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.”

[Click photo to enlarge]

In Pictures: RaeLynn, Dolly Parton, Cold River Records

RaeLynn Hosts Words & Music Night At Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum

Pictured (L-R): Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s VP of Development Lisa Purcell, Singer-Songwriter RaeLynn and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Director of Education Ali Tonn

On May 16, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum hosted its annual year-end celebration in honor of education program Words & Music. Middle Tennessee students and their families gathered in the museum’s Ford Theater for Words & Music Night along with the evening’s host, singer-songwriter RaeLynn.

Throughout the night, selected students performed songs they composed through the program alongside a professional songwriting partner. For 39 years, Words & Music has connected young people to Nashville’s music community by pairing classes with songwriters who transform student lyrics into finished songs which are then performed in an interactive workshop. More than 110,000 students have had the unique opportunity to learn from songwriters the core curriculum, lessons in musical composition and language skills.


Dolly Parton Dedicates Newly-Named Butterfly Garden At Vanderbilt

Pictured (L-R): Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Richard Dennison (Hannah’s father), Hannah Dennison (Dolly’s niece), Dolly Parton and Rachel George
(Hannah’s mother).

Dolly Parton and her niece Hannah Dennison were honored Thursday (May 17) at the dedication of the newly named Hannah Dennison Butterfly Garden at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The dedication came after Parton announced a $1 million gift to Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Cancer Program last October while visiting patients with her niece, Dennison, who was treated for leukemia as a child at Children’s Hospital for four years, beginning in 1993.

Parton said the gift was made “in honor of my niece Hannah, my sister Rachel, Hannah’s dad, Richard, and Dr. Naji Abumrad. It was important to me to make a donation to the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt because of Hannah’s care and just how well they do for everyone. It’s been a good hospital for us. This is just a great group of doctors and nurses that provide the best of care, and it was the least I could do.”


Music Industry Execs Gather For “Poor People’s Foursome”

Pictured (L-R): songwriter Nate Montgomery, Cold River/IMA’s John Ettinger, iHeart’s Jackie Tigue and Rod Phillips, artist manager Sean Pace, and Cold River’s Marie Wapelhorst and Taylor Eschbach.

A group of music industry friends gathered Friday (May 18) for a restart of “Poor People’s Foursome,” which features coffee, conversation and golf.

More Music Row Area Buildings Considered For Redevelopment

A recent proposal from developer Panattoni has some in the Nashville music community concerned. The developer is considering five buildings on 16th Avenue, in the heart of Nashville’s Music Row area, with plans to demolish the buildings and replace them with a new office building.

The houses include several 16th Avenue addresses, including 1022 (formerly Ed Bruce Agency), 1024 (home to Big Spark Music, Classic Ax, Wolf Mastering and Krazy Pop Studio), 1026 (formerly Creative Soul Music Academy), 1028 (current home to Bobby’s Idle Hour Tavern), and 1030 (Warner/Chappell Production Music).

The area is zoned for buildings up to five stories in height. Panattoni previously developed the building at 35 Music Square East which houses the Country Music Association, SESAC, and Panattoni’s Nashville office. The company is also developing an office building at 1 Music Circle South that will be home to BMG’s new offices.

An open meeting for the local community to discuss the plans will be held Tuesday (May 22), beginning at 6 p.m. at Edgehill United Methodist Church (1502 Edgehill in Nashville).

Ashley McBryde To Bring The Girl Going Nowhere Tour To 30+ Cities

Ashley McBryde will soon take her soulful country voice and her realistic stories of small town life to cities across the U.S. and Europe when she embarks on her first headlining tour, dubbed The Girl Going Nowhere Tour (after her breakthrough album, Girl Going Nowhere). The tour will launch in Atlanta on Sept. 5, and will wrap on Dec. 15 in Rochester, New York. Several of the U.S. shows will feature opener Dee White.

In October, McBryde will head to the U.K. for several shows with Luke Combs, stopping in Birmingham, London, Manchester and more.

McBryde has opened shows for Eric Church and Chris Stapleton, and most recently was the opener for Combs’ Don’t Tempt Me With A Good Time Tour and Miranda Lambert’s Livin’ Like Hippies Tour.

Tickets for the tour go on sale Friday, May 25.

Ashley McBryde’s 2018 “The Girl Going Nowhere Tour” dates are as follows:
Sept. 5 – Terminal West, Atlanta, GA*
Sept. 6 – 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA*
Sept. 7 – Blind Horse Saloon, Greenville, S.C.*
Sept. 8 – Rome City Brewing Company, Rome, GA*
Sept. 11 – Mammy’s Kitchen, Bardstown, KY
Sept. 12 – Washington County Fair, Abington, VA
Sept. 13 – The Hamilton, Washington, D.C.*
Sept. 14 – Phase 2 Nightclub, Lynchburg, VA*
Sept. 20 – Red Rocks Amphitheater (w/Little Big Town), Morrison, CO
Sept. 22 – Arkansas State University, Mountain Home, AR
Sept. 27 – The Basement East, Nashville, TN*
Sept. 28 – Zydeco, Birmingham, AL*

(International Dates)
Oct. 3 – O2 Institute (w/ Luke Combs), Birmingham, U.K.
Oct. 4 – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (w/ Luke Combs), London, U.K.
Oct. 5 – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (w/ Luke Combs), London, U.K.
Oct. 7 – O2 ABC, Glasgow (w/ Luke Combs), Scotland
Oct. 8 – O2 Ritz Manchester (w/ Luke Combs), Manchester, U.K.
Oct. 10 – Islington Assembly Hall, London, U.K.

Oct. 13 – Mighty Mississippi Music Festival, Greenville, MS
Oct. 25 – Elevation, Grand Rapids, MI*
Nov. 1 – The Lyric Theatre, Oxford, MS*
Nov. 2 – The Barn at The Wicked Wheel (benefiting Girls Inc. of Bay County), Panama City, FL
Nov. 7 – Brick Street Bar, Oxford, OH*
Nov. 8 – The Bluestone, Columbus, OH*
Nov. 9 – Eight Seconds Saloon, Indianapolis, IN*
Nov. 10 – Dusty Armadillo, Rootstown, OH*
Nov. 29 – The Blue Note, Columbia, MO*
Nov. 30 – Revolution Music Room, Little Rock, AR*
Dec. 5 – Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY*
Dec. 7 – The Foundry at the Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA*
Dec. 8 – Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA*
Dec. 12 – Jergel’s Rhythm and Grill, Warrendale, PA*
Dec. 13 – Iron Works, Buffalo, NY*
Dec. 14 – The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA*
Dec. 15 – Anthology, Rochester, NY*
* denotes a show with special guest Dee White

Industry Ink: ASCAP, Brickshore Media, SESAC

ASCAP Holds “We Write The Songs” Event In Washington, D.C.

Brandy Clark

The ASCAP Foundation and The Library of Congress jointly held the tenth annual “We Write the Songs” event at the historic Coolidge Auditorium in The Library of Congress in
Washington, D.C. As part of this special event, hosted by Librarian of Congress Carla D. Hayden and ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams, ASCAP songwriters donated manuscripts, lead sheets, lyrics sheets, photos and letters to the library.

Among those taking part were Sen. Lamar Alexander, Brandy Clark, Rep. Doug Collins, Johnta Austin, Rep. Lacy Clay, Michael McDonald, Rep. Joe Crowley, Suzanne Vega, Sen. Tim Kaine, Jason Mraz, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Mike Love, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Dean Heller, Mike Enzi, Pat Roberts and Rand Paul and Representatives Ted Lieu, Ami Bera, Billy Long, Bob Goodlatte, Lamar Smith, Martha Roby, Steve Cohen, Marsha Blackburn and more.

Brickshore Media Adds To Roster

Brickshore Media has added Ashton Shepherd to its roster for exclusive PR representation. This South Alabama native is back in the limelight with an upcoming tour and new music to be released later this year. She will also be a part of this year’s CMA Music Festival in Nashville where she will be signing autographs and performing throughout the event.


SESAC Writers Perform At Bluebird Cafe

Pictured (L-R): SESAC songwriters Matt McGinn and Allison Veltz Cruz; Manager of Creative Services Lydia Schultz; songwriters Mitch Thompson and Tom Jordan of Seaforth; VP of Creative Services Shannan Hatch; and songwriter Michael Whitworth.

SESAC affiliate songwriters recently performed a stellar round at the legendary Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.


Gary Morris Hosts Fundraiser for Mid-Cumberland Meals on Wheels

Pictured (L-R): Michael Bonagura, Kathie Baillie Bonagura, Jane Hamrick (Executive Director of M-C Meals on Wheels), Gary Morris, Lisa Harless and Lance Hoppen. [Click to enlarge]

The third annual fundraiser for Mid-Cumberland Meals on Wheels, held May 16 at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, was a smashing success. Gary Morris performed for the sold-out crowd to help raise funds for the organization, which has served nearly 10 million meals to seniors in Middle Tennessee.

Michael Bonagura, Kathie Baillie Bonagura and Lance Hoppen (Baillie and the Boys) also performed at the event, which was organized and emceed by Lisa Harless of Regions Bank.

Country Radio Broadcasters To Honor Steve Wariner, Charlie Morgan

Steve Wariner, Charlie Morgan

Steve Wariner and Charlie Morgan will be honored at the upcoming Country Radio Hall of Fame Dinner and Awards ceremony, to be held June 20 at 6 p.m. at Marriott Nashville.

Wariner, who has released 20 albums and earned 14 No. 1 hits, will be honored with the 2018 CRB Artist Career Achievement Award. The award is presented to an individual artist or act that, through their creativity, vision, performance or leadership has made a significant contribution to the development and promotion of country music and country radio.

“Steve Wariner is still enjoying of one of the most amazing careers in Country music history; singer, songwriter, Grand Ole Opry member, contributor to his fellow artists, and a member of the most prestigious clubs for extraordinary guitarists. All of this in addition to being the best friend anyone on earth could be blessed to have!” says Bill Mayne, Executive Director of CRB.

Morgan, Senior Vice President/Market Manager of Emmis New York, which includes WBLS, WLIB, and WQHT, will receive the President’s Award.

CRB/CRS President, Kurt Johnson comments, “Charlie is simply one of the best at what he does. And he does a lot. It’s hard to think of anyone who’s made more impact as a leader across a diverse list of organizations in and around Country Radio, earning accolades at every step. He’s been a fixture at CRB and CRS for years and is a good friend to artists, managers, labels, DJs…basically pro’s in every part of Country music. Charlie personifies the spirit of CRS and I’m proud to give him the President’s Award on behalf or the CRB Board.”

The Country Radio Hall of Fame event will also honor the “Class of 2018” radio inductees that were announced during Country Radio Seminar (CRS) 2018. Seven on-air personalities and two off-air broadcasters will be honored and include Radio category honorees Michael O’Malley of the Albright, O’Malley & Brenner consulting firm, and the late Lisa McKay, VP/Programming at Curtis Media/Raleigh, who doubled as PD for WQDR. The On-Air Personality category includes Andy Ritchie and Alison Mencer (“Andy & Alison”) formerly of WIVK/Knoxville; Steve Harmon and Scott Evans (“Harmon And Evans”) formerly of KPLX/Dallas and WXTU/Philadelphia; and Bill Barrett, Tim Fox, and Tracy Berry (“Barrett, Fox, And Berry) still active at KKNU/Eugene, Oregon.

The Country Radio Hall of Fame is dedicated to the recognition of those individuals who have made significant contributions to the radio industry over a 20-year period, 15 of which must be in the country format. The Country Radio Hall of Fame was founded in 1974 to recognize outstanding individuals working in the broadcasting industry who are promoting the country radio format.

A limited number of individual tickets are still available and are $130 each and tables are $2500. Individual tickets can be purchased here or by contacting Darcie Van Etten at [email protected].

Ryman Auditorium To Launch Six-Week Americana Music Series

Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium will host a new annual series, Americana at the Ryman, beginning this summer. The series will include six shows running each Sunday evening throughout July and August, with each show beginning at 7 p.m. Each week, a pre-show celebration will be held beginning at 4:30 p.m. featuring live music on the Ryman plaza.

The series launches July 15 with Buddy Miller and special guests Lee Ann Womack, Tony Joe White, The McCrary Sisters, Elizabeth Cook, and Parker Millsap.

Similar to the Ryman’s Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman series, Americana at the Ryman will also partner with 650 AM WSM. Route 650, a 24/7 streaming station, will be a presenting partner.

“Americana at the Ryman” Schedule:
July 15: Buddy Miller and Friends Lee Ann Womack, Tony Joe White, The McCrary Sisters, Elizabeth Cook and Parker Millsap
July 22: Jim Lauderdale and William Fitzsimmons
July 29: Mark O’Connor and Brandy Clark
Aug. 5: To Be Announced Soon
Aug. 12: Amanda Shires and Caitlin Rose
Aug. 19: Justin Townes Earle and The Band of Heathens

“The Ryman Americana Series is modeled after our Bluegrass Nights Series which will kick off its 25th season this summer,” said Sally Williams, Senior Vice President of Programming and Artist Relations. “Over the course of six weeks, Americana and roots legends will take the stage for the inaugural Americana Series as will the most exciting new artists. With Bluegrass Nights, we see the same season pass holders come back to the same seats year after year. A lot of deep friendships have been formed by bluegrass fans sitting together in Ryman pews. We look forward to the same happening with the Ryman Americana Series.”

“We’re thrilled the Ryman has created a series to show off Nashville’s Americana community to the world. It’s the heart and soul of this town and there is no greater venue in the world to see this talent,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association.

Series passes for “Americana at the Ryman” are on sale now. Individual show tickets are available for purchase beginning June 4 at 10 a.m. With purchase of an “Americana at the Ryman” concert ticket, patrons have the option to add on a daytime tour ticket for a discounted rate of $15.00.

Brenda Colladay Joins Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum

Brenda Colladay has been hired as vice president, museum services at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In her position Colladay will assume the role of administering the museum’s collection of more than 2.5 million artifacts along with overseeing planning, design and installation of exhibits in the museum’s gallery space, Historic RCA Studio BTM and the Taylor Swift Education Center.

“After working with Brenda in many capacities over the years, we’re delighted to welcome her officially to the museum team,” said CEO Kyle Young. “Brenda brings a unique blend of relevant knowledge that will be invaluable to us as we continue to fulfill our mission of preserving and interpreting the history of country music.”

Colladay holds a master’s degree in public history from Middle Tennessee State University. Her expertise includes 18 years with Gaylord Entertainment/Ryman Hospitality Partners as museum and photograph curator. In 1997, Colladay became the first curator for the historical collections of WSM radio, the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. Most recently, she served in a consulting role for several projects including project manager for the research and documentation of the history of RCA Studio A, and historical advisor to the forthcoming documentary series Country Music by Ken Burns. Colladay also has done extensive work with the collection of Marty Stuart. She has curated multiple new exhibits for the Grand Ole Opry Museum, managed and completed an upgrade of the Ryman Auditorium museum experience, and co-wrote the book Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. As a student, Colladay interned at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

“I’ve watched in awe as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has grown into one of the world’s premier museums and art institutions, and I have nothing but respect for the incredible work that they do,” said Colladay. “I am a longtime fan of the museum and its mission. The opportunity to lead and shape the future is a dream come true. I look forward to working with friends and colleagues at the museum as we continue to explore, expand and elevate the ways in which we preserve and share fascinating country music stories and collections.”

BMI’s Harry Warner Passes

Former BMI exec Harry Warner with songwriter Jeffrey Steele at the 2005 BMI Country Awards. Photo: BMI

Longtime BMI executive Harry Warner died Wednesday, May 16, at age 83.

The Music Row fixture was also a real-estate entrepreneur and a former manager, song publisher and publicist.

Born Feb. 2, 1935, Warner was a native of Pennsylvania who graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy and served four years in the Navy.

He came to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University in the 1950s. Warner drove ambulances for Roesch-Patton Funeral Home and married company offspring Margaret Ann Patton in 1960. They raised three children, but later divorced.

Warner also spent time at the advertising and public-relations firm Bill Walker & Associates before being hired by BMI in 1967. By 1972, he was BMI’s Director of Writer Administration.

In the mid-1970s, he was the manager of emerging star Jerry Reed (1937-2008). He also ran Reed’s song publishing company. Among Reed and Warner’s discoveries was Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Rodney Crowell.

Harry Warner (standing, far right) celebrates Jake Owen’s signing to BMI in 2006. Pictured: Jake Owen (seated) is welcomed by BMI Nashville’s Mark Mason, Paul Corbin and Harry Warner. Photo: Kay Clary

Harry Warner became a close friend of guitarist-producer Chet Atkins (1924-2001), who ran RCA Records. He facilitated the meeting between Atkins and Jerry Bradley, which led to the latter’s being hired as an RCA executive. Bradley eventually succeeded Atkins as the head of the label in 1981.

In addition, Warner was sometimes by Atkins’ side when the latter recorded Reed, whose star-making RCA hits included “Guitar Man,” “Amos Moses” and “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” Warner and Atkins also became investors in Music Row real estate, as did their mutual friend Ray Stevens. Son Treg Warner has continued his father’s involvement in Nashville property speculation.

Meanwhile, back at BMI, Harry Warner rose to become the assistant vice president of writer/publisher relations. He remained at BMI until around 2010.

Surviving are his wife Bonnie, daughter Margaretann Seman, sons Treg and Mark Warner, stepdaughter Michael Maxwell Hitchens and two grandchildren.

Services will be private.