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26 Years Ago: Garth Brooks Releases Debut Album

By Gayle Thompson April 12, 2015

garth brooks 1st cd

Capitol Nashville

Twenty-six years ago today (April 12, 1989), neither Garth Brooks nor anyone else could have anticipated how much the music world was about to change. It was on this day that the singer released his self-titled debut album, marking the beginning of one of the most successful country music careers of all time.

At the time of Garth Brooks‘ release, the Oklahoma native was already storming up the charts with the record’s first single, “Much Too Young (to Feel This Damn Old),” which became his first Top 10 hit. His freshman disc spawned three more Top 10 singles, including the follow-up single, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” which became Brooks’ first No. 1 hit.

Brooks, who co-wrote five of the 10 songs on the album, admits that he had no idea how much his life would be affected by his freshman project.

“[I was] definitely scared to death,” he acknowledges. “I thought the album was very, very innocent. And I gotta be truthful with you, every time I hear those songs off the radio or off the album itself, or even when we play them live, I really get that same kind of scared feeling that I had way back in 1988 and 1989.”

The fourth and final single from Garth Brooks was “The Dance,” which stayed at the top of the charts for three weeks and became one of the biggest singles of Brooks’ career. The tune’s accompanying video included appearances by several people who perished while living the proverbial dream, including Martin Luther King Jr., Keith Whitley and the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Garth Brooks became Brooks’ first diamond-certified record, signifying sales in excess of 10 million units. All of his eight follow-up albums have also earned at least single-platinum status. The Country Music Hall of Fame member has sold more than 70 million albums in the United States, making him the best-selling solo artist in U.S. history.

The singer-songwriter says that he still traces much of his success to his first record.

“That first album is always a big one for any artist,” he notes. “Without trying to sound egotistical, I’m very proud of my first one.” Source: http://theboot.com

Darius Rucker’s Southern Style Checks In as No. 1 Album

Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” Is Top Song for Second Week

by Edward Morris 4/11/2015

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It’s Darius Rucker’s turn on the mountain top this week as his Southern Style collection debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s country albums chart.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, the know-it-alls who gather such statistics, Southern Style sold 51,580 copies its first week out.

Meanwhile, the Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” spends its second straight week at the crest of the country airplay rankings.

Arriving fresh as the No. 4 album is the multi-artist Now That’s What I Call ACM Awards: 50 Years. It initially sold 10,753 units.

The week’s only other new country album is Jon Wolfe’s Natural Man, which comes in at No. 25.

Returning to the chart are Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town (No. 19) and Alabama’s Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites (No. 34).

There are two new songs to report: Brothers Osborne’s “Stay a Little Longer” (No. 49) — not the Bob Wills classic — and Casey James“Fall Apart” (No. 59).

After dropping off for a spell, Sam Hunt’s “House Party” returns at No. 60.

In its third week out, Blake Shelton’s “Sangria” is still picking up speed, galloping this time around from No. 47 to No. 37. It debuted at No. 60.

The No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 albums, in that order, areLuke Bryan’s Spring Break … Checkin’ Out (last week’s No. 1), Hunt’s Montevallo and Jason Aldean’s Old Boots, New Dirt.

Parading in directly behind “Homegrown” are Hunt’s “Take Your Time,” Chris Young’s “Lonely Eyes,” Dierks Bentley’s “Say You Do” and Lee Brice’s “Drinking Class.” Source: http://www.cmt.com/news

Thomas Rhett Celebrates a Milestone

“Make Me Wanna” Is Third No. 1 Single From His Debut Album

by Samantha Stephens 4/10/2015

Thomas Rhett

Let’s make a toast to Thomas Rhett, who just became the first solo male artist in 20 years to snag three Billboard country airplay No. 1 singles from a full-length debut album.

“Is that stat even real?” Rhett asked at his No. 1 party for the groovy, hit “Make Me Wanna.”

Yes. Yes it is.

Ever a humble soul, it’s a tough stat for Rhett to process.

The singer-songwriter sat with his co-writers Larry McCoy and Bart Butler and recalled the moment “Make Me Wanna” came to life.

“I remember that day, writing that song,” he said. “This was pre writing to tracks, I think, and so I remember we walked in — and had a guitar — and I was like, ‘Man, play me some funky chords.’”

And then came the two opening riffs to “Make Me Wanna.”

“I’ve still got the horrible work tape on my phone of just me singing it out of tune and me trying to play a solo or something!” he chuckled.

But the day was too much fun for the song to not turn out to be a success.

“We had fun that day in the writing room. And it was something that I had never done before … writing in this genre, if you will,” Rhett admits. “I had fun doing it, and I have fun playing it live. And I can’t really expect my fans to have fun listening to my music if I didn’t have any fun making it.”

That personal philosophy has afforded Rhett the undeniable success he’s enjoyed in such an arguably brief amount of time on the charts.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I can’t believe we’re sitting on our sixth single, and to have three number ones off your debut record, it’s a humbling thing,” he said. Source: http://www.cmt.com/news

Scotty McCreery Flying High Following Fan’s Marriage Proposal

American Idol Winner Honored to Be Part of In-Flight Surprise

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by Alison Bonaguro 4/9/2015

When Scotty McCreery was writing “See You Tonight,” I wonder if he ever dreamed that some hopeless romantic would plan his entire marriage proposal around the song.

That’s what happened, and McCreery found out about it while flipping through Southwest: The Magazine during a recent flight.

First, Greg Freyer wrote a letter to the magazine thanking Southwest for helping him pull off the surprise proposal.

“Dear Southwest, I planned to get engaged on a Southwest flight as my girlfriend flew home ‘alone’ after visiting me. I work odd hours, so the day my girlfriend was supposed to leave, I woke her up around 3:30 a.m. to say goodbye and ‘left for the airport.’ I instead drove to the Detroit airport and got on her flight. After takeoff, a flight attendant announced that a debit card with my girlfriend’s name on it had been found. When they handed it to her, ‘See You Tonight’ by Scotty McCreery started playing. I walked up from the back row, took the intercom and proposed!”

Then McCreery saw that story, and now he wants to meet Freyer and his new wife Rebekah.

“I read this story while on a recent Southwest flight,” he said. “It’s awesome that ‘See You Tonight’ is now their proposal song! That song was my first Top 10 hit, and I loved writing it with Ashley Gorley and Zach Crowell.

“I’d love to give Greg tickets to a show and have them come backstage so we can meet and celebrate. I hope Greg hears that I’m looking for him and that he emails my team … so we can connect.” Source: http://www.cmt.com/news

Kristian Bush Releases Debut Solo Album

Describes Southern Gravity as a “Parallel Project” to His Work in Sugarland

by Carson Stokebrand 4/8/2015

kristian bush

Kristian Bush is no stranger to the spotlight. As one-half of the Grammy-winning duo Sugarland, he’s a seasoned singer, songwriter and performer.

While he’s always been an integral part of Sugarland, most people equate the duo’s sound with Jennifer Nettles’ powerhouse vocals.

In the ‘90s, he recorded and toured as part of a folk-rock duo, Billy Pilgrim, but with this week’s release of his debut solo album, Southern Gravity, Bush is ready for his voice to be at the forefront.

CMT.com recently talked to Bush about his album and those never-ending (but welcomed) questions about Sugarland.

CMT: Let’s start with the album’s debut single, “Trailer Hitch.” Do you feel it’s a good representation of what fans can expect on Southern Gravity?

Bush: Absolutely. I mean, I would say “Trailer Hitch” has the grooves and the fun and the stories and the kind of underlying meaning that you’re used to hearing from my work in Sugarland. So I think it connects the dots. I think the thing that’s very different about it is that I’m singing it. … One shocker at a time.

In the liner notes, you mention going through a period of change when you did this album. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Yeah, I think the distance that you travel in any kind of reinvention has to contain within it the 10 years that you would have used to write your first record. So when you hear a band for the first time with their debut release, they’ve been working on it in a garage for a long time. And maybe you’re just hearing what they’re doing now, and it took them a long time to get there.

And I just compressed all of that into two years’ worth of writing and recording. And it’s my third first record, which is kind of cool. (laughs) Not many people get that. And I’m very grateful. And I sit here very humbled and excited and very happy. I do think that positive songs are the hardest things to write without them being hokey. The reason that they’re so hard is because I feel like the sadness that connects us together is very different because all our troubles are very different. But when we start to let that go, the things that we have in common are the things where we start to smile.

What on this album are you most excited about — and what are you most nervous about?

I think the answer is exactly the same for both questions — which is for people to hear my voice. I think I’m most excited about that, but I’m also most nervous about it. … It’s like showing up for school after an entire summer of being away and people go, “Who’s that?” You know? (laughs)

How are the songs you’ve written for this album different than the ones you’ve written for Sugarland?

I think the obvious piece is that instead of writing them for another voice, I’m writing them for me. Or at least I’m writing them to be performed with my voice. Which means there are some authenticity corners to it that are irreplaceable. They’re kind of baked in because I wrote that. So, of course, when I sing it, it’s believable to me. So I think that’s the first piece.

But I think that the other piece … there’s been a lot of messaging within Sugarland songs that kind of pulls through into this. This is a unique space, I think, by you asking that question. Culture and timing have allowed us to have two solo records by people that are in an active band. Like, you actively heard our last record and you’ll actively hear whatever our next one is. And you’ll be able to see the DNA of the band. Like, really, not just look at it but also hear it.

I imagine what it might be like to be a fan and listen to my record and then go, “Oh,” and look backwards at the Sugarland catalog and start to see the images and shadows and how it all lines up like tracing paper and be like, “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t know.” It’s like people when they come see me perform, the first thing they do is they report back to me and say, “Man, I went back and binge-watched all your videos. And, oh, my God, you were there the whole time!” (laughs). And I’m like, “Yeah!” But it’s kind of fun.

Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town sings backup vocals on “Waiting on an Angel.”

I had been wanting to work with Kimberly on some stuff for a while … and we’re all friends. They opened up our shows for four years straight, almost. So we kept bringing out Little Big Town with us as openers as often as we could because we just genuinely liked them. And I love their music. I love how they live. I love who they are.

They were getting ready to launch their Pain Killer tour, and I had found myself in a situation where I really wanted a distinct female voice to show up on “Waiting on an Angel” because the song itself is about waiting on this angel to walk in through the door. Kimberly is as close to heaven as you can get. And I couldn’t think of anyone else other than her to be the perfect conversation in this. And so she is. And, I mean, she sounds great. And in a weird way, suddenly when she shows up, my brain just goes to Little Big Town, and I’m like “Ah! It’s like they’re singing on a song!” Even though it’s just Kimberly. (laughs).

I will spare you any questions about Sugarland’s next project, but how much of your time is spent reassuring fans about the future of the duo?

Well, out of 10 questions, it’s always one. (laughs) … I think for whatever reason — I don’t even know why this is true — but when Jennifer put out a solo record, nobody blinked an eye about the band’s existence. But somehow when I do, everybody is like 200-300 percent more worried. (laughs). I’m like, “What are you talking about? We’re doing great!”

I think the difference for me is that my career here as a solo artist is not a side project. It functions more like a parallel project. … It’s more to me like I have two jobs, like I’m working two jobs at the same time. And I can do that. My kids are older. I feel good about that. And I have the interest and the energy for it and the love for it. I mean, this is what I do when I don’t do this. Source: http://www.cmt.com/news

Steven Tyler Signs With Big Machine to Release Country Album

As the Aerosmith frontman readies his solo debut on Big Machine Label Group’s Dot Records, we assess his country cred

By Joseph Hudak

steve tyler

Steven Tyler signed a deal with Scott Borchetta and his Big Machine Label Group to release his debut country album. Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Big Machine Label Group

After strutting onto the stage of the Grand Ole Opry during Eric Paslay’s performance last week and teasing his upcoming country album, Steven Tyler has made it official. Rolling Stone Country can exclusively confirm that the Aerosmith frontman has signed a deal with Dot Records, the legendary label that Scott Borchetta and his Big Machine Label Group revived last year, to release his debut solo album.

While no specific release date or title has been announced, the album, set for release later this year, will feature songs that Tyler has already been writing and recording in Nashville over the past few months. So far he’s collaborated with writers like Paslay, Hillary Lindsey, Cary Barlowe and the Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston.

“There was an immediate connection with Scott and Big Machine, and Nashville seems like the perfect segue for a solo project. . . and Dot Records is the right fit. My earliest influences put me somewhere between the Everly Brothers and the Carter Family, and this project is all about me paying homage to my country roots,” Tyler says. “I’ve been working with some fucking epic Nashville songwriters, getting my feet wet with the style and groove.”

“He sent me a text the other night. It said, ‘Just wait until we get that big fish on the line!” He’s wanting to write that big song,” Johnston tells Rolling Stone Country. He predicts Tyler’s album will straddle the line between the anthemic sound of today’s country and the organic adventures of fellow rocker-turned-Nashville cat Robert Plant.

“It’s going to be in the middle of what Robert Plant has done with T Bone [Burnett] and Buddy Miller — that kind of scene. But I think with Dot being involved, and Scott, who has that ear for radio, it can be really big, but still be really cool,” he says. “The way country is going, half of the things Carrie [Underwood] is doing, like ‘Something in the Water,’ he’d sing the hell out of.”

Songwriter Cary Barlowe echoes Johnston’s thoughts. He and his brother Nathan, along with Barlowe’s fiancée Hillary Lindsey, have already written two songs with Tyler. Barlowe describes one as “an old classic Aerosmith love ballad,” with him playing acoustic guitar and mandolin, and Tyler on piano.

“Everything he sings is going to sound a little like Aerosmith, because he’s the voice. But he’s been talking about how he wants some of it to be organic,” says Barlowe. “It’s obviously not going to be traditional country or old-school country sounding, but he does want mandolin and a banjo in there, to change it up.”

The second song they wrote with Tyler is on the more rocking side, driven by a cigar-box guitar the 67-year-old singer brought to the studio. “He said Johnny Depp had given it to him. I was like, ‘I have to play that thing,'” says Barlowe.

It’s interesting to note that Tyler, a vocalist synonymous with rock, has chosen the country genre in which to spread his wings. Joe Perry, his longtime guitar foil in the Boston band, has already released two solo albums, as well as his work with the Joe Perry Project, but the Big Machine release marks Tyler’s first ever solo album. “I think country is the new rock & roll,” he told Rolling Stone Country at last year’s CMA Awards. “I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire. . . I have more country in me than people think.”

Looking back over Aerosmith’s catalog, there are hints that back up Tyler’s claim. On 2012’s Music From Another Dimension!, Tyler duetted with Carrie Underwood on the country-flavored ballad “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.” And had they been released today, songs like “What It Takes,” off 1989’s Pump, and Cryin’,” from 1993’s Get a Grip, would vie for country radio airplay. Even “Janie’s Got a Gun,” although a rock staple, follows in country’s grand tradition of the story-song — and one about murder at that. But it may be Aerosmith’s most polarizing song, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” that best connects the dots. Written by pop master Diane Warren, it’s a monster of a power ballad — and one that would be right at home on an album by Tyler’s new Big Machine labelmates, Rascal Flatts.

For his solo album, however, Tyler is open to taking risks.

“He’s looking for out-of-the-box people [to write with,]” says Johnston. “I think he’s going for something extremely real.” Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news

Alan Jackson Turns to ‘Angels and Alcohol’ for New Album

Collection comes on the heels of the country icon’s 25th anniversary tour

By Andrew Leahey

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Alan Jackson’s 20th studio album is titled ‘Angels and Alcohol.’Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Alan Jackson is still in the middle of his Keepin’ It Country Tour, a 25-year anniversary trek that kicked off in early January, but he’s already looking ahead to a new project: his 20th studio record.

Angels and Alcohol, his first album of new material since 2012’s Thirty Miles West, will be released on July 17th. Jackson wrote the bulk of the album’s tracks himself, turning to outside songwriters like Michael White (who penned Blake Shelton’s second Number One hit, “The Baby”) and Troy Jones (Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy” and “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer”) for just three of the album’s ten tracks. Keith Stegall, his longtime producer, reprised his role behind the soundboard.

For a quarter century, Jackson has sung a lot about living, a little about love and a bit about Jesus, bouncing his way between country, bluegrass, gospel and all the rootsy points in between. Although no tracks from Angels and Alcohol have been released, the album — which arrives on the heels of the Christian-themed Precious Memories Volume II and the self-explanatory Bluegrass Album is presumably a return to his country roots. Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news

Jana Kramer’s Wedding Coming Soon

Bob Paxman


photo courtesy WMG

Jana Kramer laments a past heartbreak in her latest single, “I Got the Boy.” But in real life, the gorgeous singer is about to get married to her “Mr. Right,” free agent football player Michael Caussin. The two are tying the knot sooner than she originally hinted.

In a recent interview with Country Weekly, Jana noted that the wedding would take place in “a couple of months,” which would have indicated late May. Now it appears that Jana and Michael will be married at an earlier date, which she has not specified. “The days are fast approaching,” Jana told Country Weekly. “We have a great wedding planner, so I know everything will come together. She is awesome.”

Though Jana hails from the Detroit area and currently lives in Nashville, she decided early on to hold the nuptials in a vineyard near Michael’s hometown in Virginia. “We’re going to do it where his family is,” Jana said. “It is such a beautiful area. We’re trying to keep everything low key.”

Jana added that a honeymoon will likely come later in the year because of her packed summer touring schedule. “Summer is my bread money,” Jana explained with a laugh. “I’ll be on the road so we’ll probably do a honeymoon over the [Christmas] holidays.” And that may depend on Michael’s situation. Currently, he’s a free agent, meaning that he is eligible to sign with any team. If Michael hooks up with a team, his December schedule would obviously be booked. And what if he signed with the Tennessee Titans, based in Nashville? “That would be a dream,” Jana said, smiling.

Jana met Michael through Twitter, she explained. But she did her due diligence in checking Michael out and making sure he was on the level. “He favorited some stuff I tweeted and we met each other,” Jana recalled. “I did some background things to verify who he was and everything, and we started dating. It’s like Mr. Right came walking by.” Source: http://www.countryweekly.com/news

Luke Bryan Reflects on Being Nominated for ACM Entertainer of the Year With Garth Brooks

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Gayle Thompson

photo by John Russell / CMA

The 50th annual ACM Awards are quickly approaching. Luke Bryan will co-host for the fourth year with Blake Shelton, this time at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The singer is also nominated in four categories as well, including Entertainer of the Year, which he last won in 2013. And on April 7 the ACM announced that Luke would be receiving the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award this year.

But while Luke admits he would love to walk away with the night’s highest honor again, he says he is most thrilled to be nominated in a category with his musical hero, Garth Brooks.

“It’s crazy,” Luke tells Country Weekly. “Honestly, to be in that category with Garth, it’s pretty amazing. The fact that Garth is back out there touring is amazing.”

Luke won the CMA Entertainer of the Year award two years ago, beating out George Strait to take home the coveted trophy, but he says just being nominated with the King of Country made him already a winner.

“Honestly, I feel honored, too, to have been in a category with George Strait,” he adds. “I’ll have to frame the books that have our name in there together.”

Luke, Garth and George will also perform during the live broadcast. The 50th annual ACM Awards will air live on Sunday, April 19, at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS. Source: http://www.countryweekly.com/news