Debut Spot Archive Q&A

Debut Spot Archive Q&A

When They Were New …

CMA Close Up’s Debut Artist Spotlight Introduced the Country Stars of Tomorrow

For many years, the Debut Artist Spotlight section of CMA Close Up has been a significant springboard for new Country artists as they prepare to release their first albums. Since 2004, Debut Spotlight has also featured a playful Q-and-A section, in which these up-and-comers get to dish a little about themselves and maybe poke a little fun at the same time.

Beginning today, we’ll be posting some selected answers to these questions here, along with the issues of CMA Close Up in which these profiles were published. You’ll recognize most if not all of the names, though when they appeared in Debut Spotlight each was just at the beginning of his or her journey.

We’ll begin with a question that prompted wide, varied and revealing responses:

What CD is in your stereo?

Katie Armiger: “Dierks Bentley’s Long Trip Alone.” (Aug/Sept 2007)

Zac Brown:Gossip in the Grain, by Ray LaMontagne.” (Feb/March 2009)

Sarah Buxton: “I’ve really been into Steely Dan lately. I’ve been listening to the whole catalog, starting with their last release and working my way up to the first. Right now I’m listening to Can’t Buy a Thrill.’ (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Craig Campbell: “Mine … shhh.” (April/May 2011)

Eric Church:The Black Keys.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Easton Corbin: “Keith Whitley and Merle Haggard.” (Feb/March 2010)

Sarah Darling:Call Me Crazy, by Lee Ann Womack.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Colt Ford: Montgomery Gentry’s Back When I Knew It All.” (April/May 2009)

Todd Fritsch:Mel Street’s Greatest Hits.” (April/May 2006)

Brantley Gilbert: “Slipknot.” (April/May 2010)

Gloriana’s Mike Gossin: “The Beatles – every album they did.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Randy Houser: “Hank Jr.” (Oct/Nov 2008)

Shooter Jennings: “On my bus I’ve been cranking a Steve Young collection called Lonesome, On’ry and Mean.” (Oct/Nov 2005)

Joey + Rory: “Bradley Walker’s Highway of Dreams.” (April/May 2009)

Jamey Johnson: “The CD player in my truck doesn’t work, but if it did, I would probably be playing Waylon Jennings’ Dreaming My Dreams.” (Feb/March 2006)

Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood: “Carrie Underwood’s Carnival Ride.” (April/May 2008)

Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley: “Miranda Lambert’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” (April/May 2008)

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott: “John Mayer’s Continuum.” (April/May 2008)

LiveWire’s Bobby DeGonia: “George Strait.” (Feb/March 2013)

Love and Theft’s Eric Gunderson:Only by the Night, by Kings of Leon.” (April/May 2009)

Love and Theft’s Stephen Barker Liles:Raising Sand, by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.” (April/May 2009)

Lori McKenna: “Tim McGraw’s Let It Go.” (June/July 2007)

Danielle Peck:Tammy Wynette’s Greatest Hits.” (April/May 2006)

The Roys’ Elaine Roy:Good Time, by Alan Jackson.” (Feb/March 2009)

The Roys’ Lee Roy: “Me too.” (Feb/March 2009)

Crystal Shawanda: “A mix CD of Dwight Yoakam and Fergie.” (Aug/Sept 2008)

Taylor Swift: “Little Big Town’s The Road to Here, the new Corrine Bailey Rae CD, Tim McGraw’s CDs Live Like You Were Dying and Set This Circus Down.” (Oct/Nov 2006)

Josh Thompson:Satisfied, by Ashley Monroe.”

Trent Tomlinson: “Waylon Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes.” (April/May 2006)

Carrie Underwood: “The new Foo Fighters album, In Your Honor.” (June/July 2005)

Chris Young: “Daryle Singletary’s That’s Why I Sing This Way.” (Oct/Nov 2006)

What book is on your nightstand?

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr:Ava’s Man, by Rick Bradd.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Wade Bowen: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield..” (April/May 2012)

Sarah Buxton:The Devil and Mrs. Primm, by Paul Coehlo.” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Jason Michael Carroll: Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith.” (Feb/March 2007)

Eric Church: “The Bible.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Bucky Covington: “The Bible.” (April/May 2007)

Sarah Darling: “The Bible and a Paula Deen cookbook.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Whitney Duncan: “The Holy Bible.” (April/May 2009)

Justin Townes Earle:Suttree, by Cormac McCarthy.” (April/May 2008)

Todd Fritsch: “The Bible.” (April/May 2006)

Danny Gokey: Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, by Immaculee Ilibagiza.” (June/July 2010)

Walker Hayes: “A notebook, for ideas that come in the middle of the night.” (April/May 2011)

Casey James: Republic Commando: True Colors. Yes, I still read Star Wars books.” (April/May 2012)

Joey + Rory: Starting Your Marriage Right, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. We’ve been married six years and have read it a few times. We think we’re still on our honeymoon.” (April/May 2009)

Jana Kramer: Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.” (Feb/March 2012)

LiveWire’s Landon Rolfe: “A small book of quotes from the Dalai Lama.” (Feb/March 2013)

Love and Theft’s Eric Gunderson:50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know, by Ben Dupré.”

Dustin Lynch:Persistent Dreamer.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Joey Martin (later with Joey + Rory):The Living Bible and This Country Life by Samuel Ogden. I grew up on a small farm raising sheep, geese and horses and love living in the country and all it has to offer.”  (April/May 2006)

Scotty McCreery: “The Bible.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Lori McKenna:The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.” (June/July 2007)

Kacey Musgraves: “Steve Earle’s I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.” (Feb/March 2013)

Jason Owen: “The Bible.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

The Roys’ Elaine Roy:The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch.” (Feb/March 2009)

The Roys’ Lee Roy:A Pirate Looks at 50, by Jimmy Buffett.” (Feb/March 2009)

Paul Sikes: “Bold assumption that I have a nightstand. I don’t.” (Feb/March 2013)

Carrie Underwood: “The Bible.” (June/July 2005)

Chuck Wicks: “The Bible and Us magazine.” (Feb/March 2008)

What song would you love to cover?

Lee Brice: “‘Help Me Make It through the Night.’” (June/July 2007)

Luke Bryan: “‘Single Thing in My Mind,’ by Conway Twitty.” (April/May 2007)

Sarah Buxton: “I’d love to add Steely Dan’s ‘Fire in the Hole’ when I start touring with a full band later this year. It’s got the best steel solo I’ve ever heard.” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Bucky Covington: “Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds.’ That’s the song that got me listening to Elvis.” (April/May 2007)

Whitney Duncan: “‘Authority Song,’ by John Mellencamp.” (April/May 2009)

Hunter Hayes: “‘Another Way to Die,’ the James Bond theme by Jack White and Alicia Keys.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Walker Hayes: “ Mr. Tanner,’ by Harry Chapin.” (April/May 2011)

Shooter Jennings: “‘Stranger in a Strange Land,’ by Leon Russell.” (Oct/Nov 2005)

Jana Kramer: “‘Strawberry Wine,’ by Matraca Berg.” (Feb/March 2012)

Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood: “‘Jump,’ by Van Halen.” (April/May 2008)

Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley: “‘Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car,’ by Billy Ocean. (April/May 2008)

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott: “‘Hard to Handle,” by The Black Crowes.” (April/May 2008)

Aaron Lewis: “Man, I think I’ve covered them all.” (Aug/Sept 2011)

Love and Theft’s Stephen Barker Liles: “‘Stubborn,’ by Lee Ann Womack.” (April/May 2009)

Dustin Lynch: “‘Stellar,’ by Incubus.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Scotty McCreery: “‘Our Song,’ by Taylor Swift. It has a good little feel to it.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Ashley Monroe: “‘I Will Survive’ (ha-ha).”

Randy Montana: “‘Heartache,’ by Jamey Johnson – love that song!” (Aug/Sept 2011)

Kip Moore: “‘Shelter from the Storm,’ by Bob Dylan.” (April/May 2012)

Jason Owen: “‘Easy,’ by The Commodores.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Danielle Peck: “ I’ll Stand By You,’ written by Chrissie Hynde, performed by The Pretenders.” (April/May 2006)

The Roys’ Elaine Roy: “‘Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You.” (Feb/March 2009)

The Roys’ Lee Roy: “‘Do It Right,’ by Vern Gosdin.” (Feb/March 2009)

Crystal Shawanda: “‘I’m Over You,’ by Keith Whitley.” (Aug/Sept 2008)

Ashton Shepherd: “‘Fishin’ in the Dark,’ by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.” (Feb/March 2008)

Steel Magnolia’s Scott Jones: “‘My favorite Mistake,’ by Sheryl Crow.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Steel Magnolia’s Meghan Linsey: “‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun,’ by Cyndi Lauper.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Sunny Sweeney: “Merle Haggard’s ‘Misery and Gin.’” (Feb/March 2007)

Taylor Swift: “Vonda Sheppard’s ‘Baby Don’t You Break My Heart Slow.’ It’s got such simple lyrics, but they’re lyrics that really make you feel.” (Oct/Nov 2006)

Chuck Wicks: “‘One Last Cry,’ by Brian McKnight.”

The Wreckers’ Jessica Harp: “There is a song I often cover, so it’s not a secret: ‘Angel from Montgomery,’ written by John Prine and performed by Bonnie Raitt.” (June/July 2006)

Chris Young: “‘I Can Tell by the Way You Dance,’ by Vern Gosdin.”

What song do you wish you’d written?

The Band Perry: “‘Let It Be,’ by The Beatles.” (Feb/March 2011)

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr: “‘Song for You,’ by Leon Russell.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Wade Bowen: “Patty Griffin’s ‘Nobody’s Cryin’.” (April/May 2012)

Luke Bryan: “Earl Thomas Conley’s ‘Might Be What I’d Say’.” (April/May 2007)

Eric Church: “‘Good Ole Boys Like Me.’” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Whitney Duncan: “‘The Story,’ by Brandi Carlile.” (April/May 2009)

Eli Young Band: “‘Faithfully’ by Journey or ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ by Keith Whitley.” (Feb/March 2009)

Colt Ford: “That’s easy – ‘In Color,’ by Jamey Johnson.” (April/May 2009)

Todd Fritsch: “‘If Tomorrow Never Comes,’ written by Kent Blazy and Garth Brooks.” (April/May 2006)

Gloriana’s Rachel Reinert: “‘Beautiful,’ by Christina Aguilera.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Hunter Hayes: “‘Heartbreak Warrior,’ by John Mayer.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

JT Hodges: “‘Unanswered Prayers,’ by Garth Brooks.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Joey + Rory: “‘The Life of a Song,’ written by Jason Matthews and Rebecca Lynn Howard.” (April/May 2009)

The McClymonts’ Brooke McClymont: “Miranda Lambert’s ‘The House That Built Me.’ ” (Feb/March 2012)

The McClymonts’ Sam McClymont: “Carrie Underwood’s ‘Jesus Take the Wheel.’ ” (Feb/March 2012)

Ashley Monroe: “‘Always on My Mind.” (June/July 2006)

Kip Moore: “‘Sunday Morning Coming Down,’ by Kris Kristofferson.” (April/May 2012)

Kellie Pickler: “‘I Will Always Love You,’ by Dolly Parton.” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Ashton Shepherd: “‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.” (Feb/March 2008)

Paul Sikes: “‘Letters from Home’ for the craft, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ for the copyright, and ‘Call Me Maybe’ for the relevance.” (Feb/March 2013)

Jason Sturgeon: “‘The Dance.’ It’s such a timeless song, with so much feeling and meaning to so many.” (Oct/Nov 2010)

Sunny Sweeney: “John Prine’s ‘Angel from Montgomery.’” (Feb/March 2007)

Chuck Wicks: “‘I Will Always Love You.’”

The Wreckers’ Michelle Branch: “Joan Osborne’s ‘What If God Was One of Us.” (June/July 2006)

Chris Young: “‘That’s My Job,’ the Conway Twitty classic, because it never fails to give me goose bumps.” (Oct/Nov 2006)

What actor would portray you in a biopic?

Wade Bowen: “Ben Stiller.” (April/May 2012)

Colt Ford: “Brad Pitt. It would be hard to find someone as good lookin’ as me to play the role. … Did I just say that?” (April/May 2009)

Dustin Lynch: “I’m a big fan of Matt Damon. He’d be cool.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Scott McCreery: “Let’s go with Shia LaBeouf.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Kacey Musgraves: “Rashida Jones” (Feb/March 2013)

Kellie Pickler: “Reese Witherspoon.” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Jason Sturgeon: “Russell Crowe – in ‘Gladiator,’ not ‘A Perfect Mind.’ ” (Oct/Nov 2010)

Sunny Sweeney: “I don’t really care, just as long as she’s kind of hot!” (Feb/March 2007)

Carrie Underwood: “Maybe Reese Witherspoon. People say we look alike (I wish). And I like her.” (June/July 2005)

Who are your dream duet partners?

Laura Alaina: “Carrie Underwood.” (Dec 2011/Jan 2012)

Katie Armiger: “Tim McGraw. He has such a great gift for picking good songs.” (Aug/Sept 2007)

Frankie Ballard: “Travis Tritt.” (April/May 2011)

Bo Bice: “Stevie Nicks.” (Feb/March 2006)

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr: “Emmylou Harris.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Sarah Buxton: “Lowell George of Little Feat, may he rest in peace. He’s probably got one of the sexiest and most soulful voices ever.” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Luke Bryan: “Dolly Parton.” (April/May 2007)

Eric Church: “Bruce Springsteen.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Easton Corbin: “Merle Haggard.” (Feb/March 2010)

THE FARM’s Nick Hoffman: “Linda Ronstadt.” (April/May 2012)

THE FARM’s Krista Marie: “Andrea Bocelli.” (April/May 2012)

THE FARM’s Damien Horne: “Pink.” (April/May 2012)

Todd Fritsch: “Miranda Lambert.” (April/May 2006)

Brantley Gilbert: Wynonna Judd.” (April/May 2010)

Danny Gokey: “Gary LeVox or Brian McKnight.” (June/July 2010)

Walker Hayes: “My wife, but she’ll never do it. She has stage fright.” (April/May 2011)

Julianne Hough: “John Mayer.” (June/July 2008)

Randy Houser: Elvis.” (Oct/Nov 2008)

Shooter Jennings: “Emmylou Harris or Lee Ann Womack.” (Oct/Nov 2005)

Miranda Lambert: “Merle Haggard.” (Dec 2004/Jan 2005)

LiveWire’s Andy Eutsler: “Alison Krauss.” (Feb/March 2013)

Dustin Lynch: “Ms. Reba McEntire.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Lori McKenna: “Levon Helm.” (June/July 2007)

Justin Moore: “Ronnie Dunn.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Jerrod Niemann: “I would love to do something with Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser because we all started out together.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Ashton Shepherd: “Alan Jackson.” (Feb/March 2008)

Phoenix Stone: “I’ve always been a huge fan of Reba’s voice.” (Feb/March 2013)

Jason Sturgeon: “Emmylou Harris – what a voice!” (Oct/Nov 2010)

Sunny Sweeney: “Merle Haggard or Dwight Yoakam, assuming that if I got that chance, I wouldn’t pass out onstage.” (Feb/March 2007)

Steel Magnolia’s Scott Jones: “Cher.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Steel Magnolia’s Meghan Linsey: “Josh, of course – ha ha!” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Taylor Swift: “Phillip Sweet from Little Big Town. He’s my favorite person to listen to. Love his voice.” (Oct/Nov 2006)

Josh Thompson: “Lee Ann Womack or Norah Jones.” (Feb/March 2010)


Do you have a lucky charm?

Jason Aldean: “Not really. But I do have a lucky number, which is nine.” (Dec 2004/Jan 2005)

Bo Bice: “Jesus Christ.” (Feb/March 2006)

Lee Brice: “a green stone in the shape of a fishhook for good luck, from New Zealand. It’s always around my neck. My best friend sent it to me while I was there teaching.” (June/July 2007)

Laura Bell Bundy: “My horseshoe necklace and ring.” (June/July 2010)

Jason Michael Carroll: “I have four of them: my kids, Gavin Michael, Savanna Nicole, Stori Paige and J.W. They’re all the luck I’ll ever need.” (Feb/March 2007)

Sarah Darling: “I have this cool rose ring that I wear almost every day.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Brett Eldredge: “Socks that don’t match. It’s a weird new lucky charm I discovered after playing my first Grand Ole Opry show in mismatched socks. It went great.” (June/July 2011)

Colt Ford: “I have God and Faith. I don’t need anything more than that.” (April/May 2009)

Brantley Gilbert: “Spur on my left boot.” (April/May 2010)

Hunter Hayes: “My necklace with a cross and dog tag.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Walker Hayes: “The ones I eat in the morning.” (April/May 2011)

Casey James: “I’m not really a believer in lucky charms, but I pretty much always wear three rings on my right hand. I actually feel naked without them on.” (April/May 2012)

LiveWire’s Cory Shultz: “My collection of backstage passes. They remind me of how thankful I am to be able to do this for a living.” (Feb/March 2013)

The McClymonts’ Mollie McClymont: “High-fiving my sisters before a gig.” (Feb/March 2012)

Justin Moore: “A necklace with a cross my wife gave me.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Danielle Peck: “A green amber necklace and bangle bracelet. I also make a wish at 11:11 AM and PM.” (April/May 2006)

Paul Sikes: “I got a box of ‘em. I pour milk over them and eat them. Otherwise, no.” (Feb/March 2013)

Taylor Swift: “My lucky charm is a year-old, very weathered leather band around my wrist that says ‘Live in Love.’” (Oct/Nov 2006)

Trent Willmon: “My charm has helped me get lucky once or twice.” (June/July 2004)

Gretchen Wilson: “I carry a buckeye. My grandma always carried one. She said it was supposed to help with arthritis. I just carry one ‘cause she did. It makes me feel close to her.”


What mode of transportation do you prefer?

Frankie Ballard: “Horseback.” (April/May 2011)

The Band Perry: “We heart bus life!” (Feb/March 2011)

Laura Bell Bundy: “A convertible.” (June/July 2010)

Eric Church: “My Silverado.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Sarah Darling: “My brand new Mustang in ‘heartbreak red,’ for sure.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Justin Townes Earle: “Pickup truck.” (April/May 2008)

Brett Eldredge: “Nikes – I love to run.” (June/July 2011)

THE FARM’s Nick Hoffman: “I’d have a hard time choosing between a Corvette and a Harley.” (April/May 2012)

THE FARM’s Krista Marie: “My V-Rod Muscle.” (April/May 2012)

THE FARM’s Damien Horne: “Adidas.” (April/May 2012)

Hunter Hayes: “I could spend years on a bus just fine.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Walker Hayes: “My Honda.” (April/May 2011)

Randy Houser: “Yacht … or the beaming thingy from ‘Star Trek.’” (Oct/Nov 2008)

Joey + Rory: “Trucks and Prevost buses – we don’t have one yet, but we’re hoping.” (April/May 2009)

Jana Kramer: “Jet ski, then boat, then car.” (Feb/March 2012)

Rockie Lynne: “Motorcycle.” (April/May 2006)

Jerrod Niemann: “I’d rather drive, or ride a skateboard or Segway, than get on another airplane.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Phoenix Stone: “My ’73 Mustang convertible.” (Feb/March 2013)

Josh Thompson: “My Jeep.” (Feb/March 2010)

Thompson Square: “Motorcycle.” (June/July 2011)

Trent Tomlinson: “Cars, especially my four-wheel-drive Chevy pickup.” (April/May 2006)

Gretchen Wilson: “Automobiles. I always like to keep my feet as close to the ground as possible.”


What would the title of your autobiography be?

Laura Alaina:I’m Just Saying.” (Dec 2011/Jan 2012)

Jason Aldean:A Thousand Memories.” (Dec 2004/Jan 2005)

The Band Perry:We’re The Band Perry and We Play Country Music.” (Feb/March 2011)

Jason Michael Carroll:Don’t Try This at Home: The Jason Michael Carroll Story.: (Feb/March 2007)

Brett Eldredge:I’m Just as Surprised as You Are.” (June/July 2011)

Todd Fritsch:When Do I Get to Sleep?” (April/May 2006)

Danny Gokey:Never Give Up.” (June/July 2010)

Hunter Hayes:For the Love of Music.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Miranda Lambert:Big Trucks, Bird Dogs and Shotguns.” (June/July 2005)

Justin Moore:How I Got This Way.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Chuck Wicks:Why Me? ” (Feb/March 2008)

Trent Willmon:I Never Thought I’d Live This Long.” (June/July 2004)


What moment in your life would you relive if you could?

Katie Armiger: “The last time I saw my grandfather. He was my biggest fan and I miss him very much.” (Aug/Sept 2007)

Lee Brice: “My last high school football game.” (June/July 2007)

Craig Campbell: “The birth of my babies Preslee and Kinni. There is no sweeter sound than hearing your babies cry for the first time.” (April/May 2011)

Jason Michael Carroll: “The day I left North Carolina and moved to Texas. That was my last day with both of my grandparents.” (Feb/March 2007)

Eli Young Band: “We would like to go back to our first show and be a fly on the wall. It would be so great to revisit the first time we shared a stage together.” (Feb/March 2009)

Jace Everett: “I would relive, happily, the first time I heard my son give a true belly laugh. He was about 4 months old and it’s still the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.” (June/July 2005)

JT Hodges: “The day I first kissed my wife.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Julianne Hough: “Now! I would want to relive this over and over again!” (June/July 2008)

Shooter Jennings: “Playing at Lollapalooza 1996 with my dad. That was a blast.” (Oct/Nov 2005)

Jamey Johnson: “The birth of my daughter. What a miraculous experience!” (Feb/March 2006)

Rockie Lynne: “The birth of my daughters.” (April/May 2006)

Joey Martin (later with Joey + Rory): “The period of time between 5 and 10 years old. I have such fond memories of singing with my mom and dad.” (April/May 2006)

Jerrod Niemann: “Being at Times Square with my parents and my family, watching Garth Brooks singing ‘Good Ride Cowboy’ at the CMA Awards.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Danielle Peck: “The first time I fell in love.” (April/May 2006)

Kellie Pickler: “Every moment I shared with my grandma Pickler.” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Thompson Square’s Keifer Thompson: “The proposal.” (June/July 2011)

Thompson Square’s Shawna Thompson: “The day we got married.” (June/July 2011)

Gretchen Wilson: “The birth of my baby. It was the most wonderful thing that I’ve ever experienced and the most painful!” (April/May 2004)


What word or phrase do you say over and over again?

Laura Alaina: “I’m just saying.” (Dec 2011/Jan 2012)

Frankie Ballard: “Let’s melt some faces off!” (April/May 2011)

Bo Bice: “Much love.” (Feb/March 2006)

Lee Brice: “You gotta be kidding me!” (June/July 2007)

Luke Bryan: “We’ll get it handled.”

Laura Bell Bundy: “‘No, Norma Jean, don’t you poo-poo there.’ (Norma Jean is my new puppy.)” (June/July 2010)

Jason Michael Carroll: “I can sleep when I’m dead.” (Feb/March 2007)

Eric Church: “No.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Brett Eldredge: “That’s just one of them deals.” (June/July 2011)

Randy Houser: “What am I saying and why can’t I shut up?” (Oct/Nov 2008)

Casey James: “‘It is what it is.’ It says so much in a great way.” (April/May 2012)

Joey Martin (later with Joey + Rory): “If it’s meant to be, it will happen. If not, it’s not God’s plan for me.” (April/May 2006)

The McClymonts’ Brooke McClymont: “G’day! How are you?’ Or, ‘Cheers, mate!’” (Feb/March 2012)

Scotty McCreery: “Well, dad gum.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Julie Roberts: “I say ‘awesome’ and ‘you’re crazy’ all the time. I am a positive person and every single day is ‘awesome’ because I am getting to live my dreams. God is so good!” (June/July 2004)

Steel Magnolia’s Scott Jones: “Where are we going? ” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Steel Magnolia’s Meghan Linsey: “Where’s Josh? ” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Gretchen Wilson: “I’d have to say it’s ‘wow’ because so much is happening so fast. It’s funny. I’ve been preparing for this forever but somehow I feel so unprepared.” (April/May 2004)


Who is your musical hero?

Katie Armiger: “Martina McBride. She is an amazing singer with such a powerful voice.” (Aug/Sept 2007)

Frankie Ballard: “Elvis Presley.” (April/May 2011)

The Band Perry: “The Rolling Stones and Loretta Lynn.” (Feb/March 2011)

Bo Bice: “Jim Croce.” (Feb/March 2006)

Wade Bowen: “Bruce Springsteen.” (April/May 2012)

Zac Brown: “Willie Nelson.” (Feb/March 2009)

Luke Bryan: “Randy Owen.” (April/May 2007)

Sarah Buxton: “Peter Gabriel. I love his sound but it’s really about his authenticity as a performer.” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Jason Michael Carroll: “Garth Brooks, George Strait, Steven Tyler … do I have to pick one?” (Feb/March 2007)

Bucky Covington: “Elvis Presley. His showmanship was second to none and he had such wide appeal because his music crossed into every genre.” (April/May 2007)

Whitney Duncan: “Elvis.” (April/May 2009)

Justin Townes Earle: “Woody Guthrie.” (April/May 2008)

Brett Eldredge: “Ol Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra.” (June/July 2011)

Colt Ford: “Anyone who does real music. I think the fans know when something is real or fake.” (April/May 2009)

Todd Fritsch: “George Strait.” (April/May 2006)

Julianne Hough: “Faith Hill.” (June/July 2008)

Joey + Rory: “John and June Carter Cash. We want to live, dream and love like they did, right up to the end.” (April/May 2009)

Jana Kramer: “James Taylor.” (Feb/March 2012)

Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood: “James Taylor.” (April/May 2008)

Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley: “Bono.” (April/May 2008)

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott: “Gladys Knight.” (April/May 2008)

Aaron Lewis: “My father.” (Aug/Sept 2011)

Rockie Lynne: “Tony Brown. He’s the reason I moved to Nashville. When I first heard Steve Earle’s early records, Nanci Griffith’s early records and Wynonna’s first solo record, I was floored. And then when I met him, he was everything I would have expected him to be.” (April/May 2006)

Lori McKenna: “Bruce Springsteen.” (June/July 2007)

Ashley Monroe: “Dolly.” (June/July 2006)

Randy Montana: “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.” (Aug/Sept 2011)

Kip Moore: “Bruce Springsteen.” (April/May 2012)

Jerrod Niemann: “Lefty Frizzell.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Jason Owen: I have lots of musical heroes … anyone original and inventive.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Kellie Pickler: “Dolly Parton, of course.” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

The Roys’ Elaine Roy: “Dolly Parton.” (Feb/March 2009)

The Roy’s Lee Roy: “Ricky Skaggs.” (Feb/March 2009)

Crystal Shawanda: “Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn.” (Aug/Sept 2008)

Ashton Shepherd: “Keith Whitley and Dolly Parton.” (Feb/March 2008)

Paul Sikes: “Michael Hedges.” (Feb/March 2013)

Phoenix Stone: “To give you just a few, John Lennon and Willie Nelson for their songwriting, Elvis for his soul, The Eagles for their harmonies and Hank Jr. for being a bad a** rebel.” (Feb/March 2013)

Sunny Sweeney: “I have two: Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn.” (Feb/March 2007)

Trent Tomlinson: “George Strait.” (April/May 2006)

Carrie Underwood: “Martina McBride.”

Donnie Van Zant: “My older brother, Ronnie Van Zant.” (June/July 2005)

Chris Young: “Keith Whitley. He was one of those people who had a timeless voice and presence. He continues to inspire people, including me, with his music.” (Oct/Nov 2006)


What do you sing in the shower?

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr: “Any song my wife hates. And I try to sing ‘em all like Michael McDonald.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Eric Church: “Whatever I’m currently writing.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Brantley Gilbert: “‘I’m Too Sexy,’ by Right Said Fred.” (April/May 2010)

JT Hodges: “Depends on the mood. I do whistle ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ theme quite often — haha.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Jamey Johnson: “Nothing. I’m not a morning person.” (Feb/March 2006)

Dustin Lynch: “My go-to is ‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,’ by Mel McDaniel.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Joey Martin (later with Joey + Rory): “I usually don’t. that’s my time to plan my day and think of all that needs to be accomplished.” (April/May 2006)

Ashley Monroe: “Oh, goodness, a new one every day. I think this morning it was ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ by Elton John.” (June/July 2006)

Justin Moore: “It’s the only time I don’t sing.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Crystal Shawanda: “Alicia Keys, Patsy Cline, opera music – basically, whatever pops into my head.” (Aug/Sept 2008)

Ashton Shepherd: “That’s actually where I write a lot of songs.” (Feb/March 2008)

Paul Sikes: “I lip-sync in the shower.” (Feb/March 2013)

Jason Sturgeon: “Usually old blues tunes or ideas for songs I’ve had.” (Oct/Nov 2010)

Trent Tomlinson: “Just about anything. Actually, I do a lot of songwriting in the shower, coming up with lyrics and song ideas.” (April/May 2006)


What is your pet peeve?

Katie Armiger: “Waking up early. I’m not a morning person.” (Aug/Sept 2007)

Frankie Ballard: “People who say ‘I could care less.’ It’s couldn’t!” (April/May 2011)

Bo Bice: “Clutter.” (Feb/March 2006)

Lee Brice: “Slow drivers in the fast lane.” (June/July 2007)

Wade Bowen: “Most everything to do with airports.” (April/May 2012)

Eric Church: “Questionnaires. Just kidding.” (Aug/Sept 2006)

Todd Fritsch: “People who try to command my cowdogs when I’m working with them.” (April/May 2006)

Brantley Gilbert: “Ferrets.” (April/May 2010)

Julianne Hough: “Guys that wear their pants too low.” (June/July 2008)

Casey James: “Someone squeezing the toothpaste tube from the top. Rage. Haha.” (April/May 2012)

Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood: “People asking me for gum.” (April/May 2008)

Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley: “Someone who talks just to talk.” (April/May 2008)

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott: “Negativity.” (April/May 2008)

Aaron Lewis: “People who think they deserve something without earning it.” (Aug/Sept 2011)

Rockie Lynne: “I hate being late.” (April/May 2006)

Scotty McCreery: “When people don’t say thank you when you hold a door for them or do something nice. Just say thank you! It’s not a big thing.” (Oct/Nov 2011)

Kacey Musgraves: “People who try to sound way more Country than they are.” (Feb/March 2013)

Danielle Peck: “Slow drivers.” (April/May 2006)

The Roys’ Elaine Roy: “Clutter.” (Feb/March 2009)

The Roys’ Lee Roy: “Traffic.” (Feb/March 2009)

Trent Tomlinson: “Traffic.” (April/May 2006)

Donnie Van Zant: “People that half do their jobs, because anything worth doing should be done right.” (June/July 2005)


What do you hope people will say about you 50 years from now?

Easton Corbin: “That I was an artist that recorded music that was pure and timeless for all ages.” (Feb/March 2010)

Jace Everett: “That I got better with each record and each tour and they can’t wait to see me play that night!” (June/July 2005)

Todd Fritsch: “He brought traditional Country Music back.” (April/May 2006)

JT Hodges: “He played by his own rules and made music his own way. He was unique.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Jamey Johnson: “Look! He’s still breathing!” (Feb/March 2006)

Miranda Lambert: “That I was a lover of life and music.” (Dec 2004/Jan 2005)

Kellie Pickler: “That they have enjoyed my music and that I always had great shoes!” (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)

Joey Martin (later with Joey + Rory): “I would hope that I had left a positive mark in this world as someone who dreamed big, accomplished big and compromised little.” (April/May 2006)

Crystal Shawanda: “Wild child makes good.” (Aug/Sept 2008)

Sunny Sweeney: “I hope they say, ‘Dang, that girl sure had fun and she always sang that real Country Music.’” (Feb/March 2007)

Donnie Van Zant: “That I wrote great songs and was a good family man and a good person.” (June/July 2005)

Trent Willmon: “He helped a lot of people, especially those less fortunate; a good friend and a good father.” (June/July 2004)

Gretchen Wilson: “That I was real, that I wrote and sang songs that made sense to the average American person. That I was myself, and proud of it.” (April/May 2004)


New questions added, Oct/Nov 2008


What would you put into your personal time capsule?

Sarah Darling: “I would put my entire Garage Band library in, because it’s the rough work tapes of every song I’ve ever written.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Randy Houser: “Music by Robert Johnson and Jimmie Rodgers – at least rock ‘n’ roll and Country would be born again.” (Oct/Nov 2008)

Kacey Musgrave: “My favorite old, turquoise cowboy boots, my 1957 Gibson J-45 (Janice) and the complete discography of John Prine.” (Feb/March 2013)

Thompson Square: “Our laptops, Keifer’s Harley boots, tape recorder, lyric sheets and photo albums.” (June/July 2011)


Describe your first gig.

The Band Perry: “In our living room. Our grandmother Betty Lou loved it!” (Feb/March 2011)

Eli Young Band: “The RBAR, a little college bar in Denton, Texas. We played mostly covers and probably not very well. Our bar tab was definitely more than we made at the door.” (Feb/March 2009)

JT Hodges: “The White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth, Texas. Went great – sang a lot of Blackhawk covers.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Randy Houser: “Taking out the trash for Mrs. Meadows. It sucked, but hey, it was 16 cents more than I had.” (Oct/Nov 2008)

Jana Kramer: “It was a train wreck! I was so nervous and bombed big time. The bright side: Up was the only way to go from there.” (Feb/March 2012)

Kip Moore: “Mellow Mushroom. Too drunk to remember.” (April/May 2012)

Josh Thompson: “A bar in Marinette, Wis. It was horrible … long story! ” (Feb/March 2010)


What is your favorite food on the road?

Frankie Ballard: “Texas BBQ.” (April/May 2011)

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr: “Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Zac Brown: “Sushi.” (Feb/March 2009)

Laura Bell Bundy: “Lay’s Classic Potato Chips.” (June/July 2010)

THE FARM’s Nick Hoffman: “I’m forever in search of the perfect burger.” (April/May 2012)

THE FARM’s Krista Marie: “Italian or sushi – don’t forget the dessert!” (April/May 2012)

Gloriana: “Mexican.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Danny Gokey: “Whole Foods Market. I love eating healthy.” (June/July 2010)

Casey James: “Oranges.” (April/May 2012)

Aaron Lewis: “There’s nothing better than a good steakhouse.” (Aug/Sept 2011)

Dustin Lynch: “I try my best to eat healthy, but there’s something irresistible about the letters IHOP at night.” (Oct/Nov 2012)

Randy Montana: “Sunflower seeds.” (Aug/Sept 2011)

Kip Moore: “Pork rinds.” (April/May 2012)

Jerrod Niemann: “Being with a major label and having to take care of myself, I’d say I’m entitled to a carrot dangling over a treadmill.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Phoenix Stone: “Ole Smoky Moonshine keeps me rockin!” (Feb/March 2013)

Jason Sturgeon: “One of the best meals I’ve had was when I played at the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. Buck’s place sure does a steak right! ” (Oct/Nov 2010)


What would you be if you weren’t an artist?

Wade Bowen: “I’d probably be back home doing electrical work with my father in Waco, Texas, at Bowen Electric.” (April/May 2012)

Easton Corbin: “I would probably be doing something in the agricultural sector.” (Feb/March 2010)

Whitney Duncan: “Homeless.” (April/May 2009)


What would we never guess about you?

Laura Alaina: “I’m a math whiz.” (Dec 2011/Jan 2012)

Zac Brown: “I barter and trade a lot. I trade guitars and tools on Craigslist. I traded a VW bus for a Scout and dump truck. I once traded a Jeep for two guitars and an amplifier.” (Feb/March 2009)

Laura Bell Bundy: “I won the Purdue University Physics Award as a junior in high school, and when I was a senior in high school I was in college-level Calculus II. Also, I love ‘Battlestar Galactia.’” (June/July 2010)

Craig Campbell: “I count steps as I go up and down stairs.” (April/May 2011)

Gloriana’s Tom Gossin: “I can cut hair. I went to hair school.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Randy Montana: “I’m a coffee snob.” (Aug/Sept 2011)

Aaron Lewis: “I’m a trained goldsmith. I can take a piece of wax, carve it up, cast it, turn it into metal, polish it, set stones in it and hand you a finished piece of jewelry.” (Aug/Sept 2011)

LiveWire’s Danny Bell: “I love sappy movies. I’m not afraid to cry. LOL!” (Feb/March 2013)

Justin Moore: “I’m a good cook.” (Aug/Sept 2009)

Kip Moore: “I have the biggest sweet tooth on Earth.” (April/May 2012)

Steel Magnolia’s Scott Jones: “I have a huge appetite.” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Steel Magnolia’s Meghan Linsey: “When I wake up, I look like a rooster. My hair literally sticks up in all directions. It’s pretty hilarious!” (Aug/Sept 2010)

Phoenix Stone: “I grew up training and breaking horses.” (Feb/March 2013)

Josh Thompson: “I love cantaloupe.” (Feb/March 2010)

Thompson Square’s Keifer Thompson: “I buy book after book because I love the idea of going to bookstores and reading, but most never get finished.” (June/July 2011)

Thompson Square’s Shawna Thompson: “I’m obsessed with Hello Kitty.” (June/July 2011)