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Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category

Grand Ole Opry Star George Hamilton IV Passes Away

George Hamilton

Grand Ole Opry star George Hamilton IV “The International Ambassador of Country Music” passed away late this afternoon at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. with his family by his side. George IV suffered a serious heart attack last Saturday, September 13 and had been in critical condition. Funeral arrangements are not confirmed at this time. He had been an Opry member since February 1960 and was 77 years old.

George Hamilton IV had been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years. He traveled the world earning the unofficial title of “International Ambassador of Country Music.” Along with his title, George IV compiled an impressive list of firsts. He appeared at London’s first International Festival of Country Music (1969) and performed at the first international country music festivals in Sweden, Finland, Holland, Norway, and Germany. He became the first American country singer to appear in Russia and Czechoslovakia and the first American to record a studio album in Eastern Europe. George IV was also the first American country singer to have his own British TV series. He appeared in England’s first Country Music Summer Season show. In addition to numerous appearances on American television, he hosted his own Canadian TV series for six years.

When George IV transferred to American University in Washington, D.C., from the University of North Carolina in 1956, he combined his studies with regular appearances on Jimmy Dean’s local TV show. His music career took off in that year, when he scored a million-selling pop hit with “A Rose and a Baby Ruth.” Tours with such stars as Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and the Everly Brothers followed. But one evening in 1960, while enjoying the Opry in the audience of the Ryman Auditorium, he decided to switch from pop to country, the first artist to make that transition.

With the assistance of producer Chet Atkins, George IV moved away from teen ballads and began a string of country hits that included “Before This Day Ends” in 1960 (the year he joined the Opry cast), followed by “Three Steps to the Phone” and “If You Don’t Know, I Ain’t Gonna Tell You.” In 1963, George IV scored his first No. 1 country hit, “Abilene,” which also returned him to the pop chart.

An artist of eclectic taste, George IV has covered the material of such folk-pop singers as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. He also recorded several songs by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot and worked extensively in Canada. From Canada, he ventured to Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia and the Holy Land, where he taped two TV specials.

In 1972, George IV returned with his family to North Carolina, where he hosted a TV series. The Hamilton’s moved back to Nashville in 1986, with George IV making regular Opry appearances while continuing to record and to travel abroad. In 2000 he published his biography, “George Hamilton IV: Ambassador of Country Music.”

Craig Campbell, Chuck Wicks, and Jana Kramer Join Forces to Raise Money for Charity

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The 17th annual Buds ‘N’ Suds benefit for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America was held in Nashville, and included performances from up-and-coming talent as well as established artists, and a silent auction featuring autographed items from legends like Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney.

Hosted by Blair Garner of America’s Morning Show, the show began with acoustic performances by Kaleigh Bullard (Miss Nashville), the Mann Sisters, and Emi Sunshine, a dynamite young girl with a personality as big as her vocals.

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Craig Campbell kicked off the full band portion of the show with a cover of the Brooks & Dunn hit “Play Something Country.” His 40-minute set was a high-energy honkytonk experience that included his hits “Family Man” and “Keep Those Kisses Comin,” as well as a surprise cover of “Royals” by Lorde. He is currently working on finalizing the details of a new record deal, and is excited about the direction of his future.

“Upward! I haven’t had a number one yet, so that’s first and foremost for me,” said Campbell, when talking about his goals for working with a new team.

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Chuck Wicks continued to keep the crowd on their feet with his hits “All I Ever Wanted” and his brand new single, “Saturday Afternoon.”

“I wrote it with two guys that are on fire, Chris Tompkins and Rodney Clawson. I wrote this song from a fun place, and when I would sing it live, the immediate reaction from it sparked ‘maybe people are going to react to this pretty positively’ and hopefully at the radio level it does the same thing,” said Wicks.

The ladies in the crowd swooned over Wicks as he sang sultry songs like “Hold That Thought,” which was voted as one of the top 20 hottest music videos by CMT. Wicks is currently in the studio wrapping up a new album and hopes to release it in the coming months.

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Jana Kramer ended the night with a fun set of her music, including new songs that will be on an upcoming album.

“A lot of the songs on this new album are songs that I’ve written and co-written a lot more than the first album. I’ve definitely stepped up and let my life shine through these songs.”

Her current single, “Love,” represents a multitude of emotions, not just romantic love.

“The song is about love in general, the love that’s out there, not just relationships; for me, that’s in paying it forward and giving back,” said Kramer.

While none of the performers have been directly impacted by Crohn’s disease or colitis, they all agreed that it’s a cause worth supporting, and that their purpose as entertainers is not only to perform, but to give back to the community at any chance they get.

“This is what we were put here to do. We get out and play music and sing for fun, but when it comes down to it, the only reason we have our celebrity status is to do things like this,” said Craig Campbell.

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City Of Portland, Maine, Invites Tim McGraw to Find His Way There

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Portland, Maine, has a message for Tim McGraw: we’re right here, come check us out. Tim has a song on his new “Sundown Heaven Town” album called “Portland, Maine.” It’s a breakup song about a love leaving him and going to Portland. He sings, “Portland, Maine, I don’t know where that is,” and he adds, “I don’t want to know.”

Jessica Grondin, a spokeswoman for the city, jokes the person who broke Tim’s heart “made a good choice in coming to Portland.” She says the mayor will give Tim a tour, if he can find his way there.

Tim released his album SUNDOWN HEAVEN TOWN (Big Machine Records), yesterday and also released a brand new single, “Shotgun Rider.” The breezy track touts romantic notions with an infectious melody and is available to radio today via Play MPE.

Jewel Releases “Home to Me” to Bring Awareness to Homelessness

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Jewel says she loves that her latest song is not being used to raise money for homelessness, but awareness. She says her song “Home to Me” is just asking people to rethink.

“ReThink” is the name of the public housing initiative that is using the song. Jewel wrote it based on an essay by Silvia Kearney of Ohio, who won a contest about what home means to her. Jewel herself was homeless at age 18 when she says her boss withheld her paycheck because she wouldn’t sleep with him. The song is available for free through www.ReThinkHousing.org .

Emily Wests’ “America’s Got Talent” Journey Ends Just Shy of Victory

Last night, Emily West‘s journey on “America’s Got Talent” ended just shy of victory. The singer came in 2nd place to magician Mat Franco. Throughout the season, Emily brought her A-game, wowing the judges with her phenomenal vocal ability. Her final performances were definitely something to be proud of. Take a look.

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