Singer opens up about things she wishes she were better at, including personal relationships
Carrie Underwood is the cover girl for the June issue of Marie Claire magazine, and while she comes across as unusually candid in the interview, the article doesn’t paint Underwood in an entirely flattering light. While the writer apparently put some effort into trying to explain that the singer’s natural reserve should not be mistaken for chilliness, some of the quotes used in the story run the risk of undermining that point.
Underwood on husband Mike Fisher: “He is Mr. Nicest Guy on the Planet. I skew the other way.”
On her family and upbringing: “We were never a huggy family, or a ‘let’s talk it out’ family. Technically I have siblings, but they are quite a bit older than me — I was the accident — so I have the only-child syndrome going on. I’m a little more selfish, a little more independent, a little closed. I do wish I were softer. I wish I were able to form relationships better. But hey, I mean . . .” she says, laughing, “I’m not a sociopath.”
On things she’s bad at: “I’m probably not great at talking or understanding emotional things. I’ll totally listen, but I won’t have a lot of advice to give. I’m bad at calling to check in, the long conversation. But in the ways that really matter, I’m there. I would donate a kidney. The people they hate, I hate.”
On what bums her out: “When people say, ‘She’s hard to talk to.’ This guy I know said, ‘You know what I love about you? I can sit next to you and I don't have to talk.’ And I'm like, ‘Thank you?’”
Her mother, Carole, speaking about her daughter: “She was never really a people person. She liked being outside with animals.”
Best friend Ivey Childers on Underwood: “Carrie didn’t let fame change her. She was never super-outgoing. And she doesn’t feel the need to overcompensate now.”
Fisher on his wife: “My wife is brutally honest sometimes. She doesn’t know how to hide her feelings.”
But the article also includes some great quotes both from and about Underwood, who clearly hasn’t let fame get to her head.
“Maybe my kids will have fun playing dress up in the clothes,” she says of her stage costumes. “But I can’t see saving the stuff for a museum, some giant monument to my awesomeness. That’s Dolly. That’s Loretta. Not me.”
She also shares a funny story about her childhood. “My mom would sew my outfits for talent shows,” Underwood recalls. “She would get material from Walmart. It was a little ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ up in there.”
Finally, friend Brad Paisley reveals an early insecurity he picked up on after Underwood won “American Idol” and the two singers toured together. “On the first tour, she told me, ‘I feel like I am a celebrity for no reason, like people are resentful I didn’t have to play bars for 10 years to get a record deal,’” Paisley says. “I told her she was one of the greatest gifts we have been given in Nashville.”
Kris Kristofferson helped bestow Nelson’s doctor of music degree
Willie Nelson has a new title: doctor. Nelson and fellow stars Carole King and Annie Lennox received honorary doctor of music degrees from Berklee College of Music in Boston May 11 during the school’s commencement ceremony. Lennox delivered the commencement address to the graduating class and their guests.
The school’s president enlisted Kris Kristofferson (pictured on the right) to help present Nelson’s honorary degree. The longtime friends had performed a duet of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” at the previous night’s commencement concert, which featured some of the college’s most accomplished students paying tribute to the honorees with performances of music associated with their careers, including Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and “Crazy.” The honorees all also performed, with Nelson singing “Night Life” in addition to his collaboration with Kristofferson.
In his commencement remarks, Nelson told the students, “The history of music is good, but the future is even better thanks to you folks.”
This year’s honorary doctorate recipients were recognized for their achievements in contemporary music, for their enduring contributions to popular culture, and for the influence their careers and music have had on Berklee’s international student body, according to the school’s publicity materials. King, Nelson, and Lennox join the school’s previous honorary doctorate recipients Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, Count Basie, Sting, Loretta Lynn, B.B. King, Billy Joel, Chaka Khan, Steven Tyler, George Clinton and Patti LaBelle.
“60 For 60” movement will just miss its goal
The 13-song album also includes what is expected to be the 60th No. 1 single of Strait’s career, “Give It All We Got Tonight.” While an organized movement (“60 For 60”) to land that song at No. 1 while Strait is still 60 years old will, unfortunately, just miss its goal (he turns 61 on May 18), it’s still a sure bet to hit the top of the charts in the next few weeks. The song rose from No. 8 to No. 6 on the Mediabase chart this week, but there are three other ascending titles in line ahead of it, singles by Darius Rucker, Kenny Chesney, and Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift.
“I’m not sure they’ll learn anything about me they don’t already know,” Strait says about the content of “Love Is Everything.” He adds, “I’ve been doing this a long time, and 40 is a lot of records! It’s always fun putting together songs for a new record. It can also be difficult at times. This one was both for sure, but worth every minute. I think it’s my best release in a while.”
Strait wraps up the first leg of his final tour, The Cowboy Rides Away Tour, June 1 at San Antonio’s Alamodome. Dates for the second leg of the tour will be announced later this year.
In the video above, shot by his record label and distributed to the media, Strait talks about the process of creating new music, songwriting, naming the new album and enjoying his farewell tour.
Awards show will air live from Nashville Sept. 18 on AXS TV
The duo Shovels & Rope leads the nominations for the Americana Honors & Awards, announced Tuesday in Los Angeles. The duo (pictured) earned four nominations, including emerging artist of the year, and were followed by Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller with three nominations each. Both Harris and Miller earned nods in the artist of the year category, where they are joined by fellow nominees Dwight Yoakam and Richard Thompson.
Winners will be announced during the show, set to air live Sept. 18 on AXS TV from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. They are chosen by the American Music Assn.’s professional members. Jim Lauderdale will once again host the Honors & Awards, while Miller will lead the All-Star Band.
The awards show takes place during the Americana Music Festival, set for September 18-22 at venues throughout Nashville.
Here’s the complete list of nominees.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
“Buddy & Jim,” Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale
“Cheater’s Game,” Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison
“From The Ground Up,” John Fullbright
“O’ Be Joyful,” Shovels & Rope
“Old Yellow Moon,” Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Birmingham,” Shovels & Rope
“Good Things Happen to Bad People,” Richard Thompson
“Ho Hey,” The Lumineers
“North Side Gal,” JD McPherson
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Milk Carton Kids
Shovels & Rope
DUO/GROUP OF THE YEAR
Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell
Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison
Shovels & Rope
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
Plus, The Henningsens to release an EP ahead of full-length album
Reigning Academy of Country Music entertainer of the year Luke Bryan will release his fourth full-length studio album August 13. The title had yet to be revealed for the project, which includes lead single “Crash My Party.” The album follows Bryan’s most successful album to date, “taillights & tanlines,” which has been certified double platinum for sales of more than two million copies.
Bryan is currently on the road with his Dirt Road Diaries Tour, which is scheduled to run through the end of October. He will perform on the June 5 “CMT Music Awards,” where he is also nominated for four awards.
In other news, plans for new family trio The Henningsens’ recently announced July 2 debut album release have been scuttled in favor of a self-titled EP to be released May 28.
The band is currently climbing the charts with top 20 debut single “American Beautiful,” and recently embarked on Brad Paisley’s Beat This Summer Tour as the opening act.
“With the single doing so well and the Brad tour underway, we really wanted to be able to have something that we could share with fans right now,” said lead singer Clara Henningsen in a media statement.
Each of the tracks on the four-song EP was co-written by Clara, brother Aaron, and father Brian Henningsen, along with some of Nashville’s top professional songwriters.
The full-length album release will be rescheduled by record label Arista Nashville.
Plus, news from Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and more
• Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price took to social media on Monday to let fans know that he’d been hospitalized for what he described as “severe dehydration.”
“Doctors are pouring the fluids to me and I am feeling much better,” the two-time Grammy Award winner wrote. “I have asked my wife, Janie, to keep you all posted. Thanks for your prayers and support.”
The 87-year-old singer confirmed last fall that he was battling pancreatic cancer. At the time, he quipped to the San Antonio Express-News, “The doctor said that every man will have cancer if he lives to be old enough. I don't know why I got it—I ain’t old.”
The past February, the singer said the cancer was in remission.
• Keith Urban released his new single “Little Bit Of Everything” this week, and will premiere it on “American Idol” May 16 during the season 12 finale on FOX. Urban served as a first-time judge on this season of “Idol.” The song is the first from Urban’s forthcoming album, due for release this fall. Listen to it here.
“‘Little Bit Of Everything’ conveys a sentiment that’s always felt right to me,” said Urban in a media release. “I connected with that from the first time I heard it. I ‘felt it’ and I loved it.
“I gravitate towards the sound of a song and its instrumentation,” adds Urban of the song written by Brad and Brett Warren and Kevin Rudolf and co-produced by Urban and Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift). “On this song I was able to take the elements of sound that I’ve used before and blend them together into a fusion of spirit and energy.”
• Brad Paisley opened his Beat This Summer Tour this past weekend, and played for more than 62,000 fans at amphitheatres in St. Louis, Indianapolis and Chicago. After the show in Indianapolis, Paisley rented a nearby theater in Noblesville, Ind., and treated the tour artists, bands and crew to a midnight showing of “Ironman 3” in 3D, including opening acts Chris Young, Lee Brice and The Henningsens.
• Collin Raye (right) will embark on his national “That’s My Story” tour May 18 in Warsaw, Ind. He is booked for 19 performances between that date and the tour’s end on Dec. 6.
• The first round of performers has been announced for the 2013 CMT Music Awards, and includes Hunter Hayes, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Pistol Annies and Taylor Swift. The show, hosted by Jason Aldean and Kristen Bell, will be telecast on CMT June 5 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Additional performers and presenters will be announced in the coming weeks.
• Twenty-year-old newcomer Joel Crouse (left) made his Grand Ole Opry debut May 11. The Massachusetts-born singer/songwriter performed his self-penned debut single, “If You Want Some” and “That’s Why God Made Love Songs,” and says of the performance, “it was the first time I’ve truly felt like a part of the country music community.”
He also got some advice from an Opry member, Darius Rucker, who told him, “It’ll be surreal” and advised him to “take it all in cause you won’t get another first time.” Says Crouse of the advice, “I really took that to heart.”
Crouse joins Taylor Swift's Red Tour as an opening act beginning May 28 in Glendale, Ariz.
• The Grand Ole Opry House has added an exhibit of memorabilia and costumes from the ABC drama “Nashville” to its backstage tours.
Charles (Chip) Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne on the series, hosts a video as part of the exhibit in Studio A of the Opry House. Studio A has been seen in the series’ first season as both a rehearsal hall used by character Rayna Jaymes ((portrayed by actress Connie Britton) and the site of a political fundraiser.
The exhibit also features a sequined dress worn by Juliette Barnes (portrayed by actress Hayden Panettiere) for her Opry debut in the first episode of the series, an outfit worn by Rayna, Barnes’ Gretsch White Falcon guitar, plus road cases, microphones, backstage passes, and laminates created for the “Red Lips White Lies Tour” featuring co-headliners Barnes and Jaymes.
Three limited edition cans help fans unlock behind-the-scenes band content
In the 2009 hit “Toes,” the Zac Brown Band sings about having “toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand.” The band may not be able to help fans with the sand or water, but it aims to get that cold beer into their mitts by lending its name to Landshark Lager for a series of three, limited edition, 16-ounce cans. The first can design is already on store shelves, with two more set to roll out June 17 and Aug. 5.
“We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our fans,” says bandleader Brown in a media statement. “We give them our all on stage every night and we hope the Landshark cans will give them another way to enjoy good times with us this summer.”
The promotion extends to Landshark’s Facebook Page, which will offer new content as each can is released. That content includes digital challenges that unlock new band features, as well as a national sweepstakes where one fan and three friends can win a VIP trip to the Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival in Nashville Sept. 27-28.
There’s also a related smart phone app that gives fans access to exclusive, behind-the-scenes band content by scanning the can. Each of the three can designs will yield different content.
The first can (pictured) was inspired by the band’s “Eat & Greets,” where fans who pay for the experience can dine with the band and crew prior to each show, eating Southern cuisine prepared by Southern Ground executive chef Rusty Hamlin. The design also includes Brown’s face and lyrics from the band’s first hit, “Chicken Fried.”
Subsequent can designs will highlight the concert experience from the band’s perspective, and a look at what happens after the stage lights go down.
Singer’s seventh album is also his most personal
Dierks Bentley has announced plans for a new album—his seventh—to be released in the fall. Titled “Riser,” the album is being described as his most personal to date, as it was written and recorded in the year following his father’s death last June.
The title comes from the album track “I’m A Riser,” being described as “a song about resilience and determination.” The album’s central themes include rejuvenation, and accepting change and growing from it.
“Life in general has a way of knocking you down,” Bentley says in a press release statement. “It’s different reasons for different folks—could be personal reasons, could be family reasons, your job, drugs, alcohol. That song really applies to anybody that’s lived. There have always been those moments when we have to get back up and get on our feet. They are defining moments . . . breakthrough moments.”
For this album, Bentley made some changes to his creative team, re-enlisting executive producer Arturo Buenahora Jr., who worked on Bentley’s first two albums; and hiring producer Ross Copperman, who co-wrote “Tip It On Back” for Bentley’s last album “Home.” The album’s vocals were recorded in a variety of locations, including some on Bentley’s tour bus and others at Copperman’s home.
“It was important to get out of the studio and sing in different places, and to do it with other people in the room,” says Bentley. “That way, you have an audience and you get a sense of what’s working, what’s not working, when it’s feeling good, not feeling good. It brings a little more emotion and energy out of your voice.”
Watch a short trailer on “Riser,” narrated by Bentley, here.
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.