Soundscan Scans Cracker Barrel; ACM “Lifting Lives”

With traditional record retailers closing their doors, Cracker Barrel is helping to fill the void with their successful music program, which kicked off in 2005 with Home on the Highways from Alison Krauss and Union Station. Subsequent Cracker Barrel releases from Josh Turner, Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, Amy Grant and Sara Evans confirmed the company’s suspicion that they were on to something. With their upcoming release, Backwoods Barbie — Collector’s Edition from Dolly Parton, due March 24, Cracker Barrel will officially begin measuring that success through Soundscan. According to Cracker Barrel’s VP of Marketing Peter Keiser, the company’s music program, which releases four projects annually, offers artists an alternative in a declining market for traditional album sales. If SoundScan had been in place for the release of the company’s Kenny Rogers and Bill Gaither projects, Keiser said, both projects would have debuted in the Top 10.

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The Academy of Country Music will unveil their re-branded charitable fund, “Lifting Lives” at the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards (Sunday, April 5th at 7:00 PM CT on CBS). To commemorate the occasion, Trace Adkins will perform his song “Til the Last Shot’s Fired” with the West Point Glee Club in support of Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), the charity selected this year by Lifting Lives. The Academy’s charitable Fund was established in 2004 as the Academy of Country Music Charitable Fund (ACMCF) to manage monies raised for music industry-related causes. “The Academy of Country Music has changed the name of its charity to encompass all existing charitable giving and not just the charitable fund, which is our grant-giving program” said SESAC’s Dennis Lord, who serves as Chairman of the Board for Lifting Lives. “We also wanted a name that explains our focus, namely lifting people up through the power of music.”

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Rural Media, parent company of Nashville cable network RFD-TV, has launched Rural TV on satellite-TV provider Sky in the United Kingdom. The station is described as “the world’s first 24-hour international television network dedicated to crossing borders with farming, equine, rural lifestyle, and traditional country music entertainment programs.” Rural TV’s satellite reach extends into 20 countries in Western Europe. “We are most excited about these opportunities as we firmly believe that ‘rural’ has no borders,” said Rural Media President Patrick Gottsch.

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MCA recording artist and ACM Top New Female Vocalist nominee Ashton Shepherd has signed with Cherry Heart Entertainment, LLC for artist management representation. “We feel it is natural to have Ashton working with Cherry Heart … we couldn’t be more passionate about Ashton’s future,” says Gratton Stephens, Cherry Heart President/CEO.

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Dane Patterson, a former contestant on NBC’s weight-loss reality series NBC’S The Biggest Loser: Couples, will compete in the 2009 Country Music Marathon & ½ Marathon on Saturday, April 25 in Nashville. Patterson’s recent attempt to complete a full marathon after being eliminated from the show caused controversy (and publicity) when it aired during the show’s “Where Are They Now?” segment. Runners can go to www.cmmarathon.com and sign up to “Run With Dane.”

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The United States Tennis Association has named the Music City Tennis Invitational (MCTI) as the 2008 Charity Tennis Event of the Year. This is the second time the event has received the award, which is judged on the number of years the event has been held, the number of participants and volunteers, and the amount of money raised for charity and the level of local community involvement. The annual tennis tournament benefits the Center for Child Development at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The 36th annual Music City Tennis Invitational will be held on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center at Vanderbilt University.

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LeAnn Rimes is getting ready to serve customers from behind the counter at a Nashville diner, and Jessica Simpson will be working at a computer repair shop. It’s all part of I Get That A Lot, a Candid Camera-like reality show developed by CBS-TV featuring celebrities trying to pass as regular folks working ordinary jobs. Additional celebrities participating in the show, which CBS will air on April Fools Day, Wednesday, April 1 at 7 PM CT, include Heidi Klum, Ice-T, Mario Lopez and Jeff Probst.

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Tony Thomas, MD at KMPS-FM in Seattle, reported in to let us know that the station’s 2009 St. Jude Radiothon, held this past Friday and Saturday (3/13-3/14), raised $433,981 to help St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in their ongoing fight against childhood cancer. Congratulations to all!

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