Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 12 March 2014

Mel Tillis, age 81, underwent heart surgery in Nashville this past weekend and is recovering. His daughter Pam called it “a routine heart procedure.” Mel had to cancel four shows.

Billboard has just released its annual “Money Makers” rich list. Taylor Swift is at the top, with $39.7 million in 2013 earnings. Her six-month Red Tour itself brought in $30 million, with an average expenditure of $17 per head at the merchandise table. Second was Kenny Chesney, who made $33.0 million. Then came Justin Timberlake ($31.5M), Bon Jovi ($29.4M), and The Rolling Stones ($26.2M).

Pam Tillis helped organize Ford Presents “Hay Y’All! An All-Star Tribute to Hee Haw” at the Country Music Hall of Fame last week. It was a benefit for Nashville’s Rochelle Center, which serves adults with disabilities and their families. “They help them reach their potential, and include them in the community,” Pam says. The cast included Craig Morgan, Joe Diffie, Lorrie Morgan, Elizabeth Cook, the Grascals, and Jim Lauderdale. Benefits are common in Nashville, and Pam wanted something different. So she came up with the idea to do a Hee Haw tribute, and Gaylord Entertainment granted permission to use the trademarked name.

In a recent interview with The Tennessean, Sara Evans talked about her newly released album, Slow Me Down, and about balancing a career and motherhood. As well as being blessed with children, she believes she’s been called to her career. Knowing it would be tough to succeed in both areas, she said, “You know how Solomon prayed for wisdom? I’ve always prayed and asked the Lord, ‘Please give me the energy and the stamina to do what I have to do.'” Sara is a Missouri farm girl who grew up working in the fields, hauling hay, driving a tractor, and doing housework. In 2008, a year after her divorce from politician Craig Schelske, she moved from Nashville to Birmingham, Alabama, and married Jay Barker, a radio personality and former University of Alabama quarterback. She brought three children to the marriage and he brought four. With hits like “Suds in the Bucket” and “Born to Fly,” she hopes to again be played on country radio. She acknowledged she is competing with artists who don’t have family obligations, and she can’t spend as much time promoting her career as they do. “I had confidence and faith that country radio would embrace me as they have in the past as just being Sara Evans,” she told the interviewer. “If I choose great songs and songs that are compelling and undeniable, even if they’re not talking about beer drinking and partying and trucks, if I make great music, I felt it would be, I hoped it would be, hard for them to turn down.” The whole interview is at

Stella Parton’s inaugural Red Tent Women’s Conference will be held April 18-20 at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Its purpose is to support and inspire women to live authentic lives, and it is an exclusive weekend of inspirational stories. The website says, “We hope to provide tools, knowledge and a network for expanding the scope of women’s contributions.”  Organizers are dedicated “to making the world a better place for women, girls, and those who love them.” The conference will focus on spiritual/health, legal, image, relationships and home. Stella developed the concept for the Red Tent Revival after reading a novel, The Red Tent, about the life of Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob. Stella has written an inspirational memoir, Tell It Sister, Tell It: Memories, Music and Miracles, and her website is http://www.stellaparton.com/.

This Sunday from 7-9 pm, Sherwin Linton will be live on Pioneer Public TV to give viewers a preview of a documentary of his life, titled Sherwin Linton: Forever On The Stage. “We’ll look at old photos and film,” Sherwin says, “take some call in questions, tell some stories and sing a few songs. If you live in eastern North and South Dakota, western Minnesota and northwest Iowa you receive programming from Pioneer Public TV. It is also available to satellite providers in South Dakota and possibly in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota area.” Here is a link to the video preview: http://www.pioneer.org/1/post/2014/03/sherwin-linton-to-appear-live-on-pioneer-public-tvsunday-march-16.html

Tonight (Wednesday) from 8-10 pm, Bill Anderson will be the guest of Eddie Stubbs on WSM Radio AM 650 (http://www.wsmonline.com/). Bill is introducing his new CD, LIFE!

Alan Potter writes from the U.K., “You are a legend! So much info on the stars we would never know if it wasn’t for this column. Lesser known stars are being kept in the news. One of my 100 or so interviews was with Bobby Sykes (Marty Robbins sideman) & I spent a fascinating 2 hours at his home getting a multitude of stories.”
Diane: I checked my research files, and sure enough, I have your interview! Someone sent me the tape when I was working on Marty’s biography and I transcribed it.

Terry Counts writes from White Bluff, Tennessee, “Boy, was I glad to get news of Leon Rausch…I met Leon when I met my husband in the ’60s and he was always a good friend to me. I kinda lost track of the ole boy and am glad to know he is still kicking and picking…or is that picking and kicking? With Leon you never know…all my love you big fat chicken…coming to Dallas soon….maybe I can buy you a hot dog!”

Rosemary Frisbee says, “I enjoy the newsletter very much. Thank you for keeping us informed.”

Does it take more than singing to be called an entertainer? Faron Young and Marty Robbins took pride in being entertainers rather than merely singers. They dressed themselves and their bands well, told jokes, and interacted with their bands and audiences. They sometimes “entertained” too much, in my opinion. All the cutting up made me want to yell, “Shut up and sing!” I heard some grumbling when George Strait was named Entertainer of the Year because all he did was sing. Well, he could stand on stage and sing to me all night. Is Carrie Underwood an entertainer because of her flashing light shows? She yells her songs and beats on her guitar rather than capitalizing on her beautiful voice. Does Garth Brooks have to run around the stage and work up a sweat to be an entertainer? Would he draw as large a crowd if he merely sang? I’ve never had the opportunity to see him live, but in his Las Vegas TV show, he seemed to entertain by sitting on a stool with his guitar. So–do singers need to do more than sing to entertain?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.