After nearly 7 years, MinnesotaCountry.com founders Karleen and Brandon Wallin have sold their business. (more…)
White Bear Lake, MN resident and regional country music artist Jake Nelson has just released the brand new music video for his new single “You’re Not Alone”. The single shines light on suicide awareness, a topic many don’t speak about, yet it’s such a big issue in the world we live in. Whether you’re in a hard place, know someone who’s comitted suicide, don’t know much about suicide, or you’re just a country music fan, please take a moment to check out the video below. Do your part in bringing awareness to the topic by sharing this as well. (more…)
It’s been almost three decades since Garth Brooks debuted his song “Unanswered Prayers” on his “No Fences” album–That’s 1990 for those keeping track.
This song, that Brooks co-wrote with two others, tells the true story of Garth meeting the girl of his dreams many years later after the two had separated and realizing hat he was actually happier with what he had instead of what he thought he wanted.
The song was so loved that there was even a 2010 Lifetime TV movie, Unanswered Prayers, inspired by it. Starring Eric Close and Samantha Mathis, the movie depicts Ben Beck returning to his hometown as a married man and having his marriage tested when he bumps into his old high school flame.
Hear Garth’s true story come to life in “Unanswered Prayers”!
Many will know Bill Lunn from his position as Emmy award winning news anchor at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul, but recently, Lunn has added “author” to his list of talents. Heart of a Ranger, a two-and-a-half-year venture about Army Ranger Ben Kopp, is his first book set to release May 2017. MinnesotaCountry.com sat down with Bill for the inside scoop.
Minnesota Country.com: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE HEART OF A RANGER? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TELL RANGER BEN KOPP’S STORY?
Bill Lunn: I was inspired by many things to write Heart of a Ranger. First I covered Ben Kopp’s story as a news reporter, traveling to the Chicago area to meet Ben’s heart recipient Judy Meikle. I interviewed both Judy and Ben’s mom, Jill Stephenson, and we put together a compelling TV news story back in 2011. But the story really stuck with me. When people would ask, “What is your most memorable news story?” I would always say the story about Ben Kopp laying down his life for his country in Afghanistan and then saving at least four people through organ donation, including donating his heart.
I was also inspired by the book, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. She is a tremendous writer and researcher. Unbroken was a true account of some extraordinary events that happened during World War II. I would never compare myself to someone of Hillenbrand’s stature, but as I was reading the book I thought to myself, I can do this. I am a journalist. I am trained to research things, interview people, and write about it. I was traveling to Fort Benning in the fall of 2014 to visit my son who was going through OSUT (basic training) and I recalled that’s where Ben had trained and had been based as a Ranger. On the flight down in 2014, that’s when I turned to my wife and said I was going to write the book. I had lunch with Ben’s mom about a week later, and she said that she’d been praying for six months that someone would approach her with this.
MNCountry: WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOUR READERS TAKE AWAY FROM THE BOOK?
BL: Well, first this is all about Ben. Ben Kopp sacrificed his life for our country. He paid the ultimate price. And based on some of his conversations in life he knew the risks, and he was willing to do that. I am a firm believer that freedom is not free and that it comes with a cost. So I hope my readers are appreciative of Ben’s sacrifice.
The book is also very much about Ben’s mom, Jill Stephenson. She is a shining example of a Gold Star mother. Ben was her only child. How does one deal with unspeakable loss? The book offers people who’ve suffered unthinkable tragedy the hope to go on and find meaning and purpose in loss. Jill is a great example of that.
Ben lived life at an incredible pace. Even though he only lived 21 years, he was “stuck on full throttle” as one of his Ranger brothers said at his funeral. The book kind of moves along at Ben Kopp’s pace. I think it’s very entertaining, simply because Ben was a very interesting and inspiring young man. For those interested in military stories and special operators, this is a very deep and intimate look into their world. And finally, it shows everyone the importance of being an organ donor.
MNCountry: WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART AND WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN COMPLETING THIS BOOK ABOUT RANGER BEN KOPP?
BL: I was mesmerized by hearing the stories from Ben’s fellow Rangers. I interviewed Rangers of various ranks and duties. It was an honor to be able to interview more than 20 Rangers who gave me very personal accounts of not only life as a Ranger, but about Ben, even intimate details of how he was shot during a big battle in Afghanistan and how his death affected them. They did not have to do that. For some of the Rangers, the interview process was a very emotional process. But nearly every one I asked for an interview was willing to share his story, and I am deeply grateful for that.
The biggest challenges were tracking down that next interview. Jill was tremendously helpful with that as she keeps in touch with Ben’s Ranger brothers. But knowing that there were pieces of the puzzle missing and figuring out where to turn to get those answers was tremendously challenging. Another challenge was figuring out what to cut out of the book. There were so many interesting stories about Ben, and they were not all going make it in the final draft. That was difficult to do, but the editors I worked with were terrific and made the book much more readable. Heart of a Ranger is a patriotic story of an American hero. Someone we should all know and appreciate.
Be the first to get a copy of Heart of a Ranger at its official launch party hosted by Bill Lunn at Bogarts in Apple Valley, MN, on May 19, 2017! Head over to the event’s Facebook page for full details.
Heart of a Ranger will be available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Itasca Books, Magers and Quinn, and The Book Stall immediately after the release party.
As an added bonus, come out to the release party to hear country band, JT & The Gunslingers play after the book signing! And if that’s not enough for you, come to celebrate Ben Kopp’s mother, Jill Stephenson’s birthday.
Bill will be signing copies of Heart of a Ranger:
Friday, May 26th– Magers and Quinn in Minneapolis, MN from
Saturday, June 17th– The Book Stall on Elm Street in Winnetka, Illinois from 2-5 pm (Details here)
Bill Lunn on Facebook.
Bill Lunn on Twitter.
Written by Kayla Meyer
Colleges across the country are on Spring Break this week! Whether you’re on Spring Break, somewhere on a beach, or just chilling at home, Thomas Rhett has the perfect song for you to party like you’re on vacation! You don’t have to be at Turks and Caicos for it to feel like it.
So put some liquor in your coconut water and raise ’em high! Cheers y’all.
We’ve been waiting on the weekend all week long and we can count on Merle for some sage advice: “I think I’ll just stay here and drink”! It’s been almost a year since we lost The Hag but his memory will live on through his music.
A tribute concert, “Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard”, is to be held in Nashville April 6, 2017. The day marks the one year anniversary of Haggard’s death as well as the singer’s 80th birthday. Scheduled performers for the event include Dierks Bentley, Hank Williams Jr., Loretta Lynn, Kacey Musgraves, John Anderson, and more!
Hear Haggard in his prime with one of my favorites, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”.
Written by Kayla Meyer
Hey, ladies! Looking for a fun night out with the girls? We can help! Girls Night Out: A Tribute To The Superstar Women of Country showcases a hand-selected band of Minnesota musicians singing the music of all the female greats. Everyone from Loretta Lynn to Dolly Parton, to 90s faves like Martina McBride and Shania Twain, to modern mavens like Pistol Annies and Carrie Underwood. You definitely don’t want to miss this!!
Girls Night Out will be held April 8, 2017, at the Le Musique Room at St. Michael Cinema. Doors at 7:15 and music starts at 8pm. Grab your TICKETS here before it’s too late!
If you haven’t heard of him, it’s time you hop on the bandwagon! Cody Johnson is the definition of Texas country and is the perfect addition to your St. Patrick’s Day playlist. Cody knows you don’t need a ton of green or a fancy, lavish lifestyle to get the most out of life. He’s fine with just having his gorgeous woman by his side–that’s what makes him lucky.
What makes YOU lucky?? Check out what Cody has to say in the “Lucky” video below! Happy St. Patrick’s Day, y’all!
Written by Kayla Meyer
On Sunday, Johnny Cash celebrated what would have been his 85th birthday and we miss him more with every year. In addition to that, just yesterday would have been Johnny and June Carter Cash’s 49th wedding anniversary. Cash and Carter met in 1956 while backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and Cash proposed during a show they were performing together twelve years later. The couple would be married just a week after the proposal.
See Johnny and June in love again as they perform “Jackson”!
Garth Brooks is regarded as the GOAT (greatest of all time) by a lot of people, so it was very exciting when late last year he put out brand new music! His latest single off the new album, Gunslinger, is fast paced, up beat and will make you want to get out your dancing shoes. The track titled, “Baby, Let’s Lay Down And Dance” has earned our Song of the Week honors for it’s ability to put a smile on our faces and get us dancing! To hear the song you’ll have to grab your own copy of Gunslinger or stream it on Amazon Music. Below check out Garth’s appearance on Ellen where he talks about his amazing world tour and “Baby, Let’s Lay Down And Dance”.