Jean Shepard

Six Pack: Classic Country Songs for International Women’s Day

March 8, 2015 // 22 Comments

Today is International Women’s Day.   Historically speaking, country music has never enjoyed a reputation for being socially progressive. For the general public, the definitive statement the genre made was “Stand By Your Man.”  That Tammy Wynette classic is often cited as country music’s counterpoint to the women’s liberation movement, although Wynette wrote the thing in fifteen minutes without any agenda in mind. She just needed a song to sing. I generally consider the classic country era to have ended with the seventies,  preceding the Urban Cowboy and New Traditionalist movements. What follows are some of the best deliberate statements made by country artists during those years in support for women’s rights.  Some were big hits.  Some were not.  But they were all ahead of their time and are still interesting to listen to today.

A Conversation with Amber Hayes

January 24, 2013 // 3 Comments

Amber Hayes

Independent country artist Amber Hayes released her first EP C’mon in the summer of 2010, and has since been covering all media ground, building up a solid fan following without the support of a major label.  She had already added “theater performer” to her resume back in 2008, when she was cast as Kathy in the Conway Twitty musical.  The year 2012 brought about the release of her second EP Any Day Is a Good Day, as well as her screen debut in the film Cowgirls ‘n Angels.  Amber Hayes recently spoke with Country Universe to discuss her accomplishments over the past year.

Prayers for Ferlin Husky

July 3, 2009 // 0 Comments

Country Universe is sending out good wishes and prayers for the health of country music legend Ferlin Husky, who has been hospitalized with serious ailments.

Husky is best known for the gospel classic “Wings of a Dove”, which spent ten weeks at #1 in 1960. His other chart-toppers are “Gone”, which also spent ten weeks at #1, and his debut single, “A Dear John Letter.” He was the featured artist on that record, with Jean Shepard being the lead artist, and it spent a cool six weeks at #1.

Husky’s popularity at his peak was not limited to the radio dial, as he appeared in eighteen films and several television shows. At 83, he remains an active performer. Here’s hoping he heals up soon and gets back on the road, where he still has fans waiting to hear him sing his classics, five decades after he began his long and successful career.

You can watch Husky perform some of his classics after the jump.

Six Pack: Hall of Fame Candidates

February 3, 2009 // 12 Comments

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.

Grammy Flashback: Best Female Country Vocal Performance

January 25, 2009 // 23 Comments

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 Read More

100 Greatest Women, #34: Jean Shepard

May 29, 2008 // 6 Comments

100 Greatest Women #34 Jean Shepard The Grand Lady of the Grand Ole Opry. Jean Shepard has been entertaining fans of classic country music for fifty years with her honky-tonk stylings and brass delivery. At her peak, she was the one of the strongest female forces in country music, a salty counterpoint to the timid balladeers and lush pop divas she shared the charts with. She was originally from Oklahoma, but her family moved out west when she was a child, settling in California. She got her musical start in Bakersfield, forming The Melody Ranch Girls. The band developed a strong local following. One night, Hank Thompson caught one of their performances and was blown away. Through him, Shepard secured a record deal with Capitol. She was still a teenager when she signed with the label. On record, Shepard turned in a honky-tonk sound that rivaled the grit of all Read More