Olive Branch native nominated for Academy of Country Music award

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When the Academy of Country Music Awards nominations came out in early March, most of the attention went to Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year and the other "big show" awards that will be handed out live on CBS at 7 p.m. today. Artists like Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and the Zac Brown Band might be household names, but one nominee hits close to home for Southeast Missourians.

Mark Hill, originally from Olive Branch, Ill., has been nominated for Top Bass Player of the Year for the 2010 Academy of Country Music. Hill, a studio and touring bassist, has been in Nashville for nearly 20 years. In 2009, Hill was listed as No. 4 on Music Row Magazine's top bass players.

"It's based on how many top-grossing records that you play on, so that was very cool to see," Hill said.

"The awards are great; when people say it's great to be nominated, it's very true," he said. "I was telling my wife when I found out I was nominated, I said, 'People say it's great to be nominated, but I want to win.'"

Hill works a busy schedule, recording anywhere from 500 to 600 sessions a year. Names like Toby Keith, Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood standout on his list of credits, and he was the band leader and bassist for Keith Urban on his last 60-city U.S. and Australia tour.

"When I first got into town, I had this bass player who was my mentor, Jimmy Lee Sloas. He kind of hauled me around town and showed me the ropes, and was really good to me," said Hill. "He was on that list [Music Row Magazine] too, and for the ACM nomination he is nominated for the award with me. It's really cool to be on two lists with your mentor."

Constantly working on the next greatest recording, Hill's schedule is packed, even with the economy in the shape it is.

"The economy thing has just started hitting here, as far as the music business is concerned," Hill said. "2009 and the first part of 2010 have been a bit of a roller coaster, because people are scrambling here to make sure the business stays intact. With downloads and YouTube, sales are down and that affects everybody, from the artists all the way down to the cartage guys who haul all of our gear around.

"It's been a little more of a bumpy ride the last couple of years, but I'm still doing well," Hill said. "Right now, I'm in the middle of a lot of the independent artists. The positive side of the Internet is that the independent artists have a lot more available to them as far as getting their stuff out."

"You can put stuff on iTunes now, and you don't have to have any kind of backing or label, so I do a lot of that stuff. That and upcoming country artists fill up my week now," said Hill.

More information on the nominations for this year's awards can be found at www.acmcountry.com and Hill's website, www.markhillbass.com.

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