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.
Drenched in sun-kissed natural beauty both inside and out, Deana Carter didn’t take a seemingly easy route to stardom, but instead chose to defy the conventional expectations of the typical Nashville artist blueprint and make her own mark. And she did, undeniably taking the industry and fans by storm with her wildly successful multi-platinum international debut Did I Shave My Legs For This? more than a decade ago. Anchored by the dreamy super hit ” Strawberry Wine” , Carter showcased her own blend of country and retro-rock sprinkled with the folksy singer/songwriter qualities that have garnered Deana Carter well-deserved respect and wild acclaim.
Today, as she readies her latest bundle of uniquely crafted tunes for upcoming release on Southern Way of Life , Carter explores many subjects commonly shared over a quaint dinner, afternoon coffee or a sunny day hike with a good friend.
The songs weave through the sometimes rocky terrain of adulthood, including loss of love, relationships on many different levels, trials, tribulations and simply put – life. Instinctively autobiographical, the subject matter mimics the interesting ride of Carter’s own life – so far.
The daughter of famed studio guitarist and producer Fred Carter, Jr., Deana grew up exposed to the wide variety of musicians her father worked with, including Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, and Simon & Garfunkel. Their strong influence would eventually seep into Deana’s own country-pop style, which reflects qualities that can also be heard in similar artists such as Mary Chapin Carpenter and Sheryl Crow.
Developing her songwriting skills by trial and error at writer’s nights throughout Nashville, Carter eventually signed a writing deal with Polygram and soon after a record deal with Capitol Records. One of her demo tapes happened to fall into the hands of none other than Willie Nelson, who remembered Deana as a child. Impressed with how she’d grown as a songwriter, Nelson asked Deana to perform along with John Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson and Neil Young as the only female solo artist to appear at Farm Aid VII in 1994.
Her debut album, Did I Shave My Legs For This? boasts six songs co-written and co-produced by Carter and was released to strong reviews in late summer 1996. By the end of the year, the record had climbed to the top of both the country and pop charts, quickly achieving multi-platinum status. A “first” for the genre, Deana’s celebrated debut held this distinction for more than 5 years. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright followed in late 1998 and in 2001 Carter realized her dream of performing with her dad on a holiday album aptly titled Father Christmas. Making a strong move towards adult pop Carter released I’m Just a Girl on Arista Records in 2003, the same year Capitol Records released a Greatest Hits compilation. Follow-ups The Story of My Life in 2005 and The Chain in 2007 were both released on Vanguard Records. In an effort to pay homage to her musical roots and preserve her legendary father’s label Nugget Records, that famously presented some of the best in country music some 40 years ago, Carter recently opened her own label, Little Nugget Records, on which her latest album Southern Way of Life will be released.
Carter now divides her time between Los Angeles and Nashville, writing and producing for both the pop/rock and country markets when not on the road touring. Her superstar success continues to be evident as last year’s chart topper “You & Tequila” , co-written with Matraca Berg and recorded by Kenny Chesney, was nominated as CMA’s “Song of the Year,” as well as two Grammy nods, notable the coveted “Song of the Year.” Carter also recently co-wrote and produced a new album for recording artist Audra Mae while putting the finishing touches on her own Southern Way of Life .
Singer, songwriter, producer – Deana Carter continues to defy conventional expectations, making waves as she makes great music.
George Hamilton IV
Franklin TN | Country
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.
Mandy Barnett, a native of Crossville, Tennessee, started singing at five years-old. She has been singing since.
As a teenager, Mandy starred as country music legend Patsy Cline in the stage show “Always . . . Patsy Cline” at the celebrated Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The performances were sold out nightly and received rave reviews across the country. Mandy, in role as Patsy, appears on the Decca Records cast recording.
Mandy soon signed with Asylum Records where she released her first album as herself, appropriately entitled, “Mandy Barnett.” The album received glowing reviews in major trade publications and magazines, including “Time" magazine, as well as praise from veteran country artists and fans.
In due course, Seymour Stein, who introduced the world to Madonna, Seal, the Barenaked Ladies, and k.d. lang, heard Mandy’s voice and was, he said, “spellbound.” When Stein launched Sire Records within Warner Music Group, Mandy was the first artist he signed. Mandy’s Sire Records project paired her with the undisputed pioneer of the Nashville Sound, producer Owen Bradley. The album that they made together, “I’ve Got A Right To Cry,” would be his final contribution to the community who knew him through his work with legends Ernest Tubb, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Kitty Wells. Owen passed away four songs into the project, but not before leaving his unmistakable mark on the album. His brother and longtime partner, Harold Bradley, inherited the delicate task of finishing the album with Mandy. A legal pad filled with Owen’s handwritten notes for each song guided the two through the rest of the sessions, and what was to be Owen’s farewell to the world was poised to propel Mandy and her remarkable vocal talent once again into the national limelight.
“I’ve Got A Right To Cry” was a huge critical success. “Rolling Stone” magazine named it the top country album of 1999. Other stellar reviews appeared in “People,” “Newsweek,” “Interview,” and multiple national newspapers. Mandy appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” as a result of her acclaim.
In addition to her own albums, Mandy has been featured on movie soundtracks, including “A Walk On the Moon,” “Traveller,” “Space Cowboys,” “Election,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” and “Crazy.” Mandy also sang on the SpongeBob SquarePants album “The Best Day Ever,” sharing the spotlight with the likes of Brian Wilson, Tommy Ramone, Flaco Jimenez, and NRBQ.
Mandy tours regularly and is a frequent guest on the Grand Ole Opry. She reprised her role as “Patsy Cline” in the acclaimed production “Always . . . Patsy Cline” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee during 2009, in honor of the 15th anniversary of the celebrated venue’s extensive renovations and re-opening. Back by popular demand, Mandy again hit the Ryman stage in “Always . . . Patsy Cline” in June and July 2011.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Rounder Records teamed up for the 2010 exclusive Cracker Barrel store release of Mandy’s Christmas album “Winter Wonderland,” which distinguished music historian and critic Robert K. Oermann called “an instant classic.” Among other publications praising “Winter Wonderland,” the “L.A. Times” lauded Mandy’s “pipes of steel,” “big” voice and “glorious echo” harkening back to the likes of all-time great female singers like Cline and timeless sounds. “All Music” proclaimed “Winter Wonderland” as “timeless,” as Mandy captures the nostalgic holiday mood “perfectly and wonderfully.” Rounder re-released “Winter Wonderland” widely for holiday season 2011.
Mandy’s latest album “Sweet Dreams,” released in 2011 on the Opry Music label, features Mandy’s renditions of songs previously recorded by Patsy Cline. Along with Cline hits like “Crazy,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “Faded Love,” and the album title track, Mandy offers stunning versions of Irving Berlin’s pop standard “Always” and the Mel Tillis-penned “Strange.” Reviewing “Sweet Dreams,” DigitalRodeo.com applauded Mandy’s talents as “one of the most beautiful ’classic country’ female voices of all time. She has total control of her voice and sings effortlessly. Barnett is a true master of her craft.” “Country Weekly” magazine affirmed this view, noting how Mandy embodies “the emotional torch-and-twang style of Patsy Cline with authority” with her captivating “effortless and emotional performances.”
"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."
Where to start with Terri Clark’s Classic?
You might begin in 2004, the year Terri joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry, tapping into the rich traditions of country music’s most famous stage.
There’s always 1995, the year Terri launched her career with “Better Things to Do,” a contemporary twist on the no-nonsense approach of Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” and pretty much the entire Loretta Lynn catalog.
Or maybe you go all the way back to 1987, when Terri’s mother and her best friend packed the aspiring singer and her belongings into a Honda Civic and drove from Canada to Nashville, leaving her to play for tips at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a legendary Lower Broad honky-tonk.
The deeper you delve into Classic, the deeper you find its roots go.
The story really starts two generations back, with Clark’s maternal grandparents, who raised five kids while playing country music in Montreal nightclubs with names like The Kit Kat and The Western Stop.
“My grandmother was nicknamed The Canadian Kitty Wells; that’s what they called her around Montreal,” Terri says. “They couldn’t go to Nashville and take a bigger stab at it – with five kids that just wasn’t going to happen. So I made the pioneer trip to Tennessee.
The songs of Classic span four decades of timeless country music, starting with the tunes young Terri learned via impromptu living-room parties her grandparents often hosted – standards like “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” or “I’m Movin’ On” by ’The Singing Ranger’ Hank Snow, the first Canadian member of the Grand Ole Opry. Terri’s grandfather would break out his fiddle, her grandmother would start singing; soon it seemed like the entire neighbourhood would join in.
And the music didn’t stop when the party was over.
“My mom would tell me stories about how she would hear my grandmother walking around the house, vacuuming and cleaning, singing Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells,” Terri says.
Years ago, a family friend gave Terri an LP that had her grandmother singing “This White Circle on My Finger,” one of the nearly three dozen Top 10 hits Wells released after “Honky Tonk Angels” blew the barroom doors wide open for women who yearned to sing country music.
That recording begins Classic. Then pedal-steel player Paul Franklin works some modulation magic, and Terri kicks her own version of “Honky Tonk Angels” into high gear.
From there, Classic conveys a history of country music viewed from a personal perspective. “I tried really hard to pick at least a song or two from every decade from the ’50s to the ’80s,” Terri says.
In doing so, she reveals the starting point for every part of the Terri Clark sound: the hardcore honky-tonk of Merle Haggard; the California country-rock of Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris; tough-minded women like Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline; Canadian stars from Hank Snow to Neil Young.
Classic bears the stamp of influences Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire, who each join Terri for duet versions of their hits. Friends Jann Arden, Dierks Bentley and Dean Brody sing with her, as well.
Terri grew up singing most of these songs and playing many of them during her years at Tootsie’s, which shares an alley with the artists’ entrance to the Ryman Auditorium, one of the homes of the Grand Ole Opry. During the ’50s and ’60s, the historic Nashville nightspot, originally known as Mom’s, was a regular hang for greats like Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Loretta Lynn’s husband used to drink there when Lynn played the Opry. Terri, of course, played Tootsie’s many years later, and only in the afternoons – her mother forbid the young singer from venturing there after dark.
“It was a war zone down there at that time, nothing but peep shows and pawn shops and adult theatres,” Terri recalls. “And there was Tootsie’s and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in the middle of it all.”
Like many of her heroes whom she covers on Classic – Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris among them – Terri eventually became a member of the Grand Ole Opry – the first and only Canadian female to date. That long-running, live radio show has an important place in the album.
“The Opry is a big part of this,” Terri says. “I wanted to be a member of the Opry because of this music. Every time we step on that stage, we’re playing tribute to everybody that came before us.”
Two of Terri’s Classic duet partners are fellow Opry stars. Dierks Bentley joins her for a remake of the George Jones and Tammy Wynette tale of pawnshop romance, “Golden Ring.” Reba McEntire harmonizes with her on “How Blue,” originally a hit from McEntire’s 1984 My Kind Of Country album, itself a collection of mostly covers.
“The guests on the album are people who have influenced me or people I’m a fan of, as artists,” says Terri, who was once a card-carrying member of the Reba McEntire Fan Club. Literally – she still has the card. Terri also still has a T-shirt her mother ordered from the fan club and gave her for Christmas one year.
“I took it into the studio the day Reba came into sing and said, ’Look what I found,’” she says.
McEntire wasn’t the first guest to sign on for Classic, though. That honour went to Tanya Tucker, who reprised her 1972 smash “Delta Dawn.” “Delta Dawn,” Terri says, was the second song she ever learned on the guitar (the first being “The Long Black Veil,” a 1959 hit for Lefty Frizzell that quickly became a folk standard). “I remember picking up the guitar and learning the chords and getting blisters on my fingers. I didn’t have calluses yet, because I only knew three chords.”
Tucker’s hit gains an additional level of empathy for the haunted Dawn in this new version, and a graceful fiddle-and-accordion tag sounds like a tender farewell to Dawn as she departs for that mansion in the sky.
On that track, and throughout Classic, Terri makes great use of some of Nashville’s top session musicians. Several of them have recorded with her throughout her career, playing on hits like “Better Things to Do,” “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” and “I Wanna Do It All.” This time, Terri let them loose in the studio.
“They had fun,” she says. “And they played with reckless abandon – it’s not all polished and perfect. It sounds like they had a great time. That’s what always spoke the loudest about the records I’ve loved: It’s not about perfection, it’s about feeling an energy.”
That energy runs all the way through Classic, the energy of a contemporary artist having a lively discussion with the music that made her who she is. The spirit of Kitty Wells and Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell and Patsy Cline comes through loud and clear in the songs of Classic. At the same time, it sounds like a Terri Clark record.
“These are the songs that led to ’Better Things to Do’ and to everything else that followed in my career,” Terri says. “They shaped who I became as an artist, from the very beginning.”
Classic – November 13, 2012
Great musicians will always find a way to make good music, but for great musicians to make great music, they must form a bond – one that, more often than not, goes beyond the purely musical to the personal. For The Grascals, that bond has been forged at the intersection of personal friendships, shared professional resumes and an appreciation for the innovative mingling of bluegrass and country music that has been a hallmark of the Nashville scene for more than forty years. As their records prove, The Grascals’ rare musical empathy gives them an unerring ear for just the right touch to illuminate each offering’s deepest spirit - whether they’re digging into one of their original songs or reworking a bluegrass classic or a pop standard.
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.
Jimmy C. Newman
TN | Country
The legendary Jimmy C. Newman is an absolute pioneer in Cajun-Country music history! He charted 33 songs on the Billboard Country Chart from 1954-1970. A Grand Ole Opry member since 1956, Jimmy C. and wife Mae continue to make their home on their Singing Hills Ranch in Rutherford County, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville.