From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Oklahoma music stars rocked through 2010
Pardon me if my ears are still ringing from 2010.
It’s a common side effect from standing near an epicenter of musical greatness, so I’m not complaining.
Oklahoma’s vast and diverse musical scene practically quaked with success and possibilities in 2010.
Tishomingo country star Blake Shelton hit his “Hillbilly Bone” with Trace Adkins, and the raucous duet became the first of back-to-back chart-toppers for the Ada native. Shelton, who swapped traditional albums for a pair of Six Paks, also joined the Grand Ole Opry and proposed to his country music sweetheart and Tishomingo neighbor Miranda Lambert in 2010.
Lambert continued spinning off hits from her 2009 album “Revolution,” notching the first two No. 1s of her career with “White Liar” and “The House That Built Me.” She set a record by earning nine nominations for the Country Music Association Awards, and she and Shelton affirmed their status as the genre’s new power couple when they took home five trophies between them at the CMAs.
Checotah native Carrie Underwood, who wed pro hockey player Mike Fisher in July, expanded her repertoire into acting last year, guest-starring on the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” and filming her movie debut in “Soul Surfer,” which will open in theaters in April. The “American Idol” also earned her first Golden Globe nomination for co-writing “There’s a Place for Us,” the end credits theme for the big-screen adaptation of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” We’ll find out if she won when the Globes are handed out Sunday night.
Rascal Flatts, which includes former Pitcher resident Joe Don Rooney, released its first album on new label Big Machine Records. Chockie-bred diva Reba McEntire notched her 59th Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and launched a superstar tour with George Strait, which is coming Saturday to Oklahoma City. Toby Keith continued to pay tribute to his late friend and fellow Oklahoman Wayman Tisdale, playing his hit ode “Cryin’ for Me (Wayman’s Song)” on April’s Academy of Country Music Awards, before reloading his career with the release of his 15th studio album, “Bullets in the Gun.”
Several Oklahoma country music standouts did our fair state proud when Nashville, Tenn., was devastated by May floods. Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill, who was raised in Oklahoma City, organized the first of the many star-studded telethons, while Owasso couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood played last month a series of nine sold-out concerts that raised a projected $3 million for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Cross Canadian Ragweed and Brooks & Dunn broke my heart with breakups, but my hopes were rekindled when Ragweed frontman Cody Canada re-emerged with new band The Departed and former Tulsan Ronnie Dunn set a 2011 solo show in Thackerville.
Oklahoma’s country music stars weren’t the only ones celebrating big achievements in the past year. Edmond teen Greyson Chance channeled Lady Gaga and achieved YouTube stardom before his 13th birthday. Former Tulsa teen trio Hanson finally pushed their 1997 global hit “MMMBop” to the back of people’s memories with their equally catchy “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’,” which was accompanied by a clever music video tribute to “The Blues Brothers” featuring a cameo by “Weird Al” Yankovic.
While Oklahoma City-born and bred singer-songwriter Audra Mae was delivering “gypsy cowgirl soul” on her auspicious debut album, rockers Kings of Leon, which includes Oklahoma City-born members Matthew and Nathan Followill, offered a brand a rock that was more “Back Down South” for “Come Around Sundown,” the follow-up to their Grammy-winning 2008 breakout album “Only
By the Night.”
Songwriting great Jimmy Webb, who hails from Elk City, revisited some of his defining hits, including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman” on “Just Across the River,” a duets album that paired him with singing stars such as Gill, Glen Campbell and Billy Joel. And songstress Judy Collins cut the defining rendition of Webb’s gorgeously complex ballad “Gauguin” as the closer to her 2010 album “Paradise.”
But few musical storylines could match the comeback of Tulsa Sound man Leon Russell, a triumphant return conceived by Elton John and produced by T Bone Burnett. For years, Russell, a shining rock star in the 1960s and ’70s, languished in relative obscurity, but John set out to restore the Lawton native to his proper place in the modern music pantheon. Their album “The Union” debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, giving Russell extra exposure that undoubtedly helped him gain the attention of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Russell’s upcoming inauguration into the rock hall, set for March 14 in New York City, is sure to be just one highlight of 2011. I hope the new year rocks even harder. My ears can take it.
Golden Globes live blog
Find out whether Carrie Underwood wins the Golden Globe for best original song from a motion picture when Brandy McDonnell live blogs the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards starting at 7 p.m. Sunday at BAM’s Blog, http://blog.newsok.com/bamsblog. The Globes will air live from Beverly Hills, Calif., at 7 p.m. Sunday on NBC, with Ricky Gervais as host.
Oklahoma music star Garth Brooks may have generated as much as $10 million for the Nashville, Tenn., economy by playing nine charity shows earlier this month at the Bridgestone Arena, according to the Nashville Business Journal.
That doesn’t include direct visitor spending, as the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau hasn’t yet surveyed downtown hotels about their overnight visitors during Brooks’ Dec. 16-22 concerts, according to the publication.
But Smith Travel Research reports that hotel occupancy last week was up 15 percent over the same week last year. Revenue per available room also was up almost 19 percent, reports the Nashville Business Journal.
Brooks sold 140,000 tickets at $25 each for the shows, which also featured his wife Trisha Yearwood. The concert series raised a projected $3 million for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Proceeds will benefit ongoing flood relief; the city suffered devastating flooding in early May.
Although ticket prices were low, the journal reports that parking and concessions were pretty pricey and may well have contributed to that $10 million figure.
More than 14,000 toys donated for Toys for Tots will be delivered Sunday afternoon at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, where Oklahoma music megastar Garth Brooks is continuing a series of nine benefit concerts through Wednesday.
A Toys for Tots donation center was stationed in front of the venue when Brooks began the series with two shows Thursday night, according to CMT.com. The massive donation was organized by Ray Carolin, one of the singer’s friends who previously served as vice president of the Arizona chapter of the NFL Alumni Association.
After Brooks’ assistant contacted him, Carolin contacted Spalding Sporting Goods, which responded by donating 14,616 toys that will arrive with Santa Claus at the arena. The U.S. Marines will deliver the toys to deserving children just in time for Christmas.
As the concert series launched Thursday night, a multigenerational crowd sang along as the Owasso resident and his band blew through his biggest hits, including “Friends in Low Places,” “The Thunder Rolls” and “The Dance.”
Brooks hadn’t played an arena show in Music City since 1998, but most fans stayed standing for the 90-minute hit parade. Brooks’ wife, Trisha Yearwood, and pal Steve Wariner joined Brooks on stage for a few songs each, according to the Associated Press.
Proceeds from the concert are being donated to the Community Relief Foundation of Middle Tennessee for continuing relief efforts after May’s devastating flooding.
Oklahoma country music star couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will perform the first two of their unprecedented nine-concert benefit series tonight at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
Money raised through ticket sales will aid ongoing relief efforts in the wake of last springs devastating floods in Tennessee.
Back in November, tickets initially went on sale for a single Dec. 17 arena show featuring the Owasso couple.
But the clamor for tickets was so urgent, they ended up selling out nine concerts, instead of one, in a single day.
With tickets priced at $25 (plus a $2.50 user fee and $5 service charge), the more than 140,000 tickets sold will allow the concert series to raise $3.5 million. All the proceeds are going to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
According to CMT, it marks the first time a performer has sold that many tickets ever in the state of Tennessee. Michael Jackson held the previous record of 72,000 in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.
As part of the unprecedented appearances, the couple will play nine full concerts in six days, with shows planned for 7 and 10 tonight, 7 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Monday, 6 and 9 p.m. Tuesday and 6 and 9 p.m. Wednesday.
“That’s sweet, especially in Nashville because that’s a tough place to sell tickets because it’s the industry. These people have seen everything, so you can imagine how floored we were when one went to two, two went to three,” Brooks told me in a November phone interview.
“That was very flattering, but for me, I think it reflected more the giving spirit of anybody. Because I made that call, I asked ‘If there’s ever a time to come see Garth, this is it, because 100 percent of the money is going to people who need it.’ And they, wow, they answered. It was fun.’”
From Sunday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Garth Brooks’ return to stage brings big response in Vegas, Nashville
In fall 2000, Oklahoma country music superstar Garth Brooks retired from touring and recording to raise his three daughters.
In the past decade, the best-selling solo artist in U.S. history has reemerged occasionally for special events, playing charity shows, speaking during the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular and performing at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Even when he helped cut the ribbon at Tulsa’s BOK Center, performed with his wife, fellow country star Trisha Yeawood, at the 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards, and penned forewords for her two best-selling cookbooks, his focus for the past decade has been on parenting his three girls – now all teenagers – from his first marriage to Sandy Mahl.
But Brooks announced in October 2009 that he was coming out of retirement to play weekend shows at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Las Vegas. The Oklahoma State University graduate likened the stripped-down shows to performances he used to give at Willie’s Saloon, a Stillwater bar where he played several times early in his career.
Each new set of dates have swiftly sold out, and the resort recently raised ticket prices due to overwhelming demand. The weekend arrangement allows him to keep maximizing his time with his family. He isn’t working on any new material.
“Our youngest is a freshman in high school so we still got time before that,” he said in a phone interview earlier this month.
Brooks’ absence from the road has only made fans’ hearts grown fonder. When he and Yearwood announced recently they would play a full arena show in Nashville, Tenn., to aid ongoing relief efforts in the wake of last springs devastating floods, the clamor for tickets was so urgent, they ended up selling out nine concerts, instead of one, in a single day.
With tickets priced at $25, the more than 140,000 tickets sold will allow the concert series to raise $3.5 million.
“That’s sweet, especially in Nashville because that’s a tough place to sell tickets because it’s the industry. These people have seen everything, so you can imagine how floored we were when one went to two, two went to three,” he said. “That was very flattering, but for me, I think it reflected more the giving spirit of anybody. Because I made that call, I asked ‘If there’s ever a time to come see Garth, this is it, because 100 percent of the money is going to people who need it.’ And they, wow, they answered. It was fun.’”
If that assessment seems modest for a star who has sent six albums past the 10 million sales mark, Brooks credits his upbringing for his down-to-earth mindset.
“If you’re raised in Oklahoma, you really don’t need much help being grounded. They all tend to help you out doing that very well,” he said with a laugh.
From Sunday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
On Oklahoma time with Garth Brooks
Music megastar has executive produced a TV movie based on his 1990 hit “Unanswered Prayers.”
No matter where he goes, Garth Brooks keeps his watch on Oklahoma time.
The music megastar, who has spent much of the past decade as a stay-at-home dad, does it for his three girls, so he knows what time to call them when he’s away from their Owasso ranch.
But Brooks’ heart has always been set in Oklahoma, no matter where his increasingly diverse career has taken him.
“One of the greatest gifts is being raised there, living there. It’s real life, and it reflects in everything you do,” he said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he was appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” to promote his latest project, a TV movie based on his 1990 hit ballad “Unanswered Prayers.”
The telefilm will debut at 8 p.m. Monday on Lifetime Television. The Tulsa native and Lisa Sanderson executive produced the drama for their Red Strokes Productions. (The company also is named for one of his ‘90s singles.)
“Since the song came out, we’ve had the West Coast calling about making a movie about this thing. But every time they brought us a treatment, it changed the song dramatically,” Brooks said.
Tanya Lopez, head of Lifetime’s original-movie division, didn’t want to change a thing. She believed his country song could translate directly into a timely universal drama.
“Tanya from Day 1 assured me that she would go to whatever distance it took to make sure that this movie turned out as a good representation of the song, and she kept her word,” he said. “She fought like hell to keep this thing exactly like the song was … and so anything she wants to do in the future, I’m in.”
Filmed in Virginia, the movie centers on a contented small-town husband and father (Eric Close, “Without a Trace”) whose stable life is shaken up when his high school sweetheart (Madchen Amick, “Damages”) returns, forcing him to choose between his lost dreams and his loyal wife (Samantha Mathis, the movie “Broken Arrow”).
Telling a personal tale
The song, which Brooks co-wrote with Pat Alger and Larry Bastian, appeared on the country superstar’s blockbuster sophomore album “No Fences.”
“The thing that I loved about ‘Unanswered Prayers’ was when something big happens in your career, it’s what happens next (that) defines the rest of your career. And for us, the single right before this was ‘Friends in Low Places’ … so ‘Unanswered Prayers’ had to be something of pretty good strength to hold up. And it did. And it went to No. 1,” he said. “That was a very defining moment for me that ‘OK, I can have something like “Friends in Low Places” and then I can follow it with “Unanswered Prayers,”’ which made me start to think about the diversity in your choice of music.”
The Tulsa native, 48, has said in the past the ballad was based on a real encounter he and first wife Sandy Mahl had with his “old high school flame” in October 1989.
“I think it’s about the choices that we make in our life and looking back on those choices. You know, that hindsight’s 20/20 thing. Well, sometimes you get a real, live shot at seeing someone again. Or if it’s a job, a real, live shot at taking that job again down the line that you either didn’t get or passed up. … I think it’s just kind of (about) how we sit with our own choices,” said Brooks, who was divorced from Mahl in 2001 and married fellow country star Trisha Yearwood in 2005.
When he rehearsed “Unanswered Prayers” for “The Tonight Show” with a string ensemble, he was pleased with how enduring the song has proven.
“Thank God and Allen Reynolds, the producer … it’s as fresh as the day he cut it. It just stands up to time really well,” he said, adding, “If you’re gonna be yourself, if you’re gonna bear your soul, too personal, I’m not sure they go together. You know, an album should reveal a little bit about an artist.”
Making a movie
Brooks, who grew up in Yukon, was involved throughout the filmmaking process, from sitting down with the screenwriters and visiting the set to going to dailies and, naturally, working on the music.
“I’m amazed anybody ever makes a movie, it’s got so many ways to fall apart, you know,” he said. “If you’ll learn real quick that you really have no control over it, you’ll be a lot better. You just don’t. There’s just too many hands, too many different opinions. And you just pray and look for good karma that everything kind of runs on the same theme. And this one really did. The crew was sincere, cast was sincere, and it was wonderful.”
Actress Patty Duke, who has a supporting role in the telefilm, said the cast didn’t get to see Brooks often, but her visits with him were memorable.
“Though we had never met, has been a real hero in our family. We just love his work,” she said in a separate teleconference. “I must say, when I met him, I was delightfully surprised at how funny, witty he is. I mean, he had me laughing the whole time we spent together. And his song ‘Unanswered Prayers’ says a lot to all of us who wish for things that maybe it’s better that we didn’t have.”
With his trademark Oklahoma humor, Brooks suggested another song in his catalog that would make an intriguing film: “That Summer,” his 1993 hit about a teenager who goes to work for a lonely widow and finds romance with her.
“I’d like to see Halle Berry (in it) and I’d like to play the young boy,” he joked with a laugh “’Course, I’d have to ask Ms. Yearwood if that’s OK. I’m sure she’d be fine with it.”
Contributing: Assistant Features Editor Lillie-Beth Brinkman.
The Lifetime Original Movie “Unanswered Prayers,” executive produced by Oklahoma country music superstar Garth Brooks and based on his hit song, will debut at 8 p.m. Monday on Lifetime Television.
From Thursday’s The Oklahoman.
Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton seized their place as country music’s new power couple Wednesday night as the Tishomingo residents dominated the 44th Annual CMA Awards.
Neither had ever won a Country Music Association trophy going into the awards show, but the white-hot stars won five prizes between them Wednesday as Lambert celebrated her 27th birthday.
“I don’t know what’s going on. I just told Blake I think we need to go to church,” Lambert joked as she accepted the female vocalist of the year award from country legend Loretta Lynn.
The Texas native went into the awards show with a leading nine nominations, the most of any female artist in CMA history. Lambert secured album of the year for her acclaimed 2009 release “Revolution,” and she and director Trey Fanjoy shared the music video honor for her emotional ballad “The House That Built Me.” That chart-topping hit also earned the song of the year award for its writers, Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin.
Shelton, her fiancé, was named male vocalist of the year and shared the musical event prize with duet partner Trace Adkins for their raucous No. 1 hit “Hillbilly Bone.” Both the Ada native and fellow Oklahoma-born star Reba McEntire were visibly emotional as he took the stage. McEntire’s husband, Narvel Blackstock, is Shelton’s manager, and he thanked the couple in his acceptance speech.
“I love you, too. I mean that,” he said as a fan shouted her affection from the crowd. “That’s about 34 years worth of steps right there for me, y’all. This is a really big deal for me.”
Shelton and Lambert, who were engaged in May, have been having the breakout year of their careers, scoring No. 1 singles, industry awards and professional milestones. Lambert embarked on her first solo tour, while Shelton joined the Grand Ole Opry.
“‘Revolution has truly caused a revolution in my life this year,” Lambert said as she accepted the album trophy. “It’s my baby. It’s what I do. It’s what I live for. Thank you so much for loving it, too.”
The singer-songwriter bested fellow Oklahomans Carrie Underwood and McEntire, four-time winner Martina McBride and last year’s victor Taylor Swift to win the female vocalist title. Lambert accepted the trophy from Lynn after she and rocker Sheryl Crow performed a tribute to the legendary “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
“I’m proud that I can now call her a friend,” she said of Lynn as her voice broke. “Thank you for everything you’ve done. Thank you Reba. I’m gonna keep going for the other women in this industry, I promise.”
The couple so dominated the show that co-host Brad Paisley quipped “You know, after the night Blake and Miranda are having, I think we can expect a baby in nine months.”
Underwood and Paisley, who won the top award for entertainer of the year, presided over the show for the third consecutive time. Oklahomans were well-represented among the nominees, though only Lambert and Shelton took home trophies. Along with Lambert, Sooner State stars Shelton, McEntire, Underwood and Rascal Flatts, which includes Joe Don Rooney of Picher, performed on the show. Oklahoma native Vince Gill backed Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who made her live country music singing debut to tie in with her starring role in the upcoming film “Country Strong.”
Trio Lady Antebellum earned the vocal group title, besting Rascal Flatts, and beat two of Lambert’s hits to earn single of the year with the smash ballad “Need You Know.” Sugarland denied the recently split Brooks & Dunn, which included former Tulsan Ronnie Dunn, a final vocal duo of the year award. Zac Brown Band was named best new artist, while venerable guitarist Mac McAnally was named musician of the year.
For more on the CMA Awards, go to BAM’s Blog at blog.newsok.com/bamsblog. Click here to read the live blog.
Instead of just one show to raise money for Nashville flood relief, Oklahoma music megastar Garth Brooks will be playing nine.
The Owasso resident, who will perform along with his wife and fellow country music star Trisha Yearwood, sold out nine shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena when tickets became available Saturday, according to CMT.com. Tickets initially went on sale for the one concert he had previously announced for Dec. 17. Two more shows were quickly added, then more shows were booked as demand for tickets kept rolling.
With tickets priced at $25, a spokesperson for Brooks told CMT that more than 140,000 tickets were sold and that the concert series will raise more than $3.5 million.
The series benefits the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which is continuing to help people whose homes and lives were drastically altered by floods that hit the Nashville area in May.
The shows mark his first full-band concerts in Nashville since 1998, according to CMT.com.
Brooks retired from touring more than a decade ago, but he has been doing solo acoustic performances in Las Vegas since late last year.
The Nashville shows will take place Dec. 16-17 and 19-22, with two shows scheduled each night on Dec. 16, 21 and 22.
Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday for country music power couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood’s Dec. 17 Nashville, Tenn., benefit concert.
Tickets to the show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena will be available through the venue box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com and by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster Express 1-866-448-7849.
Tickets are priced at $25 plus fees, with a limit of eight tickets.
Starting at 10 a.m. Thursday, random numbered wristbands will be given to people who plan to buy tickets in person. The wristbands do not guarantee a ticket, only a place in line, and tickets must be purchased at the same outlet where the wristbands were acquired. Wristbands are not needed for online or phone orders.
The couple, who make their home in Owasso, announced the concert last week. They are donating proceeds from the show to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which is continuing to provide relief after the May flooding that devastated the Nashville area.
Oklahoma country music star couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood announced today that they will play a concert in December to benefit ongoing flood relief efforts in middle Tennessee.
The Owasso residents made the announcement during a news conference this morning in Nashville that was attended by Gov. Phil Bredesen, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and a host of other politicians, according to the Associated Press.
“I think we decided to do it the day we saw the flood,” Brooks said, calling the decision to do the benefit an easy one.
May’s flooding caused more than $2 billion in damage in Nashville alone and widespread damage throughout central Tennessee. Proceeds from the Dec. 17 concert will go to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Brooks formally retired about a decade ago to spend more time with Yearwood and his three daughters from a previous marriage. He began performing again at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas last December, and he expects to do 15 weeks of shows a year at least until his youngest daughter graduates from high school.
He is the best-selling solo artist in U.S. music history with more than 128 million albums sold ,and his time away from recording has boosted fan interest. Tickets to his first run of Vegas shows sold out in hours and there will likely be high demand for benefit tickets.
The benefit will take place at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and tickets will go for $25. Information on how to buy tickets will be released Nov. 3.
Brooks said he likely will invite other performers to participate.
“Our job is to make it the best show we’ve ever done,” he said.
Since May there have been dozens of benefits held in Nashville for flood relief, raising millions of dollars for assistance. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s “Nashville Rising” concert, which featured Okies Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert in its all-star lineup, led to $2 million in donations alone.
Oklahoma native and Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill hosted one of the first benefits, a telethon called “Working 4 You: Flood Relief with Vince Gill & Friends,” back in May. The event, aired in Nashville on WSMV-TV Channel 4 in Nashville and streamed live on the station’s website, raised more than $1.7 million.