Category Archives: News

Kicking the Canon: Jonathan Keefe on Trisha Yearwood’s Hearts in Armor

Trisha Yearwood Hearts in ArmorCountry Universe writer and editor Jonathan Keefe has contributed to an awesome new project called Kicking the Canon.  Put together by In Review Online, Kicking the Canon attempts to expand on what has traditionally been considered the definitive music and films of eras gone by.

Keefe’s take on Trisha Yearwood’s landmark 1992 set, Hearts in Armor has gone live:

Her self-titled debut may have spawned four top-ten singles, but it was on Hearts in Armor that Trisha Yearwood properly announced herself as one of the finest country artists of her generation. Informed by the end of her first marriage, the album explores both the subtle and the dramatic ways that a relationship can dissolve, and it allows Yearwood to lay bare hard-earned truths that lesser vocalists might have left hidden.

And that’s just the beginning!  You can read the whole thing here.

The only other country album  featured so far is Iris Dement’s My Life,  but there are plenty more on the way. You can preview their 25 albums from each year (1960-1999) on their master list.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Music Sites, News

Miranda Lambert, Sturgill Simpson Dominate Nashville Scene Critics Poll

Nashville Scene Country Music Critics' PollThe results are in:

Nashville Scene’s 15th Annual Country Music Critics Poll

Miranda Lambert and Sturgill Simpson dominated this year’s results, with Maddie & Tae topping the Singles list for their progressive and timely hit, “Girl in a Country Song.”

Be sure to check out the Critic’s Comments, which feature some choice quotes from our very own Sam Gazdziak!

2 Comments

Filed under News

CU10 Flashback: The Civil Wars – A New Music Discovery

News broke today that the Civil Wars have officially broken up, after a year-long hiatus. It was just under five years ago that we first wrote about the Grammy winning duo, back when they were still without a label.  – KJC

 

The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars – A New Music Discovery

August 10, 2009

Out of all the writers at Country Universe, I’m probably the one who is least likely to discover an unsigned artist’s music online and fall in love with it. But thanks to a friend’s shout-out on Facebook, I’ve discovered The Civil Wars, a Nashville-based duo that is nothing short of completely awesome.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under CU Archives, CU10, News, Site News

2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees: Hank Cochran, Ronnie Milsap, and Mac Wiseman

Ronnie MilsapGood news for three legends of the genre, one of whom we lost to cancer only four years ago:

Ronnie Milsap, Mac Wiseman and the late Hank Cochran are the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Wiseman got his start in music after contracting polio as a child, which kept him out of the fields in his native Virginia. He was an original member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys, made his Grand Ole Opry debut with Bill Monroe, was an executive with the influential Nashville independent label Dot Records and a founding board member of the Country Music Association.Milsap, inducted in the modern era category, was an established talent by the time he arrived in Nashville in the 1970s. He’d played in J.J. Cale’s band in the early 1960s and moved to Memphis to work with Chips Moman at the hit-making American Studios, where he worked with Elvis Presley, among others, before accepting an invitation to go to Nashville to record for RCA Records.

It was something of an experiment for Milsap, known as an R&B and rock singer, but he made sure he had a regular gig before he hit town, playing nightly at Roger Miller’s King of the Road Hotel.

He found country fans were open to his style, and he went on to win several Grammy Awards, the CMA’s entertainer of the year award in 1977 and four album of the year awards between 1975 and 1986.

Cochran, who is being inducted posthumously in the songwriter category, probably secured his place in country music history when he got Willie Nelson a songwriting job at Pamper Music by forgoing his own raise.

He wrote the Ray Price standard “Make the World Go Away” and Patsy Cline’s second most-memorable song, “I Fall to Pieces” (following Nelson’s own “Crazy”), among many others.

He died in 2010 of pancreatic cancer shortly after a touching bedside singalong that included friends Jamey Johnson, Buddy Cannon and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Source: Associated Press via CBS News

3 Comments

Filed under News

In Memoriam: Kevin Sharp, 1970-2014

Kevin SharpNineties country star Kevin Sharp has passed away at the age of 43 from complications relating to cancer.

Sharp had major success with his debut album, Measure of a Man, which spawned three big hits: “Nobody Knows”, a Tony Rich Project cover that spent four weeks at #1, and two additional top five follow-up singles, “If You Love Somebody” and “She’s Sure Taking it Well.”

Sharp’s inspirational biography made his early success especially impressive. He suffered from a rare form of bone cancer that was so dire that he received a Make-a-Wish grant that introduced him to record producer David Foster.  After Sharp’s cancer went into remission, they remained in contact and Foster helped Sharp secure a contract with Asylum Records.

Sharp’s success came during a transitional time in country music, before one-hit wonders became far more common but while one-album wonders were becoming prominent.  Like Lari White, Paul Brandt, Michael Peterson, Deana Carter, and Ricochet, Sharp seemed to have garnered a foothold at radio, scoring several hits off a breakthrough album.

But like those other artists, radio completely ignored the follow-up project, Love is, in 1998.   Despite his first set going gold, he parted ways with his label after the second collection wasn’t a success.  A few years earlier, and radio would’ve probably played more of his second album. A few years later, and the burgeoning independent label scene and digital distribution methods might have made it easier for his career to maintain momentum.

Still, he found great success on the road in the new century, this time as an inspirational speaker, and he released an independent album in 2005, appropriately titled, Make a Wish.   By this time, he was a spokesperson for the organization that once introduced him to Foster.  His 2004 memoir’s title, Tragedy is a Gift, speaks to the positivity that defined Sharp’s work and made him such a wonderful addition to the country music scene in the latter half of the nineties.

 

2 Comments

Filed under In Memoriam, News

Musgraves, Clark, Monroe dominate Annual Nashville Scene Critics’ Poll

kacey-musgravesMuch like they dominated the Country Universe lists, Nashville Scene’s 14th Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll finds Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, and Ashley Monroe on top.

This year, six of our seven Country Universe writers voted in the poll, with Sam Gazdziak featuring heavily in the comments section!

Congratulations to Sam, and to all of the artists who did so well this year!

1 Comment

Filed under News, Site News

In Memoriam: Ray Price (1926-2013)

Ray PriceCountry Music Hall of Famer Ray Price has passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 87.

Price was instrumental in two of the most significant historical periods in country music, leading the way in both the twin fiddle-dominated honky-tonk of the 1950’s and the Nashville Sound pop crossover sound in the 1970’s.   While it was the former style that was dubbed the “Ray Price Shuffle”, it was the latter style that brought his greatest commercial success.

A touring artist well into his eighties, Price also recorded music right up until his illness, winning a Grammy in 2008 for his collaboration with fellow legend Willie Nelson.

This tremendous loss joins George Jones, Jack Clement, and Jack Greene in the ranks of country music legends who have passed away this year.  2013 also brought the tragic death of Mindy McCready, the near death scare for Randy Travis, and the heartbreaking news that Linda Ronstadt has lost her voice to Parkinson’s.  For country music fans, 2014 cannot come soon enough.

Enjoy two classic Ray Price hits below, one from each of his definitive eras:

“Crazy Arms”:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duqO3LYzYgY

“For the Good Times”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1ZKIX0ICZo

4 Comments

Filed under In Memoriam, News

Linda Ronstadt elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Linda Ronstadt TimeCountry-rock pioneer and Country Universe favorite Linda Ronstadt will join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.

She will enter popular music’s most elite company alongside fellow inductees Nirvana, Cat Stevens, Hall and Oates, Peter Gabriel, and KISS.

Ronstadt was last nominated seven years ago.  During the seventies, Ronstadt was widely regarded as rock’s leading lady, while also commanding respect and success in the country market with her genre-bending Asylum records.

Congratulations to Linda Ronstadt and her fellow inductees.

Enjoy a clip of Ronstadt performing at the Rockpalast Festival in Germany in 1976:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=082KfTzWOxE

16 Comments

Filed under News

In Memoriam: Cowboy Jack Clement, 1931-2013

Cowboy Jack ClementThe long list of country music greats lost in 2013 continues with the passing of Cowboy Jack Clement, who succumbed to liver cancer yesterday morning at the age of 82.

Few have done so much to shape country music from behind the scenes as this legendary songwriter and producer.  In addition to writing some of the genre’s best-loved songs, he produced classic records such as “Ring of Fire” and “Dreaming My Dreams with You,” as well as Bobby Bare’s concept album A Bird Named Yesterday.  He also played an instrumental role in launching the careers of icons such a Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis, while helping the now-legendary Charley Pride become one of the first major African-American country stars.  He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973 and is one of this year’s inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Be sure to check out this fine in-depth tribute by the always reliable Peter Cooper, as well as some personal remembrances by his good friends Kris Kristofferson and Marty Stuart.

Finally, enjoy the following performances of some of Clement’s most beloved compositions.  We at Country Universe are saddened to hear of Clement’s passing, and we extend our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

2 Comments

Filed under In Memoriam, News

In Memoriam: George Jones (1931-2013)

Celeb Q&A George JonesRest in Peace, Possum.

An extensive tribute piece to follow.  In the meantime, enjoy the voice that will remain immortal and share your memories and favorite songs in the comments.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvEDgLgKXn4

14 Comments

Filed under In Memoriam, News