CMA Honors Vince Gill, Megan Barry, Butch Spyridon, Kitty Moon Emery

Pictured (L-R): Butch Spyridon, CEO, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. (CMA Chairman’s Award); CMA Foundation Board Chairman Joe Galante; CMA Board President Bill Simmons; CMA Board Chairman Sally Williams, SVP of Programming and Artist Relations for Opry Entertainment; Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (Chairman’s Award); Vince Gill (CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award); Sarah Trahern, CMA CEO; Pat Emery (accepting the CMA Joe Talbot Award on behalf of late wife Kitty Moon Emery); and Damon Whiteside, CMA CMO. [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

The Country Music Association (CMA) presented industry honors to four highly-deserving individuals Wednesday evening, Nov. 29 during an intimate CMA Board reception at the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Eighteen-time CMA Awards-winning artist and Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill was honored with the CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp President/Chief Executive Officer Butch Spyridon received the CMA Chairman’s Award, and beloved Nashville business leader and former CMA Board Chairman and President Kitty Moon Emery was posthumously honored with the Joe Talbot Award.

“Vince Gill defines the word humanitarian, and we’re thrilled to present him with the CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award, which has only been awarded twice before,” said CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern. “Mayor Barry and Butch Spyridon have been invaluable partners in Nashville through their support of CMA Fest and country music in general. And Kitty Moon Emery was a true trailblazer whose contributions to country music and the City of Nashville will be remembered and appreciated for many years to come.”

Pictured (L-R): Spyridon, Mayor Barry, CMA Chairman Sally Williams, and CMA CEO Sarah Trahern. Photo: Hunter Berry/CMA

“Both Megan and Butch have been dream collaborators, effortlessly working with Sarah and everyone at CMA to create an environment where we all win,” said CMA Board Chairman Sally Williams as she presented the CMA Chairman’s Award to the city leaders. “Their commitment to Country Music and specifically to CMA Fest is unwavering. In 2017, we drew record-breaking crowds for Fest. We’re all grateful for their continued partnership and support of country music.”

In a heartfelt speech, Emery’s devoted husband Pat Emery accepted the award in her honor and shared, “Kitty would tell me to tell you she loved you. She loved the CMA more than anything I think she ever did in her life.”

In addition, Trahern presented mementos to Williams, CMA Board President Bill Simmons, and CMA Foundation Chairman Joe Galante.

Vince Gill accepts the CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s CMA Theater on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Photo: Hunter Berry/CMA

DISClaimer: Country Music Making A Comeback?

Country music, I mean real country music, returns with a vengeance this week.

With top-shelf performances by Alan Jackson, Jon Pardi and Chris Janson in the listening stack, I was in heaven. The female records hold up the pop-flavored part of the equation this week, with superlative offerings from Cam, Taylor Swift and Carly Pearce.

Since this column is wall-to-wall established acts, there is no DisCovery Award contender in sight. So instead, I am spreading the Disc of the Day love.

Chris Janson and Alan Jackson touched me deeply, so they are sharing the male prize.

Cam rocked and Taylor Swift provided ballad excellence. So they are both collecting the female trophy.

Writers: Thomas Rhett/Jesse Frasure/Ashley Gorley/Shane McAnally; Producers: Dann Huff, Jesse Frasure/Thomas Rhett; EMI Blackwood/Cricket on the Line/Sony/ATV/Rio Bravo/Telemitry; Valory (track)
– This piano-embellished heartbreak ballad is a nice change of pace. The plot is, she wants to get married, but not to him. Boo hoo.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Copperline
– This 2014 winner on The Voice rocks out on this catchy ditty. He sings with gusto. The title is repeated a little too often for my taste. I guess he wants it to get “Stuck in My Head.”

Writers: Taylor Swift; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Big Machine
– I got so used to her pop bopping that I forgot what a tender balladeer she can be. This tender, piano-based heart breaker is a vivid reminder. Wistful and winning. Very, very cool.

CARLY PEARCE/Hide the Wine
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Luke Laird/Hillary Lindsey; Producer: busbee; Publishers: WB/Combustion Engine/Sadie’s Favorite/Universal/We Are Creative Nation/Jake & Mack/Songs of Universal/BMG Gold/Rezonant, ASCAP; Big Machine (track)
– He’s back in town, and that spells trouble. He’s no good, but she can’t resist him. So while the track thumps splendidly around her, she wails about getting rid of the vino, the music and the comforts that make her easy pickings. Rhythm happy.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Warner Bros.
– Each vocal performance seems more expressive than the one before. He drew me into this with extraordinary intimacy. It’s also a wonderfully inventive lyric about behaving like a gentleman. A superb record.

Writer: Margie Singleton; Producer: none listed; Publishers: Ashmar, BMI; Ashley
– At age 82, this veteran is writing and singing with verve. This is one of her new gospel songs, but she’s also still creating solid honky tonkers. Margie is best known for her duet work with George Jones (”Waltz of the Angels”), Faron Young {”Keeping Up With the Joneses”) and Leon Ashley (”Hangin’ On”) in the 1960s, but she has always crafted equally distinctive solo sides (”Old Records,” “The Eyes of Love”).

Writers: Alan Jackson; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; EMI (download)
– Philosophical and heartfelt. He is still the BEST, and I will be forever a fan. A lump-in-throat song and performance. Play and believe.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Arista/RCA
– Man, this thing roars out of the chute like a runaway bronco. The stacked harmonies are as gripping as the pile-driving rhythm track. In the lyric, she’s a home wrecker who is trying to explain herself to Diane, the woman she has wronged. I was charmed by this track from the moment I heard her sing it during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

JON PARDI/She Ain’t In It
Writers: Clint Daniels/Wynn Varble; Producers: Bart Butler/Jon Pardi; Publishers: Writers of Sea Gayle/ClearBox Rights/Spirit of Catalog Holdings/Spirit of Nashville One/BMG Platinum/Mater Pie, BMI; Capitol (track)
-This guy gives me hope for the future of the genre. Unlike so many of his peers, he is unashamedly, unapologetically country, country, country. This swaying, heartbreak lament pushes all my buttons. The rolling tempo, the sighing steel, the gentle-twang guitars, the twin fiddles and his drawling baritone vocal are all exquisite.

Writers: Shy Carter/Matthew McGinn/Lindsay Rimes; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: none listed; BMI/SESAC; RCA (track)
– Sensuous, dreamy and romantic. How could Heaven be any better than lying in her arms? There you have it.

Academy Of Country Music Changes Radio Awards Criteria

The Academy of Country Music has announced some changes to its ACM Awards radio categories’ criteria and open submissions date for the 53rdAcademy of Country Music Awards. For the first time in the National On-Air Personality of the Year category, submissions will be accepted from terrestrial, satellite and internet radio personalities, if all eligibility requirements are met. The Academy has also removed the requirement to be a current Academy member to be eligible to submit for all radio categories.

Additional changes to On-Air Personality of the Year, National On-Air Personality of the Year and Radio Station of the Year categories include a shorter aircheck, and a streamlined essay portion with a maximum length of five hundred words – replacing the individual written summaries of industry or community work, etc. For additional details, visit

Open submissions for the 53rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will begin Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 at and will end at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. The radio eligibility period is between Nov. 24, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2017.

The 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards will air live next spring from Las Vegas on a date to be announced, on CBS.

The Seldom Scene Signs With Rounder Records

Photo: Sally Love Connell

The Seldom Scene, one of the most enduring and acclaimed bands in bluegrass since its formation in the early 1970s, has signed with Rounder Records.

Over the years the group’s lineup, which consists of guitarist Dudley Connell, Lou Reid on mandolin and guitar, Fred Travers on Dobro, Ronnie Simpkins on bass, and the band’s newest member, multi-instrumentalist Ron Stewart on banjo and fiddle, has boasted some of bluegrass’ finest musicians.

“I’ve always been impressed by the Seldom Scene’s ability to find great songs from different genres and make them their own and ultimately a part of the bluegrass repertoire,” said Rounder co-founder Ken Irwin. “Although we haven’t worked with the Scene, we have worked with most members of the current band in different configurations and are very excited about working with them on this new recording.”

“We’re very excited about this new recording we’re about to do for Rounder Records,” said Reid. “Ken Irwin has brought some fresh and great ideas for the material we’ll be recording in the near future. I can’t wait to get in the studio with Dudley, Fred and Ronnie, who I have spent twenty years traveling and recording with, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome our old friend Ron Stewart to the band.”

The band will release a new album in 2018.

Grand Ole Opry’s New Big Apple Outpost Opens Dec. 1

Opry City Stage in NYC. [Click to enlarge]

The Opry City Stage, the Grand Ole Opry’s first “home away from home,” is set to open Dec. 1 in its new Big Apple location in New York City. The 28,000 square-foot, four-level live music and dining complex located at 1604 Broadway in the heart of Times Square features a two-story restaurant, bar and performance stage on the second and third floors, an intimate, world-class concert space, The Studio at Opry City Stage, on its fourth floor, and a ground floor retail space.

In addition to a full slate of live music, select performances from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville will be live-streamed on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays beginning Dec. 1, marking the first time these performances from the Opry will be seen regularly by fans outside the live show in Music City. Programming from the Bluebird Cafe will headline several nights of shows in The Studio at Opry City Stage beginning in 2018.

Opry City Stage in NYC. [Click to enlarge]

The venue will feature art installations and exhibits that salute some of the Opry’s most memorable artists, performances and moments in time. Its opening exhibit, Iconic Fashions from the Opry Archives, documents decades of legendary artist fashions including those of Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift. An Opry Member Gallery will feature each current member of the Grand Ole Opry. Hand-made narrative folk art banners capturing lyrics and imagery from country hits developed by Nashville artisans are also displayed, along with a 17-foot re-creation of Jimmie Rodgers’ Blue Yodeler guitar gifted to Ernest Tubb and played on the Opry for years. The venue also showcases more than 300 photographs from the Opry’s photo archive spanning nearly a century.

Dining at the new complex will feature elevated Southern comfort food including Pimento Cheese Dip, Smoked Corn Chowder, Nashville Hot Chicken, and the Honky Tonk, which includes brisket, ribs, cheddar sausage, pulled pork, chicken, skillet corn, mac & cheese and hush puppies. It will also be the exclusive restaurant offering the Grand Ole Opry-inspired beer, “Hopry,” created by Nashville’s own Yazoo Brewery.

Opry NYC. [Click to enlarge]

“Country music and the country lifestyle have never been more popular than they are today,” said Colin Reed, Chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties. “Through Opry City Stage, we can now share an authentic slice of country’s most famous institution with the millions of people from around the country and the world who visit Times Square each year.”

The venue will bring the sounds of country to Times Square on New Year’s Eve with two performances by LOCASH.

Exclusive: ACM Awards Announce Changes To Eligibility Period, Voting Timeline For 2018 And Beyond

The Academy of Country Music (ACM) has announced the ballot timeline for the 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards. The professional membership voting will shift to a calendar-year submissions eligibility period.

In 2018, the submissions eligibility period for the 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards will be November 24, 2016 through December 31, 2017, extending to account for the change. In 2019 and thereafter, the submissions period will be January 1 to December 31.

“We moved everything to better align the awards process with the annual release cycles of artists’ projects,” says VP Awards and Membership Nick Di Fruscia.

Additionally, awards voting has been synchronized for every ACM category, including Industry Awards categories, Studio Recording Awards categories, Video of the Year and Radio Awards categories.

The ballot timeline for professional members for the 2018 ACM Awards cycle is as follows:

First Round: Jan. 22, 2018–Jan. 31, 2018
Second Round: Feb. 12, 2018–Feb. 21, 2018
Final Round: March 7, 2018–March 14, 2018

The submissions period for Radio Award categories and Video of the Year will be Jan. 3, 2018-Jan. 15, 2018.

After joining the Academy of Country Music in July, Di Fruscia was tasked with commenting on the entirety of the ACM Awards’ process.

“The first thing I noticed is sort of a wonky eligibility period. It’s like this for most awards shows. So my first question was, ‘Why is it like that?’ Historically, because the ACM offered a manner for the artists and labels to notify the industry of their projects being considered [for an award], there was a mailing that happened. In order for the ACM to facilitate that mailing they had to set the voting dates in a certain way. Now, although we do allow ‘For Your Consideration’ type ads, we don’t provide a mailer to members or to the industry. Without needing to do that anymore, it made sense to move the entire voting process to something that made more sense, given the fact that our show usually happens the later part of March, into April.”

Additionally, the ACM has made a change in the chart metrics the organization uses to determine eligibility for certain awards categories.

The ACM will now use Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, instead of the previously-used Billboard Country Airplay Chart, to determine eligibility, as the Hot Country Songs chart takes into consideration not only airplay, but also streaming and sales. The ACM will continue to use airplay metrics from Country Aircheck’s Mediabase chart.

“One of the ancillary benefits to moving the process is we get to capitalize on “awards season” that we are already in and we get to create the ACM Awards season. We recently had the Grammy nominations announced, we are making the announcement of moving our process so people are already in the awards season frame of mind and this move allows us to create an ACM Awards season.

New membership applications and existing membership renewals must be completed by 5 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 for members to be eligible to vote during the 2018 Awards cycle.

To apply online for membership with the Academy of Country Music, please visit the new ACM Membership platform at:

Exclusive: Concord Music Announces New Nashville Location

Concord Music has expanded into a new office space located at 1201 Demonbreun Street, also home to the relocated Sony Music Nashville offices and the WME Nashville offices. Staff members from Concord Music labels Rounder Records and Sugar Hill Records have also moved from their previous Nashville locations into the new space.

Jim Selby, Concord Music General Manager

Additionally, Concord’s Chief Publishing Executive, Jake Wisely, has relocated to Nashville, as has Concord Music’s Chief Operating Officer Glen Barros and Concord Music’s Chief Financial Officer Bob Valentine. They are some of approximately 30 Concord staffers who have relocated to Nashville thus far. Barros says the company plans to continue adding to its Nashville-based staff.

“We are trying to make a significant resource of people in Nashville,” Barros tells “It’s a combination of people moving here and filling open positions here. It may be that someone has a position in L.A. or New York and if they leave, then we will fill that position in Nashville.”

Concord Music occupies 21,000-square feet on the sixth floor of the 15-story building on Demonbreun, which is located in Nashville’s Gulch area. The new office’s airy, open concept layout is outfitted with two performance spaces and views of downtown Nashville.


Jake Wisely, Chief Publishing Executive, Concord Music Publishing. Photo: Beth Herzhaft

“We put the offices on the inner side so everyone can enjoy the views,” Concord Music’s General Manager Jim Selby says. “In fact most of the cubicles have better views than the offices, because they are against the windows. The offices are smaller than what you would typically see, but the idea is you use the whole space. There are breakout areas and lounges and a cafeteria. A lot of people actually have meetings there. We wanted people to use the entire space, so you can have department meetings and company meetings and there are smaller private spaces for phone calls and private meetings.”

The plan to expand the Nashville operations began two years ago.

“As we started integrating companies, it became apparent that having people centrally located between L.A. and New York would be beneficial to many people so from an operational perspective it came from having people all over the country,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Valentine says.

Glen Barros, Concord Music Chief Operating Officer. Photo: Beth Herzhaft

He continues, “It’s becoming more and more expensive to do business in those states, and it’s becoming harder for people to live in those cities and retain talent. Because we are in an industry that this town specifically has focused on so much, it became a long-term planning process, and we started thinking about other towns we may want to move our operations to. Nashville naturally came out in the conversation. There are a lot of people here already in the music industry, so if you are moving positions here, you’ve got a great pool of talent to draw from already and that’s not necessarily true in any other city other than New York City or Los Angeles.”

Bob Valentine, Concord Music Chief Financial Officer

The Nashville expansion comes on the heels of Concord’s recently-announced international representation of Dolly Parton’s publishing ventures, and as Americana-flavored music has seen a surge on the sales charts in recent years.

“The whole Americana scene is really expanding. We felt that a few years ago when we moved Rounder from Boston to here and of course adding Sugar Hill, so it’s just a continuation of that,” says Barros.

Chris Young Extending Losing Sleep Headlining Tour Into 2018

Chris Young is extending his headlining Losing Sleep World Tour into 2018. The Chris Young Losing Sleep 2018 World Tour will continue its run into next year with 12 additional dates added in April and May with special guests Kane Brown, Morgan Evans and Dee Jay Silver.

Tickets and VIP packages for the tour, promoted by AEG Presents and Concerts West, go on sale beginning Friday, December 8. American Express Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning Wednesday, Dec. 6 through Thursday, Dec. 7. A limited number of exclusive VIP Packages will also be available for sale beginning December 5 that include premium tickets, access to a pre-show VIP Hang with an exclusive performance and special Q&A session, limited-edition lithographs, autographed memorabilia, and much more. Ticket buyers will have the opportunity to redeem a CD or digital copy of Chris’s new album, Losing Sleep, with every order. Tickets and VIP packages can be purchased at

Newly-added Chris Young Losing Sleep 2018 World Tour dates:

April 19: Tuscaloosa, AL; Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
April 20: Orange Beach, AL; The Wharf
May 3: Columbus, OH; Schottenstein Center
May 4: Toledo, OH; Huntington Center
May 5: La Crosse, WI; La Crosse Center
May 10: Rapid City, SD; Rushmore Plaza Civic Center
May 11: Sioux Falls, SD; Denny Sanford PREMIERE Center
May 12: Lincoln, NE; Pinnacle Bank Arena
May 16: Missoula, MT; Adams Center
May 17: Yakima, WA; Yakima Valley SunDome
May 18: Eugene, OR; Matthew Knight Arena
May 19: Tacoma, WA; Tacoma Dome

Cumulus Files For Chapter 11

Cumulus Media has filed to reorganize in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with $2.4 billion in debt. The radio giant has reached an agreement with 69 percent of its term loan holders. The company’s pre-packaged restructuring agreement will reduce the company’s debt by more than $1 billion.

Cumulus expects all operations, programming and sales to continue as normal throughout the restructuring process. A release from the company notes that Cumulus has ample cash on hand, as well as funds generated from ongoing operations, to support the business during the financial restructuring.

Mary Berner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cumulus Media Inc., said, “Over the last two years, we have focused on implementing a business turnaround to reverse the company’s multi-year ratings, revenue and EBITDA declines, create a culture that fosters motivated and engaged employees, and build an operational foundation to support the kind of performance we believe Cumulus is capable of delivering. As we have demonstrated in many measurable ways – including increased ratings, revenue market share gains, improved employee satisfaction, reduced employee turnover and, over the last several quarters, our return to year-over-year EBITDA and revenue growth – that turnaround has not only been successful but is continuing. However, as we have noted consistently, the debt overhang left by previous years of underperformance remains a significant financial challenge that we must overcome for our operational turnaround to proceed.

“The actions we are taking today to address our balance sheet are a critical step forward for Cumulus. We will use this restructuring process to relieve the financial constraints on our continued progress, allowing us to focus our resources on investing in our business and people to strengthen our competitiveness and ultimately drive growth. We have ample cash to support our operations and service our advertisers, vendors and affiliates during this period, and we look forward to becoming an even stronger partner to all of them when we complete this important phase of our turnaround strategy.

“We appreciate the tremendous efforts of the Cumulus team throughout the business turnaround and thank our employees for continuing to be the true force driving our success.”

Bobby Bones Announces Million Dollar Show 3 Lineup

iHeartMedia’s Bobby Bones has announced the lineup for Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots’ Million Dollar Show 3, the annual concert to help raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, set for Jan. 22, 2018 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, Luke Combs, newcomer Nikita Karmen, and other surprise guests will perform at the third annual benefit, along with Bones & The Raging Idiots, his musical comedy band composed of Bones and sidekick Producer Eddie from The Bobby Bones Show.

Tickets for the event go on sale this Friday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. CT at or at Every Million Dollar Show so far has quickly sold out, and more than six million dollars has been raised for St. Jude to date.