LifeNotes: Singer-Songwriter Ned Miller Passes

Ned Miller

Ned Miller

The death of country singer-songwriter Ned Miller was announced this week by his widow and sometime cowriter Sue Miller.

Ned Miller was 90 years old. His renown rests on such copyrights as “From a Jack to a King,” “Dark Moon,” “Do What You Do Do Well” and “Invisible Tears.”

Born Henry Ned Miller and raised in Salt Lake City, the singer-songwriter wrote his first songs at age 16 and began performing on local radio stations. He served as a U.S. Marine in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He returned to radio in Vernal, Utah after the war.

With dreams of making it as a songwriter, Miller moved to California in 1956. The following year, pop star Gale Storm had a big hit with his “Dark Moon.” Bonnie Guitar took the same song up the country hit parade. Guitar’s follow-up 1957 single was “Mister Fire Eyes,” which she and Miller cowrote.

Miller began his own recording career that same year. His breakthrough hit came with “From a Jack to a King” in late 1962. It crossed over to become a pop as well as a country hit. It was also a sizable success in England. In 1964, he and his wife cowrote his country hit “Invisible Tears.” The Ray Conniff Singers covered the song for the pop marketplace.

In 1965, his self-penned “Do What You Do Do Well” became another Top 10 country hit for Ned Miller. Ernest Tubb also had a hit with this song in the same year.

Ned Miller continued to chart with self-penned songs throughout the rest of the decade. But he never enthusiastically embraced life as a performer because he suffered from stage fright. He quit recording in 1970.

Success as a writer continued. Sonny James enjoyed a three-week No. 1 with Ned and Sue Miller’s “Behind the Tear” in 1965. Hank Thompson had a 1971 hit with Miller’s “Next Time I Fall in Love (I Won’t).”

Other country stars who recorded his songs include Porter Wagoner, Johnny & Joanie Mosby, Jean Shepard, Connie Smith, Wanda Jackson, Faron Young, Slim Whitman, Red Simpson, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Bare, Marty Robbins, Lynn Anderson, Loretta Lynn and Hank Snow. His material has been covered by such pop performers as Bing Crosby, Bobby Darin, Kay Starr, Les Brown, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Teresa Brewer and Doug Sahm.

In 1989, Ricky Van Shelton revived “From a Jack to a King” and took it to No. 1 on the country charts. Chris Isaak brought back “Dark Moon” in 1993.

Miller passed away on March 18 in Medford, Oregon. He is survived by his wife; sister Bonnie Powell; daughters Lynda, Karen, Rhonda and Leslie; son Jack; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

CAA Signs Singer-Songwriter Brandon Ray

Pictured (L-R): Brett Saliba, CAA; Jared Evans, Red Light Management; Brandon Ray; Justin Cahill, CAA; Brian Hill, CAA

Pictured (L-R): Brett Saliba, CAA; Jared Evans, Red Light Management; Brandon Ray; Justin Cahill, CAA; Brian Hill, CAA

CAA has signed Nashville-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Brandon Ray.

Ray, who is represented by Red Light Management, has had touring gigs with Taylor Swift and Brett Eldredge. As a songwriter, he is signed with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. This week he is participating in the Key West Songwriters Festival in Key West, Florida.

Ray is working on a solo EP with producer/writer/engineer Nick Brophy (Kip Moore, Big & Rich). He is a native of Big Spring, Texas.

CMA Study: Country Music Attracting Diverse, Young Listeners

Fans at 2015 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. Photo: CMA

Fans at 2015 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. Photo: CMA

The country music audience is seeing its fastest growth in non-white, Hispanic, and Millennial listeners, according to a study released to media by the Country Music Association (CMA) on Wednesday (May 4).

The study indicated that the country music format has seen a 25 percent increase in Hispanic listeners since 2010, compared to a 7 percent growth among non-Hispanic, white listeners. Meanwhile, 71 percent of white adults and 71 percent of non-white adults listen to country music weekly or more often, according to the data.

The industry organization presented the findings following a consumer research initiative titled “Understanding Today’s Shifting Consumer Landscape and Changing Country Music Audiences, Music Choices, and Behaviors.”

The results of the initiative are being made available to CMA members during weekly one-hour webinars in May. This week’s theme was “Tomorrow’s Music Consumer and Emerging Behaviors.”

“Evolving consumer trends will undoubtedly have an impact on the genre and how future audiences for the format will engage with country music,” said Karen Stump, CMA Sr. Director of Market Research. “The series will focus on how those shifts will potentially impact music behaviors and preferences.”

The data reported in this summary is from CMA’s proprietary consumer study, which was conducted among 3,330 adult consumers across the U.S. during October 2015. The study was conducted by a third-party research partner, The Futures Company. CMA Research is conducted on behalf of and provided exclusive to CMA members.

Industry Ink: Station West, SOLID, Hart Street Entertainment, No Excuses Charitable Fund

Luke Wooten’s Station West Names Studio Manager

Jessica Amerson

Jessica Amerson

Station West Recording Studios has named Jessica Amerson as studio manager. In her new role, Amerson will serve as the executive and creative assistant to producer and engineer Luke Wooten, oversee Station West and Sea Gayle’s joint venture artists Baylor Wilson and Jordan Brooker, as well as maintain day-to-day function of the studios.

Previously, Amerson worked with Carnival Music. She is a graduate of Belmont University.

Established in 1998, Station West is located in Nashville’s Berry Hill area, and has counted Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley and ABC’s Nashville among its clients.


SOLID Presents MTSU With Scholarship, Mentorship

Pictured (L-R): Tim Gray, SOLID University Outreach Chair (Grayscale Entertainment Marketing); Gregory Smith, MTSU Student and Scholarship Recipient; Lisa Nolan, SOLID University Outreach Co-Chair (For the Record Entertainment)

Pictured (L-R): Tim Gray, SOLID University Outreach Chair (Grayscale Entertainment Marketing); Gregory Smith, MTSU Student and Scholarship Recipient; Lisa Nolan, SOLID University Outreach Co-Chair (For the Record Entertainment)

SOLID (Society of Leaders in Development), Nashville’s group of rising music industry professionals, presented a $1,000 scholarship to a Middle Tennessee State University student at the school’s Student Scholarship Awards Ceremony on April 22. The 2016 SOLID Scholars Program recipient, Gregory Smith, was awarded the grant based on his leadership, academic performance, promise and commitment to the betterment of the community. In addition to the monetary award, Smith will be paired with a music industry mentor for his fall semester at MTSU.

“I’m so proud that we, as an organization, have the ability to actively support students like Gregory who epitomize the standards and ideals that SOLID holds in such high regard,” said SOLID President Basak Kizilisik. “Our plan is to continue to provide him with support as he progresses in his career.”


Hart Street Entertainment Restructures

Julie Reliford

Julie Reliford

Hart Street Entertainment has named Julie Reliford as President & CEO, after the exit of former President & CEO Zach Farnum, who has joined Webster PR. Reliford previously served as Sr. VP, PR & Marketing for Hart Street. The company specializes in marketing, PR, and artist booking. “I am incredibly excited about the potential for this company,” says Reliford. “I am grateful for the opportunity that I have had to be a part of Hart Street, and humbled by the chance to lead it.”



Danika Portz To Headline Armed Forces Entertainment Tour

Danika Portz

Danika Portz

Singer/songwriter Danika Portz will headline her second Armed Forces Entertainment tour of U.S. military bases in Southwest Asia.  To kick off the tour, Nashville bar and restaurant South will be hosting a send-off show for Portz and her band on Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m.

Portz has teamed up with the No Excuses Charitable Fund, which was created by wounded veteran and motivational speaker, Noah Galloway, who lost both his left arm and leg during the Iraq War. The former Dancing With The Stars contestant  stars as a team leader on the new FOX reality TV show, American Grit.  The No Excuses Charitable Fund raises money and awareness for organizations that support fitness, wellness and inspire others to enlist healthy habits in their daily lives. The Fund provides resources to: YMCA of Alabaster, Alabama; Operation Enduring Warrior; and Homes for Our Troops.

Steven Tyler Announces 19-City Solo Tour With Nashville Date


Big Machine Label Group artist Steven Tyler has announced a limited-run 19-city North American solo tour.

Backed by his Nashville-based band, Loving Mary, he will launch the Steven Tyler….Out on a Limb Tour on July 2 at the Venetian Theater in Las Vegas. The tour will continue through Sept. 13, concluding in Toronto.

The tour does include a Nashville date on August 17, but the venue has not yet been announced. Tickets for the tour go on sale May 14, except for the Chicago date, which goes on sale on May 13.

A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member as lead singer of Aerosmith, Tyler is signed as a solo artist to Dot Records, an imprint of Big Machine Label Group.

Steven Tyler…Out on a Limb Tour dates:
July 2: Las Vegas; Venetian Theater
July 5: Los Angeles; Dolby Theatre
July 8: Seattle; Marion Oliver McCaw Hall
July 10: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Orpheum Theatre
July 14: San Francisco; The Masonic
July 20: Phoenix; Comerica Theatre
July 23: Denver; Ellie Caulkins Opera House
July 26: Austin, Texas; Bass Concert Hall
July 29: Houston; Revention Music Center
August 1: Dallas; Music Hall at Fair Park
August 13: Chicago; Chicago Theatre
August 17: Nashville; to be announced
August 23: Washington, D.C.; Warner Theatre
August 29: Clearwater, Fla.; Ruth Eckerd Hall
September 1: Atlanta; Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
September 4: Boston; Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre
September 7: Philadelphia; Academy of Music
September 10: Providence, R.I.; Providence Performing Arts Center
September 13: Toronto; Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

Waylon Payne Rejoins Carnival Music

Waylon Payne

Waylon Payne

Singer-songwriter Waylon Payne has returned to Carnival Music publishing company. The son of country singer Sammi Smith and guitarist Jody Payne, he first joined Carnival Music as a writer in 2006.

Since returning to Nashville from Los Angeles, Payne has been writing and is in the studio to record the follow-up to his 2004 project, The Drifter. That album introduced “Running from the Rain,” “Pretender” and the title track. Lee Ann Womack recorded Payne’s solo-written “Solitary Thinkin'” for her 2008 album, Call Me Crazy.

In addition, Payne portrayed Jerry Lee Lewis in the Academy Award-winning Walk The Line, starred in the Hank Garland biopic Crazy, and appeared on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. 

“When Waylon walked back through our door this time, it was as though he’d never left,” says Carnival Music’s Frank Liddell. “Poetry, lyrics, and honesty are getting their time in the sun here in Nashville again, and I think the timing is finally right for him. Plus, he’s just an incredible talent and a good person.”

“I’m so happy to be back home at Carnival,” Payne says. “Frank was the first person who gave me a writing deal. He’s been a friend to me for 25 years. Now, he’s welcomed me back, and he didn’t have to—everyone at Carnival has shown me such compassion. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the truth: I had a horrible drug problem. It almost killed me several times. But I just picked up my chip for being four-years sober and am so grateful. By the grace of God, I’m alive, making music again, with a lot of stories to tell. I finally feel like I’m in the right place.”

Sony/ATV Music Publishing Signs “Die A Happy Man” Writer Sean Douglas

Amanda Berman-Hill and Sean Douglas

Amanda Berman-Hill and Sean Douglas

Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s West Coast branch has signed “Die a Happy Man” co-writer Sean Douglas, who has also worked with Jason Derulo, Nick Jonas, Madonna and more.

The Los Angeles-based writer has penned “Heart Attack” by Demi Lovato, “Talk Dirty” and “Wiggle” for Derulo, “Hey Mama” for David Guetta, “Levels” for Jonas, and “Die a Happy Man” for Thomas Rhett.

Sony/ATV Senior Vice President and Head of West Coast Writer Relations Amanda Berman-Hill said, “Sean Douglas is one of the most talented and diverse songwriters and his talents have no boundaries. We are beyond thrilled to have him join the Sony/ATV family and look forward to being a partner in his continued success.”

Douglas said, “I’m thrilled to begin the next chapter of my career with Sony/ATV as a partner. The support and enthusiasm Marty Bandier, Amanda and the rest of the team have shown me is truly inspiring. Here’s to the beginning of a great partnership.”

Alabama, Sam Moore To Be Inducted Into Music City Walk of Fame



Country group Alabama and soul singer Sam Moore will be the latest artists to receive stars on the Music City Walk of Fame. The induction ceremony for the 71st and 72nd stars will take place May 26 at 1 p.m. at Walk of Fame Park in Nashville.

“This year’s inductees to the Music City Walk of Fame prove once again the dazzling scope and sweep of Nashville’s musical history,” Mayor Megan Barry said. “Alabama is one of the great country groups of all time. They created a stunning blend of voices and musical styles to top the charts over and over and over again.

“Sam Moore’s incredible vocals and stage moves helped make Sam & Dave one of the finest rhythm and blues acts in music history. Sam famously told Steve Cropper to ‘Play it, Steve’ in the middle of the classic song ‘Soul Man,’ and it’s going to be wonderful to see the two of them together again on the Music City Walk of Fame. Congratulations to this year’s inductees!”

Sam Moore

Sam Moore

The Music City Walk of Fame was created in 2006, to recognize inductees for their significant contributions to preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and for contributing to the world through song or other industry collaboration.

Alabama, which includes cousins Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen, from Fort Payne, Alabama, has sold 73 million albums and charted 43 No. 1 singles, including 21 consecutive No. 1 singles. They are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They released a new studio album, Southern Drawl, in 2015 and will kick off the North American leg of their Southern Drawl Tour later this month.

Sam Moore is best known as the tenor voice of the soul duo Sam & Dave of Memphis-based Stax/Atlantic Records. The duo’s hits included “Hold On! I’m Coming,” “I Thank You,” and the iconic “Soul Man.” They sold more than 10 million records worldwide. Moore has also collaborated with country music artists, including Conway Twitty on “Rainy Night in Georgia” in 1994.

UMPG Nashville Signs Kane Brown

Pictured (Back Row, L-R): Travis Gordon; Ron Stuve; Kent Earls, Executive VP/GM, UMPG; Cyndi Forman; Missy Roberts; and Stephen Denninger; (Front Row, L-R): Katie Flynn; Amelia Varni; Kane Brown; Tammy Helm.

Pictured (Back Row, L-R): Travis Gordon; Ron Stuve; Kent Earls, Executive VP/GM, UMPG; Cyndi Forman; Missy Roberts; and Stephen Denninger; (Front Row, L-R): Katie Flynn; Amelia Varni; Kane Brown; Tammy Helm.

Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) Nashville has signed an exclusive, global publishing deal with artist and songwriter Kane Brown. The announcement was made today (May 4) by Kent Earls, Executive Vice President/General Manager, UMPG Nashville.

“Kane Brown’s charismatic voice matched with his magnetic look screams superstar and the level at which he connects with his fans is revolutionary in our format,” said Earls. “We are honored to be the home of Kane’s songs for years to come.”

“I’m so excited to be part of the Universal Music Publishing team,” added Brown. “I’ve been collaborating with their incredible writers and we have been writing some amazing songs. I can’t wait for the fans to hear what’s coming next.”

Shortly after signing to RCA Nashville in January 2016, Brown released his debut single “Used To Love You Sober” to country radio. His EP Chapter 1 (RCA/Zone 4) was released in March and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and No.9 on The Billboard 200. Brown is currently working on his debut full-length album, which is set to be released later this summer.

Brown got his start in music by developing a dedicated fan base through posting original and cover songs to his own social media channels. After independently releasing “Used To Love You Sober” to digital retailers, the song went viral.

Brown is currently headlining his first tour with over 40 sold out shows, and he will join Florida Georgia Line on their Dig Your Roots Tour this summer.

The Barbershop Harmony Society Plans Convention In Nashville

Musical Island Boys Quartet

Musical Island Boys Quartet

The Barbershop Harmony Society 2016 International Convention will take place July 3-10 in Nashville. The organization has been headquartered in downtown Nashville since 2007.

A uniquely American art form, barbershop is four-part, a cappella, close-harmony singing style. It will be spotlighted in competitions hosted at venues across Nashville, including Music City Center, Bridgestone Arena, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and the First Baptist Church.

The convention is expected to attract more than 6,000 singers and generate more than $11 million for the local economy.

“Barbershop harmony is improvisational music at heart,” said Marty Monson, CEO of the Society. “Although we’ll have all of our superstars here on stage and in competitions, a huge number of our guests come just to sing with each other, to meet up casually to sing their favorites with new friends. That singing spills out of the hotels and convention center, and engulfs the entire city. We are the opposite of a hide-in-conference rooms convention.”

With 23,000 members, the Society is the world’s largest all-male singing organization. Today, it has more than 800 chapters across North America with 4,500 affiliates in nine additional countries. Affiliated and female organizations around the world bring the global barbershop movement to more than 80,000 singers. Groups from England, Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and Ireland travel to Nashville this summer for a week of a cappella singing.

Among the highlights of the week are two performances at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center of “Pitch Perfected: An Evening of Vocal Harmony,” which features championship quartets, on July 6-7. “A Better World Singing Day” will also take place on July 9, offering families the opportunity to be a part of making music together while enjoying free shows at The Walk of Fame Park and Bridgestone Arena.

The full week schedule includes quartet contests for singers under age 25, and the open division contest, the International Chorus Contest, and hundreds of classes ranging from vocal techniques, songwriting to comedy, to music history.