Sugarland is an American country music duo composed of singer-songwriters Jennifer Nettles (lead vocals) and Kristian Bush (background vocals, lead vocals, mandolin, acoustic guitar, harmonica). The duo was founded in 2003 by Bush and Kristen Hall (acoustic guitar, background vocals), and became a trio when Jennifer Nettles was brought in as lead singer. Before joining Sugarland, Nettles fronted the Jennifer Nettles Band, and Hall had achieved success as a solo artist and songwriter. Bush's earlier musical career included being half of the duo Billy Pilgrim, (along with Andrew Hyra), recording for Atlantic Records in the 1990s.
Signed to Mercury Nashville Records in 2004, Sugarland broke through that year with the release of their debut single "Baby Girl", the first single from their multi-platinum debut album Twice the Speed of Life. The trio became a duo in 2006, when they also released their sophomore album, Enjoy the Ride. This album produced their first two #1 singles, "Want To" and "Settlin'". In 2008 they released their third album titled Love on the Inside. This album produced three more #1 singles with "All I Want to Do", "Already Gone" and "It Happens".
Jennifer Nettles grew up in the small town of Douglas, Georgia. Nettles, Bush, and Hall were regulars in Atlanta's folk-rock scene in the 1990s and early 2000s before Sugarland was formed, playing frequently at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, Georgia, which Nettles' ex-husband owned for a time. Nettles had played in a band called Soul Miner's Daughter, and later formed the Jennifer Nettles Band. Bush was half of the folk-rock duo Billy Pilgrim (group), and Hall had a solo career that often crossed paths with the Indigo Girls.
2004-2006: Twice the Speed of Life
Sugarland's debut album, Twice the Speed of Life, was released Oct. 26, 2004. Serving as its lead-off single was the song "Baby Girl", which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts and set a record for the longest chart run since the inception of Nielsen SoundScan in 1990; it was also the highest-peaking debut single for a group in 13 years. Also released from the album were the singles "Something More", "Just Might (Make Me Believe)", and "Down in Mississippi (Up to No Good)", which peaked on the country charts at #2, #7, and #17, repectively. The album received Multi-Platinum certification for sales of two million copies. In late 2005, the duo performed with Bon Jovi on Country Music Television's musical fusion show, Crossroads. Nettles sang with Bon Jovi on their single "Who Says You Can't Go Home". The song later went on to become a #1 hit on the country charts. They toured the U.S. and Canada performing with Brad Paisley in 2005 and in 2006-2007 with Kenny Chesney on his Flip Flop Summer Tour.
2006-2007: Enjoy the Ride
Kristen Hall left the group in 2006. According to a statement released on January 17, 2006 by Nettles and Bush, Hall left the group to "stay home and write songs." Critics allege that Hall might have been forced out in part due her weight problems, coupled with her open lesbian lifestyle, which didn't bode well for an up and coming, mainstream country music act.
Sugarland was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy and performed the song "Something More" at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2006. They also performed at the 2006 CMT Music Awards, where they received multiple nominations including Group/Duo Video of the Year for Just Might (Make Me Believe), Breakthrough Video of the Year for Something More, and Collaborative Video of the Year for Who Says You Can't Go Home. On November 7, 2006, the duo released their second album Enjoy the Ride. It sold 211,000 during its first week and opened at #4 on the US Top 200 and at #2 on the Top Country Albums charts. The first two singles from this album — "Want To" and "Settlin'" — both reached Number One on the country music charts, while "Everyday America" and "Stay" were both Top Ten hits. A limited edition of the CD, sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, was released in late 2007 and included a 5-song Christmas EP. The EP contained one original song - "Little Wood Guitar" - written by Bush and Ellis Paul. USA Today included the song in a list of new Christmas songs released in 2007 "that might have some staying power."
In 2007, Sugarland performed at multiple award ceremonies, including the 2007 CMT Awards and the 2007 ACM awards. They performed a cover of Beyoncé Knowles' "Irreplaceable" at the American Music Awards. Knowles joined Sugarland on stage starting with the second verse. The performance drew some poor reviews with The Village Voice calling it "a well-intentioned mess," although other critics also noted that the crowd enjoyed the performance.
They appeared on the The Tonight Show, and late in the year they headlined their first concert tour: the Change for Change Tour along with opening acts Little Big Town and Jake Owen. At the 41st CMA Awards, the group won the award for Vocal Duo of the Year.
Sugarland also appeared on Sesame Street in Season 38 episode 4149 singing "Songs" with Elmo.
2008-Present: Love on the Inside
In February 2007 Nettles and Bush began recording Love on the Inside as a follow up to Enjoy the Ride. The Deluxe Fan Edition was released on July 22, 2008, with the regular edition released one week later. The fan edition includes the duo's collaboration with Little Big Town and Jake Owen, a cover of The Dream Academy's 1985 hit "Life in a Northern Town". It also introduces four other bonus tracks, including "Fall Into Me", "Operation: Working Vacation", "Wishing", and a cover of Matt Nathanson's "Come On Get Higher".
The lead-off single was "All I Want to Do" which debuted at #27 on the country charts, the highest debut for the duo. In August 2008 the song became their third #1 single. The following single, "Already Gone", released on September 8, 2008, became their fourth #1 in January 2009. Sugarland started the Love on the Inside Tour on September 13, 2008 in Asheville, North Carolina. It was their second headining tour. They were supported by Ashton Shepherd and Kellie Pickler and the tour concluded after 25 performances on November 16, 2008 in Bossier City, Louisiana.
In early December 2008 Sugarland received three Grammy Award nominations and performed on the 51st Annual Grammy Awards show on February 8, 2009. They won awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group.
In March 2009 Sugarland toured in Europe starting with performances at military stations in Italy. They are also scheduled to perform in France, the Netherlands, Germany, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Later in 2009 they will be joining Keith Urban in select cities as part of his Escape Together World Tour and will also join Kenny Chesney on his Sun City Carnival Tour. The third single from Love on the Inside, and 11th single overall, "It Happens", was released in February 2009 and became their fifth Number One in May 2009. As with the album's first two singles, the duo wrote it with Bobby Pinson.
On February 11, 2009, Sugarland received two nominations from the Academy of Country Music. They were nominated for Top Vocal Duo and Vocal Event of the Year for "Life in a Northern Town". During the broadcast of the April 5, 2009 awards show, Sugarland was presented with the Vocal Duo of the Year award, ending Brooks & Dunn's nine-year run. Nettles also received a Milestone award, presented to her by Reba McEntire.