Music Spotlight: Reba, Zac Brown Band and More

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Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Barbara Klein.

This week on our program, we have music from the latest albums by country singer Reba McEntire and saxophonist David Sanborn.

We also tell you about a hot new group, the Zac Brown Band. And we play music from the movie "Crazy Heart."

"Consider Me Gone" is from Reba McEntire's latest album. She has recorded more than thirty albums since she had her first number one song on the country music charts. "Can't Even Get the Blues" was released in nineteen eighty-three.

Reba McEntire has won two Grammy Awards and seven Country Music Association Awards. Add to that her twelve Academy of Country Music Awards and fifteen American Music Awards.

But her main interest in recent years was acting. She had a situation comedy series on television for six seasons. And she starred in a musical play on Broadway. She was Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun."

Today, the fifty-four year old entertainer says she is only doing music. She spent twenty-five years with MCA Records. Now she has moved to Valory Music, an independent record label in Nashville, Tennessee. Her new album, her first for the new label, is called "Keep on Loving You." She says she was thinking of her loyal fans.

Reba McEntire has sold millions of albums over the years. But the first release from her newest album was the fastest rising single of her career. The song is called "Strange."

Reba McEntire is now performing on tour with two other country stars, George Strait and Lee Ann Womack. And in April she will host the Academy of Country Music Awards for the twelfth time.

Last year the Academy of Country Music named the Zac Brown Band as top new group. Now they have won the Grammy Award for best new artist.

They released the first of their two albums in November of two thousand eight. The first hit single from "The Foundation" was a song called "Chicken Fried."

The band is from the American South. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Zac Brown was born and raised in the state of Georgia. He and the five other members of his group strongly identify with country music. But their songs also appeal to fans of bluegrass, reggae and other kinds of music.

Here is the Zac Brown Band with a song called "Whatever It Is."

The Zac Brown Band is on tour and will be in the western United States next month.

Alto saxophonist David Sanborn is a three-time Grammy winner who has been recording music for thirty-five years. His first album was "Taking Off" in nineteen seventy-five.

David Sanborn became serious about music at the age of eleven. That was after going to a live performance by Ray Charles and hearing the saxophone of Hank Crawford. On his new album David Sanborn plays Hank Crawford's hit "The Peeper."

David Sanborn is on tour around the country performing songs from his latest album. The album is called "Only Everything." David Sanborn plays "Blues in the Night."

Ever heard of a country singer named Otis Blake?

He calls himself Bad Blake, and bad is a good description of his life. He was a big star. Now he is fifty-seven and damaged by too much alcohol, too many cigarettes and not enough inner strength. The best he can do is open shows for the young star he trained. He ruins his chance with a woman who tries to save him. But in the end there is hope for this singer, who exists only in a movie and its soundtrack.

Bad Blake is a character played by actor Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart." The movie's theme song, "The Weary Kind" by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett, is nominated for an Academy Award. And so is Jeff Bridges. He is nomined for best actor. If he wins on March seventh, it will be his first Oscar out of five nominations in the past forty years.

Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach, Mary Morningstar and Doug Levine. Caty Weaver was our producer. I'm Barbara Klein.