Larry Gatlin, Amy Grant and Townes Van Zant Also Make The List
A diverse group of five artists has been nominated for induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. They are joined on the ballot by 10 other songwriters who are better known as writers than performers.
The five artist/writers on the 2011 ballot are Garth Brooks (left), Larry Gatlin, Amy Grant, Alan Jackson and Townes Van Zandt in the songwriter/artist category. Nominees in the songwriter category include 10 of Nashville’s best-loved and most successful tunesmiths: John Bettis, Robert Byrne, J.J. Cale, Jan Crutchfield, Mark James, Dan Penn, Gretchen Peters, Thom Schuyler, Allen Shamblin and John Scott Sherrill.
The ballot seeks to recognize songwriters whose first significant works achieved commercial success and/or artistic recognition at least 20 years ago and who have positively impacted and been closely associated with the Nashville music community and deemed to be outstanding and significant.
The five nominees in the songwriter/artist category enjoyed some of their greatest successes with their own compositions. For Brooks, those include “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” “Unanswered Prayers” and “The Thunder Rolls.” Gatlin’s hits include “Broken Lady,” “Statues Without Hearts” and “All The Gold In California.” Christian/pop singer Grant’s hits include “Baby Baby, “Every Heartbeat” and Tennessee Christmas.”
Jackson (right) is nominated for such songs as “Don’t Rock The Jukebox,” “Chattahoochee” and “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).” Van Zandt, who died in 1997, wrote such songs as “If I Needed You,” Pancho And Lefty” and “White Freight Liner Blues.”
The nominees were selected by the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame’s nominating committee—which is comprised of other Hall of Fame members and Music Row historians—and approved by the group’s board. Winners are selected by Hall of Fame members and its board, as well as by professional songwriter members and board members of the trade group Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). The final list of inductees, which will include one songwriter/artist and two songwriters, will be announced later this year and the three winners will be inducted Oct. 16 in Nashville.
Pop Princess Works First Single To Country Radio In Between Tour Dates With Debbie Gibson
She’s recorded a country album titled “Rose Tattoo,” and has just shipped the first single from the project, “Feel The Music,” to country radio in a move that is being billed by her publicity firm as an unexplained “return to her roots.”
The single, which Tiffany co-wrote, is described as “a tribute to the power of song,” with such lyrics as “I wanna groove up on the melody and feel the beat inside of me/and be the only star in the crowd/I wanna feel the music all around.”
“I’m not going backwards,” Tiffany says in an awkward press release statement that leaves the lingering impression she potentially sees country as “backwards.” She adds, “I feel like I’ve really come into my own. This is my sound. This feels good, it feels like my home now.”
Tiffany is currently on tour this summer performing songs from “Rose Tattoo.” She will also be appearing on select dates with fellow ’80s pop princess Debbie Gibson in a celebration of ’80s music.
Set Features Wife Amy Grant And Their Daughters
It’s been five years since we’ve had new music from Vince Gill, but his fans can look forward to a fresh project, “Guitar Slinger,” this fall. The first single from the album, the poignant “Threaten Me With Heaven,” will be released to country radio and digital retailers in late summer. Gill introduced the song to radio programmers and media at the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville in March.
Gill co-wrote “Threaten Me With Heaven” with his wife, Amy Grant, along with Dillon O’Brian and Will Owsley. Since it was recorded, Gill’s friend Owsley took his own life, something Gill says means “the song has a profound impact on me now. In my lifetime, ‘Go Rest High On That Mountain’ has been the song that helped a lot of people through their grief. I think this one will, in turn, hopefully do the same thing. It’s a powerful, powerful song. I feel like it’s the crown jewel of the new record.”
Gill wrote every song on the album, which also includes such titles as “Bread and Water” and “If I Die.”
“I feel like the emphasis has been on the songs, and the songs have gotten better,” Gill says in a press release. “They really run the gamut of what they are about, how they feel, how they sound. It’s not an all-traditional record, it’s not an all-contemporary record; it’s all over the map, like I kind of have always been. But it doesn’t feel out of step with anything I’ve done previously.”
“Guitar Slinger” was the first project completely recorded at Gill’s new home studio.
“I had no expectations of what it would sound like in my home studio,” he says. “I’ve never recorded in my house before. So I discovered an awful lot about how the rooms sound, and it’s a real warm record.
“It’s so different than most studios in that there are windows all the way around the room. You look out and see trees. There’s such a great spirit running around in the house and in the rooms that all the musicians have raved about the vibe. It’s real low key; it’s not commercial-feeling at all.”
He’s joined on the album by Grant, as well as his daughter Jenny, Grant’s daughter Sarah, and their daughter together, Corrina, who makes her recording debut at age nine on the song “Billy Paul,” which Gill describes as “very dark.”
“It’s a song about a friend of mine who took his life after he took someone else’s life. It’s very, very dark, but I love that in music. I was always drawn to music with those kinds of things.”
“Guitar Slinger” follows Gill’s ambitious, four-CD, 43-song box set “These Days,” which was released in 2006 and won the Grammy Award that year for best country album, one of 20 Grammys Gill has won.
In other news, Gill and grant are featured on the cover of the May/June issue of AARP: The Magazine. You can watch a video chronicling the fun photo shoot at Nashville’s Tootsies Orchid Lounge here.
British Pop Star Natasha Bedingfield Co-Stars In The Clip
Rascal Flatts took over Nashville’s Schermmerhorn Symphony Hall last week to shoot the video for their new single, “Easy,” a duet with British pop star, Natasha Bedingfield. They’re pictured together on the set.
The group’s lead singer, Gary LeVox, and Bedingfield play former lovers who run into each other at a glamorous event.
“It’s like an awards show that we’re showing up at, and they’ve obviously just broken up,” explains the group’s Jay DeMarcus. “They’re both heartbroken, but they’re trying to put on their face to the world that it’s not bothering them. So, they glance at each other a couple of times across the room, and Joe Don [Rooney] and I are there for moral support, you know, to be there to pat him on the back and say ‘She’s not yours anymore, buddy.’”
LeVox says while their previous video for “Why Wait” was a send-up of the popular film, “The Hangover,” the new clip “is kind of a knock off of Cinderella.”
The band kicks off their Flatts Fest summer tour this weekend in Bristow, Va.
Watch As Bryan’s Bronco Gets A Makeover
The pranks have begun on Tim McGraw’s Emotional Traffic tour, kicked into gear by the headliner himself. While opener Luke Bryan was on stage performing at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif., McGraw had a team of graffiti artist do a number on Bryan’s Bronco.
Was the paint temporary? Find out by watching the prank – and Bryan’s reaction to it – here.
Singer Shares Early Career Stories At Country Music Summit
Kenny Chesney was a keynote speaker at last week’s Billboard Country Music Summit in Nashville, where he explained how his career finally took off after he stopped trying to emulate George Strait.
“As much as I love him and respect him, the moment that I quit trying to be him was the moment my life changed.”
Chesney also talked about how he wrote his first song in “persuasion class” at East Tennessee State University in an effort to get a girl to go out with him.
He addressed his early days in Nashville, described how his first publishing deal in 1992 got him out of parking cars and doing telemarketing for a living, likened his very first record deal on Capricorn Records to “playing triple-A baseball,” and shared the story of the time he performed at a bar in Brownsville, Texas, on his 30th birthday and nobody came.
Watch a video of some of the highlights from Chesney’s address here.
Owen and Montana Opening Major Tours This Summer
It’s a busy summer for new country album releases. Jake Owen’s third studio album, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” will be released on August 30. Randy Montana’s self-titled debut album will be available July 26 at digital retailers only. And Mark Wills will release his seventh national recording, entitled “Looking For America,” on June 21.
Says Owen of his 11-song project, “This album is a big step for me and my career and I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
Owen hits the road with Keith Urban this week for the kick-off dates of the Get Closer 2011 World Tour.
“I have always wanted to go out on the road with Keith,” says Owen. “He really inspires me as a songwriter, musician and entertainer. Keith is . . . one of the most amazing talents our genre has ever seen.”
Montana’s album is produced by Jay Joyce, best known in country circles for his work with Eric Church, and includes his current single, “1,000 Faces,” as well as the track “Last Horse,” which features Emmylou Harris on harmonies.
Montana will spend part of his summer opening dates on Taylor Swift’s current tour.
Wills’ nine-song project has been two years I the making. It features both the title cut and the USA Cares Warrior Treatment Today campaign song, “Crazy Being Home.” (www.crazybeinghome.com)
“This is definitely a personal album for me, and although some folks might see it as a bit of a departure from the music I’ve recorded in the past, this project is really ‘all-encompassing,’” Wills says. “It’s got gun and grit, pain and romance, heart-heavy emotions and is chock-full of life situations. There is a strong dose of reality in this record. All of the songs really spoke to me and I felt the ‘tug’ to record each and every one for very different reasons.”
Deluxe Set Includes Another Duet With Pal Blake Shelton
Trace Adkins will release his new album, “Proud To Be Here,” in both regular and deluxe editions on Aug. 2. He announced the news during his 13th consecutive CMA Music Festival show last Saturday night in Nashville.
The deluxe edition includes four more tracks than what appears on the 10-song regular edition, including a new collaboration with Blake Shelton on the hilariously titled “If I Was A Woman.” The two artists previously teamed up for their hit “Hillbilly Bone,” which appears on Shelton’s 2010 EP of the same title. Adkins co-wrote “If I Was A Woman” with fellow artists Sherrie Austin and Jeff Bates, as well as hit songwriter Kenny Beard. It’s one of three songs on the project Adkins had a hand in writing.
The album title takes on new poignancy in the wake of the June 4 fire that claimed Adkins’ home, but it was actually chosen last month following the recording of the album this past spring.
“‘Proud To Be Here’ was chosen as the album title some weeks ago because it’s how I’ve felt ever since my first album release and during every milestone since,” Adkins said in a press release statement. “The title song could have been based on my life, and it’s about narrow escapes and the grace that guides you through. Obviously, now after the fire, ‘Proud To Be Here’ takes on an even greater significance. Once again, I’ve been blessed and everyone is safe. I don’t even want to think what could’ve been had it started at 3 a.m. instead of 3 p.m.”
Here’s the full track listing (including songwriter credits):
1. Proud To Be Here (Chris Wallin, Aaron Barker, Ira Dean)
2. Million Dollar View (David Lee Murphy, George Teren)
3. Days Like This (Trace Adkins, Casey Beathard, Kenny Beard)
4. That’s What You Get (Rivers Rutherford, Aly Cutter, Kenny Beard)
5. Just Fishin’ (Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell, Ed Hill)
6. It’s A Woman Thang (Craig Wiseman, Jim Collins)
7. Love Buzz (Casey Beathard, Kendall Marvel)
8. It’s Who You Know (Rivers Rutherford, Wendell Mobley, Kenny Beard)
9. Poor Folks (Ray Scott, Phillip Moore)
10. Always Gonna Be That Way (Dallas Davidson, Chris Tompkins)
11. Damn You Bubba (Chris Wallin, Bruce Wallace)
12. More Of Us (Casey Beathard, Phil O’Donnell)
13. If I Was A Woman feat. Blake Shelton (Trace Adkins, Sherrie Austin, Jeff Bates, Kenny Beard)
14. Semper Fi (Trace Adkins, Kenny Beard, Monty Criswell)
about the blogger
Veteran entertainment journalist Phyllis Stark has been reporting extensively on the music industry for two decades. As a freelance writer, her work appears regularly in numerous publications and sites. She previously was Nashville Bureau Chief at Billboard magazine.