Saturday, September 24, 2011

Toby Keith commands Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
By Scott Kiefer
Country music superstar Toby Keith brought his "Locked and Loaded" tour to Verizon Wireless Amphitheater St. Louis last night where he left the audience wanting more, as he usually does.
His set, filled with hit after hit, also included a surprise version of LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade," which showcased his band, Easy Money. Always known for garnering one of the best touring bands on the road today, the ensemble last night seemed even better, if that could be.
The highlight of Keith's show is always "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," and " American Soldier," and this show was no different. However, the entire set was filled with favorites, like "How Do You Like Me Now," and "Who's Your Daddy."
Keith's set included pyro, video and all the special effects his tours have been famous for in the past years, to the delight of his audience, from beginning to end.
Fast-rising star Eric Church made his second appearance at VWA this year, opening for Keith. Earlier, in the spring, Church opened for Jason Aldean, garnering many fans who were happy to see him return now.
Church proved that he can command an audience and get them riled up for the headliner, which no doubt, he is destined to do in a short time to come.
Crowd favorites from Church included his recent hit "Home Boy," and "Smoke A Little Smoke."

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Reviews for OWN THE NIGHT Roll In From Critics Across the Country

Lady A To Appear on Saturday Night Live on Oct. 1

Nashville, TN – (Sept. 21, 2011) – Six time GRAMMY winning trio Lady Antebellum owned the charts this week, earning the No. one position on the Billboard Top 200 with the debut of their third studio album OWN THE NIGHT. The disc claimed sales of over 347,000 for the week, the biggest first week debut by a country artist this year. OWN THE NIGHT also took the No. one position on Canada’s Neilson SoundScan Top 200 Albums chart.

The country’s top music critics are calling the new album their “strongest effort to date” (Washington Post). 

“Together, the team represents how country music can use its strengths — songwriting and strong-yet-earthy vocals that explore real-life situations and emotions — in a way that carries universal appeal.”  Associated Press

“It's well-written, pristinely sung and is likely to be a huge hit.”  Newsday

“One of the most convincing albums of the year, a huge leap forward...” New York Times

The trio is currently in Canada promoting OWN THE NIGHT before returning to the States to make their debut appearance on Saturday Night Live on Oct. 1. From New York, Lady A will travel to Europe for more appearances and fan events in the UK, France and Germany all before kicking off the first leg of their headlining OWN THE NIGHT 2011 TOUR beginning on Nov. 11 in Knoxville, TN.  For a full list of upcoming appearances and tour dates, visit

 Music Icon Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Christmas & Hits Tour 

NASHVILLE, TN (Sept. 22, 2011) – Grammy Award-winning music legend Kenny Rogers will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of his Christmas & Hits Tour in 2011 with a 
festive show featuring live performances of holiday classics and his biggest hits.  The one-of-a-kind vocalist and entertainer will perform at venues across America, joined by special guest Billy Dean, beginning on November 25 in Columbus, Ohio and wrapping December 23 in Westbury, New York.
Rogers is known for creating an inviting atmosphere with his critically acclaimed Christmas & Hits Tour, which has become a holiday tradition in its own right since its start 30 years ago.  He will deliver heartfelt performances of traditional and original holiday songs such as “White Christmas,” “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let it Snow!,” “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire),” “Joy To The World,” "O Holy Night," and “’Til The Season Comes ‘Round Again,” the way only he can, with the help of local choirs and children chosen to perform in each city of the tour.  Rogerswill also sing many of the classics from his overflowing catalog of hits (“The Gambler,” “Lady,” “She Believes In Me,” “Islands In The Stream,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,” “Lucille,” “Through The Years” and many others).

“Thirty years is a long time to do anything, but a Christmas show seems to get easier every year, especially when I get a chance to work with friends like Billy Dean,” says Rogers.  “He always brings a great energy and beautiful music to the event.  Have a Merry Christmas, and enjoy the show.”

A beloved, universally known icon of American entertainment, Kenny Rogers, with his unique storytelling ability and soulful voice, has thrived as a singer, musician, and showman for over 50 years.  He has recorded more than 65 albums, which have sold more than 120 million units worldwide.  Rogers is the only artist to chart a record in each of the last six decades.  He has received countless honors, including three Grammy Awards, five Country Music Association Awards, eighteen American Music Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards and eleven People’s Choice Awards.  He’s ranked #8 on the R.I.A.A.’s list of Top Selling Male Artists of all time.  Rogers’ critically acclaimed new album The Love of God, was released in 2011 and became his 21st Top 10 Country album.  The timeless project is available exclusively at Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores &  Rogers has said of the record, “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

“Good-natured joking marked the evening, as audience and star interacted and fed off each other.  The evening was pleasant and comfortable, a humorous and feel-good gateway into the holiday season.”  - DAILY HERALD TRIBUNE

“Blending sets of timeless hits and Christmas favourites, the man known as The Gambler...offered a memorable performance worthy to be wrapped and stashed under the tree until Christmas morn...Rogers is still as incisive and endearing as ever.”

“(Rogers) has to be one of the warmest and congenial entertainers to ever hit the stage.  He makes people feel like they’ve known him all their lives.”

Nov. 25 – Columbus, OH – Veterans Memorial Auditorium – 8 p.m.
Nov. 26 – Kalamazoo, MI – Miller Auditorium – Western Michigan University – 8 p.m.
Nov. 27 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theater – 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 2 – Catoosa, OK – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – The Joint – 8 p.m.
Dec. 3 – Bossier City, LA – Horseshoe Casino – Riverdome – 8 p.m.
Dec. 7 – Fayetteville, AR – Walton Arts Center’s Baum Walker Hall – 7 p.m.
Dec. 8 & 9 – Lake Charles, LA – L’Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino – Event Center – 8 p.m.
Dec. 10 – Choctaw, MS – The Arena at Golden Moon Hotel & Casino – 8 p.m.
Dec. 14 – Bowling Green, OH – Bowling Green State University – Stroh Center – 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 16 – Easton, PA – State Theatre Center for the Arts – 8 p.m.
Dec. 17 – Mashantucket, CT – MGM Grand at Foxwoods – MGM Grand Theater – 8 p.m.
Dec. 19 – New Brunswick, NJ – State Theatre – 8 p.m.
Dec. 20 – Verona, NY – Turning Stone Casino – Event Center – 8 p.m.
Dec. 21 – Buffalo, NY – Kleinhans Music Hall – 8 p.m.
Dec. 22 – Schenectady, NY – Proctors Theatre – 8 p.m.
Dec. 23 – Westbury, NY – NYCB Theatre at Westbury – 8 p.m.

For the latest news and tour updates, please visit Kenny Rogers’ official website:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.  (Sept., 22, 2011) – The Grand Ole Opry® presented by Humana® is set to celebrate its 86th birthday with a month full of special shows and events boasting an elite star-packed line-up of performers throughout October.
The celebration begins on Tues., Oct. 4, as the Opry honors Randy Travis’ 25 years in country music and as an Opry member with appearances by Carrie Underwood, Connie Smith, Josh Turner, and more, including the guest of honor.  Several performances from the night’s show will be part of an episode of “Opry Live” scheduled to air on GAC: Great American Country on Sat., Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. Central.
The Opry’s Official 86th Birthday Bash Weekend Oct. 7-8 features Charley Pride, Rascal Flatts, the solo Opry debut of Ronnie Dunn, and more.  Also on tap for the celebration are a Saturday afternoon birthday concert featuring Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame member Mel Tillis and a free Opry Plaza Birthday Party sponsored by Kodak® throughout the day Saturday.  Fans can make plans for the Birthday Weekend fun by checking out the full weekend schedule at “Opry Live” will broadcast the 86th Birthday Bash live on GAC at 8 p.m. Central.
Chris Young, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, LeAnn Rimes, Montgomery Gentry, Sara Evans, Scotty McCreery, and Trace Adkins, are among those to appear on the Opry Tues., Oct. 11. The night will include a live broadcast of “Opry Live” at 7 p.m. Central. Other performances from the night will be filmed for a second “Opry Live” to air Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. Central.
The Opry’s signature barn turns pink on Sat., Oct. 22 as the Opry joins Women Rock For The Cure™ in the fight against breast cancer with its third annual“Opry Goes Pink” show. Opry member Martina McBride, whose current single “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” offers hope to those affected by cancer, will flip the switch on the Opry’s barn backdrop, turning it pink for the night. The special show will also include performances by Edens Edge, Kellie Pickler, Lauren Alaina, Ronnie Milsap, and others as well as activities recognizing breast cancer survivors and the continuing fight against the disease. $5 from each ticket sold for the show (7 p.m. performance) will benefit Women Rock For The Cure™. This special show will broadcast live on GAC at 8 p.m. Central.
The star-packed celebration month is also set to feature Opry performances by Brad Paisley, Bill Anderson, Charlie Daniels Band, Clint Black, Keith Urban, Lee Greenwood, Little Big Town, The Oak Ridge Boys, Rodney Atkins,  Tanya Tucker, and more as well as Thursday night Opry Country ClassicsSpotlight Artist performances by Charley Pride, Lorrie Morgan, Ray Price, and Ricky Skaggs.
In addition to the Opry Birthday celebration throughout October, the Country Music Association is celebrating Country Music Month with 45 days of promotions, events, and activities designed to drive awareness of the format leading up to the annual CMA Awards, “Country Music’s Biggest Night™,” on Wednesday, Nov. 9. Events are planned for Mon., Sept. 26 through Wed., Nov. 9, when the campaign culminates with “The 45th Annual CMA Awards,” which will be held at the Bridgestone Arena and broadcast live on the ABC Television Network. Planned grassroots promotional efforts include:
  • CMA Songwriter Series events in New York and Nashville
  • “Keep the Music Playing” event celebrating music education in public schools
  • Launch of with daily content updates
  • Radio and TV PSA campaign featuring education and entertaining Country Music facts by artists and personalities of the format
  • CMA giveaways and partner sweepstakes, and more
The Grand Ole Opry® is presented by Humana®. Opry performances are held every weekend of the year, and the Tuesday Night Opry continues through Dec. 13. 
About the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry presents the best in country music live every week from Nashville, Tenn.  Celebrating 85 years of entertainment, the Opry can be heard on 650 WSM-AM, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio, and The syndicated weekly program, America’s Opry Weekend, airs on country radio stations across America and on the Armed Forces Radio Network. The Grand Ole Opry is owned by Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET), a Nashville-based hospitality and entertainment company that also owns and operates Gaylord Hotels.  For more information, visit

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nashville, TN – September 21, 2011 Four-time GRAMMY winner Taylor Swift has awed critics and fans around the globe this year with the Broadway-inspired extravaganza that is her SPEAK NOW WORLD TOUR performance, and today she announced that CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray sets of the show will be available in stores and at online retailers on November 21st, the day before the US tour wraps with the second of two sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden.
Sold as a CD/DVD or CD/Blu-ray combo-pak, the SPEAK NOW WORLD TOUR - LIVE set will be released on Big Machine Records.
Taylor made the announcement this morning with a special video greeting to fans, watch here:
Cover art for SPEAK NOW WORLD TOUR – LIVE is available for download at:
Taylor is both the Academy of Country Music’s and Entertainment Weekly’s reigning Entertainer of the Year, and currently holds an Entertainer of the Year nomination among her five 2011 CMA nods.
This year, Taylor’s tour will have played to capacity crowds in stadiums and arenas over 98 shows in 17 countries spanning three continents, and the SPEAK NOW WORLD TOUR has been extended into 2012 with shows in Australia and New Zealand. For fans who weren’t able to land a coveted ticket to see Taylor’s Speak Now Tour, as well as for everybody who’s ready to see the show again and again, the SPEAK NOW WORLD TOUR - LIVE set is the best seat in the house.
SPEAK NOW WORLD TOUR - LIVE is Big Machine’s first release of live music from Taylor. The DVD / Blu-ray will give fans the complete Taylor Swift Speak Now concert experience, showcasing performances of all 17 songs from Taylor’s Speak Now show (“Sparks Fly,” “Mine,” “Story of Us,” “Our Song,” “Mean,” Back To December,” “Better Than Revenge,” “Speak Now,” “Fearless,” “Last Kiss,” “You Belong With Me,” “Dear John,” Enchanted,” “Haunted, “Long Live,” “Fifteen,” and “Love Story”), plus additional bonus content. The CD will contain over 75 minutes of music, including live versions of favorites from the Speak Now album.
Taylor’s SPEAK NOW performance is a theatrical presentation reminiscent of a Broadway experience. The show features elaborate costumes, dancers, aerialists, changing sets, and innovative choreography and instrumentation showcased on a multi-level stage. Taylor plays five different guitars in the show, including electric, acoustic, and 12-string. She also plays two banjos, the ukulele and the piano, and changes costumes nine times over the course of the evening. She moves around the venue and uses different stages, giving every audience member a great seat.
Here is what some of the top critics from around the globe had to say after seeing Taylor’s Speak Now Tour:
“Swift’s two-hour production was an overwhelming experience. There's an enormous amount of detail that worked to make the Speak Now Tour a sort of next step in country concert presentation….it blended the pacing, the music and the artist's personality in a way that transfixed.” -- Billboard
“Right from the start Taylor’s voice was as enchanting and lovely as on her album. Taylor Swift live is even more impressive than on her albums -- her wonderful personality, sweet voice, and most of all her amazing songs gave Forest the time of its life.” -- CJP, Belgium
“Taylor Swift charms Korea in style, radiant...with pitch-perfect and sincere vocals. The dedication of the fans present was boundless, the cheers of the crowd were sometimes louder than the music itself.” --Korea Focus Times
“[‘Speak Now’] went off, as did every number, with clockwork professionalism and thousands of voices singing along and screaming between the lines. Ms. Swift, 21, is their superstar....her songs are taut, tuneful narratives.” -- The New York Times
With sales of over 5 million copies worldwide, Taylor’s Speak Now album is the #1-selling album in all genres of music over the past 12 months, and the disc has thus far spawned three consecutive #1 singles. Taylor’s worldwide record sales exceed 20 million albums and 40 million song downloads.
Brantley Gilbert Lands At #2 On Country Album Charts After Weeklong Retail Tour
Brantley entertained over 4,000 fans in six major retail stores in just six days
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (September 21) – Valory Music Company recording artist Brantley Gilbert’s HALFWAY TO HEAVEN DELUXE debuted at # 2 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and came in at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 All-Genre Chart for the week ending September 19. According to Soundscan, 50,822 copies of HALFWAY TO HEAVEN were purchased last week.
For the album’s launch Brantley partnered with mass retailers Best Buy and Walmart to create a weeklong in-store tour that allowed Brantley to engage with over 4,000 fans in six stores in four different cities. Hundreds of fans rolled out to the stores in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Indianapolis to see Brantley perform acoustic sets and sign autographs.
“Last week I saw firsthand that Country Music really is ‘Country Wide.’  From my hometown in Athens, Georgia, all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma, I met many fans and saw a lot of friends,” said Gilbert. “I am so excited about how well everyone has responded to this album. It means the world to me.”
While the in-store events provided Brantley with a unique platform to meet with fans and talk about his inspiration behind its songs, the events also proved very fruitful for the retailers involved.
There was a great time had by all at our store here in Indianapolis. We had over 700 fans come out to the store! I have done these events for Best Buy dating back to Sheryl Crow's first CD release,  yet I have never seen this big of a crowd for any of them! Not only did we have a huge turnout but we also sold over 300 units of product!” said Jim Davis, Assistant Manager of Best Buy store #230 in Indianapolis.
DSC_6382 (4)
Brantley performing at a Best Buy store in Indianapolis on Sunday, September 18, 2011.
(Photo courtesy of Ernie Mills)
ABOUT BRANTLEY GILBERT: At the young age of 26, Gilbert already has a list of impressive industry accolades. The rising star’s second album – the independently-released HALFWAY TO HEAVEN -- reached #1 on the Billboard Heat Seekers Album Chart and #2 on the iTunes Country chart. The DELUXE version of HALFWAY TO HEAVEN released this September debuted at # 2 on the Country Albums Chart and Top 5 in the Top 200. Gilbert’s current single on The Valory Music Co., “Country Must Be Country Wide,” is a Top 15 hit and rising. In addition, the original HALFWAY TO HEAVEN, has spent 61 weeks on the Top 75 Country Albums Chart. Gilbert’s first album, A MODERN DAY PRODIGAL SON, also spent 35 weeks on the Top 75 Country Albums Chart. A celebrated songwriter, Gilbert penned “My Kinda Party,” the hit title track on superstar Jason Aldean’s latest album as well as his latest #1 single, “Dirt Road Anthem.”
ABOUT THE VALORY MUSIC CO.: The second of three labels established under the Big Machine Label Group umbrella, The Valory Music Co. opened in November 2007. The label celebrated its first #1 album with Jewel’s Perfectly Clear only 7 months after launching and then celebrated its first #1 single just 3 months later when Jimmy Wayne’s “Do You Believe Me Now” spent 3 weeks atop the Country singles charts. In November 2008 the label signed multimedia superstar Reba McEntire who saw her first Valory Music Co. album release, KEEP ON LOVING YOU, debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and spend two consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart. Since Reba has enjoyed the two biggest chart hits of her illustrious 30+ year career when “Consider Me Gone” spent a historic 4 weeks at #1 and “Turn on the Radio” followed, allowing Reba to both begin and end 2010 at #1. Southern stylist Justin Moore’s poignant anthem “Small Town USA” reached #1 in October of 2009 and he has quickly become a Country Radio airplay staple as well as a touring force to be reckoned with. His new record, OUTLAWS LIKE ME, features the #1 smash hit “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.” New to the label is Southern Country-Rock sensation Brantley Gilbert who has already topped the Country Singles Charts by writing “My Kinda Party” and “Dirt Road Anthem” for Jason Aldean. Brantley’s new album, his first on The Valory Music Co., is out now and includes his Top 15 hit, “Country Must Be Country Wide”. The Valory Music Co. possesses an exclusive, in-house promotion and branding team while utilizing the existing Big Machine Records backroom service and is distributed by UMGD.
The Five Nominees for CMA Entertainer of the Year Are the First Artists Announced as Performers on "Country Music's Biggest Night"

NASHVILLE - The star-packed lineup for "The 45th Annual CMA Awards" launches with today's announcement that all five nominees for Entertainer of the Year, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban, are the first group of performers confirmed for "Country Music's Biggest Night(TM)." With five nominations each this year, Aldean, Paisley, Shelton, and Swift are also the top CMA-nominated artists.

"The 45th Annual CMA Awards," hosted by Paisley and Carrie Underwood, airs live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday, Nov. 9 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on the ABC Television Network. 

Aldean received first-time nominations in five categories in 2011 including Entertainer; Male Vocalist; Album for My Kinda Party; and Single and Musical Event of the Year for "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Kelly Clarkson.
CMA's reigning Entertainer of the Year, Paisley received five nominations in 2011 for Entertainer; Male Vocalist; Album for This is Country Music; and Musical Event and Music Video of the Year for "Old Alabama," featuring Alabama. Paisley remains in the No. 3 spot for the most career nominations in CMA Awards history. He has been nominated every year since 2000 and has amassed an incredible 57 career nominations to date. Only George Strait (81) and Alan Jackson (80) have more. Paisley has won 14 CMA Awards to date, including three consecutive Male Vocalist awards (2007-2009) and Album of the Year (in 2006 for Time Well Wasted). He is No. 5 for the most career wins in CMA Awards history, behind only George Strait (22), Brooks & Dunn (19), Vince Gill (18), and Alan Jackson (16).
CMA's current Male Vocalist of the Year, Shelton also received five nominations this year including Entertainer; Male Vocalist; Album for All About Tonight; and Single, and Music Video of the Year for "Honey Bee." These are Shelton's first nominations in the Entertainer and Album categories. Shelton has won two CMA Awards thus far in his career. In addition to Male Vocalist, he also won Musical Event of the Year in 2010 for his performance of "Hillbilly Bone" with Trace Adkins.
Swift also received five nominations including Entertainer; Female Vocalist; Album for Speak Now; Music Video for "Mean"; and Song of the Year for writing "Mean." Swift received five nominations, but can receive an additional trophy as co-producer of her album. Swift won the Horizon Award in 2007 and two years later was named Entertainer of the Year (2009).
Urban received two nominations this year including Entertainer and Male Vocalist. He won Entertainer in 2005 and was named Male Vocalist for three consecutive years (2004-2006). Urban is currently touring North America in support of his album, Get Closer.
Tickets for "The 45th Annual CMA Awards" go on sale to the public this Saturday, Sept. 24 (10:00 AM/CT). Tickets can be purchased at or Ticketmaster outlets; by calling (800) 745-3000; or at the Bridgestone Arena Box Office, located at 501 Broadway (corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, Nashville). Ticket prices for the CMA Awards start at $110 for Upper Level seating. Ticket prices include tax, but exclude applicable service fees. Purchase tickets early for the best available seats. In 2009 and 2010, the CMA Awards sold out in advance.
"The 45th Annual CMA Awards" is a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton is the Executive Producer, Paul Miller is the Director, and David Wild is the writer. The special will be shot in high definition and broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.

Rock Legend Bret Micheals to Play Live on HSN, Launches World Premiere of Exclusive Guitar Package

-- Exclusive Guitar bundle with 'Learn to Play' DVD for sale on and HSN on October 2-

- Michaels will play a set of 6 songs to a live audience -

  • Rock icon, reality TV star and philanthropist Bret Michaels is the newest celebrity to partner with the multi-channel retailer HSN.
  • Michaels, in partnership with Dean Guitars, will launch his "Signature Acoustic Guitar Collection" and the exclusive HSN guitar bundle on October 2 at 8 p.m. EDT
  • "I'm thrilled to bring my Signature line of Guitars, my vocal warm-up CD and my solo album, 'Custom Built' to HSN," said Bret Michaels. "HSN has a track-record of bringing innovative, high-quality products to their customers, so this is a natural partnership for me."
  • The exclusive acoustic guitar package includes a choice of either a black Player guitar or a pink Jorja Raine guitar and an 8 x 10 lithograph signed photo of Bret Michaels, a Bret Michaels guitar strap, a set of 3 Bret Michaels guitar picks and a 'Learn to Play' DVD with over 400 minutes of practice sessions from TrueFire for $299.95.
  • A 2-disk vocalizer CD including a collection of vocal warm up exercises for aspiring singers as well as Bret's CD, "Custom Built" will also be available for sale.  
  • During the primetime special event on October 2 at 8 p.m. EDT, Michaels will also play a six-song set in front of a live studio audience at HSN headquarters in St. Petersburg, FL. The set list will feature some of Bret's greatest hits as the front man for Poison and his solo career, including "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Something To Believe In" and "All I ever needed."

About Bret Michaels:
Rocker and pop culture icon, Bret Michaels has been making hits—whether solo, or with rock group, Poison—for 25 years. Beyond his legendary work with Poison, as well as his acclaimed solo career, Michaels has gone on to enjoy a stunningly successful run in the realm of reality TV, including a first place finish on 2010's "The Celebrity Apprentice," and VH1 hits such as "Rock of Love" and "Life as I Know It." Michaels recently partnered with Dean Guitars, to design his first ever signature Bret Michaels series. Philanthropy remains an important facet of Michaels' career as well: a lifelong diabetic, Michaels partnered with the American Diabetes Association in 2010/2011, acting as a spokesperson and sponsor. He gives generously to the cause, donating both his time, money, and support to a number of diabetes charities. Bret also has a line of diabetic lifestyle products coming out this fall to coincide with National Diabetes Awareness Month. Bret continues to evolve as an artist and as an entrepreneur, taking on new projects in music, business, and beyond.  And with dates for Bret's "Get Your Rock On" solo tour continuing straight through New Years Eve, Bret Michaels will be rocking right through 2011.
The official web site:
About HSN:
Headquartered in St. Petersburg, FL, HSN is a leading interactive multichannel retailer, offering a curated assortment of exclusive products and top brand names to its customers. HSN incorporates entertainment, inspiration, personalities and industry experts to provide an entirely unique shopping experience. At HSN, customers find exceptional selections in Health & Beauty  (e.g. Benefit, Carol's Daughter, Coty, Elizabeth Arden, Andrew Lessman, LancĂ´me, My Life Mary J. Blige, Perlier, Serious Skin Care, Shiseido, Signature Club A, Stila, Wei East, ybf Beauty); Jewelry (e.g. Heidi Daus, Iris Apfel, R.J. Graziano, Rarities: Fine Jewelry with Carol Brodie, Amedeo Scognamiglio, Tori Spelling); Home/Lifestyle  (e.g. Jeffrey Banks, Nate Berkus, Bissell, Colin Cowie, Dyson, Easy Exotic by Padma Lakshmi, Todd English, Emeril Lagasse, Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler, Joy Mangano, MoMA Design Store, Wolfgang Puck); Fashion/Accessories  (e.g. American Glamour Badgley Mischka, Joan Boyce, Curations with Stefani Greenfield, Libby Edelman, Sam Edelman, Chi by Carlos Falchi, Diane Gilman, IMAN Global Chic, "Timeless" by Naeem Khan, Twiggy LONDON, Sharif, Serena Williams Signature Statement); and Electronics  (e.g. Sony, Kodak, Acer, Olympus, GE, Panasonic). 
A leader in transactional innovation, HSN is the only retailer offering live streaming video in HD on three screens: TV, online and mobile.  HSN broadcasts live to 96 million households in the US in HD 24/7 and its website – – is a top 10 e-commerce site, featuring more than 15,000 product videos.  Mobile applications include HSN apps for iPad, iPhone and Android.  HSN, founded 34 years ago as the first shopping network, is an operating segment of HSN, Inc. (Nasdaq: HSNI).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


 Check out the brand new track "Deranged" from Coheed and Cambria, 
currently premiering on IGN.COM: HERE

BAC album 

Batman: Arkham City - The Album will be released in conjunction with the highly anticipated forthcoming videogame Batman: Arkham City. Featuring 11 new original tracks, Batman: Arkham City - The Album will be released on October 4th, two weeks prior to the game's North American release on October 18th. The Batman: Arkham City Collector's Edition of the game will include a download code for the album along with additional bonus content.

The artists featured on Batman: Arkham City - The Album approached their contributions to the album with their own unique interpretations of the stories surrounding Batman. The result is an eclectic mix of dynamic, atmospheric songs for an album that will appeal to fans of both the artists and Batman: Arkham City. Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez said, "I write in a very conceptual format with the stories that surround Coheed and Cambria, but Batman has a much larger, defined history and rules that go along with it. My goal was to find universal themes from Batman's existing history to help give the lyrics legs and dimension so that the song could live within that world."

Check out the track listing below:

1. Panic! At The Disco - Mercenary
2. Coheed and Cambria - Deranged
3. The Duke Spirit - Creature
4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Shadow On The Run
5. Blaqk Audio  - Afterdark
6. The Raveonettes  - Oh, Stranger
7. (Crosses) - The Years
8. The Damned Things - Trophy Widow
9. Daughtry - Drown In You
10. The Boxer Rebellion - Losing You
11. Serj Tankian - Total Paranoia

For more information, visit

Martina’s “ELEVEN Across America Powered by Amtrak,” Will Create Unique Concert Experiences for Fans
NASHVILLE Amtrak will partner with multi-platinum-selling country music superstar Martina McBride to launch “ELEVEN Across America Powered by Amtrak,” a four-day train ride to launch her upcoming Republic Nashville album, ELEVEN. In celebration of her new album, Martina’s tour will include 11 stops, starting in Los Angeles and culminating in New York City in October. Fans will be treated to intimate performances in Albuquerque, Chicago and NYC.
“This partnership is perfect for many reasons,” said David Lim, chief marketing officer, Amtrak. “We both value connections. Martina wants to connect even more closely with her fans—her music touches so many people, and is relatable to so many American’s lives—and Amtrak’s trains connect people across the country every day.”
The whistle stop tour will travel to 11 cities across the nation: Los Angeles; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Newton, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.; Chicago; Cleveland; Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and New York City.
Both Martina and Amtrak are celebrating meaningful numbers this year. Martina’s new album ELEVEN is Martina’s 11th studio album, and she has been declared the “most played female artist on country radio for the past 11 years” by both Mediabase and Broadcast Data Systems (BDS).  This year is Amtrak’s 40th anniversary, which has been celebrated with a national exhibit train tour, special fare promotions, commemorative merchandise and an anniversary-themed website,, among other initiatives.
“This album is very special to me, and I wanted to be able to share it with my fans far and wide. I also wanted to do something that has never been done before, and I thought what better way to do that than with a cross-country train ride with Amtrak where we make several stops along the way? Eleven stops, to be exact. I’m so excited for this journey across America,” said Martina, who was just declared a 2011 nominee for Female Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association.
In addition, the tour will be environmentally friendly, in keeping with the positive environmental impact of train travel, which is 20 percent more efficient than air travel and 30 percent more efficient than automobile travel.
David Lim added: “Amtrak is a green travel option and a great way to see the country. And Amtrak always provides travelers with a special and enjoyable journey—this tour is a really fun reminder of that.”
The partnership with Martina McBride is another great step in the evolution of Amtrak’s entertainment marketing initiatives—reaching millions of potential travelers and engaging them around their passion points.
About Amtrak®:
Celebrating 40 years of dedicated service as America’s Railroadsm, Amtrak is the nation’s intercity passenger rail provider and its only high-speed rail operator. A record 28.7 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2010 on more than 300 daily trains—at speeds of up to 150 mph (241 kph)—that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates trains in partnership with 15 states and four commuter rail agencies. Amtrak also is a strong financial performer, achieving an 85 percent cost-recovery ratio in FY 2010. Enjoy the journey at or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Join us on and follow us at
About Martina McBride:
One of the most spectacular voices in any genre of music, Martina McBride is a four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, three-time ACM Female Vocalist of the Year and GRAMMY®-winning recording artist with more than 18 million in album sales and 24 Top 10 singles, including six that hit No. 1. The breadth of her talents—as recording artist, producer, songwriter and concert entertainer—has made her an in-demand performer and personality, appearing on such high-profile programs as “VH1 Diva,” “Dancing with the Stars,” the “Today” show’s “Today Throws a Wedding,” “American Idol,” “Oprah,” “The Bachelorette,” “Private Sessions,” a “20/20” special and much more. Celebrated for her beauty and sense of fashion, as well as her everywoman perspective in life and music, Martina is a wife and mother of three girls who has been featured on the covers of publications like Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, People, Country Weekly and Shape. Among her hits are such anthemic and empowering songs as “Independence Day,” “This One's for the Girls” and “Ride,” all of which have underscored her incredible popularity as one of music’s preeminent female vocalists. Martina’s first album on Republic Nashville, “Eleven,” is set for release on Oct. 11 and includes her first new music since 2009—“Teenage Daughters” and her current single, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” She was recently nominated for the 2011 CMT Music Awards CMT Performance of the Year for “CMT Crossroads: Train and Martina McBride. Martina is also a nominee for “Female Vocalist of the Year” at the 2011 CMA Awards.

The long wait is over! Foreigner's newest release, the three disc collection Feels Like the First Time, is now available at Wal-mart! With over 3 hours of Foreigner music and priced at a special price of $11.88, what are you waiting for? A Girl Like You? Get your copy today by heading to your local Wal-Mart or order online here!

The collection includes two audio CDs: Acoustique: The Classics Unplugged & Juke Box Heroes: Brand New Digital Recordings of Foreigner's Greatest Hits, as well as 1 DVD: Live In Chicago with behind the scenes and the making of Acoustique special features! You can have the album shipped free of charge to your local Wal-mart store if it's not in stock (let's hope that is not the case!). Don't know where your closest Wal-Mart is? Use their store locater.
Feels Like the First Time (Deluxe Edition) is also available digitally at iTunes for $13.88! Order the Album Here!

For those of you not in the U.S., the European version, Acoustique & More, will be available on 26 September and 23 September for those in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Details about the release and order links can be found here.

Video Premiere of Feels Like the First Time
And now, a special treat! Check out the video premiere of Feels Like the First Time from the Live in Chicago DVD, powered by VEVO:

Fourteen-Time GRAMMY® Winner Paul McCartney to be Honored as 2012 MusiCares® Person of the Year

Annual Gala Benefiting the MusiCares Foundation® And Its Health And Human Services Programs For Music People Will Be Held Feb. 10, 2012, During GRAMMY® Week

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Paul McCartney , legendary singer/songwriter and 14-time GRAMMY ® winner (as well as Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement and Trustees Award recipient), will be honored as the 2012 MusiCares® Person of the Year at its 22nd annual benefit gala, it was announced today by Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the MusiCares Foundation ® and The Recording Academy ® , and Scott Pascucci, Chair of the MusiCares Foundation Board. Proceeds from the dinner and concert — to be held in Los Angeles during GRAMMY Week on Friday, Feb. 10 , 2012, two days prior to the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards — will provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures that music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need.
The legendary performer is being honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year in recognition of his singular creative accomplishments as well as his charitable work, which has included an extraordinary range of philanthropic activities over the years.
"Paul McCartney exemplifies the phrase 'artist/philanthropist,' and his extraordinary career is certainly a testament to the multifaceted power of his creative genius," said Portnow. "The unique talent, dedication, and spontaneity he brings to his projects and live performances are unsurpassed, but are equaled by the impressive generosity and commitment he consistently devotes to a range of important charitable causes."
"Paul immediately brings to mind artistic excellence and passion for causes that are dear to him," said Pascucci. "It is very inspiring that one of music's true icons makes philanthropy such a force in his life."
"I've been given a great gift — a life making music — and it's my privilege to try to make the world a better place by giving back," said McCartney. "For more than 20 years, MusiCares has helped so many music people in times of crisis — whether with emergency financial assistance or access to addiction recovery resources — and it is an honor to be recognized as the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year."
The 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year gala will begin with a reception and silent auction offering an exclusive and unparalleled selection of luxury items, VIP experiences and one-of-a-kind celebrity memorabilia for bidding guests. The reception and silent auction will be followed by a dinner, the award presentation and a star-studded tribute concert. The MusiCares Person of the Year tribute ceremony is one of the most prestigious events held during GRAMMY Week. The celebration culminates with the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. The telecast will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Paul McCartney has been directing the tide of musical history since writing his first song at the age of 14. He changed the world of music forever with the Beatles, whose legendary albums of course include: Abbey Road , Revolver, Help!, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles ("The White Album"). McCartney has continued to push boundaries over the last 30 years, first as a solo artist, then with Wings (with albums such as Band On The Run and Wings At The Speed Of Sound) and following that as a solo artist again, with recent highlights including 2007's Memory Almost Full. In 2008 he received high critical acclaim as part of the Fireman, a collaborative project with revered producer Youth, and their Electric Arguments album, which topped Billboard's Independent Albums chart. McCartney is also an accomplished award-winning classical composer. His classical album, Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart), was released in September 2006 and won the Album of the Year Award at the 2007 Classic BRIT Awards, while his first ever ballet, Ocean's Kingdom, will be performed for the first time by the New York City Ballet on September 22, 2011  with the release of its score following in October of 2011.
McCartney's many distinctions include a special award for Outstanding Contribution to Music at the 2008 BRIT Awards, and an honorary doctorate of music from Yale University, an MTV Icon Award, multiple GRAMMY Awards, the Gershwin Prize For Popular Song, GQ Man of the Year... the list goes on. As he received his diploma, Yale President Richard C. Levin told him, "Your songs awakened a generation, giving a fresh sound to rock and roll, and rhythm and blues. We admire your musical genius and your generous support of worthy causes." He is a freeman of the City of Liverpool and lead patron of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. McCartney was appointed fellow of the Royal College of Music in 1995 by the Prince Of Wales, and in 1996 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music. McCartney is also committed to a number of animal rights and humanitarian charities. He has also participated in several significant benefit concerts, including Live Aid in 1985, the Concert for New York City in 2001 and Live 8 in 2005.
Equally renowned as a live performer as he is a songwriter, McCartney has spent much of the last decade performing sold-out concerts to millions of people all over the world, winning rave reviews along the way. Standout moments in 2003 included his performance to more than 500,000 people outside the Colosseum in Rome and his first show in Red Square, Moscow. In 2004 he gave the Glastonbury Festival its most legendary moment to date, and 2005 saw him making history again as he performed live to the International Space Station to wake up NASA astronauts. McCartney performed a string of secret and surprise gigs in intimate venues in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris throughout 2007.
In 2008 McCartney performed a series of special event concerts. He started by headlining the Liverpool Sound concert at Anfield Stadium, and then gave the Ukraine its largest-ever outdoor music event in Kiev with more than 400,000 people lining the street to watch his Independence Concert. He found time to join Billy Joel on stage for the Last Play at Shea show in July, marking the last concert at New York's famous Shea Stadium, then travelled to the city of Quebec for yet another huge headline-making event as he performed to 300,000 people in the city's national park, the Plains of Abraham, to help celebrate Quebec's 400th anniversary. In September McCartney played his Friendship First concert in Tel Aviv, marking his first visit to Israel since the Beatles were banned from performing there at the height of Beatlemania in the '60s.
McCartney kicked off 2009 by teaming with Dave Grohl to perform "I Saw Her Standing There" at the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards, where he was nominated for two awards, adding to his lifetime total of 71 GRAMMY nominations. McCartney embarked on a five-week tour of the United States, which began with an inaugural run of shows at New York's Citi Field — the site of the former Shea Stadium where the Beatles made history in 1965 when they played a concert that set the precedent for the modern-day stadium rock show. These shows were immortalized on a special CD/DVD package, Good Evening New York City. In October McCartney announced a special eight-date European tour in December, titled Good Evening Europe. The tour began in Hamburg, Germany, a place that McCartney originally visited with the Beatles almost 50 years before, putting it on the map as a musical mecca. The tour came to a memorable finale at the O2 arena in London, his only UK show of 2009.
McCartney's Up And Coming Tour kicked off in March 2010 in Phoenix, featuring 35 shows — including two sold-out dates at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Last year also saw many career firsts for McCartney, including performing at the White House in front of the President as the first-ever British recipient of the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. McCartney was joined by a star studded cast of musicians who came along to pay tribute including Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl and Stevie Wonder. President Obama addressed the assembled VIP guests and dignitaries in the East Room, telling them that McCartney's "gifts have touched billions of lives" and thanking "the Englishman who shared his dreams with us." He returned to the White House again in December to be awarded at the 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors, with even the President joking that McCartney was becoming something of a regular there.
McCartney's 2011 live agenda began with his first-ever show in Peru, and two blockbuster shows at Rio de Janeiro's Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange, which also resulted in the first-ever concert to be broadcast live on the Internet throughout Latin America — allowing more than 1.5 million online fans to share in the show's magic. McCartney's current On The Run tour kicked off with New York's music event of the summer: two historic sold-out July shows at Yankee Stadium that kept approximately 90,000 fans singing along for nearly three hours each night and generated possibly the most enthusiastic reviews ever penned by the local media.
Established in 1989 by The Recording Academy, MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. For more information, please visit
Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, join the organization's social networks on Facebook (, Twitter (, and YouTube (

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2011 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.
Raised in Airdrie, a small town near Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jessica Ridley was a performer from the start, putting on shows for family and friends at the age of 18 months. Don Somerville heard her sing at her church one day and persuaded her to sharpen her songwriting down in Nashville. She made the trek at 21 and has been getting ready for Fit to Be Tied from then up to the album’s release in June on EMG Universal.
Produced by Somerville, Chris Omartian, Billy Simon and Michael Lee, her debut album takes about one second to rope the listener in. The opening track, “Fit to Be Tied,” is out of the gate immediately with a bouncy groove anchored by a four-beat kick pattern. Over this, Ridley unfolds a half-sung, half-rapped tale of a bride’s last-minute jitters just before walking down the aisle. Her tongue-tripping vocal on the verses, bookended by backbeat-driven choruses, skims playfully over the rhythm, teases a few laughs and even ends with the story’s moral — a bow that makes this package complete.
Written by Ridley with producers Lee and Somerville, “Fit to Be Tied” is one of four songs on the album that she co-wrote. She also makes the rest of these 13 tracks her own. Bob Carlisle and Dennis Patton penned her first single, “Flaming Red,” but its wistful first verse, rhythmic lyric at the top of the chorus and overall exultation, provide a perfect vehicle for Ridley. With minimal vibrato and underplayed phrasing, her voice relates a rainbow of expression and hits the high notes with neither effort nor effect. Whether letting the melody and plaintive narrative speak for themselves on “Cinderella Shoes” (Simon) or pouring on the sass throughout “Hit and Run” (Bill Champlin, Somerville and Jim Windle), she brings the material to life in the light of her already distinctive style.
MUSICAL HERO“George Strait.”
SONG YOU SING IN THE SHOWER“All the songs I might be rehearsing at the moment!”
BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND“The Bible and a Frank Peretti book called House.”
PET PEEVE“Getting groceries and finding out you forgot one thing when you get back home.”
SONG YOU WISH YOU’D WRITTEN“‘Stop Loving You’ by Toto.”
SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU“I’m completely terrified of spiders and strange showers.”
On the Web: www.JessicaRidley.
Charley Pride: The Right Choices
By Tom Roland
© 2011 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.
When Charley Pride took the stage at the October 2010 All for the Hall benefit concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, the reception was startling.
Stars with recent hits — Billy Currington, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Keith Urban and others — dotted the lineup at this annual fundraising event for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Many of the 13,000 or so fans in the audience hadn’t even started school yet when Pride hit No. 1 in 1983 with “Night Games” (written by Alan Mevis and Norro Wilson). It was easy to wonder if a large block of seats might be occupied by people who were unfamiliar with his work.
But then Pride launched into his signature song, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” (Ben Peters) and a scant two minutes later the response was long and loud.
Assessing Pride’s impact on younger listeners, his fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee offered, “I think you respond to talent. I don’t care if you know who he is.”
The kids at the arena not only knew who Charley Pride was, they loved him. And they gave him another overwhelming reception when he followed with a cover of “Hello Darlin’,” written and recorded by Conway Twitty. The feedback was so strong that Bob Heatherly, President/CEO of Pride’s record label, Music City Records, later received several enthusiastic phone calls from some Music Row peeps who’d witnessed the emotional performance.
“When you get industry executives excited,” he observed, “then you know you’ve done something right.”
Pride has indeed done a lot, much of which is referenced in his 1994 autobiography, Pride: The Charley Pride Story. Beginning in 1966, he lobbed more than 65 singles onto the charts, with more than 50 reaching the Top 10. Thirty-six of them went all the way to No. 1, including the Hank Williams cover “Honky Tonk Blues,” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone?” (David Kirby and Glenn Martin) and the sultry “You’re So Good When You’re Bad” (Ben Peters). Pride accrued seven Gold albums from 1970 through 1975, a time when the Platinum designation didn’t exist, and picked up a million-selling single with “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’.” He also won the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award and two CMA Male Vocalist of the Year honors during that same period. To date, he’s sold more than 70 million albums, including 31 Gold, four Platinum and one Quadruple Platinum.
In 2000, Pride joined the late Faron Young as the last two members inducted into CMA’s Country Music Hall of Fame when the Museum was still housed at its original, barn-shaped structure at 16th Avenue and Demonbreun Street on Music Row.
That distinction is symbolic. The Museum moved to its present location the following spring, and Pride is arguably one of the architects who helped Country Music move to larger venues as well, from clubs and theaters into arenas.
“He’s absolutely part of the reason that the business expanded to what it is today,” Lee said. “He was one of the first superstars that started working the big venues that Country artists had not regularly worked before.”
Pride recognizes the importance of the role he has played — but pride goes only so far.
“My dad used to say, ‘Your name is Pride but there’s more to it than that,’” the singer recalled. “You don’t want to have too much of that; you can overdo anything. I think everybody should have pride about themselves but it shouldn’t be overused.”
This conviction remains at the heart of Pride’s material. He did, after all, make a name for himself singing “I’m Just Me” (Glenn Martin) and “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” (Dallas Frazier and Al Owens). It’s also a central theme on his latest album, Choices. Its songs embrace old-school attitudes, from the family-values opener “America the Great” (Edward Allen Gowens and Larry Mercey) to “The Bottom Line” (Drew Bourke, Art Craig and Justin Peters), whose lyric prioritizes commitment over finance. Two other songs employ fictitious newspaper names — “Hickory Hollow Times & County News” (Matt Lindsey and Herb McCullough) and “Guntersville Gazette” (Phillip Douglas, Ron Harbin and Richie McDonald) — in celebrating a slower-paced era. It’s Pride singing about who he is to an audience that’s holding on to that same identity.
“He wants to stay true to his fans, even though they may be getting older and may not be buying as much music,” said Heatherly.
Yet they do still buy tickets and they respond as much as that youthful audience at the All for the Hall event did to “America the Great.” Pride inserted that song into his live set even before he released the album, and listeners reacted immediately to the words, which invoke John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, prayer in schools and “In God We Trust.”
“They start to rise up in the front,” Pride said. “They just start clapping their hands, and then they stand up, and pretty soon it goes all the way back almost half a block to the bleachers. Goosebumps just started coming,” he added as he recounted the scene at his shows. “It was something else.”
A native of Sledge, Miss., and one of eleven children, Pride confounded his friends and family by listening to the Grand Ole Opry rather than gospel and blues in his early years. In those days, however, a dream for a career in Country Music seemed unattainable.
“My dream was to play baseball and go to the major leagues,” he said. “When I saw Jackie Robinson go to the major leagues, I said, ‘Well, that’s my way out of the cotton fields. I want to go to the major leagues and I want to make all the records.’”
Pride had the talent to do it too. He played for the Memphis Red Sox, and in 1956 he pitched for the Negro League when it assembled a group of its top players to play a major league all-star team that included future Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. But while the majors include 30 teams today, that circle was more exclusive in Pride’s youth.
“There wasn’t but 16 teams in the major leagues then,” he said. “You didn’t go around hitting .212 — I call it the New York area code — with five runs batted in and getting $1.5 million.”
Pride had tryouts with a couple of major-league teams, including the Los Angeles Angels soon after they were founded by another Country Music Hall of Fame member, Gene Autry. But he didn’t make the cut, and when he suffered a severe ankle injury at 23, that ended his chances.
“When Johnny Bench was in the Cincinnati Reds, he went in at 18 or 19 years old, and he’s in the (Major League Baseball) Hall of Fame,” Pride noted. “So back in those days, if you weren’t in the majors by the time you were 25, that’s about it; they just kind of marked you off. Of course, now we have 30 teams and if you can do anything at 45, they’ll use you.”
His teammates had always encouraged Pride to consider singing professionally, and as baseball faded, he refocused his sights on Country Music. It seemed like a long shot, though. Country had spun a series of African-American string bands in its early days, and DeFord Bailey had played harmonica on the Opry in the pre-TV era. But there had never been a successful black Country singer up to that point.
The odds were staggering. Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Pride’s home state in 1963, just nine months before Pride signed his first management deal with Jack D. Johnson. The Civil Rights Act was signed in July 1964, barely more than a year before he secured his first recording contract with RCA Records, run at the time by his fellow CMA Country Music Hall of Fame member Chet Atkins.
Pride won over the industry and the public by applying his grainy tone to traditional Country songs with a sincere passion. In one key moment in Arizona, he had to fill in for Jimmy Durante when the vaudevillian had suffered an injury. The audience had never heard of Pride. It certainly hadn’t come to hear Country Music. But Pride prevailed and the date instilled a huge amount of confidence.
“I got a standing ovation when I got through,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Now, wait a minute. If I can get in front of Jimmy Durante’s audience and get a response like this, all I got to do is get in front of them.’”
Forty years have passed and Pride is still winning over audiences. And beyond his new fans and the film world, Pride has strengthened his links to baseball. For decades he’s attended spring training annually with the Texas Rangers; in 2010 he took it a step further by joining with Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and other investors to purchase the team. Just a few months after the deal was done, the Rangers made it into the World Series for the first time in the club’s 50-year history.
For all that’s going right for Pride, he still feels the need to prove himself with every concert and every trip to the recording studio. “I’m never a guy that’s going to think everything is automatic,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted. No matter how successful I’ve been, I still have a job to do.”
On the Web: