Sugarland makes a run at Grammys' top prize

At the time, then-member Kristen Hall said this about the band's songs: "I want to hear them in Wal-Mart. I want to hear them on the ringtone of somebody's phone over there."

That mission was soon accomplished. But four years later, Hall is no longer part of the band she helped start with Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles.

Despite setbacks, the band has gone from strength to strength and is once again a Grammy contender.

Still, the oft-awarded band has yet to secure that trophy.

Tonight could be its night, though, as it is up for both country performance by a duo or group with vocals and country collaboration with vocals.

As the duo reaches for this possible new milestone, let's look back at the short but still quite strange trip of Sugarland.

1990: Hall releases her debut album, "Real Life Stuff." The singer-songwriter had been playing Atlanta's acoustic scene for several years and would continue into the '90s, at least when she wasn't on the road as a guitar tech for the Indigo Girls.

1994: In January, Billy Pilgrim, the duo formed by local singer-songwriters Andrew Hyra and Bush, releases its self-titled major-label debut on Atlantic Records.

1996: Soul Miner's Daughter, the duo of Cory Jones and Nettles, releases "The Sacred and Profane" and wins the Open Mic Shootout at Eddie's Attic. The pair would play Lilith Fair in 1999 before parting ways. Nettles would spend several years building a following as a solo artist before joining forces with Hall, Bush and the rest in Sugarland.

2002: Just months after forming, Sugarland first appears in the pages of the AJC on Aug. 8 in the live music picks column. It read: "A newly minted local supergroup fronted by Nettles includes former Billy Pilgrim member Bush, Simone Simonton of Lift and Hall. The group of Eddie's Attic country-folk favorites has been working on original material and has plans to hit the studio soon."

2003: A March 7 gig at the Roxy in Buckhead celebrates the release of the band's earliest recordings, a disc called "Premium Quality Tunes." The photo on the back shows six people.

A July gig in Nashville causes a big stir in Music City, with's Chet Flippo leading the chorus of acclaim. In September, the band announces a deal with MCA/Mercury Nashville.

2004: In October, the band's major label debut, "Twice the Speed of Sound," is released. And Sugarland is a trio.

Simonton and Bret Hartley file a lawsuit in DeKalb County Superior Court alleging that they contributed to songs that appeared on the album and were cut out of the authorship. The lawsuit was settled out of court, with the terms confidential.

2005: Debut single "Baby Girl" peaks at No. 2 on Billboard's country singles chart in April. The follow-up single, "Something More," would climb to the same position. In August, the band tapes a concert with Bon Jovi that would later air on CMT network's "Crossroads." It also leads to a hit single, "Who Says You Can't Go Home," which Nettles recorded with Bon Jovi. That track would top the country charts in spring 2006.

In November, the band wins an American Music Award for breakthrough new artist, beating out the Killers and teen dream Jesse McCartney. Hall does not attend. One month later, the band is nominated for a best new artist Grammy.

2006: At a January appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Hall is once again absent. Later that month, Hall issues this statement: "The requirements of performing on the road do not allow time to focus on relationships with other writers and recording artists essential for me to do what I do best — songwriting."

In December, Sugarland scores its first No. 1 country single with "Want To." The track comes from the band's second album, "Enjoy the Ride," which also includes the No. 1 "Settlin' " and the No. 2 "Stay."

2008: In early August, just as Sugarland's third album, "Love on the Inside," hits No. 1, Hall files a lawsuit seeking more than $1.5 million from the band's current members, claiming she is still owed a share of the profits from a partnership she helped create.

2009: In January, "Already Gone" becomes the second No. 1 single from "Love on the Inside" and Sugarland's fourth chart-topper.

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