At the time that rock was reaching its crescendo, and in the era when Country was dazzling the nation, a strange phenomenon was taking place. In essence, this phenomenon was the rising popularity of JIMMY STURR as the hottest musical attraction in the polka music field.
The reigning king of the field is a good looking, smiling charmer with brown hair, blues eyes, and charismatic rays emanating from his presence. Sturr is the fellow in front of the orchestra.
And what an Orchestra it is! JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA has over 106 recordings; the excellence of these recordings has been recognized and rewarded throughout the very competitive music industry. The fact that JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA is on the Top Ten list of the All-time Grammy Awards, has won eighteen Grammy Awards and has received more consecutive Grammy nominations that anyone in the history of musical awards has made the music industry sit up and take notice. Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) has awarded JIMMY STURR & HIS ORCHESTRA its most valued award, the Commendation of Excellence. The only one ever awarded in the polka music field.The band constantly attracts crowds of screaming, adoring fans wherever their travels take them. Their tremendous popularity has resulted in not only numerous Grammy Awards, but also being voted The #1 POLKA MUSIC BAND IN THE COUNTRY for the past ten years.Many great things have happened to JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA, but none has been more exciting than just completing their Fourth recording with country superstar WILLIE NELSON. In addition, they have recorded with other artists such as THE OAK RIDGE BOYS, CHARLIE DANIELS, BOOTS RANDOLPH, MEL TILLIS, BRENDA LEE, plus banjo virtuoso, BELA FLECK, and folk legend ARLO GUTHRIE.One of the major events in Jimmy’s career came when the Orchestra was asked to appear on The Grand Ole Opry. They were not only the only Polka Music Band to all appear, but the only band to appear with brass.A question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? television show hosted by Regis Philbin, was Who is Americas polka music king? The contestant won $250,000 by correctly answering Jimmy Sturr. Sturrs music has been heard on the TV show JEOPARDY and articles have appeared in print throughout the nation including a front-page story on The Wall Street Journal and full-length story in US World and News Report.The incredible popularity and success of JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA has caught the attention of many networks, including appearances on CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX NEWS and a fifteen-minute segment on CNN Headline News that aired worldwide.The band has made several appearances on Saturday Night Live. The quality and appearance of JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA makes them sought after for television commercials such as Budweiser, Pontiac, and Mrs. T’s Pierogies, who signed Jimmy to be their national spokesperson.Jimmy can now be seen on his national television show on the RFDTV network on Direct TV Channel 345, Dish Network Channel 231 on Friday’s at 7 PM EST and on Family Net Sunday’s at 5:30 PM EST. Jimmy Sturr syndicated radio show will now be heard on Sirius XM rural/radio Channel 80 on Saturday at 6 PM EST.Due to the great demand for live appearances by The JIMMY STURR ORCHESTRA, they have an extensive road schedule of 165 dates per year. They crisscross the country and make several international trips yearly. While on the road they travel in Jimmys forty-five foot customized tour bus. The Bands travels have taken them to some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including seven Sold Out concerts at Carnegie Hall and four Sold Out concerts at Lincoln Center in New York City and a sold-out concert at The Palace of Culture in Warsaw, Poland where the band received seven standing ovations.The Band appears annually at many of the top casinos in the country including Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT; The Tropicana and Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ; Patowatomi Casino, Milwaukee, WI; Soaring Eagle, Mt. Pleasant, MI; The Presidents Casino in Biloxi, MS; Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort, Chester, WV and Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas where Jimmy was the first polka music band to be booked by a major casino. The sellout crowds at these popular events keep coming back for more wherever they see the band scheduled.Today, JIMMY STURR lives in the house he grew up in, his office is across the street from the high school he attended in the upstate village of Florida, New York with a population of 1,800. His hometown recently honored Jimmy by placing a Star of Fame in the walkway on Main Street. They also display HOMETOWN OF POLKA KING JIMMY STURR signs at each entrance to the village. Five gold albums, each representing five million dollars in sales, are displayed on his office walls where he runs his various businesses which include United Polka Artists, Starr Record Company, Jimmy Sturr Travel Agency, a publishing company, and his syndicated radio show.A full scholarship gave Jimmy the opportunity to attend and graduate from Valley Forge Military Academy. Among his many accolades, and something Jimmy is very proud of, is his selection by The Valley Forge Military Academy as Man of the Year, he was honored with a full-dress parade in front of the Corp of Cadets at VFMA.No one has done more for the polka field than this young Irishman from the little village of Florida, NY. Seeing is believing. When you see JIMMY STURR AND HIS ORCHESTRA in person, you know why they draw the huge crowds, have been voted #1 in the country and considered THE BEST IN POLKA MUSIC!
Theirs is one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music
industry. The four-part harmonies and upbeat songs of The Oak Ridge Boys have
spawned dozens of Country hits and a Number One Pop smash, earned them
Grammy, Dove, CMA, and ACM awards and garnered a host of other industry
and fan accolades. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring four
decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to a stage show widely
acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as
enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been.
The group has scored 12 gold, three platinum, and one double platinum album—
plus one double platinum single—and had more than a dozen national Number
One singles and over 30 Top Ten hits.
With seventeen No. One hits, over 23.4 million albums sold, 35 million digital downloads and 2.2 billion streams worldwide, time and success have only put Rascal Flatts closer to their core with expert musicianship, razor-sharp vocals, and songs that have shaped lives, loves and the genre of country music itself. The trio’s Top 20 single “Back To Life” follows back-to-back chart-topping singles “Yours If You Want It” as well as “I Like The Sound Of That.” The group has also earned over 40 trophies from the ACA, ACM, AMA, CMA, People’s Choice and more, also making them the most awarded country group of the past decade. Known as one of the hottest-selling touring acts in any genre, Rascal Flatts has sold over 11 million concert tickets to date. For more information, visit www.rascalflatts.com.
CRYSTAL BLUE PERSUASION, CRIMSON & CLOVER, MONY MONY, I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW, DRAGGIN’ THE LINE, HANKY PANKY, SWEET CHERRY WINE, THREE TIMES IN LOVE and MIRAGE are just a few of the many hits – 23 GOLD RECORDS, 9 PLATINUM ALBUMS and over 100 MILLION RECORDS SOLD WORLD WIDE…and 32 BILLBOARDS HOT 100 CHART HITS!
Many artists around the world have covered and continue to cover his songs including PRINCE, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, JOAN JETT, BILLY IDOL, KELLY CLARKSON, REM, DOLLY PARTON, CARLOS SANTANA, CHER, TOM JONES and even THE BOSTON POPS.
TOMMY’S music can be heard in 55 films and 39 tv shows and numerous commercials to date…..most recent, a new film FINDING STEVE MC QUEEN with Forest Whittaker will feature 4 songs ( we believe this to be a first for a singer, songwriter.)
BMI lauded TOMMY for his success with the presentation of FIVE MILLION AIR AWARDS for his music being played more than 21 million times on air.
TOMMY’S critically acclaimed autobiography ME, THE MOB AND THE MUSIC is on ROLLING STONE’S TOP 25 BEST MUSIC MEMOIRS LIST and is now in production for a major motion picture with producer BARBARA DEFINA whose credits include GOODFELLAS, CASINO, CAPE FEAR, COLOR OF MONEY, AGE OF INNOCENCE and SILENCE…the screenplay written by MATTHEW STONE whose credits include INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, MAN OF THE HOUSE and BIG TROUBLE.
TOMMY now has his own show on Sirius/XM radio – GETTIN’ TOGETHER WITH TOMMY JAMES every Sunday evening 5-8 pm – 60s on 6 channel.
THE PRESTIGIOUS NEW JERSEY HALL OF FAME inducted TOMMY and his life-size hologram can be viewed at the NJHOF EXHIBIT at NEWARK AIRPORT in New Jersey, terminal C. He was also given THE PITTSBURGH LEGEND AWARD and was voted THE JUKEBOX ARTIST OF THE YEAR AWARD by THE AMUSEMENT AND MUSIC OWNERS ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK.
Now entering his 51st year in the music business, he just finished a new album ALIVE! which will be released in April, 2019….. AND he continues to tour around the country!
FOLLOW TOMMY ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM – WEBSITE IS TOMMYJAMES.COM
Michael Ray loves a good story. So, it’s only natural that when it came time to tell his own, he gravitated to country music.
“I feel like in music in general, but especially in country music, the storylines have always been the foundation,” he says. “No matter what changes may happen with the sound, I feel like when you listen to a song, no matter what walk of life you come from, you can really lose yourself in that song and put your own story to it.”
The small-town Florida native began to tell his tale on his 2015 self-titled debut album and scored two number one hits with “Kiss You in the Morning” and “Think a Little Less.” His dynamic sophomore album, Amos, named for his late grandfather and produced by the legendary Scott Hendricks (Alan Jackson, Faith Hill, Blake Shelton) picks up where that record left off, combining the vintage sounds he absorbed growing up with a contemporary polish that puts him at the forefront of a class of fresh young voices.
Ray runs the emotional gamut on Amos, from vulnerable ballads to boot-stomping rockers, showcasing a musical and vocal dexterity he has long admired in heroes like Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.
The album spawned his third No. 1, “One That Got Away,” an optimistic mid-tempo smash that turns heartbreak into the fondest of memories, and the imploringly poignant first single “Get to You,” a heartfelt plea for making a relationship work that utilizes Ray’s impressive vocal range, moving from a ruminative baritone to a tender falsetto croon. “Her World or Mine,” the album’s latest single and its emotional centerpiece, breaks down the universal emotions of a break-up in heartbreaking and incisive detail. He turns up the tempo and the temperature with the pithy rocker “You’re On” and offers a slinky slice of wordplay with the whimsical “Fan Girl,” giving “Amos” a diverse feel that retains a cohesive whole.
Tippin has crusaded for the working man and woman since he ripped country music wide open with
his uncompromising single “You’ve Got To Stand For Something.” His voice continued to ring loud
and clear with such hits as “I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way”, “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With The
Radio”, That’s As Close As I’ll Get To Loving You,” “My Blue Angel” and “Kiss This”. Five of his albums
are certified “Gold” and a sixth CD—Read Between The Lines—stands at the “Platinum” level.
Tippin’s honest lyrics and direct, impassioned vocals have built a large and devoted audience.
In the course of breaking into the ranks of stardom in country music, Sammy Kershaw has made
contributions to more than just the charts. His platinum albums were propelled into the records
books by hits such as “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful,” “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore,” “National
Working Woman’s Holiday,” “Love Of My Life,” “Cadillac Style,” “Don’t Go Near The Water,” “Haunted
Heart,”…and many other milestones.
Collin Raye is nothing if not passionate. His soulful delivery has set country standards in such searing
ballads as “Love, Me,” “In This Life,” “Not That Different” and “If I were you”. Always an energizing
showman, he has also blazed through such vivid rockers as “My Kind of Girl,” “That’s My Story,” “I Can
Still Feel You” and “I Want You Bad.” With 24 top ten records, 16 #1 hits, and having been a 10 time
male vocalist of the year nominee (5 CMA and 5 ACM), this truly electrifying performer of his era
remains one of the great voices of our time.
In five short years — from 1997 to 2002 — 98° sold a staggering 10 million records, scored a chart-topping single, “Thank God I Found You,” with Mariah Carey and Joe, and collaborated with their collective idol, Stevie Wonder, on “True to Your Heart,” for the 1998 animated Disney film, Mulan. Their four-million-selling album, 98° and Rising (1998, Motown), spawned the top-5 favorites “Because of You,” “I Do,” and “The Hardest Thing,” while 2000’s Revelation (Universal Records), which sold two million copies, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 and yielded a trio of hits, “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche),” “My Everything” and “The Way You Want Me To.”
The group emerged at a time when teen-oriented acts such as the Spice Girls, The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were just hitting the top of the charts around the world. They differentiated themselves from many of the other teen bands at the time as they wrote much of their own material, which reflected their own R&B influences.
By September 10, 2001, the frequent Total Request Live champions had reached the pinnacle of their career. That was the night the male-harmony group, which includes Jeff Timmons, Justin Jeffre and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, performed in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration. A star-studded salute marking the icon’s three-decade run as a solo entertainer, it was the kind of achievement that should have taken 98° to the next level.
But not 12 hours later, the 9-11 attacks changed the world forever. At that point, the all-Ohio-raised quartet decided to take a break. Save for a one-off performance on a TV special in 2004, it would be more than a decade before the four friends in 98° would sing together again.
The group tested the waters with a one-time appearance at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Penn. Then, in 2013, they hit the road with New Kids On the Block and Boyz II Men, the latter being their inspiration and a group that figures prominently in their origin story. (In the mid-nineties, a fledgling 98° snuck backstage at one of their concerts, hoping to get a demo to the Boyz.)
Encouraged by the rapturous fan reaction, the group headlined their own, 38-city trek in the summer of 2016. The My2K tour, which also included O-Town, Dream and Ryan Cabrera, played to sell-out or near-capacity crowds at venues like the prestigious Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and the 5000-seat Coney Island Amphitheater in New York City.
Last year, the quartet released their first full-length Christmas album in 18 years, Let It Snow, via UMe to glowing reviews from both fans and critics alike. The album featured the group’s signature R&B-tinged, four-part harmonies and was a natural follow up to their 1999 multi-platinum selling This Christmas. The band embarked on a highly successful 31-city tour across the U.S. in support of their Christmas album in addition to their performances on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Disney’s Magic Holiday Celebration, Good Morning America, Today Show, Kelly & Ryan and more.
Over the past 15 years, all four members have enjoyed other careers outside of music. Nick, who was recently on Season 25 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and launched a successful solo music career and has starred on TV shows both as an actor (The WB’s Charmed and One Tree Hill) and as a television host (VH-1’s Big Morning Buzz Live, NBC’s The Sing-Off). Drew was crowned season two winner of Dancing with the Stars, been on Broadway, and both brothers opened Lachey’s Bar (A&E). Timmons joined members of Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC for VH-1’s Mission Man Band and Nick Carter’s Sci-Fi feature, Dead Seven. Jeffre is involved in various media and cause related projects stemming from his foray into politics as a mayoral candidate of Cincinnati.
Bobby Bones, Vice President, Creative Director of iHeartCountry, is host of the nationally syndicated radio show, The Bobby Bones Show, which broadcasts to over 150 stations and is the #1 Country morning show with millions of weekly listeners. The show recently garnered its third ACM Award for National On-Air Personality of the Year, a 2017 Country Music Association award for National Broadcast Personality of the Year and earned Bones the title of youngest-ever inductee into the prestigious National Radio Hall of Fame. The “media multitasker” (Billboard) also launched his own podcast, BobbyCast, which features candid long-form interviews with top artists and industry figures. The podcast’s overwhelming success has paved the way for Bones to launch the Nashville Podcast Network, an eclectic collection of podcasts from a variety of Nashville-savvy hosts, giving listeners an inside look at the lifestyle and pop culture in Nashville. Bones recently won Season 27 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and returned to the latest season of ABC’s American Idol as the official in-house mentor. Additionally, Bones’ chart-topping musical comedy band Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots hit the road beginning in July on a brand-new tour, It’s Just The Two Of Us…(Sorry) following their most recent EP, LIVE IN BOSTON. Bones is also a two-time New York Times #1 bestselling author, touring stand-up comedian, and philanthropist – a true “jack of all trades” (ESPN). Visit https://bobbybones.iheart.com for more information.
Multi-media entertainment mogul Reba McEntire has become a household name through a successful career that spans across music, television, film, theater and retail. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Hollywood Bowl member has won 16 ACM Awards, 15 American Music Awards, 9 People’s Choice Awards, 6 CMA Awards, 3 GRAMMY® Awards and a GMA Dove Award. The Grand Ole Opry member has also received the Andrea Bocelli Foundation Humanitarian Award, Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award, the Music Biz Chairman’s Award, the National Artistic Achievement Award from the U.S. Congress and membership into the Horatio Alger Association, in addition to other philanthropic and leadership honors. In 2018, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame presented Reba with the inaugural Career Maker Award for her significant influence on the songwriting careers of Nashville songwriters. She also joined an elite group of creators as one of the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors recipients for her lifetime artistic achievements alongside Cher, Philip Glass, Wayne Shorter and the creators of Hamilton – writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire. Reba will join Carrie Underwood and Dolly Parton to host the 53rd Annual CMA Awards, celebrating legendary women in Country Music throughout the live broadcast November 13 at 8/7c on the ABC Television Network.
In 2017, she marked her thirteenth summit as the double-disc collection SING IT NOW: SONGS OF FAITH & HOPE topped both the Billboard Country and Christian/Gospel charts, bolstering Reba’s successful record of 35 No. 1 singles and over 56 million albums sold worldwide. Reba co-produced her latest album, STRONGER THAN THE TRUTH (Big Machine Records) alongside Buddy Cannon in Nashville.
The Oklahoma native and Golden Globe® nominated actress has 11 movie credits to her name, a lead role on Broadway in Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun and starred in the six-season television sitcom Reba. She joins the voice cast of Fox Animation’s Spies in Disguise – set to hit theaters December 25 – alongside Will Smith, Tom Holland, Ben Mendelsohn, Karen Gillan and Rachel Brosnahan.
In 2005, she partnered with Dillard’s to launch her own lifestyle brand, and most recently launched the REBA by Justin™ western footwear collection at select retailers nationwide. She was named the first female and musician to portray KFC’s iconic founder Colonel Harland Sanders in the brand’s celebrity colonel campaign. She brings that same bubbly energy and penchant for excellence to Las Vegas as part of the longest-running Country residency in The Colosseum at Caesars’ history alongside her superstar pals for REBA, BROOKS & DUNN: Together In Vegas. Visit Reba.com for tour dates and more.
Neal McCoy has released fifteen studio albums on various labels, and has released 34 singles to country radio. In 1993, Neal McCoy broke through with the back-to-back number 1 singles No Doubt About It and Wink from his platinum-certified album No Doubt About It. His commercial success continued into the late 1990s with two more platinum albums and a gold album, as well as six more Top Ten hits. A seventh Top Ten hit, the number 10 Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On, came in 2005 from his self-released That’s Life.
A new studio album, XII, arrived in 2012. In 2013 he released Pride: A Tribute to Charley Pride, Neal’s longtime friend and mentor. 2015 brought the Big Band Standards CD You Don’t Know Me.
Neal has been on 15 USO Tours around the world and continues to say it’s one of the achievements he’s most proud of. He is also the recipient of multiple Humanitarian awards from The Academy of Country Music, The Country Radio Broadcasters and The Masonic Grand Lodge. In 2016 Neal has again made a move to continue his patriotic values by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance “Live” on his Facebook page every morning. He’s reached millions of viewers all over the country and around the world. Currently, he is over 1200 days in a row and going strong. Neal still maintains a very busy touring schedule all through the year. Make sure to catch a show when he’s near because as Neal says “No two shows are the same!”
Neal also supports his own charity organization: East Texas Angel Network which is committed to the enhancement of the lives of children of East Texas who are living with terminal or life-threatening diseases. He hosts a yearly golf tournament, auction/dinner & concert over two days in the Fall.
The foundation has been going strong since 1995 and to date has raised over 8 million dollars for approximately 500 hundred East Texas families.
Beautiful, simply does not describe the incomparable force known to the world as Patti LaBelle. As time continues to evolve, the soulful songbird’s name has become synonymous with grace, style, elegance, and class. Belting out classic rhythm and blues renditions, pop standards, and spiritual sonnets have created the unique platform of versatility that she is known and revered for.
It’s a small wonder that Patti has time for anything else in between recording and touring, but she makes time and the world is oh so happy that she does! She has written six books, Don’t Block the Blessings, LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About, Patti’s Pearls, Patti LaBelle’s Lite Cuisine, Recipes for the Good Life and her most recent, Desserts LaBelle. Several years ago, she introduced Patti’s Good Life, a successful product line that includes a variety of sauces, sweet potato pie, cobblers, and cakes. She stars in her own highly rated cooking show, Patti LaBelle’s Place, which premiered its second season on the Cooking Channel in 2017. Additionally, Patti released her first jazz album, Bel Hommage, and a holiday album, Patti LaBelle and Friends – Home for the Holidays, in 2017.
World-renowned for her dynamic career as an entertainer and entrepreneurial success, Patti’s work as a humanitarian is just as legendary. She remains an advocate for adoption, diabetes, cancer, HIV / AIDS and many other causes and non-profit initiatives. While she has reached the heights of success throughout her 50-plus year career, Patti has also endured and survived personal strife. Within a ten-year period, she lost her mother, three sisters and best friend to diabetes and cancer. In 1994, she was diagnosed with diabetes and shortly thereafter became a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association.
The same motivation that had Patricia Louise Holte blossom from a choir member to lead vocalist for Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles and later Labelle, to a solo artist is the same energy that keeps her fire burning at seventy-four years young. “Each year I grow, and that’s a blessing from God. I do what I can do. I do what I feel God has given me the energy to do, so I just go out there and I do it…It’s not about making money because I don’t need money, but I need to sing. With a voice or without, I’ve got to get on that stage.” And the world is thankful that Patti’s voice sounds so good to our ears.
She’s had five #1 singles, sold millions of records, won the Academy of Country Music’s Top Female Vocalist Award and claimed a Country Music Association trophy for her signature song, “Born To Fly.” It’s tough to imagine many accomplishments Sara Evans hasn’t already checked off her bucket list.
And yet, with the release of her eighth studio album, Words demonstrates that she’s still willing to leap into the unknown, taking greater control of her career and calling the shots in a way that’s unusual in country music – particularly unusual for a woman in the genre.
Words is the first project on Evans’ own label: Born To Fly Records, appropriately named after that CMA-winning signature song, which celebrated risk and adventure. Much is familiar with Words. Evans’ voice is warm and strong, the songs are authentic and memorable, and the actual words themselves resonate with the realities of everyday life.
But the album was an eye-opening experience for Evans as a creative force. As the head of her own small, flexible company, she was able to take a streamlined approach to building it. Instead of subjecting the music to multiple departments, each with their own view of one part of her career, Evans approached it with an instinctual, gut-level focus on making a project that represents the 2017 version of Sara Evans.
“The only thing I had on my mind with this album is just Grammy-level songs and the coolest music that I can find,” she says. “I didn’t really go about it in any other way. I wasn’t catering to any part of the business. There was never a thought in my head of ‘Will this work on country radio?’ So what has happened with the music is that it is still very much Sara Evans music. It’s just a little bit deeper than I’ve gone in the past.”
There’s an irony there – part of the reason that Sara Evans is one of the country’s iconic modern singers is that her music has worked so well on country radio, at concert halls and amphitheaters, and in fans’ personal playlists. And the music she’s made to date is authentically her. But were Born To Fly narrowed the crowd of voices around her, Words is distinctively Sara Evans. For a woman who always tackled the music her own way, the new album is 100% her own.
It’s a big reason that the album is titled Words. The songs generate a number of words – flexible, commanding, sassy, daring, loving, hopeful, resilient – that all embody parts of Evans’ inimitable persona.
“Songs are a combination of words and melodies, and it’s the words that matter most to me,” she says. “When we go into these pitch meetings, people always ask, ‘What are you looking for? Are you OK with doing something that’s a little more pop?’ I always tell them, ‘Just play me great lyrics.’ That’s what I’m looking for.”
Evans co-wrote three of the album’s 14 songs, instinctively picking material along the way that matches her world view. Thirteen additional females racked up writing credits on the project, including Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, Pistol Annies’ Ashley Monroe, The Isaacs’ Sonya Isaacs, Hillary Lindsey (“Blue Ain’t Your Color”), Caitlyn Smith (“Wasting All These Tears”), Heather Morgan (“Beat Of The Music”) and Liz Hengber (“For My Broken Heart”).
“A Little Bit Stronger,” Evans’ pensive, heartbreak anthem that spent two weeks at #1 represents a look at the journey thus far, one that’s kept her firmly in the forefront of country music for a solid 20 years. Born and raised in Boonville, Missouri, Sara grew up listening – like much of her audience – to a mix of country, pop, and rock on the radio. She began singing with the family band when she was five and made her first attempts at recording as a teenager, committing to a creative path with her move to Nashville in 1991.
Smitten with country’s legacy, her version of Buck Owens’ “I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail” won the approval of songwriter Harlan Howard – a Country Music Hall of Fame member who authored Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces” and The Judds’ “Why Not Me” – and of George Jones, who personally invited her to open for him at the historic Ryman Auditorium on the strength of her first album.
That project – Three Chords and the Truth, produced by Dwight Yoakam’s then-guitarist, Pete Anderson – arrived in 1997 to critical acclaim. It accurately represented a key piece of Evans’ musical personality, yet it missed other elements that were likewise influential.
“If I could go back and whisper in my ear, I probably would have advised myself to go a little bit broader with the music and not make such a hillbilly record,” she says. “I was in this mindset that I was gonna be a female version of Dwight Yoakam. That’s a part of who I am, but it’s not all of who I am. I also grew up listening to Stevie Nicks and Phil Collins and so I wish I would have rounded myself out a little more on that first project.”
She clearly learned from the experience. Her resume now includes 14 Top 20 country hits, ranging from her reassuring first #1 – “No Place That Far,” featuring background vocals by Vince Gill – to the neo-traditional “Suds In The Bucket” to the elegant, spiky pop feel of “Slow Me Down.”
But Evans has been expansive in other parts of her public life, too. She’s co-authored a trio of books for Thomas Nelson; advocated on behalf of the Red Cross; became an active contributor to the community in Birmingham, Alabama, where she’s lived with husband Jay Barker for nearly a decade; and established a lifestyle blog — A Real Fine Place —that captures her flair for fashion, beauty and cooking. That blog also demonstrates that she understands, and lives, the solid, practical American work ethic that’s alive and well in her fan base.
“Kim Kardashian will post, ‘Oh my gosh, you guys, look at this new Dolce Gabbana thing that I got,’ but everything is so high-end,” Evans says. “My fans are in middle America – you know, country music listeners, small town, exactly what I come from – and so I’m like, ‘Well, I totally found this incredible belt in Target and I put it with this nice shirt.’ Mine is completely relatable. I feel like the All-American girl-next-door that you could be a friend and go have coffee with.”
Evans is such a signpost for women in country that when the producers of the Nashville TV series wanted to ensure its realism, they sought out Evans as a consultant to help them understand firsthand the dynamics of operating as a touring country singer and a mom, specifically informing Connie Britton’s character, Rayna Jaymes. With the formation of Born To Fly Records, Evans now has a life-meets-art moment, with her real-life embodying the label-owner role that Jaymes took on with the fictional Highway 65 Records. Not that Evans has any intention of copying the on-screen character.
“I’m not trying to be Rayna Jaymes and I certainly don’t want to die in a car wreck,” Evans says with a laugh.
What Evans does want to do is represent the full panorama of her artistic vision. By handpicking the team around her and making self-expression the priority of her work, she’s found songs that continue to connect her to the emotional core of her audience, and to adhere to that Born To Fly embrace of risk and adventure.
“I don’t use that word a lot, resilient, but I would say that’s the best way to define me as a person,” Evans says. “I feel so blessed, but at the same time, there’s blood, sweat, and tears in every single thing that I’ve gotten in this life. I have gone out and just really, really sold it, and I’m still doing that to this day.”
Doing it her way. As a mom. As a record company entrepreneur. And, mostly, as a distinct artist still excited about her unique journey.
Every victory merits a theme song. Skillet writes the soundtrack to triumph on their tenth full-length, Victorious [Atlantic Records]. One of the best-selling rock bands of the 21st century, the two-time
GRAMMY® Award-nominated multiplatinum Wisconsin quartet—John Cooper [lead vocals/bass], Korey Cooper [guitar/keys], Jen Ledger [drums/vocals], and Seth Morrison [lead guitar]—ignite seismic stadium-size anthems highlighted by chantable choruses, thunderous rhythms, symphonic electronics, and intricate musicality. Each lyric, riff, and beat motivate as the group sharpen their signature style with precision, passion, and power.
In many ways, the title encapsulates a shared mindset for the musicians. “Victorious perfectly describes how the record makes me feel,” affirms John. “You wake up, face your own demons every day, and never give in. There’s an introspective side to it. We might’ve commented on the world explicitly on previous albums. This one is about looking inward. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve gotten a little older, and I’ve accepted struggle as part of the journey. When I listen to these songs, I want to fight for my life, I want to fight for who I am, and I want to fight for what I believe in.”
This undying spirit humbly asserted and affirmed Skillet as one of this generation’s most successful rock acts. However, as all classic underdog stories do, it happened quietly under the radar. By 2019, they not only garnered a pair of GRAMMY® Award nods and sold over 12 million albums worldwide, but they also took home a Billboard Music Award for the double-platinum Awake. Its breakout single “Monster” remains “one of the most-streamed rock songs of all-time” with 285 million global audio streams. 2016’s Unleashed bowed at #3 on the Billboard Top 200. Going #1 on Rock Radio, the lead single “Feel
Invincible” cracked 150 million global audio streams and went platinum. Meanwhile, the gold-certified Unleashed became their fourth consecutive album to receive either a gold, platinum, or double-platinum plaque. To date, nine original tunes earned RIAA recognition in tandem with high-profile syncs by 1808 West End Avenue everyone from WWE and Marvel to ESPN and NFL. Between selling out arenas on four continents, the Nashville, TN 37203 group performed on CONAN and graced the pages of USA Today and New York Times, to name a few. In 2018 alone, the band clocked 1 billion streams.
Ernest Evans was born in Spring Gulley, South Carolina, but grew up in South Philadelphia, where he lived with his parents and two brothers. When he was a small boy, his mother took him to see Sugar Child Robinson, a child piano prodigy and also the famous country singer Ernest Tubb. Young Evans was so impressed, that he vowed to someday enter show business and took his first step toward that goal by forming a street-corner harmony group when he was only 11 years old.
By the time he entered high school, Ernest had learned to play the piano a little at Settlement Music School and could do a number of vocal impressions. He also went to South Philadelphia High School with his friend Fabian Forte, who would have show business success of his own. He entertained classmates whenever he could. After school, Chubby would sing and crack jokes at his various jobs including Fresh Farm Poultry on 9th Street and at the Produce Market. It was Ernest’s boss at the Produce Market, Tony A., who gave Ernest the nickname “Chubby”.
The storeowner of Fresh Farm Poultry, Henry Colt, was so impressed, he began showing off his employee to his customers through a loudspeaker. Henry and his friend Kal-Mann arranged for young Chubby to do a private recording for Dick Clark. A Yuletide novelty tune called, “Jingle Bells” on which Chubby did several impressions of top recording stars, was cut. Dick Clark sent it out as a Christmas greeting to all of his friends and associates in the music business. Cameo-Parkway liked it so much that they wrote a song called “The Class” and it became Chubby’s first hit in early 1959.
In June of 1959, Chubby recorded “The Twist”. Bernie Lowe, president of Cameo-Parkway records was not initially impressed with Chubby’s recording and felt it may be a “B” side at best. However, Chubby felt “The Twist” was something special and worked hard promoting the record by undertaking non-stop rounds of TV dates, interviews, and live performances. Fourteen months later, in the summer of 1960, “The Twist” was a hit.
“The Twist” was not only the #1 song but it introduced the concept of “dancing apart to the beat”. Over the next few years, endless songs incorporating “The Twist” into its name sprang up such as “Peppermint Twist”, “Twist and Shout” and “Twistin’ the Night Away”. In addition, each new song brought a new dance involving “dancing apart to the beat” such as “The Jerk”, “The Hully Gully”, “The Boogaloo” and “The Shake”. At the forefront was Chubby with “The Fly”, “The Pony” and “The Hucklebuck”.
The next few years were prolific for Chubby as hit followed hit. In 1961, Chubby recorded “Pony Time” written by Don Covay and John Berry. It went to #1 and stayed on the charts for 16 weeks. In between recording and touring, Chubby took time to add feature films to his portfolio with the releases of “Don’t Knock The Twist” and “Twist Around The Clock”.
In the fall of 1961, record industry history was made when Checker’s original hit record, “The Twist”, re-entered the charts and by January of 1962, it was back in the #1 position. No other record before or since has accomplished that feat. Combining its 1960 run with its 1961/62 return, “The Twist” spent an amazing nine-month total on the U. S. bestseller charts.
Chubby Checker merchandise was everywhere, and included T-shirts, shoes, ties, dolls, raincoats, and chewing gum. His success continued for years with the release of one dance record after another, with “The Fly” and “Let’s Twist Again”, for which he won a Grammy for the “Best Rock Performance”. More hit records followed. “Slow Twistin'”, Dancin’ Party”, “Popeye the Hitchhiker” and “The Limbo Rock” all came along in 1962.
1963 saw Checker return to the hit parade with “Birdland” and “Twist It Up”, after which he followed with “Loddy Lo” and a series of other novelty type tunes. Eventually, teens incorporated these movements to all songs that had a beat and called these movements “The Boogie”, a permanent fixture in Rock and Roll and popular Music 24/7. While hits kept coming, the highlight of 1964 was Chubby’s marriage to Catharina Lodders, Miss World 1962.
The 80’s were dominated by almost nonstop touring with some unique twists. ABC aired their answer to NBC’s Saturday Night Live, a counter-culture show called Fridays which starred Michael Richards (Kramer) and Larry David. A special appearance by Chubby as he sang his current hit, “Running” (excerpted on his website) was broadcast before a live national audience. However, by 1988, Chubby demonstrated extreme musical diversity by recording a very different “Yo Twist” with the Fat Boys. This song went to #14 on the charts.
In 2000, Chubby branched out into the snack food business commemorating 40 years of “The Twist” with Chocolate Checker Bars, Beef Jerky, Hot Dogs, and Popcorn, all to be washed down with Girl of the World Water (dedicated to his wife).
The Limbo Rock Remix and The Original Master of The Dance Hall Beat, released in 2004, became top 5 Disney Radio hits and a favorite of DJ’s with its ability to bring audiences out of their seats and on to the dance floor. With the single and “LP” both on the Billboard charts, a new generation of Chubby Checker fans were born.
In 2007, Chubby returned to the charts yet again with “Knock Down The Walls”, Billboards #1 dance track. This song introduced Chubby to a whole new audience with its powerful straight-ahead rock tempo and captured Chubby’s continuous musical evolution.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio rewarded Chubby in July of 2008 with a special award presentation. An honored Chubby thrilled a fervent crowd by performing his hits, new and old, to the delight of everyone. A lengthy photo and autograph session followed, which highlighted Chubby’s favorite part, getting to interact with people.
As Chubby’s touring continued, 2009 took Chubby abroad including special shows in Germany (2010) as well as his annual appearances at Disneyworld. 2009 also marked the release of an updated version of The Fly. A younger generation now shook their hands as the dance reappeared in clubs.
Now we have entered The 50th Anniversary Year of The Twist. Special ceremonies have taken place in front of City Hall in Philadelphia and Wildwood, N.J. and the 50th Anniversary Tour continues along with a Chubby Checker cruise in May, 2011.
What keeps this artist going? According to Chubby, “It’s the fans. The energy I get from singing and dancing with all these people over the years is unlike anything else I experience. I never want it to end.”
Neither do we.
Chubby Checker – the only artist to have 5 albums in the Top 12 all at once.
Chubby Checker First Platinum – “Let’s Twist Again”.
Chubby Checker – the only artist to have a song to be #1 twice – “The Twist”.
Chubby Checker – the only artist to have 9 Double-Sided Hits.
Chubby Checker – changed the way we dance to the beat 24/7 since 1959.
With his rich, deep voice and distinctive style, MCA Nashville recording artist Josh Turner is one of country music’s most recognizable hit-makers. From his 2003 Platinum-selling debut Long Black Train to his 2017 Billboard No. 1 release, Deep South, Turner has scored multiple GRAMMY®, CMA and ACM Awards nominations and received six Inspirational Country Music Awards. As one of the youngest members inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, Turner has sold more than 8 million units, topped more than 1.5 billion in global streaming and populated radio with such memorable hits as “Hometown Girl,” “Would You Go With Me,” “Your Man,” “Time Is Love,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and “Long Black Train.”
With his newest project, I Serve A Savior debuted at No. 1 on Nielsen’s Top Current Country Albums Chart and No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart and Billboard’s Top Christian Albums Chart, Turner adds an exciting new dimension to his already acclaimed career. The “musically brilliant” (Worship Magazine) album remained Top 10 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart for 17 consecutive weeks and it currently sits Top 10 on the Top Current Country Albums chart and Top 5 on the Top Current Contemporary Christian Albums chart and, as it has for 38 of the past 41 weeks since its October release.
I Serve A Savior is a thoughtful gospel collection that finds Turner’s rich, distinctive baritone paired with timeless classics including “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art” and “Great Is Your Faithfulness,” as well as introducing originals including the title track, “I Serve A Savior,” and “The River (of Happiness),” written by his wife, Jennifer, and their eldest son, Hampton. In addition to the 12-track studio project, Turner has released a complementing 90-minute live performance DVD featuring a special interview of Turner with gospel legend Bill Gaither, a performance with Turner alongside his wife Jennifer and their four sons, and more. The DVD has been edited to air as a one-hour television special hosted by Bill Gaither, which will air on numerous networks across the U.S. and Canada.
Turner is a disciple of traditional country music, a mentor to up-and-coming artists, and one of the youngest members of the Grand Ole Opry. Turner has been an Opry member for over 10 years and he recently reveled in his 150th performance on the famed Opry circle.
Turner checked off another bucket list item when he added author to his list of accomplishments. His first book, Man Stuff: Thoughts on Faith, Family and Fatherhood was released in 2014. As highlighted in the book, the Hannah, S.C. native has been songwriting and performing since he was a young child, and in support of music education, created The Josh Turner Scholarship Fund to assist students interested in pursuing a future in arts and music. As a high school student, Turner had very little access to music education, therefore realizes first-hand the importance of arts education in schools.
For more information on Josh Turner, visit www.JoshTurner.com.
A musical celebration of America’s first “Teen Idol”, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Nelson emerged from “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” to establish himself as one of the most important rock artists and influential musicians of the last 50 years, selling over 140 million recordings. The Nelson Family Legacy continues as Ricky’s twins Matthew and Gunnar Nelson present an interactive, multi-media rock & roll concert experience, taking the audience on a musical journey down memory lane. Matthew and Gunnar (triple platinum recording artist Nelson) perform their dad’s greatest hits including “Poor Little Fool,” “Hello Mary Lou”, “Travelin’ Man”, “I’m Walking”, “Garden Party”, alongside their self-penned chart-toppers “Love & Affection” and “After the Rain.” This show is truly a slice of Americana, appealing to multi-generational audiences.
FABIAN, along with Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell were united by Producer Dick Fox.
These “Golden Boys” were three of the most popular Teen Idols of the late 50s and 60s. They have proved to be an overwhelming live concert success. Countless television appearances, a special performance for the President of the United States and a Golden Boys PBS special have brought on a vast audience of fans, not only from the fun generation, but all generations.
The Golden Boys spotlights each of the performers and their All-Time greatest hits, “Turn Me Loose”, “Tiger”, “I’m A Man” (Fabian); “Venus”, “De De Dinah”, “Bobby Sox to Stockings” (Avalon); “Volare”, “Wild One”, “Kissin’ Time” (Rydell). The three stars combine their talents on several songs and perform a tribute to the material of Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Rick Nelson, and Bill Hailey.
Baby Boomers do a lot of reminiscing about everything from “Venus” to “Bobby Sox to Stockings” when Frankie Avalon takes the stage. He made the transition from “Teen-age Idol” to mature professional, has a career that now spans three generations of music, television and motion pictures., As a youth, he started out as a musician trumpet player. He seized every opportunity to enter local amateur contests and won a string of them. His first single “De De Dinah” became a smash hit, and his recording of “Venus” was one of the biggest selling hits of the era.
Fabian Forte was discovered at the young age of 14 sitting on his front steps in Philadelphia. Little did he realize dozens of hit singles, eight albums and earned gold records for “Turn Me Loose” and “Tiger”, and a gold album for “The Fabulous Fabian”.
In addition to his busy schedule touring with the Golden Boys, Fabian makes frequent appearances in television and feature film productions and for the past three years, he has hosted “Fabian’s Celebrity Golf Tournament” which has successfully raised money for veteran’s causes.
Bobby Rydell made his debut in the late 50s as a rock and roll teen idol starring in movie roles such as “Bye Bye Birdie”, and plays such as “West Side Story”. He was a semi-regular on the Red Skelton Show and American Bandstand. His recording career earned him 34 Top 40 records which puts him in the top 5 of all single artists from his era. Bobby’s hits include the million-selling singles, “Volare”, “Wild One”, “We Got Love” and “Forget Him”.
MercyMe is a contemporary Christian music band with its original roots in Greenville, Texas. The band, formed in 1994, released six independent albums prior to signing their first and only major record deal with INO Records (now Fair Trade Services) in 2001. The beloved band’s storied career speaks to the endurance of its members and the timelessness of its music. With over 9 million units in cumulative sales, MercyMe has 67 multi-format No. 1 hits including four mainstream radio hits. Their landmark song “I Can Only Imagine” was the first digital single in Christian music history to be certified platinum, and now triple-platinum. In 2009, Billboard named MercyMe’s “Word Of God Speak” the No. 1 Song of the Decade and the group the No. 1 Artist of the Decade in both the Christian Songs and Christian AC Songs categories. In addition, they have received numerous GRAMMY® nominations, American Music Awards, a Billboard Music Award, and numerous GMA Dove Awards and KLOVE Fan Awards. The group has sold out venues throughout the US and Canada, including Radio City Music Hall and Red Rocks Amphitheater. MercyMe’s most recent album, Lifer, went No. 1 on Christian Soundscan and No. 10 on the Billboard Top 200 overall chart during its first week. Released March 16, 2018, the feature film titled I Can Only Imagine, is the true story based on the life of lead singer Bart Millard, who wrote the mega-hit song “I Can Only Imagine” after the loss of his father to cancer. The film starred Quaid, Trace Adkins, J. Michael Finley, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Carroll, and Priscilla Shirer grossed over $83 million.
Jimmy Fortune toured, sang and performed with the legendary Statler Brothers for 21 years. He joined them first as a temporary replacement for Lew DeWitt, after DeWitt heard him singing at a ski resort and recommended him. Following an audition in Nashville, Jimmy was contacted by The Statler Brothers and performed his first show with them on January 28, 1982, in Savannah, Georgia. Due to the debilitating effects of Crohn’s Disease, Lew was unable to return to the stage with the Statlers, and Jimmy was hired as a permanent replacement in August of 1982.
Fortune quickly lived up to his name. He wrote the group’s second No. 1 hit, “Elizabeth,” on their 1983 album Today, and followed that with two more No. 1 hits–“My Only Love” (from 1984’s Atlanta Blue) and “Too Much On My Heart” (from 1985’s Pardners in Rhyme). Fortune also wrote the top-10 hit “Forever” from 1986’s Four for the Show and co-wrote the top-10 hit “More Than a Name on a Wall” from 1988’s The Greatest Hits.
Jimmy has performed in all of the U.S. States, in Canadian Provinces, and in front of audiences as large as 100,000. He was part of the Statlers’ annual Happy Birthday USA celebration in Staunton, Virginia, for 14 years. He also sang on many of the Statlers’ gold, platinum, and double platinum recordings. Jimmy’s career included The Nashville Network’s popular “The Statler Brothers Show” which aired for seven seasons and debuted in 1991 as the highest-rated show for the network. Jimmy was privileged to perform at the White House on two occasions, once for President Ronald Reagan, and once for President George H. W. Bush. He also presented a special gift to actress Elizabeth Taylor by singing his song “Elizabeth” to her for a birthday celebration.
Jimmy and The Statler Brothers were inducted into the GMA (Gospel Music Association) Hall of Fame on October 29, 2007, and inducted into the CMA (Country Music Association) Hall of Fame on June 29, 2008. Jimmy, as a solo artist, was inducted into the Virginia Musical Hall of Fame in 2018.
After the Statler Brothers retired on October 26, 2002, Jimmy seized the opportunity to launch a solo career to share new music with his fans. His first solo CD, When One Door Closes, was released August 2003 on Audium/Koch. He released a gospel album, I Believe, in June 2005, a Christmas CD, Feels Like Christmas, in 2006, a live concert DVD in 2007 a country CD, “Windows” in 2009, “Lessons” in 2012, and “Hits and Hymns” CD and DVD through Gaither Music Group in 2015 which debuted at #10 Billboard Country Album, #1 Southern Gospel, and #6 Billboard Contemporary Christian. The DVD debuted at #1 on Billboard Music Video charts. In 2017 he recorded a compilation of his favorite songs called “Jimmy Fortune Sings The Classics” on the Gaither Music label. Jimmy is currently living in Nashville, writing, touring, and recording a new project for Gaither Music called “God and Country” set to be released in May of 2019.
Ventriloquist, Darci Lynne is the youngest contestant to ever win “America’s Got Talent.” Following AGT she sold out her headlining show in six minutes, having to add more shows. She is a young ventriloquist who is inspiring the next generation to keep it alive. Darci is someone to watch for as her career is just getting started. But in her mind, positively affecting one person through her performances is all she desires.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Darci has always been close to her family and relies on their support and encouragement. In her younger years, she had a timid demeanor that she was able to overcome through talent-based pageants. She was soon introduced to the art of ventriloquism and decided to try it out for herself. Darci had hard work, grit, and discipline already instilled in her, since she came from a gymnastics background where she practiced 30 hours a week. After only having her first puppet for two weeks, Darci was determined to audition for her first talent show never knowing it would lead her to audition for the biggest talent show on earth.
Now being on stage makes her feel like she is an entirely new person. This is where she opens up and flourishes. Darci dazzles the audience, leaving them with smiles on their faces. Performing has helped Darci learn about herself and who she can be. She is so grateful to her mentor Gary Owen and her vocal coach Tiana Plemons for all they have done for her. During her “America’s Got Talent” audition she received the golden buzzer sending her straight to the Quarterfinals. Her winning final performance has over 21M views on AGT’s YouTube, more than any other finals performance on the show. Darci will be touring into next year and hopes to continue to uplift people as they watch her.
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.