Brad Paisley thought his Thursday morning (March 4) visit to the Nashville Convention Center was to introduce the head of his record label during the 35th annual Country Radio Seminar. Instead, he quickly learned that he was this year's recipient of the Country Radio Broadcasters' Artist Humanitarian of the Year award.
"I honestly had no idea about this," Paisley said. "The way they got me here was to introduce Joe Galante. I had prepared a long introduction."
Lonestar, the CRB's 2003 Artist Humanitarian recipients, presented the award during the seminar's opening session that included a performance of the national anthem by Sherrie Austin and an interview with Clint Black conducted by Radio & Records country editor Lon Helton.
Even before he landed a recording contract with Arista Nashville, Paisley was donating his time and talents to nursing homes, civic organizations, churches and local and state ceremonies in his hometown of Glen Dale, W.Va. In addition to creating his own charitable foundation two years ago to support organizations in West Virginia, he also launched the Brad Paisley Celebrity Invitational Fishing Tournament to benefit the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Paisley has supported numerous other charities, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease Research, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Wal-Mart's Take a Kid Fishing Day, the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program and the T.J. Martell Foundation.
Previous Artist Humanitarian recipients include Billy Ray Cyrus, Reba McEntire, Charlie Daniels, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Vince Gill, Collin Raye and Brooks & Dunn.
Black, the 2000 Artist Humanitarian, is in the middle of a nine-city tour of retail stores to promote his new album, Spend My Time. He flew to Nashville from a Wednesday night (March 3) appearance in Chicago. After concluding the 30-minute CRS interview at 9:45 a.m., Black boarded another plane for a 12:30 p.m. appearance in Kansas City.
The interview centered on the changes in the country radio and record industry in recent years. Pointing to the overall slump in country record sales, Black cited illegal downloading as a major problem facing corporations and artists, alike. Black, who recently co-founded the independent Equity Records, also expressed concern for the declining number of country record labels following corporate consolidation.
"When the people who make decisions get worried, what they decide isn't necessarily the best thing for the music," Black noted. However, he acknowledged, "There are a lot of pressures to meet the expectations of the company and shareholders."
Black said he'll embark on a large-scale national tour in June but will probably play a few smaller shows this spring.
To see photos from the Humanitarian Award presentation, visit Brad Paisley's artist page at CMT.com.