This year's performances, announced at today's Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce meeting, will kick off with twice the music. Country music's Horizon Award winner Joe Nichols will sing and the group Emerson Drive will perform on Wednesday, Aug. 11.
Blake Shelton is the featured entertainer for Thursday, Aug. 12, while last year's sell-out entertainer Chris Cagle will make a return appearance on Friday, Aug. 13. Rounding out the rodeo's entertainment line-up is Phil Vasser, winner of the 37th Academy of Country Music Awards' Top New Male Vocalist honors in 2003.
"It is a young, very exciting group of entertainers we are bringing to this year's rodeo," said Tim Jaynes, co-chairman of the 2004 entertainment committee.
Jaynes explained the Jaycees have teamed with Wrangler to promote the entertainment line-up. The promotions will bring the entertainers in for special events and will provide opportunities for the public to meet the performers.
In announcing the lineup, Jon Gilmore, Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo publicity chairman, said the group has high expectations for the entertainers and what they will add to this year's Rodeo.
"This is a great list of stars we have coming," noted Gilmore. "Chris Cagle will make a repeat performance since we got such a great response from fans last year. Blake Shelton has a new album coming out ... They are all fantastic."
Born in Rogers, Ark., Joe Nichols grew up with country music around him and by age 19 had secured his first record deal. His career really took off with his 2002 album "Man With a Memory," the first project from the Universal South imprint. Nichols and the song "The Impossible" earned three Grammy nominations and "Brokenheartsville" hit No. 1.
As "The Impossible" was taking off, Nichols played the Grand Ole Opry every available Saturday night. In 2003 Alan Jackson invited Nichols to open selected shows on his tour and that same year Nichols won the CMA Horizon Award.
The release of "Emerson Drive" in May 2002 was an auspicious moment in the history of an outfit that began with a high school talent contest. When a few buddies formed an impromptu group doing an equally impromptu song, singer Brad Mates was a high school junior singing for the first time in front of an audience. Mates and Pat Bourque quickly recognized their mutual talents and tastes.
Along with singer Mates and bass guitarist Bourque, the band features Danick Dupelle on the guitar, Dale Wallace on the keyboard, fiddler David Pichette and drummer Mike Melancon.
The group made an impressive showing at the 2002 Canadian Country Music Awards, earning the status of Group or Duo of the Year and received the Chevy Truck Rising Star Award.
Although "Emerson Drive" was nominated for a 2003 Juno Award for Country Recording of the Year, the Emerson Drive boys aren't ones to rest on these laurels. "We've got the chance now to go out and play for people who will be coming especially to hear our music," Mates said. "That's when you realize you're getting to live your dream."
Already a breakout success, Blake Shelton's first hit single, "Austin," is waking up country music fans to this fresh new artist with his own voice and concept of delivering this music genre in its true form.
His Warner Brothers Records' debut album, Blake Shelton, also includes "All Over Me," co-written by Shelton and his "all-time musical hero" Earl Thomas Conley. The song combines a deviant double-entendre with Shelton's ability to nail a difficult and electric falsetto scaling into a masterful performance; the song has critics and fans entranced.
As a teen Shelton began writing his own songs and performing them in honkytonk bars and country music shows. Two weeks out of high school, he headed to Nashville where perseverance and his impressive singing talents led to demo sessions and eventually to Warner Brothers. Since then he has performed on the Grand Ole Opry and made his mark as a rising new talent in the business.
Chris Cagle, who wowed the Sikeston Bootheel Rodeo crowd in 2003, continues to garner fans with the music.
Whether it's "Just Love Me," the plea of an honest man looking for the woman he loves to love him completely or "I'd Be Lying," which traces the conflict of wanting to be in her arms but not being man enough to own up to all the things he's feeling, or even "It Takes Two," a classic George Straight hit that merges the dance floor with the notion that you've got to work with someone to get where you want to be, or "I Love It When She Does That," where a man is utterly taken over by love, lust and desire, Cagle examines the vulnerabilities of a man seeking his place in the world. "All of what I write is grounded in real life," he added. "It's not necessarily how I experienced it, but more the way I sometimes wish things would work out, you know - make it better."
He said sometimes people tell him their stories. "You'd be shocked what you hear on the road - and they're very sad. That hits me, so I try to write 'em happy endings (without using their names, of course) because sometimes you write about how you'd like life to be, rather than how it is."
When Phil Vassar strode to the podium in May 2002 to accept his Top New Male Vocalist Award at the 37th Academy of Country Music Awards, one fact was made crystal clear: America has a bona fide career artist on its hands.
As a singer, songwriter and performer, Vassar is artistically a triple-threat. He first exploded up the charts and out of America's radios with his self-titled 2000 Arista Nashville debut. That CD yielded the No. 1 single, "Just Another Day in Paradise" as well as the Top Ten hits, "Carlene, "Rose Bouquet," "Six-Pack Summer" and "That's When I Love You."
He's earned both CMA and ACM Award nominations, culminating in his 2002 ACM win for Top New Male Vocalists. Vassar is offering more of his singing and songwriting talents in his new album, American Child.
Tickets for the Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo went on sale today and will be available through March 27 at the rodeo grounds. One dollar from each ticket sold during these three days will be donated to the Kenny Rogers Children's Center.
Call (800) 455-2855 for more information.