Nashville’s leading executives and artists were honored last night (June 5) as part of Billboard’s Nashville Power Players event, which took place at the Hutton Hotel.
One of the highlights of the evening included Shania Twain honoring Sandbox Entertainment’s Jason Owen as Billboard Magazine’s Power Player, Executive of the Year. Owen previously worked with Twain when he headed Artist Development and Marketing for Universal Music Nashville, and then brought Twain on as a management client when he started Sandbox Entertainment.
Owen’s Sandbox Entertainment is home to Little Big Town, Faith Hill, Kacey Musgraves, Midland and, most recently, Kelsea Ballerini, among others.
“I trust Jason to listen to my worst most vulnerable demos. I am not surprised you’re here tonight, I’m really not. I wouldn’t miss this night for the world. I’m the lucky one.” Twain said. “A lot of people are surprised to see how forward thinking Nashville is, but I’m not, I’m never surprised by that; we stand up for each other, we protect each other and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
“Our executive of the year, Jason Owen….is a champion… of his artists, of this community and of country music as an industry. He is a leader. Unafraid to speak his mind and stand up for what he believes in, Jason has changed the way the world thinks about country music. He is an innovator,” added Ross Scarano, Vice President for Content at Billboard.
Florida Georgia Line was honored with the Trailblazers Award, for their work in incorporating different styles into their music, as well as their high-profile collaborations, and songwriting. FGL’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard have also invested in the Nashville community, with the restaurant FGL House, as well as opening the business hub Meet+Greet, clothing store Tribe Kelley, and the publishing company Tree Vibez Music.
“Though utterly respectful of the country music that they grew up on and love, Brian and Tyler [Florida Georgia Line] have been fearless in their refusal to adhere to outdated notions that try to place strict limitations on the genre,” said Melinda Newman, West Coast Editor at Billboard.
“Since 2012, this has been an unbelievable journey that we couldn’t have even fathomed,” Hubbard said, referring to their record-breaking debut single, 2012’s “Cruise.” “We thought we were going to be doing big things and we believed it and we dreamed it, but this is just beyond our wildest dreams.”
Additional honorees highlighted in this year’s Country Power Players list include Chairman/CEO of Sony Music Nashville, Randy Goodman; GM of Pearl Records, Lesly Simon; President/ Executive Producer at Lion’s Heart Entertainment, Rac Clark; Executive Producer of the CMA Awards, Robert Deaton; Country Music Curator at Amazon Music, Emily Cohen, and many more.
“We’re all on the brink of a time where this genre can do so much for so many people,” Owen said in closing. “Someone once said that the best way to predict the future is to create it — so let’s go.”
For a full list of Billboard‘s Country Power Players for 2018, visit billboard.com.
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