During a Nashville gathering Tuesday to celebrate his first gold record, newcomer Brad Paisley threw the spotlight on some of the guys who paved the way for him. He entertained his guests with covers of hits by Gene Watson, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, then called Opry stars Billy Walker and Bill Anderson onstage.
Anderson joined Paisley for a rendition of "Too Country," a mostly spoken-word tune Anderson wrote about the apparent bias toward traditional country music. Paisley has recorded the song for his next record.
"That's the future of country music right there," Anderson told the crowd with a slightly embarrassed Paisley standing nearby.
Buck Owens, one of Paisley's heroes, sent the guest of honor a telegram congratulating him and promising a special gift the next time he plays Bakersfield.
Since releasing Who Needs Pictures</> on Arista Records, Paisley has charted three hits, including the No. 1 single "He Didn't Have to Be." The song has garnered wide acclaim, including three nominations at this year's Country Weekly Presents the TNN Music Awards.
While receiving the traditional gold album plaque during the party, Paisley thanked producer Frank Rogers and his team, many of whom were working on a record for the first time.
"That's the thing I'm most proud of, that a bunch of guys who didn't know what they were doing made something like this," Paisley said. "That ought to be a lesson in this town. It doesn't always have to be the same folks."
Paisley also took the occasion to announce a new partnership with USAMeats.com, an online business that sells specialty meats, chicken and seafood. The company will sponsor the singer's 85-city tour and also will contribute money to the Brad Paisley Foundation, which supports the Children's Miracle Network, the Opry Trust Fund, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the American Cancer Society. The tour, which kicks off May 26 in Montgomery, Ala., will take Paisley to Japan in October for the annual Country Gold Festival in Kumamoto.