Multi-Platinum country music artist and East Texas native, Clay Walker, rocked the country scene in 1993 with his debut album that included the smash hit “What’s it to you.” He continued to make a splash, releasing a string of number one hits including “If I Could Make a Living,” “This Woman and This Man” and “Rumor Has It.” In 1996 he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis but Clay did not let that set him back. He has continued touring and recording steadily since the diagnosis and is well known for his high-energy concerts and performance style. He later founded the Band against MS Foundation after realizing the impact the disease has on others. Since its formation in 2003, Clay has helped Band against MS raise upwards of $5,000,000 through charity performances, golf tournaments, bike rides, auctions, etc. Clay has had 4 RIAA Platinum albums, 2 Certified Gold albums, and 11 #1 singles to date. After “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” reached top 5 on the radio, Clay began working on new music with a fresh sound. He recently released his single “Right Now” to The Highway on Sirius XM this past fall, teasing an impending album release. The full album is expected to debut later this year.
John Michael Montgomery
John Michael Montgomery has turned an uncanny ability to relate to fans into one of country music’s most storied careers. Behind the string of hit records, the roomful of awards and the critical and fan accolades that have defined his phenomenal success lies a connection that goes beyond his undeniable talent and his proven knack for picking hits. Since the days when “Life’s A Dance” turned him from an unknown artist into a national star, John Michael’s rich baritone has carried that most important of assets–believability. Few artists in any genre sing with more heart than this handsome Kentucky-born artist.
It is readily apparent in love songs that have helped set the standard for a generation. Songs like “I Swear,” “I Love the Way You Love Me” and “I Can Love You Like That” still resonate across the landscape–pop icon and country newcomer Jessica Simpson cited “I Love the Way You Love Me” as an influence in a recent interview. It is apparent in the 2004 hit “Letters from Home,” one of the most moving tributes to the connection between soldiers and their families ever recorded, and in “The Little Girl,” a tale of redemption that plumbs both the harrowing and the uplifting. It is apparent even in the pure fun that has always found its way into John Michael’s repertoire-songs like “Be My Baby Tonight” and “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident),” where John Michael’s vocal earnestness takes musical whimsy to another level.
Now, with the release of Time Flies, which he co-produced with Byron Gallimore, John Michael takes another big step forward, strengthening his position as one of the most versatile and compelling vocalists on the country scene. With songs like “Forever” and “If You Ever Went Away,” he proves he is still the master of the power ballad, a man capable of bringing honest emotion to life in song. He brings his ever-present sense of humor to bear on “With My Shirt On” and “Mad Cowboy Disease,” songs with wickedly skewed sensibilities. With songs like “Drunkard’s Prayer” and “All in a Day” he explores two dramatic facets of human existence, and with “Brothers Till the End,” John Michael celebrates the family background that led both him and his brother Eddie, of Montgomery Gentry, from a small-time family band to the top of the charts. The emotional centerpiece for John Michael is “All in a Day,” the song that contains the lyric that gave the album its name.
“That song talks about how time flies,” he says, “and I got to think that it seems like yesterday that ‘Life’s A Dance’ was out and people were asking me, ‘Where would you like to be in 10 or 15 years?’ ‘Still here!’ was my answer and, thankfully, I am still here. Longevity was more important to me than anything else, and to still be able to do something I love so much is wonderful. Still, it’s gone by so quickly that I thought, ‘I’m going to build an album around that.’ That’s where the shape of this album comes from.”
Each song, he says, reminds him of an era in his life and an artist or style of music. “What Did I Do” is reminiscent of “the gritty Hank Jr. stuff we played in our honkytonk days,” while “Loving and Letting Go” “reminds me a bit of Lionel Ritchie and the Eagles, artists that helped mold me into the artist I am today.” Beyond that, he maintains, he selected material the way he always has.