On The Cover—Jake Owen

jowen2_jamesminchinLabel: RCA Nashville
Current Album: Easy Does It
Current Single & Video: “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You”
Current Producer: Jimmy Ritchey
Hometown: Vero Beach, Florida
Birthdate: August 28
Management: Morris Management Group
Booking: Dale Morris & Associates
Recent Hits: “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” “Startin’ with Me,” “Something About a Woman,” “Yee Haw”
Awards: Jake is the recently crowned ACM Top New Male Vocalist and has been an ACM, CMA, and Grammy nominee.
Interesting Facts: Jake co-wrote eight of the songs on Easy Does It, and he’s been a writer on each of his first four hits.
Touring & Special Appearances: Since the release of his debut album, Jake has toured with Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, and more. He recently made his second appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Musical Influences: Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr.
Website(s): www.jakeowen.net; www.myspace.com/jakeowen

Jake Owen’s major label life kicked off back in 2006 with a rowdy “Yee Haw,” the leadoff single from his RCA debut, Startin’ With Me. That song hit the Top 10 and earned the Florida native his first ACM nomination for Top New Male Vocalist. His participation in the multi-artist single, “Life In A Northern Town” helped to kick the singer/songwriter’s career into high gear and led to his first CMA and Grammy nominations in 2008. That momentum continued with “Don’t Think I Don’t Love You,” the hit single and video and leadoff track from his sophomore release, Easy Does It. The album’s title sums up Owen’s reaction to what might have been a sophomore curse.

“My main goal with this album was to make music that’s not overdone or over thought,” Owen said. “I just went in the studio and sang. I’d sing the song from start to finish a couple of times and then leave because there was no doubt in my mind that I’d done the best I could do. Whether it’s perfect or not, it’s who I am.”

Throughout Easy Does It, Owen does indeed sound more relaxed and confident as an artist. “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” is the perfect example of how the personal experiences inspire his lyrics. Partly inspired by his father’s devotion to his mother over the years, the song is just the first of several songs written specifically about romantic relationships. Though some of the love songs on Easy Does It, such as “Eight Second Ride,” veer toward the rowdy side, Owen has his own set of standards when it comes to addressing the fairer sex.

“It’s really important for me when I’m writing songs that speak to women that I speak to them in a way of respect,” Owen says. “I try to write in a way where a guy listening would say, ‘Man, I’d say that to a girl.’ Conway Twitty did that. He sang songs to women all the time, but it was a very masculine way of saying it. It wasn’t soft. I don’t think any of my love songs on this record are soft.”

As he works to refine his own musical identity in the studio, Owen gives a lot of credit to his producer, Jimmy Ritchey. Their working relationship provides the perfect environment for Owen to experiment with his emerging sound. As a result, Easy Does It offers a freewheeling and creative brand of country music that goes well beyond the standard country radio fare. Whether it’s the haunting bagpipe passage that closes the album on “Nothin’ Grows in Shadows” or the expansive musical build-up that leads in to the opening track, “Tell Me,” every song on Easy Does It contains echoes of Owen’s musical heroes while allowing him to forge his own musical path.

“I’m not doing this for the money,” he says. “It’s about believing in what you do, and doing it because you love it. Making music is what I love to do.”

Mac McAnally

“You First”

Show Dog Nashville

mac-playlist-42009Mac McAnally has worn many hats in his storied career—producer, vocalist, guitarist, chart-topping songwriter, member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer band—and his recording artist cap recently earned a nice feather in “Down The Road,” his No. 1 duet with Kenny Chesney. Now, McAnally and his new label Show Dog Nashville look to build on that success with the release of “You First,” which impacts radio April 27.

A poignant series of vignettes about brotherly love, “You First,” is the first release from McAnally’s upcoming Show Dog debut album.

The single follows the successful of “Down The Road,” a song penned by McAnally and recorded by Kenny Chesney, who invited the Mac to sing on the track with him. It was McAnally’s sixth No. 1 as a writer and first as a recording artist, which led to an ACM Vocal Event of the Year nod.

Significant as those milestones are, however, they only tell part of McAnally’s accomplishments. From his days as a Muscle Shoals session musician, Mac has given musical support to artists including Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr., Amy Grant, Jimmy Buffett, Travis Tritt, Linda Ronstadt, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dolly Parton and many more. He’s a longstanding member of Buffett’s Coral Reefer band, and his production credits include Ricky Skaggs, Sawyer Brown, Chris LeDoux and Little Feat.

Mac was named 2008 Musician of the Year by the Country Music Association, the same year he was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. He is also a 2007 inductee to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. McAnally signed his first record deal at the age of 16 and was the first artist signed to the legendary Geffen Records.


Kate and Kacey

“Dreaming Love”

Big Machine

katekacey-playlist41309“Dreaming Love” is the debut single for Big Machine’s twin sisters Kate and Kacey, who combine country music’s best traditions with its future. Family harmony has always been an integral part of country music and it is clear the sisters have that special vocal magic that runs in the blood.

Prior to inking a deal with Big Machine Records, Kate and Kacey had already garnered an enthusiastic legion of fans as contestants on the CMT series Can You Duet? where they made it to the semi-finals. “It was one of the most difficult things in our career and one of the most rewarding,” says Kacey. “We are here today because of it, and I think it made us so much stronger.”

In addition to the television exposure, they have also gained notice on Music Row for their songwriting skills. Signed to EMI Music Publishing, the twosome has already obtained every songwriter’s dream—a George Strait cut. “House with No Doors,” which the twins co-wrote with Jamey Johnson, is on Strait’s current album Troubadour.

Kate and Kacey initially moved to the West Coast to attend college at USC, courtesy of music scholarships, and though they had begun to make inroads as songwriters/background vocalists in Los Angeles, they wanted to make country music, so a move to Nashville was inevitable. “It just absolutely fit for us,” says Kacey. “It felt like home.”

Adds Kate, “The values and traditions that country music stands for is exactly in line with Kacey and I, as performers and artists and daughters and sisters and friends. Like she said, it’s always felt like home. There’s a place to still believe in those traditions, have hope and a sense of family.”

Kate and Kacey will join the Corona Sun City Tailgate Experience with Kenny Chesney for 11 dates this summer.


Shawna Russell

“Fire In The Desert”

Way Out West Records

srussell-playlist40609“A scorcher”
—Chris Neal, Country Weekly

Shawna Russell has released her new Way Out West Records single “Fire In The Desert” to country radio. The follow-up release to her hit single and video, “Should’ve Been Born With Wheels,” “Fire In The Desert” is a hot summertime rocker delivered with power and passion by Russell, who wrote the song with her father/guitarist, Keith, and uncle/producer, Tim.

The track features an all-star line up of musicians including famed L.A. session drummer Russ Kunkel (Lyle Lovett/James Taylor/Stevie Nicks) and bassist David Santos (John Fogerty/Elton John). Russell’s vocals were engineered by Grammy award-winning Julian King (Tim McGraw/Faith Hill), and the track was mixed by Emmy and Grammy recipient Nathaniel Kunkel (The Police/Diana Ross).

“Fire In The Desert” is from Russell’s critically-acclaimed debut CD Goddess which has received rave reviews from the CMA Close Up, Country Weekly, The Oklahoman, and was singled out for a DISCovery Award by esteemed Music Row critic, Robert K. Oermann.

Russell currently maintains a busy live performance schedule, and she and her band are gearing up for a full slate of summer concerts – including appearances at the Country Fever festival in Pryor, Oklahoma and the Expert Mobile Extreme Country Fever in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.


Joe Nichols


Universal Records South

“Believers,” the new single from Joe Nichols, has shipped to radio. According to the artist, it is the perfect fit for him, both musically and personally.

“This song is about passion—when people have passion about something, the sky’s the limit,” says Nichols. “It’s also about believing in something bigger than what’s right in front of you. There have been a lot of times in my life, both recently and in the past, that I’ve needed a lot of belief just to move me forward. This song gives me that.”

The single was written by Ashley Gorley, Wade Kirby and Bill Luther, and produced by Nichols’ longtime producer Brent Rowan.

“Believers” is the lead single from the artist’s new album, which will be released by Universal Records South later this year. The as yet untitled recording is the follow-up to Nichols’ critically acclaimed 2007 release, Real Things.

Nichols has had 4 Grammy nominations over the course of his career and notched massive hits with singles like “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” “Brokenheartsville” and “The Impossible.”


Tracy Lawrence

“Up To Him”

Rocky Comfort/Nine North

The multiple rhymes are just about brilliant. Tracy, as usual, delivers the goods as a vocalist on this common-man’s anthem.
—Robert K. Oermann, MusicRow

Tracy Lawrence is set to deliver his second album from his own Rocky Comfort Records, an inspirational collection titled The Rock (produced by Lawrence and Julian King), in June. To introduce the spirit behind the project, he is releasing the first single, “Up To Him,” to radio on March 24, 2009. (CDX Vol. 470/Track 6)

Written by David Kent and Kim Johnson, the single brings forth an assuring, unified message that could not come at a more appropriate time. “In the current political climate and in consideration of the overall mood of our country, ‘Up To Him’ is hopeful, positive and looks toward a brighter future,” says Lawrence. “It’s the perfect introduction to the new CD; the emotional and musical tapestry will make it a ‘connection’ song that will appeal to all audiences.”

Consistent with Lawrence’s musical message, the release of “Up To Him” follows Lawrence’s No. 1 friends-helping-friends anthem “Find Out Who Your Friends Are.” The music video for “Up To Him” will be filmed in the coming weeks.

Lawrence’s career has spanned more than 15 years, during which time he has proved to be a formidable stylist with an instantly recognizable voice. He’s garnered 17 No. 1 hits, many gold and platinum albums, and numerous career achievement awards. His long list of hits, including “Alibis,” “If The World Had A Front Porch,” “Time Marches On,” “Sticks And Stones” and “Paint Me A Birmingham,” has made him a staple with country listeners.


Williams Riley

“I’m Still Me”

Golden/Nine North

Every once in a while, talent and personality do what they should: attract immediate and enthusiastic support from fans and fellow artists.

Case in point: Steve Williams, the lead singer for Williams Riley, one of country music’s most exciting newcomers. Some of music’s top names have rallied in support of the group (which features Williams, Charlie Hutto, Joe Rogers, Derek George, Dave Guidry and Nick Buda) and offered their talents and support in helping his music find a larger audience.

Among those top names, rock guitar hero Slash joins country star Bryan White and famed singer-songwriter Edwin McCain on the self-titled debut Williams Riley album—almost unheard of for a new, independent artist. The collection of songs was co-produced by Noel Golden (Edwin McCain, Sister Hazel, Lee Ann Womack) and features the debut single “I’m Still Me.”

“I can’t believe how passionate everyone has been about what we’re doing,” says Williams, the singer, songwriter and guiding light of Williams Riley. “Not long ago, I was just a guy writing songs in Louisiana. Now a bunch of my heroes are playing with me and my band on my songs because they love what I’m doing, that tells me that we must be doing something right.”


Mark Chesnutt

“She Never Got Me Over You”

Lofton Creek

Responding to demand from radio, Mark Chesnutt‘s new single “She Never Got Me Over You” is being rush-released. Several stations, including WFMS/Indianapolis and KFTX/Corpus Christi, have already added it. It garnered 21 adds on MusicRow‘s CountryBreakout™ chart in its first week of being reported.

Beaumont, Texas, native Mark Chesnutt left his stamp on the ‘90s, recording some of the decade’s most memorable hits—“Bubba Shot The Jukebox,” “Going Through The Big D,” and “It’s A Little Too Late” among many others.

Chesnutt’s current album Rollin’ With The Flow was released in 2008 and features the hit title track, plus “Things To Do In Wichita” and his new single “She Never Got Me Over You.” His fruitful career boasts 14 No. 1s, 23 top ten singles, four platinum albums and five gold records.

Known as one of the industry’s hardest-working concert performers, Chesnutt has been on the road since 1990, maintaining a hefty tour schedule and steady presence in front of his fans. “The clubs and honky tonks are home for me; it’s comfortable and I’m always with friends,” says the singer.

Chesnutt has a string of live dates in his future, including the October 23-25 Beaumont Boys Bash. Hosted with his fellow hometown singers Tracy Byrd and Zona Jones, the charity festival offers a weekend of music, food and fun unlike any other.


Lauren Briant

“Butterfly Tattoo”

Average Joes Entertainment
Impacting radio March 19

“Rebellious,” “playful,” and “colorful” have all been used to describe Lauren Briant. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, this country girl grew up on the vivid lyrics and instrumentation rooted in country songs. “I would listen to the radio and sing along,” Lauren remembers, “and I guess when you grow up country, country music melodies and stories are the only ones that make sense.”

Briant ventured into the pop-singer world briefly at her peers’ suggestion, but was led back to her country roots when she was discovered at a local watering hole by famed producer Shannon Houchins (TLC, Usher, Outkast).

Briant is sure to leave a permanent impression with real life lyrics such as those in her Noah Gordon-produced debut single, “Butterfly Tattoo,” which states “My daddy’s gonna kill me if my momma doesn’t first.”

“I feel more of a connection with country music, and I love the way my voice feels belting out Honky Tonk tunes,” Lauren says. “I was never really a fan of the R&B or Pop format, so it seemed foreign to me as a songwriter and performer to pursue a career just for popularity’s sake.”


Colt Ford

“Ride Through The Country” (feat. John Michael Montgomery)

Average Joes Entertainment
Impacting March 19

Colt Ford embodies the seemingly unusual pairing of the Southern country and hip-hop musical influences that he heard growing up in small-town America just outside Athens, Georgia, not far from the Southern hub for urban music in Atlanta. His newly styled country music is truly a blend of many American musical styles, including country, rock, hip-hop, and rhythm & blues. With this musical mixture, Colt blazes forward with a new, creative sound for the all-American everyman. Although the stories may differ for rural and urban listeners, Colt delivers a common message and emotion with an uncommon sound.

Ford’s album Ride Through The Country was released in November 2008 and has sold over 11,000 copies on tour. He averages over 40,000 plays per day on MySpace. The title track features help from John Michael Montgomery and his album features contributions from Jamey Johnson, Jeremy Popoff, Brantley Gilbert, Adrian Young (of No Doubt), Bonecrusher, Attitude, and Soni Ledfurd.

A songwriter, golfer, musician, and family man, he continues to enjoy hunting, fishing, and spending time with his wife and two children. Although he has traveled around the globe during his 7 years as a professional golfer, he still prefers to live in his small Southern hometown.

Colt Ford grew up listening to country music, and his first concert was Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers together in Georgia. He eventually gravitated towards R&B and hip-hop and made his musical debut in high school writing a rap for a friend. Colt soon found that writing came easy to him and began working with acclaimed producer Jermaine Dupri and other developing hip-hop artists.

Ford performs over 120 dates per year with a full band, so check his schedule to find out when he’ll be near you!