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Paisley, Brad

Brad Paisley

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

In what seemed a meteoric rise to fame, singer, songwriter, and guitarist Brad Paisley went from obscurity to near-superstardom with the release of his debut album in 1999. In the early and middle 2000s he was a fixture on the country touring and recording scene who evolved into a consistent chart-topper. Paisley's success sprang from years of study, practice, and experience—he started young, worked very hard, and controlled every aspect of his recording career. That included his work in the studio; he was one of few mainstream contemporary artists who used his own band in recording sessions rather than relying on studio musicians.

Born on October 28, 1972, in West Virginia, Paisley was a native of Glen Dale, a town of fewer than 2,000 people. He spent his after-school time with his grandfather, Warren Jarvis, who worked the afternoon shift at the railroad. Jarvis, who also played bluegrass acoustic guitar, gave his grandson a guitar—a Sears Danelectro Silvertone, complete with an amplifier and case—at age eight. Jarvis also sent Paisley to Clarence "Hank" Goddard, a local guitar pro. In a genre where lead vocalists often have only average guitar skills, Paisley grew into a musician proficient on a variety of acoustic and electric guitars. "Yeah, I'm a nut case," he told Andy Ellis of Guitar Player. "I really love gear."

With Goddard's encouragement, Paisley learned to fret and riff like a professional musician. His earliest live performances were at his church at age nine; he wrote his first song, "Born on Christmas Day," at age 12. That year he played a radio concert on USA Jamboree Live, a popular Saturday night program broadcast on WWVA radio in Wheeling, West Virginia. The public response was so positive that the young singer-guitarist spent the next eight years as a regular on the show and sang warmups for many popular recording stars, including George Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens. It was an invaluable apprenticeship in the business as well as the traditional side of country music.

When Paisley was 13, Goddard invited him to join his own band. Goddard was also a dedicated teacher who encouraged his progress. Paisley also joined the roster of the yearly Jamboree in the Hills at age 14, and for the next for 6 years entertained about 60,000 spectators annually in the hills outside of Wheeling.

In 1991 Paisley began his college career at West Liberty State College, West Virginia, but two years later he moved to Nashville, a decision spurred in part by encouragement from a professor. There, Paisley enrolled in a music business curriculum at Belmont University. After completing college internships at the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), Atlantic Records, and Fitzgerald-Hartley Management, Paisley had a solid background and extensive experience in the music business by the time he graduated in 1995.

Paisley made many contacts during his various internships, including scouts from EMI Music Publishing. The connections proved invaluable, and within a week of graduation he had signed a songwriting deal with EMI. Eventually one of his song demos attracted the attention of singer Alan Jackson, who requested a hold on the composition, called "I'm Gonna Miss Her." Arista Records, after hearing the demo, requested a longer demo and signed Paisley to a recording contract soon afterward.

Paisley began work on his first album, Who Needs Pictures, in 1998. He had already written a large repertoire of songs, enough for several albums. Opting not to hire a studio guitarist, he played all the parts himself and used his tour band in the studio despite the group's limited recording experience. The album was under production and nearing completion when he decided to bring in a former college friend and musical collaborator, Frank Rogers, as producer. Rogers had no experience as a major record producer, but Paisley had faith in him. The debut album, Who Needs Pictures, was released on June 1, 1999.

"He Didn't Have to Be," a track from the album, lingered at the top of the Billboard country singles chart for two weeks, earning Paisley a special distinction as the only new country star to score a number one hit on that chart that year. It was written by Paisley and Kelley Lovelace, a frequent collaborator and close friend, and was inspired by the relationship between Lovelace and his stepson. The song was honored with several award nominations, including Single of the Year and Song of the Year from the Country Music Association. It won Song of the Year honors from Turner News Network and from the Country Music Television Country Weekly Music Awards. The Country Music Association recognized Paisley with a nomination for Male Vocalist of the Year. Don "Hoppy" Jeffrey of KFRG in San Bernadino, California, told Billboard that "Brad Paisley's music is blazing a path and setting the pace for country music in the new millennium." The album, an enhanced compact disc, was certified platinum in February of 2001.

On May 28, 1999, Paisley made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry. After approximately 40 appearances, Paisley was inducted as a regular cast member on February 17, 2001, at age 28. He was the youngest member of the Opry cast, and with a mix of story songs and wry novelties such as "Me Neither," he held strong appeal for traditional country fans while maintaining a guitar-heavy sound that country radio programmers found friendly.

For the Record …

Born on October 28, 1972, in Glen Dale, WV; married Kimberly Williams (an actress), 2003; children: William Huckleberry. Education: Studied guitar with Clarence "Hank" Goddard; attended West Liberty State College, West Virginia, 1991-93; earned degree in music business, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993-95.

Signed songwriting contract with EMI, 1995; signed with Arista Records, c. 1998; released debut album, Who Needs Pictures, 1999; made Grand Ole Opry debut, 1999; released Part II, 2001; inducted as a regular cast member, Grand Ole Opry, 2001; released Mud on the Tires, 2003; released Time Well Wasted, 2005; and 5th Gear, 2007.

Awards: Academy of Country Music Award, Top New Male, 1999; Country Music Association Horizon Award, 2000; Country Music Association, Vocal Event of the Year Award, for "Too Country," 2001; Nashville Songwriters Association International Songwriter of the Year, 2000-01; Connie B. Gay Award, 2002; (with Allison Krauss) Country Music Association, Music Video of the Year and Musical Event of the Year, both for "Whiskey Lullaby," 2004; (with Allison Krauss) Country Music Television, Collaborative Video of the Year award, for "Whiskey Lullaby," 2005; Country Music Association, Album of the Year, for Time Well Wasted; (with Dolly Parton) Musical Event of the Year, for "When I Get Where I'm Going," 2006; three Academy of Country Music awards, including Album of the Year, for Time Well Wasted, 2006; Country Music Association, Male Vocalist of the Year and Music Video of the Year ("Online"), 2007; Academy of Country Music, Male Vocalist of the Year, 2007.

Addresses: Record company—Arista Nashville, 1400 18th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, Web site: http://aristanashville.com. Management—Fitzgerald/Hartley Co., 1908 Wedgwood, Nashville, TN 37212. Web site—Brad Paisley Official Web site: http://www.bradpaisley.com.

Paisley has said that his albums are musical photographs, pictures of life that sometimes flow like movies. He called his 2001 follow-up album Part II, in an allusion to movie sequels. He was in fact so concerned with flow that he orchestrated the beginning of Part II to pick up the fading fiddles from the end of Who NeedsPictures. Part II rose to number three on the Billboard country albums chart by early June, and was certified platinum by August. By the end of 2002, Part II had spent more than 70 weeks on the charts.

Part II featured Paisley's award-winning track, "Too Country," written by Chuck Cannon and Bill Anderson. The song, which presented a warm, cozy image of country life: fried chicken, gravy, biscuits, and nostalgia, was named Vocal Event of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2001. Paisley opened for superstars such as Alan Jackson and Lonestar in the late 1990s and early 2000s but also appeared at a citadel of country tradition: Buck Owens's Crystal Palace Club in Bakersfield, California. He built a fan base the old-fashioned way, by appearing at festivals and fairs, including River Bend in Chattanooga, Tennessee, City Lites in Commerce, Georgia, West Virginia's Jamboree in the Hills, the New Mexico State Fair, the West Virginia Intermountain Fair, and the Georgia Mountain Fair.

Paisley's favorite instrument, according to Guitar Player, was a 1968 Fender Telecaster with a maple fret board decorated in a paisley pattern. After an endorsement deal with Gibson, he was able to add a Chet Atkins Gretsch Country Gentleman model to his collection. He acquired a variety of other vintage electric guitars, and has played them on his recordings, matching the sound of each individual guitar to particular songs.

In a Field & Stream interview, Paisley said that he loves to fish for bass and almost every other fish except trout. His 2002 hit "I'm Gonna Miss Her" (The Fishin' Song), which topped Billboard magazine's country singles chart, expressed the sentiment that fishing is more important than a relationship with any particular woman, a notion on which he elaborated in the song's associated video. Paisley has also been an enthusiastic hunter, with bow and arrow and with rifle. In 2003 Paisley married actress Kimberly Williams; the couple had a son, Huck, in 2007.

Paisley's career continued to build with his 2004 album Mud on the Tires and its 2005 successor Time Well Wasted, both of which topped country album charts and cracked Billboard's general top ten. The singer continued to specialize in light material that was sometimes described as cute, but one of the most talked about songs on Mud on the Tires was "Whiskey Lullaby," a grim tale of alcoholism and death that Paisley performed as a duet with bluegrass vocalist Allison Krauss. The two shared Vocal Event of the Year honors for the song at the 2004 Country Music Awards and also snared the Collaborative Video of the Year award from Country Music Television the following year. Another notable Paisley collaboration was "When I Get Where I'm Going," recorded with Dolly Parton.

Alcohol also served as the subject matter for a Paisley single release of that title from Time Well Wasted; the song, written by Paisley himself, was unusual in that it was written from the perspective of alcohol itself rather than of one of its users or abusers. Paisley also had a songwriting hand in another novelty: his 2007 release "Ticks" depicted a barroom pick-up scene in which Paisley invites a woman he has met to go for a drive and then a walk in the woods, telling her that "I'd like to check you for ticks." "I think it's been about the most polarizing thing I've ever done," Paisley admitted to Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly. The song gave Paisley another number one country hit.

"Ticks" came from Paisley's 2007 album 5th Gear, which topped Billboard 's country chart once again and rose to number three on the general top 200 chart. The album also spawned the number-one single "Letter to Me," Paisley's sixth consecutive country chart-topper, in 2008. By that time, Paisley had notched double 2007 Male Vocalist of the Year honors at the Country Music Association Awards (CMA) in Nashville and at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Los Angeles, and had received a host of other awards. Between 2000 and 2008 he received 33 CMA Award nominations. He has established the Brad Paisley Foundation to benefit charities such as the Children's Miracle Network, St. Jude's Research Hospital, the Opry Trust Fund, and the American Cancer Society.

Selected discography

(Contributor) Happy, Texas (soundtrack), Arista Nashville, 1999.

Who Needs Pictures, Arista, 1999.

(Contributor) Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, RCA, 2000.

Part II, Arista, 2001.

Mud on the Tires, Arista, 2003.

Time Well Wasted, Arista, 2005.

5th Gear, Arista, 2007.

Sources

Periodicals

Amusement Business, June 5, 2000, p. 6.

Billboard, April 17, 1999, p. 25.

Country Music, December 2000/January 2001, p. 72.

Entertainment Weekly, August 24, 2007, p. 27.

Field & Stream, December 2002-January 2003, p. 50.

Guitar Player, October 1999, p. 39; December 2007, p. 78.

Online

"Brad Paisley," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll (March 1, 2008).

Brad Paisley Official Web site, http:/www.bradpaisley.com (March 24, 2003).

"A Son for Brad Paisley & Kimberly Williams," People,http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20012772,00.html (March 1, 2008).

—Gloria Cooksey and James M. Manheim

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Paisley, Brad

Brad Paisley

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

For the Record…

Selected discography

Sources

In what seemed a meteoric rise to fame, singer, songwriter, and guitarist Brad Paisley went from obscurity to near-superstardom with the release of his debut album in 1999. By early 2000 he was scheduled for concerts every other day as both an opening act and as a headliner. In reality, however, this illusion belied years of study, practice, and experience—Paisley started young, worked very hard, and controlled every aspect of his recording career.

Born on October 28, 1972, in West Virginia, Paisley’s hometown of Glen Dale had a population of fewer than 2,000. He spent his after-school time with his grandfather, Warren Jarvis, who worked the afternoon shift at the railroad. Jarvis, who also played bluegrass acoustic guitar, gave his grandson a guitar—a Sears Danelectro Silvertone, complete with an amplifier and case—at age eight. Jarvis also sent Paisley to Clarence “Hank” Goddard, a local guitar pro.

With Goddard’s encouragement Paisley learned to fret and riff like a professional musician. His earliest live performances were at his church at age 9; he wrote his first song, “Born on Christmas Day,” at age 12. That year he played a radio concert on USA Jamboree Live, a popular Saturday night program broadcast on WWVA radio in Wheeling, West Virginia. The public response was so positive that the young singer-guitarist spent the next eight years as a regular on the show and sang warm-ups for many popular recording stars, including George Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens. It was an invaluable apprenticeship in the business of country music.

When Paisley was 13, Goddard invited him to join his own band. According to Paisley, he was not very good, but Goddard was a dedicated teacher who encouraged his progress. Paisley also joined the roster of the yearly Jamboree in the Hills at age 14, and for the next for six years entertained about 60,000 spectators annually in the hills outside of Wheeling.

In 1991 Paisley began his college career at West Liberty State College, West Virginia, but two years later he moved to Nashville, a decision spurred in part by encouragement from a professor. Paisley enrolled in a music business curriculum at Belmont University. After completing college internships at the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), Atlantic Records, and Fitzgerald-Hartley Management, Paisley had a solid background and extensive experience in the music business by the time he graduated in 1995.

Paisley made many contacts during his various internships, including scouts from EMI Music Publishing. The connections proved invaluable, and within a week of graduation, he had signed a songwriting deal with EMI. Eventually one of his song demos attracted the attention of singer Alan Jackson, who requested a hold on the composition, called “I’m Gonna Miss Her.” Arista

For the Record…

Born on October 28, 1972, in Glen Dale, WV. Education: Studied guitar with Clarence “Hank” Goddard; attended West Liberty State College, West Virginia, 1991-93; degree in music business, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993-95.

Played on WWVA’s Jamboree USA while still a teenager, 1980s; intern for ASCAP, Atlantic Records, and Fitzgerald-Hartley Management; signed songwriting contract with EMI, 1995; signed with Arista Records, c. 1998; released debut album, made Grand Ole Opry debut, 1999; inducted as a regular cast member, Grand Ole Opry, 2001; has appeared at international festivals in England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and Japan.

Awards: Academy of Country Music Award, Top New Male, 1999; Turner News Network and Country Music Television Country Weekly Music Awards, Song of the Year, Video of the Year, Discovery Award for “He Didn’t Have to Be,” 1999; Country Music Association Horizon Award, 2000; Country Music Association Hori zon of the Year Award for “Too Country,” 2001; Nashville Songwriters Association International Songwriter of the Year, 2000-01; Country Music Association Connie B. Gay Award, 2002.

Member: American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP).

Addresses: Record company—Arista Nashville, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, http://www.rcalabelgroup.com. Management—JAG Management, Jimmy Gilmer, 41 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203, phone: (615) 726-3230. Publicist— Alien Brown, RCA Label Group, 1400 18th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212-2809, phone: (615) 301-4300. Website—Brad Paisley Official Website: http://www.bradpaisley.com.

Records, after hearing the demo, requested a longer demo and signed Paisley to a recording contract soon afterward.

Paisley began work on his first album, Who Needs Pictures, in 1998. He had already written a large repertoire of songs—enough for several albums. Opting not to hire a studio guitarist, he played all the parts himself and used his tour band in the studio despite the group’s limited recording experience. The album was under production and nearing completion when he decided to bring in a former college schoolmate, Frank Rogers, as producer. Rogers, a friend and musical collaborator of Paisley’s, had no experience as a major record producer, but Paisley had faith. The debut album was released on June 1, 1999.

“He Didn’t Have to Be,” a track from the album, lingered at the top of the Billboard country singles chart for two weeks, earning Paisley a special distinction as the only new country star to score a number-one hit on that chart that year. It was written by Paisley and Kelley Lovelace, a frequent collaborator and close friend, and was inspired by the relationship between Lovelace and his stepson. The song was honored with several award nominations, including Single of the Year and Song of the Year from the Country Music Association. The track won Song of the Year honors from Turner News Network and the Country Music Television Country Weekly Music Awards, which also gave it a nod in the running for Single of the Year. The Country Music Association recognized Paisley with a nomination for Male Vocalist of the Year. In other reviews, Don “Hoppy” Jeffrey of KFRG in San Bernadino, California, told Billboard that “Brad Paisley’s music is blazing a path and setting the pace for country music in the new millennium.” The album, an enhanced compact disc, was certified platinum in February of 2001.

On May 28, 1999, Paisley made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry. After approximately 40 appearances, Paisley was inducted as a regular cast member on February 17, 2001, at age 28, the youngest member of the Opry.

Paisley says his albums are musical photographs, pictures of life that sometimes flow like movies. He called his 2001 follow-up album Part II, in an allusion to movie sequels. He was in fact so concerned with flow that he orchestrated the beginning of Part II to pick up the fading fiddles from the end of Who Needs Pictures. Released on May 28, Part II had risen to number three on the Billboard country albums chart by June 6 and was certified platinum by August. By the end of 2002 Part II had spent more than 70 weeks on the charts.

Part II features Paisley’s award-winning track, “Too Country,” written by Chuck Cannon and Bill Anderson. The song, which presents a warm, cozy image of country life: fried chicken, gravy, biscuits, and nostalgia, was named Vocal Event of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2001.

Although he prefers midsize venues, Paisley nonetheless opens for superstars such as Alan Jackson and Lonestar. In 1999 Buck Owens invited him to appear at his nightclub the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California, and in 2000 Paisley appeared at a number of festivals and fairs, including River Bend in Chattanooga, City Lites in Commerce, Georgia, West Virginia’s Jamboree in the Hills, the New Mexico State Fair, the West Virginia Intermountain Fair, and the Georgia Mountain Fair.

Paisley’s favorite instrument, according to Guitar Player, is a 1968 Fender Telecaster with a maple fret board decorated in a paisley pattern. After an endorsement deal with Gibson, he was able to add a Chet Atkins Gretsch Country Gentleman model to his collection. Paisley is all pro; he uses a Vox AC30 topboost, and meticulously adjusts even the voltage input before he plays. The license plates on his pickup truck read GTR-PLR.

In a Field & Stream interview, Paisley confided that he loves to fish for bass, and almost every other fish except trout. Furthermore, his “I’m Gonna Miss Her” (The Fishing Song) expresses the sentiment that fishing is more important than a relationship with any particular woman, a notion upon which he elaborates in the song’s video. He also loves to hunt, with both with bow and arrows and with rifle.

In 2000 Paisley secured a sponsorship deal with USA Meats not only for his own live concerts, but also for the Brad Paisley Foundation to benefit the Miracle Network, Network, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, the Opry Trust Fund, and the American Cancer Society.

Selected discography

(Contributor) Happy, Texas (soundtrack), Arista Nashville, 1999.

Who Needs Pictures, Arista, 1999.

(Contributor) Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, RCA, 2000.

Part II, Arista, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Amusement Business, June 5, 2000, p. 6.

Billboard, April 17, 1999, p. 25.

Country Music, December 2000/January 2001, p. 72.

Field & Stream, December 2002-January 2003, p. 50.

Guitar Player, October 1999, p. 39.

Online

“Brad Paisley,” All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll (February 11, 2003).

Brad Paisley Official Website, http://www.bradpaisley.com (March 24, 2003).

Gloria Cooksey

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Paisley, Brad

BRAD PAISLEY

Born: Glen Dale, West Virginia, 28 October 1972

Genre: Country

Best-selling album since 1990: Part II (2001)

Hit songs since 1990: "He Didn't Have to Be," "Me Neither"


With his easygoing manner and all-American good looks, Brad Paisley represents the new breed of gentle country singer popular in the 1990s and 2000s. Like his contemporaries Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney, Paisley comes across as loyal and steadfasta sharp contrast to the hard-drinking, hell-raising country singers of the 1960s and 1970s. What saves Paisley from becoming another "hat act"a sardonic term for country artists whose appeal derives from tight jeans and a cowboy hatis his sensitive songwriting. On self-penned hits such as "He Didn't Have to Be" Paisley captures an honesty and directness that set him apart from other young performers. His songs of fatherhood and matrimonial loyalty are well conveyed by his attractive, if modest, voice and adept guitar playing.

Raised in the small West Virginia town of Glen Dale, Paisley received his first guitar, a present from his grandfather, at age eight. By his early teens he was performing regularly on "Jamboree USA," a weekly country radio program on WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia. The experience led to steady work as an opening act for legendary country performers such as George Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens. While studying music administration at Nashville's Belmont University, Paisley secured a songwriting deal with EMI, a major music publishing company, and began issuing demo recordings of his own work. In 1999 he signed with Arista Records and released his debut, Who Needs Pictures, an assured album that provides a good indication of the range of his talents.

Comprised mostly of his own songs, Who Needs Pictures sports a well-rounded selection of material and styles. On the opening track, "Long Sermon," Paisley demonstrates his engaging, homespun sense of humor: "There ain't nothin' that'll test your faith / Like a long sermon on a pretty Sunday." Other songs, such as "It Never Woulda Worked Out Anyway," recall the up-tempo "western swing" sound popularized in the 1990s by country star George Strait. The lighthearted "Sleepin' on the Foldout" tells the story of a man forced by his wife to spend a night on the porch. For tough country singers of the past such as Jones, this punishment might have been the result of drinking, gambling, or philandering. In Paisley's case, the worst thing he has done is to clean fish instead of visiting his wife's family. More henpecked than devilish, Paisley imbues modern country music with a refreshing dose of sweetness. Perhaps the album's finest moment is the hit "He Didn't Have to Be," in which Paisley's character moves from reminiscing fondly about his stepfather to thinking about his own fatherhood: "I hope I'm at least half the dad / That he didn't have to be." The song, sentimental but never cloying, points to Paisley's talent for expressing small details that speak to the broader passages of everyday life.

Now a bona fide country star, Paisley released his follow-up album, Part II, in 2001. On the whole Part II is as strong as its predecessor, although on certain tracks Paisley's emphasis on lyrical cuteness begins to sound hokey. On "Two People Fell in Love," for instance, he gets bogged down in trite details: "Right now at a picnic shelter down by Cain Creek / You'll find potato salad, hot dogs, and baked beans." On the other hand, the title track is one of his strongest efforts, a well-arranged ballad with a memorable theme built around sequels to popular Hollywood movies: "Why can't love be more like that / Where the best ones get a second chance." Paisley's voice has developed nicely, his lower range sounding deeper and more assured than on his debut. Like "The Nervous Breakdown" on his first album, Part II features an instrumental track, "Munster Rag," that showcases his nimble guitar playing. On this track, as well as "Too Country," a group performance with country legends Jones, Bill Anderson, and Buck Owens, Paisley proves that his youthful approach is balanced by a respect for the traditions of the past.

In contrast with country stars of previous generations, Brad Paisley avoids themes of heartbreak and loss, detailing instead with the joys and small disappointments of day-to-day life. At his best, Paisley evinces an honesty and sweetness that wrap his recordings with an appealing layer of humanity. If his music sometimes seems overly cheerful it is most likely because, as one of the most successful young performers in country music, Paisley has very little to complain about.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Who Needs Pictures (Arista, 1999); Part II (Arista, 2001).

WEBSITE:

www.bradpaisley.com.

david freeland

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