orchid Lounge the day I auditioned. I sang with the band and they said, 'You need to run across the street and audition for American Idol. I had already auditioned and made it to the next round, but I couldn't tell anybody. I bought a pair of cowboy boots to celebrate."

It was during Idol that she first heard her debut single and first hit, "Like My Mother Does." "When they started playing it for me, I started crying because I went through this whole crazy journey and the only person who was there for me every step of the way was my mom. She didn't get any praises for it and I got all of the attention. I thought the song would be a great way to say thank you for her for all that she does for me. When she came in and heard it, she cried. It was a sign. Everybody was crying, even the piano player."

She's now recording her debut album with Nashville producer Byron Gallimore (Faith Hill, Tim McGraw). "It's definitely going to be country," she says. "I like singing uptempo, but I also like a good ballad every now and then.

"Country music has a way of telling a story that you automatically connect with when you hear it. Country music talks about real-life things that you have really happened, and I love that."

Lauren's debut album will showcase a voice that is mature and powerful beyond its teen years. "She has a very soulful yet country voice and she has tremendous range," Gallimore says. "She is able to cover a lot of ground. I have been really impressed at her 16 years of age that she is able to sing like she does and sell the songs like she does. She sings great and has made these songs her own. They don't sound like anyone else; they sound like Lauren."

She embarks on this next chapter with a newfound confidence and a polished set of performing skills. "I figured out throughout the show that I am who I am and I look the way I look, and the only one who can do anything about it is me," she says. "I learned people actually like my music, which is good to find out, so I am excited about putting the album out. Hopefully people will like it."

The Bellamy Brothers: Although the Bellamy Brothers are the most successful duo in country music history, they have never been favored by the critics. That doesn't mean their music was rote, by the book, and formulaic country-pop. More than most acts of the late '70s and '80s, the Bellamys pushed the borders of country music, adding strong elements of rock, reggae, and even rap. Nearly a decade after their first hit -- the 1975 pop chart-topping, Southern rock-tinged "Let Your Love Flow" -- the brothers had earned a stack of best-selling records, and critical respect came by the late '80s. By that time, they had firmly established themselves as the top duo of the '80s, both in terms of popularity and musical diversity.

Howard and David Bellamy were raised in Florida. Their father, Homer, played traditional country music around the house and performed with a Western swing band on the weekends. In addition to the country music they heard in their house, the brothers were drawn to the calypso music of the neighboring Caribbean islands. However, nothing provided as much attraction as the rock & roll they heard on their sister's records and the radio. From the Everly Brothers to the Beatles, the Bellamy Brothers soaked up the sounds of contemporary pop and rock. In their late teens and early twenties, they once again became infatuated with country music, thanks to the music of George Jones and Merle Haggard.

Both Howard and David learned how to play a variety of instruments in their childhood. Neither child had any formal training, but Howard managed to learn the guitar, banjo, and mandolin, while David learned the piano, accordion, fiddle, banjo, organ, and mandolin. Both brothers went to college at the University of Florida. While they were students, they had their first paying gigs -- playing fraternity parties. Howard and David both earned degrees at the University of Florida; Howard majored in veterinary medicine, while David earned one in psychology.

During the late '60s, the two performed in a number of bands, both together and separately. In 1968, they moved to Atlanta, forming Jericho. Performing in such a large number of bands meant that the brothers perfected a number of different musical styles, since they were expected to please the tastes of many different club audiences. Playing in a never-ending series of bands and clubs proved tiring, and the brothers moved back home to work on their songwriting.

In a short time, the move paid off. In 1973, they met a friend of singer Jim Stafford, who directed the vocalist to David's "Spiders and Snakes." Stafford was immediately taken with the tune, releasing it as his next single; the humorous retelling of David's boyhood farm experiences would eventually sell over three million copies. The success of "Spiders and Snakes" gave the Bellamy Brothers enough money to move out to Los Angeles, where they began to concentrate on a full-time musical career.

In 1975, the brothers signed to Curb/Warner Bros., releasing their first single, David's "Nothin' Heavy." The song flopped. Dennis St. John, who was a friend of the Bellamys and Neil Diamond's drummer, suggested that the duo record a song written by Larry E. Williams, one of Diamond's roadies. After some encouragement, the Bellamy Brothers recorded and released Williams' song, "Let Your Love Flow." The song broke the doors wide open for the brothers, topping the pop charts and climbing into the country Top 30, as well as being a major hit in Britain, West Germany, and Scandinavia.

The Bellamy Brothers quickly released their debut album, also called Let Your Love Flow, which became nearly as successful as the single. Instead of concentrating on a domestic follow-up, the brothers spent their time in Europe, touring off and on for the next two years, which led to a great deal of financial success. Soon, they were able to pay off their debts and install their mother, Frances, as their financial manager. Their second album, 1977's Plain and Fancy, was a major success in Sweden and Norway, but it didn't make much of an impact in America.

The following year, the Bellamy Brothers moved back to America and returned to the family farm in Darby, FL. Not only did they change their address, but they changed their musical direction, moving closer to a straight country sound. The shift in style paid off, even if "Slippin' Away," the second single they released after they returned to the U.S., only made it into the country Top 20.

The Bellamy Brothers' country breakthrough happened in 1979, with the tongue-in-cheek "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me." Initially, the song was a hit in Ireland, convincing the duo's American record company to release it as a single. The song rocketed to number one on the country charts, which led to the Top Five success of "You Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie." The Bellamy Brothers' success continued to roll forward in 1980, as they scored two straight number one hits, "Sugar Daddy" and "Dancin' Cowboys." They earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group and the CMA named them the Most Promising Group of the Year. Throughout 1980 and 1981, the group continued to rack up the hits, including "Do You Love as Good as You Look" and "They Could Put Me in Jail."

Curb switched the Bellamy Brothers' distribution from Warner Bros. to Elektra at the end of 1981. Coincidentally, the change in distribution coincided with Howard and David's desire to experiment with their music. After they released the number one "For All the Wrong Reasons," the brothers followed with "Get into Reggae Cowboy," which was a groundbreaking country record that incorporated Jamaican rhythms. In 1982, the group was given a Lifetime Membership of the Federation of International Country Air Personalities, as well as being named the Top Country Duo by Billboard.

Throughout 1983, the brothers logged a number of hits. The following year, Curb signed a distribution deal with MCA, which had no effect on the continuing success of the Bellamy Brothers. For the next three years, the brothers were at their peak, both popularly and artistically, scoring a number of hit singles that showcased their continuing musical development as well as their increasing lyrical sophistication, as indicated by the Vietnam vet anthem "Old Hippie" and "Kids of the Baby Boom." The Bellamy Brothers continued to have hits on Curb/MCA until the end of the '80s.

By the turn of the decade, their audience had begun to shrink, leading the duo to switch record labels to Atlantic. After one album with Atlantic, 1991's Rollin' Thunder, the Bellamys left the label, founding their own record company, Bellamy Brothers Records. The Latest and the Greatest (1992) was the first album released on the label. Although the independent record label meant that the group wasn't charting as frequently as it used to, that was also a reflection of the shift of the country audience's taste. The duo could still have minor hits, like the Top 25 "Cowboy Beat," which proved that the Bellamy Brothers continued to hold on to a dedicated group of fans in their second decade of performing. Reggae Cowboys followed in 1998, and a year later the duo resurfaced with Lonely Planet.

John Anderson: This is not a John Anderson comeback album -- let's get that out of the way right up front. Need persuading? Look up his discography, which stretches from the early eighties past the turn of the century with few real breaks. Better yet, listen to some of it and realize that if there's any justice at all, history will hold John Anderson in the esteem reserved solely for the most gifted, long tenured and consistent artists ever to sing a country song. But that discussion is for another day.

Instead, take a copy of Easy Money and slip it in the stereo. Right here, right now, this is John Anderson. A voice so vibrant and alive, it ranks as one of the top instruments in contemporary music. Any genre. Period. Songwriting that honors country's greatest traditions and pushes its furthermost boundaries. A sound fresh enough to prod speakers to the limits of their abilities.

This is no history lesson.

Music lesson, on the other hand, probably fits. It started at a show in Sanford, Florida sometime in 1996. John Anderson was headlining and a new country band called Lonestar was booked as the opening act. The group's bass player -- a 22-year-old pup named John Rich -- knocked on Anderson's tour bus door.

"My fiddle player, Joe Spivey, answered and sees this fella who wants to come up and meet me," Anderson recalls. "Joe says, 'Well sing me one of his songs.' So ole John cut down on 'Chicken Truck' and I remember saying something to the effect of, 'He knows it better than I do, send him up!'"

Fast forward nine years and that admirer is now half of superduo Big & Rich, not to mention one of Nashville's hottest songwriters. Anderson reconnects with him through producer Paul Worley, and the two book a songwriting session.

"I was really impressed with his energy and with his knowledge of country music as well as many other kinds of music," Anderson says. "His intensity level was refreshing. You could tell he was really enjoying not only the success but the actual music -- the art itself."

"I really just wanted to hang out with him," Rich admits. "We hit it off so well I asked if he'd come out on the road with me and Big Kenny for four or five shows and do some writing."

That trip, in June of 2005, yielded the songs that form the core of Easy Money. Writing with Rich, Big Kenny and their MuzikMafia cohorts including James Otto, Shannon Lawson and Cowboy Troy, Anderson came away with "Funky Country," "Bonnie Blue," "I Can't Make Her Cry Anymore," the title track and more.

He also surprised a few folks at the shows. "I'd just walk out on stage like a stranger and play 'Swingin'' or 'Seminole Wind,'" Anderson says.

"The crowds went bananas," Rich adds.

Skip ahead to January 6, 2006, and Anderson is one of many music luminaries in attendance at John Rich's birthday party. "We ought to make a record," Rich says to Anderson early in the evening. "I don't care about doing a deal, let's just go in the studio, cut 10 songs and make a record."

"We didn't have anything to lose because we had to demo them anyway," Anderson says. "Initially we were going to co-produce it, so we booked the studio time and agreed on all the players. We were in one of the greatest studios in town and had booked the best players in town. And we had Bart Pursley, who's just a great engineer. We got there that first morning and I thought, naw, this isn't a demo session."

What would an artist do in a top studio with the best musicians, no label and no pressure? If he's John Anderson, he'd just see where the music took him.

"This album is sonically the finest album we've ever done," he says. "We got about halfway through the first session and I realized I didn't need to help produce this. Ole John was doing such a great job and the energy level was so good I thought to myself, he is truly producing this record."

Rich's pivotal role, including his credit as the album's sole producer, could lead some to believe that the country elder statesman was riding coattails on one of the genre's most visible young stars. That notion might need to be rethought.

"I've got production credit on 26 different albums, so I don't have anything to prove," Anderson says in his easy country drawl. "I think I can make a John Anderson record. But now this one is special on account of, like I say, I just let John go for it. He had some wonderful fresh ideas for arrangements and production. He played licks to the players. It was really great watching him work and one of the most pleasurable times I've ever had making a record."

For his part, Rich says, "John Anderson is the George Jones of my generation. I was too young to really be hip to country when George was ruling the roost, but from the age of eight to 25 I knew everything John did. I hear his voice in my head even to this day when I'm writing songs. I still catch myself singing John Anderson licks. He's in my country music DNA."

So who's riding who's coattails?

As for the recurring "comeback" label he's been stuck with several times, Anderson has some thoughts. "I never went anywhere," he says. "Popularity comes and goes, but we're proud of our music. We made some good records in the past that nobody got to hear. Some of that's out of my hands.

The only thing John Anderson can control, and he has time and again, is the quality of the music. Easy Money, which was quickly picked up by Raybaw Records/Warner Bros. Records, revels in the chest-thumping energy of "If Her Lovin' Don't Kill Me," celebrates music's power of inclusion with "Funky Country," goes stone country on "Something To Drink About" and launches hearts throatward on "I Can't Make Her Cry Anymore." Great music is its own justification. And it's no accident.

"He's a very focused individual," Rich says, "but he is willing to listen to other people and stretch outside of his comfort zone. That's what a true artist does. He's wide open to any and all suggestions. They don't all work, but some do and you keep those."

"There really wasn't any pressure on me," Anderson says. "The joke during the sessions was, 'I ain't gotta worry boys. I ain't got no deal!' I mean, what were they gonna do? Make me quit?"

If there's any justice at all -- never.

Trace Adkins: Country rebel, Trace Adkins, has been serving up his blend of clever cowboy lyrics and blues/rock for two decades. After a high-profile run on Celebrity Apprentice, Adkins proved to us that he is as down to earth and homegrown as the music he produces. Adkins recently released his thirteenth studio album, Proud To Be Here, in 2011 and has been on the road to promote the disc ever since. Don't miss a date on the Trace Adkins concert schedule (2011); Use Eventful as your source for Trace Adkins tour dates and venue information.

The Louisiana native had ambitions to be a football player before turning to country music. After a brief stint as an oil rig worker, Adkins packed his bags for Nashville, Tennessee where he performed on the honky-tonk circuit. He was picked up by Capitol Records and released his debut album, Dreamin' Out Loud, in 1996. The album was a runaway success, earning Adkins a Platinum plaque and a win at the Academy of Country Music Awards for Top New Male Vocalist. Trace Adkins tour dates were scheduled on a whirlwind national tour and made him a veritable country star.

Adkins took a page out of the hip-hop world and released his single, "Honky Tonk Badonadonk", in 2005 which showed his more comical side. Adkins then appeared on Celebrity Apprentice where he made it to the final rounds. Adkins reignited his musical career in 2008 with the hit Grammy nominated single "You're Gonna Miss This" and the #1 duet, "Hillbilly Bone", in 2010. Currently on tour to support his thirteenth studio effort, Trace Adkins concert schedule (2011) will have the hillbilly rocker touring the nation. Stay on top of Trace Adkins tour dates using Eventful as your concert calendar.
  • A Great Dane that died in 1990 helped conceive a litter of puppies born on Valentine’s Day, KHOU reported. >> Read more trending news  Topper was a Great Dane born in 1980. His owner, Marilyn Herdejurgen, had the dog’s semen frozen 34 years ago, the television station reported. Topper died in 1990. It was used to impregnate Herdejurgen’s latest Great Dane, 3-year-old Rubix, KHOU reported. The procedure is not new, but the long gap between the father’s death and the conception is unusual. “I’m not sure, but that’s what they’re saying that these are the oldest puppies that have been produced from the frozen semen,” Herdejurgen told the television station. “It’s strange … that it’s been so long ago, and here these puppies are from him (Topper). It’s pretty exciting. This is, like I said, I think a little miracle.”
  • U.S. Attorney Trent Shores announced at a news conference in Tulsa on Thursday that he has charged 18 members and associates of the Universal Aryan Brotherhood. “The Universal Aryan Brotherhood operated a lucrative criminal organization from within Oklahoma’s prison walls using contraband cell phones,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. The indictment alleges that the UAB gang members trafficked meth and killed rivals. “The tools of their trade were hate, fear, affliction, and violence. Prosecutors say nine people were murdered as part of the UAB’s racketeering operations  Four suspects were apprehended Monday and Tuesday in Tulsa, while seven others have been transferred from Oklahoma Department of Corrections at McAlester.  The remainder have been arrested or are in the custody of Department of Corrections or Bureau of Prisons facilities.  
  • Police in Chicago arrested “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett early Thursday on suspicion of lying to authorities when he reported last month that he had been assaulted early on Jan. 29 by a pair of men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him. At a news conference Thursday, police said Smollett sent himself a threatening letter and later paid two brothers to attack him in an effort to further his career. “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. President Donald Trump responded on Twitter Thursday morning to reports that police had arrested Smollett on suspicion of filing a false police report. “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” the president wrote. Smollett told police he was attacked early on Jan. 29 by a pair of white men who yelled that he was in “MAGA country” -- an apparent reference to Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again” -- and that they hit him in the face, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck, The Associated Press reported. Police arrested Smollett early Thursday on a charge of disorderly conduct after officers said they uncovered evidence he orchestrated the attack to boost his career. Police said Thursday that a pair of brothers who were arrested and later released in connection to the Jan. 29 incident confessed to authorities that they had been paid by Smollett to fake an attack on him. “They punched him a little bit, but as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruises that he had on his  face were self-inflicted,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference. According to officials, Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 promised later. Johnson said officers had by Thursday obtained a copy of the check Smollett paid to the men. “One of the brothers worked on ‘Empire,’ so they had a relationship, an association,” Johnson said. “He probably knew that he needed somebody with bulk. ... (The brothers) did it because of the financial aspect of it.” Police said the brothers confessed to their roles in the attack in the 47th hour of their 48-hour holds after police arrested them last week. On Thursday, officers called them “victims,” and not offenders in the attack. Johnson said the brothers are cooperating witnesses and that, “Mr. Smollett is the one who orchestrated this crime.” “I think the fact that this was staged and that Jussie hired these two guys to stage this ... put them in a really tough party as well, to the point where now they were arrested for a hate crime,” Detective Commander Edward Wodnicki said Thursday. “Only because of just the incredible work by the entire team did we get to the point where we were able to get the truth from them.” Police said Thursday that Smollett sent himself a threatening, homophobic letter in the days before he reported he was attacked by a pair of assailants in downtown Chicago. “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism” to boost his career, Johnson said. “We do not, nor will we ever tolerate hate in this city.” Police are expected to provide more information in the case at a news conference scheduled for 9 a.m. local time (10 a.m. EST) Thursday. Smollett turned himself in to Chicago police on a charge of felony disorderly conduct in falsifying a police report, The Associated Press is reporting. Smollett’s Chicago attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement following the indictment: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.” The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report on Jan.29. The charge is a Class 4 felony that carries a possible prison sentence of 1-3 years, but he could also receive probation. The bond hearing has been set for 1:30pm Thursday according to WLS-TV. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that detectives will make contact with his attorneys and negotiate a surrender for his arrest. “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is now considered a suspect and detectives are presenting case to grand jury according to the Chief Communications Officer for Chicago Police Department. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted the news on Wednesday after Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and detectives. A police official said lawyers for Jussie Smollett are meeting with prosecutors and police investigators about the reported attack on the “Empire” actor.  Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press the meeting was taking place Wednesday afternoon. He declined to confirm reports that subpoenas had been issued for Smollett’s phone and bank records. Officials with 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment on Wednesday denied reports Smollett was being written out of “Empire” in a statement released to WBBM-TV. “Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” the statement said. The comment followed reports that Smollett's role on the show was being slashed amid investigations into the actor's report that he was attacked in Chicago last month. Authorities continue to investigate. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself Monday from the investigation into the reported attack against Smollett, according to WMAQ-TV. In a statement emailed to the station, a spokesperson for Foxx’s office said First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats would instead serve as acting state’s attorney in the case. “Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” the statement said, according to WMAQ-TV. No further information was provided on the reason behind for the recusal. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Tuesday that authorities determined a tip they were investigating about a possible sighting of Smollett and the brothers who were previously suspected in the attack were unfounded. “It was not supported by video evidence obtained by detectives,” Guglielmi said. Original report: Authorities are investigating a tip that Smollett was seen in an elevator in his apartment building with two men who have since been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the attack in downtown Chicago, and were subsequently released without charges, police told The Associated Press. The men, who were identified by attorney Gloria Schmidt as brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, were released without charges Friday after police said new evidence surfaced in the case, according to CNN and police.  >> 'I will only stand for love': 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett performs in California after attack Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The Associated Press a person who lives in the building or who was visiting someone there reported seeing the Osundairo brothers with Smollett on the night he was attacked. Guglielmi told the AP that as of Tuesday, officers had yet to confirm the account. Smollett told officers he was attacked around 2 a.m. Jan. 29, as he was walking downtown near the Chicago River. He said two men yelled that he was in “MAGA country” -- an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again” -- and that they hit him in the face, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck, The Associated Press reported. >> Jussie Smollett's attorneys say he will not meet with investigators, despite reports Guglielmi told the AP that Smollett still had a rope around his neck when officers first made contact with him after the alleged attack. Last week, police announced that the 'investigation had shifted' following interviews with the brothers and their release from custody without charges. Police have requested another interview with Smollett. They have declined to comment on reports that the attack was a hoax, a claim Smollett’s attorneys have denied. 'Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying,' Smollett’s attorneys said in a statement late Saturday. Authorities continue to investigate. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A soldier from Mississippi had a heartwarming and memorable homecoming Wednesday.  Sgt. Joshua Stokes, of the Mississippi National Guard, surprised his 8-year-old daughter in her classroom after a yearlong tour overseas. Shelby Stokes had no idea what was coming. As far as she knew, her dad had five more weeks of deployment in Kuwait.  The separation was tough for the whole family, but WHBQ-TV was there as Stokes gave his daughter the surprise of a lifetime at DeSoto Central Primary School in Mississippi.  Classmates, teachers and reporters looked on as Stokes approached Shelby from behind and tapped her on the shoulder. She thought she was getting in trouble, but then she quickly realized her father had come home. “I thought it was a teacher. But it wasn’t. It was Daddy,” Shelby said. Shelby jumped into her father’s arms, and the two embraced.  “I’m just happy to see my girl,” Stokes said.  The soldier and his family are heading for some long-overdue time at home. 
  • Tulsa County deputies were serving a warrant near Apache and M.L.K Jr. Blvd. when the suspect took off Wednesday morning. Investigators say the suspect, John McIntosh, was at work when he assaulted a deputy and drove to his home near Hamilton Elementary School. McIntosh then took off again and climbed the roof of the school near Virgin and Sheridan. Hamilton Elementary and Tulsa MET Junior & Senior High School were put on lockdown. Deputies were eventually able to get McIntosh off the roof and place him under arrest.

Washington Insider

  • Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their one page plan on Friday to overturn President Donald Trump's bid to funnel more money to a border wall by declaring a national emergency, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters said the House would vote next Tuesday to block the President's executive actions on funding for the wall. 'Members of Congress all swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution,' the Speaker said. 'The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,' Pelosi wrote earlier this week in a letter to fellow Democrats. Democrats said they already have more than a majority of members signed on to the one page resolution to reject the Trump national emergency. 'We hope that enough of our normal Republican enablers will join us to stand up for the Constitution,' said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). 'If not, we’re ready to turn to the courthouse.' As of Friday, only one Republican in the House had signed on to the plan to reject the President’s national emergency, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). “Trump’s absurd declaration of a “national emergency” undercuts the Constitution,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), as approval in the House would send the plan to the Senate. Under special rules governing this process, GOP leaders would not be able to ignore the House action, as a vote must take place on the resolution. But even if it passes in the Senate, a veto is likely by President Trump, and at this point - it seems unlikely that Democrats could muster enough GOP votes for a two-thirds supermajority to override a veto.
  • Federal prosecutors in California unveiled criminal charges on Thursday against an IRS investigator for leaking suspicious financial reports associated with President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, allegedly giving banking information on Cohen to lawyer Michael Avenatti, who was then locked in a legal fight with the President over hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. An investigative analyst for the IRS Criminal Investigative Division in San Francisco, John Fry is alleged to have searched files for 'Suspicious Activity Reports' about Cohen, giving the information to Avenatti, who then tweeted out the material on May 8, 2018. The criminal complaint charges that the information Fry released was later published by the Washington Post on May 8, and then by the New Yorker on May 16. It was not immediately clear how Fry and Avenatti knew each other. The information which was released centered on a series of banking transactions involving Cohen - which had been flagged by federal officials - totaling over $6 million, and included questions about possible 'fraudulent and illegal financial transactions' by Cohen in 'Singapore, Hungary, Malaysia, Canada, Taiwan, Kenya, and Israel.' The feds allege that Avenatti then funneled the information to the Washington Post; a few days later, Fry and 'Reporter-1' - Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker - exchanged a series of WhatsApp messages about the same banking information. In the days that followed, Avenatti tried to create more media interest in the story by tweeting about the information. 'Why is no media outlet doing a story on the refusal of the Treasury Department to release to the public the 3 Suspicious Activity Reports that were filed concerning Essential Consultants, LLC's bank account?' Avenatti tweeted on May 9, 2018. After the release of the Fry charges on Thursday, Avenatti denied wrongdoing. 'Neither I nor R. Farrow (Reporter-1) did anything wrong or illegal with the financial info relating to Cohen’s crimes,' Avenatti said on Twitter in a post on Thursday evening, as he claimed that Fry had not violated the Bank Secrecy Act by disclosing the SAR information. Prosecutors said if Fry was convicted, he could face a maximum of five years in prison, and a fine of $250,000. This is the second time charges have been brought in the past year over leaks of bank transaction information about people with links to President Trump. In October of 2018, charges were filed against an official in the Treasury Department for illegally leaking financial information about bank transactions by certain people involved in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Those disclosures by Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior official in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, pertained to 'suspicious transactions' related to Paul Manafort, Richard Gates, Russian diplomatic accounts, and other matters. 'At the time of EDWARDS’s arrest, she was in possession of a flash drive appearing to be the flash drive on which she saved the unlawfully disclosed SARs, and a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted SARs and other sensitive government information to Reporter-1,' the Justice Department said at the time. That 'Reporter-1' was also Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker.
  • After arguing for months that allegations of election fraud had nothing to do with his disputed victory in a race for Congress in North Carolina, Republican Mark Harris on Thursday called for a new election, a day after his son had testified that he had warned his father not to employ a local political operative because of concerns about possible illegal voting activities. An hour later, the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously to do exactly that, ordering a new election for the Ninth Congressional District. The developments came on  the fourth day of a hearing before the board -  Harris testified in the morning, but instead of resuming that testimony in the afternoon, he told board members a new election was needed in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District. 'I believe a new election should be called,' Harris said. 'It has become clear to me that the public's confidence in the Ninth District seat general election has been undermined.' Harris refused to answer questions from reporters as he left the hearing room. The call for a new election came after board members said the Harris campaign had withheld documents from investigators, and in the wake of damning testimony from Harris' own son - a federal prosecutor - who said Wednesday that he had specifically warned his father not to employ Leslie McCrae Dowless to run an absentee ballot operation for his election. 'We support our candidates decision in this matter,' said Dallas Woodhouse, the head of the North Carolina Republican Party.  It was an about face for Woodhouse, who had sternly defended Harris for months, as Republicans said Harris should have been declared the winner, and sent to Congress. 'We are dealing with a limited number of ballots that are nowhere close to bringing the election result into question,' Woodhouse said just two days ago. 'Perhaps we should let @MarkHarrisNC9‘s team present their side of the case first,' Woodhouse tweeted just an hour before Harris called for a new election. It wasn't immediately clear if Harris would try to run in any new election. Harris won by 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready, but in the days after the election, questions were raised about odd absentee ballot results in Bladen County, North Carolina, which favored Harris in a variety of abnormal ways. Evidence surfaced of a questionable absentee ballot operation run by Leslie McCrae Dowless, who was employed by a political firm allied with Harris. Dowless refused to testify at the state elections board hearing.
  • Recovering from recent shoulder surgery, and with plans to testify before at least three Congressional committees, Michael Cohen was granted an extra sixty days by a federal judge to report to prison to serve his three year sentence for campaign finance violations and lying to Congress in a case that has drawn the personal ire of President Donald Trump. 'Given Mr. Cohen's recent surgery and his health and recovery needs, at this time Defendant requests an extension of his reporting date for sixty (60) days,' lawyers for Cohen wrote in a request to Judge William H. Pauley, III, who approved it on Wednesday morning. 'Mr. Cohen also anticipates being called to testify before three (3) Congressional committees at the end of the month,' the letter continued - no dates have yet been set for that testimony, which is expected to occur before the House and Senate intelligence committees, along with the House Oversight Committee. On Wednesday night, Democrats set the first public hearing for Cohen next Wednesday, before the House Oversight Committee. Cohen plead guilty last year to charges in two different criminal matters - first, lying to Congress about the extent of contacts during 2016 between the Trump Organization and developers in Russia looking to build a Trump Tower Moscow, and second, over campaign finance violations surrounding hush money payments made to two women before the elections, to keep them quiet about their affairs with Mr. Trump. Cohen told a federal judge that he paid money to two women at the direction of a specific candidate for federal office, and coordinated “with one or more members of the campaign.” That person was referred to only as 'Individual-1,' which from the court documents was obviously President Trump. With testimony still ahead in Congress by Cohen - GOP lawmakers who have steadfastly defended the President in the Russia investigation - have already started to attack Cohen. “When Cohen appears before our Committee, we can only assume that he will continue his pattern of deceit and perjury,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), in a letter to the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. A day after his Oversight testimony, Cohen will appear before the House Intelligence Committee for a closed door session. President Trump has alternately denied wrongdoing in his work with Cohen, and attacked his former lawyer as a ‘rat.’ “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” the President tweeted last year.
  • In a historic first from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justices ruled unanimously on Wednesday that the Eighth Amendment ban on excessive fines does apply to state and local governments, ruling in favor of an Indiana man who had his expensive car seized by police after he was arrested for a small amount illegal drugs. Writing for the High Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said 'the protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority' found in the Eighth Amendment. Originally, the Bill of Rights was intended only to be applied to the federal government - but over time, the courts have ruled that it also applies to the states, and this was the first time the U.S. Supreme Court took that step when it comes to the issue of police and civil seizures. “For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history,' Ginsburg wrote. 'Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties.' At issue was a Land Rover SUV that Tyson Timbs had purchased before his arrest, with money from an insurance policy after the death of his father. Under Indiana guidelines, the maximum monetary fine which could be levied against Timbs for his crime of dealing in a controlled substance was $10,000 - but the car was worth more than four times that amount. Reaction was swift in favor of the ruling, as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund labeled it, “A huge victory for criminal justice reform.”