DIARY - 21 OCTOBER 2004 - CATHERINE BRITT UPDATE
BRITT TAKES NASHVILLE
NEW YORK TOO
a long way from the suburbs of Newcastle to Nashville and New York
City but teenage troubadour Catherine Britt has made the journey.
Fans of Britt, just 19, may have been surprised by the stealth of
the journey - she left home when she was 17.
But the BMG marketing campaign, replete with $30,000 photo shoot,
radio and TV video documentary and lavish new web page, was carefully
second album Too Far Gone has been fermenting for more than
six months as she did an extensive radio campaign to promote the
single Upside Of Being Down.
produced by hot shot singer-songwriter, producer and recording artist
Keith Stegall and Bill Chambers, won't be lost in the Christmas rushes.
It's likely to be released early next year long after Chambers and daughter
Kasey end their current U.S. tour.
The single entered the highly competitive Billboard charts two month ago
at #57 and cracked the Top 40 this week at #36.
That coincided with Britt performing music industry showcases in Nashville
and New York City.
MORPHES INTO BIG APPLE
a far cry from the modest Melbourne launch of her debut ABC disc
Dusty Smiles And Heartbreak Cures that had been on the market
for more than a year as an indie release.
Britt and veteran guitarist Mick Hamilton performed a selection of
her songs at the tiny, smoky Cherry Bar in the Melbourne CBD.
The Cherry Bar, subject of massive publicity since its Corporation
Lane locale was re-named to honour heavy metal legends AC-DC.
enthusiastic but small army of media and record retailers on the night
were Wimmera country music buff David Heard - a one time Nu Country DJ
who earned his stripes on pioneer community station PBS-FM.
Heard, who has showcased country and acoustic music for more than two
decades on PBS, hosts Acid Country on 106.7 each Thursday from 1-3 p m.
Acid Country is a country oasis in the pop, rock, rap, blues, techno and
dance music desert on metropolitan radio.
Also catching Britt in this quaint city locale was Nu Country TV videographer
Carol Taylor - a former music writer for the now defunct Sydney Daily
Mirror from 1980-5.
We would love to have Catherine and fellow expatriate guitarist-singer
Jedd Hughes headline our Arts Centre show on January 30 but that seems
Britt is likely to return home to spend Christmas with her parents Steve
and Anne and brothers.
She might even be here for her 20th birthday on New Year's Eve and Tamworth
gigs but her energies will be focused on making it in the U.S. at a quicker
pace than chart topping superstar Keith Urban.
CHET FLIPS OVER BRITT
has won widespread acclaim from critics diverse as Chet Flippo and
Canadian Greg Quill who performed here with his band Country Radio
in the seventies.
Flippo praised Britt on the CMT web page after catching her earlier
this year at the famed Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway in
"Catherine did get to meet Chet Flippo - she recognised him straight
away from the cover of the Hank biography - they plan to catch up
for lunch at some stage," father Steve Britt told Nu Country.
And, yes, she does have a tattoo of her mentor Hank Williams Sr on
her upper thigh as revealed by CMT columnist Hazel Smith - a confidant
and cheer leader for Waylon & Willie in their halcyon outlaw days.
does have a tattoo of HANK on her upper thigh which she got done here
in Australia about 2 years ago - it is easy to see if she wears a bare
midriff top," Britt Sr confessed.
So it's not
just her manager Steve White who is singing her praises after her gigs
in Nashville and New York.
It may be the lack of oxygen on the planes but White, one time manager
of Dragon and latter day career caterer of Lee Kernaghan, seemed to speak
from the heart in his latest missive home from the war front.
A different emotion perhaps to having to deal with daily dalliances of
Dragon in their roller coaster rock ride in the eighties.
"Many of you know I have come to Nashville for Catherine Britt's
first major performance to media, industry and BMG/RCA label people,"
"Well all I can say is "a star was born tonight" and Australian
country music has another international voice that will pave the way for
more talented Australians in the future.
"Catherine was simply superb tonight. The response from the crowd
was very, very warm.
There was a real buzz of excitement in the room. It was a great - and
moment for her. Joe Galante, head of BMG SONY group in Nashville, and
a country music legend, summed up Catherine's performance as; 'she was
special. When she smiled, the entire crowd smiled with her. Her rapport
with the audience was excellent. The band was great and Catherine was
flawless and I mean flawless.'"
on this day her first single, Upside Of Being Down, went from 42
to 36 on the American charts.
call Catherine "my little superstar". From what I saw tonight
she will be, in time, a big superstar. Speaking of superstars the
follow up single in America looks like being
the duet with her pal Sir Elton John.
"I hope to come home next week with news of an Australian release
date for the album. The title of the album is Too Far Gone.
"In a few hours we head off to the airport. Today my little superstar
takes on New York City with another performance that will gather even
more support for our girl from the NY offices of BMG/SONY and the
She has People
magazine and other major media interviews including Britain's BBC on Thursday
in New York.
So the magical journey continues for our Catherine who is doing an incredible
She is missing home a lot but she remains focused. For a nineteen year
old she is
amazing and we can all be feeling very proud of her.
Another first for today - Catherine's new web site went up - check it
out - www.catherinebritt.com
"I will let you know how NYC goes."
We can reveal
the exact track listing of Too Far Gone as Britt builds on the
genuine success of her single in the world's competitive market.
White says the next single is likely to be Where We Both Say Goodbye
- the tune she penned with prolific writer Jerry Salley - as the Atlanta
recorded duet with Sir Elton John.
There's little likelihood of Britt miming it on international TV or on
her whirlwind homecoming over our summer.
But the quest for success has its price - Britt reveals in the explanation
of her songs she wrote Fallin' Out Of You about her childhood sweetheart
who was also the source of 46 Miles From Alice on her debut disc
Dusty Smiles And Heartbreak Cures.
It's a tribute to Britt's candour and honesty she didn't fudge over her
That's also a barometer to the refreshing change and contrast to comparative
values of country and rock.
While Australian mainstream radio ignores the success of Britt and country
peers we await her emergence on its surrogate - commercial, cable &
community TV - we have taken the liberty of letting her talk about her
Too Far Gone
THE UPSIDE OF BEING DOWN
Upside Of Being Down" (Christi Baker, Shari Baker, Rory Lee Feek)
"I'm not sure I can write a single, because I can't think about what
I'm writing, or make myself write. But while I was in Australia, with
no way to find songs for myself, Renee Bell at RCA sent this over, and
it really spoke to me. I thought it was really perfect for me and would
make a great single. It's got great tempo, it's cute, and it's country
- and who doesn't love a cute country song?"
PAIR OF SHOES
New Pair Of Shoes" (Dean Dillon, Jim McBride)
"The first time I got together with Dean Dillon to write, we wanted
to get a vibe for each other, and just sat and talked. When we met the
next time, I sang him some of my songs, and then he sang me A New Pair
Of Shoes, and I almost fell over backwards - but then it slipped my mind.
A while later, I went on a trip to see Kenny Chesney with some RCA people,
and after the show, he and some of the other artists on the show and some
songwriters and I all sat around for hours and just jammed. It was great,
and Kenny and I became friends. Dean was there, and I said, 'Sing that
song that you sang for me that day.' So he did, and Kenny was all over
that song! And I was telling him, 'I told you, it's the best song ever'
- but then it slipped my mind once again. When it got pitched to me later,
toward the end of making the album, I said, 'Hold it for me straightaway,
that's my song!' We cut it with this really Patsy Cline kind of arrangement,
and later on, when I played the album for Kenny, he said, 'You cut that
song, dang it!' Then he asked me if he could sing harmonies on it, and
I said, 'of course you can.' And that made it a cool thing. I have so
much respect for where Kenny is, he's worked hard for that. And his heart's
in the country."
CARE ABOUT ME
Don't Care About Me" (Bruce Robison)
"I am a huge Bruce Robison fan, and a huge Kelly Willis fan. I wanted
to be her when I was fourteen, and he's been a big, big influence on me.
And so when I heard Kelly sing the demo on this, I grabbed it. He's got
so many great songs that have been cut by big artists, but I found something
that no one else had even touched before, and it's got such a cool, bluegrass-y
kind of vibe."
Nobody's Fool" (Catherine Britt, Brice Long)
"We wrote that song about a guy in Nashville, a random guy, but it's
a real story. I was telling Brice about it, just being friends, and I
must have said something to him like, 'Man, I'm nobody's fool.' He said,
'Hang on a minute.' So we just went with it, and I basically told him
the story as we wrote it. I would say, well, this happened, and then we'd
think, 'OK, how do we put that into a line?' So the song is like that
night, basically, one line at a time. And if you listen to the words,
it all makes perfect sense - meeting a married man trying to do the unforgivable."
Doggin'" (Catherine Britt, Jerry Salley)
"This is our tribute to Hank Williams. We were in a Hank kind of
mood the day we wrote this, and we were writing a song about something
else when we start taking about 'hot doggin'' - I always say 'hot dog'
when I'm singing, just mucking around - and it came from that. We wanted
to use the whole call-and-response thing that Hank had on 'Move It On
Over,' which I'd recorded on my first album. And then we had Don Helms
come and play on it. On my very first trip to Nashville, when we signed
with Stan Moress as my manager, he suggested that I make up a list of
people I wanted to meet, and of course, knowing all my Hank stuff, Don
Helms was on it. The day after we met with RCA, I went over to his office,
and when I walked in, an older man and woman were sitting there. Stan
said, 'Catherine, this is Don Helms.' There's a videotape of the whole
thing, and I was just a mess. I look at it, and I see myself staring at
him, asking questions, laughing - I was so overwhelmed I was just goofy.
Don Helms is really an amazing person. He has so much love, and so much
passion. Later I rang him up and asked him if he would play on my album.
It really touched him that I was young and yet I knew who he was. And
when he came in to play, I remember looking around the room, and there
was not one dry eye in the house. Keith Stegall was bawling his eyes out,
Bill Chambers, my dad, me, everyone. I was so shaken up that we couldn't
record any more that day. It was just too emotional. "
TOO FAR GONE
Far Gone" (Catherine Britt, Paul Overstreet)
"I guess this song's kind of obvious in what it's about. When I first
came to the States I was seventeen, and mum and dad went everywhere with
me. They managed everything I ever did, they looked after everything,
they drove me everywhere. I didn't have any other way of dealing with
it, because I was a kid. And I loved having them there. But when I came
to Nashville, I had to come alone, and it freaked me out. I was living
in a house, on my own, and I was doing all these things that I'd always
dreamed of doing, but I had no family, no friends. I'd never been alone
before, and it was the best thing I ever did for myself in a lot of aspects,
but it was so scary at the time, and I really had a hard time dealing
with it. I went to write with Paul Overstreet one day, and I'd had a bad
day and I was missing home really bad. I had just gotten off the phone
with my parents, and I was kind of down, and so I started to talk about
it, because I don't like to fight emotions. I'm very open. And so the
song is full of my images of home when I'm not there - I'm too far gone,
trying to make it on my own. There's all this sadness, but on the other
hand, I'm pursuing what I've always dreamed of doing, and I've got to
be strong. That's what this song's all about, and I think a lot of people
can relate to that, because we all have to leave home."
"We were getting down toward the end of the album recording session,
looking for some songs and having a hard time finding the right ones.
RCA was trying really hard to get into my zone, coming up with good songs
that were really country, but I just didn't feel any of them were right
for me. But when I heard this one, I thought, 'Yeah!' It blew my mind
that I'd forgotten about it, because I just love that song. It's so Bruce
- and of course, I love Kelly's cut on it."
OUT OF LOVE WITH YOU
Out Of Love With You" (Catherine Britt, Brice Long)
"This was a very emotional song for me to write. I dated a guy from
when I was fourteen to when I was eighteen - most of my dating life. He
was my best friend for about a year, when I was thirteen and then we started
dating. It was the first time I'd ever been in love. And he played in
my band, so he was a huge part of my life, and a huge part of my career.
I didn't want to - I cared about him, and about his feelings, - but I
fell out of love with him. Brice and I wrote the song right after he flew
back to Australia, so the emotions were very fresh. He was so entangled
in my life that I felt like everything revolved around him and me, and
by letting him go, I was letting my whole life go. It was the hardest
thing I ever did. There's so much emotion in that song, it's so hard to
sing. If you listen to the words, it tells you exactly what happened."
Man's Pride" (Catherine Britt, Guy Clark, Jerry Salley)
"I'm not afraid to say when somebody's written more than the others,
and Guy Clark had a big hand in this song. I had a title and an idea,
but I didn't know what it meant, or what it was about. But Jerry Salley
had a basic story of his family, and we started from there and made it
something different. It took two full days of hard core writing - the
longest songwriting session of my life - because Guy just wanted to get
it right. It was so tiring, but when we were done we were so proud of
it. It's one of those songs that's a great story, which is what a lot
of country music is about, and it's a country story, about a farmer and
a farmer's life. I love that song."
WE BOTH SAY GOODBYE
We Both Say Goodbye" (Catherine Britt, Jerry Salley)
"Ever since we met, Elton and I have stayed in touch. He would send
me emails asking what I was doing, what's up, which was really sweet.
Bill Chambers rang me one night and said, 'Why don't you ask Elton to
do a duet with you on the album?' I thought, why would I ask Elton John
to sing on my little album? But Bill said, 'What's the worst that can
happen?' I didn't do anything about it for a while, and then one night
I just wrote an email and asked him. He wrote back and said he would love
to. It was a long time ago, and I didn't bug him about it after that,
and there were a lot of ways that he could have got out of that, but he
kept following up. He called me one day to ask what kind of song I wanted
to do together, and when I told him I thought it would be cool to do a
real country duet, he said, 'I was hoping you'd say that.' Elton just
loves country music. So I sent him George and Tammy, Conway and Loretta,
things like that, and he said, 'Put some originals in there that could
be duets.' So I did, and he told me, 'They're all great, but I really
want you to decide. I'll sing on any of them, they're all amazing - but
I love your song.' Which was, of course, a huge honour. We did the tracking,
so all we had to do was get his vocal, and then we went in the studio
and sang it live, to each other. I think that had a lot to do with the
way he really got into my vibe and my style, because how often does Elton
John do that? But he came into my world for a minute, and then you start
to hear some of the phrasing and you think ah, there it is, there's Elton
John. It's so different, I love it."
News Travels Fast" (Catherine Britt, Jerry Salley)
The way Jerry and I write is kind of funny. We just sort of muck around
and talk, until we say something that pops up - an idea, or a title -
and then we'll work on that. This was just one of those things that popped
up one day when we were talking, and we just went with it and made a up
a real country sort of story, about a guy who just moves on - a traveller.
It's always great to write about something that's real, that's actually
happened, but sometimes it's fun to just make up somebody's life off the
top of your head. And with that bluegrass-y train beat, it's a very Jerry
Salley sort of song, but it's a me sort of song, too."
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