Legends & Veterans: November 2010

It Only Hurts When I'm Reading: Eilleen's early life was marked by hardship, and tragedy almost forestalled her music career. But after raising her siblings and honing her craft, she changed her name to Shania, which means “on my way” … and she was. Sounds like a good book, eh? Well, her publisher sure thinks so. Shania Twain's autobiography will be released next spring. “There have been moments in my life I was concerned by the reality that tomorrow would never come,” Twain says. “Recently I experienced one of those moments to an intensity that brought on a sudden urgency to document my life before I ran out of time — before I had the opportunity to share an honest and complete account of my life, in my own words.” In other Shania news, her docu-series on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network will also premiere in the spring.

If you were listening to Music City Roots on WSM/AM 7PM on September 29th at 7PM at the Loveland Barn, there was a familiar voice coming over the airwaves and it was the sweet sounds of Keith Bilbrey, former air personality on WSM/AM for over 30 years, until he was let go from the station.  I almost fell out of my office chair.  Hearing his voice was like a great lift for me, and I know for him also.  WSM/AM made a large mistake, and what concerns me even more, I don’t think Keith was invited to the festivities at re-opening of the Grand Ole Opry House on Tuesday September 28, after spending so many years as one of the announcers on the Grand Ole Opry.  Sad that the Gaylord people did not send an invite to one of the WSM,s greatest air personalities.  I can tell you this, that he didn’t miss a beat.  It is like he was doing his normal shift.  Music City Roots with emcee Keith Bilbrey and host Jim Lauderdale and bluegrass guests made for a super night.  Keith, you are missed by the masses my friend.  From what I hear, Keith will doing more hosting for Music City Roots, and that is great news.

Loretta For The Lynn: Fans, friends, music execs and artists convened at Loretta Lynn's Hurricane Mills, TN complex as the international icon celebrated 50 years in music Friday (9/24). Lynn and her sister Crystal Gayle spoke to the media prior to a tented soirée on the grounds of her museum. John Carter Cash, Marty Stuart, Ray Price  and Terri Clark were in attendance, and recording artist/painter Ronnie McDowell revealed his family-commissioned painting titled “Reflections Of A Coal Miner's Daughter.”

Inside the museum and amidst the accumulated memorabilia and awards of her career, Lynn noted that she never loses sight of her humble beginnings. “I look at these awards like they're somebody else's,” she said. “That way you can stay grounded. All I do is just close my eyes and I know where I'm from. I go back to that little one-room cabin where I lived 'til I was 11 years old.” Asked about an upcoming Grammy tribute at Nashville’s Ryman, she said, “I've been hearing this. My daughter told me I was going to get an award or something. Garth Brooks called me last week. I said, 'Garth, there's a lot of things going on that I don't know about and they ain't telling me.' He said, 'Oh my God, I'm going to hang up.' I found out he's giving me the award. He was on the phone long enough to give that away.”

Darryl Worley and 10,000 other attendees helped raise $200,000 for the Darryl Worley Foundation at the Ninth Annual Tennessee River Run over the weekend. Proceeds will benefit several regional and national charities including the Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center in Savannah, TN, which is opening later this year ahead of schedule.  Darryl has been giving of his time and talents for many years.  He is a special person.


I could write a book about Mandy Barnett, who I believe is truly one of greatest voices I have ever heard, and I have heard many.  Her soulful vocals have still not been captured by our music industry, and she is, in my mind, a superstar waiting her turn to be heard, but her new project with Cracker Barrel, “Winter Wonderland,” is a masterpiece of the meaning of Christmas time.   I have listened and my favorite is “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” Even at this time of the year when we are getting our pumpkins ready for Halloween, she sings with the feeling that it is snowing outside and we should go skating, skiing, or decorate the Christmas Tree.  She has captured the feeling of Christmas and I am ready to go out and start buying Christmas gifts for my children, grandchildren, and friends.

Winter Wonderland makes you want to be sitting by the fireplace with someone special, and Mandy Barnett singing the Christmas songs that we have grown up with.  She will take you on a special journey towards Christmas time.  Mandy has put her heart and soul into her brand new Cracker Barrel Winter Wonderland CD, and I urge you to go to your nearest Cracker Barrel and purchase your copy of this awesome CD, go home and play it, and you will be in the Yuletide Mood immediately. She will stir the meaning of Christmas within your hearts.  Congrats to Mandy.  This album is now available, but only at Cracker Barrel (or online at www.crackerbarrel.com)

The Browns’ Maxine Brown Reissues Solo Album Is Chief Character in New Novel About The Browns

At 79, Maxine Brown’s star is shining more brightly than ever.  She has just released Sugar Cane County: Maxine Brown’s Buried Treasure, an updated version of her 1969 solo album. In addition, she is the central figure in Rick Bass’s new Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt novel, Nashville Chrome, a fictionalized account of the life and career of the country/pop super group, The Browns, of which Maxine was the senior member and chief songwriter.

Comprised of sisters Maxine and Bonnie and brother Jim Ed, The Browns achieved musical immortality in 1959 with their recording of “The Three Bells.”  The song was a No. 1 country hit for 10 weeks and a No. 1 pop smash for four.  It even went Top 10 on the rhythm & blues chart.  The Browns also scored big during their 13-year chart journey with such memorables as “The Old Lamplighter,” “Scarlet Ribbons,” “I Take The Chance,” “Here Today And Gone Tomorrow,” “Looking Back To See,” “Send Me The Pillow You Dream On” and “I Heard The Bluebirds Sing.”

Maxine socializes with friends old and new at her very active website, www.themaxinebrown.com.  Here fans can view archival pictures and videos, find recipes for authentic Brown Family dishes and write to Maxine directly.

Somebody tell me why Jean Shepard was not out front singing the verse of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” at the Welcome Home Opry House gala evening on September 28th.  And I also wonder if everyone knows that Jean is the longest continous member of the Opry, more than any other member has ever been.  This is her 55th anniversary as a member of the Opry, and why she does not get the recognition she deserves from the Opry is beyond me.  I am hoping with all of my heart that she will inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.  She so much deserves to be with her friends in the hallowed circle, and they have waited patiently to welcome her to her rightful place in the history of country music.  Yes I have been lobbying for her to be nominated and inducted into the Hall and I will continue to lobby for her and others that deserve this prestigious honor.   Maybe she speaks her mind on things that others are afraid to speak their thoughts.

The votes are no doubt already in to CMA for the annual awards show, and yes Reba  is garnering votes to win the Female Vocalist of the Year, and hands down she has my vote.  I say let Miranda Lambert and the other young-uns wait till next year.  Reba deserves this award because she is the entertainer, her music is proof she is the winner, and she has carried the torch of country music for so many years, but all that being said, she outright deserves the award for her show and her record sales.  At this time of her long career she is still selling CD’s, concert tickets, and she is in demand.

Look closely at this picture of Reba.  Still beautiful, super talented, great business woman, always awesome music for us, and her name is the marquee of country music.  She still makes the rest of the field reach for the heights she has already reached as she continues to climb to even great heights.  All you young ladies will just have to wait your turn, because Reba is not only back, she is leading the pack.  Congrats Reba.

Blake Shelton could be the next superstar in country music-could be.  Records for Warner Bros. Music and this could be his year at the CMA Awards in Nov.  I have been critical of Blake recently, but the criticism never involved how great of a vocalist he is, how great his records are, and his new and most treasured award of being inducted as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry-it was regarding another issue.  I feel he has the opportunity to be a great asset to the Opry and also to country music.  I have had my say about Blake, but I give kudo’s to him for being one of the nominees in the following categories for the CMA Awards:  Male Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year, Musicial Event of the Year, and Music Video of the Year.  He has had 2 #1 singles this year, one of the Top 10 Most Played Singles of 2010, and he brought a new concept to the country music industry by releasing two six pak albums this year.  2 appearances on GMA, 3 appearances on The Today Show, and the list of accolades goes on.   Does that sound like I don’t like Blake Shelton  music.

My friend Sam Wellington of the Four Guys has become one great writer. I urge you to go to the Four Guys website and purchase both books.  You will get some great insight on the career of The Four Guys, and also some great information of the country music industry that might be helpful and very interesting to you.  I highly recommend both books.  Congrats Samuel.

The website is:   http://www.TheFourGuys.com

By Marty Martel