Faith Hill returned to a Country Radio Seminar-related stage for the first time in quite a few years on Friday (Feb. 24) to perform as part of the Warner Brothers-sponsored luncheon. She took to the stage with a stirring performance of her 2005 hit "Mississippi Girl," and also performed many of her long line of hits, such as "The Way You Love Me," "This Kiss," and her mega-hit from 1999, "Breathe." The songstress also performed a pair of cuts from her forthcoming disc, "Six Hundred Years" - destined to be a wedding classic, as well as "American Heart." Hill was in strong voice throughout her set, and (to our ears) never sounded better as she did when she reprised "Stronger" - a cut from her Cry album, then segued into a soulful rendition of "Piece Of My Heart" which owed more to Janis Joplin's original than her own 1994 chart topper.
While time will tell if Hill can find her way back onto radio, one programmer that walked away impressed with what he heard was Ryan McCall of WGLR 97.7 in Platteville, Wisconsin ."I really felt this was a do or die performance for her career-wise," he said, "and I felt she rose to the occasion."
The event came to a close with the annual New Faces Show, which spotlights the top rising talent each year as voted on by radio programmers. Five acts were voted, but only four performed. Sadly, Thompson Square was forced to cancel their appearance on the show due to the death of Shawna's father, George Michael "Mickey" Mcllwain.
First up was the Eli Young Band, whose performance followed a video making light of the fact that some people are convinced there is a person named "Eli Young" in the band. The band performed four songs, including their recent chart-topping "Crazy Girl."
Up next was Hunter Hayes. There has been a ton of hype around the singer since he first hit radio last year, but it is talk well deserved. His initial single, "Storm Warning," evoked a strong praise for the singer, who wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, and he played every instrument on it as well. If you want to see a star in the making, check out a Hayes show. You'll be glad you did…
Next up was Republic's Sunny Sweeney, who dazzled the audience with her smooth approach to songs like her top ten single "From A Table Away," and got a huge response to her as-yet unreleased working-girl anthem "Everyone Else Can Kiss My Ass."
The final "New Face" on the show was David Nail. The MCA recording artist has been doing his thing for several years now, and it shows. I don't know if there is a better pure vocalist or artist in Nashville right now. He opened with an unbelievable performance of his "The Sound Of A Million Dreams," which is a strong showcase for his talents, as is "Red Light" and his No. 1 single "Let It Rain." Nail may actually not be of this world, but at least we get to borrow his talents for a while.