Classic Country Trailblazer, Jeannie Seely, Celebrates 55th Anniversary of Debut Performance on Grand Ole Opry

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May 292021
 

 

CLASSIC COUNTRY TRAILBLAZER, JEANNIE SEELY, CELEBRATES 55TH ANNIVERSARY OF DEBUT PERFORMANCE ON GRAND OLE OPRY

NASHVILLE, TN. – (May 28, 2021) – Classic Country trailblazer, Jeannie Seely will celebrate the 55th anniversary of her debut performance tonight on the Grand Ole Opry®. On the night of her debut, she sang “Don’t Touch Me” on the portion of the show hosted by Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and sponsored by Stephens work clothing. All total, she made eight guest appearances in 1966 and three more in 1967 before becoming an official member and inducted to the Opry® family on September 16, 1967. She will celebrate 54 years as a Grand Ole Opry® member in 2021 and is one of only three living women (the others being Loretta Lynn and Connie Smith) to have reached this milestone.

“Whenever I have had the opportunity to introduce an artist on their debut at the Opry, I always stress to them and the audience that this is a night they will remember for the rest of their lives,” shared Jeannie Seely. “It is a memory I have treasured for 55 years, although I never imagined at the time I would be here this long! I am grateful to the Opry and the Opry fans and I thank you all!”

“Can you even imagine a Grand Ole Opry without Jeannie Seely over the past 55 years? There would have been a lot less heart, soul, and laughter, that’s for sure. Congratulations, Seely!” Vice President and Executive Producer of the Grand Ole Opry – Dan Rogers “Every time I put in a call to Seely, her first word is YES. She is always willing and ready to step up and promote her beloved Grand Ole Opry. She is a blessing to the Opry and a treasured friend to me,” adds Director of Opry Talent Scheduling and Logistics -Gina Keltner.

“Don’t Touch Me” is a song written by Hank Cochran. The song was released as a single on Monument Records in 1966 and became a major Billboard country hit and became Seely’s signature song. In 1967, her original version of “Don’t Touch Me” won the Best Female Country Vocal Performance accolade at the Grammy® Awards. The song’s success also led to an invitation for Seely to become a member of The Grand Ole Opry®.

Jeannie recently re-recorded “Don’t Touch Me” which can be heard on her highly-acclaimed album, An American Classic, on Curb Records. Digital downloads, streaming and physical copies of An American Classic are available on all digital music platforms here.

Listen to Jeannie Seely talk about “Don’t Touch Me below:
https://www.shannoncountry.com/interviews
Clips courtesy of TV and Radio personality, Shannon McCombs
About Jeannie Seely:
Jeannie Seely will celebrate 54 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry® on Sept 16, 2021. Her current album, An American Classic, was released by Curb Records and produced by Don Cusic. The album includes collaborations with Bill Anderson, Rhonda Vincent, Steve Wariner, Lorrie Morgan, The Whites, Vince Gill and more. The project includes her duet with Willie Nelson, “Not A Dry Eye In The House”, was released as a single on her 80th birthday, July 6, 2020. She was honored by Lincoln Memorial University during its Fall Commencement exercises on December 14, 2019 in Tex Turner Arena where she received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree. June 21, 2019 Ms. Jeannie Seely, was honored and recognized for her contributions to the entertainment industry by the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce Women in Business. Announced by country music icon and friend, Willie Nelson, The Standing Ovation Award was presented to Ms. Seely at the inaugural Influencing Women Awards Gala.

Country music legend Jeannie Seely has achieved chart topping songs as a solo artist, as a duet partner, and as a songwriter. Jeannie’s recordings have spanned six decades and provided enjoyment to country music fans all around the world. Many of the songs were recorded by Hall of Fame members. Jeannie earned a Grammy for her recording of “Don’t Touch Me” in 1967. Seely is a weekly on-air host on SiriusXM Willie’s Roadhouse, where she shares personal memories and fun stories about the songs she spins. 2018 Seely was honored to receive recognition and a star on the famed Music City Walk of Fame and recognized for ranking #2 in Billboard’s Top TV Songs Chart for January 2018 for her song “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand),” written in 1964 and recorded by Irma Thomas. The song is the trailer theme song for new Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, many acclaimed music artists recorded their own versions, including Seal and Boyz II Men, and it has been featured in numerous episodes of the science fiction anthology Netflix television series Black Mirror.

A country music legend and trailblazer, her perseverance over many years earned Seely the honor of being the first female to regularly host segments of the weekly Opry® and is credited for changing the image of Opry® by being the first to wear a mini-skirt on the Opry® stage. Jeannie works tirelessly behind the scenes in the music industry on behalf of fellow artists and musicians. Known for her quick wit and humor, she documented some of her “sayings” in her book, Pieces Of A Puzzled Mind, which is a unique collection of witticisms. Jeannie Seely has also starred in several major stage productions.  In his 2003 book “Finding Her Voice: Women In Country Music,” music critic Robert K. Oermann wrote, “With her chin-out, tough/tender, heart-of-gold manner, Jeannie Seely remains one of country’s most completely modern female personalities,” and that statement still holds true. Keep up with all things Jeannie Seely at www.jeannieseely.com.

B.J. THOMAS DEAD AT 78

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May 292021
 
B.J. Thomas
ARLINGTON, Texas – Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, B.J. Thomas, died today at home in Arlington, Texas at the age of 78 from complications due to stage four lung cancer.

Few artists have left a more indelible mark on America’s musical landscape than B.J. Thomas. With his smooth, rich voice and unerring song sense, Thomas’s expansive career crossed multiple genres, including country, pop, and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove, and Grammy awards and nominations since his emergence in the 1960s.

Thomas’ career was anchored by numerous enduring hits, among them his million-selling cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the Grammy-winning “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” and the iconic “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which won the Academy Award for best original song. A five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, Thomas has sold over 70 million albums worldwide, scoring eight No. 1 hits and 26 Top 10 singles over his 50+ years in the music industry. His lengthy chart history led to him being named one of Billboard’s Top 50 Most Played Artists Over The Past 50 Years. Such memorable hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing, “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks From An Old Lover” and “Hooked on a Feeling” have made him a staple on multiple radio formats over the years.

Born in rural Hugo, OK, Billy Joe Thomas moved to Houston, Texas with his family and where he grew up absorbing a variety of musical influences from the traditional country of Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams Dr. to the soulful sounds of Jackie Wilson and Little Richard, whose “Miss Ann” was the first single B.J. ever bought. He began singing in church as a child and in his teens joined the Houston-based band the Triumphs.

Thomas’s first taste of success came in 1966 when he recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with producer Huey P. Meaux. Released by Scepter Records, it peaked at No. 8 on the pop charts and became his first million-selling single. He released the follow-up single, “Mama,” and delivered his first solo album that same year.

Thomas’ second million-selling hit came in 1968 with the release of “Hooked on a Feeling,” from On My Way, his sophomore album for Scepter. During his days with the New York label, he became friendly with Ronnie Milsap and Dionne Warwick, who were also on the roster at the time. It was Warwick who introduced him to songwriter-producer Burt Bacharach. In January 1970, Thomas topped the charts with “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” Penned by Bacharach and Hal David, the song was featured in the classic Paul Newman/Robert Redford film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, earning the Oscar for best original song. Sales quickly exceeded two million copies and it has remained one of the most enduring pop hits of all time, reoccurring in such films as Forrest GumpCharlie’s Angels: Full ThrottleClerks II, and Spider-Man 2 as well as multiple TV shows over the years. He followed that career-defining single with a string of pop/rock hits, including “Everybody’s Out of Town,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “No Love at All” and “Rock and Roll Lullaby.”

After six years with Scepter Records, Thomas signed with Paramount Records where he released two albums—1973’s Songs and 1974’s Longhorns & Londonbridges. In 1975, Thomas released the album Reunion on ABC Records, featuring “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” which holds the distinction of being the longest titled No. 1 hit ever on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Like many successful pop/rock artists, Thomas fell into drugs and battled substance abuse. His wife Gloria became a born-again Christian and the turning point in Thomas’ life came when he became a believer in 1976. He immediately quit drugs and found an avenue for expressing his faith in gospel music. Thomas signed with Myrrh Records and released the album Home Where I Belong in 1976. Produced by Chris Christian, the project won Thomas a Grammy and became the first of two Dove Award wins. The album became the first gospel record to sell a million copies. The warmth and emotional timbre of Thomas’s voice was well suited to the genre and he became one of gospel music’s most successful artists. His rendition of “Amazing Grace” is considered one of the most poignant of the classic hymn’s many covers.

In addition to his country and gospel success, Thomas also enjoyed a healthy run on the country charts in the 1980s with such hits as “Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks from an Old Lover Again,” “The Whole World’s in Love When You’re Lonely” and “Two Car Garage.” “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” was No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Country Songs charts. It won the Grammy for Best Country Song in 1976 and was nominated for CMA Single of the Year. On his 39th birthday in 1981, Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Beyond populating multiple radio formats with so many beloved hits, Thomas also voiced the theme song, “As Long As We’ve Got Each Other,” for the popular TV series Growing Pains, and has lent his voice to numerous commercials, including campaigns for Coca-Cola and Pepsi. He can also be seen on television hosting Time Life Music’s Forever 70s infomercial. As an actor, he also appeared in the films Jory and Jake’s Corner. Thomas authored two books, including his autobiography Home Where I Belong.

In 2013, he released The Living Room Sessions, an acoustic album, which celebrated Thomas’s nearly six decades in the music industry. The project featured Thomas dueting with other high profile artists on his most beloved hits, which included teaming with Richard Marx for “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” Vince Gill on “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” Sara Niemietz on “Hooked on a Feeling,” Keb’ Mo’ on “Most of All,” Lyle Lovett on “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and The Fray’s Isaac Slade on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” The album was well-received with critics praising it as a reminder of just how engaging his voice remained after decades of recording and touring.

Though Thomas will be remembered as one of this generation’s premiere vocalists and a consummate entertainer, the humble artist was most proud of his family. He’s survived by his wife of 53 years Gloria, their three daughters Paige Thomas, Nora Cloud, and Erin Moore, and four grandchildren, Nadia Cloud, Keira Cloud, Ruby Moore, and Billy Joe Moore.

A quote from his website exemplifies Thomas’ humble attitude and appreciation for life. “All I am is just another guy. I’ve been very lucky,” he shared. “I’ve had a wonderful life, I’ve been a husband and a father who cherishes his children and now I’m a grandfather, and I’m motivated like all these teachers and preachers and mothers and fathers to help my kids grow up with character and self-respect. I hope that doesn’t sound too grandiose, but that’s what it comes down to. It’s what I’ve tried to do with my music and with the majority of my life.”

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming and will remain private. In lieu of flowers, in-memoriam donations will be accepted by Mission ArlingtonTarrant Area Food Bank, and the SPCA of Texas.

Asleep At The Wheel Releases New EP, Better Times

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May 292021
 
Asleep at the Wheel releases new EP, Better Times
First in a year-long celebration of band’s 50th anniversary; in-person tour dates announced
“Everything this act has ever released is simply spectacular.” -Billboard
May 28, 2021 – Austin, TX – Fifty years ago—before Americana or Outlaw or Cosmic Country ever had a name—Ray Benson and his band Asleep at the Wheel were carrying the torch of some of America’s favorite music into the future with fiery live shows, droves of followers, and a mainstream swing sound all their own. Fast forward five decades to find Benson and crew still bearing that torch, albeit with quite a few more fans and albums under their belt. To begin the celebration of its 50th anniversary, Asleep at the Wheel is releasing some new music ahead of a quick jaunt through Texas and Missouri this June—an appetizer of sorts for what’s to come from their momentous anniversary year. Today, the band released a three-song EP dubbed Better Times, produced by Benson for Bismeaux Records. Benson takes the lead vocal on the title track, a hopeful original written while riding out the pandemic. Asleep at the Wheel vocalist and fiddler Katie Shore sings “All I’m Asking,” a rousing request to get back together, written by Band of Heathens’ Ed Jurdi and Gordi Quist. Meanwhile, Benson and Shore harmonize on “Columbus Stockade Blues,” a traditional tune arranged in the spirit of Willie Nelson and Shirley Collie’s 1960s version. Click here to listen or purchase Better Times, of which the Austin-American Statesman earmarked in their “On The Record” column today.
Now that Better Times is out in the world, Asleep at the Wheel will be hitting the road to celebrate—not just the EP, but the fact that they’re able to tour again—with a run of shows that will take them from Texas’s legendary Gruene Hall on May 29th, up through Texas to Columbia and St. Louis, Missouri, and back down to College Station to end the run on June 20th. A full list of tour dates can be found below and ticket information can be found online at asleepatthewheel.com/tour.
Additionally, Asleep at the Wheel fans are highly encouraged to stay tuned as the band gets further along into their 50th anniversary year—2021 has more exciting announcements in store.
Catch Asleep at the Wheel On Tour:
May 29 – Gruene Hall – Gruene, Texas
June 3 – Birdsong Amphitheater – Stephenville, Texas
June 5 – Starlight Ranch Event Center – Amarillo, Texas
June 6 – Cactus Theater – Lubbock, Texas
June 10 – Rose Music Hall – Columbia, Missouri
June 11 – Fox Theatre – St. Louis, Missouri
June 19 – Buck’s Backyard – Buda, Texas
June 20 – Brazos Valley expo – Bryan, TX
June 22 – Saxon Pub (Ray Benson solo) – Austin, TX
July 8 – The Birchmere – Alexandria, VA
July 9 – Red Wing Music Festival – Mt. Solon, VA
July 10 – Musikfest Cafe – Bethlehem, PA
July 16 – The Flying Monkey – Plymouth, NH
July 17 – Center for the Arts Natick – Natick, MA
July 20 – Center for the Arts Homer – Homer, NY
July 23 – Stone Mountain Arts Center – Brownfield, ME
July 30 – Red River Station BBQ – Saint Jo, TX
Aug. 22 – The Pub Station – Billings, MT
Aug. 25 – Edmonds Center for the Arts – Edmonds, WA
More about Asleep at the Wheel: Founded in 1970, Asleep at the Wheel has been part of the American roots music landscape for more than 50 years. Although the band got its start on a farm in Paw Paw, West Virginia, Asleep at the Wheel became a cornerstone of the Austin, Texas, scene upon its arrival in 1973. Inspired by Western swing and honky-tonk country, the band has received 10 GRAMMY® Awards, was cited by the Country Music Association as the 1976 Touring Band of the Year, and was given the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Americana Music Association. They have released 31 albums and charted more than 20 singles on the country charts.