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CELEBRITY WATCH: Phillip Phillips and Luke Bryan releasing new songs; Paula Deen continues comeback

Luke Bryan is in Rolling Stone, Paula Deen is in People and Phillip Phillips returns for Idol performance

Country music singer Luke Bryan, a native of Leesburg, performs before the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 23. (Photo: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)

Country music singer Luke Bryan, a native of Leesburg, performs before the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 23. (Photo: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)

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Phillip Phillips is releasing a new single, Raging Fire, on Monday. He will perform it Thursday on American Idol. (Special photo)

Phillip Phillips of Leesburg is hoping to catch fire Monday. A “Raging Fire,” to be exact.

The platinum-selling “American Idol” winner is releasing his newest single, “Raging Fire,” on Monday. And you’ll be able to hear him sing it Thursday night when he returns to “American Idol” to perform the song. After that, he’ll be heading north of the border for a month-long concert tour in Canada that dips down once for a show March 18 in Waukegan, Ill.

“Raging Fire” is also the name of his sophomore album, which is scheduled to be released this spring by 19 Entertainment/Interscope Records. His first album, “The World From the Side of the Moon,” which featured the huge hit “Home,” debuted in November 2012 as No. 4 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums.

Last year, Phillips spent much of the year touring with Matchbox 20 and John Mayer, as well as headlining his own college tour.

LUKE BRYAN

While Phillips is looking northward, Leesburg native Luke Bryan, who can be seen in a feature interview in the March 13 edition of Rolling Stone magazine that hit stores Friday, is heading south for another spring break event in the Sunshine State. He was in Daytona, Fla., last Sunday to perform before the Daytona 500.

This time, Bryan, who’ll be hosting the Academy of County Music’s awards show early next month, will be performing at “Spring Break 6 … Like We Ain’t Ever” on March 11-12 at the Spinnaker Beach Club in Panama City, Fla. Last year, about 120,000 fans showed up for the two free shows.

Meanwhile, some college sorority members — 50, to be exact — will get to meet Bryan at Panama City Beach by out-texting members of other sororities. The number to text to and the participating sororities’ total board can be seen at www.lukebryan.com.

For landlubbers who miss out on the shows, Bryan’s “Spring break 6 … Like We Ain’t Ever” six-song EP will be available for digital download, also on March 11. His five spring break EPs have sold three-quarters of a million copies, with last year’s debuting No. 1 on the Billboard country sales chart. This year’s EP songs were all co-written by the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year.

“The songs for this project came together so fast,” said Bryan. “These special EPs all began as a way to get new music out to the fans between studio projects. I feel like year after year we get a little bit better at writing for this. I think with these new songs I would be proud to put them on any album we release.”

Titles on the EP are “She Get Me High,” “Like We Ain’t Ever,” “Night One,” “Are You Leaving With Him,” “Good Lookin Girl” and “The Sand I Brought To The Beach.”

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Paula Deen is on the comeback trail with a new $20 million restaurant and retail center planned for Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (File photo)

PAULA DEEN

Paula Deen just got back from the beach, where she got a warm welcome at the South Beach Wine & Food festival. After maintaining a low profile from what she has described as a trying time, Albany native Paula Deen is clearly back on the rise.

She has revamped her business interests into Paula Deen Ventures, which attracted a $75 million investment from Najafi Co., and announced last week the new Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, a $20 million restaurant and retail operation coming to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., near Dollywood.

In an interview with People magazine that also hit newsstands Friday, Deen said she was working to rehabilitate her image, which sustained a crushing blow when it was revealed she admitted in a lawsuit deposition that she had used a racial epithet three decades ago.

“I’m fighting to get my name back,” she told the magazine.

The new company is looking for business opportunities, including a new television vehicle for Deen, who was unceremoniously dropped by Food Network last summer. Food Network isn’t among the prospects.

Deen also said in the People interview the public downfall she experienced left her unable to get out of bed in the morning, because it felt like her “world was crashing down again” every day.

And since television personalities Phil Robertson (“Duck Dynasty”) and Nigella Lawson (“The Taste”) endured scandals last year without any noticeable damage to their careers, Deen has developed new-found “empathy” for those scrutinized by the media.

“It’s amazing that some people are given passes and some people are crucified,” Deen said. “I have new empathy for these situations, though. My dad always told me, ‘Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.’”