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Contemporary country singer/songwriter Brad Paisley was born October 28, 1972, in Glen Dale, West Virginia; given his first guitar at age eight, he delivered his first public performance at church two years later. With his fifty-something guitar teacher Clarence "Hank" Goddard and two of the older man's seasoned musician buddies, the teenaged Paisley formed his first band, the C-Notes, and at age 12 began writing his own material. After performing in front of the local Rotary Club, he was invited to appear on Wheeling station WWVA's famed Saturday night broadcast Jamboree USA. Paisley's debut was so well received that he was invited to join the program full-time, and in the years to follow he opened for the likes of the Judds, Roy Clark, and Little Jimmy Dickens. He later attended Nashville's Belmont University, serving an internship with ASCAP; the contacts Paisley made there helped him land a songwriting deal with EMI, and he also appeared on countless demos.
Signing to Arista, he issued his debut solo album, Who Needs Pictures, in 1999. The record produced two chart-topping singles in "He Didn't Have to Be," an ode to loving stepfathers, and "We Danced," and also earned generally positive reviews for its diversity of country styles. In the meantime, Paisley recorded a duet with Chely Wright, "Hard to Be a Husband, Hard to Be a Wife," for the Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry compilation; the two later collaborated on several songs for Wright's Never Love You Enough album. The sequel to Paisley's debut, Part II, was released in 2001 and promptly returned him to the Top Five with "Two People Fell in Love." "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)" gave Paisley his third chart-topper, and "Wrapped Around" fell one spot short of becoming his fourth. "I Wish You'd Stay" became the fourth Top Ten hit from the record in early 2003. thumb|300px|right|Brad Paisley - Old Alabama
At the beginning of August 2005, Paisley put together a short "director's commentary" preview of his next album for his fan base to download. The full album, Time Well Wasted, appeared two weeks later and narrowly missed the top of the album charts, though it did hit number one on the country charts. In 2006 Brad Paisley Christmas, a collection of both originals and covers, came out, followed by 5th Gear in 2007, which included the ubiquitous "Ticks," a sure future novelty classic. An album of mostly guitar instrumentals (Paisley's excellent guitar playing is a big part of his appeal), Play, followed in 2008, with the big country vocal hit "Waitin' on a Woman" added in as a "bonus" track. By now poised at the very top of the commercial country world, Paisley released American Saturday Night in 2009. thumb|300px|right|Brad Paisley - Remind Me (Duet With Carrie Underwood)
American Saturday Night was greeted by Paisley's strongest reviews yet and generated the hit singles "Then," "Welcome to the Future" and "Water." Paisley bought some time with the 2010 release Hits Alive, a double-disc package divided into one live set and one collection of hits. In 2010, the Country Music Association named Paisley its entertainer of the year. He returned to the charts in May 2011 with his seventh collection of new songs, This Is Country Music. The album's second single, "Old Alabama" (with Alabama) became Paisley's 19th No. 1 single.
Also in May, the artist's website announced the creation of a new beta game, Brad Paisley World, modeled after such other Facebook games as Farmville and Mafia Wars. Featuring original animation, the game is thumb|300px|right|Brad Paisley - Waterdesigned as a new way for fans to interact with each other and view exclusive material that would otherwise be unavailable. Paisley also released two songs on the soundtrack for Cars 2, one of which is a collaboration with British pop singer Robbie Williams.
Paisley spent much of 2011 on his H2O II: Wetter and Wilder tour that included summer dates in Canada, England, Ireland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
Paisley's next album, This is Country Music, was released in 2011. The album contains several collaborations with artists like Alabama, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Clint Eastwood, and Sheryl Crow. His first two singles, "This is Country Music" and "Old Alabama" proved to be hits.
Next, Paisley and Underwood hit the Billboard charts with "Remind Me," which eventually hit number one on Billboard's country songs chart in September and also went Platinum.
Brad was selected to honored as a CMT Artist of the Year in 2011.
Brad announced the dates for his 2012 "Camobunga!" Tour in October. The 20-city tour will feature The Band Perry and Scotty McCreery as the opening acts. The tour will launch on Jan. 12 in Grand Rapids, Mich., with dates currently scheduled through March 3 in Lexington, Ky.
In press materials, Paisley defined the unusual term this way: "The name of a live musical tour experience. A mind blowing blend of country, fiery '60s surf guitar acrobatics, futuristic special effects, retro heart and soul, and mind altering liquid beverages. The spirit of the deep woods meets the breakneck excitement of the California coast." He added that the term is a blend of "Camouflage," which is the name of his new single, as well as "Cowabunga!" lifted from the Howdy Doody TV show and surf lingo.
In November, Brad co-hosted the 2011 CMA Awards with Carrie Underwood for the fourth year in a row.
If ever an artist has earned the right to title an album This Is Country Music, it’s Brad Paisley. It’s not because he’s the Country Music Association’s reigning Entertainer of the Year or because his H2O Tour was 2010’s top country trek in attendance or because he’s sold more than 12 million albums and scored 18 #1 hits at country radio.
It’s not because he’s been performing professionally since he was 13 as a regular on Wheeling, West thumb|300px|right|Brad Paisley; Alison Krauss - Whiskey LullabyVirginia’s famed Jamboree USA, becoming the youngest person ever inducted into the Jamboree Hall of Fame. It’s not because he’s won 14 CMA Awards, including Male Vocalist of the Year three times or because of the record-setting five consecutive Academy of Country Music Male Vocalist honors that count among his 14 ACM wins.
Paisley’s ninth studio album is titled This Is Country Music because this is the singer/songwriter/guitar virtuoso’s heartfelt homage to the music he’s loved since childhood. It’s a multi-faceted tribute to all the elements that embody country music from the young artist who single-handedly made Grand Ole Opry legend Little Jimmy Dickens cool to a new generation of country fans and who collaborated with the late Buck Owens, providing him with his only CMA Award win. Paisley’s well-documented march toward stardom has been an inclusive journey that has taken many of his heroes with him along the way. thumb|300px|right|Brad Paisley - Welcome to The Future
He continues to do that on This Is Country Music. The title track and lead single name checks some of the format’s legendary hits such as George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.” “The first song written for this album was ‘This Is Country Music,’” he says. “If you are going to call an album ‘This Is Country Music,’ the last thing I want to do is have somebody listen to it and have them say to themselves, ‘No, it’s not.’ So in many ways, this is the ‘countriest’ album I’ve done. The heart of it is totally country. I even threw a song out on this project that I loved, that could land on a future project, because it didn’t say ‘this is country music’ to me.
The album’s second hit single, “Old Alabama,” finds Paisley not only sampling Alabama’s classic hit “Mountain Music,” but reuniting Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry to perform on the track. “It’s really thumb|300px|right|Brad Paisley - Onlinea combination of what they do and what I do, which is not hard because I’ve ripped them off so many times over the years,” Paisley says with a smile. “They’ve been a major inspiration to me. I saw them play live many, many times. I remember going to the Civic Arena in Wheeling when they played and their opening acts were Clint Black and Lorrie Morgan. They were one of the first arena acts in country music. They were the first to really bring semi-tractor trailers down the road and have a big production.”
Alabama is an obvious influence for a country musician who came of age in the ‘80s, but on This Is Country Music, the three-time GRAMMY® winner paints a more expansive, textured portrait of the genre he loves. “I’m trying to do something brand new utilizing the influences that made me who I am,” Paisley says. “Some of them are not necessarily right within country music, but they are more important to modern country than you might think. There are influences that come into play like Eric Clapton. When I try to play or harness anything that has some soul to it, I’m usually channeling him . . . Don Henley and the stuff that The Eagles did in the ‘70s, they are responsible for what you hear on country radio now.” thumb|300px|right|Brad Paisley - Alcohol
Paisley wrote or co-wrote 12 of the album’s 15 tracks, recruiting an eclectic cadre of special guests, including Henley, Clint Eastwood, Sheryl Crow, Marty Stuart, Carl Jackson, Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton. Henley lends his distinctive vocals to “Love Her Like She’s Leavin’.” “It’s a real romantic song, and it feels like something that either he would have written or his band, The Eagles, would have done,” says Paisley. “So I thought he would be the perfect voice on the song.”
Paisley first met Eastwood at the White House during a Kennedy Center Honors reception. The legendary actor and his wife, Dina, then enlisted Brad to perform for one of their charity events in California. “When I was working on this record, and we wrote this instrumental, I had Eastwood in mind,” Paisley says of the tune he co-wrote with Robert Arthur and Kendal Marcy. “We started writing what felt like a western, and I thought we could call this ‘Eastwood.’”
In addition to always including an instrumental on every album, Paisley is also known for recording a gospel song on every album since his 1999 Arista Nashville debut, Who Needs Pictures. This time around he revives the classic “Life’s Railway to Heaven,” the first song he ever sang in church when he was nine years old. “I had Marty Stuart, Sheryl Crow and Carl Jackson all singing harmonies on that,” says Paisley, for whom 2011 marked his 10th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. “It turned out great. Wait until you hear their harmonies.”
On This Is Country Music, Paisley once again works with longtime producer Frank Rogers and co-writes with such frequent collaborators as Lee Thomas Miller, Ashley Gorley, Tim Owens, Kelley Lovelace and Chris DuBois. He and DuBois wrote the title track and penned more verses than would fit into a radio single, so Paisley opted to use some of the extra verses as intros for other songs throughout the record. The result is a wonderful narrative thread that gives the album an even more cohesive feel, like a great movie reeling with a vibrant cast of characters such as the girl who is “Working on a Tan,” an energetic ode to summer that finds Paisley channeling surf guitar legend Dick Dale.
“A Man Don’t Have to Die” is a sobering tale that many people will find easily relatable about living in difficult times. “One of Those Lives” is a poignant song about a childhood cancer. “New Favorite Memory” is a sexy number about falling in love with someone all over again during an unexpected moment.
This Is Country Music also includes duets with two of Paisley’s fellow country hitmakers, Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton. “It’s a fun song about getting somebody off your mind,” Paisley says of “Don’t Drink the Water,” a duet with Shelton, who will be joining him this summer on his H2O II: Wetter & Wilder World Tour. He and Underwood join forces on the incredible ballad “Remind Me,” about a couple looking to rekindle the spark in a relationship. “It’s a song about the conversation a couple would have. It could be seven months into the relationship or it could be seven years, but everybody’s been there,” Paisley says. “I love the honesty about that song.”
Paisley and Underwood had previously teamed on “Oh Love,” a track from his 2007 album, 5th Gear, and the two friends have hosted the last three CMA Awards telecasts. “There is no limit to how high she can sing. She’s amazing,” Paisley says. “I asked, ‘Is there any note you can’t hit?’ And she said, ‘I don’t know,’ and I was playing it for her, and I said, ‘How about high G,’ and she went, ‘Yeah, I can hit that.’ There’s honestly nobody better, and her instincts were perfect, too. When she came in to sing, every take was perfect. She 100% nailed it every time.”
In recording This Is Country Music, Paisley’s goal was not only to sonically capture the varied tones and textures of country music, but to lyrically reflect the lives of the people who love it. “There are stories and observations in songs like ‘A Man Don’t Have to Die.’ I didn’t write that song, but I heard it and instantly said, ‘This is exactly where I want to go with this album,’ because it is absolute reality for some people,” he notes. “In the title track, when I sing ‘This is real. This is your life in a song,’ not every one of these songs will be you at this moment, but several, I guarantee, will be. If they aren’t right now, a lot of them have the potential to be a story that applies to your life. That’s our job in country music.”