In 2004, pop singer-songwriter Michelle Branch put her solo career on hold to form a country duo with then-backup-singer-and-best-friend Jessica Harp. The pair began to write music together and made their debut performance as The Wreckers on One Tree Hill. They joined the month-long One Tree Hill tour before their first album together was even released. In 2006, they exploded on to the country scene with their gold album “Stand Still, Look Pretty.” The two singers with perfect harmony and pretty lyrics quickly found their way up the charts with a song they didn’t even write: “Leave The Pieces.” Still one of my favorite songs, the first single introduced Jessica Harp to the music world, and Michelle Branch to country.
The girls were one of my favorite duos. I quickly went out and bought their CD, and played it to death in 2006. I was sure that they were going to have a good career in country music as a duo, and I still feel they were at their creative best with each other instead of their later solo efforts. The best friends merged Branch’s pop-rock background with Harp’s country background to create “Stand Still, Look Pretty”. Their name came from Branch’s husband, Teddy Landau, who nicknamed the girls the “Cass County Homewreckers.” They were signed to Maverick Records, and were on their way to take over the industry.
In 2005, the girls recorded a duet with Santana. “I’m Feeling You” was credited as Santana with Michelle Branch and the Wreckers, however, it was both of the girls in the video and performances.
Although everyone on our staff loves country music, we have different tastes and don’t always agree. For this reason, we didn’t compile a comprehensive list of our favorite collective country albums of the past year. Instead, some of our staff picked their individual faves. Make sure to let us know your faves of 2013!
Cassadee Pope – Frame By Frame: I am admittedly one of those music lovers who listens to an album the first time and is simply incapable of forming an opinion. No matter how much I love the artist, I sit there with a blank stare after the first spin. So, in all fairness to the artist, I listen again. That was my experience with Frame By Frame. I listened the first time, and the true stand outs to me were, the already loved, “Wasting All These Tears,” “Easier to Lie,” “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart,” and “11.” And for me to find four songs I like in the first spin is pretty impressive. In subsequent attempts to listen to Frame By Frame, I have found myself loving every track and even using Cassadee’s debut country album to accompany me during long, tedious runs to help the time go by. Each track exemplifies Cassadee’s gorgeous vocals, versatility, and incredible range. Give it a whirl … you will be begging for more from this CRS New Face!
If you’ve ever attended a Kelly Clarkson concert, there’s a good chance you’ve already been introduced to Nashville-based pop/acoustic/a-little-bit-country/folk duo, JillandKate. Since 2007, the pair of Jill Pickering and Kate Rapier have lent their voices to Clarkson’s live shows as background vocalists. However, these two extend way beyond the background and have already released one EP and 3 full length albums, including September’s Heart of Stone.
JillandKate took some time out of their busy schedule to chat with Keepin’ It Country about the Wreckers, embarrassing on-stage moments, boys in skinny jeans and some of their favorite things. Read on for more!
Renowned music producer Josh Leo is celebrating twenty-three number one singles this week. He’s personally written six number one singles, and has contributed to multiple gold and platinum selling albums and singles throughout his career – including for The Eagles’ Timothy B. Schmit. He was even the one responsible for the discovery of country superstar Martina McBride.
His latest number one is with RCA Nashville duo Love and Theft. He produced their new album and their number one single “Angel Eyes.” He’s pretty excited about the duo, and shares:
“Love and Theft is a TRUE duo!! Two great singers, songwriters and performers that equally carry the weight! I’m very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work with such talented REAL people!”
Eric Gunderson and Eric Barker Liles were just as excited to be working with Josh:
“Josh Leo is the man! He is a legend and it has been such a pleasure to work with him. We are so honored to be a part of his 23rd #1 song. We look forward to making music with Josh for years to come!” says Eric Gunderson.
“Josh Leo!!!! Our other dad!!! I couldn’t be more happy for him to land his 23rd #1 record. We are honored to work with him and blessed to call him our friend. Congrats Josh!” comments Stephen Barker Liles.
Love & Theft’s single isn’t the only thing Josh is celebrating this week. He also produced Broken Bow Records’ artist Dustin Lynch‘s single “Cowboys & Angels.” Dustin’s single is currently number twelve before his self-titled debut album hits stores next week. Josh co-wrote Dustin’s single with Tim Nichols and Dustin himself.
Along with working as a producer on 23 number one singles, Josh has been the session guitarist for over 150 songs in his career. He also has a pretty impressive songwriting credits over his career: including six number one singles, including Alabama‘s “Down Home” and “Hometown Honeymoon,” Restless Heart’s huge A/C smash “Tell Me What You Dream,” and has had his songs recorded by Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, The Wreckers, Reba McEntire, Brenda Lee, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Rogers, and many, many more.
Last night was a pretty big night at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Kelly Clarkson was in town to perform to a sold out crowd for her Stronger Tour, and as a surprise she brought along some of her celebrity pals to sing with her.
Blake Shelton happened to be in town last night to film last night’s live episode of The Voice, so making an appearance at Kelly’s show worked out perfectly. Kelly and Blake have been good friends for a while now, as they are both managed by Starstruck Entertainment in Nashville, TN.
Kelly brought Blake Shelton out on stage to perform with her for “Don’t You Wanna Stay”, the smash hit she sings with Jason Aldean. She introduced Blake with ”I LOVE him! He is so freakin’ awesome. I love his music, I love him as a person, I love how he messes with people all the time….He is a phenomenal country singer.” You can tell they have a real genuine friendship just by watching them perform together on stage.
At this point in the show, Kelly had brought out two special guests before Blake, Tamyra Gray (who was on American Idol Season One with Kelly) in which they sang the Whitney Houston song “When You Believe,” and pop singer Michelle Branch, who in addition to having her own pop solo career, was in the country duo “The Wreckers” with Jessica Harp. Back in February of 2008, The Wreckers announced they were splitting up the group to focus on their solo careers.
This isn’t the first time Kelly has sung with Michelle, as she made an appearance at The Wreckers’s show at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, TX back in 2007 to perform “Leave The Pieces” with them. This time her and Michelle performed “Leave The Pieces” again.
Last but certainly not least, as if the audience even thought the show could get any better, Kelly brings out Reba to sing “Because of You” with her, which was the fourth single off of Kelly’s “Breakaway” album in 2005. The song was later released in 2007 as a duet with Reba McEntire and featured on her CD “Reba: Duets.” Kelly wrote the song when she was 16 about her parent’s divorce, which happened when she was only 6.
Kelly just last weekend won two ACM awards with Jason Aldean for “Don’t You Wanna Stay” and in her acceptance speech, she thanked country music for accepting her in from the pop world. Country loves Kelly, and we’d certainly love to see her do a lot more in the country world in the future. What do you think?
This week’s music video is The Wreckers‘ number one hit single, “Leave The Pieces.” I have always been a big Michelle Branch fan so when she formed The Wreckers with Jessica Harp back in 2005, I was excited to check out their music. Their album Stand Still, Look Pretty is still one of my favorite country albums, and is comprised of some really great music. The girls returned to their solo careers after just one record, but the duo is still one of my favorite country groups and I hope to hear more country music from Branch and Harp in the future. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Branch’s new mainstream album that is slated to drop this year.
Continue reading to check out our live performance and cover song video picks…
Jessica Harp, formerly one half of my favorite country music duo The Wreckers, has officially been released from Warner Brothers as a recording artist. After the duo announced their split in 2007, both Jessica and Michelle Branch went to work on solo albums for the label. She married the fiddle player from the Wreckers in 2008. Jessica was finally able to release her “A Woman Needs” in March 2010 after struggling to get it out. When it was released digitally, she announced she was going to pursue being a songwriter instead of an artist from that day forward. The last recording she made was with Blake Shelton on an iTunes bonus track on his “Red River Blue” album called “Addicted,” a cover of a Dan Seals track.
She announced on Twitter earlier this week that she was no longer signed with the label and is now “free.” She will be making music again, even if she isn’t signed to a label.
@jessicaharp: It’s official. After years of my love of my job being strangled out of me, I’m moving on. Adios Warner Music Nash, thanks for freeing me!
@jessicaharp: I can tell you that whether I’m signed somewhere new or ride indie style, I WILL make music again! Thanks guys for your continued love!
Jessica was nominated for a Grammy award as a duo for “Best Country Performance By A Group Or Duo With Vocal” as The Wreckers for “Leave The Pieces.” She was the highest charting female country artist in 2009. Her debut single from her solo album, “Boy Like Me,” had sold over 100,000 digital copies before her album was pushed back. As The Wreckers, her and Michelle were nominated for a 2007 Country Music Association Award for vocal duo of the year. They were the 2007 Music Row Award winner for Major Label Breakout Artist Of The Year, and the 2007 R&R Readers’ Poll winners for the Best New Performer.
I hope she finds a new home soon. She’s way too talented of an artist to go unsigned. Her album “A Woman Needs” is still available on Amazon, and even features Vince Gill on backing vocals on “Homemade Love.” It’s a great purchase and a solid country album by the singer-songwriter. Good luck, Jessica!
Country music is finding its way into the sports world lately. A few weeks after Dierks Bentley performed at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Jason Aldean has been added to the MLB All-Star week celebrations.
Aldean will be holding a special on-field performance before the State Farm Home Run Derby on July 11th at 8 pm EST. He’ll also be part of the Taco Bell Legends and Celebrity Softball game on Sunday, July 10th. The softball game will be broadcast immediately after the home run derby on ESPN.
Michelle Branch, formerly of the Wreckers, will be performing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch.