Jess Wright

jess

Jess Wright won the ACM Award for Personality of the Year while working at a radio station in the Washington, D.C. area, where she was also nominated for the CMA Award and named Best Radio Personality in a local magazine's reader poll. She grew up in Ithaca, NY and worked at radio stations in Wichita, Wilkes-Barre, PA and Tyler, TX, among others. She lives in Nashville now, and joined Slacker in 2013 as your expert on everything country music. She hosts New Country First, '90s Country and the Slacker Country Countdown. When she's not working (and sometimes when she is) she's probably drinking wine.

GRAMMY Noms Are Out!

15338487_337801916603958_4263201876792573952_nMaren Morris rocked the Grammy nominations, which were released this morning. She and Kelsea Ballerini are the only ones to represent Country in the all-genre categories — they’re both up for Best New Artist. Maren also grabbed nods for Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song for “My Church” and Best Country Album for Hero. Interestingly, Willie Nelson got a nomination for Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Summer Time: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. The GRAMMY Awards air live Feb. 12.

Below are the Country-specific nominations, and the full list of all categories is here.

Best Country Solo Performance

Love Can Go To Hell
Brandy Clark
Track from: Big Day In A Small Town
Label: Warner Bros. Records

Vice
Miranda Lambert
Label: Vanner Records/RCA Nashville

My Church
Maren Morris
Track from: Hero
Label: Columbia Nashville

Church Bells
Carrie Underwood
Track from: Storyteller
Label: 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville

Blue Ain’t Your Color
Keith Urban
Track from: Ripcord
Label: Capitol Records Nashville

 

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

Different For Girls
Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King
Track from: Black
Label: Capitol Records Nashville

21 Summer
Brothers Osborne
Track from: Pawn Shop
Label: EMI Records Nashville

Setting The World On Fire
Kenny Chesney & P!nk
Label: Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville

Jolene
Pentatonix Featuring Dolly Parton
Label: Dolly Records, LLC/RCA Nashville

Think Of You
Chris Young With Cassadee Pope
Track from: I’m Comin’ Over Label: RCA Nashville
Best Country Song

Blue Ain’t Your Color
Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen, songwriters (Keith Urban)

Die A Happy Man
Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur, songwriters (Thomas Rhett)

Humble And Kind
Lori McKenna, songwriter (Tim McGraw)

My Church
busbee & Maren Morris, songwriters (Maren Morris)

Vice
Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

 

Best Country Album

Big Day In A Small Town
Brandy Clark
Label: Warner Bros. Records

Full Circle
Loretta Lynn
Label: Legacy Recordings

Hero
Maren Morris
Label: Columbia Nashville

A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
Sturgill Simpson
Label: Atlantic

Ripcord
Keith Urban
Label: Capitol Records Nashville

Strait Up Awesome

George Strait singing right to me

George Strait singing right to me

VIP Swag and Strait Out Of The Box 2

VIP Swag and Strait Out Of The Box 2

Last night I had the honor of being at an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime show, and it’s one I will never forget.

George Strait is releasing Strait Out Of The Box: Part 2 tomorrow (11/18). It’s three discs with 56 tracks — most of which you know and will sing along with, but there are also two new songs he co-wrote, “Kicked Outta Country” and “You Gotta Go Through Hell.”

Last night, to celebrate this monumental new release, George took it back to where it all began. Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in the state of Texas, and the place where George Strait and the Ace In The Hole Band got their start a few decades ago. In front of the 200 or so invited guests, he told the story of how the owner said, “We’ll let you play a Sunday night, we’ll charge $0.25 at the door and we’ll see how you do.” George said, “we made $7 that night.” But they kept coming back and became regulars at the dance hall. The last time they played there was in 1982.

So if you were watching the live stream last night when he sang, “The Fireman,” “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” “The Chair” and “Check Yes Or No,” you know he’s still got it, and every single person in that room was singing along at the top of their lungs. He sang for two hours and we all sang along to the songs we knew, and listened intently to the new ones. I can’t WAIT for you to hear “Kicked Outta Country,” which he wrote with Jamey Johnson.

By the way, right before he took the stage, it was announced that George has added eight dates to his Strait To Vegas residency, including something that’s never been done: over two nights he will sing ALL 60 of his number one songs. Details here.

I hope you were watching the live stream last night, but if you missed it, you can see part of it here.

–Jess

You can be at George Strait’s album release show! Well, kind of.

image002The King of Country Music returns to Texas for an exclusive Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 album release show this Wednesday, Nov. 16. The impressive three-disc, 56-track collection is available this Friday, Nov. 18 exclusively at Walmart and Walmart.com. Featuring 36 of Strait’s hit singles including 26 No. 1s, Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 also offers fans two new songs with “Kicked Outta Country” and “You Gotta Go Through Hell.” Strait is a co-writer on both tracks.

In celebration of the box set, Strait and his Ace in the Hole Band will take it back to the dusty floors and intimate setting of a historic Texas dancehall for a memorable night of music. While tickets are not available for purchase, fans can live-stream the event Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT on Strait.WranglerNetwork.com.

Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 spans 20 years of Strait’s career from 1996 to 2016 and follows the highly successful, 8x Platinum-selling 1995 release, Strait Out of the Box. The two new songs offered in the set, “Kicked Outta Country” (George Strait/Jamey Johnson) and “You Gotta Go Through Hell” (George Strait/Bubba Strait/Dean Dillon) are the first new recordings released from Strait since last year’s surprise Cold Beer Conversation album.

Strait fans have the opportunity to pre-order Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 along with select merchandise, including a silver-plated belt buckle identical to the one featured on the collection’s cover. The limited-edition buckle arrives in an autographed craft wooden box suitable for display. All fan packages and pre-order information available HERE.

Strait is one of the most celebrated country music stars in history and Billboard recently named him No. 1 on the Greatest of All Time: Country Artists list. With 60 No. 1 singles and more than 70 million records sold, Strait has more No. 1 songs than any other artist, and is third only to Elvis Presley and The Beatles with the most Gold and Platinum albums in history. He is the most nominated artist in CMA Awards history and was the first country music artist honored with Billboard’s Legend of Live Award.

Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 is now available for pre-order HERE.

CMA Awards Drama? Now I Have To Rant.

When the news leaked that Beyonce would be performing on the 50th CMA Awards with the Dixie Chicks, a lot of country fans and even industry people voiced objections to it — some fans on my Facebook page and others said they wouldn’t watch the show! That’s right, they would choose to ignore a three-and-a-half-hour celebration of our music’s history and current artists because of a five-minute segment they didn’t approve of. Crazy, right?

Beyonce (r) with Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks at the CMA Awards

Beyonce (r) with Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks at the CMA Awards

After the awards, there were a lot of negative comments about the performance. I heard about, but didn’t see, some racial comments that have no place in ANY forum and certainly don’t represent country music fans as a whole (so if you’re one who is feeding into THAT stereotype, knock it off). What I did see were complaints about the fact that, yet again, producers at ABC thought a bunch of hillbillies could never pull the ratings they wanted unless they brought some pop stars on the show. If you check my page, you’ll see I’ve complained about the same thing — especially when the country artists are largely put in the background of those “collaborations,” which they were the other night.

That said, I was there in the auditorium and can tell you that every single person in the room was on their feet for that performance. It was fun. It was a good song — I’d dare say it was as country a song as any other that was performed that night. I never had a problem with Beyonce herself (or the Dixie Chicks, whose lead singer has continued to spew disgusting comments about country fans and radio stations even 15 years after “the incident” and wonders why we haven’t all “just let it go” by now) performing on the show.

Then, on top of the negativity about the performance (or the race of the performer — y’all knock that crap off), I hear that Bey’s fans think Kenny Chesney dissed their girl by not smiling enough or dancing during the set. Seriously? So, the following comes from a press release that came out today:

…to be told the following afternoon that there was a buzz about him dissing Beyonce, the 8-time Entertainer of the Year was astounded. With an interview with ABC completed, Chesney thought people who knew him at all would more than know if anything his serious expression was one of respect, a man knowing he was seeing a once-in-a-lifetime performance.

“I love Beyonce… I loved her Super Bowl performance, her sense of how to make the music hit really hard – and give it drama when she’s onstage,” Chesney responded. “The idea her fans were so quick to judge me, or know what I was thinking doesn’t feel like the woman I’ve always imagined Beyonce to be – and honestly, the people who love her music, either.

“As someone who believes in the message of Spread the Love, we try to find the best in people – and in this case, that meant really watching the musicianship on that stage, as well as a guest in our format who’d written an incredible song. I am amazed and saddened this is the response my respect for her art gets.”

“I believe music is great or not,” says Chesney. “It has nothing to do with genre, gender or color. Just did you bring it, and how great are your songs? To me, there’s no question about Beyonce – or my response to their performance.”

What the hell is going on???

If I had a choice, would I have wanted Beyonce to play the 50th CMA Awards? No, because that show was to celebrate the history of country music and that spot could have been used to spotlight a current artist or a legend, but not because Beyonce is black or the song wasn’t good. But she DID play and she did a great job, and y’all? That horn section was the BOMB.

Do me a favor: quit hating. Believe it or not, there is room for everyone in music and the walls are crumbling between any genres that have traditionally been established. You don’t have to like her performance or her music, but the hate is getting out of control in every aspect of public pop culture and it needs to quit. There’ is no room for hate in music! There’s no room for hate in LIFE. It’s too short.

What are your thoughts? Comment below or on Facebook or Twitter.

The EPIC 50th CMA Awards!

50th CMA Awards

50th CMA Awards

If you watched the 50th CMA Awards on ABC, you got an idea how incredible the anniversary celebration was. Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Charlie Daniels and so many more were there, some performed and Randy Travis SANG. That’s huge — he hasn’t been able to speak for the last three years. It was an emotional night and a reminder of how incredible the music and people are that shaped our format. Also, Beyonce performed. What?! Yeah, I don’t know. But she was good.

Congratulations to the winners:

Entertainer of the Year
Garth Brooks

Male Vocalist of the Year
Chris Stapleton

Female Vocalist of the Year
Carrie Underwood

Vocal Group of the Year
Little Big Town

Vocal Duo of the Year
Brothers Osborne

New Artist of the Year
Maren Morris

Album of the Year
Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood

Song of the Year (goes to the songwriter)
“Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna (performed by Tim McGraw)

Single of the Year (goes to the artist)
“Die A Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett

Music Video of the Year
Chris Stapleton – “Fire Away” (director Tim Mattia)

Musical Event of the Year
“Different For Girls” – Dierks Bentley with Elle King

Musician of the Year
Dan Huff (guitar)

 

CMA Awards have already begun

The 50th CMA Awards show isn’t until tonight, but this morning on Good Morning America, two awards were already given out!

Congratulations to Dierks Bentley & Elle King, who won the CMA for Musical Event of the Year, and and director Tim Mattia for Music Video of the Year for Chris Stapleton‘s “Fire Away!”

Sneak peek of new music? Yes, please.

Jackie Lee is a new artist — you might remember his songs “She Does” and “Headphones” from New Country Now and featured in the Weekly Country Countdown, but even if you don’t, you’ll want to check this out. He’s got new music dropping next week, and this is just a little taste. What do you think? Comment below, yo.

 

Old Blake Shelton had a farm… a funny, funny farm.

Jimmy Fallon is from New York like me. And while there are farms up there, he’s clearly not visited any of them. But Blake Shelton gets a little payback for that sushi incident a while back.

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