Carrie is from a different neck of the woods that her Country associates, having her career’s genesis rooted in American Idol. Her political opinions are predictably a tad more ‘showbiz’ and ‘twenty-first century’ when sized up next to her more conservative colleagues like Toby Keith and George Strait. But the fact that her big break wasn’t delivered by Nashville’s finest, but in the hands of Simon Cowell and co., doesn’t completely explain her open acceptance of gay marriage—something she believes is in complete compliance with her Christian faith.
Carrie Underwood is the undisputed Queen of contemporary Country. Remarkably, she is the only solo Country artist of the 2000s to have a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and the first and only Country artist to ever debut at number one on the Hot 100 too. She’s the female country artist with the most number one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, having twelve number one singles and breaking her own Guinness Book record of ten. This makes her by far the genre’s biggest asset in American popular culture, and her fortune reflects this with her recent net worth exceeding one hundred million dollars. Without her, many of fans say female pop would be left to the morally dubious realm of artists like Rihanna, Katy Perry and Beyonce, where sex is sold to millions of children, disguised through slick music videos, raunchy live shows and lyrics that are less than squeaky clean. If Country music has maintained one thing over the decades, its imbuing things like modesty and moral traditionalism with an almost sacred quality—in this respect Carrie Underwood is no different.
A quick flash at any Carrie Underwood track-listing is enough to confirm this. “Jesus Take The Wheel,” “All-American Girl,” “Good Girl,” “Mama’s Song,” “Home Sweet Home”—all songs that fit nicely into the small town, big voice persona that fuels her appeal.
While she might be the simple farmer’s daughter, staunchly Christian and absolutely American—her passionate acceptance of gay marriage was a step too far for many. For the sake of context, she stated in an interview with the British newspaper The Independent, “As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love and want to marry. I can’t imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
In a cultural climate that seems openly hostile to the conservative values Country holds dear, her critics see her as a sympathizer to those bleeding-heart liberals whose aim it is to wipe off the face of the earth an entire social and political aspect of American life. Just check out how the comments section exploded on Taste of Country when the news was first released. Country music and its companion culture has far too often found itself as the dead leg of the American psyche, dragging behind its counterparts reluctantly—but eventually—in the same direction. For Carrie’s remarkable success within the genre, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d be appreciative for her work as their movement’s musical ambassador in the pop landscape, keeping the Country sound alive for an entire generation. Not quite.
For her critics, Carrie has compromised not only the genre’s raw sound but now has tarnished its moral and religious dogma. One Country music historian, Chet Flippo, put it simply by describing the music’s following as “largely conservative and patriotic—as is well known”. Sure, hers is still Country music—but not the type you’d hear blasting out of pickup trucks or played heartily at NRA meets. It’s chart-friendly pop. One of these crimes on their own might’ve been forgivable, but taking the axe to a uniquely American sound and also advocating a “broken understanding of what the Bible is saying” (according to one Pastor) is tantamount to Country heresy.
But her open acceptance of the next big moral revolution in American politics is perhaps the healthiest thing to come out of Country in a long time. Now had Carrie come out against the recent legislation in states like Hawaii, California, Washington and much of the liberal North East, it would be safe to say that Country had nailed shut its own coffin from the inside. We’d all be rolling our eyes with the knowledge that any other pop star of her age and profile would overwhelmingly come out in favor of such laws. Her home state of Oklahoma (as well as much of country’s Southern heartland) have already banned same-sex marriages, despite them not even being legal in the first place. A poignant reminder of just how extremely controversial this topic is.
The 31-year-old starlet’s brazen approval of something that turns the stomachs of her much older fan base is evidence that there is potential for change: that old-school Southern sounds don’t necessarily mean plaid shirts, rednecks and casual racism.
Let’s face it, Country has an image problem. If Carrie Underwood is the first superstar from the pack to embrace the moral liberalism that has already consumed the majority of the country (59% of Americans currently approve of same-sex marriage), perhaps this can go some way to alleviate the curse of irrelevance that has plagued the culture for so long. Carrie was the prime suspect to embrace such change, and she’s come out resoundingly in favor. For young Country fans (and the stars of tomorrow), this is an important precedent which has laid the groundwork for making the expression of similar contrarian views much easier for future Country artists. Consider this, for all intents and purposes, a first trip to the Doctor to sort out that dead leg. Perhaps in future Country might walk in step with the rest of the nation, for that though, we’ll have to wait and see.
iHeartRadio love country music so much that they’ve dedicated a whole festival to it.
The inaugural iHeartRadio Country Festival is due to take place on March 29th in Austin, Texas, and will feature music from country heavyweights like Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Florida Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes, Jake Owen. Additional acts are still to be announced.
“The response to our country performers at the last three iHeartRadio Music Festivals was so incredible we decided to create an entire show just for them,” John Sykes, president of Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises, said in a statement. “It will be a country fan’s dream and a testament to the power of country music and recognition of the stature of these artists.”
As well as announcing the first round of acts set to play the festival, Clear Channel are also set to launch a contest at more than 120 Clear Channel stations across the nation through which fans will be able to win a trip to Austin to attend.
The festival will be streamed by Clear Channel and its stations for those who cannot make the trip to Austin.
Underwood also commented on how fun she’s expecting the 2014 iHeartRadio Country Festival to be for fans and artists alike, saying, “It’s going to be a big party for all of us.”
“I’ve been lucky enough in my life to go to lots of different other genre concerts as a fan, and I think I would rather be in a country crowd than any other crowd, just because they’re fun, they’re singing along, they’re dancing, everybody’s cool to one another,” she added.
OMG – it’s that time of year again! Are you excited?! It’s the big announcement everybody’s been waiting for: who’s going to host the CMA Awards this year? I can scarcely contain my enthusiasm.
I can now confirm that it’s…it’s…
Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. Again.
Yep. It’s only their fourth time, wait no, their fifth time, wait no…It’s only their sixth time as hosts, so I bet they’ve still got plenty more to give!
CMA President Ed Hardy (probably NOT the same guy who makes all those tattoo t-shirts – though who knows? I’m too lazy to check Google) had this to say about his decision:
“They have the respect of our industry, artistic credibility, critical acclaim and a quick-witted, genuine rapport that makes them popular with our audience and the viewers at home.”
The 47th annual CMA Awards show is to air Nov. 6, live from the Bridgestone Arena.
Hopefully, country music fans will be treated to more zeitgeist-exploiting treats for which the pair’s hosting style has become known, like that time last year when they did the “Gangnam Style” dance during the show’s opening number.
Country group Little Big Town announced the surprising, uh, announcement via a video featuring what I believe is called friendly “joshing”, confetti and a montage of the pair’s best moments.
A quick look at search results for #CMAAwards and #CMAfest suggest that people are pretty happy about this decision, with Tweets saying things like this:
“So thrilled @carrieunderwood & @bradpaisley are returning to Host the #CMAAwards again!!! Nov. 6th on ABC!”
“My twitter is all covered by @BradPaisley and @carrieunderwood!!! I’m so ready for the 2013 #CMAAwards @CountryMusic!!!! :)”
You could look at this as evidence of the show organizers’ lack of imagination or crippling fear of change, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say, so congratulations Carrie and Brad. Again.
Carrie Underwood will join her fellow Oklahoman Toby Keith at his Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert on July 6 — well, she almost will join the concert.
Actually, the Checotah, Oklahoma native will join the show via satellite from Tennessee. This is due to the fact that she already was scheduled to perform at the Grand Ole Opry that night to celebrate her fifth year as a member in the grand old institution. So she’ll air her Opry performance live at the Oklahoma concert.
But just because Underwood won’t be there doesn’t mean there won’t be a lack of big names performing to raise funds for the victims of the recent tornadoes in the state. In fact, it says something about the roster that Underwood is probably one of the lower-billed artists on the lineup.
Who can push her down a bill? How about Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Mel Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Ronnie Dunn and John Anderson. Also, for some reason Sammy Hagar will be there. The concert will be held at the Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Proceeds will benefit the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund.
“I grew up in Moore, I live in Norman and I’ve got lots of family and friends who were directly affected,” Keith said in a statement about the event. Garth Brooks also added a statement to the release, saying that he and his wife Yearwood told Keith right after the event that they would do whatever they could to help.
“Once we got the news that the tornado had hit Toby’s hometown, Miss Yearwood and I told Toby we were at his service for whatever he chose to do.” Brooks was born in Tulsa and currently lives near Owasso, Oklahoma.
Though tickets to the event sold out within an hour of going on sale, anyone can donate to the United Way fund.
All good things must come to an end. We are closing out our final day at CMA Music Festival on a sizable down note. We were supposed to be treated to full sets by Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, The Band Perry and Jake Owen tonight, but we got two song sets with a side of disappointment. There were a band of showers bearing down on Nashville, but per the Weather Channel they weren’t due to hit the area until midnight or possibly later. I’d been watching the forecast earlier in the day and that timeframe progressively kept getting pushed later from 8pm until past 2am. The showers still haven’t arrived in the city as I write this a couple hours after leaving LP Field.
The crowd was noticeably thinner on Sunday. I’m sure a large segment of the CMA populous used Sunday as a travel day, getting back home so they could return to work Monday morning bright eyed and bushy tailed. Maybe some people were worried about the potential storms. Regardless, the stands, which seemed beyond sold out all weekend, were blanketed in empty seats throughout.
Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan performed the national anthem to start the evening, and I have to say it was the best opening performance of the weekend. Keeping with the patriotic theme, Lee Greenwood took the stage next. Greenwood is perhaps best known for his patriotic anthem “God Bless the U.S.A.” Released in 1984 and resurrected after the September 11 attacks, it is one of our country’s unofficial national anthems. When he performed the seminal track at CMA everyone was on their feet, hats off and staring at the red, white and blue light spectacular evolving on stage.
Gary Allan hit the stage with that trademark intensity saddled in his eyes. He opened the evening with “Watching Airplanes.” He did a little future gazing when he queued up the song “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain).” I’m not sure what it is about Allan, but his music has never grabbed me. Its affable enough, but not something I ever seek out. His live show definitely connected with me more, but ultimately it was just more of the same.
Things were going pretty smoothly until Brad Paisley took the stage. Paisley’s set started out great. Charlie Daniels made an unannounced visit, coming out to lay down a little fiddle work on Paisley’s opening song “Karate.” Midway through, a little snippet of “Devil Came Down to Georgia” slipped out of Daniel’s fiddle. It’s Charlie Daniels; what did you expect? Daniels left the stage as Brad Paisley launched into “Beat This Summer.”
The crowd was jamming, Paisley had fallen deep into the groove and all of CMA was ready for him to flex his musical catalog a little. Next, we heard the perplexing words “Thank you and good night,” as Paisley exited the stage. “Two songs? What the hell?,” seemed to be collective sentiment of everyone around me. Brad Paisley was one of the main draws for the Sunday night bill so it was pretty unthinkable he’d only play a pair. Word began circulating that all the artist’s sets would be whittled down to the barest of minimums to get everyone out of LP Field before the storms descended. Mind you, not a droplet had fallen at this point and wasn’t expected to for many hours to come.
The pint sized girls from Nashville, Lennon and Maisy Stella, came out to perform The Lumineers’s signature tune “Hey Ho.” I’m not a fan of the show so I’m sure this moment was lost on me. The duo was cute, but when you are cutting country superstars down to two songs or fewer do we really have time for cute?
The Band Perry came out ready to leave it all on the stage. I think their theory was, if we only get to perform two songs we’re going burn this place down to give the rain a reason for coming. The band of siblings opened their segment of the evening with “Done.” For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Kimberly Perry is a sparkplug. She was dancing, clapping and just couldn’t sit still for an instant, dress flowing in the wind. The Band Perry followed up “Done” with “Better Dig Two,” building off this infectious energy. Of all of the bands who were cut short on Sunday, I was the most disappointed to have missed out on The Band Perry. These guys really got me charged up and left me wanting. I guess I’ll have to tag them on my concert calendar next time they come ‘round Atlanta.
Jake Owen is where the real fun began. As I said each band’s setlist was trimmed down to two songs – except for Jake Owen. The CMA organizers inexplicably cut him back to one. To his credit, he came out from the wings smiling and giving it his all on his hit single “Anywhere With You.” As the song came to a close, he came down to the photo corral and raised his guitar up to his fans. Seconds later, he tossed it up in the air only to watch it crash down to the stage. Smile or no, Jake was pissed he only got to perform one song for his legion of CMA fans. It took much longer to setup the stage for him to perform than for him to actually play that solitary track. This was the biggest flub of the evening on the part of the organizers. There was plenty of time before the storms rolled in to at least afford Jake two songs. Another feasible option would have been to go ahead and setup Carrie Underwood’s stage at the rear during Jake’s set so it could have been quickly moved into place.
Regardless, the crowd was about as happy as Jake was. Merciless boos rained down and chants of “We want Jake” echoed throughout LP Field. The fan experience was taking a savage hit by the second. It didn’t help matters when announcer Storme (oh the irony) said that Carrie Underwood wouldn’t be confined to just two songs. Many in the audience instantly placed the blame on Carrie for Jake’s untimely disappearing act. Of course, it was completely unfair to blame Underwood for the cuts, Jake Owen even tweeted so after the fact. It just didn’t look good to the casual observer that she got to perform four songs while the remainder of the artists were on hunger strike.
Carrie came out dressed like a sexy Indian. I didn’t really get how her outfit related to the performance, but who am I to baulk at Carrie Underwood dressed as a sexy anything? She started her set with “See You Again.” She put a lot of emotion and power into the song as the verse trickled out of her.
The coolest moment of the evening was her cover of Guns ‘N Roses “Paradise City.” If you would have asked me beforehand to guess which cover Carrie Underwood would perform at CMA, “Paradise City” would have been near the bottom of my list. Surprisingly, it worked quite well. Carrie let her hair down and allowed the rock anthem take over her body. Brad Paisley proved the rain hadn’t scared him off as he returned to the stage to perform a duet with Underwood on “Remind Me.” It’s easy to see why these two love working together so much. They have an undeniable chemistry between them that makes it hard to think about them apart. Do I feel a remake of “Islands in the Stream” coming?
As Carrie launched into song number four, “He Cheats,” the cries of “We want Jake” began to resurface amongst the crowd. In looking at her expression, Underwood was clearly thrown by this. I’m sure she’s not used to getting anything other than pure adulation from fans so this subtly rebuke seemed to really sting her. The constant professional that she is, she cast off the criticism and belted out the verses of “He Cheats.” Afterwards, she exited the stage, and the macheted installment of Sunday’s CMA nightly concert was a wrap around 10 o’clock. There was still no rain in sight.
As I wrap this review, the rain has started falling outside of my hotel room. It’s 1 am, and it is a steady patter yet far from monsoon caliber. No thunder or lightning wrapped up in those clouds. I guess I just don’t get it. I know festival organizers have become hyper vigilant ever since the disaster at the Indiana State Fair stage collapse that killed seven people and injured dozens more. Their concern is rooted in solid reasoning. No one wants a tragedy like that to ever happen again. On the flip side of that coin, I imagine there was a subset of fans who bought their CMA weekend pass largely for the promise of full sets by their favorite artists whether that was Brad Paisley, The Band Perry or poor Jake Owen. For them, the disappointment must be heart wrenching right now. There has to be a happy medium here.
At the end of the day, the CMA Festival delivered a fantastic weekend that was unfortunately marred in the final mile by oncoming thunderstorms. Let’s not let the minor disappointment of an early shutdown of the weekend overshadow the incredible event that was just staged. There were more high-caliber acts at CMA Fest than just about any festival in the country outside of Bonnaroo. If you love country music, CMA Festival is not only worth every cent of admission but you should also just donate extra money so you don’t feel so guilty for getting so much for so little.
Though our CMA coverage in Nashville is finished, we’ll be coming back to you mid week with a feature highlighting CMA 2013 in pictures. We captured some stunning moment over the long festival weekend and unfortunately could only deliver two shots per article. Get ready for us to throw the kitchen sink at you.
Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert emerged as the big winners at last night’s CMT Music Awards.
Lambert won two awards, best female video for “Mama’s Broken Heart” and performance of the year for “Over You.” The latter was taken from the 2012 “CMT Artists of the Year” special. Lambert also appeared to accept a third award on behalf of her husband, Blake Shelton, who won the best male video title for “Sure Be Cool If You Did.”
Underwood, however, won the biggest award of the night — video of the year for her song “Blown Away.” However, it was “See You Again” that she performed in front of a backdrop of images from the recent Oklahoma tornadoes that provided one of the most emotionally resonant performances of the night.
“The good Lord has been very good to me, all of us in this room for a long time,” she said in her acceptance speech.
Of course other than the awards, the show was focused on performances, which featured a variety of unexpected collaborations, starting with an opening song by Jason Aldean and Lenny Kravitz. A performance by Florida-Georgia Line and Nelly bookended the ceremony. They performed the song “Cruise,” which was a country hit before Nelly put a new take on it and made the song a crossover hit. The song also earned awards for duo video of the year and breakthrough video of the year.
The CMT Awards is one of the few events voted by fans rather than industry insiders, and before the show Hunter Hayes said that fact is what makes the CMT Awards important to the artists.
“This one is energized and, in a lot of ways, determined by the fans,” Hayes said. “The energy that we get on stage comes from the fans, and to have that kind of energy in this room is exactly what this all kind of built around. That’s what gives this show the difference.”
Nashville’s annual CMA Music Festival is known for drawing the top acts in country music each year, and this year looks to be no different as Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood highlight the packed lineup.
This year’s festival will take place June 6-9 in downtown Nashville, with the headlining acts playing at the city’s LP Field, which is otherwise home to the Tennessee Titans.
As if those names weren’t enough, the lineup also includes Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Gary Allen, Kelly Clarkson, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Jake Owen, Zac Brown Band and more.
“We have an amazing lineup of talent for this year’s festival,” said Country Music Association CEO Steve Moore in a statement. “I know our fans will be entertained and enthralled to see our family reunion of the best and brightest performers in the industry.”
The festival first debuted in 1972 and was then known as Fan Fair. It is now one of the biggest country festivals in the U.S., and in 2011 set a record with 65,000 attendees.
The festival also will feature Fan Fair X, where fans can experience autograph signings, concerts, lifestyle exhibits, live broadcasts and a marketplace. The events will be held at Nashville’s new Music City Center, a huge new convention center in the heart of the city.
“The relationship between our artists and the fans is at the very heart of what this event was founded on, and we continue to embrace that legacy with Fan Fair X,” said Moore. “By moving to the Music City Center, we are able to provide more opportunities and activities to enhance this treasured experience for the fans.”
In addition to two stages, the building also will display a gallery of music memorabilia, such as Elvis Presley’s custom 1975 Cadillac Coupe De Ville.
The festival will be held at the famed O2 arena in the capital city on March 16-17, 2013. Other notable names that will appear at the festival include Little Big Town, Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes, Brantley Gilbert and Sugarland’s Kristian Bush. The festival is expected to draw around 60,000 country music fans, and music will be performed on multiple stages in the arena. More acts will be named to the lineup at a later date.
Carrie Underwood sold out London’s famed Royal Albert Hall this summer, and spoke in a statement on the official Facebook page for the festival about her excitement for the event.
“I love the idea of a country music festival in London, and I’m so excited that so many amazing artists are coming together for Country to Country,” she said. “I feel honored to help represent country music, and I know it’s going to be a really fun weekend!”
Tim McGraw also said he was excited about the event, particularly that it will allow him to play some new songs.
“Our trip to the UK and playing the O2 is one of the things I’m looking forward to most for the next year,” he said. “I love being able to take my music to other countries, and I think there are a lot of new songs on Two Lanes of Freedom that fans over there will really dig. It’s going to be a blast!”
Two Lanes of Freedom is McGraw’s upcoming album, and is expected to be released next year.
In other Carrie Underwood news, she was nominated earlier today for two Grammy Awards: Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song.
Carrie Underwood has been tapped to star in a live televised performance of “The Sound of Music” next year.
The five-time Grammy Award-winner will perform the role of Maria von Trapp in the musical, which is set to air late next year on NBC. The role of von Trapp is a rebellious would-be nun who married Georg von Trapp and fled from the Nazis with him and his children. Julie Andrews made the role famous in the 1965 Academy Award-winning film.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical originally was presented on Broadway in 1959, and is based on the true story of the von Trapp family. Two German films about the story also served as the basis for the musical: 1956′s “The Trapp Family” and its sequel, 1958′s “The Trapp Family in America.”
“Speaking for everyone at NBC, we couldn’t be happier to have the gifted Carrie Underwood take up the mantle of the great Maria von Trapp,” said chairman of NBC entertainment Robert Greenblatt in a statement. “She was an iconic woman who will now be played by an iconic artist.”
The musical contains many now classic songs including “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Edelweiss” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”
All productions were based on Maria von Trapp’s 1949 memoir, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.” That book recounts the family’s years performing as well as their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria and then their subsequent immigration to the United States.
Underwood has sold more than 15 million albums since bursting onto the nationwide scene when she was named “American Idol” in 2005. She made her film debut in 2011′s “Soul Surfer.”
“We’re thrilled to be presenting the Broadway version of ‘The Sound of Music’ live,” said producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron in a statement. “And having Carrie Underwood as the star brings it to a new generation who will fall in love with it for the first time as many millions of people already have.”
Carrie Underwood will keep her “Blown Away” tour on the road well into 2013 as she announces 40 new concert dates for the coming year.
The first new date on the extensive North American tour will be February 13 at the Colorado Springs World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the tour is scheduled to continue through a May 18 date at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In between, the singer will visit cities including Boise, Las Vegas, Ontario, Houston, Milwaukee, Toledo, Omaha, Sioux City and Winnipeg, among many others.
Underwood’s next concert date is November 3, and the current leg of the “Blown Away” tour will continue through December 22, when the singer performs at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida.
In other Underwood news, she will co-host the 46th Annual CMA Awards later this week on Thursday, November 1. This will be the fifth year that she has hosted the show along with Brad Paisley. The show will be broadcast from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, and Underwood is nominated for female vocalist of the year.
Her current tour is named after Carrie Underwood’s fourth album Blown Away, which was released in May of this year. The album topped the Billboard 200 albums chart for two weeks in a row.
Opening for the new dates is 21-year-old singer Hunter Hayes, who is also currently on the “Blown Away” tour. He recently talked to TheBoot.com about his experience on the tour.
“My fans are coming out in large numbers and bringing a lot of energy with them,” he said. “It’s a blast. The coolest thing about it is we don’t have to stop any time soon. We have another couple months of this, and I’m really stoked.”
Most nights of the tour, Hayes gets invited onstage to duet “Leave Love Alone” with Underwood. The song is from her new album.