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Pickler cohosting country music special

Albemarle native Kellie Pickler has won her first big her primetime TV hosting spot, as part of the Sept. 8 ABC special “CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock.”

Pickler's co hosts are “Dancing with the Stars” champion Julianne Hough and CMA Horizon Award winner Taylor Swift, who is among the hottest acts now on the country charts.

The two-hour special features some of the industry's biggest acts, including Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Faith Hill and South Carolina native Josh Turner. The special, which was filmed June 5-8 in Nashville, comes at an opportune time for Pickler, who is releasing her self-titled second album on Sept. 30.

“I've learned so much since the first album, like the fact that Budapest is the capital of Hungary,” Pickler joked in a media release. “The material on the new album is part small town girl, but also a reflection of the experiences I've had over the last two years. I've matured, some, (and) seen a lot more of the world.”

Pickler, who rose to fame as a finalist on “American Idol,” moved from Albemarle to Nashville in 2006. Her first album has sold more than a half million copies since being released in Oct. 2006.