After all this time, I thought I knew just about everything about current country music artists. But the Academy of Country Music has proven to me that learning everything is a work in progress.
So with the ACM Awards weekend just about 10 days away, I set out to do a little research on the ACM Awards website and found out a few facts I'd been missing.
Like, did you know Toby Keith has a flight attendant to thank for getting his big break in Nashville? He was told by record labels that his songs needed to go back to the woodshed. But then a stewardess who loved Keith's music gave his demo tape to a bigshot at Mercury Records, who then signed Keith to his first record deal. (Alan Jackson's big break story also features an airplane and a flight attendant.)
Then there are these tidbits about Jason Aldean. First of all, he turned down scholarships to play baseball in college so that he could pursue music. (I'd love to hear how he sold that idea to his parents.) As I also learned, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" is the karaoke song Aldean does best.
And I didn't know Brett Eldredge learned so much from touring with Taylor Swift.
"Her fans follow her every move and her every word," he said. "She's being honest, and people love honesty. The fans really do want to hear what you're saying. ... Don't be afraid to pour out your heart up there onstage because they'll accept it. They'll accept it."
Then there's Blake Shelton. I now can't stop picturing him singing "Cat Scratch Fever." He said his mom used to enter him in pageants as a kid. "I still don't know why, and it's still the worst experience of my life, being in a pageant. I remember singing 'Cat Scratch Fever' by Ted Nugent and 'Old Time Rock 'n' Roll' by Bob Seger. [They] were probably my two signature songs," he said.