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.

Kenny Chesney’s and P!nk’s “Setting The World On Fire” video

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Kenny Chesney just released the video for “Setting The World On Fire,” which he sings with P!nk. Check it out here:

kennychesney.com/STWOF

Sara Evans Wins For St. Jude

If you know anything about me, you know I’m a huge supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (click that link and you’ll see). So anytime I see a Country artist doing something that helps St. Jude I get excited. And it happens a lot because most of the country music industry is involved in helping that hospital without walls in one way or another. But I get especially excited when an artist does it on TV and spreads the word even farther than his or her own immediate fan base.

That’s where Sara Evans comes in. In case you missed it, Sara and her siblings went on Celebrity Family Fued and kind of mopped the floor with Todd Chrisley and his family… and won $25,000 for St. Jude!

Watch:

If you’re not aware of why so many of us in the industry support St. Jude, by the way, I’ll tell you: It’s because they cure kids with cancer and other life threatening diseases, and they never charge their families for anything. They provide travel, treatment, housing, food, schooling… I mean, they do it all. For free. Support them here, please.

Purple Twang, Purple Twang (it’s ok, sing along)

Dwight Yoakam's Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars...A lot of people have covered Prince’s “Purple Rain.” A lot. Especially since his death, but even long before. Darius Rucker has performed it live in almost every show I’ve seen him play. I mean, it’s everywhere.

But Dwight Yoakam – yes, you heard me – is dropping a new album soon called Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars… and while 11 of the 12 tracks will be do-overs of his own songs, the 12th track will be “Purple Rain” like you’ve never heard it before. In fact, you can hear it now, via People:

www.people.com/article/dwight-yoakam-covers-prince-purple-rain-swimmin-pools-movie-stars

So… whatcha think?

Oh, CMT Awards. You’re killing me.

Cam with Fifth Harmony at the CMT Awards

Cam with Fifth Harmony at the CMT Awards (Source: Facebook)

A lot of people are all upset that there were so many pop collaborations at last night’s CMT Music Awards. I don’t happen to be one of them, but I do take issue with how they collaborated.

Here’s the thing. Although I am fully immersed in and in love with country music, I also like pop music a lot. (And rock, hip-hop, rap… I just love music!). So when Pitbull or Fifth Harmony or Pharrell or Leona Lewis want to be part of a country awards show, I say let ’em all in! It’s about time everybody from every genre of music recognizes how great country music and its artists are, and it’s about time fans of those artists see it, too.

Where I have a problem is when country artists are turned into backup singers for pop artists at a country awards show. Come on, CMT. Listen, I know you need ratings, and I know you think you’re going to bring in a bigger audience by adding stars from other genres, but do you remember what the “C” stands for in CMT?  I wouldn’t expect to see George Strait show up at the AMAs to collaborate with DNCE and expect the band to do “All My Exes Live In Texas.” When people turn on the CMT Awards – or any country awards show, for that matter – there’s a good chance they’re expecting country music.

Here’s a crazy idea: How about next time you decide to flood your “country” awards show with pop stars, you keep the focus on the country part of the collaborations and let the pop artists backup the country singers? So weird, right? Just try it. I think you might like it.

P.S. Congratulations to the winners!

Female Video: “Smoke Break,” Carrie Underwood

Breakthrough Video: “Fire Away,” Chris Stapleton

Group/Duo Video: “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town

Male Video: “Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett

CMT Performance of the Year: “Smoke Break” (from CMT Instant Jam), Carrie Underwood

CMT Social Superstar: Blake Shelton

Video of the Year: “Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw

Check out Brad Paisley’s new video

Brad Paisley just dropped his new video for “Country Nation” today. Watch and then comment below or on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you think!

Why I’m voting for Benton Blount — and you should, too.

Benton Blount is named a semi-finalist on America's Got Talent

Benton Blount is named a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent

Yeah, ok, Benton Blount is a friend of mine, so I might seemed biased. But hear me out.

When I first met Benton, he’d been signed to a Nashville record label and was just putting out his first song, “Carolina” (which Parmalee later made a hit). I was working at a radio station in Frederick, MD and he was going around the country visiting stations. He came into our conference room and played a few songs for me and some of my coworkers, and from the second he started to sing, I thought, MAN, this guy is talented!

It wasn’t just his talent, though. I happened to have my dog Zeppelin (RIP) with me at the radio station that day, and he kept running up and sniffing at Benton while he performed. Benton smiled and petted Zeppelin and kept on playing. We got to talking after his performance and we hit it off, becoming instant friends. It’s no surprise to me that our birthdays are a day apart, because I think we’re a lot alike.

Just a couple months later, the record label Benton was on closed its doors. That was five years ago.

Make no mistake, it’s Benton’s talent that is pushing me to ask you to vote for him on America’s Got Talent tonight (Sept. 1). Because he’s got it by the YARD. He’s in the semi-finals, and if you haven’t heard him sing yet, you need to tune in. And if you want more proof, check him out here for some of the stuff he’s recorded in his “Living Room Concert Series” over the years. He’s worked for this. He’s earned it. And it’s about damn time!

You don’t have to take my word for it. Listen to him sing and then get your vote on! I want to be able to bring more of his music to you on New Country First on Slacker. For now, though, check out what we do have (you’ll like it!) here. And join #TeamBenton to show your support here.

Oh, the drama.

Something weird is  happening with Katie Armiger and so far nobody can figure out what it is.

Earlier this week, her record label, Cold River Records, released the following statement:

After nine years of competing at the highest level in country music, Katie Armiger has decided to take a breather and decide her next career aspirations.  She has opened for the biggest names in the country music business and headlined two national tours.   It has been the thrill of a lifetime to work with her and watch her blossom into one of the best singer-songwriters of her generation.  Katie is a special talent and an even better person.  Watching her grow and reach for her goals has been so much fun. The night she debuted on the Grand Ole Opry was something that I will never forget!  As a label, we love her and support her decision and we will always be her biggest fans.  We care deeply for Katie as a person and artist. 

So that’s disappointing, right? Katie is a real talent and has invested a lot of time (and money) to get where she is now, and a lot of us were really surprised by this announcement. But then, things went wonky. Katie posted this on Instagram (this was apparently the second time she posted it):

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Curiouser and curiouser. From what I can tell, this was posted and deleted multiple times, and it’s not there as of the time of this post. It remains to be seen what will come out of this. As someone said to me, somewhere between their side and her side is the truth. I’ll keep my eyes open and let you know what, if anything, happens from here.

It’s here, and it’s HOT.

11067645_828726487218113_9173937992353866201_nJust in time for today’s start of CMA Music Festival (which will forever be known to me as Fan Fair), the temperatures are sweltering hot as usual.

If you’re not here in Nashville for the Fest, there’s good and bad. I mean, the good is, you’re probably sitting all up in your office or house enjoying some air conditioning and only breaking a sweat if you have to get up for more beer, amiright?

The bad? EVERY. BODY. In country music is here right now. There are free concerts literally all over downtown Nashville. New artists you might not have heard of yet, already up-and-coming artists and even artists you know pretty well are playing on stages at just about every corner. Tonight, the BIG concerts start at LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans play. These shows are a parade of country music superstars, four nights in a row. If there was any such thing as concert overload (and there’s not, in my book), this is where you’d get it.

If you want to torture yourself you can see the full lineup here. I’d also suggest you use that link to get your tickets for NEXT YEAR’s CMA Music Festival as soon as humanly possible, because those things sell out super fast and I don’t want you to miss it again. Cool? Cool.

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