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Jazz Gal Anna Wilson Shakes Up Country Standards With Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, More

Our Country

It seems as if nearly every blog I write these days is something-or-other about a non-country artist venturing over into the country world. (What can I say? Country's hot, and cool.) However, most of these newly indoctrinated folks tend to come from the worlds of pop or rock, and usually do not have any professional country background before dipping their toes in the river.

Here's something a bit different, however. The artist I'm profiling today is rooted pretty firmly in the world of jazz--indeed, she is being called the "new Norah Jones" by some, and she topped the iTunes jazz chart last December with a collaboration featuring 2009 American Idol finalist Matt Giraud.

That said, Anna Wilson also has a definite and serious foothold in the country world. She moved to Nashville just days after graduating college, and has based herself there ever since. She's written or co-written songs for a number of country-music luminaries, with her catalog including "If I Knew Then" off of Lady Antebellum's Grammy-winning Need You Now, and "All I Ever Wanted" for Chuck Wicks.

And, most tellingly, she's well-known and well-loved enough in the Nashville music community to attract a heavyweight guest list for her latest album, Countrypolitan Duets, released Tuesday. She describes the album--a variety of well-loved country standards "jazzed up" with new arrangements--as country and jazz "shaking hands."

And quite a receiving line jazz is getting, I must say--Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Ray Price, Kenny Rogers, Connie Smith, and more all duet with the vocalist on the project. Wilson may be a jazz artist proper, but she certainly seems to have no problems hanging tough with the best country has to offer.

In fact, she even made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry last November.

"This album has been a labor of love," Wilson says of the collection, which marks her third release.

Indeed, Wilson tells some incredible stories regarding the making of her fusion album, not the least of which involved Ray Price--who at age 83 had to cancel his first recording session with her due to illness.

When Price finally rescheduled and came in four months later, he "nailed his vocal on 'You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,' in two takes," Wilson recalls. "There wasn't a dry eye in the control room."

In that room crying with the rest of the bunch? Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus, who was letting Wilson use his studio while hers was undergoing repairs.

Regarding all the contributions of her well-known friends, Wilson simply says: "I am grateful, and I think the fans will be too!"

Here's a video of Wilson singing the lead single from her album--which she actually performs with Idol Giraud. She's certainly seemed to have won a tremendous amount of acclaim in Music City. What do you think?

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