2018 MusicRow Awards: Breakthrough Songwriter Of The Year Nominees

Following the announcement of this year’s nominees for the 30th annual MusicRow Awards, we take a closer look at the Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year nominees.


Voted by MusicRow’s subscribed members to honor a Nashville songwriter who wrote or co-wrote a Top 10 song for the first time. In addition, the qualifying song was not recorded by the nominated songwriter.

The MusicRow Awards will be presented at a private ceremony. See the full list of nominees.

Winners are determined solely by MusicRow subscribers. Voting closes on May 25 at 5 p.m. If you do not have a subscription, you may subscribe to receive a ballot.

Kevin Bard soared to his first No. 1 hit with “How Not To,” co-written with fellow MusicRow Breakthrough Songwriter nominee Adam Hambrick, and established hitmaker Paul DiGiovanni. The track was recorded by Dan + Shay and helmed by Producer of the Year nominee Scott Hendricks.

Casey Brown teamed with Parker Welling and Russell Dickerson to co-write “Yours,” which would eventually become Dickerson’s first No. 1 as an artist, earning all three songwriters MusicRow Awards nominations in 2018.

Andrew DeRoberts scored his first Top 10 hit as a cowriter of “The Weekend,” recorded by Brantley Gilbert. The rocking track was produced by MusicRow Awards nominee Dann Huff.

Luke Dick boosted his career with his first No. 1, “Round Here Buzz.” This song and his previous hit “Kill A Word” were both co-written with Jeff Hyde and Eric Church. The songs were recorded by Church with MusicRow Producer of the Year nominee Jay Joyce.

Jacob Durrett and twin brother Devin Dawson have been collaborating for years, and their hard work came to fruition with Dawson’s Top 10 hit “All On Me,” which they co-wrote with fellow MusicRow Awards nominee Austin Taylor Smith.

Kyle Fishman notched his first No. 1 as co-writer of Dustin Lynch’s “Small Town Boy.” The Platinum-certified track is Lynch’s fifth consecutive No. 1 and spent four weeks at the top of the charts.

Ray Fulcher’s fortune went into overdrive when he cowrote “When It Rains It Pours,” with fellow MusicRow Awards nominees Jordan Walker and Luke Combs. The catchy song about good luck was the first No. 1 for Fulcher and Walker.

Adam Hambrick scored two No. 1 hits during the last year. He is co-writer of Justin Moore’s “Somebody Else Will” and Dan + Shay’s “How Not To,” the latter of which was tracked by MusicRow Producer of the Year nominee Scott Hendricks.

Matt McGinn was instrumental in Kane Brown’s backto-back hits. McGinn scored his first No. 1 as co-writer of “What Ifs” (ft. Lauren Alaina). McGinn and fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominee Lindsay Rimes teamed for Brown’s current single “Heaven.”

Josh Miller scored his first No. 1 as co-writer of KipMoore’s “More Girls Like You.” Miller followed that with the monster chart-topper “Meant To Be,” recorded by Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line. Miller also has writing credits on the currently climbing hit “Take Back Home Girl,” recorded by Chris Lane ft. Tori Kelly.

Sammy Mitchell, Rob Williford, Steven Andre Battey and Luke Combs co-wrote “One Number Away,” which became Combs’ third consecutive hit. Williford is also nominated for MusicRow Breakthrough Songwriter and Combs is up for Breakthrough Artist.

Lindsay Rimes scored his first hit with “Heaven,” co-written with fellow MusicRow Awards nominee Matt McGinn and veteran hitmaker Shy Carter. The song was recorded by Kane Brown and produced by Dann Huff, who are also 2018 nominees.

Mitch Rossell’s “Ask Me How I Know,” was his first major cut and first No. 1, recorded by one of the biggest artists of all time—Garth Brooks. Rossell is the only nominee in this category to earn his nomination with a solo-written song.

Emily Shackelton and Carly Pearce brought female perspectives to the ballad of lost love, “Every Little Thing,” which they co-wrote with MusicRow Producer of the Year nominee busbee. Breakthrough Artist nominee Pearce recorded the No. 1 hit.

Austin Taylor Smith co-wrote “All On Me,” alongside Jacob Durrett and Devin Dawson, the latter of which recorded the song and turned it into a cool radio Top 10 hit. All three are 2018 MusicRow Awards nominees.

Parker Welling, Casey Brown and Russell Dickerson cowrote “Yours,” which became the first No. 1 for all three singer-songwriters, earning them each MusicRow Awards nominations. The same trio collaborated for Dickerson’s new single “Blue Tacoma.”

Rob Williford is Luke Combs’ guitarist and band leader. They teamed with co-writers Sammy Mitchell and Steven Andre Battey to craft Combs’ latest Top 10-and-climbing hit “One Number Away.”

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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 jnicholson@musicrow.com.

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