Sneak Preview of Tonight's Nashville "Idol" Auditions

American Idol’s Nashville auditions air tonight (1/27) on Fox at 7 PM/CT.
The first round of auditions took place in July at the Bridgestone Arena, drawing 16,000 hopefuls. In October, judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez returned for the second round, held at the Ryman Auditorium. Of the historic venue, Tyler remarked, “There’s something magical about this room…(we’ve had) some of the best singers yet.”
Drawing 25 million viewers last night, ratings for the singing competition’s tenth season are strong.

Photos From GMA Hall of Fame Inductions

Trace Adkins performs during the induction of Johnny Cash.

photos by Kurt Heinecke / The Judy Nelon Group
The GMA Foundation (GMAF) inducted Bill “Hoss” Allen, Johnny Cash, DeGarmo & Key and the Golden Gate Quartet into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame on Monday, January 24 during a ceremony at Trinity Music City in Hendersonville, TN.

John Carter Cash accepts induction for his father Johnny Cash while presenters, The Oak Ridge Boys, look on.

Those honoring the careers of the new Hall of Fame members were Trace Adkins, Jeremy Camp, Larry Gatlin, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Rambos, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Russ Taff, TobyMac, and more. The evening was hosted by Larry Gatlin and Chonda Pierce.

Bebe Evans, center, accepts the induction on behalf of her late father, Bill "Hoss" Allen. With Rogan Allen on left, and Marcie Allen on right.

The GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony was produced by the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame committee Tom Long chairman, Charles Dorris, Ken Harding, Ed Harper, Roger Holmes, Jody Mainello, Brian Mason, Stacy Merida, Judy Nelon, Diane Pearson, Gregory E.l Seneff, and Rick Goodman, executive producer. The ceremony was taped by Trinity Broadcasting Network for future broadcast.

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound perform during the induction of The Golden Gate Quartet.

Artist News: Swift Sets Nashville Dates

The latest from Taylor Swift, Joanna Smith, Sarah Darling, Montgomery Gentry ,CMA Songwriters Series, Frankie Ballard, Chuck Wicks, the JaneDear girls, Kenny Chesney and more.

Joanna Smith

>>Taylor Swift’s Speak Now tour will make a two-night stop at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Sept. 16 and 17. Tickets for the Nashville show go on sale Feb. 4. The worldwide run launches Feb. 9 in Singapore and has dates scheduled through the end of October.
>>Columbia Nashville newcomer Joanna Smith was named one of Billboard’s “Artist To Watch in 2011.” MusicRow has also chosen her perform at its annual invitation-only CRS Meet & Greet on March 1. Smith recently joined labelmate Josh Thompson on the Cold Beers and Reindeers Tour. The Georgia singer/songwriter also recently spent time visiting patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to kick off the annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radiothon season.
>>Sarah Darling debuts Angels & Devils, Feb 15. Darling’s second Black River Entertainment release, produced by Jimmy Nichols (with help from Adam Shoenfeld) features the artist’s byline on nine of the album’s 11 songs. The first single (2/20) will be “Something To Do With Your Hands.” Vince Gill sings with Darling on the track “Bad Habit.”
>>Montgomery Gentry will headline the Country Music Marathon & ½ Marathon post-race concert on April 30.
>>The CMA Songwriters Series is returning to Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 15 (8:00 PM/PT) at Club Nokia. Performing will be Gretchen Wilson, Chris Young, Brett James, Victoria Shaw and the evening’s host, Bob DiPiero. Tickets and details at
>>Frankie Ballard visited the MusicRow offices recently to share music from his upcoming Warner Nashville release, including debut single “Tell Me You Get Lonely.” Since the rising star hails from Battle Creek, Michigan—the world headquarters of Kelloggs cereal—he brought along a piece of his hometown to share with staffers.

Frankie Ballard with MR staff. (L-R): David Ross, Sherod Robertson, Christie King, Ballard, Jon Freeman, Sarah Skates, and Michelle Stephens

>>Chuck Wicks and RCA have split. The CO5/Nashville promotion team is working his single “Old School.”
>>the JaneDear girls will make their late night television debut on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Jan. 31, performing hit single “Wildflower.”
>>Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour sold out Boston’s Gillette Stadium in 8 minutes, so he has added a second date on August 28. Tickets go on sale Saturday, February 5 for the show that will close the summer run.
>>The CMA is working with DRIVE4COPD to launch the Tune Up For COPD Songwriting Competition, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus and Patty Loveless. For rules and information, visit DRIVE4COPD.COM.
>>Jim Lauderdale, volunteer chairperson of MerleFest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, will participate in a live chat on Facebook on Tuesday, February 1, at 7:00 pm EST, at the official contest page.
>>Sandra Piller celebrated the release of her third album, Days Like These, with a performance at The Mint in Hollywood.
>>Evergreen Records’ DJ Miller is kicking off the new year with a new single, “Whatever It Takes,” from his forthcoming 2011 debut album.

"Nashville Scene" Compiles Country Critics Poll

The Nashville Scene corresponded with 77 writers from across North America for this year’s Country Music Critics Poll.
Jamey Johnson led the pack, being voted Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year. Meanwhile, his ambitious two-disc effort, The Guitar Song, as voted the year’s best album.
Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” was selected by critics as the year’s best single; they also named her Female Vocalist of the Year and runner-up Artist of the Year.
Also garnering attention were Dierks Bentley, Taylor Swift, Elizabeth Cook, Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band, Easton Corbin and others.
Written and compiled by Geoffrey Himes, the cover story explores the current state of country music, and includes an interview with Cook.

Industry Photos

CMA International Broadcaster Award • Galante/Chesney at Surprise Party • Vanderbilt Hospital and the WMBA

Great Britain’s Allan Watkiss Receives CMA International Broadcaster Award

British radio personality Allan Watkiss was surprised with the CMA International Broadcaster Award last week while interviewing CMA CEO Steve Moore for “Your Country” on BBC Radio Sheffield. The award recognizes outstanding achievement by radio broadcasters outside the U.S. who have made important contributions toward the development of country music in their countries. “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award from CMA,” said Watkiss. “It is very timely, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of my program, ‘Your Country.’ I have thoroughly enjoyed working to make UK audiences more aware of the great country music that is out there. Thank you to everyone who has supported my work over the last decade.”

(L-R): Allan Watkiss and CMA CEO Steve Moore. Photo: Bobbi Boyce

Joe Galante Toasted at Surprise Party in His Honor

Former Sony Music Nashville Chairman Joe Galante’s 39-year career (which began with RCA Records in 1971) was celebrated at surprise party on Saturday, January 22. The event was hosted by a group of Galante’s closest industry friends including Renee Bell, Connie Bradley, Kix Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Robert Deaton, Ronnie Dunn, Phran Galante, Randy Goodman, Clint Higham, Gerry House, Joel Katz, Martina McBride, Dale Morris, Susan Nadler, Nancy Russell, Clarence Spalding and Butch Waugh. More than 200 people were on-hand to toast Galante. More here (subscribers only).

(L-R): Joe Galante and Kenny Chesney. Photo: Steve Lowry

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Entertainment Industry Relations Visits the WMBA

The Women’s Music Business Association (WMBA) invited Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Rondal Richardson, Entertainment Industry Relations Mgr. and Stephanie Van Dyke, Director of Volunteer Services for Children’s Hospital, to speak at the January membership meeting. Richardson and Van Dyke shared the many ways that the hospital works with the country music industry and relies on its volunteers and entertainment contacts’ support and philanthropy. The WMBA is dedicated to fostering opportunities within the music industry through education, networking, industry involvement, community service and organizational fellowship.

(L-R): WMBA Secretary Trina Lloyd Weidner; VUMC Dir. Volunteer Services for Children's Hospital, Stephanie Van Dyke; WMBA VP Holly Ashby; WMBA Pres. Brandi Simms; WMBA Communication Services/Education Chair Kama Upton; WMBA Membership Chair Betsy Walker; WMBA Alum Chair/VUMC Dottie Rager; and VUMC Entertainment Industry Relations Mgr. Rondal Richardson.

Eventful Launches Nashville Post

Ryan Bitzer

Web site Eventful has established a Nashville office to be headed by Ryan Bitzer as Director of Tour Marketing.
Bitzer previously helped launch and run the Nashville division of Sparkart Group, Inc., a digital agency that specializes in online entertainment marketing. Prior to that he was Chief Strategy Officer at RPM Management, overseeing the web presence, marketing and brand partnerships for Tim McGraw and Julianne Hough.
With 20 million users, Eventful is a digital media company that connects fans with live music and local events. It drives event attendance through a blend of social media, and direct marketing campaigns.
Eventful’s unique Demand it!™ feature is used by over 100,000 performers to engage fans to “demand” a show, thereby optimizing tour routing.
“I’m incredibly excited to be establishing a formal presence for Eventful in the Nashville market,” said Bitzer. “The live music industry is currently at an inflection point and it’s critical that a company offering unique and impactful tour marketing solutions to artists is firmly integrated into the Nashville music community.”
Bitzer can be reached at [email protected] and (615) 967-7010.

[Updated w/ Arrangements] Charlie Louvin Passes

Arrangements: Louvin’s funeral service will be at 1:30PM Sunday, Jan. 30 at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home, with burial to follow at Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens. Visitation will be 11AM –4PM Saturday, Jan. 29, as well as one hour prior to the funeral on Sunday. Harpeth Hills Funeral Home is located at 9090 Hwy 100, Nashville, TN, 615-646-9292.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie Louvin has passed away following a fight with pancreatic cancer. The 83-year-old died at his home in Wartrace, Tennessee.
Louvin underwent surgery after being diagnosed in the summer of 2010, but the operation was limited in its success. Still, it stabilized the performer’s health long enough for him continue working through the end of the year.
In recent years Louvin’s career had experienced a revival. His 2007 self-titled release—his first in 10 years—earned a Grammy nomination, raising his career total to four nods. His most recent solo album, The Battles Rage On, came out Nov. 9, and he taped his first music video last fall. Del McCoury guested in the “Weapon Of Prayer” video and track from the True North Records release.

The Louvin Brothers

Born Charlie Elzer Loudermilk in Section, Alabama on July 7, 1927, Charlie and his brother Ira eventually took the stage name Louvin. Musical talent ran in the family—they were first cousins of songwriter John D. Loudermilk. With Ira playing the mandolin and Charlie picking up the guitar, their career as The Louvin Brothers began in the 1940s. Their traditional sounds led them all the way to the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame.
Their breakthrough album came out on Capitol in 1952, leading to their biggest success in the mid ‘50s with “When I Stop Dreaming,” “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby,” and “Hoping That You’re Hoping.”
The brother duo broke up in 1963, and Ira died in a 1965 car crash.
Charlie Louvin has completed upwards of 20 records, earned six Top 10 singles, and 15 Top 20 singles over the span of six decades.
His recordings have influenced generations of performers, including Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, Jack White, Johnny Cash and Alison Krauss.
Louvin is survived by his wife Betty, and three sons, Charlie Jr. (Sonny), Glenn and Kenneth. A private funeral for Louvin will be held in Nashville, on Sunday, January 30.

On Oct. 30, 2010, Louvin with Alison Krauss and Union Station at a benefit for his medical costs in Bell Buckle, Tenn. (L-R): Camella Ramsey, Ron Block, Alison Krauss, Charlie Louvin, Jerry Douglas, Viktor Krauss. Photo by: Dan Harr, Music News Nashville

The Band Perry Celebrates First No. 1

BMI honored sibling trio The Band Perry and their hit song “If I Die Young” at the company’s Music Row office. Written by Kimberly Perry and performed by her and her brothers Reid Perry and Neil Perry, the song marks Kimberly’s first trip to the top of the charts as a songwriter as well as the group’s first No. 1. This is also the first No. 1 for Republic Nashville, which formed in June 2009 as a joint venture between Scott Borchetta, President/CEO of Big Machine Records, LLC and Monte Lipman, President/CEO of Universal Republic.

(L-R): BMI’s Jody Williams; Republic Nashville’s Jimmy Harnen; The Band Perry’s Reid, Kimberly, and Neil Perry; Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta; and BMI’s Clay Bradley. Photo: Eric England

Colt Ford

“Country Thang”

Average Joes Entertainment
Colt Ford will be playing at MusicRow’s Annual CRS Meet & Greet Tuesday, March 1, 2:30-5 pm at Cadillac Ranch.
Colt Ford’s latest offering “Country Thang” is the title track to his upcoming album. He penned the song with the white-hot writing trio of Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, and Ben Hayslip (Blake Shelton’s “All AboutTonight,” Josh Turner’s “All Over Me”)
Ford’s unique party-starting hybrid of country-rock and hip-hop, combined with a high-energy live show, has catapulted him into a celebrated indie star. Originally from Athens, GA, the former pro-golfer turned artist built a massive following through relentless touring, eventually selling over 150k units of his debut Rollin’ Through The Country. His sophomore album Chicken & Biscuits hit No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart in 2010 and features an all-star list of collaborators like Joe Nichols, Randy Houser, DMC (of Run DMC), James Otto and more. The artist says the key to his success has been in bringing something real to his shows and recordings.
“I tried to write songs I would like and that I thought people like me would like,” he offers. “I wrote about things they know about, and I can’t tell you how often someone will say, ‘Are you from my home town?’ I’ll say no and they’ll say, ‘You must be, because you write about exactly who we are and what we do.’ That’s the connection. I just tried to be honest and real, and this is what happened. They know I’m one of them.”
[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Colt Ford – Country Thang” dl=”0″ autoplay=”1″]

Nielsen IPO A Success

Nielsen Holdings (NLSN) concluded a successful IPO today with gains of over 9% as the company surged to $25.00 during trading hours on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company which measures consumer behavior, and also gathers the SoundScan bar code information from music sales, originally offered to sell 71.4 million shares at $23 for a minority stake of about 20%.
Underwriters for the IPO were J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Over 53 milion shares changed hands during the day.