MusicRowPics: Mitchell Tenpenny

Mitchell Tenpenny visit

Mitchell Tenpenny visit

Multi-talented newcomer Mitchell Tenpenny is no stranger to Nashville’s music scene. He learned the ropes of the music industry from his grandmother, late music publishing executive Donna Hilley. He plays several instruments, including guitar, drums, bass, mandolin, banjo, but first discovered his love of music through piano.

“My uncle made me learn piano when we were kids. We would go to his place in the summers and he wouldn’t let us go outside until we learned songs, like some Disney tunes. Later on, I went to visit a friend of mine, and he had a drum kit with a piano set up next to it. I started noodling around on the piano and he started playing drums. It was the first time I’d ever played music with anyone and I thought it was the coolest thing.”

After graduating from David Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tenpenny graduated from MTSU with a music business degree.

Tenpenny says he received practical advice from Hilley once he decided to record music. “My grandmother started telling me about writers and demo costs, and I started learning all the other instruments because it’s cheaper to do demos without having to pay somebody to play. I wanted to keep my costs down as much as possible if I got the chance to write for somebody and know how to do that stuff.”

It was also Hilley that educated Tenpenny on the role of a songwriter. “When I was younger, she introduced me to Curly Putman. She told me all of the songs he wrote, and at that time, I didn’t understand that the artists don’t always write the songs they sing. That really blew me away that Curly wrote ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ with Bobby Braddock. From then on, I wanted to be that guy writing songs.”

He would go on to sign a publishing deal with Sony/Tree Music, and a recording deal with Creation Lab Records. Tenpenny wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs on Creation Lab Records project. Tenpenny previewed several of his own songs during a recent visit to the MusicRow office.

He began with “I Hope It Rains,” a tune he says is on hold for soulful country singer Billy Currington. He followed with two Brad Clawson co-writes, “Lovin’ Rock and Roll,” and his current single, “Black Crow.”

Tenpenny will bring his music to radio taste-makers at stations across the country beginning in January.

See him live: Tenpenny is set to perform with The Warren Brothers at Nashville’s The Listening Room on Saturday, Dec. 20 beginning at 8:30 p.m.




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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

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