There’s something special when songwriters perform for radio decision makers. No royalties, promotions or politics. It’s basically the beginning of a song’s life and–depending on your perspective–the end. Creation to airwaves.
On Feb. 26, 12 songwriters took the stage for radio legend Bob Kingsley’s Acoustic Alley during CRS. Three-fourths of the writers are MusicRow Challenge Coin recipients, having written a No. 1 on the CountryBreakout Chart since 2014.
Appropriately, Kingsley introduced the “female Peach Pickers,” songwriting friends Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna, together known as The Love Junkies. The women played with Caitlyn Smith for the extended final round after the boys set the stage with two rounds.
Rhett Akins (“When She Says Baby,” “Boys ‘Round Here”) prefaced his ’95 single “That Ain’t My Truck,” by recalling a time before cell phones, when after a fight with your girlfriend they would be able to avoid contact indefinitely.
Bob DiPiero (“Gone”), a veteran of songwriting rounds with the CMA Songwriter Series, gave the audience a taste of some secret NSFW lyrics to “Daddy’s Money,” which shall not be repeated.
JT Harding (“You Make Me Smile”) discussed how a chance meeting Mr. Nicole Kidman in a restroom led to cruising in his black sportscar and writing a stand-out title from Fuse, “Somewhere In My Car.”
Casey Beathard (“No Shoes No Shirt No Problems”) played a song dear to his heart, “Homeboy,” which was a Top 20 song.
Ross Copperman (“Beat of the Music”) gave radio a taste of Turner’s ear-candy single “Lay Low.”
Jon Nite (“Beachin'”) failed to entice David Nail, who was in the audience, to join him for “Whatever She’s Got,” but sounded great himself.
Chris DeStefano (“Toy Guns,” “Don’t Ya”) received a standing ovation by some for his title “Something In The Water.”
Jimmy Robbins (“Cool If You Did”), a self-proclaimed goofball, treated audiences to Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert‘s cut “We Were Us.”
Caitlin Smith (“Wasting All These Tears,” “Tacoma”), who was well-received, described writing the title track from her latest EP Everything To You on Skype from Minnesota with Rose (who was in Texas) and McKenna (who was in Massachusetts).
Lori McKenna (“Luxury of Knowing”) brought up her Universal Music Publishing cohort and guitar-shredder Sam Ellis for her first live performance of Hunter Hayes‘ “I Want Crazy.”
Hillary Lindsey (“Jesus Take The Wheel”) was joined on guitar by fiancee Carey Barlowe. She described songwriting like fishing–sometimes have to wait for your catch. “Shotgun Rider” was one of those titles that she claimed she had no clue it would have been such a radio hit.
Liz Rose (“Crazy Girl,” “Songs About Rain”) was accompanied by Phil Barton. She explained writing “White Horse” with a multi-tasking Taylor Swift in the studio while the young star was interrupted by merchandise decisions for her upcoming George Strait tour. Rose advised the importance to remaining open, because you never know who will cross your path.
Having written on records that have sold over 40 million copies between them, The Love Junkies recent success “Girl Crush” beckoned Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild to the stage for a rendition of the Little Big Town title.
The three women songwriters confessed to frequently holing themselves up in a house for three-day writing sessions, equipped with guitars, wine and Cheez-It’s. Although one Love Junkie confessed a desire to wear pajamas to the evening’s midnight show, the audience was wide-eyed at the rare pleasure to witness the writers’ perspective.
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