Sunday, 31 July, 2011 2:44 PM
CMA New Artist Spotlight: 'Frankie
by Clay Patrick McBride
country music artist Frankie Ballard
2011 CMA Close Up News Service
His soul is Country.
His style is to play loud and raw. His voice is husky and hard,
toughened perhaps by rocking rough-and-tumble clubs near his hometown
of Battle Creek, Mich. And in his slashing guitar, there’s
a heavy dose of Southern rock flavored by the blues, as if Jerry
Reed and Johnny Winter were jamming ZZ Top songs with Waylon Jennings.
Put it all together and
you’ve got Frankie Ballard, whose music grabs the listener
by the shoulders and yells, “It’s time to tear it up!”
Ballard started singing at age 5, when his dad began spinning Elvis
records for him. Still, he devoted most of his time to sports until
he turned 18, when he first picked up a guitar. With ferocious dedication,
Ballard woodshedded for hours every day, until he felt strong enough
to land gigs at Motor City blues venues. His chops and stage presence
grew to the point that in the summer of 2008 he won Kenny Chesney’s
“Next Big Star” regional competition for Michigan.
After opening for Chesney
in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Ballard scored a publishing deal with
Sony ATV Music Publishing and a record label deal with Warner Bros.
Records. Relocated to Nashville in April 2009, he connected with
some of the top local songwriting talent and eventually started
turning the results into the sizzling set to be featured on his
upcoming self-titled debut album, produced by Michael Knox.
Written by Dallas Davidson
and Marty Dodson, Ballard’s first single and music video,
“Tell Me You Get Lonely,” starts quietly with a beat
that intensifies as it locks onto a steady medium pace. His vocal
is rough but expressive, and on the harmonies in the chorus he maintains
that feel while hitting his parts flawlessly. Other tracks crank
it up (“While the Sun Sleeps,” by Rhett Akins, Davidson
and Ben Hayslip) or slow it down to a last-call plea from one who’s
sipped too much but loved not enough (“Sober Me Up,”
by Davidson and Ashley Gorley). In all settings, Ballard tempers
heartache with humor and lets his guitar tell the story too.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
DREAM DUET PARTNER
FAVORITE FOOD ON
FAVORITE MODE OF
“People who say ‘I could care less.’ It’s
PHRASE YOU SAY OVER
“Let’s melt some faces off!”
On the Web: www.FrankieBallard.com
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