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Then and Now

Mike Sudhalter  |  June 21, 2007

When I was a kid, I used to buy baseball card sets from the early 1980's. There used to be these cards that featured "stars of tommorow" for each team, with three per squad. The Montreal Expos had Tim Raines plus two guys I'd never heard of. It's funny how some people become stars. With others, you wonder whatever happened to them.

I recently dug up the Country Weekly magazine issue from Jan. 5, 1999. It featured the highlights of 1998 in country music and also had a section about the rising stars of 1999. In many cases, this is how I first discovered new talent back in the day.

The rising stars of '99. Jessica Andrews, James Prosser, Shane Minor, Montgomery Gentry, Julie Reeves, Monte Warden, Brad Paisley, Claudia Church, Andy Griggs. Springer!, Steve Holy, and South Sixty-Five.

Only Paisley and Montgomery Gentry have been consistent stars (2 of 12 - or 16.7%). Andrews, Griggs and Holy have had some success. It's funny to look back at what the magazine wrote... "Brad Paisley has earned a living as an accomplished, the West Virginia native is ready to take center stage himself."

MG has evolved since its debut single "Hillbilly Shoes", and these days, it's hard to remember a time when Eddie Montgomery was John Michael Montgomery's older brother. Now, JMM is Eddie's younger brother.

For curiosity's sake, let's google the other seven artists who were either one-hit wonders or found out their careers never took off. None of them came close to the 1,400,000 hits of Paisley or MG's 606,000.

James Prosser

Prosser, a Kansas native, gets 867 hits, and many of them include his single, "Life Goes On". I don't remember hearing the song. The article mentions Prosser's humble beginnings in music. While it's nice to hear those anecdotes about the artists who've made it, it's kind of sad to read it, then look back and realize an artist never did. His CMT page reveals that he played Fan Fair 1999.

Shane Minor

I actually remember hearing a couple of Minor songs, like "Slave to the Habit" and "Ordinary Love". It's funny to find out that he's from the Modesto, Calif. area. Eight years ago, that wouldn't mean anything to me, but now I live relatively close to there. I've heard he's still involved in songwriting, and 23,000 comes up when you google him.

Julie Reeves

Reeves was so talented, it's a shame she didn't make it with her single, "Trouble is A Woman". I remember going to a country music festival in Hartford, Conn. during the summer of 1999 where Reeves and Claudia Church were two of the opening acts. Out of the blue, American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle performed "Trouble Is A Woman" in 2007. Unfortunately, no website for Reeves. (29,700 hits)

Monte Warden

Never heard anything from Warden, but it sounds like he was a Texas country singer trying to make a mark in Nashville to no avail (30,100 hits)

Claudia Church

I loved Church's song "Home in My Heart (North Carolina). Wish I loved my home state enough to write a song like that. She's married to country star Rodney Crowell, but unfortunately her self-titled debut disc in '99 was all we heard from her. (20,700 hits)


This is the first band I've heard of with an exclamation point at the end of it. I don't think they ever had an album released, but I would like to have heard more from beautiful singer/guitarist Shara Johnson. Springer was started by songwriter Roger Springer, and included himself, Johnson and Joe Manuel. The Roger Springer Band yields 623 hits. Wait, apparently they changed their name and ditched the exclamation point. They're on itunes under "Roger Springer Band". I'll check them out.

South Sixty-Five

Thank goodness this country version of a boy band didn't catch on, and they only yield 15,900 hits. Wait, I think they paved the way for Rascal Flatts. Nope, that's not fair to Rascal Flatts. These guys were so pop, they made Rascal Flatts look like Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours.

Wow, it was fun to take a trip down memory lane and also, to find out that Springer! actually released an album.

Unfortunately, many of these artists couldn't promote their music through the Internet like artists can today. That might be a double-edged sword, because there's so much new music on the Internet that it's easy to get lost in the shuffle.

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