Music News & Reviews

Can you keep a secret? Marquee country artists are coming to Lexington this month

The stars aligned for Maren Morris to attended her first Kentucky Derby

Country singer Maren Morris hit the red carpet at the Barnstable Brown gala to talk about the Kentucky Derby.
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Country singer Maren Morris hit the red carpet at the Barnstable Brown gala to talk about the Kentucky Derby.

Country music fans have a lot to look forward to in September, providing they can keep a secret.

A new concert series commencing Sept. 9 will bring an array of marquee country artists to the Lexington Opera House. But there is a catch. You will have to act fast.

The series, sponsored by 98.1 The Bull, is dubbed Secret Sessions. That means shows will be announced with minimal fanfare or forewarning and presented a matter of weeks later. Forget the usual lead time of four, six or eight months between the on-sale date for tickets and the concert itself. For the first Secret Sessions show featuring headliner Maren Morris, tickets went on Aug. 23, just over two weeks ahead of the show date of Sept. 9. The concert quickly sold out. Three more Secret Sessions concerts have also been announced for Sept. 18, 22 and 26. All are scheduled for the Opera House. A fifth performance will be announced next week.

“We’ve done similar series in other markets,” said Michael Jordan, Regional Senior Vice President for iHeartMedia, who oversees operation of 98.1 The Bull and the organization of the Secret Sessions concerts. “It’s a fun night for the artists and an awesome surprise for the country fans. The headliners we have booked don’t get the opportunity to play 900 seat venues anymore. They’re arena level acts.

“These shows are designed to sell out quickly which is the reason for the brief turn around between on-sale and performance date.”

So why now for Secret Sessions? Well, you may have noticed the absence of country concerts at Rupp Arena this summer. None, in fact, are scheduled until a Chris Young date on Nov. 23. Chalk that up current renovations to the facility. That prompted the idea of bringing major country shows into the far-more-intimate Opera House.

Justin Moore will headline the Sept. 22 performance while Kane Brown will be featured on Sept. 26. But the Sept. 18 headliner, in keeping with the theme of the series, is being kept under wraps until the moment the artist walks onstage.

Kane Brown is one of the brightest new singers in music and arguably country music’s most successful act of 2018.

“We announced the first few artists to build trust in the series,” Jordan said. “The next two shows the headliners won’t be announced and they will truly be secret.”

Hints, however, have been officially dropped concerning who will top the bill on Sept. 18. The headliner has sold over 30 million albums, scored 15 No. 1 country hits and won over 20 Country Music Association (CMA) and Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards.

The series has already scored a coup in booking Morris. The singer, who has twice played The Bull’s Red, White and Boom Festival, will perform at the Opera House a mere three days after the release of the self-titled debut album by The Highwomen, an all-star female country collective that also features Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby.

Hemby will also be featured at the Sept. 9 concert along with Ryan Hurd (Morris’ husband) and Laura Veltz.

Moore and Brown are no strangers to Lexington, either.

Justin Moore brought his headlining tour to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky on Nov. 2, 2017 with Dylan Scott and Ashley McBryde.

Arkansas native Moore, whose hits include “Small Town USA and “You Look Like I Need a Drink” headlined a Rupp concert in November 2017. Chattanooga-born Brown (of “What Ifs” and “Lose It” fame) performed at Rupp as recently as September 2018 as part of Red, White and Boom. His sophomore album, “Experiment,” went to No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 two months later.

“The artists are excited about the shows and many have helped curate the line-up and style of the show,” Jordan said. “It’s truly a special experience for both artists and fans. We are thrilled to bring this series to Central Kentucky.”

Maren Morris has twice played The Bull’s Red, White & Boom Festival. Her Secret Show at the Lexington Opera House quickly sold out. Rich Copley 2017 staff file photo

Secret Sessions

Where: Lexington Opera House, 401 W. Short.

Call: 859-233-3535, 800-745-3000


7:30 p.m. Sept. 9 with Maren Morris, Ryan Hurd, Natalie Hemby and Laura Veltz. Sold Out

7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 with surprise headliner, Abby Anderson and Magnolia Vale. Tickets go on sale Sept. 6.

7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 with Justin Moore, Jon Langston and Tyler Booth. $35.50-$104.

7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 with Kane Brown and Dylan Scott. Sold Out.