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Kevin Sharp, Hitmaker of the ’90s, Dies at Age 43

Kevin Sharp, who scored a No. 1 hit in 1996 with “Nobody Knows,” died Saturday night (April 19) at age 43 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

“Kevin died due to ongoing complications from past stomach surgeries and digestive issues,” according to an announcement on his website.

“Nobody Knows,” which spent four weeks atop the Billboard country chart, was a cover of the Tony Rich Project’s pop hit, but his optimistic attitude as a cancer survivor gained him even more national attention.

Born Dec. 10, 1970, in Weiser, Idaho, Sharp was an 18-year-old high school senior basketball player who sang baritone in the Sacramento Light Opera Association in California when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. While undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, he was contacted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization which grants wishes to seriously-ill youth. He told the organization’s representative he would like to meet famed record producer David Foster. He and the producer had several conversations.

After Sharp’s cancer went into remission in 1991, Foster heard his demo and told the young singer to continue working on his career. Sharp performed at a California theme park and recorded an album titled You Can Count on Me. Through Foster, Sharp was eventually signed to Nashville-based Asylum Records.

Sharp’s 1996 major label debut album, Measure of a Man, featured “Nobody Knows.” The project was certified gold by the RIAA in 1997 after selling more than 500,000 copies. The album netted two additional Top 5 singles, “She’s Sure Taking It Well” and “If You Love Somebody.”

His album credits also include 1998′s Love Is (Asylum) and 2005′s Make a Wish (Cupit Records). “If She Only Knew,” released in 1998, was his last single to hit the Billboard country chart.

Throughout his career, Sharp continued to work closely with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and became one of its leading spokespersons. More recently, Sharp was a motivational speaker, touring throughout the U.S. to tell others of the struggles he overcame to succeed in the music business.

In lieu of flowers, Sharp’s family requests that memorial donations be made to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

via CMT : News : Kevin Sharp, Hitmaker of the ’90s, Dies at Age 43.

Toby Keith: “I Have to Find New Goals”

Toby Keith has built quite the legacy in his 20-plus year career, from countless chart toppers and hit music videos to a clothing line, a chain of restaurants and now an astonishing 17th studio album titled Drinks After Work. The singer agrees these are among his life-defining moments, and the objective from here on is simple.

“I’ve accomplished all my goals,” Keith admitted to CMT Hot 20 Countdown. “I have to go find new goals. I have no accomplishments left other than just being the best human being I can be and having fun and living out my life.

“It’s really hard to write about being complacent,” he continued. “I work hard every day. I write 50 songs a year. I still tour. I’ve never missed an album, but I don’t have anything else to shoot for. I’ve taken it all down.”

Even with his level of career achievement, Keith continues making music and credits a divine gift as the reason.

“The good Lord blessed me to be a writer,” he said. “So if everything went away tomorrow and I didn’t have anything left — [if] I couldn’t sing and there was no more selling albums and no one bought any tickets, no one wanted a T-shirt — I would still be whatever I was doing, be walking around and hear something and go, ‘Phew, that sounded like a song.’”

Ultimately, Keith realizes a new generation of fans will arrive whose taste in country music could be different — likelihood he understands.

“When we were having hits, the older guys were going ‘Oh, I can’t believe this is what they’re calling country,’” he said. “I’m not that guy, I don’t care. If it’s time for me to ride off into the sunset, I don’t care. Let it change. It’s always going to change.

“Every 20 years, there’s going to be a new cycle of youth come through, and the youth’s always going to win out every time. When it’s your time to ride on, ride on. But I had my run, and I’m still getting it, so when it’s time for me to ride off, I will.”

For more, tune in to CMT Hot 20 Countdown this Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 26-27) at 11 a.m. ET/PT.

via CMT : News : Toby Keith: “I Have to Find New Goals”.

Dolly Parton Evokes Women Empowerment Through Story and Song

“I really encourage you to dream more and dream big and certainly to care more,” Dolly Parton told several hundred women attending the inaugural Red Tent Women’s Conference in downtown Nashville on Friday evening (April 18).

“Living in America and, of course, just being women in general, we’ve got more strength than we think we do,” said the iconic singer-songwriter who addressed a giddy crowd in the large ballroom of the DoubleTree Hotel.

Supporting her sister, Stella Parton, who founded the three-day event aimed at emboldening women to live fulfilled and authentic lives, the country music icon helped kickoff the weekend on the right foot … or stiletto.

Dressed in a sparkling red and customary figure-hugging ensemble accompanied by a guitar with twinkling accents, the Country Music Hall of Fame member glimmered onstage as she shared impassioned words and a few fitting tunes.

Beginning with her upbeat and popular early ’80s hit “9 to 5,” the theme song from her first movie by the same name that was later adapted into a Broadway play, she also performed her sassy and appropriate number for the occasion, “PMS Blues.”

“I have a great love and a great respect for women, in general, and I write a lot about the things that move me and touch me,” she said before launching into her empowering song, “Eagle When She Flies.”

“Above everything else I’ve done, I’ve always said I’ve had more guts than I’ve got talent,” Parton told the crowd. “I just had enough talents to carry me through. This is what I always wanted to do, and I’ve been through a lot. It ain’t all glamour — that is certainly true — but it’s been worth it for me. And above everything else, I have always tried.”

Aptly, she then launched into her inspiring tune, “Try.”

The evening began long before Parton took the stage. Her younger sister welcomed the crowd with a few words and songs followed by a performance from accomplished vocalist Mandy Barnett as well as a few tunes from an all-star female band including vocalists and musicians like Anita Cochran, Jonell Mosser, Michelle Poe and Odessa Settles, among others.

For the evening’s finale, the women returned to the stage in front of the red velvet backdrop to sing an encouraging number co-written by the Parton sisters for the special night.

Nearly a dozen women spoke throughout the rest of the weekend, including Vera Bradley founder Patricia Miller, Grammy-winning songwriter Gretchen Peters and Nashville chef Margot McCormack, to name a few.

Parton will release her newest project Blue Smoke — her first album in three years — on May 13. The 12-track album will feature her Grammy-nominated duet with Kenny Rogers, “You Can’t Make Old Friends” as well as a collaboration with Willie Nelson on “From Here to the Moon and Back.”

The second leg of her accompanying Blue Smoke World tour will resume May 22 in Tulsa, Okla.

via CMT : News : Dolly Parton Evokes Women Empowerment Through Story and Song.

This Day in Country Music- April 22nd

  • 2011, LeAnn Rimes marries actor Eddie Cibrian at a private home in Malibu, California
  • 2007, Emmylou Harris, Wynonna Judd, The Crickets, John Hiatt, ex-BMI executive Frances Preston and Christian artist Michael W. Smith make up the second batch of people inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville
  • 1995, John Michael Montgomery reaches the top of the Billboard country singles chart with “I Can Love You Like That”
  • 1945, Guitarist Pat Enright is born in Huntington, Indiana. He becomes a founding member of The Nashville Bluegrass Band and is also a part of the fictitious Soggy Bottom Boys, providing harmonies on the award-winning “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow”

via CMT : Country Music News : This Day in Country Music.

Glen Campbell Moved to Health Care Facility

Glen Campbell has been moved into a health care facility following a three-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, People magazine reports.

“He was moved to an Alzheimer’s facility last week,” a family friend told the magazine. “I’m not sure what the permanent plan is for him yet. We’ll know more next week.”

The 78-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member confirmed his diagnosis in 2011 and embarked on a farewell tour that ended in 2012. He released a new album, See You There, in December.

In announcing the diagnosis, Campbell and his wife wanted fans to understand his medical condition before the tour began. Despite occasional problems reading the song lyrics from an onstage video monitor, the shows were spirited and upbeat, and he was in excellent form as a guitarist.

He and his family were recently honored with the Alzheimer’s Association first-ever Glen Campbell Courage Award during ceremonies in Los Angeles. The award recognizes their personal bravery for sharing their story with the public and calling attention to the disease.

His final tour was filmed for Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me, a documentary debuting Friday (April 18) at the 2014 Nashville Film Festival. The film features footage of Campbell, his wife and their three adult children as they dealt with the effects of the disease while traveling together.

via CMT : News : Glen Campbell Moved to Health Care Facility.

This Day in Country Music- April 21st

  • 2012, Keith Urban becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry, performing “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” “Days Go By” and “Without You” during the night
  • 2007, Carrie Underwood goes to #1 in Billboard with “Wasted”
  • 2004, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith each win two trophies at the third annual CMT Flame Worthy Video Music Awards, held at Nashville’s Gaylord Entertainment Center
  • 1987, Reprise releases Dwight Yoakam’s “Hillbilly Deluxe” album

via CMT : Country Music News : This Day in Country Music.

This Day in Country Music- April 20th

  • 2011, Jo Dee Messina sings the national anthem before a Nashville Predators playoff game at Bridgestone Arena. Carrie Underwood sings “Cowboy Casanova” during intermission with Vince Gill on guitar. The visiting Anaheim Ducks win, 6-3
  • 1993, Mercury releases Toby Keith’s self-titled debut album
  • 1969, Singer and guitarist Wade Hayes is born in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma. Traditionally influenced, he scores several hits in the mid-1990s, including “Old Enough To Know Better,” “On A Good Night” and “What I Meant To Say”
  • 1938, Singing cowboy Roy Rogers makes his debut as a leading man with the release of “Under Western Stars.” Accompanied by Smiley Burnette and his horse, Trigger, Rogers plays a congressman for a drought-stricken state

via CMT : Country Music News : This Day in Country Music.

This Day in Country Music- April 19th

  • 2010, The Zac Brown Band album “The Foundation” goes double-platinum
  • 2003, Brad Paisley’s “Celebrity” video–featuring cameos by Jason Alexander, Jim Belushi, Little Jimmy Dickens, Trista Rehn and William Shatner–premieres on CMT’s “Most Wanted Live”
  • 1978, Columbia releases Willie Nelson’s “Stardust” album
  • 1969, Glen Campbell goes to #1 on the Billboard country singles chart with the Jimmy Webb song “Galveston”

via CMT : Country Music News : This Day in Country Music.

This Day in Country Music- April 18th

  • 2013, Willie Nelson’s 80th birthday is celebrated with a “CMT Crossroads” taping at Third Man Records. On hand are Sheryl Crow, Jack White, Neil Young, Leon Russell, Norah Jones, Ashley Monroe and Jamey Johnson
  • 2003, Dierks Bentley makes his Grand Ole Opry debut
  • 1988, MCA releases Reba McEntire’s “Reba” album
  • 1939, Gene Autry records “Back In The Saddle Again” in Los Angeles for the western movie “Rovin’ Tumbleweeds”

via CMT : Country Music News : This Day in Country Music.

Martina McBride Tops Chart With Everlasting

Latest Album Features Interpretations of Classic Songs

Martina McBride‘s Everlasting will debut this week at No. 1 on Billboard‘s country albums chart, at least temporarily interrupting the dominance of two blockbuster albums — Luke Bryan‘s Crash My Party and Florida Georgia Line‘s Here’s to the Good Times.

It’s a formidable achievement for McBride, especially as the first project on her own label. She’s certainly been working hard to promote the project, including appearances on Today, The Arsenio Hall Show, VH1′s Big Morning Buzz and as part of the CMT Listen Up performance series.

Everlasting raises an interesting question, though. What’s up with Martina McBride singing covers of Little Walter, Etta James, Otis Redding, Van Morrison and Motown greats like the Supremes and Jimmy Ruffin?

With guest appearances by Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw, the short answer is that she’s continuing to explore her musical inspirations which extend far beyond the covers of Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Connie Smith, Lynn Anderson and others she recorded for her 2005 all-country album, Timeless.

During an interview at CMT’s office in Nashville, McBride talked about putting together the project. In a way, this sort of seems like a long-awaited sequel to your Timeless album.

McBride: I saw similarities, definitely, when I was recording and finding songs — just the process of finding songs and the feeling of wanting to do them justice and sort of a reverence for the original.

How many songs were on your short list to record?

I went in with “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (Aretha Franklin), “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes) and “To Know Him Is to Love Him” (the Teddy Bears). … I had five or six songs that I went in with. Then (Van Morrison’s) “Wild Night” came kind sort of spontaneously. (The Supremes’) “Come See About Me,” we stumbled upon that on iTunes and went, “That’s fun. Let’s do that.”

Don Was produced the album. How long have you known him?

I worked with him a long time ago on a duet with Bob Seger on the Hope Floats soundtrack, but I don’t really remember the process of working with him. It was a long time ago, and I think I’d just had a baby, so I was probably in a fog. So I really met him, for all practical purposes, right before I made this album. I flew to L.A. to talk to him about making the record. We wanted to get together to see if we were on the same page songwise and musically. I met him for lunch. Then I went to his office, and we just listened to music all afternoon. When I left, he said, “I really want to make this record.”

Was his work with Bonnie Raitt a factor in wanting him to produce the album?

Definitely. He’s worked with a lot of people I admire, but the record he made with Bonnie — Nick of Time — was just a masterpiece. I loved that record, so he’s sort of been on my radar ever since.

Compared to producers and musicians in Nashville, does he approach things differently in the studio?

He’s very laid-back. He sits out in the room with the band. We all recorded in one room, and he was sitting out there with them listening. He’s very musical, so even though he does sometimes get meticulous, it’s not necessarily about every note being right. It’s about the feel of the thing which, to me, is just such a musical way and such a free way to making a record.

Two of the most obscure songs on the album are Fred Neil’s “Little Bit of Rain” and Etta James’ “In the Basement.”

I worked with an amazing A&R person on this record. Her name is Monica Lynch. She’s from New York. We worked for six or seven months, just sending songs back and forth.

She must have really good instincts. Most people, if they say they want to record a Fred Neil song, they’ll immediately choose “Everybody’s Talking.”

She’s really good. Scary good. Vast knowledge of all kinds of music. That song was a little bit different because it was a little more folk than soul. I loved the song when Linda Ronstadt did it with the Stone Poneys, and Amos Lee did a really beautiful version of it. The thing about this record is that you have to find songs that fit your voice and feel good.

What’s it like exposing these songs to a new audience?

My mom and dad got the record, and the first thing that came out was “If You Don’t Know Me by Now.” They said, “Who did that song originally?” … They wanted to see how my version was different. When I made Timeless, I thought, “Everybody knows this music. Everybody knows ‘Today I Started Loving You Again.’” And then I realized, “Oh, no. Not everybody knows this music.’ But they discovered it. When I did the Timeless tour, I looked out and saw these young kids singing along to “Rose Garden,” so it was cool.

Is it daunting to tackle a song that was originally sung by Teddy Pendergrass or Aretha Franklin?

I don’t know if “daunting” is the right word. I never felt overwhelmed that I can remember. I’ll probably look back in my journal and was completely overwhelmed about 90 percent of the time! The trick is, of course, is to not make a karaoke record. Sometimes with Timeless, I felt like I did stick so close to the originals. With this record, I think we took more liberties. You don’t want to make a karaoke record, but you also don’t want to make it unrecognizable. You have to have a reverence of the original but then try to make it your own in some way.

CMT : News : Martina McBride Tops Chart With Everlasting.

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