Sun Records, the storied Memphis label that has been solely in the licensing business for more than four decades, will return to releasing new music with a new album from former Mercury Records artist Julie Roberts. Her album, Good Wine and Bad Decisions, will be released Oct. 29; Red River/Sony RED will handle distribution.
Nashville-based Make Noise Management CEO Josh Collum brought Roberts to Sun after working with the label for the last two years on increasing its film and TV sync business. Sun Records vice president Collin Brace said he has wanted to venture into new music since he started at the label in 2008. Her signing, however, is not the beginning of a label revival.
“It was one of those things where this was perfect time for us and she was what we needed as an artist. It was a perfect storm if you will,” Brace says. “We don’t have any plans of signing artists at all -- that makes this whole thing so special.”
Roberts, who went indie on her last album, started the promotional campaign behind the new album this weekend at CMA Music Festival in Nashville, announcing a pre-sale campaign via PledgeMusic. The album is unfinished -- 16 songs are in various stages of production -- but Collum says “We made a rule for ourselves. If we hear something, even late in the game, that knocks something off the table, then we owe it to the record and to Sun to chase that.”
Sorted Noise, Collum’s music-production company with his brother Jason, Roberts’ drummer since 2004, and Thad Beaty, Sugarland's guitar player, will produce the album. This week, Collum is reaching out to publishers for more material and musicians to line up guest spots.
Sun Records owned by John Singleton and the late Shelby Singleton since the late 1960s, has not issued a new full-length album in more than 40 years. Famous for releasing the early recordings of Elvis Presley, Sun was the early home of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Howlin Wolf and Junior Parker.
To pay tribute to Sun’s roots, Collum is considering recording a track in Memphis at the former studio of Sun founder Sam Phillips. Otherwise, the album will be done in Nashville.
“We’re trying to be in Nashville, but not necessarily of Nashville,” Collum notes. “Music Row has a certain way of doing things and we really plan to do this in a genuine way that honors the Sun legacy.”
Roberts’ two Mercury Nashville albums, Julie Roberts and Men & Mascara, cracked the top 10 on the Top Country albums charts when they were released in 2004 and 2006. In 2010, Roberts hit a rough patch, losing her house and car in the Nashville floods and receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. She took a stab at making it onto NBC’s “The Voice” this season, but after passing a few rounds, none of the coaches turned around their chairs during the blind rounds.