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Influential Country Music Stars

October 7, 2011

By Joe Corazzi

In the world of music, no genre contains an appeal as uniquely American as country music. Throughout the history of style, countless performers have contributed to the unique identity that now characterizes country music. A handful of artists have had a particularly large impact on country music, forever changing the landscape of the genre and cementing their status as country music legends. Here is a quick look at some of the most influential country musicians of all time.

Willie Nelson: Easily one of the most recognizable names in country music, Willie Nelson has cultivated a following among country aficionados and non-country fans alike. Born during the height of the Great Depression, Nelson experienced a large measure of success in the early 1960s with albums such as And Then I Wrote. After a brief stint with the Grand Ole Opry, Nelson retired and moved to Austin, Texas, where his music saw a revival in fame, thanks to the popularity of hippie music during the 1970s. In recent decades, Nelson has continued to tour, release albums, and serve as an advocate for causes such as bio-fuels.

Johnny Cash: Perhaps the most iconic country musician ever to pick up a guitar, Johnny Cash became known for his brooding lyrics and deep, intimate vocal stylings. Throughout his career, Cash recorded a large number of signature songs, including “Get Rhythm,” “Man in Black,” “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Ring of Fire.” Through his music, Cash explored a variety of philosophical themes, including Christian morality, internal conflict, and the inevitability of death. During the early years of his career, Cash became known for his somber demeanor and dark performance clothing, earning him the nickname of “The Man in Black.”

Merle Haggard: One of the leading figures of the outlaw country music of the 1970s, Merle Haggard has become one of the most famous country music singers and multi-instrumentalists in the history of the genre. After experiencing early success in the 1960s, Haggard released one of his most famous songs, “Okie From Muskogee,” which expressed support for soldiers fighting in Vietnam and criticized uneducated protestors. In many ways, Merle Haggard was the straight-laced antithesis of Willie Nelson, expressing pride in his Middle America roots and patriotic beliefs.

Hank Williams: One of the earliest country musicians to experience widespread success, Hank Williams recorded no fewer than 35 singles that reached the top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart. With such hits as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” Williams has been covered by many famous artists, including Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Louis Armstrong, and Elvis Costello.

About the Author:

A longtime country music enthusiast, Joe Corazzi co-founded the now-ubiquitous Country Music Television (CMT) in 1983 and penned this intial information for the early marketing efforts of CMT. Mr. Corazzi currently serves as Chairman of the Capital Group based in Beverly Hills , CA.


Promoting Your Music, Part 2

August 24, 2011

By Joe Corazzi

Mr. Corazzi has long been an advocate of supporting new musical talent through popular venues and technology. A few suggestions were passed down to him as a guide to music publicity below, covering methods of generating interest ,, branding a style and persona, and going all-out in promoting. Here are some of the guidelines handed down by succesful artists and promoters.

Dance Club

Once you have a few singles or a complete album, shift your focus to introducing fans to you, your persona, and your work. Build a website and register for social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, the latter of which allows users to add streaming music to their homepages easily.

Think back to how you learned about your favorite artists. You may have heard their songs on the radio or perhaps visited their web pages and downloaded sample tracks. Until listeners hear your music, they cannot decide whether to invest in you. Upload one of your best songs to your website for downloading, or stream the song on your site or social page. Most importantly, people who enjoy your music will want more; make sure they know where to go to buy it.

The Internet may be the easiest method of spreading information, but it may not attract potential offline buyers. Before your next visit to your local nighttime hotspots, draw up flyers, produce stickers, and record free singles to pass around at such locations. Talk with club owners and contact local radio stations to see if they might consider playing your music during primetimes.

Most importantly, never stop working. When people become interested in your music, make sure you have more ready for them. As you promote chosen singles, keep revising old tracks and developing new ones.

About the Author:
A Chairman with Capital Group Inc., Joe Corazzi wields 39 years of experience in the investment field. Over the course of his career, Joe Corazzi co-founded Country Music Television (CMT), a network featuring videos and programming that promotes country music and lifestyles.

Promoting Your Music, Part 1

August 24, 2011

by Joe Corazzi

As the co-founder of Country Music Television, Mr. Corazzi appreciates music that holds a message, as well as the tenacity required of musicians who create and promote their own work. Having spent a great deal of time learning the ins and outs of music promotion he was n handed down a few ideas for beginners interested in breaking into the industry.


Choose an attainable goal that fits your schedule. Some musicians prefer to write and record one song, honing it until they feel comfortable passing it around. Others, mainly those who have spent lots of time writing and recording, prefer to put together a whole album. Should you go this route, pick two or three of your best tracks and plan to use those to demonstrate your abilities to studios, clubs, and anyone that may be interested in your sound.

Of course, not all music resonates with everybody. Research on the type of music you want to make and learn more about the genre’s demographic. Spend some time thinking about what drew you to that particular type of music. Why do you like it? What inspired you to create more music in its vein? Pick out the key appealing elements and make sure to inject them into your music.

Creative people draw inspiration from their forbearers. Your favorite musicians achieved renown because they understood what their fans wanted from them, yet they also added their own style to each track. Incorporate popular elements of the genre into your music, but make sure to infuse your tunes with a uniqueness that clearly separates you from other artists.

Joe Corazzi and The Berrys

May 3, 2011

When he co-founded Country Music Television in 1983, Joe Corazzi had already made a name for himself as a leading figure in satellite communications and entertainment broadcasting. However, fewer people knew him as the talented Joe Corazzi of The Viscount V and The Berrys, a band that achieved fame at the height of the rock ‘n’ roll era with hits like “Cherry Red Vette” and “Midnight Hour.”

In the mid-1960s, Joe Corazzi was a musically gifted teenager who divided his time between high school and gigs with his band, The Viscount V. Joe Corazzi served as junior class president and played on the baseball and basketball teams; after school, he wrote songs like “Cherry Red Vette,” a catchy homage to a classic car that became the band’s first record just six months after it formed.

After the record’s 1966 release by Lavette Records, “Cherry Red Vette” shot to local fame as the city’s number one record, impressing critics with its maturity and professional quality. The Viscount V soon became The Berrys, and the band established itself as a promising up-and-comer with songs like “My Angel” and “In the Midnight Hour,” a cover of the Wilson Pickett hit. The latter achieved the top spot on the rotation of Top 40 radio station KQEO, which attracted offers from several major recording labels. After careful deliberation, The Berrys signed a contract with Challenge Records.

Although Joe Corazzi later turned his attention to earning a degree in economics from the University of New Mexico and founding his own communications company, he never abandoned his first passion. Eventually, he returned to California and began a career as an innovative Beverly Hills-based businessman with an intuitive understanding of the entertainment industry. Today, he leads the investment firm Capital Group, Inc., as its longtime chairman, but he still enjoys playing music and keeping in touch with “Hick,” “Brillo,” “Ape,” and “Daffy,” the other members of The Berrys. For photographs, memorabilia, and a sampling of some of the records that rocketed The Berrys to state and national fame, visit