Every single day we have young black men and women getting shot and dying face down in the streets, getting systematically denied housing, employment, education, and opportunity because of the color of their skin. And it is an atrocity that the attention and vehemence for these very real issues of racism is getting watered down…
For years these artists have been banging on doors, chipping away at walls, and slowly but surely they have been winning more and more acceptance from the mainstream industry as viable artists who’ve been systematically overlooked. The DIY spirit that governs these artists and labels has been at the very core of this movement.
Sturgill Simpson shocked the world Tuesday morning when it was announced his third solo record A Sailor’s Guide to Earth was nominated for the Grammy Awards’ Album of the Year right beside records from Adele, Drake, Justin Bieber, and Beyoncé. Sturgill Simpson fans are still trying to digest the nomination.
On Tuesday morning (12-6) the nominees for the 2017 Grammy Awards were announced, and Sturgill Simpson’s ‘A Sailors Guide to Earth’ is right up there with Adele, Beyonce, Drake, and Justin Bieber competing for the Album of the Year. And he just might win it. The album is also up for Best Country Album
It has once again come that time of year for reflecting back on some of the best albums released in the last 12 months or so, not to treat country music as competition per se, but as an exercise undertaken with the intent of expanding your musical knowledge in hopes the gaps that formed due to the busy lives we all live get filled in with joyous little music projects.
Austin Lucas, Blackberry Smoke, Brandy Clark, Cody Jinks, Courtney Marie Andrews, Dori Freeman, Doug Bruce, Honest Life, I'm Not The Devil, I've Got a Way, Jack Ingram, Justin Wells, Kelsey Waldon, Like An Arrow, Lori McKenna, Luke Bell, Mark Chesnutt, Midnight Motel, Nick Dittmeier, Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters, Sturgill Simpson, The Bird & The Rifle, The Cactus Blossoms, Tradition Lives, Unsung, You're Dreaming
We’re living in historic times in country music, when the resurgence of more traditional, and more substantive music is taking hold like never before, and receiving more recognition for the industry than any period in recent memory. And it’s hard to not look at Sturgill Simpson and give him at least part of the blame.
When Saving Country Music started in 2009, the biggest artist in country music was Taylor Swift. Now, it’s arguably Chris Stapleton. Independent artists are finding support like never before, allowing them to be able to completely sidestep the pitfalls of the mainstream industry and still have sustainable, and in many cases, very successful careers.
One of the reasons we feel so surprised at Americana’s success and so many have been so slow to recognize it is because it has been a slow and steady process. Because of Americana’s model of sustainability, the revolution has been plodding, yet purposeful. And now it’s success is palpable, and measurable by industry-standard metrics.
“I think I was ahead of the curve honestly. Now if I tried to release that first record I would probably find a lot of homes for it. This was 2012-2013. It’s been a very progressive three years in terms of people searching harder to find sounds that maybe they’ve realized they’re missing.”
In January of 2016, Saving Country Music published an article explaining how 2016 Could Be 1975 All Over Again in country music—how an upsurge in more traditional and substantive talent and music could really take hold in country, from the independent realm to the mainstream. And that is exactly what we’ve seen as 2016 has progressed.
With absolutely no hyperbole intended, William Michael Morgan earning a #1 on country radio for his debut single “I Met A Girl” is a historic moment in country music. It’s a point in time when an undeniably traditional country song from an undeniably traditional country artist has topped the chart after a long vacancy for a traditionalist at the top spot.
On the Bobby Bones Show Thursday (9-15) morning (listen at the bottom), Bobby spoke to Aaron Lewis after his recent blowup at pop country artists, and what did he do? Aaron backpeddled and admitted he was playing to the crowd. Then Bobby Bones finished his segment with Aaron Lewis on Thursday by bringing up Saving Country Music in a strange context.
The reason much of country music, bluegrass, blues, folk, and other older genres are referred to as “roots” is because these vital influences to American music are the building blocks for most or all of the music people enjoy today. Before there was rock and roll, and before there was hip-hop, roots music paved the way for all popular music genres.
Now that some of the dust has settled since Sturgill Simpson made his inflammatory comments about the mistreatment of Merle Haggard on Monday (8-29), many others have taken the opportunity to weigh in on the matters on both sides of the country music cultural divide.
Preserving the roots of country is not always just about paying homage. Sometimes it is about sowing disharmony or speaking out in protest to help force country music back on the right path. Music Row and the country music industry will always be about money first. The artists are the ones who must take the lead and reign the business in.
The nominees for the 50th Annual CMA Awards have been announced, and Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, and newcomer Maren Morris lead the field each with five nominations. Stapleton continues to be the big surprise, picking up a nomination for the evening’s biggest prize, Entertainer of the Year, and four other nominations.
The Garden & Gun ‘New Outlaws’ issue seemed to illustrate the problem with many of today’s music periodicals that see the expanding interest in independent country music, but rely mostly on journalists and editors who only know country music from the outside looking in.
Well, this is a side of Sturgill Simpson we haven’t seen for a while. Last week, the ACM created a new award called the ‘Merle Haggard Spirit Award’ that was said to honor the contributions of Haggard by acknowledging artists who exemplify his uncompromising integrity and “singular vision in carving an indelible path in country music.”
Sturgill Simpson is currently in the running and being voted on by members of the Country Music Association for three of the 50th Anniversary presentation’s biggest prizes. Also surprising since she’s not on a major label, Margo Price has made the top 20 females being considered for Female Vocalist of the Year.
If you thought Sturgill Simpson’s and Stephen Colbert’s Waffle House duet “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Knuckleheads” was funny when they debuted it on national television in April, then the second installment will split your sides.