Category Archives: Country

Today in KC’s Music History: “Single White Female” Released

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Country singer Chely Wright’s fourth album, Single White Female, was released on May 18, 1999.

Single White Female is Wright’s best-selling album, and the title track was her first and only No. 1 single on the country charts.

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KC Ties in Jazz, Opera Grammy Nominations

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Nominations for the 54th Annual Grammy Awards were announced yesterday, and four nominees have ties to Kansas City.

Pat Metheny’s What’s It All About was nominated for Best New Age Album. Metheny grew up in Lee’s Summit, Mo., a suburb in the southeast part of the Kansas City area.

Karrin Allyson

Vocalist Karrin Allyson was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album for ‘Round Midnight. Allyson was born in Great Bend, Kan., and lived in Kansas City during the 1990s.

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The Billboard Roll Call: Rusty Draper

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Rusty Draper initially started his career as a country singer, but found his greatest success in the mid-1950s with a rockabilly-flavored sound.

Draper was born in Kirksville, Mo., about 180 miles northeast of Kansas City, in 1923. He initially worked in radio in the 1930s and 1940s. According to his obituary in the New York Times, he often filled in for Ronald Reagan when both worked at a station in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Producer Garth Fundis to be Inducted Into Kansas Music Hall of Fame

Garth Fundis

The Kansas Music Hall of Fame announced this week that Nashville producer Garth Fundis will be inducted as part of the class of 2011.

Fundis is being honored with the Directors Award. According to Bill Lee, the hall’s president, Fundis was born in Baldwin City, Kan., about 45 miles southwest of Kansas City and just south of Lawrence. Fundis got his start playing in Lawrence-area bands and as a booking agent.

He moved to Nashville in the 1970s and has been a fixture in the country music community ever since. His production credits include some of country music’s best and best-known artists, including Trisha Yearwood, Keith Whitley, Sugarland, Alabama and Emmylou Harris. He also was an executive at RCA Records and Almo Sounds in the 1990s.

Fundis is the owner of Sound Emporium Studios, one of Nashville’s oldest running studios. Sound Emporium traces its roots to Jack Clement, the legendary producer who produced Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash at Sun Records in Memphis and moved to Nashville in the early 1960s.

Clement opened Jack Clement Recording Studios in 1969, which was sold and renamed Sound Emporium in 1979.

Fundis joined the studio as an intern in 1971 and became a house engineer a few years later. He bought Sound Emporium in 1992.

The 2011 induction ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, March 5, in Lawrence.

Special Grammy History Edition: KC Winners


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In honor of the Grammy Awards on Sunday, Another Verse presents a breakdown on Grammy winners with a Kansas City-area connection.

As you might expect, KC Grammy winners are heavily weighted toward jazz. But there are winners in other categories, including rock, Broadway and folk.

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This Week in KC’s Music History: “The Story of My Life” Hits No. 1

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Burt Bacharach (left) was born in Kansas City, Mo. With lyricist Hal David (right), he wrote some of the greatest songs of the 1960s, particularly for Dionne Warwick.

It’s not a significant song in the history of its principals, but there is a tie to Kansas City when The Story of My Life by Marty Robins hit No. 1 on the U.S. country chart on Dec. 1, 1957.

The song is the first significant success for the legendary songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Bacharach was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1928 and his family lived here before moving to Queens, N.Y., when he was four years old.

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Vinyl KC: “Alabam” by Cowboy Copas

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Cowboy Copas is one of those “other persons” lumped together when a celebrity dies in an accident. In this instance, the celebrity is country legend Patsy Cline, and the accident is the plane crash that killed Cline, Copas, singer Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cline manager Randy Hughes after a concert in Kansas City, Kan.

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KC Dominates 2011 Kansas Music Hall Inductees

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In October, members of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame voted on nominees for the class of 2011. The votes have been counted, and there’s a strong contingent of Kansas City musicians. In fact, seven of the 11 inductees have a connection to Kansas City.

Inductees will be honored March 5, 2011, at Liberty Hall in Lawrence.

KC-area inductees are:

Count Basie — Bill “Count” Basie was born in New Jersey, but he lived in Kansas City and his bands are the best example of Kansas City-style jazz. Lots of prominent musicians went through his bands, and Basie even had an influence on rock ‘n’ roll. Big Joe Turner, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s foundational artists, sang with Basie in the early 1950s, which lead to Turner’s record deal with Atlantic Records. Turner’s signature hit, “Shake Rattle and Roll,” was released in 1954.

James Gadson — Gadson is one of the most most recorded drummers in R&B history. He played on a ton of important records in the 1970s, including Bill Withers’ album Still Bill, which featured the classic Lean on Me.

Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker — Parker is one of the most important musicians ever to have come from Kansas City. He played a leading role in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuoso technique and improvisation based on harmonic structure.

The Rainmakers — Although they had limited commercial success in the United States, the Rainmakers had a good run in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly Norway. To my ears, their stuff stands up extremely well compared to other acts of the era. Their biggest hit was the song “Let My People Go-Go.” Writer Stephen King quoted the band’s lyrics in his novels The Tommyknockers and Gerald’s Game.

Riverrock — A great country-rock/electric bluegrass band that has been active since the 1970s. They were one of KC’s most popular bands in their day, and the band still performs around town. Their album Midwest Man is considered an area classic and has just been rereleased on CD.

Bobby Watson

Bobby Watson — Born in Lawrence, Kan., and reared in Kansas City, Kan., Watson is an alto saxophonist who has recorded 26 albums as a bandleader and plays on nearly 100 others.  He moved home in 2000 and currently serves as director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition to teaching, he performs around the world.

Chely Wright — Growing up in Wellsville, Kan., at the southwest edge of the Kansas City metro area, Wright began singing with local bands at 11 and eventually started her own band.  She joined the Ozark Jubilee show in Branson while still in high school, then moved to Nashville. Her debut album was released in 1994 and she received an Academy of Country Music award for Top New Female Vocalist that year. Her biggest his is Single White Female, released in 1999.

Full Disclosure: I’m a member of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and voted in this election.

Introducing KC Music Tube

Writing about music is fine, but to experience the true essence of music, you need to listen to it or watch a performance. So I’ve started a new feature that I’m really excited about: KC Music Tube.

KC Music Tube collects the videos of KC music artists that are scattered all over the Internet (YouTube mostly). With video, you can see (and hear) what makes them so special.

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Today in KC’s Music History: “The Way That I Am” by Martina McBride

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Martina McBride released her first album in 1992, but it was her second album that gave her first substantial career momentum. That album, The Way That I Am, was released on Sept. 14, 1993.

Martina was born in Sharon, Kan., a town of 200 not far from the Oklahoma line. It’s about 75 miles southwest of Wichita, where she began her professional career. Before singing country, she sang in cover bands that often played in the Kansas City area.

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