NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tim McGraw has chosen a new record label run by an old friend.

The country music superstar has signed a multi-album deal with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records, officially ending his acrimonious relationship with his only previous label, Curb Records.

McGraw made the announcement Monday at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s the start of the second phase of one of country music’s most successful careers, and McGraw hopes he can regain some of the momentum he lost while fighting to end his “lifetime” contract with Curb Records. Though the two sides remain locked in a legal dispute, a judge last year freed McGraw to begin recording for a new label.

McGraw said in an earlier interview that he and Borchetta sealed the deal May 9 at the Greyhound bus station in Nashville, marking the anniversary of McGraw’s arrival in Music City with a guitar in one hand and a suitcase in the other.

“So 23 years after I arrived to town, I’m sort of in the kickoff phase of my new career,” McGraw said.

There was much speculation about where McGraw might land. He remains a bankable star with more than 37 million albums sold, 30-plus No. 1 singles and strong touring numbers that will soon include his stadiums-only “Brothers of the Sun” tour this summer with old friend Kenny Chesney. He’s also carved out an acting career, receiving favorable reviews for performances in “The Blind Side” and “Country Strong.” And his marriage to Faith Hill adds its own star power.

In some ways, Borchetta had an inside track all along, however. Their lives have been intertwined since Borchetta’s father, Mike, persuaded Curb Records to sign McGraw before the release of his first album in 1993.

“Nobody wanted anything to do with me, but he had a feeling about me and sort of stuck his neck out for me,” McGraw said. “He actually threw me a party at his house when I signed with Curb Records, and I’m not even sure that anybody over there knew that he’d signed me.”

The Borchetta label group’s flagship artist is Taylor Swift — whose first single for Big Machine was “Tim McGraw” coincidentally. But the label also has helped break The Band Perry, the Eli Young Band and Brantley Gilbert recently as well and is home to Reba McEntire.

“You want to have a great partner when you’re in this business,” McGraw said. “You want to have someone you trust and are family that you trust, and a family that’s got your back and a family that you know has sort of the same artistic goals that you have, and I feel now I have that. The past is the past.”

Whitney Houston recording released

NEW YORK – Whitney Houston’s final recording is being released.

The song, “Celebrate,” is a duet with Jordin Sparks from Houston’s last movie, a remake of the film “Sparkle.”

The song debuted Monday on Ryan Seacrest’s website and will be available on iTunes June 5.

Sparks performed a tribute to Houston on Sunday night at the Billboard Music Awards, singing “I Will Always Love You” as Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina wiped away tears.

Houston’s death in February at age 48 came as the singer had been attempting a comeback and had finished filming “Sparkle.” She drowned in a bathtub in Beverly Hills, Calif. Authorities said her death was complicated by cocaine use and heart disease.

“Sparkle” opens in theaters Aug. 17.

Singer George Jones hospitalized with respiratory infection

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country music star George Jones is in the hospital again with a respiratory infection.

A spokesman said the 80-year-old singer was hospitalized Monday in Nashville, Tenn., and that concert dates through June will be rescheduled where possible.

Jones spent about a week in the hospital in March, also forcing a round of postponements.

The “White Lightning” singer was due to return to the stage this weekend at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. Jones will miss about seven shows in Georgia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Arizona and Nevada.

The Country Music Hall of Fame member is  considered one of the greatest male voices in country music history.

— From news service reports