Monday, November 26, 2007

Jewel, Jessica Simpson and Beyonce Go Country

All three of these talented and incredibly beautiful women are working on country albums. I don't think anyone would have ever imagined country music being the music of choice for these ladies but now that it is selling as good or better than any other genre of music, here they come to Nashville and country music.

Am I glad to see these newcomers? I don't know and I'm not sure I will know until I hear what they sound like. I just hope they are doing this for a love of the art and of the music and not just another way to make money.

Ladies, welcome and welcome back to Nashville....make us proud and don't try to make light of our music and our city. This is a great and proud area so just do us right.

Now let me refer you to a letter from Beverly Keel to Jessica Simpson, just to reiterate my point. She says it so much better than I do.

Dear Jessica Simpson,

Word of your desire to make a country album has become a frequent topic of conversation here.

First of all, let me welcome you to Nashville. I encourage you to spend some time immersed in our wonderful creative community.

There's nowhere else like it on earth.

As you embark on the next chapter of your young life, I encourage everybody to begin with a blank slate and no preconceived notions when they first meet you.

Few people can truly understand what it's been like for you to be constantly hunted by the paparazzi, and I'm sure more than a few erroneous stories have been repeated in the press. Few of us here actually know you, so we should begin by giving you the benefit of the doubt.

You are a lovely woman with a fine voice. My hope is that now you will focus on your artistry and work on developing an authentic, honest musical style. After your very public heartaches and disappointments, I'm sure you've got something to say.

Pair up with a few of our tunesmiths and pour those feelings into your songwriting. You'll get much more respect than if you quickly make an album of radio-friendly pop-country tunes. It's time to get serious, leave the L.A. flash behind and let your substance show through. Enough with using "dumb blonde" stereotypes as a marketing tool.

We take our country music and its heritage very seriously around here. I didn't take kindly to your lack of preparation for the Dolly Parton tribute at the Kennedy Center Honors. I found it unprofessional and disrespectful and was bothered that you wasted a spot that had been denied to many worthy country singers.

Given the wide exposure of that debacle, I'm sure you've learned your lesson. You're certainly not the first performer to make a mistake onstage.

It's time for all of us to move forward. If you treat us seriously, we'll try to do the same.

Be sure to visit the Tennessean and read Beverly Keel's column.

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