Used with permission of CMA Closeup News Service
By Ed Morris
On May 3, 2003, Buddy Jewell stepped off the stage and into a whirlwind. That was the night he won the "Nashville Star" talent contest. His life has been pretty hectic - and starry - ever since. The prize he won was a contract with Columbia Records, and wanting to take advantage of his television exposure, the label rushed him into the studio to record an album with Equity recording artist Clint Black as his producer. They cut the album in eight days.
One of the cuts was "Help Pour Out The Rain (Lacey's Song)," Jewell's lyrical account of a conversation with his daughter. The song was quickly dispatched to radio stations and charted on May 24, just three weeks after Jewell's victory. It would eventually rise to the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. On June 8, the last night of the 2003 CMA Music Festival, Jewell and his rostermates at Sony Music Nashville (of which Columbia is a division) played The Coliseum. "Fans rushed the stage to take pictures of Buddy Jewell," a reviewer reported, "treating him like the superstar he may very well become given the momentum he's achieved by winning the 'Nashville Star' talent contest."
Jewell's self-titled album went on sale July 1, 2003. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. He followed "Help Pour Out The Rain" with "Sweet Southern Comfort," which also topped out at No. 3 and Buddy Jewell was certified Gold.
Jewell's current single, the first from his sophomore album Times Like These, is "If She Were Any Other Woman," written by Brett Beavers, Kelley Lovelace and Connie Harrington, and features guest vocals by Vince Gill. The album was produced by Garth Fundis, the studio mastermind behind such artists as Keith Whitley, Don Williams and Trisha Yearwood, and will be released April 26. The album features another song "Addicted to the Rain" inspired by the wisdom of another one of his children, oldest son Buddy III. Jewell is GAC Television's Artist of the Month for April.
Texas native Miranda Lambert was the third-place "Nashville Star" winner the year Jewell triumphed. She eventually signed to Epic Records, also in the Sony Music Nashville family. Her album Kerosene, for which she wrote or co-wrote all but one of the 11 songs, was released March 15, and features debut single "Me and Charlie Talking."
"I think 'Nashville Star' definitely bumped my career up and made it go a lot faster than it would have," the 21-year-old Lambert said. "I was just doing an independent thing in Texas and playing clubs [before]. I think [the show] was basically a nine-week audition for everyone in the record industry. It was a blast.
"I always say that 'Nashville Star' saved me from five more years in the honky tonks. But I was still scared to death to sign that recording contract. I was afraid they'd change me. I was worried they'd take my songs that didn't sound like anyone else's and produce them just like the next record down the street. I did not want it to be the typical Nashville record. I have my own style. I want to be my own person. There are a million blonde chicks who can sing. I've always wanted to be different."
"We had a meeting. All the Sony people were there. I sat down at the head of the table, crossed my hands and said, 'OK, this is who I am.' And I just laid it out. 'I'm from Texas. I write my own stuff. I have something to say. I'll never dance around on stage in a halter top. I will always play my guitar. Now, if I can't make a record that reflects me honestly, I'd rather just go home and play in Texas like I was. So please tell me now if you're going to be bossing me around.' [Label chief] John Grady said, 'You go make your record.' Nobody came to the studio. Nobody threw songs at me. A few months later, I played them the tracks. They said, 'You did an amazing job.'
"This can't be real. It's been such an easy road. This whole pathway has been laid out brick by brick. That's why I know I'm meant to do this. I'm so excited. I feel like I'm really where it's all starting to happen."
Lambert recently made her Grand Ole Opry debut, appeared on the "Today" show and was featured in Guy Gilchrist's popular comic strip "Nancy."