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Bobby Bones and Lindsay Ell were together on the CMT red carpet and he spoke about her new EP.
Michael Schwab/The Tennessean

Country singer Lindsay Ell was in the car with her manager on the way back from a dinner with radio executives last week when he broke the news: Sacramento’s KNCI (105.1 FM) had removed her from a multi-artist concert the next day because she’s dating someone who works for a competing media company — popular radio personality Bobby Bones.

Ell had just dined with employees from the station. 

Ell tweeted the news to fans Friday, saying: “Had a scheduled performance in Sacramento today for listeners. The radio station has asked me not to come bc of my personal life. Sorry guys.”

Fans swiftly responded, condemning the radio station. Hours later, KNCI issued an apology with a promise to rebook Ell’s show. Ell confirmed that her team has heard from KNCI, but said that a new show date hasn’t been finalized.

“At the end of the day, I never wanted this to happen,” Ell said Monday. “I just felt bad for the fans, they had been promoting the show for weeks.”

When the station removed her name from the concert’s poster with no explanation given, it was important to Ell that fans hear the truth from her.

“I stand firmly on the fact that I show up,” said Ell. Her new single “Waiting on You” is being promoted at radio now. “It rubbed me the wrong way … At the end of the day, my heart wants artists to be able to make music that is evaluated on its own merit and that’s it.”

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Watch: Lindsay at the BMI Country Awards

Ell and Bones anticipated such professional stumbling blocks in their personal relationship. Ell keeps Bones off of her social media feeds and they walk red carpets separately. She hoped that if she didn’t flaunt their relationship, Bones’ competitors would support her career. She’s been told multiple times she would have an easier path in country music, if she would just break up with him. 

“I’m very conscious about it because I know it was an issue,” she said. “Male or female, it shouldn’t matter who someone falls in love with or the clothes you pick out to wear or what you do in your spare time, it shouldn’t impact your career.”

Even before his happened, Bones understood.

“I try to stay away,” Bones explained during a chance meeting with Ell on the red carpet at the CMT Music Awards earlier this month. “She’s the star … I’m really proud of her. I’m not biased at all, but (her songs) are really good.”

Ell, whose new EP “Worth the Wait” is available now, has spent months in the recording studio completing her new full-length album. Produced by Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, the album will be available in August. Bush said Ell kept her relationship so private that even he didn’t know about it until it was revealed on the radio. 

“I love her music, I don’t care who she dates,” Bush said. “I don’t think we talked about that guy once making this record. Your personal life is what an artist uses in their life to reference to connect with other people in the world. If she has a personal life, don’t we all? Don’t our experiences help us paint pictures that other people enjoy?” 

Ell said her new album will offer an array of such pictures including the song “Wildfire” that she said “reflects this whole situation.”

“I think (people) going to learn about me as a songwriter on this album,” Ell explained. “I’m a lot more honest with what I’m going through in life. I feel like as a songwriter you can connect with fans on a deeper level. You can talk about what’s going on in your life.”

As far as the canceled show, Ell said there’s no hard feelings.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” she said. “There’s so many people around the situation who are amazing and … who have supported me from the beginning of my career. What happened a few days ago wasn’t ideal for anyone, but … I’m sure we can find something to smooth it over.”

Reach Cindy Watts at 615-664-2227, on Twitter @CindyNWatts or ciwatts@tennessean.com.

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