The Florida Strawberry Festival’s second annual Battle of the Bands competition will take place on the Wish Farms Sound Stage on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. with over $15,000 up for grabs!!! This show is FREE with a paid gate admission ticket.
Some people might say that after notching ten No. 1 singles, 13 Grammy Award nominations, a New York Times best-selling memoir and ongoing sold-out, coast-to-coast arena tours, Charlie Wilson has proven his point….and he isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon.
“I’ve been in this game for many years,” reflects the Gap Band founder and solo icon. “I’ve had some big hit records and sold a lot of records. But I need to still show people that I’m in it. It’s championship time.”
Wilson underscores that declaration with his latest album, In It to Win It (P Music Group/RCA, Feb. 17, 2017) which
includes a 2019 Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the track “Made For Love,” his enchanting duet with Lalah Hathaway. In 2018 Charlie was also nominated for three 2018 NAACP Image Awards, Outstanding Male Artist, Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration and Outstanding Album.
The set boasts two number one singles which hit two different Billboard charts in April 2018. “Chills” was #1 on the Adult R&B Songs chart and “I’m Blessed” ft. T.I. was #1 on the Hot Gospel Songs (and stayed in the top 5 for 65 weeks). This is the first time an artist has had two different #1 songs on these charts at the same time. “I’m Blessed” was also nominated for a 2018 Billboard Top Gospel song.
“ ‘I’m Blessed’ says exactly where I am in my life, blessed to still be making music that people want to hear,” says Wilson. “2018 has been a tough year for so many people around the world, so I’m proud to release a song to remind us that we can all find some blessings in our lives. And having T.I. bring his flavor, sharing who he is and how his journey is filled with blessings, is an added bonus.”
Wilson continues his reign as “Uncle Charlie,” the lovable nickname originally given to him by Snoop Dogg, by being one of the most highly sought-after adult entertainers for today’s top Hip-Hop and Pop artists. In 2018 he stepped in as a replacement for Cardi B opening for Bruno Mars on his 24K Magic World Tour Finale performing for thousands of fans in Minneapolis, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles and Mars’ hometown, Honolulu, which made history selling out three nights at Aloha Stadium. The experience is one Wilson will never forget. “I have been a fan of Bruno’s from day one and it has been an honor to be able to share the stage with him performing to the thousands of fans on his record-breaking tour. The energy for our show in Hawaii at Aloha Stadium was beyond anything I can recall in my career. In the end, I couldn’t be more proud and happy for Bruno and what he has accomplished in the evolution of his music” said Wilson.
He also joined Kanye West and Kid Cudi to sing the chorus on the track “No Mistakes” from West’s album Ye, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Wilson also united with long-time collaborator and friend, Snoop Dogg, on the track “One More Day” from Snoop’s “Bible of Love” gospel album, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart.
As a tribute to his 23 years of sobriety, helping homeless addicts and educating the African American community about prostate cancer, Wilson was honored at the 2018 NAACP Image Awards with the first-ever Music Makes A Difference Award. “It was truly an overwhelming experience to receive this award,” stated Wilson. “There are numerous people who have been by my side these last 23 years and the most important person is my wife Mahin.”
In May, 2018, The National Museum of African American Music, scheduled to open in Nashville in 2019, honored Wilson with their Rhapsody & Rhythm Award at their Legends Celebration.
Coinciding with the release of In It To Win It, Wilson’s national U.S. tour sold out arenas around the country. He is continuing to tour with dates in the U.S. and a special performance in London at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park with Bruno Mars in July 2018.
Breaking away from the tradition of using his name in the album title, Wilson also recruited an A-Team of guest features for his seventh solo album. Joining T.I. as first-timers in that circle: Pitbull, Wiz Khalifa, Robin Thicke, and Lalah Hathaway. Wilson, who executive produced the 13-track album along with long-time manager, Michael Paran, reunited once again with The Cartoons (Emile Ghantous, Steve Daly and Keith Hetrick), Gregg Pagani and Wirlie Morris on the creative side. New to the mix this time around: fellow songwriter/producers J.R. Rotem (Jason Derulo, Gwen Stefani, Empire), Eric Hudson (Kanye West, John Legend) and Rob Knox (Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, T.I.).
“In addition to working with our talented core of producers, one of our goals was to add some new talent to the team,” stated Paran. “I was excited to bring in J.R. Rotem, Eric Hudson, and Rob Knox to the project as they added an adrenaline shot to the recording process and really inspired Charlie to cut all kinds of music. I can truly say Charlie had a lot of fun recording this album and you can hear that reflected in the music.”
Together, the team crafted a package that fully encompasses Wilson’s unlimited reach. He explores the synergy between pop and R&B with Thicke on the mid-tempo “Smile for Me” (“You can’t tell our vocals apart sometimes,” says Wilson). Then he and Pitbull double-down on the party track “Good Time.” And who knew rapper Wiz Khalifa possesses an impressive singing voice, which he shows off on the noteworthy “Us Trust.” Another “oh wow” moment is the duet between Wilson and Lalah Hathaway on the scintillating 2019 Grammy-nominated “Made for Love.” Their what-took-so-long pairing calls to mind the magic conjured between Lalah’s late father/soul legend Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack.
“She’s definitely got her own spirit, but I could see Donny’s aura as well,” notes Wilson of working with Lalah. “It just makes you feel good inside when you hear her sing. She nailed it.”
Never one to shortchange his fans, Wilson unleashes his powerful tenor on the uplifting title track, the inspirational “Amazing God” and romance songs “Precious Love” and “New Addiction.” To round out In It to Win It, Wilson reunites with “nephew” Snoop Dog for the sexy romp “Gold Rush.”
“Love is a powerful word and as men, we need to let our women know that we love and respect them,” stated Wilson. “So, when guys bring their ladies to my show or have this album playing during a romantic dinner, they know I am speaking for them.”
Before launching his solo career in 2000, Wilson racked up a string of hits in the late ‘70s and ‘80s as frontman with the Gap Band. The pioneering R&B/funk group charted such frequently sampled classics as “Outstanding,” “Yearning for Your Love,” “Burn Rubber on Me,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Early in the Morning.”
Wilson signed to Jive (now RCA) in 2004 after landing his first No. 1 Billboard Adult R&B hit in 2000, “Without You.” Since then, he’s released six solo albums and become a consistent chart presence. His tally of 19 hits boasts seven more Adult R&B No. 1s. Among them: “My Love Is All I Have,” “You Are” and “There Goes My Baby.” While garnering 13 Grammy nominations and other industry accolades, including BET’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, Wilson has stayed busy on the road, as he is a major concert draw, claiming the crown for top winter tour of 2015 with his Forever Charlie arena tour, or in the studio.
In the years between the Gap Band’s heyday and his solo success, Wilson survived drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and prostate cancer. He chronicled his odds-defying life and career in his 2015 best-selling autobiography, I Am Charlie Wilson. Sober now for 23 years, the singer says, “I wouldn’t have believed I’d be where I am right now. That’s why I shout every night because I thank God for allowing me to be here.”
“I’m looking forward to continue touring and making new music. “And, I’m not stopping there, because I Am In It To Win It.”
With momentum still high following their fourth career #1, MULTI-PLATINUM hitmakers ELI YOUNG BAND are releasing an introspective new single with “Break It In” via The Valory Music Co. Under producer Dann Huff, the tune explores lessons in life and love that are only learned over time well spent. As showcased through vivid Benjy Davis, Brandon Day, Daniel Ross, and Michael Whitworth-penned lyrics, EYB further delivers a booming chorus: “Like these dusty boots that walked me through / The work that got me here / And these faded jeans with Skoal can rings / I’ve worn out all these years / When the shine wears off, when you lose that gloss / There’s so much more underneath it all / You think that good is good as it can get / Then you break it in.”
“We definitely didn’t just start a band and have instant success. We’ve continued to build it up over the years — we broke it in,” shares EYB. “We’ve been blessed to have had our moments of being able to sit back and soak it all in. ‘Break It In’ carries a message you learn with time, and we’re so excited for these lyrics to be heard far and wide!”
“Break It In” closely follows THIS IS ELI YOUNG BAND: GREATEST HITS, which features chart-toppers – “Love Ain’t,” PLATINUM “Drunk Last Night,” 2X PLATINUM “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” and 3X PLATINUM “Crazy Girl.” EYB has always been unique in modern Country music as a true band of brothers who cling fast to their Texas roots and has maintained an impressive trajectory with singles earning Billboard’s #1 Country Song of the Year and ACM Awards Song of the Year. They have previously earned multiple nominations from GRAMMY, CMA, CMT, ACA and Teen Choice Awards.
While selling out venues as a headliner from coast-to-coast, EYB has toured with Jason Aldean, Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, and Darius Rucker. They will continue to bring these fan-favorites and more on the road this summer with several festival appearances. More details on tour stops are available at https://eliyoungband.com/, Facebook, Twitter , and Instagram.
Legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd returns with a fiery slice of Southern style guitar rock heaven in Last of a Dyin’ Breed, their newest release on Roadrunner/Loud & Proud Records due August 21, 2012. This is the kind of record guaranteed to feed the needs of the multi-generational Skynyrd Nation, and continue the renewed vigor the band exhibited with their last album, 2009’s God & Guns.
For the passionate, longtime fans of the band, this is Skynyrd at the top of their game, complete with instantly memorable songs, more hooks than a tackle box, and a blistering three-guitar attack at full power. From the raging guitars of the title track and the pounding, funky homage to local talent in “Home Grown” to the mind-blowing “Honey Hole,” Lynyrd Skynyrd sound like young bucks having one hell of a good time, which, regarding the latter, founding member Gary Rossington says is very much the case.
“For me, this is one of the happiest and most fun albums I’ve ever done,” says Rossington. “We didn’t have a lot of problems goin’ on; it was just fun goin’ to work every day.”
Having survived enough tragedy and just plain hard miles for 10 bands, Skynyrd is, remarkably at this stage of their career, on a roll. God & Guns debuted at #18 on the Billboard Top 200, giving the band their highest debut since 1977. Last Of A Dyin’ Breed re-ignites the in-studio alchemy the band found with Guns producer Bob Marlette, and the sound is traditional Skynyrd blended to perfection with the edge of immediacy. In short, it’s rock ‘n roll for the times.
Led by core members Gary Rossington (guitar), Johnny Van Zant (vocals) and Rickey Medlock (guitar), Skynyrd has recorded an album that continues to build on the legacy that began over 35 years ago in Jacksonville, Florida. Joining them in the studio and on the road are new bassist Johnny Colt (Black Crowes, Train) guitarist Mark “Sparky” Matejka (a “Nashville cat, just a pickin’ fool,” according to Rossington), and keyboardist Peter Keys, who replaced Powell on the God & Guns tour.
In a tragic tale oft-told, the Skynyrd story could have ended in a Mississippi swamp with the 1977 plane crash that killed three band members, including Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Since then, the band has lost vital players in Billy Powell, Ean Evans, Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson and Hughie Thomasson, yet here they are again with a hard-rocking, stirring album that can sit proudly alongside any recording that bears the Skynyrd name. The breed may be nearing extinction but Skynyrd is very much alive and ready to throw down.
Van Zant, now in his 25th year standing where his brother once stood agrees with Rossington about the making of Breed. “We worked with Bob Marlette again who’s a great guy we just love as a producer,” he says. “During the recording of the last album we were going through Billy and Ean passing away, and with this album, we were able to laugh and joke a lot.”
Medlock says that after the hard-touring behind God & Guns he and the other primary writers Van Zant and Rossington took their time writing the songs. But the actual recording came together quickly, aided by the band’s in-studio chemistry. “This time what we wanted to do was go back to doin’ stuff old school,” he says. “A lot of the album was done with all of us in the recording studio, playing all at one time, the way we used to do it when we’d go into the studio to make records.”
With a catalog of over 60 albums, sales beyond 30 million worldwide and their beloved classic American rock anthem “Sweet Home Alabama” having sold over two million ringtones, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd remains a cultural icon that appeals to multiple generations. But far from resting on their laurels, any illusions that this may be a band at anything less than the height of its powers are quickly lost with the distorted fury of the fiery guitar licks that open the album’s title track and further put to rest with the gritty triumphs that follow.
They could easily continue cranking out old songs to rapturous audiences around the world but the fact is they’ve got plenty left to say musically, personally and as social commentary. “Every once in a while the record label will ask us if we want to put a new album out and we always say yes, because, although we love playing all the classic stuff, it’s fun to do new stuff too,” says Rossington, “for our own heads, our own peace of mind.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd is a band of today, carrying a steely mantle forged in the sweaty confines of the Hell House in Jacksonville decades earlier. And this is a band album, to be even more specific, a guitar-driven band album. The triple-guitar assault has never sounded more on point, with passionate musicality, expert harmonics and of course, plenty of attitude to burn. There’s a reason this is one of the most beloved bands of all time.
“We tried to go back to the old sound, doin’ it as a band, goin’ in all together and layin’ it down,” says Rossington. “On the last album, we learned a little more country, back to our roots, but this time we just tried to be our old selves and write some Southern rock. Just good ol’ songs, get in and get out, say what they say, do a little bit of pickin’ and tap your feet.”
Those searching for traditional Skynyrd solos and fierce instrumental breaks will have plenty to love on Breed, with every song featuring ample fretwork from one, two or even all three guitarists. “We love to do the harmonies and stuff with lead guitars,” says Medlock. “That’s a Skynyrd staple, and we embellished on it quite a bit this time around. We wanted to make a guitar-driven record and have the vocals sit really good in the saddle there with all the guitars, just have it more rockin’ and a lot more powerful.”
Mission accomplished, with plenty of fireworks and rock-solid rhythms from all players. “Sparky has just fit in great with Rickey and Gary, everybody knows their place now,” says Van Zant. “Sparky’s a strat guy, Gary’s a slide guy with the Les Paul sound and all those great fills, and Rickey’s the ‘all-around’ guy that does a little bit of everything.”
But the guitars and other instruments—Keys’ organ, for example, play a vital role in the soundscape. Van Zant’s vocal chops and way with a lyric have never been in finer form, breathing life into these songs and taking on some serious vocal challenges. “I quit smokin’ a year and a half ago, so that helped out quite a bit,” he says with a characteristic laugh. “Workin’ with Bob is great too. We cut the vocals right in the control room itself, which is really cool to me, because me and Bob go back and forth right there, so you’re not waiting for a button to be pushed. It’s just a real cool vibe. We’ve got a good thing goin’ here.”
They’ve got a good thing going in terms of material, too. The primary Skynyrd writing team of Rossington, Medlock and Van Zant worked with some of their favorite songwriters to pen the songs that populate Breed, including Tom Hambridge, Blair Daly, John 5, Donnie Van Zant, and Marlette, along with contributions from the bands Matejka, as well as Marlon Young, Audley Freed, Shaun Morgan from Seether, Cadillac Black’s Jaren Johnston, and label mates Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson and Jon Lawhon.
The blend of writers from within and outside the band concocts a hard-hitting cadre of songs that fit perfectly into the Skynyrd canon. These songs are of the 100-proof variety. “We like bringing in outside influences and I love feeding off other people,” says Van Zant. “I’ve had people ask me, ‘how could Gary create another ‘Free Bird?’ We don’t even try that. Those are legendary songs. We just write what we write. It’s more about us just hangin’ out and being together and enjoying life and writin’ songs. My theory is like Ricky Nelson’s, ‘you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.’ If you’re happy with it at the end of the day, so be it.”
Not as overtly political as its predecessor God & Guns, Breed focuses more on the struggles of the working class, though the band make their thoughts on the direction of this country crystal clear on songs like the reverb-drenched “Poor Man’s Dream” and the blue-collar powerhouse “One Day at a Time.” “When we go in to record, we don’t go in with one certain mindset,” says Medlock. “We just go in and write about stuff we believe in, our experiences.”
The band is tuned in to the tough times many Americans are going through, and they sing songs that might well help on that journey, or at least help let off some steam. “Skynyrd really thinks about how people are struggling and what’s goin’ on out here,” says Medlock. “We see it a lot, because we’re a working man and working woman’s band. We’ve got three generations under our belts, we know people have a tough time out there, and we share in that.”
Gary Rossington won’t typically volunteer for political talk but he is an astute observer, and what he sees sticks in his craw. “I don’t like to talk politics,” he admits “I just don’t trust a lot of politicians. I think the country’s way off track, but we’ll get it back on, it’s too good of a thing to lose. We travel all around the country, there’s too many good people and good Americans who all want the same thing, just to get back on track the way we used to be.”
Like it or not, with a title like God & Guns, the previous album was bound to be a lightning rod out of the box. “I couldn’t believe how well God & Guns was accepted when it came out, in Europe, Australia, South America, here in the States; everybody we talked to, 99% of it was positive feedback,” says Medlock. “My whole thing was, we’ve got to go in the studio this time and step up, we’ve got to do at least what God & Guns did, or one better. And, in my opinion, I think we accomplished that. I’m looking forward to going out and playing some of this record live, along with our classic material, and taking it to the people and letting the people make their decision.”
Odds are, the “people,” specifically, the aforementioned Skynyrd Nation, will love Last of a Dyin’ Breed, and anyone who hasn’t checked into what this band has been up to for a while will likely be blown away. As for their part, Skynyrd will, per usual, indeed be taking their music to the people, as fans in Europe and North America will have a chance to catch the band on tour through the end of 2012 and beyond.