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Be-dazzled Be-gone

It was only a matter of time: Hall splits from Sugarland.
(photos by Jarrod Vrazel :

On the left: Kristen Hall is barely lit and halfway hidden at the side of the stage.
On the right: Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush in the spotlight. Kristen Hall nowhere to be seen.

Poor Kristen Hall. She had a successful, semi-below-the-radar career as a singer-songwriter. Then she, Nettles, and Bush get together and create Sugarland. They put out a great demo CD (Premium Quality Tunes) with great songs, some twang, and great energy. They get a mention in an Indigo Girls song by Emily Saliers (“Call me up for a ticket/We’ll go see Sugarland”). All is good.

By music industry standards, everything gets better from there. Sugarland is signed by Mercury. They record a debut CD featuring a number of songs from Premium Quality Tunes. But with more twang. A lot more twang. “Baby Girl” and “Something More” become big radio hits and Sugarland scores a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. They tour the country non-stop, open for Brad Paisley and Sara Evans, and end up in a bizarre CMT Crossroads with Bon Jovi. All is good. Except, maybe not so much for Kristen Hall…First off, Sugarland’s first video, “Baby Girl,” is a twang-fest with the spotlight on Jennifer Nettles, the skinny, blonde, Kirsten Dunst-y lead singer. Kristen Hall is barely visible in the video, except for a few shots of her, overly made up and decidedly in the background. And one weird video moment in which she can be seen cavorting with a dinner roll.

Onstage, things are no better. During the two concerts that the staff attended (the Brad Paisley Time Well Wasted tour in Rockford, and the Sugarland show at Joe’s in Chicago), Kristen was so far off to the side of the stage that she was practically manning the emergency exits. Spotlight? Directly on the twangfest that is Jennifer Nettles. With some stray spotlight beams occasionally hitting the manic mandolin stylings of Kristian Bush. Poor Kristen seemed to be deliberately trapped on the side of the stage. It would not surprise me to learn that she had been fitted with a collar and that an invisible, electro-shock fence had been installed in her sound monitor. Clearly the woman was not allowed to venture toward the center of the stage. Half the time she didn’t appear to be authorized to use the microphone either.

Far be it from me to accurately assess the state of Ms. Hall’s emotional and mental health. However, I will merely note that the extent of the bedazzling we witnessed on her being during the Time Well Wasted tour must surely indicate a breakdown of some sort.

So it is no surprise to the staff of that Kristen has decided to “stay home and write songs.” We hope an album of semi-bitter songs about blonde, spotlight hogs and country music industry beauty standards results. May we suggest a title? “No More Rhinestones.”

{ 10 } Comments

  1. LD | January 20, 2006 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Yay for Kristen. That Nettles chic made her look bad. God I hate those nashville girls that make it big solely based on their looks, singing watered-down, predictable, lame-lyric country songs with a FAKE twang. I’m not saying this is the case with every female singer/”musician” in Nashville, but you do see it more often. I look forward to what Kristen will do next? What would Kristen do?

  2. Courtney Gray | January 20, 2006 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    I echo the congratulations for Kristen—she has the talent and has guts for leaving a group three weeks before the Grammy Awards in which they are nominated for Best New Group. Given that fact, it is staggering how bad the situation must have been to cause her to pick this time to leave…

  3. Spike | February 15, 2006 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    YAH! (sorry for the late response – i just saw this) yeah, i’ve never liked jennifer nettles. she is indeed a spotlight hog and a prima donna. all she wanted was to be a star, and she used kristen and her songwriting abilities. then, as soon as she somewhat made it, kristen, the non-model looking queer, was forced out.

    did you know that simone simonton (of the daemon band lift) used to be with them as well. she left well before they got anywhere. but yet another queer leaves sugarland. wtf?!

    i also hated what jennifer’s husband did to eddie’s attic.

    i saw sugarland once – before they “made it” in 2004 at the variety playhouse in atlanta. at that time, there were still five members. jennifer was a spotlight hog back then too, even with four other band members. and yes, kristen was so off to the side that she really was manning the emergency exits!

  4. Miranda | February 16, 2006 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Dang! You’d think that they could at least save her some room at center-ish stage *before* they hit it big! What did Jennifer’s husband do to Eddie’s Attic? You know, I’ve never been there…Actually, now that I think about it, the only place in Georgia where I’ve spent more than a couple hours is Savannah. Maybe a trip to Decatur should be on the agenda for this year…

  5. Laura | August 27, 2006 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Kristen, I have been your biggest fan for 15 years. I miss hearing your music, played your way. My CD’s have been burnt and shared with so many friends, you are now a huge hit in three states (PA, NY, OH). Come visit for a concert. I guarantee I can get a good crowd & get another friend, Katie Reider (phenomenal singer/songwriter) onstage with you.

  6. LISA LEWIS | November 8, 2006 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    It’s always fascinating to me the comments by people outside of the industry. I have no personal feelings about Jennifer, one way or the other, but from a professional stand-point, it should be said that artists have far little to do with the decisions that affect them than we think they do. Tim McGraw & Reba excluded, artists/groups do what they’re told for quite a long time. As far as the spotlight, where a group is lit and how they’re lit depends on what is programmed for each moment in each song. Lead singers usually get the strongest lighting no matter what band/group.
    Having been in the biz for over 25 years, and being a writer myself, I have to say I think Kristen is an amazing, passionate, fileted-wide-open writer.

  7. Philip Bader | November 10, 2006 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Although I have been very involved in music for most of my 52 years,thanks to my rural Pennsylvania born and raised mother making me (from 1 year old till I was 17) spend my summers with HER relatives, my earliest exposure was to Country,Bluegrass and the early Rock a Billy artists. The rest of my life was smack in the middle of NYC!!! So, I kept my country music roots mostly to myself.

    I was immediately taken with Sugarland. Jennifer Nettles DOES have a great country voice..a little too much Reba though and she is good looking. But, the most compelling aspect of Sugarland has to have been the songs. Babygirl and Something More than This are the kind of songs that can make an act happen.

    The fact is that Kristen Hall was from the first time I saw the band, visibly uncomfortable. And, whether we like it or not, an artist’s looks DO matter. Obviously, Ms.Hall is extremely intelligent. That is one of the things that has made her so successful as a writer…and let’s face it. She knows what she looks like…and she is a music veteran.

    There is no crime in being more comfortable behind the scenes. Other than being an entertainment lawyer, the most lucrative job in music is as a writer of songs that become hit records.

    Now, the guy with the mandolin? Watch for him to disappear soon too. Unless Sugarland has a hit with him on lead vocals. It’s only a matter of time before Jennifer Nettles goes solo.

  8. yeahhh right! | February 3, 2007 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Ok. So Jennifer Nettles deff. has an AMAZING voice and i personally love it. And yeah, Kristen is going to be in the background, DUHH she is NOT the lead singer, JENNIFER IS! Therefore JENNIFER gets the center of the stage! and yeah those pictures you took suck! In the 1st picture you took, if you would have been smart and taken it from the front, with Jennifer centered in the picture, you would have noticed that Kristian and Kristen are exactically the same distance from Jennifer, and if they wanted to “hide” her, they would have put her on the right side, because our eyes scan things left to right!
    And in the second picture you took it so bad that you couldn’t even manage to get any of the left side of teh stage in it, so CLEARLY the singer on the left (Kristen) wouldn’t be seen! DUHH!!! Do you really think we are that freaking retarted. and unless you personally know Kristen, you can’t judge how she is feeling! you are NOT a flipping shrink, so you cant say crap! Ohh yeah, and Jennifer and Kristian do an AMAZING job writing songs without her, and i personally like their new cds AMAZING lyrics and Vocals A LOT better than their last cd which i was madley in love with.
    So yeah, basically, you are wrong…
    And yeah get a freaking life and stop wasting your time writing about stuff you don,t know about and trying to make things look how they are not.
    Stop hating on beautiful people with extreme talent!

  9. Lauren Lowe | February 3, 2007 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    yeah, I think i agree with yeah right! there is really no better way to put it.
    Lauren Lowe

  10. Miranda | February 3, 2007 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Yo. Lauren – your ip address and the one belonging to “yeahhh right” are the same. Speaking of lame, leaving a comment pretending to be someone else just so you can agree with yourself – that’s pretty lame.

    Also, I didn’t take those photographs, I’m entitled to my opinion, and if you don’t like it, start your own blog. Actually, maybe you should take your own advice and “get a freaking life” first.

    Over and out.