Bittersweet year for Sugarland
By Wayne Bledsoe
It's been a year of highs and lows for country act Sugarland.
The group released its album "The Incredible Machine" in late 2010 and embarked on a tour to promote the disc, performing Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The duo, made up of Jennifer Nettles and former Knoxvillian Kristian Bush, is one of the few acts still selling albums in the millions.
The band formed in 2003 in Nashville with Bush, Nettles and Kristen Hall. Hall left the group shortly after the act released its first album on Mercury Records and before the group became one of the biggest acts in country music.
In a 2008 interview, Bush said his success in Sugarland was the culmination of a lifelong dream. He grew up in Sevier and Knox County and attended Webb School of Knoxville, before moving on to college in Connecticut. Through the 1990s, Bush and fellow then-Knoxviilan Andrew Hyra founded and performed in the rock duo Billy Pilgrim and signed with Atlantic Records.
At the beginning of the 2000s, Bush moved to Nashville, where he met Hall and Nettles. The trio had a hit with the song "Baby Girl." And, when the group's second album, "Enjoy the Ride," was released in 2006, the duo began a string of No. 1 hits and platinum-selling discs.
However, on August 13, 2011, just before the band went on stage at the Indianapolis State Fair, the stage collapsed and injured more than 40 concertgoers, seven of them fatally.
In a statement sent to The Associated Press, Nettles said:
"I am so moved by the grief of those families who lost loved ones. Moved by the pain of those who were injured and the fear of their families. Moved by the great heroism as I watched so many brave Indianapolis fans actually run toward the stage to try and help lift and rescue those injured. Moved by the quickness and organization of the emergency workers who set up the triage and tended to the injured."
Since the accident, the group has not given interviews, but in a statement released on the band's website, the group said continuing the tour would "hopefully serve as a ritual and a balm to provide comfort and facilitate healing in this time of great sorrow. We hope to see you all soon."
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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