On The Cover – Blake Shelton (April/May 2015)

OTC-Post-AprMay2015-GraphicBlake Shelton is many things. He is the hugely popular coach on the top-rated television music competition show The Voice, where singers he’s mentored have won four of the seven seasons. He is the reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year. He’s the charismatic live entertainer who performs to packed houses in arenas, amphitheaters and stadiums across the country. He’s husband to country superstar Miranda Lambert, together inspiring endless public fascination as country’s “Power Couple.”

But the one overriding facet of who Blake Shelton is led him down a path that made all these other designations possible. Blake Shelton is a Country. Music. Singer.

Shelton is in a league of his own among contemporary country artists as a top-shelf interpreter of true country music songs. Shelton’s 11th studio album, Bringing Back The Sunshine, marks a return to showcasing that talent with an album that sonically represents the best contemporary country has to offer, yet feels like the classic cuts served up by the heroes that inspired Shelton as young boy in Ada, Okla. some 30 years ago. It’s a journey that includes a CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy, three RIAA certified Platinum albums, five RIAA certified Gold albums, 19 total No. 1 country singles, and a five-year run as reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year.

On Bringing Back The Sunshine, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album chart, longtime producer and collaborator Scott Hendricks created an album that highlights what is arguably the most powerful vocals Blake Shelton has ever recorded. “If there’s one thing that is important to me, no matter what, it’s singing,” says Shelton. “I’m a fan of a lot of artists, but I always gravitate to the singers, and that’s why I always looked up to Earl Thomas Conley, Travis Tritt, Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty. These guys never went through the motions when it came to laying down a vocal.

“That’s my job, to be the best singer I can be when I get in the studio. I don’t ever want someone to hear me on the radio and say ‘yeah, he’s singing okay, but where’s the heart?’ I want it all to be in there.”

Thirteen years since his first single “Austin” hit the top of the country radio charts, Shelton now holds 19 No. 1 singles to his credit, recently breaking his own record for most consecutive No. 1s at country radio. With 14 consecutive No. 1 singles, including five from his last album alone, Shelton has the most No. 1s in a row on the country radio charts by any artist.

So if the more seasoned and savvy TV era Blake could tell the driven 17-year-old Blake that headed off to Nashville anything, “I’d tell him just to relax and stop worrying so much,” he says. “I knew the one thing that I wanted to do with my life was country music, it worried me to death. I was never one of those people who was like, ‘I’ll give it a shot for a while and then move on.’ It never was that for me, it was ‘How am I gonna get this done, how am I gonna get my foot in the door?’ It wasn’t until the last three or four years that I finally started taking a deep breath and going, ‘Man, I get to be a country singer, and it’s OK.’ I get to do it now. I don’t care at what level, as long as I get to be country singer, that’s all I ever wanted to do.”

Be sure to pick up your copy of the print magazine here, or receive your free copy with a yearly subscription.

Smashing Pumpkins Founder Billy Corgan Joins TNA Wrestling

Billy Corgan

Billy Corgan

Billy Corgan, founder of the Smashing Pumpkins, is joining Nashville-based TNA Wrestling as Sr. Producer, Creative and Talent Development, effective immediately. Corgan will develop characters and create story lines for TNA’s flagship program Impact Wrestling. The program broadcasts Friday nights at 8 p.m. CT on Destination America, as well as other TNA programming.

“I’ve known Billy for years and have always been blown away by his musical artistry, as well as his knowledge and understanding of professional wrestling,” said TNA President Dixie Carter. “He has always impressed me with his creativity and passion for our business. Billy is truly gifted and understands the emotion tied to the psychology of connecting with an audience. The more we talked, the more I realized his perspective has the potential to make a huge impact on our brand.”

“Saying I’m humbled and honored by this opportunity to be part of TNA, a world-class wrestling organization, is an understatement and a dream come true,” said Corgan. “What’s great is the entire TNA organization stands in full support of my music life with the Smashing Pumpkins. In return, I’m fully committed to using my 30 years of entertainment experience, along with my deep-rooted passion for pro wrestling, to take on the thrilling challenge of creatively contributing to Impact Wrestling, finding and developing new talent, and working eye-to-eye with the best-of-the-best. For as cultures currently evolve at great speed, so must pro wrestling meet and supersede such expectations to thrive.”

Corgan joins a group of creative writers led by TNA Executive Vice President of Television and Talent John Gaburick. Corgan will attend TNA television tapings where he will serve as a senior producer, working with TNA’s roster of athletes, including Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Gail Kim, Ethan Carter III, Bram, Rockstar Spud and more.

Country Legends Set For Charity Concert At Wildhorse Saloon

unnamed (6)The Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville will host “A Night With Legends” on Wednesday, June 10 to benefit The Children’s Hospital At Vanderbilt.

The evening will include performances from The Oak Ridge Boys, Mickey Gilley, Larry Gatlin, Lorrie Morgan, The Bellamy Brothers, Exile, Eddy Raven, David Frizzell, T. Graham Brown, Restless Heart’s Larry Stewart, and Tim Rushlow (formerly of Little Texas).

Tickets will go on sale through Ticketmaster outlets on Wednesday, April 29. Pricing will be between $15-$120.



Performers Announced For CMA Music Fest’s Belk Park, Bud Light Stages

CMA Music Festival 2015 LogoThe CMA has revealed performers for its Belk Park Stage at Walk of Fame Park and Bud Light Stage at Bridgestone Arena Plaza, rounding out the schedule releases for the Chevy Riverfront Stage and LP Field.

For a list of current performers, visit cmaworld.com.

Belk Park Stage

Thursday (June 11) – Mark Collie, Kentucky Head Hunters, Blackjack Billy, Austin Webb, The Henningsens, Rainey Qualley, Lucas Hoge, John King, Jeff Bates

Friday (June 12) – Chuck Wicks, Haley & Michaels, Dylan Scott, Mac Powell, Tim Montana and the Shrednecks, The Cheverlys, Waterloo Revival, Lindsay Ell, Laura Bell Bundy

Saturday (June 13) – Adam Craig, Lyndsey Highlander, Chris Carmack, Sunny Sweeney, Friends of Lola, Outshyne, LanCo, Amber Hayes, Rick Monroe

Sunday (June 14) – Ryan Kinder, Lauren Alaina, Joey Hyde, Greg Bates, Stella James, Jackie Lee, Home Free, Tate Stevens, The SteelDrivers

Bud Light Stage

Thursday (June 11) – Gwen Sebastian, David Lee Murphy, Dallas Smith, Drake White & the Big Fire, A Thousand Horses, Jana Kramer, Trick Pony, Mo Pitney, Natalie Stovall & the Drive

Friday (June 12) – Love & Theft, Brooke Eden, David Fanning, Kelsea Ballerini, Native Run, CAM, Clare Dunn, Brothers Osborne, Deana Carter

Saturday (June 13) – Jamie Lynn Spears, Dean Alexander, Kelleigh Bannen, Ashley Campbell, JT Hodges, Chris Janson, William Michael Morgan, Steven Lee Olsen, Bucky Covington

Sunday (June 14) – The Grascals, Keith Anderson, Michael Ray, Ruthie Collins, Marshall Tucker Band, Striking Matches, The Lacs, Casey Donahew Band, LoCash

GMA Honors and Hall of Fame Announces Performers, Presenters

gma honorsPerformers and presenters have been revealed for the second annual GMA Honors and Hall of Fame. Performers will include Chris August, Melinda Doolittle, Tauren Wells of the group Royal Tailor, Point of Grace, The Martins, and Joy and Landy Gardner and the Grace Church choir.

Presenters this year include Amy Grant, Dr. A.R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center, Bill Gaither, Brandon Heath, Bishop Joseph Walker III, Steve Green, and Capitol Christian Music Group president and CEO Bill Hearn.

Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton will serve as master of ceremonies for the event, which will take place Tuesday, May 5 at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena.

The GMA Honors will also recognize recently announced inductees BeBe and CeCe Winans, Mark Lowry, Roland Lundy, and Twila Paris, as well as honorees including Bishop Paul S. Morton (Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International), Candy Christmas (The Bridge Ministry), Louie and Shelley Giglio (Passion), and Al Andrews (Porter’s Call).

The GMA Honors will air on JUCE TV on Friday, June 5 at 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST and Saturday, June 6 at 12 p.m. PST / 3 p.m. EST.

Tables and individual tickets are available for purchase, which include dinner and admission to the honors ceremony. Sponsorships are also available for the event. The event will commence at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5. Please visit www.gmahonors.org to purchase tickets and for more details.

Library Of Congress Hosts CMA Songwriters Series

The CMA Songwriters Series returned to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night (April 21). The sell-out crowd was treated to performances by Mo Pitney, Mac Davis, Pam Tillis and Bill Anderson. The performers gathered for a post-show reception with lawmakers and influencers including Marsha Blackburn and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, both of Tennessee.

The CMA Songwriters Series has been presenting some of the best of country music’s songwriters since 2005.

Pictured (L-R): Bill Anderson, Mac Davis, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Pam Tillis, and Mo Pitney

Pictured (L-R): Bill Anderson, Mac Davis, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Pam Tillis, and Mo Pitney

Pictured (L-R): Bill Anderson, Mac Davis, Pam Tillis, and Mo Pitney perform during the CMA Songwriters Series Tuesday night at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Photo: Lisa Nipp / CMA

Pictured (L-R): Bill Anderson, Mac Davis, Pam Tillis, and Mo Pitney perform during the CMA Songwriters Series Tuesday night at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Photo: Lisa Nipp / CMA

Martina McBride To Headline Country Music Marathon Concert

martina mcbride2014

Martina McBride will headline the post-race concert.

The 16th annual St. Jude Country Music Marathon & 1/2 Marathon is tomorrow, Saturday, April 25, 2015. Martina McBride will headline the post-race concert at Bridgestone Arena tomorrow night.

Organizers are closely monitoring the weather forecast, which is calling for rain. As of 3 p.m. CDT, the race is scheduled to start as planned Saturday morning. There will be another update at 5 a.m. tomorrow. Details at RunRocknRoll.com/Nashville.

For the second year, the start line is amid Lower Broadway’s honkytonks, and runners will pass numerous landmarks including Music Row, Belmont University, Bicentennial Mall, the Schermerhorn Symphony, Music City Center and the Musica Roundabout before finishing outside of LP Field. Musicians perform all along the race route.

This is the fourth year that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the official benefiting charity partner of the St. Jude Country Music Marathon.

By The Numbers
$39.8 million—2014 total impact to Nashville’s economy
36,000— 2014 visitors to the city
30,000—participants expected in the full, half and 5K
4,000—participants in the kid’s race, known as KiDS ROCK Nashville
50—bands performing
28—entertainment stages
26.2—mile foot race and wheelchair race
26—countries represented in 2014
5—top countries represented, other than US: Canada, United Kingdom, Bermuda, Sweden, Brazil

Corey Smith Preps Keith Stegall-Produced Project

corey smith album 2015

Corey Smith is prepping the upcoming release of his 10th album, with lead single “Feet Wet” impacting country radio May 11.

In the past, the Georgia native has produced his own albums, but he tapped hitmaker Keith Stegall (who has produced fellow Georgians Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson) to helm While The Gettin’ Is Good, which is set to drop June 23 on Rounder/Sugar Hill. It is his debut for the label.

Smith penned all 12 songs on the project, which was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, and Ronnie’s Place in Nashville. Among the musicians on the outing are Mike Hines, Kris Dale, Lee Davis, Antwane McMullin, Eric Darken, Dan Dugmore, John Willis, Stuart Duncan and Sam Levin.

Known for hard-touring, Smith’s concerts are frequent sell-outs, as documented in 2012’s Live in Chattanooga, showcasing audience sing-alongs “Twenty-One,” “If I Could Do It Again” and “I Love Everyone.”

Planning Commission Breaks Embargo, Approves Music Row Building

1518 16th Ave. S., Nashville, TN

1518 16th Ave. S., Nashville, TN

The Metro Planning Commission has made an exception to its embargo on developments in Nashville’s Music Row area, according to the Nashville Post. In February 2015, the Metro Council was advised to reject, or at least postpone until 2016, requests for rezoning, effectively halting further developments. Metro is working on a design plan for the Music Row area.

However, during last night’s planning meeting, local developers McClain Towery and Elliott Kyle earned the unanimous approval of the planning commission for a $2.5 million, 10,500-square-foot office building project on Music Row’s 16th Ave. S.

Towery purchased the .22 acre lot located at 1518 16th Ave. S. in 2012 for $315,000. The lot beside the former DreamWorks Records building is currently vacant, meaning that no building would need to be torn down in order for construction to begin.

“We’re very excited to have gotten unanimous approval,” said Kyle. “The commission recognized this was a special case, mainly because of the project’s scale, the fact we had MHC approval and that we’re developing a lot that has sat empty for 15 years. It’s a different request from some previous requests.

“The fact that it’s good urban infill resonated with the commission,” he added.

Bobby Karl Works The George Jones Museum Opening

Pictured (L-R): Marsha Blackburn, Nancy Jones, Lorrie Morgan, Jeannie Seely, Jan Howard, Tracy Lawrence, John Rich, Moe Bandy, Bill Cody, Karl Dean.

Pictured (L-R): Marsha Blackburn, Nancy Jones, Lorrie Morgan, Jeannie Seely, Jan Howard, Tracy Lawrence, John Rich, Moe Bandy, Bill Cody, Karl Dean.


Chapter 486

Run, do not walk, to the new George Jones Museum.

At its gala grand opening party on Thursday (April 23), this place instantly vaulted into the top ranks of Nashville attractions. The space is awesome, the displays are imaginative, the souvenirs are dandy, the building is sensational and the food is delish. The address is 128 2nd Ave. N. (the Old Graham Central Station club). Go there at once.

“It’s an honor to have you here,” said widow Nancy Jones. “George always had quite a few friends,” she added, referring to the tremendous turnout. “I can’t even explain how happy I am. I wish he was here to see it. I love each and every one of you.”

Helen Scroggins, 93, is now the last living of the eight Jones siblings. “He was my world for a long time,” she said of her Hall of Famer brother. By the way, Helen’s husband was the one who left the keys in the infamous riding lawnmower.

“You can’t keep a good woman down, can you?” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn of the indomitable Nancy. “She was determined [to create the museum], and she absolutely pulled it off. Girlfriend, congratulations!”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey grew up as an East Tennessee farmboy who loved the legendary George Jones. “I’ve gotten to do a lot of pretty cool stuff in my life,” he said. “I mean this from the bottom of my heart, Nancy, this is the greatest of them all. What an honor it is to open this museum tonight.

“The Best Voice in Music – not just country music – is George Jones. Thank you for allowing George to live on. That’s what’s happening here tonight.”

Mayor Karl Dean added, “This is a wonderful tribute to him. People come to Nashville because of the music. On behalf of the people of Nashville, thank you for your confidence in the city. Thank you for your investment in the city. Thank you for all that you have done.”

Pictured (L-R): Moe Bandy, U.S. Rep Marsha Blackburn, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Tennessee Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey, Nancy Jones, WSM-AM Host Bill Cody, Naomi Judd, John Rich.

Pictured (L-R): Moe Bandy, U.S. Rep Marsha Blackburn, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Tennessee Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey, Nancy Jones, WSM-AM Host Bill Cody, Naomi Judd, John Rich.

The politicians weren’t the only celebs celebrating this terrific new attraction. Working the red carpet were Ricky Skaggs, Lee Greenwood, D. Vincent Williams, Moe Bandy, Tracy Lawrence, The Roys, Jeannie Seely, T. Graham Brown, T.G. Sheppard & Kelly Lang, Diane Sherrill, Con Hunley, Kayla Adams, John Berry, Rhonda Vincent, Billy Yates, Jan Howard, Dustin Miller of the new act Double Barrel, Naomi Judd, Rex Allen Jr., Branch & Dean, John Rich, Buddy Jewell, Lisa Matassa, Cerrito and emcee Bill Cody.

You enter at street level through the gift shop. A lifesize statue of Jones greets you with a raised hand to one of Music City’s largest such emporiums. His flaming-red Possum pickup truck is just inside.

Pausing to admire the goods were Charlie Monk, Alan Messer, Martha Moore, Moore & Moore, Rob Beckham, Sheri Warnke, Rose Drake, Keith Bilbrey, Bob Paxman, Ron Cox and Chuck Dauphin.

Beyond the gift shop is a spacious bar and Possum Holler restaurant overlooking the Cumberland River. We sampled chicken salad and ham pimento cheese on toasts, shrimp cocktails, barbecue pork sliders, coleslaw, spicy fried chicken skewers, imaginatively cilantro-flavored beef tacos and mini ham sandwiches.

George Jones

George Jones

On the second floor is the museum, itself. You enter through a vestibule with a tribute-video wall and a wall of album jackets. The first displays are about the star’s childhood in Beaumont, TX. An “influences” wall spotlights Roy Acuff, Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. In the display saluting his boyhood radio stations KRIC (Beaumont) and KTZJ (Jasper) are listening stations of his early hits.

The main stopping places are the large “decade” display cases. The one labeled “1950s” contains Starday Records items, Louisiana Hayride posters and the like. The “1960s” case houses guitars, boots, vintage photos and rhinestone Nudie suits including the ones decorated with “Window Up Above” and “White Lightning” appliques.

The “1970s” case includes Tammy Wynette artifacts and duet videos. The “1980s” case salutes Nancy with a “She Changed Everything” section. These cases also include costumes, award certificates, photos and other memorabilia as do the “1990s” and “2000s” display cases. In addition, the last named houses material relating to his 1999 car wreck, his 70th birthday bash and his 50th anniversary in show biz gala.

There’s more. A separate display honors “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” There is a “Sing Along with George” vocal booth (“High Tech Redneck” is the selection) and a colorful diorama of the Jones country music park.

And more. His easy chair. His NFL helmets and autographed footballs. His award statuettes. His white grand piano (with “He Stopped Loving Her Today” sheet music ready to play). Mama Clara’s mink stole and Bible. His private barbershop. The riding lawnmower. Holograms. Video screens. Listening stations. More than 1,000 artifacts.

A “Friends of George Jones” case contains artifacts from Tanya Tucker, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings and Alan Jackson. You can have your family photo taken on the giant rocking chair, opposite the George Foreman display with boxing gloves, a photo, a framed letter and a video screen showing “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair.”

In the middle of the museum is a small stage, which featured bluegrass pickers. At the back of the museum is a small theater with leather-padded rocking chairs and costumes in cases. As you exit, there’s a star-studded giant photo of those who saluted him at the tribute TV special. Plus a guitar signed by all of them.

Oohing and ahhing were Michael Campbell, Mike Vaden, Mike Kraski, Sandy Knox, Katie Gillon, Tom Roland, Regina Stuve, new Country Music Hall of Fame publicist Edie Emery, Evelyn Shriver, Charles Bell, Jimmy Carter, Greg England, Susan Nadler and Buddy Cannon.

One special guest was screenwriter Alan Wenkus. He wrote the script for the upcoming rap movie about N.W.A. His newly finished script is for the No Show Jones bio film that backers are hoping to put into production in 2016.

Jaws dropped when we got to the third floor. This is a vast event space featuring a stage at one end (featuring a swing band), a long bar in the middle and a glass wall at the other end overlooking the Titans stadium, Shelby Street Bridge, Gholst Dance Ballet sculpture and Riverfront Park.

The grand finale was the fourth floor, a rooftop open-air bar also overlooking the sights mentioned above. Can you imagine viewing CMA Fest and/or the Fourth of July bash from there? I thought you could.

“I’m pleased with everything here,” said Nancy Jones. “I’m just thrilled.”

“George Jones didn’t live through country music; country music lived through George Jones,” said Naomi Judd. “Nobody will ever, ever fill his shoes.”