Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell and legendary session musician Charlie McCoy are the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, as announced this morning in a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
Roy Clark, one of country music’s greatest ambassadors, served as the co-host of the popular syndicated show, Hee Haw and regularly appeared on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show and numerous other television programs. The 1973 CMA Entertainer of the Year and a 1987 Grand Ole Opry inductee, Clark’s hits include “I Never Picked Cotton,” “Tips of My Fingers” and “Yesterday When I Was Young.” In 1983, he opened the first theatre in Branson, Mo., firmly establishing the Midwest town as an entertainment mecca.
Barbara Mandrell also starred on the small screen with her early-80s variety show Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters, a showcase for her glitzy, glamorous performing style. A two-time CMA female vocalist of the year, Mandrell was only the third female artist to win the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year award (1980). Her hits include “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” and “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right.”
A member of Nashville’s “A Team” of studio musicians, Grammy-winning Charlie McCoy is Music City’s most-recorded harmonica player, with credits including Tom T. Hall’s “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and Mandrell’s “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” He served as a musical producer on Hee Haw and a studio musician for Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
On Wednesday, February 4, the Country Music Hall of Fame will announce its newest members. The genre’s highest honor, induction into the Hall of Fame is bestowed upon the absolute best of country music. In 1996 the CMHOF developed a set of categories to sort candidates, an effort intended to recognize the great breadth of the genre.
The Hall will admit three new members in 2009, one each from the following categories:
- Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980
- Performer, career achieved national prominence between WWII and 1975
- Performer, career achieved national prominence between 1975-current
Below are six living Country Music Hall of Fame candidates that deserve induction in 2009.
Sunday, January 25th, 2009
Revised and Updated for 2009
While the Grammys have honored country music from the very first ceremony in 1959, they did not begin honoring by gender until 1965, when the country categories were expanded along with the other genre categories.
This is a look back at the Best Female Country Vocal Performance category. It was first awarded in 1965, an included single competing with albums until the Best Country Album category was added in 1995. When an album is nominated, it is in italics, and a single track is in quotation marks.
I’ve often made the case that female artists were making the best music in the 1990s, and the Grammys did a great job nominating songs and albums that were ignored at the CMA and ACM awards, which is not surprising, given that those shows have so few categories that are actually for songs and albums.
As usual, we start with a look at this year’s nominees and work our way back.
- Martina McBride, “For These Times”
- LeAnn Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”
- Carrie Underwood, “Last Name”
- Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
- Trisha Yearwood, “This is Me You’re Talking To”
This year’s lineup includes three former winners and two women looking for their first victory in this category. Martina McBride is in the running for the eighth time in fifteen years, and with one of her more understated performances. Lee Ann Womack returns for a fifth time, having received a nomination for the lead single of her five most recent albums. Both ladies turned in good performances here, but they’ve been overlooked for records bigger and better, so they’re not likely to snap their losing streaks this time around.
As for the previous winners, LeAnn Rimes earned her third consecutive nod, bringing her total to five in this category. She hasn’t won since 1997, when she took home the award for “Blue.” If enough voters hear “What I Cannot Change,” she might have a shot, though the only version of the song that’s been a legitimate hit has been the dance remix.
Trisha Yearwood won in 1998 for “How Do I Live,” her only victory to date. But she’s earned her tenth nomination for “This is Me You’re Talking To,” which is arguably her strongest vocal performance of the ten. Like Rimes, the challenge is getting enough voters to listen to it, but she’s never been more deserving of the victory than she is this year.
Still, the favorite remains Carrie Underwood. She’s quickly become a favorite with Grammy voters, having won this category two years running, along with Best New Artist in 2007. She’s the nominee with the highest profile, and while “Last Name” is nowhere near the same league of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats” in terms of artistry or impact, it was a big hit, something that the other four entries cannot claim.
If Underwood was nominated for “Just a Dream,” she’d have a mortal lock on this one. But the strength of the other nominees will at least keep this race competitive. If Underwood prevails, Grammy queen Alison Krauss better watch her back.
- Alison Krauss, “Simple Love”
- Miranda Lambert, “Famous in a Small Town”
- LeAnn Rimes, “Nothin’ Better to Do”
- Carrie Underwood, “Before He Cheats”
- Trisha Yearwood, “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love”
Looking at this lineup, you’d think that it was a golden age of female country artists, something akin to the mid-nineties. In reality, only one of these songs was a big radio hit, though three others managed to go top twenty. In terms of quality, however, this is the most consistent and thoroughly wonderful set of nominees this category has seen this century. You’d have to go back to exactly 1999 to find a better lineup.
In a year when any winner would have been deserving, Underwood won for “Before He Cheats,” her second straight win for a signature mega-hit from her debut album.
Tags: Alison Krauss, Angie Aparo, Anne Murray, Barbara Fairchild, Barbara Mandrell, Billie Jo Spears, Brenda Lee, Carlene Carter, Carrie Underwood, Connie Smith, Crystal Gayle, Deana Carter, Deborah Allen, Diana Trask, Dolly Parton, Donna Fargo, Dottie West, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, Gretchen Wilson, Holly Dunn, Jamie O'Neal, Jan Howard, Janie Fricke, Jean Shepard, Jeannie C. Riley, Jeannie Seely, Jessi Colter, Jo Dee Messina, Jody Miller, Juice Newton, June Carter Cash, k.d. lang, K.T. Oslin, Kathy Mattea, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Linda Ronstadt, Liz Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Lorrie Morgan, Lucinda Williams, Lynn Anderson, Marie Osmond, Martina McBride, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mary Kay Place, Miranda Lambert, Molly Bee, Olivia Newton-John, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire, Rosanne Cash, Sammi Smith, Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow, Sissy Spacek, Skeeter Davis, Sylvia, Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker, Terri Gibbs, Trisha Yearwood, Wanda Jackson, Wilma Burgess, Wynonna
Saturday, November 1st, 2008
Although he started his career in front of a microphone, Dean Dillon soon transitioned into one of the finest songwriters in Nashville, notably enhancing the careers of one of its legends and illustrating an uncommon power in melody and verse.
Dean Dillon, born on March 26, 1955, in Lake City, TN, was entranced with country music from an early age. At 15, he appeared in a local Knoxville variety show as a songwriter and performer, and that experience stirred his interest in a career of performing. Soon after arriving in Nashville as a teenager, Dillon accepted a job at the Opryland theme park. In 1976, he landed the role of Hank Williams in the Country Music Show at Opryland. While there, a friend introduced him to songwriter John Schweers, who became Dillon’s mentor. Three weeks later, Barbara Mandrell recorded three of Dillon’s songs. In 1979, Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius had a #1 hit with his “Lying Here in Love with You.”
Category Songwriter Series
Tags: Barbara Mandrell, Dean Dillon, George Jones, George Strait, Hank Williams, Helen Cornelius, Jim Ed Brown, Kenny Chesney, Pam Tillis, Toby Keith, Vern Gosdin
Monday, June 16th, 2008
100 Greatest Women
Every once in a while, an artist comes along who both defies and redefines expectations. Barbara Mandrell was one of those artists. She completely transformed the notion of what a country music entertainer should be, breaking down barriers for women and raising the bar for all of those who followed her.
She was a musical prodigy, already playing the accordion at age five. Her father owned a music store, so Barbara and her sisters had a myriad of musical instruments at their disposal. Barbara took full advantage of this, and began playing an assortment of core country instruments, becoming particularly adept on the banjo and the steel guitar.
She also learned the saxophone. When she was just eleven, she began playing professionally. By age thirteen, her skill on the steel guitar had her playing on tour with the biggest acts of the day, including Patsy Cline, George Jones and Johnny Cash. After high school, she moved to Nashville to pursue a singing career, and she was signed to Columbia in 1969.