Merf News

Swift Wins ACM Entertainer of the Year

contributor • April 1, 2012 Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo [Results updated in real time—Check musicrow.com f Read More.

Sony Corporation of America Names New CEO and President

Eric Parker • April 2, 2012

Chairman, CEO and President of Sony Corporation Sir Howard Stringer, and Executive Deputy President Kazuo Hirai announced Michael Lynton as CEO for Sony Corporation of America, effective June 27. Lynton will oversee Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

No management changes are planned at Sony Pictures where Lynton will continue to serve as Chairman and CEO with his Co-Chair, Amy Pascal. Lynton will remain in Culver City and travel to New York to fulfill forthcoming duties.

Nicole Seligman has additionally been made Sony Corporation of America President. She will have responsibility for operations at Sony’s U.S. headquarters, overseeing legal, finance, human resources, investor relations and communications surrounding the entertainment businesses. Seligman will remain as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Sony Corporation, continuing work in both New York and Tokyo.

Both Lynton and Seligman will report to Hirai.

The promotions are part of a series of management transitions implemented at Sony. On April 1st, Hirai became CEO and President of Sony Corporation.

Stringer, who has been Chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation of America since 1998, will continue through June 27, when he is expected to become Chairman of the Sony Board of Directors.

“Michael Lynton is an incredibly accomplished executive who has distinguished himself in at least three different fields – entertainment, technology and publishing,” said Stringer. “Michael is absolutely the right choice to succeed me as CEO of SCA.

“Having worked so closely with Nicole Seligman for more than a decade, I know her to be a superb leader with great intelligence and integrity. There is no one better suited to serve as SCA President.”

Sony Corporation of America, based in New York, NY, is the U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

Merf at SXSW

Merf Music Group is excited about attending the SXSW Film and Music Festival this year. We are very confident that with the amount of Film Makers, A&R representatives and Artist attending this event we are sure to make a lot of new friends and industry contacts. Our Company is based out of Nashville, TN. and with the talent that Music City offers we can deliver a quality product to the independent filmmaker, television and movie music supervisors and recording artist that are looking for songs at and affordable price with out sacrificing the integrity of quality music.

2012 Grammy Winners: Country and More

Sarah Skates • February 12, 2012

Taylor Swift, The Civil Wars, and Alison Krauss and Union Station’s Paper Airplane earned two awards each last night in Los Angeles. Lady Antebellum won Best Country Album for the second year in a row.

Adele dominated the overall categories. She was honored with six Grammys, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year, tying the record held by Beyoncé for most Grammy Awards won by a female artist in a single year.

During the live telecast from the Staples Center, Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson sang their hit duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” and Swift offered her Grammy winning smash, “Mean.” Other Country acts who took the stage included Carrie Underwood with Tony Bennett, and Glen Campbell with The Band Perry and Blake Shelton.

 


Swift arrives at the Grammys. Photo from Grammy.com/Lester Cohen/WireImage.com

Record Of The Year
“Rolling In The Deep”
Adele
Paul Epworth, producer; Tom Elmhirst & Mark Rankin, engineers/mixers
Track from: 21
[XL Recordings/Columbia Records]

Album Of The Year
21
Adele
Jim Abbiss, Adele, Paul Epworth, Rick Rubin, Fraser T. Smith, Ryan Tedder & Dan Wilson, producers; Jim Abbiss, Philip Allen, Beatriz Artola, Ian Dowling, Tom Elmhirst, Greg Fidelman, Dan Parry, Steve Price, Mark Rankin, Andrew Scheps, Fraser T. Smith & Ryan Tedder, engineers/mixers; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer
[XL Recordings/Columbia Records]

Song Of The Year
“Rolling In The Deep”
Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth, songwriters (Adele)
Track from: 21
[XL Recordings/Columbia Records; Publishers: Universal-Songs of Polygram/EMI Music Publishing]

Best New Artist
Bon Iver

Best Country Album
Own The Night
Lady Antebellum
[Capitol Records Nashville]

 

The Civil Wars on the red carpet. Photo: Grammy.com, Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

Best Country Solo Performance
“Mean,” Taylor Swift, Track from: Speak Now

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Barton Hollow,” The Civil Wars, Track from: Barton Hollow

Best Country Song
“Mean,”
Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)
Track from: Speak Now
[Big Machine Records; Publishers: Sony/ATV Tree Publishing, Taylor Swift Music]

Best Americana Album
Ramble At The Ryman
Levon Helm
[Vanguard/Dirt Farmer Music]

Best Bluegrass Album
Paper Airplane
Alison Krauss & Union Station
[Rounder]

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Paper Airplane
Neal Cappellino & Mike Shipley, engineers; Brad Blackwood, mastering engineer (Alison Krauss & Union Station)
[Rounder]

Best Folk Album
Barton Hollow
The Civil Wars
[Sensibility Music LLC]

Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance
“Jesus,” Le’Andria Johnson
Track from: The Awakening Of Le’Andria Johnson
[Music World Gospel]

Best Gospel Song
“Hello Fear”
Kirk Franklin, songwriter (Kirk Franklin)
Track from: Hello Fear
[Verity Gospel Music Group/Fo Yo Soul Ent.; Publisher: Aunt Gertrude Music]

Best Contemporary Christian Music Song
“Blessings”
Laura Story, songwriter (Laura Story)
Track from: Blessings
[Fair Trade Services; Publishers: New Spring/Gleaning Publishing]

Best Gospel Album
Hello Fear, Kirk Franklin
[Verity Gospel Music Group/ Fo Yo Soul Ent.]

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
And If Our God Is For Us…
Chris Tomlin
[Sparrow Records / sixstepsrecords]

Best Classical Instrumental Solo
Schwantner: Concerto For Percussion & Orchestra
Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Christopher Lamb (Nashville Symphony)
Track from: Schwantner: Chasing Light…
[Naxos]

See the complete winners list here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alison Krauss & Union Station backstage. Photo: Grammy.com, Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

Whitney Houston Dies At Age 48

Posted on February 11, 2012 by Dan Harr

Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.

Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.

News of Houston’s death came on the eve of music’s biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It’s a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday’s ceremony. Houston’s longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward.

At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.”

She had the he perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.

She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.

But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.

“The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.

It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.

She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.

“The time that I first saw her singing in her mother’s act in a club … it was such a stunning impact,” Davis told “Good Morning America.”

“To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine,” he added.

Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with “Whitney Houston,” which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. “Saving All My Love for You” brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. “How Will I Know,” “You Give Good Love” and “The Greatest Love of All” also became hit singles.

Another multiplatinum album, “Whitney,” came out in 1987 and included hits like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

The New York Times wrote that Houston “possesses one of her generation’s most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity.”

Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the “Soul Train Awards” in 1989.

“Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?” she told Katie Couric in 1996. “You’re not black enough for them. I don’t know. You’re not R&B enough. You’re very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them.”

Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop’s pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.

But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.

“When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from the same place,” she told Rolling Stone in 1993. “You see somebody, and you deal with their image, that’s their image. It’s part of them, it’s not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody’s angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy.”

It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America’s sweetheart.

In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with “The Bodyguard.” Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international success.

It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy’s record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the “Bodyguard” soundtrack was named album of the year.

She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with “Waiting to Exhale” and “The Preacher’s Wife.” Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, “My Love Is Your Love,” in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.”

But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time “The Preacher’s Wife” was released, “(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. … I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. … I wasn’t happy by that point in time. I was losing myself.”

In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.

Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.

She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert that rumors spread she had died the next day. Her crude behavior and jittery appearance on Brown’s reality show, “Being Bobby Brown,” was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where she declared “crack is whack,” was often parodied. She dropped out of the spotlight for a few years.

Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009 album “I Look To You.” The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum.

Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on “Good Morning America” went awry as Houston’s voice sounded ragged and off-key. She blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.

A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Canceled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.

2012 ALL FOR THE HALL

KEITH URBAN’S THIRD ANNUAL WE’RE ALL FOR THE HALL BENEFIT CONCERT FOR THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME® AND MUSEUM RETURNS TO THE BRIDGESTONE ARENA ON APRIL 10
Performers include Alabama, Alison Krauss & Union Station, The Band Perry, Blue Sky Riders, Diamond Rio, Exile, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, The Oak Ridge Boys, Pistol Annies, Rascal Flatts and Thompson Square

NASHVILLE, Tenn.– 2005 CMA Entertainer of the Year and four-time Grammy Award winner Keith Urban, this year joined by an all-star lineup of some of country music’s most loved groups, will return to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday, April 10, for a concert to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. Reserved seating tickets, which are priced at a family friendly $25 and $35 (does not include Ticketmaster surcharge), will go on sale January 27 at 10:00 a.m. A limited number of VIP ticket packages will also go on sale on January 27 at Ticketmaster.com. (Complete ticket purchase information is below.)

The show—which will feature performances from an all-star line-up including Urban, Country Music Hall of Fame members Vince Gill and Alabama, Alison Krauss & Union Station, the Band Perry, Blue Sky Riders, Diamond Rio, Exile, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Pistol Annies, the Oak Ridge Boys, Rascal Flatts and Thompson Square—again promises to be a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime evening of music, friendship and camaraderie.

“My goal for the concert is really the same as the hall’s,” said Urban. “To help country fans connect the dots – to find out where their music came from, how it’s evolved (and is still evolving) and to discover the artists that have influenced their favorite artists. Country music is like a big beautiful strange family tree and nowhere is that more honored than at the Country Music Hall Of Fame and Museum.”

All for the Hall is the museum’s first-ever non-bricks-and-mortar fundraising initiative. The campaign addresses the not-for-profit educational institution’s need for long-term financial security and provides a safety net for its work. Through ongoing exhibit schedules, scholarly publications and hundreds of school and family programs annually, the museum teaches its audiences about the enduring beauty and cultural importance of country music. Museum Board President Gill created and has led the institution’s All for the Hall fundraising initiative since 2005.

“The first two We’re All for the Hall concerts have been landmarks for this institution,” said Museum Director Kyle Young. “They have been the most successful fundraisers in the museum’s history, together raising roughly $1 million. And they have not only set a new standard for fundraising and event coordination, but also brought together an entire community and helped us to see what can be done by individuals when there is a collective passion for a cause.”

Reserved Seating Tickets

Tickets ($25 and $35, plus Ticketmaster surcharge) go on sale January 27 at 10:00 a.m. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations, the Bridgestone Arena box office or by phone at (800) 745-3000. Phone, internet and outlet orders are subject to a convenience fee.