Country Q&A: Week of May 2, 2007

By Neil Haislop

feature

Trace Adkins photo courtesy of Capitol Nashville


Each week country music expert Neil Haislop answers your questions!

Q: Why is Trace Adkins overlooked at award shows? He is very talented and dedicated to his music. He more than deserves to be recognized for his talent and hard work.
(Jo Ann, Hattiesburg, MS)

A: JoAnn, I personally think that Trace Adkins is a superstar, but a superstar in waiting. Trouble is, Trace hasn’t accomplished some of the things an artist needs to do to attract the attention of the major awards associations. For instance, most stars that receive awards have had big runs of big success. They’ve scored many No. 1 hits and strung several top songs together at one time. That’s the kind of momentum that the CMA and ACM awards take note of. Trace on the other hand, has had big success in spurts. In 10 years on the charts he’s only hit No. 1 twice, "This Ain’t No Thinkin’ Thing," in 1997, and "Ladies Love Country Boys" this year, a decade later. Now, at 45, he’s competing against younger artists that are doing what he’s never done, scoring a series of big hits. What Trace needs to do soon is record an album that will yield him four or five consecutive smash hits. Then he’ll get the recognition he deserves.


Q: Why do they say Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts CD only has 4 number No. 1 hits when it has five — "Inside Your Heaven," "Jesus Take The Wheel," "Don't Forget To Remember Me," "Before He Cheats" and "Wasted." "Inside Your Heaven" was released as a single and went to No. 1 on the Hot 100, but it’s also on the Some Hearts album.
(Stephen, Benson, AZ)

A: Stephen, you’ve pretty much answered your own question. "Inside Your Heaven" was not a country release and was not recorded for her debut country album. After winning "American Idol" and touring with the "Idol" tour, Carrie declared herself a country artist and recorded a country album. So, technically, Carrie Underwood has released only four No. 1 country hits from Some Hearts. It’s the same reason why none of Conway Twitty’s 1950s and early ‘60s songs, including "It’s Only Make Believe," his No. 1 debut pop smash, are listed in his country music career statistics.


Q: I read on Wikipedia that Faith Hill was previously married to a singer named Dan Hill from 1986-1994. I looked at other sources and couldn't find anything about this. Is it true?
(Allison, Springfield, IL)

A: Allison, when Faith Hill arrived in Nashville, she was just 19 years old. It didn’t take her long to meet and fall in love with Daniel Hill, a music publishing executive (not Dan Hill, the Canadian singer/songwriter). After leaving Hill, she was briefly engaged to her record producer, Scott Hendricks. That relationship ended when she met the true love of her life while on tour with Tim McGraw. Faith and Tim married in the fall of 1996.


Q: I’m only 16, but I love music and I love writing songs. I know this is very doubtful, but do you think you could give me some famous country singer’s e-mail or any way to contact them? I am really serious about my writing and would love to see what they think of my writing. If you can't do that, could you give me some suggestions on what I could do to have a successful songwriting career?
(Tom, Newport, MI)

A: Tom, I can’t send you to any famous country singers. You can imagine how many requests like yours the big stars get every year, plus they’re too busy still working on their own careers.

The best thing you can do, if you’re a musician writing songs, is to keep playing and writing, join a band or start one, and try your tunes out on the public. If you plan to go to college, go to one that has a good music curriculum and get into the music department. If you want to be in country music, try to get into Nashville’s Belmont University, where you can earn a music industry degree. Whenever you’ve written songs that paying customers like, and the best musicians you know think they’re good, you might consider heading to Nashville or Austin or Chicago, where there’s a big music scene full of top musicians and writers to learn from and collaborate with.


Q: Jason Michael Carroll has a song out, "Alyssa Lies." Is there a story behind this or did he make up a very good song?
(Angelia, Howe, TX)

A: Angelia, there is a story behind the song "Alyssa Lies." It came to him after reading a poem and seeing a story on the news. I recently did a feature article on Jason Michael (that you can read in full in GACTV.com’s "Features" section by searching Jason Michael Carroll’s name). In the article, Jason Michael explained to me, "A friend of mine had written a poem about child abuse," recalls Jason Michael. "I thought to myself, 'Man if I could write something like that, that would be a very strong song.' I almost talked myself out of doing it. I'm a "dark" writer, but I wasn't sure that's where I wanted to go."

Then he got another sign that maybe he should go there. "Two days later I saw a story on the news about the same thing and I thought, 'Two times in two days — I'm supposed to write this.'"


Q: Why did the third member of Sugarland leave?
(Iva, Manchester, KY)

A: Angelia, when Sugarland exploded on the scene in late 2004 and early 2005, it was a wonderful surprise for the three original members, Jennifer Nettles, Kristian Bush and Kristen Hall. The trio had come together because songwriter, Kristen Hall talked Kristian Bush into starting a group and they hired Jennifer Nettles as lead singer. Trouble was, the trio got busy so fast, and were in such demand, it caused Kristen Hall to re-think her priorities. The story goes that she decided to leave the trio to concentrate on the thing she loved the most, songwriting, while enjoying the income from the songs she had written originally for Sugarland.


Q: How does anyone wrap their head around the fact that Gretchen Wilson is not even nominated for Top Female Vocalist? She is the best we have. What does that say about the award shows?
(Grace, Laveen, AZ)

A: Grace, I don’t think you need worry much about Gretchen Wilson. She hit the ground running, having big hits, selling millions of albums and she toured her face off. Plus, she was rewarded with a bunch of nominations and awards. She finally needed to take a break and get some perspective. She did that and wrote a very autobiographical book, "Gretchen Wilson: Stories From My Life," that was very therapeutic for her. During that period, other young aggressive female artists came roaring along on her tail, including Carrie Underwood, who’s done what Gretchen did and a bit more. Gretchen has returned emotionally and physically to business of making music and should be back in the awards hunt this year and next.

Today's News & Notes
    Get Social with Great American Country
    .