Exclusive Q and A: Lauren Alaina Talks "Wildflower," Fans and Steve Tyler

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsLauren Alaina may not have won the two Teen Choice Awards for which she was just nominated ” Choice Female Country Artist and Choice TV Female Reality Star for American Idol ” but she’s got plenty of other successes to celebrate.

Not only is she looking ahead to joining Sugarland‘s “In Your Hands” tour in support of her debut album Wildflower, but her new single “Eighteen Inches” has been released to radio with great success. The song, written by Carrie Underwood, Kelley Lovelace, and Ashley Gorley, which references the space between a person’s head and heart, is something which resonates strongly with Alaina.

Recently the 17-year-old American Idol season 10 runner-up and Georgia native took time out of her schedule to talk about her music, her idols, and just what she learned from recording with American Idol judge and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.

OS: Let’s talk about your album and how you chose such great songs like “Eighteen Inches.”

LA: In the process of making the album I was listening to quite a few songs. I had to narrow them down to what what was going to go on the album. When I heard [“18 Inches”] that reminded me so much of my mom. She has literally gone through the exact same thing as the song. Eighteen inches is the distance between the head and the heart. It delivered such a beautiful message. I remember being very proud of being the person who sings it.

OS: I know you admire Carrie Underwood very much. Was that another reason you liked it so much?

LA: I didn’t know she wrote it [when I first heard it]. I think [my team] didn’t tell me on purpose.


Sound and Vision: The Pop-Star Chatroom: Collision and Communion on Twitter

For a good time, call¦

On second thought, don’t.

That might have been what Justin Bieber was thinking in March when he found out he might be facing legal action for tweeting a fake phone number minus one digit to his 19 million Twitter followers, resulting in more than 1,000 phone calls being made to a man and a woman in Texas who threatened to take him to court. (The potential plaintiffs’ requests: an apology, concert tickets, free publicity and financial compensation for out-of-pocket expenses.)

It was a harmless enough prank, yes, but the next time Bieber tweets something, he might want to consider doing what so many pop stars are doing and tweeting it to someone who’s also famous”like his new BFF Carly Rae Jepsen, the recipient of several recent Bieber tweets, including one wishing a happy easter to his fellow Canadian and fellow Top 10 resident on Billboard’s Hot 100 (Bieber with Boyfriend, Jepsen with Call Me Maybe).

Who else is connecting on Twitter? I love you, you cray, Katy Perry tweeted on March 31 to Rihanna, who made news when she began following her ex Chris Brown on Twitter. Rihanna’s sometime collaborator Nicki Minaj had a brief war of words with Cher last November on Twitter over a third party’s misinterpretation of Minaj’s lyrics: “@cher did you know that b***h @NICKIMINAJ dissed you in her song DID IT ON EM.” Cher flipped. Minaj fans flipped, too, explaining that it was a “rap metaphor,” not a jab. Cher conceded defeat. Minaj offered, simply, “@Cher #stopit5.” Case closed.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sound And Vision: Strange Bedfellows — The Best of Music's Unlikely Collaborations

“I get high with a little help from my friends,” Ringo Starr sang on the Beatles‘ 1967 classic. These days, so do many of music’s top stars. Two’s company, and so is three and sometimes four. The more the merrier, the higher and higher they get.

On the charts, that is.

In the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week ending December 10, seventeen songs were collaborations between separate recording entities. Four of them featured Drake, and three apiece featured Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both appeared on tracks with Drake and with each other. But will.i.am featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger”and debuting at No. 36 with “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),” which the threesome performed on the November 20 American Music Awards”was probably the one that nobody saw coming.

Old-school Rolling Stones fans must be cringing at the idea of Jagger going anywhere near Lopez and will.i.am so soon after Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera went to No. 1 by invoking his hallowed name on “Moves Like Jagger.” But for a sixty-something legend like him, hit records”even if in name only, a la Duck Sauce‘s GRAMMY-nominated “Barbra Streisand”are a near-impossible dream unless they’re in tandem with other, often younger, stars.


Your Country's Right Here: Jason Boland & the Stragglers Band Relish Red Dirt

Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Sugarland and other big-name country musicians makes it easy to overlook some of the considerably less flashy but incredibly substantive performers”and that’s really a shame.

Consider Jason Boland & The Stragglers that surely embody the heartfelt country sound”for lack of a better term”and spirit of such artists as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jamey Johnson.

Ever notice that the myriad of country music award shows almost never even give a nod to the aforementioned artists, despite their virtuoso playing and heartfelt, often profound, musical offerings?

Perhaps that’s a conversation for another day, but the point is that only the drive-by fan should turn to such all-star entertainment extravaganzas to completely guide their music choices.

Before readers throw up their hands in disgust, please note the term “completely.” I enjoy mainstream artists as much as the next person, but I’m likening them to exclusively eating one type of food”such as meat. Aren’t you glad you also know about grains?

That’s where Jason Boland and his band, perhaps one of the best-kept secrets out of Texas, come in. Although he and his band are well known on the Texas circuit, they are hoping to expandbeyond with their latest album Rancho Alto.

“We went in there and tried to get live tracks,” said Boland of the eleven-track album. “A lot of current music today is overdone. We try to get live drums, live bass, and [other live instrumentation] in there.”


The Mystery of Collapsing Stages and What It Means For the Future

Every summer music fans across the world flock to outdoor concerts and festivals to enjoy fresh air and good tunes. This summer, however, the fun has been tinged with tragedy due to a number of outdoor stages collapsing from strong winds and severe weather conditions. First, the stage of the Ottawa Bluesfest collapsed while rock band Cheap Trick was performing. Earlier this month, the Flaming Lips’ stage collapsed before they were scheduled to take the stage in Oklahoma. Luckily, no one was seriously injured in either of these accidents.

The aftermath of the Flaming Lips’ stage

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the two most recent tragedies last week. The stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair right before country group Sugarland were set to take the stage. Six people have been reported dead from the accident. Just days later, the stage at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium collapsed, which resulted in four deaths with seventy-five additional people injured. Indie rockers Smith Westerns were performing on the stage moments before it collapsed, and they offer their perspective on what happened in an interview below.


Vocal Points: When Two Voices Become One

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.


Your Country's Right Here: Jake Owen 'Gets Closer' with 'Barefoot Blue Jean Nights'

Jake Owen has to be a believer in the number three.

As he travels around the country on Keith Urban‘s “Get Closer” Tour, the man behind this summer’s hot single “Barefoot Blue Jean Night””the title track of his upcoming album (watch the music video below)”sounds convinced some kind of great karma has come into his life.

“It is kind of ironic that my new album is being released on August 30, two days after I turn 30, and this is my third record,” said Owen. “This album is a big step for me and my career and I can’t wait for people to hear it.”

Although the album isn’t yet available, fans can get a taste of it during his current concerts”and soak in the audio sun it brings.

“When we recorded ˜Barefoot Blue Jean Night,’ I was really looking forward to summertime,” said Owen.  “This song has that nostalgic feeling of growing up, running around barefoot and feeling free. It doesn’t matter whether you grew up along the coast, on the lake or in the country, most everyone remembers that feeling.”

Although Owen is looking forward to his own headlining tours in the future, he’s full of praise for Urban and fully enjoying his role in the “Get Closer” Tour.

“We are so lucky to be…on the Keith Urban tour, said Jake who has also toured with Kenny Chesney, Sugarland and Brad Paisley. I am excited for the fans to hear some new songs from the new record. And while we are out on tour, I really want to celebrate summertime so I’m [pulling] my boat behind my bus. I have a Malibu, which is a great wakeboarding boat, and I really want to spend my days out in the sun, meeting people and hanging out.

Since releasing his debut album, Startin’ with Me in 2006, Owen has had five consecutive Top 15 singles.

Everything is amazing right now. I have other artists, song publishers, promotion reps, people at other record labels coming up to me and saying, ˜Jake, I really like your new song. We’re pulling for you, dude.’ That validates everything I’ve ever done up to this point. Now I have people cheering for me and that is an awesome feeling.

Find out more about Jake Owen, his new album and upcoming music on his website.

Your Country's Right Here: Sugarland's 'Incredible Machine' Keeps Rollin'

Think of Sugarland‘s album The Incredible Machine as something akin to The Little Engine That Could.

The title of the classic children’s story seems perfectly suited to describe Sugarland’s latest full-length recording. Even though it was released last October, the album continues to gather fans, awards and national exposure for the duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. The two are consistently juggling sold-out arena concerts and high-profile appearances, such as the performance with Rihanna at last month’s Academy of Country Music Awards show televised from Las Vegas.

“That album was just a lot of fun to write and record and play,” said Nettles, noting the songs on it stretch the boundaries of country music by weaving pop, rock and soul throughout. “Mostly, we had a lot of fun writing this album. When the music is there, that just shows up in the recording and concerts.”

Although the GRAMMY Award-winning artists have been red-hot for years”their 2004 debut album Twice the Speed of Life went multi-platinum”there wassomething that just set them into another musical level when The Incredible Machine was released.

Bush said that in Nashville, where writers and performers are often thought of as two very distinct groups, he and Nettles have been welcomed into both camps.

“It’s been incredible to be welcomed as songwriters as well as artists,” he said. “This whole album is an example of what happens with the two of us.”

Bush is referring to the synergy he has with Nettles. On this project, they mixed and matched their musical influences”think Chrissy Hynde, Peter Gabriel, Blondie, and other ’80s icons”to develop the sound for this latest batch of songs.

The duo were so excited about the process that they produced and posted a documentary dubbed “Living Liner Notes” that shows them writing and recording.

“There’s always a mystery behind a record,” said Bush. “We had this new idea called ‘Living Liner Notes’ because we both like liner notes so much”we were those kind of kids. We wanted to share the process with the fans. So rather than just seeing a name”so and so was the engineer and so and so was the drummer, well here they are. Watch them work.”

Bush said one of his favorite clips is of the process to develop the song “Find the Beat Again.”

“We walk you through the whole thing,” he said. “Here you’re watching us write it. Then you’re watching us record it. It really shows how these songs developed.”

Fans also get a chance to see how the two mix things up.

“We tried to make our weaknesses our strengths,” said Nettles. “For example, the guitar. I love the way Kristian plays guitar when I sing. I love his choices, I love the way he fits his choices in and around my singing. We have been doing it together long enough now that there’s a really nice volley and a really nice way it dances together. I said to him ‘Why don’t you just play it? Why are we getting a guitar player?’ That’s one example of how we work together. That’s one reason each song feels so organic and fits perfectly.”

Something tells us this Machine will keep gathering steam for a long time to come.

Sugarland is on tour. For concert information, Living Liner Notes, and other news, go to their Web site.

Lilith Local Talent Search Winners Announcement for San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle!

Arguably the most memorable time in an artist’s career is when they finally catch a big break. Thanks to Lilith 2010, this IS that huge break for six lucky winners in the Lilith Local Talent Search Competition.  We are proud to announce the winners for Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle as chosen by you, the fans!
These six West Coast Lilith 2010 Tour Stop winners are getting the chance to prove  themselves to thousands of fans on one of the most successful charitable tours to date. How sweet it is to share the stage with names like Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Sugarland, Heart, Miranda Lambert and Brandi Carlile. Hopefully the winners will be able to take the time to absorb this amazing opportunity, and create a few memories of their own while they are at it. Check below for the list of winners:

Lilith Winners
Portland Seattle/George San Francisco
Annie Bethancourt The Strange Kind Terra Naomi
San Diego Las Vegas Los Angeles
Ashley Matte Jasmine Chadwick Jes Hudak