Dallas Davidson Talks Georgia’s Musical Legacy, Readies Sixth Annual Georgia On My Mind Benefit [Interview]

The Peach Pickers (Ben Hayslip, Dallas Davidson, and Rhett Akins) at the 2018 Georgia On My Mind benefit.

Georgia boy turned Music Row hit-maker, Dallas Davidson, has made a career turning memories and melodies made in Georgia into country radio smashes for fifteen years. The Albany, Georgia native has charted hits like “I Don’t Dance” (Lee Brice), “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” (Luke Bryan), “That’s How Country Boys Roll” (Billy Currington), “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” (Randy Houser), “Just a Kiss” (Lady Antebellum) and many more.

Davidson has also written a multitude of hits with his Georgian buddies Ben Hayslip and Rhett Akins as part of the Peach Pickers. The trio has written several No. 1 songs, including: “All About Tonight” (Blake Shelton), “Small Town Throwdown” (Brantley Gilbert), “Gimmie That Girl” (Joe Nichols), “Put a Girl in It” (Brooks & Dunn), “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day” and “I Don’t Want This Night to End” (Luke Bryan).

Davidson has been the Chair of the Georgia Music Foundation for years. The foundation—established in 1994—facilitates programs that preserve, promote and perpetuate Georgia music. The Foundation’s Georgia Music Grant program awards grants of $5,000 or less to deserving music programs and projects at Georgia schools and non-profit organizations.

In preparation for tonight’s (July 17) event, Davidson told MusicRow about the legacy of Georgia music and the importance of giving back to his home state.

“I think Georgia has given me so much as a writer. It’s that simple,” Davidson says. “The lyrics that I write, and the melodies that I use are inspired by [Georgians] Otis Redding and Allman Brothers tunes. The dirt roads I literally grew up on and drank beer on, I write about that.

I knew I wanted to start doing a charity. I had done dozens and dozens of writer’s rounds but I wanted something with a little more oompf to it to actually raise more money,” Davidson continues. “I didn’t quite know who I wanted to give it to. So this was just perfect. Lisa Love [Director of Music Marketing and Development at the Georgia Department of Economic Development] is so passionate about everything and she started telling me about their mission and it fell in line with what I was wanting to do. I had these ideas about how we could make a lot of money and give it away, so then I called Ben and Rhett and they jumped in, and now six years later we’re still rocking at the Ryman.”

The efforts of the Peach Pickers and friends have enabled the Georgia Music Foundation to award nearly $400,000 in grants to music programs at schools and non-profit organizations over the past five years. Artists—both Georgia-born and Georgia-inspired—have graced the Georgia On My Mind stage as a part of the annual event, including the likes of Randy Houser, Chris Janson, Charles Kelley, Dustin Lynch, Michael Ray, Lauren Alaina, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Tyler Farr and more.

One of Davidson’s favorite memories from the past six years is having legendary Atlanta-rap duo, Outkast’s Big Boi out to perform. Another was when Luke Bryan and the Peach Pickers sang one of their biggest hits together on the Ryman stage.

“Luke got up there with the Peach Pickers and we did ‘Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day’ when it was a hit with the Peach Pickers, who wrote it. When we write songs with Luke we’re the Peanut Pickers,” he quipped. “So doing that song with Luke while it was a hit was a big deal, I remember that being awesome.”

Tonight the line-up will include: Jamey Johnson, John Berry, Craig Campbell, Michael Ray, Brent Cobb, Colt Ford, Bill Anderson, Travis Denning, Lindsay Ell, Ray Fulcher, Amy Ray of Indigo Girls, Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, as well as surprise guests and a special performance by the Otis Redding Foundation’s DREAM Choir.

But Davidson says there is always room for surprise special guests.

When asked about his favorite fellow Georgian artists, Davidson quickly named Alan Jackson. “Oooh, Alan Jackson!,” he says. “I mean, definitely Otis Redding—he’s my favorite singer of all time. There’s Travis Tritt, and the Allman Brothers, obviously my buddies Aldean and Luke—Luke has done so much for my career, cut so many of my songs.

“All the Atlanta hip-hop, too,” he continues. “That’s a big influence on me. All the stuff Dallas Austin was doing down there, Jermaine Dupri, Usher and Outkast. So much Georgia stuff. T-Pain!”

Davidson is most excited about the recipient of the Flamekeeper Award. The honor goes to a Georgian who serves as a poignant ambassador for the state, and has been given to the likes of Jason AldeanDeana Brown-Thomas, daughter of James Brown and founder of The James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils; J.A.M.P.’s Keith Jenkins; past Georgia governor Nathan Deal; Pat AlgerTony Arata; and the late Daryle Singletary.

“We really try to think about who has kept the fire burning for the state of Georgia,” Davidson says. 

Davidson is also excited to see performers Jamey Johnson and Bill Anderson. “I can’t wait to see Bill Anderson and Jamey Johnson together,” he says. “I think they may perform one of their big hits they wrote together, I’m hoping they do. And Jamey Johnson at the Ryman is like the Stones in London or something, to a country fan. So that’s going to be my favorite part, but I always get surprised!”

Tickets to tonight’s Georgia On My Mind benefit concert are still available here.

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About the Author

LB Rogers is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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