Last year, Bon Jovi became the first rock band to reach Number One on Billboard's Country Singles chart. As VOA's Mary Morningstar tells us, Bon Jovi continues to explore its Nashville influences on the new album, Lost Highway.

Bon Jovi's latest album, Lost Highway, is not a Country record, but it was inspired by Nashville's creative community. The band collaborated with some of Music City's top songwriters, including Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson. Dann Huff, a Nashville hitmaker for Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban, co-produced the album.

Lead singer Jon Bon Jovi says he shares a common bond with Country music's storytellers, which made Lost Highway's sound a natural progression for his band.

"I think it's about life, love, loss and freedom," Bon Jovi says. "At this point in your career, you're trying to grow as artists without losing who it is that you are. We were influenced greatly over the years by the whole Nashville scene, and having had such a big hit last year with that last song, 'Who Says You Can't Go Home.' But, it wasn't that different from us. It was just us being us with a little twang."

"Who Says You Can't Go Home," featuring Sugarland's lead singer Jennifer Nettles, spent two weeks at the top of the Country chart last year. The duet, which was included on Bon Jovi's Have A Nice Day album, earned them three major awards, including a Best Collaboration Grammy.

Guitarist Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi are confident that the group's new artistic direction will still appeal to their long-time fans.

"You know, I think it sounds like us," says Sambora. "It's just really good songs, well-crafted songs, and I think people just (like) the songs. Not too far away from what we do."

"It's 'music without prejudice' as (male country duo) Big And Rich say," adds Bon Jovi. "You know, music without prejudice, and I think that really hits it on the head. Don't judge a book by its cover."

Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora wrote and recorded "We Got It Going On" with Big and Rich. It's being used as the theme song for the American Arena Football (indoor) League. Jon has a personal interest in the league. He co-owns its Pennsylvania team, Philadelphia Soul. Lost Highway also includes a duet with Country star LeAnn Rimes.

Bon Jovi's 2007 plans include an acoustic performance on the revised MTV Unplugged series and a 10-night engagement at a New Jersey arena in October and November. The band will open a world tour in January 2008.

The first single from Lost Highway is the track, "(You Want To) Make A Memory."