Lita: Rollin' In The Right DirectionBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Monday, January 30, 2006
She won't be among a "Nashville Star" cast of backstage nail-biting, onstage picking-and-singing performers, but former North Adams resident Lita Williams isn't particularly disappointed.
|Lita Williams: the "ghetto cowgirl" with the "Bluegrass Heat"|
"That's the thing," the 21-year-old Williams said during a Jan. 30 telephone interview from her Nashville, Tenn. home. "People are like 'I'm so sorry you didn't get on,' and seriously, had I gotten on, all these great things that were on the back burner would have had to stop. There's just so much going on now and I'm doing all these other things. The pace is relentless and a lot of fun."
Williams was among a group that blossomed from an expected, publicized 42 semi-finalists to over 60 performers who vied for a spot on the USA Network television show on Jan. 6 at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville.
Those selected as finalists will be revealed when the show premieres its' fourth season in March. The program uses audience votes to whittle away at the featured talent until one individual claims a "Nashville Star" title and a recording contract. Past season winners are Buddy Jewell, Brad Cotter, and Erika Jo.
All the 2006 semi-finalist talent was top-notch, Williams said.
"Everybody at the regionals [competition] had a fantastic voice," she said. "There were a lot of people who should have gotten on [as a Nashville Star competitor]."
Lita Williams and the Ghetto Cowboys
And Williams career may be moving forward faster without the obligations and conditions of the show.
She is busy at a Nashville recording studio, recording some vocal demos and pitching several co-written tunes to major recording artists. She will soon be backed by her own band; "Lita Williams and the Ghetto Cowboys" may arrange a road trip to the Northern Berkshires sometime this summer, she said.
"Ghetto cowgirl" is a phrase coined by several of Williams' Northern Berkshire friends as a way to describe Williams and the term found it's way to Nashville, Williams said. The band's name isn't the only thing with city-based roots; a song titled "Hudson Road" was co-written by Williams and was inspired by the city's Hudson Street and some of the street's residents, she said."Hudson Road" is slated to be "shopped" to recording artists and executives
"It's a great co-write and everybody kind of jumped on it," she said of the song.
Williams is expected to begin recording an album within the next few weeks. The music will not be available for purchase in stores but will be part of a package used to generate interest in Williams and could result in a recording contract.
"I'm Here To See Lita"
And interest is already growing, as Williams' appearance at the Wildhorse Saloon seems to indicate. While the Nashville Star semi-finalist performances were underway, Williams' manager Del Miller, CEO of Shadow Publishing Co. and president of Star Power Management, noticed that a Sony recording executive was in attendance. Miller is acquainted with the woman, Williams said.
"Del recognized a Sony executive and went over to talk to her," she said. "She told Del 'Actually, I'm here to see Lita.' She remembered me from another place where I'd performed. She remembered me, and that just kicked it for me."
Sizzle With "Bluegrass Heat"
The semi-finals delivered another stroke of luck to Williams; veteran musician Brad Wright, well-known for his banjo mastery, was also in attendance. Wright is now one of the "Ghetto Cowboys" band members, Williams said.
"He's so incredible," Williams said, and added that Wright has played with country music stars such as Montgomery Gentry and has performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage. She and Wright worked together to write a song titled "Bluegrass Heat," and the tune sizzles, Williams said.
"It's tight and he just rocks this banjo, I mean he just about breaks it in half," Williams said.
The song may be among those that are "pitched" to country artists, she said. Another original co-written song, "Ride," is also on the list of songs to be "shopped," she said.
Williams expects to film a music video in March. The video should be included in her performer package, she said. A new Internet web site, www.litawilliams.com is up and running with new photographs and other features.
The changes are coming fast for Williams, who is remembered by many local folks as a lively, skinny 15-year-old high school girl outfitted in snug jeans, a cowboy hat and boots, with only a CD player for musical accompaniment and a narrow wooden plank [for foot-stomping] as a stage "prop;" a La Festa performer  who wasn't even given a poster billing but who lured a large audience away from a popular local band's live outdoor rock-and-roll performance the minute she started to sing.
In a matter of minutes, "who is that" speed-shifted to "that's Lita."
Just three years later, Williams was on stage at the Northeast's wildly popular annual "CountryFest" country music concert, performing for a crowd that topped 35,000 country music fans.
The Nashville Star experience was another positive step, she said.
"I did get exposure from it, and that is great," Williams said. "And I wouldn't have this great banjo player otherwise. The important thing is that I met so many people. I'm getting into the studio, I'm writing, the band is being put together; everything is rolling in the right direction."
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-823-9367.