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Amanda Hensel

If a passion for music and a knack for writing make a career, then color Amanda Hensel lucky. She is the product of writers -- apparently when you add two news journalists together, you get one music journalist. She currently resides in 'the live music capital of the world,' where she snagged a journalism degree from the University of Texas. Although she's grounded in Austin, Hensel's name travels -- in her short career, she has cited her passion writing for AOL Music Blog, Fringe Magazine, the Houston Press and various other publications.
Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton
Ethan Miller (2) / Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Best Weekend Jam – Readers Poll

TGIF! Now that it's nearly May and cold weather is becoming a memory we want to soon forget, it's time to crank up our favorite country hits and just... relax. What do you think is the best weekend jam -- the country song most suited to help you take a load off on Friday and Saturday nights?

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Julianne Hough, Jay DeMarcus
Imeh Akpanudosen / Charley Gallay, Getty Images
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Daily Roundup: Julianne Hough, Rascal Flatts + More

Julianne Hough found herself red with embarrassment this week at the mercy of her boyfriend, 'American Idol' host Ryan Seacrest. Find out why she was caught off guard, plus wish an extra special happy birthday to Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus, who is celebrating his 41st birthday today (April 26). These are the top stories in our Taste of Country Daily Roundup.

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Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Favorite Rascal Flatts Song – Readers Poll

Happy Birthday, Jay DeMarcus! The Rascal Flatts superstar celebrates 41 years today (April 26), and we know it's bound to be a good day for him. After all, the Flatts just released their chart-topping new album, 'Changed,' at the beginning of his birthday month, 'Banjo' is a huge hit with fans and radio alike, and DeMarcus and his wife are expecting their second child -- a boy -- this summer. Could life get any better?

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Brad Paisley, Josh Kelley and Katherine Heigl
Ethan Miller/ John Shearer, Getty Images
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Daily Roundup: Brad Paisley, New Country Babies + More

Are country artists trying to produce the next generation of music stars? It sure seems like it, what with all of the new babies arriving -- and new babies on the way -- in 2012. Find out who is expecting baby No. 3, as well as who adopted a second little one, in today's Taste of Country Roundup. Oh, and don't forget to catch Brad Paisley as a cartoon on 'South Park'!

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Songs About Trucks
YouTube
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Best Song About Trucks – Readers Poll

If there's one thing that just screams country music, it's a song about a big ol' truck. Clearly, that's why so many of the biggest names in the biz have laid their vocal stamp on tunes that describe oversized spinning wheels and extreme horsepower, women with a thing for large bumpers, and generally, rides that put others on the road to shame.

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Johnny Cash Birthday Celebration Brings Out Friends, Family + Fans in Texas

Johnny Cash would have turned 80-years-old this year, and though he isn't alive to celebrate his birthday, the celebrations continue. On Friday night (April 20), Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theatre in Austin, Texas was packed nearly to capacity with eager fans, friends and family members who came together for a party in the late Man in Black's honor.

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Jordis Unga
NBC
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Jordis Unga Swaps Rock for Country With Sara Evans’ ‘A Little Bit Stronger’ on ‘The Voice’

Following a smashing -- albeit typical -- performance from fellow Team Blake Shelton member RaeLynn, rocker Jordis Unga tried to hold onto her spot with a little country music of her own on Monday's live episode of 'The Voice.' Per instruction by coach Shelton, Unga swapped her leather pants and gritty rockers for a feminine pink dress and a copy of Sara Evans' smash 'A Little Bit Stronger.'

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RaeLynn
NBC
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RaeLynn Declares ‘She’s Country’ With Growly Jason Aldean Cover on ‘The Voice’

She may be the youngest contender, but RaeLynn proved she's a leader -- with sex appeal beyond her years -- on Monday's live quarterfinals episode of 'The Voice.' The 17-year-old country born and bred hopeful kicked things off for Team Blake Shelton, packing a punch with a female version of Jason Aldean's 'She's Country.'

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Granger Smith, Rick Perry Walk
Amanda Hensel for TasteofCountry.com
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Granger Smith Begins 100-Mile Walk in Texas With Gov. Rick Perry in Tow

Granger Smith will literally be 'Sleeping on the Interstate' this week as he begins his second-annual 100-mile walk for the troops. The Texas-based singer-songwriter took off from south Austin on Sunday afternoon (April 15), followed closely behind by Texas state Governor Rick Perry, United States Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and a supportive group of family, friends and fellow walkers.

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