Carrie Underwood. Jim Ed Brown, George Hamilton IV, Jesse McReynolds, Henry Cho, The Band Perry, Stu Phillips, Jean Shepard, The Isaacs, Striking Matches, & Mike SniderCountry
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.”
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...
George Hamilton IV
Franklin TN | Country
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.
Nashville TN | Comedy
The Band Perry
Since releasing their self-titled debut album in 2010, The Band Perry have ascended to dizzying heights. Fronted by Kimberly Perry and rounded out by her younger brothers Neil and Reid, the band has notched a string of hit singles, including the quadruple-platinum “If I Die Young” (which climbed to #1 on Billboard’s Country and AC charts), the platinum “You Lie,” and the gold-certified Country #1 “All Your Life.” They’ve also enjoyed sold-out tours and a showering of honors, including multiple ACM, CMA, and CMT Music awards, as well as Grammy, Teen Choice, AMA, ACA, and Billboard Music award nominations — all of which has cemented the sibling trio as one of the hottest acts in recent history.
But despite the validation that comes with such success, Kimberly, Reid, and Neil felt as if they were walking into the unknown when it came time to write and record their second album, which they’ve called Pioneer. “People hear the word ’pioneer’ and they think of covered wagons or astronauts on the moon, but to us the idea of a pioneer is very modern,” Reid says. “It reflects the idea of putting one foot in front of the other when you’re unsure how to get where you’re going. It’s about marching forward and making noise.”
“We had so many questions about our future, both personally and professionally,” Kimberly explains. “You can hear it in the lyrics to the song ’Pioneer,’ which asks, ’Where are we going?’ ’What will become of us?’ After writing those lines, the song became our guiding light throughout the process of recording the album, which is why we chose it as the title track. It’s truly about the last three years of our lives and trusting that the songs we wrote would lead us where we were supposed to go. We also had to let go of fear and trust the boldness that has always informed our creative decisions.”
The boldness is clearly evident in everything from Pioneer’s album cover — with its bright red, grey, and black color scheme and the band’s confident leaning-forward stance — to the album’s fiery, rock and roll-influenced country sound. It’s the first recording the trio feels truly captures the full-throttle intensity of The Band Perry’s live show, which they attribute to the input of the album’s producer Dann Huff. Huff, a Nashville veteran who was mentored by Mutt Lange and has worked with Faith Hill, Keith Urban, and Rascal Flatts, is the first producer who insisted on seeing them in the band in its live element.
“He was flabbergasted,” Kimberly recalls. “His mouth was hanging open. The first thing he said when we got off stage, was, ’Whoa, you guys have a rock and roll edge. This is what you do.’ He had never heard it represented in our recorded music and he opened up our minds to that in the studio. That led us to add more electric guitars and background vocals, which created more daring musical moments. Dann threw out the rulebook and let us go anywhere we wanted.”
The result is a collection of country-rock stompers like “DONE.” (an empowerment anthem “about how you feel when you’ve given the best of yourself and it’s still not good enough,” Kimberly explains), the blistering “Night Gone Wasted,” and the Queen-influenced, punk-poppish “Forever Mine Nevermind.” There are also vulnerable, thoughtful tunes like “Pioneer,” “Mother Like Mine,” (an emotional tribute to the siblings’ parents, especially their mother), “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely,” “I Saw A Light,” and “End of Time,” a ballad that recalls the band’s Southern roots.
The trio’s love for Southern Gothic culture, including such authors as Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner, is reflected on the platinum-selling first single “Better Dig Two” — a foreboding tale of a woman who makes a lifelong, somewhat unhinged commitment, while still wearing her heart on her sleeve. “The song expresses what we love about the deep South,” Kimberly says. “When you listen to the lullabies and fairy tales told in that part of the country, they feel a lot like the lyrics in this song.” (The platinum-selling “Better Dig Two,” which spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Country chart, is The Band Perry’s fastest-rising single at radio ever, as well as their first No. 1 song in Canada.)
Then there’s “I’m A Keeper,” which Kimberly feels is very much her story. “I feel like I’m a free spirit first and foremost,” she says. “And the woman in this song has big plans, with or without a man. Maybe she’ll join the military, or maybe she’ll buy a house out on the prairie. All she knows is she has a big life ahead of her.”
One of the most meaningful songs to the band is “Back To Me Without You,” which was written in real time while Kimberly was dealing with the aftermath of a friendship that had imploded. “It was literally crashing and burning as we were writing the song,” Reid says. “She was heartbroken and had to take breaks from writing it in the front of the bus to go to the back of the bus to cry. Neil and I kept telling her, ’Get back to what you know’ and ’Get back to what you do,’ which ended up being lyrics in the song.” The track is just one example of how the band members raised the bar for themselves as songwriters on Pioneer. “We wrote every song on this album probably four times,” Neil explains. “Each time we’d finish, we’d ask ourselves, ’Is this song completely honest about where we are in life? Does it say everything we want it to say?’"
“Our first album was an honest representation of where we were at the time,” Kimberly says. “When we sat down to write songs, we had pictures in our head, and back then it was very romantic imagery, like Ferris wheels at the county fair. This time our inspirational images were of armies and marching bands moving forward. It was very militaristic, and I think you can hear that in the melodies and the lyrics.” Adds Neil: “We didn’t discuss the images we had in our heads with each other at first. It was just what we all felt and how we processed the meaning behind the music.”
Taken as a whole, Pioneer enables The Band Perry to accomplish one of its primary goals: to bring the romantic mystique of bands back to music — something they’ve dreamed of doing ever since forming the group in Mobile, Alabama, where the Perry kids moved with their parents after a childhood spent in Jackson, Mississippi. Kimberly started her first band at age 15, with ten-year-old Reid and eight-year-old Neil observing every rehearsal from the sidelines. “When the drummer and bassist would take a water break, they would jump on their instruments,” Kimberly recalls with a laugh. “They caught the fever immediately.” Reid and Neil started their own band, traveling with their family in a 36-foot motor home, playing modest shows in malls, campgrounds, and fairs.
“Sometimes there’d be more people onstage than there were in out in the crowd,” Kimberly says. “But our parents, who had no legitimate experience in the music industry, said, ’We’re not going to allow you to have a fallback plan. You were born to do music. We’ll support you, we’ll help you figure it out. This is what you need to do with your life.’ That was really the moment the three of us joined forces as The Band Perry. All the friends I had been playing with become interested in other things. I needed a band and Reid and Neil needed a lead singer.” Kimberly, Reid, and Neil spent the next ten years traveling, performing, and honing their skills before signing with Republic Nashville in 2009 and being catapulted into the spotlight with “If I Die Young.” To this day, they are most comfortable onstage. “Just learning that craft made us feel comfortable when we started to book shows at the big arenas that we’re now getting to play,” Neil says.
The songs on Pioneer are tailor-made for arena shows. “We needed songs that could fill large spaces,” Kimberly says. “Our show is very aggressive; there are a lot of electric guitars and hard-hitting drums, and the music on Pioneer captures that.” “Playing the new songs has given our live show a new burst of energy and the crowd feels it, too,” Neil adds. “They’re as excited to have new music as we are.”
To be called a legend in the entertainment industry, one must first be a pioneer and then proceed to accomplish many more "firsts". JEAN SHEPARD has done that and much more. A sample listing of some of her "firsts" includes: *Starring in the 1st network country music show, THE OZARK JUBILEE. The 1st female in country music to sell a million records. The 1st country music female vocalist to overdub her voice on records. The 1st country music female to make a color TV commercial. The 1st female country singer to be a member of the GRAND OLE OPRY for 47 years.
LaFollette TN | Christian & Gospel
Simply stated, Striking Matches, made up of Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis, came to Nashville to play music. Sarah, a Philadelphia native and Justin from Atlanta met when a professor at Belmont University paired them at random to play for a classroom full of guitar majors. Consequently, their first performance was the first time they had ever played together. The pair has been writing and performing ever since. Their influences range from Jerry Reed to the Beatles, John Mayer to Patsy Cline, and back again. It becomes more obvious every day that they were born to play music together.
Sarah and Justin put out their first self-titled EP in October 2012, and their song "When the Right One Comes Along" (co-written with Georgia Middleman) was featured on ABC's new drama "Nashville". Since then, the duo has performed across the country opening for acts like Kip Moore and John Hiatt, as well as Nashville's New Year's Even Bash On Broadway with the Fray, and the Grand Ole Opry.
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.