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Your Country's Right Here: Janie Fricke Joins with the Roys for "The Country Side of Bluegrass"

Janie Fricke has once again added to her already hefty musical arsenal.

After going from a jingle singer (Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Red Lobster are among the corporations that featured her vocals) to a back up singer for A-list hit makers including Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, to a duet partner with Merle Haggard and Charlie Rich, Fricke became an A-list singer herself starting with the 1981 solo hit Down to My Last Broken Heart. Now the singer, who has 18 No. 1 singles, is touring behind Country Side of Bluegrass and reintroducing her songs and voice to a new generation of fans.

At first when they asked me to do it, I thought it’d be pretty interesting, said Fricke of the album she completed with famed Nashville producer Bil VornDick. Then the whole plan came together that included [recording and some touring] with the Roys.

Combining the sound of the brother and sister duo of Elaine Roy and Lee Roy, two-time Inspirational Country Music Duo of the Year award winners, with the much-lauded Fricke whose awards include the much coveted CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award, give the album’s 12 tracks (plus the Ring of Fire bonus track) true distinction.

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Your Country's Right Here: Mary Chapin Carpenter Casts a Musical Spell

Go to any Nashville songwriters’ circle and just wait”you’ll hear the name Mary Chapin Carpenter mentioned at least once and the speaker’s tone will undoubtedly be reverential. Go to a show on her recent tour in support of her last album The Age of Miracles and you’ll likely find the venue sold out or close to capacity even if it’s a rainy, cold weekday night.

In a world full of music that many contend is generally devalued, Carpenter’s work is specifically prized by many country and folk music  fans for its genuine beauty and authenticity. How else to explain the standing-room-only shows in this age of economic despair when Carpenter’s twelfth studio album is almost a year old? Or why the country-folk singer-songwriter has had her songs covered by everyone from Joan Baez (“Stones in the Road”) to Wynonna Judd (“Girls With Guitars”) to Trisha Yearwood (“Where Are You Now”).

Mary Chapin Carpenter

“I have always needed the songwriter part,” said Carpenter before the last leg of her current tour in explaining why she constantly juggles a heavy tour schedule and songwriting. “As a kid I always loved music and I loved to scream and shout. When I started to seriously write, though, that’s when it came together.”

And it came together fast. After she graduated from Brown University, Carpenter returned to the Washington, DC-area where she spent much of her childhood. She re-entered the area’s music scene, which she had joined before she went to Brown, and soon had a recording contract with Columbia Records. She spent nearly twenty years at the company and sold over 13 million albums before moving onto Rounder Records where she continues to release much-loved, critically-acclaimed albums. A multi-GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter, Carpenter also recently joined the ranks of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Judy Collins and Joan Baez as a recipient of the “Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award” from the Americana Music Association. (more…)

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Michael Jackson video teaser released

Michael Jackson’s posthumous album, MICHAEL, is slated for release on Tuesday. The record features collaborations with artists like 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz, but because many of the recordings were works in progress at the time of Jackson’s death, Sony’s release of MICHAEL has been fraught with controversy. However, watching the new video teaser for Jackson’s duet with Akon, Hold My Hand, makes it hard to be bummed about the record. Check it out below.

Rolling Stone‘s top 30 albums & 50 singles of 2010

Rolling Stone has released their list of the top 30 albums and 50 singles of 2010. And now we have a million questions. Kid Rock beating Kings of Leon and Spoon”you sure about that Rolling Stone? Taylor Swift”sure, she can sell records, but does she really deserve the Number 13 position? And, Kanye West, your album is great and all, but seriously, Arcade Fire had one of the best albums of all time. Seriously.

The Bad

Dead celebrities back to life on Twitter

In support of the AIDS charity Keep A Child Alive, Alicia Keys, one of the organization’s founders, helped kick off the Digital Death campaign on Twitter last week. Keys, along with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake, swore off tweeting until a $1 million fundraising goal was met. The campaign got off to a slow start, with the public donating less half that sum after a week. Just when it looked like their silence would be permanent, frustrated celebs with itchy Twitter fingers recruited philanthropist Stewart Rahr, who swooped in to pony up the $500,000+ difference. Great news for Keep A Child Alive, bad news for those of us enjoying the Kim and Khloe Kardashian silent treatment.

LCD Soundsystem to stop touring in 2011

James Murphy told Spinner this week, during the Art Basel festival in Miami, that his band LCD Soundsystem will stop touring permanently after this year. We’re done being just a pro rock ensemble, Murphy says. From now on, Daft Punk Is Playing at My House will have to only play at your house.

The Ugly

Morrissey delivers the diss to Bryan Ferry

When Morrissey found out that Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry, whose album For Your Pleasure he listed as one of his top 13 favorite records, was an avid hunter, he did what any combative vegetarian would do and penned an open letter taking Ferry and a handful of other British celebs to task. Calling Ferry’s son Otis Odious Ferry and Ferry himself Bryan Ferret, The Smith’s singer apologized to fans for his support of Roxy Music in years past. Hunters, beware. To Morrissey, you are the quarry.

Miscellany