Lost Highway will commemorate its anniversary throughout 2011 by releasing 20 different titles from its extensive and diverse catalog on limited edition clear vinyl. This series will begin on Jan. 25 with releases of Ryan Adams’ Gold and the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou?. That will be followed on Feb. 15 with releases of Hayes Carll’s KMAG YOYO and Drive-By Truckers’ Southern Rock Opera. March will see the vinyl releases of Lucinda Williams’ Blessed and Black Joe Lewis & The Honebears’ Scandalous. (Lost Highway has released vinyl simultaneous with CDs on nearly every album since its inception.)
On March 18, Lost Highway will team up with BMI to hold a not-to-be-missed concert at the new Austin City Limits studio, The Moody Theater. Artists performing include Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Hayes Carll, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears and special guests. Performances will include songs from the artists’ previous albums as well as new releases including Hayes Carll’s KMAG YOYO (February 15), Lucinda Williams’ Blessed (March 1) and Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears’ Scandalous (March 15). Expect surprise guests who have played an important role in Lost Highway’s history to make an appearance that evening as well.
Since its inception, Lost Highway has released 80 albums, sold 18 million units, and had 53 Grammy® nominations with 15 wins. One of the label’s major highlights began with its first release, the soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and has sold 7 million units.
Another proud moment for Lost Highway came when Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around sold more than one million copies and became the first platinum award The Man In Black had ever received for a studio album. American IV: The Man Comes Around remains Cash’s biggest-selling studio album to date.
Lost Highway was created by Luke Lewis, chairman of Universal Music Group Nashville, who also oversees Mercury and MCA Records Nashville. “I started dreaming of a label that might be a haven for artists that make enduring music not driven by hits on the radio,” Lewis says. “Only singer-songwriters need apply. Lots of people told me, ‘You can’t do that inside a major label,’ and hearing that made me crazy.
“All of the great boutique labels had been started by truly great entrepreneurs that later sold them to the major labels,” he says. “I believed that if we were truly discerning and only signed great artists, we could create a brand that would in turn both serve Universal and the artist. And I was thinking at the time about how many incremental sales were created because consumers saw the logo of a label they trusted and knew stood for quality.”
Lewis, who won a Grammy as executive producer of The Complete Hank Williams, received the 2010 Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in September for his “visionary commitment to the label’s Lost Highway imprint (which) has created a home for numerous Americana greats.”
“I can say, with all honesty, that I love Luke Lewis and all the people who make the wheels turn at Lost Highway, the label that helped pave the way for myself and so many other ‘outsider’ artists,” says Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams.
Says Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood, “Lost Highway provided a good home for our Southern Rock Opera and Luke Lewis is a true gentleman in a business where such are few and far between. Congratulations on ten fine years and many more.”
Over the last ten years, Lost Highway has released albums from acclaimed and award-winning artists, including Ryan Adams, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Isaac Freeman (of the Fairfield Four), The Jayhawks, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Whiskeytown, Hank Williams, Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Morrissey, Van Morrison, Tom Jones and many more.
“Having spent most of my time seeking out one wayward or wonderful thoroughfare or another, it was perhaps timely that I found my way onto Lost Highway and lingered a while at the crossroads,” says Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Elvis Costello. “There goes Lucinda, not to mention Hank. Here comes Willie and isn’t that Tom Jones? Who wouldn’t be happy in such company and the company of those in the company? Many happy returns. Or perhaps we shouldn’t say that in the record world.”
Adds Rick Rubin, the iconic producer behind the Johnny Cash American Recordings albums, “Luke and crew at Lost Highway have always taken good care of us. Congratulations on the first ten and the many more to come!”
Lost Highway has also released a number of special projects, including the Grammy Award-winning Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues Volume I & II, The Grammy Award-winning Timeless (Hank Williams Tribute), the soundtrack to the HBO series Deadwood, and the benefit albums Willie Nelson Songs for Tsunami Relief and A Very Special Acoustic Christmas (Special Olympics).
“Lost Highway played a central role in one of the most important undertakings in this museum’s history,” says Kyle Young, director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “By partnering with us to issue two volumes of Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945–1970, they helped us give broader exposure to the important music of Nashville’s historically vibrant R&B scene, and they surely brought new audiences to the museum. It was a radical move for us to focus on this music, and Lost Highway showed courage by coming along with us to tell the fascinating but little-known story. Winning the 2004 Grammy for Best Historical Album was validation for us, for Lost Highway, and for the men and women who made such inspired music.”
Ryan Bingham, who won a 2010 Oscar for his song “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart),” says, ”Lost Highway Records has been my home from the get-go and there’s no place I’d rather be. They have been there for me through the good and the bad and I feel lucky to be a part of the family.
Texas troubadour Hayes Carll says, “I couldn’t have found a better home for my music than Lost Highway. They’ve done it the right way. Here’s to another 10 year.”
Austin-based singer-songwriter Black Joe Lewis says, “It has been great working with everyone at Lost Highway. We’re so happy to a part of their first ten years. Here’s to many more!”