As guests on a live chat with Twitter host Jessica Northey of #CMChat, their Twitter chat generated nearly 84 million impressions and reached nearly three million people in one night. YouTube sensation, Keenan Cahill and the Oaks created a video featuring 'What'cha Gonna Do' which has almost 300,000 views and growing. It is directed by MTV award-winning director Sherman Halsey with digital promotion headed by Steven Haddad.
Last year, The Oaks had many reasons to celebrate. They were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and celebrated a very special anniversary. It marked the 30th Anniversary of the hit that made them a household name, 'Elvira'.
“To say that this has been a monumental year for The Oak Ridge Boys may be understating the fact. Celebrating 30 years of “Elvira,” being asked to join The Grand Ole Opry, the amazing success of our Cracker Barrel project, and a full year of concert dates ranging from fairs, festivals, and theaters--leading up to a sold-out 19 state Christmas tour featuring 38 shows in partnership with Save the Children,” Joe Bonsall says of last year's success. “To top it all off, our single, “What’cha Gonna Do,” is gaining huge momentum at country radio stations all over the nation. An amazing year to be certain for the older guys on the block, but we are a very blessed group.”
'It's Only Natural' came out on September 19th and is available exclusively at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store or at www.crackerbarrel.com. The album features six well-known Oak Ridge Boys favorite, including Elvira, as well as five new songs.
“We're very happy with this association with Cracker Barrel. With the nature of the record business right now, with outlets closing, there are not that many places where people can go and physically buy music now. I think Cracker Barrel has filled that niche and now, for us to be with Cracker Barrel, it is a very exciting thing. They are in over 600 stores around the country, last year they had well over 225 million customers come through their store. That means our product is in front of a lot of people, we have some great exposure as a result of this association with Cracker Barrel. We are thankful to them, they have given us this chance.
We were able to find a balance, a nice happy medium between recording hits, familiar titles that people associate with The Oak Ridge Boys along with something that really keeps us going and that's creating new music at the same time. We feel like we have a nice happy medium there. There are six familiar songs and five brand-new songs. Like I said, it is really a nice balance. We are really happy with the way it turned out,” says Richard Sterban, about the songs.
“One of the familiar songs that is on there of course is Elvira, with this being the 30th Anniversary of Elvira, it is a song that Cracker Barrel wanted us to record. We decided to give our old producer, Ron Chancey a call, he is the one who produced the original version. He was reluctant at first but then finally decided to come and produce Elvira. We ended up with kind of like a 'freshed' up version of it. It still sounds like Elvira, it still sounds like us singing it, but it is a more up-to-date version. It turned out really, really well. I think the same things can be said with the other familiar songs that we recorded. We gave them an all-new, fresh approach. While you recognize the songs, they sound like the hits, they sound like a fresher version. It is really kind of nice. We are excited about the new songs, the new music is something that keeps us going, it puts new excitement, new energy into us. The whole thing just turned out really, really well,” Sterban adds.
William Lee Golden says, when asked if he had a favorite song, “There are several songs I really like on the album. Some of them are songs we have recorded before, but you know, I think we all have a different taste and different feelings of the songs we like.”
On August 6th of last year, The Oaks became members of the Grand Ole Opry. According to Duane Allen, that was a feeling that was very hard to put into words.
“We have been working the Opry for many years as friends of the Opry. They have always been our friend, they have always treated us like family. But we had no idea what it would feel like to actually become a member of the family of the Grand Ole Opry brothers and sisters. That was a huge feeling that we had no way of knowing what that would feel like. We highly anticipated the day once we learned that we were going to be invited to join.
Basically, we learned that by Little Jimmy Dickens coming out on the stage, dressed as William Lee, complete with a long beard, sunglasses, a hat, and the sparkly suit. He came out and he doesn't speak very loud so we put the microphone down where we could hear what he was saying. He said, 'I always wanted to be a little, bitty Oak Ridge Boy, and maybe someday that will come true because we're gonna all be one big family because on August the 6th, you boys are going to be the newest members of The Grand Ole Opry,” continues Allen.
“That is how we learned and he was saying it really softly, and the people went wild. And right then, he left, and Joe was doing all the talking at that point. All at once, we had been invited to join the Grand Ole Opry and the man who invited us to join, looking like a little William Lee Golden, has walked off to the side of the stage and here we are, left with our jaws dropped. We didn't hardly know what to say. We had to gather our thoughts and process the moment first before we tried to do anything else, because everything from that point on, everything we would say, the audience went wild. So we finally got through the last song, which was Elvira.
When we walked off stage, we didn't know this ahead of time but we were then ushered immediately into the green room where TV cameras were pointing everywhere we looked, it was another camera and another microphone and it was like a massive press conference. We had no idea that was happening, so we were there for another hour, just one interview right after another.
We still hadn't had time to really process what had just happened. Going out to the bus, I was kinda walking with our road manager and I got out to bus and Joe and Richard were just ahead of me. The three of us go to the back of the bus, that is where we dress, there is a lot more room there. William Lee dresses in the aisle. I walk in and Joe and Richard were just there. Joe turned to look at me and his eyes were just full of tears. He was crying, he couldn't say anything and I said something to Richard, Richard said 'I can hardly talk, I'm having to process this.' I haven't heard Richard like that any time in my life of singing together 38 years, I have very seldom ever heard him speechless, especially when we're alone. He is a man of few words out in the public but when we are alone, what he says counts, and I realized at that point that these two guys from the North, Richard from New Jersey and Joe from Philadelphia, they had the same kind of feeling that I had, being raised in Texas, listening to the Grand Ole Opry before my family had electricity.. We had a battery-powered radio and we would listen to the Grand Ole Opry until the battery ran down, every Saturday night. And we would only hope that it would recharge or we'd have to get a new one so we could listen to the Grand Ole Opry again on Saturday night.
I was wondering how these guys would react and when I walked back there that night all the questions were answered because I could tell it was a huge honor. I still don't have all the right words. I don't know if I know enough good words that would truly express how it made all of us feel. We still feel that today. When we mention that we are members of the Grand Ole Opry in our concert dates everywhere we go, people pop out of their chair and go wild. In Biloxi, Mississippi, we had to tell the people to sit down, they kept applauding, standing and applauding and yelling at us.
To see the respect that the Grand Ole Opry has gained and earned all these years and to see it as a member of that family, it's just more than words can say, but we are experiencing it.”comments Allen.
Joe Bonsall says of the bands longevity, “The Oak Ridge Boys are the epitome of what it is like to stay at it, and never give up on your career and never give up on yourself. Every guy in this group, as individuals and as a group. It's the work ethic, it's the whole thing, you work real, real hard, good things happen and we have been very blessed as well. Luck comes into play, I heard Golden say, the harder you work, the luckier you get, I guess that seems to be true, you have got to put the work in, you have to put in the time, you've got to put in the effort, and you have to have a product that people care about and you've got to have something you care about with all your heart and soul to put all you have into it.”
In December, the band was featured in a broadcast television program, The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Special. It was to help raise awareness about Save the Children. Its mission is to make a lasting change around the world. It was also shown on Save the Children's YouTube Channel and includes CMT Insider host Katie Cook, a long-time child sponsor through the organization.