The Sunday Morning Paper: A Different Kind of Honor (Feb. 21, 2021)

The Sunday Morning Paper is a weekly feature where I share news that’s occurred within the country music industry over the past week and quote from any further pieces that interest me, and may interest you. Click on the hyperlinks provided at the end of each blurb to find out more.

An even lighter week than the last one, which is fine by me. There are quite a few great quotable pieces featured here, though. Stick around. Anyway, onward!

On the Horizon:

New album releases:

Note: I’ve had Austin Meade’s Black Sheep listed as a Feb. 19 release for a good while now, and the date is actually March 19. I apologize for the error.

Feb. 19

  • Spencer Burton – Coyote
  • Jason Charles Miller – From the Wreckage: Part 1
  • John Driskell Hopkins – Lonesome High
  • Lainey Wilson – Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’
  • Tami Neilson – Chickaboom! Deluxe
  • Andrew Marlin – Fable & Fire
  • Innocent Eve – Viking
  • Carly Pearce – 29
  • April N. Smith – Enough

Feb. 26

  • David Huckfelt – Room Enough, Time Enough
  • Olivia Ellen Lloyd – Loose Cannon
  • Ross Cooper – Chasing Old Highs
  • Lydia Luce – Dark River
  • Mando Saenz – All My Shame
  • Hailey Whitters – Living The Dream (Deluxe)
  • Ian Munsick – Coyote Cry
  • Nate Frederick – Different Shade of Blue
  • Willie Nelson – That’s Life
  • Sara Petite – Rare Bird
  • Dale Watson – The Memphians
  • Katy Kirby – Cool Dry Place
  • Clint Roberts – Rose Songs

Impacting country radio:

Feb. 22

  • Caitlyn Smith feat. Old Dominion, “I Can’t”
  • Lauren Alaina feat. Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him”
  • Matt Stell, “That Ain’t Me No More”

Review log:

I’m hoping to have a review roundup ready this week for the following: John Driskell Hopkins’ Lonesome High, Lainey Wilson’s Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, and Carly Pearce’s 29. I still have Mac Leaphart’s Music City Joke in my backlog and may include it, if my schedule doesn’t get too busy.

Just the Facts, Jack

Dolly Parton
Credit: Valerie Macon/Getty Images

The 56th Annual ACM Awards will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, broadcast live from three iconic country music venues: the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Bluebird Cafe on Sunday, April 18 at 8-11 p.m live ET on CBS. (Music Row)

Tyler Childers is using the proceeds from his 2020 Long Violent History album to establish the Hickman Holler Appalachian College Fund, ained at helping underprivileged students in the Appalachia region.

A new Spotify show called Duet will launch Thursday, featuring musicians sharing songs that are meaningful to them. More interesting, however, is the intended first episode, which will feature Mavis Staples and Yola. Heck yeah. (Rolling Stone)

Bella White, who’s received a lot of attention in the independent scene, has officially signed with Rounder Records.

“Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time. I hope, though, that somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it, then I’m certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean. In the meantime, I’ll continue to try to do good work to make this great state proud.” – Dolly Parton, who declined a bill proposed by the Tennessee legislature to erect a statue of her on the Capitol grounds. (Music Row)

“New record coming soon” – RC Edwards, of the Turnpike Troubadours, on Twitter, but a record for the former – not the latter. In more new music news, Ashley Monroe has announced a new album, Rosegold, set for release on April 30 (American Songwriter). And there’s a new album of very old Willie Nelson demos coming on April 9, Texas Willie. Charley Crockett has also released a cover of James Hand’s “Lesson in Depression,” stating, “My heart and mind have been heavy over the struggles of my fellow Texans. I will be donating proceeds from my new single, the James Hand classic ‘Lesson in Depression’ to Texas disaster relief groups.”

Now, Don’t Quote Me, But Maybe You’ll Enjoy These Bits and Pieces

“Before I met with Capitol, I met with Warner. And they started testing me, playing country songs that they didn’t think I would know. And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s Joe Nichols.’ And they were like, ‘Oh, well, you know country music.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I actually do.’ Country music is a way of life. It’s not just about whether you know a song. I grew up in the country, on gravel roads. But because I was Black, I wasn’t enough. This was 2010.” – Mickey Guyton, on just part of the barriers she faced when entering Nashville, in an excellent profile piece that also focuses on Reyna Roberts, Miko Marks, Rissi Palmer, and Brittany Spencer, on carving out their own path in country music. (The New York Times, by Sarah Rodman)

“I’m not diminishing anyone’s accomplishments. I worked my ass off to get where I am, and so did Maren. But, like she said, it’s impossible to not say we’ve had it easier than our Black counterparts, or I had it easier than Maren, my female counterpart. It’s undeniable. For me to sit here and tell you that – that’s not true, would be a lie. If you’re a publisher and a Black writer comes in, are you giving them the same look that you’re giving me if I come in? I’m not accusing anyone of anything, that’s not what I’m saying, I’m just saying take a minute of your day and think.” – Luke Combs, who joined both NPR’s Ann Powers and Maren Morris in a CRS panel on racism and accountability in country music, Wednesday, February 17, that, sadly, has not been made available to the public (yet?). (Music Row, by LB Cantrell)

“Adapting, as always, will be key to thriving in whatever the new normal is, and for country radio stations, that will necessarily include finding the best way to fit within consumers’ new behaviors. That means actively engaging in whatever platform listeners are using – including, of course, terrestrial radio – but also understanding their quirks and preferences in other venues. Some 78% of country fans still listen to the radio, but 59% of the genre’s audience actively streams … That means a good chunk of the station’s listeners are hearing artists and titles in other environments that the radio station may not have programmed. And that complicates decisions about what songs to add, when to add them and how quickly to goose their stations.” – An excerpt taken from a very interesting study on how consumer listening habits have shifted not only from streaming, but from the pandemic, too, and how radio, still important specifically to the country music genre, is adapting to these changes. (Billboard, by Tom Roland)

“I got to where there was one stretch where there was three or four days I didn’t sleep, because when I would lay down at night to try to sleep after we recorded a song … first of all, you’ve got a lot of energy from recording, but then immediately you go, ‘We have to do this again tomorrow and I have nothing.’ There was a period there where it was hard – a lot harder than I thought – and just going through that and that grind mentally and creatively, I’ve never been there before. I’ve never been that far out on a limb with the creative process.” – Eric Church, in a short YouTube documentary explaining how he had to get “uncomfortable” to make his newest album, Heart & Soul, to be released in separate parts in April.

“Even if arriving at the music as middle-class cultural slummers, punks admired, if romanticized the working-class roots of old country, determining them synonymous with rebellion, primitive, and tell-it-like-it-is honesty about struggle and survival. Were these not the same traits and concerts at the heart of so many punk songs?” – An excerpt from a history of Cowpunk, for Pop Matters. A little lengthy and only kinda-sorta for country fans, but worth a read anyway. (Pop Matters, by Iain Ellis)

Anything else? Let me know!

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