Singer Helped Raise More Than $1.4 Million For The Hospital Last Year
As the winner of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice,” country star John Rich earned more than $1.4 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital last year. That effort earned him the inaugural Randy Owen Angels Among Us Award Saturday night in Memphis at the conclusion of the Country Cares for St. Jude Kids seminar.
The award was presented to Rich by its namesake, Alabama frontman Randy Owen (pictured on the left), who founded the Country Cares program in 1989, mobilizing country radio stations nationwide host annual radiothons and other fundraisers for St. Jude. The stations’ efforts are strongly supported by country artists and the Nashville music industry, and the program has raised more than $400 million since its inception.
In his acceptance speech, Rich said, “You shouldn’t be getting an award for something you ought to be doing anyway.” He also noted that as someone who grew up in a trailer in Amarillo, Texas, he’s particularly inspired by the fact that St. Jude helps kids like he was “who wouldn’t be taken care of otherwise,” because St. Jude never charges families for its care.
In his sometimes humorous speech, Rich referred to “The Celebrity Apprentice” as a “land mine of a TV show,” but said while he was participating in it, “I bit my tongue daily, not because it is in my nature to do that, but I wasn’t playing for myself, I was playing for the kids of St. Jude. It would not sit well upon them if I turned into a redneck jerk.”
During his time on the show, Rich said, “The gasoline in my tank was the faces and stories I knew of St. Jude.”
Rich, who has a reputation as a bit of a bad boy, also said, “The best thing about his award is that when my sons Google me [in the future,] they’ll see a lot of crazy stuff, but they’ll also see this award.
The newly created Angels Among Us Award recognizes a member of the country music industry who demonstrates an immeasurable commitment and dedication to kids battling cancer and other deadly diseases at St. Jude.
“This past year John really embodied what Country Cares for St. Jude Kids is all about,” said Owen. “It’s really unbelievable to look back over the past 23 years and see what the country music industry has helped us accomplish for St. Jude. This award is a way for us to say thank you to select members of the industry for their continued commitment and support.”
St. Jude is celebrating its 50th anniversary of finding cures and saving children.
Singers Support The Country Cares For St. Jude Kids Fundraising Efforts
More than 30 country artists journeyed to Memphis late last week to tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, spend some time with patients, and also participate in the Country Cares For St. Jude Kids seminar taking place at the nearby Peabody Hotel. The annual seminar is organized to benefit the hundreds of country radio stations across the U.S. which host annual radiothons and other local fundraisers for St. Jude.
Among the artists attending this year’s event were: Kix Brooks, Martina McBride, Eli Young Band, Lauren Alaina, Lee Brice, Randy Houser, Edens Edge, Josh Thompson, Steve Holy, singer/actress Jana Kramer (pictured with St. Jude patient Emily), and Country Cares founder Randy Owen of the group Alabama. Nearly two dozen new and up and coming artists also participated in the seminar, where the keynote speaker was former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, author of the book “Lone Survivor.”
“There’s no way you can walk through the halls at St. Jude and not think of your own children,” said Martina McBride (pictured with St. Jude patient Leslie), in an interview following her tour. “I’m going to hug them a little tighter when I get home, I can tell you that,” she said of her three daughters. “This is such a wonderful place of hope. Anything that we [country artists] can do to help St. Jude we should just do it, because they are literally saving lives and finding new cures for cancer that they share with the whole world.”
“For me, St. Jude has always been very inspiring. These kids have no concept of not making it,” said Kix Brooks (pictured with St. Jude patient Christian) following his tour. “That inspires me, and it makes [me] realize I’ve got a responsibility to make sure it happens, that these kids make it.
“This is the thing people have to remember: This is not a desperate, sad place,” Brooks added. “If anything, these kids are so strong and they have hope.”
Breaks His Collarbone, And Not For The First Time
Jake Owen broke his collarbone yesterday (yes, it was Friday the 13th), and he tweeted about the accident, “Guess I charged this mountain a little too hard.”
According to the Web site for the syndicated country radio show Tony & Kris, Owen had been snowboarding in Colorado when the accident happened. He was attending the Crested Butte Songwriters Festival.
Owen followed up his tweet with another photo from his childhood, which he said was from the last time he broke his collarbone after falling off his four-wheeler. Owen’s twin brother is also pictured in that one, and Owen tweets, “Thanks, Mom, for dressing us alike.”
Online Voting For Eight Semi-Finalists Opens Monday
Country music fans are once again being given the opportunity to select the winner in the new artist of the year category the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, set for April 1 in Las Vegas.
The eight semi-finalist choices are a male dominated group. Seven of the acts are solo male artists. The final one (Thompson Square) is a husband and wife duo. Beginning Monday, Jan. 16, fans can vote for their favorites at VoteACM.com and GACtv.com/ACM. The winner will be revealed on the live CBS telecast of the show.
Here are your choices.
• Brantley Gilbert
• Hunter Hayes
• JT Hodges
• David Nail
• Jerrod Niemann
• Justin Moore
• Scotty McCreery
• Thompson Square
Both Gilbert and McCreery have particularly passionate fans, so we predict they’ll still be on the ballot when the final three nominees are announced in February. The ACM’s professional members will also have a vote in determining the final three.
Niemann had the funniest quote of the nominees commenting on their semi-final status.
“After 10 years, it feels great to be a ‘new artist’ because it would really be a little more awkward if it was 10 more years,” he said in a prepared statement. “So I’ll take it when I can get it, and I’ll tell ya, better late than never, and in my case, it’s right on time.”
Hodges (pictured), who is arguably the least known artist in the group, said, “This is a true honor not only for me but my fans. Although I'm the obvious underdog, I feel like I’ve won just by being recognized.”
He’ll be blatantly petitioning his fans for their votes by hosting a live Facebook chat Jan. 16 at 7:00 p.m. (CT). Access it either at www.facebook.com/jthodgesmusic or via Ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/j-t-hodges.
Names The Baby Boy Noah Christopher
Jo Dee Messina and her husband, Chris Deffenbaugh, welcomed their second child today at a Nashville hospital. Jonah Christopher Deffenbaugh, who weighed in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces, joins three-year-old brother Noah in the family. Messina reports from the hospital that everyone is doing well.
“Noah couldn’t wait to hold his little brother,” she says. “He’s so good with him. God has blessed us so much.”
Bib Overalls Twitter Mystery Explained
Imagine showing up at a party wearing the same bib overalls as George Jones. Embarrassing, right?
Well, if you’re country star Dierks Bentley, and the party in question is a “Hee Haw” themed bash thrown by fellow star John Rich, the odds of that happening increase dramatically.
Bentley recently tweeted this picture of himself with country icon Jones with no real explanation, but One Country got to the bottom of it for you.
Seems Rich threw a recent 38th birthday party for himself at his Nashville home (he tweeted afterward about being awakened the next morning by a rooster crowing—inside the house, but we digress) and decided on a “Hee Haw” theme, which meant, according to Bentley, “all the guys had to wear overalls and all the girls had to wear Daisy Dukes.”
Bentley was excited about the theme, telling One Country, “I grew up watching ‘Hee Haw.’ I never missed an episode.
“John Rich always has the greatest parties,” continues Bentley, who was particularly thrilled the see invited guest and bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley perform at the event. “I guess the reason why [he was invited] was the first cassette [Rich] every bought when he was eight years old was Ralph Stanley,” he says.
Bentley found himself seated next to Jones on a hale bale in the front row watching Stanley perform. As it happened, Bentley and Jones were wearing the exact same overalls, but Bentley (who says he owned his pair long before the party) thinks that’s not as much of a coincidence as it may sound.
“Liberty is really the only brand,” he says. “Back in the early days of hanging out with all those bluegrass guys, they always wore Liberty overalls. That’s the only brand I’ve ever owned when it comes to overalls. You’ve gotta have Liberty with the green tag on the front.”
Bentley didn’t miss an opportunity to get a snap of his meeting with Jones, and says he’s so happy with it he’s made it his screen saver. “It may be my favorite picture of all time,” he says. “Any time spent talking to the Possum or being around him is precious.”
ACM Announces Hosts For Spring Awards Show
• Keith Urban is among the country artists who have contributed a new song to the soundtrack of the upcoming action thriller film, “Act Of Valor.” His song, titled “For You,” marks the first time Urban (right) has written and recorded a song for a movie. It will be featured during the end credits of the film, which is in theaters Feb. 24. The soundtrack, which will contain songs from several more as-yet-unannounced country stars, is available Feb. 21. The film stars a group of active duty Navy SEALS as well as professional actors.
“I loved the challenge of writing for a film,” Urban says in a press release. “After seeing ‘Act Of Valor,’ my co-writer (Monty Powell) and I wanted to capture the essence of not only what these men and women do so extraordinarily, but how that relates to all of us. ‘Valor’ shows us what they are willing to give their all for, which made me wonder, ‘What am I willing to give my life for?’ ‘For You’ is intended to allow the listener to define who that is for them.”
• Scotty McCreery’s debut album, “Clear As Day,” has been certified platinum for sales of more than a million copies, just three months after its release. In a press release, the “American Idol” winner (left) says the certification “means the world to me. It’s one of the highest honors you can get with your album, and it’s a huge testament to the loyalty of country music fans and how great they have been to me this year. 2011 was absolutely an incredible, life-changing year for me. I want to say a huge thanks to the fans for this.”
• Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire (right) will be back as hosts for this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards show, set for April 1 in Las Vegas, and airing live on CBS. The Zac Brown Band will host the companion Fan Jam show taking place at another Vegas venue at the same time. As they did last year, the ACM Awards producers will occasional cut away from the award show to air scheduled performances from the Fan Jam venue, including a live performance from Zac Brown Band.
The following night in Las Vegas, the ACM will stage a special tribute to Lionel Richie, “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends - A Lifetime of Hits,” which will be taped to air on CBS at a later date. Confirmed performers for that show, who will be singing Richie’s hits, include Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers and, of course, Richie.
• Curb Records has made a fourth song from Tim McGraw’s upcoming “Emotional Traffic” album available on iTunes. The new release, “The One That Got Away,” is available now. A fifth song is planned for iTunes release before the full, 12-song album streets on Jan. 24.
Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton Top Country Dance Club Hits
• Luke Bryan (pictured) and Blake Shelton topped the list of dance club hits in 2011, according to the Marco Club Connection’s eighth annual ranking of country dance favorites. Every December, the Nashville-based company surveys a panel of nearly 250 club owners, DJs and dance instructors from across the country to compile its rankings.
Here are the top 10 dance club hits of 2011:
1. Luke Bryan - “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”
2. Blake Shelton - “Footloose”
3. Big & Rich - “Fake ID”
4. Blake Shelton - “Honey Bee”
5. Gloriana - “Wanna Take You Home”
6. Billy Currington - “Love Done Gone”
7. Jason Aldean - “Dirt Road Anthem”
8. Dierks Bentley - “Am I The Only One”
9. The Lacs - “Kickin’ Up Mud”
10. Chris Young - “You”
• Strong ticket sales have caused Eric Church and his booking team to announce an additional leg of dates for the singer’s Blood, Sweat & Beers tour. The new dates include shows in New York; Minneapolis; Nashville; St. Louis; Orlando, Fla.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo.; and 18 other cities. The full list of tour dates is here. Meanwhile, Church is enjoying his first-ever top five single on the radio airplay charts, “Drink In My Hand,” which is continuing to ascend.
• Craig Morgan has set Feb. 28 as the release date for his sixth studio album, “This Ole Boy.” The release is Morgan’s first new full-length album in nearly three years, and his first with new record label Black River Entertainment after signing with the company in April 2011.
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