All Eyes Media Gets New Senior Director

Donica Christensen

Donica Christensen

Donica Christensen has joined All Eyes Media as Senior Director. In her new role, she will help oversee the eclectic roster of artists that includes Widespread Panic, Lucinda Williams, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Matt Costa, among other artists.
Previously, Christensen was Sugar Hill Records’ Director of Artist & Media Relations for the past five years, overseeing campaigns for Sarah Jarosz, Marty Stuart, Black Prairie and Sam Bush. Prior to her time with Sugar Hill, she was part of the team at Commotion PR, as well as working independently. She is a graduate of Belmont University’s Music Business program.
“I am stoked to be joining Jim Flammia’s team at All Eyes Media,” says Christensen. “Their passion for great music, integrity and eclectic roster make it the perfect move for me.”
“Our artists will benefit greatly from Donica’s experience, passion and work ethic,” says Flammia. “However, the most important trait she brings to All Eyes is how much she cares. We are very excited to have her on board.”
Christensen can be reached at All Eyes Media at 615-227-2770 and at [email protected].

Country Artists Team for Country Cares Seminar

The Voice winner Cassadee Pope visits with a St. Jude patient.

The Voice winner Cassadee Pope visits with a St. Jude patient.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital recently welcomed Hunter Hayes, X Factor winner Tate Stevens, The Voice winner Cassadee Pope, High Valley, Alabama’s Randy Owen and Brantley Gilbert, along with over 1,000 members of the radio industry, to the 24th annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids® seminar. Since 1989, this event has brought together country music artists, radio stations and country music listeners to support the mission of St. Jude. Country Cares has raised over $440 million for the organization.
Hunter Hayes checks out a video with a St. Jude patient.

Hunter Hayes checks out a video with a St. Jude patient.

“I was told it was not going to be an average hospital visit,” says Hayes. “First of all, it is already happy. It’s joyous. There’s an energy. There’s a positivity. There’s the ‘hope’ message that lives and breathes in everything, in the people, in the building. It’s more than just bright colors and lots of natural light. It’s the attitude, it’s the hearts and the minds. It’s the way the people operate here. And the way you feel when you come here.”
“Since this is my first trip to St. Jude I just really wanted to soak in every second, every minute of it,” says Pope. “I’d been wanting to experience this since I was a kid. Just seeing all the campaigns and promotions and the big names behind this I knew it was such an amazing cause. That it was a place that was inspiring.”
For more information on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Country Cares for St. Jude Kids, visit, or
Pictured (L-R): High Valley's Brad Rempel and Bryan Rempel, Alabama's Randy Owen, High Valley's Curtis Rempel

Pictured (L-R): High Valley’s Brad Rempel and Bryan Rempel, Alabama’s Randy Owen, High Valley’s Curtis Rempel

NYC Goes Country

raidoCountry radio returned to New York City today (Jan. 21) for the first time in 17 years. Cumulus-owned WRXP is broadcasting on 94.7 as Nash-FM. New York City is the largest radio market in the United States.
Nash-FM is using the tag line “Country for Life,” and launched with first song “How Country Feels” by Randy Houser. Listen live at


Jason Aldean plays Madison Square Garden on March 2.

Further proof of the genre’s growing popularity in the Big Apple is Friday’s news (Jan. 18) of Jason Aldean selling out famed Manhattan venue Madison Square Garden. According to his team, all available tickets were purchased in ten minutes for his first-ever concert at the arena. His 2013 Night Train Tour, which hits NYC on March 2, will feature Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett.
“I think people underestimate country music’s popularity in New York City,” said Aldean. “The Garden is one of those places every artist dreams of playing. I am blown away that my show sold out that quickly…it makes me even more excited to hit rehearsals this month and get the Night Train tour on the road. I can’t wait to see you, New York!”
Aldean is the latest country star to experience touring success in New York. In August 2012, Live Nation’s Brian O’Connell told the New York Daily News, “We’re seeing more headlining tours in the New York area going into 2013 than we have in history. It’s double what it was three or four years ago.” That article reported that New York is the single biggest market for country music sales, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
Numerous factors have contributed country’s rise in popularity in the last several years, including genre-crossing superstars Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum; and country music on television shows such as American Idol and The Voice. The CMA has been working to boost country’s presence in New York City for years, particularly since 2005 when the CMA Awards moved to Madison Square Garden for one year.

Holly Williams Readies Tour, 'The Tonight Show' Appearance

Holly WilliamsSinger-songwriter Holly Williams will make her debut on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Jan. 30 to support The Highway, Williams’ third studio album out Feb. 5 on her own imprint Georgiana Records.
Williams will kick off her U.S. tour on Jan. 24 at Joe’s Pub in New York. She will also play Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles on Feb. 6, Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre on Feb. 12 as well as additional tour stops in San Diego, Chicago and other cities.
The Highway was recorded at The Art House in Nashville and produced by Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars), co-produced by Williams, and engineered and mixed by Richie Biggs, which additional engineering and mixing by Nick Autry and Chuck Ainlay. The 11-track album also features guest vocals from Jackson Browne, Jakob Dylan, Dierks Bentley and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Jan 17–The Square Room–Knoxville, Tenn.
Jan 18-20–30A Songwriter’s Festival–Rosemary Beach, Fla.
Jan 24–Joe’s Pub–New York City
Feb 1–Nashville Ballet–Nashville, Tenn.
Feb 5–Soho Music Club–Santa Barbara, Calif.
Feb 6–Hotel Café–Los Angeles
Feb 7 –The Soda Bar–San Diego
Feb 8–Nutty Jerry’s–Winnie, Texas**
Feb 9–Arlington Music Hall– Arlington, Texas**
Feb 12 –Belcourt Theatre–Nashville, Tenn.
Feb 14–Ruth Eckerd Hall–Clearwater, Fla.*
Feb 15–Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall–Sarasota, Fla.*
Feb 17–Philharmonic PAC–Naples, Fla.*
Feb 18–Kravis PAC–West Palm, Fla.*
Feb 20–The Music Farm–Charleston, S.C.
Feb 21–Red Clay Theatre–Duluth, Ga.
Feb 22–WorkPlay Theatre–Birmingham, Ala.
Mar 6–Lincoln Theatre–Raleigh, N.C.
Mar 7–Evening Muse–Charlotte, N.C.
Mar 8–Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall–Asheville, N.C.
Mar 9–Ryman Auditorium–Nashville, Tenn.***
Mar 26–The Ark– Ann Arbor, Mich.
Mar 27 –SPACE–Evanston, Ill.
Mar 28–Meyer Theater–Green Bay, Wis.
Mar 29 –Do317 Lounge–Indianapolis, Ind.
Apr 19–World Café Live–Wilmington, Del.
Apr 21–Tin Angel–Philadelphia, Pa.
Apr 25–Fete Lounge–Providence, R.I.
Apr 26 –Lancaster County Convention Center–Lancaster, Pa.
May 3–New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival–New Orleans, La.
*with Sheryl Crow    **with Loretta Lynn    ***with Indigo Girls


Thompson Square Reveals Album Track Listing, Release Date

1092491358735983976Thompson Square will release its new album, Just Feels Good, on March 26. The reigning ACM Top Vocal Duo and CMA Vocal Duo of the Year will offer a speak peek of the new album cover on CMT Hot 20 Countdown this Saturday morning (Jan. 26).
“There are a lot of fun, upbeat songs on this new album. It’s very diverse and kind of all over the map,” says Keifer Thompson. “The songs on the album are autobiographical and tell the story of our journey over the last few years – an incredible journey that I am still trying to wrap my head around.”
Keifer and Shawna Thompson co-wrote five of the 13 songs on the album, alongside such heavyweights as Brett James (Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel”) and David Lee Murphy (Thompson Square’s “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”).
Keifer shares an additional co-writing credit with hit makers Vicky McGehee and Kyle Jacobs on the blue-collar love story, “That’s So Me and You.”
Other notable collaborations include the album’s title track, “Just Feels Good,”  written by Bobby Pinson, Brad and Brett Warren.
Thompson Square is currently touring with Luke Bryan on his sold-out Dirt Road Diaries Tour. The duo will continue with Bryan throughout the tour’s second leg, beginning May 17 in Virginia Beach, Va. and ending Oct. 26 in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Just Feels Good Official Track Listing:

1.  Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About
(Keifer Thompson, Shawna Thompson, David Lee Murphy, Brett James)
2.  Here We Go Again
(Keifer Thompson, Shawna Thompson, Vicky McGehee, David Fanning)

3.  You Don’t Get Lucky
(David Lee Murphy, Bob DiPiero, Tom Shapiro)

4.  That’s So Me And You
(Keifer Thompson, Vicky McGehee, Kyle Jacobs)

5.  I Can’t Outrun You
(Kyle Jacobs, Joe Leathers, Ben Glover)
6.  Testing The Water
(Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Hillary Lindsey)

7.  For The Life Of Me
(Keifer Thompson, Shawna Thompson, David Lee Murphy, Brett James)

8.  If I Didn’t Have You
(Keifer Thompson, Shawna Thompson, Jason Sellers, Paul Jenkins)

9.  Here’s To Being Here
(Keifer Thompson, Shawna Thompson, David Lee Murphy, Brett James)

10. Just Feels Good
(Bobby Pinson, Brett Warren, Brad Warren)

11.  Maybe It’s You
(Kyle Jacobs, Vicky McGehee, Kyle Sackley)

12.  Run
(Ross Copperman, Michael Davey)

13.  Home Is You
(Jon Nite, Jimmy Robbins)

28th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Award Winners

stellarKirk Franklin and Tina and Ericka Campbell of Mary Mary co-hosted the 28th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House Saturday (Jan. 19).

In addition to hosting duties, Mary Mary was honored with nine nominations, taking home five trophies to tie the evening with Charles Jenkins.
Special honors were bestowed upon Bishop TD, Kurt Carr and Inez Andrews. Also in attendance was Shirley Caesar and former Destiny’s Child singer Michelle Williams. This year, the Stellar Awards presented five categories highlighting the top Gospel radio stations at a special ceremony at TPAC on Saturday, Jan. 19.
The Stellar Awards aired for the first time on GMC network, in addition to 150 syndicated stations around the country. Local markets will re-air the program beginning January 26 – March 30.
28th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Winners
Artist of the Year
Marvin Sapp
Song of the Year
“Awesome” Charles Jenkins, The Best of Both Worlds, Inspired People
Male Vocalist of the Year
Marvin Sapp
Female Vocalist of the Year
Kierra Sheard
Group/Duo of the Year
Mary Mary
New Artist of the Year
Le’andria Johnson
CD of the Year
The Best of Both Worlds, Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago, Inspired People
Choir of the Year
Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago
Producer of the Year
Isaac Carree, Eric Dawkins, Warryn Campbell, Gerald Haddon, Rick Robinson
Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year
Mary Mary
Traditional Group/Duo of the Year
The Williams Brothers
Contemporary Male of the Year
Fred Hammond
Traditional Male of the Year
Marvin Sapp
Contemporary Female of the Year
Le’andria Johnson
Traditional Female of the Year
Vanessa Bell Armstrong
Contemporary CD of the Year
Go Get It, Mary Mary, My Block/Columbia Records
Traditional CD of the Year
I Win, Marvin Sapp, Verity Gospel Music Group
Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year
“Go Get It — Go Get It,” Mary Mary, My Block/Columbia Records
Music Video of the Year
“Go Get It — Go Get It,” Darren Grant, My Block/Columbia Records
Traditional choir of the Year
Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago
Special Event CD of the Year
Go Get It, Mary Mary, My Block/Columbia Records
Rap Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year
The Whole Truth, Da T.r.u.t.h., Xist Music/Black Fuel Entertainment
Children’s Project of the Year
Anointed By God, Anointed By God, One Voice Media
Quartet of the Year
The Williams Brothers
Recorded Music Packaging of the Year
The Best of Both Worlds, Charles Jenkins, Inspired People
Praise and Worship CD of the Year
Shifting the Atmosphere, Jason Nelson, Verity Gospel Music Group

George Strait Kicks off 'The Cowboy Rides Away' Tour

L–R: U.S. Marine Corps E-3/Lance Corporal Christopher Allen, Strait, and Lieutenant General Leroy Sisco, U.S. Army (Retired) Photo: Courtesy of Terry Calonge

Pictured (L-R): U.S. Marine Corps E-3/Lance Corporal Christopher Allen, Strait, and Lieutenant General Leroy Sisco, U.S. Army (Retired) Photo: Terry Calonge

On Friday (Jan. 18), George Strait kicked-off the first of 21 tour stops on his 2013 The Cowboy Rides Away Tour at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Martina McBride is Strait’s special guest on the tour. An audience of over 15,000 was afforded what will soon be a rare occurrence–seeing Strait and his Ace In The Hole Band live in concert.
The evening began for many with a VIP reception in a room aptly named “The King’s Tavern,” which features multiple traveling memorabilia cases on display as part of “The King’s Exhibit” with featured items ranging from Dusty Chandler’s jacket (the lead character Strait portrayed in the film Pure Country), to Strait’s Country Music Hall of Fame medallion from his November 2006 induction.
Partway through the show Strait broke stride after he performed his current single, “Give It All We Got Tonight,” and introduced U.S. Marine Corps E-3/Lance Corporal Christopher Allen.  Allen was then recognized as the 287th recipient of the Military Warriors Support Foundation’s (MWSF) “Homes 4 Wounded Heroes” (H4WH) program and the first awardee to receive a key directly from Strait. The presentation was made possible through Strait’s longtime friend, Lieutenant General Leroy Sisco, U.S. Army (Retired).
“Our foundation is thrilled at this opportunity to work with such an incredible patriot as George Strait and with his help we are going to change the lives of the heroes and their families by awarding 100% mortgage-free homes at the next 20 concerts on George’s ‘The Cowboy Rides Away’ finale tour,” said Sisco.
The Allen family will receive a spacious 3 bedroom/2.5 bathroom one-story home in Bakersfield, Calif. complete with a pool and a two car garage. The homes made available for the program are donated to MWSF through partnerships and, as revealed at the show in Lubbock, will be awarded to one service member at every tour stop on The Cowboy Rides Away Tour.
Upcoming 2013 The Cowboy Rides Away Tour dates:
Jan 19  |  Chesapeake Energy Arena  |  Oklahoma City, Okla.
Jan 25  |  EnergySolutions Arena  |  Salt Lake City, Utah
Jan 26  |  Idaho Center  |  Nampa, Idaho
Jan 31  |  Sleep Train Arena  |  Sacramento, Calif.
Feb 1   |  SaveMart Center  |  Fresno, Calif.
Feb 2   |  MGM Grand Garden Arena  |  Las Vegas, Nev.
Feb 15 |  Xcel Energy Center  |  St. Paul, Minn.
Feb 16 |  Alerus Center  |  Grand Forks, N.D.
Feb 22 |  First Niagara Center  |  Buffalo, N.Y.
Feb 23 |  XL Center  |  Hartford, Conn.
Mar 1   |  Thompson-Boling Arena  |  Knoxville, Tenn.
Mar 2   |  Rupp Arena  |  Lexington, Ky.
Mar 17 |  Reliant Stadium  |  Houston, Texas
Mar 22 |  Bi-Lo Center  |  Greenville, S.C.
Mar 23 |  Greensboro Coliseum  |  Greensboro, N.C.
Apr 5   |  The Pit  |  Albuquerque, N.M.
Apr 6   |  Pan American Center  |  Las Cruces, N.M.
Apr 12 |  Verizon Arena  |  N. Little Rock, Ark.
Apr 13 |  New Orleans Arena  |  New Orleans, La.
Jun 1    |  Alamodome  |  San Antonio, Texas*
* On sale date March 9, 2013

Industry Ink (1/21/13)

APA LogoBilly Ray Cyrus and Don Williams have both returned to the talent agency they first called home, APA. “We are thrilled to have Billy Ray Cyrus and Don Williams back into the APA family of artists and very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead,” says Sr. VP Steve Lassiter. “It’s an honor to be representing them again and it’s always a pleasure when former clients come home.”

• • •

Pictured (L-R): SESAC's Tim Fink and Boscoe France

Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Tim Fink and Boscoe France

SESAC has signed singer-songwriter Boscoe France. The Madisonville, Ky. native is the 2012 winner of Guitar Center’s Battle of the Blues competition, where he beat out over 4,000 guitarists for the honor.
France stopped by SESAC’s Nashville headquarters for a visit.

• • •

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP's Mike Sistad and Jewel

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP’s Mike Sistad and Jewel

Jewel visited Nashville recently to appear at the Texaco Country Showdown at the Ryman Auditorium. While in town, she also stopped by the ASCAP offices for an interview with Clear Channel’s Artist Integration Program, which will promote the release of Jewel’s upcoming Greatest Hits collection.
The album, which is slated to release Feb. 5, will feature duets with Kelly Clarkson (“Foolish Games”) and the Pistol Annies (“You Were Meant For Me”).

• • •

SOLID donated over $3,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital from funds raised at its annual Turkey Bowl.

Pictured (L-R): Teri Watson (St Jude Sr. Director, Entertainment Marketing) Sabrina Abrishamchian (SOLID Turkey Bowl Co-Chair), Jackie Proffit (St Jude Radio & Music Industry Relations ), Jen Wolczyk (SOLID Turkey Bowl Co-Chair)

Pictured (L-R): Teri Watson (St Jude Sr. Director, Entertainment Marketing) Sabrina Abrishamchian (SOLID Turkey Bowl Co-Chair), Jackie Proffit (St Jude Radio & Music Industry Relations ), Jen Wolczyk (SOLID Turkey Bowl Co-Chair)

• • •

Several of Nashville’s top musicians, including guitarist Tom Bukovac, drummer Chad Cromwell, bassist Michael Rhodes, pianist Mike Rojas, accordionist Kieran Kiely and steel guitarist Dan Dugmore, visited a secret location in the South Pacific to record the follow-up album to Dave Stewart‘s The Ringmaster General. The project is scheduled to release in 2013.

Pictured (L-R): Dave Stewart,Tom Bukovac, Chad Cromwell, Michael Rhodes, Mike Rojas, Kieran Kiely and Dan Dugmore.

Pictured (L-R): Dave Stewart,Tom Bukovac, Chad Cromwell, Michael Rhodes, Mike Rojas, Kieran Kiely and Dan Dugmore.


The Producer’s Chair: Keith Stegall

Keith Stegall

Keith Stegall

By James Rea
When 20-year-old Keith Stegall arrived in Nashville in 1975 he’d already been performing on stage and in the studio since he was 8-years-old, and writing songs and producing records since he was 15. Thirty-eight years later, his accomplishments in the Country music industry are no less than astounding. As a songwriter and producer, Stegall has had 54 No. 1 hits, over 40 million airplays and his production discography boasts 25 platinum and multi-platinum albums. Stegall’s body of work has resulted in sales of over 70 million units. He has earned four CMA awards, 10 ACMs and six Grammy nominations, including a nod at the Feb. 10 Grammys where Zac Brown Band’s Uncaged will vie for Best Country Album.
Growing up in a family of industry pros in Wichita Falls, TX, Keith attended the Louisiana Hayride as a child and at age eight, made his stage debut at a regional show in Tyler, TX. His father, Bob, played steel guitar for country legend Johnny Horton and his uncle had a recording studio in Dallas.
“My uncle would take me there while he was working,” recalls Keith. “One night he heard me playing the piano, and brought a mic down and cranked up the tape. So I rattled off four or five tunes for him including ‘It Keeps Right On a-Hurtin’, and ‘Six Days On The Road.’ I was eight years old and that was my first experience in the studio.”
A few years later Keith took up guitar and joined a rock/soul band called the Pacesetters and in high school, he toured internationally with folk group The Cheerful Givers. By the time he was 15, Keith began to write songs.
“When I was a freshman in college one of my friends called me and told me to get my guitar and get over to the college as quickly as I could. I got to play three songs for Kris Kristofferson and Billy Swan. By the time I got to the second chorus of one of the songs, Kris started harmonizing with me, which was really weird. It was really crazy. Afterwards, Kristofferson shook my hand and said, ‘You’re pretty good. You really ought to move to Nashville.’ So I did.”
Three months after his arrival in 1975, Keith co-wrote his first hit, Dr. Hooks’ 1980 smash “Sexy Eyes” and the flood gates opened. Helen Reddy, The Commodores, Johnny Mathis, and others rushed to record Stegall’s songs in L.A., and in Nashville, Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Jerry Reed, Eddy Arnold, Moe Bandy, George Strait, and Steve Wariner were recording Stegall compositions. By 1985, Mickey Gilley and Glen Campbell had taken Keith’s tunes to the top of the country charts with “Lonely Nights” and “A Lady Like You.” Most notable among the subsequent recordings was Al Jarreau’s huge hit “We’re In This Love Together.”
“I was intrigued by the craft that I had observed from people like Kristofferson and Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard. I got my first pub deal when I was 24, so I was bangin’ on doors for about three or four years just trying to meet people. Judy Harris at April Blackwood Music had hooked me up with some of the writers there. One afternoon I got a call from April offering me a job as their tape copy person, a songwriting deal and $200 per week. Back in those days everything was reel-to-reel, so that first year I did an apprenticeship in the tape copy room and I learned how to edit and slice and wrote songs at night. Once I started doing my own demos, I started getting record offers.
“God rest his soul, Lynn Shults ran Capitol in those days and Dr. Hook was signed to Capitol, so when I gave him my first demo, Lynn heard ‘Sexy Eyes’ and said ‘I’ve gotta get this to Ron Haffkine, this is a smash for Dr. Hook and by the way, I want to sign you to a record deal.’”
In 1980 Keith debuted as an artist on the country charts via Capitol Records. A subsequent stint with Epic Records yielded hits “Pretty Lady” and “California” and one of the industry’s first country music videos.
In 1985, Keith was nominated by the Academy of Country Music for Top New Male Vocalist, but by then Keith knew that being on the road as an artist wouldn’t allow him to spend enough time to concentrate exclusively on his first love—songwriting, so he quit performing.
“Then my career really went into a slump,” he laughs. “The songwriting dried up. It was a tough time. So I went home and licked my wounds, but it was the best thing that ever happened. It forced me to get my nose back to the grindstone.”
Randy Travis, then a struggling nightclub singer, and friend asked Keith to produce an independent album to sell at his gigs. The project led to Keith producing a pair of standout songs on Travis’ epochal debut, Storms of Life. Then in 1990, Ronnie Milsap took Stegall’s “Stranger Things Have Happened” up the charts and Stegall regained his songwriting feet.
Meanwhile, another friend and songwriting partner kept asking Stegall to produce a tape to play for record companies.
Alan Jackson knew that I’d done some of the tracks on Randy. He was writing for Glen Campbell’s company at the time and he was being managed by Marty Gamblin, a good friend of mine. Gary Overton was my manager and Marty and Gary put Alan and I together. Every time I had a demo I’d drop by and play it for Alan and he was always curious as to how I got that kind of sound and what mics I used and began a process of asking me about producing him. The only reason I didn’t was because he was working with a guy who was a friend of mine. I said, when you guys settle your business up, please call me. He called me one night at the house and said ‘Ok it’s over with. Can we do some demos now?’ And that was the beginning.”
Jackson employed Keith’s production talents on every album from that point on, which led to sales of over 30 million units. Stegall continued collaborations with Jackson, co-writing “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” and “Dallas,” two of Alan’s biggest hits and in 1992, after taking Jackson’s advice, Keith received an offer to head Mercury Nashville’s A&R department and a chance to release another album as an artist.
“I thought this is not my gig. I’ve spent half my life fighting with record labels,” recalled Keith. “But Jackson said, ‘Half the reason I wanted to work with you is that you are an artist and you understand.’” Reminiscent of Chet Atkins’ years earlier at RCA, Stegall became an artist and executive at Mercury Records.
1996 saw the release of Passages, Keith’s critically acclaimed Mercury debut, and the same year, more chart success as a writer on Clay Walker’s “If I Could Make A Living” and Travis Tritt’s “Between An Old Memory And Me.”
In 1997, Keith teamed up with legendary songwriter Dan Hill (“Sometimes When We Touch”). The collaboration quickly yielded two No. 1s: Sammy Kershaw’s “Love Of My Life” and Mark Wills’ “I Do (Cherish You).” Then 98 Degrees made “I Do” a major pop hit.
The new millennium began with Stegall producing Jamie O’Neal’s gold-selling debut album Shiver for Mercury Records which included two No. 1s.
In 2002 he parted ways with Mercury Records after nearly a decade, but his winning streak with Alan Jackson continued with album Drive and the No. 1s “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” and “Drive.” The album sold over four million copies and garnered Keith two CMA Awards, an ACM Award and a Grammy nomination. Keith was also named MusicRow Magazine’s Producer of The Year.
In late summer of 2003, Keith produced, “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere” by Jackson and Jimmy Buffett, which spent a staggering eight weeks at No. 1. The song earned Keith two ACM Awards in 2004. That year “Remember When” went No. 1, as did Keith’s co-write “I Hate Everything,” recorded by George Strait.
In 2006, Keith took a short-lived position as Chief Creative Officer at Broken Bow Records. His success continued in 2007-08 with Jackson’s platinum selling gospel album Precious Memories, Clay Walker’s album Fall, and Jackson’s Good Time.
The 2008 release of Zac Brown Band’s The Foundation marked the beginning of Stegall’s work with the band, which has resulted in a record breaking nine consecutive No.1s.
In 2009, Keith and partners opened the doors on Bigger Picture Group, home to artists Chris Cagle, Craig Campbell, Chris Janson, Rachel Bradshaw and Ryan Kinder.
The Producer’s Chair: Who was your mentor as a producer?
Keith Stegall: Early on, I discovered a David Houston album produced by Billy Sherrill. That was around 1967 and Sherrill was coming into being the czar and I was intrigued by what a record producer did. It took me years of self discovery to figure out that a record producer is a lot like a movie director. Also, I became a huge student of Larry Butler’s records. I would sit for hours and study the way a track was constructed, because Butler was very big on building a track as it went along. It was very sparse and very open on the front end and then as it progressed, it got bigger and bigger until it finally climaxed. And I was fascinated with the Nashville number system.
Why, after being nominated for ACM Top Male Vocalist, did you walk away from your record deal?
I had a great producer, Kyle Lehning. The problem for me was that I had the head of a record producer instead of the head of an artist. I knew the way I wanted the track to sound and I knew what I wanted someone to play and that wasn’t always in agreement with my producer. I think in those days, artists were expected to be heard only behind the microphone and to let the producer do his thing and it just didn’t work for me. I realized that I was wasting Kyle’s time and mine, so I called Rick Blackburn and said “Can you please just let me go?”
How did you wind up producing Randy Travis?
That was actually my [first] brush with the big time as a record producer. I’d already done a live record on Randy that he was selling out at the Palace. Kyle was my producer, and I took Martha Sharp out to see Randy and she wanted to sign him. So it ended up with me and Kyle producing Randy. I was still an artist at the time and I was losing money. It made me re-visit producing records.
In 1992 you became head of A&R and an artist on Mercury. How did that happen?
That was a weird deal. Luke Lewis wanted me to come over there and I was so dead set against working for a record label, I just kept throwing barriers up and I was in the process of making a record on myself in my studio. But Luke came over and said, “Hey man, Chet Atkins did it, you can do it.”
Who did you sign at Mercury?
The first act was Terri Clark, then I signed Mark Wills, Shane Minor, Jamie O’Neal, and ended up producing Sammy Kershaw and Billy Ray. That was a fun time.
When did you start producing Alan Jackson?
In ‘87, I produced the first two albums with Scott Hendricks and on the third album, Alan made the decision that he wanted me to do the records by myself. That was a scary time for me, but that was the album that had “Chattahoochee” on it.
Did you already have a vision for Bigger Picture when you left Broken Bow in 2006?
I was thinking along the lines of a production company, because we had Big Picture, our publishing company and I was still doing three or four outside acts, so I really wanted to have an umbrella that these acts could rest under. The actual Bigger Picture Company came together around that first Zac Brown Band record. Zac and I paid for that record out of our own pockets. I think we spent about $20,000 on The Foundation. I helped Zac get signed to Live Nation. After they signed Zac, they wanted to go to radio with a single, and wanted me to put a company together to promote it. The basic company at that point was promotion, and I turned over my office to Michael Powers and that was the beginning of the Zac Brown story.
In the middle of having what looked like a hit record, the whole Live Nation thing fell apart and all of a sudden we had a hit record and no label. I got a call from Craig Kallman, Chairman of Atlantic, because he realized we didn’t have a record label. So, I flew up to New York, sat down with Craig and hatched out a plan. They signed Zac and we became joint venture partners with Atlantic on the first two records. That was killer, that’s the way it happens, in the midst of chaos, there’s always something going on that makes sense.
Are you producing all of the artists on Bigger Picture?
Yes but I didn’t do this by design. From an economic standpoint, because I own a piece of this company, it was easier for me to produce these acts and incur some of the costs myself and save us a shit load of money and be effective. In Rachel Bradshaw’s case, I felt like she needed somebody that was used to making music with women. I thought of Frank Liddell because he has done that magnificently from his wife right through to Miranda. Frank and I began spending Friday afternoons drinking beer and talking about it and I introduced them and that relationship blossomed. They’re in the middle of making her five or six song EP and I’m excited as I could be about it. With a guy like Frank, you know it’s going to be stellar when it’s done.
When you sign a new artist to your label, does it matter if they write?
Yes, and they’re all involved in the community with their groups of people that they write with. I’m such a junkie for singer/songwriters. My biggest influences were Dan Fogleberg, Dan Hill and James Taylor. The case can always be made for Frank Sinatra because he didn’t write his own songs, he was a great interpreter. But I like hearing the story from the person that lived it and wrote it down after he or she lived it.
I understand your daughter Jen Ketner is signed to Big Picture.
Yes, I told her that her job was to attach herself to Ryan Kinder. He’s a Birmingham boy, who hasn’t spent a lot of time in Nashville and I wanted Jen to start writing with him and connect him with some other people and become part of his creative sub-set. And that’s what she did and she’s actually co-producing the Ryan Kinder record. I’ve got three daughters, Jen is the oldest and she’s the only one who was crazy enough to follow me into the fire.
Who else is signed to your publishing company?
D Vincent Williams, Brice Long, Luke Sheets, Michael White and Lance Carpenter.
How does Bigger Picture’s label model differ from major labels?
Everybody, even major labels have had to adapt to the present economics of how they do things. Most of the record labels are offering 360-deals … a little piece of this and a little piece of that. We’re not really in the 360-business. We’re in what we call joint-venture partnerships with all of our artists, so with the things that we participate in, we’re not just trying to take something, without being accountable and contributing. We try to participate in the things that we make happen within the career, instead of just taking something because we need it. We’re very much involved in publishing, production, marketing, promotion and management. Maintaining the integrity of great artists is the most important thing to me. For the next five years of my career, the most important thing that I can do is help mentor these up-and-coming artists and help them develop into truly great talents.
I have a fear that some of our music has evolved into fast-food music, and that nobody is going to remember songs a year from now that are hits right now. Great artists know that they’re being commercial but they’re also creating a piece of art that should have a life of its own beyond the radio. At my age, I hope to be more of a guiding parenting figure for these kids, to help them hold true to their dreams and never feel that they have to sacrifice, or give up anything to fit in. Great artists don’t care about that. They just do their thing and the world chases them.
Do you have any new goals on the horizon?
To stay relevant … and, I’d love to write a book about making music in this town.
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National Music Publishers' Association Strikes Deal with WMG

National Music Publishers AssociationWarner Music Group and The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) have negotiated a model licensing deal for music videos.
Under the agreement, songwriters and music publishers receive a percentage of the revenue generated from WMG’s music videos in exchange for the use of their musical works in these videos. The deal will be offered to all NMPA members on an opt-in basis through the Harry Fox Agency (HFA).
“Music videos are a growing revenue stream for music creators and agreements such as this are becoming increasingly necessary,” said David Israelite, NMPA President and CEO. “Warner Music Group has a deep understanding of the value that songwriters provide and we are working together to jointly increase the value of music and ensure that all creators are fairly compensated. This is the second such agreement NMPA has reached with a major record label and it is another demonstration of the benefit of a strong business partnership between labels, songwriters and music publishers. We expect more labels to follow suit.”
In June 2012, Universal Music Group (UMG) reached a similar music video licensing agreement with the NMPA, becoming the first major label to make an agreement of this kind.
Additionally, songwriters and publishers who opt into the WMG agreement may receive retroactive payments for past use of musical works in WMG music videos. The agreement also provides songwriters and music publishers with compensation for offerings relating to ringtones, ring back tones and dual disc, multi-session audio and locked content physical products.