Tift Merritt "Another Country"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

First and foremost, Tift Merritt deserves much more notice than she receives, with her third album release “Another Country” makes three reasons why. Merritt’s debut Bramble Rose earned spots on both Time Magazine and the New Yorker’s year-end Top Ten lists. Tambourine, her sophomore album, was Grammy nominated for Country Album of the Year. The third release is at the same caliber, and higher. Merritt’s music is something to get excited about.

First and foremost, Merritt is a songwriter. Actually, that doesn’t do it justice; how about an “incredible songwriter”. Second, a singer; again that doesn’t come close to describing her work either. Fusing Merritt’s own writings and her vocals into a song creates an intense passionate vocal delivery filled with a sweet, slightly sensual, and emotional expression.

“Another Country” takes the listener into Merritt’s beautiful and relaxed world. The lead track “Something to Me” showcases her talent and distinct, yet not odd, sound. A blend of rock, folk, and country music Merritt delivers a very enjoyable listen. “Broken” also really catches my attention in showcasing her talents, yet each and every track is a wonderful musical journey from start to end. It is too hard to single out one track as the best or worst of the album.

The lyrics you hear on each song makes you want to seek the lyrics and start right away to deeply understand them. Such deep thoughts in these lyrics as they tell personal stories and thoughts are encountered in each line that sparks deep interest in this album.

You will find yourself becoming one with yourself and the music, becoming lost, giving the music your undivided attention. Not many albums have that ability.

The album concludes with “Mille Tendresses” sung in French (with the translation included in the album notes) which is an appropriate conclusion on the album for the reason that Merritt spent some time away in Paris recently in which the songs found on the album are from her notes and thoughts from the hiatuses.

This album is made for the intense music lover, not an album that you just mindlessly listen to, no, not at all. This album deserves your full attention and just may let you, for a few moments in our busy lives, to travel to “Another Country” in your mind.

Jason Meadows "100% Cowboy"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Use the above link to listen to tracks and download this album, DRM-Free from Amazon.com

Wow, now why do all the great artists of today’s country music get hidden, well, I guess this is my role in being sure the reader’s of my material really get to hear some of the best country music. I should say real country music.

Jason Meadows started with the classic country music artist’s story. We have all heard it at one or another; the move to Nashville from Oklahoma with basically just his few items and a big dream. Beginning his work in construction and signing demo tapes, and even thought about moving back home, Meadows held on just long enough to be noticed at a party he was singing at. It was suggested to him many times that he try out for the third season “Nashville Star” and finished in 2nd place. Now, the long wait is over for the fans that supported him in the release of his debut album from Baccerstick Records titled “100% Cowboy.” The title can’t sum up Meadows music any better.

This ten track introduction to Meadows includes 8 songs co-written by him, and every single track is a solid example of what country music is all about. Like the lead off title track, for example, you can hear the excitement in his voice and your damn sure it’s autobiographical. The same goes for the next track, “Country As A Dirt Clod,” that has its humor, but truth in lyrics. With that passion, you can’t but help to really get into these two high paced country tunes.

It is mighty hard to say this, and I wouldn’t unless it was true. There is a sound of George Strait in his delivery and song choice. It may be taboo for an artist to hear such high praise, but you can’t help but not hear that level and style in his delivery.

Meadows has recently been nominated for the 2008 CMT Music Awards’ Tearjerker Video of the Year for the single “18 Video Tapes.” If the song itself doesn’t get a tear in your eye, the video certainly will. If it doesn’t, well I suggest you get your pulse checked. I will let you dive into the lyrics and the video for yourself, but its best to have a tissue nearby.

I can’t say enough about Meadows’ style of delivery. It’s the way country is supposed to. Listening to each and every track you know more than 100% that he is a cowboy at heart and country to the deepest level of inner self.

This album best end up in every country music loving fan, it’s just that good.

CMA Close-Up Articles/ Newsletter Coming Soon

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I recently updated all the current Country Music Association's Close-Up Articles on my website. If you haven't took the time before to read these, I hope that you will now and in then weekly in the future. They are excellently written and on many great topics.

These articles are written by the CMA and provided free of charge to websites, like mine. So far this year, they have have provided me some great topics like one about Buck Owens' tribute albums from The Derailers and Dwight Yoakam, Brooks & Dunn's Australian tour, Rascal Flatts, Emmylou Harris, and the newest one is a look at the first 10 years of the CMA as they begin to celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

I keep them updated at this following direct link:

Also, coming very soon, I hope by the 1st of March, a re-launched feature of Country Music Alive will begin again. A totally new format to a newsletter will be available on a monthly basis and instead of the previously e-mail distribution, it will be available for viewing and downloading from the website on a monthly basis. I will be sending an e-mail notification via my "website updates" feature that you can sign up for on the website or using this direct link:

So, take the time to visit http://www.countrymusicalive.com and enjoy some of the great features available to you. Remember to sign up for the updates so you know when things are added!

CMA Music Fest's Future

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Kix Brooks of the duo Brooks & Dunn made some news yesterday as he discussed some thoughts on the CMA Music Festival's future in Nashville. No, he didn't say its moving to another city or anything like that, in the immediate future anyway. What he did discuss is the issue of the artists are not paid for their performances at this event and that issue could lead to the Festival leaving Nashville. Brooks commented that he feels that the upcoming festival could be a "serious crossroads" for the CMA Music Festival.

Yes, believe it or not, performers at the CMA Music Festival do not get paid for their performances. You did read that correctly, they never have. The festival has always been a way of giving back to the fans as a lot of people say, yet, we still have to pay for a ticket and all that comes with going to a major event, for most of us that is out of town. Now, I do agree with that thought in the aspect of the ability for all (ticketed) music fans get the opportunity to meet their favorite artists is indeed a way to give back to the fans, and shouldn't get compensation for that appearance.

However, I do understand and support the idea of the performers getting appropriate and fair compensation for their performance. There many reasons. First the city of Nashville brings in about 21 million dollars from hotels and other related purchases while fans are staying in Nashville. Second, the fans are paying a premium for tickets, just as much if you went to see a performer that was being compensated for their appearance. Thirdly, the numerous people behind the scenes have to make a living. Just because a Kenny Chesney type performer can personally afford not to get paid for a show, doesn't mean the people in his band or others that are affiliated with him can. It isn't fair to them or the artist to have to take a loss to perform at a show of this caliber.

Another point that is made in the article is that a major music festival can be done, with compensating the performers. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and New Orleans' Jazz and Heritage Festival is proof.

I believe like Kix Brooks makes an extremely valid point and Nashville's decision makers better take notice. He is right; it may not be immediate, but those leader's may wake up one morning and learn the CMA Music Festival is moving to another town; their 21 million may not be there, and then they would be wishing that just a little of that could've gone to the performers and kept the festival there.

Also, I suggest they act quickly in the decision making as well. Richmond, VA has proof of that. The Richmond Braves (AAA affiliate to the Atlanta Braves) wanted a new stadium. The city kept planning and thinking about it and never demonstrated an urgent reaction, and well the 2009 season, The Richmond Braves become the Gwinnett, GA Braves. I feel the same way about this topic as I do the CMA Music Festival. I don't blame the organization for leaving; they needed something done and somewhere else provided what they wanted.

"My Life's Been A Country Song" Chris Cagle Released This Week

Chris Cagle's new album was released earlier this week, titled "My Life's Been A Country Song" and it seems like this will be agreat album to pick up.

The current sinle "What Kinda Gone,” in its fourth week on Billboard’s Top 100, is an up-tempo, get-up-and-dance tune that was written by Candy Cameron, Chip Davis and Dave Berg; Berg also co-wrote Rodney Atkins’ “If You’re Going Through Hell,” Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” and Blake Shelton’s “Don’t Make Me.”

Other tracks from "My Life’s Been a Country Song" include ballads “I Don’t Wanna Live” and “Never Ever Gone,” the playful “No Love Songs” (one of Cagle’s favorites on the album) and the title track, “My Life’s Been A Country Song,” featuring lyrics with which any country music fan will surely agree.

In the next few days, I will have my copy to be able to give the album a full review, but the current single has been catching my ear and thought I'd share it with you, if you haven't heard it yet...

Give it a listen below, and would love to hear from you about it:
“What Kinda Gone”

and if you like it, and want a copy for yourself, visit Amazon's DRM-Free MP3:

2008 Dove Award Nominations

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Dove Awards are a pretty cool event. This is where all stlyes of music that make up gospel music get together and acknowledge the achivements. Rap, rock, pop, southern gospel, bluegrass, country, urban, Christmas, children, Spanish, and videos are all acknowledged in this annual event.

The awards will take place in Nashville at The Grand Ole Opry House on April 23rd. For tickets and other information to the April 23, 2008 Gospel Music Association's 39th Annual Dove Awards visit http://www.doveawards.com/

The Dove Awards, gospel music’s biggest night of the year featuring artists from every style of gospel/Christian music coming together for a night of music and celebration, will be seen live on GMC beginning with the 39th Annual Doves on Wednesday, April 23 at 8 p.m. (ET). The Dove Awards have aired in national syndication, but have not broadcast live since 2002.

Here are the nominees that of country music interest:

Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year

  • "He's In Control"; Austins Bridge; Austins Bridge; Justin Rivers, Mike Kofahl, John Ramsey; Daywind Records
  • "I Will Find You Again"; Lifetimes; Little Roy Lewis, Earl Scruggs, Lizzy Long; Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, Cindi Ballard; Vine Records
  • "Love Will Be Enough"; Salt of the Earth; Ricky Skaggs & The Whites; Janis Ian, Paul Overstreet; Skaggs Family Records
  • "Salt of the Earth"; Salt of the Earth; Ricky Skaggs & The Whites; Jim Rushing, Ronald Scaife; Skaggs Family Records
    "The Key To Heaven"; Flyin' High; The Lewis Family; Caleb Collins, Lyn Rowell; Vine Records

Country Recorded Song of the Year
"Anyway"; Waking Up Laughing; Martina McBride; Martina McBride, Brad Warren, Brett Warren; RCA Records

  • "Drug Problem"; Jesus Is Coming; The Bellamy Brothers; David Bellamy; Curb Records
  • "How You Live (Turn Up The Music)"; How You Live; Point Of Grace; Cindy Morgan; Word Records
  • "James Whit"; Lifetimes; Little Roy Lewis, Earl Scruggs, Lizzy Long; Barry Dean, Don Poythress, Brian White; Vine Records
  • "'Round The Kitchen Table"; Journey of Joy; Karen Peck & New River; Ronnie Hinson; Daywind

Country Album of the Year

  • Austins Bridge; Austins Bridge; Bubba Smith; Daywind Records
    Big Sky; The Isaacs; Mark Bright; Gaither Music Group
  • Gospel Duets with Treasured Friends; Brenda Lee; Brenda Lee; Provident Special Markets
    Jesus Is Coming; The Bellamy Brothers; David Bellamy, Howard Bellamy, Randy Hieber; Curb Records
  • Life Is Great And Gettin' Better; Jeff & Sheri Easter; Jeff & Sheri Easter, Greg Cole; SheLoved Music
  • Songs Of Inspiration II; Alabama; Randy Owen; RCA Records

Special Event Album of the Year

  • Amazing Grace; Bill & Gloria Gaither and the Homecoming Friends; Bill Gaither; Gaither Music Group
  • Evan Almighty Soundtrack; Blue County, Bomshel, C + C Music Factory, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tracy Edmond, John Fogerty, Hal Ketchum, Jo Dee Messina, The Mike Curb Congregation, Plumb, Leann Rimes, Room For Two, Stone Temple Pilots, ZZ Top; Adam Anders, Matt Bronleewe, D.J. Butcher, Robert Clivelles, David Cole, Mike Curb, Bill Ham, Chuck Howard, Dan Huff, Doug Johnson, Hal Ketchum, Jo Dee Messina, Kathy Nelson, Brendan O’Brien, Tom Shadyac; Curb Records
  • Glory Revealed; Josh Bates, Steven Curtis Chapman, David Crowder, Mark Hall, Shawn Lewis, Brian Littrell, Trevor Morgan, Paul Neufeld, Candi Pearson-Shelton, Mac Powell, Shane & Shane, Michael W. Smith; Mac Powell; Reunion Records
  • Music Inspired By The Motion Picture Amazing Grace; Avalon, Jeremy and Adie Camp, Steven Curtis Chapman, David Crowder, Bethany Dillon, Natalie Grant, Jars of Clay, Martina McBride, Shawn McDonald, Bart Millard, Nichole Nordeman, Smokie Norful, Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, Chris Tomlin; Brown Bannister, Matt Bronleewe, Cedric Caldwell, Victor Caldwell, Jeremy Camp, Ed Cash, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mark Hammond, Bernie Herms, Jars of Clay, Martina McBride, Bart Millard, Ed Seay, Christopher Stevens, Marty Stuart, Paul Worley; Sparrow Records
  • Songs 4 Worship Country; Trinecia Butler, Charlie Daniels, Linda Davis, Diamond Rio, Emerson Drive, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Lenny LeBlanc, Oak Ridge Boys, Rascal Flatts, Marty Raybon, Collin Raye, Rachel Robinson, Ricky Skaggs, Bryan White, The Wilsons; Michael A. Curtis, Teddy Gentry; Integrity Music, Time Life

New George Strait Album April 1 featuring "I Saw God Today"

April 1st will be a happy day for country music fans. Now, fans have enjoyed this event for 26 studio albums, 5 greatest hits/compilation albums, 2 Christmas albums, 1 box set, and even 1 soundtrack album.

Have you guessed it? Well, ok, I know the title gave it away. A new George Strait album will be released April 1st titled "Troubadour."

The first single, "I Saw God Today" has broke his personal record for highest debut single. #19 on the charts. Amazing. The single will be available tomorrow February 19 for DRM-Free download from Amazon.com

What a song. If you haven't heard it yet, you will very soon no doubt. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:

I've been to church
I've read the book
I know he's here
But I don't look
Near as often as I should
Yeah, I know
I should His fingerprints are everywhere
I just slowed down to stop and stare
Opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today

The chorus alone doesn't do it justice, you have got to hear this one. Wow.

Strait never stops amazing me. He is one of the elite artists in country music. There isn't a song out there that I don't like from The King of Country Music. There is just something about him that makes his music so special.

The upcoming CD, brings about some notable collaborations including a duet with Patty Loveless, and long time songwriting partner, Dean Dillon. Twelve tracks will be featured on the new release.

Response to Article: Yeah, I Like Country

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Article: "Yeah, I Like Country" The Cord Weekly February 14, 2008

As usual, I was floating around looking for interesting things on our beloved country music, and I stumbled upon the above article. It is featured in Wilfrid Laurier University’s official student newspaper in Waterloo, Ontario. The article is written by one of their opinion writers and she basically discusses that basically country music seems to have some type of taboo around it, the stereotypes, and that people shouldn't be ashamed of being country music fans. Now, this article does a fairly good job of explaining things, especially from a the point of view of a fan. However, if I had written this article, I would have taken it a bit further. It is also missing facts about country music that would have supported her thoughts even more.

So, of course, let me fill in the blanks and also elaborate a bit more on some of her remarks.

It's not easy to get the number of radio stations that play country music in Canada, but the best I can, it seems to be close to here in the United States. 900 stations listed on radio-locator.com and most of them list unknown format, but ones that do list a format, 143 are Public Radio, 107 are Adult Contemporary, and 93 are country. So, I'm guessing its pretty close to the same as here in that country has the most radio stations, or at least in the top 3 including news/talk, country, and A/C. Album sales seem to be a little lower compared to the U.S. where country is about the 4th most sold album genre with Alternative, Metal, and R&B above it. So, first and foremost factually, country isn't as popular in Canada than it is in the U.S., so that may be some of the reason country the writer of the article has a point of view that there is some taboo around country. However, still country music is extremely popular in Canada.

Now, lets look a bit at the article.

"There is a common misconception about country music that gives it such a bad reputation: every country song is a sob story about a hillbilly whose girl left him, pickup broke down, dog died, or so the story goes."

Alright. This misconception is easy to battle. Been there, done this many times. Country music is about truth and life, period. Yes, there plenty of sad country songs. However, country also has plenty of happy songs, love songs, and songs that just tells a simple story. Its about everything in life from the best times in a party song, to love songs, and yes sad songs, divorce songs, well you name it, there's a country song for your current life moment. That's at the core of country music; the song.

"Another misconception is that if you listen to country music you automatically become a hick. This is the more covert of the stereotypes. Secretly, I think most people are closet country fans. But, since they’ve spent a good portion of time ridiculing and resisting the genre, now would be a bad time to come out."

The closet fan is something that has always been apart of country music, I believe. It is hard to battle, however the way to approach this is when they mention any country artist that they do like, and they will (usually starts I don't like country except...,) then this is the time to jump in and start naming other like artists for them to listen to and try. Then, they will probably say they have listened to that artist, then name more that will lead them in digging in deep into country music and then, they become a fan. It works, trust me.

"Country music contains more than just the stereotypes it has, though it does have key aspects that set it apart as a genre. These would include the vocal twang, prevalence of the acoustic or steel guitar, a linear story line and – of course – the cowboy hat."

This paragraph should have gone a little bit further. Key aspects to country music starts very basic. Three chords and the truth is used very often to sum it up. Country music is about the song and lyrics, that's the most important. If you write a lyrically strong country song and perform it with the passion that it deserves, it will be a hit. The steel guitar is one aspect, however she missed the fiddle. If there isn't a fiddle around, well, good luck in making a country song. Now the cowboy hat thing. That isn't an aspect of the music. Rather, more of a part of their lives. Most, well real country music artists, don't wear the hat because they think its apart of the music genre, rather its their life style; it's the way they grew up working in the fields or running a ranch, or living in the southern United States where you need a cowboy hat to keep the sun off the neck and face.

"Country music sidesteps the rule that to be a talented vocalist and
musician, you must also be beautiful."

This particular point overall is true, but unfortunately, has changed in the later years. The big business music labels come from a thought that there has to be a marketable look to sell records. They may be surprised that country music fans care much more about the song, rather than the look. Still though, most of the country music industry understands let the artist be the artist, no matter on the way they look and they still sell very well, if the talent is there.

"..most country musicians aren’t photographed daily by
paparazzi waiting in their bushes. Without the pressures of being in the public eye all the time, it allows the importance of music to rest on what else but the music itself."
Well, the reason artists aren't photographed daily is fairly simple. Country music artists are very open to their fans. They don't hide from photographers, for the most part. Who wants to chase someone that stops and smiles for the picture? You go to a concert, and there is a good chance that you can meet the artist. This is coming a little harder, but if you do your homework and at times join the fan club, the chance is really high. But, yes this is right, its much more about the music, rather than the artist.

"The more different something may be, the more criticism it
will face. Country musicians are aware of the stereotypes they face. They even explore them and re-enact them by way of reclaiming the stereotypes."
Well, the are ware of them. However, the songs that reclaim the stereotypes are written to explore these stereotypes, rather they a simply singing about their life and their thoughts. That's who they are. Nothing more or less.

"Instead of computer-enhanced catchy tunes and seductive
moves, country music brings back the importance of lyrical works and musical talents."

This my friends sums it up perfectly. Its about the music.

One thing that the article doesn't discuss is that country music fans should be sure to spread the word and share the music and make new fans. Its easy to do and is important to the music. Try it, you just might make a new friend or a stronger bond with a friend already.

Lastly, I must say, wow what a wonderful article, especially in a college newspaper that will reach many young people that just may make a fan or two out of it. I sure hope so. Amelia Lockhart has to be pretty proud of her writing and of her favorite music. The staff at the paper also should be recognized for allowing it to print. I hope other writers out there will take note and try something like this in their high school or college paper. Lockhart shows that she is dedicated to country music. Thanks for the article...

Craig Morgan Leaves Broken Bow Records

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wow, I read the headline on a website I use that said "Shocker! Craig Morgan Leaves Broken Bow Records." That sums it up nicely.

Craig Morgan is one of the most talented artists out there. I have been a fan of his music since he started. In fact one of my first album reviews I did was his debut album, and had the chance to hand deliver a copy of it to him shortly after it was written.

Broken Bow Records will certainly miss him; The label's 2 biggest stars are Jason Aldean and Craig Morgan. Lila McCann, Crossin Dixon, and Megan Mullins are also on the label. Broken Bow is one of the independent labels that excites me that the artists there appear to have totally control over the music they make.

The news story does mention that he is staying with his manager, booking, and publicity agents. It also said that he will be announcing a new label affiliation soon. Billboard reports he will be going to a new label formed by the former VP of Broken Bow called Valory Music which currently has Jewel, Justin Moore, and Jimmy Wayne featured.

I hope that Morgan stays with an independent. His music style and talent fits so perfectly in that environment. Let's hope the Billboard report is true.

2008 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee: The Statler Brothers

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Statler Brothers achieved a familial sound well-suited for their
catalog of songs reflecting everyday life and family values, even though
only two of its members were true siblings.

As teenagers, baritone vocalist Phil Balsley (born Aug. 8, 1939), tenor
vocalist Lew DeWitt (born Mar. 8, 1938) and bass vocalist Harold Reid (born
Aug. 21, 1939) formed a church group in their hometown of Staunton, Va. in
1955. Don Reid (born June 5, 1945), Harold's younger brother, joined the
group as lead singer in 1960 and they christened themselves the Kingsmen.
The group began singing Country Music with their tight, gospel harmonies
and built a following in the region. Because another group called the
Kingsmen were popular around that time, the quartet changed its name to the
Statler Brothers after a box of Statler tissues.

In August 1963 the group performed at an event headlined by Johnny
Cash. Early the next year, Cash decided to add a male harmony vocal group
to his touring ensemble and the Statler Brothers were invited to audition
on March 9 in Canton, Ohio. Cash then asked them to perform with him that
night and worked up several numbers with the group. The initial performance
went well, so Cash invited them to join the tour and they remained with him
through 1972, working all of his television shows, concert dates and
recording sessions. Years later, Marshall Grant of the Tennessee Three
would become the Statler Brothers' representative.

Signed to Cash's label home Columbia Records, the Statler Brothers had
their first hit in 1965 with the DeWitt-penned hit that would become their
signature smash, "Flowers on the Wall." Their performance of this song
earned the quartet a Grammy Award in the all-genre category for Best
Contemporary Performance - Group (Vocal or Instrumental), even beating The
Beatles. They also won a second Grammy Award that same year for Best New
Country & Western Group.

The quartet moved to Mercury Records in 1969, where they remained for
more than two decades. Their first single for their new label home was
1970's "Bed of Rose's" written by Harold Reid, which became a Top 5 hit.
This song was the first success in a long relationship between the Statler
Brothers and their new producer, Mercury VP Jerry Kennedy. Kennedy would
continue to produce the group throughout their career, even after he left
Mercury Records to form his own production company.

In 1970, the Statler Brothers also created one of their most loved
events with their annual Happy Birthday U.S.A. Fourth of July concert,
parade and community celebration. The event, held in their hometown of
Staunton until it ended in 1995, was a top tourism draw for the area and
always featured one of Country Music's top artists as a special guest
performer. All proceeds from the event were given to local charitable

The early '70s was a successful time for the Statler Brothers as they
hit the Top 40 repeatedly with songs such as "Carry Me Back," "Do You
Remember These," and "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?," all written by
Harold and Don Reid. Their hit "The Class of '57," another Reid brothers
composition, which author Kurt Vonnegut once suggested should be considered
as a new National Anthem, earned the group their third Grammy Award in 1972
as Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

The group challenged itself by creating several concept albums. The
Statler Brothers Sing Country Symphonies in E Major, released in 1972, was
structured like an orchestral performance complete with an "intermission."
In 1974, they released the tongue-in-cheek Alive at the Johnny Mack Brown
High School under their comic alias of Lester "Roadhog" Moran and the
Cadillac Cowboys. And in 1975, they simultaneously released Holy Bible/Old
Testament and Holy Bible/New Testament, fulfilling a long-time dream of
recording a project celebrating their Christian beliefs.

The Best of the Statler Brothers was released in 1975, featuring their
Top Five hit, the Don Reid-penned "I'll Go to My Grave Loving You." The
quartet continued their streak during the next few years with Top 10 hits
"The Movies" (written by DeWitt) and "I Was There" (written by Don Reid),
before achieving their first No. 1 single with "Do You Know You Are My
Sunshine" (written by the Reid brothers) from their 1978 album Entertainers
... On & Off the Record.

The Statler Brothers celebrated 10 years with Mercury Records in 1980
with the release of 10th Anniversary. The album featured their hits
"Charlotte's Web" (their song from the film "Smokey and the Bandit II," in
which they also appeared), "Don't Forget Yourself" (written by Don Reid)
and the autobiographical "We Got Paid By Cash" (written by the Reid
brothers) that celebrated their history as well as their musical mentor.

By the early '80s, DeWitt, who had suffered with Crohn's Disease since
his youth, was in failing health. Jimmy Fortune (born March 11, 1955 in
Williamsburg, Va.) was asked to temporarily replace him on the road in late
January 1982. DeWitt's health never improved enough for him to return to
touring on a fulltime basis, so he departed the band with Fortune assuming
his position fulltime in August of that year. After a few years out of the
limelight, DeWitt released two solo albums, On My Own (1985) and Here to
Stay (1986). While working on a third album, he passed away due to heart
and kidney failure on Aug. 15, 1990 at the age of 52.

Fortune quickly lived up to his name. He wrote the group's second No. 1
hit "Elizabeth," on their 1983 album Today, and then followed that with two
more No. 1 hits: "My Only Love" (from 1984's Atlanta Blue) and "Too Much On
My Heart" (from 1985's Pardners in Rhyme). Fortune also wrote their Top 10
hit "Forever" from 1986's Four for the Show and co-wrote their last major
hit, the No. 6 charting "More Than a Name on the Wall" from 1988's The
Greatest Hits.

As the group continued to tour and record albums, they decided to
expand their reach into television. The Statler Brothers were no stranger
to the medium, having been regulars on ABC's "The Johnny Cash Show" from
1969-1971. During the '80s they had also hosted a string of successful,
award-winning syndicated television specials including "An Evening with the
Statler Brothers," "Another Evening with the Statler Brothers: Heroes,
Legends and Friends" and "A Statlers Christmas Present." With that
experience behind them, "The Statler Brothers Show" launched on TNN in 1991
as a weekly, hour-long variety series. It quickly became the most popular
show on the network and ran for seven years, reconnecting them with
longtime followers while building a new generation of fans. "The Statler
Brothers Show" was a popular booking for the biggest Country artists of the
day as well as legends.

In 2002, the Statler Brothers announced their retirement from the road
and gave their farewell concert at the 10,000-seat Salem Civic Center in
Salem, Va., not far from Staunton. One year later they released the concert
on CD and DVD, as well as a new gospel album, Amen. The group then settled
back to enjoy their well-earned retirement.

The RIAA has certified the Statler Brothers with 10 Gold albums
(Atlanta Blue, Entertainers...On & Off The Record, Radio Gospel Favorites,
Holy Bible/New Testament, Holy Bible/Old Testament, Pardners in Rhyme, 10th
Anniversary, The Best of the Statler Brothers Rides Again Vol. 2, The
Originals, and Today) signifying 500,000 sales each; one Platinum album
(Christmas Card) signifying one million sales; and one triple Platinum
album (The Best of the Statler Brothers) signifying three million sales.

For more than 40 years, the Statler Brothers were among the most
honored acts in Country Music. Among their awards are: nine CMA Awards for
Vocal Group of the Year (1972-1977, 1979, 1980, 1984); three Grammy Awards
(1965 Best New Country and Western Group, 1965 Best Contemporary
Performance by a Group and 1972 Best Country Performance by a Duo or
Group); three American Music Awards for Country Group of the Year
(1979-1981); and 48 Music City News Awards, including 26 Vocal Group of the
Year Awards (1971-1982, 1984-1994, 1996, 1997) and 3 Entertainer of the
Year Awards (1985-1987). In 1994, a monument was presented to the Statler
Brothers and installed in Gypsy Hill Park in appreciation by the Happy
Birthday U.S.A. Committee and the City of Staunton. The group was inducted
into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

The three surviving original Statler Brothers currently live in
Staunton with their families. Balsley still goes to the Statler offices
every day, remaining involved in the group's day-to-day operations. Don
Reid has written a number of books: Heroes and Outlaws of the Bible, Sunday
Morning Memories, and a book with his two sons Debo and Langdon, You Know
It's Christmas When.... He and his brother Harold have collaborated on the
group's memoir, The Statler Brothers: Random Memories, which will be
released Feb. 19. The Reid family musical legacy has continued as Don's son
Langdon and Harold's son Wil formed the Country Music duo Grandstaff.
Meanwhile, Fortune moved to Nashville and released several solo albums,
including When One Door Closes (2003), I Believe (2005), and Feels Like
Christmas (2006). And while only two of the group are siblings, all of its
members remain as close as brothers.

2008 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee: Tom T. Hall

Tom T. Hall was born May 25, 1936 in Olive Hill, KY. He learned to play
guitar at age 4. His father, Rev. Virgil L. Hall, who was a brick plant
worker and an ordained Baptist minister, gave him his own guitar when he
was eight. This encouraged the youngster to grow from writing poetry to
writing music, and at age 9 he wrote his first song, "Haven't I Been Good
to You." A local musician named Clayton Delaney taught Hall the musical
technique that would serve him well in his career.

Hall's mother, Della, died when he was 11. Four years later, his father
was shot in a hunting accident, which prevented him from working. Hall quit
school and took a job in a local garment factory to support himself and his
father. He also formed his first band, the Kentucky Travelers, and played
Bluegrass at local schools as well as a radio station in Morehead, KY. Hall
wrote a jingle for one of the radio stations sponsors, the Polar Bear Flour
Company, and later became a D.J. at the station when the band broke up to
serve their country. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1957 and was stationed
in Germany where he finished high school and performed on the Armed Forces
Radio Network, singing mostly his own original songs.

Following three years in the Army he returned to the U.S. where he
studied journalism at Roanoke College and worked as a D.J. at a radio
station in Salem, VA. A Nashville songwriter visiting the radio station,
impressed after hearing Hall's songs, convinced publisher Jimmy Key of New
Keys Publishing to sign him. Jimmy C. Newman reached No. 1 with Hall's
"D.J. For A Day" in 1963, while Dave Dudley charted No. 10 with the Hall
penned "Mad" in 1964. These successes convinced Hall to move to Nashville
and pursue a career as a professional songwriter. Drawn by their strong
narratives and detailed observations, additional artists started to record
his songs, including Johnnie Wright who reached No. 1 with "Hello Vietnam"
in 1965.

At a BMI banquet in Nashville that same year, Hall met United Kingdom
native Iris Lawrence, better known as Miss Dixie, who was attending the
event because she'd written the Dudley hit "Truck Drivin' Son-Of-A-Gun."
Miss Dixie had moved to Nashville to work for Starday Records after
successfully obtaining a record release for Tex Ritter in Great Britain.
She was living with Mother Maybelle Carter, and was a member of the family.
It wasn't long before Hall also was pulled into the loving circle. The new
friends, who shared a love of songwriting and bluegrass, soon started
dating and eventually married.

Hall signed with Mercury Records in 1967 and that summer released his
first single "I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew." While this became a
minor hit, his following two singles did not crack the Top 40. But in the
summer of 1968, Jeannie C. Riley had a major hit with the Hall-penned
"Harper Valley P.T. A." The song hit No. 1 on both the Country and pop
charts, which inspired both a motion picture and television series.

The success of "Harper Valley P.T.A." put a spotlight on Hall, and his
single "Ballad of Forty Dollars" rose to No. 4. After several additional
hit singles, Hall charted at No. 1 in 1969 with "A Week in a Country Jail."
A year later, he had two Top 10 hits with "Shoeshine Man" and "Salute to a
Switchblade" before reaching No.1 again in 1971 with his biggest hit, a
tribute to his musical mentor, "The Year that Clayton Delaney Died."

The '70s were successful for Hall on radio and as a touring act. He
earned the nickname "The Storyteller," bestowed on him by Tex Ritter,
because his songs contained strong and detailed narratives that revealed
his observations on life. He had five additional No. 1 hits between 1971
and 1976: "(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine," "I Love," "Country
Is," "I Care," and "Faster Horses (The Cowboy and the Poet)." He also had
hits with "Me and Jesus," "Ravishing Ruby," "That Song is Driving Me
Crazy," "I Like Beer" and more. Blessed with a multi-generational
following, Hall released the children's album Songs of Fox Hollow (For
Children of All Ages) in 1974, which contained his much-loved song, "Sneaky
Snake." He also produced a PBS television special on the history of
bluegrass music.

Hall continued to enjoy success in the latter half of the '70s,
including the No. 4 hit "Your Man Loves You, Honey" in 1977. He appeared in
the 1979 television movie "Skinflint: A Country Christmas Carol" and hosted
the hit syndicated television series "Pop! Goes the Country" in 1980. By
the early '80s, Hall's success at radio had begun to slow down. His final
Top 10 hit was in 1984 with a cover of the Rudy Vallee hit "P.S. I Love
You." In 1982, Columbia Records put out the classic Storyteller and the
Banjoman by Hall and Earl Scruggs. Then, after releasing the album Song in
a Seashell in 1985, he took a 10-year break from recording.

He wasn't recording, but Hall still had stories to tell. He had already
published his autobiography; The Storyteller's Nashville, in 1979 and went
on to write several novels, among them: The Laughing Man of Woodmont Cove
(1982), The Acts of Life (1986), Spring Hill, Tennessee: A Novel (1990) and
What A Book!: A Novel (1996). He also wrote the children's book Christmas
and the Old House in 1989, illustrated by Laura L. Seeley.

During this time he also helped with his wife's humane shelter work in
Tennessee and Florida, where they had a second home on St. George Island.
He began to write songs again and played music for pleasure with a
community of "swamp billies" who made him a lifetime member of the
Sopchoppy Possum Club Recording Studio.

Mercury Records put out the 2-disc Storyteller, Poet, Philosopher box
set in 1995, reigniting interest in Hall and his career. That same year
they also released Country Songs for Children, featuring all the songs from
Songs of Fox Hollow (For Children of All Ages) plus seven new songs
recorded by Hall. These projects convinced Hall to record his first,
all-new album in 11 years, Songs from Sopchoppy, released in 1996. That
album, inspired by his "swamp billy" friends and their location, contained
his song "Little Bitty," which Alan Jackson covered and took to the top of
the charts that same year. Hall followed up with two albums in 1997: The
Hits and Homegrown, which contained "Bill Monroe for Breakfast," the No. 1
and most played bluegrass song of the year. That year he also appeared in
the TV movie "Miracle on Highway 31," which contained "There's A Miracle
Everywhere You Go."

For the past decade, Hall and Miss Dixie have immersed themselves in a
shared love of bluegrass music. They have extended a helping hand to
fledging musicians and veterans alike, with many established artists taking
a new Hall song up and over the bluegrass charts. On the rising tide of new
music, the Halls created two new publishing companies, Good Home Grown
Music (BMI) and More Good Home Grown Music (ASCAP). The couple also
transformed a building at their Fox Hollow farm outside Nashville into a
state-of-the-art acoustic recording studio. The Halls have jointly received
the Songwriter of the Year Award from the Society for the Preservation of
Bluegrass Music Association's (SPBGMA) for seven years in a row (including
the Master's Gold). They have also received numerous awards from the
International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), including the Lifetime
Achievement Award.

Recently, Hall released a collection of songs he co-wrote with his
wife, Tom T. Hall Sings Miss Dixie and Tom T., on their independent,
multiple-award- winning bluegrass label, Blue Circle Records. The project
has received more than 70 five-star rated reviews.

Throughout his career, Hall was nominated for seven CMA Awards,
including Entertainer of the Year in 1973; received an RIAA Gold
certification for his album, Greatest Hits Volume II for sales of 500,000
units; and received the Grammy Award for Best Album Notes in 1972 for Tom
T. Hall's Greatest Hits. He also had 33 Top 20 singles on the Billboard
Country Singles chart between 1967 and 1985. He is a member of the Grand
Ole Opry, Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Music Hall
of Fame. He has an honorary degree at South Plains College in Levelland,
Texas and has a Doctor of Musical Arts from Morehead State University in
Morehead, Ky.

2008 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee: Emmy Lou Harris

Emmylou Harris was born April 2, 1947 in Birmingham, Ala., to Walter
and Eugenia Harris. Her father was a Marine Corps officer and the family
moved as her father's position required. She spent much of her childhood in
North Carolina before moving to Woodbridge, Va., while in her teens.

Harris took up guitar as a teenager inspired by the folk music of Joan
Baez, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. Starving-artist stints in
New York City and Nashville led to regular club work in Washington D.C.
where Chris Hillman first saw her perform. Hillman and Country-rock
visionary Gram Parsons had been band mates in The Byrds and The Flying
Burrito Brothers, but now Parsons was on his own doing solo material and
had told his former band mate he was looking for "a chick singer" for his
first solo record.

Hillman had seen Harris perform at a club in DC and told Parsons about
her, but they didn't know how to get in touch with her. A chance encounter
between Harris' babysitter, Hillman and Parsons led to Harris flying to Los
Angeles in 1972 to sing on Parsons' first solo record. Harris went on to
become his permanent duet partner setting a new standard for harmonies and
duet vocals.

After Parsons' untimely death in 1973, Harris emerged as a solo star
with Pieces of the Sky in 1975. The album electrified the Country Music
world, becoming her first in a series of annual Gold or Platinum albums
through the '70s.

Around the same time Harris created the Hot Band featuring many of the
musicians from Pieces of the Sky. Among the first members were Elvis
Presley's bassist Emory Gordy Jr., pianist Glen D. Hardin and lead
guitarist James Burton. After nine months Burton left the band due to
conflicts with Presley's schedule and was replaced by Albert Lee. Other
original Hot Band members included pedal steel player Hank DeVito, drummer
John Ware and a young singer/songwriter/guitarist named Rodney Crowell.
With the Hot Band backing her, Harris opened shows for a diverse group of
artists ranging from Elton John to Conway Twitty, James Taylor and more,
and quickly gained a reputation for its superb musicianship on record and
on the road.

Crowell would leave the band in 1978 for a solo career, though he would
continue to perform with Harris as schedules allowed. For the next four
years, Crowell's place in the Hot Band was filled by Ricky Skaggs. Skaggs
also left for a solo career and was replaced by Barry Tashian. When Hardin
left he was briefly replaced by another former Presley sideman, Tony Brown.
In 1980, Brown, DeVito and Gordy left the Hot Band to tour behind Crowell
as the Cherry Bombs.

Her next three releases (Elite Hotel, Luxury Liner and Quarter Moon in
a Ten-Cent Town) made her a Country-rock leader, and since then Harris has
been regarded as a key figure in the movement that united rock audiences
with Country traditionalists. She was among the artists who made Country
Music "hip" and brought it to a vast youth market. Then she led the way
back to neo- traditionalist sounds with 1979's Blue Kentucky Girl. The
following year, Roses In the Snow paved the road toward the bluegrass
revival of the '80s. Harris rose to become the authentic voice of Country
with these albums, as well as Evangeline, Cimarron and Bluebird.

Over the next few years, Harris released several solo projects, but her
most successful album during this time was 1987's Trio, with Dolly Parton
and Linda Ronstadt. The three singers had talked of recording an album
together for more than a decade, and it was worth the wait. The
critically-acclaimed project was certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales
of one million units and reached No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 Album
Chart. The trio would also win the 1988 CMA Vocal Event of the Year Award.
Eleven years later, the women reunited to release Trio II, which earned the
three singers a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for
their performance on "After the Gold Rush" and a Gold certification from
the RIAA.

By the early 1990s Harris changed her sound again with the acoustic
band The Nash Ramblers, featuring Larry Atamanuik, Sam Bush, Roy Huskey
Jr., Al Perkins and Jon Randall. Together, they honored Country Music's
most legendary concert hall with the At the Ryman album, winning the 1992
Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group

Three years later, Harris took a leading role in yet another musical
revolution-the Americana movement that gave Country Music its "alternative"
wing. Continuing to expand boundaries, this time she paired with producer
Daniel Lanois and reinvented her sound. The result was her 1995 watershed
album, Wrecking Ball, for which she earned another Grammy Award. The album
was hailed by critics as a masterpiece and portrayed a new side of Harris -
spiritual yet sexual, and a woman with very eclectic tastes. She followed
Wrecking Ball with the live album Spyboy and closed the decade with a
powerful album of duets with Ronstadt, Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions.

Harris performed "Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby" with Alison Krauss
and Gillian Welch for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? movie soundtrack
album, which became a phenomenon in 2000. The album was named the 2001 CMA
Album of the Year, the 2001 Grammy Album of the Year and the 2001 Grammy
Soundtrack Album of the Year, among other honors.

With 2000's Red Dirt Girl, she released the first album of her career
that was nearly entirely comprised of Harris-penned songs. The album, and
its follow-up, 2003's Stumble Into Grace, revealed her remarkable
songwriting talent, and further demonstrated Harris' diverse musical
influences, mixing world music instrumentation and rock rhythms into her
Country and folk confidence and verve.

In 2006, she teamed with guitar virtuoso Mark Knopfler to release the
album All the Roadrunning, which had been recorded over seven years. Also
that year, she was a featured performer in the documentary Neil Young:
Heart of Gold.

In 2007, Rhino Records celebrated Harris' distinguished career by
releasing Songbird: Rare Tracks and Forgotten Gems, a DVD and 4-CD box set
featuring previously unreleased material, demos, studio tracks,
collaborative work with other artists, and a collection of videos and
performances beginning with the Hot Band in the 1970s. Her forthcoming
studio album will be released on Nonesuch Records in the spring.

The wide range of Harris' repertoire is mirrored by the musicians who
have sought her out as a collaborator. She has recorded with artists from
diverse points on the musical compass including The Band, Bright Eyes,
Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Vince Gill, George Jones, Little
Feat, Lyle Lovett, Bill Monroe, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, Don Williams,
Lucinda Williams, Tammy Wynette, Neil Young, and many others.

Harris has received three CMA Awards, including Female Vocalist of the
Year in 1980. She has received 12 Grammy Awards, including four for Best
Country Vocal Performance, Female (1976, 1979, 1984, 2005) and two for Best
Contemporary Folk Album (1995 for Wrecking Ball and 2000 for Red Dirt
Girl). She is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and serves as Trustee Emeritus
of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 1999, Billboard honored her with its prestigious Century Award,
aptly calling her a "truly venturesome, genre-transcending pathfinder." Los
Angeles Times praised the unfaltering quality of her work, saying, Harris
"has made consistently outstanding musical choices over her 35-plus-year
career." But perhaps even more outstanding than her accolades is her
beautifully crystalline voice, about which New York Times says, it
"inhabits her songs like a wraith, intangible but omnipresent."

--From The CMA Press Release

2008 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee: Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman

Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman was born May 25, 1893 in Carroll County, Va.,
near the communities of Iron Ridge, Monorat and Fries to a lay preacher and
his wife. His mother passed away when he was just three years old, leaving
the young Stoneman and his brothers to be raised by his father and three

The family bonded together through music, especially the traditional
songs of the Blue Ridge Mountain inhabitants. Music was an important part
of Stoneman's life, and he was always writing and performing songs. He
learned to play every instrument on hand at family musical gatherings and
became proficient on the harmonica, guitar, mouth harp and clawhammer
banjo. The autoharp, however, was his best known instrument. When he
couldn't afford to buy one out of the Montgomery Ward catalogue, the
industrious Stoneman built his own with parts salvaged from an old piano.

While working as a sweeper at a cotton mill in Fries in 1914, Stoneman
recorded a song on a home recording machine owned by a friend. This
experience would be his first step toward a career in music.

In addition to being a sweeper, Stoneman worked a variety of odd jobs
as a young man, including serving as a farm hand and carpenter, while also
performing music at local dances. In 1918, he married Hattie Frost, who was
also a musician and played both the banjo and fiddle. Through the course of
their marriage, the Stonemans became the parents of 23 children, 13 of whom
survived to adulthood.

After listening to a record by singer Henry Whitter in 1924, Stoneman
was convinced he could deliver a better performance. Going to New York City
that year, he cut two songs on the Okeh label. His first single "The
Sinking of the Titanic," which he also wrote, charted at No. 3 on the
Billboard and Variety charts and remained there for 10 weeks. The song was
one of Country Music's earliest records to sell more than a million copies
and became one of the biggest hits of the 1920s.

During this time producer and future Country Music Hall of Fame member
Ralph Peer guided him through many studio sessions for several record
labels, including Okeh and Victor. Between 1924 and 1929, he recorded more
than 200 songs. In 1926, Stoneman added his wife and adult family members
to his band, giving him a full string band sound and establishing a
precedent of working with his family that would continue throughout his

Stoneman convinced Peer to travel to the Bristol, Tenn. area and
audition talent in 1927. This led to the historic Bristol recording
sessions, arguably the most important event in the history of Country
Music. These sessions featured future Country Music Hall of Fame members
Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family making their debut commercial
recordings, which launched their careers on a national scale. Stoneman and
his wife Hattie were the first artists to be recorded at these sessions.

When the Great Depression hit, Stoneman lost everything. In 1932, he
and his wife moved their children (who were performing with their parents
and in their own groups) to Washington, D.C., where Stoneman worked odd
jobs while suffering extreme poverty. He eventually gained employment at
the Naval Gun Factory in 1941 and bought a lot in Carmody Hills, Md., where
he built a house for his family.

During this time he continued to perform as he worked to revive his
musical career. After years of struggling, the Stoneman Family won a talent
contest in 1947 hosted by local radio and television personality (and
future Country Music Hall of Fame member) Connie B. Gay at Constitution
Hall in Washington, D.C. First prize was six months of appearances on Gay's
Country Music television program, which was broadcast in eight states in
the region.

1956 proved to be the turning point. That year, Stoneman, known by then
as "Pop," won $10,000 on the NBC television quiz show "The Big Surprise"
and the producers allowed him to perform on the broadcast. Around the same
time, the Blue Grass Champs (a band featuring three of his children: Scott,
Donna and Jimmy) won "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" on CBS. After that,
folk musician/folklorist Mike Seeger recorded Stoneman, his wife Hattie and
their children for the Folkways label.

Stoneman's retirement from the Naval Gun Factory in the late '50s
allowed him to be fully devoted to the music career he shared with his
children. The Stoneman Family recorded several albums in the early '60s for
the Starday and World Pacific labels. They toured extensively across the
nation, including performances at folk festivals and Disneyland, while
making occasional appearances on network television shows that included
"The Jimmy Dean Show" and "The Hollywood Palace," both on ABC.

The Stoneman Family debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in 1962, and moved to
Nashville in 1965. Soon after they signed with MGM Records and hosted a
syndicated television series, "Those Stonemans." The group achieved their
first Top 40 hit with "Tupelo County Jail" in 1966, followed one year later
by the Top 30 hit "The Five Little Johnson Girls."

In 1967, the Stoneman Family was the first recipient of the CMA Vocal
Group of the Year Award. That same year they also appeared in two movies:
"The Road to Nashville," alongside other Country Music artists and
personalities that included future Country Music Hall of Fame members Bill
Anderson, Mother Maybelle Carter (of the Original Carter Family), Johnny
Cash, Ralph Emery, Waylon Jennings, Webb Pierce, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow,
Porter Wagoner, Kitty Wells and Faron Young; and "Hell on Wheels," again
with Robbins.

In the middle of all this success, Stoneman's health began to fail. He
continued to record and perform through the Spring of 1968, but passed away
on June 14, 1968 at the age of 75.

Just as he would have wanted, his children continued his musical
legacy. His daughter Patsy re-joined the Stoneman Family and the group
carried on, charting a Top 50 hit with "Christopher Robin" in 1968. The
band was nominated for the CMA Instrumental Group of the Year Award that
same year. A few years later, the group recorded several songs for the
soundtrack to "The Country Bear Jamboree" attraction at Walt Disney World
in Orlando, Fla. Throughout the '70s and '80s, the Stoneman Family
underwent several personnel changes before easing into retirement. Group
member (and Stoneman's youngest daughter) Roni Stoneman also became
well-known, as a banjo player and as a regular performer on the successful
syndicated television series "Hee Haw." The remaining Stoneman children
still perform individually and together on occasion. The Stoneman Family
remains the longest continually performing family act in Country Music and
the proud legacy of Ernest V. "Pop" and Hattie Stoneman.

--From The CMA Press Release

Country Music Hall of Fame 2008 Inductees

Well, the wait is over, and what an exciting list of new Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees...

Emmylou Harris
Tom T. Hall
The Statler Brothers
Ernest "Pop" Stoneman

Harris will be the fourth artist included in the "Career AchievedNational Prominence Between 1975 and the Present" category, which wascreated in 2005. Due to a tie, both Hall and the Statler Brothers will beinducted in the "Career Achieved National Prominence Between World War IIand 1975" category. Stoneman will be inducted in the "Career AchievedNational Prominence Prior to World War II" category, which is awarded everythird year in a rotation with the "Recording and/or Touring Musician ActivePrior to 1980" and "Non- Performer" categories.

Wow, I am so excited at the list. Emmylou Harris has been overlooked some, but it is now her time to be honored with the highest award in country music. The same can be said for The Statler Brothers. Tom T. Hall and Ernest "Pop" Stoneman are also excellent choices.

The Commonwealth of Virginia certainly should be happy today with the induction of Stoneman being from Carroll County and The Statler Brothers being from Staunton, Virginia.

I should have predicted The Statler Brothers since I noticed they will be at The Hall of Fame for a book signing at the end of the month.

Dolly Parton Postpones Tour

Monday, February 11, 2008

"But hey, you try wagging these puppies around a while and see if you don't have
back problems. Seriously though, the doctors said I will be good as new in a few
weeks, and I can't wait to get back out there. See you soon, Dolly."
-Dolly Parton 2/11/2008 from her website

Well now, that's certainly a way to say it. It could go down as the country music quote of the year. It certainly got a chuckle out of me.

Her upcoming tour will have to postposed until late April or early May due to a back condition. It will take a bit of time to get the dates re-scheduled I'm sure.

Gladly, her new album "Backwoods Barbie" is on schedule for release on February 26, 2008. I have a feeling it will be very good as she returns to a country album, rather than a bluegrass album like she has delivered in the past years. Just have to wait for now and find out, but if the first single "Better Get To Livin" is any indication, we are in for a treat.

Grammy Winners: Country Music Related

**above you will find links to purchase most of the below listed winners through Amazon, DRM-free downloads range from $.089-$.099. You can also order the album that appears. One exception is The Eagles, which is only available at Wal-Mart.**

The 50th Annual Grammy Award winners of country music interest are as follows:

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals
Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Rounder Records

Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Before He Cheats
Carrie Underwood
Track from: Some Hearts
[19 Recordings/Arista Nashville]

Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Stupid Boy
Keith Urban
Track from: Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing
[Capitol Records Nashville]

Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
How Long
[Eagles Recording Co. II]

Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
Lost Highway
Willie Nelson & Ray Price
Track from: Last Of The Breed
[Lost Highway Records]

Best Country Instrumental Performance
Brad Paisley
Track from: 5th Gear
[Arista Nashville]

Best Country Song
Before He Cheats
Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
Track from: Some Hearts
[19 Recordings/Arista Nashville; Publishers: Big Loud Shirt Industries, Mighty Underdog Music/Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing]

Best Country Album
These Days
Vince Gill
[MCA Nashville]

Best Bluegrass Album
The Bluegrass Diaries
Jim Lauderdale
[Yep Roc Records]

Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album
Salt Of The Earth
Ricky Skaggs & The Whites
[Skaggs Family Records]

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album
Washington Square Serenade
Steve Earle
[New West Records]

Best Short Form Music Video
God's Gonna Cut You Down
Johnny Cash
Tony Kaye, video director; Rachel Curl, video producer
[American Records/Lost Highway Records]

NASCAR and Country Music

Sunday, February 10, 2008

SI.com - Writers - Bruce Martin: Throwback approach won't save NASCAR - Tuesday February 5, 2008 4:08PM

The above link to an Sports Illustrated article is very interesting, especially with its relationship with country music in the beginning of the article. It talks about generally that NASCAR's ratings are down and sales are down at some tracks. One of the fixes that is being tried by NASCAR is bringing back country music and the article mentions year's past where the drivers were so much more accessible to the race fans.

I can remember myself in years past, during race weekend here in Richmond, you had to schedule out what lines you were going to get in to me drivers. They were everywhere in the days leading up to race day. Now, there may be one or two around. This is something country music artists haven't lost. You go to a newer country music artist's show and there is a good chance you can meet them. The more established artists, it may require a fan club membership or something of that nature, but there is a pretty good chance if you do your homework in advance, you can meet those artists, for the most part anyway. This is one idea NASCAR should take a look at.

The writer is right in that just changing the music isn't going to help. However, country music is at the core of the fans of NASCAR and always has been. The people responsible for opening concerts, National Anthem performers, and other marketing ideas should embrace country music to communicate with the fans. I really do think that would help so much. Now, its not the only thing that needs to be in place to help sales and viewers. Things such as competition level, other sponsors, marketing, ticket prices, and everything else that goes into making any product sell. NASCAR should though take note at the country music industry in the way it treats fans and get NASCAR back to being about the fans, rather than feeling like a corporate business. I know, NASCAR is a big business, but it doesn't have to "feel" that way. Get back to the grassroots.

The country music industry should take note of this, and remember to never let the grassroots and the relationship the artists have with fans never go away.

Reminder: Grammy Awards Sunday

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The 50th Annual Grammy Awards will be presented tomorrow, Sunday February 10, 2008 at 8pm EST. The show will be televised live on CBS. XM Radio will carry the Pre-Television ceremony beginning at 4pm EST on XM 2.

I am not sure how many of the country nominations will make it on to the live telecast; however, I will publish the country music related winners on Monday.

Country music is being represented on the show by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood performing. Presenting you will see Dierks Bentley, Taylor Swift, Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett.

The Grammy Awards are the most important music awards of the year, I believe. This is a time that all styles of music come together for one night to honor and showcase to the world the accomplishments of music in the past year. A Grammy nomination in itself is big enough for an artist. Winning one is aout the biggest accomplishment for an artist.

There 110 categories in 31 different fields of musical expression from classical, to pop, to country, to rap, to comedy, and yes, even Polka.

The list of country nominations were blogged back in December if you wish to look at them or visit www.grammy.com for the entire list, but I guess I should make a few predictions.

Honestly, don't be suprised to see Taylor Swift win Best New Artist overall. Best Female Country Vocal Performance issuch a tight category, however, I believe Carrie Underwood will win. Male Country Vocal Performance will go to Keith Urban. Duo/Group Vocal Performance to Emerson Drive. Country Collaboration with Vocals to Reba McEntire & Kelly Clarkson. Country Instrumental to Brad Paisley. Country Song to Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," and Country Album to Vince Gill for "These Days." Bluegrass Album will go to Cherryholmes.

There you go, my predictions written down so tomorrow I can't say I scored a 100%.

I am sure with all the talent scheduled to perform and the presenters, tomorrow night will be special and will have its place in history, just like the other 49 Grammy events. If you are a music fan, you best take the time to enjoy Grammy Night.

Country Music Hall of Fame To Announce Inductees Feb. 12

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Goodness, the 2008 inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame are being announced mighty early. Years ago, it was during Fan Fair usually, 2002-2007 were announced in late August, and 2001 they were announced in July (12 inductees that year.)

This year's nominations according to cmt.com will be announced February 12, 2008.

Why so early? I kinda enjoyed the anticipation through out the year of who may be inducted. The "official" induction does occur until the medallion ceremony in October. I'm sure next Tuesday it will make sense, maybe.

From reading the procedures for election of inductees, this year we should have three inductees. One will be “Career Achieved National Prominence Prior to World War II. One will be “Career Achieved National Prominence Between World War II and 1975.” One will be “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present.” All three should be performers.

2005's categories are the same as this year, the induction procedures rotate every three years. That year Alabama, Glen Campbell, and Deford Bailey were inducted.

Its near impossible to predict who will be inducted. Every year is a surprise. In August of 2007, you will find a blog entry talking about a reader's poll from the Tennessean.com that listed 10 artists that have been overlooked. That list is still true today. I found a quote from Vince Gill in 2006 that mentioned Reba McEntire, George Strait, and Randy Travis as possible inductees for that year. Very interesting in that Strait went in the next year and he did last year.

Tuesday we will know...

Brad Paisley: Instrumental Album

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Yes, you read the title line correctly, the next project from Brad Paisley will be an instrumental album. No date for its release yet, but will be sometime this year it seems.

The Tennessean Article

The quick article has Paisley commenting on that he went to Joe Galante (Sony BMG Nashville's chairman) and talked about the idea, and was given the go ahead.

Paisley is one of the artists I mention when people ask what artists are my favorite, after I explain to them that is next to impossible for me to answer. Paisley is a true musical artist. He is one of the elite artists these days that understand the spirit of country music and honors the tradition. If you see him live or listen carefully to his albums, you notice three things. Lyrically strong songs, humor and love songs (sometimes combined,) and instrumentation. Paisley now has six albums (including one Christmas album) out that each showcase the first two signatures of his artistic expression, and now it sounds like the next album he will be given the chance to showcase the third in a way that isn't overlooked by the listener that gets the album just for the hit singles. Each of his albums have at least one instrumental on it, so why not a whole album?

One thing the article did say coming from Brad that he mention that it probably won't sell. I don't believe that.

The upcoming album, I believe will be full of energy and somehow he will work some humor into the instrumentals. I also expect some guest players that will be some of country's best of the best. The fans will buy this album, no doubt. We look for something a little different than the normal, and this is downright exciting for the country music community to anticipate.

I think the fans would be very happy to hear an album that songs in the likeness of "Nervous Breakdown," "Munster Red," "Spaghetti Western Swing," "Time Warp," "Jingle Bells," and "Throttleneck."

I can't really remember the last instrumental country album that has come out. So, yes it will be a bit of an experiment to see what happens, and I will be watching closely. If it does sell well, which I believe it will, another topic that comes up is what other artists could even have the ability to do this type of album. Not many, thats for sure...

Maybe the next album could be a gospel album... now, thats a good thought for sure.

Country 2nd: "Content Analysis of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs in Popular Music"

Monday, February 04, 2008

I located a study that was published in the current issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine journal titled the "Content Analysis of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs in Popular Music."

You can read the article here:

Their research used 279 songs from the 2005 year end Billboard charts from the Pop, Hot 100, Hot Country, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop, Hot Rap, Mainstream Rock, and Modern Rock charts. They analyzed these songs for tobacco, alcohol, and drug usage.

Their results found, basically this. 41% of the songs referenced the substances in total. Rap had the highest percentage of references at 90%. Country followed with 41%.

Now, this study only researched the references, nothing about it studied what the impact was on teens and children. So, before everyone out there starts to say how bad country music is for our younger generation, they really should take a look at that impact. I have a feeling the references cited in rap music were much more violent and gain negative influence on our children.

For example, the study talks about Joe Nichols' hit "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" which is a humorous style party song. I expect Brad Paisley's "Alcohol" was a part of the study too, again same thing. Compared to the lyrics in the rap music I saw in the report, that I can't type here, country music's references, though reference the substances, are in much less violent manner.

I believe that the listener's of country music understand the impact on their children much greater and steer those children in the right direction of understanding the affects of the substances. It would be very interesting to see a report of this type done using this information and compare the impact on those children's thoughts and actions.