Bill Anderson w/BJ Thomas, Richard Marx, Scotty McCreery, Jim Ed Brown, Connie Smith, Morgan Frazier, Mike Snider, Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X- Press, Charlie Worsham, Jeannie Seely & Blake SheltonCountry
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.
Arlington VA | Pop
Chicago IL | Pop
As a performer, songwriter and producer, Richard Marx’s nearly three-decade-long career has had plenty of highlights. The Chicago native has sold more than 30 million albums, starting with his self-titled debut, which went to #8 and spawned four Top 5 singles, including the chart-topping “Hold on to the Nights,” with “Don’t Mean Nothing” earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance-Male. The follow-up, 1989’s Repeat Offender, was even more successful, hitting #1 and going quadruple-platinum with two #1 singles in “Satisfied” and “Right Here Waiting.” When both Rush Street (with two #1 AC hits in “Keep Coming Back” and “Hazard”) and Paid Vacation (with its #1 AC hit, “Now and Forever”) went platinum, Marx achieved a seven-year string of triumphs that rivaled any in pop-rock music history. To mark the release of 1991’s Rush Street, he embarked on a 24-hour, five-city blitz on MGM Grand Airlines, performing at every stop, a record that has yet to be broken. To this day, he is the only male artist in history to have his first seven singles reach the Top 5 on the Billboard charts.
For most artists, that would be impressive enough, but Richard Marx didn’t stop there, launching a second, very successful, incarnation as a songwriter and producer, with songs like “To Where You Are,” the first hit single from Josh Groban’s debut album, as well as the NSYNC smash, “This I Promise You.” He went on to earn a 2004 Song of the Year Grammy for co-authoring Luther Vandross’ “Dance with My Father,” then accompanied Celine Dion live on piano for her performance of the winning tune on that year’s prime-time telecast. He has penned songs for the likes of Barbra Streisand, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes, Natalie Cole, Travis Tritt, Daughtry, Lifehouse and actor Hugh Jackman, among many others. Just last year, Richard scored a #1 Country single in Keith Urban’s “Long Hot Summer,” his second with the Australian singer-songwriter after “Better Life,” from his triple-platinum CD Be Here, spent six weeks at the top of the charts. That gave Marx the rare feat of having songs he either wrote or co-wrote go #1 in four separate decades. Richard has recently participated in writing sessions with everyone from Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Sara Bareilles to Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, showing his remarkable stylistic range.
Across all formats, Marx has scored an amazing total of 14 #1 singles, both as a performer and songwriter/producer, making him a true multi-talented threat who continues to challenge himself and his fans. His previous album, 2010’s Stories to Tell, produced a Top 20 AC hit in “When You Loved Me.”
Richard remains active as a live performer, having recently begun an ongoing solo acoustic tour that’s already taken him around the U.S. as well as to China, Russia and throughout Europe. In 2006, he went on the road with Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band for 22 dates in North America, playing guitar and performing his own hits. He toured as an acoustic duet with Vertical Horizon’s Matt Scannell in 2008. His recent PBS special, Richard Marx: A Night Out with Friends, part of the network’s celebrated Front Row Center music series which aired last summer, featured superstar and Oscar host Hugh Jackman’s duet with Richard on a rocking version of the Box Tops’ classic hit, “The Letter,” and is now available on CD/DVD. Richard also boasts a robust following on both Facebook (240k) and Twitter (32k), where his often-acerbic Tweets have made him a favorite with his faithful fan base, which he will continue to keep informed of his activities.
With all of his many accomplishments, Marx has long harbored a desire to record a Christmas album to make good on a promise to his late grandmother, an important part of his family growing up, who died in 1989. With Christmas Spirit, released by TourDForce through INgrooves Fontana, he has fulfilled that commitment in grand style. The album features a selection of traditional holiday songs, a pair of originals co-written with Dave Grusin and Fee Waybill, and a list of guests including Kenny Loggins, Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins, frequent collaborator Matt Scannell and Sara Niemietz, who performed with Marx on his PBS special after Richard’s kids discovered her on YouTube.
Richard has also made a commitment to several different causes, from donating the royalties from his hit single, “Should’ve Known Better,” to build a room at the NYU Medical Center for pediatric cancer patients, to his 1989 recording of “Children of the Night,” which brought attention to the plight of homeless children on the streets, raising more than $500k for the Children of the Night Foundation. Marx has also performed benefit concerts over the years for the TJ Martell Foundation, Toys for Tots, Make a Wish Foundation, the American Cancer Society, Best Buddies and the Special Olympics. Richard and his band entertained the U.S. troops stationed in Germany and, since 2008, he has hosted an annual event in Chicago for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the first of which featured a concert by Richard and Kenny Rogers. Richard has also organized an annual all-star benefit concert for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, raising more than $4 million for research to cure the disease.
“I’m at a great place right now, because my motivation is not my image, fan base or even album sales, which has freed me to do stuff I enjoy,” admits Marx, “and that makes it fun.”
Garner NC | Pop
Earning both a platinum and gold album before turning 20, Scotty McCreery is poised to become country's newest superstar. His deep voice and an irresistible sound create the perfect blend of contemporary and traditional country. With over 150 live shows under his belt across the US, Canada and the Philippines, McCreery has become a fan favorite appealing to all ages. His first headlining tour has been so successful--with numerous sell-outs and additional shows added--that a fall leg has been added to the 2013 tour.
After winning Season Ten of American Idol, Scotty immediately established himself as one of the hottest new stars in country music. His debut album was the best-selling solo album released by a country artist in 2011. Indeed, he became the youngest man in history to have his first album debut atop the all-genreBillboard Top 200 albums chart.
That album, Clear As Day, was certified platinum for sales of one million in just thirteen weeks. The first two singles from that album were each certified gold. In 2012, his Christmas album was also certified gold. He was named Top New Artist by Billboard and won best new artist awards at the Academy of Country Music Awards, the American Country Awards, and the CMT Awards. In the last two years, he has performed in Washington DC for the president as well as PBS' A Capitol Fourth, sung the national anthem at the World Series and performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Robertson family of A&E Duck Dynasty fame recently invited him to provide entertainment on their 2014 Duck Dynasty Cruise.
He co-wrote his current single, "See You Tonight," which is climbing the charts. He is in the studio now with producer Frank Rogers ( Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Trace Adkins) finishing his second studio album which will be released this fall. An avid sports fan and outdoorsman, McCreery is also beginning his sophomore year at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
Jim Ed Brown
If there is one word best suited to describe Jim Ed Brown, it is veratile. As a dynamic component in duets and a trio, as a solo recording artist, and as a popular television host, in the course of his professional lifetime, he has filled role after role with shining success. The last career of this balladeer from Arkansas can easily be likened to a well-cut gem, with its facets reflecting light on many different planes, yet collectively achieving the warm, enduring brilliance of an unforgettable star, a TRUE LEGEND...
It is a Nashville legend that Connie's first record, the aching and unforgettable "Once a Day," written by Bill Anderson and recorded on July 16, 1964 when she was just 23, became one of the most celebrated singles in country music history—the first debut single by a female country singer to go to Number One, a position it held for eight weeks. Forty-seven years later it is still the only first single ever to have done that. When Connie sang "Once A Day" in the all-star B-movie musical Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar the following year, she was introduced on-screen as "The Cinderella of Country Music." "Once A Day," and her stunning rendition of "How Great Thou Art" remain the two most requested songs by her fans to this day. Connie's memorable string of hits would include "You and Your Sweet Love" "If It Ain't Love" "Where Is My Castle?" "Run Away Little Tears" "Just One Time" and "I Never Once Stopped Loving You." The passion for singing and for the songs, and the singular vocal precision in delivering them that marked those standards-to-be are fully on display in this return to recording. "If you add up all the songs on this album," Ms. Smith says, "it would add up to my personality. It's me talking again, after so many years, with a message no different than I've always had. It's just that I love you, and I want that love to come back." It's bound to.
Nashville TN |
I'm Morgan Frazier. I love Country Music and I've been singing and writing songs ever sense I can remember. I grew up in small town Texas. About 3,000 people or so. We sang in my church. Being Church of Christ, we didn't use instruments - so I learned to harmonize. I grew up on Country music. Artists like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Hank Sr, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow ... Folks like that. But I also listened to the music that my dad loved - AC/DC, CCR, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin. A pretty wide spread of music I think. And maybe that's why to me a good song is ... well ... a good song!
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.
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.
For the last seven years, singer-songwriter Charlie Worsham has devoted himself to honing his musical vision by collaborating with many of the most innovative musicians in Nashville today, working as both a session player and writer, while serving as a central member of a high-profile band of players. Now, the 27-year-old multi-instrumentalist is gearing up to release his debut album - Rubberband on August 20th via Warner Bros. Records - which not only reveals his refined musical talent, but announces Worsham as a country artist of uncommon ingenuity, substance, and soul. Joined by musicians carefully assembled through his years of dedication to the Nashville scene, as well as through his studies at Berklee College of Music, Worsham infuses each track on Rubberband with a reverence for country's rich heritage while ultimately delivering a bold sound entirely his own.
"They say you've got your whole life to make your first record, and that couldn't ring more true for me," says Worsham of Rubberband, which he co-produced with Ryan Tyndell and recorded at engineer Eric Masse's East Nashville studio. "On this album I took so many things I'd wanted to say in song form for years, and channeled them into lyrics and melodies and guitar solos in a way that shows my influences but also takes some crazy turns." Worsham also draws immense inspiration from artists of remarkable longevity, such as Vince Gill and Marty Stuart (who once gave Worsham an autograph reading "Follow your heart"-a message Worsham later tattooed onto his arm).
Boundary-pushing but endlessly catchy, Rubberband offers a selection of songs that integrate elements of bluegrass, country, pop and rock and roll. The album also finds Worsham revamping classic country with intricate arrangements, left-of-center flourishes (including guest vocals by indie vocalist Madi Diaz), and deeply inventive riffs. On the album's title track, "Rubberband," for instance, Worsham sets the groove with a low-toned guitar lick created by the extremely-warped loose tuning of his E string. "Could It Be," the album's first single, opens with a shimmering, delicate tumble of notes achieved with an in-studio experiment playing slide on the mandolin, leading into soaring harmonies. An incurable self-proclaimed gear hound, Worsham favors playing his 1963 Martin D-28 through a pedal board and amplifying the guitar, resulting in a sound that's a startling departure from traditional acoustic playing.
Along with creating the lushly textured soundscapes on the album, each of Worsham's songs have a heart-on-your-sleeve emotionalism that showcases his natural storytelling ability. On "Trouble Is," he weaves scorching electric guitar into delicate acoustic plucking while detailing an encounter with a dangerously irresistible object of affection ("I spend days building up walls/Just for you to tear down/With one touch of your hand"). And on "Mississippi in July," Worsham spins a gorgeously rendered and regret-soaked tale of returning home for an old flame's wedding ("My heart might as well be one of those cans tied to the back of your limousine/It was hanging by a thread so I went ahead and cut the string").
As a songwriter, Worsham builds those varied moods and sounds by mining his expansive musical background and venturing into new sonic territory at the same time. According to Worsham, that sense of adventurousness is fueled by a passion for music that arose at a very early age. "One of my earliest memories of music is going to see my dad play in a local band-he's a banker by trade, but a drummer at heart," says Worsham, who grew up 100 miles south of Memphis in Grenada, Mississippi. "During sound check I sat in his lap and hit the drums, and that's the first time I got the bug to make music." Worsham began taking piano lessons in kindergarten, and in second grade caught a performance by bluegrass banjo player Mike Snider while visiting Opryland with his family. "When we got home my parents bought me a banjo and got me lessons. After that, I got into the habit of taking on a new instrument every year, including the guitar, mandolin and fiddle," Worsham recalls. He won the Junior National Banjo Championship at age 12 and later that year, joined Snider on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
In high school, Worsham scored his first electric guitar by busking in front of a guitar shop to raise the final hundred bucks on the price tag and joined a band. After graduating, he headed for Berklee, but left after two and a half years to move to Nashville to pursue music. Along with working as a writer-as well as a session musician for Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, and others artists-Worsham continued penning his own songs and recording demos, eventually landing a deal with Warner Music Nashville and opening on tour for the likes of Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert.
Considering Worsham's musical history, it's no wonder that Rubberband emerges as such a sophisticated yet refreshingly simple collection of songs. "For me, the best songwriting comes when you get out of your own way and let the lyrics and music happen together," he says. "Those moments are pretty elusive-they kind of strike like lightning-but when it happens, it's amazing." And in the recording studio, he adds, a number of "beautiful accidents" went a long way in helping to shape the album's sound. "It's that sort of unplanned thing that happens when old friends and new friends get in a room and make music together," Worsham explains.
That sense of community-and the creativity it breeds-is crucial to Worsham as he forges ahead with his musical career. "I feel really lucky to have been a part of the Nashville music scene for a while now and have worn all these different hats. I gained a broader perspective on the importance of surrounding yourself with other musicians you know and trust," he says. "One of my main goals as a musician is to respect the past of country music as well as its future." Worsham adds, "I hope that I can someday be one of those folks who represent the music in a greater sense, and carry it somewhere forward that's different and exciting."
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.
Few country artists have ever known the kind of success Blake Shelton has earned. Fewer still have done it with the openness and honesty he brings to the table.
"For the life of me," says Blake Shelton, "I'll never understand how you can be an artist but not want people to understand who you are as a person."
More than a decade into a career whose opening salvo was the chart-topping "Austin," that transparency has helped Blake become one of the best ambassadors the country music genre has ever had, in a league with Glen Campbell and Roger Miller. His wit, intelligence and, above all, his irreverent sense of fun have endeared him to his peers on NBC's megahit "The Voice" just as surely as it has to the millions of fans he is introducing to country music. He is, says wife Miranda Lambert, "the life of every party he goes to," and these days, the world is his party.
Careers have been known to founder when artists reach beyond their core strengths into uncharted territory, but Blake's has only strengthened, primarily because he has never lost focus on the basis of everything he does--the music.
"I've spent a lifetime in love with country music," he says. "I listened all the time as a kid and I was playing and singing before I was a teenager. I moved to Nashville at 17 to make music and since then I've put everything I have into doing it right."
The results of that approach speak for themselves. He is the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, three-time Male Vocalist of the Year and he and Miranda garnered Song of the Year honors for co-writing the platinum-selling chart-topper, "Over You." He has earned a host of other awards and nominations, including multiple Grammy nominations, six gold and platinum albums, and is the three-time host of the ACM Awards.
The most important statistic, though, is musical. He has had 12 No. 1 singles, including eight in a row, starting with "Hillbilly Bone." With songs like "All About Tonight," "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," "Honey Bee," "God Gave Me You," "Drink on It" and "Over," he has proven his versatility and shown himself as one of the genre's strongest and most compelling vocalists. His live show--hit-filled, high-energy, unpredictable--has kept him among country's most popular touring acts.
Now, with the release of Based on a True Story... he takes the next big step forward. That he was able to follow so strongly an album with the success of the platinum selling, GRAMMY nominated album Red River Blue, which launched four No. 1 singles is further proof that he is still on the ascent as an artist.
"I really did believe that Red River Blue was the best that I could do and maybe someday I could tie it," he says, "but I think that just taking a simpler approach to making this album made it better because I wasn't comparing it to anything else. We put it together piece by piece, saying, 'Hey, man, I love that song. Let's cut that.' I was just recording things I loved and the next thing you know we had built something terrific. I'm really proud and excited about the songs on it."
The album relies on some of the country's top tunesmiths, including Rhett Akins, Rodney Clawson, Dallas Davidson, Dean Dillon, Michael Dulaney, Chris Tompkins and Craig Wiseman, with songs that are in general more upbeat than those on Red River Blue.
"You know, honestly, I'm in a good place in my life," he says. "I'm happy and I'm thankful and I want to sound like that in my record. I want to be that guy on my albums right now because I don't have that dark cloud I've had before and that we've all had in our lives. If you listen to this album, by the end you'll go, 'Man, this guy's pretty happy with his lot in life!' And I am."
That reality, he adds, accounts for the project's title.
"I was listening to the album and I thought, 'Man, every song on here is either "Been there, done that," or I'm doing it right now,' so It really is my true life."
Perhaps nowhere is that truer than in "Small Town Big Time," which talks about a city-dweller casting his thoughts back to the people and places back home. There is also "Doin' What She Likes" and "Lay Low," each of which, he says, deals with aspects of his relationship with Miranda, "Boys 'Round Here," a shout-out to country boys, "Country on the Radio," which touches on Blake's lifelong love of country radio, and "Granddaddy's Gun," an evocative and poignant song about the place of memory and heritage within families. The tone varies from "Do You Remember," a song that looks back on a relationship more in nostalgia than regret, to "I Still Got a Finger," perhaps this generation's "Take This Job and Shove it." The CD's first single, "Sure Be Cool If You Did," launched the project in style, heading straight to the top of the charts.
Sonically, Based On A True Story enters new territory for Blake.
"I'm a fan of Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan and Miranda and Taylor and Carrie," he says, "and I get excited when I hear how they're pushing the boundaries with their records and I kinda felt like that's the one thing that I hadn't done, is really push it with sounds and things. And so that's one thing that I did want to do on this record. "Doing What She Likes" has a banjo intro, but the banjo's going through a wah pedal and I never heard anything like it. It just sounds so cool. And that was important to me to do things like that."
The result is a project that showcases Blake as one of the premiere artists of his generation. The journey that brought him to these heights from a childhood in Ada, Oklahoma, was a storied one. Two weeks out of high school, after encouragement from legendary songwriter ("Heartbreak Hotel") Mae Axton, he left for Nashville. He met and worked with another legend—Bobby Braddock ("He Stopped Loving Her Today")—and earned a deal on Giant Records. It would be several years before that led to a contract with Warner Bros. and "Austin," and a long journey from there to the heights he has scaled.
"I'm still learning, still reaching and growing," he says now, "and it's great to have more and more people along for the ride."
He is, this far along, looking to the future.
"I just want to do what George Strait has done and what Reba has done, to make great music year after year," he says. "I don't think there's a magic formula. I think you just go and make the best record you can make and give the best you have when you walk out on that stage."
With Based on a True Story..., Blake takes yet another long stride toward that legacy, a legacy his growing legions of fans view as already well under way.