Carrie Underwood, Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X- Press, John Conlee, Blue Sky Riders, Charles Esten, Bill Anderson, Gloriana, The Whites, Jimmy Dickens, Mike Snider, Sarah Darling & Jeannie SeelyCountry
Checotah OK | Country
With more than 15 million albums sold worldwide, 16 #1 singles, with seven as co-writes, five Grammys, and countless other accolades---all achieved with four albums in less than eight years---some artists might feel as though they’d earned the right to rest on their laurels, but not Carrie Underwood. Fueled by a restless creative spirit, good-natured competitive streak and abundance of God-given talent, Carrie unleashes her most ambitious project yet with Blown Away.
Teaming again with producer Mark Bright, Carrie delivers a 14-song collection that covers a particularly vast expanse of emotional territory. She celebrates the understated pleasures of small town living in “Thank God for Hometowns” and explores the exquisite fragility of life in “Forever Changed.” She’s not averse to tackling abuse and betrayal then doling out a little sweet revenge with such compelling tracks as “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs.” Musically the songs range from rollicking up-tempo anthems, such as the hit first single “Good Girl” to the island-flavored escape of “One Way Ticket” and the steel guitar-laced country lament of “Wine After Whiskey.”
Such musical and lyrical diversity is the foundation of Carrie’s artistry. After all, this is a young woman who has performed with Steven Tyler on a top-rated edition of CMT’s “Crossroads,” scored a No. 1 country hit with good friend Brad Paisley on “Remind Me,” and sang with the iconic Tony Bennett on the 2012 Grammy telecast, delivering the classic “It Had to be You,” their collaboration on Bennett’s Duets II album.
The Oklahoma native is a fan of all types of music, yet she’s purposefully planted herself in the country format, even while her eclectic tastes have influenced her creative output. She’s been careful to not get pigeonholed and prides herself on not being predictable. “I feel like I’ve taken all of my albums into as many different directions as possible while still keeping them cohesive,” she says. “I love this album from start to finish and love every song on it. There’s not one single song that’s like another song I’ve ever done. I think it’s my best album. I really do think there’s something for everyone.”
Her ability to be unique yet accessible has been crucial to Carrie’s career from the beginning. She became America’s sweetheart in 2005 when she won the fourth season of American Idol, a vehicle that transformed her from a shy Oklahoma girl with a great voice to a budding superstar. Since then she’s become the popular franchise’s most successful alumni.
She’s won a vast array of awards including three female vocalist awards from both the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM). In 2010, when Carrie garnered her second win as ACM Entertainer of the Year, she became the first female artist to win the award twice, and only the 7th female to take the award in the 40-year history of the ACM category, among Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, and the Dixie Chicks. Carrie also received the ACM Triple Crown Award, thanks to her past wins for the categories of Entertainer of the Year, Top Female Vocalist and Top New Female Vocalist, which has been won by only one other female artist – Barbara Mandrell in 2004. In addition to the above, Carrie’s won 7 American Music Awards, 6 People’s Choice Awards, 9 CMT Music Awards, 9 American Country Awards, and 7 BMI Songwriter Awards. Carrie also received a Golden Globe nomination in 2010 for “Best Original Song” for “There’s A Place For Us” from Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader which she both recorded and co-wrote.
Carrie’s 2005 debut Some Hearts topped Billboard’s Country Albums chart for 27 weeks, has sold over 7 million copies, and was voted #1 Country Album of the Decade by Billboard. Both her 2007 sophomore album, Carnival Ride and 2009’s Play On debuted at No. 1. Her current album, Blown Away, debuted atop the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, where it held the No. 1 spot for two consecutive weeks. Over the course of four albums, she’s saturated country radio with such hits as “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats,” “So Small,” “Last Name,” “Just A Dream,” “Cowboy Casanova,” “Temporary Home,” “All-American Girl,” “Undo It,” “Mama’s Song,” “Good Girl,” and “Blown Away.”
Carrie’s highly acclaimed concert tours have further helped to establish her into the elite status of the country music community, or in any genre of music, with her stellar performances. In 2008, after wrapping her “Carnival Ride Tour” she became the top selling country female touring artist of the year selling out many of the 137 shows before 1.2 million fans. In that year, Carrie also became the most-heard artist at country radio and was named the #1 Hot Country Songs Artist by Billboard and #1 Top Country Artist by Radio & Records. In 2010, her next headline arena tour, the “Play On Tour,” played 108 shows with one million fans attending which resulted in Carrie being named again as the top-ranked female country touring artist of the year. Carrie is currently on her critically-acclaimed international “Blown Away Tour”, which began at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall, and continued throughout Australia, before launching in North America in September of 2012.
Carrie is a proud member of the Grand Ole Opry and expanded her resume making her acting debut in the 2011 film “Soul Surfer.” She can be seen in print and TV ads as the North American face of Olay beauty products, and has a long-running deal with vitaminwater®. One of Country Music’s most respected young ambassadors, Carrie has served as co-host of the CMA Awards with Brad Paisley the past five years.
Yet for those who think they know Carrie, Blown Away is likely to catch them by surprise, particularly the cinematic title track with its swirling, atmospheric production and intense lyric about abuse and revenge. “I got chills,” she says of the first time she heard the Josh Kear/Chris Tompkins penned stunner. “I remember where I was when I heard it and called my manager and said, ’Do not let anyone else have this song. It’s my song’ . . . It’s such a visual song. You listen to it and you can see everything that is happening. It’s so dramatic. I’m not a drama person, but when you can make a movie in song form in 3 ½ minutes, it’s surreal.”
“Blown Away” finds a daughter getting revenge on an abusive, alcoholic father and the next song, “Two Black Cadillacs,” also has a larger-than-life cinematic quality which makes both tunes feel like mini-movies set to music. “Two Black Cadillacs” relates the story of a wife and mistress who conspire to get even with the man who betrayed them both. “It’s just more drama,” says Carrie, who co-wrote the tune with Josh Kear and Hillary Lindsey. “It was so much fun creating all this drama and singing about it. That’s the great thing about being an entertainer; you’re just a big actor. When we start sitting down and writing songs, you just never know what’s going to come out.”
Carrie co-wrote eight of the 14 songs on Blown Away, including the first single, Good Girl" which reached number 1 on the country airplay charts and is certified platinum. ’Good Girl’ was one of the last ones I wrote for the album,” she says of the tune she penned with Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley. “We wanted something a little more fun and up-tempo. Chris DeStefano is just a mad scientist with his Pro Tools and he can play every instrument. We walked out of that writing session with a demo. It sounded awesome. It was ready to go. We let everybody hear it and everybody was so excited.”
“Cupid’s Got a Shotgun” is another of the album’s high-energy tracks and it gets an extra kick from Paisley contributing his signature guitar licks. “Once we got into the studio, I was like Brad Paisley HAS to play on this. He’ll make the song,” Carrie says of the tune, she wrote with Kear and Tompkins. “We left so much space in the song for him to come in and play. He did his thing and sounded awesome. He added that last piece of the puzzle and it’s just so country. It’s really cool.”
In addition to being musically inventive, Carrie has long been known for delivering songs with substance, and the new album delivers its share of potent messages. “Nobody Ever Told You,” which Carrie wrote with Luke Laird and Hillary Lindsey, boasts an empowering lyric and a breezy, engaging melody. “People need to hear compliments more,” she says of the song’s life-affirming lyric. “People need to hear ’I love you’ more. People need to hear ’You are beautiful’ more.”
“Good in Goodbye,” co-written by Carrie, Lindsey and Ryan Tedder, is a bittersweet look at life beyond heartbreak that offers tender truth in the lines “As bad as it was/As bad as it hurt/I thank God I didn’t get what I thought I deserved.” On the other end of the emotional spectrum, “Thank God for Hometowns” is a sweet salute to small town life. “I heard that one when I was going back to my 10 year high school reunion,” the Checotah, OK native says. “I listened to the demo when I was driving in to go stay with my parents. It was just very fitting in my heart at that time.”
“Forever Changed” is a beautiful ballad that brings tears to Carrie’s eyes as she discusses it. “I had a hard time recording it and I still have a hard time listening to it,” she says of the Tom Douglas/Hillary Lindsey/James T. Slater penned ballad. “That is the most wonderfully well written song I’ve ever heard in my life. There’s this young girl meeting the love of her life, getting married and having a baby. It takes you back in time and there is something old fashioned about it. At the end, the mom’s obviously slipping a way a little bit. It is a sad song, but it’s not meant to be a sad song. It’s about love, being forever changed, forever loved.”
In a few short years, Carrie has seen the power music has to change lives---to incite dialog, to instill hope, and to simply entertain. She’s aware of the platform she’s been given. She respects it and appreciates every moment. “I’m very happy in my life and I count my blessings every day,” she says. “Seven years ago when I decided to try out for American Idol, my life changed completely in the blink of an eye. I went down a different train track and took off at about a million miles per hour. I feel like I’m still learning. In the beginning, it was like, ’Oh, I have a No. 1. That’s awesome!’ I didn’t really understand what that meant. ’Jesus, Take The Wheel’ and ’Before He Cheats’ were No. 1 for several weeks, and that doesn’t happen often, but I had no idea. I realize now what hard work it actually is and I feel like I can appreciate those victories even more. Touring is more fun because I know what it’s like to headline a tour. I feel like I’m able to be more and more creative all the time. I always feel like I’m taking steps forward.”
Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X- Press
Bobby Osborne is a bluegrass musician known for his mandolin playing and high lead vocals. Born December 7, 1931 in Leslie County, Kentucky, Bobby Osborne is known primarily for his collaborations with his brother Sonny Osborne in their band, the Osborne Brothers. He was a pioneer in conceiving the now-popular "high lead" vocal trio concept. He has released numerous recordings since the 1950s. Most notably, the Osborne Brothers recordings of "Rocky Top", and "Kentucky" inpired their being named official state songs of Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively.
Fort Worth TX | Country
One of the most respected vocalists to emerge during the urban cowboy era, John Conlee was known for his superb taste in material and his distinctively melancholy voice. Conlee was born and raised on a tobacco farm in Versailles, KY, in 1946, and took up the guitar as a child, performing on local radio at age ten. He went on to sing with the town barbershop chorus, but didn't initially pursue music as a career, instead becoming a licensed mortician. He also worked as a disc jockey at numerous area radio stations, and made important industry connections via that area when he moved to Nashville in 1971. Five years later, Conlee's demo tape got him a contract with ABC. He released a few singles, but didn't find acceptance until 1978's "Rose Colored Glasses," a song he'd co-written with a newsman at his radio station, rocketed into the country Top Five. Conlee spent the next decade or so scoring hit after hit, nearly all of them helmed by producer Bud Logan. He had two number ones in 1979 alone -- "Lady Lay Down" and "Backside of Thirty" -- and four number two hits through 1981, which included "Before My Time," "Friday Night Blues," "She Can't Say That Anymore," and "Miss Emily's Picture." Conlee returned to the top of the charts three times over 1983-1984 with "Common Man," "I'm Only in It for the Love," and "In My Eyes," and had his last number one in 1986 with "Got My Heart Set on You." All told, Conlee made the Top Ten 19 times through 1987, when he moved from MCA to Columbia and reached the Top Five with "Domestic Life." Never much for touring, Conlee subsequently curtailed his recording activities as well, instead devoting his time to charity work (often on behalf of American farmers), raising his family, and running his own farm outside Nashville.
Blue Sky Riders
The creative spark that turned into Blue Sky Riders was struck as two veteran singer/songwriters worked on their first song together.
“The best part,” says Kenny Loggins of that meeting with Gary Burr as he wrote for “How About Now,” his well-received 2008 release, “was that when we sang together, we sounded like brothers. The last time I experienced that kind of blend was with Jimmy Messina in 1971.”
Loggins, one of the premiere voices in modern popular music, called Burr, one of Nashville’s most accomplished writers, afterward and asked if he’d like to form a band. Then he suggested they look for a third, female voice.
“I’ve got the perfect person,” said Burr. “Georgia Middleman. She’s the best I’ve ever worked with.” Loggins flew to Nashville and the three sat down to write. “What a meeting!” says Loggins. “We wrote our first song and were singing with a three-part blend that comes once in a lifetime.”
With that, Blue Sky Riders was a reality.
Middleman, a renowned singer/songwriter, says the experience has reminded her of the Joseph Campbell line, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” “I’m definitely looking bliss in the eye right now,” she says. All three sing lead amid the three-part harmonies that told each of them from the beginning that they had something special.
For Loggins, Blue Sky Riders is a new creative step forward in a career filled with magic moments. His hits, early on as half of Loggins and Messina and then as a solo artist, include “Danny’s Song,” “House at Pooh Corner,” “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” “Angry Eyes,” “Whenever I Call You Friend” (with Stevie Nicks) and “This Is It,” a series of movie theme songs, including “I’m Alright” (Caddyshack), “Footloose” (Footloose), “Danger Zone” (Top Gun), and “Nobody’s Fool” (Caddyshack II), and later AC smashes including “Conviction of the Heart,” “The Real Thing,” “If You Believe” and “For the First Time.” His songs have been covered by artists including Barbra Streisand, Lynn Anderson, Anne Murray and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Loggins and Michael McDonald co-wrote “What A Fool Believes,” which received a Grammy for Song of the Year, and “This Is It,” which earned Loggins a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal.
Burr has been named Songwriter of the Year by ASCAP, Billboard and NSAI. His hits include Juice Newton’s “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me,” Conway Twitty’s “That’s My Job” and Wynonna’s “To Be Loved By You,” and his songs have been covered by LeAnn Rimes, Faith Hill, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Garth Brooks, Ricky Skaggs and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among many others. He has written and performed with Ringo Starr, had a worldwide hit with the Ricky Martin/Christina Aguilera smash “Nobody Wants to be Lonely,” and topped the charts with Kelly Clarkson’s “Before Your Love” and Clay Aiken’s “This is the Night.” He has toured with Carole King and produced Olivia Newton John, and early in his career spent three years as lead singer of Pure Prairie League.
Middleman was still a teenager when she began opening for artists like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Drawn to Nashville’s creative energy, she quickly landed a publishing deal with Polygram and released the well-received Endless Possibiities on Giant Records. She wrote Keith Urban’s 2010 chart-topper “I’m In,” and singles including Tracy Lawrence’s “It’s All How You Look At It” and Sarah Buxton’s “Innocence.” Her songs have been recorded by Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Terri Clark, Mark Chesnutt and Joe Nichols, among many others. She has toured with Radney Foster and sung backup for Jack Ingram, Marty Raybon, the Warren Brothers and many other Nashville artists. Blue Sky Riders released their debut album, Finally Home, on their own record label, 3Dream Records on January 29, 2013.
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.
From the band's earliest days, the members of Gloriana have always known that good things take time. The country trio first came together in 2008 when brothers Tom and Mike Gossin moved into Rachel Reinert's Nashville apartment. Together they spent months in cramped quarters, surviving on Ramen Noodles while trying to shape their sound. "Gloriana are three people who have played music for their entire lives" says Mike. "But we never really caught a break until coming together. Tom and I played in bars for 10 years, but it wasn't until the three of us got together that we knew we had something special." That something special has held Tom, Mike, and Rachel together through all manner of personal and professional struggles over the past several years: from relationship upheavals, to the departure of band-mate Cheyenne Kimball, to long stretches away from loved ones on the road, to wondering whether their music would ever catch fire. Fortunately it did when Gloriana's 2009 self-titled debut album soared to No. 2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart propelled by the gold-certified single "Wild At Heart". That same year, they spent two years on the road with Taylor Swift and won both an American Music Award for Breakthrough Artist and a coveted ACM Award for Top New Vocal Group in 2010.
Des Moines IA | Country
Declared by the New York Times as a "sophisticated songwriter" with a "crisp, powerful voice," Black River Entertainment artist Sarah Darling is confidently making her mark on the country music scene. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut in February 2011 and quickly followed that up with the #1 music video for her hit "Something To Do With Your Hands" from her sophomore release, Angels & Devils. The multi-dimensional artist is aligned with such high profile brands as Crock-Pot and Betsey Johnson. Her rendition of The Beatles classic "Blackbird," recorded for the charity-based compilation album benefiting "The Women and Cancer Fund," received heavy airplay on SIRIUS XM's The Highway and the music video for "Blackbird" made its debut at No. 1 on the CMT Pure 12-Pack Countdown. Darling is currently in the studio working on her upcoming album with producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts) to be released in 2012.
Gleason TN | Country
Mike Snider, (born May 5, 1961), is an American bluegrass banjo player and humorist. He learned to play banjo at the age of 16. Although he is well known for irreverent humor, he is a well respected banjo player. Much of his comedy is based on stories about his wife, Sabrina, referred to as Sweetie.
"There's nothing like playing music to bring a family together," says Sharon White, but that's not exactly right; over 30 years have shown that the music of The Whites - sisters, Sharon and Cheryl, and father Buck - has just as much power to bring audiences together in a feeling that resembles that of one giant, extended family.
The story of The Whites begins in Texas, when a young Buck White started his musical career not long after the end of World War II, working the dance halls and radio shows in a succession of bands. Honky-tonk music called for the piano and the bluegrass mandolin, and so he became proficient on both, absorbing the many varieties of Texas country and blues to fashion his own distinctive style - one that kept him in steady demand as a sideman throughout the 1950s. In 1961, tired of the rough-and-tumble life of a honky-tonk musician and wanting to raise his family in a more wholesome environment, White moved to Arkansas. Yet within a matter of months, he and wife Pat were once again making music, forming a band with another couple that eventually called themselves the Down Home Folks. As Sharon and Cheryl grew, they, too, were drawn to music ("Mama said I could carry a tune before I could talk," Sharon recalls.) at first forming the Down Home Kids with the children of other Down Home Folks members in the mid-1960s, then moving up to join their parents in a growing number of bluegrass festival appearances.
The first big turning point for the Whites came in 1971, when a successful trip to Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom festival convinced the family that the time was right to move to Nashville and pursue a more serious music career. Though Pat retired from the band in 1973, the move paid off as Buck White and the Down Home Folks began their recording career, featuring the striking family harmonies and top-notch instrumental work that has characterized their music ever since. The remainder of the decade saw them make a steady ascent in the world of bluegrass, recording five acclaimed albums for various labels and working a busy touring schedule, even as they gained a toehold in the country music field thanks to their powerful vocals and broad repertoire. The former, in particular, attracted the attention of Emmylou Harris, who brought them in to sing on her Blue Kentucky Girl album of 1979 and then took them on the road with her as an opening act.
The early part of the 1980s brought The Whites - by then renamed to reflect their family ties - to national prominence as their simple, traditionally-rooted yet dynamic sound put them on Billboard's country charts with a succession of Top 20 hits. Favorites like their first Top 10, "You Put The Blue In Me," as well as "Hangin' Around," "Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling," and "Pins And Needles," - the latter all produced by Sharon's husband, Ricky Skaggs (the two married in 1981) - introduced them to new audiences, culminating in the induction as members of the Grand Ole Opry in 1984.
Since then, The Whites have entertained and inspired literally millions of listeners at thousands of personal appearances with their unique sound. Time has also brought renewed attention to Buck White's mandolin playing; as bluegrass historian Neil V. Rosenberg recently said, "insiders have long known of his prowess," and with his appearance on Bluegrass Mandolin Extravaganza, released in 1999, a wider audience has been introduced to his masterful style and compositions.
Their first release for Skaggs Family Records, A Lifetime in the Making, (produced by one of their former sidemen, the legendary Jerry Douglas) proves once again The Whites are among the top ranks of artists able to combine a respect for - and mastery of - traditional country and bluegrass. "We're always falling between the cracks when it comes to styles, but that's just the way our music is. We have dobro, fiddle, and mandolin on this album, as well as some piano. It has the same kind of feel as those singles we made back in the early 1980s, but it's as bluegrass as anything The Whites ever did." Released in the fall of 2000, A Lifetime in the Making received substantial critical acclaim, winning an INDIE Award for 'Best Country Album' (2001), as well as a Golden Voice Award at CMA Music Festival's third annual awards show in Nashville.
In 2001, acoustic music blasted onto the mainstream with the smash hit movie and soundtrack, O Brother Where Art Thou? Buck and the girls were hand selected among bluegrass music's finest to participate in the soundtrack and appear in the film. The Whites were recognized at the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) Awards Show in 2001, where they won two awards including the well-respected 'Album of the Year' honor. In November of 2001, The Whites were recognized at the 35th Annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards in the highly esteemed 'Album of the Year' category. Their involvement in the film and soundtrack brought further acclaim the following year, including the highest industry honor achievable - a GRAMMY Award - in the revered 'Album of the Year' category; as well as the 'Album of the Year' nod from the Academy of Country Music (ACM). Along with all the industry accolades, The Whites made numerous appearances in promotion of O Brother, including their involvement in the first 18-city 'Down from the Mountain' tour, a stop at David Letterman's "Late Show" with fellow O Brother artist, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and a featured spot on the follow up tours - the 40 plus city 'Down from the Mountain' summer tour in 2002 and the 'Great High Mountain' tour in the summer of 2004.
In 2007, after years of blending their voices from the living room to the stage, The Whites teamed up with Ricky Skaggs on Salt of the Earth, their first collaborative effort, which earned them a Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album and a Dove Award for Bluegrass Recorded Album of the Year. Buck, Sharon, Cheryl, and Ricky share lead vocals with Skaggs' award winning band Kentucky Thunder laying the foundation for their tight family harmony. Traditional hymns, a few familiar favorites, and brand new treasures flow throughout the album providing an intimate look into the heart of one of music's most beloved families.
In 2008, proud Texans Buck, Sharon, and Cheryl received the ultimate honor from their home state with their induction into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. For those who have heard The Whites before, that's good news indeed - and for those who haven't, it will be an exciting introduction to a rich, yet comfortable musical world. They may not use the name anymore, but Buck, Sharon, and Cheryl White are still creating music that's as good and as real as everything conjured up by the phrase "down home folks."
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.