You can bet Thomas Rhett is no longer looking for something to do with his hands. Those hands are pretty full nowadays with things such as his first single climbing the charts and making his debut appearance on CMA Music Fest’s Riverfront Stage last week. It was less than a month ago (May 19 to be exact) when Thomas Rhett made his Opry debut and he is already making his way back to the stage. Catch him on June 19 alongside Lee Brice, Diamond Rio, and others.
Thomas Rhett talked with us backstage the night of his debut about everything from the journey that has led him to where he is now to how he chose his first single. Or maybe you want to hear what he was thinking walking through the Grand Ole Opry House artist entrance doors for the first time?
The nerves were ever-present the night of his debut but Thomas explained that at the same time he felt as though “he had been preparing to [sing on the Opry stage] since he was five years old.”
“I’ve been around the music business my whole life and I’ve always learned the ups about it and the downs about it,” he said. “I’ve seen personally what it’s like to have success and have failure in the music business.”
Late in his high school career is when Thomas began immersing himself in songwriting and after a 3-year stint in college, he knew music was where he belonged. However, it was during those college years that he had his first break.
Click play below to listen to hear about that experience.
Even with the success he’s seen, this up-and-comer is nothing but grounded. “You got a lot of shoes to fill walking on that stage,” Thomas said. “There have been so many legends walk out and play in that small circle. For me to get the opportunity to play it tonight is extremely humbling.”
Speaking of success, his debut single “Something To Do With My Hands” can be heard on radio stations across the country. Picking the first single can be a crucial career decision for an artist and this Georgia-native decided to take a risk.
Looking toward the future, with his new album coming in August and an opener-gig on Toby Keith’s summer tour, Thomas’ is looking pretty bright. “It’s been a crazy, God thing to tell you the truth. I can’t put a finger really on how it all happened, it just all kind of fell into place. I’m very blessed and very humbled to be where I am at,” he concluded.
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to see Thomas on the Opry stage June 19.
Dustin Lynch made his Opry debut just a few weeks ago on March 2, but he’s headed back this Friday, March 23!
“That was the most exciting moment of my life,” Dustin told us backstage after his Opry debut. “As I stepped into the circle, I told everyone that my greatest dream just came true.”
He’s among the new artists Billboard‘s calling one of the “Most Anticipated Debuts of 2012.” Dustin is from Tullahoma, TN, only 90 minutes away from the heart of Nashville. When it came time for college, he moved closer into the city to attend David Lipscomb University – partly because the school is less than 2 miles from the Bluebird Café, one of Nashville’s premier songwriters clubs. Eventually, he moved into one of the apartments behind the Bluebird’s back parking lot, and would walk over several nights a week to watch and learn from established songwriters.
“I moved up here chasing a wild dream,” he said. “Every chance I had I was at Bluebird Café soaking in writers rounds. That place has always had a special spot in my heart just like the Opry. But it seemed like every time I played the Bluebird very short after something special would happen. It’s crazy how that worked out.”
Click play below to hear what it was like.
It must have paid off. He was so excited that he’d reached a “dream come true” on his debut night that he kissed the circle – literally.
“After my last performance, I had to kiss it. I leaned over to kiss the circle, and it was great. I had to live it up while I was out there as my first time. You never forget your first night at the Opry. And it seemed like the crowd liked it. Sorry if I wasn’t supposed to kiss the floor. John Conlee asked for a mop after I walked off, I heard him. It was funny,” Dustin said.
“What’s so important to me about the Opry and why it’s been such a dream of mine is that so many of my idols have come across the stage,” he said. “Getting to meet Jimmy C. Newman and to actually get to shake his hand and talk to him for a second was awesome. Growing up and watching the Opry, he was one of my favorites because he’s got the alligators on his guitar and I just fell in love with that guy. John Conlee made me super comfortable. I asked him for advice before I went out there, and we had a great conversation before and after. And of course, Little Jimmy Dickens, wow. I opened up for Jimmy Dickens, that’s pretty crazy. Legends. Absolute legends. That’s what the Opry is about to me. To actually get to play the stage with those guys tonight.”
Dustin’s debut single, “Cowboys and Angels” already has a story of it’s own with how it was written.
“‘Cowboys and Angels’ was my first single on the radio and it’s had a great story already,” Dustin said. “Even before it was written, I had the idea for awhile and I knew it was a special song idea. I wanted to make sure I wrote it with the right guys in town. I went in to my first co-write ever with Tim Nichols and Josh Leo, two outstanding songwriters and very successful in town. Just to meet those guys, I was excited. When I got to the co-write, Tim asked me what I wanted to write, and I was so nervous I kind of passed it on to him, and he passed it back. After awhile, he said, ‘I’ve had this song idea for awhile I don’t know if you’ll like it, but it’s called ‘Cowboys and Angels.” We had the same idea the same morning. At that moment, we compared notes, and sure enough both had it written down. We knew it was a gift from the sky and that song was supposed to be written that day. We didn’t realize it would be my first song to radio, of course, but it has changed my life, and I can’t wait to see how the story ends with that song.”
While the single is only a hint of what fans can expect from Dustin in the future, he’s currently recording his debut album and hopes to release it sometime this summer.
“We’ve been writing for a few years, and really the last few years we’ve been honing in on the sound we now have for this record,” Dustin says of the album. “It’s a sound that I think fits a slot that’s not out there right now on radio and that’s the feedback we’ve been getting.”
Here’s Dustin’s debut video for “Cowboys and Angels.” Click here for tickets to see him on the Opry this Friday, or tune in on the Opry’s free app!
Kellie Pickler will be back on the Opry stage Tonight (March 17) and has quite the night planned at the Opry. First, she’ll be in The Opry Shop from 5:00 – 6:30 pm signing autographs (voucher requred; click here for details) and meeting her fans before performing as part of two Opry shows (7 & 9:30 pm). She’ll also be performing an exclusive backstage performance in Studio A. Want to get a sneak peak from home? Follow the Opry on Twitter (@Opry) for tweets, updates, and photos from both her performance and the Grand Ole Opry. Plus, you can tune in here to listen to the show live on the Opry’s FREE app!
But before Kellie takes the stage, we want to share some of the topics on her mind recently. She talked with us backstage at a recent Opry performance about her new album, what it’s like to be a guest artist at the show that made country music famous, and much more. Here’s what she said, and a few videos of songs she’s performed from her latest album, 100 Proof. What songs should she sing on the Opry tonight?
“It’s such an honor. I still get, I guess, star-struck, at the Opry,” Kellie said. “Because there’s so much history here and there are so many legends that are still walking around backstage, so it’s really an incredible, incredible experience for somebody like me that grew up listening to all of them. And to be able to share the stage with them is something that I treasure.”
Kellie’s music reflects that, too. In fact, she’s a “sucker” for the classics.
“I worked on this record for awhile,” she said. “I’m such a sucker, honestly, for the classics because that’s what I grew up on. That’s just what was played around me, so my soul is just so in love and connected to that era. I know that music has changed and evolved over time and we even have new ways of buying music and everything is digital now – you know, times have changed – so I have to try to evolve with the time and stay relevant, but still make music that moves me. I definitely feel like I am triggering another part of me that maybe I haven’t displayed. I know based on my music that’s been out before, you wouldn’t know that I grew up on Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn, but I did.”
“Stop Cheating On Me,” written by Chris Stapleton, his wife Morgane Hayes, and Liz Rose, was one that Kellie knew she wanted to record right away.
“The minute I heard it I went, now that’s country. That’s a country song. I want that song,” Kellie told us. “So we cut that one, and actually Chris and Morgane came in the studio and sang the background vocals on it and did the harmony. We had fun making this record. It really was a good time. It’s Pickler. It’s me.”
Alison Krauss has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1993, was the first bluegrass artist in 29 years to be inducted, and was the youngest Opry cast member at the time of her induction. She learned violin at age 5, started fiddling at age 8, recorded her first album at age 14, and by age 18, earned her first Grammy nomination.
This voice will be back on the 650 AM WSM airwaves and the Opry stage for three shows this weekend – one on Friday night and two on Saturday night. She’ll share the stage with fellow Opry members and guests artists like Brad Paisley, Charlie Daniels Band, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Mel Tillis, Cannan Smith, and more. Click here to purchase tickets to what Alison says are “two of my favorite things – weekends and the Grand Ole Opry.”
Alison talked with us backstage at a previous Opry performance about coming back together to record her most recent album, Paper Airplane, and about one of the Top 3 moments in her musical career – lunch with Charlie Louvin.
“Everybody kind of goes their own way when we’re not working,” Alison said of getting back together with Union Station to record their latest album. “But at that time in the studio, it had been seven years since we had done a whole album together, which I couldn’t believe it had been that long. It was strange some of the obstacles that came up that hadn’t been there before. When you go off and do other projects where you’re kind of part of somebody else’s vision, it’s hard to step into the group again. There were some hurdles that hadn’t been there before and we had to get back to where we were. It all worked out, and I think for those struggles, you end up with something interesting.”
Alison Krauss and Union Station’s album Paper Airplane is a 12-track record of emotional power.
“You have new life within the record,” Alison said. “I always find that the most interesting work I do is with these guys because it’s always the same people. But with that, all of the people are changing as we get older, and things turn a different way and things might move a little to the left and then to the right as far as where the album is going to go. It was an interesting process, and I think it does have a new identity.”
Right around the time the album was being recorded, Alison reflected on one of the top moments of her musical career. Charlie Lovin was one of the most influential musicians of the ’40s and ’50s and as one half of the Louvin Brothers, defined close harmony duets for several generations of country music artists and fans. Alison Krauss is one of those artists.
“There would be songs growing up that I love and then I would be reciting the lyrics to them and say ‘this one made me think about this, or this one defined my beliefs on this, or this one is what I daydreamed about,’” Alison said. “They were the songs that kept coming up. I didn’t pay attention to songwriters when I was younger, and as I got older I wanted to know who that was and where they came from and what they were thinking about and nine times out of ten, Charlie Louvin wrote those songs. I thought, ‘who is that man who could touch me like that – that would have such an impact on me.’ I had no idea that he had written all of these things and really defined my ideals of what I would picture in my mind when I sing. They were the pictures that he created with the songs that he wrote.”
Click play below to hear Alison’s story of when she got to have lunch with him, what he talked about, and how it was a moment she will never forget.
Alison has had quite the career, and we’re always excited to welcome her back on the Opry stage. Click here to tune in this weekend. Until then, here are a couple of videos of Alison on the Opry.
Now that Edens Edge have not only played the Opry numerous times and toured with Opry members Reba McEntire and Brad Paisley (on the Opry March 10) on their respective tours, they’re taking it one step further to tour with yet another Opry member group – and the newest one’s too.
Edens Edge is set to go on tour with Rascal Flatts this summer for the supergroup’s “The American Band Tour.” Along with Edens Edge, Eli Young Band and Little Big Town will also be opening for Rascal Flatts on the tour.
“We are thrilled to be on this tour and be a part of this,” Dean Berner said.
The group’s made up of three talented young musicians from Arkansas — Hannah Blaylock, Berner, and Cherrill Green, and have introduced themselves with a vibrant sound that honors country music’s roots while creatively pushing the envelope with their seasoned musicianship, dazzling harmonies and insightful songwriting.
Since moving to Nashville, the group has said they widened their meaning of what home feels like.
“We are huge fans of Nashville. It’s really embraced us and really has become the only home we’ve ever known other than Arkansas,” Hannah said. “The people here are just so warm and loving. The moment the three of us moved here we were all like, ‘this feels like home.’ I’ve never gone somewhere else and have it feel like home before.”
Cherrill added her own thoughts about the small town feel Nashville has, even though it’s still a city – and felt like a big one compared to where they came from. Click play below to listen.
Even though they’ve got an EP out now, and performed various songs on the Opry stage, what’s one Opry moment that stood out? Singing around one mic.
“We got to sing the song that we close our sets with called ‘Christ Alone’ around one microphone, which we’ve been wanting to do for a long time – especially on the Ryman stage,” Hannah said. “We always know that Steve, the guy who wrote the song, is from Arkansas and he’s the one that started the band with my parents and I, and then he brought Dean and Cherrill into the band. He’s kind of the reason we all know each other. We always give him a shout-out before we sing it. We were all around one mic like we used to sing it, and on a stage that has such amazing acoustics you don’t even need the microphone, but we wanted everyone listening on the radio to hear it too. That was really special to be able to perform it in that way.”
And what’s one Opry first for this trio that could be coming up in the future?
“My mother taught me to yodel a little bit when I was a kid, and the first song she ever taught me was ‘Cowboy Sweetheart,’” Hannah said. “So that’s kind of on one of our checklists to check off for a cover that we might do on the Opry.”
While we’re waiting for that, the trio said they’re headed back to the studio, going on radio tours across the country, and getting ready to open for Rascal Flatts. And they will be back at the Opry Tuesday, March 6 to help us kick off the first Tuesday Night Opry of 2012!
They were one of the acts helping ring in the New Year here in Nashville to huge crowds, too.
“That was a massive show. I don’t think we even realized how massive it was going to be. It was a record-breaking year,” Hannah said still in awe of the show. “And for Broadway being such a famous street and something that gives such an identity to what we do, it was cool to see people literally sardinened in-between the two streets strait down. It didn’t look real. It looked like a movie where they took a group of people and then replicated it to infinity with a mirror – that’s how beautiful it was. That’s what I said when I got up there – I said ‘You do not understand the view from here. It is so gorgeous.’”
Since then, they’ve had success with their current single “Amen” and are working on new songs – due out soon!
“We’re about to head back in the studio and finish up the record, and we’re so excited about that,” Dean said. “Last year we got to put out a five song EP, but we didn’t have the whole record. Hopefully it will be late spring or early summer when that comes out.”
Montgomery Gentry may be “rebels on the run” in one sense of the phrase, but they opened up and proved they also have quite the soft spots. They are a part of three recent albums: one their own, one a tribute, and one a movie soundtrack that honors the military.
“It’s been so long since we’ve had new music out there,” Troy Gentry said backstage at a recent Opry performance. “We’re just so excited about this new stuff off Rebels On The Run. It feels good to play new music and have fresh material to play.”
The album hit stores in October of last year and features the first single “Where I Come From,” plus 10 others including the title track, “Empty,” “Simple Things,” “My So Called Life,” and more.
The duo performed their first single from the album on the Opry stage, and will be back for more songs on March 2. Click here to get tickets to see them at the Opry.
“There’s nothing like the Opry and just being on that stage,” Eddie Montgomery said. “It gets you fired up. It’s a great feeling when you get introduced, especially by a legend.”
But for artists, and particularly members of the Grand Ole Opry family, the relationship goes much deeper than just the stage and the fans. It all happens backstage too.
“It’s so cool to see all the guys backstage too and all the folks that we’ve been listening to and admiring and looking up to for years,” Troy said. “Now they are our buddies. It’s just really cool after so many years of looking at them from afar in amazement to now be able to call them friends and they call us friends back. It’s really cool to hang out with these guys.”
Another country music legend that’s close to Montgomery Gentry’s heart is Waylon Jennings. They recently re-recorded one of his songs, “Good Ol’ Boys” (Dukes Of Hazard Theme Song) for the second volume of The Music Inside: A Collaboration Dedicated to Waylon Jennings. To learn more about the album, click here.
“It’s unreal,” Eddie said of recording “Good Ol’ Boys.” “You cut your teeth singing that in the clubs and grow up watching the TV show. You know, I’d say we thought we were (good ol’ boys).” Click play below to hear why.
The duo actually got to perform with Waylon at the Opry’s most famous former home, the Ryman Auditorium, before Waylon passed away in February 2002.
“That’s what came to mind when we started talking about the tribute album,” Troy said. “The fact that we were able to before his passing get in the studio and do an album with him and able to perform live on stage with him downtown at the Ryman is pretty awesome. To think about cutting one of his songs again just took me back to the time we got to hang out for just a short period of time.”
The duo also has a cut of the upcoming film Act of Valor soundtrack. It’s a unique film about an elite team of Navy SEALs who embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent. It’s inspired by true events and is a blend of real-life heroism and original film making in which the characters are portrayed by active-duty Navy SEALs. The movie hits theaters this weekend (February 24) but the soundtrack is available now. Other artists featured on the soundtrack include Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Sugarland, Trace Adkins, and more.
“We were able to do a song on the soundtrack to that movie called ‘What It Takes,’” Troy said. “It was pretty cool to be a part of the soundtrack. It’s our second soundtrack, ironically both having to do with military and soldiers. The first one was a Mel Gibson film called We Were Soldiers and now this one. It’s really cool to be able to honor our soldiers and our military by participating on these albums like this.”
Click here to see Montgomery Gentry on the Opry March 2 & April 6.
“Between having three dogs named Dolly, Nash & Merle and an East Texas accent so pronounced you could pick her out in a crowded honky-tonk from across the room, Sunny Sweeney is so country she probably snores Loretta Lynn melodies in her sleep” – or so she says about herself on her Facebook. We talked with her backstage at a recent Opry appearance to see just how thick that accent sounds, what her favorite Opry moment is, what fans have to say, and what she does with those pups while out on the road.
With songs like “Drink Myself Single,” “From A Table Away,” “The Old Me,” and “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving,” Sunny stays true to her country roots in her current album Concrete. She’s got the strong country musical influences and inspirations, but what legend helped make her favorite Opry moment? Mr. Little Jimmy Dickens.
Click play to hear the story in Sunny’s southern twang:
As for the Opry as a whole? “I love it so much. I love what it stands for, I love the tradition, and I love that every hero musically that I have has stood in that same spot. I don’t take this place for granted. It’s my favorite place to play, and I’ll say that all the time,” Sunny tells us. Join us or tune in Saturday night when Sunny returns to the Opry stage.
Sunny has personal ties to many of her songs, and there are a few that hit pretty close to home with her own life. But what do her fans say? It’s like marriage counseling!
“There are songs that I am closest to on my record emotionally,” Sunny says. “Like when both people have checked out and you can’t move on is ultimately what this is about. I have had more people come up to me after shows and say ‘you have no idea.’ The song has either helped them already or will help them figure out if they do want to make it work, or they don’t. Jokingly someone said, ‘your music is like marriage counseling.’ That’s, I guess, good!”
So, how did she end up with this sound?
“I didn’t have that much experience listening to newer country,” she tells us. “I was talking to my label about producers I wanted to use and Scott Borchetta told me to go buy CDs and hard-core listen to them.” Click play to hear which Opry member’s albums were a part of that inspiration:
With two albums now under her belt, Sunny has played the Opry over 25 times, traveled the country, and played with some of the best. She’s one to watch in 2012 – but what does she do with her dogs when she is on the road?
“My mom is amazing and watches them for me,” she says. “I don’t board my dogs, but my mom’s watching them pretty consistently. When I get on a bus full-time and I am not flying six days a week, that might be more feasible, but traveling with two dogs on an airplane ain’t gonna cut it for me.”
They had an incredible 2011, made their Opry debut, are nominated for two GRAMMY awards, have fought for artist independence, performed alongside big names and strong influences of various genres, had their songs on television shows Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill, and most recently, Taylor Swift showed up at their show at the Ryman Auditorium last week.
The duo, made up of California native Joy Williams and Alabama born John Paul White, travel without a backup band and fleshed out their sounds on their first full-length album, Barton Hollow, with only acoustic instruments. Known as The Civil Wars, this duo is one to watch.
On the night of their Opry debut, Joy and John Paul talked with us backstage at the Ryman Auditorium about the night, their year, and that dream come true that they now call real life.
“We’re kind of freaking out about this, actually, because I grew up dreaming about being on the Opry,” John Paul tells us. “Listening to my dad’s Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and those kinds of records, and even when I was heavily into rock and roll, I knew what an honor it was to be on this stage. I always dreamed of it and never thought it would actually come true.”
In fact, from the stage, John Paul told the audience that not only was this one of his dreams, but something his father and his father’s father were known to dream about. The idea of something so historic and so legendary wasn’t as second nature to Joy. As a West-coaster, Joy discovered and experienced the Grand Ole Opry later than someone like John Paul. But that doesn’t mean their Opry debut feels any differently for her.
“I was a West-coast kid and a transplant to Nashville,” Joy says. “As soon as I arrived into town it was an inundation of the immense history and beauty and humor. I’m just honored to be a part of it. It’s something that I came to a little bit later in my life, but something I am so thrilled to be a part of.”
What Joy didn’t know before her Opry debut though, is that many artists are nervous before stepping onto the historic stage. And the feeling she had that she didn’t belong isn’t so unique after all.
“I feel like they are going to figure us out – like they’re going to kick us out and off the stage,” Joy tells us nervously.
Needless to say, their performance on the Grand Ole Opry on December 17, 2011 was welcomed with open arms, and Opry member Emmylou Harris celebrated with them by joining them on stage. How do you choose the songs you’ll sing for your Opry debut? Some bands would have it perfectly planned out and an entire strategy behind the choices. But with The Civil Wars, things are done a bit differently.
In fact, Emmylou introduced them onto the stage by saying they “have taken the music world by storm. Folks, they are really, really good.”
“It’s not a very scientific process with us,” John Paul explains. “As soon as we knew we were coming, we had three songs that just leaped out. I’m not exactly sure why, but we felt like they would just come across correctly. We feel like this is the kind of crowd that will probably lean more toward the things that we do that hark back to more of our country roots and more of our organic Americana roots.”
Their choices? “Barton Hollow,” which is the title track to their first full-length album, “From This Valley,” which is a new song not yet on one of their records, “Forget Me Not” and a collaboration with Emmylou.
“You never know what you’ll get at the Opry,” Joy says.
Looking forward into 2012, The Civil Wars are looking at sold out shows, traveling across the U.S. and into other countries, and much more. Perhaps the next big night for them to look forward to? The 54th GRAMMY’s on February 12. They’re nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance (“Barton Hollow”) and Best Folk Album (Barton Hollow).
“We are so excited about the GRAMMY’s,” Joy said. “Some people at the GRAMMY’s actually invited us to out to the awards ceremony concert so we were actually in the seats watching these very grandiose performances happen holding our breath and trying to remain calm. And just like everybody else, we found out on our smartphones checking the list once the televised event closed out. We were beside ourselves. It’s a dream to be nominated for something, and it’s also a dream to be nominated multiple times.”
The GRAMMY nominations were just one highlight of a whirlwind 2011 for The Civil Wars. The duo has walked into a very different life, made some interesting collaborations, and performed numerous times in 2011.
“We are giggling at the fact that we’ve been nominated for something in two separate genres of music, and we’re just fine and dandy with that,” Joy tells us. “We’re in steep competition with some names that we’ve grown up with and have been our own idols, and some new names that we dearly respect. At this moment we’re just soaking in how surreal all of this has been. It’s been a crazy year but so full of so many surprises and open doors that we never dreamed of.”
We’ll use John Paul’s words from the Opry stage in hopes he meant them for more than the Opry: “I worked my whole life to get here; I’m not going to leave any time soon.”
Here’s the duo on the Opry stage during their debut performing “From This Valley.”
We know by now that Thompson Square isn’t a real place – it’s the musical space created by the husband-and-wife duo of Keifer and Shawna Thompson. And now we’re all included there, starting with their self-titled debut album, a No. 1 hit debut single, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not,” countless live performances, and of course our favorite way – at the Grand Ole Opry. The duo made their Opry debut on November 26, 2010 and have been back a number of times since.
The debut single that spent five consecutive weeks at #1 on the Country Digital Soundscan chart, went No. 1 platinum, and was iTunes’ Country Song of the Year for 2011 is actually much more than that. The song uses its lyrics to go beyond charts and numbers. It says something to fans, speaks to couples, and even kids have been known to sing it to a video camera now and then.
“The weirdest thing is this woman came up to me one night and said ‘Your song saved my marriage,’” Keifer said backstage at a recent Opry appearance. “You never know what a song means to somebody else. It’s just weird that whatever they were going through at that time, these lyrics helped them through.”
The song’s lyrics have also proved more than enough to be used for wedding songs. And with a song that says So I took a chance, Bought a wedding band and I got down on one knee And you smiled and said to me “Are you gonna kiss me or not?,” it isn’t so surprising that the duo is being included in those special moments.
“It’s a big responsibility when they’re using this song in their wedding,” Keifer said. “For the rest of their life this song is going to be associated with you.”
Shauna’s from Chatom, Alabama and learned traditional country songs from her guitar-playing father. Keifer was raised in Miami, Oklahoma, where he heard everything from Roger Miller and Merle Haggard to punk rock and heavy metal growing up. Each moved to Nashville within the same week, met at a singing competition a few short days later, and they say it all started when Shauna beat Keifer in a pool game. Even though they each arrived in Music City with solo careers on their minds, after awhile it made sense to form a duo. And now they’ve been married for eleven years and an official recording duo since 2009. This kind of thing doesn’t happen often – not for 47 years, actually.
“There’s still a strange thing out there,” Keifer said. “We had the Hall of Fame do some research for us on artists that were married starting out that had a No. 1 hit, and it’s been 47 years. I’m still standing on this rock thinking it’s been a long, long time that someone’s been married starting out and doing something like this. I know it’s a very small category, but we’re still proud of that.”
And that’s only one thing for the duo to be proud of. Following their debut single, their second one released, “I’ve Got You” also climbed the charts into the Top 10. What’s next for them? They tell us it’s called “Glass.”
“‘Glass’ is a song that initially when we heard it, Keifer wasn’t interested in singing it,” Shauna told us. “He thought it would be cooler if I sang it, coming from a woman’s point of view. We tried it out, and it’s just a beautiful song about how in a relationship people individually have been through a lot, and then they come together and have to deal with that. We’re all fragile, our hearts are fragile.”
“It’s a very metaphorical way to look at a relationship,” Keifer added. “It’s a beautifully written song. We were trying to figure out what single to come out with next, and there’s so many messages on Facebook and Twitter and from fans in the crowd that love the song. So, we listened, and radio loves the song and wants it. We are going to give it to them and see what happens.”
The single is set to be released to radio on January 30. We’re looking forward to seeing them return to the Ryman stage sometime soon, and they’ve said they are too.
“It’s like being in a holy place for me,” Keifer said. “Our debut for the Opry was at the Ryman. It literally is the mother church of country music. And at the Opry House every time you step on the piece of wood from the Ryman, it’s a very special moment for any artist. It’s an honor to be able to stand there and be accepted by those who have come and gone. It’s one of the most exciting times for me and Shauna. That’s why we told the Opry that any time we can do it, we want to.”
Until then, here’s their No. 1 hit on the Opry stage:
And that’s not just a line of lyrics in Craig Morgan‘s latest single “This Ole Boy.” The Opry member is headed in an exciting direction in his career, releasing new music, and is even an option in a Fantasy Hunting league.
“It’s not a song that will change the world,” Craig says of his latest single. “It’s just a feel good fun song that talks about love the way we all see it. It’s a country boy love song that makes you want to roll the window down and have a good time.”
He performed the single during Randy Travis‘ 25th Anniversary show and the Opry’s 86th Birthday Bash last October. Since it’s the start of a new year, we’re using some of Craig’s words as a New Years resolution: to absorb the moments.
“I’ve been here for some of the greatest events of the Opry in my opinion,” Craig says. “I have gotten to sing on stage and duet with some of the legends, and I didn’t absorb it. It wasn’t long after that I would think, ‘wow, that was so cool.’”
And more than just absorbing the moments on the stage, Craig has other Opry events he wished he could have been at.
“When Blake (Shelton) was inducted, I didn’t get to be here,” Craig recalls. “I hate that I was not observant enough of my schedule to be here for one of my good friend’s induction because this is a very important thing in our careers.”
But that’s how Craig knows he wants to absorb every moment from now on. And he certainty did more than that at Randy Travis’ Anniversary.
“His music was extremely influential to me,” Craig said of Randy. “I will never forget the first time I heard I’m diggin’ up bones, I’m diggin’ up bones, Exhuming things that’s better left alone – I mean that made me want to sing. I know I’m not the only guy. I know there’s people out there that don’t sing for a living that feel like they have an attachment to Randy Travis, and that’s what he did with his music. That’s the one thing that he did that I want to take. I want people to feel like they have an attachment to me because of my music.”
Although Craig wants a connection through his music, he’s also enjoying another connection to fans of both country music and hunting as a character in the Fantasy Hunting League.
“Everybody plays fantasy football, and there are a lot of people that don’t get to hunt as much as they would like in the same way that people don’t get to play football like they would like,” Craig explains. “So they play fantasy football. Some gentlemen have created a very similar concept called Fantasy Hunting. In the same way that you pick your football team, you pick your hunters. I am one of the hunters that they can pick. And just like in football, they pick their hunters based on what they think they have the potential to do throughout the year.”
So whether it’s Fantasy Hunting, performing on the Grand Ole Opry or watching big moments in his friends’ careers, Craig want’s to absorb it all. Enjoy this video of him on stage performing his latest single: