Coming into the 2009 American Music Awards, there was one category that was expected to be a slam dunk.
Lady Gaga was predicted to easily win the Breakthrough Artist Award. But surprisingly it was Gloriana, a relatively little known act from Nashville, that took home the award.
"That was a big shock to us," Gloriana's Tom Gossin said last week.
But it was a testament to the impact Gossin, his brother, Mike, Rachel Reinert, and Cheyenne Kimball made with their song single, "Wild at Heart." That single from their self-titled album became the best-selling song by a new country artist in 2009, selling more than 350,000 copies.
That momentum was threatened in 2011 when Kimball announced she was leaving to pursue a solo career. But a situation that could have destroyed many groups had the opposite effect on Gloriana. When they take the stage at the University of Toledo on Friday, they will be at the height of their popularity. Recent single "(Kissed You) Good Night" climbed to No. 2 on the country music chart and even crossed over to the pop charts. It is nearing the 1 million mark in downloads and catapulted the group's second album, "A Thousand Miles Left Behind," to a No. 2 debut on the Billboard country albums chart in early August.
IF YOU GO:
Gloriana will play Friday at Music Fest 2012 on the University of Toledo campus. The free event will feature a mixture of local and national acts and will run from 3 p.m. until midnight in the grassy area south of the Memorial Field House, adjacent to Centennial Mall. Parking is available in lots 13 and 18.
3 p.m.: The Dumb Easies
4:15 p.m.: Hot Sauce
UT pep rally
5:45 p.m.: K'JON
7:15 p.m.: Alexander Zonjic & Jeff Lorber
8:30 p.m.: Tyler Hilton
9:15 p.m.: Gloriana
10:45 p.m.: Bowling for Soup
"We became more focused [after Kimball left]. She's more of a solo artist. I can't speak to why she left, but groups work best when everybody has the same goal, work ethic, and focus," Gossin said. "When she departed, it left us with three original members of the band who were 100 percent committed to the project, 100 percent focused on what we wanted to do next, so it became easier to function."
Earlier this week, Gloriana released "Can't Shake You," the follow-up to "(Kissed You) Good Night." It was born from Gossin's personal experience growing up in a small town in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains in New York.
"It's about living in a small town with only a couple bars and breaking up with someone and trying not to run into them. But you can't help it in a town that small," Gossin said. "You're tortured by the fact you're not sure you want to be split up but you can't work it out. You can't shake the memory of that person."
Songwriting is Gloriana's strength, but Gossin said performing live is the biggest thrill for the group.
"We've played music our whole lives, we studied music when we were young, been writing music forever. This is what we do, and we're glad to be doing it," Gossin said.
The crowd at UT will hear most of the songs off the debut album, a sampling from the new album, and some of the group's favorite covers.
"The main response we get from people about our show is that it was more than they expected," Gossin said. "So I think people will be in for a treat."
Contact Brian Dugger at email@example.com or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.