Category Archives: Country Music Association

“CMA Country Christmas” Celebrates the Holiday Season on ABC-TV

John Legend. Photo credit: John Russell/CMAFor Robert Deaton, Executive Producer of “The CMA Awards” and “CMA Country Christmas,” there’s a world of difference between the two ABC-TV specials. It ultimately comes down to one word.

“Tension,” he specified. “There’s a lot of tension in the room for the Awards show because there’s so much riding on who’s going to win and it’s a live broadcast. The Christmas show is very different. It’s warm and open. People are there to have a good time. “

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Bucky Covington Blazes a Path toward Fire Safety

Bucky Covington and members of the Nashville Fire Department film the “Be a Hero/ Save a Hero” PSA in September. Photo credit: Tim Miller Spectacular entrances are traditional at the CMA Awards along the Macy’s Walk of Stars, but it’s safe to say no one will soon top the 2012 arrival of Bucky Covington, who showed up aboard a vintage Nashville Fire Department truck as red flashers whirled.

Aside from fulfilling every kid’s fantasy, Covington chose this vehicle to inspire support for firefighters who lost their lives or suffered debilitating injuries while on the job.

This story begins about a year ago, when the young singer got involved with Help the Good Guys, which supports the families of firefighters and police officers killed or injured in the line of duty. “The first guy I met through them was Brad Dean, a carpenter who volunteered with the fire department in Birmingham, Ala.,” he recalled. “Fifty percent of his body from the waist down had been burned in a fire, which made it impossible for him to work.”

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NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Florida Georgia Line

Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line. Photo credit: Adam TaylorYou don’t need to know that Tyler Hubbard comes from Monroe, Ga., or that his partner in Florida Georgia Line, Brian Kelley, comes from Ormond Beach, Fla. It’s the music that lets you know these two guys know how to kick it in the studio and onstage, Dixie style.

Scheduled to release Dec. 4 on the Republic Nashville imprint, Here’s to the Good Times is a pastiche of prickling banjo, walloping backbeats and muscle guitar, run through a blender of Country, Southern rock and a hint of hip-hop.

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How Country Stars Build Their Road Crews

Country Music wouldn’t be where it is today without great artists. But those stars couldn’t grow their audiences without virtuoso road crews.

In many ways, the road crew is just as important a part of the tour as the performer. As Chris Cagle put it, “Everyone is pretty much part of the band. We’re all in it together. If the front-house guy has a bad day, no matter how well the band plays, we suck. If the monitor engineer is off, we can’t hear ourselves play and we’re off. Everybody is vital. We’re all part of the team.

“My most important guy is my road manager, Mike Nash,” he continued. “He knows how to handle me. He takes care of the band and all the logistics. He deals with people in a kind fashion. What you leave in your wake is just as important as what you accomplish. If the guy who represents you treats people with kindness yet sometimes has to be firm, but that firmness is still polite, that goes a long, long way and is one reason promoters have you back.”

Road managers for smaller acts handle everything, while larger tours include both a road manager and a production manager, whose purviews are stage lighting and sound. “Rascal Flatts is a tour with lots of moving parts,” said Mike McGrath, the band’s former Tour Manager. “We have elevators, a video screen and complex lighting. We have departments that handle audio, lighting, sound, video and rigging. The crew has to be able to fix things and fix them quickly.”

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Buffets Restaurants Cook with Country

Charlie Daniels is among many who are already nostalgic for the days when you could explore new releases in a CD store. “Of course, I hated to see vinyl go away first,” he noted, smiling.

Plenty of fans feel the same, which is one reason why Daniels’ partnership with Buffets Inc. feels right. With more than 350 restaurants operating in 35 states under a variety of names (HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s and others), Buffets serves around 100 million customers each year, many of whom are already fans of Country Music.

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NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Kelleigh Bannen

Kelleigh Bannen never made the trek to Nashville — she was already there. Born and raised in Music City, she was singing and writing songs when she was 2 years old. Well, actually, as she notes in her self-written bio, “it was a little song with two lines that I would sing to myself inspired by the ‘word of the day’ from ‘Sesame Street.’”

Safe to say, at least, that her ears were wide open at an early age, taking in music beyond the Country playlist and kiddie show themes to include Frank Sinatra, Patty Griffin and other eclectic performers. However, Country proved to be her true calling, so after graduating from college in Virginia, she hastened back home to develop her writing and discover her own sound as a singer.

That sound shines on her upcoming debut album, produced by Paul Worley and Jerry Smith and set to release on EMI Records Nashville. Written by Bannen and Troy Johnson, its first single, “Sorry on the Rocks,” recounts a relationship melting down, like ice in an untended glass past last call. Bannen’s strong, assertive vocals underscore the clever metaphor that flows through each verse and chorus.

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Tumblr Sends Artists and Fans Head over Heels

In the ever-changing world of social media, Facebook and Twitter are still the undisputed leaders. And while Google+, LinkedIn, MySpace and relative newcomer Pinterest all have their place, one platform is not-so-quietly making a notable surge.

According to the digital marketing firm comScore, Tumblr is one of the fastest-growing, consumer-oriented Internet sites over the past two years. Its audience has grown from 4.2 million visitors in July 2010 to more than 26.9 million in July 2012. As of July 30, Tumblr is home to 66.5 million blogs, which total more than 70 million daily posts with monthly page views of more than 17 billion.

In essence, Tumblr is a multimedia-focused blogging platform that marries the social networking of Facebook with the simplicity of Twitter and the full-featured aspects of Blogger or WordPress. But do we really need another social media technology?

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NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Bill Gentry

Rather than flow in one direction, similar to a storyline in a single song, Bill Gentry’s life has veered in a dozen directions. The son of a minister who died when he was 2, Gentry won the state 4-H performance contest, got kicked out of his high school band, was kidnapped along with two of his colleagues in a rock band, served as president of his junior college class, ran for city council, launched a successful data-compiling company, interned for Sen. Sam Nunn in Washington, was lovingly told by his sister that she never wants to sing with him again and most recently founded and ran Wild Bill’s, the huge and successful Country venue near Atlanta.

In that last incarnation, Gentry booked many of the biggest acts in the business. Though he’d never really stopped playing, being witness to great shows night after night rekindled Gentry’s determination to aim for his own place in the spotlight too.

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Dierks Bentley Dedicates a Day to CMA

Through the CMA Songwriters Series, fans around the United States and abroad continue to experience first-hand the creativity of those behind-the-scenes Nashville pros who write hits for the stars. At most of these shows, they benefit as well from hearing one participant who straddles both sides of the line between writing and performing.

That honor went to Dierks Bentley when he performed in a Songwriters Series show Sept. 6 at New York’s Joe’s Pub. But he also devoted that morning to a visit to PS 103, the Hector Fontanez School, in the Bronx, where a CMA donation of $20,000 enabled the school to open a music program for students for the first time. To commemorate this first outreach beyond the Nashville area of CMA’s Keep the Music Playing program, the artist shared his thoughts with an assembly of fourth-graders about the value of learning about music – and was delighted when they started singing along as he performed “5-1-5-0,” which they had rehearsed prior to his arrival.  Read the rest of this entry

46th annual CMA Award Winners

46th annual CMA Awards Winner’s List:

Entertainer of the year

Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
WINNER: Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift

Female vocalist

Kelly Clarkson
WINNER: Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

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