Includes A Collaboration With Fellow ‘American Idol’ Contestant Ruben Studdard
Josh Gracin has a new album in stories this week, “Redemption,” his first project for his new label Average Joe’s Entertainment, also home to Montgomery Gentry and Colt Ford. It includes a cover of the John Mayer song “Edge Of Desire,” and a collaboration with fellow “American Idol” contestant Ruben Studdard on the song “Catastrophe.”
Another song, “Can’t Say Goodbye,” is based on the true story about the continuing efforts of a war widow, Seana Arrechaga, to keep her husband’s memory alive. The song was written for the Sears Heroes At Home initiative, with all proceeds of single sales going to the charity’s efforts to support military service members, veterans, and their families.
“The album is 100% my interpretation, 100% my idea of what I wanted the record to be,” Gracin says in a press release. “Just in that alone, it’s going to sound different than anything else I’ve done.”
He produced the album with his longtime drummer, Kevin Murphy. Gracin also wrote or co-wrote off of the album’s songs with the exception of the Mayer cover.
Following his stint on “Idol,” Gracin landed four top 10 singles on another label, including the 2005 No. 1 hit “Nothin’ To Lose.”
Stars With Angie Harmon In Video; Appears On ‘Army Wives’
Craig Morgan has enlisted actress Angie Harmon (star of TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles”) to appear in his upcoming music video, “This Ole Boy,” which was recently shot in Nashville. They are pictured together on the set.
But that wasn’t Morgan’s only recent brush with Hollywood. Late last week he filmed a guest-starring role on the Lifetime series “Army Wives.” The episode featuring Morgan is set to air in early 2012.
The role would appear to be a good fit for Morgan, who spent 10 years of active duty in the Army and an additional nine years in the Army Reserves.
Morgan recently released the five-song digital EP, “This Ole Boy,” and has a full-length in the works for early next year.
CMA Presenters To Include Reba, LeAnn Rimes, Dierks Bentley And More
CMA Awards nominee Luke Bryan will serve as the red carpet correspondent for the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” at the 45th Annual CMA Awards on Nov. 9. His CMA red carpet segment will air on “Ellen” the following day. Bryan is nominated in the new artist category, and will also be performing on the CMA Awards this year.
Bryan made his first appearance on “Ellen” in late September to perform his hit “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” and also comically portrayed “Pierre” in DeGeneres’ ongoing soap opera drama, “As the Tide Turns.” Watch it here.
In other CMA Awards news, Lauren Alaina, Dierks Bentley, Billy Currington, Jake Owen, Kellie Pickler, Reba McEntire and LeAnn Rimes have been added as presenters. Also, pop singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson will perform his new single “Run” with Sugarland, with whom he wrote the song and toured earlier this year. And singer/actress Laura Bell Bundy will host the pre-telecast award ceremony, where she will present awards to the winners in three CMA Awards categories as well as to all of the recipients of the CMA broadcast awards.
Rodney Atkins, Scotty McCreery To Appear In Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade
• Wynonna (right) is hitting the road for a 12-date holiday tour, which kicked off Thursday in Phoenix. She will return to the studio in December to continue working on her eighth studio album for Curb Records. It is being produced by her boyfriend, Cactus Moser of the country group Highway 101.
• Trailer Choir (pictured below) has released its first single since being dropped from Toby Keith’s Show Dog-Universal Records, and since downsizing from a trio to a duo. The song, “Love Me First,” was released to digital retailers on the band’s own Hollaville Records imprint. According to group member Butter, the song’s lyrics reflect all that he and bandmate Big Vinny have gone through in the past year, including Vinny’s diagnosis with Type 2 Diabetes.
Meanwhile, Vinny moves into week seven on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” where he is currently appearing as a contestant. He has already lost 59 pounds on the show.
• Rodney Atkins and Scotty McCreery will be among the performers at the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York on Nov. 24. Adkins says he plans to wear his deer hunting gear to stay warm. Additional performers will include Mary J. Blige, Cobra Starship, Neil Diamond, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne, actor Daniel Radcliff and the cast of Broadway’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
• Billy Dean will join Kenny Rogers’ annual “Christmas and Hits Tour” for the second time. This year’s tour kicks off the day after Thanksgiving and will hit 16 cities.
Procedure Forces Postponement Of Benefit Concert
Keith Urban is set to undergo throat surgery later this month, to remove a polyp, which has developed on his vocal chords. The outpatient procedure, while minor, will require complete voice rest followed by a recuperation period of undetermined length, forcing the postponement of the “All For The Hall” benefit concert Urban had planned to stage on Jan 18, 2012 as a benefit for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. The event, which was to take place at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, was also set to include appearances from Vince Gill, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, the Oak Ridge Boys and Alison Krauss + Union Station.
Urban will be honoring his pre-existing commitments for which he is just scheduled to perform one song leading up to his procedure at the end of this month. All other appearances will be rescheduled in the new year.
December Outing Will Visit 11 Cities
Vince Gill and his wife, Christian music star Amy Grant, will embark on their sixth Christmas tour, “The Twelve Days Of Christmas,” Dec. 7 in Baltimore. The 12-date, 11-city run concludes with two shows at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. During the two-hour program, the couple will perform both holiday standards and newer seasonal material.
The couple has lots of material to draw from. Gill has released three Christmas albums: “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” “Breath Of Heaven” and “Christmas Collection.” Grant’s releases include the 2008 holiday set “The Christmas Collection.”
“Christmas audiences are special,” says Grant in a press release. “They tend to involve the whole family, and their emotions are a wonderful mix of anticipation and reverence. It’s a thrilling experience for both of us.”
“These holiday tours have become our favorites,” adds Gill.
The Two Singers Will Duet On Loggins’ ‘Footloose’
Blake Shelton and Kenny Loggins will get the Nov. 9 CMA Awards on ABC off to what’s likely to be a rousing start with a duet of “Footloose.”
Both artists recorded the song, written by Loggins (pictured) and Dean Pitchford, for the films of the same name. Loggins’ version, from the original film, was a No. 1 hit for three weeks in 1984. Shelton’s version, from this fall’s re-make of the film, was recently released.
Loggins first rose to prominence as a member of the duo Loggins & Messina with Jim Messina, a hit with “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” As a solo artist, Loggins wrote and/or recorded such favorites as “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’” (a duet with Stevie Nicks), “This is It,” “I’m Alright,” “Heart to Heart,” “Meet Me Halfway,” “Danger Zone,” “Conviction of the Heart,” and “For the First Time.”
As a songwriter, Loggins has some previous country music credentials. He wrote or co-wrote such classics as “Danny’s Song” (a top 10 hit on both the Billboard Country and Hot 100 charts for Anne Murray in 1972), “A Love Song” (also a top 10 hit on the Billboard Country Singles chart for Murray in 1974), and “What A Fool Believes” (which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1979 for co-writer Michael McDonald’s band, The Doobie Brothers).
Both Sets Feature Country Stars Covering Others’ Songs
Willie Nelson will release a collection of classic country cover songs, “Remember Me, Vol. 1,” on Nov 21. A volume two is in the works for next year.
For the new set, Nelson hand-picked 14 songs from among the top Billboard hits of the last 70 years, including some from such esteemed artists and songwriters as Ernest Tubb, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Rosemary Clooney, Porter Wagoner and Ray Price. A 15th song is included as an iTunes exclusive for those who purchase the album there.
Here’s the complete track listing, with each song's hit-making artist, year and peak Billboard position in parentheses:
1. Remember Me (Ernest Tubb, 1950, No. 5 country)
2. Sixteen Tons (Tennessee Ernie Ford, 1955, No. 1 country and pop)
3. Why Baby Why (George Jones, 1955, No. 4 country)
4. Today I Started Loving You Again (Merle Haggard, 1970)
5. I'm Movin’ On (Hank Snow, 1950, No. 1 country)
6. That Just About Does It (Vern Gosdin, 1989, No. 4 country)
7. This Old House (Rosemary Clooney, 1954, No. 1 pop)
8. Sunday Morning Coming Down (Johnny Cash, 1970, No. 1 country)
9. Smoke That Cigarette (Tex Williams, 1947, No. 1 country)
10. Slowly (Webb Pierce, 1954, No. 1 country)
11. A Satisfied Mind (Porter Wagoner, 1955, No. 1 country)
12. Roly Poly (Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, 1946, No. 3 country)
13. Release Me (Ray Price, 1954, No. 6 country)
14. Ramblin’ Fever (Merle Haggard, 1977, No. 2 country)
*15. More And More (Webb Pierce, 1954, No. 1 country) *iTunes exclusive
Meanwhile, Texas-based singer/songwriter Pat Green will release his own set of covers, titled “Songs We Wish We’d Written II,” on Feb. 28, 2012. It will be his first release on his new record label home, Sugar Hill Records, and is a follow-up to his 2001 collaboration with friend Cory Morrow, “Songs We Wish We’d Written.” Green recorded the new set with his longtime road band in Texas.
“You’ll hear a few songs you already know, and may notice others that are unfamiliar; which was by design,” Green says in a press release. “I enjoy spreading the word about great talents and great music.”
On the album, Green pays tribute to songwriters including Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, Walt Wilkins, Todd Snider, Will Kimbrough and Jon Randall. He also interprets some of his favorite songs by such artists as Tom Petty and Shelby Lynne. Tracks include Lovett’s “If I Had A Boat” and Petty’s “Even The Losers.”
Green is currently writing new material for his next album and will head into the studio early next year to record it.
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.