The following article is by guest contributor and Country Universe commenter, Craig R. My Start in Country Music By Craig Ross My memories only started collecting at age four. That year, 1969, my uncle was shot and seriously wounded in Vietnam. I had just started eating hamburgers for the first time. During the summer I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on my parent’s bedroom black and white television set. And I knew the entire lyrics to only two songs, which I sang over and over again: “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” by B.J Thomas and “King of the Road” by the great Roger Miller. But growing up in a Baltimore suburb in a middle class, college educated black American home placed me in a rare position. My cousins listened to Motown, R&B, and some pop. The adults listened mainly to jazz. My parents were open to all Read More
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
Earlier this month, my friend and colleague Leeann Ward shared her favorite songs by Dolly Parton. I’m happy to now share mine. My respect for Parton as an artist knows no bounds. I don’t think there is another figure in country music that is visible in so many of the contours of the genre’s history. Given that I have a taste for country, pop, bluegrass, and damn fine songwriting, it was no small feat picking just twenty-five songs. This is just a sampling of her deep catalog, one that is long overdue to be fully reissued. Some of these tracks are hard to find, but most can be downloaded digitally or purchased on CDs, though you may need to scour compilations to find them. #25 “Those Were the Days” Those Were the Days, 2005 The title track from Parton’s third collection of cover songs is all bittersweet nostalgia, looking back Read More
For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page. 2010 Dierks Bentley Brad Paisley Blake Shelton George Strait Keith Urban Bentley and Shelton have never won, but they’re up against Strait, who has won five times, and Paisley and Urban, who’ve won three times each. With the balance of commercial and critical success not significantly different across the category, this race could bring the night’s biggest surprise. But whatever happens, kudos to Paisley for earning his tenth nomination, and Strait for earning his twenty-fifth! 2009 Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley Darius Rucker George Strait Keith Urban Just like in the Entertainer category, 80% of this race for the past three years had been Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait, and Keith Urban. This year, Darius Rucker took the fifth slot that was occupied by Alan Jackson in 2008 and Josh Turner in 2007. Brad Paisley went Read More
Earlier this week, I’d planned on talking about an Iris Dement track for this weekly discussion thread. Then some poking around on iTunes led me to discover something else entirely. I love iTunes because it helps me find random tracks by my favorite artists that I had no idea existed. One of the names I throw in the search engine from time to time is Olivia Newton-John, the first artist that I remember actually liking as a young child. Little did I know she’s been recording country music again, apparently for a television version of the Sordid Lives movie she was in a decade ago. I’ve never seen the flick, but I picked up the movie soundtrack a while back. It included a stunning and heartfelt acoustic performance of the Carter Family classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Tonight’s recommendation comes from the television show’s soundtrack, and while this song Read More
100 Greatest Women #49 Olivia Newton-John One of the biggest female country stars of the seventies became one quite accidentally. Her mere presence in country music infuriated traditionalists, but her pop-flavored country foreshadowed the boundary blurring recordings of future genre straddling stars like Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and Faith Hill. Olivia Newton-John was born in England, and raised in Australia. A talent show win down under earned her a ticket back to England, where she made inroads in the music industry in the sixties. After a solo single went nowhere in 1966, she earned a slot in a manufactured band called Toomorrow, and co-starred in a movie of the same name. When the group disbanded, she earned her big break as a cast member of It’s Cliff, a television variety show starring Cliff Richard. This led to a deal with Uni Records.