Merle Haggard, Heidi Newfield Meet Radio


Heidi Newfield photo by Erick Anderson, courtesy of Curb/Asylum Records.

March 2, 2009 — Downtown Nashville will be crowded with country singers and influential broadcasters this week as the 40th annual Country Radio Seminar gets underway.

The centerpiece of the conference has radio programmers and decision makers from all over the U.S. descending on Music City to network, share information and get new ideas for their stations during three days of panel discussions and presentations.

But CRS wouldn’t exist without the music, and artists and record companies always intersect with the guys who play — or decide not to play — their music. Several acts, including Merle Haggard and the Zac Brown Band, will receive awards. And plenty more — from Heidi Newfield to Little Big Town to Kellie Pickler — will perform during official and unofficial CRS events.

It’s wall-to-wall activity, so if your local morning man sounds extremely tired next week, it might be less from getting up early than from never going to sleep!

Among the attractions:

• Merle will receive a Career Achievement Award during the DJ and Radio Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Tuesday night.

• An unknown act will receive the Artist Humanitarian Award Wednesday, presented by last year’s winner, Clay Walker.

• Lunches from Wednesday through Friday will feature a bevy of exclusive performances by Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town and newcomers Benton Blount and the Williams Riley Band.

• A special songwriter showcase will feature acoustic performances by Jimmy Wayne, Kelley Lovelace ("I’m Still A Guy"), Ashley Gorley ("You’re Gonna Miss This") and Jonathan Singleton ("Don’t") on Wednesday. A similar lineup Thursday offers Bobby Pinson ("She Never Cried In Front Of Me"), Paul Overstreet ("On The Other Hand"), Josh Turner and Jamey Johnson.

• Jamey plays a free outdoors show, dubbed Downtown Shutdown ’09, at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the corner of 5th Avenue and Commerce, not far from the entrance to his record label’s headquarters.

• Tim McGraw headlines the Music City Jam, a major concert for registrants.

• Barbara Mandrell is the subject of a one-hour Life Of A Legend interview conducted by Kix Brooks.

• A slew of acts are lined up to cover classic songs at the closing 40th Anniversary Jam. On tap will be Emerson Drive, Andy Griggs, Julianne Hough, Jamie O'Neal, James Otto, Blake Shelton, Jimmy Wayne, Chuck Wicks and Darryl Worley.

• Lady Antebellum, the Zac Brown Band, Chuck Wicks, James Otto and Kellie Pickler will perform at the prestigious New Faces Show.

• No. 1 parties will honor the artists and songwriters behind Faith Hill’s Christmas song "A Baby Changes Everything," the Zac Brown Band’s "Chicken Fried" and Dierks Bentley’s "Feel That Fire."

• Invitation-only showcases will highlight such acts as Heidi Newfield, Trent Tomlinson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bucky Covington, Sarah Buxton, Love And Theft, Randy Houser, Holly Williams, soap star Larry Bagby, Richard Jaymes and the Trailer Choir.

• Dan Evans, of NBC’s "The Biggest Loser," will lead an exercise program.

• A "Starry, Starry Night" extra-curricular songwriters event will feature Craig Wiseman ("Live Like You Were Dying"), Jim Collins ("The Good Stuff), George Teren ("When I Get Where I’m Going"), Clint Lagerberg ("Here Comes Goodbye"), Lee Miller ("In Color"), Chris Tompkins ("Before He Cheats") and Don Poythress ("Things That Never Cross A Man’s Mind").