INTERVIEW: Kevin Costner

IEBA (INTERNATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT BUYERS ASSOCIATION) presented a performance by actor and musician Kevin Costner with his band MODERN WEST followed by a question and answer session led by GAC on-air talent Suzanne Alexander. The performance and Q&A session took place on Monday, October 4th in the main ballroom of the Hilton Hotel downtown Nashville as part of the IEBA 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE October 3rd through 5th in NASHVILLE.
Executive Director Tiffany Davis said: “We are thrilled to have such a renowned entertainer as Kevin Costner not only perform, but spend time with our attendees in an intimate setting. It was a rare, but very special gift to our members, and a top highlight of our 40th anniversary.”
SA: Kevin, thank you for taking time today to visit with us and share your music, and your insight.  Last night, you played the Opry and with it being such a landmark and cherished venue for so many, I am wondering how you sum up the experience?

KC:  Thank you, I obviously seen some wonderful nights in my life and that has to rank right up there with the things that have happened in this thing that you call your own personal journey.  Those were the only two shows that I actually had butterflies all day for; the Opry, I’m kind of uneasy the whole day.
SA: (Speaking out to the audience) I don’t know if you know that or I don’t know if you guys have had the opportunity to get the Grand Ole Opry house; but they refurbished and renovated the whole thing after the May floods and it’s just AMAZING.  Each dressing room has its own theme and of course, loving this man next to me, I immediately went into the “Friends and Neighbors” dressing room and that the title on the door and there are pictures that grace the wall of the artists that have played there, the artists that have visited and people that have visited and friends of the Opry.  And there is a perfect picture of Kevin standing there in the six foot circle of the original Ryman wood and the WSM microphone and I thought, “Wow, I can’t wait for him to see it”.  I’m assuming you did?
KC: I didn’t get to but I’m going back, although I don’t recall that woman coming out and asking me back.  That’s fine! (Laughter)
SA: Performing on the Opry you told about the song “Angels Came Down” and I know John inspired you to write that and asked you to play at the original Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, to bring that full circle and to perform those words back on that stage must be emotional on so many levels.
KC: It’s important. Everybody’s trying to write a hit. Everybody’s trying to write a “catchy” tune and the thing I’m most proud of with this band is that the music has driven us. I don’t know that we’re a record band, maybe will be, but my whole desire was to play live. And wherever I was making movies at in the world, I was playing music again. So our desire was to play live and I guess we are just singing to the choir here, because that’s what we do.  How I have this connection with people the last 20 years is a mystery to me, but a lot of people have gotten their first kiss at a movie they saw that maybe I was in, so it’s been great for me to connect with audiences all over the world that have actually seen movies and the curiosity goes away after about the first minute of the song and then we get to what an event wants to be all about, us playing music, original music, for them.
SA:  We’re going to be opening up for questions, but for those who may not know your background, your passion for music started with, really along with your passion for film.  It was just the film and the acting kind of took off first, but really if people look back at I think maybe the “Postman” in 1997we heard you sing a duet I think maybe of “Rain”, so it’s always intertwined.  
KC: I think music has always been in our household, probably very similar to your own. I grew up in a Baptist church and I my grandma was always head of the choir, and my mom and her sister sang and I was made to play classic piano. Music was always something that was a part of me as was performing.  And then the movies started to work really well for me and I got a bad critic on this one time for playing music from one particular person, so I just thought, “I don’t need this headache” so I dropped it.  It was my wife 8 years ago saying “I don’t think you should let these people scare you away from what you love, you know you enjoy the movies, but you enjoy music more.” She goes, “Those people who think they know you have a better chance of knowing what your personality is when they see you onstage playing music than when they see you on Jay Leno giving interviews.” 
SA: The tagline on your latest album is called “Turn it On” and I interviewed you for “Untold Truths” for that first CD and it really played into the man I got to know through a lot of your movies and westerns that you have and it so reminded me in “Untold Truths” of this expanse of freedom and of loving and traveling.  But with the new album, it really speaks to you on, you know, “get it on”. (Grinning)   It’s sexy!  But when you look deeper into that, yes, the title cut is about relationship, but it also speaks to maybe metaphorically of you “jumping in” and doing it without fear. Of taking the stage and pursuing your love of music blindly without fear.
KC:  I think there are a lot of things that hold us back in life.  You know, for as much as my parents loved me, when I announced that I was going to go into acting it, the reaction was “Oh no! No, how are you going to do that?”  And then my dad’s concern was, they didn’t want me to be embarrassed, they didn’t want me to be humiliated.  I think we all have that in common for our children in that we want them to succeed MORE than ourselves and in our lives, especially as men, I can’t speak for women, but as a man there is an overwhelming feeling that your son has found his way.  That he is somehow happy.  So when I told my dad I was going to play music and do movies, he was like “Oh my god.”  And then I realized that  I was going to Direct, he was like “Oh my god.” He said, “the acting is going so good…” (Giggles)  So,  the people that love you have a tendency to maybe hold you back, not on purpose but because they love you so much.   If I have learned anything, it was not telling my dad about going into music.  But we do, we are scalded in our lives, were all connected.  You all have the right to reverse the direction and take that fork in the road. I hope if it’s something speaking out loud to you, that you do that.  For a lot of things, it’s for a lot, not just one thing, I’m really happy that the people that love me said “go back and do music”.  I am glad to have done it.  I had no idea that it would lead to a stage like this tonight. 
SA: You mentioned that your wife, Christine, and by the way, Kevin and Christine just had a baby girl!  Little, Grace, how old now?
KC: Yea, now I have three in diapers so if you want to feel really bad for me then you can start right now.  (Laughs) and my wife has never seen anything like boys.  She desperately wanted a girl, but she looked at the boys and they were jumping from everything and breaking almost everything and just can’t quite believe the DNA of a boy.  But we’ve got a lot of pink going on in the house right now so that’s good.
SA:  You mentioned this and Christine probably said “Honey, go do that”, but when are you going to  get home though? (laughing)
We are going to open up the questions for the audience now, so if you have a question please come forward to the microphone.
Q:  Thank you, this is a life or death question for Kevin.  Suzanne, my name is Daniel Rice, I’m a member of IEBA and my wife happens to have watched “Message in a Bottle” over 50 times! 
SA: Do we love Garret or what?
Q:  She’s such a fanatic over this and she said, “Please let me come today!” and I said, “No way, there’s no way you’re going to get within the length of a football field of that guy!”  and she’s home right now and  she said, “ Well, will you at least give this message to him?”  So this is the message with really a question to you, Kevin.  She is undoubtedly your #1 fan and if you don’t read that and hopefully respond positively to it, I am dead! (Laughter) [hands Kevin the note]
KC: I have your life in my hands…
Q: I told her that there was no way I was going to be near you at all ,so I thank you for taking this question…her question is “Do you plan to do a part II of “Message in a Bottle”?” 
KC:  Number one, I’m not going to let you down, buddy.  Number two, I don’t think that you should have to watch another 50 episodes of me!
Q: Well, let me tell you, I didn’t say WE watched it. (Laughter and clapping)
KC: Good point!  I was going to remind you that I die in that movie, so I don’t think that will happen unless we go back to the early years or something.
SA: Going back to your live performance, and I’ve had the opportunity to witness Kevin live onstage at several opportunities,  I see that one of the refreshing things with you is that “kid in a candy store” and that is no where else you would rather be and that includes your band members.  You guys seem like you are having a blast.  Do you feel like that? Do you feel  WOW! This is cool.
KC:  Yea, it’s given me a chance to have a real, what I call “authentic” relationship with the music, because a lot of times there’s too much distance with the big screen that goes up between us.  I spend life being observed and the truth is that I like being a part of the party and music has given me a chance to be in a room and have an experience and a real authentic one.  And I do love that.  I think whenever you are with people, there is an opportunity for great things to happen. 
I tell you what, I’ll tell you a little story.  And maybe I’m going to eat up the time here, but just to let you understand that fame is an interesting thing.  You know when we had the first song out, there was a call to go out to and sing one of those songs.  I remember I was with 50 or 60 of my colleagues and we were in a soundstage all day and now the end of the night came and I felt like I had met everybody coming in and met the families and those that were in the war and I’d met everybody going out.  And I was tired and I think you can all relate to being tired.  And I walked out of the soundstage and I started heading towards my car.  And I heard a voice, “Kevin” and I selfishly realized that I was at a kind of distance that I could ignore it. Actually I was far enough away, that it was a reasonable thought that I maybe could just not have heard.  And I heard it again, “Kevin”.  And I just felt that I had met everyone, and I was done, and I was really, really done but I heard, “Kevin”.  I could tell that the voice stopped at that point and had accepted that maybe the distance was too great,  but I knew at that moment that it wasn’t and I stopped.  And I turned around, and I said, “Yes?”  And it was a woman and she said, “Can I talk to you for a second?”  I said, “Of course.”  So we closed the distance and she came to me and said, “I need to thank you.” And I said, “Why?” and she said, “Well, my husband is missing in action, I think he’s a prisoner of war.”  Right away I was glad I had stopped.  She said, “In your movie “Dances with Wolves” I remember when you were captured too.  And you were in chains and your friends came to save you in that movie, and they did.  And they brought you home, and there was a woman “Stands with a Fist” and I’ll never forget how you got off your horse and how she ran up the hill and you began hugging and kissing and falling into the snow and never stopped kissing.” She goes, “I want that for myself.  And when I see that for him and when I watch that movie, I think of him.  And I think, will we ever have that moment? “ So I was, as you can imagine, I was really glad that I had stopped and heard that particular story.  I went home and got the negative of that movie and I cut out those three frames of that image and sent it to her.   I’ve had so much and I do love performing and out of that, sometimes, these stories come.
SA:  It’s interesting for my own sake, looking at your career, how hard it is for you to make this music, recording it, going out and touring, here in the states, over in Europe.  Recently you flew halfway across the world to play in Kazakhstan.  Is it what you thought it would be, because you have been so concentrated these last few years that you’ve been doing these interviews.  Is it what you thought this would be? 
KC: Well, it’s been greater than I’d thought.  You know, when I finally had to go back and make the fundamental decision of, do I go back into music? My wife helped me, she heard three years of earlier music and said, “Why don’t you do this? I’m so happy when I listen to your music, I think other people will be too. “  I thought, no.  Because I would remember that one critical notice and so for three years I was like a child that wouldn’t take out the garbage or wouldn’t cut the lawn.  And she kept saying, “I think you should do this music.”  And I’d say no.  She asked me, “Why?” and I said, “Oh it was a thousand reasons.”  Finally, she knew I was a little bit afraid and she knew me as a not being a person that was afraid.  So she said, “Kevin, let me ask you a question.  Are you happy when you play music?”
I said, “Yeah.”  She said, “Do you think the people that are in front of you are happy when you are playing music?” “Not the people that are writing, the people that are there in front of you?” and I said, “Yeah, I think they are happy.”  And she looked at me and she said, “Well, what can be wrong with that?”  a huge burden came off my shoulders and I said, “Yeah, I’m going to start playing again.”  And that was five years ago. 
SA: How have you changed in these last few years?  How have you changed as an artist, as a performer?  Singer? Songwriter?   Have you noticed a bit of a difference in where you were? 
KC:  Well, I’m a part of a band that really challenges each other and I feel like my life is a journey. As you must feel your life is. 
SA: Opening up to questions from the audience again …question up here in the front.
Q2:  Hi, Kevin, I’m Gary Good from Gary Good Entertainment out of Oklahoma City.  I’d like to know what your music influences were and then the second part of the question, what’s the difference when you jump on stage as a musician and jumping on stage as an actor?
KC:  The influences, it’s funny, I was born in Compton, California and so I grew up with Motown, but my family is from Guymon, Oklahoma.  My family, my grandfather lost everything in the dust bowl.  And so the stories of my own life are so rooted in America and that particular experience.   I grew up with Motown and I still make cowboy movies.  So the middle of the country is my heritage.  My family came from Germany in the 1600s to the Carolinas and married some Cherokee women and went on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.  The influences were where I was born, but I think what is in my soul is the history of our country. 
And the difference between making movies is that making movies is very dry and you have to find the energy.  I was a little tired this morning, you were probably a little tired, but can you imagine being on stage and hearing the drums?  You just can’t stop but get caught up in the wave and the fact that you clap for me, you didn’t have to do that.  But you made me feel very welcome.  And I’ll admit that I needed that.  That made me feel welcome, so it’s kind of amazing what we do for each other.  People never realize that that smile is a kind of thank you that you give somebody.  We have such an opportunity to affect the person’s life in a positive way, what we actually have is just a way to thank them.  It just depends on what we decide to give.  So for my band, for that little clap, if you think this is all old hat stuff for me, it’s not! 
SA: Your music seems to have an arm.  It’s very all-inclusive in subject matter,  I know speaking for all these women here in the audience, that there is a sexiness  that exudes, that is so natural for you on film, it comes through in music and especially in this new album “Turn it On”.  The song that stands out called “Maria Ne” and I wonder for you, as a kind of artist, is there songs that you seem to gravitate towards when you are looking to record or looking to perform on stage?
KC: I’m not the best writer in our band, In fact if the other guys weren’t there, the songs wouldn’t be as good as they are.  I try really hard, but one of the things I do, is that I decide what we play and I insist that the cream get to the top.  It doesn’t matter if it’s my song or it doesn’t matter if somebody’s written two songs in a row, the cream will go to the top. We will write about our childhood and I think Mark Twain said it right, he said, “If you’ve lived your life correctly, you will never forget your childhood.”  And then obviously the majority of our songs are about men and women and that juxtaposition, that thing why we can’t get along, and why we ultimately have to be together.  So you know, we do bounce around quite a bit and if something strikes us, you’ll see we’ll write an historical song. 
SA: I think we have time for one more question from the audience.
Q3:  Kevin, I’m Old Mother Hubbard from Las Cruces, New Mexico at New Mexico State University and we’d like to invite you to come to campus.  I just wondered if you wouldn’t mind sitting down with some of my students and doing a workshop when you come.

KC:  Well, she kind of cornered me when she pulled that Old Mother Hubbard thing (laughter)…I know, women know how to corner men.  You know, they’re smarter…you guys are smarter and you don’t fight fair. 
Q3: But we love!
KC: Yeah. (smiles coyly) I plan on making quite a few movies in New Mexico, so I’m going to be in the neighborhood. If Old Mother Hubbard will bring me a few cookies and some COLD milk, I do like talking to students because students are hungry.  They’re hungry for the truth and you know what?  They’re not any different than us.  I mean sometimes people look at us, at our age and people think we’ve got it figured out and we don’t.  And the best thing that you can do when you are talking to students, or talking to a group of people is open yourself up so that there can be an actual exchange.  I hope that something happened here between you and I.  That last song that we sang was “something that happened to me, has it happened to you?  To my own heart I’ve tried to be true.  Hey man, what about you?” I think we, in that name of music, we should drop what we feel and let the beat carry us along and understand that we can be a part of the party.  Our lives so quickly go back to what we have to do, you know?  There are these moments where we get to kind of enjoy and when you do, take the whole moment. Anyway, if I’m close, I do enjoy talking to college students, cause I was a mixed up one.  And it’s important to let them know that.
Q3:  I will change the diapers when you come down.
KC:  You know what, I don’t mind changing the diapers.  It was always kind of a joke they tell on television or something like that, “you change diapers? Really?”  Like it’s a big deal. “You know why I change diapers?  It’s really simple, because the connection you have with your child, what you are saying to your child at that moment is; I’m willing to take care of you at your worst.  A bond forms when you are willing to take care of a child, when they are the most uncomfortable and they need you the most.  So people can make a joke about it, but I think those bonds come from that moment when you change just the way they feel.
SA:  I think in summary, maybe looking to the future , we’ve got two albums from you. “Looking To The Truths” and “Turn it On”.  What are the plans and the balancing for your film work and your music career? 
KC:  I never fail to feel how graceful an interviewer you are, how you wind things.  I’m not trying to put you front and center. No, but you really are.  I’ve interviewed with a lot of people and to somehow wind it back to home is an art form.  So thank you.  And as I try to answer that question, what are the plans? 
I want you to know that there has been no master plan for my life.  I haven’t tried to make a calculated life. I have tried to go to the things that I love to do.  And I do love making movies and I do plan on making some more, directing more. I plan on making more cowboy movies and I plan on singing more.  But at this moment, my life to me is a bit of a mystery.  I’ve gotten on this globe and I don’t know how my life is going to play out.  But I know wherever  I go,  I will be giving my maximum effort to those people I find myself in front of.  Whether it’s just a simple conversation or a woman who wants to have that conversation that I’m not sure I want to have and turn around and make that moment mean more to her.   I think when you show up in life, there is always an opportunity for something great to happen.  [looking to the audience]Thank you for helping me, because you have helped me.  You’ve helped our group when we’ve felt like outsiders, you made us feel welcome.  Thank you and I know you are all probably going home to your families tomorrow, but thank you for choosing to be here and watching “Modern West”. 
SA: The incomparable Kevin Costner, everyone!  (Clapping)
For more about KEVIN COSTNER & MODERN WEST, visit For more on IEBA  visit
Exclusive photos of Kevin Costner, along with other special performances during the convention can be viewed at

Edited by Bev Moser
Transcription by Tricia Dapelo

PRESS CONFERENCE: Martina McBride Joins Republic Nashville (Word For Word)

On November 8th, in the rotunda of the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame, Scott Borchetta, President and CEO of Big Machine Records announced to invited media guests that the talented and beautiful Martina McBride would be joining the sister music label, Republic Nashville. Below is the transcription of the press conference:

Scott Borchetta:

I think this might be my favorite room here in the Hall of Fame. I always look around and say “Will the Circle be Unbroken.”  I think of all the work that we all collectively do to make sure that the circle stays complete.  In August of 2005, right before we officially launched Big Machine Records, I signed a girl named Taylor Swift right here in this building, in the Community Room right here at the Hall of Fame. We were a brand new label, with big dreams and high hopes, and I had a couple of people who believed that we might have a chance to do it.  And we thought, “Why not sign her at the Hall of Fame?  Why should we not aim to make history?”  Well, just last week Taylor did just that with the debut of more than a million copies sold of her new album, “Speak Now”, a feat that  has only happened sixteen times in the sound scan era.  And it has only happened twice for a country artist, the other one being our good friend Garth Brooks. So why not dare to dream? When she and I were talking about what we hoped might happen in the first week of sales for “Speak Now”, we dreamed of selling a million unit’s the first week.  Dreams do come true.   

Speaking of Garth, I think we all would like to thank him for the amazing things he is doing for our city.  Just this past weekend, he sold over one hundred and forty thousand tickets for the nine shows and possibly counting that he is going to do here in Nashville for our flood relief and our flood victims.  (applause)   I think we all just so appreciate what he does on a daily basis for country music.   Speaking of Garth, one of the last times we were in this room was around the time that the label had turned two years old. We were able to announce, with Garth, in this room, that we were able to achieve one of his dreams, when “More Than a Memory” shattered all first week airplay records, and debuted at number one on the Bill Board chart. Dreams come true.  (applause) 

So in 2007 I came into my executive meeting and I said “Hey guys and girls, I have a crazy idea. I want to start another label. Shoot holes in this plan.”  We went over the whole plan and thought this plan just might work.  November of 2007, we opened the Valory Music Company. And as many of you know, I have worked with Reba McEntire for quite a long time.  I was with her during the nineties at MCA.  We had a wonderful bond and a great working relationship.  I had always dreamed that she might want to come over to our new label group. So in August two thousand nine, Valory Music Company released Reba’s titled album “I Keep on Loving You”.  Reba had always dreamed that she would have an album debut at number one on the Billboard top two hundred album chart.  Well, that dream came true on August eighteen, two thousand and nine.  We also achieved her longest running number one single of her career earlier this year when “Consider Me Gone” rode atop of the country airplay charts for four weeks.  Obviously working with Reba for me is; a dream come true. An interesting statistic about Valory, every act we have signed to Valory; Reba, Justin Moore, Jewel, and Jimmy Wayne have all had either a number one album or a number one single. Dreams come true.

Right when the industry started to get used to the fact that we had two labels, my good friend Jimmy and I started scheming and scamming about starting a third label. Jimmy and I previously worked together at DreamWorks. We opened the Republic Nashville label in the spring of last year. We have already had break out success with The Band Perry who are on the way to a platinum single and a gold album.  I am proud to say the CMA nominated The Band Perry. And it looks like we have a big old hit with Sunny Sweeney.  One of the dreams that we had was could we build something that would have the appeal and the opportunity and the ability to lure a superstar artist. And that is what today is about.

(He hands the microphone to Jimmy)  When you hear the name Martina McBride, you immediately think of one of the most powerful voices in any genre of music; a voice that drove eighteen million albums sold, a combined total of seven CMA and ACM top female vocalist of the year awards. She has had twenty-four top ten singles and six number one singles. Even more impressive than that were the songs that inspired and moved a generation such as  “Independence Day”, “Broken Wing”, “Concrete Angel”, and “In my Daughter’s Eyes”, just to name a few. What I find even more amazing is that after all of this, Martina’s music and her new music still gives me goose bumps and evokes strong emotions. Last week, Scott and I, Martina’s team and Allison Jones had the honor to sit and listen to her new music.  I am telling all of you it is absolutely incredible. 

Scott Borchetta:  The Country Music Hall of Fame is not just about the history of country music. It is a home for dreams.  It is a beautiful place to house those dreams and those dreams that do come true. It is a destination, not just for the preservation for our music and for our fans, it is a destination for those who dare to dream.  Today, for the Republic Nashville, a dream comes true. Please welcome the newest member of the Big Machine label group, on Republic Nashville, Martina McBride.

Martina:  Thank you guys for being here today on this incredibly exciting day for me.  John and I moved to Nashville in nineteen ninety with a big dream. I am living proof that dreams do come true. All I ever wanted to do since I was four years old was sing.  I have had an amazing career. We have been fortunate enough and blessed to have sold a lot of records and get to see the world and all of the great fifty states that we have.  I have had an amazing life.  I had a great eighteen year partnership with RCA and Joe Galante. We had a wonderful run.  When this opportunity came up, to work with Jimmy and Scott, it just felt right. Change is not always easy.  Sometimes it is difficult. All I could see was the future, my future. I have the utmost respect for them and everything they have done. Their passion and excitement and energy are contagious.  I am so excited to have that passion and energy and excitement focused on my career now.  I am over the top excited today to be here.  I cannot wait for you guys to hear the new music. I am fired up and feel like I have a focus and energy for making music that I have not had in a long time.  So, here is; to the future. (applause)

Scott:  Before we go to the press, I think we have one or two questions right quick that we are going to address.

Q:  Martina, it seems like you have been working with a lot of interesting people lately like Train, Kid Rock, and TI. Can you share if you will be releasing anything out of the ordinary?

Martina:  Well, we are doing a rap record. Did we not mention that? ( a joke)  Creatively for me it is such an exciting time right now because I have had a lot of interesting opportunities come across my plate these past few months.  I just try to be open to any opportunities that feel right. We did Crossroads with Train a couple of days ago and it was unbelievable.  I cannot wait for you guys to see it.  It was such a great night.  He is such an amazing singer. We had a great time.  As for Kid Rock, TI and Dave Stewart, who is playing a show here in Nashville on December ninth and I am excited about that.  I just want to take every opportunity I can right now that feels right for me and for my fans.  I want to have fun. 

Q:  Along that line of questioning, you are combining forces with some of the biggest up and up and coming artists with this new venture. Any new label mates you might consider collaborating with? 

Martina:  Well, you know it is no secret how much I love Reba McEntire.  Obviously, any time I can be in a room with her just talking let alone singing is a thrill for me. And of course The Band Perry, I am really excited for them.  I think they have an amazing future. 

Scott:  Thank you all for coming. We are going to do a couple of photos and then Martina will be available for the TV and Video press. Thanks again.  
Exclusive photos of the press conference are available at

ARTICLE: Country Strong Movie Premiere

Nashville played host to a star-studded movie premiere Monday night. "Country Strong," starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw was filmed in Nashville and follows a fallen country star as she tries to make her way back to the top.

Paltrow plays Kelly Canter, the country star trying to reenter the industry, while McGraw plays her husband and manager, Ed.

The movie had its world premiere in Green Hills.

"I'm thrilled. I'm really proud of the movie," Paltrow said to reporters outside the Regal Green Hills Cinema.

Paltrow spent several months in Nashville while filming the movie and said she fell in love with the city.

"I really got so into the culture, the stores and the food. It was just great. I mean, I think it's a really special city and I feel really lucky that I got to come and be here," Paltrow added.

Country star, turned actor, Tim McGraw said filming the movie in Nashville was a bonus for him.

"Especially for a movie that's such a heavy movie, to be able to come home and sort of shake all that off is fantastic," McGraw said.

"Country Strong" was shot in Nashville last winter, making music city the back drop for this major motion picture.
Butch Spyridon of the Convention and Visitors Bureau said the attention the movie gives the city will be a very good thing.

"We'll see visitation. We'll see increased awareness and we'll benefit on a lot of levels - probably pick up a few more movies and shows too," said Spyridon.

Country Strong opens in Nashville and Los Angeles on December 22. The movie will be released nationwide on January 7, 2011.
For Exclusive photos visit

ARTICLE: Retune Nashville Benefit Auction and Concert

Saturday, October 23rd a Benefit Concert and Art Auction Event was held at Soundcheck, Nashville’s massive music gear storage and rehearsal facility which suffered massive flood damages in May. The event was a kick-off to the global online auction of more than 70 original art pieces created from flood-damaged music instruments. Light hors d'oeuvres and wine were served during the art viewing and live art auction portion of the event, where a small selection of "ReTuned" gear will be up for bidding. All other "ReTuned" items will be auctioned off online each month leading up to the anniversary of Nashville's devastating floods. A silent auction of other items donated from Nashville artists and musicians also took place.

Guests were entertained by Jamie, O'Neal, best known for her chart-topping singles “Arizona” and “When I Think About Angels,” and the wildly popular “Somebody’s Hero,” An Academy of Country Music Top Female Vocalist and a multi-nominated Grammy songwriter.

Also on hand was a strong line up and list of passionate and talented musicians and performers creating a unque eclectic musical experience. Performers included Anthony Smith, Jeremy Lister, Eddy Raven, Kentucky Thunder (Jonell Mosser, Etta Britt, Sheila Lawrence, Vickie Carrico), Sean O'Bryan Smith, and Derek St. Holmes.
House Band: Roger Eaton (Lorrie Morgan, Barbara Mandrell) on lead guitar, Dave Fowler (Jamie O’Neal Collin Raye) on bass, Jack Garvin (Charlie Daniels, Tanya Tucker) on drums, Michael Webb (John Fogerty, Gary Allan) on keys, and Scott Neubert (Hal Ketchum, Chalee Tennison) on acoustic guitar 

 ReTune Nashville is a 100% volunteer effort, and all proceeds from ticket sales, auction items and merchandise will directly benefit Nashville's musicians through MusiCares Nashville Flood Relief and the Nashville Musician's Association Flood Relief Fund.

About ReTune Nashville:
Founded as a non-profit organization in May 2010 by Nashville photographer Sheri ONeal, ReTune Nashville exists with a mission to provide relief to uninsured musicians in the industry through the sale of artwork created from flood damaged musical gear. The proceeds from the sale of artwork are donated to MusiCares Nashville Flood Relief and the Nashville Musicians Association Flood Relief Fund for distribution to uninsured musicians in the industry. Visit ReTune Nashville's Website

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Special THANK YOU to Karen Hampton for the photos for Moments By Moser

ARTICLE: TOOTSIES 50th Anniversary

After 50 years of fostering and honing the chops of singers and songwriters in Nashville, Tootsies finally got the celebration it deserves. Revered as a breeding ground for Nashville’s music machine, the venerable honky tonk on Lower Broadway simply teems with character and legend. And all of those who gathered to celebrate at the Ryman had a story.

Terri Clark played her first gig at Tootsies during Lower Broad’s rougher days. She used to tie a shoestring to her guitar case, so no one would snatch it on her way to a show. One of the most memorable experiences was when a man had a heart attack and dropped dead in the middle of her set.

Country music in Tootsies is just that real. Randy Houser stumbled through Tootsies’ purple doors during his first week in town. He idled up to the bar next to a burly man in a cowboy hat. The man asked where he was from and offered to buy him a beer. Ten years later, Toby Keith signed Houser to his record label. Talk about full circle.

One time, Mark Chesnutt was playing the Opry at the Ryman and—just like Hank Williams and many others before him—Chesnutt popped into Tootsies in between sets for a few cold ones. The next day, news had spread—even in the media—that Chesnutt got in a fight in the alley out back. The story had absolutely no merit. “I thought that was the funniest thing,” Chesnutt said. “Look at me, man. I can’t whoop nobody.”

Others were a little blunter about their Tootsies habits. “I think my liver died at Tootsies,” former Trick Pony member Ira Dean said. “I remember going in there, but I don’t remember leaving.”

The Grascals’ Terry Eldredge had similar experiences. “I never get thrown out, but I got rolled out a few times,” Eldredge said.

Joking aside, all the artists that gathered at the Ryman were there to pay their respects through song and entertainment. The stage was set up “Opry-Style” with a purple front-door backdrop and artists performed one-by-one in tribute to the place they got their starts. For the most part, classic country was undoubtedly present as several performers harkened images of some of Tootsies’ early patrons. “King of the Road” was sung by Dean Miller (Roger’s son), while Joanna Smith—Columbia Nashville’s latest signing—delivered a powerful performance of “Stand By Your Man.” Fittingly enough, Smith was discovered at Tootsies after playing there regularly for four years. “You have people from all walks of life in Tootsies—not to mention all four corners of the world,” Smith said. “You learn how to be a universal entertainer and I think that is something that’s going to be completely invaluable to me for the rest of my career.”

Clark stuck with the classic theme as she performed solo acoustic versions of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” and even “Folsom Prison Blues.” She, too, gained valuable support from Tootsies.
“I remember people coming up to me and telling me I could make it,” Clark said. “Those people kept me going.” Well, if she wasn’t sure if she made it, all doubt was removed when she got the privilege of introducing songwriting legend Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson—who once allegedly resided with Willie Nelson in the back of Tootsies—eased into a can’t-miss medley of “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” and “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down.” Perhaps the seed to one of those classics was planted while contemplating life on a dusty mattress within the walls of the Orchid Lounge.

Other seasoned entertainers like Mel Tillis and Little Jimmy Dickens fondly remembered Hattie Louise “Tootsie” Bess—the lady who ran the bar back when it was known as Mom’s. “None of us in the history of country music could forget the nice times and joyful times at Tootsies,” Dickens said. Tootsies also helped shape the careers of current critic darlings. Towards the end of the show, Houser and buddy Jamey Johnson teamed up for Hank Jr.’s “Dinosaur.” Johnson—who wasn’t featured on the bill—closed out with his hit “In Color.”

The tradition lives on. The breadth of performers with their similar and intertwining stories, illustrates Tootsies’ cultural impact on Music City. “(Tootsies) definitely has a page in country music history,” current Tootsies performer John Stone said. “Just to know that I have a small paragraph on that page means a lot.” Every success story has to have a beginning. And for the select few that have made it in Nashville over the last 50 years, that starting point has been Tootsies. “This celebration has been long past due,” Dickens said.

(REPRINTED: Pierce Greenberg

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ARTICLE: The Woods at Fontanel with Montgomery Gentry, Gretchen Wilson and John Rich

A much-needed but ill-timed torrential downpour didn't dampen the spirits of several thousand rain-soaked country music fans during the first major concert at Nashville's new The Woods at Fontanel amphitheatre last night. Montgomery Gentry, Gretchen Wilson and special guest John Rich presented by Logan's Roadhouse drew a packed house on a beautiful evening at the scenic venue. . . and then the clouds opened up.

Newcomer trio The Farm opened the show at 7:00 p.m. Rain started to fall when John Rich took the stage, but no one seemed to mind. Gretchen Wilson could have changed her opening smash number "Here For The Party" to "Here For The Rain", as the rains fell even heavier through her set. But the people stayed. When Montgomery Gentry took the stage, they gave the water-logged fans a 70-minute show they won't soon forget.

Still soaked from her own set, Gretchen donned a rain coat and headed out into the audience to enjoy her buddies, Eddie and Troy, on stage. In order to get a better vantage point, she climbed on the shoulders of her manager, Marc Oswald. They worked their way to the front of the crowd, where Gretchen climbed on stage and helped MG finish one of their last songs.

"By all accounts this was beyond successful for our first major concert event at The Woods," said Oswald, who also co-owns The Fontanel. "Not only did we again see how wild, crazy and dedicated the country music fans are in Nashville, but it gave us the opportunity to see how this beautiful new facility and our staff held up under very adverse conditions." A spokesman for Fontanel stated.

The Woods at Fontanel is a new outdoor venue on the grounds at Fontanel, 4225 White’s Creek Pike in White’s Creek. Unlike anywhere else in Nashville, the Woods at Fontanel is an outdoor music venue with a capacity for 2500 guests. Featuring state-of-the-art sound and a cozy wooded setting, the natural amphitheatre space of the White's Creek valley will be the must-see (and must-hear!) venue of the South.

Also included was a fall festival featuring local arts and crafts, a large display of vintage tractors for everone to view, eat and enjoy.

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SPECIAL THANK YOU to KAREN HAMPTON for taking photographs for Moments By Moser / Digital Rodeo.

ARTICLE: Burns & Poe Release Self Titled Debut Album

L to R: Kat Atwood (Music City Media), John Mullins (Director Writer/Publisher Relations, SESAC), Michelle Poe, Keith Burns, Shannan Tipton Hatch (Director Writer/Publisher Relations, SESAC), Steve Pope (Blue Steel Records)
The wait is over for Burns & Poe music! Burns & Poe officially introduced the new music from their upcoming self-titled CD at the SESAC offices on Music Row during an evening during a celebration on November 16th with friends, family and industry executives in the SESAC lobby.

Produced by Mark Oliverius, the 2-disc project contains 13 original songs penned by Keith Burns and Michelle Poe. A special autographed LP/CD package is exclusively available via the Burns & Poe web site, with the official release set to hit retailers in late February 2011.

Having tantalized country radio and listeners with two new singles “Don’t Get No Better Than That” and “How Long Is Long Enough?” (currently at radio),Blue Steel Records’ sexy duo, Burns & Poe, are poised to unveil a double disc set this fall. Their self-titled debut release,jam-packed with original songs and a surprise ending is now available at primary retail and digital outlets.

The first two radio releases are just a taste of the Burns & Poe experience. “How Long Is Long Enough?” captures the delicate pain of a broken heart with a graceful instrumental lilt while “Don’t Get No Better Than That” is a rollicking ‘living life to the fullest’ anthem. The CD collection* is pure Burns & Poe with equal parts tongue and cheek good-time, up-tempos and honest, moving ballads. Mark Oliverius, longtime friend and co-writer of the duo, signed on to produce and brings a distinctive polish to all fourteen tracks.

“Keith and I just love each and every one of the songs and couldn’t wait to get the CD to our fans,” Michelle reveals. “They have been so supportive; this is truly a ‘thank-you’ to them.”
“We’ve been chompin’ at the bit, but we think we’ve picked our best songs to represent who we are as songwriters and artists and are so happy with the end result.“

Keith added. “Michelle and I worked hard to create a project that is ‘duoly’ country!” “I think he means ‘duly’,” Michelle chimes.

The unparalleled combination of superb writing with their patented “gravel and grace” harmony received accolades from Country Weekly. The magazine notes the duo exemplifies the magic male-female duos of yesteryear, pairs like GeorgeJones and Tammy Wynette or Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers or Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn. Keith Burns and Michelle Poe are a duo for the country masses. Joining forces after Poe (former Dreamworks recording artist) auditioned for the lead of Trick Pony, of which Burns was a founding member, the pair fused their talents and flare to create an electrifying sound and chemistry-charged show.

Burns & Poe have been on the road performing at shows from coast to coast. They signed with Blue Steel Records late last year. Since Keith Burns and Michelle Poe came together in 2006, they’ve secured a variety of sponsors including Taylor Guitars, Peavey Guitars, Dan Post Boots, Silpada Designs and Crow’s Nest Trading Company. In addition to the release of their album originals, country music listeners will enjoy a hidden gem—the live medley (a bonus track)—that is a Burns & Poe tell-all.

For more information about Burns & Poe, including tour dates and album updates, please visit:,, or

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ARTICLE: Trace Adkins at the Hard Rock for Musicians On Call

In 1999, the Kristen Ann Carr Fund sponsored a concert at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center with the help of Michael Solomon and Vivek Tiwary. Nurses carefully transported patients to the hospital’s recreation area, arranging seats and wheelchairs around a temporary stage. IV poles were present throughout the audience, their bags forming a mezzanine audience overhead.

Finally, Kenli Mattus began to perform and something wonderful happened. Feet began to tap and heads nodded to the beat. Smiles formed on patients’ faces and some closed their eyes in revelry. His music was like a melodious breeze moving throughout the room; joyful notes drifted through the air before settling comfortably on the souls of his audience.
It was just what the patients needed, one of the nurses said, and such a shame that some were unable to attend because they were in treatment or too sick to leave their rooms. It was clear that some of the patients who needed music most were unable to go to the concert.

So Mattus brought the concert to them.

He went room to room, along with Michael and Vivek, and played at the bedsides of those who had missed the concert. What happened in the rec room happened on an even deeper and more intimate level. Michael and Vivek knew they had to form an organization that could bring the same inspiration to the bedsides of patients in hospitals everywhere.

And so Musicians On Call was born, right on cue.

Multiplatinum, award-winning country music star Trace Adkins performed at Hard Rock Cafe Nashville on October 25, 2010 as part of Musicians On Call's Month of Music initiative; a series of events in New York, Nashville, and Miami during the month of October

Atlantic Records band, The Invite kicked off the night which included a high energy “clap along”. The show was a very special and intimate evening for Trace Adkins fans and helped raise over $10,000 for MOC's programs in Nashville.

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Eddy Arnold, Little Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Hebb, Kris Kristofferson, Rascal Flatts and Mel Tillis
Earn Stars On Nashville's Music Mile

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Nashville, Tenn. - Music City, Inc. new inductees to the Music City Walk of Fame, presented by founding sponsor Gibson Guitar: Eddy Arnold, Little Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Hebb, Kris Kristofferson, Rascal Flatts and Mel Tillis. The honorees were recognized officially with the unveiling of commemorative sidewalk markers on Sunday, Nov. 7th in the Walk of Fame Park in downtown Nashville.
The Music City Walk of Fame is an official project of Music City, Inc., the charitable foundation of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau (NCVB), and is produced with the support of presenting sponsor Gibson Guitar and sponsors GAC, the City of Nashville and Metro Parks.

"We are pleased to honor this amazing class of inductees," said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Each honoree represents the immense talent, creativity and diversity that have made Nashville, Music City."

Created in the fall of 2006, the Music City Walk of Fame, on Nashville's Music Mile, is a landmark tribute to those from all genres of music who have made significant contributions to preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and have contributed to the world through song or other industry collaboration. With the induction of this new class of honorees, there will be 48 total stars along the Walk of Fame.

Permanent sidewalk medallions made of stainless steel and terrazzo, with each honoree's name displayed in a star-and-guitar design, will be installed in the sidewalk along the Music Mile. The plaques for this class of inductees will be inlaid in Hall of Fame Park on Demonbreun, between 4th and 5th Avenues South.

Nominations were open to the public and accepted in the categories of Artist, Musician, Songwriter, and Producer/Music Industry Executive. Application forms were reviewed by the Music City Walk of Fame anonymous selection committee.

"Gibson Guitar is honored to continue the tradition of the Music City Walk of Fame which celebrates the vast wealth of talent and creativity that originates in Nashville," said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. "This class of inductees is no exception. From our own signature artist Kris Kristofferson to Rascal Flatts along with Little Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Hebb, Eddy Arnold and Mel Tillis, this exceptional group of artists keep Nashville's place in music history strong."

The November inductees for the Music City Walk of Fame:

Eddy Arnold:
Eddy Arnold, one of the greatest singers in both country and pop genres, was born May 15, 1918 in Chester County, Tennessee. On his eleventh birthday, his father died; later that year the farm the family lived on was auctioned off and the family became sharecroppers on the farm they once owned. Arnold went to school through the ninth grade, then landed a job with a funeral home while he sang on the local radio station. Soon, he moved to Memphis, then St. Louis where he appeared on radio for several years before landing a job with Pee Wee King and the Golden West Cowboys.

During World War II Arnold toured all over the United States with the Camel Caravan, appearing at Armed Forces bases. After the tour, he embarked on a solo career with the Grand Ole Opry, with the moniker, "The Tennessee Plowboy" and was signed to host the show sponsored by Purina on the NBC network. In December, 1944, Arnold, already a star on the Grand Ole Opry, made his first recordings for Victor Records at the WSM Studios - the first recording session by a major label in Nashville.

In 1945, he joined forces with Colonel Tom Parker, who was his manager for the next eight years. During that time, Arnold had a string of #1 hits, and in 1947-1948, he had the #1 song on the country charts for 60 consecutive weeks. In fact, in 1948 he outsold the entire pop division of RCA Victor which helped persuade RCA Victor as well as other notable record companies to eventually invest in building and operating recording facilities in Nashville.

Despite his roots as a sharecropper, Arnold never employed the traditional "nasal" twang long associated with country artist of his time. His musical influences included Bing Crosby and Gene Autry, therefore Arnold's smooth baritone lent itself more to crooning which helped him cross over into the pop genre and gain favor with non-country audiences. That smooth style has never been paralleled in country music ever since.

During the 1950s Eddy Arnold became the first country artist to host a network prime time television show when he became the summer replacement for "The Perry Como Show." He also hosted a national network radio show, "The Checkerboard Jamboree" for CBS and starred in two movies for Columbia Pictures, "Feudin' Rhythm" and "Hoedown". Arnold became a major concert draw outside of the south during the late 1940s, and in 1952 "The Eddy Arnold Show" aired as a summer replacement show for Dinah Shore's variety show on CBS. His theme song was "Cattle Call," and he recorded it four different times. The 1955 version with the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra was a number one record. Also, in 1955 he recorded the song "You Don't Know Me", a song he co-wrote with legendary songwriter, Cindy Walker. That song was made a standard by Ray Charles and has been covered by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Most recently it was recorded by Michael Bublé and Willie Nelson.

Despite a career downturn in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Eddy reemerged as a leading figure in the famed "Nashville Sound" movement which brought a more refined touch to country music and expanded its audience therefore giving it more mainstream appeal. In 1965, he scored his biggest hit of all, "Make The World Go Away," a record that is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1966 he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and in 1967 he became the first person to win the Entertainer of the Year honor from the Country Music Association.

Eddy Arnold sold over 85 million records and is the only country artist to have charted records in seven different decades, one of which was a duet version of "Cattle Call" with LeAnn Rimes from her "Blue" album that was released by Curb Records in 1996. In 2000, he received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton and was awarded a "Lifetime Achievement Grammy" in 2005. Eddy Arnold died on May 8th, 2008, thus silencing an unmistakable voice that inspired generations of singers and millions of fans alike. Following his death in May 2008, RCA Records released the single "To Life", a song from the album "After All These Years" and it debuted at No. 49 on the Hot Country Songs charts, which was his first entry into that particular chart in 25 years. Because of this feat, he also became the oldest artist to chart Billboard and it also set the record for the longest span between an artist's first chart single and the last: 62 years and 11 months ("Each Minute Seems Like a Million Years" debuted on June 30, 1945), and extended Arnold's career chart history to seven decades.

Little Jimmy Dickens
Born in Bolt, West Virginia, Dickens began his musical career in the late 1930s, performing on a local radio station while attending West Virginia University. He soon quit school to pursue a full-time music career, and traveled the country performing on various local radio stations under the name "Jimmy the Kid."

In 1948, Dickens was heard performing on a radio station in Saginaw, Michigan by Roy Acuff, who introduced him to Art Satherly at Columbia Records and officials from the Grand Ole Opry. Dickens signed with Columbia in September and joined the Opry in August. Around this time he began using the nickname, Little Jimmy Dickens, inspired by his short stature. Dickens recorded many novelty songs for Columbia, including "Country Boy," "A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed" and "I'm Little But I'm Loud." His song "Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait)" inspired Hank Williams to nickname him "Tater". Later, telling Jimmy he needed a hit, Williams penned "Hey Good Lookin'" specifically for Dickens in only 20 minutes while on a Grand Ole Opry tour bus. A week later Williams cut the song himself, jokingly telling him, "That song's too good for you!"

In 1950, Dickens formed the Country Boys with musicians Jabbo Arrington, Grady Martin, Bob Moore and Thumbs Carllile. It was during this time that he discovered future Hall of Famer Marty Robbins at a television station while on tour with the Grand Ole Opry road show. In 1957, Dickens left the Grand Ole Opry to tour with the Philip Morris Country Music Show.

In 1962, Dickens released "The Violet and the Rose," his first top 10 single in 12 years. Two years later he became the first country artist to circle the globe while on tour. He also made numerous TV appearances including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In 1965, he released his biggest hit, "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," reaching number one on the country chart and number 15 on the pop chart.

In the late 1960s, he left Columbia for Decca Records, before moving again to United Artists in 1971. That same year he married his wife, Mona. He returned to the Grand Ole Opry in 1975, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame a few years later.

He joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night cast CD "Christmas Time's A Comin'" performing "Jingle Bells" with the cast on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA for one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers.

Recently, Dickens has made appearances in a number of music videos by fellow country musician and West Virginia native Brad Paisley. He has also been featured on several of Paisley's albums in bonus comedy tracks along with other Opry mainstays such as George Jones and Bill Anderson. They are collectively referred to as the Kung-Pao Buckaroos.

With the passing of Hank Locklin in March 2009, Dickens is now the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 89. He still makes regular appearances as a host at the Opry.

Bobby Hebb
Bobby Hebb made his stage debut on his third birthday, when tap dancer Hal Hebb introduced his little brother to show business at The Bijou Theater. This was an appearance on The Jerry Jackson Revue of 1942. Harold Hebb was nine years of age at the time and the young brothers worked quite a few nightclubs before Bobby entered first grade.

Nashville establishments like The Hollywood Palm, Eva Thompson Jones Dance Studio, The Paradise Club, and the basement bar in Prentice Alley, as well as the aforementioned Bijou Theater, found Bobby and Hal dancing and singing. Hebb's father, William, played trombone and guitar, his mother, Ovalla, played piano and guitar, while his grandfather was a chef/cook on the Dixie Flyer, an express train on the L&N -- Louisville & Nashville railroad.

Bobby, with so much musical influence and inspiration, would go on to pen hundreds upon hundreds of tunes, among them, BMI's number 25 most played song on their website in 2000, the classic "Sunny." Georgie Fame and Cher, charted with the title in England, but it was Hebb's original which reached the highest on charts in Europe and America. Covers by Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Frankie Valli, Nancy Wilson, the Four Tops, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, and so many others, insured the song would reach audiences outside of those who heard and continue to hear it on Top 40 and "oldies" stations. The song reached beyond Top 40, climbing the country and R&B charts as well. Kal Rudman calls this a rare industry "hat trick" in the liner notes on the 1966 Phillips' album, but what no one could predict is how the song would find versions by Boney M. and Yambu bringing it to dance clubs, while jazz musicians explored the nuances of this amazing composition in their world.

Bobby Hebb's influence reaches far beyond "Sunny." When he joined Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys around 1952, he was one of the first African American artists to perform on The Grand Ole Opry.

Around 1958 Bobby Hebb tracked "Night Train to Memphis," a song written by Owen Bradley for Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys. The tune was re-released in 1998 on a Warner Bros. box set, From Where I Stand, which also included "A Satisfied Mind" from the 1966 Sunny album.

Hebb was represented by Buster Newman and his partner, Lloyd Greenfield, who managed Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. Bobby Hebb headlined a 1966 tour with the Beatles. After this, Hebb met comedian/composer Sandy Baron and the two got busy writing a Broadway show that never made it to Broadway. However, two of the songs -- "A Natural Man" and a tune they were writing about Marvin Gaye, "His Song Shall Be Sung" -- were picked up by Lou Rawls and released on MGM.

After a recording gap of thirty five years, Hebb recorded That's All I Wanna Know, his first commercial release since Love Games for Epic Records in 1970. It was released in Europe in late 2005 by Tuition, a pop indie label. New versions of "Sunny" were also issued. In October 2008, Hebb toured and played in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.

Hebb continued to live in his hometown of Nashville until his death in August.

Kris Kristofferson
A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Kris Kristofferson helped rejuvenate Nashville's creative community in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the classics "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Me and Bobby McGee," "For the Good Times" and "Lovin' Her Was Easier." Hundreds of recording artists have performed his songs. As a concert performer, Kristofferson toured for many years, releasing numerous albums with his long-standing backup band, the Borderlords.

Kristofferson began his music career in the mid-60s when he ended scholarly pursuits in favor of songwriting. The son of an Air Force general, he was a Rhodes scholar, a helicopter pilot and might have been an English Lit professor at West Point, but he gave it all up for a shot at selling some of his songs. Encouraged by a meeting with Johnny Cash, he moved to Nashville in 1965. He pitched songs while working as a night janitor at Columbia studios, emptying ashtrays and pushing a broom.

His turning point came in 1969. Nashville was still the bastion of conservative country music, but a new generation of renegade writers and performers were bucking the establishment. Cash gave him his break by recording "Sunday Morning Coming Down," which won the Country Music Association's song of the year trophy in 1970. Roger Miller sang "Me and Bobby McGee," and Ray Price recorded "For the Good Times," which won song of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 1970.

He made his recording debut at the same time Janis Joplin's version of "Me and Bobby McGee" went to No. 1. Sammi Smith reached the national Top 10 with "Help Me Make It Through the Night," which won the CMA's single of the year and a Grammy for best country song in 1971. Five subsequent albums, including The Silver-Tongued Devil and I and Jesus Was a Capricorn (which included the hit "Why Me"), went gold. His recordings with then-wife Rita Coolidge won the pair two Grammy awards. In 1973, "From the Bottle to the Bottom" was named best country vocal performance by a duo or group, and "Love Please" garnered the same award in 1975.

He started a movie career in 1971 when he co-starred with Gene Hackman and Harry Dean Stanton in Cisco Pike. He became an instant box-office draw, starring opposite such stars as Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn and Burt Reynolds. He also starred with Barbra Streisand in the classic film A Star Is Born in 1976. While making approximately two films a year, he continued to tour and record.

In the mid-80s, he joined Cash, Nelson and Waylon Jennings to form the Highwaymen. The supergroup's single, "Highwayman," was named the ACM's single of the year for 1985. His 1990 solo album, Third World Warrior, demonstrated his concern for human freedoms. In 1999, he re-recorded some of his best-known tunes for The Austin Sessions, released on Atlantic Records. He teamed with Nelson, Jennings and Texas songwriter Billy Joe Shaver for Honky Tonk Heroes in 2000.

In the last decade, Kristofferson, who is signed with New West Records, has released two studio albums titled This Old Road and Closer To The Bone. This Old Road -- Kristofferson's first recording in almost a dozen years -- was hailed by critics as "one of the finest albums of his storied career" (Rolling Stone), "a stripped-down stunner" (Esquire), and "a return to his best work" (Q). Kristofferson also continues a vigorous schedule of national and international solo appearances, and he is currently filming a movie called A Dolphin Tale. The Americana Music Association presented him its 2003 Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award. In 2004, Kristofferson entered the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Rascal Flatts
In just 10 years, Rascal Flatts has become one of the most honored acts in country music history, reaching heights and achieving milestones reserved for the genre's elite. They have set more venue attendance records than any country act en route to ticket sales of six million and counting. They have sold 20 million albums and earned 11 #1 singles. All six of their albums are platinum or multi-platinum and every one is among Billboard's Top 100 Albums of the Decade. They have won more than three dozen awards from the ACM, CMA, AMA and People's Choice, among others, and they have received that ultimate honor for those who have impacted the culture -- a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Behind those statistics is an accomplishment more basic than numbers, more important than any trophy -- for the past decade, the music of Rascal Flatts has been the soundtrack to countless lives. Songs like "These Days," "Mayberry," "What Hurts The Most," "My Wish," "Stand," "Here," "Here Comes Goodbye" and "Summer Nights" have soothed and uplifted, fired up, mellowed out and otherwise impacted millions.

Their place in country music history may be assured, but Gary, Jay and Joe Don retain a newcomer's passion about capturing magic with each new project. Now, with the release of their latest, Nothing Like This, they have done it once again, taking their career and their legacy another long step forward. The album is a microcosm of all the things the band does well which is to say it touches on many of the best aspects of 21st-century country music. It is first and foremost uplifting, with songs like "Why Wait" and "Play" kicking off the proceedings with the call to enjoy life no matter what our circumstances. It features both the throwback groove of "They Try" and the fresh sparkle of "All Night To Get There." "Summer Young" is an uptempo celebration of the season of warmth and romance and "I Won't Let Go" is "You've Got A Friend" for the new millennium, a song steeped in the strength of love and friendship in times of trouble. The title cut finds a way to bring freshness to the subject of love and sees Gary bringing a disarming desperation to his vocal. Evident throughout is the group's ability to recognize the best in Nashville songwriting.

The fact that they were able to do so reflects the magic they have always found in their approach to music and the respect with which they view their mission and each other. Their sound took root in the late 1990s, when Jay and Joe Don were band mates working with Chely Wright and Jay and Gary were playing a separate gig in downtown Nashville. When their guitar player was unable to make it one night, Jay asked Joe Don to sit in. The three honed their sound with club work, cut some demos and by year's end had been signed to Lyric Street Records, where they flourished and took off on that magical decade of hits and sold-out shows.

Along the way, their "Bless The Broken Road" was Grammy nominated for Country Song of the Year and Vocal Performance, they became 2006's top-selling physical and digital artist in all genres, scored four #1 country albums and three #1's overall, and hit the Top 10 Billboard pop singles chart twice, among many other milestones. When Lyric Street closed its doors, they chose Big Machine as their new label home.

Committed to giving back, they are known for their charitable work, which includes raising three million dollars for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Never content to rest on their laurels, they are eagerly looking forward.

Mel Tillis
Country music legend, Mel Tillis learned to play the guitar as a child, and in high school studied both the violin and the drums. Following high school, he entered the military and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan as a baker in the United States Air Force. During his time in the military, Tillis formed a band called The Westerners which played local clubs.

After leaving the military, Tillis moved to Nashville in 1956 to launch his musical career. In 1957, Webb Pierce took one of Tillis' songs titled "I'm Tired" to number three on the charts. Tillis cut his first single that same year, a cover of "It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song." His first Top 40 hit came the following year with "The Violet and a Rose."

Tillis continued to chart singles like 1959's "Finally" and a pair of duets with Bill Phillips, "Sawmill" and "Georgia Town Blues," while also supplying Webb Pierce with hit after hit, including the 1959 smashes "I Ain't Never" and "No Love Have I" along with 1962's "Crazy Wild Desire" and 1963's "Sawmill." Bobby Bare, Ray Price, Stonewall Jackson, and Little Jimmy Dickens also covered Tillis' songs.

In 1965, Tillis recorded his first Top 15 hit, "Wine." A string of successes followed, including 1966's "Stateside," "Life Turned Her That Way," and his first Top Ten, 1968's "Who's Julie." At the same time, his stature as a songwriter continued to grow thanks to hit covers of his "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" by both Johnny Darrell and Kenny Rogers & the First Edition and "Mental Revenge" Waylon Jennings. After two 1969 Top Ten hits, "These Lonely Hands of Mine" and "She'll Be Hanging Around Somewhere," Tillis scored back-to-back Top Five hits in 1970 with "Heart Over Mind" and "Heaven Everyday." In 1971, he began a successful string of duets with Sherry Bryce which included "Take My Hand" and "Living and Learning."

"I Ain't Never" became his first chart-topper in 1972. What followed was a series of Top Five smashes like "Neon Rose," "Sawmill," "Midnight, Me and the Blues," "Stomp Them Grapes," and "Memory Maker." Between 1976 and 1980, he scored five more number ones -- "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer," "I Believe in You," "Coca Cola Cowboy," and "Southern Rains."

In all, Mel Tillis has written well over 1,000 songs, with approximately 600 recorded by major artists. He has recorded more than 60 albums, including 36 Top Ten singles, with nine of them going to #1.

Mel has appeared in numerous feature films including "Every Which Way But Loose" with Clint Eastwood, "W.W. & The Dixie Dancekings" with Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed, "Cannonball Run I and II," "Smokey and the Bandit II" with Burt Reynolds, and the lead role with Roy Clark in "Uphill All The Way." His most recent role was that of a plumber in Toby Keith's 2008 movie "Beer For My Horses."

In 1976, Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame, and that same year, he was named Country Music Association's (CMA) Entertainer of the Year. Also, for six years in the 70's, Mel Tillis won Comedian of the Year.

Mel Tillis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in June 2007, and on October 28, 2007, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Mel Tillis has been in the music/entertainment business now for more than 50 years. He and his band, the Statesiders, have worked concerts all around the world, and continue to do so.