Lady Antebellum have been one of the highlights of country music in the pop world over the last few years, and with the release of their lyric video for “Downtown” today it seems likely they’ll stay atop the chart for the foreseeable future. The song has a relatively simple verse/chorus/verse pop structure, but there is a sincerity in the music that is near impossible to deny. Everything about your being will want to like this song, so stop waiting around and click below to enjoy “Downtown.”
“Downtown” will be available for purchase on all digital retailers beginning next Tuesday, February 5.
If you enjoy Lady Antebellum, check out OS act Bronze Radio Return!
These are exciting times for Darius Rucker. Not only is he out on the “Own the Night” tour with Lady Antebellum but he’s ready to release his third album. The hotly-anticipated record will follow the much-loved 2010 release Charleston SC 1966 that debuted at the top of the country charts and his now-platinum debut album Learn to Live, which was released in 2008. And that’s just the beginning.
He’s musically partnered with a host of other artists, including Lionel Richie for a duet of “Stuck on You” which is on Richie’s album Tuskegee. He also remains very involved in several high-profile charity events, including this month’s Third Annual “Darius and Friends” benefit show in Nashville which raised money for St. Jude Children Research Hospital.
Rucker took time out from his busy schedule to talk to OurStage about his new album, his current tour, and just what inspired him to become a musician, anyway.
DR: We will probably be playing the new single soon. When I play, audiences can expect a lot of music from both records [Learn to Live released in 2008 and Charleston SC 1066] and some cool cover songs. I’m just trying to have fun.
OS: On the fan boards, some folks say you always play Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Why do you play it so often?
DR: I always wanted to play it! The funny thing was, I was rehearsing with the band and my drummer (the band leader) said “Have you ever wanted to play ‘Purple Rain?'” I had never played it because I didn’t know if it would work in a country set. Now we always play it. If I don’t play it, I get nasty emails. So we are always playing it now.
That’s what John Taylor of Duran Duran recently told Time Out Melbourne on the subject of illegal downloading. When I read Taylor’s comments, I applauded as if his band had just completed a rousing encore of Skin Trade. Finally, a pop star who understands what it’s like to be low on cash but high on music.
Back in the old pre-Internet days, before iTunes, Amazon and having access to the latest hits 24/7 on YouTube, if you couldn’t afford to pay to listen to the music you loved anytime you wanted to, you had to improvise. For me, and, apparently, for Taylor, that meant pushing a tape recorder up the speakers of the radio, waiting for your favorite song to come on, pressing play when it did, and praying for no outside noise to interfere with the sweet music coming from the speakers.
Looks like Scott McCreery is the next pop-country super star.
The American Idol alum seems to fit the bill pretty well. A clean cut crooner with faith to spare, a couple of singles under his belt and a charming “golly, gee shucks” attitude. No surprise that his debut record moved a ton of units in the first week and made chart history. The 200,000 copies of Clear As Day sold in the first week was good enough to net McCreery the second best debut of the year. Now the question is what makes this young kid so unique, aside from his success?
It’s exactly that. In a field that doesn’t have that many youthful stars, McCreery is young”he really was a kid, for all intensive purposes, until his eighteenth birthday on October 7th. Sure, there’s the likes of Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum but can you think of any other established country music stars that aren’t old enough to drink? There’s a reason why his newest video takes place in chem class (and it’s just an honors course too, it won’t even count for college credit).
Lady Antebellum has a spark. There’s something about the way that Hillary Scott’s clear voice meshes with fellow lead vocalist Charles Kelley’s rougher tones. The way that the two of them sing, weaving their voices back and forth to tell a story, combined with the way that these two powerful voices can give and take seamlessly is so special. The combination of their voices creates an effect which evokes double the emotion, showcases double the talent and makes for an all-around great listen.
There have been many country acts who use both male and female vocals to add variety to their sound, but few have been able to mesh the voices as successfully and as consistently as Lady Antebellum. Many artists choose to create a solo album and then feature duets with other singers, for example Jason Aldean, who collaborated with Kelly Clarkson for a track on his album My Kinda Party, or Brad Paisley‘s duet “Remind Me” with Carrie Underwood. But it is truly remarkable that every song by Antebellum utilizes both Kelley’s and Scott’s voices to their full potential.
Although less well-known than Lady Antebellum, The Civil Wars”an alternative country/folk duo”also blends the voices of two singers (Joy Williams and John Paul White) into every song. Both Lady Antebellum and The Civil Wars feature voices that could easily stand alone, but together create something much more magical. Because these singers are equally incredible at harmonizing and keeping a balance where neither is over-powering, they can create a sound which is phenomenal.
Before you ween yourself from listening to more up-and-coming country musicians”after all, there are only so many hours in a day”you owe it to yourself to check out the music of Stealing Angels.
Caroline Cutbirth, Jennifer Wayne and Tayla Lynn”who are currently on a tour ten-day tour of Iraq and Kuwait to entertain US troops”are set to release their first album Paper Heart in a few months. Early word is that the songs are musical magic. The trio, who are related to Daniel Boone, John Wayne and Loretta Lynn respectively, have been wowing audiences as they have toured in support of Lady Antebellum, Kid Rock and others.
“We were just three girls in Nashville trying to make it,” said Lynn of her chance meeting with Cutbirth and Wayne. “Our agents got us together for an audition for a reality show (that never materialized) and it just went from there.”
Although happenstance brought the three together, the music they crafted was anything but random. Famed producer Paul Worley was so captivated by the trio’s sound that he signed them to his Skyville Records label and produced their upcoming album. That, say the trio, made their music truly come alive.
“Paul is a genius and the way he produced it is magic,” said Cutbirth, who had met Wayne a few months before they made the acquaintance of Lynn. “The first couple times welistened to it, it sounded like poetry. It’s that beautiful.”
Yet the two singles Stealing Angels have released”the title track of the album and the song “He Better Be Dead” (check out the music video below)”are about the universal topics of romance and heartbreak to which everyone can relate. Although the three said they had plenty of fodder for songs, the real trick was to take their three solo songwriting artistry and make them one.
“Everyone talks about heart break and love in different ways,” said Cutbirth. “We started writing together and that really helped us gel as a trio even though we were each solo artists. I’m more more pop country, Jen is more Patsy Cline and Tayla is more Lucinda Williams. We bring that all together when we write songs.”
It’s almost too easy to say the three were born to continue the tradition of country music, yet listening to them you do begin to wonder if destiny has played a role in their careers.
“I remember when I was nineteen years old standing in the wings at concert when really realized who my grandmother was,” said Lynn. “The shows she puts on, the woman she is and what she’s done for country music. I just knew I had to perform…And now we’ve gotten so many fans of [my grandmother’s] and John Wayne and Daniel Boone, it sure feels right.”
Find out more about Stealing Angels by going to their Web site.
Randy Rogers, who fronts the band that bears his name, didn’t take it lightly when they received a nomination for Top Vocal Group from the Academy of Country Music.
Just before heading to Las Vegas for the April 3 event, hosted by Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton, Rogers said that the nomination was one of the highlights of his career. He didn’t even focus on the award. Other nominees in that category are Little Big Town, the Band Perry, the Zac Brown Band and the award winner Lady Antebellum.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it means the world to us,” says Rogers of the nomination. “It’s a huge deal for all of us, the band and crew. My parents [came] to Vegas for it. It’s a huge, huge deal to us. We’ve taken a different path when it comes to the national spotlight.”
The band has truly carved its path the old-fashioned way during its 10-year career, playing 200-plus concerts a year, charity events and appearing on late night television. The nod for the award in one of the most prestigious nationally recognized categories makes Rogers and his team feel as if all the hard work has paid off.
The band is also set apart from some others because they make it a point to constantly interact with fans during meet-and-greets and through social media. Rogers and his team take pride in having solid relationships with the fan base.
“I’m proud to bear the flag and wave the flag of the hard working acts out there,” said Rogers. “A lot of them don’t have label support like we do. A lot of them are putting out indie records and earning their fan bases. That is what we’ve done. Time with our fans is time well spent.”
Although it’s a fairly open secret that Texas-based bands may have a harder time making it than those in Nashville, the Randy Rogers Band has had some high-level fans”including Willie Nelson and Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel”rooting for them.
Rogers even mentions that he’s discussed recording with Nelson and Benson but it’s too soon to tell if that will materialize when the band begins pre-production for their eighth studio album this summer. If they do it, though, they won’t be shooting for a high charting record although they’d love to have one.
“We have been talking about that in the front lounge of the bus,” said Rogers. “I don’t think we ever tried too hard and I don’t think we are trying too much this time. We never had a radio hit. This will be the eighth record we are going to make and we’re just going to be us.
“Every time I’m writing a song, I won’t be thinking about a possible radio hit or if it would make a catchy tune on the radio. I’m going to write a record for us, that we want to play every night and that represents our band and who we are.”
The Randy Rogers Band are on tour. For concert and other information, check their Web site.
Months of pre-holiday music can make even the most ardent country music fan weary of the traditional tunes. Yet it’s easy enough to rock around the Christmas tree or ring in the New Year by downloading some of the plentiful, just-released holiday songs by your favorite country artists. Check out our picks for the Top 10 don’t-want-to-miss albums”old, new and re-issued.
1.”A Merry Little Christmas” by Lady Antebellum. Six GRAMMY nominations, and a sleigh full of CMA, AMA and Teen Choice awards indicate the trio’s time has arrived. Not bad when you consider that Hillary Scott”who joins Charles Kelley and David Haywood in the group”tried out for American Idol and never made it past the first stage. Despite all the hoopla surrounding the band and it’s Need You Now album and single, the trio has released a new six-song CD with such classics as “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” and a country cover of “Silver Bells.” Want an original? “On This Winter’s Night,” co-written by Tom Douglas, is made even more haunting with the addition of a children’s choir.
2. “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” by Suzy Bogguss. You know Suzy from her platinum and gold songs and albums plus her CMA awards, but she has recently turned what many call the best country vocals in contemporary music to the holidays. Her new release includes classics such as “White Christmas” and “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” and her own spunky versions of songs including “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.” All the songs were recorded with her band that just completed a holiday tour.
3. “Holly Happy Days” by the Indigo Girls. Combine Amy Ray’s rock sound, Emily Saliers folk tendencies, add a dose of bluegrass thanks to guests including renowned banjo player-guitarist Alison Brown and bassist Viktor Krauss (brother of Alison Krauss) and you have the makings of a classic. The duo recorded the album”which is a mix of nine classic holiday tunes and three originals”during two weeks in Nashville.
4. “The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection” by Taylor Swift. In this celebrity news-heavy world, Swift must hold the title of most famous 21-year-old on the planet. The most commercially successful country (or country-pop) artist in music history, according to Nielsen SoundScan”who seems to win awards daily”released a holiday collection last year. With all the news that swirls around Taylor, it’s understandable if you missed it. Check it out though, and when you hear Swift crooning such classics as “Santa Baby” and “Silent Night” you’ll understand why Taylor’s gorgeous voice has placed her at the top of the country music world.
5. “Merry Christmas” by Shelby Lynne. Even if you missed the first tour between Lynne and her singer-songwriter sister Allison Moorer, you can still ring in the holidays with Lynne’s first holiday album. Besides the usual standards, Lynne included two new originals. One listen to her charming versions of “O Holy Night” and “Sleigh Ride/Winter Wonderland,” and you won’t be surprised that Lynne learned the songs as a child when her mom drove her and her sister to school.
6. “Merry Christmas” by Jessica Simpson. Before you scoff, remember that Simpson hails from Texas and has the twangy vocals and country sensibility to prove it. Her new release is a lot of fun because she only tackles a few classic holiday tunes such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” but concentrates more on lesser-known-but-still-loved songs including “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Mary Did You Know?” You won’t want to miss her duet with Willie Nelson on “Merry Christmas Baby.”
7. “Christmas is the Time (to Say I Love You)” by Katherine McPhee. We know you think of McPhee”the American Idol alumni”as more pop than country, but let’s just agree that she’s a terrific all-around performer who’s scored both pop, holiday and country success. This new release debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums charts. Plus her rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” hit No. 16 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart. And don’t forget her single “Love’s Never Leavin,'” a song McPhee co-wrote with country singer Chelsea Field. The Tammany Humane Society of Covington, La., will receive 100% of the proceeds. Check out the music and you’ll under McPheever.
8. “Christmas Comes Alive” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Setzer has come a long way since his days of singing “The Stray Cat Strut” as the frontman of the rockabilly band The Stray Cats. But don’t think that means he’s dulled down his sound. In this new holiday collection, which includes “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “The Nutcracker Suite,” Setzer mixed rockabilly, big band and jazz sounds for a hot holiday sound.
9. “Christmas Music Live,” by Kenny Rogers. Looking at Kenny’s dozens and dozens awards from the CMT, AMA, CMA and GRAMMYs gives you only a piece of insight into the man who made songs such as “The Gambler” and “Lucille” beloved country anthems. Don’t forget that Rogers has made holiday songs and his annual “Christmas & Hits tour” a holiday tradition for many. Now he’s released his first live CD of holiday tunes Christmas Live, so you can join Kenny in singing “Joy to the World,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” other holiday classics as you sit in front of the fireplace.
10. “Christmas with Glen Campbell” by Glen Campbell. Baby boomer alert! Remember when Campbell’s weekly variety show was must-see TV in your house? Now the 1995 holiday album by the Rhinestone Cowboy has been re-released so you can hear him belt out “Jingle Bell Rock,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” and other holiday faves that Campbell recorded in Branson.
By Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham writes about music for Country Weekly, AOL Music’s site The Boot, The Washington Post, Relix and other publications.