Our guest this week on Art of the Song is new musical collaboration Blue Sky Riders. Riders is a musical trio consisting of singer/songwriters Kenny Loggins, Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr. The band released their debut album, Finally Home, on their own record label, 3Dream Records, on January 29, 2013.
About the artist (from the band’s website):
The creative spark that turned into Blue Sky Riders was struck as two veteran singer/songwriters worked on their first song together. “The best part,” says Kenny Loggins of that meeting with Gary Burr as he wrote for “How About Now,” his well-received 2008 release, “was that when we sang together, we sounded like brothers. The last time I experienced that kind of blend was with Jimmy Messina in 1971.”
Loggins, one of the premiere voices in modern popular music, called Burr, one of Nashville’s most accomplished writers, afterward and asked if he’d like to form a band. Then he suggested they look for a third, female voice.
“I’ve got the perfect person,” said Burr. “Georgia Middleman. She’s the best I’ve ever worked with.” Loggins flew to Nashville and the three sat down to write.
“What a meeting!” says Loggins. “We wrote our first song and were singing with a three-part blend that comes once in a lifetime.”
With that, Blue Sky Riders was a reality.
Middleman, a renowned singer/songwriter, says the experience has reminded her of the Joseph Campbell line, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
“I’m definitely looking bliss in the eye right now,” she says.
All three sing lead amid the three-part harmonies that told each of them from the beginning that they had something special.
For Loggins, Blue Sky Riders is a new creative step forward in a career filled with magic moments. His hits, early on as half of Loggins and Messina and then as a solo artist, include “Danny’s Song,” “House at Pooh Corner,” “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” “Angry Eyes,” “Whenever I Call You Friend” (with Stevie Nicks) and “This Is It,” a series of movie theme songs, including “I’m Alright” (Caddyshack), “Footloose” (Footloose), “Danger Zone” (Top Gun), and “Nobody’s Fool” (Caddyshack II), and later AC smashes including “Conviction of the Heart,” “The Real Thing,” “If You Believe” and “For the First Time.” His songs have been covered by artists including Barbra Streisand, Lynn Anderson, Anne Murray and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Loggins and Michael McDonald co-wrote “What A Fool Believes,” which received a Grammy for Song of the Year, and “This Is It,” which earned Loggins a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal.
Burr has been named Songwriter of the Year by ASCAP, Billboard and NSAI. His hits include Juice Newton’s “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me,” Conway Twitty’s “That’s My Job” and Wynonna’s “To Be Loved By You,” and his songs have been covered by LeAnn Rimes, Faith Hill, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Garth Brooks, Ricky Skaggs and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among many others. He has written and performed with Ringo Starr, had a worldwide hit with the Ricky Martin/Christina Aguilera smash “Nobody Wants to be Lonely,” and topped the charts with Kelly Clarkson’s “Before Your Love” and Clay Aiken’s “This is the Night.” He has toured with Carole King and produced Olivia Newton John, and early in his career spent three years as lead singer of Pure Prairie League.
Middleman was still a teenager when she began opening for artists like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Drawn to Nashville’s creative energy, she quickly landed a publishing deal with Polygram and released the well-received Endless Possibiities on Giant Records. She wrote Keith Urban’s 2010 chart-topper “I’m In,” and singles including Tracy Lawrence’s “It’s All How You Look At It” and Sarah Buxton’s “Innocence.” Her songs have been recorded by Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Terri Clark, Mark Chesnutt and Joe Nichols, among many others. She has toured with Radney Foster and sung backup for Jack Ingram, Marty Raybon, the Warren Brothers and many other Nashville artists.