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 LeAnn Rimes
Full Name: Margaret LeAnn Rimes Birth date: Aug. 28, 1982 Birthplace: Jackson, Miss. Raised: Moved to Garland, Texas, at age 6 Hair: Blonde Eyes: Blue Height: 5ft. 5in. Parents: Father Wilbur and Mother Belinda Pet: A Pomeranian named Raven Early music: Her parents have tapes of her singing The Judds' "Have Mercy" at 18 months old; won a song and dance competition at age 5 Early favorites: Favorite childhood songs included "You Are My Sunshine," "Getting To Know You," and "Have Mercy" Acting debut: Played Tiny Tim in a Dallas production of A Christmas Carol Road to stardom: Age 8; she was the winner for two weeks on Star Search, singing "Don't Worry About Me" Residence: Live with her mother in a four bedroom hillside home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., complete with white marble floors, kidney-shaped pool, a waterfall and a Jacuzzi with views of the San Fernando Valley; LeAnn move to California to pursue acting. She still maintains a residence near Dallas. First big break: Dallas disc jockey heard 9-year-old LeAnn singing the national anthem at a sporting event and knew he'd found the voice for his song "Blue," a song he'd written 40 years prior for Patsy Cline Hobbies: Shopping, kick-boxing, softball, in-line skating, racecar driving, bowling, tennis, weight-training, and swimming Musical influences: Reba McEntire, Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Barbara Streisand, and Wynonna Favorite male artists: Include Tim McGraw, Bryan White, and Hal Ketchum Favorite pop stars: Brandy, Alanis Morisette, Cline Dion, and Whitney Houston Favorite actresses: Whoopi Goldberg, Sandra Bullock, Shirley MacLaine, and Audrey Hepburn; "And one person I admire who's gone from singing to acting is Bette Midler. She's terrific." Favorite movies: The Bodyguard and The Shawshank Redemption Favorite actor: Kevin Costner Favorite TV shows: Beverly Hills, 90210 and Friends Favorite colors: Red, Black, Blue and White Favorite foods: Steak, baked potatoes, and chicken fettuccine Book: Co-wrote the Christmas story Holiday in Your Heart with Tom Carter Favorite charities: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, T.J. Martell Foundation, Operation Smile; has acted as spokesperson for D.A.R.E. to encourage young people to stay off drugs and for the "Don't Mess With Texas" environmental campaign

Thecountryfreak LEANN RIMES

 Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson

ALAN JACKSON BIO
Picture the well-worn floors of a not-too-trendy establishment, any given evening, Anytown, USA. In particular, conjure the corner jukebox, the anthems that somehow cut the clatter. Though a commonplace scenario, something profound separates fleeting radio flash from barroom timelessness. Alan Jackson’s music has always exemplified the latter. On his fourteenth Arista Nashville release, What I Do, the Country Music Association’s reigning Entertainer of the Year presents a collection of unabashed, jukebox-worthy country. Ever walking the line between populism and memoir, the album’s twelve songs fully complement a fifteen-year career that has thus far produced over 43 million sales and 31 Number One hits—including 21 he penned for himself (not counting two additional chart-toppers he penned for fellow artists). Heartbreak and reconciliation, first-dance jitters and smile-through-your-tears wit, the thesis of What I Do is love, and the songs run the gamut via pedal steel and Georgia affect. From the catchy optimism of “Too Much Of A Good Thing,” to the love-lost “Rainy Day In June,” the ASCAP Country Songwriter/Artist (twice) and Country Songwriter of the Year (three times) navigates the emotion with an expert balance of both universal and intimate revelation. An expert at fleshing out themes that most of us merely overlook, Alan, on What I Do makes clever play about the cover of the “USA Today,” and mines forlorn sentiment from the phrase “You Don’t Have To Paint Me A Picture.” It’s exactly this blend of broad subject and keen insight which has marked his career to date: by poignantly marrying the catchalls of everyday life to rural autobiography, Alan’s gone from dim honky-tonk to arena stage, from unknown to superstar, earning 96 major industry awards as singer, songwriter and performer. Whether composer or curator, Jackson’s unwavering critical support also stems from his fusing of country’s rich history with a contemporary bent. The rousing “If French Fries Were Fat Free” introduces Haggard-esque harkback to low-carb preoccupation; just when we pinpoint the kinship of “The Talkin’ Song Repair Blues” to staples by Cash or Daniels, Alan flips tradition on its head by showcasing the very mechanics of the industry itself. Simply put, Jackson drives country forward with an eye on its rear-view: bongos mix with fiddle on “There Ya Go,” the telltale bass vocals of Oak Ridge Boy Richard Sterban (“Burnin’ the Honky Tonks Down”) stands alongside “If Love Was A River” and “Strong Enough” by young, new ACR recording artists, The Wrights (Jackson’s nephew Adam and wife Shannon). As a standalone, “Monday Morning Church” epitomizes Alan’s ability to re-think, to build upon country mainstay. Echoing without emulating one of his all-time favorites, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” this ballad, with Patty Loveless adding distinct harmony vocals, speaks from the survivor’s position of tragedy. The punctuation of ‘simple’ details—a bible left on the dresser, dust on piano keys—and bruising lines like “I can’t seem to talk to God without yelling anymore,” force the narrator to endure pain that even his solid belief in Heaven isn’t taking away. That’s aching, honest...country. Though solemn, “Monday Morning Church” still remains accessible, likewise What I Do focuses on substance versus sensationalism. Case-in-point is the live-recorded “To Do What I Do.” As Alan sings “I’ve been a waiter, a roofer, a clerk,” in order to eventually “...be something I’ve always been in my heart,” we applaud his artistic triumph; with the words “I’ve played for empty tables and chairs/Drunks that don’t listen, crowds that don’t care,” we can’t help but hear the echo of his career: the organic, dues-paid rise, the commitment and heartbreak, the dreams of a people’s champion. All of these seeming dichotomies—‘everyman’ and ‘individual,’ ‘contemporary’ and ‘traditional,’ ‘superstardom’ and ‘humility’— are the natural result of a long-ago adoption of hard-work and basic integrity. Specifically, Alan’s music displays the influence of his Newnan, Georgia upbringing: big family, small house, blue-collar ethics. His father taught him to work on cars, his mother’s Sunday gospel segued into the country radio of the workweek. Having earned his stripes in honky-tonks, Alan and wife Denise (his high-school sweetheart) eventually scrimped, saved and moved to Nashville. Following a trying series of clock-jobs and close calls, eventual publishing cuts earned Jackson a spot on the Arista Nashville roster. Fifteen years and 43 Top 10’s later, he’s still a guy who drives a dented pickup on a dirt road for fun. Difference is that now he writes a song about it, reaching millions of people [“Drive (For Daddy Gene),” from 2002’s Drive]. WHAT I DO Indeed, What I Do is the iconic stuff of the jukebox: a bare-bones album whose songs collectively rise above compilation placement, pure nostalgia or one-off cache. Though certainly Jackson’s hits have transcended their country constructs [“Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning),” “Chattahoochee,” “Gone Country,” among others], his career has never been song-specific. Fact is, on an Alan Jackson record, “Too much of a good thing...is a good thing.”

Thecountryfreak ALAN JACKSON

 Faith Hill
Of course I feel close to all of the albums that I’ve recorded, but this one just feels as honest and as real as it gets. It speaks about a lot of things that are personal to all of us.” Faith Hill, a proud Mississippi Girl from a tiny town called Star, has become a beloved global superstar by pouring herself into songs ever since receiving her first musical education in various churches in her home state. Now with her much anticipated sixth album, Fireflies, set for release by Warner Bros. on August 2nd, Hill has put more of her heart and soul into her music than ever before. “I feel a closeness to all of the albums that I’ve recorded, but this one, to me, just feels as honest and as real as it gets. It speaks about a lot of things that are personal to all of us,” Hill says of Fireflies, which she co-produced with her longtime producers Byron Gallimore and Dann Huff, “That’s what I wanted for this record. I wanted it to feel honest. I wanted this album to be full of real stories – to be about people and the things that we all experience.” From the homespun celebration of the opening track “Sunshine and Summertime,” one of three songs co-written by Big & Rich’s John Rich, to the poetic final hidden track “Paris,” Fireflies is a heartfelt song cycle that feels both deeply personal and at the same time somehow universal. Hill has been making a deep connection with music lovers ever since her multi-platinum debut, 1993’s Take Me As I Am. With each album that has followed, all multi-platinum sellers, 1995’s It Matters To Me, 1998’s Faith, 1999’s massive breakthrough Breathe and 2002’s Cry – and throughout her journey, she has continued to grow and to push herself as a singer and recording artist. “It’s all been meaningful for me,” says Hill. “And I feel strongly that I couldn’t have made this album without making the others. As an artist, the things that I’ve done and the choices that I’ve made have allowed me to make Fireflies. It’s all been part of a great growing process, made possible by my fans.” For Hill, the process of making Fireflies was not that different than any of her other chart-topping efforts – except that it took a bit longer because she was dedicated to serving no song before its time. “There was no settling at all,” she explains. “I listened to hundreds and hundreds of songs and tried to keep myself focused and remind myself to be patient,” At one point last year Hill thought she was done. “I was ready to close things down. The album was finished. But then I heard `If You Ask’ written by Lori McKenna,” recalls Hill. “I was floored. I asked to hear all of her songs because I felt if I could write, I would want to write just like this woman. So I snuck back into the studio, I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. I felt as though it would have been a travesty not to go back in and cut those songs.” In the end, Hill decided to add three songs written by McKenna including “Fireflies,” the moving song that ended up giving Hill’s latest album its title. “I wanted to call the album Fireflies because even before I heard the song the title took me to my childhood to a place filled with incredible memories. Then I heard the song and it said so much about the need to dream, about how sometimes it’s all we have. I just have to say, I had a dream to be onstage and if I had not seen myself doing it, I never would have done it.” Over the past decade Faith Hill’s musical dream has come true and more. She’s had massive sales success, nearly 30 million albums sold and countless honors and accolades including four Grammy wins, three awards from the Country Music Association, twelve from the Academy of Country Music, as well as four People’s Choice Award wins as Favorite Female Music Performer in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Yet as grateful as Hill is for all her international standing, Hill admits, “I think at some point in my career, my celebrity began to overwhelm who I was as a musician. I’ve always come from a real place as an artist. Everything I’ve done, I’ve tried to do from the soul. And for me, this album brings that all home.” Having now completed Fireflies, Hill acknowledges, “I do feel a sense of relief. I’m excited because I know that I’ve absolutely poured my heart into this record and I can’t wait to share it with people over the next few years. I feel like every song here is a chapter in a story that I can’t wait to tell.”

Thecountryfreak FAITH HILL

 C & W Cliparts
Thecountryfreak C & W HIGHWAYCLIPARTS
Thecountryfreak C & W CLIPARTS
Thecountryfreak COUTNTRYMUSIC

 Country Weddings
The Ultimate Country Wedding!
GAC's Ultimate Country Wedding comes complete with all the bells & whistles, including a country artist (to be announced) performing at your wedding! GAC's Ultimate Country Wedding will take place on Labor Day Weekend 2005 (September) in "Music City" itself, Nashville, TN, compliments of Great American Country (GAC), the Gaylord Opryland Resort, and our other terrific sponsors featured below. Wedding To Be Held At The Gaylord Opryland Resort! GAC has teamed up with the Gaylord Opryland Resort to host the wedding ceremony and reception! With nine acres of romantic indoor gardens, magnificent ballrooms, and a perfect climate year round, Gaylord Opryland is a wedding wonderland. This wedding is sure to be a one-of-a-kind extravaganza. Under the resort's magnificent glass atriums, our lucky couple will be surrounded by breathtaking indoor gardens, winding pathways, and cascading waterfalls, all which make an idyllic setting for wedding photos and lasting memories. Click on the image below for more information on planning your dream vacation to Nashville!

Thecountryfreak COUNTRY WEDDINGS

 Checkin' in with the Classics
Host Bill Cody brings you classic videos from the '80s when country music videos first came on the scene and '90s. Artists like George Jones, Reba, Alan Jackson, Merle Haggard, Alabama, The Judds, Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams, Jr., George Strait, Oak Ridge Boys & Lorrie Morgan...to name a few. PLUS, special guests join Bill each week to reminisce and share stories! GAC Classic airs 7 days a week! Visit the GAC Classic page for show times and upcoming guests!

 Faith Hill 's New Release
Faith Hill 's New Release

I
t's clear from the cover photo on 2005's Fireflies that Faith Hill is beating a retreat from her half-baked, half-successful 2002 pop diva makeover, Cry. Not that the album was bad, or even an outright flop -- it just failed to do what it was intended to do, which was to make Faith Hill a true rival to Shania Twain, where her pop success was as great as her country following. Big and polished Cry may have been, but it just wasn't memorable or hooky enough to be great pop and unlike Shania's very clever everywoman pose, Hill's pop move was too detached, too snooty for her country audience. Since she's no fool, Faith Hill has quickly returned to the country-pop and big ballads that brought her stardom on 1999's Breathe, but that doesn't mean she's not playing it smart and savvy. She's recorded several songs by John Rich -- best known as half of Big & Rich, but also a professional songwriter who is pretty close to being ubiquitous in 2005, in the wake of his duo's success. Here, he proves to be a sharp professional by bringing his craftsmanlike musical skills but not his oversized humor to the table with such songs as the laid-back, breezy "Sunshine and Summertime" and the appealingly slick power ballad "Like We Never Loved at All," delivered with harmonies by Hill's husband, Tim McGraw. Of course, this being a 21st century pop album, he's not the only collaborator or songwriter on board. Longtime Hill producer Byron Gallimore once again produces the great majority of the album, and he's as instrumental in steering Hill back toward the country-pop mainstream as he was in pushing her toward the pop mainstream, helping her deliver a set of strong, professionally crafted songs, highlighted by three selections from acclaimed singer/songwriter Lori McKenna. While it's hard not to wish that Hill had a few more loose, funny numbers like "Dearly Beloved" -- a kissing cousin to the Dixie Chicks' "White Trash Wedding" that's not only the purest dose of fun here, it's also the purest dose of country, too -- this is a good straight-ahead mainstream country album, aiming squarely at the middle of the road and hitting its target perfectly. The songs are solid and square, sounding comfortably familiar on the first listen and growing more memorable with repeated plays, Hill never oversings, and the entire affair is perfectly likable and pleasant -- the kind of thing that will shore up her support after the shaky Cry, even if it breaks no new ground. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


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 2005 CMA Awards: Hosted by Brooks &
2005 CMA Awards: Hosted by Brooks &

Country is taking over the Big Apple, and CMT.com will be on hand for all the excitement. Get complete coverage.

 New York City Goes Crazy for Willie Nels
New York City Goes Crazy for Willie Nels

NEW YORK -- Everything started off smoothly at Willie Nelson's Wednesday night (Nov. 16) concert at the beautiful Beacon Theater in New York City. When he walked on stage at a quarter past 9, you could see the silhouette of a father in the audience holding his child in the air, and then look down and notice the grizzled hippies in the seat in front of you lighting up a doobie. If anything can unite a diverse city like New York, from teenagers to grandparents, it's Willie and his guitar. From the instant that the gigantic Texas state flag unfurled behind him -- and that's pretty much the extent of his production value -- the red-headed stranger seemed more like a much-loved friend to the eclectic crowd. He kicked things off with "Whiskey River" (of course), and then followed with "Still Is Still Moving to Me." On the third song, when he sang the lyric, "Whiskey for my men," the crowd enthusiastically shouted back, "Beer for my horses!" Who says there are no country fans in Manhattan? Nelson then transitioned into the earliest days of his career, crooning "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Crazy" and "Night Life." For whatever reason, a fight had broken out on the left side of the theater, with security guards scrambling and ticket holders stretching their necks, but I couldn't see what had happened. Beaming with that famous grin onstage, Nelson didn't seem to notice, and if he did, he might have just chalked it up to the power of honky-tonk music, no matter how gorgeous the venue. Sitting toward the back of the theater, the bubbly crowd scene resembled the carnival game Whack-a-Mole, with excitable fans randomly popping up out of their seats to scream or cheer or pump their fists in the air. It could be in the first few notes, right in the middle or just at the end of the song. It didn't matter. They'd be up for a few seconds, then drop, just as two or three others would hop up. This happened all night long, from "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" and "Georgia on My Mind," from "Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground" to "Always on My Mind," and on and on. Of course, everybody leapt to their feet on classics like "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," and it looked just like a revival during "I'll Fly Away," with everybody singing along and happy folks actually dancing in the aisles. And by this point, he was only 45 minutes into his set! The, uh, relaxed guys in the row ahead rallied enough to stand during his reggae tune, "The Harder They Come," which then led to "Good Hearted Woman" and a string of Hank Williams covers. Then he offered the American classic, "You Don't Know Me," which came as somewhat of a surprise until he told the crowd that he'd be releasing an album of songs by Cindy Walker (a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame) in January. He also tried out a self-deprecating song called "I Ain't Superman," which he said he wrote during a three-week illness. He must have fully recovered because he seemed as spry as a man half his age, not even slowing down enough to tune his guitar. Toward the end of the evening, country fans were treated to "I Saw the Light," "Til I Gain Control Again," "City of New Orleans" and "To All the Girls I've Loved Before." Who else could get away with this? Considering the pace which Nelson delivers albums, this pair of concerts (he also played there on Thursday night) would make a memorable and thoroughly engaging live album -- especially perfect for a party. And if somebody were to quibble about a "country & western" star like Nelson on the stereo system, you probably wouldn't want them at your party anyway. Opening act Ryan Adams could never be accused of chasing the spotlight. In fact, you could hardly see him on stage, what with only a few stage lights illuminating him and his new band, the Cardinals. With barely any stage banter at all, the current Manhattan resident led the way through "Shakedown on 9th Street," "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)" and "Please Do Not Let Me Go" before delving into his latest album, Jacksonville City Nights, for "A Kiss Before I Go" and "The End." But the end actually arrived with a pedal steel-heavy rendition of "16 Days," a song from Adams' time in the pioneering alt.country band, Whiskeytown. After the final note rang out, he told the audience, "I wrote that song under the influence of much whiskey and Willie Nelson, so I thought I'd do it for you." Then he put down his guitar and walked off the stage. His time was short (no "New York, New York" encore -- even in New York), but when he emphasized his distinct country leanings and his stunning heartbroken lyrics, every minute mattered.


 ShaniaTwain Receives Canada's Highest Ho
ShaniaTwain Receives Canada's Highest Ho

Shania Twain accepted the Order of Canada -- that nation's highest honor for lifetime achievement -- on Friday (Nov. 1 in Ottawa. The citation read in part: "Today, she enjoys enormous success, yet she remains true to her roots. Dedicated to eliminating child hunger, she supports a number of food distribution agencies like food banks and breakfast programs in schools. From small-town Ontario to the pinnacle of the entertainment industry, her journey has inspired countless other emerging musicians."

 Reba No 1
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 Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood

The Newest American Idol Of the Country Music Carrie Underwood was born March 10, 1983. Her family already owned the farm in Checotah, Okla., though Underwood was born in the next town over, the one made famous in Merle Haggard's song, "Okie From Muskogee." Her father, Stephen, worked at a What are the names of the Duke boys? Bo & Luke Bo & Joe Bo & John paper mill, and her mother, Carole, was an elementary school teacher. Underwood is the youngest of three sisters. Shanna is 13 years older and Stephanie is 10 years older. Underwood was just 4 years old when Shanna moved out on her own but says her siblings have always been there for her. Music didn't run in the family, but Underwood started singing at church when she was 3. Once she was in school, she sang solo roles in student plays. By the seventh grade, people were taking more notice of her voice as she entered local talent shows. She was told she had a "big voice" for "such a little girl." Her taste in music was varied, thanks to her parents (who liked oldies) and sisters (who favored '80s pop). She started listening to country music in the car. She was involved in her high school music program, but she kept telling people she was going to become a famous singer. Then she enrolled at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., and became more serious about her career choice. She chose broadcast journalism for her major and produced a student-run television program and wrote for the school paper, The Northeastern. Music wasn't completely out of the picture. While in college, she had a role in a country music show where she learned about country legends like Patsy Cline and the Carter Family. She was still taking her college classes when friends encouraged her to audition for American Idol. At first, she resisted. However, she soon realized if she didn't audition, she would graduate, get a job and may never have a chance to try out for the show again. So one night after wrapping an appearance in the college country music show, she piled into the car with her mom, a friend and her mother and drove all night, arriving in St. Louis at 6 a.m. They had to be at the stadium by 8 a.m. to receive wristbands to be eligible for the auditions. Then she waited eight hours before singing Martina McBride's "Phones Are Ringing All Over Town" for American Idol supervising producer James Breen. Underwood didn't think she sang it well although she was invited to come back the next day and sing for executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. She sang another McBride song for Lythgoe, "Independence Day." On the next round, Underwood sang Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" for the show's judges, who sent her to Hollywood on her first-ever airline flight. As the weeks went by, the other contestants were voted off the show one by one, until the finale on May 25, 2005, when it was Underwood vs. Bo Bice. When Ryan Seacrest announced the winner, Underwood became America's new idol. She signed to 19 Recordings/Arista Records and released the single "Inside Your Heaven", which debuted as the best selling song in the nation with sales of 170,000. She broke Billboard chart history as the first country music artist ever to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven" also became the first song from a country artist to go to No. 1 on the Hot 100 since Lonestar's "Amazed" did so in 2000. However, the single was scarcely played on country radio. Following her win, she performed on the American Idol tour and signed advertising deals for Hershey's chocolate and Skechers shoes. She released the single "Jesus, Take the Wheel" to country radio later that year; her debut album Some Hearts followed in November, less than six months following her Idol win.


 Country's Greatest Greatest Hits of 2005
Country's Greatest Greatest Hits of 2005

Most of the country artists listed below are already in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Spend some time with these superb career compilations from 2005 and you'll soon understand why. The Legend of Johnny Cash (Universal/Sony BMG) This isn't the most comprehensive Cash collection on the market, but it's an ideal disc for people who only know the Man in Black through "Hurt," and, now, the Walk the Line film. It's missing a few early hits, like "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" but doesn't shy away from his daring comeback work on the American Recordings label. Nearly every rock show I attended in 2005 included a cover of "Ring of Fire," but no one can touch the original. Keep on the Sunny Side: June Carter Cash -- Her Life in Music (Columbia/Legacy) This gifted comedienne has finally been given the serious retrospective she deserves. Unearthing so many rarities must have been an enormous chore, but the music on this double-disc package is truly enlightening. (It covers 64 years of singing!) It's worth savoring the beautiful packaging, amazing photos and heartfelt liner notes, too. Keeping on the sunny side is certainly a fine New Year's resolution for all of us. The Very Best of Rosanne Cash (Columbia/Legacy) Although not sequenced in chronological order, the songs here represent Cash's finest musical moments -- from the country hits of the '80s ("Seven Year Ache"), the soul-searching of the '90s ("The Wheel") and even 2003's stunning duet with her father, "September When It Comes." An extremely satisfying set for fans of smart singer-songwriters. The Very Best of Emmylou Harris: Heartaches & Highways (Rhino/Warner) Assembled with Harris' blessing and handpicked track listing, this single disc covers a lot of ground. From "Love Hurts" (with Gram Parsons) to "Orphan Girl" (written by Gillian Welch), her heartaches and highways trace a fascinating path. In addition, she graciously includes two signature non-hits: "Boulder to Birmingham" and "Pancho and Lefty." The new song, "The Connection," is nominated for a Grammy. Loretta Lynn, The Definitive Collection (MCA Nashville) If you can recite lines to the film, Coal Miner's Daughter, you owe it to yourself to pick up this set. Taken from the mid-1960s throughout the 1970s, these 25 successful singles reveal why Lynn will always remain a pioneering songwriter (she's a tough-talker) and a lively personality ("The Pill," "You're Looking at Country"). It's hard to fathom that any artist will ever remake these hits because most of them are pretty much perfect already. Reba McEntire, Reba #1s (MCA Nashville) One of the most popular singers of the 1980s and 1990s in any style of music, McEntire refuses to slow down. Not all of her singles reached No. 1 (no "Fancy" here), but you can't deny that she can pick a hit, from "How Blue" to "You Lie" to "I'm a Survivor." Until the release of a boxed set -- now there's a Christmas wish -- this collection provides an eye-opening and thoroughly enjoyable look at this superstar's success so far. The Essential Dolly Parton (RCA/Legacy) Essential, definitely. For fans of traditional Dolly, the first disc contains "Coat of Many Colors," "Joshua," "Jolene" and so on. For those who prefer the contemporary, disc two offers "Here You Come Again," "9 to 5," "Islands in the Stream" and many more. Blessed with a winning personality, staggering talent and a desire to compete, it's no wonder she remains a hero to singers, songwriters and celebrities everywhere. The Essential Marty Robbins (Columbia/Legacy) It's about time for a Marty Robbins revival. But until he crops up on a hipster soundtrack, this retrospective will serve you well. Though he's best known for his Western-tinged epic narrative, "El Paso" (which he wrote), this collection covers all of his most popular singles throughout his 30-year career, including the tantalizing "Devil Woman," the swooning "Don't Worry" and dozens more. Hollywood music scouts, are you listening?


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 Phoenix, Witherspoon Nominated for Oscar
Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were nominated for Oscars on Tuesday morning (Jan. 31) as best actor and best actress for their roles as Johnny Cash and June Carter in Walk the Line. However, the film was not nominated for best picture. The Oscars will be presented March 5 in Los Angeles. The film won three Golden Globes on Jan. 16. Witherspoon accepted a Screen Actors Guild award for best actress on Sunday (Jan. 29). The film was also nominated for achievement in costume design, film editing and sound mixing.

 Cartoon Harry
Cartoon Harry

Thecountryfreak Cartoon Harry

 Atlantis
Atlantis

Thecountryfreak ATLANTIS-ALGEMEEN

 EemsCreek
What is "COUNTRY"
Country has a reputation for being simple, homespun music, defined by twangy vocals, moaning steel-guitars and lyrics about dogs, trucks, death, prison-bars and tears in one's beer. But in reality, country covers a surprisingly large amount of territory. Everything from Gene Autry's cowboy music to Bill Monroe's blue grass, from Hank Williams' honky tonk songs to the slick pop stylings of Faith Hill. It's based in old time rural folk songs, some of which date back centuries, but as a genre it came into being during the early 1920's , when both radio and commercial recordings allowed regional artists to suddenly reach thousends, even millions, of new listeners. That rural connection remains vital even today, keeping country distinct from its pop-music cousins. These days country's got rock, soul, maybe a touch of jazz, and plenty of the blues, but when you're pining for a lost love or yeurning for the smell of a mountain breeze ( or mama's cooking ) , there's nothing like a good countrysong to bring you back home....

Thecountryfreak EemsCreek

 WYNONNA
Don't miss even one exciting episode! Watch Nashville Star every TUESDAY at 10pm ET on USA Network!

 March 13, 2006 Wynonna Maps Out Career P
Wynonna visited CNN's Larry King on March 10, in one of her most healthy and honest discussions about her life and the plans she has for her future. The phone lines lit up as Wynonna calmly and passionately led Larry King down her exciting path of life. A radiant Judd explained the need for mentors and a support group in life, her plan to stick to the American Diabetes Association's "Diabetes Diet" and the future of country music on USA Network's much-buzzed-about show, Nashville Star (debuting Tuesday, March 14 at 10 pm ET). An hour of no-holds barred questions and answers, Wynonna set the record straight on the plans she has to stay healthy, the little ways she finds love in her life from spending more healthy time with the kids and her husband to simply setting 3-4 daily goals (affirmations) to find joy in her life. In particular, Wynonna mentioned that she is intending to start a clothing line for women. In fact, she is in discussions now to develop clothing which will be designed to make EVERY WOMAN feel beautiful. Keep checking in with us over the next several weeks to find out more about this very special and unique career plan Wynonna is creating. In the end, the beloved music superstar simply stated that she wants to connect. It's important to stay connected. We want you to stay connected with us, we will stay connected with you. In this fast-paced world, it's nice to have someone to stand with. Wynonna stands with you. And if Anderson Cooper and Larry King didn't get your motors running for the amazing talent of this woman, tune in to this season of Nashville Star. Perhaps you will be reminded of the amazing star power this woman radiates. Perhaps you will meet her for the first time. Regardless, something really special is happening with Wynonna. And mixed with 10 amazingly talented new country music stars and Cowboy Troy...every one of the eight shows of Nashville Star is a CAN'T MISS. It will be THE WATERCOOLER SHOW women and men across the country will be talking about the next day. And the next generation of country music superstar will be born during the process. As she indicated, WATCH OUT AMERICA. Exciting things are happening, and we hope you will stay in tune with Wynonna's story here at Wynonna.com. For more on Nashville Star, simply visit USA Network! For more on Wynonna, keep your dial tuned in with us! Click Larry King Live to read a full transcript of the show. Join Wynonna's mailing list for up-to-date information about all of Wynonna's exciting plans! Visit Wynonna at From The Front Porch to learn more about references from her recent television appearances.


 Bruce Springsteen Goes Country
Bruce Springsteen Goes Country

This legendary rocker assembles his latest work, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, around country fiddle, banjo and Tejano accordion. Log on to hear his new roots-country direction.

 Shania Twain Up! Live in Chicago
Shania Twain Up! Live in Chicago

Shania Twain Up! Live in Chicago Show Time Sun., Jun. 4 3:00 PM ET/PT Remind Me TV Schedule CMT is putting you in the front row for a great night of entertainment with country superstar Shania Twain. Shania Twain Up! Live In Chicago was filmed in Chicago's Grant Park in front of over...
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 Pure Country
Pure Country


 Wynonna, Ashley Judd, WNBA to Support Yo
Wynonna and Ashley Judd will partner with the Washington Mystics on July 27 in observance of the WNBA team's YouthAIDS Day. The famous sisters are both ambassadors for the organization that uses media and pop culture to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Wynonna will perform a free concert after the Mystics' game against the Chicago Sky at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. The Mystics are giving away 1,000 game tickets to youth and their families, in addition to sponsoring an afternoon forum about HIV/AIDS.

 Freddy Fender Battling Lung Cancer
Freddy Fender Battling Lung Cancer

Freddy Fender is resting at his home near Corpus Christi, Texas, after doctors found more tumors on his lungs. Diagnosed with two cancerous tumors in January, a recent scan discovered nine more. Fender, 69, has canceled all performances. Fender first found national success in 1960 when his original recording of "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" became a pop hit. As a country artist, his 1975 single, "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," won a CMA award for single of the year. His other No. 1 hits include "Secret Love" and "You'll Lose a Good Thing" and an updated version of "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights." He has also won three Grammys in the Latin category. In a story published Wednesday (Aug. 2) in Corpus Christi's Caller-Times newspaper Fender said, "I feel very comfortable in my life. I'm one year away from 70, and I've had a good run. I really believe I'm OK. In my mind and in my heart, I feel OK. I cannot complain that I haven't lived long enough, but I'd like to live longer."

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 Wynonna Judd
Wynonna first came into prominence as part of the legendary mother-daughter duo, The Judds, in 1984 and has been critically lauded as one of the finest vocalists of our time. In September, Wynonna will release her first autobiography, Coming Home to Myself, as well as the musical journey of her life on a double-live CD/DVD entitled Her Story: Scenes from a Lifetime. These packages spotlight her incomparable artistry and firmly establish her as a music trendsetter and world-renowned entertainer. 2005 has been a landmark year for the diverse music icon. She has appeared on the covers of Ladies Home Journal (February) and Good Housekeeping (September). She also tried her hand at comedy on ABC's hit sitcom, Hope and Faith. Wynonna was also honored with the USO's prestigious Merit Award for service to all divisions of the United States Armed Forces. She christened the new Wynn Resort and Casino at a posh party sponsored by InStyle Magazine for YouthAIDS, rocked the house with BB King in New York in June and graced the stage of the historic Apollo Theatre in Harlem with the Wynton Marsalis Quintent. Celebrating twenty-one milestone years as a music icon with 20 #1 hits and a third solo cd to debut at the #1 spot on the charts, Wynonna continues to blaze trails with her compassionate artistry, humanitarian endeavors and unprecedented success. Wynonna recently shared the gift of her voice with the world on her #1 studio album, What the World Needs Now is Love. While capturing the hearts of fans, the album has also caught the eye of critics. Rolling Stone proclaimed, "Ms. Judd appears just when we need her...tender enough to let a little humor into the tune and tough enough to shut down a biker bar," while The New York Post raved, "Judd has risen... and created the best album of her career!" The Judds became one of the most celebrated success stories in country music history. In just six short years, they had sold more than twenty million records worldwide and had won over sixty industry awards including five Grammys, nine Country Music Association Awards and eight Billboard Music Awards. In 2002, Wynonna and Naomi were named two of the "40 Greatest Women of Country Music" by CMT. The Judds are universally loved and still regarded as country music royalty for music fans around the globe. Wynonna signed her first solo record deal in 1992. With vast critical acclaim, Wynonna, selling over five million units, became the highest-selling debut album by a female artist at the time. A musical force like none other before her, Wynonna followed her wildly successful debut with the multi-platinum disc, Tell Me Why, as well as with the platinum-certified Revelations. Her greatest hits compilation, Collection, was released in 1997, the year which also found her gold record, The Other Side, flying from the shelves. Wynonna burst into 2000 with a torrent of unleashed creativity that is expressed on New Day Dawning, her fifth solo outing which she also produced. What the World Needs Now Is Love debuted impressively at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. For the first time in her illustrious career, Wynonna also had a certified smash at Adult-Contemporary and Dance radio, according to Billboard Magazine. "I Want to Know What Love Is" was her most successful outing ever on the Billboard Adult Contemporary and Dance/Rhythmic Charts as a Top 12 hit in both formats. In 2004, Wynonna performed in tribute to her friend Sting at the MusiCares Person of the Year Gala with an awe-inspiring performance of "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You." Wy was featured three differnt times on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004 as well as a career spotlight on The Today Show and as one of the highest rated episodes of the benchmark CMT series, Crossroads, with Heart. Wynonna performed at The White House and The Pentagon at two separate events in May 2004 and was recently presented with the Connie B. Gay Award, one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Country Music Association. Nominated for the 2003 Academy of Country Music's Humanitarian of the Year Award, she is an active participant in many fund raising campaigns including serving as Domestic Ambassador for YouthAIDS, the national Asthma Action America Campaign and as an active volunteer with the American Red Cross. Over the last year alone Wynonna has single-handedly raised over $1 million for charity. A world-renowned vocalist and entertainer, Wynonna has accumulated sales totals as a solo artist in excess of nine million units, a top Female Vocalist win by the Academy of Country Music and thirteen top ten hits on the charts. Respected by the millions of fans who are drawn to her music, Wynonna's luminous career has certainly grown to levels once thought unimaginable. Innovative, inspired and imaginative, this phenomenal twenty-one year veteran is about to change the rules all over again. With a long-awaited book project, singles to multiple formats and several network appearances in the works, Wynonna will continue to shake up the musical landscape as she blasts into her third decade of consummate victory! Wynonna's List of TWENTY #1 Hits (as certified by Billboard): Mama He's Crazy Why Not Me Girls Night Out Love is Alive Have Mercy Grandpa Rockin With the Rhythm Cry Myself to Sleep I Know Where I'm Going Maybe Your Baby's Got the Blues Turn it Loose Change of Heart Young Love Let Me Tell You About Love She Is His Only Need I Saw the Light No One Else on Earth My Strongest Weakness Only Love To Be Loved by You A Year By Year Glance of Wynonna's Career Milestones! 1984 - First professional gig-in March 1984 in Omaha, Nebraska. First #1 hit with "Mama He's Crazy" as part of the duo The Judds in August 1984. They also received the coveted CMA Horizon Award. By year end, the amazing duo had their second #1 hit with "Why Not Me." They also received their first Grammy award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. 1985 - The Judds celebrated their first double platinum album with "Why Not Me." The Judds received their first two Academy of Country Music awards for Top Vocal Duet and Song of the Year for "Why Not Me" and their second Grammy. They also won their first four Billboard awards for Top Country Singles Duo, Top Country Albums Duo, Top New Country Artists - Albums, Top New Country Artists - Singles. They didn't stop there, but also went on to receive their first two Country Music Association awards for Vocal Group of the Year and Single of the Year, "Why Not Me". They chalked up 3 more #1 records with "Girls Night Out," "Love is Alive" and "Have Mercy." They also performed 260 dates on the road in 1985! 1986- The Judds celebrated 2 more #1 songs with hits, "Grandpa" and "Rockin' with the Rhythm," and went on to collect their third Grammy in three short years, three more Billboard awards and awards at both the Academy of Country Music Association and Country Music Association. They also performed around the world and made their debut appearance at Radio City Music Hall. 1987 - The Judds received their first two American Music Awards for Favorite Country Video and Favorite Country Single for the song "Grandpa." They celebrated success at radio with 3 more #1 hits, "Cry Myself to Sleep," "I Know Where I'm Going" and "Maybe Your Baby's Got the Blues." In their fourth year, they were honored with their fourth platinum album. 1988 - The Judds released their first Greatest Hits Album in their career, their second album to be certified multi-platinum, and celebrated the success of their 11th #1 hit, "Turn it Loose." They also reigned supreme at the Grammy Awards, collecting their fourth Grammy Award. 1989 - The Judds scored their first CBS television special in January. Their seventh studio album "River of Time" was released. In just 5 short years, The Judds celebrated with their 14th #1 hit, "Let Me Tell You about Love." 1990 - The Judds surprised the world when Naomi Judd was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and with that came the realization that they would have to retire as the reining duo, The Judds. They also created the world's first 3-D music video for their fifth music video, "Love Can Build a Bridge." They were honored as the Top Vocal Duet by the Academy of Country Music, Vocal Duo of the Year by the Country Music Association and #5 Top Artists of the Decade by Billboard. 1991 -The Judds were the top touring act in any genre this year, performing in over 116 cities. In December, the two joined voices for "The Final Concert" which was the highest rated pay-per-view special of all time. They also celebrated their unprecedented 8th consecutive win for Country Duo at the CMA Awards. In eight short years, they had collected over 60 industry awards, including their fifth Grammy, 6 platinum albums, four gold albums (over 20 million albums sold in all) and were honored with two platinum and three gold video awards. 1992 - Released her first solo album, "Wynonna" - the largest selling country album by a female country artist at that time. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country Charts and went on to be certified with sales in excess of 5 million units. This same year she celebrated 4 #1 singles from the album as well, bringing her overall shared total to 18 #1 hits in 9 years. 1993 - Wynonna hosted the American Music Awards, performed for the Pope and released her second multi-platinum solo #1 album, "Tell Me Why" and celebrated her fifth solo #1 single with "Only Love." She also recorded and released her first solo duet with Country Superstar Clint Black, "A Bad Goodbye." 1994 - Named by the Academy of Country Music as Country Music's Top Female Vocalist, Wynonna performed at the Grammy Awards and at the Superbowl. 1995 - Wynonna was a guest on the first annual VH1 Honors Show (a precursor to the VH1 "Divas" series), was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show and was featured in an NBC Miniseries in May. 1996 - Wynonna was one of the Top 10 grossing tours of the year. "To Be Loved by You" was released from her platinum album entitled "Revelations." The song peaked at #1 on both the Billboard and Radio and Records charts, raising her overall total to 20 #1 hits (6 as a solo artist). Wynonna also landed in her first solo television special on CBS. 1997 - Wynonna released two albums, a Greatest Hits package entitled "Collection" and a fourth studio album entitled "The Other Side." She also made her first appearance on "Sesame Street." 1998 - Wynonna lended her voice for the "Prince of Egypt" soundtrack with the song, "Freedom." She also co-headlined "The Voices" tour with Michael Bolton, sang at the Daytona 500 and chaired a celebrity auction for the American Liver Foundation with her family. 1999 - Wynonna marked her acting debut on the hit television show, "Touched by an Angel," marking her first of three featured appearances on the show. Her first appearance in 1999 (Psalm 151) was voted as the series favorite by voters as www.cbs.com. At the dawn of the millennium, Wynonna celebrated one of the nation's premiere entertainment events by reuniting with her mother in Phoenix for The Judds Reunion Concert. It was spotlighted by cover stories in USA Today and papers around the globe. 2000 - Wynonna was the national spokesperson for the Power to Change Program, sponsored by Kmart and Ladies Home Journal. She was also the celebrity spokesperson for the Kmart Corporation and was featured in three commercials for the retail giant. Wynonna and her mother were featured in a third CBS primetime special. She also performed in the highly acclaimed series for MTV, "Music in High Places," where she performed acoustically throughout Italy. 2001 -Wynonna co-wrote, produced and recorded her first major motion picture soundtrack song, "You Are," for the 20th Century Fox film, "Someone Like You," featuring her sister, actress Ashley Judd. She also made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry in September and sang duets with Huey Lewis and Kelly Price. She also performed twice for President Bush, making him the fourth sitting United States President for whom she had performed. 2002 - As part of the amazing Superbowl festivities, Wynonna performed to a worldwide audience of over one billion people. She also sang at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City, sang at Carnegie Hall for the first time and celebrated platinum soundtrack album success with her involvement in the Disney film "Lilo and Stitch" with her hip rendition of Elvis' "Burnin' Love." She was the cornerstone of all marketing efforts for the Disney's company launch of the film and was spotlighted in a primetime ABC special celebrating its release. 2003 - Wynonna returned to the music charts with her fourteenth solo Top 20 hit, "What the World Needs." She also released her sixth solo album, "What the World Needs Now is Love" where it debuted at the coveted #1 position on the Country Album charts. It was her first trip to #1 in over a decade, her third solo album to do so. She was also the first country artist to serve as Grand Marshall for the Indy 500 Festival and Race. 2004 - Wynonna released her new single, "Flies on the Butter," to country radio. This is her 42nd commercial release in 20 years. Wynonna and D.R. Roach are featured in ABC's primetime special, InStyle Celebrity Weddings in January. She also honors friend Sting at the MusiCares 2004 Person of the Year gala with a special musical tribute. She graces the cover of Good Housekeeping in September, appears on The Oprah Winfrey Show three times and is featured on the smash hit CMT show, Crossroads, with she-roes-Heart. 2005 - Wynonna appears on Good Morning America as part of their tribute, Songs for Tsunami as well as on the cover of Ladies Home Journal in February. She tries her hand at comedy on the hit ABC show, Hope and Faith. Wynonna is also honored with the USO's prestigious Merit Award, is nominated for a Dove Award for "Rescue Me," performs at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem with Wynton Marsalis, performs in New York City with B.B. King and releases her autobiography and musical journey on cd/dvd in September.

Thecountryfreak WYNONNA JUDD

 Wynonna to Release New Music, Book, Sing
Wynonna will release a live CD, DVD and her autobiography on Sept. 27. The CD and DVD, Her Story: Scenes From a Lifetime, will be packaged separately. Her book, Coming Home to Myself, was co-written with Patsi Bale Cox and will be published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Books. Wynonna will also release a new single, titled "Attitude," to country radio on Sept. 27. She co-wrote the song with Big & Rich's John Rich.

 Gretchen Wilson
The moment Gretchen Wilson set foot on the stage she felt as though she was having an out-of-body experience, but it was when she stepped into the infamous circle where Patsy Cline had stood years before that she really felt like she "was floating around the room," watching the unforgettable experience unfold. "It wasn't even real," she remembers. "It was like I wasn't even in my own skin. It was so completely dead silent in there that you could almost hear yourself breathing." Though it was barely more than a whisper, Gretchen inherently found herself singing "If You've Got Leaving On Your Mind." She couldn't help herself and singing that particular song seemed like the natural thing to do. "I felt like I had an audience in there," she recalls. "It was really weird. It was totally empty and nothing but wood pews. It was like I was singing to a room full of ghosts." It goes without saying that Gretchen won't ever forget the chilly November night last year when she stood on the stage of the historic Ryman Auditorium - if only for a matter of minutes - but at that moment she was living out a fantasy. "We were flying," she explains. "It was one of those things where you wake up the next day and it's just like, 'did I dream that? Did that really happen?'" Much like Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz, it was as if the Illinois native had clicked her heels together. Rather than not being in Kansas anymore, she was the furthest she'd ever been from her own childhood back in Bond County. Born and raised in rural Pocahontas - located 36 miles due east of St. Louis along Interstate 70, where numerous trailer parks are clustered among corn fields and pig farms - life in the '70s and '80s resembled anything but a dream for Gretchen. Well, I ain't never been the Barbie doll type/ no, I can't swig that sweet Champagne, I'd rather drink beer all night/ in a tavern or in a honky tonk or on a four-wheel drive tailgate/ I've got posters on my wall of Skynyrd, Kid and Strait Her mother was merely 16 years old when she had Gretchen, and her father, unfortunately, had moved on with his life by the time she was two. In a town, population 727, where a woman is lucky to work as a waitress in a greasy spoon diner like the Powhatan Restaurant, the common gathering point where Pokey Road intersects I-70. Across the parking lot from the restaurant sits the 12-room single-story Powhatan Motel. Its only competitors - Tahoe Motel and Lighthouse Lodge - sit across the way, as does Denny's Auto Service, T/G Antique Mall and Jackie's Country Store Gifts. Other than that, exit 36 doesn't offer much to the casual passersby - "It's basic, but it's real. It's me" - and even the locals, at times, are hard to come by, but it's a place where everyone seems to know one another. More importantly, they not only know you by name, but they also know your kinfolk as well as all your business. "I wish I could say I've traveled more than I have," says Gretchen, "but I pretty much stayed in one region and I'm sure there are a lot of places like it. To me it just seems so normal around there. It's my home. It's where I grew up. The faces around there look like my kind of people. I look at faces in other parts of the country and I don't get it right off the bat, but I look at anybody up there and it just looks like home." Some people look down on me, but I don't give a rip/ I'll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip/ 'cause I'm a redneck woman/ I ain't no high class broad/ I'm just a product of my raising/ I say, 'hey ya'll' and 'yee-haw'/ and I keep my Christmas lights on/ on my front porch all year long/ and I know all the words to every Charlie Daniels song/ so here's to all my sisters out there keeping it country/ let me get a big 'hell yeah' from the redneck girls like me, hell yeah As one could only imagine, being the daughter of a teenage mother - "my mom made a lot of mistakes, but she was young" - life was stressful, to say the least. Whenever they couldn't "make rent," which was every few months, they packed up what little belongings they owned - "there were times we only had a little bit and times we didn't have anything, but she always made sure that we had love" - and moved on down the road only to find yet another trailer. The steady course for Gretchen and her younger brother Josh, however, were their grandparents, the late Vernon and Frances Heuer. Vernon, an Army veteran, was a crotchety old man who lost a leg in World War II. A product of the Depression Era, he obviously "didn't trust banks much" and so he sacked away his earnings in a "mason jar that he kept buried in the backyard." Frances, on the other hand, was a peaceful woman. She loved her kids; she loved her grandchildren and, in spite of Vernon's mean spirit, she loved her husband. And, truth be told, he loved her. "My grandma was the mainstay," says Gretchen, pausing to collect her thoughts. "She was the rock. When everything was going crazy and falling apart and we were moving around, my grandma had her head on straight. She lived a rough life and really never had anything, but she always had love for everybody. It was just a real comfortable place to be." With Gretchen taking care of her brother since she was 10, grandma's house was definitely more comforting than Big O's, a rough-and-tumble kicker bar five miles outside of town, set in a cornfield clearing alongside Rural Route 127. With only an eighth grade education, Gretchen was cooking and tending bar alongside her mom at the age of 14. By the time she was 15 and living on her own, she was managing the roughneck joint with a loaded 12-guage double-barrel shotgun stashed behind the bar for protection. Victoria's Secret, well their stuff's real nice/ but I can buy the same damn thing on a Wal-Mart shelf half price/ and still look sexy, just as sexy as those models on TV/ I don't need no designer tag to make my man want me/ well, you might think I'm trashy, a little too hardcore/ but in my neck of the woods I'm just the girl next door Living a life like that, it's no wonder Gretchen was influenced by singers like Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn and, of course, Patsy Cline. "I could feel the pain," she says, "and I could only imagine what it was like to have an abusive husband and all the different things that she sang about." A good many summer afternoons not spent outside playing with her brother and Uncle Vern "doing what kids do" were spent sitting on her grandma's bedroom floor with a record player, listening to Patsy sing "Crazy." If it was her grandma that impacted her musical influence, it was the dad she never really knew who provided her with the musical talent to sing. "My dad just picked around on the guitar and has a quiet voice," says Gretchen, who made it a point to meet him for the first time when she was 12. "His family, I'm told, had a little traveling band. I think it was a gospel band." In any case, from an early age Gretchen could sing, and she did so with no formal training to speak of. While most singers talk of singing in the church choir, as a child Gretchen's early experiences were mostly spent entertaining what many would consider a tougher crowd. Long before Karaoke machines, she got up on stage every night at Big O's with a microphone and sang along to various CDs for tips. After all, the extra $20 would really come in handy when it came time to put food on the table. I'm a redneck woman/ I ain't no high class broad/ I'm just a product of my raising/ I say, 'hey y'all' and 'yee-haw'/ and I keep my Christmas lights on/ on my front porch all year long/ and I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song/ so here's to all my sisters out there keeping it country/ let me get a big 'hell yeah' from the redneck girls like me, hell yeah Before long, singing to CDs was a thing of the past and so was serving drinks. Gretchen found herself fronting a cover band and for the first time she felt like maybe there was a life for her outside Bond County. "Each man creates his own destiny," she believes. "It's up to you what you're going to do with your life. It's not up to anybody else." Taking control of her own destiny, if you will, Gretchen had bigger plans than spending the rest of her life singing in a cover band. She had a goal of some day moving to Nashville. Gretchen's unceremonious arrival in Nashville was in 1996; she puts it in such a matter-of-fact way: "it became apparent to me really fast that I wasn't going to be able to make a living and pay my bills playing on Broadway." Somewhat discouraged after a brief encounter with a local musician, whom she happened to recognize at a Nashville music shop, she thought long and hard about how to go about realizing her dream. "I looked at him," she recalls, "and said, 'I'm brand new to town. What's my first step? How do I do this?' He pretty much laughed at me and said something that didn't make sense. He said, 'well, you have to create a buzz.' I thought, 'what the hell good does that do me?'" It would take her four long years to figure out what he meant and, in the meantime, she did the one thing she knew how to do in order to make ends meet: she got a job slinging drinks down in Printers Alley at the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar. It may not have been the start she envisioned, but it sure beat the alternative - packing up and moving back home. A few years later Gretchen still had no luck at all in terms of getting a record deal. Now a mother with a beautiful daughter named Grace Frances Penner - "one of my biggest regrets is that my grandma never got to see my little girl" - life was about to change one Friday night when Big Kenny and John Rich walked into the bar. They were there to "have a few cocktails" and thus got to hear Gretchen belt out a couple of tunes with the house band. "John followed me up to my little cubby hole bar upstairs with his trench coat and cowboy hat and I think his exact words were, 'hey, how come you ain't got a record deal yet?' I looked at him in disgust& threw him a business card and a little homemade demo and said, 'I'm busy. I'm working right now.'" For months John tried getting in touch with her and for months Gretchen ignored his calls until someone finally said, "Look, you should really return his call. He might be able to help you out." Oh, John helped her out all right. He not only introduced her to his circle of friends - "they started to use me singing on some demos" - but he also taught her how the Nashville songwriting community really works, "how they write, break for lunch and then come back and how they come up with ideas and how to contribute to a songwriting session." Gretchen also became a member of the Muzik Mafia, a loose-knit group of singers, songwriters and musicians who get together to jam (and party) every Tuesday in a local Nashville nightspot. It was in front of her peers - very honest peers - that she honed her songwriting style. I'm a redneck woman/ I ain't no high class broad/ I'm just a product of my raising/ I say, 'hey y'all' and 'yee-haw'/ and I keep my Christmas lights on/ on my front porch all year long/ and I know all the words to every ol' Bocephus song/ so here's to all my sisters out there keeping it country/ let me get a big 'hell yeah' from the redneck girls like me, hell yeah/ hell yeah, hell yeah/ hell yeah/ I said hell yeah! Having become quite the songsmith, Gretchen has written or co-written upwards of 80 tunes, some of which she's penned with John. "We have almost that kind of brother-sister relationship," she explains. "When we sit down to write a song it almost takes on a life of its own. I guess he just knows me so well that it's almost like I'm writing with myself. He knows who I am and what I want to say." As one would expect, she has a lot to say about the life she's lived. In fact, not since Loretta Lynn and perhaps Dolly Parton has a female artist in country music been so brutally honest in song about her own lifestyle and the people around her. "What I'm doing has definitely been done before, it just hasn't been done in a long time," Gretchen says. "It's not perfect and it's not glamorous." "I had to struggle here," she continues, "and all the people who did turn me down and the all the things that happened, it couldn't have worked out more perfectly." She signed with Sony Music Nashville and its newly-appointed label head, John Grady, is adamant that Gretchen be portrayed as she is. "It would be hard for me to be more excited about a new artist than I am about Gretchen Wilson," says Grady. "The industry known as country music needs her desperately. Thank God she's signed with us." Gretchen immediately went in the studio with producers Mark Wright and Joe Scaife with John Rich co-producing. The resultant Here For The Party perfectly sums up Gretchen's quest for getting her music out to the masses. She's not Faith Hill and she's not Shania Twain, but that's what separates her from the others and better positions her to speak to a majority of the population that has long since been without a voice. The synergy building between Gretchen and John Rich has reached a crescendo - that's precisely why the two were enjoying a late night in downtown Nashville celebrating their pending success, when they decided to walk over to the Boogie Bar to catch last call. As he had for 10 years, John walked up to the side door of the Ryman and proclaimed, "One of these days this door is going to open," when lo-and-behold, he gave it a yank and much to their amazement it actually opened. With blank stares on their faces, they stepped inside and walked down the ramp leading to the famed stage, only to find it empty except for a small stand with an acoustic guitar that had a pick hooked in the strings. "I think I stopped halfway down the ramp from where I came in and just looked at it," she remembers. "I tried to soak it in and realize, for a moment, where I was. After thinking about it for 10 seconds, I charged it. I knew it might be my only opportunity for a long time. I knew it was my only opportunity to do it that way." John struck a chord and the impromptu 1 a.m. one-song concert began in earnest. "Obviously I didn't play to a roomful of people," she admits, "but it felt like I played to a room full of important people. It was almost like I was standing there proving myself to the old country singers. Those two-and-a-half minutes when I was actually singing the song, I mean, I couldn't even open my eyes. I was just trying to take it all in. I was just trying to live in the moment." And next time Gretchen plays in the Ryman Auditorium, she'll be invited to come in the artists' entrance. .

Thecountryfreak GRETCHEN WILSON

 REBA
REBA

After a few days with Reba McEntire, we can see why she is the hardest-working woman in the entertainment business today. We start off with a homecoming of sorts with McEntire playing the Houston...
Thecountryfreak REBA MC ENTIRE

 George Jones
BIOGRAPHY OF... GEORGE JONES
Whether the times have favored honky tonk songs or lushly produced “pop” offerings, country legend GEORGE JONES has continued to make his brand of county music, which has produced hits in every decade of the second half of the 20th century. In fact, Jones has had more charted singles than any other artist in any format of popular music. This year marks his 50th anniversary as a recording artist and BANDIT RECORDS will be celebrating this auspicious landmark for the next year with the release of GEORGE JONES – 50 YEARS OF HITS, a 3-CD set to hit stores November 9th. The compilation features original recordings of one song from each year of his career for a total of 50 songs. For the years 1965 to 1970, liberties had to be taken since the Musicor/Gusto label did not permit use of their masters. For that time frame several rerecords, produced by Billy Sherrill a few years later, were used and a Jones/Alan Jackson duet of “Good Year For The Roses” was included instead of the original 1970 version. Although Jones released a few singles in 1954, the collection kicks off with his first 1955 self-penned hit, “WHY BABY WHY” and ends with the 2004 rendition of “Amazing Grace” which Billy Sherrill came out of retirement to produce on Jones in 2003. 50 YEARS OF HITS is probably the most comprehensive package ever assembled on Jones in that it features materials from each year of his career and covers all of the labels he was signed to with the exception of Musicor. Also, highlighting Jones’ anniversary is the Thanksgiving night (11/25/04) telecast of GEORGE JONES – 50 YEARS OF HITS, a SoundStage Special Event which will air on PBS. The star-studded salute features such guests as: Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Wynonna, Martina McBride, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Aaron Neville, Harry Connick Jr, Randy Travis, Lorrie Morgan, Sammy Kershaw, Shelby Lynne, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Trace Adkins, Joe Diffie, Trick Pony, Connie Smith, Tanya Tucker and Uncle Kracker. Each artist interprets one of Jones’ country classics. The artist called, “the greatest living country singer” also performs solo and in duet with several of the guests. Joe Thomas of HD Ready directed the show which was shot in Nashville with ten High Definition Cameras and remixed in 5.1 Surround Sound. In reflecting on his extraordinary career, Jones said, “ It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years. I have to admit I’m a bit shocked by it all. In putting this collection together, I was reminded how great some of these songs are. Then, to hear them performed by so many wonderful artists on the TV show, just thrilled me. It seems like only yesterday, but the years have obviously passed when I look at myself in the mirror.” Another first for Jones in 2003 was his entry into the food business. Jones introduced a line of breakfast sausage: “George Jones’ Country Style Sausage” which features patties, links, rolls and Microwaveable Sausage & Biscuits. He also has a line of marinade and barbeque sauces under the banner of “George Jones’ Ole Fashioned Marinades & Sauces.” The line has performed so well that less than a year later it has been expanded to include Bacon as well as Marinaded Hamburgers and Steakburgers. George Jones Foods are manufactured and distributed by Williams Sausage of Union City, Tn. In 2004, Jones also introduced WHITE LIGHTING Tennessee Spring Water, which is bottled in Hohenwald, Tn. Jones is a partner in the Bandit label and, for the first time in his long career, he controls ownership of his own recordings. The experience of not being allowed to “lease” his recordings from Musicor, clearly illustrates the lack of control most artists have over their own recordings. An artist is responsible for all recording and marketing expenses and even though those investments are repaid many, many times over, that artist still does not own the recordings and can be denied use of them. In 1998, while in the middle of recording his acclaimed “Cold Hard Truth” CD, Jones had a horrific car accident when he lost control of his SUV vehicle and hit a bridge just a mile from his home. It took two hours for emergency medical teams to free him from the car. Doctor feared the worse as Jones had a collapsed lung, torn liver and other internal injuries. Jones remained in critical care on a ventilator to help him breathe for eleven days. He then developed pneumonia, which further exasperated his recovery. The situation looked bleak. Performers from all eras---Little Jimmy Dickens, Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, George Strait, Sammy Kershaw and Billy Ray Cyrus, as well as Jones’ famed producer and friend Billy Sherrill, came to lend their support to Jones’ family. After recovering for several months, Jones resumed his career with the release of “Cold Hard Truth” and his never-ending touring schedule. But…this was a new George Jones who had finally turned his life around. Not only did he give up liquor, he stopped smoking and drinking coffee. “That accident put the fear of God into me.” Said Jones. “I realized I was getting to the age that I had to quit all that mess and smoking was hurting my lungs and affecting my voice. So, I just quit it all. Within months I was hitting higher notes than I hit before and wishing I had done it years ago. George Glenn Jones was born in Saratoga, in East Texas. As a kid, he sang for tips on the streets of nearby Beaumont. By age 24, he had been married twice, served in the Marines and was veteran of the Texas honky circuit. On a recording session in 1955 for Starday Records, producer Pappy Dailey suggested he quit singing like his idols, Lefty Frizell, Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, and try singing like George Jones. The result was “Why Baby Why,” his first Top Five hit. In 1959, Jones had his first #1 record with “White Lightning.” Other Number Ones include “Tender Years” and “She Thinks I Still Care,” which held the #1 spot of six weeks and led to Male Vocalist of the Year awards from the Country Music Association in 1962 and again in 1963. His singles consistently hit the Top 10 and he hit #1 again in 1967 with “Walk Through This World With Me.” Jones, the top male singer in country music, married country music’s hottest new female artist, Tammy Wynette in 1969. He bought out his contract with Musicor so that he could join Wynette’s label, Epic Records, where he enjoyed a successful 20-year association with producer Billy Sherrill. He hit #1 in the ‘70s with “The Grand Tour” and ‘The Door.” His marriage to Wynette was stormy but in the recording studio they were the perfect duet partners, hitting #1 with “We’re Gonna Hold On” in 1974 and, coinciding with their 1976 divorce, “Golden Ring” and “Near You.” Jones kicked off the 1980s with one of the all-time great country records, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which won him a Grammy and Single of the Year honors from the CMA in 1980 and again in 1981. He won virtually every award available for that Song, which remained #1 for 18 weeks. His hits continued throughout the decade and his video for “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” won the CMA’s Video of the Year award in 1986. In 1992 the CMA recognized Jones’ monumental career with his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1995, Jones and Tammy Wynette were reunited for a new CD entitled “One” and toured together for the first time in twenty years. Thankfully, George and Tammy had found friendship and peace in their relationship before the First Lady of Country Music passed away in 1998. In 1996, Jones told his life story in the book I LIVED TO TELL IT ALL, which was a #6 Best Seller on The New York Times list. Jones’ 1999 gold-selling “ Cold Hard Truth” earned him the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocalist. When his label, Asylum Records, was consolidated into Warner Bros. Records, Jones opted to leave and join some friends in starting Bandit Records. In 2001 he released “The Rock: Stone Cold Country 2001.” In 2003 Jones reunited with his long time producer Billy Sherrill to release his first Gospel Collection. Previous Gospel releases were isolated tracks that had been recorded over a period of years and eventually compiled into albums. In 2003, Jones received the 2002 Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush at a White House ceremony. The Medal “honors individuals for the singular distinction of their artistic careers.” The National Medal of Arts is the nations highest honor for artistic excellence. Jones, at 73, continues to headline more that one hundred concerts a year. He is already working on his next studio album, which will be “songs I wished I had recorded.” “The Possum” is at a great place in his life and, for the first time in his adult life, is straight, sober and having the time of his life.

Thecountryfreak George Jones

 Shania
The Shania Twain story has opened on a new and exciting chapter, and the only way is Up! That's the title of the much anticipated follow-up to Come On Over, the most successful female solo artist album of all time with world wide sales of an astonishing 34 million. Follow that? You bet. The great news for Shania fans across the globe is that she's completed one of the most exciting and ambitious recording projects of the new millennium. Not to mention that she's totally energised by a fresh creative momentum that has led to her completing a spectacular new record, co-written with her husband and producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange. Refreshed and ready to rock after a sabbatical at home in Switzerland in which she and Mutt became parents for the first time, there's a buzz coming from Shania like an electrical charge. "We wanted to put something together that was bigger and better," she glows, "and the whole thing is so much bigger and better than anything I've done in the past." "The whole record has been made differently, we travelled around a lot more, we used musical influences from all over the world. we used Indian musicians recorded directly in Mumbai, India; some of the American musicians were recorded in the Caribbean; a 40-piece orchestra recorded in Ireland; other musicians in Italy; and we literally hopped from city to city song-writing, including Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Rome, Provence and the Grenadine Islands. This music came together in smaller pieces over a longer period of time." Leading the way as the first single from this extraordinary new project is the absolutely irresistible I'm Gonna Getcha Good! "That was an obvious single," she says. "There is a typical Shania attitude in the lyric, a definite female confidence. It's all about a girl who knows what she wants, she not only knows how to get it, but she's going to get it good." "In my experience it's more typical to run into guys with such confidence when it comes to women, once again I thought it would be fun to write with that same confidence, but from a woman's point of view. I wanted the first single to reflect that playful attitude, because i want people to relate to the Shania they already know, at the same time as hearing a new, fresh sound." Shania is thrilled with the development of her vocal technique on the album, an evolution that Mutt wholeheartedly encouraged. "It is different. Mutt was able to bring out a presence in my voice that I usually only use when I'm song-writing with my acoustic guitar. I didn't realise that I was singing with a slightly different voice on the microphone. It's like being in front of a camera, unless you forgot it's there, you kind of act a little differently. Mutt stayed on it until he got the natural, more intimate vocal sound he loves in my voice." Other highlights on the album? Shania could name as many as there are tracks, but here are a few particulars. "Ka-Ching! is one of my top five, probably one of my top three, because it does have the Shania cheekiness to it, but I think it's a pretty fair observation of where we're at, in terms of how commercial society has become, almost globally." "I also like the lyrics on In My Car (I'll Be the Driver) - 'Don't care if you sleep with your socks on, you can hurt my head with your favourite rock song.' In other words, you can be in control of all the other things in our lives, but in my car, i am the driver! Up!, the title track, has some really fun things, 'Even my skin is acting weird, wish that i could grow a beard'. One of my other favourites is I'm Jealous, it's one of those songs that's so descriptive, you can see and feel it happening. Juanita is a song i got a bit deeper with lyrically. In our most vulnerable times, whether we're searching for strength, courage or freedom, it's our female power (our Juanita) that we need to connect with." "It's keeping it real lyrically, that's just my approach, it is very conversational which is very much the way the last two albums were written and those were the songs people related to the best, saying things the way I would have spoken them." Shania plans to start pre-production for a new tour early in 2003, eager to make the same personal connection with her fans that produced such sensationally successful results on the Come on Over world tour. "I have a lot of fun with the touring, it's the biggest reward," she says. "I can see on their faces what the songs mean to them. I'm affected by music, when I sit and listen I'm high by it, so when I see I'm affecting them the same way, I really feel I've done what I came to do." Meanwhile, is one of the biggest-selling recording artists in the world feeling the pressure of following a 34 million-seller? In short, no. "I don't have any anxiety about the success of this record. My goal isn't to outsell Come on Over. I just really want to know what people think of it. I'm excited to get the feedback." That's why, even with her place in the world's musical elite guaranteed and undisputed, the only way is Up! for Shania Twain, because of the creative goals she has already achieved with the album even before it starts flying out of the stores. "Mutt and I as a team put more into this record than ever before," she confesses. "We really have gone totally all out, we've laboured over it and I'm completely thrilled with the results." "I put this music on and I'm overwhelmed with emotion. It's been such a labour of love, and as I'm listening back sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry."

Thecountryfreak SHANIA

 Special Memorial To The First lady of Co
Tammy Wynette, echte naam Virginia Wynette Pugh (5 mei 1942 – 6 april 199, was een Amerikaans country zangeres, en ze wordt ook wel de "First Lady of Country Music" genoemd. Ze is het bekendst geworden door haar single Stand by your man, maar had in totaal 17 nummer-1-hits in de Verenigde Staten in de zestiger en zeventiger jaren. Haar vader overleed toen ze acht jaar oud was, en op 17 jarige leeftijd trouwde ze en werkte als kapster. Drie jaar en drie kinderen later scheidde ze. Ze zou in haar leven nog vier keer trouwen. Haar derde kind had een ernstige ziekte, en Tammy probeerde wat extra geld te verdienen door 's avonds op te treden. Hierdoor werd ze ontdekt en kreeg een televisieoptreden aangeboden in 1965. In 1966 verhuisde ze naar Nashville in Tennessee waar ze een platencontract tekende. In 1968 en 1969 had Tammy vijf nummer-1-hits in de VS: "Take Me to Your World," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," "Stand By Your Man" (allen 196, "Singing My Song," en "The Ways to Love a Man" (beide 1969). In 1968 begon ze een relatie met de oudere George Jones, een van de grootste drinkers in het countrymuziek-milieu en jeugdidool van Tammy. Ze trouwden in 1969 en vanaf 1971 namen ze een aantal populaire duetten op, het eerste was "Take Me". Het huwelijk ging echter niet over rozen, en ze scheidden in 1975. Ze bleven af en toe samen songs opnemen in de 20 jaren die volgden. Tammy had ook in de zeventiger jaren hits, en, alhoewel sporadischer, ook in de tachtiger jaren. In 1978 werd ze gekidnapt en aangevallen door een gemaskerde man die nooit geïdentificeerd werd, alhoewel het lijkt alsof Tammy zijn identiteit kende. Ze ging in 1988 bankroet. In 1992 nam ze een track op met house-act de KLF, Justified and Ancient, het zou een van haar grootste successen worden. Ondanks haar broze gezondheid, wilde ze, koste wat het kost, blijven touren. Om de pijn te ontlopen begon zij grote hoeveelheden voorgeschreven pijnstillers en andere medicatie te slikken. 6 april 1998 werd zij gevonden in haar huis in Nashville, Tennessee. Medische complicaties in combinatie met een overdosis medicatie was haar fataal geworden.

Thecountryfreak MISS TAMMY WYNETTE

 Kenny Rogers
KENNY ROGERS 42 Ultimate Hits
Kenny Rogers' new Water & Bridges proves that a seminal American music icon can still surprise people--and challenge himself. A story-song's best friend, Rogers built his monumental career on his ability to convey the emotional truth of a lyric. That trait resonates throughout Water & Bridges--an exceptionally substantial collection of 11 new songs that concentrates on contemporary material of exceptional depth. But that doesn't mean you can't still sing along: Working with the masterful Dann Huff, country music's hottest and most progressive producer, Rogers set a goal to create a modern album of all new music that's as forward-looking as an Apple Nano yet as timeless as a well-written lyric and a strong melody. The result is yet another landmark album that moves Rogers into the forefront of modern music while holding onto the qualities that have made him one of the most enduring and best-loved artists of all-time. "Dann puts a little edge on everything," says Rogers, who was familiar with Huff's groundbreaking work with Keith Urban and Faith Hill. "He comes from such a rock 'n' roll place. What he does that's interesting is he uses band musicians, not studio musicians, because they play with more dynamics. You can hear that on the new album. It was such a great experience." With Water & Bridges, Rogers returns to Capitol Records and the EMI Music family, home of his greatest triumphs and biggest hits. "They believed, like I do, that I can still cut fresh music that will move people," Rogers says. "They truly made me feel wanted for what I could do now and in the future." Even though he's earned 20 Platinum(R) album certifications, scored 22 No. 1 hits and sold 105 million albums worldwide, Rogers will be the first to tell you that he's not the world's strongest or most gifted singer. However, he is among the most effective. When Kenny Rogers sings a song, a listener always gets exactly what it's about, always feels every nuance and subtle emotional point. When he performs, whether on record or on stage, it's never about how special his voice is; it's always about how special the song is. "I've always said that I'm not a particularly great singer, but I've always been great at finding songs," he says. What he's too humble to say is that he's a great communicator of great songs. That's the reason he's a legend today. His unique talent comes through stronger than ever on Water & Bridges, a deeply thoughtful set of contemporary story songs and messages that Rogers subtly dramatizes like no one else can. "My goal was to find an entire collection of modern songs that said something other than 'I love you' or 'it'll kill me if you leave,'" says Rogers. "I wanted to do songs that moved me and spoke to on a deeper level." He succeeded, as the first single "I Can't Unlove You" by songwriters Wade Kirby and Will Robinson clearly attests. Exploring the tumultuous inner dialogue of a man dealing with the aftermath of losing his true love, it's the kind of song that highlights Rogers' distinct talents. While some singers would use the climbing scales of the chorus to soar and show off, Rogers realizes the sensitivity of the message carries much more punch when interpreted with subtle inflections and an intimate tone. "I have friends who are young artists and great vocal technicians, and I tell them, 'Here's the deal: If the lyric is important, then sing it simple, without a lot of bells and whistles and grandstanding,'" he says, imparting advice that acolytes no doubt soak up eagerly. "'If it's not important, then do all the vocal gymnastics you want. But if it's a good song, people don't want to chase the lyric.'" For Rogers, though, that question never comes up. He's a master at finding powerful songs, so everything he sings deserves what he calls a "simple" treatment. Others might better characterize it as subtle and sublime. Indeed, who else would so incisively get inside the complexities of such powerful new story songs as "Someone Somewhere Tonight," "The Last Ten Years (Superman)," "Someone Is Me" and the remarkably poignant title song. It takes a distinct talent at quietly dramatizing a lyric and the experience and authority to sound believable when reflecting on life events of this magnitude. As Rogers points out, success means not only knowing what you're good at, but also realizing what you're not good at. "I know my audience," he says. "If you like songs that reflect on life and have a little wisdom in them, then I can reach you." Reaching people has always been Rogers' specialty. In a pop era when superstars rarely stretch into the next decade, the Texas native is the only artist to chart a record in each of the last six decades, from the 1950s to the 2000s, including such American standards as "The Gambler," "Lucille," "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," "Coward of the County," "She Believes in Me" and "Lady." Moreover, "Islands in the Stream," his classic pairing with Dolly Parton, recently was named the No. 1 country duet of all time by CMT. His accolades only tell part of the story, but it's a stunningly impressive list: Three Grammy Awards, five Country Music Association Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, 11 People's Choice Awards and 18 American Music Awards. Rogers even proved he could combat modern music's focus on youth by leaping back to the top when, after starting his own independent label Dreamcatcher Records, he achieved hits with "The Greatest" and "Buy Me a Rose"--which made him the oldest artist in all genres of music to reach No. 1 in the history of Billboard charts. At this point, Rogers keeps recording and performing because he still enjoys it. "It's not important for me to be the No. 1 artist around," Rogers says. "I defy you to find anyone who's been No. 1 who will say it was the happiest time of their lives. You don't really have a life when you're there. But I love performing, and I like to have something fresh to sing. I like having contemporary music in my show. I love doing the hits, but I like working new songs in there too." Rogers realizes fans come for the old songs. But the new songs end up being important to the audience, too. "When you do new material, or when you have a new hit, it changes the audience's perception of you, and more importantly, it changes your perception of yourself," he says. "It draws in young people, and it makes the older fans feel like they're part of something hip. It adds energy to the show." Rogers has always had other pursuits, of course. He's a successful actor whose Gambler franchise was so popular that it spawned five movies and a five-episode mini-series, the longest-running mini-series in American TV history. He's written four books of fiction and non-fiction, published three books of photography, and he's chairman of the multi-leveled company Dreamcatcher Entertainment. He won the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, given to those who have distinguished themselves while rising from humble beginnings. But Rogers has remained relevant because he doesn't rest on his accomplishments. The strengths of Water & Bridges have little to do with past triumphs, and everything to do with proving he's as capable as ever of creating heart-stirring music that speaks directly to audiences today.

Thecountryfreak KENNY ROGERS

 Kenny, Keith, Gretchen and Friends at AC
Kenny, Keith, Gretchen and Friends at AC

CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by former Country
Music magazine columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel's Hot Dish: Cookin' With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at CMT.com.) As expected, Kenny Chesney scored the ACM's entertainer of the year trophy, making him the newest Triple Crown winner. Proud-as-a-peacock Kenny, who just won the top prize, walked offstage with legend and presenter Barbara Mandrell, who whispered "Triple Crown." The little guy with the big smile had to stop and allow a whole other light shine on him. Entertainer of the year is huge. The Triple Crown, baby, that's history. Along with Mandrell, Kenny joins Brooks & Dunn, the Dixie Chicks, Merle Haggard and Mickey Gilley to round out the ACM's Triple Crown winners -- the select few who have won the organization's best new artist, best artist (male, female, duo or group) and entertainer of the year. It was around 2 a.m. in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when Keith Urban was surprised with his top male vocalist win. Keith's Be Here also got album of the year honors. Going international fast, Urban is hot on Kenny's hillbilly trail here in the States. Unseating Martina McBride in her three-year winning streak as top female vocalist, a teary and surprised Gretchen Wilson picked up the trophy. For the third consecutive year, Rascal Flatts were named top vocal group. Brooks and Dunn, fearing the award would go home with another duo, happily collected their 14th ACM prize for top duo. Great songs almost always come out winning. Such was the case with the single and song win for Tim McGraw's hit, "Live Like You Were Dying." Songwriters Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols were joined onstage by McGraw. A second great song, "Whiskey Lullaby," written by Bill Anderson and Jon Randall and recorded by Brad Paisley with Alison Krauss, deserved winning its video and vocal event of the year honors. Due to the death of her grandmother in Illinois, Alison had to cancel attending the event. It sure was good seeing jean-clad Faith Hill's long legs dancing to her new single, "Mississippi Girl." She must like that it debuted at No. 27 on the country chart. Personally, I like her better as a blond. And I'm trying to decide if I like Sara Evans blond highlights in her dark hair. After flying his parents to California for his Tonight Show appearance, Dierks Bentley loaded them on his bus and brought them to Vegas for the ACMs. What a guy. I predict Dierks will be in the list of next year's winners. Toby's Front Page News On the eve of the ACM Awards show and the release of Toby Keith's new album, Honkytonk University, Nashville's daily newspaper, The Tennessean, ran a front page interview recapping much of what I've told you in my previous Hot Dish columns. If it were a TV sitcom like Everybody Loves Raymond, we'd be falling all over ourselves with laughter at the comedic events of Toby's career. But believe you me, there's nothing funny about what Toby went through going from label to label to label, through no fault of his own. I do, however, find it amusing that Toby wrote a check out of his own account for $190,000 (I'd heard $100,000) to Mercury Records to purchase the album, How Do You Like Me Now?!. Mercury execs said there was no hit on the record and wanted Toby to record additional material. I've been told there was label talk of trashing the entire record. At this point, the album has sold nearly 4 million copies. I'm not good at math, but even I can see enormous economic differences in those equations. Think about it: Maybe Toby has reason to be angry enough to start his own label. He has faith and talent, and his current record deal calls for one more "company" album. A Country Funeral Jimmy Martin made bluegrass music as perfect as anybody who ever breathed air. Ten years after Bill Monroe introduced his music to the world from the Opry stage in 1939, he became a member of Monroe's Bluegrass Boys in 1949. Martin and Monroe were architects of the high lonesome sound of the '50s. Martin, the King of Bluegrass, suffered for months with bladder cancer and died May 14. The 77-year-old maker of music was a native of Sneedville, Tenn. At his funeral, Jimmy Martin was "put away" the way he lived -- with bluegrass music playing and good friends and family on hand. His four children and various members of his Sunny Mountain Boys band through the years performed Martin's favorite gospel songs, including "Shake Hands With Mother Again" and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Martin recorded the latter song with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1972 for their album of that title. During the service, there were fiddles, guitars, banjos, mandolins, upright bass and a Dobro. Nothing electric. Awesome harmony singing sent chills through the crowd. Former Sunny Mountain Boys Doyle Lawson, J.D. Crowe, Paul Williams, Vernon Derrick, Kenny Ingram and Audie Blaylock mingled with the Isaacs, Del McCoury Band, the Cherryholmes Family, the Whites, Tom T. Hall, Jim Lauderdale, the Grascals and scores of others. As an entertainer and singer, Martin never strayed from his country ways. He kept a pen filled with hounds, and he'd hunt 'coon, rabbit or squirrel, not just for the sport of hunting, but also for cooking and eating. He was apt to say, "Come by the house. I got some groundhog stew on the stove." Jimmy Martin was loud, brash and colorful in lifestyle and dress, but when he sang a song, it was sung. Nobody could do it better. "Boys, we tore 'em up out there," he'd say to his band after a show. His red performing hat hung on a microphone by his casket. Grown men cried all over the church. It takes lots of food, lots of crying and lots of hugging for a country funeral. News -- Old and New LeAnn Rimes has been added to Fitzgerald-Hartley roster for management, joining Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Olivia Newton-John, Dwight Yoakam and Buddy Jewell. Lyric Street Records exec Doug Howard tells me Rascal Flatts' third album, Feels Like Today, has been certified double platinum. Congrats to Dierks Bentley on debuting at No. 1 on the country albums chart with Modern Day Drifter. The hardest working guy in country music sold almost 75,000 copies during its first week of release. Radio personality Bill Whyte -- who sowed his oats at WUBE/Cincinnati, WFMS/Indianapolis, WMIL/Milwaukee and WSM-FM/Nashville -- is recording a new comedy album at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. Watch out, Blue Collar Tour. Universal South and Marty Stuart formed Superlatone Records to release creative offerings by the Mississippi native. Michael Martin Murphey's first release in four years, Storm Over the Rangelands, is due out in the summer. His message songs ring out about ranchers and farmers split from the land by real estate developers. Lila McCann sang the national anthem Friday (May 20) at the baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Anaheim Angels. Sprint partnered with the RCA Label Group to launch a two-week promotion for Brooks & Dunn's new single, "Play Something Country," the song the duo performed on the ACM Awards. Spoke with musician Greg Kaczor, who was having breakfast on the road someplace. "What about the engagement ring you gave Terri [Clark]?" I asked. He explained, "It was designed by me and Kevin, the guy who owns Kevin's Gems out in L.A. It has a 2.2 carat princess cut diamond in the center that is surrounded by smaller diamonds equaling 6 carats." The legendary Buck Owens announced he will have a statue of himself unveiled at his Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif., on Wednesday (May 25) along with nine others: Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, George Strait, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and Garth Brooks. They call it "essential" because the music and artists are that. I'm referring to the late Marty Robbins, the gifted vocalist and western song stylist, and beloved singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. Two new CD compilations, The Essential Marty Robbins and The Essential Dolly Parton, are due in stores June 28. In my opinion, the national news media have little to do if they're poking fun at Kenny Chesney. What is the big freaking deal? Singer-songwriter weds actress. What's to laugh at? Leave 'em be.

Thecountryfreak KENNY, KEITH, GRETCHEN AND FRI

 The Top Country Song Of The Year (1945 -
1945 It's Been So Long, Darling - Ernest Tubb 1946 New Spanish Two Step - Bob Wills 1947 Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) - Tex Williams 1948 Bouquet Of Roses - Eddy Arnold 1949 Slipping Around - Whiting/Wakely/Tillman 1950 I'm Moving On - Hank Snow 1951 Always Late (With Your Kisses) - Lefty Frizzell 1952 The Wild Side Of Life - Hank Thompson 1953 Kaw-Liga - Hank Williams 1954 Bimbo - Jim Reeves 1955 In The Jailhouse Now - Webb Pierce & Red Sovine 1956 Crazy Arms - Ray Price 1957 Gone - Ferlin Husky 1958 Oh Lonesome Me - Don Gibson 1959 The Battle Of New Orleans - Johnny Horton 1960 Please Help Me, I'm Falling - Hank Locklin 1961 Walk On By - Leroy Van Dyke 1962 Wolverton Mountain - Claude King 1963 Love's Gonna Live Here - Buck Owens 1964 Once A Day - Connie Smith 1965 King Of The Road - Roger Miller 1966 Almost Persuaded - David Houston 1967 It's Such A Pretty World Today - Wynn Stewart 1968 Skip A Rope - Henson Cargill 1969 Daddy Sang Bass - Johnny Cash 1970 Rose Garden - Lynn Anderson 1971 Kiss An Angel Good Mornin' - Charley Pride 1972 One's On The Way - Loretta Lynn 1973 If We Make It Through December - Merle Haggard 1974 A Very Special Love Song - Charlie Rich 1975 Convoy - C.W. McCall 1976 Good Hearted Woman - Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson 1977 Luckenbach, Texas - Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson 1978 The Gambler - Kenny Rogers 1979 Every Which Way But Loose - Eddie Rabbitt 1980 He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones 1981 Love In The First Degree - Alabama 1982 Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson 1983 Islands In The Stream - Kenny Rogers With Dolly Parton 1984 Why Not Me - Judds 1985 Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On - Mel McDaniel 1986 Mind Your Own Business - Hank Williams, Jr. 1987 Forever And Ever, Amen - Randy Travis 1988 When You Say Nothing At All - Keith Whitley 1989 If Tomorrow Never Comes - Garth Brooks 1990 Love Without End, Amen - George Strait 1991 She's In Love With The Boy - Trisha Yearwood 1992 Boot Scootin' Boogie - Brooks & Dunn 1993 Chattahoochee - Alan Jackson 1994 Don't Take The Girl - Tim McGraw 1995 I Like It, I Love It - Tim McGraw 1996 My Maria - Brooks & Dunn 1997 It's Your Love - Tim McGraw & Faith Hill 1998 A Broken Wing - Martina McBride 1999 Amazed - Lonestar 2000 How Do You Like Me Now - Toby Keith


 George Strait
George Strait

Out of all the new country singers to emerge in the early '80s, George Strait stayed the closest to traditional country. Drawing from both the honky tonk and Western swing traditions, Strait didn't refashion the genres; instead, he revitalized them for a new decade. In the process, he became one of the most popular and influential singers of the decade, sparking a wave of neo-traditionalist singers from Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam to Clint Black, Garth Brooks, and Alan Jackson. Strait was born and raised in Texas, the son of a junior high school teacher who also owned and operated a ranch that had been in the Strait family for nearly hundred years. When George was a child, his mother left the family, taking her daughter but leaving behind her sons with the father. During his childhood, he would spend his weekdays in town and his weekends on the ranch. Strait began playing music as a teenager, joining a rock & roll garage band. After his high-school graduation in the late '60s, Strait enrolled in college but soon dropped out and eloped with his high-school sweetheart, Norma. In 1971, Strait enlisted in the Army; two years later, he was stationed Hawaii. While in Hawaii, he began playing country music, initially with an Army-sponsored country band called Rambling Country. They played several dates off the base under the name Santee. Strait left the Army in 1975, returning to Texas with the intent of completing his education. He enrolled in Southwest Texas State University at San Marcos, where he studied agriculture. While he was studying, he formed his own country band, Ace in the Hole. Ace in the Hole made a few records for the independent Dallas-based label D in the late '70s, but they never went anywhere. Toward the end of the decade, Strait attempted to carve out a niche in Nashville, but he failed since he lacked any strong connections. In 1979, he became friends with Erv Woolsey, a Texas club owner who had formerly worked for MCA Records. Woolsey had several MCA executives come down to Texas to hear Strait. His performance convinced the company to sign him in 1980. "Unwound," Strait's first single, was released in the spring of 1981 and climbed into the Top Ten. The follow-up, "Down and Out," stalled at 16, but "If You're Thinking You Want a Stranger (There's One Coming Home)" reached number three in early 1982. The song sparked a remarkable string of Top Ten hits that ran well into the '90s. During that time he had an astonishing 31 number one singles, beginning with 1982's "Fool Hearted Memory." Throughout the '80s, he dominated the country singles charts, and his albums consistently went platinum or gold. Strait rarely abandoned hardcore honky tonk and Western swing -- toward the beginning of the '90s, his sound became a little slicker, but it was only a relative change. Strait was also one of the few '80s superstars to survive the generational shift of the early '90s that began with the phenomenal success of Brooks. In 1992, he made his first movie, Pure Country, which featured him in the lead role. Strait released a four-disc box set career retrospective, Strait Out of the Box, in 1995. By the spring of 1996, it had become one of the five biggest-selling box sets in popular music history. Blue Clear Sky, his 1996 album, debuted on the country charts at number one and the pop charts at number seven. In 1997, he released Carrying Your Love With Me, following it with One Step at a Time in 1998. Always Never the Same appeared a year later, as did the seasonal effort Merry Christmas Wherever You Are. The simply titled George Strait, featuring the hit single "Go On," hit the shelves in late 2000. Did Strait slow down? Nay. 2001 saw the release of The Road Less Traveled, which qualified as an experimental album of sorts for the veteran performer. While it didn't stray very far from his new traditionalist country sound, Road did include a foray into vocal processing that was about as country as a pair of Stiletto-healed cowboy boots. But the experimentation was welcome, for it revealed that Strait was still hungry, even after millions upon millions of records sold. Strait issued two projects in 2003. For the Last Time: Live From the Astrodome chronicled his headlining set at the last Houston Livestock and Rodeo ever held in the big Texas dome, while Honkeytonkville was a fiery set of hard country, lauded by critics for its mixture of the old Strait with his modern, superstar self. Somewhere Down in Texas followed in 2005. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Thecountryfreak "Hey Good Lookin'" (

 Faith Hill, John Rich Showered With Hono
Faith Hill, John Rich Showered With Hono

A gracious Faith Hill and a grateful John Rich showed up early at ASCAP's Nashville headquarters Monday (Oct. 3) to accept numerous awards for the... A gracious Faith Hill and a grateful John Rich showed up early at ASCAP's Nashville headquarters Monday (Oct. 3) to accept numerous awards for the No. 1 success of "Mississippi Girl," the "comeback" song that Hill recorded and Rich co-wrote with Big & Rich guitarist Adam Shoenfeld. Dressed in jeans and a striped shirt, with her hair tied back, Hill was among the first arrivals. She stood unobtrusively at the side of ASCAP's cavernous reception hall while friends and admirers stopped by to chat and congratulate. Several industry bigwigs were among the celebrants, including Big Kenny of Big & Rich and Collin Raye.


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 Kathy Mattea
Kathy Mattea

She's got a knack for picking songs that reach into your heart and leave you better for the listening. Kathy Mattea wraps her silvery alto around Christmas favorite "Mary, Did You Know?" plus new songs from Right Out of Nowhere. Happy Holidays!

 Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton secured an Oscar nomination for best original song on Tuesday morning (Jan. 31) for "Travelin' Thru" from the film Transamerica. Parton wrote the song specifically for the film which is about a transsexual and her son. In press materials for the film's soundtrack, Parton says, "It's a remarkable movie that touches you in every single place of human emotion." This is her second career Oscar nomination. She also made the list for writing the title track to 1980's 9 to 5. This year's other original song nominees are "In the Deep" from Crash and "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow.


 EemsCreek

 Sheryl Crow Feels Lucky That Country Emb
Sheryl Crow Feels Lucky That Country Emb

.... And If It Makes Her Happy, It Can't Be That Bad Most rock stars would bristle at being labeled "country" -- but not Sheryl Crow.
Most rock stars would bristle at being labeled "country" -- but not Sheryl Crow. This year, she earned a Grammy nomination for collaborating with Brooks & Dunn and Vince Gill. When she released The Very Best of Sheryl Crow in 2003, she included a country mix for "The First Cut Is the Deepest," which cracked the Top 40 of Billboard's country singles chart. She did even better with "Picture," a duet with Kid Rock that climbed to No. 21 and secured the unlikely duo a CMA nomination. "I feel really, really lucky that country has embraced me, because my own field of music has gone the way of more beats and less about songwriting," Crow told CMT.com during a recent interview in Nashville. "I've been really lucky that country music has embraced me and has not ruled me out. For me, it gives me a lot of hope. At least country music still loves songwriting and still loves good music. I hope I can keep country fans interested." Crow describes her latest album, Wildflower, as a "straight-up art record," and she released it in advance of a pop album she had been working on. "And now that I've compiled what would have been the pop record, I realize it's probably more pop than what I'd like to put out," she says. "For my next record, I'm really going to concentrate on making a record that is my version of country music. You know, I fear that it's going to be more country than what is getting played at country radio. I really am a purist about country music. I loved, and still do love, the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers and the old stuff -- as well as Willie Nelson, who I think is one of the best songwriters in every format." But in the meantime, Crow created Wildflower to evoke an intimate, singer-songwriter vibe, drawing on inspiration from Neil Young and especially Elton John. She even borrows a phrase from "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" for "Always on Your Side," an elegant, Elton-esque ballad about remaining loyal, even when the other person has moved on. Envisioning a whole album of similar piano-based songs, she had originally asked John to produce the project. However, she wound up leaving the U.S. to support former fiancé Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France -- a significant decision that informed the feel of the album. "There is a lot of vulnerability when you first get into a relationship," she says. "What it forces you to do is really meet yourself. It forces you to look at some of your imperfections. The vulnerability that you feel in your relationship is not only the excitement of love but the possibility of it not working out -- and that fear. "But then compound that with ... what was going on in the world at the time, which was very chaotic, as it is now. A lot of that stuff came into play, as well as being in Europe and not really knowing anybody. Basically, what I had was my relationship and the news." Even the sophisticated album artwork -- an edgy, curvaceous mix of blacks and greens -- symbolizes her frame of mind found within Wildflower. Even thought the content is "really heavy," she says wanted the visual aspect "to feel somewhat whimsical, because there's the juxtaposition ... of beauty and destruction, peace and chaos, and all those come into play. As you get older, you're much more aware of it." Asked whether current music fans generally miss out on a piece of someone's artistry if they only download songs -- but skip the packaging -- Crow is quick to answer. "Absolutely," she says. "I mean, I was a kid that knew every musician who played on every record, and part of the social experience of getting a new record was having all your friends come over and see the album cover for the first time and holding it in your hand and how it felt and all the little things that you picked out of the artwork. That was part of the experience of the music." During a two-night stand at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium last month, Crow roared through a two-hours performance that included highlights from Wildflower and other material from her impressive career. The last time she played there was during a Johnny Cash tribute concert in 2004 when she sang "Hurt" for Cash's grieving family and admirers. "That place has its own personality," she says of the Ryman and its significance. "When people come to see music there, they are aware of that and are absorbed by it and the unbelievable history that it has. You can't stand on that stage and not reflect on who's stood on that very spot before you. When you play there, you're inviting people into your intimate space, into your living room atmosphere. I think it's one of the great places to play in America."

Thecountryfreak SHERYL CROW -CMT

 Sheryl Crow Recovering From Breast Cance
Sheryl Crow Recovering From Breast Cance

Recovering from breast cancer surgery, Sheryl Crow has postponed the remainder of her North American tour with singer-songwriter Jack Ingram. Crow underwent "minimally invasive" surgery on Wednesday (Feb. 22) in Los Angeles, according to her publicist. Although she will receive radiation treatment as a precaution, Crow's physicians say her prognosis is excellent. "I am joining the more than 200,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year," Crow said in a statement on her official Web site. "We are a testament to the importance of early detection and new treatments. I encourage all women everywhere to advocate for themselves and for their future. See your doctor, and be proactive about your health." The tour was scheduled to continue through April, and her itinerary also included an April 7 taping of VH1 Classic's Decades Rock Live! with Vince Gill, Ryan Adams and Robert Randolph.


 Coyote Ugly Saloon
Coyote Ugly Saloon

With seven girls left on the bus the competition is really starting to get moving as they leave behind the city of San Antonio and the first finalist to be cut by Lil. As Cyndi, Chantel and Lil continue...
Thecountryfreak COYOTE UGLY SALOON

 Barbara Mandrell Tribute Album Includes
Barbara Mandrell Tribute Album Includes

Kenny Chesney and Reba McEntire have recorded "I Was Country (When Country Wasn't Cool)" for a Barbara Mandrell tribute album due Oct. 10 on BNA Records. The project also features Alabama's Randy Owen ("Years"), Dierks Bentley ("Fast Lanes and Country Roads"), Terri Clark ("Sleeping Single in a Double Bed"), Sara Evans ("Crackers"), Lorrie Morgan ("That's What Friends Are For"), Willie Nelson and Shelby Lynne ("This Time I Almost Made It") and Brad Paisley ("In Times Like These"). Mandrell won the CMA entertainer of the year award in 1980 and 1981. She retired from live performance in 1997.

 Daisycon Verder Winkelen

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CMT The Best Country Award s of the World & hier kan je alles vinden wat met country te maken heeft special alle Awards worden daar uitgegeven, van oud tot nieuwe country artiesten ,Dolly Parton,willy Nelson, en vele anderen

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 NEAL McCOY
NEAL McCOY: THE REAL McCOY IS BACK…AGAIN direction="up" scrollAmount='1' style="width:'160';height:'200'">
From the first minute he arrived on the national scene and people began to notice his natural charisma and dynamic power as a live performer, Neal McCoy has been the “real McCoy” when it comes to world class entertainers. He’s showed that power on the concert stage and on the country charts from the day he signed his first record contract in 1987 to owning his own record label today. He’s established himself as an unrivaled live performer, and a hit recording artist that is always just one hit away from national prominence. And, he’s back in the spotlight again thanks to his rollicking hit, “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On,” and the hilarious video that supports the first single from Neal’s latest album (out 8/23), That’s Life.” The new album features McCoy’s most expressive, wide-ranging vocals ever. From the novelty smash “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On,” to the heart-tugging romance of “You Let Me Be the Hero,” with guest shots ranging from his playful duo with former mentor Charley Pride on “You’re My Jamaica” to the raw yet emotional recitation from General Tommy Franks on “Last of a Dying Breed,” That’s Lifemakes clear what legions of fans already know, he is the “real McCoy.” Neal’s salute to Charley Pride was no passing gesture, McCoy feels he owes the legend a lot. THE BEGINNING Charley Pride always promised to "pass it on," to help some worthy newcomer along. Neal McCoy was one that Pride passed it on to, when he discovered him and helped him to get a record contract in 1987. It took until 1993 to finally break out on top with his first big hit, "No Doubt About It." One of country music's most in demand live performers he asserted himself in the mid '90s as a hit recording act as well. McCoy (b. Hubert Neal McGauhey, Jr., Jacksonville, Texas, July 30, 195 grew up in a musical family. His sister played various instruments, and his father and mother both sang.(McCoy's mother is from the Philippines, giving McCoy the distinction of becoming the first singer of Philippine descent to become a country star) . "In our house I learned every style of music imaginable from gospel to jazz and rock," McCoy recalls. In college he joined a gospel quartet as well as playing in various "garage bands." His break came after he moved to Longview, Texas where he worked a day job in a shoe store, and because of his habit of singing while he stocked the store shelves, he became known on the block as the "singing shoe salesman." He entered a talent contest at a Dallas club called the Bell Star. He didn't win the contest, but one of the judges was a representative from Charley Pride's management company. He was so impressed with him, they took McCoy on as a client. He began opening Pride's shows, and Pride and company guided him to his first record contract with 16th Avenue Records. He had changed his last name from McGauhey to McGoy, and that's the name that appeared on his first chart record in '88. He changed his name again in '90 when he signed with Atlantic Records as "McCoy." He had moved to Atlantic after a series of low charting 16th Avenue releases. Between 1988 and his first top forty "Where Forever Begins" in '93. It had been five long years between his chart debut and any kind of breakthrough. In an era when country performers had just one or two chances to prove themselves, it was a tribute to McCoy's talent that his labels had remained patient. "It wasn't Neal's fault. We simply hadn't found the right songs for him to sing," admitted Atlantic's Chief, Rick Blackburn. When he wasn't scoring hits, McCoy sustained his career because of his exceptional ability as a stage performer. A true natural on stage, he is charismatic and spontaneous, with an ability to go from singing a country standard, to a crowd pleasing rap version of the theme from "The Beverly Hillbillies" TV show. McCoy often stole the show as an opening act and earned standing ovations without a hit song to his credit. "I did have some acts who didn't want to hire me again to open for them," he confesses. The “Beverly Hillbillies” rap song is a cool extra on Neal’s new album, recorded live to capture the joy that brings to McCoy’s fans. In '93, he followed up the first top forty with a number 26 called "Now I Pray for Rain." That song set him up for his next release, "No Doubt About It," that became his first number one song in early '94. That was followed by "Wink," a song that spent four weeks at number one becoming one of the biggest hits of the year, and assuring McCoy's place as a top act of the '90s. "I owe everything to Charley Pride who gave me a chance and taught me so much about being a performer. I had a lot of fans stick with me for a long time before I gave them hits, so it was a good feeling to finally break through," says McCoy. That’s why he includes a version of Pride’s hit, “You’re My Jamaica”(#1, ’79) that he turned into a duet with Charley himself. “That’s the beauty of having your own label is that you can do stuff like this without going through a lot of stuff. You just get on the phone to Charley and I said, ‘Charley, you’ve been a great friend to me, you’re the one that got me started in country music, and I want to pay homage to you and I’ve recorded this song of yours, “You’re My Jamaica,”…and by the way, would you record the song with me?’ And Charley said, ‘Yea, I’d love to.’”

Thecountryfreak NEAL MC COY

 Vince Gill
The 'Up Close' section is designed to help you get more familiar with Vince Gill, his background, awards, charity involvement, and much more. We start with his bio below, and more "must know" info linked on your left. Vince Gill is the ambassador of country music. This isn’t his official title, of course, but it’s the role he occupies–whether he’s picking bluegrass with his boyhood heroes backstage at the Grand Ole Opry or trading jazz licks with the house band on The Late Show with David Letterman. Gill’s prodigious talent, legendary compassion and quick wit have made him the face that country music likes to show the world. Vincent Grant Gill was born April 12, 1957, in Norman, Oklahoma, the son of a federal judge and a homemaker. By the time he was in high school, he had become proficient on the banjo and guitar and was playing in his first bluegrass band. After graduation, he turned professional, working with such acts as the Bluegrass Alliance, Boone Creek, Sundance and, most famously, Pure Prairie League. For a time, Gill also toured with Rodney Crowell’s high-octane backup band, the Cherry Bombs. In 1983, he signed to RCA Records, where he scored his first solo country hits, among them "Oklahoma Borderline" and "Cinderella." Gill moved to MCA Records in 1989. The following year, he achieved his big breakthrough with "When I Call Your Name," which won the Country Music Association’s Single of the Year award. Since then, he has won 17 more CMA honors, including Entertainer of the Year twice and Song of the Year four times. To date, Gill has earned more CMA trophies than anyone else in history. He has hosted the nationally televised CMA awards show since 1992. Since 1990, Gill has walked away with 14 Grammy awards, a total that ties him with the late Chet Atkins for the most Grammys won by a country artist. In 1991, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and remains one of that revered radio show’s most active members. As a recording artist, Gill has racked up sales in excess of 22 million. His high, pure tenor voice and unerring sense of harmony, have made him a favorite duet recording partner for dozens of fellow artists–from Ralph Stanley to Barbra Streisand. Active in a wide array of charities, Gill’s favorite cause is the annual "The Vinny" pro-celebrity golf tournament, which he established in 1993 to raise money for the Junior Golf program. In 2001, the TNN & CMT Country Weekly awards show honored Gill for his artistry and many good works with its Career Achievement Award. Gill is married to pop music singer Amy Grant. His current album is Next Big Thing

Thecountryfreak Vince Gill

 Freddy Fender
Freddy Fender has had three successful careers already-as a Hispanic/pop star in the late 50's, a country pop star in the 70's, and a member of the Grammy award-winning Texas Tornadoes in the 90's. With his signing to Warner/Reprise, he begins a new chapter in an amazing career that spans nearly four decades. Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Huerta in the Rio Grande Valley town of San Benito, Texas. He grew up in a barrio that, he is quick to point out, was not a crowded ghetto but just a poor Hispanic neighborhood. The first music he played was Tejano, conjunto, Tex-Mex- the rambunctious combination of polka (from the German settlers of Texas) and traditional Mexican music- he learned by watching and listening at weddings and other events in the neighborhood. In 1947, at the age of 10, he made his first appearance on radio, singing a current hit "Paloma Querida", on KGBT in Harlingen, Texas. Another performance of "Paloma Querida" (literally translated "dove" and "loved one") won him a tub of food worth about $10- first prize in an amateur talent contest at the Grand Theater in Harlingen. At the same time, Fender was getting a first-hand education in the blues. His parents were migrant workers and he traveled with them during the picking season. Many of his fellow workers were black, and some of them, Fender remembers, were good enough singers and musicians to have been professionals. The blues music he heard in the fields would become an integral part of his own unique style. At 16, he joined the Marines for a three year hitch. After his discharge, he started playing Texas honky tonks and dance halls. Two of his first records, Spanish versions of Elvis' "Don't Be Cruel" and Harry Belafonte's "Jamaica Farewell" on Falcon Records went to Number One in Mexico and South America in 1957. In 1959, Hollywood called him -- not to act but to sign to Imperial Records, the label of such greats as Fats Domino. In hopes of reaching the gringo audience, he changed his name, taking Fender from the headstock of his Electric guitar, and picking Freddy simply because it was alliterative. In 1960, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" became a national hit, it also proved to be prophetic for Fender. Early stardom was stolen that year when he and his bass player were arrested and sent to prison for possession of two marijuana cigarettes. Three years later, Fender surfaced in New Orleans, where he spent the next five years further developing his interest in rhythm & blues and Cajun funk. By 1969, Fender had returned home to "The Valley". He worked full time as a mechanic, enrolled at Del Mar College and played music only on weekends. In 1974, he cut Before The Next Teardrop Falls" in Houston. The master was bought by ABC-Dot, and on April 8, 1975, it reached the Number One spot on Billboard's pop and county charts, the first time in history an artist's first single reached Number One on both charts. His remake of "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights," essentially the same arrangement that had been considered rock and roll the first time around, followed "Teardrop. . " to Number One on the country charts, and his third release, "Secret Love," and fourth release "You'll Lose A Good Thing" also hit the top spot. The album went multi-platinum. Billboard named him Best Male Artist of 1975, and he won both single and album-of the-year honors from The Gavin Report. Fender's broad appeal has been reinforced by his success with cinema and television projects, including the Hispanic classics "Short eyes" and 'She Came To The Valley", as well as his breakthrough performance in Robert Redford's 1987 epic "Milagro Beanfield War". His voice has also been tapped for successful national radio and television campaigns for McDonald's, Miller Lite and others. In the 90's, Freddy Fender's role as vocalist/guitarist in the Tex-Mex supergroup, Texas Tornados, has delivered the venerable performer to major marketplaces and audiences traditionally oriented toward roots rock and progressive blues music. David Letterman recently introduced Fender to his Latenight audience as "one of the greatest voices in all of music."

Thecountryfreak Freddy Fender

 Garth Brooks
Garth Proposes to Trisha
Garth Brooks proposed to longtime girlfriend Trisha Yearwood onstage Wednesday night (May 25) at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif. Both Brooks and Yearwood were in tears after he knelt on his knees to make the surprise proposal in front of the crowd attending a ceremony to unveil bronze statues of 10 country music legends at Owens' club and restaurant. In addition to Owens, Country Music Hall of Fame member Merle Haggard was there for the statue ceremony and to join in a jam session. Brooks and Yearwood first met while trying launch their careers in the mid 1980s. She was Brooks' opening act on his first major tour as a headliner, and he sang background vocals on her 1991 debut album. Through the years, she has sung background vocals on most of his albums. Although conflicts between their respective record labels have prevented them from completing a complete album of duets, their collaborations include "In Another's Eye" (a track from his 1997 album, Sevens) and "Squeeze Me In" (from his most recent album, 2001's Scarecrow ). It's the second marriage for Brooks, 43, who married Sandy Mahl in 1986. They later became the parents of three daughters. Brooks cited irreconcilable differences when he filed for divorce in 2000. He moved from Nashville after announcing a hiatus from the music business to spend more time with his children in Oklahoma. Yearwood, 40, has been married twice and has no children. Her 1987 marriage to Chris Latham ended in divorce four years later. In 1994, she married Mavericks bassist Robert Reynolds onstage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. They divorced five years later. During Wednesday's concert in Bakersfield, Brooks performed the George Strait hit, "Amarillo By Morning," and one of his own, "Friends in Low Places." Owens scheduled the event to formally unveil the series of statues created by Montana-based artist Bill Rains. Among those featured in the display are Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, George Strait, Owens and Brooks


 Martina MCBride
BIOGRAPHY
Although she’s widely acknowledged as the premier female vocalist in country music today, Martina McBride is not content to rest on her impressive laurels, which include a shelf full of industry awards. The petite powerhouse unveils a deeper, stronger, more confident sound on her eighth studio album, Martina, proving that she may be in her prime, but definitely not at her peak. Somehow, she’s managed to improve upon near-perfection by focusing on what she does best: delivering emotional performances of mature country songs with poignant, timeless themes. She continues to build on her solid foundation of creating songs that instantly become today’s hits and tomorrow’s standards. "I really just tried to make a record full of great songs, which is the goal I always have," McBride says. "From a production standpoint, I really wanted it to be warm and to sound more like an old vinyl record as opposed to really clean, pristine and digital." The CD was recorded in the Nashville studio she and her husband recently purchased, so the sessions took on a more homey, comfortable feel. She was able to spend hours singing without any time constraints and even took breaks to cook dinner for her family in the studio’s kitchen. Whether it’s "This One’s For the Girls," "So Magical" or "Wearing White," this CD is "more Martina music," literally and figuratively. It’s both a continuation of her impressive musical journey and a new stage of growth "The thing is, I just love where I am right now in my career," she says. "I love country music. I don’t ever feel restricted by the genre. I’ve been able to have a solid career that we’ve built one step at a time and a family. I know that I’m in a good place." Of course it’s hard to see how she could get more successful. She is to this new decade what Reba McEntire was to the '90s--the standard by which all others are judged. "I definitely feel a difference about my place in the industry," she says. "I feel like I have some longevity now. We’ve established a place. When I’m compared to Reba, it’s such a compliment but I feel I have so far to go. Reba’s career is such an example in longevity and consistency--making music that is accepted and successful, and having a track record. I do look to Reba as a role-model of someone who has longevity, handled her career with class, and gained the respect of her fans, the industry, and her peers. We all want to be Reba when we grow up!" Martina McBride has the great fortune of being the darling of every facet of the music industry, as evidenced by her numerous CMA and ACM Female Vocalist Awards. Songs such as "Independence Day," "Concrete Angel," "Love’s The Only House," and "A Broken Wing" have become not only memorable musical statements, but resounding social commentaries as well. With her preternaturally large soprano voice, McBride speaks for those who can’t speak for themselves and forces us to recognize situations that we’d prefer to ignore. Whether it’s alcoholism, domestic violence or child abuse, this courageous risk-taker has never backed down from exploring our nation’s darkest sides. Perpetually a fan favorite, she’s sold nearly 10 million albums, garnered six No. 1 hits and received Favorite Female Artist awards from Country Weekly, Radio & Records and Billboard. Recently, "Independence Day" was voted No. 8 on CMT’s fan- voted list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music. "It’s every artist’s dream to have songs that last, songs that are timeless and classic," she says. "The fact that 'Independence Day' made such an impression with people is a good feeling. I feel like songs like 'Independence Day' and 'Concrete Angel' were divinely sent to me. I’m just the instrument for the song to do whatever it’s supposed to do--heal, inspire or encourage. It’s not all about me, it’s about the song. I’m just the lucky girl who gets to sing these songs." McBride’s 11-year recording career is a textbook study in controlled stardom. While some artists find themselves on a runaway train, McBride has always remained confidently in the driver’s seat of her career. "I’m definitely a person who likes to control my own destiny," she says. "That’s hard to do in this business because there are many creative people with great ideas and years of experience giving you advice but what is right for one artist isn’t always best for another. Knowing what’s best for you and being willing to stand up and assert that is really a strong trait in this business - especially if you don’t want to follow the 'rules.' It’s difficult at times, but you have to stick to your guns and still know when to be flexible. That’s something I’ve had to learn - which battles to fight." Having two daughters also helps keep her grounded. Her family comes first, so she tours when her children are out of school for the summer. During the school year, McBride can be spotted driving the girls to school in her beloved 1992 Honda. "I’m just Mom, and at the end of the day I want them to know that being their mom is the most important thing to me," she says. "I can’t be the big star in the family. We have a family, and we are all equal." It’s this universal equality that she addresses in the project’s first single, "This One’s For the Girls." The song proclaims, "Yeah we’re all the same inside/from one to ninety-nine." "That’s such an important lyric to me, says McBride. "Every night that I sing it live, I want people to feel that. I’m really no different. I just have a great job, and I get to wear cool clothes, and I was given a gift. That’s all it is, a gift, and we all have gifts. When it comes down to it, we are all just trying to do our thing, trying to make the world a better place in our way." She developed this strong sense of self while growing up on a Sharon, Kansas farm and graduating from a high school with only nine others in her senior class. "A big part of who I am is just the way I was raised," she says. "Nobody is better than anyone else, and if you really work hard, you might get lucky and get what you want." Hard work came early for McBride, who toured Kansas and Oklahoma with her parent’s band, The Schiffters. "Well, ‘touring’ is putting it pretty fancy," she laughs. "We hooked up the trailer to the back of the car, and we drove to the gig, unloaded and set up all the equipment, played four hours, tore it all down, loaded it up and drove home. It was just what we did from the time we were little kids, but even then I knew it was something special--not something every family got to do together." She and her husband John moved to Nashville in 1990. John even moved his successful local sound company along with them. By the following year, both John and Martina took jobs touring with Garth Brooks. John served as Production Manager and provided the concert sound system through his company, while Martina sold T-shirts. All the while, when back in Nashville from the road, the two worked on Martina’s demo tape to take to record labels, hoping to get a recording contract. Her discovery is now the stuff of legend: She took a few liberties with the truth when she wrote "requested material" on a purple envelope containing her demo and sent it to RCA Records. Requested or not, it was just the voice RCA was looking for and they offered her a deal. In 1992, she released her debut CD, The Time Has Come. It wasn’t until the single "My Baby Loves Me" from her second album, The Way That I Am, that Martina captured radio’s hearts and garnered a Top Five hit. In 1994, her life changed forever with the release of the Grammy Award-winning song "Independence Day," a soaring anthem that features a brutally honest portrayal of domestic violence. Not only did this forever alter her career trajectory, it profoundly changed her personally as well. For nearly a decade, she’s been a national spokeswoman for the victims of domestic violence, working with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, the YWCA, ChildHelp USA, and the Safe Haven Family Shelter. Her work with these causes has earned her recognition from domestic violence programs and widespread media. Recently she was the recipient of Redbook Magazine’s "Mothers and Shakers" award for her work bringing national attention to the domestic violence problem. She was recognized alongside other recipients such as Katie Couric, Cynthia Nixon, Stockard Channing and others. She was also given the Grammy organization’s highest honor, The Heroes Award, for her ongoing charitable work. Famed poet Maya Angelou presented Martina her award saying, "Here, take my hand; I celebrate you." "I feel like it's important to use this gift God gave me, my life and my career to do something to make the world a better place," explains Martina. "It’s an easy thing for me to do. The real heroes are the ones working at the shelters every day and the women who find the courage to better their lives for themselves and their children. The woman working at the shelter doesn’t have the opportunity to get in front of a million people and raise awareness. I’m the one that can do that for her." Although McBride is now recognized as the voice of the common woman, she says she never set out to be the public defender of equal rights. "I’m not thinking, ‘I need to have all these songs that speak to women'’", she says. "I’m just inevitably drawn to the ones that speak about women’s feelings, which shouldn’t be a big surprise. I am a woman, so I think that would be the natural thing. You don’t hear a man described as ‘singing songs that speak to men.’ It’s just what we do naturally. I don’t think, ‘I’ve got to find the next woman’s anthem,’ or ‘I have to be the voice for all women.’ But I am happy that women can relate to my songs, and hopefully men can too." Not all of her songs are deep somber tomes. Hits such as "I Love You," "Safe in the Arms of Love," "Wild Angels" and "Happy Girl" reveal her frolicking, fun side. She continues this tradition on Martina with upbeat songs like "So Magical" and "This One’s for the Girls." The album also has its share of tender love songs, including "City of Love," "When You Love Me," and "Learning To Fall." "There has to be a sense of vulnerability in a great love song," explains McBride. "It has to say, ‘You are IT' for me. You make me feel this way, and nobody else does.’ You want to make someone else feel what you’re feeling. I feel like if I can s ing this to the person I love, then others can do that as well." While she admits that the awards and industry recognition have been wonderful, it’s not what motivates her to keep improving her music. "What drives me now is the desire to be able to keep doing this," she says. "I love making records and performing, and success means I will continue to have the privilege to do that. I know it’s not going to last forever, but I’d like to keep having success as long as I can so that I can still be a part of this industry." McBride remains a bit uncomfortable addressing the status of her career or her influence on country music. She’d rather just focus on her music and family. "What I would like my legacy to be is that of a person who took good care of her family and sang some songs that made a difference in some way," she says. "I hope I’ll be remembered as somebody who was always down to earth and who handled her career and other people with honesty, integrity and class."

Thecountryfreak Martina MCBride

 TOBY KEITH'S
Honkytonk University Twelve years and 12 albums in, Toby Keith's run as a country singer, songwriter, musician and entertainer is entering a new phase. The first began with his 1993 signing to Mercury Records and closed with the 1999 release of his first greatest hits collection. The second began with his subsequent move to DreamWorks Records and closed last year with the release of his Greatest Hits 2. The third begins May 17 with the release of Honkytonk University, his 13th album. Where it ends...well, that story is still being written. Its first chapter, however, seems to foreshadow a music-driven progression. And so, the album confirms Toby Keith's place as one of the very few recording artists in any genre for whom artistic and commercial growth have been simultaneous, long-lived and completely self-directed. Looking back, Keith's current stature seems almost inevitable considering his out-of-the-box double platinum debut and an ensuing succession of radio hits. But his rise has come with its share of difficulties -- creative control issues early on, followed by the long odds of a small label among giants. And though he has crested both mountains, this third stage of his professional journey is bound to reveal new challenges. Toby Keith was born and raised in Oklahoma. As he sings on his new album's first single, his grandmother owned a nightclub on the Arkansas-Oklahoma line, and it's there he first got the itch for performing the country music he'd heard in his father's record collection. Early jobs included rodeo work, climbing oil rigs and semi-pro football, but music soon became his focus. His apprenticeship was served with bar gigs and independent recording projects. Signed to Mercury by Alabama-producer Harold Shedd, Keith introduced himself to country fans nationwide with "Shoulda Been A Cowboy" in 1993. The No. 1 smash paved the way for three more hits, "Wish I Didn't Know Now," "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" and "He Ain't Worth Missing," and Keith's self titled debut album went on to sell more than two million copies His next three albums, Boomtown, Blue Moon and Dream Walkin' generated an enviable body of hit singles. Titles include "Who's That Man," "You Ain't Much Fun," "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You," "Me Too," "Dream Walkin'" and "We Were In Love." Even with this level of airplay success, Keith's career was not progressing and his relationship with the label was increasingly tumultuous. Problems came to a head as Keith was completing work on his next album. The title track first single "How Do You like Me Now?!" was flatly rejected by Mercury and he was released from his contract. Keith's producer James Stroud was running the Nashville division of startup DreamWorks, which soon signed Keith. And though the new company was competing in a market dominated by increasingly consolidated conglomerates, the move initiated an era of explosive growth for artist and label alike. "How Do You Like Me Now?!" became a multi-week No. 1 and an anthem for Keith's emerging status as a true superstar. Subsequent single "Country Comes To Town" and "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This" returned him to platinum sales status. The next release, Pull My Chain, kicked out three huge hits in "I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight," "I Wanna Talk About Me" and "My List" on the way to double platinum. Keith's next single release, "Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)" was written in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The song became an emotional rallying cry in the war on terror, and the title was painted on tank cannons and warplanes during the hunt for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. "Courtesy" helped the 2002 release of Unleashed to a No. 1 country debut, and was followed by the hits "Who's Your Daddy?" and "Beer For My Horses," a duet with Willie Nelson. The album eventually surpassed four million in sales, and the national furor over Keith's patriotic anthem cemented his place not only as the genre's top superstar, but also as a household name. The following year saw the release of Shock'N Y'all and its three multi-week No. 1s "I Love This Bar," "American Soldier" and "Whiskey Girl." The disc entered the all-genre album chart at No. 1 and is currently well past triple platinum. His Greatest Hits 2 collection, released late last fall, is already nearing triple platinum and established yet another hit in Keith's repertoire, "Stays In Mexico." Along the way he became one of country's top live draws, regularly ranking as a top ticket sellers in any genre. The Academy of Country Music named him Entertainer of the Year in 2003 and 2004, representing just two of the literally dozens of peer-voted, fan-voted and industry achievement awards he has received. The latest career retrospective marked another turning point in Keith's career, however, as the phenomenal five-year run at DreamWorks made the label an acquisition target. Now under the Universal Music Group/Nashville umbrella, Toby Keith finds himself back with the company that first signed and dropped him. And so the first studio release from his latest circumstance carries all the import of predecessors Toby Keith and How Do You Like Me Now?! Thankfully, it lives up to its lineage. Honkytonk University is perhaps best described as a career album, in the sense that only a performer as accomplished and artistically mature as Keith could both acknowledge his past and look to the future in one cohesive release. The disc nods at different eras in his life and career on the title track, "I Got It Bad," and the Merle Haggard duet "She Ain't Hooked On Me No More." And yet he's never recorded anything quite like "Big Blue Note," nor been as boldly funny and slightly self-deprecating as he is on "As Good As I Once Was." In short, Toby Keith has reached that hallowed place where everything he does musically seems so effortless. Except, of course, when you stop to consider how much work it took for him to get there.

Thecountryfreak TOBY KIETH

 Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn

Van Lear Rose
For over four decades now, Loretta has fashioned a body of work as artistically and commercially successful—and as culturally significant—as any female performer you’d care to name. Her music has confronted many of the major social issues of her time, and her life story is a rags-to-riches tale familiar to pop, rock and country fans alike. The Coal Miner’s Daughter—the tag refers to a hit single, an album, a best-selling autobiography, an Oscar-winning film, and to Lynn herself—has journeyed from the poverty of the Kentucky hills to Nashville superstardom to her current status as an honest-to-goodness American icon. Her latest album, the Jack White-produced Van Lear Rose, is poised now to remind the world yet again of Lynn’s power as a vocalist and her skill as a songwriter. As she puts it on “Story of My Life,” the new album’s closing track: “Not half bad for this ol’ KY girl, I guess... Here’s the story of my life. Listen close, I’ll tell it twice.” Loretta was born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, the second of Clara and Ted Webb’s eight children. Just as she would later sing in “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta’s family eked out a living during the Depression on the “poor man’s dollar” her father managed to earn “work{ing] all night in the Van Leer coal mine [and] all day long in the field a-hoein’ corn.” As she also notes in that song, “I never thought of leavin’ Butcher Holler.” But that was before she met Oliver Lynn (aka Doolittle or Doo, or “Mooney” for moonshine), a handsome 21-year-old fresh from the service who swept the young Loretta Webb off her feet. The couple married when Loretta was barely 14. Looking for a future that didn’t require him to work the mines, Doo found work in Custer, Washington, and Loretta joined him in 1951. The following decade found Lynn a full-time mother—four kids by the time she began singing seriously in 1961—of precisely the sort she would one day sing to and for. In her spare time, though, with Doo’s encouragement, she learned to play the guitar and began singing in the area. During one televised talent contest in Tacoma, hosted by Buck Owens, Loretta was spotted by Norm Burley who was so impressed he started Zero Records just to record her. Before long, Loretta and Doo hit the road cross-country, stopping every time they spotted a country radio station to push her first Zero release, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.” By the time they reached Nashville, the record was a. minor hit and Loretta found work cutting demos for the publishing company of Teddy and Doyle Wilburn. One of these, Kathryn Fulton’s “Biggest Fool of All,” caught the ear of Decca Records producer Owen Bradley. He thought the song would be perfect for Brenda Lee, but the Wilburns worked a deal—you can have the song if you record Loretta. Soon, Loretta was in the studio cutting sides with Bradley, producer at the time not only for Lee but Patsy Cline, Bill Anderson, and Webb Pierce. At this early stage of her career, Loretta was greatly influenced by Kitty Wells, the groundbreaking “girl singer” who turned the tables on several decades worth of male double standards with the 1952 classic, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels.” Like Kitty’s, Loretta’s delivery on “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” was twangy and nasal, rhythmically straight up and down, plainspoken and emotionally understated. Such a down-home vocal style was Loretta’s birthright; it was more or less the way she had sang back in Kentucky, it was the style she took with her to Washington, and it was a vocal approach particularly well-suited to the duet sides she soon made in Nashville with honky-tonk legend Ernest Tubb. (“Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be,” from 1964, was the pair’s first and biggest hit.) Working with Bradley in Nashville, however, Lynn quickly fell under the musical spell of new friend Patsy Cline. Patsy’s distinctive style, marked by dramatic slides, growls and crescendos, was more modern and “pop” sounding than that of Wells’ and the other female country singers of the day. It’s not surprising then that “Success,” the 1962 single that became Loretta’s first Top Ten hit (and that was later covered by Elvis Costello on his Almost Blue album) showcased Loretta in a full-throated, string-backed setting that’s more than a little reminiscent of Patsy Cline. Out of these influences, Lynn soon fashioned her distinctive style—a mature fusion of twang, grit, energy and libido—an approach she first perfected in the songs of other writers. In “Wine, Women, and Song,” “Happy Birthday,” and “Blue Kentucky Girl,” each a Top Ten hit in 1964, Loretta played a plucky young woman who alternated between waiting for her wayward man to walk back in the door and threatening to walk out herself. Such hits were early hints of Loretta’s undeniably strong female point of view—a perspective unique at the time both to country music specifically and to pop music generally and a trend in her music that became further pronounced as she began to write more of her own songs. In her first self-penned song to crack the Top Ten, 1966’s “Dear Uncle Sam,” Loretta presented herself as a woman who was going to fight to keep what was important to her, even if that meant questioning the wisdom of her government. Indeed, “Dear Uncle Sam” was among the very first recordings to recount the human costs of the Vietnam War. “Doo encouraged me to write that one,” she recalls today. “I was wondering what it would be like to have someone over there and what I would do if I did.” (The song made a return to Lynn’s live sets with the coming of the Iraq war.) Over the next few years, Loretta wrote a string of hits unprecedented for their take-no-crap women narrators. In “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man)” [#2, 1966], “Don’t Come Home A’Drinkin’ (with Lovin’ on Your Mind)” [#1, 1967], and “Fist City” [#1, 1968], among others, Loretta presented a new character on the country scene: a woman unafraid to stand up for herself, just like real women did. Drawing upon her own experiences as a harried young wife and mother, and upon a homespun sense of humor at once both pointed and hilarious, Loretta issued warnings to soused and philandering hubbies everywhere—and to the female competition—that she was not to be trifled with. In her words, “You better close your face and stay out of my way if you don’t wanna go to Fist City.” [Note: As on most of Lynn’s biggest solo hits, the studio band for the above numbers included members of Nashville’s famed A-Team: guitarist Grady Martin, six-string electric bassist Harold Bradley, bass player Junior Huskey, pianist Floyd Cramer, drummer Buddy Harman, and pedal steel guitarist Hal Rugg.] As the ‘60s turned into the ‘70s, Lynn forever solidified her reputation as an advocate for ordinary women. Typically, Loretta’s brand of women’s liberation was attuned specifically to the lives of her blue-collar audience, the wives and mothers who were far too overwhelmed by the demands of, say, childcare to place much stock in symbolic foolishness like bra burning. Indeed, while a guest on The Dick Frost Show, Loretta once famously dozed off while listening to the upper-middle class feminist Betty Freidan talk theory with the show’s host. Loretta was more interested in life as it was lived—in the kitchen and in the bedroom--by millions of working-class women everyday. For example, “One’s on the Way,” a Shel Silverstein-penned hit from 1971, let Lynn voice the concerns of a harried Topeka woman, worn out from raising her kids, cleaning the house, and dealing with a husband with enough free time to be calling her from a bar while she’s home making dinner. But it was with her own songs that Loretta best conveyed the complexity of women’s lives. In “I Wanna Be Free,” Loretta reveled in the possibilities a divorce might bring (“I’m gonna take this chain from around my finger, and throw it just as far as I can sling ‘er”), while in “Rated X” she complained that new divorcees were inevitably treated like easy women. In “I Know How,” she boasted of her sexual prowess; in “When the Tingle Becomes a Chill,” she bemoaned the loss of desire that accompanies a bad marriage; and in “The Pill,” a record banned by many radio stations in its day, she captured perfectly the power of birth control to let women love without the passion-dowsing fear of pregnancy: “The feelin’ good comes easy now since I’ve got the pill!” Each of the above songs was a Top Three country hit between 1968 and 1975, and Loretta Lynn (to paraphrase the title of a 1970 album) both wrote ‘em and sang ‘em. The same was true, of course, of her signature song, the 1970 chart- topper “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which chronicled for all time the strides women were making in these years—from country to city, from home to workforce and, in Lynn’s case, from “girl-singer” to superstar. The immense popularity of these songs, as well as other straight-shooting hits like “Your Squaw Is on the Warpath,” “Women of the World (Leave My World Alone)," and “You’re Looking at Country,” culminated in 1972 when Lynn won her second Best Female Vocalist award from the Country Music Association—and when she became the first woman to win the CMA’s most prestigious award, Entertainer of the Year. It didn’t hurt that sprinkled among her many solo hits was a series of amazing collaborations between Loretta and her dear friend, singer Conway Twitty. Indeed, Loretta also won her first Vocal Duo of the Year award in 1972, with Conway, a title the team held onto through 1976. (And this in the years when the duet competition annually included Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton and George Jones & Tammy Wynette!) The pair’s close harmony style and dramatic song selections—especially, “After the Fire Is Gone,” “Lead Me On,” “As Soon As I Hang up the Phone,” and “Feelin’s”—explored adult romantic relationships as wrenchingly as any records ever made. Through the next decade, Loretta scored more and more hits—and became more and more famous beyond her country base. In 1973, she appeared on the cover of Newsweek; in 1976 her autobiography (written with journalist George Vescey) became a New York Times Bestseller; in 1980 the book was made into a hit film starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. By the time of her last major hit—”I Lie,” in 1982—Lynn could count 52 Top 10 hits and 16 #1’s. Loretta Lynn spent the ‘90s largely away from the spotlight, caring for her ailing husband Doo and, after he died in 1996, grieving his loss. The music scene has changed considerably in her absence but it’s also a scene she helped create. Indeed, it would be all but impossible to imagine the likes of Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine” and Deana Carter’s “Did I Shave My Legs for This?” or any number of Dixie Chicks hits, without her. Van Lear Rose, with its moody, propulsive arrangements, loud and rocking guitars and intimate songwriting, can only extend Lynn’s profound influence into a new century—and to a new generation of fans.

Thecountryfreak LORETTA LYNN

 Country Radio
Country Radio

Thecountryfreak SUMMER FUN RADIO

 Twain, McBride, Evans on Desperate House
Shania Twain, Martina McBride and Sara Evans are included on the Desperate Housewives soundtrack that will be released Sept. 20. Twain sings "Shoes," McBride revives "Harper Valley P.T.A." and Evans performs "One's on the Way." Other artists on the project include Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Indigo Girls, Jewel, k.d. lang, Idina Menzel, Anna Nalick, Liz Phair, Paulina Rubio and Joss Stone. .

 Dukes of Hazzard
Dukes of Hazzard


 Dwight Yoakam
Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam was born in Pikeville, Ky., on Oct. 23, 1956, but spent a sizable portion of his youth in Ohio. Inspired by the Beatles and the Byrds, as well as the honky-tonk music of the area, he moved to Los Angeles in 1978 after years of rejection in Nashville. He realized he might need to find an alternate highway for his music, so he brought his music to an unlikely audience -- the roots rock fans of Los Angeles who had already embraced local bands such as Los Lobos, the Blasters and Lone Justice. Yoakam teamed with producer Pete Anderson for the 1984 EP Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. A few years later, Nashville was again eager for unconventional artists (such as Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett), and Reprise Records reissued the six-song EP with four additional tracks (and an extra Etc. in the title). Through the end of the 1980s, he had notched nine Top 10 hits, including the No. 1 hit "Streets of Bakersfield," a duet with pioneer California-country pioneer Buck Owens. In 1993, with his twang intact, Yoakam delivered a commercial smash with the album This Time. Three of its singles peaked at No. 2, and "Ain't That Lonely Yet" won a Grammy. (Yoakam has yet to win a CMA award.) Future albums on Warner Bros./Reprise failed to yield a Top 10 hit, and he seemed determined to fulfill his contract with a hits album, a live album, a covers album, a soundtrack, an acoustic album and a Christmas album. (He also offered studio albums in 1995, 1998 and 2001.) Following an impressive box set in 2002, he released Population: Me in 2003 on Audium/Koch Records. In 2004 he released Dwight's Used Records, an anthology of duets from other artists' albums, unreleased covers and cuts he contributed to various tribute compilations. He moved to New West Records in 2005 for Blame the Vain, which he produced himself after a professional split from Anderson. Watching his innovative videos, it's not surprising that Yoakam has also found work in Hollywood. He earned rave reviews for his villainous roles in Sling Blade (1996) and Panic Room (2002). He also lends his name to a line of frozen biscuits and sausage.

Thecountryfreak DWIGHT YOAKAM

 Wynonna Judd By Oprah
September 19, 2005 Wynonna Returns To 20th Season Of The Oprah Winfrey Show Tune in when Wynonna revisits "The Oprah Winfrey Show" this coming Tuesday, Sept. 27 (check local listings for stations and times). CHICAGO, IL: The 20th Season Premiere of The Oprah Winfrey Show kicks off with special guest Jennifer Aniston and much, much, much more. Anything can happen when the season premiere episode airs Monday, September 19, 2005 (check local listings). On the calendar for the show's 20th Anniversary Season Premiere week: Lance Armstrong with big news and a musical homage to Luther Vandross with Patti LaBelle and Usher, plus a tribute to the late great publisher John H. Johnson (Sept. 20); Jon Bon Jovi's Oprah debut (Sept. 21); Chris Rock (Sept. 22). Also on Oprah this fall: Reese Witherspoon's first time on Oprah; Faith Hill changes one woman's life forever; Sandra Bullock and the cast of Crash; Ricky Martin's mission to fight child slavery; and special follow-up interviews with Brooke Shields and Wynonna Judd (on September 27). The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 19 consecutive seasons, winning every sweep since its debut in 1986.* It is produced in Chicago by Harpo Productions, Inc. and syndicated to 215 domestic markets and 117 countries by CBS Paramount International Television. « return to news .


 Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Superstar husband and wife team up for another hit single and video. Watch "Like We Never Loved at All." More

 OranjeMails
OranjeMails.nl
Thecountryfreak OranjeMails

 Martina McBride Previews New Album Durin
Martina McBride Previews New Album Durin

Martina McBride's fans have already heard her latest single, a remake of Lynn Anderson's 1970 hit, "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden," but she'll introduce her versions of other classic songs from her upcoming album during a live concert special on CMT. Martina McBride: Timeless premieres Saturday (Oct. at 10 p.m. ET/PT New Album, Timeless, Features Her Versions of Country Classics

Thecountryfreak MARTINA MC BRIDE

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 GRETCHEN WILSON -ALL JACKED UP
Thecountryfreak GRETCHEN WILSON -ALL JACKED UP

 Elvis Radio Honors the King
Elvis Radio Honors the King

Satellite Radio Channel Plays the Hits and Obscurities From Graceland It's all-Elvis -- all the time. But the radio station is operating from the plaza at Graceland in Memphis, so what would you expect? Read More

 Norah Jones
Norah Jones

Norah Jones was born March 30, 1979, in New York City. When she was 4 years old, she and her mother Sue moved to the... Norah Jones was born March 30, 1979, in New York City. When she was 4 years old, she and her mother Sue moved to the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, Texas. Jones' earliest musical influences came from her mother's extensive LP collection and from "oldies" radio. She began singing in church choirs at age 5, commenced piano lessons two years later and briefly played alto saxophone in junior high. "My mom had this eight-album Billie Holiday set. I picked out one disc that I liked and played that over and over again. 'You Go to My Head,' that was my favorite ..." When Jones was 15, she and her mother moved from Grapevine to Dallas' central city, where she enrolled in Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. (Soul singer Erykah Badu and trumpeter Roy Hargrove are also Washington alumni.) She played her first gig on her 16th birthday, an open mike night at a local coffeehouse, where she performed a version of "I'll Be Seeing You" that she'd learned from Etta James' treatment of this Billie Holiday favorite. While still in high school, she won the Down Beat Student Music Awards for best jazz vocalist and best original composition in 1996 and earned a second SMA for best jazz vocalist in 1997. She also sang with a band called Laszlo, playing what she describes as "dark, jazzy rock." After graduation, she entered the University of North Texas -- nationally renowned for its music programs -- where she majored in jazz piano. In the summer of 1999, she accepted a friend's offer of a summer sublet in Greenwich Village. She came to Manhattan ... and never returned to North Texas State. "The music kept me here. The music scene is so huge -- I found it very exciting. I especially enjoyed hearing amazing songwriters at little places like The Living Room. Everything opened up for me." For about a year beginning in December 1999, she appeared regularly with the funk-fusion band Wax Poetic (now signed to Atlantic). But she soon assembled her own group with Jesse Harris, Lee Alexander and Dan Rieser. In October 2000, this lineup recorded a selection of demos for Blue Note Records. On the strength of these recordings and a live showcase, she was signed to Blue Note in January 2001. She sang two songs (Roxy Music's "More Than This" and "Day Is Done" by Nick Drake) on guitarist Charlie Hunter's Blue Note album Songs From the Analog Playground and has frequently performed live with Hunter's group. She began recording the songs on Come Away With Me in May 2001, doing preliminary work with producer Craig Street at Bearsville Studio in Woodstock, N.Y. In August 2001, the singer and her musicians went back to work -- this time with Arif Mardin at Sorcerer Sound in Manhattan. "I was nervous at first. I didn't want some amazing producer who'd done all these famous records to come in and have me be scared to tell him what I thought. But Arif is the nicest guy in the world, very easygoing. He was there to keep my act together and make sure I got a good record. ... Arif had great ideas." The music industry rewarded her with five Grammy awards in 2003, including album of the year, record of the year and best new artist. The album went on to sell more than 8 million copies in the U.S. Though she's often considered a jazz artist, Jones flirted with country music by landing a Grammy nomination for her Willie Nelson duet, "Wurlitzer Prize." A solo version appears on a Waylon Jennings tribute album. She also surfaced on recent musical tributes to Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton. Jones and Parton performed together on the 2003 CMA Awards telecast, and Parton appears on Jones' 2004 album Feels Like Home.


 Gill and Crowell Contribute to Album to
Gill and Crowell Contribute to Album to

After a year marked by astounding artistic cooperation, technology pushed to its limits and reams of legal paperwork, Nashville's Compass Records has released the album Hands Across the Water: A Benefit for the Children of the Tsunami. The 16-song album is the brainchild of musicians Andrea Zonn and John Cutliffe, who served as the project's producers. Among the more than 100 musicians participating are Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Jackson Browne, Tim O'Brien, Jon Randall, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Jim Lauderdale, Darrell Scott, Maura O'Connell, Mindy Smith, Jerry Douglas and the Duhks. Thanks to Cutliffe, a veteran of the Irish music scene, there is also a rich infusion of Irish and English voices and instruments, including those of the bands Flook, Lunasa, Solas and Altan. Thirty recording studios in the U. S., Canada, Europe and Australia were involved. Everyone, including the recording engineers, worked for free. Hands Across the Waterboasts such traditional songs as "Fair and Tender Ladies," "A Man of Constant Sorrow," "A Fond Kiss," "Let's Heal," "An Occasional Song," "Be Still My Soul" and "In the Sweet By and By." Prine and his wife, Fiona, essay the country standard "'Til a Tear Becomes a Rose." Lauderdale wrote "This World's Family" especially for the album and performs it with O'Connell. Crowell and Irish singer Paul Brady render a wistful reading of Johnny Cash's "40 Shades of Green." Zonn says she and Cutliffe began discussing the idea of creating a fundraising album two days after the devastating tsunami struck the coasts in Southeast Asia on Dec. 26, 2004. "We just felt so helpless," Zonn recalls. "The project helped us alleviate that." "There was no production budget at all," Cutliffe notes. "We kind of went, 'Who do we know?'" As it turned out, he and Zonn knew dozens of people eager to contribute. An outstanding fiddler and vocalist, Zonn is best known for her work with Vince Gill. More recently she toured as a member of James Taylor's band. "Everybody said yes immediately," Cutliffe continues. While he agrees the undertaking might have been an organizational nightmare, that's not how he remembers it. "It was all happening so fast," he says. "When things happened, we just dealt with them." The actual recording took place between January and May of 2005, according to Cutliffe. While most of the tracks were done in conventional studios, some of the musicians recorded their parts at home or in hotels along their tour routes. The data was routinely transmitted back to Nashville via the Internet. After that, Cutliffe reports, "there was a lot of paperwork" involving the artists' labels, managers and publishers. Initially, Compass planned to release Hands Across the Water in August but then decided to hold it until the first anniversary of the disaster. The album was made available to digital retailers on Dec. 20 and in regular record stores on Jan. 10. During the remainder of January, Cutliffe says, the album will be released in major markets throughout the world, including Ireland, the Netherlands, Japan and Australia. To collect and distribute income from the album, he and Zonn have established the nonprofit Acoustic Canvas organization. It will also be used, Cutliffe says, for other child-oriented charity projects.

Thecountryfreak HANDS ACROSS THE WATER IS ALL

 Grammy's Country
Grammy's Country

48th Annual Grammy Awards

 René Riva
René Riva

Zodra de eerste noten over de lippen komen van de Amsterdamse zanger René Riva, drijven de herinneringen aan Willy Alberti - een van de meest populaire Nederlandse volkszangers ooit - vanzelf boven. Het duet dat hij op zijn Nederlandstalige debuutalbum zingt met diens dochter Willeke geeft dan ook direct de positie van René Riva weer: hij biedt een nostalgisch kijkje in het verleden, maar staat tegelijkertijd met beide benen in het hier en nu. Op het album “René Riva”, geproduceerd door het succesduo Emile Hartkamp en Norus Padidar (o.a. Frans Bauer en Marianne Weber) blijft dit nieuwe zangtalent vooral zichzelf in de nieuwe, speciaal voor hem geschreven liedjes van Emile Hartkamp en René Portegies (tekstschrijver van o.a André Hazes). René Riva is een rasechte Amsterdammer die op zijn veertiende een voorliefde ontwikkelde voor Italiaanse muziek, met name opera en romantische San Remo-achtige stukken. Op die manier kwam hij in aanraking met de Amsterdamse Tenore Napolitano Alberti, met wiens stukken hij mee begon te zingen. “Ik ontdekte dat zijn repertoire goed bij mijn stem paste. Ik ben – net zoals hij – een lyrische tenor die de hoogte in gaat. Ik luisterde vooral naar hem voor de techniek, niet zozeer vanwege zijn stemtype,” herinnert René zich. Toen hij in 1994 het concert van de drie tenoren Carreras, Pavarotti en Domingos zag, viel het kwartje: hij wilde definitief professioneel zanger worden. Door mee te zingen met bestaande nummers leerde hij zichzelf zingen, eerst binnenskamers maar later ook op school en in zijn stamkroeg, waar hij in contact kwam met twee telgen uit de Alberti-familie. Zij raadden hem aan mee te doen met het door Willy’s zoon Tonny Alberti georganiseerde gezellige evenement: Rondje Amsterdam, wat hij uiteindelijk in 2002 deed. Tonny was zo onder de indruk van wat hij hoorde en zag dat hij de sympathieke zanger direct onder zijn hoede nam. René werd steeds vaker geboekt voor feesten en grote evenementen als het Jordaanfestival, waar hij twee jaar achtereen optrad. Hij bracht tevens in eigen beheer een 4-track single uit die op de SONY/BMG burelen terechtkwam, met als resultaat dat hij eind 2004 een platencontract kreeg aangeboden.

Thecountryfreak RENE RIVA

 The Redneck Revolution Tour
The Redneck Revolution Tour

Gretchen Wilson is on the road, joined by special guest Van Zant and introducing Blaine Larsen. Take part in the Redneck Revolution by clicking on the venues to purchase tickets. 1.18.2006 NOKIA Theatre at Grand Prairie Dallas TX 1.19.2006 CenturyTel Center Bossier City LA 1.20.2006 Garrett Coliseum Montgomery AL 1.21.2006 Bi-Lo Center Greenville SC 1.26.2006 UTC McKenzie Arena Chattanooga TN 1.27.2006 Colonial Center Columbia SC 2.1.2006 Roanoke Civic Center Roanoke VA 2.3.2006 LJVM Coliseum Winston-Salem NC 2.4.2006 Savannah Civic Center Savannah GA 2.10.2006 World Arena Colorado Springs CO 2.12.2006 United Spirit Arema Lubbock TX 2.23.2006 Rupp Arena Lexington KY 2.24.2006 Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Ft. Wayne IN 3.1.2006 Midwest Wireless Civic Center Mankato MN 3.2.2006 Wells Fargo Arena Des Moines IA 3.3.2006 ISU Hulman Center Terre Haute IN 3.8.2006 Big Sandy Superstore Arena Huntington WV 3.11.2006 Dunkin' Donuts Center Providence RI 3.25.2006 Bancorp South Center Tupelo MS 3.26.2006 Southern IL University Carbondale IL 3.31.2006 Value City Arena - Schottenstein Center Columbus OH 4.1.2006 Roberts Stadium Evansville IN 4.2.2006 US Bank Arena Cincinnati OH 4.5.2006 The Arena at Gwinnett Center Atlanta GA 4.6.2006 Stephen O'Connell Center Gainesville FL 4.7.2006 Columbus Civic Center Columbus GA 4.8.2006 Tallahassee-Leon Co. Civic Center Tallahassee FL 4.27.2006 Wolstein Center at CSU Cleveland OH 4.28.2006 Peoria Civic Center Peoria IL 4.29.2006 Desoto Civic Center Southaven MS


 DNN
Thecountryfreak DNN

 Wynonna's Nashville Star
March 14, 2006 Multi-Platinum Superstars Big & Rich Slated To Kick Off Season Four of Nashville Star LOS ANGELES, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- NASHVILLE STAR, the nation's top-rated country music series, has partnered with Nashville's notorious MuzikMafia to bring the hottest new talent to season four including an electrifying opening performance from Big & Rich in episode one, it was announced today by Libby Hansen, USA's vice president, alternative series and specials. "Big & Rich is one of the hottest acts in country music right now, and we are thrilled to have them join the already exciting line-up of season four," explained Hansen. "By building off the ratings success of last year and by joining forces with both the RCA Label Group and now the MuzikMafia, we have unparalleled momentum for the first episode. It's a homerun for NASHVILLE STAR." Episode one will open with a high-energy performance by the Grammy-nominated duo before they retire to the judges' table to advise contestants alongside show veterans Phil Vassar and Anastasia Brown. Mafia member and "hick-hop" artist Cowboy Troy will co-host season four with five-time Grammy Award-winning superstar Wynonna Judd (Curb Records). Additional celebrity judges and performers will be announced in the coming weeks. Also coming on board the team as producers for the upcoming season is Big & Rich and Cowboy Troy manager Marc Oswald along with Kerry Hansen, Wynonna's manager. They will join the NASHVILLE STAR production team to help elevate the creative and musical elements of each episode including the opening and closing performances. In addition, they have set out to create a dynamic and powerful way to further incorporate the unique talents of the hosts in a way that has not been done. "One of the long-time goals of the Mafia is to bring country music to people in a newer, broader, more unfiltered way," explained Oswald. "NASHVILLE STAR reaches millions of Americans each week with some of the nation's most promising new voices, so this makes perfect sense." As previously announced, the winner of NASHVILLE STAR will receive a recording contract from the RCA Label Group, home to multi-platinum superstars Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley and Sara Evans, among others. NASHVILLE STAR is created by Reveille and executive produced by Ben Silverman ("The Biggest Loser," "The Office") and H.T. Owens ("The Restaurant," "30 Days"). Jeff Boggs will executive produce in association with Reveille again for the second year. The show is produced by Jon Small ("Garth Brooks Live From Central Park," "Billy Joel Live at Yankee Stadium") and his production company, Picture Vision, alongside co-executive producer Mark Koops ("The Restaurant," "Blow Out"). Reveille develops produces and distributes new and non-traditional programming formats for television and motion pictures across a variety of genres, including comedy, drama, game, and reality for American and international markets. In addition to selling television formats for independent producers such as NBC Universal Television Studios (USA Network, Sci Fi Channel), BBC Worldwide, Renegade and Princess Productions, Reveille sells its own produced program formats such as "The Restaurant" (NBC), "Blow Out" (Bravo) and "30 Days" (FX). Reveille also distributed the internationally renowned, award-winning "911" documentary and is a world leader in creating integrated marketing opportunities for leading advertisers, developing alternative financing paradigms and selling and distributing television formats in markets worldwide. Reveille has produced projects such as, "Coupling," "The Restaurant", "The Biggest Loser" and "The Office: An American Workplace" for NBC. Cable projects include "Blow Out" for Bravo, "The Club" on Spike, USA Network's "Nashville Star," the Morgan Spurlock project "30 Days" for FX Networks and MTV's "Date My Mom." USA Network is cable television's leading provider of original series and feature movies, sports events, off-net television shows, and blockbuster theatrical films. USA Network is seen in over 89 million U.S. homes. The USA Network Web site is located at www.usanetwork.com. USA Network is a program service of NBC Universal Cable a division of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.


 New Cd off Wynonna Judd released in sept
Her Story: Scenes From A Lifetime 2 CD SET released in September 2005
Thecountryfreak WYNONNA JUDD

 Presley's First Memphis Home for Sale on
Presley's First Memphis Home for Sale on

Elvis Presley's first home, which he bought after the success of 1956's "Heartbreak Hotel" and other early classics, is now up for bid on eBay. The property, at 1034 Audubon Drive, was recently added to the National Historic Register of Homes. Presley lived there for just over a year before moving to Graceland. Renovations at the ranch style house have been minimal, according to a press release. Bidding ends on May 14.

 Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw

CMT's Greatest Moments: Tim McGraw is a one-hour special saluting the personal and career milestones of McGraw. Through clips, interviews, perf... Featured Artists: Tim McGraw CMT Inside Fame: Tim McGraw tells the story of a shy boy who overcame immense obstacles, such as poverty (for a while they lived in a barn), do... Featured Artists: Tim McGraw , Faith Hill

 Brooks & Dunn, Underwood, Paisley Ta
The 40th annual CMA Awards proved to be a night for Brooks & Dunn to believe in and one Carrie Underwood will never forget. By the time the event...
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 DollyParton
DollyParton

Dolly Parton Reflects on Her Greatest Moments She Discusses Elvis, 9 to 5 and Her Latest No. 1 Hit
Editor's note: CMT Greatest Moments: Dolly Parton premieres Friday (July 7) at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Everybody -- yes, everybody -- knows Dolly Parton. Whether it's her magnificent Dollywood theme park, her eloquent "I Will Always Love You," her bubbly roles in the films Steel Magnolias and 9 to 5, her shapely figure on the cover of Playboy or her double Oscar nominations for songwriting, Parton has proven that a country star can dream without boundaries. Here, the Country Music Hall of Fame member talks to CMT producer Jeremy Thacker about several highlights from her brilliant career. CMT: Is it true that Elvis also wanted to record "I Will Always Love You"? Parton: I hesitated to tell it for a long time because I thought maybe people would not take it right because it was Elvis. But Elvis loved "I Will Always Love You," and he wanted to record it. I got the word that he was going to record it, and I was so excited. I told everybody I knew, "Elvis is going to record my song. You're not going to believe who's recording my song." It's like one of those things I told everybody. I thought it was a done deal because he don't just say he's going to do something. Anyway, he sent word that he loved it and he was doing it. They get to town and they call and they ask if I want to come to the session -- and, of course, I was going to go. Then Colonel Tom [Parker, Presley's manager] gets on the phone and said, "You know, I really love this song," and I said, "You cannot imagine how excited I am about this. This is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me as a songwriter." He said, "Now you know we have a rule that Elvis don't record anything that we don't take half the publishing." And I was really quiet. I said, "Well, now it's already been a hit. I wrote it and I've already published it. And this is the stuff I'm leaving for my family when I'm dead and gone. That money goes in for stuff for my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews, so I can't give up half the publishing." And he said, "Well then, we can't record it." I guess they thought since they already had it prepared and already had it ready, that I would do it. I said, "I'm really sorry," and I cried all night. I mean, it was like the worst thing. You know, it's like, "Oh, my God ... Elvis Presley." And other people were saying, "You're nuts. It's Elvis Presley. I mean, hell, I'd give him all of it." I said, "I can't do that. Something in my heart says, 'Don't do that.'" And I just didn't do it, and they just didn't do it. But I always wondered what it would sound like. I know he'd kill it. Don't you? He would have killed it. But anyway, so he didn't. Then when Whitney [Houston's version] came out, I made enough money to buy Graceland. (laughs) Tell us about making 9 to 5 with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. 9 to 5 will always be special to me because it was my first movie. It's kind of like my first love. And even though I did other things after -- and, hopefully, will do other things, as well -- that one will always be special because it was the first time I had ever done a movie. I had never even seen a movie made. I made a lot of silly mistakes that they laughed at me about. Like, I memorized the whole script, not knowing. I thought you did a movie like a play. I thought you started it and you went straight through it. I didn't know that you stopped and started so many times. But, anyhow, I memorized it. But I was very excited because I had been offered movies before. But up until then, I hadn't seen anything I really wanted to do because my music was more important. But when this came along, Jane Fonda was a huge star. Lily Tomlin, I was crazy about. She was a big star at the time, too. And so I thought, "Wow, this can only be great. And if it's a big success, then I'll just be in there with them, and I'll be part of it. And if it's a big flop, I'm just gonna blame them. I'll go back to singing." On the set with all the people, I made a lot of great friends. I had the great opportunity to write the theme song for it, which I wrote right on the set. ... I would do the "Working 9 to 5/What a way to make a living." Then I'd watch what was going on all through the day on the set, and I'd get inspiration, and I'd go back to the hotel at night and work on the verses. It was really a labor of love all the way through, and it turned out to be a little classic. You were on the cover of Playboy. Even though you didn't take anything off, people just gasped. I think people gasped when I was on the cover of Playboy because they thought I probably had some nude layouts inside, but I did not. I just wore that cute little bunny suit that the girls wear at the club -- well, my own version of it -- and the little bunny ears and all. Actually, they did a very good article inside the magazine. That was when I was beginning to grow and cross over in the business. I was having some pop records and had good management, so therefore I had some good PR people, and they were putting together these types of things. But I'm not embarrassed by that. Every now and then, somebody will bring that cover of an old magazine. Some old horny man will still have it -- "Will you sign this for me?" Have slobber specks on it and stuff. (laughs) But I sign it. You just had a No. 1 song with Brad Paisley with "When I Get Where I'm Going." You are one of the only artists who has had a Top 10 hit in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and 2000s. How does that feel? It feels great to be No. 1, no matter whose coattail you're riding on. In that particular case with Brad Paisley's song, I just felt very lucky to be a part of that. That was a great song, first of all. The guys that wrote that, it came straight from their heart, and it was based on some truth in their lives. Then, Brad, of course, is one of the great singers and one of the most precious people in the entire world. And he asked if I would come sing on it. I said, "Is anybody else going to be singing?" Because I was trying to figure out what harmony part I'd sing. He said, "No, it's just going to be you and me." I said "So can I just sing anything I want to on it, just whatever I feel led to sing?" He said, "Absolutely. That's exactly what I want you to do." So I got in the studio. He had already put his part down, and I had the headphones on and I just sat. You know, just like I always do. I just said, "Just be here. Just feed me what you want me to do." And so I just started singing. The song first of all really touched me, and then when I started singing and heard our voices together, it really inspired me to sing the way that I sang it. And the tears were rolling down my face just hearing the song and hearing our voices together. It made me see every dead person, every dead relative I had ever loved and lost. It made me have hope that they were really there. That song just touched my soul, and what came out of me was just what God put in my heart to sing. That song, to this day, every time I hear it, the tears come to my eyes. And I lost my mom and dad not terribly long ago, and I'm going to cry. It touches me, and I was just very proud. It wasn't about being No. 1. It was about being a part of something great. You're known by one name, like Madonna or Cher. How do you feel to be a pop icon? Do you consider yourself that? Oh, I don't know how I consider myself. I'm just Dolly. To me, I'm still just that little ragged girl that grew up dreaming in the Smoky Mountains, and now I'm seeing it come true. That's a great feeling. I'm very grateful. The older I get, the more I realize how lucky that I've been. A whole lot of it has to do with luck. You've got to have talent, and I've always had more guts than I've had talent. But I always try to back it up. I'm willing to work, though. I work hard for everything I get. I've been blessed, and it's like when people know my name, that's a great, great honor. And so I wouldn't put me there with Madonna. Maybe Methuselah. (laughs)

Thecountryfreak DOLLY PARTON

 The Home Of Grand Ole Opry Live!
Celebrate 80 Years Of Great Country!
Celebrate 80 Years of great country, with 80 Days of Opry Winning! Log on to opry.com every day through October 15 to win a great prize associated with the Opry's eight decades of great country – from front row Opry tickets to Alan Jackson's Wranglers to Sara Evans' cowboy boots to Terri Clark's autographed hat. Register Today! 80 Unforgettable Moments at the Grand Ole Opry During the past 80 years, the Grand Ole Opry has broadcast more than 4,000 shows, no two of them exactly the same. And while every Grand Ole Opry performance is memorable, some are particularly notable, even downright historic. The first performances. The final curtain calls. The grandest moments of the Grand Ole Opry. No one who heard them – or saw them – could ever forget. View 80 Unforgettable Moments at Opry.com!


 Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline

PATSY CLINE, (Virginia Patterson Hensley), was born in the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia, on September 8, 1932. The family home was in nearby Gore. Legend has it that she was entertaining her neighbors as early as age 3! Her natural talent and spirit took her to the top of the country charts in 1962, and her style and popularity has never waned. Patsy's big break came when she won an Arthur Godfrey Talent program in 1957 with the hit Walkin' After Midnight. From there she pursued a recording career appearing at the mecca of country music - the Grand Ole Opry in 1958, and received national awards in 1961 and 1962. Country music lost a magical entertainer when her career was ended in an airplane crash in Tennessee, in 1963. In 1973 Patsy was elected posthumously to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and her reputation is on record as one of the major female vocalists of all time. A bell tower has been erected in her memory at the Shenandoah Memorial Park, where Patsy Cline is interred. Several Highways, including the Patsy Cline Memorial Highway, Route 522, and Patsy Cline Boulevard in Winchester, have been named to commemorate her life.

Thecountryfreak PATSY CLINE

 NashVille Skyline
NashVille Skyline

NASHVILLE SKYLINE: June Carter Cash: A Life in Music New CD Package Is Fitting Tribute to a Grand Musical Force
Thecountryfreak NASHVILLE SKYLINE CTM INFO

 Shania Twain - UP!
Shania is thrilled with the development of her vocal technique on the album, an evolution that Mutt wholeheartedly encouraged. "It is different. Mutt was able to bring out a presence in my voice that I usually only use when I'm song-writing with my acoustic guitar. I didn't realize that I was singing with a slightly different voice on the microphone. It's like being in front of a camera, unless you forgot it's there, you kind of act a little differently. Mutt stayed on it until he got the natural, more intimate vocal sound he loves in my voice." Other highlights on the album? Shania could name as many as there are tracks, but here are a few particulars. "Ka-Ching is one of my top five, probably one of my top three, because it does have the Shania cheekiness to it, but I think it's a pretty fair observation of where we're at, in terms of how commercial society has become, almost globally. "I also like the lyrics on In My Car (I'll Be The Driver) - "don't care if you sleep with your socks on, you can hurt my head with your favourite rock song." In other words, you can be in control of all the other things in our lives, but in my car, I am the driver! Up!, the title track, has some really fun things, "even my skin is acting weird, wish that I could grow a beard." One of my other favourites is I'm Jealous, it's one of those songs that's so descriptive, you can see and feel it happening. Juanita is a song I got a bit deeper with lyrically. In our most vulnerable times, whether we're searching for strength, courage or freedom, it's our female power (our Juanita) that we need to connect with."


 Ray Charles Exhibit to Open at Hall of F
Ray Charles Exhibit to Open at Hall of F

Ray Charles will be the focus of a major exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, beginning March 10, 2006, and running through Dec. 31, 2007. Titled I Can't Stop Loving You: Ray Charles and Country Music, the exhibit will feature artifacts, instruments, song manuscripts, costumes, photographs, rare music and more. Charles is best known to country fans for his 1962 landmark album, Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music. Facilitated primarily by Ray Charles Enterprises, the 5,000-square-foot exhibit will follow Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970. Charles died in 2004 at age 73. ... In related news, a U.S. Postal Service facility in Los Angeles will be renamed the Ray Charles Post Office Building during ceremonies Wednesday (Aug. 24). The structure on Washington Boulevard is located down the street from a building that housed Charles' business offices and recording studios.


 A Wild Night With Brooks & Dun
A Wild Night With Brooks & Dun

CINCINNATI -- Necessity may be the mother of invention, but Brooks & Dunn are the kings of reinvention. At the Cincinnati stop of their Deuces Wild tour on Saturday night (Aug. 13), they matched the bid of past tours by still relying on special effects but raised the stakes by making it look easy. In other words, they offered a rare treat -- a high-tech, low-key night of country music. Brooks & Dunn reached the pinnacle of show-stopping concerts with the overwhelming Neon Circus & Wild West Show tour a few years ago, offering fans as many carnival acts as they did musical opening acts. This time around, there are almost no distractions -- pretty much just a black-and-white hot air balloon and two huge inflatable cowgirls. As a stagehand taped a set list to the floor, it was unclear whether a lone guitarist was tuning his instrument or warming up the crowd. One by one, the rest of the band casually shuffled on stage, and even Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn strolled out without any booming, whiz-bang announcement. A massive panoramic LCD screen glowed behind them, giving the unusual sensation of watching an awesome concert and a top-notch live DVD at the same time. As they launched with "Red Dirt Road," the screen behind them pictured a red dirt road trailing behind them. (Kids who grew up riding in the backwards-facing backseat of a station wagon suddenly grew nostalgic -- or perhaps carsick.) On "You Can't Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl," they drew inspiration from the walls of the dive bars on Nashville's Lower Broadway yet incorporated live footage from ladies like June Carter, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette to enhance the lyric. The striking visuals changed according to each song, yet never rehashed their music videos. They also avoided playing second fiddle to technology, drawing on a wealth of material, with only one new song. Given their extensive string of successful singles, they had to cut some songs ("The Long Goodbye," "How Long Gone" and "Hard Workin' Man" were notably absent), but Dunn still aces "My Maria," "Brand New Man" and especially "Neon Moon." And with newer hits like "It's Getting Better All the Time" and "Play Something Country," no matter what songs B&D dealt the audience, it would likely be a winning hand. The first half of the show could just as easily been called Jokers Wild, with Big & Rich and the Warren Brothers each warming up the crowd. Just before Big & Rich came on, an extremely loud burst of noise startled everybody in the crowd, sending at least one cup of beer flying into the air. Big & Rich screened some sort of film, but it was still too bright outside to see anything. However, it was impossible to miss the duo's shenanigans once they arrived on stage. Sitting there and watching them horse around, it's tough not to admire their determination to make it in the music business. You can imagine them scratching their chins a few years ago, saying things like "Maybe if we got a midget, a spaceship and a guitar that says 'LOVE EVERYBODY' on the back of it ..." No matter what you think of them, the crowd was really into it, and the enthusiasm is contagious. Even if you change the dial whenever "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" comes on, this thought may cross your mind: "Now, why am I singing along if this song irritates me so much?" Big & Rich are nothing if not evangelistic, so it's no surprise that pyrotechnics were as prevalent as the preaching. ("No one can take away your sparkle! No one can take away your shine!" Big Kenny testified.) Cowboy Troy, who wasn't advertised on the ticket, was wise enough to wear a personalized Cincinnati Reds jersey onstage. Instantly bringing the crowd to its feet, it could be argued that the only 6-foot-5 black rapping cowboy in country music received louder applause than either Big & Rich or the Warren Brothers. While the opening acts did not have enough hits to fill even a short set, they stretched their material by often singing the last verse one more time or pulling out the old "first the guys sing, then the girls sing" trick. The Warren Brothers kept asking the crowd to stand up, but it was their young sons who were getting the workout, carrying guitars on and off the stage. With barely a half-hour to perform, the wisecracking duo wisely avoided acting ridiculous, instead proving themselves to be an entertaining band worthy of their spot on a big tour. Like good gamblers, they apparently know when to hold 'em, and they know when to fold 'em.


 Top 100 Euro-Harry'scartoon
Top 100 NL
Thecountryfreak TOP100 -Goedbegin.nl-ProNatura

 TOP100 -Goedbegin.nl
Thecountryfreak TOP100 -Goedbegin.nl

 Shania Twain BioGrafie
Shania Twain   BioGrafie

Shania Twain was born Eileen Edwards in Canada on Aug. 28, 1965, the second oldest of five siblings. She was raised in Timmins, Ontario, about 500 miles due north of Toronto, where her stepfather, an Ojibway Indian named Jerry Twain, and mother, Sharon, had both been raised. It was a proud but, at times, impoverished existence. They struggled to keep enough food in the cupboards, but there was always an abundance of music in the household. Twain often grabbed a guitar and retreated to the solitude of her bedroom singing and writing until her fingers ached. "I grew up listening to Waylon, Willie, Dolly, Tammy, all of them," she recalls. "But we also listened to the Mamas and the Papas, The Carpenters, The Supremes and Stevie Wonder. The many different styles of music I was exposed to as a child not only influenced my vocal style, but even more so, my writing style." Her mom noticed Twain's talents, and soon the youngster was being shuttled to radio and TV studios, community centers, senior citizens' homes, "everywhere they could get me booked." An 8-year-old Twain was often pulled out of bed to sing with the house band at a local club but only after alcohol sales ended at midnight. Later, Twain spent summers working with her stepfather as the foreman of a dozen-man reforestation crew in the Canadian bush, where she learned to wield an axe and handle a chain saw as well as any man. In the winter season, she would sing in clubs and do television and radio performances as often as her schooling would allow. In 1987, at age 21, Twain lost her parents in an automobile accident. She took on the responsibility of raising her three younger siblings. She managed to keep the household going with a job at Ontario's Deerhurst Resort, which not only provided for her new family responsibilities but also gave her an education in every aspect of theatrical performance, from musical comedy to Andrew Lloyd Webber to Gershwin. Three years later, with her brothers grown enough to take care of themselves, Twain was on her own. Shedding her real name, Eileen, she adopted the Ojibway name of Shania, meaning "I'm on my way." Twain recorded a demo tape of original music and set her sights on Nashville. Although Twain landed a record deal with Mercury Records on the basis of her original material, her self-titled 1993 debut album featured only one of her songs, the feisty "God Ain't Gonna Getcha for That." Singles "What Made You Say That" and "Dance With the One That Brought You" each peaked at No. 55 on the Billboard country singles chart. It took a phone call from a distant admirer, rock producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange (AD/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Bryan Adams and many more) for Twain to find a true believer, both in her voice and her original songs. Twain and Lange met face to face in Nashville at Fan Fair in 1993 and married six months later, by which time they'd written half an album's worth of tunes together. As 1994 unfolded, they traveled and wrote their way across the United States, Canada, England, Spain, Italy and the Caribbean. They began to lay down basic tracks for a new album in Nashville, later recording overdubs and mixing in Quebec. The first results of their labor, "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under," entered the Billboard country singles chart in January 1995, peaking at No. 11. Twain's second album, The Woman in Me, debuted on the country albums chart the following month. The collection has sold 18 million copies, making Twain the best-selling country female artist of all time. The single "Any Man of Mine," hit the charts in May and became the first of four consecutive No. 1 hits for Twain, including "(If You're Not in It for Love) I'm Outta Here!," "You Win My Love" and "No One Needs to Know." The project won a Grammy for country album of the year and was named album of the year by the Academy of Country Music in 1995. Twain's third Mercury collection, Come on Over, was released in 1997, two years after her last album. The project continued Twain's hot streak, producing No. 1 hits "Honey, I'm Home" and "Love Gets Me Every Time." The sultry ballad "You're Still the One" went to No. 1 on the country singles chart and made it to No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 pop chart, solidifying Twain as a crossover artist. The sassy "Man! I Feel Like a Woman," a Top 5 country hit, helped secure the singer a contract with cosmetics company Revlon, which used the tune in TV ads featuring Twain. Come on Over has sold 11 million copies to date. While The Woman in Me broke records and made Twain an international star, critics didn't know what to make of her sexy image and independent approach to marketing her music. Instead of touring to promote the record, Twain made a series of sexy videos, one of which was shot on location in Egypt. The singer finally mounted her first major tour in 1998 following the release of Come on Over. The highly anticipated outing helped earn Twain entertainer of the year trophies from the ACM and the Country Music Association in 1999. Twain has won a total of five Grammys, including two for best country song ("Come on Over" and "You're Still the One") and two for best country female vocal performance ("Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" and "You're Still the One"). She also has taken home trophies from the Canadian Country Music Awards, Canada's JUNO Awards and the American Music Awards. In 1999, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) named Twain both country songwriter of the year and pop songwriter of the year. Her ballad, "You're Still the One," was named BMI's country and pop song of the year. At the top of her game, Twain retreated to her home in Switzerland with her husband at the end of 1999. She and Lange welcomed their first child together in the summer of 2001 while preparing her 2002 release Up!, featuring the hit single "I'm Gonna Getcha Good."


 Lee Ann Womack,
…..some people take voice lessons to learn how to sing, but I just sat and listened to country records, like George Jones, Dolly Parton and stuff like that. What’s so familiar to me can be so foreign to other people, and I don’t realize that sometimes. But that’s how I learned how to sing.” Somewhere between the blush of a new love and the bruises of a broken heart lies real life and real country music. Lee Ann Womack is a lifelong student of this reality, majoring in Jones and Wynette and graduating with honors, with the tender, yet tough spirit of teachers including Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. There’s More Where That Came From – the follow-up to her 2004 Greatest Hits collection -- is for everyone who’s ever loved, lost, and learned hard-earned lessons and lived to tell about it, including the singer herself. “These are songs that aren’t afraid to tell the truth,” says Womack. “It is definitely honest music as far as the lyrics go. They’re a slice of life – the good, bad and the ugly.” It’s not an accident that the album’s first single, “I May Hate Myself In The Morning,” sounds simultaneously like a classic country cheatin’ song and a contemporary breath of fresh air. “This is the kind of stuff I grew up listening to,” says the daughter of an east Texas country deejay, who practically wore out her father’s vinyl records, soaking up every vocal lick and turn of a phrase like a sponge. “How true is this song?” exclaims Womack. “Even if you haven’t been in that situation, we all know somebody who has. It’s just honest.” “You know, the sad thing is, I always felt like I was born too late,” Womack admits. “Even when I was younger, I had an old soul. I chose these kinds of songs early on in my career, but if anything, I’m more able to relate to these kind of lyrics more now than before,” says the woman whose 2000 single, “I Hope You Dance,” made her worldly known. “You can’t be married twice, have two kids and go through all I’ve gone through in the last few years without learning a few things, you know? I think I even sound a little wiser sometimes.” And that she certainly does on “Twenty Years And Two Husbands Ago,” a song Womack wrote with veteran country writers Dean Dillon and Dale Dodson. The song’s opening line – Looking in the bathroom mirror, putting my makeup on/Maybelline can’t hide the lines of time that’s gone – is the kind of humble honesty that any woman can relate to. “I feel like that was kind of my ‘Tammy’ song,” says Womack. “I wanted a song or two that was classic and classy female country. Tammy and Dolly would sing in those sequined dresses, almost an evening gown kind of thing. And they’d sing songs of heartbreak. You don’t see females doing that anymore, but I knew I’d have fun doing it, and that was what I wanted to do with this record – just have fun and make music that I love.” This time around Womack worked with hit-making producer Byron Gallimore, who’s best known for working with pop-flavored artists Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. “I can’t tell you how many people have stopped me and said, ‘You’re making a record with Byron Gallimore?’” laughs Womack. “Now people are calling me saying, ‘I can’t believe Byron did this record! It’s outstanding!’” “Byron’s very talented and quite versatile. And anyone who’s really sat and listened to the records he’s made knows he’s one of the few who are capable of going the direction an artist wants to go,” she adds. “We just had fun. I hope that’s what it sounds like when people hear the record. If they know anything about me and the kind of music I love, they will know I had a blast making it.” Womack estimates she personally listened to over a thousand songs to find the baker’s dozen on There’s More Where That Came From. “Then you have to add on how many Frank [Liddell, Womack’s husband and publisher/producer] listened to,” she says, “and how many Missy [Gallimore, music publishing exec and Byron’s wife] heard, too.” The songs that made the cut examine everything from the wistful regret of “The Last Time” and playful sexiness of “What I Miss About Heaven,” to the numbing moment of a diminishing relationship, as sung in “Painless.” And the record’s introspective crown jewel just might be the Don Schlitz/Brett James-penned stunner “Stubborn (Psalm 151).” “It’s hard for me to pass up any song that has a lot of ache in it,” explains the CMA Female Vocalist and Grammy award winner. “I don’t know why that is – I’ve been like that since I was little. Frank has taught me a lot of things about songs. He doesn’t like things that are cliché or trite, and he’s pointed that out to me. That’s not to say that there aren’t some lines sometimes that can be cliché, but I do think about those things now more than I used to. More than anything, I look for a song that makes me feel something. If I believe it, and if it makes me feel sad, or feel like laughing, or feel like dancing, it’s my kind of song.” One day in the studio Lee Ann and Byron found they had an extra hour left at the end of a session. “Byron said, ‘We have time to cut something that you love, just anything from the past.’ I had been listening to The Essential Porter And Dolly, so I said, ‘I’d love to cut “Just Someone I Used To Know.” The guys didn’t even ask which one that was, everybody just stood up, went to their instruments and started playing. We got a key and cut it.” Womack laughs when she recalls another day in the studio when the engineer was exposed to – and amazed by – her “country soul” way of singing. “I remember I was in the vocal booth and I could see Byron just dying laughing and talking to the engineer, Eric. I asked him what was so funny, and he got on the talkback and said, ‘Eric said, ‘I love her singing, but how does she do that? And where did she learn to do that?’ Byron thought it was so funny because I was just singing country. We went into this big thing about how some people take voice lessons to learn how to sing, but I just sat and listened to real country records, like George Jones, Dolly Parton, and stuff like that. What’s so familiar to me can be so foreign to other people, and I don’t realize that sometimes. But that’s how I learned to sing.” One listen to There’s More Where That Came From is proof of that. And like the heroes who bared their souls through her father’s turntable, Womack has perfected the art of combining vulnerability with strength. “I hope people will enjoy it,” says Womack. “You can always pull out your old Tammy records or your old George or Dolly records – and I do it consistently, but I think it’s fun to have new recordings of things like that. I hope those people who have been missing out on classic country albums, find that this one fills the void. I hope they hear the honesty in the players, production and the singing. And I hope they have as much fun listening to it as we did making it.

Thecountryfreak LEE ANN WOMACK

 Grand Ole Opry Live
Thecountryfreak GRAND OLE OPRY

 Gretchen Wilson: The Revolution Continue
Eighteen months ago, Gretchen Wilson was a hopeful new artist, dreaming of someday becoming a country superstar. Someday came very soon for Gretchen, whose debut single, "Redneck Woman," shot up the charts at breakneck speed, spending six weeks at No. 1 (the longest stay at the top of the charts by a debut female country artist since 1964). Her first album, 2004's Here For The Party, quickly went quadruple platinum--in less than a year. Her second CD, All Jacked Up, went platinum in less than two months, and suddenly the road was Gretchen's middle name. She hit the road almost immediately, opening shows for Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Martina McBride and Brooks Dunn last year. Last fall, she co-headlined a tour with her fellow MuzikMafia members Big & Rich, and in early '05, she was back on the Kenny Chesney tour. You might think this now road-veteran would be ready for a break, right? Not even close! Last week Gretchen invited the Nashville media out to the official MuzikMafia headquarters--Fontanel, the former home of country legend Barbara Mandrell--to talk about her newest traveling show, "The Redneck Revolution Tour." This time, she's the sole headliner, supported by southern rock legends and now new country duo Van Zant, and country newcomer Blaine Larsen. Gretchen, Johnny and Donnie Van Zant, and Blaine all gathered at Fontanel (also christened "The Plowboy Mansion" by the MuzikMafia) talk about how the tour came to be. "It was one of those things that kind of fell into place," said Gretchen, as she and her touring mates sat down near the great room's roaring fireplace. "You kind of have to look at who’s ready to go out there at the same time you are, and who is going to appeal to the same fan base that you appeal to. I grew up listening to southern rock—not at the same time as these guys, but in a very similar way. So I knew immediately that it was going to hit home with the people who buy my records." Johnny, Donnie and Blaine had been sitting on the good news for roughly two months, unable to say anything until the official press conference. "When I got the phone call that I was going to get to do this tour, I was literally jumping up in the air going, "I can't believe this!'" admitted Blaine. "I just wanted to scream it out, but I had to keep it under wraps." "We're very excited," said Donnie, who's taken time off from his band, .38 Special, to record an album with brother Johnny. "We get to go out with Gretchen Wilson--are you kidding?! Plus, she's absolutely gorgeous," he adds with a smile. "It's been a whirlwind year for us," added Johnny, who's on hiatus from his regular band, Lynyrd Skynyrd. "We've been wanting to make a country record for years." "The Redneck Revolution Tour" kicks of January 18 in Dallas, Tx. and runs through April. It'll be another test of endurance for Gretchen, who earlier this year, took some time off when she began having vocal problems, most likely brought on by the endless days on the road. This time out, Gretchen says she's doing things a little differently. "I’m going to start warming up [my voice before shows]," she says. "I’ve never done that before." "Me too," states Johnny, who underwent vocal surgery eight weeks earlier because of more serious problems. "I had a polyp on my left vocal cord, and underneath that they found a cyst," he says. "So I was kind of messed up and didn’t realize it. But now I’ve got highs I didn’t know I had." Both Johnny and Gretchen have been going to the Vanderbilt Voice Center to learn how to properly care for their voices. "We're both going to the same doctor," says Gretchen. " He’s a specialist, this doctor. He’s a pro. Obviously, he doesn’t know what it’s like to be out on the road and to live that life, but he does know how to take care of your voice. How to do things maybe just a little bit different than you used to do that will help save you. Because this is our life. "If you stop and think about it, it’s very difficult for a singer to get sick," she continues. "Nobody wants to hear that. You’re disappointing a lot of people. Just something like a little cold can devastate a lot of people. And out on the road, we support a lot of people. There are a lot of families that are depending on us to be healthy and strong every night. So I think we should pat ourselves on the back for going in and taking the time to learn how to take care of ourselves." Five days after this press conference, lots of folks were patting Gretchen on the back. She took home the award for Female Vocalist of the Year--a nice companion award to the CMA Horizon Award she won last year. But as she sat in the Plowboy Mansion contemplating her incredible, still-exploding career--and her chances of winning another CMA award--she kept it all in perspective. "I never go into any of these things with any expectations," says Gretchen of awards shows. "I go to be entertained, just like I always have been, watching it on TV all my life. To be able to win awards really is just icing on the cake. It’s recognition, I think, first and foremost, that really comes out of these awards shows—just being recognized and respected for what you do. I’m excited about going to New York this year. I don’t know what to say to New York City except, ‘The hillbillies are coming to town!’" And the "Redneck Revolution" is hitting the road. Gretchen graciously returns the praise her new touring mates have been heaping on her. "I grew up listening to the great music that the Van Zants have blessed us with," she says. "I think I’m really lucky to be able to have them out on tour with me. It’s a very familiar sound that feels like home to me. And the first time I heard Blaine on the radio, he blew me away. And then I saw him live and thought, ‘Man, that’s the real deal.’ "So I think I’ve got the best package there is right now out there," she says with a smile. THE REDNECK REVOLUTION TOUR: 1/18 -- Dallas, TX -- Nokia Theater at Grand Prairie 3/10 -- Trenton, NJ -- Sovereign Bank Arena 1/19 -- Bossier City, LA -- CenturyTel Center 3/11 -- Providence, RI -- Dunkin Donuts Center 1/20 -- Montgomery, AL -- Garrett Coliseum 3/23 -- Tulsa, OK -- Tulsa Convention Center Arena 1/21 -- Greeneville, SC -- Bi-Lo Center 3/25 -- Tupelo, MS -- Bancorp South Center 1/26 -- Chattanooga, TN -- Univ. Tenn. Chattanooga McKenzie Arena 3/26 -- Carbondale, IL -- Southern Illinois University 1/27 -- Columbia, SC -- Colonial Center 3/31 -- Columbus, OH -- Value City Arena -- Schottenstein Center 2/1 -- Roanoke, VA -- Roanoke Civic Center 4/1 -- Evansville, IN -- Roberts Stadium 2/3 -- Winston-Salem, NC -- L-J-V-M Coliseum 4/2 -- Cincinnati, OH -- US Bank Arena 2/4 -- Savannah, GA -- Savannah Civic Center 4/5 -- Atlanta, GA -- The Arena at Gwinnett Center 2/10 -- Colorado Springs, CO -- World Arena 4/6 -- Gainesville, FL -- Stephen O'Connell Center 2/12 -- Lubbock, TX -- United Spirit Arena 4/7 -- Columbus, GA -- Columbus Civic Center 2/23 -- Lexington, KY -- Rupp Arena 4/8 -- Tallahassee, FL -- Tallahassee - Leon County Civic Center 2/24 -- Ft. Wayne, IN -- Allen County War Memorial Coliseum 4/27 -- Cleveland, OH -- Wolstein Center at C-S-U 3/1 -- Mankato, MN -- Midwest Wireless Civic Center 4/28 -- Peoria, IL -- Peoria Civic Center 3/2 -- Des Moines, IA -- Wells Fargo Arena 4/29 -- Southaven, MS -- Desoto Civic Center 3/3 -- Terre Haute, IN -- I-S-U Hulman Center 3/8 -- Huntington, WV -- Big Sandy Superstore Arena On the Web: www.gretchenwilson.com; thevanzants.com; blainelarsen.com.


 Garth &Trish
Garth &Trish

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood were married Saturday (Dec. 10) during a private ceremony at their home in Claremore, Okla. The couple filed for a marriage license Friday in Rogers County, Okla. The wedding was confirmed by Brooks' publicist, Nancy Seltzer, who told the Associated Press, "They said it is the perfect Christmas gift to each other and they couldn't be happier." Brooks proposed to Yearwood, 41, in May at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif., in front of 7,000 fans who attended the unveiling of bronze statues honoring 10 country music legends, including Brooks. Brooks, 43, married Sandy Mahl in 1986. Citing irreconcilable differences, he filed for divorce in 2000. He moved from Nashville after announcing a hiatus from the music business to spend more time with his three daughters in Oklahoma. Yearwood, 41, has been married twice and has no children. Her 1987 marriage to Chris Latham lasted four years. She married Mavericks bassist Robert Reynolds during a 1994 ceremony at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. They divorced five years later. The couple's honeymoon plans are unknown, but Yearwood is scheduled to appear Tuesday (Dec. 13) in Nashville at the annual Parade of Pennies concert. The charity concert at the Wildhorse Saloon will also feature Sugarland, Van Zant and Jason Aldean.


 TOP 100 Hobbies & Allerlei
Thecountryfreak TOP 100 HOBBIE & ALLERLEI

 Willie Nelson Releases Song About Gay Co
Willie Nelson Releases Song About Gay Co

Willie Nelson Releases Song About Gay Cowboys
After contributing a version of Bob Dylan's "He Was a Friend of Mine" for the Brokeback Mountain film soundtrack, Willie Nelson has recorded a new song, "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)." The plot of Brokeback Mountain centers around the romantic relationship between two cowboys. "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" was written in 1981 by Ned Sublette, a New York-based songwriter who was born in Texas. Nelson recorded the song exclusively for iTunes, although plans are underway to include it on a future album and to produce a music video. The song begins with the lyrics, "There's many a strange impulse out on the plains of West Texas/There's many a young boy who feels things he can't comprehend." In a written statement, Nelson noted, "The song's been in the closet for 20 years. The timing's right for it to come out. I'm just opening the door."


 Vote,Nominees,
Vote,Nominees,

It's that time of year again, time for the fans to stand up and be heard by voting for the 2006 CMT Music Awards, country's only fan-voted awards show. First-round voting is now open. Be sure to check out the nominees, then vote for your favorite four videos in each category. Remember, you can only vote once per round, so choose your nominees carefully. First-round voting will end at 11:59 p.m. ET on March 9. Final nominees in each category will be announced March 15, and final voting will begin. Be sure to return to CMT.com to vote for the winners in all categories except the video of the year. The final four nominees in the video of the year category will be announced during the live broadcast April 10, and voting will take place during the show.


 Western Out Door Wear
Hallo western-liefhebber! HOWDIE, VRIENDEN! De nieuwe catalogus is uit en dus staat onze online shop boordevol nieuwe outfits voor hem en haar, juwelen, decoratie en vele accessoires, kortom alles voor de echte western-fan. Neem eens een kijkje, u vindt er een ruim aanbod tegen aantrekkelijke prijzen. Natuurlijk is alles van de beste kwaliteit! Veel plezier bij het uitkiezen! Uw Western Outdoor Wear Team. Ons adres: Krähe – Western Outdoor Wear Postbus 535, 4530 AM Terneuzen Internet: www.western-outdoor-wear.nl E-mailadres: service@western-outdoor-wear.nl Klantendienst Onze medewerkers helpen u graag bij al uw vragen in verband met uw bestelling, levertijd, het ruilen of retour sturen van een artikel, enz. Telefoon: (0115) 640 780 Fax: (0115) 640 799


 COUNTRY IDOL AWARD
COUNTRY IDOL AWARD

American Idol Winner and Songwriters Celebrate Their Hit Single With everybody still somewhat awestruck and overwhelmed at the song's success, Carrie Underwood and the three writers of "Jesus, Take the Wheel"... With everybody still somewhat awestruck and overwhelmed at the song's success, Carrie Underwood and the three writers of "Jesus, Take the Wheel" gathered Tuesday afternoon (May 2) at the ASCAP lobby in Nashville during their No. 1 party. "I had the easiest job in the world," Underwood told more than a hundred well-wishers. "For somebody to basically put a song like 'Jesus, Take the Wheel' in my lap and say, 'Go!' ... it's the luckiest thing for me ever. These people around me that I've met had the tough job. I just got to sing a wonderful song. I'm the luckiest person ever. Thank you guys for writing it, and thank you for letting me, of all people, have it. I appreciate it." The writers of the song -- Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson -- were all quick to applaud Underwood's interpretation of the song which held the No. 1 position on Billboard's country airplay chart for six weeks. "It's very rare that a record comes back and just blows your mind," James said. "That's what happened. It's blown my mind as well as all of America." Lindsey noted, "I just wanted to say, 'Thank you, Carrie Underwood, for trying out for American Idol!'" After praising her vocal performance, Lindsey optimistically added, "I'm looking forward to more hits with Carrie." Sampson concluded, "I'd also like to thank Carrie because, as songwriters, the best thing we could ask for is to have someone sing our song and sound like you wrote it when you sing it. We really, really appreciate that. Thank you." Producer Mark Bright referred to Underwood as "an absolute blessing in my life." He took a spiritual approach to describe the experience of recording the song. "I definitely think there was a higher power involved," he said. "There's no question in my mind."


 Lynn Anderson Arrested on DUI Charge
Lynn Anderson Arrested on DUI Charge

Singer Lynn Anderson, 58, is free on bond after being arrested on a drunken driving charge following a traffic accident Wednesday (May 3) near Española, N.M. Anderson, who won a Grammy for her 1970 hit, "Rose Garden," posted a $615 bond and will be arraigned May 17 on charges of suspicion of careless driving and aggravated driving under the influence. Police said Anderson, a resident of Taos, N.M., failed field sobriety tests and refused to take a breathalyzer test after her vehicle ran into the back of a car. No one was injured in the collision. Anderson was previously convicted on a drunken driving charge after authorities found her passed out in a car on the shoulder of the highway in Denton, Texas. In 2005, she was arrested for allegedly shoplifting a copy of a Harry Potter DVD from a store in Taos. In an agreement with the Taos district attorney's office, the shoplifting charge was dismissed as long as Anderson did not commit other offenses. .


 Gretchen Wilson Breaks Two Ribs After AT
Gretchen Wilson Breaks Two Ribs After AT

Gretchen Wilson broke two ribs after falling off an ATV, she announced to an audience at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., on Thursday (May 11). Earlier that day, she had X-rays taken at a nearby hospital, then showed them to the crowd. Wilson's tour Web site indicates that no dates have been postponed. She wraps the Redneck Revolution tour with Trace Adkins and Blaine Larsen on May 27 in Birmingham, Ala. All remaining shows are sold


 Vince Gill, Sugarland and Keith Urban Di
Vince Gill, Sugarland and Keith Urban Di

LAS VEGAS -- Vince Gill, Sugarland and Keith Urban will all be issuing new albums before the end of the year, and they gave reporters backstage at the Academy of Country Music Awards some insight about what to expect -- and when. Gill said his new project will span several genres and include duets with the likes of country favorite John Anderson, jazz singer Diana Krall and bluegrass hero Del McCoury. He expects to release it in October. "It's a period in my life when I feel the years adding on, and they're moving on to the boys with the muscles and stuff, and that's OK," he said. "It's the way it's supposed to be. I just felt a little bit lost." But a phone call to perform at Eric Clapton's guitar festival in Dallas in 2004 "took the handcuffs off me," inspiring him to start making music again. He's been in the studio to work on the new music for the past eight months. Fans who watched him accept the Humanitarian Award might have noticed that he's slimmed down recently. "I'm getting in shape. I've seen the writing on the wall. You've got to be hot to be good," he said, only half-joking. "I'm trying, you know? I've eaten so many steaks and egg whites the last couple of months. I'm about sick to death of oatmeal and egg whites, but I've lost 20 pounds. I've been working out with a trainer. It's healthy. I'm not trying to crash diet like I used to. It's so much healthier." Then he added, "In all honesty, I want to live a long time. It's not about my career on TV. It's about wanting to be around for my kid who's 5 years old. When she graduates from high school, I'm going to need a walker. There's a pretty good chance of that. But I've got to tell you, I feel like my best music is still ahead of me. I've had a great career and a lot of great records and a lot of wonderful things that have happened to me. But I know in my heart, my best is yet to come." Asked if Sugarland has a clear plan for the future, lead singer Jennifer Nettles quickly replied, "Absolutely. Fast and furious. Full speed ahead. We're in the studio right now recording a new record. We're super excited about it. We've been writing for that for a number of months now. I love what we're doing. It's full and rich and meaty and fun, all at the same time. I can't wait for people to hear it." The album is scheduled for a fourth-quarter release. Earlier this year, Nettles notched a No. 1 country hit without Sugarland on "Who Says You Can't Go Home," a duet with Bon Jovi. She's not concerned that fans might think she's trying to go solo by singing beyond the boundaries of her band. "I think the boat rises with the tide," she said. "I think if we get out there, however we get out there, that's important. As long as you're having fun and doing what you love, the fans will see that. The fact that we're still standing up here at every awards show, it's pretty funny." She and bandmate Kristian Bush are also unsure whether to call themselves a duo or group, even though they won for top new duo or group. "We're such a band mentality anyway," Nettles said. "We've done this for so long and been in bands. It's hard to feel any differently than that. I don't know. I guess I would leave it up to the public to say whatever you want us to be. Obviously, we're two people, but we have a band sound and a band behind us. We write together. There are so many different dynamics for how someone might describe that." Meanwhile, Urban told reporters he's about halfway through making his next record. He's shooting for a new single in August. Because he'll be in the studio most of the summer, his tour dates are limited -- but not completely wiped off his calendar. "The odd part is, when you're making a new record, you're going out to tour and doing all these old songs," he said. "And your head is very much in the new record. So that side of it is very discombobulating. But we've got scattered shows throughout the summer because I go a little nutty without playing. I'm a little nutty anyway, but we're going to do enough shows to keep my sanity intact." Urban's dry sense of humor also brought some laughter to the press room when asked if Bette Midler would be indeed performing "Wind Beneath My Wings" at his wedding to actress Nicole Kidman, as was reported by an Australian tabloid. "Really? Fantastic!" he deadpanned. "I'm looking forward to that. It's my absolute favorite song now, that's for sure. That would be killer."


 What's the Time !!


 Faith Hill Sunshine & Summertime
Faith Hill  Sunshine & Summertime

See Your Video on TV! Have you ever wanted to be in a music video? Write or direct a music video? Well, here's your chance! Produce your own version of a music video (not to exceed 30 seconds in length) for Faith Hill's single "Sunshine & Summertime." Then upload the Mpeg, AVI or Quicktime clip via FTP. If your video is chosen as the one that best demonstrates "Sunshine & Summertime," we'll show it on Top Twenty Countdown. Get the cameras rolling now because all videos must be submitted by Aug. 20!
Thecountryfreak FAITH HILL VIDEO CONTEST

 Martina McBride Kicks Off Christmas in C
Martina McBride Kicks Off Christmas in C

CHICAGO -- Leave your cowboy hats at home for this one, fans. Martina McBride's Joy of Christmas is here to ring in the Christmas season, but there's nothing country about it. So you don't have to be a fan of country to love this show. You do, however, have to be a fan of Christmas and everything that comes with it. Replace the fiddles with flutes, the banjos with sleigh bells and the twang with soprano, and you get the idea. Opening night of the two-hour show on Friday (Nov. 24) was held at the Allstate Arena outside of Chicago. But McBride gave the usually cold and cavernous arena a more intimate feel by inviting all the children up on stage. A giddy group of about 100 kids, mostly girls from 3 to 13, sat by her side as she sang, told stories and welcomed Santa up on stage. "His people called my people," she told the crowd. And when he asked her what she wanted for Christmas this year, McBride said "I want the Chicago Bears to win the Super Bowl." Good answer. The backdrop for all the Christmas cheer changed from song to song, reminiscent of a Currier & Ives winter scene at one point to a bright and bold Nutcracker scene at another. While the kids were still up on stage, McBride took a break from all the singing to invite morning-show DJ Lisa Dent from Chicago's country radio station (US99) to tell a story with her. They took turns reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to the group, who hung on their every word. With that story, and the spiritual set list, there was never a doubt that this was a Christmas show. While some artists try to weave a non-denominational holiday spirit into their concerts this time of year, with songs of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, McBride seemed to take pride in her Christian roots and all the hymns she grew up on. For "O Come, All Ye Faithful," the stage was set like a nativity scene come to life, complete with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. For "Silent Night," she was surrounded by hundreds of flickering lights on elaborate candelabras. And on "What Child Is This?" the stage was transformed to look like a grand cathedral with stained glass windows behind her. But it didn't feel like midnight mass all night long. There were plenty of songs about Santa, his reindeer, snow, jingling bells and roasting chestnuts. Then with a quick scene change, she was able to bring Dean Martin back to life via an onstage screen image, so they could sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" together. They even bantered back and forth a little, with plenty of eggnog jokes and retro sexist remarks from the virtual Martin. While there was no band (except for a pianist during the one ode to her country-star status ("In My Daughter's Eyes"), the cast was comprised of about 10 actors, including McBride's own daughters. Her middle daughter, Emma, 8, had the biggest role of all as a little girl reluctant to fall asleep on Christmas Eve during "Winter Wonderland." Country artists usually score points for interacting with the audience more than most, and McBride did her best to get out there -- literally -- and chat with fans. "We're gonna get a little Jerry Springer/Oprah thing going and see what your Christmas morning is like," she said. Then she left the stage and walked the entire perimeter of the arena floor asking people what they hoped to get for Christmas, what their favorite holiday dish was and which holiday CD was the best. For Kiera, Jenny, Morgan, Matthew and Sophie, it was a night they will never forget. McBride even gave the audience a glimpse into her own home on Christmas morning to prove that she's just like the rest of us, and that "the kids are in charge." Home movie clips of her girls shaking gifts ("It sounds like clothes") and attempting the first ride on a new bike ("I don't like hills"), did knock McBride off the celebrity pedestal and made her seem very real. And like any woman who uses the season to bring out her holiday best, McBride made good use of her designer wardrobe. She wore a total of eight outfits throughout the show, ranging from office-party casual to formal floor-length gowns. In between, there was silver brocade, black velvet, gold sequins and winter white silk. For some lucky Nashville stylist, this show was a dream come true. McBride performed her final carol of the night, "O Holy Night," a cappella. The only accompaniment was the roaring applause of the thousands of fans who left the show remembering what Christmas was really all about. Joy of Christmas, now in its fourth year, will make 15 more stops across the country before McBride settles back in Nashville to spend the holidays at home with her family.

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