James Otto

ACM Top New Artist Winners

March 29, 2009 // 13 Comments

The winners have been announced for three of the Top New Artist categories at this year’s ACM Awards: Top New Male Vocalist: Jake Owen Top New Female Vocalist: Julianne Hough Top New Vocal Duo or Group: Zac Brown Band Jake Owen’s victory is something of an upset, as he was nominated against James Otto and Jamey Johnson, two men who received multiple Grammy nominations. Johnson still has a shot at some ACM awards this year, as he’s nominated in three other categories: Single, Song and Album of the Year. Owen is nominated for Vocal Event for his part in Sugarland’s multi-artist “Life in a Northern Town.” Julianne Hough was chosen over Sarah Buxton and Ashton Shepherd, while Zac Brown Band won over the Eli Young Band and the Lost Trailers. Owen, Hough and Zac Brown Band will compete for the Top New Artist award during the three-hour telecast on Sunday, Read More

44th Annual ACM Awards Nominations Announcement

February 11, 2009 // 18 Comments

The Academy of Country Music announced nominees for their 44th annual awards ceremony this morning at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Julianne Hough, Kellie Pickler, Leann Rimes and Jessica Simpson were on hand to present this year’s nominees. More analysis to follow. Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley George Strait Carrie Underwood Keith Urban

44th Annual ACM Awards Projections

February 9, 2009 // 38 Comments

On Wednesday, February 11, the Academy of Country Music will unveil the nominees for their 44th annual awards ceremony. Last year, the usual suspects prevailed. Brad and Carrie repeated in the Vocalist categories, Brooks & Dunn claimed their 14th Vocal Duo prize and Kenny Chesney earned his fourth consecutive Entertainer of the Year award. As a prelude to the nominations announcement, here’s my projected slate for this year’s ceremony. (Favorites are in bold.) Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley Sugarland Carrie Underwood Keith Urban Prognosis: The “no girls allowed” edict will likely be lifted.  Underwood is the genre’s most prominent ambassador, and Sugarland’s rise to the high ranks has both commercial and critical support. Note of interest: “The winner shall be determined by a combination of votes from the membership of the ACM and viewer voting.”

The 51st Annual Grammy Awards: Keeping It Country (Staff Favorites)

February 6, 2009 // 6 Comments

The second article in our Grammy Awards series, our personal favorites in the country categories at this year’s ceremony. Best Country Album Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song Patty Loveless, Sleepless Nights  (Blake, Leeann) George Strait, Troubadour Randy Travis, Around the Bend Trisha Yearwood, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love  (Dan, Kevin, Lynn) Blake: Strait’s collection is a mixed bag of middlebrow art with the occasional glimpse at his right-as-rain Texas style. Excepting Troubadour, these discs are highwater marks for the genre. Johnson and Loveless finished one-two on my 2008 list, but I’ll root for Loveless to win a long-awaited solo Grammy. Dan: I actually think Johnson made the best album, but Yearwood’s is my second-favorite, and she’s long overdue. Kevin: It’s a strong field overall, but Yearwood’s album is the most cohesive. She’s the greatest female album artist since Emmylou Harris, yet she’s never won an album award. It’s Read More

The 51st Annual Grammy Awards: Keeping It Country (Staff Predictions)

February 6, 2009 // 5 Comments

In a nod towards diversity, the General Field nominees for the 51st annual Grammy Awards include a shepherd’s pie of musical genres, with Brit soul ingenues (Adele, Duffy) against American pop trios (Jonas Bros., Lady A), Brit pop bands (Coldplay, Radiohead) against American rappers (Ne-Yo, Lil’ Wayne), all with a Brit rock legend (Robert Plant) lording over them. While it’s hard to argue the breadth of recent nominees in these categories, their depth is always up for discussion (see: Herbie Hancock, 2008 Album of the Year; Ray Charles, 2005 Record of the Year). The country field is filled with critical faves. George Strait enjoys the strongest across-the-board success in his estimable career, newcomer Jamey Johnson is lauded for his neo-outlaw soul, and Randy Travis, Patty Loveless and Trisha Yearwood continue Grammy’s trend of nominating veterans alongside newer artists. The staff of Country Universe have chosen their personal favorites and predictions for this year’s Grammy Read More

Academy of Country Music Nominations Due February 11

February 4, 2009 // 15 Comments

The nominations for this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards will be announced on Wednesday, February 11, and Country Universe will have a preview next week. As announced yesterday, the blond brigade of Julianne Hough, Leann Rimes, Jessica Simpson and Kellie Pickler will read the nominations from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. From the Academy of Country Music website: The Academy of Country Music, Dick Clark productions and Great American Country (GAC) announced today that for the first time ever, the three newcomer categories for the Academy of Country Music Awards—Top New Female Vocalist, Top New Male Vocalist and Top New Vocal Duo or Group—will be opened up to interactive fan voting through GACTV.com. The 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast LIVE from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 8:00 PM live ET/delayed PT on the Read More

Grammy Flashback: Best Male Country Vocal Performance

January 19, 2009 // 10 Comments

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 year, the 45th trophy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance will be awarded. In a continuation of our Grammy Flashback series, here is a rundown of the Best Country Vocal Performance, Male category. It was first awarded in 1965, and included singles 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. As usual, we start with a look at this year’s nominees and work our way back. Be sure to vote in My Kind of Country’s Best Male Country Vocal Performance poll and let your preference for this year’s race be known! Read More

Leeann Ward’s Top Singles of 2008

December 27, 2008 // 12 Comments

Here are my favorite singles of 2008. As Dan has done, I lifted the entries that I had already written from our collective list for this article. #20: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Please Read The Letter” The album from which this song comes seems like an unlikely collaboration. It, however, somehow works as one of the best albums of the decade and any song from it would make my top twenty singles list this year. #19: Hank Williams III, “Six Pack of Beer” Hank Williams III is known for relishing a rebel persona and this attitude is often reflected in his music. More often than not, his songs contain observations wrapped in harsh lyrics that cause me to wince, but his production and voice, which are both more comparable to Hank Sr. than Hank III’s father, still draws me to his music, nonetheless. This song, however, is simply pure Read More

2008 Rewind: “In Color,” Jamey Johnson

December 26, 2008 // 10 Comments

Jamey Johnson’s “In Color” is the greatest country song of 2008. There’s no quantifiable evidence to support the argument, and in terms of artistic validity, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? But  “In Color” lives up to the title; it’s not the feel-good story of the year, but it’s oddly humbling and heartwarming, all in a nice, neat four-minute package. Johnson penned the epic ballad with rising star James Otto and Nashville songwriter,  Lee Thomas Miller. In three-verse perfection, they play out a high-detail performance that eerily echoes our difficult times. “In Color” is a broadly applicable song, with the themes of economic hardships, wartime efforts and everlasting love all wrapped around a simple, understated chorus.  They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Country songs, or at least the really mainstream ones, aren’t rigged for regular Joes anymore, and especially the cockeyed pessimists of the bunch. But you can just Read More

Blake Boldt’s Year-End Lists

December 25, 2008 // 5 Comments

Happy holidays! Singles: 1.  “In Color,” Jamey Johnson 2.  “Waitin’ on a Woman,” Brad Paisley 3.  “This Is Me You’re Talking To,” Trisha Yearwood 4.  “She Left Me for Jesus,” Hayes Carll 5.  “What I Cannot Change,” Leann Rimes 6.  “Last Call,” Lee Ann Womack 7.  “Anything Goes,” Randy Houser 8.  “Dig Two Graves,” Randy Travis 9.  “Please Read the Letter,” Alison Krauss & Robert Plant 10.  “Fine Line,” Little Big Town 11.  “Mockingbird,” Allison Moorer 12.  “Crazy Arms,” Patty Loveless 13.  “This Town Needs a Bar,” Jeremy McComb 14.   “Just Got Started Loving You,” James Otto 15.  “Takin’ off This Pain,” Ashton Shepherd 16.  “Gold,” Emmylou Harris 17.  “Every Other Weekend,” Reba McEntire & Skip Ewing 18.  “You Look Good In My Shirt,” Keith Urban 19.  “More Like Her,” Miranda Lambert 20.  “Love Don’t Live Here,” Lady Antebellum

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