Gokey’s Sophia’s Heart Foundation Helps Flood Victims 

Sophia’s Heart Foundation has announced the opening of a Flood Relief Center in the Nashville area. The devastating floods that hit the area have left many without the basic essentials. American Idol finalist and country music artist Danny Gokey had a vision to provide hands on relief to families in the Antioch area. The vision was to provide “an oasis” for flood victims, stocked with the supplies for their day-to-day needs.

In collaboration with Antioch Together, Living Word Community Church, Best Buy, Freeland Chevrolet, Antioch Cluster Schools and other local businesses, Sophia’s Heart Foundation will be providing food, water, clothing, cleaning supplies and other items of immediate need to families impacted by the flood.

Anyone interested in supporting the Antioch Relief Center can do so in several ways:

·         Donate food, clothing, cleaning supplies, toiletries, blankets, bedding, shoes, and bottled water directly to the Flood Relief Center.
·         Text to donate by texting “ONEHEART” to 85944, a $10 donation will be added to your phone bill.
·         You can also donate online at http://www.sophiasheart.org/news.php

100% of the proceeds of all donations will go to directly benefit families in need. Donations will provide immediate relief for families who need it the most. As President and Founder of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, Danny Gokey recently told the Tennessean, “This isn’t about us –it’s about love. And love is action.”

Established in 2008, Sophia’s Heart Foundation exists to help mend and heal the hearts of children and families who have been touched by poverty, sickness, disease, broken families and broken dreams.
The Flood Relief Center is located at Antioch Relief Center at Old Best Buy Building, 5320 Hickory Hollow Parkway, Antioch, TN 37013. The Center is open Monday-Saturday 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM. For more information visit www.sophiasheart.org or call 1-888-519-6669.

“Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman” Returns

Springer Mountain Farms Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman returns to the Nashville stage where Bluegrass was born starting Thursday, June 24 and continuing each Thursday night through July 29. Vince Gill will kick off the prestigious series featuring the biggest names in the Bluegrass genre.  Following Gill in the series will be Grammy award winning artist Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder for the annual Red, White and Bluegrass night on July 1st. The Grascals and J.D. Crowe & The New South perform July 8th.  On Thursday, July 15th catch 2009 IBMA Entertainers of the Year, Dailey & Vincent with special guests The Quebe Sisters Band. The legendary Del McCoury Band with special guests Steep Canyon Rangers round out the series on July 29th.

The highlight of Springer Mountain Farms Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman this year is certain to be the special appearance of Bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs on July 22nd.

”Mr. Scruggs is the only remaining member of the ensemble referred to as the original bluegrass band and his appearance at the Ryman where he helped birth a new style of music is testament to his continuing influence and creativity,” commented Dan Hays, Executive Director, International Bluegrass Music Association.
Mr. Scruggs is long-credited with a special place in music history for a historic performance on the Ryman stage on December 8th, 1945.  On that winter night, a twenty-one year old Scruggs joined Bill Monroe on stage for the first time.  The definitive sound of bluegrass was born that night in large part to Scruggs’ innovative three-finger roll style of playing.

“2010 marks the 65th anniversary of Mr. Scrugg’s first performance on the Ryman stage with Bill Monroe,” said Ryman Auditorium General Manager, Sally Williams. “That historic night laid the foundation for the definitive sound of bluegrass for generations to come. We’re honored to welcome him back to the Ryman to be part of Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman,”

Line-up for 2010 Springer Mountain Farms Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman:
June 24
Vince Gill
July 1
Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
July 8
The Grascals with special guest J.D. Crowe & The New South
July 15
Dailey & Vincent with special guests The Quebe Sisters Band
July 22
Earl Scruggs
July 29
The Del McCoury Band with special guests Steep Canyon Rangers

All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and are preceded by 650 AM WSM’s Pickin’ on the Plaza featuring regional bluegrass bands from 6:00–6:45 PM. The free showcases take place just outside the main entrance on the plaza near the statue of Captain Tom G. Ryman. Tickets are on sale now through the Ryman box office, online at www.ryman.com or by calling 800-745-3000.  Ticket prices start at $26.00 per show and special passes for all 6 shows are only $135.00.  For more information visit www.ryman.com/bluegrass.

Hall of Fame Spotlights Statler Brothers

Legendary quartet the Statler Brothers, whose tight harmonies and dynamic stage shows delighted decades of fans and influenced generations of country vocal groups that followed, are the subject of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s newest spotlight exhibit, The Statler Brothers: Havin’ Quite a Time, which opens June 1. Incorporating photographs, costumes, instruments and song manuscripts from the Statler Brothers and the Museum’s collection, the exhibition, located within the Museum’s permanent exhibit, will run through May, 2011.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Country Music Hall of Fame members—Phil Balsley, Jimmy Fortune, Don Reid and Harold Reid—will review their career and discuss the new exhibit on Thursday, June 3, at noon. The program, which is included with Museum admission and free to Museum members, will include an audience question-and-answer session. Following the program, the group will sign autographs in the Museum Store.

The Statler Brothers: Havin’ Quite a Time will trace the quartet’s nearly half-century career, from their early days touring with Johnny Cash to their eventual status as one of country music’s top-grossing and critically acclaimed acts. The Statlers’ unique mixture of humor, showmanship, musical talent and patriotism kept the tradition of quartet singing alive in country music and paved the way for subsequent groups such as the Oak Ridge Boys.

The Statlers’ origins can be traced to a high school group, the Four Star Quartet, which Harold Reid and Lew DeWitt formed with Phil Balsley and Joe McDorman in their hometown of Staunton, Virginia. By the time Harold re-formed the group as the Kingsmen in 1961, McDorman had left town and Harold’s younger brother, Don, came aboard. The Kingsmen performed pop, country and gospel songs, but their harmonies were modeled on those of white country gospel quartets like the Blackwood Brothers and the Statesmen.

In March 1964, Johnny Cash asked them to join his road show, where they performed for the next eight and a half years. That same year, they renamed themselves the Statler Brothers (after Statler tissues) because there was another successful group called the Kingsmen. Cash insisted that Columbia Records, for which he himself recorded, sign the group, and the Statler Brothers began recording in April 1964. Their first hit, “Flowers on the Wall,” was cut in March 1965 and became a Top 5 country and pop record. 
However, follow-up hits were elusive and the group’s career had stalled when Jerry Kennedy signed them to Mercury Records in 1969.

Their first Mercury single, “Bed of Rose’s,” was a Top Ten smash. Fifty more hits, all produced by Kennedy, followed over the next three decades. Among their biggest were the nostalgia-fueled tunes “Class of ’57,” “Do You Remember These” and “Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott” and love songs like “I’ll Go to My Grave Loving You” and “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine?”

In addition to their tight harmonies and humorous, engaging stage presence, the Statlers also possessed prodigious musical talents, writing and arranging most of their hit songs. Their business acumen and well-honed instincts guided them in a succession of wise career decisions, such as initially avoiding overexposure on television and later (in 1991) agreeing to do a weekly TV show on The Nashville Network. They modeled their TNN show after 1950s TV variety programs, unapologetically catering to a segment of the market they believed overlooked by mainstream TV, and the show’s consistently high ratings validated that belief.

The group underwent only one change through the years: Lew DeWitt, who suffered from Crohn’s disease and left the group in 1982, was replaced by Jimmy Fortune. Fortune, though younger, possessed the same abilities and songwriting talent as the rest of the group, and his addition proved a seamless transition.

The Statler Brothers retired in 2002, but their fan base remains strong and the group’s influence on contemporary country music endures. The group, including the late Lew DeWitt, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Among the artifacts on display in The Statler Brothers: Havin’ Quite a Time are:

  • Custom-made stage costumes worn by all five members of the Statler Brothers
  • Complete stage regalia worn by Lester ‘Roadhog’ Moran (Harold Reid’s comic alter ego), including custom leather belt buckle, gray-brown derby hat, Bronco cowboy boots, white clip-on bow tie and black-framed eyeglasses
  • Handcrafted Fame classical guitar that the Statler Brothers used in the 1982 film Smokey and the Bandit II
  • Vintage stage equipment, including a set of red, white and blue microphones and the group’s first public address system, acquired in 1961
  • A 1964 concert poster for the Johnny Cash Show, which included the Statler Brothers
  • Don Reid’s original, handwritten manuscripts to “Susan When She Tried” and “I’ll Go to My Grave Loving You.” Both songs were hits for the group in 1975

The Statlers are also the subject of a new, in-depth feature, When It Was Always Summer, and She Was Always Mine: How the Statler Brothers Opened Up Country Music, in the Journal of Country Music, the Museum’s online publication. The Journal has been the leading serious periodical covering country music since its inception in 1971 and is now available to view free of charge on the Museum’s Web site. The article, written by Ed Morris, is enhanced by audio and film clips from the Museum’s collection and is viewable here.

Stars Gather For “Music Saves Mountains”

An unprecedented roster of acclaimed musicians came together Wednesday night (5/19) at the historic Ryman Auditorium to launch Music Saves Mountains, a campaign sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Gibson Foundation to end the destructive method of coal mining known as mountaintop removal. The campaign, which features Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Patty Griffin, Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, Big Kenny and Buddy Miller, kicked off with an educational night of song, revealing the peril and destruction wreaking havoc on communities throughout Appalachian communities.

“Protecting Appalachia’s natural heritage is critical in preserving both our musical legacy and the future of our craft,” said Harris. “The Appalachians have inspired countless country, folk, bluegrass, gospel and Americana songs. Now those sources of inspiration are being secretly destroyed.  We’re standing together with one voice to send the message that we will not sit idly by while our mountains are being blown apart.”

Mountaintop removal is an extreme form of strip mining that extracts coal by using explosives to literally blow up ridgelines to provide easy access to thin coal seams below, with the leftover rock, rubble and mining waste dumped into valley streams below. To date some 500 Appalachian peaks have been flattened, leaving behind scarred moonscapes, polluted water and shell-shocked communities.

“For generations, countless legendary performers have shared with the world songs that celebrate Appalachia,” said Big Kenny of Big & Rich. “This campaign is no different. We’re celebrating these treasured mountains and want the whole world to know that they will be lost forever if we don’t all come together and help end mountaintop removal.”

On the campaign website, MusicSavesMountains.org, visitors can learn more about mountaintop removal, see what participating musicians are doing to protect the Appalachians and find out what concerned citizens can do to help end the devastating practice of high-elevation surface coal mining. So far more than a million acres of Appalachia have been flattened – from eastern Tennessee and eastern Kentucky to southern West Virginia and western Virginia — and over 2,000 miles of streams have been polluted or destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining. Countless jobs have been lost and local Appalachian economies ravaged as a result of the practice. Explosives and heavy machinery used to extract coal in mountaintop removal have replaced the manpower used in traditional deep-shaft mining.

The Music Saves Mountains campaign is not an anti-coal industry movement.  Rather, it seeks to raise awareness and put an end to just one destructive form of coal mining, mountaintop removal. Less than 7 percent of the coal mined in the U.S. comes from mountaintop removal, and yet its cost to local communities and the environment is irreparable and devastating.

“Nothing good comes from mountaintop removal,” said NRDC president Frances Beinecke. “It costs jobs, destroys forests and poisons drinking water.  People become sick as a result of this form of mining, and communities are forever damaged. Mountaintop removal would never be allowed in America’s other treasured mountain ranges, such as the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada or the Adirondacks. It should not be allowed in the Appalachians, and it must stop.”

Bravo Songwriting Competition Hits Nashville

Bravo is on the hunt for the next great songwriter for Hitmakers, its newest competition series in development. The show features undiscovered singer-songwriters, talented newcomers battling through a series of innovative songwriting challenges to find out who’s ready for the top of the pop charts.

The network is partnering with True Entertainment (The Real Housewives of Atlanta) and The Writing Camp, the songwriting team behind such hits as Beyonce’s “Halo” and Rihanna’s “SOS,” to discover the nation’s top talent in every genre of music.

The winner of the series will receive a cash prize, a publishing deal with Sony ATV and a development deal with The Writing Camp for RCA/JIVE. 
Casting information for Hitmakers is available here. Open calls for songwriters interested in competing in the series were recently held in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York. Final Open Casting Call takes place in Nashville this weekend. Interested songwriters should report to Sony/ATV Music Publishing at 8 Music Square West between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM this Sunday, May 23. Call backs are scheduled for Monday, May 24.

Lady A Preps First Headlining Tour

After selling out headlining concerts in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, ACM and CMA Vocal Group of the Year Lady Antebellum announced today their first-ever headlining tour with special guest MCA recording artist David Nail. The Need You Now 2010 Tour is sponsored by Dr. Pepper and kicks off on Sept. 20 with stops in 35 cities across the country through November. Cities and dates will be announced by market in the coming weeks with the first one announcing on Monday, May 24.

“I feel like we were just writing songs for our very first show at this small club in Nashville,” said Hillary Scott. “I can remember being so nervous to perform in front of just a handful of people that night and to think now we’re beginning to headline our very own tour is unbelievable. We have our fans to thank for following us every step of the way!”

Lady Antebellum first took country music by storm in 2008 with the release of their self-titled Platinum debut album, which generated the hits “Love Don’t Live Here,” “Lookin’ For A Good Time” and their No. 1 smash “I Run To You.” Their double Platinum sophomore album Need You Now debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and has since maintained the top spot on the Billboard Country chart for an astonishing 14 weeks. The title track and multi-week No. one song “Need You Now” has dominated the Country, Top 40, AC and Hot AC charts breaking records as a country crossover hit.  Following on the heels of three consecutive No. one songs in just eight months for a total of eight weeks at the summit, Lady A’s next single is “Our Kind Of Love.”

Missouri native David Nail’s debut record I’m About To Come Alive was released on MCA Nashville August ‘09. Single “Red Light” peaked at #6, holds the record for the longest charted single in Mediabase history at 42 weeks and also just earned an Academy of Country Music Award nomination for “Single of the Year.” Visit www.davidnail.com to hear Nail’s new single “Turning Home.”

For a full list of tour dates and ticket info as it becomes available, visit www.ladyantebellum.com.

Ryan Beuschel Becomes ASCAP Nashville Creative Manager

Ryan Beuschel

ASCAP has named Ryan Beuschel, who most recently held the post of A&R Manager at Universal Music Group, as Creative Manager for its Nashville branch.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Ryan come on board and bring to ASCAP his unique talents, experience and passion for songwriters and their craft,” said Tim DuBois, VP and Managing Executive of operations at ASCAP Nashville. “His addition will help drive forward and bolster the expanded role of this office and our firm commitment to serving and championing our writers and publishers, on an individual, community and regional level.”

ASCAP has been restructuring its Nashville division to execute a broadened and elevated role as a Regional Office serving all genres of music.

Prior to his time as A&R Manager at Universal Music Group, Beuschel held the position of A&R Coordinator.  During his tenure, Beuschel worked with artists including Jamey Johnson, Billy Currington, Easton Corbin, David Nail and Randy Montana. He began his career in 2005 as an intern for Universal Music Publishing, where he was later named Catalog Coordinator before moving to the UMG label group in 2007. A Michigan native, Beuschel holds a degree in management and finance from Hope College.

“I’m elated to join the Nashville office in this creative capacity and look forward to helping develop and further opportunities for our ASCAP members,” Beuschel said.

Craig Morgan Aids Vets Through “Not Alone”

As a spokesperson for Not Alone, BNA Records artist Craig Morgan is helping military men, women and their families who are struggling with the aftereffects of combat and the difficulties transitioning to life back at home. Not Alone is an organization that empowers warriors and families dealing with combat stress through training, education, counseling and support.

Today’s American soldiers are serving in combat longer than almost any U.S. soldiers in the nation’s past, with many soldiers serving multiple deployments with little break in between. Three in 10 soldiers show signs of mental illness or marital problems after their third and fourth deployments. Additionally, suicides are at record levels, divorce rates among enlisted soldiers continue to climb and rates of mental illness and prescription drug abuse are soaring.

Not Alone provides an anonymous online community where military men, women and their families can find support from others who are going through the same issues. Its core purpose is to ensure every warrior, veteran and family member gains knowledge and simple, confidential access to programs in order to empower them in their lives after war. At notalone.com, they find support groups, educational topics, blogging opportunities, and resources for face to face counseling – all at no charge.

“When I heard about what Not Alone was doing, I knew I wanted to be involved,” Morgan says. “We can’t sit quietly aside while our country’s bravest are struggling. They put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms and they deserve to be honored and know that if they need help, they are not alone.”

In his role as spokesperson for Not Alone, Morgan will bring awareness to this resource through his website, media interviews and concert appearances. Morgan is currently a part of Carrie Underwood’s Play On Tour.

 Prior to becoming a country music star, the singer spent over 10 years of active duty in the Army and additional years in the Army Reserves. He is an avid supporter of America’s military personnel and a recipient of the 2006 USO Merit Award.

 To learn more about Not Alone, log onto www.notalone.com.

Dale Franklin Award Winners Announced

Fred Foster

Veteran record label executive and producer Fred Foster and music icons Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson have been selected as the 2010 recipients of the Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award, it was announced by the board of directors of Leadership Music. The three country music trailblazers, whose careers intersected at Foster’s uniquely successful independent record label, Monument Records, will be honored at a gala tribute banquet on Sunday, August 29 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville.

Kris Kristofferson

The Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award, named for the first executive director of Leadership Music, was created in 2004 to recognize a music industry leader who exemplifies the highest quality of leadership and leading by example. Foster, Kristofferson and Nelson join previous Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award honorees Tony Brown (2004), Gerry House (2005), Emmylou Harris (2006), Frances W. Preston (2007), The Bradley Family: Owen (posthumously), Harold, Jerry, Connie and Patsy (2008), and Garth Brooks, Jim Foglesong and Allen Reynolds (2009).

Willie Nelson

“Individually and collectively Fred Foster, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson have been and continue to be iconic leaders in the industry by influencing popular music in countless ways over the past six decades,” says Pat Collins, President of the Leadership Music Board of Directors.” Their contributions to the art of music are immeasurable. To say that Leadership Music and its alumni are proud and delighted to honor these creative geniuses who have brought such distinction to our city is a vast understatement. It will be a night every music lover will long remember and cherish.”

Tickets to the invitation-only event will be available in July.

Colt Ford Posts Impressive Numbers

In 2008, Average Joes Entertainment Group launched with flagship artist Colt Ford, and today, nearly two years later, the label has surpassed 500,000 in digital single sales and 253,969 albums sold on Ford according to Nielsen SoundScan.

“When we first began marketing Colt Ford, 99 percent our industry peers said it was impossible,” says Shannon Houchins, CEO of Average Joes Entertainment.

“It’s just an uphill battle that I got to keep fighting,” Ford echoes, acknowledging his underdog status to Billboard’s Tom Roland. “I’m sure the people who didn’t get it, they figured the first record we got lucky. But I feel like I followed it up with a record that’s as good or better.”

The critics agree, with New York Times’ Jon Caramanica touting, “The heartland themes here will be familiar to those who follow Nashville, and the crossover gestures (and sometimes clunky cadences) familiar to anyone who’s listened to Kid Rock.”