A current crop of promising newcomers to Country music, is all hoping to secure a spot alongside Nashville's veteran superstars. VOA's Mary Morningstar introduces us to five young talents, whose debut singles have brought them one step closer to their achieving their dreams.
Although Jill King grew up in Alabama, she's gaining recognition with a song that mentions another southern state. One Mississippi is the first single released from Jill's debut album, Jillbilly. She wrote three tracks for the collection, and after listening to nearly 3,000 songs composed by other songwriters, Jill chose eight more that she felt best represented her traditional Country roots.
Newcomer Jimmy Wayne, 30, was born in North Carolina, where he grew up listening to everything from Country to pop and Motown. His father abandoned his family when Jimmy was just a toddler. During his early teens, Jimmy went into a foster child program, while his mother spent time in jail. He credits his foster parents with encouraging him to pursue his dream of a career in music. A few years after graduating from high school, he moved to Nashville. It didn't take long for Jimmy to secure a songwriting deal with Acuff-Rose, one of the city's most-famous music publishing companies. Last year, DreamWorks Records offered Jimmy publishing and recording contracts. The label will release Jimmy Wayne's debut album in July.
Renee McCrary chose the familiar pop hit Angel, for her debut into Country music. She was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, a city known for its rich musical heritage. Renee majored in vocal performance at the University of New Orleans, and sang with the city's symphony and opera company. Just as her music career was taking off in 1999, Renee was involved in a life-threatening automobile accident. Seven surgeries and two-and-half-years of physical therapy gave her the ability to walk again. Last year, she launched her recording career with a rock album, but has now decided her voice is better suited for Country music. Renee McCrary is currently in the studio working on her next CD, which will include her Country version of Sarah McLachlin's Angel.
The fastest-rising debut single on the current Country charts is The Love Song by Mississippi native Jeff Bates. Jeff co-wrote the track, which tells the emotional story of a young man's journey through life. His parents introduced him to the music of Country legends Webb Pierce, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and others. But, Jeff says it was Elvis Presley's music that went straight to his soul. Jeff was discovered by a talent scout in 1993. At that time, he was working day-jobs as a carpenter and welder, and playing in his band, Southern Storm, at night. Jeff moved to Nashville in 1997, and spent the next three years as a writer for Warner-Chappell Publishing. Last year, he auditioned for RCA Records executives, who immediately signed him to the label. Jeff Bates' debut album, Rainbow Man, will hit record stores on June 3.
Like Jeff Bates, newcomer Amy Dalley traveled a long road to Nashville. She began writing songs during her childhood years, and after spending two years in college, Amy dropped out of school to perform in a musical revue at Dolly Parton's theme park, Dollywood. Frequent trips to Nashville to sing at open-mike nights convinced her to relocate to Music City, where she formed her own band, called The Gypsy Hillbillies. Later, Amy found more stable work as a songwriter. Martina McBride and Joanna Janet are among the artists who have recorded her songs. While Amy awaits the release of her first album for Curb Records, she's out on tour with Country star Toby Keith.