CMA Songwriters Series Tapes Public Television Special in Nashville

Pictured (L-R): Denis Gallagher, Partner, "Front and Center"; Don Maggi, Managing Partner and Executive Producer, "Front and Center"; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Jon Randall, songwriter; Dierks Bentley; Jim Beavers, songwriter; Tom Becci, Chief Operations Officer and Senior Vice President, UMG Nashville; Ben Vaughn, Executive Vice President, Warner/Chappell Music and CMA Board member; Brett James, songwriter and CMA Board member; Ross Copperman, songwriter. Photo: Donn Jones / CMA

Pictured (L-R): Denis Gallagher, Partner, “Front and Center”; Don Maggi, Managing Partner and Executive Producer, “Front and Center”; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Jon Randall, songwriter; Dierks Bentley; Jim Beavers, songwriter; Tom Becci, Chief Operations Officer and Senior Vice President, UMG Nashville; Ben Vaughn, Executive Vice President, Warner/Chappell Music and CMA Board member; Brett James, songwriter and CMA Board member; Ross Copperman, songwriter. Photo: Donn Jones / CMA

In a time where up-tempo songs rule radio, a somber ballad can still silence a crowd.

Superb songwriter (and superb singer) Jon Randall quieted a mix of fans and industry members in Nashville Wednesday night (June 25) with an acoustic rendition of “Whiskey Lullaby,” the 2004 CMA Song of the Year-winning tune co-written with Bill Anderson, and recorded by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss. “If you are a Country fan…that song might as well be ‘Amazing Grace,'” said fell0w hit songwriter Brett James.

Dierks Bentley, Jim Beavers, James and Ross Copperman joined Randall for a taped-for-television songwriters round at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the CMA Songwriters Series. Public television’s “Front and Center” will feature Country artists during two episodes slated to air in October. Bentley and his team of co-writers will be featured in one episode; Lady Antebellum will star in another, along with Rodney Clawson, Tom Douglas, Josh Kear, Luke Laird and Abe Stoklasa. Both episodes were taped in Nashville on Wednesday.

To be sure, there were uptempo, “get your good time on” songs aplenty throughout the evening.

Bentley (or “Eddie Van Bentley,” as he was later called by his songwriting co-horts) launched the show with some tasty acoustic guitar licks on his debut single from 2003, “What Was I Thinkin’.” From there, all of the writers took turns showcasing some of their most popular musical wares, including “5150,” “Drunk On A Plane,” “Watching Airplanes,” “Drink On It,” and “Beat of the Music.” Bentley also admitted to passing on a few songs that later became hit songs for other artists, including “Drink A Beer” (later recorded by Luke Bryan), “I Drive Your Truck” (later recorded by Lee Brice) and “Watching Airplanes” (later recorded by Gary Allan). Of course, Bentley and company performed many tunes from his own considerable catalog of chart-topping songs.

James traded lines with Bentley on an ace acoustic rendition of “I Hold On,” while Beavers joined Bentley on “5150,” and Randall alternated vocals on “Am I The Only One.” Producer, songwriter, guitarist and singer Copperman performed his rendition of “Pirate Flag,” recorded by Kenny Chesney (Copperman said his wife suggested the “shooting stars” line). James’ powerful, smooth voice shone on songs including “Reality” and “We Went Out Last Night” (both No. 1 hits were penned with Kenny Chesney on the same day during a post-Christmas trip to the islands).

Surprise guest Jessi Alexander offered harmonies for Bentley on “Pretty Girls Drinkin’ Tall Boys,” a cut from Bentley’s recent Riser project.

Bentley closed the show as he closes each of his concerts, with his 2011 hit, “Home.”

Pictured (L-R): Tom Becci, Chief Operations Officer and Senior Vice President, UMG Nashville; Don Maggi, Managing Partner and Executive Producer, "Front and Center"; Lady Antebellum's Dave Haywood; Denis Gallagher, Partner, "Front and Center"; Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Tom Douglas, songwriter and CMA Board member. Photo: Donn Jones / CMA

Pictured (L-R): Tom Becci, Chief Operations Officer and Senior Vice President, UMG Nashville; Don Maggi, Managing Partner and Executive Producer, “Front and Center”; Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood; Denis Gallagher, Partner, “Front and Center”; Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Tom Douglas, songwriter and CMA Board member. Photo: Donn Jones / CMA

 

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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