31.00 to 56.75
Lady Antebellum's truth is in the music. But the alchemy which forged this six time Grammy award winning trio extends beyond its signature vocal blend and heartfelt song-writing gifts. With a self-titled double platinum debut album and triple platinum second effort—Need You Now—it's easy to applaud their amazing achievements, but equally significant is the underlying importance of the group's shared heartbeat.
"That's the core of our group, how we started," says Dave Haywood, harmony singer and multi-instrumentalist. "What spawned our friendship was that special writing chemistry. That's when we are the happiest, just sitting in a room together making music."
"Maybe it's a self preservation kind of thing," agrees co-lead singer Hillary Scott. "Especially on the road we have to work to nurture our relationship. I write so much from about what is happening in my life and the people closest to me, so knowing my friends care about what is going on in my life outside of Lady A, makes me more likely pour it all out into a song."
“Writing lets us chill and slow down a bit," says Charles Kelley whose edgy lead vocals merge and weave with Hillary’s velvet tone."
Lady Antebellum formed in 2006. Hillary and Charles decided to try writing together after a chance meeting at a Nashville music spot. Charles and his high school musician friend and co-writer Dave Haywood were living with Charles' brother Josh Kelley at the time. Late night songwriting sessions with the new trio soon became the genesis through which they discovered the remarkable emotional effect that was created when Charles and Hillary's vocals blended. With Dave's harmony sounds and instrumental prowess added to that mix the three young musicians realized they might not just be writing songs for other people, but perhaps would get to perform them, too. A Music Row "buzz" began to spread as the newly-formed trio started making appearances on local stages.
Soon key tastemakers began to believe in the group, including producer Paul Worley who has worked on all three Lady A albums. By April 2007, a blink of an eye in music industry time, Capitol Nashville had signed Lady Antebellum to a record deal and the trio began to ascend toward the constellation of country music stars with powerful hits such as "Love Don't Live Here," and "I Run To You."
The group's second album, Need You Now (released Jan. 2010) took the band to an even larger audience. To date the album has sold over five million copies worldwide, spawning three multi-week No. 1 hits (“Need You Now,” “American Honey” and “Our Kind of Love”), and scored five Grammy Awards. It has also received over a dozen other award show trophies. ‘Need You Now’ introduced the world, outside North America, to Lady Antebellum. The single was a huge airplay hit around the globe, reaching the No. 1 spot in numerous markets and achieving Top 5 Airplay in 30 countries world-wide. The album has sold in excess of one million units outside the US, and ‘Need You Now’ remains in the airplay charts more than 18 months since release.
"We never expected to be thrust into the international spotlight in the way that we were…from the success of just one song," says Kelley. "It was six months or so after the album came out that we were finally able to go play overseas. When we got there, we were floored at the life that 'Need You Now' had taken on. The power of that one song re-ally changed the scope of our entire career at home and in all these places we had only dreamed of playing."
In The Studio – Own The Night:
The pairing with Paul Worley has proved a good fit. His warm temperament, creative sensibility and platinum experience with acts such as the Dixie Chicks and Martina McBride helped guide Lady Antebellum's studio development.
"Recording for us is an open forum of ideas," says Dave who readily avows, "One of my first loves is messing around with studio production. Paul has great vision for where these songs need to go. Over three albums we've learned a lot about the recording process, how to speak the language and what it takes to get it done. Naturally, as songwriters we envision these songs a certain way. It's not some far removed kind of thing with a bunch of session guys and us just showing up to sing. This is from the ground up—we are writing these songs, playing these instruments and creating the arrangements."
Lady Antebellum's third album, Own The Night is scheduled for release Sept. 13. The upcoming 12-cut set features the band's fastest rising single to date, "Just a Kiss" plus 11 additional tracks. Charles, Hillary and Dave wrote or co-wrote 10 of the songs, including "We Owned The Night."
"'We Owned The Night' opens the album,” says Dave excitedly, "and I really love this song. We reworked the title slightly to make it present tense for the album title–Own The Night. When people come out to our live show it's a call to action. Be confident, live in the moment and enjoy the experiences you're going through—own them. That's the premise of what we wanted to say."
Part of the challenge of a new album is translating it into a live show. "When we were tracking 'We Owned The Night' in the studio," says Hillary, "I was in the control room with Paul (Charles sings lead on it). Listening to the track inspired me to visualize our live show. I grabbed a legal pad and began drawing out the stage. That was the first sign to me that the song would be a cornerstone of this third album."
"Many of our songs have an interplay between Charles and Hillary and we feel strongly about creating that emotion live," adds Dave. "And being on tour with artists like Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban has also given us a lot of ideas. So yeah, we're excited to get a chance to jump up into arenas and give that a shot."
"People want you to entertain them," says Charles. "The fans feed off your energy. They see it on your face. So we've learned to let ourselves go on stage. With three people the strongest moments are when we are close and tight together. But it's a giant stage to fill up."
Being themselves has worked for this group. As Hillary recalls, "I'll never forget when we were on our first radio tour and a programmer said, 'I don't think two lead singers, a girl and a guy are going to work.'
"Especially with the name too," remembers Dave. "Programmers weren't sure if people could identify with two singers. It was a risk at the time. But for us it was just like, well that's who we are. How can we not do that?"
It's All About Our Fans!
"We stay connected with everybody in a huge way online with our webisodes and social networking,” says Dave. “After a show we pull up Twitter to see what people are saying, especially when we're introducing a new song. We care about what they think and the internet gives us a way to get an immediate reaction."
"All these people who spend their hard earned money on a concert ticket or a CD, they invest in us and who we are," says Hillary. "Not just in the music we play, but in our lives. So the least we can do in return is reciprocate that trust in the form of continuing to tour, create music and do our very best at both."
"We are just as vulnerable about this music, self-conscious and need approval like anyone else," says Charles quietly. "We recognize we've been given an amazing opportunity and don't want to let anyone down. We hit the lottery. We’re just lucky we can sing and play instruments."
"I hope people realize we aren't taking it all for granted," says Dave. "This is crazy, but we want to enjoy it and do our very best. Twenty years later I hope people will talk about us and say, ‘They were just genuine people who made genuine music based upon their life experiences’."
As far as where I’m at with my new music and my new label, Red Bow, this is more than a new chapter. It’s a new book. My new single “Sunny And 75” is getting as great a reception as anything I’ve ever done, and the album it comes from is something I might have hoped I could do at other points in my career, but have been held back from. And I’ll be the first to say that the holding back has mostly been me. What strikes me this time is how much freedom I’ve felt in this process, the depth I have in my relationships – personal and professional, it really is a family thing. And, to be honest, just how much fun I’m having. Freedom, family and fun ... there’s your sound bite.
The hard part of this journey, if that’s not too cliché a word for it, was leaving my last label, because the wheels in Nashville just turn really slow sometimes. And time turned out to be our enemy and our friend. The more distance I was able to get from the last few years of stops and starts, the better. But our enemy was losing a consistent presence with the fans and radio. That hurt, but it set up some anticipation for something new; it was also very healing and kind of humbled me a little bit.
I went into the studio to start making music with my own money. One of those sides, a song called “Yeah,” will probably be a single on this record. The other was a stone-cold country song called “Billy Graham’s Bible.” So, we walked into labels with something to play for them. Quite a few were interested, but the majors tend to have a lot of artists in line and wanted me to look at a late 2014 release. I wanted to be in business with somebody who had the same sense of urgency about me as I do, and Broken Bow did. Being one of the flagship artists on their latest imprint, which is a joint venture with Sony Red, helped this all feel brand new.
The one thing about my approach to this record that I was almost militant about was that I wanted to find hit songs that might be a bit unexpected. Having a hit, writing or making good albums has never been a problem for me, it’s been that momentum you get from a consistent series of hits. That’s why I wanted to be rigorous about finding songs that cut through, even if they didn’t seem to fit the idea people have of what I should sound like. I wanted to be able to say we’ve got six singles on this album. Or ten. And that meant being open to songs and sounds a lot of folks wouldn’t have thought would work.
The interesting thing is that we’ve ended up with a very balanced record. There are lots of songs that feel like they’d sound great getting heavy airplay, and there are also some that I think people will say, “That’s a cool moment on this album.” Sometimes those coincide.
A lot of that has to do with my relationship with the label. People warned me that Benny Brown, the founder, is very involved in the A&R process. At first I didn’t know how that would go because I’ve been very hands-on with the music throughout my career. After working with Benny, I can say he’s very involved, but all in good ways.
When he finds something he’ll say, “I like this for you, what do you think? Would you try this for me, because we don’t know how it’s going to sound until you try it.” That’s a push in a healthy direction with the understanding that if it doesn’t turn out in the studio, we don’t have to show it to anyone.
That was comforting and allowed me to try things with nothing really to lose. It was freeing and very different from where I’ve been in the past with the A&R process. In some more jagged situations, I probably did become a bit of jerk about
cutting what I wanted to cut. So Benny’s approach let me gracefully bow out of that kind of attitude. I was able to approach this album with a new heart for the music and a new set of ears. It’s worked out tremendously.
Several are songs I probably never would have found or thought were right for me if I had found them. Having Benny bring them to me and having that ability to try, to see what something sounds like, has been great. My producers, Mickey Jack Cones and Derek George, have also helped me understand that whatever I do vocally, it’s going to bring it back to traditional no matter how far out there we get.
Just as the drive for hit singles led to a balance of material on the album, my voice and the ability to be edgy with song selection created a balance, too. In an organic way, it made for a unique sound. You can have a rock-pop feel with the track, because the traditional vocals bring it back. There’s always going to be a traditional element in my music that I won’t change, and really just can’t change. But I can reach beyond my comfort zone, too. Certainly in 2013, it would be foolish not to try.
I realize there are purists who could be let down by that mindset, and there have been times I have absolutely felt that I was letting people down by trying new things. And, of course, that created massive fear in me that probably led to decisions that hurt my progress. So I’m glad that I now feel comfortable enough in my own skin to know what being true to myself really is. I am true to traditional country music and always will be. I have bled and sweat and cried country music my entire life. And broadening my approach won’t change that one bit. That’s the freedom – to be happy and successful and make music I’m proud of.
There are layers to my relationships and the people around me. There’s a depth there that I’ve never felt before, especially in a working environment. I care passionately and deeply about the music, as well as the people I’m working with. I care about the overall well-being and success of everybody. That is a wonderful feeling, and way more important than having hit records and looking good to the outside world. This is family.
I have been a Nashville guy for a long time and would move back there in a heartbeat, but I also love Texas because it’s the place I want to raise my children. It’s just a great way of life here. When I’m home, there are no crowds, no industry events to go to, none of that. It’s just family, friends and a normal pace of life.
The new music is going over awesome on the road, especially “Sunny And 75.” The other new songs we play get an incredible reaction, too. As far as the crowds go, I’ve been almost two years without a single at radio and people are still showing up in awesome numbers. I’m impressed and incredibly grateful for country fans, because they are amazingly loyal.
I’m also thankful radio is welcoming me back with open arms. I love that I have true friends there who care about me beyond the music and career stuff, because I care about them in the same way. So I’m especially proud to give them music they can play in good conscience. It’s not just my friends hooking me up with airplay, it’s something deserving, and I hope to continue giving them that.
The biggest thing I feel is just that it’s a new day. I’m wiping the slate clean and starting something brand new. I love my old catalog of music – “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” “Brokenheartsville,” “The Impossible,” “Gimme That Girl” and the rest. But I’m starting the first chapter of that new book now. I’m pretty sure it’s got a happy ending, but I also hope there are a few surprises for people along the way.
Currington emerged in 2003 with his self-titled debut which spawned the hit single "I Got A Feeling". But it was his duet, "Party for Two", with country's biggest country star, Shania Twain, that pushed Currington to the top of the charts. He released his sophomore set, Doin' Somethin' Right which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Country charts and he hit the touring circuit in 2005. The video for "Must Be Doin' Somethin Right" won Currington the CMT Music Award for Hottest Video of the Year and garnered him a lot of attention from female fans. While Currington toured, he penned his #1 hits "People Are Crazy" and "That's How Country Boys Roll", which solidified Currington as Country's party boy.