Celebrated vocalist Richie McDonald has departed the country group Lonestar for a second time, he says, leaving a band he helped lead to chart-topping success in the 1990s and 2000s. He will be replaced by former Sons of the Desert front man Drew Womack.
Founded in 1992 by McDonald, John Rich, Keech Rainwater, Michael Britt and Dean Sams, the group went on to score tender emotional hits like “Amazed” (1999), “I’m Already There” (2001) and “My Front Porch Looking In” (2003) and more. But they also went through a number of lineup changes, and McDonald left the band to pursue a solo career in 2008, only to return three years later. Together, Lonestar released two more albums when McDonald rejoined (Life As We Know It and Never Enders), but did not crack the Top 50 on Billboard’s Country Airplay radio chart.
In announcing his exit, McDonald said he’ll be shifting focus to a trio called The Frontmen of Country – a group which also includes former Little Texas singer Tim Rushlow and Restless Heart frontman Larry Stewart. They have plans to tour in 2021, playing hits from all three bands on a planned-for coast-to-coast run.
“I’ve been with Lonestar for almost 30 years and have enjoyed my time with the guys,” Richie McDonald said. “With everything that has happened in the past year, it has made me think about other things I want to do in life. This opportunity with The Frontmen came up, and I’ve decided to go a new direction.
“I’ve always enjoyed performing with Tim and Larry, and I can’t wait to see how this new chapter unfolds,” he went on. “I want to thank my bandmates Dean [Sams], Keech [Rainwater] and Michael [Britt] for a great run. I wish them nothing but the best.”
Meanwhile, Lonestar will round out its new lineup with Womack, a Texas based artist who made his name both as a performer and songwriter. Sons of the Desert posted a Top 10 hit in 1997 (“Whatever Comes First”), and the band appeared as guest artists on Lee Ann Womack’s Number One hit “I Hope You Dance.” Womack also co-wrote Kenny Chesney’s “She’s Got It All.”
“We are thrilled to have Drew joining us,” says the band. “We have been friends and have admired his work and outstanding voice for many years. It will be an exciting new chapter in our storied career and know he will be welcomed by the industry and fans alike. Fans will hear more than 22 combined hits, between the amazing catalog of Lonestar and Sons Of The Desert, and even hit songs written by Drew for such iconic country artists as Kenny Chesney.”
“I can’t adequately express just how excited I am to join these guys and create and make music with Dean, Keech, and Michael,” Womack says. “I’ve known and respected them since (Sons Of The Desert) played the same circuits and it’ll be an honor to be on stage with them.”