We can thank the shortsighted radio consultant Keith Hill for one thing: drawing attention to the women of country music in a year where so many of them are making outstanding music. As their mainstream counterparts cycle through a series of one-note styles and themes, female country artists are putting out diverse and decidedly more progressive music, even as they draw influence from previous generations. That they do so while supporting each other makes it all the more impressive.
Our Best Singles of 1993 list continues with a collection of #1 hits, breakthrough hits, and should’ve been hits. Kicking things off is the debut single from one of the decade’s most successful vocal groups. #30 “Goodbye Says it All” BlackHawk Written by Bobby Fischer, Charlie Black and Johnny MacRae Peak: #11 #9 – SG | #31 – BF BlackHawk enjoyed a nice run of hits from their debut album, including this kiss-off song. Lead singer Henry Paul was best known for his work in the Southern Rock band The Outlaws, but his distinctive voice adapted well to mainstream country, too. “Goodbye” showed off the great harmonies from the trio (Paul, Dave Robbins and the late Van Stephenson), and it also proved the adage that nothing good has ever written been down in lipstick (Patty Loveless’ “She Drew a Broken Heart” is Exhibit B). – Sam Gazdziak
The combined efforts of nine women and three men form the upper echelon of our Best Albums list from 1993. This embarrassment of riches showcases just how much great music there was to choose from that year, especially given how many of the genre’s biggest and most acclaimed stars – Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Pam Tillis, just to name a few – were between albums that year. It was also a strong and diverse enough year that despite some overall consensus among the lists of all of the writers, each one of us has a different album at #1 on our personal lists. Enjoy the second half of our list, and look for the Singles list to kick off next weekend. #10 Uncle Tupelo Anodyne #1 – JK | #3 – SG In jumping to a major label, Uncle Tupelo was supposed to give Read More
In a long, fascinating interview with the Houston Press, Vince Gill was asked about the recent controversy involving female artists and country radio. Here’s what he had to say: “That’s one of the greatest tragedies in this stretch of life for me,” Gill says. “Because I’ve been inspired as much or more by women artists, equally, than I have as men. So if there’s only a couple that are getting the opportunity to really knock it out of the park at radio, then you just go, “What about Patsy Cline/Kitty Wells/Tammy Wynette/Loretta Lynn?’ “I could go on and on and on and on and name you about 50 great female artists,” Gill continues. “And I don’t know why that is. To me, they’re making much more…interesting records. They’re saying more things I’d prefer to hear, lyrically and song-wise, and that’s compelling. This Ashley Monroe kid, she writes songs like she’s Read More
How could you ever tell them apart? Thank goodness we have the diversity and variety of male voices in country music to keep things fresh. With deep gratitude to country music programmers for knowing what we really want. Thanks to your leadership, the genre is so much richer with talent today than it was in 1993.
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.
100 Greatest Men: The Complete List Quite possibly country music’s most distinctive vocalist, George Jones wrapped his distinguished vocals around great songs for more than five decades. Jones was born and raised in Texas, and his earliest musical tastes were shaped by the gospel he heard at church, and by the Carter Family songs he heard on the radio. After his dad bought him a guitar, he would play on the streets of Beaumont for tips. He was singing on the radio by his late teens, and after a brief stint in the military, he returned to Texas, where he was discovered by a local record producer named Pappy Daily.
100 Greatest Men: The Complete List From the vantage point of history, he is the indisputable King of Rock & Roll. But he earned that title through his ability to perform country, blues, and R&B successfully, and it is often his impact as a country artist that is most easily overlooked. Presley was born into deep poverty in Mississippi, laying the groundwork for his exposure to American roots music. By his teenage years, he was living in Memphis, and it is in that city where he would be discovered by Sun Records owner Sam Phillips. His work for Sun Records cannot be overstated in its significance. On those early recordings, he brought together elements of country, blues, and R&B into a sound called rockabilly, which created the very foundation for what would soon be known as rock and roll. His cover of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” was among Read More
Jamie O’Neal’s time in the mainstream country spotlight was short, but memorable. She kicked off her career with back-to-back number one hits “There Is No Arizona” and “When I Think About Angels,” which powered her 2000 debut album Shiver to gold certification. However, subsequent single releases stalled at radio and her planned follow-up album was shelved, eventually leading to the end of her deal with Mercury Records. A tenure at Capitol produced the 2005 album Brave and another pair of hits with “Trying to Find Atlantis” and “Somebody’s Hero,” but history eventually repeated itself with further unsuccessful singles and never-released albums.
Now Jamie O’Neal is embarking on a new chapter as the head of her own Momentum record label, free of major label constraints and of the need to depend on radio play. Her fans’ wait for new music is finally over as she preps to release her first new album in nearly a decade with Eternal, due out May 27, on which she covers a selection of classic tunes that helped shape her into the artist she eventually became. I recently had the chance to sit down with Jamie O’Neal to talk about these exciting new career developments.