Saturday, January 21, 2017

Week-end Country Music Countdown & Country Music News...January 21, 2017

 COUNTRY CHART Weekend of January 21-22:

1 KEITH URBAN Blue Ain’t Your Color *
3 BLAKE SHELTON A Guy With a Girl
4 BRETT ELDREDGE Wanna Be That Song
5 TIM McGRAW How I’ll Always Be
6 THOMAS RHETT Star Of The Show
8 GRANGER SMITH If The Boot Fits
10 CHRIS YOUNG Sober Saturday Night
11 MAREN MORRIS 80s Mercedes
12 ERIC CHURCH Kill A Word
14 MICHAEL RAY Think A Little Less
15 JON PARDI Dirt On My Boots
16 LAUREN ALAINA Road Less Traveled
20 HIGH VALLEY Make You Mine


Kelsea Ballerini’s Pre-Fame Days in Nashville

“It Was Two Years of My Life of Getting to Be a Normal College Student" 

Not many artists apologize if they are a few minutes late for an interview. After all, they’re being pulled all different ways and forced to talk to so many different people, particularly early in their careers. It’s almost normal to be late.
Kelsea Ballerini — “I’m 23, just a kid” — immediately asks for, well, if not for forgiveness then at least for a bit of understanding.
“I totally apologize for being late today,” she says. “I’m being like the total artist today: I’m running late for everything.”
It’s almost like she’s apologizing for arriving late to class at Lipscomb University a few years ago.
Although, looking her up in my old grade books, it seems like most times, at least, she was not only to class on time, she participated and did quite well.
As a journalism adjunct at Lipscomb (aka journalist-in-residence), I teach the writing labs in the communication and journalism department. The basic premise of all my labs — whether for the beginners or the more experienced — is to help the young people improve their writing skills.
I don’t know if I helped her or not, but she has become a fine writer … of songs.
Even when she was taking my classes and the rest of her university load, she was writing two full days a week for Black River publishing on Music Row.
One day the lively blonde looked up from her computer in the writing lab — that’s styled after a newsroom — and a bright smile was on her face.
“I signed my deal today,” she exclaimed on the day she finally got her publishing contract with Black River.
The very attractive young woman — I can say that now, since she’s no longer my student but now holds her own in the glamorous world of show business — who always seemed so eager to do well in class could be forgiven for being a little distracted that day.
Still, she remained attentive and charged full-speed through her writing drills.
Ballerini was a sophomore at the time and on that day she knew her days of higher education would be put on hold as she followed her dream.
“Me and my mom made a deal that if something would happen to help me get my start in music, I could get out of college,” she says. “It was like, ‘OK, Mom.’”
From there, she began her rapid climb to a pinnacle that now has her nominated for Grammy as best new artist — in any genre.
“The Grammys to me, well, that’s my peers. That’s the industry thinking what I do is good,” she says, adding that it was “so cool” when she found out about the nomination. She had hoped to get a Grammy one day, but had no idea she’d get a nomination while still, as they say, wet behind her ears.
”That’s like the industry saying ‘we embrace this … we like this,” she says, bubbles in her voice. “The fact it’s an all-genre category makes it more exciting.’’
Fellow nominees in that all-genre Grammy category include Maren Morris, Chance the Rapper, Anderson .Paak and the Chainsmokers.
While the Grammy nod excites her, it’s not that she has suffered from a lack of recognition in the four years since she left her textbooks and classrooms and battered, old adjunct profs behind.
She had three consecutive No. 1 singles from her debut album, The First Time. Two songs went platinum — “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Peter Pan.” Another track, “Dibs,” is certified gold.
She also was dubbed “The Country Sweetheart” among People magazine’s “Ones to Watch.” collection. Billboard has dubbed her “Country’s Next Queen,” and she was named new female vocalist of the year at the ACM Awards.
And those are just for starters in her highlight-strewn resume. The Grammy nomination is big, but “everyone on my team celebrates every single milestone,” she says.
On the day of our conversation she had just completed her first headlining tour, playing smaller venues.
“The most rewarding time of my career so far is to have 1,200 or 1,300 people there who know every word,” she says.
The largest venue held 2,600 people singing along with Ballerini.
“It was super fun,” she says.
Her climb has been rapid, but she hasn’t yet approached the top of her “to-do” list: “My biggest dream is to headline an arena tour.”
Even as her voice is coated with excitement when talking about her skyrocketing career, she fondly looks back to her two years at the university in the Green Hills section of Nashville.
“It was two years of my life of getting to be a normal college student, stay up all night and study for finals,” she recalls. “Having friends and stuff that weren’t in music. … I would be really sad if I didn’t have that.”
Seeking her destiny in Music City, the Knoxville, Tennessee, native chose the small Church of Christ-affiliated university so she could be near the music business.
And in many ways, she was just a normal, fairly spunky Lipscomb student, who participated in social club variety shows as well as burned the midnight oil on her studies.
“I feel like there are a lot of songs I put on my album that are about those in-between years,” she says. “I did a lot of that at Lipscomb.”
While Ballerini’s career sizzles now, she didn’t start at the top when she convinced her mom it was a good idea to quit college.
She spent one full year writing songs, did a yearlong radio tour and “I’ve been doing the artist thing for about a year and a half.”
“When we were writing this album, me and my friend were writing songs that we thought were fun. It was us being so naïve.”
Perhaps. But it worked.
“I got the headlining tour off that,” she says.
Ballerini takes none of it for granted.
“There’s so much luck involved, it could end tomorrow,” she says.
But by the tone of her voice, it’s obvious she doesn’t really think it’s going to end soon.
“You know, I dreamed of it happening like this,” she says. “I’ve always been a big, bold thinker and a dreamer. This was a big dream.”


Maren Morris Validated by Tim McGraw

Hearing Him Sing Her Song Was Purest Form of Encouragement 

Just about two and a half years ago, Tim McGraw released his Sundown Heaven Town album, which features a song called “Last Turn Home.”

While it might not have been a big deal to the average country fan because it was never released as a single, it was everything to Maren Morris.
She co-wrote the song long before anyone had heard of her as an artist and long before anyone had heard “My Church.”
“To have Tim be the first person to ever cut one of my songs was just the purest form of validation,” Morris told People.
But after that validation, and a few more cuts for others artists, the singer-songwriter wanted to be more singer than songwriter.
“After a while, it was hard to hear another voice singing my lyrics,” she said, adding that she missed being the one onstage behind the mic.
Morris had been paying her dues since she was a young teenager, even going to Grammy Camp at 14, playing wherever she could book a gig and trying out for both American Idol and The Voice.
Yes both. And the Grammy nominated artist didn’t make the cut on either one.
Now that Morris has officially “made it,” despite the rejections from reality TV, that has to be its own special kind of validation.


Lady Antebellum Get Back to the Basics with Heart Break

Find Spontaneous Inspiration in California 

During a Facebook Live chat on Thursday (Jan. 19), Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood reunited as Lady Antebellum and delivered a live premiere of four new songs from their next album Heart Break, which arrives June 9. The 30-minute set included “This City,” the lead single “You Look Good,” “Someone Else’s Heart,” the title track and their last No. 1 “Hey Bartender.”
Kelley revealed the band recorded most of the collection with producer busbee in a Los Angeles house studio in an effort to return to the way they made their first two albums.
“One of the things that Dave said he wanted to do was not write on the road in between touring,” Kelley said. “He goes, ‘We need to get back to living in a house together and get back to the basics like we did when we wrote those first two records.’”
“I think what it was for us was getting back to that little bit of that kind of spontaneous inspiration that you get when you don’t have too many things pulling you in different directions,” he added.
The You Look Good Tour starts May 26 in Bakersfield, California with Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young.


Blake Shelton: A “Fat, Ugly Guy” With the Girl

Says Gwen Stefani Is Like the Hottest One at Prom
Life imitates art sometimes. Like on Wednesday night (Jan. 18), when Blake Shelton started living out the lyrics to his latest single, “A Guy With a Girl.”
In his No. 1 hit, he says he’s just the guy with the girl everybody wants to know, “wishin’ you were there alone, wonderin’ how I ever got your little hand in mine, and lookin’ over at you like, ‘Ain’t she beautiful?'”
It sounds like that’s exactly how Shelton felt at the People’s Choice Awards, because Gwen Stefani was there with him as he picked up two trophies.
After the awards show, he told Extra how it felt to have such a gorgeous date.
“I feel like the fat, ugly guy in high school that got the hottest girl in school to go to the prom with him. That’s what I feel like,” Shelton said.
He went on to rave about how fun his life is with Stefani in it and, again, went back to talk about her looks.
“Oh, my god. She looks incredible. I mean, what the hell!” he said.
And while he was mostly self-deprecating about his own looks, he was willing to admit that the big fan-voted People’s Choice win was what mattered.
“This fat ugly guy won album of the year,” he said. 


Kalie Shorr Shares Big Lesson With “He’s Just Not That Into You”

Singer-Songwriter Tells the Hard Truth About Dating in New Music Video

Kalie Shorr is dropping a bombshell about dating in her new video, but at least she’s breaking it to us gently with an infectious melody and her sweet voice.
“He’s Just Not That Into You” is the song you need to hear if you’re flirting with disaster in your love life.
I’ve been guilty of it myself — justifying inconsiderate, inconsistent and just downright dodgy behavior from my crush just because I wanted it to work so badly.
But the sad realization those of us in this situation have to face is that if they’re not pursuing us, then chances are they’re just not that into us.
I know, grab the ice cream and/or wine right now.
But if you’re lucky, when that day comes, you’ll have friends like Shorr’s pals who finally sit you down and help you through it.
Check out Shorr’s adorable video for yourself.

The Maine native is making big waves in the Nashville scene. She is one of the original member of the weekly Song Suffragettes show in Music City that showcases up-and-coming female artists. And did we mention that celebrity blogger Perez Hilton is a big fan and supporter? Shorr was also named last year to CMT’s Artist Discovery program.


Country Music Claims 10 Percent of Total U.S. Album Sales in 2016

Chris Stapleton, Garth Brooks, Joey + Rory, Blake Shelton Are Country's Top Artists, Nielsen Reports 

In terms of album sales and popularity, country music continues to hold its own, accounting for 10 percent of total album sales this past year, according to Nielsen’s “2016 U.S. Year-End Report.”
Country’s top artists for the year in recorded music were Chris Stapleton, Garth Brooks, Joey + Rory and Blake Shelton.
Overall albums sales in the U.S., including all musical formats and all configurations (physical albums, track equivalent albums and streaming equivalent albums) rose 3.1 percent over the 2015 totals — from 543,800,000 to 560,700,000 units.
CD album sales dropped 16.3 percent. Digital albums were down 20.1 percent. But vinyl album sales increased by 10 percent
Besides country’s 10 percent of the recorded music sales pie, rock was the most popular format, leading with 29 percent. Sharing the remainder were R&B/hip hop (22 percent) and pop (13 percent), with all other genres claiming single-digit percentages or less.
There were no country acts in Billboard‘s Top 10 overall artists, which were calculated by total album sales. Drake led the pack with an equivalent of 6,389,000 albums sold in all configurations.
The Top 10 bestselling individual albums were Drake’s Views (4,140,000); Adele’s 25 (2,369,000); Beyoncé’s Lemonade (2,187,000); Rihanna’s Anti (1,966,000); Twenty-One Pilots’ Blurryface (1,732.000), Justin Bieber’s Purpose (1,678,000); Chris Stapleton’s Traveller (1,421,000); original Broadway cast’s Hamilton (1,327,000); various artists’ Suicide Squad: The Album (1,126,000) and Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman (1,070,000).
In the CD-only configuration, last year’s Top 10 titles and their number sold were Adele’s 25 (1,159,000); Pentatonix’s A Pentatonix Christmas (640,000); Chris Stapleton’s Traveller (601,000); Garth Brooks’ Ultimate Collection Exclusive (421,000); original Broadway cast’s Hamilton (385,000); Joey + Rory’s Hymns (375,000); Metallica’s Hardwired to Self-Destruct (361,000); Beyoncé’s Lemonade (354,000); Blake Shelton’s If I’m Honest (325,000) and Drake’s Views (301,000).
None of the Top 10 most popular songs were by country artists. Drake’s “One Dance” led the list. Nor were there any country songs in the Top 10 radio picks.
Country was the fourth most popular radio format, following news/talk/information, pop contemporary hits and adult contemporary.
Once again, the biggest share of money consumers spent on music — 36 percent — went to live concerts.


Brothers Osborne Bring Dirt Rich Tour to Nashville

New Grammy Nominees Return to Their Adoptive Hometown 
 The last time Brothers Osborne headlined a show in Nashville it was four years ago, and they had just signed their record deal. On Wednesday (Jan. 18), Deale, Maryland, natives TJ and John Osborne returned to their adoptive hometown to headline a sold-out show at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works as two-time Grammy nominees and the CMA’s reigning vocal duo of the year.
Before closing her set, opener Lucie Silvas shared the stage with surprise guests the Shadowboxers for a performance of “Find a Way,” a collaboration that is available online now. She also delivered a hopeful message to any rising musicians in the audience with aspirations to achieve Brothers Osborne’s level of success.
“Don’t worry about the shit,” she said motioning with her hands about all the unnecessary worry artists encounter on their journey. “Just keep doing what you do. It took 16 years of making music in Nashville and now [Brothers Osborne] are Grammy-nominated artists. Stay focused. It takes the right place of mind.” She closed her set with the title track from her 2015 album Letters to Ghosts.
Surrounded by a backdrop of stacked vintage televisions, Brothers Osborne kicked off their concert with the title track of their debut album Pawn Shop, which turned one on Jan. 15. They rolled through most of the 11-song collection playing guitar solos that were as fluid and identifiable as their song lyrics.
Women in the audience sang louder than the band onstage when they covered Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl.” But the most emotional part of the show happened when TJ and John shared the stage by themselves to perform “Let Me Love the Lonely Out of You” from their 2014 self-titled EP by themselves in the way they first started out together as a family act. Another emotional highlight was when they brought back Silvas to sing Lee Ann Womack’s part on “Loving Me Back.” Their first No. 1 “Stay a Little Longer” closed the show.
Before the concert, Universal Music Group Nashville’s Mike Dungan surprised TJ and John with commemorative RIAA plaques commemorating the platinum status of their Grammy-nominated hit “Stay a Little Longer.” The duo heads to the 59th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 12 in Los Angeles with a nomination for best country duo/group performance for “21 Summer.”
Unlike two of the duo’s recent performances, no ceilings caved during their concert or the creation of this review.


Luke Bryan: A Decade Since “Friends”

I Called This 10 Years Ago 
 I wonder if Luke Bryan is reflecting on his career right now like I am.
It’s been a exactly 10 years since Bryan released his very first single — “All My Friends Say” –and yet it somehow seems like yesterday that I heard that song and thought, “I bet this guy’s going to sell out arenas and host the Academy of Country Music Awards someday soon.”
Well, maybe I didn’t predict things quite that precisely. But I do remember thinking he had something that most of the other rookies did not.

For one, twang. It seemed like 2007 was right around the time that a lot of artists were outgrowing theirs, so I was glad to hear a singer who was clinging to his Southern roots, drawl and all.
Something else Bryan had that made him stand out was that his first video felt like his 100th. He was a natural in front of the camera. The “All My Friend Say” video was shot on the front lawn of the fictitious Theta Delta house at the University of Georgia in Athens — actually the real Theta Chi house — and I’ve always loved how convincing Bryan seemed as the fraternity’s hired entertainment.

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