This was posted on Thursday, February 23, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Georgia's Lauren Alaina came to "American Idol" at just 16 years old in 2011 and almost won.
Her past five-plus years have been a whirlwind. After her first album, a tour and a few minor singles, she hit some personal roadblocks. She was treated for bulimia. She ended up hurting her vocal cords and required surgery. Her parents divorced. Her father ended up in alcohol rehab.
But Alaina, who lives in Nashville, came out better on the other side. She was recently nominated for ACM New Female Vocalist of the Year. Her catchy single "Road Less Traveled" from her new album of the same name hit the top 10 the morning I spoke with her last week. She is also on tour now opening for Martina McBride, arriving in Atlanta today for a gig at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. (Buy tickets here.)
"I'm kind of an open book," she said, after telling her bulimia stories to ABC's "Good Morning America" and other venues. "It's not super duper hard to talk about things. Obviously, things are a little uncomfortable at first. I started talking about when I wrote these songs, I expected the follow up with having to explain them."
Indeed, her song "Pretty" is on the subject of her eating disorder, which preceded "Idol."
Alaina has also lost more than 30 pounds in the past year by a high protein, low carb diet and exercise. "I feel so much strong, so much healthier," she said. "I work out a lot. I'm a lot nicer to my body now."
She noted her father has been sober for four years. And she is fully recovered from her vocal surgery.
"The last three years, I went through a lot of heartache but things have turned around. Everyone says things happen for a reason. When you're in the middle of it, you can't be so sure it's true."
Despite being in the business as long as she has, she didn't find the ACM nomination problematic since "Road Less Traveled" is her first genuine radio hit, something she learned her first go around when her previous five singles failed to broach the top 25. "All of a sudden, my music has blown up," she said. "I'm very excited. I've been waiting six years. I've gotten the call five times, 'We decided not to work the single anymore.' I'm happy I haven't gotten that call this time."
While many would say she had "instant" success with "Idol," she certainly doesn't see it that way given the difficulties she faced.
"It makes me appreciate it more," she said. "I've had to work really really hard. My parents raised me that nothing is handed to me. I have definitely had to work for it. In a way, the payoff is so much better."
She said she cried in the airport, for instance, when she heard about the ACM nomination. "People were looking very concerned," Alaina said. "But it was happy crying. I'm a very sad looking crier. My face looks super splotchy!"
Country music hasn't quite had the female renaissance that pop music has. At the time her single entered the top 10 last week (she is now at No. 8 on Mediabase 24/7), she was the only solo female artist with Little Big Town (two men, two women) at No. 1 and a female singer contributing to Eric Church's No. 6 single "Kill a Word."
Still, Alaina said after a flood of "bro country" earlier this decade, the charts have diversified nicely. "There's rock country, there's blues country, there's pop country," she said. "Country music has evolved. It's important to have something for everyone."
She said she was paired up with McBride after appearing together at a CMT event last year. She said while she performed, McBride watched her entire set from the side of the stage. "I idolized her as a child," Alaina said. "She's one of my favorites. It was a really cool moment She turned to her tour manager and said, 'She'd be a great opener.' "
Alaina is looking forward to Atlanta because it's just a couple hour drive from Rossville, where much of her family and friends still reside. "I'll be home. I don't get to plaa Georgia very much. I'm very excited!"
She co wrote all 12 tracks on her current album. Over three-plus years, she said she actually penned 300 songs. So she culled big time. Ultimately, all the messiness in her life helped her songwriting. "I need that growth," she said, "to get me where I am now. And songwriting helped me in a therapeutic way. It helped me come to terms with a lot of it. It's easier for me to talk about things with a melody."
Plus, the magic of a hit song is it can connect to a wide swath of people who can glean their own experiences from the music, she said. "The songs aren't mine anymore. They're everybody's. That's the fun about music."
And at age 22, she feels like she has blossomed on stage as well. "I feel like I have something to say and know what I'm going to say," she said. "I've grown so much as an artist."
At some point, she would love to go to college, learn more about marketing and business. "I really love advertising," she said. "I could write slogans. I love making up slogans for companies!"
If you haven't heard "Road Less Traveled" yet, here it is. The chorus hook works well:
Ryan Seacrest's charity foundation has paired up with the Atlanta Braves.
According to the press release, the Braves plan to integrate this foundation's programs into various elements of the Braves’ promotional efforts at SunTrust Park, including work with Children's Healthcare facilities across America, including the one at Emory where Seacrest opened his first studio for the kids.
Seacrest, a Dunwoody High School graduate, has agreed to help celebrate the inaugural season at SunTrust Park by lending his voice to the Braves’ “Welcome Home” broadcast media campaign.
“Like the Braves, Ryan Seacrest has Atlanta roots which is what makes this such a natural partnership,” said Derek Schiller, president, business for the Atlanta Braves, in a press release. “All of Atlanta is proud of Ryan’s success, and we are excited to support the meaningful work The Ryan Seacrest Foundation does here in our city, as well as nationwide.”
The two sides are planning an annual concert fundraiser at the new Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre in The Battery Atlanta. Braves players will also visit Seacrest Studios at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a broadcast media center located in the hospital that enables patients to explore the creative realms of radio, television and new media.
In other Seacrest news, he had a fire near his home last week that could have been much much worse.
"My worst nightmare happened," he said on his morning radio show on Tuesday. "You're so grateful no one is hurt, you're so grateful you're there to find it."
He blamed heavy rainfall in Los Angeles leading to an electrical box to pop near his driveway, setting a trashcan on fire. The blaze then spread to a tree and the surrounding area.
A bankruptcy judge cleared a hurdle that will make it easier for FremantleMedia to bring back "American Idol," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Apparently, Fremantle and 19 Entertainment (which has gone through bankruptcy) both have stakes in the show.
According to court papers, an amended agreement "memorializes the parties’ intention to re-launch American Idol on American television by seeking a new license agreement with a broadcaster, network or other platform subject to various terms and conditions."
We have not heard anything new regarding NBC picking up "Idol" since the rumor came out three weeks ago.
Clay Aiken has been surprisingly tame on his Twitter feed since Donald Trump's election. This was one of his more pointed ones:
Jennifer Hudson is judging "The Voice UK" and spontaneously sang her hit "Spotlight" with the crowd. Just say one word: "Wow!"
Simon Cowell's home was burglarized in 2015 to the tune of $1.5 million and his private security guard in court this week denies it may have been an "inside job." More details here.
Adam Lambert denied rumors he is dating Sam Smith on "Watch What Happens Live."