When it was announced that The Band Perry, comprised of siblings Kimberly, Neal and Reed, would headline the closing show of this year's Kentucky State Fair, there were doubts that the hot trio was truly headlining material – after all, they've only released one CD to date. Once the siblings took the stage, however, big sister and lead singer Kimberly was in command and proved that they had the pipes, musicianship and pizzazz for headliners. With an incredibly high energy, the trio delivered fan favorites like "You Lie," "Hip to My Heart," "All Your Life," their latest single, "Postcards From Paris," and their smash debut single, "If I Die Young." A definite highlight of the evening was the trio's rousing medley of "American Pie," "Jack & Diane," and "Me and Bobby McGee" as the young crowd leapt to its feet.
With the pleasantly surprising top-notch concert The Band Perry delivered, it was a shame so few country fans were present to enjoy the show. Freedom Hall's upper level had been closed off and ticket-holders on the second level were moved downstairs to the lower level, which was embarrassingly sparse. Why such a slim crowd? With the median age of the trio's fan base being so young, possibly the fact that the show was on a Sunday evening (the night before a new school week began) deterred parents from allowing their students to attend. Maybe fairgoers were disappointed when a "bigger" named act wasn't scheduled to close out the fair. Maybe fans thought one album worth of material wasn't enough to headline an entire concert. Whatever the fact, country fans missed out on a fine example of pop-country's artists of tomorrow. The next time The Band Perry rolls into town, grab your kids, grab your wife and/or grab your husband too and head on out to an unforgettable evening of country music.
When the nominees for the 46th Annual Country Musi1c Association Awards were announced last month, Eric Church was the top nominee grabber with five nods. The crooner will vie for Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year for Chief, and Single, Song, and Music Video of the Year for "Springsteen." Mr. & Mrs. Shelton, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, followed Church with four nominations each. The couple is up for Song of the Year for writing Lambert's "Over You." In addition, Shelton will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Single of the Year for "God Gave Me You." Lambert will vie for Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year for Four the Record, and Music Video of the Year for "Over You."
When Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan announced the nominees last month on ABC's Good Morning America and at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City, there was some sure-to-be drama revealed in two of the categories. First of all, six-time winners of the Vocal Group of the Year, Rascal Flatts, was surprisingly excluded from this year's nominees. Secondly, the original "American Idol", Kelly Clarkson, received her first nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year – she won Single of the Year and Musical Event of the Year last year along with Jason Aldean for "Don't You Wanna Stay."
And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Taylor Swift; Female Vocalist of the Year: Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood; Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, and Keith Urban; Vocal Duo of the Year: Big & Rich, The Civil Wars, Love and Theft, Sugarland, and Thompson Square; and Vocal Group of the Year: Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, The Band Perry, and Zac Brown Band.
New Artist of the Year: Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, Love and Theft, and Thompson Square; Single of the Year: Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem," Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You," Dierks Bentley's "Home," Little Big Town's "Pontoon," and Eric Church's "Springsteen"; Song of the Year: "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," "God Gave Me You," "Home," "Over You," and "Springsteen"; and Album of the Year: Eric Church's Chief, Miranda Lambert's Four the Record, Dierks Bentley's Home, Lady Antebellum's Own the Night, and Luke Bryan's Tailgates & Tanlines.
Music Video of the Year: Kenny Chesney's "Come Over," Miranda Lambert's "Over You," Little Big Town's "Pontoon," Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup," and Eric Church's "Springsteen"; Musical Event of the Year: Alan Jackson & Zac Brown's "Dixie Highway," Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw's "Feel Like a Rock Star," Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson & Jamey Johnson's "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars' "Safe & Sound," and Lionel Richie & Darius Rucker's "Stuck On You"; and Musician of the Year: Sam Bush – mandolin, Paul Franklin – steel guitar, Dann Huff – guitar, Brent Mason – guitar, and Mac McAnally – guitar.
The CMA Awards ceremony will be hosted for the fifth time by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and will air live from Nashville on ABC on November 1.
Congratulations and best wishes to all the nominees!
The list of nominees for the 18th Annual Inspirational Country Music (ICM) Faith, Family & Country Awards were recently announced and several mainstream country artists received nods. Martina McBride's moving cancer anthem, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," will vie for Mainstream Inspirational Country Song of the Year and Video of the Year. The Mainstream Inspirational Country Song category also includes Big & Rich's "That's Why I Pray," Vince Gill's "Threaten Me With Heaven," and Josh Turner's "Time Is Love." The Video of the Year category also includes Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You," Lauren Alaina's "Like My Mother Does," and Big & Rich's "That's Why I Pray." Joey + Rory will compete for Vocal Duo of the Year and Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs will vie for Musician of the Year. The Mainstream Country Artist of the Year category includes Jeff Bates, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Scotty McCreery, and Josh Turner. Among the nominations for Faith, Family & Country Movie of the Year is Joyful Noise, which stars country legend Dolly Parton alongside Queen Latifah.
The ICM awards will be handed out at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center on October 18.
After the completion of the 11th season of "American Idol" (which has produced country artists like Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington, Lauren Alaina, and Casey James), judges Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith front-man Steven Tyler abandoned the sole original judge, Randy Jackson, leaving FOX's flagship singing competition after just two seasons. Back in July, pop diva Mariah Carey was announced as one of the replacement judges, and since then, there have been numerous rumors swirling about who the remaining one or two judges would be. Several of those rumors surrounded the fact that country's own Brad Paisley or Keith Urban would be named as one of the judges for the show's 12th season beginning in January. Well, after great speculation last month during which Urban announced that he would not be returning as a judge on his native Australia's version of The Voice due to "other commitments," it was announced on Sunday, September 16 that Urban had indeed been hired as an AI judge, along with rapper Nicki Minaj. A few hours after the announcement, Urban, Carey, Minaj, Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest were in New York City to film the first auditions for the upcoming season.
Speaking of his new gig, Urban recently stated, "It's really an honor to have been invited to be a part of the "American Idol" family. I'm looking forward to working with everyone and to seeing the same passion that I have for music in all of the participants."
Little Big Town, the tight-harmony quartet consisting of Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook, has been patiently attempting to claw its way to the top of the country charts since forming in 1998. The quartet released its self-titled debut album in 2002, but its first dent on the country charts didn't happen until "Boondocks" rose to #9 on the charts in early 2006 – the next single, "Bring It On Home" became their first top 5 hit. Fast forward a few years to 2010 and "Little White Church" became their latest top 10 hit, until now. After 14 years of persistence, LBT finally made it to the top of the charts last month with their infectious summer anthem, "Pontoon," which has been certified platinum for sales of more than one million copies. This is the lead single from the band's fifth album, Tornado, which was released on September 11. This brand new album has some serious depth and grit to it and LBT just may become frequent visitors to the #1 spot on the country charts in the future with potential releases like "On Your Side of the Bed," "Sober," "Self Made," "Leavin' in Your Eyes," and the title track.
Congratulations Karen, Kimberly, Phillip, and Jimi on your much-deserved and long-overdue trip to #1 on the country charts!
A few of country music's finest made a splash in Hollywood last month. Crooner and guitarist extraordinaire Vince Gill and Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney, who make up trio Rascal Flatts, received stars on the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame. Gill received his star, which is located at 6901 Hollywood Blvd. next to the Hard Rock Café Hollywood, on September 6 and was joined by wife Amy Grant, daughter Jenny Gill, longtime record producer Tony Brown, and country pal Reba McEntire. The members of Rascal Flatts were honored with their star on September 17 – the star being located at 6664 Hollywood Blvd. in front of the Sergeant Supply Store.
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame will honor its latest batch of inductees at Nashville's Renaissance Hotel on October 7. Mary Chapin Carpenter will be inducted in the songwriter category for having written her hits like "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" and "Down at the Twist and Shout," while Larry Henley, who wrote the timeless "The Wind Beneath My Wings," will be inducted in the veteran songwriters category. Kim Williams, best known for writing Randy Travis's "Three Wooden Crosses," and Tony Arata, known for writing Garth Brooks' breakthrough hit "The Dance," will each be inducted in the songwriter category.
Olive Hill, Kentucky native and songwriting master Tom T. Hall will be honored with the BMI Icon Award on October 30. The author of hits like Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley PTA," Alan Jackson's "Little Bitty," and his own "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died" and "(Old Dogs, Children, and) Watermelon Wine," will be recognized for his "unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers." "The Storyteller" is known as one of the greatest songwriters in country music history.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Hal David passed away from complications suffered from a stroke in Los Angeles on September 1. The 91-year-old songwriter was known for writing Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias' duet "To All The Girls I've Loved Before," Ronnie Milsap's "It Was Almost Like a Song," BJ Thomas's "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," and Marty Robbins' "The Story of My Life."
Singer-songwriter and David's fellow Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Joe South died at the age of 72 on September 5. As a singer, South's biggest hit was "Games People Play" in 1969. As a studio guitarist, he played on recordings for Eddy Arnold, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and Marty Robbins. He is probably best known as the songwriter of Lynn Anderson's signature tune, "Rose Garden."
Former Grand Ole Opry member and comedian Rollin "Oscar" Sullivan, died in Madison, Tennessee on September 7 at the age of 93. He and Lloyd George, whom he met when they each began working in Eddy Arnold's band in 1945, formed the country comedy group Lonzo and Oscar following their tenure with Arnold. The duo's claim to fame is its 1948 hit "I'm My Own Grandpa." The duo joined the Opry in 1947 and Sullivan remained in the duo until retiring in 1985. Following George's departure in 1950, the role of Lonzo was played by Johnny Sullivan and later by Dave Hooten.
Well, that's it for this month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."