Producer Mark Bright gives insight into his working relationship with Carrie Underwood and explores achievements with BlackHawk, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, and others on stage at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The program—held July 27, 2013, in conjunction with the “Carrie Underwood: The Blown Away Tour” exhibition (June 5, 2013, through November 10, 2013)—begins with a video clip of Underwood speaking about her studio interactions with Bright.
Afterward, Bright tells host Michael McCall that Underwood trusted her studio colleagues to do the right thing on her first album. By the second album, he says, “her wealth of knowledge increased exponentially” and she became actively interested in drum sounds and guitar choices. Bright notes that he and Underwood interact with “absolute honesty,” and that both strive to make the best record they possibly can.
The producer traces the development of his own career—from an epiphany, at seven or eight years old, after seeing producer George Martin’s name on Beatles albums, to finding further inspiration hearing Dave Loggins’s “Please Come to Boston” on the radio during a family trip, and later, that impulse leading him to Nashville.
Bright says he didn’t know anything about country music when he first moved to Music City, and found no interest from the Christian music industry. Through a friend, John Briggs, he landed a job at publishing company Screen Gems/Colgems, where he recorded demos—including the first-ever demo sung by then-unknown Trisha Yearwood, and a jingle with Vince Gill singing about Miller beer.
Asked about his lessons during this era, Bright says, “Over time, you start developing your own sensibility of what you think a good song is, and then actually one comes out and becomes a hit, and it makes you feel a little bit more secure in what your opinion is.”
Bright shares memories of developing and shaping BlackHawk’s distinctive vocal blend, securing a deal with Arista Nashville, and producing the group’s records, which led to hits including “Goodbye Says It All,” “I Sure Can Smell the Rain,” and “That’s Just About Right.”
Mark Bright’s career had its rough spots, too, and he recalls a few—including how the four artists he produced after BlackHawk failed to take off, and how he lost a publishing job at EMI Music Nashville because he spent too much time producing.
Other topics the producer explores: his involvement with launching Rascal Flatts’s career (and how their success might have saved him from financial ruin), and some of the important, lesser-known qualities that a producer needs, such as compiling a realistic budget and turning in projects on time.
Winding down, Bright explains how he developed a family-like relationship with Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock by leasing an office in their Starstruck Entertainment building. In time, she casually mentioned that they should record together, and that partnership led to McEntire’s hit “Consider Me Gone.” Bright also talks about how he placed a No. 1 hit, as a songwriter, with George Strait’s “Give It All We Got Tonight.”
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Learn about current exhibitions: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/current-exhibits/
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