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December 19, 2006

Sampson writes for new CD, Bon Jovi

A couple of months ago, Sampson wrote with Bon Jovi of all bands. The session with frontman Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora yielded a country song called "On Another Day," for possible inclusion on the New Jersey band's next album.

Sampson writes for new CD, Bon Jovi

By KAREN BLISS -- For JAM! Music

Nova Scotia native Gordie Sampson, who has been nominated for a pair of 2007 Grammy Awards for his No. 1 Billboard country single "Jesus, Take The Wheel" recorded by Carrie Underwood, is taking January off "from the Nashville songwriting engine" to work on his third solo album.

"It's very similar to 'Sunburn,'" Sampson says, referring to his 2004 solo album, which scanned just under 6000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan Canada.

"'Sunburn' was a huge departure from my first record (1998's 'Stones'), which is very folky. This is much more like 'Sunburn.' It's going to be a continuation of that album. Any kind of change I can tell now is that it will be a little bit more electronic based with beats and keyboards.

"Because I'm in Nashville and the sound is so straight up and the style of writing that you do is within a box, there's always a tendency when I make my own records (that) I always push my music to completely the other side, which is fun."

Since releasing "Sunburn," on MapleMusic/Universal Music Canada, the Cape Breton native has become a highly successful songwriter. He not only co-wrote the Underwood hit (with American songwriters Hillary Lindsey and Brett James), but other co-writes, with outside songwriters or with the artists themselves, have been recorded by LeeAnn Rimes, Faith Hill, Trace Adkins and Keith Urban. That kind of track record might help him land a U.S. record contract.

"I've never had a deal in the States," says Sampson, 35. "We've been approached by a couple of labels, mostly small independent majors, sort of the same speed as Maple. For someone who does what I do and with where I'm at these days, people are holding on to their records now, it makes more sense for me to own it."

Sampson, who has a recording studio in the guest house of his Nashville home, says that he has written many songs for the new album. "I feel like I have maybe three-quarters of it done, but in a couple of months that could change. All I have to know is that I have to have it out by the summer."

The singer-songwriter spends his summer back in Canada, so presumably he will tour then. He has a home just outside of Sydney in Cape Breton. He has written for and with many Canadian artists, including Shaye, Great Big Sea, Ashley MacIsaac, George Canyon, Martina McBride, Jimmy Rankin, and produced albums by Damhnait Doyle ("Davnet"), Natalie MacMaster ("In My Hands") and the Cottars ("Forerunner").

Sampson recently renewed his publishing deal for another three years with Nashville-based Combustion Music.

"A great song is only a great song when it's in the right hands," says Sampson.

"We knew when we wrote 'Jesus, Take the Wheel' that it was a good song. It had the potential to do really well, but I'm sure it wouldn't have done as well if it was (placed) with any other singer in the entire world.

"It was really lucky for us that it got in her hands. It could have easily been picked up by some new artist and she might have come out and sold 500 records and completely flopped and that song never would have got heard. (But) it went though a system of people where publishers and people that worked for the label that had really good ears said, 'Oh I like this. This would be good for Carrie,' and it made the next chain of command and the next, and finally got to the musical talent."

A couple of months ago, Sampson wrote with Bon Jovi of all bands. The session with frontman Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora yielded a country song called "On Another Day," for possible inclusion on the New Jersey band's next album.

"I thought I was getting together to write a Bon Jovi song and, in my mind, I had a preconceived notion of what that type of song might be -- classic rock or '80s/early '90s rock theme. That's the sound I was playing when I first got out of high school and started playing guitar, so it's a sound I'm really familiar with but I hadn't written it in a very long time. But they're making a country record.

"I don't know if they knew that themselves (at that time). I think that kind of developed. They got new management in Nashville and Jon Bon Jovi had done a duet ('Who Says You Can't Go Home') with this girl Jennifer Nettles. They had a hit with that song and the band just fell in love with the city and they fell in love with the way people write songs here.

"He's a really interesting guy," says Sampson of Jon. "That's one of the great things about the last couple of years and this great stroke of luck that we've had and being able to write with some of these people, who are household names, enigmas in their own right, it never ceases to amaze me how different people are than what you'd expect them to be. They're losers and winners like we all are," he says as if penning a hook for a song.

As for the upcoming Grammy Awards, Feb. 11, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, for which "Jesus, Take The Wheel" is nominated for best country song and song of the year, Sampson is excited to be attending.

In Canada, he won the SOCAN songwriter of the year award at the Canadian Country Music Awards for that song, and in the U.S. it won ASCAP song of the year and the Nashville Songwriters Association (NSA) international songwriter achievement award.

"They're all fantastic," says Sampson. "The CCMA was very exciting. The one that stands out is probably the NSAI. That was really fun to win because it's voted on by songwriters, your peers. We were up for CMA (Country Music Association) and ACM (Academy of Country Music) awards as well, so we're kind of used to winning and we're used to losing at this point, so when it comes to the Grammy's, we won't be surprised if we lose (laughs).

"(But I) get to go and see what's in the Grammy bag. I hadn't really heard about it until after I got nominated."

Posted by riesambo at December 19, 2006 10:49 PM