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Morgan Wallen Closes Out Record-Setting 3-Night Bridgestone Run with Jason Aldean, Lil Durk and Thomas Rhett

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Just hours after announcing his headlining stadium show set for Arlington, Tex.’s Globe Life Field, Morgan Wallen performed the last of his three consecutive sold-out nights at Bridgestone Arena, part of his 58-show Dangerous Tour. “Run This Town” (Rihanna, Jay-Z, Ye) blared from the speakers before Wallen took the stage, like a walk up song he might have chosen during his baseball career, foreshadowing the night to come.
 
“Man, this is an incredible thing,” Wallen celebrated ahead of ACM Album of the Year title track “Dangerous.” “It’s my home state – the town that I call home now – a town that’s been good to me. I’ve got the majority of my family here tonight.”
 
The at-capacity crowd followed Wallen’s every move and sang word-for-word a smooth sequence of album cuts that followed, from “Silverado For Sale” to “Somebody’s Problem” and the ultimate ode to his Hancock County roots, “865.”
 
Just after performing “Where I Find God” with tourmate Larry Fleet, Wallen welcomed surprise guest Thomas Rhett to the stage for the Rhett-penned Dangerous track, “Whiskey’d My Way.” Then, without missing a beat, the Sneedville, Tennessean gleamingly revealed, “I’ve got another good buddy of mine out here tonight – I bet you’re gonna like this one,” as former tourmate Jason Aldean surprised the crowd with his 2005 breakout hit “Hicktown.”
 
At the top of the encore, Chicago-born rapstar Lil Durk, Wallen’s recent collaborator, thrilled with an appearance as the pair worked the stage throughout their No. 1 debut Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart crossover “Broadway Girls.”
 
As Wallen closed the night he thanked the crowd sincerely, “God bless you, Nashville – these have been three of the best nights of my life.”
 


Remaining 2022 Dangerous Tour stops:
April 14, 2022 — Evansville, IN — Ford Center — HARDY and Larry Fleet
April 15, 2022 — Charleston, WV — Charleston Coliseum — HARDY and Larry Fleet
April 21, 2022 — Corpus Christi, TX — American Bank Center — HARDY and Larry Fleet
April 22, 2022 — San Antonio, TX — AT&T Center — HARDY and Larry Fleet
April 23, 2022 — Lafayette, LA — CAJUNDOME — HARDY and Larry Fleet
April 28, 2022 — Green Bay, WI — Resch Center — ERNEST and Larry Fleet
April 29, 2022 — Des Moines, IA — Wells Fargo Arena — ERNEST and Larry Fleet
April 30, 2022 — Kansas City, MO — T-Mobile Center — ERNEST and Larry Fleet
May 12, 2022 — Denver, CO — Ball Arena — HARDY and Larry Fleet
May 13, 2022 — Rapid City, SD — Summit Arena — HARDY and Larry Fleet
May 14, 2022 — Billings, MT — First Interstate Arena — HARDY and Larry Fleet
May 27, 2022 — Allentown, PA — PPL Center — HARDY and Larry Fleet
June 2, 2022 — Charlotte, NC — PNC Music Pavilion — HARDY
June 3, 2022 — Raleigh, NC — Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek — HARDY
June 4, 2022 — Bristow, VA — Jiffy Lube Live — HARDY
June 16, 2022 — Noblesville, IN — Ruoff Music Center — HARDY
June 23, 2022 — Gilford, NH — Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion — HARDY
June 24, 2022 — Gilford, NH — Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion — HARDY
June 25, 2022 — Darien Center, NY — Darien Lake Amphitheater — HARDY
July 2, 2022 — Orange Beach, AL — The Wharf Amphitheater — HARDY
July 3, 2022 — Orange Beach, AL — The Wharf Amphitheater — HARDY
July 7, 2022 — Saratoga Springs, NY — Saratoga Performing Arts Center — HARDY
July 8, 2022 — Syracuse, NY — St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview — HARDY
July 21, 2022 — Burgettstown, PA — The Pavilion at Star Lake — HARDY
July 30, 2022 — Ridgefield, WA — RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater — Chase Rice and ERNEST
August 4, 2022 — Atlanta, GA — Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood — HARDY
August 5, 2022 — Atlanta, GA — Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood — HARDY
August 11, 2022 — Mansfield, MA — Xfinity Center — HARDY
August 12, 2022 — Hartford, CT — XFINITY Theatre — HARDY
August 25, 2022 — Wichita, KS — INTRUST Bank Arena — HARDY
August 26, 2022 — Rogers, AR — Walmart AMP — HARDY
August 27, 2022 — St. Louis, MO — Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre — HARDY
September 7, 2022 — Albuquerque, NM — Isleta Amphitheater — HARDY
September 9, 2022 — Nampa, ID — Ford Idaho Center — HARDY
September 10, 2022 — West Valley City, UT — USANA Amphitheatre — HARDY
September 15, 2022 — Chula Vista, CA — North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre — HARDY
September 16, 2022 — Mountain View, CA — Shoreline Amphitheatre — HARDY
September 17, 2022 — Wheatland, CA — Toyota Amphitheatre — HARDY
September 24, 2022 — Los Angeles, CA — Crypto.com Arena — HARDY
September 25, 2022 — Los Angeles, CA — Crypto.com Arena — HARDY

October 8, 2022 – Arlington, TX – Globe Life Field – HARDY, Mike Ryan and Jake Worthington


MORGAN WALLEN BAND
Morgan Wallen – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Mark “Taco” Annino – Drums/ MD
Luke Rice – Bass
Dominic Frost – Guitar
Tyler Tomlinson – Guitar
Chris Gladden – Aux/ Keys
Tony Aichele – Aux/ Guitar
 
HARDY BAND
HARDY – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Harry Miree – Drums
Rhett Smith – Guitar
Justin Loose – Guitar
 
LARRY FLEET BAND
Larry Fleet – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Eric Harley Brown – Bass
Zander Wyatt – Lead Guitar and Dobro
Steven Metz – Keys
Cam McClaren – Drums

For more information on Morgan Wallen, visit MorganWallen.com

Photo Credit: David Lehr
 

Stagecoach Line Dance Competition Recap

Another year of Stagecoach Line Dancing Competition is in the books, and this year’s competition was another welcome step towards normalcy. Over 25 competitors danced their way into the Stagecoach Festival competition, and at the end a few were offered an opportunity to join the Stagecoach HonkTonk Dance Team. Dancers from across Southern California converged on Fantasy Springs Resort Casino for the two hour competition with dreams of being one of the fortunate four winners.

As in years past, the event DJ was Big John Miller, who provided competitors and guests, current and classic line dance songs, to keep everyone dancing. Big John was also the MC of the event and called out the upcoming songs & dances for the competition.

In a surprising twist to the event, all 8 of the finalists were female, which caused one of the judges to jokingly add, that “the guys need to step their game up, for next year.”

When the final four winners were chosen, tears were shed, hugs were given and dreams were realized. It was an emotional conclusion to an action packed day.

(Video and photos of the event may be viewed on Big John Miller’s Facebook page or on Coachella Valley Country’s Instagram & Facebook pages)

Tickets to Stagecoach Festival can still be purchased from StagecoachFestival.com

Road To Stagecoach Begins Thursdays at Fantasy Springs Casino

Stagecoach Country Music Festival is next month, but the fun of the Stagecoach HonkyTonk has already begun! Every Thursday is Country Night at Lit Lounge, located inside Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino.

Along with great music, live bands, food and drink specials, guests also have an opportunity to win Stagecoach Festival wristbands. Three winners will be selected (one a week) leading up to the Stagecoach Line Dance Competition, which will be held on March 12, inside the Lit Lounge.

At the line dance competition, six winners will be selected by representatives from the Stagecoach HonkyTonk and may be asked to join the HonkyTonk Dance Team.

Dates and Details of the event can be found at StagecoachFestival.com

Mickey Guyton Slays National Anthem

On February 13, the Los Angeles Rams took on the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56, but the one of the highlights of the evening took place, even before the game started. Mickey Guyton, the Texas-born singer-songwriter, was set to perform the National Anthem, prior to the game and in my opinion, it was a phenomenal performance!

Guyton’s rendition of the National Anthem has quickly drawn comparisons to Whitney Houston’s Super Bowl 25 performance, a rendition that may fans say is the best National Anthem, ever. Mickey Guyton is joined during the performance by a 10 person choir, which accentuates Guyton’s vocals and caused many of the people I was sitting next to to simply exclaim, “WOW”.

Mickey Guyton may have previously been best known for her ACM solo performance of “What Are You Going To Tell Her”, but the acclaim she is receiving from performing the National Anthem, may soon surpass that.

One of the biggest compliments I, personally, heard on Super Bowl sunday, came from a military veteran, stated, “That is one of the best National Anthems, I’ve ever heard.” I would have to wholeheartedly agree.

For more information on Mickey Guyton and to view other performances, visit MickeyGuyton.com

Photo Credit: Outsider

It’s PARDI TIME!!!

On March 18, Jon Pardi’s tour will make a stop at Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino. The evening promises to be a lively event full of Pardi’s hits, like Heartache Medication and Ain’t Always The Cowboy. The following is an excerpt from Jon Pardi’s website.

The snarl in his voice sets the tone for Jon Pardi’s California Sunrise. He’s a traditional country singer, bred in the West Coast honky tonks, and he won’t apologize for chasing the dream on his own terms.

It might be considered contemporary cool to inject country songs with programmed drums, rap phrasing and poppy melodies. But Pardi isn’t worried about what’s trendy. He’s more concerned with making country music that will last, and California Sunrise successfully hits that target. It’s stocked with classic Nashville melody, blue-collar lyrical themes and authentic country instrumentation – real drums, loud-and-proud fiddles and tangy steel guitar. The album’s 12 songs draw a direct link to such forbearers as Dwight Yoakam, George Strait and Marty Stuart, and it’s intentional.

“There’s a growing audience for throwback,” Pardi says. “People want to hear somebody who really enjoyed the ‘90s country music era and brings that to 2016 country. A lot of this record is bringing an old-school flare back to a mainstream sound, but that gives me my own lane.”

Pardi established that lane with his 2014 debut, Write You a Song, a rough-and-rowdy project that made him familiar to the suddenly-hip country crowd, thanks to his Top 10 party song “Up All Night.” The music oozed with youthful brashness and longneck longing, and Pardi drew a raucous following, increasingly selling out 1,000-2,000 ticket clubs, sometimes out-performing higher-profile country acts playing across town the same night.

In fact, as Pardi began adding material from the new album into the set, he was shocked at the passion with which the music was consumed. As he played unreleased songs from California Sunrise, he discovered fans were already singing back the music verbatim – even the verses – having learned the songs from YouTube postings of earlier concerts. They’re ready for Jon Pardi, and he knows exactly what they need.

“I’ve been hitting the road steady for four years,” he says. “I’ve learned more about what the radio stations want, and I’ve learned what the fans want. It’s a whole different perspective on your second record, and I kind of took that perspective and put it into the 30-year-old me that loves recording music and loves writing.”

The result is a creative step forward. It’s not a left turn, necessarily, but there’s a clearer focus to Pardi’s vocal performances and a smart brew of sexy romance, western fashion and all-American work ethic that permeates California Sunrise. “Head Over Boots,” his ultra-melodic two-steppin’ radio hit, hints at the attitude with its playful proclamations and Texas dancehall influence. But there’s plenty more throughout the project: ragged barroom rhythms in the opening “Out Of Style,” Strait-like overtones on the ballad “She Ain’t In It,” a Motown cowboy romp in “Heartache On The Dance Floor” and a breezy, Eagle-esque country/rock closure with the title track. As invested as he is in throwback appreciation, Pardi is clearly not a one-dimensional dude.

“It’s a very diverse album,” he notes. “You can listen to ‘She Ain’t In It’ and you can listen to another song, and they sound like they should be put together in an album, but they’re completely different.”

The unifying thread, of course, is Pardi’s artistry, a blend of that crackling, masculine voice with irresistible musical taste and a working-man spirit that’s at the heart of his being. Pardi is a native of the Golden State, but he’s no Hollywood Hills golden child. He’s a middle-class son of a Northern California construction boss, a kid who – like most kids – tried to figure out the shortcuts, only to learn from the old man the value of putting in the time to finish the job the right way.

“My dad was a super-hard worker,” Pardi explains. “Now as a grown man I really appreciate that. The area I’m from is really blue-collar, agricultural, everybody’s working, everybody’s doing something in construction, something in farming. Everybody’s just working hard. When I go back, there’s that pride there that’s like this made me who I am.”

The work started at age 14. He did a short stint at a grocery store before progressing to grunt work at a Ford dealership, to ranch work and, later, to operating heavy machinery.“Not everybody knows how to swing a framing hammer,” he says. “I’ve had to teach a friend how to swing a hammer. It’s really all about living and learning.”

Pardi wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, but he mostly wanted to wrap them around a guitar. He started writing songs by the age of 12 and was in his first band at 14. By 19, he knew Nashville was in his future. Once he arrived in Music City, there was more conventional work to keep him going – he was a lifeguard at a public pool for a time – but he found his way into Nashville’s songwriting community, where he applied some of the same skills he’d learned at his father’s dusty feet.

“Surround yourself with great people is a great thing to have in your mind for life,” he says. “Find the best people to work with. You can learn a lot.”

Among the key people he learned from is songwriter Brice Long, who co-wrote such trad-country pieces as Randy Houser’s ballad “Anything Goes” and Gary Allan’s #1 single “Nothing On But The Radio.”

“Brice is always saying, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing, don’t worry about everyone else,’” Pardi notes. “You need those kind of guys that have hits on the radio telling you that.”

Pardi became particularly close with songwriter Bart Butler, whose successes include Thomas Rhett’s “Make Me Wanna” and Bobby Pinson’s “Don’t Ask Me How I Know.” Butler not only became a frequent co-writer, he also emerged as Pardi’s co-producer, someone who’s able to handle the detail parts of the gig but also to assist Pardi in expressing his own creative voice.

“We’ve stayed true to Jon’s soul, even though we knew that may be a risk,” Butler says. “We still feel like country music with twin fiddles or musicians doing a steel solo can compete in the market today.”

Indeed, “Head Over Boots” – the first single from California Sunrise – became Pardi’s fastest-rising single to date, thanks to its buoyant melody and incessant optimism. Pulling from that same upbeat viewpoint, Sunrise makes multiple allusions to fashion through such titles as “Head Over Boots,” the bouncy “Dirt On My Boots” and the suggestive “Cowboy Hat.” The latter finds a young buck in a countrified take on the Tom Jones/Joe Cocker title “Leave Your Hat On,” keyed by the memorable line “Can’t resist you in that Resistol.” There’s a workman-like ethic embedded in the sweaty “Night Shift” and the pounding “Paycheck.” And there’s an innate sexiness throughout.

Pardi delivers it all with increasing authority. He introduced that confidence in Write You a Song, but he takes it another step on California, owing to the additional experience he picked up in the interim as an opening act at arenas and amphitheaters for Dierks Bentley and Alan Jackson.

“A vocal cord is like a muscle – if you work it out, it’s gonna get better,” Pardi suggests. “It’s like going to the gym and doing push ups and sit ups, and now it’s just my voice kind of growing up.”

As is his artistry. Pardi wrote a bulk of the songs on California Sunrise, but he was more than willing to consider material from other Nashville songwriters. He discovered a bevy of tunes that had been overlooked in the rush for synthetic productions from some of his contemporaries. He used mostly the same band that backed him on the first album, and they were invested in both the music and Pardi.

“It was like the Blues Brothers – ‘We’re getting the band back together!’” Pardi says with a laugh. “We got all seven of them in the room, and there was just a spark.”

The whole ensemble was able to hone in on the core of Jon Pardi, that California, working-class kid who still finds inspiration in the unfettered sound of a dancehall guitar. It’s snarling, hard country for a new generation, a throwback sound to an energized audience that sees it as moving forward.

Ushered into the world on the same label that launched Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Pardi has found a whole chain of believers in his mission: the dedicated band behind him, the foot-stomping fans with cold beers at the foot of the stage, and a label that knows Pardi’s “throwback” sound is really made for these times.

“Everybody wants to play at an arena and headline it, and I’m not gonna lie – that’s one of my goals,” Pardi says. “Capitol is always the first to remind me that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.”

Those people who already know the words to his songs even before they’re released are evidence that he’s not just running the race. Jon Pardi is winning.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased in person at the Fantasy Springs box office or on JonPardi.com.

Photo Credit: WNCY.com

The Stagecoach Dance Competition Is BACK!!!

After taking last year off, the highly anticipated Stagecoach Line Dance Competition, is back at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.  On Saturday, March 12, individuals will be able to compete for a chance to win a 3-day General admission wristband, to Stagecoach, California’s Country Music Festival.   This competition is held throughout southern California, at different locations and dates, with the final competition being held in the city of Indio.  Not only will dancers be competing for a 3-day wristband, but they’ll also have the opportunity, to be selected to join the Stagecoach HonkyTonk Dance Team.

All individuals interested in competing must dance three line dances and three couples dances.  An individual’s partner, does not have to be entered in the contest to accompany a contestant during the couples dances.  This year’s individual line dances will be “Lil Bit”, “Half Past Tipsy” and “Raised Like That” and the couple’s dances will be “Two Step”, “Sweetheart Schottishe” and “El Paso Cha Cha”.  Since winners of the competition may be offered an opportunity to join the Stagecoach HonkTonk Dance Team, judges will not only be looking for individuals that are performing the dance accurately, but also for dancers with flare and showmanship.

Locally, our dance competition will be held at Lit Lounge in Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.  DJ Big John Miller will be spinning the latest country music hits before, during, and after the competition.  Registration is from 4:30pm-6pm and the dance competition will begin at 6pm.   All individuals in attendance will also have the opportunity to win various prizes, courtesy of KPLM The BIG 106 and they’ll be able to enjoy food and drink specials throughout the evening.

Click here for tickets and information regarding Stagecoach Country Music Festival

Multi-Talented, Ashlee Willis, Releases New Song “Don’t Let the Music Die”

Last week, singer/songwriter/DJ, Ashlee Williss (aka DJBadAsh) released her latest single “Don’t Let the Music Die” and we’ve been playing it all week long!

The song is upbeat and catchy, with a rhythm that you can’t help but dance to, and Ashlee Willis knows a thing or two about making people dance. Williss may be better known as DJBadAsh, is a phenomenal DJ that has performed at local festivals; Stagecoach & Tailgate Fest. Williss’ ability to mix songs, live, while entertaining an audience at a concert or festival, come through in the work that she and producer T.I Jakke accomplished during “Don’t Let the Music Die”.

The song is a perfect addition to any summer playlist and goes perfectly with a pool party & ice cold adult beverage. As concerts and festivals start up again, we can’t wait to hear this song performed live, during one of Ashlee Williss’ sets.

Be sure to listen to “Don’t Let the Music Die” on any music platform and be on the lookout for the video, which will be released on Tuesday, May, 11.

To learn more about Ashlee Williss, visit ashleewillissmusic.com, and follow Ashlee Williss on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Read More about Ashlee Williss below:

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (April 30, 2021) – Ashlee Williss is a genre-melding maverick, on the cutting edge of Pop, Dance and Country, she effortlessly blends her southern roots with a light EDM flare in her new single, “Don’t Let The Music Die”, available now on all digital platforms. The upbeat, dance-inspired tune, produced by T.I Jakke (Ava Max hit “Kings & Queens”) – offers listeners a much needed break from the heaviness of current times, and was written by Williss (in the stairwell of her apartment, no less) with the hope of creating a three-minute moment of feel-good fun and inclusivity.

“When I wrote ‘Don’t Let the Music Die,’ I was imagining being in a crowd of people lost in the music,” said Williss of the song. “Covid took away those magical moments you only experience with human interaction. I wanted to relive that, even if only in my mind.” “Don’t Let the Music Die” is just the start from the DJ-turned-artist, music video is due out May 11.

Ashlee (aka DJ Bad Ash) made her mark as the one & only female county music DJ as well as spinning some of the hottest celeb events and notable festivals across the globe, Williss returns to the world of original music with a strong lineup of on-deck releases coming down the pipeline in 2021.

RELEASE, “DON’T LET THE MUSIC DIE”
Produced by No. 1 Airplay Songwriter T.I Jakke

About Ashlee Williss:

Born out of a life of trials and tribulations, Ashlee Williss’ story is one of a singer-songwriter who needed music to escape – and turned that escape into her purpose. Seamlessly blending genres of pop, dance and country, her sound and story immediately connect with audiences who crave that same escape. Seeking out more than her humble beginnings had to offer in Jacksonville FL, a move to L.A. at 18 quickly saw promising opportunities including notoriety on ABC’s The Bachelor and Fuller House, several song placements on TV/Film; singing, songwriting and voiceover work for all 12 episodes of Netflix hit show Absurd Planet; Gibson guitar endorsement; performances at The GRAMMYS® and American Music Awards gifting suites; and even a song ‘on hold’ by country superstars Rascal Flatts.

After tragedy struck in 2013 (Williss’ boyfriend passed away the day she launched her debut single), Williss took a creative detour into the world of DJing. She found herself at the board as DJ Bad Ash, opening for acts like Snoop Dog, Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine, Diplo, and Cardi B (among others), and taking the stage at festivals like Stagecoach, Tortuga Music Festival, and Country2Country. Though the venture made Williss fall in love with music again, “I missed playing my own songs so much… I saw this as the perfect opportunity to re-embrace that exposed singer-songwriter I’d put aside for so long.” Partnering with hit producer T.I Jakke (Ava Max, “Kings & Queens”), “Don’t Let the Music Die” will launch the first of several new tunes from Williss – a dancy, mid-tempo tune encompassing her unique mix of pop, country and dance all in one.

To learn more about Ashlee Williss, visit ashleewillissmusic.com, and follow Ashlee Williss on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Country Thunder Arizona is excited to return October 14th – 17th!

Luke Combs, Eric Church, Morgan Wallen & Dustin Lynch confirmed as headliners.

Ashley McBryde, Chris Janson, HARDY, Mitchell Tenpenny, Travis Denning, Randy Rogers Band, Parker McCollum, Tenille Townes, Dallas Smith, Meghan Patrick, Parmalee, Chicks With Hits (featuring Terri Clark, Pam Tillis, Suzie Bogguss), Kameron Marlowe, Drew Parker, Austin Jenckes, Seaforth, Nolan Sotillo join the always-stellar supporting cast, with more to be announced!

Country Thunder, Arizona’s Premier Country Music Festival has announced that it will be returning in mid-October. The festival has already confirmed a star studded line-up, in what promises to be a sold-out, 4-day party!!

Head over to Country Thunder for more details

Country Music Legend, Charley Pride, Dies At 86

DALLAS, Texas. — Charley Pride, whose rich baritone voice and impeccable song-sense altered American culture, died Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Dallas, Texas of complications from Covid-19 at age 86.

Born a sharecropper’s son in Sledge, Mississippi, on March 18, 1934, Pride emerged from Southern cotton fields to become country music’s first Black superstar and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“No person of color had ever done what he has done,” said Darius Rucker in the PBS American Masters film Charley Pride: I’m Just Me.

Pride was a gifted athlete who at first thought baseball would be his path from poverty, labor, and strife. But his musical acumen was more impressive than his pitching arm or his hitting skills, and he emerged as one of the most significant artists at RCA Records, with chart-topping hits including “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’,” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” and “Mountain of Love.” He won the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1971, its top male vocalist prize in 1971 and 1972, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.

His final performance came on November 11, 2020, when he sang “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” during the CMA Awards show at Nashville’s Music City Center with Jimmie Allen, a modern-day hitmaker who counts Pride among his heroes.

Charley Frank Pride was not the first Black artist to make important contributions to country music — DeFord Bailey was a star of the Grand Ole Opry from 1927 through 1941 — but Pride was a trailblazer who emerged during a time of division and rancor.

After a stint in the Army, time working at a Missouri smelting plant, and some unsuccessful attempts to break into big-league baseball, he came to Nashville in 1963 and made demonstration recordings with help from manager Jack Johnson.

Those recordings languished for two years until Johnson met with producer Jack Clement, who offered songs for Pride to learn. On August 16, 1965, Clement produced Pride at RCA Studio B, and the results of that session impressed RCA’s Chet Atkins, who signed Pride to a recording contract.

In 1967, Pride’s recording of Clement’s “Just Between You and Me” broke into country’s Top Ten, and Pride quit his job as a smelter. Iron ore was behind him, and platinum records lay ahead.

Between 1967 and 1987, Pride delivered 52 Top 10 country hits, won Grammy awards, and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist. His musicality opened minds and superseded prejudice.

“We’re not color blind yet, but we’ve advanced a few paces along the path and I like to think I’ve contributed something to that process,” Pride wrote in his memoir.

Today, Black artists including Allen, Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer, Rhiannon Giddens, Yola, and others add new chapters to country music’s story. Charley Pride’s impact is evident and important to all of them, and also to every other country performer who builds bridges with melody and sincerity.

Charley Pride escaped the cotton fields, where labor hurt his hands, back, and knees. He transcended and ascended through connection. Through fortitude and artistry, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and a beloved American icon.

Charley Pride was the son of Tessie Stewart Pride and Mack Pride, Sr. He was the husband of Ebby Rozene Cohran Pride. His children are Carlton Kraig Pride, Charles Dion Pride, and Angela Rozene Pride. His grandchildren are Carlton Kraig Pride, Jr., Malachi Pride, Syler Pride, Ebby Pride, and Arrentino Vassar. His two great-grandchildren are Skyler Pride and Carlton Kraig Pride, III. he is preceded in death by brothers Jonas McIntyre, Mack Pride, Jr., Louis Pride, Edward Pride, and Joe L. Pride, and by sister Bessie Chambers. He leaves behind siblings Harmon Pride, Stephen Pride, Catherine Sanders, and Maxine Pride, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Center, The Food Bank, or the charity of your choice.

Photo Credit: Joseph Llanes

Eric Church Wins Entertainer of the Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a year unlike any other, it’s fitting that the 54th annual CMA Awards culminated with the genre’s dark horse Eric Church earning the title of Entertainer of the Year.

“If there was ever a year not to win…” Church laughed as he took the stage to accept the night’s ultimate trophy. “This year, at least for me, has been about loss – loss of life, loss of playing shows, loss of freedom, loss of kids being in school… And you know what the win is? The win is we all were here tonight, together as Country music – in person, live and I believe this, I really believe this: It’s gonna be music that brings us out of this. That is the one thing that’s gonna save the world. Politicians are about division; music is about unity.”

Before leaving the stage, the stunned entertainer added as a rallying call, “And I promise you, it’s gonna take everyone in this room to unite.”

Now six studio albums into his career, the North Carolinian always approaches things differently. Whether playing back-to-back nights in nearly 30 cities on his 2019 Double Down Tour or pushing himself to new creative limits with his recording process, Church has steadily amassed a faithful congregation – the Church Choir – since 2006’s release of “How ‘Bout You.” Many of those fans took to social media to congratulate the star, with an outpouring of comments proclaiming, “Congratulations Chief!” And it was those fans he was speaking to in the press conference following the awards show.

“When you go to a concert and your favorite artist plays your favorite song, and you throw your arm around the person next to you, you don’t worry about whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat, whether he’s pro-life or pro-choice. You’re in that moment and you’re pulling on the rope the same way. I think what we’re missing right now in America is more of the stuff that unites us versus what divides us,” Church shared. “I swear — it’s going to be music that saves us… It’s going to be about how we do it, and how we do it responsibly, and how we show that this is how we’re gonna leave COVID in the dust.”

Praised by Esquire as “one of the most singular working artists in any genre,” Church’s foresight with his new music, while written pre-pandemic, still addresses the underlying sense of division that was already palpable in our nation. Whether threw his spoken word piece entitled “Who Will Answer The Call?”, released earlier this year, where he shared a message of resolve, or by offering hope in “Through My Ray-Bans,” Church’s music has already served as a unifier .

“There’s a point in the show where I walk out in the crowd and I put my arms around them, we get pictures and it’s what life’s about. It’s that moment… What ‘Through My Ray-Bans’ is about is that I wish we could freeze that and I wish that was how life was — right there, just how I saw you.”
          I see a place where a moment in time
          Is a kaleidoscope of color on a canvas of white
         Where the voices roar at the noise of the poet’s rhyme


         Everybody’s got their arms around everybody else’s shoulders
         Guarding against the world outside like an army of Friday night soldiers
         The battle wages tomorrow but tonight you don’t give a damn
         Wish you could stay the way I see you through my Ray-Bans
For more information, visit www.ericchurch.com and follow on Facebook and Twitter @ericchurch and Instagram@ericchurchmusic.

Photo Credit: John Russell/CMA