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Artist of the Week Archives for 2017-06

Maren Morris

 

 

 

 

 

Maren Morris is a singer and songwriter whose music bridges the gap between hard country, classic rock, and hip-hop-influenced pop, and has enjoyed success both as a tunesmith and as a performer. Maren Morris was born in Dallas, Texas on April 10, 1990, and she grew up with a love of music, saying she was always willing to belt out a tune on the family's karaoke machine by age ten. By the time Morris was 14, she had learned to play guitar and began playing professionally, self-releasing a debut album, Walk On. Morris had struck a deal with Smith Music Group when she dropped her second album, 2007's All That It Takes; Morris' songwriting was strong enough that she either wrote or co-wrote eight of the album's 13 tracks. Morris graduated high school and was attending the University of North Texas when she self-released her third full-length, 2011's Live Wire. A year later, she left Texas for Nashville, determined to shift her career into high gear. After winning an "Artist on the Verge" prize at the New Music Seminar, Morris first got her foot in the door as a songwriter, signing a publishing deal with Yellow Dog and writing tunes for Tim McGraw ("Last Turn Home") and Kelly Clarkson ("Second Wind"). In addition, Morris ramped up her touring schedule, sharing stages with artists as diverse as Pat Green, Radney Foster, and Marty Stuart, and performing for artists in Europe and the United Kingdom as well as the United States. In 2015, Morris released a digital single about the close connection between music and driving titled "My Church." The song became a viral hit, generating over 2.5 million streams in a bit longer than a month. The major labels in Music City took notice, and Morris signed a deal with Sony Music Nashville, who dropped a five-song EP featuring "My Church" in November 2015. Sony serviced "My Church" to country radio in anticipation of Morris' full-length debut Hero, which appeared in June of 2016. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Darius Rucker

DARIUS RUCKER 

Rucker continued to tour and perform with Hootie & The Blowfish while working on his sophomore solo effort, a country album called Learn to Live. The album's first single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" jumped to to Top 20 on the Billboard charts in July of 2008, making Rucker the first African-American singer to reach the top of the country charts since Charley Pride in 1988. Rucker's newfound fame in the country realm also earned him an invitation to the Grand Ole Opry later that year, and his performance earned a standing ovation.

Rucker's single eventually hit number one on the country charts, and the album received platinum status in 2009. The album's next two singles "It Won't Be Like This For Long" and "Alright" also hit the top of the charts, making Rucker the first country music singer to have his first three singles reach number one since Wynona Judd in 1992. Rucker's album also gained the attention of critics, and earned him two Country Music Association award nominations in 2009, including Male Vocalist of the Year. 

Continuing to thrive as a country music artist, Rucker released Charleston, SC 1966 in 2010, which topped the country album chart and featured the hit "This." His next record, True Believers (2013), helped him add another Grammy to his collection. The song "Wagon Wheel" earned him a win in the best country solo performance category in 2013. His most recent effort, 2015's Southern Style, was another success, lifted up by such songs as the title track and "Homegrown Honey."

 

In his private life, Rucker enjoys football, and hanging out with close friends Brad Paisley and Tiger Woods. He married long-time girlfriend Beth Leonard in 2000. The couple resides in Charleston, South Carolina, with their two children. Rucker also has a child with a former girlfriend.

 

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