Tuesday Night Opry w/Lauren Alaina, Bill Yates, Bill Anderson, Holly Williams, Jesse McReynolds, The Secret Sisters, Greg Bates, & Jeannie SeelyCountry
Rossville GA | Pop
Lauren Alaina’s debut album, Wildflower, is a vibrant bouquet of compelling stories, powerful emotions and soaring vocals that is as irresistible and delightful as Lauren herself.
Lauren captured America’s heart when she appeared on American Idol earlier this year and revealed her enthusiasm, humor and warmth, as well as a commanding voice with an impressive range that has been compared to the genre’s premier vocalists, including Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride. She helped make the show one of the most popular yet. A record-breaking 122.4 million votes were cast for the finale, which garnered 29.3 million viewers, as well as 38.6 million who tuned in to see the winner’s name announced. She signed her record deal shortly thereafter and began recording her debut album with producer Byron Gallimore.
The result is a fitting musical portrait of the 16 year old’s personality, optimism and life experiences. There’s sauce and sentimentality, as well as an unwavering hope for the future and a belief in true love. “Wildflower is the perfect name for my first album,” she says. “I would consider myself a wildflower because wildflowers are sweet, but then they have a little bit of spunk to them – they are ’wildflowers,’” she says. “I like to have a lot of fun and I’m really sassy.
“I tried to get songs that were all different so everyone would have a part that they liked because people are different,” she says. “I tried to make it so that it would please everyone. It’s just me; that is what the album is: it’s Lauren Alaina. That is the common thread.”
Lauren’s inimitable spirit is showcased in “Georgia Peaches,” a fun celebration of Southern girls that proclaims, “Love to dance and we love to flirt, ain’t afraid of a little dirt.” Lauren says, “I am a Georgia peach. Even if you aren’t from Georgia, you can appreciate it because it’s the type of song that will get you up off of your feet and dancing.”
Lauren co-wrote “Funny Thing About Love” with Brett James and Luke Laird after discussing her own romantic experiences with them. “I feel like it turned out really great and I’m excited to see how people will respond to my own style of writing, as well as my style of music, period. It’s about when you like someone and they don’t like you, and when you don’t like them anymore, they like you. Timing is everything. When you are young, it never really works out. You are always on a different page.”
“Growing Her Wings” explores the coming-of-age quest for independence through the tale of a teenage girl who reads Cosmopolitan magazine, against her mother’s wishes, after she’s grounded for kissing the boy next door. “She’s growing her wings behind closed doors and she’s ready to fly away,” Lauren says. “I felt like that is who I was six months ago and I’ve formed my wings and I’m flying.”
In “She’s a Wildflower,” she encourages girls to believe in themselves by recognizing the beauty they possess. “As a teenage girl, you are your own worst critic,” says Lauren, who admits that she hasn’t been immune to self-doubt. “When I first heard the song, it made me want to cry because I know what it was like to be the freckled-face girl with a gap in her teeth,” she says. “Girls always put themselves down when they are really wildflowers and need to go for it.”
While she’s always 100 percent pro-girl, she’s not afraid to put flashy and shallow boys in their place, as she does in “I’m Not One of Them.” But she describes the innocence of young love in “Tupelo” and sings the praises of nice guys in “One Of Those Boys,” in which she reveals a weakness for jeans-wearin’ country boys who mind her curfew and love their mamas. “I am singing about a boy who is perfect, but he has all of these flaws that make me love him.”
“The Locket” is a poignant song about the power of love, both between a man and a woman and a grandmother and her granddaughter. “The grandmother has Alzheimer’s and she is starting to forget things and the granddaughter is reading out of a diary what has happened in her life,” she says. “It tells this beautiful story about these two people who fell in love when they were young kids and they grow old together.”
Lauren was surrounded by love and music as she was raised in Rossville, Ga., by her father, J.J., a chemical technician, and mother, Kristy, a transcriptionist. Her mother and older brother, Tyler, sang and her father is a multi-instrumentalist. Her parents played country and rock music in the house and Lauren favored music to television, especially Shania Twain, Aerosmith and the Dixie Chicks.
When she was 3, her mother was listening to the Dixie Chicks’ “When You Were Mine” until she turned the car off, but Lauren kept singing, hitting every note and word perfectly. Her mother bought the karaoke version of the Dixie Chicks for Lauren to sing to as she sat on the bar where they ate breakfast at Lauren’s grandmother’s restaurant.
Her first public performances came with a kids’ choir as well as an annual vacation spot that offered karaoke. Word soon spread about her talent and she began receiving invitations to perform. Beginning in elementary school, she routinely landed the lead roles in school plays.
At age nine, she wrote her first song, “She’s a Miracle,” after her aunt was in a car wreck. She sang in church, restaurants, family holiday gatherings and anywhere else. Says Lauren, “I would grab up every opportunity I could,” Lauren says. “I would go karaoke at any place within a 30-mile radius of where I lived. I would drive an hour just to sing. Any competition I would hear about I would enter.”
At age 8, she entered the talent competition of the Southern Stars Pageant and won, and the next year was selected to perform on the Kids talent stage at Chattanooga’s Riverbend Festival. She continued to perform on that stage annually until age 12, when she won the competition that allowed her to perform on the festival’s big stage. At age 10, she won the American Model and Talent Competition in Orlando, beating out 1,500 kids. She later joined the Georgia Country Gospel Music Association’s children’s group that performed at places such as Six Flags.
“I started coming to Nashville when I was about 12,” says Lauren, who enjoyed a normal childhood of playing softball, cheerleading and working at a pizza parlor. “I would go into the bars on Broadway before 6 p.m. and walk up to the people on the stage and ask if I could sing and they would let me.” Offstage, she was continuing to develop as a songwriter. Little did she know that she would be returning to Nashville to sign a major label record deal.
It was during Idol that she first heard her debut single and first hit, “Like My Mother Does.” “When they started playing it for me, I started crying because I went through this whole crazy journey and the only person who was there for me every step of the way was my mom. She didn’t get any praises for it and I got all of the attention. I thought the song would be a great way to say thank you for her for all that she does for me. When she came in and heard it, she cried. It was a sign. Everybody was crying, even the piano player.”
This year has been one of the most incredible and emotional years of her life. "When you are 16, you change a lot from the time you are 16 to 17 to 18. I got to change on national television, so everybody watched me grow up over the past year.
"I feel like people are going to continue to get to watch me grow up. It's cool that I have been able to meet so many people that I otherwise would have never been able to meet. I have been able to accomplish so many goals, like being on American Idol and releasing a single and now my first album. I know there is more to come in the future and I can't wait to see how everything unfolds."
Bill Anderson has been using that philosophy for almost fifty years to capture the attention of millions of country music fans around the world, en route to becoming a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and one of the most popular, most enduring entertainers of our time.
He’s known, in fact as “Whispering Bill,” a nickname hung on him years ago as a result of his breathy voice and his warm, soft approach to singing a country song. His credentials, however, shout his prominence: One of the most awarded songwriters in the history of country music, a million-selling recording artist many times over, television game show host, network soap opera star, spokesman for a nationwide restaurant chain, and a consummate onstage performer. His back-up group, The Po’ Folks Band, has long been considered one of the finest instrumental and vocal groups in the business.
Holly has been using music to tell the story of her life and those around her for quite some time. Starting at age eight, Holly filled a notebook she called “Holly’s song folder” with her own compositions, though the lyrical content was far beyond the comprehension of your typical elementary school student. The first of these songs titled “Who Am I” told the story of a young woman facing a broken marriage and mounting confusion about her place in life. Holly’s penchant for addressing life’s ups and downs through song was clearly established at this point, as was her songwriting method.
Gallatin TN | Country
Jesse Lester McReynolds (born July 9, 1929, in Coeburn, Virginia) is an American bluegrass musician. He is known for his innovative crosspicking and split-string styles of mandolin playing, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1964. He is a multiple Grammy nominee and award winner and one-half of the famed Jim & Jesse bluegrass duo.
The Secret Sisters
Muscle Shoals AL | Country
The Secret Sisters echo and promise better days. They are a breath of fresh air. - T Bone Burnett
The Secret Sisters’ incredible story is as simple and true as the effortless harmonies that got them here. Begin anywhere – the thick and fertile brambles of their own family history (their grandfather and his brothers actually forged a group called ’The Happy Valley Boys’) or light upon the branches of the wondrous, fractal menagerie that makes up their debut album (a guileless, rapturous mixture of roots-ified pop that includes classics like “Why Don’t Ya Love Me?” and “Why Baby Why”). The pure goldenrod from a pair of Alabama sisters direct from Muscle Shoals (barely twenty-somethings themselves) dare to cover the Sinatra untouchable “Something Stupid,” one minute, and deliver their own self-penned, soon-to-be signature anthem “Tennessee Me,” the next.
And the space between Laura and Lydia Rogers, well … you couldn’t slip a butter-slice between that. Fortified by an airtight familial camaraderie – ’a love of music from all sides’ gushes Laura – ’our father, our mother’s side of the family, her mother and father – our church…all our cousins…’ and emboldened with a zeal for country music and a knowledgeable repertoire of the American canon of classic recordings - the bond between Laura and Lydia is as deep as “the Tennessee river in springtime” – one of their other favorite colloquialisms.
Such grounded wisdom permeates their stunning musical debut, recorded in Nashville in a mere two weeks in legendary Blackbird studios. The 10-song valentine – helmed by acclaimed producer Dave Cobb (Waylon Jennings, Jamey Johnson), manages to evoke, dare we say, even loftier pop latitudes by tapping into the indie-cool power of the Secret Sisters’ mesmerizing vocals: Arrow-straight (“Timeless,” is how Cobb describes their harmonizing) the unique, un-filtered Rogers’ sound deftly ambling between savant-like grace and ’good ’ol fashioned’ pop horse sense – defying both convention and the fake-it-as-you-go M.O. of the contemporary, hyper-shuffled music industry.
It was the Secret Sisters’ vocals and their love and respect for music and harmony that first caught the attention of T Bone Burnett, who signed on as Executive Producer after spending time with Laura and Lydia and hearing them sing live, and is releasing the album on his new label created especially for this release - Beladroit. As Burnett explains, “I have been making music for over forty years and The Secret Sisters album is as close to pure as it gets.
"Listening to the Secret Sisters sing, you hear in their voices a sound that is timeless and of the moment. You hear the history of rural American music from the 1920's and a reverence for every musical genre this country has produced. Popular music requires the absolute honesty of the Secret Sisters, and I'm thrilled to be involved in presenting them to the world.”
“The girls were able to step up and deliver just as we first heard them,” says Cobb. “They possess that rarest quality of being able to convert their magic exactly as it comes across. We didn’t have to do anything but bring the band in.” Surrounded by a team of iconic Nashville session players such as pedal steel genius Robbie Turner and piano great Pig Robbins, the girls tore through a selection of ’found’ treasures and a couple of songs written by Laura, including the impressive “Waste The Day.”
Classic, ’old school’ recording equipment was also the rule of the day at the two week-long recording marathon. The album was recorded the same way it would have been recorded in the 1950s. No computers or digital equipment were even aloud near the sessions in an effort to capture the sisters’ stunning vocal prowess ’as is.’ The production team and the girls utilized vintage microphones and ’throwback’ recording techniques down to the same type of tape they would have used fifty years ago. “Some songs only took a few takes to capture,” says Lydia. “Often we’ve found we’re freshest on the first-take. The way we bounce off each other when singing also seems to give us a confidence to ’go for it,’ even though this was our first time in a ’real’ studio.”
The speed with which the sisters’ have been thrust into the musical spotlight has also amazed them. Hailing from the legendary musical hamlet of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Laura refers to their ’accidental discovery’ as “one of those things that happens when you’re not looking. You just embrace it and be grateful.”
Recalling annual family picnics where the girls first learned to harmonize classic gems by the Everly Brothers, Doc Watson, and others, they also credit growing up in The Church Of Christ, and their home congregation in Alabama for encouraging a cappella singing. But amazingly, Laura and Lydia never considered a singing career as a duo. “I went off to college to pursue a career in business,” laughs Laura. “I always considered Lydia the ’real’ singer of our family.”
It took an impromptu Nashville audition by Laura – where Cobb and a few other music business representatives were looking to possibly craft a new singing group last fall – to bring their incredible talents into focus. “Lydia was delayed so I drove up by myself,” says Laura. “I didn’t think I had a chance.” The song she chose was by singer Brandi Carlile – “Same Old You.” “I didn’t know if I did well or not.”
By the time she got home her phone was ringing off the hook with messages from representatives from the audition asking her back. Cobb remembers being blown away immediately. “We were looking for a whole different thing,” he admits. “But when I heard Laura I was just knocked out. I’d never heard anything like it, at least in person. There was something so innocent about her style in a ’40s or ’50s kind of way. So clear and classic. When she told us she had a sister, we all looked at each other in disbelief.”
Lydia showed up later, and when the two were asked to sing together, all the music business representatives present realized the mission was a simple one: To capture this abundance of raw talent in its purest form. The Secret Sisters were born.
In a matter of days the girls were flown to Los Angeles to record a couple of demos. “Here we were, just a couple of Alabama girls suddenly coming face to face with our dream,” says Lydia. For Laura, it was her first time in an airplane. “You can’t imagine what was going through my head,” she laughs. “The whole thing was starting to become a fairy tale.”
A batch of demos was produced and record companies began responding accordingly. Within weeks they were signed to Universal Republic, and the song selection process for their debut album began in earnest. “It was fun going through the process. We had grown up singing so many great songs with our family, listening to our dad play Don Williams’ songs about ’good ’ol boys’ and rivers running dry with the fireflies blinking behind our house,” says Laura. “I can’t help but think we brought that all into the studio with us.”
For Laura and Lydia, that ’place’ just might be that unshakable, impenetrable bond that sparks it all. “Maybe the stuff that comes out is all that nurturing, musical and otherwise, back in Alabama, that contributes in some indivisible way to who we are,” says Lydia.
In a series of notes trying to put her finger on it herself, Laura expressed it even simpler: ’In so many ways we are still the same kids who would perform songs in our parents' room, when we sang about silver threads and golden needles and cold hearted snakes, and all that. Even with everything that’s happened - getting that dream chance to make our own album, I really believe we’ve just found where we’re supposed to be.’
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, it makes sense that I would want to write and sing Country Music. I grew up listening to the legends and because of their influence, I have the rare opportunity of making music for a living. If I owe Alan Jackson, George Strait, and Dwight Yoakam for kicking off these dreams, then I also owe a lot of people who are helping me follow them. Things are really exciting these days and they are just getting started. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and check out the music. There's much more to come and I hope you'll come along for the ride!
Titusville PA | Country
Along with many accolades including awards from Billboard, Cashbox and Record World, country music legend Jeannie Seely has achieved No. 1 songs as a solo artist, as a duet partner and as a songwriter. Her deeply moving vocals earned her the nickname of "Miss Country Soul".
Jeannie’s recording of "Don’t Touch Me" not only topped the charts, but also earned her a Grammy Award for the "Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female". It is ranked at No. 97 in the book "Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles" published by the Country Music Foundation, and also included in "The Stories Behind Country Music’s All-Time Greatest 100 Songs".
Born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and raised on a farm outside of nearby Townville, Jeannie was singing on Meadville radio station WMGW at age 11, and by 16 was performing on TV station WICU in Erie. When she moved to Nashville upon the encouragement of friend Dottie West, Jeannie only had $50 and a Ford Falcon to her name, but within a month Porter Wagoner hired her as the female singer for his road and television series.