Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown Band is an American country music band based in Dahlonega, Georgia. The lineup consists of Zac Brown (lead vocals, guitar), Jimmy De Martini (fiddle, vocals), John Driskell Hopkins (bass guitar, vocals), Coy Bowles (guitar, keyboards), Chris Fryar (drums) and Clay Cook (guitar, keyboards, mandolin, steel guitar, vocals).

Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band
The band has toured throughout the United States, including a slot on the 2009 and 2010 Bonnaroo Music Festival. They have also recorded four studio albums, and charted six Number One singles on the Billboard country charts: “Chicken Fried“, “Toes“, “Highway 20 Ride“, “Free“, “As She’s Walking Away“, and “Colder Weather“, in addition to the single “Whatever It Is,” which peaked at number 2 on the same chart.

Zac Brown was born July 31, 1978 in Cumming, Georgia. He was raised in Cumming, Ga. & Dahlonega, Georgia, and is the 11th of 12 children. He attended Mashburn Elementary School in Cumming, Ga., Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, Ga., and South Forsyth High School in Cumming, Ga. He later moved to Dahlonega, Ga. where he graduated from Lumpkin Co. High School. He learned to play classical guitar at age 8. As a teenager, he played solo gigs in local venues, doing country and pop cover songs.

Zac attended the University of West Georgia, where he was a member of the Zeta Kappa chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. He was also a camp counselor at Camp Mikell in Tocoa, Ga. & Camp Glisson, a United Methodist summer camp located in Dahlonega, GA. While in college, he started a band, and he played dates in local restaurants with the band, and solo as well, to earn money to pay for school. During this time, the band recorded a CD to sell at their gigs, but broke up during recording sessions. Zac decided that life was too short doing something he didn’t love, so he decided to perform music full-time.

In 2002, the Zac Brown Band was formed, and they hit the road with a heavy tour schedule of about 200 dates a year. In 2003, Zac started his own label, called Home Grown (today, it’s called Southern Ground for legal reasons).

In 2004, Brown opened a music club and restaurant with his father in the Lake Oconee area of Georgia called “Zac’s Place” where the fare was southern-style cooking. The Zac Brown Band was happy when they played in the club on weekends, and continued playing gigs on the road as well. A developer bought the restaurant, and Zac and the band bought a tour bus, and hit the road full-time, playing rock and country clubs as well as folk and jam band festivals.

The Zac Brown Band released its first album, Far from Einstyne, in 2004, followed by Home Grown a year later. A live album titled Live from the Rock Bus Tour followed in 2007 on the Home Grown label.

In 2006, the band cut The Foundation with producer Keith Stegall. The album was picked up by Live Nation for their new record label. When the label folded, Atlantic picked it up and released the album nationally.

The Zac Brown Band then signed to Live Nation Records in 2008. Their first single, “Chicken Fried“, was originally recorded in 2003 and included on the Home Grown album, but later re-recorded and released to country radio in 2008. This song was also recorded by The Lost Trailers, whose 2006 recording was released as a single but withdrawn after Brown decided that he wanted to release it himself. Brown also co-wrote “Simple Life”, a song recorded by The Lost Trailers on their 2006 self-titled album.

In October 2008, Atlantic Records took over distribution of “Chicken Fried.” The band’s album The Foundation was released under Atlantic Records’ newly re-established country division in association with the Home Grown/Big Picture label on November 18, 2008. The group had been previously signed with Live Nation Artists Records. “Chicken Fried” reached #1 on the country charts in November 2008, making them the first country band to reach #1 with a debut single since Heartland did so in 2006 with “I Loved Her First.” In January 2009, Clay Cook joined as a multi-instrumentalist, and the band released its second single, “Whatever It Is,” which went to number two. In July 2009, a third single, “Toes,” became the band’s second Number One. The album’s fourth #1 was “Highway 20 Ride“. On July 16 and 17, 2010, they performed at Citi Field as the opening act for the Dave Matthews Band. “Free” is the album’s fifth single and on the week of August 21, 2010, it hit Number One.

2011 saw Zac Brown Band and Blackberry Smoke do a tour of sold out amphitheaters including Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA.

Zac Brown Band received four nominations for the 2009 CMA Awards: New Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year, and Music Video of the Year for their #1 single, “Chicken Fried”. that same year, they received three Grammy nominations for Best Country Album, Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocals and Best New Artist. On January 31, 2010, the band won the Grammy award for Best New Artist.

The group was also nominated in 2009 for three ACM awards, “Album of the Year”, “Top Vocal Group”, and was one of eight contenders for “Entertainer of the Year”.

The Zac Brown Band lead the nominees for the 46th annual Academy of Country Music Awards 2011, with a total of nine nominations including: Top Vocal Group of the Year, Album of the Year, Single Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Vocal Event of the Year

Willie Nelson

Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 30, 1933) is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist.

Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie, combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust, made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country, a subgenre of country music that developed at the end of the 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound. Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.

Born during the Great Depression, and raised by his grandparents, Nelson wrote his first song at age seven and joined his first band at ten. During high school, he toured locally with the Bohemian Fiddlers as their lead singer and guitar player. After graduating from high school in 1950, he joined the Air Force but was later discharged due to back problems. After his return, Nelson attended Baylor University for two years but dropped out because he was succeeding in music. During this time, he worked as a disc jockey in Texas radio stations and a singer in honky tonks. Nelson moved to Vancouver, Washington, where he wrote “Family Bible” and recorded the song “Lumberjack” in 1956. In 1960, he signed a publishing contract with Pamper Music which allowed him to join Ray Price’s band as a bassist. During that time, he wrote songs that would become country standards, including “Funny How Time Slips Away“, “Hello Walls“, “Pretty Paper“, and “Crazy“. In 1962, he recorded his first album, And Then I Wrote. Due to this success, Nelson signed in 1964 with RCA Victor and joined the Grand Ole Opry the following year. After mid-chart hits during the end of 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, and the failure to succeed in music, Nelson retired in 1972 and moved to Austin, Texas. The rise of the popularity of Hippie music in Austin motivated Nelson to return from retirement, performing frequently at the Armadillo World Headquarters.

In 1973, after signing with Atlantic Records, Nelson turned to outlaw country, including albums such as Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages. In 1975, he switched to Columbia Records, where he recorded the critically acclaimed album, Red Headed Stranger. The same year, he recorded another outlaw country album, Wanted! The Outlaws, which he recorded with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser. During the mid 1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like “On the Road Again“, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before“, and “Pancho & Lefty“, he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen, along with fellow singers, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. During 1990 Nelson’s assets were seized by the Internal Revenue Service, that claimed that he owed US $32,000,000. It was later discovered that his accountants, Price Waterhouse did not pay Nelson’s taxes for years. The impossibility of Nelson to pay his outstanding debt was aggravated by weak investments made by him during the 1980s. Nelson released in 1991 The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?, the profits of the double album, destined to the IRS and the auction of Nelson’s assets cleared his debt by 1993. During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson continued touring extensively, and released albums every year. Reviews ranged from positive to mixed. Nelson explored genres such as reggae, blues, jazz, and folk. Nelson made his first movie appearance in the 1979 film, The Electric Horseman, followed by other appearances in movies and on television.

Nelson is a major liberal activist and the co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which is in favor of marijuana legalization. On the environmental front, Nelson owns the bio-diesel brand Willie Nelson Biodiesel, which is made from vegetable oil. Nelson is also the honorary chairman of the Advisory Board of the Texas Music Project, the official music charity of the state of Texas.

In 1956, Nelson moved to Vancouver, Washington to begin his formal musical career. His first record, “No Place For Me” included Leon Payne‘s “Lumberjack” on the b-side, but was not successful. Nelson continued working as a radio announcer and singing in Vancouver clubs. He sold the song “Family Bible” for US$50 to a guitar instructor, and the song turned into a hit for Claude Gray in 1960. Nelson moved to Nashville in 1960, but no label signed him. Although most of his demos were rejected, thanks to his songwriting and Hank Cochran‘s help, he signed a publishing contract with Pamper Music. After Ray Price recorded Nelson’s “Night Life”, Nelson joined Price’s touring band as a bass player. While playing with Price and the Cherokee Cowboys, Nelson’s songs became hits for other artists, including “Funny How Time Slips Away” (Billy Walker), “Hello Walls” (Faron Young), “Pretty Paper” (Roy Orbison), and, most famously, “Crazy” (Patsy Cline), which became the biggest jukebox hit of all time.

Demo recordings from his years as a songwriter for Pamper Music were later discovered and released as Crazy: The Demo Sessions in 2003.

Nelson signed with Liberty Records and was recording by August 1961 at Quonset Hut Studio. Several singles were released, including “Willingly” (which became his first charting single and first Top Ten at #10) and “Touch Me” (his second Top Ten, stalling at #7), a duet with his soon-to-be second wife, Shirley Collie. Unfortunately, further hit singles eluded him. Nelson’s tenure at Liberty did yield his first album entitled And Then I Wrote, released in September 1962.

Fred Foster of Monument Records signed Nelson in early 1964, but only one single saw the light of day – the excellent but non-charting “I Never Cared For You.” After Nelson became a megastar, he aided Foster and his old label by participating in The Winning Hand in 1982, a double album largely consisting of unreleased tracks (although many were overdubbed with new vocals and instrumentation) with Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, and Brenda Lee. In fact, “Everything’s Beautiful (In It’s Own Way),” a duet with Parton, became a Top Ten hit.

By the fall of 1964, Nelson had moved to RCA Victor Records at the behest of Chet Atkins, signing a contract for US $10,000 per year. Country Willie – His Own Songs became Nelson’s first RCA album, recorded in April 1965. That same year he joined the Grand Ole Opry. During his first few years on RCA, Nelson had no significant hits, but from September 1966 through early 1969, his singles reached the Top 25 in a consistent manner. “One In a Row” (#19) and his cover of Morecambe & Wise‘s “Bring Me Sunshine” (#13) were his highest charting records during this period.

In March 1966, Felton Jarvis, better known as Elvis Presley‘s producer from the May 1966 How Great Thou Art album sessions until Presley’s death, began producing Nelson’s sessions. Chet Atkins continued to produce Nelson occasionally, but by 1969 Jarvis was Nelson’s sole producer. The charge has often been leveled that Nelson’s RCA records were overproduced and embellished with strings and backing choirs, and while that is generally accurate, albums such as Texas in My Soul and Both Sides Now point to Nelson’s later minimalist style on Columbia Records. In addition, one of Nelson’s most critically well-received albums (according to All Music Guide) was Yesterday’s Wine, released in September 1971 and produced by Jarvis.

Nelson faced a dilemma after recording his final RCA single – “Mountain Dew” (backed with “Phases, Stages, Circles, Cycles and Scenes”) in late April 1972. RCA requested that Nelson renew his contract ahead of schedule. Nelson wanted to reject the deal, since he was frustrated with Nashville’s refusal to let him be himself and have greater artistic control in the studio. But if he did that, RCA would not release his latest recordings. He signed Neil Rashen as his manager to negotiate with the label, who got RCA to agree to end Nelson’s contract upon repayment of US$14,000.

During those proceedings, Nelson decided to move to Austin, Texas and take a short break. Austin’s burgeoning hippie music scene (see Armadillo World Headquarters) rejuvenated the singer. His popularity in Austin soared as he played his own brand of country music marked by country, folk and jazz influences. Rashen eventually signed Nelson to Atlantic Records for US$25,000 per year, becoming the label’s first country artist. By February 1973, Nelson was recording his acclaimed Shotgun Willie at Atlantic Studios in New York City.

However, RCA was not quite finished with Nelson, as they continued to release singles without his consent until 1981. Most were from previous albums, although some had sat in the RCA vaults for ten years. This strategy paid off, as several of the songs went Top 20, including “You Ought To Hear Me Cry” in 1977 and “Crazy Arms” in 1979 (both charted at #16). Surprisingly, an overdubbed version of “Sweet Memories” went all the way to #4 in April 1979, by which time Nelson had become a bonafide superstar.

Willie Nelson has married four times and fathered seven children. His first marriage was to Martha Matthews; it lasted from 1952 to 1962, and produced three children: Lana, Susie, and Billy. The last committed suicide in 1991. The marriage was marked by violence, with Matthews assaulting Nelson several times. Nelson’s next marriage was to Shirley Collie in 1963. The couple divorced in 1971, after Collie found a bill of the maternity ward of a Houston hospital charged to Nelson and Connie Koepke for the birth of Paula Carlene Nelson. Koepke and Nelson married the same year and had two daughters, Paula Carlene and Amy Lee. Following a divorce in 1988, he married his current wife, Annie D’Angelo, in 1991. He had two sons, Lukas Autry and Jacob Micah, with her. Nelson traces his genealogy to the American Revolutionary War, in which his ancestor John Nelson served as a major.

While swimming in Hawaii in 1981, Nelson’s lung collapsed. All of his scheduled concerts were canceled and he was taken to the Maui Memorial Hospital. Nelson temporarily stopped smoking cigarettes each time his lungs became congested, and resumed when the congestion ended. In 2008 he started to smoke with a carbon-free system to avoid the effects of smoke in his lungs. In 2004 Nelson underwent surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, as he had damaged his wrists by continuously playing the guitar. By the recommendation of his doctor, he canceled his scheduled concerts and only wrote songs during his recovery.

Nelson has been arrested several times for marijuana possession. The first occasion was in 1974, in Dallas, Texas. Twenty years later, in 1994, highway patrolmen found a marijuana cigarette in his car near Waco, Texas; the resulting court appearance causing him to cancel his appearance at the Grammy awards. While traveling to Ann W. Richards‘ funeral in 2006, Nelson, along with his manager and his sister, Bobbi, were arrested in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana and charged with possession of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Nelson received six months probation. On November 26, 2010, Nelson was arrested for possession of six ounces of marijuana found in his tour bus while traveling from Los Angeles to Texas. He was released after paying bail of US$2,500. Prosecutor Kit Bramblett supported not sentencing Nelson to jail due to the possession of a small amount, Bramblett sentenced him to pay a US$100 fine and told Nelson that he would have him sing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for the court. Judge Becky Dean-Walker stated that Nelson only had to pay the amount of the fine, but did not require him to perform the song, explaining that the prosecutor was joking. Nelson’s lawyer Joe Turner reached an agreement with the prosecutor. Nelson was set to pay a US$500 fine to avoid a two-year jail sentence with a 30-day review period, which in case of another incident would end the agreement. The judge later rejected the agreement, claiming that Nelson was receiving preferential treatment for his celebrity status.

Will Hoge

Will Hoge (born November 14, 1972) is a Grammy-nominated American singer, songwriter and musician from Nashville, Tennessee.

Will Hoge
Will Hoge
With former The Georgia Satellites guitarist Dan Baird in tow as a guitarist, Hoge began touring the American south. He independently released his first CD, Live At The Exit/In, a live set recorded at the Nashville club. His original sound drew much attention and, through constant touring, he was able to release his first studio album, Carousel.

Hoge caught the attention of Atlantic Records music executives and he was signed to a record deal in early 2002. Atlantic then re-released Carousel to a wider market. His 2003 major label debut, Blackbird On A Lonely Wire was a cleaner sounding effort; however, the album was poorly promoted by Atlantic. Eventually, Hoge asked for and received a release from his contract, re-obtaining the rights to Carousel.

The support of his fans has given Hoge the ability to tour incessantly, and self release a couple live albums (2004’s Almost Alone: Live At Smith’s Olde Bar’ and 2005’s During the Before and After), a politically charged album called The America EP (which included a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’)”, and a bluesy rock and roll sounding album, The Man Who Killed Love.

Over the years, Hoge has toured with many artists, including Midnight Oil, Shinedown, Needtobreathe, Marc Broussard, ZZ Top, The Cat Empire, Squeeze, Jason Isbell, Lisa Loeb and Edwin McCain. Bands that have opened for him include Steel Train, The Trews, The Elms, Rose Hill Drive, Needtobreathe, Moses Mayfield, The Alternate Routes, Aslyn, Katie Herzig, Missy Higgins, and The Civil Wars.

Hoge recorded the opening theme song, “You Make Me Happy,” for the CBS sitcom Still Standing.

On February 20, 2007, he released a live album, Again Somewhere Tomorrow, from recordings made during the band’s two-night stint at the Exit/In in Nashville, in September 2006.

The band’s fourth studio album, Draw the Curtains, was released nationwide in October 2007 by Rykodisc Records. The album was initially released as a CD, with a limited edition 180-Gram Vinyl Record version which followed later.

Following a scooter accident in August 2008, the band went on hiatus for seven months while Hoge recuperated from his injuries. In April 2009, the band got together for a 3 week acoustic tour of venues in the Midwest, Southeast and East Coast, hitting cities including New York City, Chicago, Nashville and Atlanta. When the tour ended in late April, the band headed back into the studio to complete recording their next album (of which they had begun at the time of Hoge’s accident). Ken Coomer and Charlie Brocco again produced, and the album, The Wreckage, was released on September 29, 2009.

Will Hoge performed a residency at 12th & Porter in Nashville, TN in June 2010. During these concerts, many of Hoge’s friends, family, and former bandmates joined him on stage during the run of the four shows. These guests included former guitarists Dan Baird, Brian Layson, and Jason ‘Slim’ Gambill; former keyboard players Jefferson Crowe and John Lancaster; as well as Will’s own father, who sang lead vocals on the final song of the concert series.

On August 29, 2009, Will and the band appeared and performed the single “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” on the CBS Early Show as the music guest.

Hoge opened for Needtobreathe on their spring 2010 tour. He also opened shows for Sugarland and Michelle Branch on select dates during their summer tour.

Hoge was part of a line-up, which included Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, and Sheryl Crow, that performed on the nationally televised “Music City Keep On Playin'” flood relief program that aired on GAC on May 16, 2010. Hoge closed the show by performing his song “Washed By The Water.”

Hoge opened for mainstream rock band Shinedown on their acoustic “Anything & Everything” tour in the fall of 2010.

In September of 2011, Hoge released his 7th studio album entiled ‘Number Seven’. The album was his third release via Ryko. This time around, Hoge took over production duties for the entire album. The album’s first single “When I Get My Wings” was released to radio in August of 2011. The official music video for the song was added into rotation on both VH1 and CMT. During this time, Hoge was invited to perform on three separate occasions at the Grand Ole Opry, with country legend Vince Gill playing guitar and singing background vocals on a couple songs during his first appearance (Gill is a guest artist on ‘Seven’ as well, as he and his wife, Amy Grant are fans of Hoge).

In a September 2012 blog post on his website, Hoge announced a number of changes. He left Rykodisc Records after releasing 3 albums with them. Longtime drummer Sigurdur ‘Siggi’ Birkis was released from the band. They have yet to hire a permanent replacement. He also announced in a Twitter post that Lady Antebellum was recording a cover of his song “Better Off Now” from his 2003 release “Blackbird On A Lonely Wire” which will be included on their next album.

In October 2012, Hoge announced, via Twitter, than he has signed a songwriting deal with BMG Nashville.

Hoge received a Country Music Association nomination, an Academy of Country Music nomination and a Grammy nomination for “Country Song of the Year” for “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”. The song was recorded by the Eli Young Band and reached #1 on the country charts.

Ward Thomas

Ward Thomas are a Country / Americana duo from Hampshire, England.

Ward Thomas
Ward Thomas
Catherine and Lizzy Ward-Thomas are 19 year old twin sisters who grew up on a livestock farm and who fell in love with country music when they were introduced to the music of the Carrie Underwood, Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks and Alison Krauss by a cousin in their early teens. Ward Thomas release their first UK EP on 7th April with a debut full length album to follow this Summer.

Since a demo recording of the song “Footnotes” found its way into the hands of top Nashville session musician Bobby Blazier, the girls have spent much of the last two years recording in Nashville with Blazier and other top Country players including Dan Dugmore and Chris Rodriquez. The resulting Ward Thomas album will feature guest appearances from Grammy Award winner Michael Omartian (who appears on the EP track “Take That Train”) and Country Music superstar Vince Gill, winner of 18 CMA awards and 20 Grammys.

Wade Hayes

Tony Wade Hayes (born April 20, 1969 in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma) is an American country music artist. Signed to Columbia Records in 1994, he made his debut that year with his gold-certified album Old Enough to Know Better.

Wade Hayes
Wade Hayes
Its title track, which served as his debut single, reached Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts, and three more singles from it all reached Top Ten as well.

Hayes’ second album, 1996′s On a Good Night, was also certified gold, although its #2-peaking title track was the only Top 40 hit from it. When the Wrong One Loves You Right, his third album, produced two more singles, including the #5 “The Day That She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy)”, although he left the label by 1999. A year later, he signed to the Monument roster, where he released Highways & Heartaches, his final solo album. This album produced no Top 40 country hits, however, and was his last solo album.

In 2003, he founded the duo McHayes with Alan Jackson‘s fiddle player Mark McClurg. The duo charted one single on the country charts and recorded one unreleased album for the Universal South label. He has since joined the backing band for former Alabama lead singer Randy Owen.

Wade Hayes was born and raised in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma. His father, Don Hayes, also a professional country musician, inspired him to begin playing music as well. Initially, Hayes had learned to play mandolin, but later switched to guitar after his father bought him one. When he was eleven years old, his family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where his father signed him to an independent record label. The label soon declared bankruptcy. The family returned to Oklahoma, where Wade later found work as a musician in his father’s band.

Although he attended three different colleges, Hayes dropped out of college in 1991 in pursuit of a career in country music, after seeing bluegrass musician Ricky Skaggs perform on the 1991 Country Music Association awards show. Wade returned to Nashville, where he began recording demo tapes and writing his own material. Eventually, Hayes partnered with a songwriter named Chick Rains, who recommended him to Don Cook, a record producer who has produced albums for several country music artists, including Brooks & Dunn.

Vince Gill

Vincent Grant “Vince” Gill (born April 12, 1957) is an American neotraditional country singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

Vince Gill
Vince Gill
He has achieved commercial success and fame both as frontman to the country rock band Pure Prairie League in the 1970s, and as a solo artist beginning in 1983, where his talents as a vocalist and musician have placed him in high demand as a guest vocalist, and a duet partner. Gill has recorded more than twenty studio albums, charted over forty singles on the U.S. Billboard charts as Hot Country Songs, and has sold more than 22 million albums. He has been honored by the Country Music Association with 18 CMA Awards, including two Entertainer of the Year awards and five Male Vocalist Awards. Gill has also earned 20 Grammy Awards, more than any other male Country music artist. In 2007, Gill was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Vincent Grant “Vince” Gill was born in Norman, Oklahoma. His father, J. Stanley Gill, was a lawyer and administrative law judge who played in a country music band part time and encouraged Gill to pursue a musical career. His homemaker mother, Jerene, played the harmonica. At the encouragement of his father, Gill learned to play several instruments, including the banjo and guitar, before he started high school at Oklahoma City’s Northwest Classen High School. He first played with a teenage band called Bluegrass Revue in the late 1970s. The other members were: Billy Perry on the banjo, Bobby Clark on the mandolin and Mike Perry on the bass.

While in high school, he performed with “Mountain Smoke,” a bluegrass band that once opened for Pure Prairie League. After he graduated, he played in a number of bluegrass bands, including Ricky Skaggs‘ “Boone Creek” and Byron Berline and Sundance; later, he became a member of Rodney Crowell‘s road band, The Cherry Bombs.

Gill married country singer Janis Oliver of Sweethearts of the Rodeo fame, in 1980. The couple have one daughter, Jennifer Jerene Gill, born May 5, 1982. Gill occasionally mixed sound for his wife’s band at concerts. Vince and Janis separated in the mid-1990s and eventually divorced in June 1998. Vince married Christian/pop singer Amy Grant in March 2000. They have one daughter, Corrina Grant Gill, born March 12, 2001.

Gill, along with his wife Amy, are fans of the Nashville Predators. They have been season ticket holders since the opening season and are often shown on the jumbo screen. In the 2007 playoffs, he and Amy sang the national anthem for each game.

Though Gill never attended college, he’s a big fan of the University of Oklahoma football team. He also attends nearly every men’s basketball game at Belmont University in Nashville.

Uncle Kracker

Matthew Shafer (born June 6, 1974) is an American rock, country, and rap rock musician known as Uncle Kracker.

Uncle Kracker
Uncle Kracker
His singles include “Follow Me“, “Smile“, and “Drift Away“. His music was more rap rock-based at the start of his career before turning in a more country and Top 40 style music direction on later releases.

Shafer was born in Mississippi but raised in Harrison Township, Michigan. In 1987, with his brother Mike Shafer, he visited a nightclub in Clawson, Michigan where a turntables competition was occurring. His older brother was competing against a then-unknown musician, Kid Rock. Shafer then spent a lot of time with Kid Rock, and they became “best friends”. In those times, he was mainly rapping. He went to L’Anse Creuse High School. In 1994, Kid Rock asked Shafer to play turntables for his band called Twisted Brown Trucker. Shafer knew nothing of using turntables, but since his brother was an experienced DJ, he agreed. He only performed at live shows at the time, until he began recording for Rock’s album, Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp; Shafer was a featured vocalist on some of the tracks. He then began working on a solo album, but he continued being the DJ for Kid Rock. Upon the release of Rock’s multi-platinum album, Devil Without a Cause, Shafer decided that it was time to release his first solo album, Double Wide, adopting the stage name Uncle Kracker from his favorite snack producer, the Kraft Cracker Company of Flint, Michigan.

Shafer has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Melanie Haas, since 1998. They have three daughters.

Double Wide was Uncle Kracker’s first solo album. Released on June 30, 2001, it peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200 album chart and is Shafer’s most successful and highest-selling album. “Double Wide” was produced by Kid Rock, with mixing additional production by Michael Bradford. The first single taken off the album was “Follow Me“, which was co-written with Bradford, and peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2001. The album spent the next ten months on the Billboard 200, and “Follow Me” also had a long chart run. His second single, “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, failed to hit the Hot 100 chart. Double Wide was certified 2× Multi-Platinum on November 29, 2001.

After a great deal of touring to promote the first album, he began to work on a follow-up album. Entitled No Stranger to Shame, it was released on August 27, 2002. The album reached #43 on the Billboard albums chart. A hit single was released, a cover version of Dobie Gray‘s 1973 Top 5 hit, “Drift Away” – also including Gray as a guest vocalist. Kracker’s version of this song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it set a record for most weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, remaining atop this chart for 22 weeks. Other singles released from No Stranger to Shame include “In A Little While”, which peaked at #59 on the Hot 100 and #26 on the Adult Contemporary charts. A third single was released, “Memphis Soul Song”, which charted on the Adult Top 40 at #35. A special remix of “Memphis Soul Song” was also released, featuring harmonies by legendary singing group The Jordanaires, who had famously sung harmonies with Elvis Presley. The album was certified gold by the RIAA within a year of its release. Soon after this period, Kracker became good friends with country music star Kenny Chesney and the two began a successful touring partnership together, brought on by the success of Kenny’s hit single “When the Sun Goes Down“, featuring Uncle Kracker both on the single, and prominently in the video.

Tyler Farr

Tyler Lynn Farr (born February 5, 1984) is an American country music singer. He is signed to Columbia Records, and has released four singles.

Tyler Farr
Tyler Farr
Tyler Farr grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. Tyler attended Missouri State University, studying voice.

Farr co-wrote the songs “Hey Y’all” for Colt Ford and “She’s Just Like That” for Joe Nichols. In early 2012, Farr released his debut single, “Hot Mess”, which he co-wrote with Rhett Akins. Billy Dukes of Taste of Country gave the song four stars out of five, calling Farr’s voice “unique, but not distracting.” Following the merger of his original label, BNA Records, Farr moved to Columbia Nashville to release his second single, “Hello Goodbye”. His third single, “Redneck Crazy“, became his first Top 10 hit in 2013. After it came the top 3 hit “Whiskey in My Water“.

Tyler Farr is also a classically trained opera singer and took voice lessons during his teenage years, singing tenor in Missouri’s All-State Choir during his senior year of high school. He claims he discovered, and fell in love with, country music after his mother married George Jones‘ touring guitarist.