Millions of people wake up each morning with Robin Meade -- at least on television. She is the host for HLN's "Morning Express" newscast, and constantly tops polls of the most admired news anchors in America. But, if you thought that was the end of the Ohio native's talents, well, think again.
In 2011, Meade made news with the release of her "Brand New Day" album -- which was available solely at Target and iTunes. A year later, however, Walmart is jumping into the mix, and the woman who has made the greeting "Good Morning Sunshine" a catchphrase is very excited.
"They have about 3,500 stores, so I'm excited about that," Meade stated in an exclusive interview with Billboard. "I joke that there's a Walmart at every little hamlet in America. I'm real excited about the reach that this will have. Even my cousins and family in Eastern Kentucky would say 'Oh, my gosh, Robin. We'd have to drive sixty miles to a Target.' This will reach a lot more, and with the two stores, I feel very lucky."
The Walmart (and now iTunes edition) also features a pair of bonus cuts, which Meade is excited about. "One of them is a remake of the Beatles' 'Here Comes The Sun,'" which she admits might elicit one of two reactions. "Some people might go 'That is perfectly in line with your on-air brand,' since I say 'Good Morning Sunshine.' On the other hand, some might say 'That's a big chunk to bite off - doing a Beatles song." She credits Nashville tunesmith Victoria Shaw, her producer, for helping her to pull the song off. "I think she did a great job at making it not an exact replica of what the Beatles did. If she had, what would be the point in the re-doing it? She did what I called 'chicken-fried' it - countrifying it in a very comfortable and uplifting way. I'm excited for people to hear that."
The other new cut, "The Truth," is one that might surprise many familiar with her bright and cheery persona. "That's a song I co-wrote with Victoria Shaw and Matt Lopez from Due West. I wanted to write something that was a story song. I didn't necessarily copy it off of any particular piece that I was covering on the news, but it does remind me of some of the type of stories or court cases that are in the headlines. This is a song about a black widow - a killer bride who is on husband number ten, but we don't know that until later in the song. There's a real Law & Order twist to it. It's dark and provocative, and really different from 'Here Comes The Sun.' One is bright, and one is slightly twisted," she says with her trademark smile.
Meade admits that country music's deep tradition of story songs is something she has a passion for. "I have a real affinity for them -- whether it be Blake Shelton's 'Ol' Red,' or Reba's 'The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.' They are really so well crafted that they really attracted themselves to me."
Meade recently traveled out to Las Vegas for the Academy of Country Music Awards and the week of festivities around it, which she said helped to give the week a great vibe. "I was really impressed with the ACMs for putting on an event that wasn't just about a broadcast. You could do that - a show in Vegas, and have everybody go home. But, they made it about the listener, the viewer, and the music fan. It's become a festival that seems to encompass the fans. I was very impressed it was about them. I also got to host a salute to the military on Saturday night where I got to introduce the first ACM Award that was being handed out. It was for Vocal Duo of the Year, and it went to Thompson Square. I was so tickled to be able to read that card and go 'And the winner is..' That was a great moment."