Belmont University Donates $250,000 To National Museum Of African American Music

Pictured (L-R): NMAAM's H. Beecher Hicks, III, CeCe Winans, and Belmont University's Bob Fisher.

Pictured (L-R): NMAAM’s H. Beecher Hicks, III, CeCe Winans, and Belmont University’s Bob Fisher.

The National Museum of African American Music has announced a $250,000 donation from Belmont University, as well as its first Rivers of Rhythm Digital Exhibition.

Gospel singer CeCe Winans joined Belmont University president Dr. Bob Fisher and NMAAM’s president & CEO H. Beecher Hicks, III to unveil the digital exhibition and donation.

“This digital exhibition reflects another step in Belmont’s efforts to become increasingly more diverse and broadly reflective of our local and global communities,” said Fisher. “Having Henry and Cece Winans here to launch this new music resource is an honor and demonstrates our commitment to NMAAM’s success. Belmont has an outstanding reputation for fostering and nurturing top musical talent, so supporting this project is a perfect fit for our campus.”

As a National Chair, Winans will focus her work with NMAAM specifically around the gospel genre and serve as an active ambassador. Winans, along with Darius Rucker, Keb’ Mo’ and India.Arie were announced earlier this year and are actively engaged in the project. All are prominently featured in the Rivers of Rhythm Digital Exhibition.

“With over 50 genres identified as created or influenced by African Americans, RofR is an interactive tool that depicts the ebb and flow of music and genres using a web-based platform to tell the Museum’s story even before our doors open,” said Hicks. “Music is more connected than we realize and the influence of genres and music is a true outline of the history and impact that American artists have around the world.”

The museum is expected to open in 2018 at the corner of Fifth and Broadway in downtown Nashville, according to the Nashville Post.

Drew Baldridge Gets Grand Ole Opry Surprise From Josh Turner

Pictured (L-R): Drew Baldridge, Josh Turner. Photo: Rachel Black, Grand Ole Opry

Pictured (L-R): Drew Baldridge, Josh Turner. Photo: Rachael Black, Grand Ole Opry

Cold River Records artist Drew Baldridge was surprised by musical hero Josh Turner at the Grand Ole Opry on Wednesday (June 15).

Baldridge was making his Grand Ole Opry debut just five days after releasing Dirt On Us, his first album for Cold River Records. Baldridge performed the title track and another new song, “Tractors Don’t Roll,” before delivering his version of Turner’s hit, “Your Man.”

Baldridge told the audience, “The very first time I came to Nashville, my mom bought me tickets for my 18th birthday to see Josh Turner in concert at the Wildhorse saloon. I’ll never forget the first time I came here, I went downtown and bought a cowboy hat just so I can have Josh Turner sign it and I don’t even wear cowboy hats! But I went down there and got a hat, Josh Turner signed it and I watched his show in the front row. That was the night I decided I was going to move to Nashville and I was gonna do this and try to pursue my dream. It was because of Josh Turner. And I know Josh is a Opry member, and what better way than to sing one of Josh Turner’s songs.”

Turner appeared unannounced during the musical break to sing the rest of the song with Baldridge. The performance received a standing ovation.

Exclusive: Entertainment Lawyer Derek Crownover Surveys The Record Label Landscape

Derek Crownover

Derek Crownover

Derek Crownover, a partner and Entertainment Law Practice Group leader at Dickinson Wright PLLC, has spent decades engaged in helping artists, songwriters, publishers, managers and labels navigate the legalities involved in the various chapters of an artist’s career. From that vantage point, he has seen the dramatic changes of the music industry.

While many artists who pulled in commendable sales and social media numbers, such as Florida Georgia Line and more recently, Kane Brown, went on to sign with major labels, a plethora of other artists are currently releasing product through publishers, managers, and their own independent labels.

In a conversation with MusicRow, Crownover discussed the various record label routes available to rising artists.

MusicRow: Today, we see more and more independent artists aligning with publishers or managers to put out their own product, and we see them offering more of the same marketing and distribution services that labels have typically been known for.

Crownover: I think what really changed it was when the label started asking for 360 participation deals, where they are getting revenues from various sources. Artists’ lawyers and business managers were giving on those deals because they wanted [record] deals. Then they started giving the same things to publishers and managers, and quite frankly they were getting more value out of it because the labels don’t have publishing and management services in-house.

Labels are not developing the minor leagues like they do in professional baseball. There is really no college they are a part of either. They are just waiting until there is a bidding war, and then acquiring it. Those are some huge mistakes they are making and it’s providing a huge opportunity for publishers and managers to participate in that 360 income, prior to the label being involved. They are investing in it early, like seed capital investors.

These artists are obviously aligning themselves with independent and major labels to take their careers to the next level. What do labels offer for them?

Labels still have a lot of value and are extremely important. In certain instances they are doing a great job. If you need radio promotion and distribution to explode, then the label becomes important. Or if you are at the point where you are a branded act and you need that larger infrastructure to support that brand at that certain level, the label is then invaluable. There is no question you should be part of it.

The big question comes at those mid-level stages where you are on album two and you aren’t selling as well as you thought you would and the promotion and distribution are not as helpful as your own social media, as your own fan base. You get to the point of asking, ‘Should I own this asset?’ Then you’ve got the other options that are happening, like The Orchard, Alternative Distribution Alliance, Thirty Tigers. You see some real value coming from those folks at the middle level. Their ability to make money at 100,000 units is more attractive [to some artists] than a label that has that large infrastructure that says you really need to get to 500,000 or 1 million units before they start to see this large investment in promotion coming back to us.

Why might companies like The Orchard, ADA or Thirty Tigers be a good alternative option?

In some of the Orchard or digital deals, you own your master and license it to them. Your typical split can be 80-20 where the artist keeps 80 percent after distribution fees. A Thirty Tigers-type deal might be a 70-30 type deal. They use Sony/Red as their distribution. Thirty Tigers also offers services, where you might say, “I’m going to do a distribution deal, but we are going to add promotion and marketing and we might even pay for some of the recording costs.” It becomes very valuable for a mid-level artist or an artist that is hot property, but not quite hot enough for a label to commit.

Will we see more and more of these types of mid-level labels in the future?

Yes, because there is a need for it, but I think you are going to see the majors buy those up. Sony Records in March 2015 bought the remaining half of its interest in The Orchard, so you may see The Orchard eventually begin acting like a mini-major, instead of just a distribution company.

You also have numerous publishing companies releasing projects.

You are finding all these different routes now for a Steve Moakler- type artist or a Maggie Rose, where major labels have looked at both of those artists, but they haven’t necessarily fit the mold. So both of them have major, credible publishers involved like Creative Nation and Dallas [Davidson’s] Play It Again. You’ve got these tastemaker publishers that are making real investments. They are not telling their artists, “We are the best label or we are the best manager.” They are saying, “We believe in you, and we are going to help you launch, and when you get to a certain level, we will let you go, but we still want to participate in that income because we were the first to be a seed investor in you.”

We worked on both of those deals, and we represented those publishers in those deals.

What do the publishers and managers bring to the table in these deals?

The publishers and managers are probably the most powerful people in launching an artist right now. They are finding the songs and you can produce them so inexpensively now. Some labels have great A&R people, but they have to service their top-level acts, so in my opinion the power of finding a great act is not in a lawyer coming in and pitching it. It’s the publisher and manager committing to a new talent and saying, “I’m going to help put a website together, with artwork, help make the songs great, get a good producer involved.”

I see some managers now taking acts on, but they are participating in publishing because they are giving them money to live on and to write songs. I also see the reverse of that, where publishers give a publishing deal but they say, “Hey, we are managing you too, because we helping you find a producer, helping you launch your record, so why not participate in those revenue streams?”

At what point do you find major labels becoming interested in DIY artists?

That varies. I can look at some of the Florida Georgia Line stats, and I think they sold between 20-30, 000 downloads when the interest started to come. That was a few years ago though. Now it could be no downloads, but they have airplay on [SiriusXM’s] The Highway. Then there are some artists with 50,000 downloads that are still not signed with majors.

Legally, how do you prepare artists to make that transition to a major label?

You have to make the deal as clean as possible so that if there is major label interest, all the rights can go forward smoothly. “Did you get a production deal in place?” “Yes, and we owe them four points on the deal.” It’s specific. “Who owns the master?” “The artist, 100 percent and we are licensed to the Orchard and can stop the agreement in six months.”

Really, it’s keeping the artist clean enough so they are still attractive to a label. When that happens you hopefully have created a lot of leverage and you’ve done the work. When the label says, “Tell us about your rights,” we can say specifically what rights we have that they have been acquired and that there are no clouds on those titles or no issues with those rights. You can take them tomorrow and exploit them how you want, but you have to pay us.

Exclusive: Hudson Moore Plots His ‘Getaway’ Plan On The Road

Hudson Moore

Hudson Moore

Hudson Moore cruised through MusicRow this week to introduce his new album, Getaway.

Moore lives in Nashville but has accrued his strongest fan base in Texas. He’s a Fort Worth native who recorded Getaway in the hill country of Texas. Rather than spending time shopping it around, he and manager Ryan O’Nan of 21 Guns Management opted to release it themselves and take it on the road.

“That’s my priority – building fans,” says Moore, who is booked by Henry Glascock at WME. “We decided to put this out independently, on our timeline. I think as the fans come in, other people will be interested. But who knows? Maybe we’ll want to keep being independent. We’re just taking it as it comes.”

Taking a fun, contemporary approach to country music, Moore co-wrote with numerous Nashville songwriters for Getaway. Although he’s currently self-published, he has been taking meetings with music publishers in town. Because of the way he grew up, Moore says that the country music route comes naturally.


“I didn’t really think about it too much. I think it just kind of made sense,” Moore says. “A lot of my heroes are in country music and I wanted to emulate that, like Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. And the fans, I feel like I can relate to them better than in any other genre. When I play, I always say they’re friends and family. The fans who naturally like my music to begin with happen to like other people in that world, so I think it’s a natural fit.”

Moore studied radio, TV and film at the University of Texas. But these days he’s taking lessons on how to build an career by observing the superstars.

“I try to study my favorites and think, ‘What can I take from that?’” Moore says. “From the way Keith does his show and engages his audience, to the music he puts out and how he’s evolving, I try to take all of that into account and see what I can learn from that. Obviously I want to pave my own road but I want to take those things and apply them to my career.”

Pictured (L-R): Ryan O'Nan, 21 Guns Management; Hudson Moore; Craig Shelburne, General Manager, MusicRow

Pictured (L-R): Ryan O’Nan, 21 Guns Management; Hudson Moore; Craig Shelburne, General Manager, MusicRow

Weekly Chart Report (6/17/16)

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LifeNotes: Star Bass Player Mike Chapman Passes

Mike ChapmanRenowned Nashville bass instrumentalist Mike Chapman has died at age 63.

As a member of the Garth Brooks band The G Men, Chapman was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame on June 5. He died eight days later, on June 13.

Chapman also recorded with LeAnn Rimes, Brooks & Dunn, George Jones, Trisha Yearwood, Collin Raye, Doug Stone, Joe Diffie, Joe Stampley, BlackHawk and others. He played bass on over 30 No. 1 hits and on records that have sold more than 170 million copies.

Michael “Mike” Leo Chapman was also a National Guardsman. He earned a degree in business from Athens State University in Alabama.

He is survived by his wife Connie, sons Lee and Clinton, daughter Allison, sister Faye Wise and grandson Wyatt Sartin.

A celebration of his life is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday (June 17) at Church of the City Franklin (formerly The People’s Church) at 828 Murfreesboro Road in Franklin. The private burial will be Monday in Williamson Memorial Gardens.

Donations can be made in his name to the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum and/or to Meals for Health & Healing and sent to Williamson Memorial.

Joey Feek’s Story Becomes Documentary



The inspirational story of Joey+Rory’s Joey Feek will come to the big screen for one night only on Sept. 20, via the documentary To Joey, With Love. Joey died in March at age 40 after battling stage IV cervical cancer.

The project was written, filmed and directed by Rory Lee Feek and produced by Aaron Carnahan. Ben Howard of Provident Films served as executive director.  The documentary being is distributed by Provident Films.

The documentary will chronicle 2 1/2 years of their lives together, from the birth of Joey+Rory’s daughter Indiana, who was born with Down Syndrome, through Joey’s struggle with and ultimate surrender to cancer at age 40.

“Joey didn’t live to see her 41st birthday, but this September, just a week or so after her birthday on the 9th… my wife will get the chance to live again,” said Rory Feek. “On a movie screen, her heart will start beating and her story will come to life once more and it will be my gift to her. And to our girls. And to our friends and family and all who loved her.

“I have had lots of time these last few months to think about what anniversary gift I wanted to give to my wife this year — what act of service I could do, that would matter to her — if she were here. So with the help of some friends, I am going to try to give her a gift that is pretty much impossible … To live on, even after she’s gone.”

Watch the trailer for To Joey, With Love below:

Justin Moore Announces Track Listing For ‘Kinda Don’t Care’

Justin Moore.

Justin Moore.

Justin Moore will release his fourth studio album, Kinda Don’t Care, on Aug. 12 on The Valory Music Co. The lead single from the project is “You Look Like I Need a Drink.”

Justin Moore album

Pre-order for the standard and deluxe versions will be available July 15, with four instant free tracks available through release date.

Moore is credited as a songwriter on “Goodbye Back” on the standard edition, in addition to “When I Get Home” on the deluxe edition.

Brantley Gilbert appears on another track, “More Middle Fingers.” Moore is currently providing direct support on Gilbert’s Take It Outside Tour.

This is Moore’s first album since 2013’s Off the Beaten Path.

“It’s hard to believe that we just recorded our fourth album. The process has changed, drastically, since our first time in the studio so many years ago,” Moore said. “This is the best piece of music we’ve delivered because it gets more fun each time. Naming the album Kinda Don’t Care is not meant to be nonchalant or careless. It’s meant to be a challenge to folks to live life a little more freely and be true to themselves.”

Kinda Don’t Care Track Listing

1. “Robbin’ Trains” (Brett Beavers, Deric Ruttan, Josh Thompson)
2. “Put Me in a Box” (Erik Dylan, Randy Montana)
3. “Kinda Don’t Care” (Rhett Akins, Ross Copperman, Ben Hayslip)
4. “Hell on a Highway” (Blake Bollinger, Matt Rogers, Ben Stennis)
5. “Goodbye Back” (Justin Moore, Ross Copperman, Jeremy Stover)
6. “You Look Like I Need a Drink” (Rodney Clawson, Matt Dragstrem, Natalie Hemby)
7. “Somebody Else Will” (Kelly Archer, Adam Hambrick, Tebey Ottoh)
8. “Between You and Me” (Smith Ahnquist, Pavel Dovgaluk, CJ Solar)
9. “Got it Good” (Jaren Johnston, Neil Mason, Jeremy Stover)
10. “Rebel Kids” (Dan Isbell, Randy Montana)
11. “More Middle Fingers” featuring Brantley Gilbert (Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell, Shane Minor)
12. “Life in the Livin’” (Travis Dennis, Jared Mullins, Chris Stevens)

Deluxe Tracks
1. “Middle Class Money” (Rhett Akins, Marv Green, Ben Hayslip)
2. “Pick Up Lines” (Corey Crowder, Travis Denning, Jared Mullins)
3. “Spendin’ The Night” (Kelly Archer, Andrew DeRoberts, Adam Hambrick)
4. “When I Get Home” (Justin Moore, Dean Dillon, Jeremy Stover)
5. “Amen” (Rodney Clawson, Jamie Moore)

Lori McKenna, Dave Cobb Preview ‘The Bird & The Rifle’ In Nashville

Pictured (L-R): Ann Powers, Lori McKenna, Dave Cobb. Photo: Eric T. Parker

Pictured (L-R): Ann Powers, Lori McKenna, Dave Cobb. Photo: Eric T. Parker

Nestled in the cozy Sound Emporium studios, the historic recording complex once helmed by Jack Clement, a small group of industry members gathered for an early hearing of Creative Nation songwriter Lori McKenna’s latest project, The Bird & The Rifle.

McKenna and producer Dave Cobb were front and center to discuss tracks from the project, in a conversation moderated by NPR Music music critic and author Ann Powers. Among those present were John Marks, Creative Nation’s Luke and Beth Laird, Creative Nation songwriter Barry Dean, and more.

Recorded live over 10 days at Cobb’s home studio in Nashville this past winter, The Bird & The Rifle is elegantly sparse, with instrumental backing strategically spaced to highlight the project’s introspective lyrics.

“Going in, I usually know the five core songs that I’m going to have that are me, right now and then we pick the other ones from there. I have to be able to sing, by myself and play it. Maybe not that good… I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing a bit. I like sitting in the room and writing and not being the artist and watching the artist and trying to figure out what they need.”

McKenna notes that her vocals on the project are authentic, if not perfect. In some ways, that allows for her signature approach to writing songs. “If I could sing like Carrie Underwood, I wouldn’t write like I do. I’d write a lot differently, that’s for sure.”

It was that combination of a raw, honest vocal and insightful lyrics that drew Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell) to the project.

“Beth Laird sent me the demos, and when I heard the demos…[Lori] is able to paint such a visceral picture with everything she writes lyrically. I’m always attracted to that,” said Cobb. “I’m a terrible writer and lyricist. I admire people who are really strong with a pen. I heard her Massachusetts [2013] record, which I adored. I think that’s the first thing I said to Beth, ‘I love her voice. I’m in. It was a no brainer for me.’”

“Wreck You,” written with Felix McTeigue, is about eight years old. “It was one of those songs that wouldn’t die,” says McKenna. “If a song is going to last eight years in my brain, it’s a good sign. I was texting back and forth the other day with Brandy Clark and we were talking about traveling and being away from home and your husband or wife or kids, and that’s always been my biggest burden as far as being blessed enough to have this job. That’s really where it came from, ‘What am I doing to all these people?’ I told her I wrote the song eight years ago and I still feel the same way. It’s that still-lingering emotion.”

The album’s title track, a metaphor for love, insecurity, and freedom, takes its title from an episode of Modern Family.

“I was folding laundry and a re-run was on TV,” McKenna recalled. “They start talking about tattoos they get and [a character] mentions ‘The Bird and The Rifle.’ Troy Verges and Caitlyn Smith were at my house writing that week. I knew [the song] would be [about] a woman and a man… I ended up with the spreading of the wings brings out the rifle in him. It presented itself that way. It’s love but how dangerous is it or how accepting is it?”

Lori McKenna. Photo: Eric T. Parker

Lori McKenna. Photo: Eric T. Parker

The Bird & The Rifle includes McKenna’s version of “Humble & Kind,” which Tim McGraw took to the pinnacle of the country charts—the first penned by a solo writer since Taylor Swift’s “Ours” in 2012. The song is a gentle reminder to listeners to work hard, but to be encouraging to those around them, without being preachy.

“I got my answer ready in case there was a press thing and somebody did say, there was this big headline that says, ‘You’re being preachy,’” says McKenna. “I was going to say, ‘Screw you, I have five kids, I can be preachy. I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to these five.’ Honestly, in this song, every line, I can tell you, like, what kid…I think I was lucky that it didn’t end up preachy because it could have.”

“I find it really uplifting in every possible way. I had this very encouraging spirit to it,” said Cobb.

Though McKenna regularly writes with country music’s top songwriters and artists, she says her children, who range in age from 12 to 27, are not impressed by their mother’s career.

“I’ve been doing this a while now so the littlest ones have grown up in this world,” she says.

Her career has brought some interesting experiences, however, such as when Swift was co-writing at McKenna’s home in Massachusetts.

“Neighbors called the police because there were bodyguards in Escalades around the neighborhood,” she recalls. “So they thought their kids were going to get kidnapped and called the police. Someone called me, and I was like, ‘No, it’s just Taylor Swift.’”

The Bird & The Rifle, out July 29 on CN Records, via Thirty Tigers, is McKenna’s 10th studio album and follows 2014’s acclaimed Numbered Doors.

Mike Reid, Don Henry, Wendell Mobley Join Hits From The Hall

Pictured (L-R): Don Henry, Wendell Mobley, Mike Reid

Pictured (L-R): Don Henry, Wendell Mobley, Mike Reid

Songwriters Mike Reid, Don Henry and Wendell Mobley are confirmed for the next Hits From the Hall concert at City Winery on Tuesday (June 21). Proceeds will benefit the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The show begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for downstairs seating and $30 for limited upstairs VIP seating.

Henry’s hits include Miranda Lambert’s “All Kinds of Kinds” and Kathy Mattea’s “Where’ve You Been.” Mobley’s catalog includes Jason Aldean’s “Tattoos on This Town,” Kenny Chesney’s “How Forever Feels” and “There Goes My Life,” Randy Houser’s “How Country Feels,” and Rascal Flatts’ “Banjo,” “I Melt” and “Take Me There.”

Reid, a 2005 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, has written Tim McGraw’s “Everywhere,” Ronnie Milsap’s “Lost in the ‘50s Tonight,” “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “Stranger in My House,” Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and Wynonna’s “To Be Loved By You.”