Steve Azar’s Own ‘Soldier Song’ Benefits Wounded Service Members
Gloriana is helping fans celebrate Independence Day by offering a free download of their “Soldier Song,” a track from the group’s forthcoming second album. Beginning Thursday and running through July 7, the song can be downloaded exclusively through Facebook here.
It honors the men and women who are serving or who have served in the military, and was inspired by the band’s experience during their trip overseas to perform for the U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East and Europe last November. The band’s Tom and Mike Gossin wrote it, along with their producer and record label head, Matt Serletic.
The band asked fans to submit photos of friends and family members in the service for a special video that was created for “Soldier Song.” The video is also be available exclusively at http://facebook.com/gloriana from June 30-July 7.
Meanwhile, artist Steve Azar had a very similar video treatment idea for his identically titled “Soldier Song,” and created a clip made with photos taken by service members and their families. Watch it here.
All download sales of Azar’s song net a donation to the Homes For Wounded Warriors project.
Couple Recently Decided Against A Vegas Wedding For A Funny Reason
CountryWeekly.com breaks news that Steel Magnolia’s Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey are planning to marry each other next summer. Jones is apparently hoping for a July 10, 2012 wedding to coincide with his birthday (a likely guy cheat, so he’ll never forget their anniversary). But Linsey tells Country Weekly, “We were thinking about it. We’re going to see.
“See, he just thinks July 10 because of his birthday and I’m going, ‘Well, do you know if it’s a Saturday? Is it a Tuesday?’ He doesn’t think about those things,” she adds. (For the record, it’s a Tuesday.)
More that four years ago, before the formation of Steel Magnolia, Jones gave Linsey an antique engagement ring that once belonged to his great grandmother. But Linsey, who calls the couple “technically engaged,” wears it on her left hand’s middle finger because it has not been sized for her ring finger.
The couple tells the magazine they considered getting married on a recent trip to Las Vegas, but a big meal prevented the nuptials from happening.
“We went to Vegas for the [Academy of Country Music Awards] and we went to dinner and we’re sitting there with our friends,” Linsey says. “We’re like, ‘We should just go get married. Why not?’”
“And we ate too much,” Jones says, picking up the story. “And we were tired,” Linsey adds. “So we feel like we’re married because we’re too tired to get married. It’s like an old couple or something.”
Singer Says He’s Ready To Make More Hits
Ronnie Milsap will release his first country album in five years on July 26. Titled “Country Again,” the 12-track set will be released on his own Milsap Music Group label.
The country legend, who notched 35 Billboard No. 1 country hits between 1974 and 1989 as well as numerous pop hits, says, “I’ve been very fortunate to have had a lot of successful records. Now it’s time to make some more.”
A music video has already been shot for the project’s first single, “If You Don’t Want Me To (The Freeze),” and showcases a new dance, called The Freeze, created around the song.
His last album was a gospel project, “Then Sings My Soul: 24 Favorite Hymns and Gospel Favorites,” released in 2009.
Singer Dishes On Music, Lawn Care, And A Certain Celebrity ‘Pretty Boy’
Craig Morgan is 11 years and four record deals into his career, but he’s rarely been more excited about the music he’s making. The singer, best known for his No. 1 hit “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” and six other top 10 songs including “Redneck Yacht Club,” “Bonfire,” “Almost Home,” and “Little Bit Of Life,” recently signed a new record deal with independent label Black River Entertainment and shipped his first new single for the label, “This Ole Boy,” to country radio this month. He’s currently recording a new album, and is expected to release an EP later this year followed by the full-length project sometime in 2012.
Meanwhile, Morgan just kicked off the second season of his popular TV show on The Outdoor Channel, “Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors,” this past weekend, and promises more camera time for his band this season, along with lots of celebrity guests and a few surprises. The show, which airs Saturday mornings at 11 a.m. (ET), follows Morgan on tour, at home, on hunting expeditions and at his motocross races.
Morgan, who spent 10 years on active duty in the U.S. Army prior to launching his music career, continues to tirelessly support American troops and their families through his charity work. Most recently, he was named spokesperson for Not Alone, a non-profit which empowers troops who are dealing with the after-effects of combat—particularly combat stress—as they transition to life back at home.
One Country recently chatted with Morgan about his music, why he mows his own lawn, and why singer Chuck Wicks isn’t just a “pretty boy.”
OC: How is the new album coming along?
CM: “I’ve finished half the album. I’ve cut six songs and have them all mixed and just about mastered. I’m going to go back in the studio [this month] to finish up the album.”
OC: What can fans expect from this album musically?
CM: “On my last album, I kind of stepped out of what it is that I do. The reason is, as an entertainer and an artist I love to sing everything from R&B to bluegrass, so I experimented a little bit. But the listeners expect certain things from certain artists. For me, in particular, it’s ‘Redneck Yacht Club,’ ‘Bonfire,’ ‘Almost Home,’ those kinds of things. And I get that. On this album, I did what they expect, and at the same time I cut stuff that I felt like I truly enjoy singing.”
OC: You tweeted previously about these being some of the best songs you’ve ever had. Still feel that way?
CM: “I think so. When we were picking the first single it was a really difficult decision. It’s the first time I ever sat down with the label and we’re all going ‘I don’t know’ . . . When it came down to ‘This Ole Boy,’ everybody was in unity on it, so we’re real excited.”
OC: Your songs, including the new single, often seem to focus on rural themes. Is that where you’re the most comfortable because it’s most authentic to your lifestyle?
CM: “It’s easy. I’m taking the easy route. There’s the truth. I don’t live on a dirt road anymore. It’s what they call chip and seal. It’s the poor man’s pavement. But it is my life. I took the garbage out this morning on the way in to do this interview. When I got home from the road yesterday, I got off the bus from our big show in Florida and started weed eating and mowing and doing all the stuff anybody else would do on a Sunday after church. It’s still very much my world and I love it. I wouldn’t change it. I don’t want some guy mowing my yard that looks better than I do with my wife there.”
OC: You just launched the second season of “All Access Outdoors.” How do you re-load for a second season on a show like that? Do your adventures have to get bigger and more extreme?
CM: “I don’t think so. People like my music. They expect certain things from the show. There’s certain things they want to see. A lot of that will be the same kind of stuff that they saw in season one. It’s just different places, different experiences. We’re doing a lot more with the band this year. We’re bringing their characters into the series a lot more just because they’re a bigger part of my world than I think we displayed in season one. So that’ll be one of the biggest changes I think people will notice.”
OC: Can you give us a preview of some of your on-camera adventures?
CM: “ I did a brown bear hunt in Alaska. It was amazing. That was with Chuck Wicks. Chuck and I did an acoustic show the day before as a fundraiser for two slain police officers, two state troopers in Alaska that were shot to death. Afterwards we went and did a hunt. I do this thing in my show where I just kind of make up a song. I’ll tell the audience to give me three words and I’ll write a song right there in front of them. It’s real fun. Me and Chuck did it up there together, and I was so impressed with his talent. I just thought he was one of them pretty boys at first. But he really is a sharp writer and it is some of the funniest stuff that I have ever participated in on stage. He and I had a ball. So all that stuff will be on the show as well as the bear hunt. We [also] did some amazing turkey hunting this year with some celebrities. It’s some good stuff.”
OC: Why did you want to work with the charity Not Alone?
CM: I got involved because it touches on a subject that’s extremely sensitive, especially to military personnel. It talks about post-war stress, post traumatic stress, these kinds of things. As a service member, you kind of feel like [in] dealing with those issues maybe you’re a little weaker than you’re supposed to be. You feel as a soldier—and I can say this having been a soldier for so long—you feel like you’re supposed to be able to deal with those things, but that’s not always the case. I was very fortunate, I didn’t have the issues. But I know there are people out there that do. I’ve met quite a few soldiers that have dealt with it. This is an organization that helps them deal with it. I just thought it was a great answer to a very sensitive subject. The military has gotten really, really good at dealing with this and recognizing it. But sometimes it difficult for the service member to go through their chain of command. So Not Alone is an organization that they can utilize to help them deal with it outside their normal chain of command.”
Label’s A&R Team Seeking Songs For Her Album
Toby Keith’s daughter, Krystal, is recording an album for the record label partly owned by her father, Show Dog-Universal Music. According to Row Fax, a pitch sheet used by country music industry types to find songs for their artists from professional songwriters and publishers, Toby Keith and Show Dog executive Mark Wright are producing the project. They’re looking for “fun, young tempo [songs] and rangy ballads in the vein of Jo Dee Messina, Pam Tillis [and] Martina McBride.” The 26-year-old singer apparently plans to use her father’s professional last name, Keith, rather than her given name of Krystal Covel.
The father and daughter previously charted a re-make of the song “Mockingbird” when they recorded it as a duet in 2004 for his “Greatest Hits 2” album. It peaked at No. 27 on Billboard’s Top Country Songs chart. At the time, Keith told his daughter he’d help her launch a music career if she finished college first.
In other news from Row Fax, the former Lyric Street Records trio Love and Theft has signed a new record deal with Sony Music Nashville. The group, known for its top 10 hit “Runaway” in 2009, is now a duo following the departure of band member Brian Bandas earlier this year.
Trio Includes Miranda Lambert And Two Singer/Songwriter Pals
Pistol Annies, the new band that includes Miranda Lambert, did their first radio interview last week with WUSN (US99.5) Chicago, and revealed that the group’s debut album should be finished by early July and that their first single, “Hell On Heels” will be available on iTunes June 28. The song is already available on the group’s Web site, PistolAnnies.com.
The album, expected to be released on Columbia Records, will contain 10 songs all written by the band members. Lambert, who is also signed to Columbia as a solo act, said she’s readying her own next album for release this fall.
In addition to Lambert, whose band alter ego is “Lone Star Annie,” the group includes Ashley Monroe (“Hippie Annie”) and Angaleena Presley (“Holler Annie”). Monroe had a short-lived solo deal on Columbia at age 17, and released the mid-charting singles “Satisfied” and “I Don’t Want To” (with Ronnie Dunn) in 2006. Presley has been working as a professional songwriter in Nashville since 2000. The trio made their public debut on the Academy of Country Music’s “Girls Night Out” TV special earlier this year, and performed together again during this month’s CMA Music Festival in Nashville.
Band Kicks Off ‘Homecoming Tour’ July 9
Country trio Stealing Angels and rock band Toy will join forces for the “Homecoming Tour,” where they’ll perform for U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Kuwait. It will be the first such tour for both bands, and is scheduled to run from July 9-19.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to visit our troops overseas,” said Stealing Angels’ Caroline Cutbirth in a press release statement. “Their sacrifice is immeasurable, and we love that we are able to give something back.”
Cutbirth’s band mates are Tayla Lynn, the granddaughter of Loretta Lynn, and Jennifer Wayne, the granddaughter of screen legend John Wayne. Their debut album is set for release this fall.
He’ll Become The Second Member Of His Family Honored With A Star
Vince Gill is scheduled to be honored with a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame next year. He’ll join such fellow 2012 honorees as actors Jennifer Aniston, Richard Burton, Kate Winslet, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lopez and Adam West, music legends Barry White, Hal David, David Foster and the band Heart, and cartoonist Matt Groening.
Amy Grant, Gill’s singer/songwriter wife, received her star on the Walk of Fame in 2006.
Gill, on Oklahoma native, moved to Los Angeles when he was 19 and lived there from 1976 until 1983. He first began writing songs while living in Los Angeles, where he initially earned money playing for tips on Redondo Beach. Three years after moving to L.A., Gill joined the pop band Pure Prairie League as its lead singer, and recorded three albums with the band.
“It was one of the best times in my life,” he says in a press release. “I have a great fondness for it. When I lived out there, I was such a young person that I hadn’t really accomplished much of anything. So even the thought of one day having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was preposterous. It was silly. It wasn’t even in the realm of my thinking.
“I walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard and said, ‘There is so-and-so.’ I never thought for one second, ‘I will have one of these one day.’
“Amy has one out there, which is really neat. I got to go out there and experience that with her. When I found out that I would be getting one too, I said, ‘If you could just put it next to Amy’s that would be awesome.’”
Gill has sold more than 26 million albums and won 20 Grammy Awards and 18 Country Music Assn. Awards. He has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
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.