Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 1, 1998

Winstock artists: Wright, Nitty Gritty, Diffie

By Ryan Gueningsman

There are now only two weeks left until Winstock '98 and preparations are already under way.

This week I will be profiling Chely Wright, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Joe Diffie. They will be performing Saturday afternoon between 1:45 and 5:15 p.m.

Next week, look for profiles on the Mavericks, Martina McBride, and headliner Pam Tillis.

Chely Wright

Chely was born in Kansas City, Mo on Oct. 25, 1970, and raised in Wellsville, Ks.

Chely started singing at family gatherings and at the local church. At age 9 her parents bought her a piano. She loved playing the piano and frequently played and visited with the residents of a nursing home.

She formed her first band, Country Line, in 1981. She toured with them and, after finishing high school, moved to Branson, Mo. to perform in the "Ozark Jubilee."

This led to a job performing at Opryland in Nashville, Tenn. She did this for four seasons and, while doing this, she was able to become friends with Minnie Pearl, a great country artist, who recently passed away.

Chely later met Harold Sheed of Polydor Records. This led to her debut album, "Woman In The Moon."

Her second album, "Right In The Middle of It," led to a nomination for the ACM's 1995 best new female vocalist award. Wright claims when she won this award, it was a high point of her career.

She said "I was in the company of some really great singers (Lisa Brokop and Victoria Shaw). I was sitting there thinking how cool it was just to be in Hollywood and up for an award."

After releasing two albums and six singles, Polydor records closed. Many consider this to be Chely's big break. In early 1997 she was signed to MCA Records, and here she met Tony Brown, who produced her third album, "Let Me In."

With the release of her hit song "Shut Up And Drive," and many more soon to follow, she's going to have a success-filled career.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (NGDB) was formed in 1966. There were originally six members of the group.

Before they got a recording contract, they hung out at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Los Angeles, Calif. The year 1967 brought two albums, "Nitty Gritty Dirt Band," and "Ricochet.

After they appeared on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, they recorded "Rare Junk" and "Alive." Later in 1968 they were in the Walt Whitman National Forest filming "Paint Your Wagon," starring Clint Eastwood.

The NGDB found themselves in Nashville for the first time in 1970. Here they recorded platinum-selling "Will The Circle Be Unbroken."

In 1977 they were chosen as the first American band to tour the USSR. This proved to be a great success and they appeared before a tv. audience of 145,000,000.

Later this same year, they appeared on Saturday Night Live. 1984 brought the band its first number one record, "Long Hard Road (The Sharecroppers Dream)."

The group celebrated twenty years together in 1986 by releasing "Twenty Years Of Dirt." In the summer and fall of 1990, the band toured across America, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

To celebrate their 25th anniversary they recorded "Live Two Five." In 1996, they celebrated their 30th anniversary together with a live concert/video and world tour.

The NGDB has had great success with the release of over 20 albums and numerous singles, including "Fishing In The Dark" and "Angelyne."

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band members are: Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Jimmy Ibbotson, and Bob Carpenter.

Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie was born in Tulsa, Okla. on Dec. 28, 1958. At a very early age, Joe sang with his family at the local church. He graduated from the Velma-Alma High School in his hometown of Velma.

In high school, he belonged to two bands, a rock group called "Blitz," and a gospel group called "Higher Purpose," which recorded one album, "Love Grew."

Joe attended college at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He later married and went to work in the oil fields of Texas. He continued to follow his dream of becoming a singer by performing with local bands in night clubs.

He released the first of seven albums in 1990, "Thousand Winding Roads." Three years later a lifetime dream of becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry was achieved.

His latest release, "Twice Upon A Time" is bringing him more hits and more fans. Joe now has formed his own management company called "Third Roc Entertainment" and is looking into some acting projects.


See also: Winstock Web Site

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