Taylor Swift Donates $1 Million To Nashville Tornado Relief Efforts

After tornadoes heavily damaged parts of Middle Tennessee earlier this week, leaving at least 25 people dead, Taylor Swift has responded to the disaster by donating $1 million to the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund, a rep for Swift has confirmed to MusicRow Magazine.

“Nashville is my home. And the fact that so many people have lost their homes and so much more in Middle Tennessee is devastating to me,” Swift said via her Instagram story on March 5.
This is far from the first time Swift has pitched in to help those in Nashville, where the country artist-turned-pop star got her start at Nashville-based Big Machine Records (she signed with Universal Music Group’s Republic Records in 2018).

In 2013, she pledged $4 million to the Country Music hall of Fame and Museum to fund the Taylor Swift Education Center. After the 2010 floods devastated Nashville, Swift donated $500,000 to the relief efforts. She also donated $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony for her 24th birthday in 2013.

Leading up to the release of her album 1989, she donated proceeds from her song “Welcome To New York” to NYC Public Schools.

In 2016, she donated $250,000 to fellow singer-songwriter Kesha to help with legal fees during Kesha’s lawsuit against producer Dr. Luke. She has also made various donations to music fans to help with everything from paying off student loans to aiding fans who are battling cancer.

Swift is one of many artists who have donated funds to help tornado relief efforts around Nashville in recent days. Dan+Shay, who will launch their Dan+Shay The (Arena) Tour on Friday with the first of two shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, have donated $100,000 to relief efforts. Additionally, the country duo’s team, including AEG Presents, Sandbox Entertainment, CAA and Bridgestone Arena are also donating a portion of each ticket sold for both of Dan+Shay’s Nashville shows to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“We are heartbroken by the devastation the tornadoes left upon Tennessee earlier this week. Our love goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy,” the duo said via a statement. “We are so proud to call Nashville our home, and have seen first hand that this community is strong, resilient, and compassionate. What this town does best in times of need, is come together, so it is only fitting that our tour starts tomorrow in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena. Friday and Saturday, through the power of music, we will all unite to celebrate the spirit of our incredible city. On behalf of Dan + Shay, we will be making a $100,000 donation to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. We are looking forward to two unforgettable shows, in the town we hold dearest to our hearts.”

Fellow country artist Chris Young also recently announced a $50,000 donation to the Music City Inc. Foundation, while Kacey Musgraves pledged to donate proceeds from a fashion sale to aid those affected by the storms.

Sheryl Crow will hold a yard sale on Friday (March 6) and Saturday (March 7) at 2809 12th Ave. S. in Nashville; the sale will run Friday from 3-6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with a brief acoustic set at 2 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and Gideon’s Army United, to aid those affected by the tornadoes.
Nashville’s sports community has also responded, with The Nashville Sounds donating $100,000 to relief efforts. The Titans Foundation, including controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, have announced a $1 million donation to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“As leaders in the community, we want to lend our help to this cause of healing and rebuilding. Together we will help our neighbors through this long and difficult process,” the Tennessee Titans organization said via a statement.

Nashville Songwriting Camp Pairs Writers From Los Angeles, Nashville

Photo credit: Alexa Campbell

Music execs Katie Vinten (Co-founder of Facet and founder of Black Diamond Management) and Alicia Pruitt (Founder of Madfun Entertainment) organized a songwriting camp to celebrate community among writers that was held this week in Music City. The duo united some of music’s biggest songwriters from both Nashville and Los Angeles for collaborative writing sessions over three days at Nashville’s Ocean Way Nashville. Among the writers participating in the retreat were Jesse Frasure, Emily Weisband, Sarah Buxton, and more.

Throughout the week, Sony Records, Warner Records, Universal Music Group Nashville and Big Machine Records each showed their support by sponsoring daily events in conjunction with the camp such as a bowling night, a pizza & trivia night, and more. The camp officially concluded last night (March 4) with an intimate Writers Round event at the Listening Room where each of the writers performed tracks they love, ranging from brand new songs they collaborated on during the week to massive hits they’ve previously written.

“I am so thrilled to be a part of this amazing songwriting event,” said Vinten. “I can only hope that these writing sessions converge into lessons, that spawn some friendships and dialogue, which evolves into art. There’s no hidden agenda. Just a re-emphasis of enjoying the process with creatives from different walks of life. With one priority, human connection.”

The full list of songwriters that participated in the retreat:
Aron Wright (Panic! At The Disco)
Audra Mae (Miranda Lambert, Kelly Clarkson)
Boy Matthews (Duke Dumont, ZAYN, Anthony Ramos)
Brandon Colbein (ZAYN, Anthony Ramos, Hayley Kiyoko)
Brock Berryhill (Kane Brown, Brantley Gilbert)
Caroline Pennell (Astrid S, Grace VanderWaal)
Emily Weisband (Sam Hunt, Camila Cabello)
Eren Cannata (Shea Diamond)
Jesse Frasure (Florida Georgia Line, Rascal Flatts, Kane Brown)
Jordan Reynolds (Dan & Shay, Camila Cabello)
Josie Dunne (Jacob Sartorius)
Justin Tranter (Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Imagine Dragons)
Kennedi (Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Jonas Brothers)
Nicolle Galyon (Dan & Shay, Keith Urban)
Sam Ellis (Lady A, Ingrid Andress)
Sarah Buxton (Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum)
The Roommates (Selena Gomez, Ant Clemons)
Zach Skelton (Jonas Brothers, Shawn Mendes, Paul McCartney)

EXCLUSIVE: Cyndi Forman Promoted To Sr. VP, A&R At UMPG Nashville

Cyndi Forman

Cyndi Forman has been promoted to Sr. VP, A&R at Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville. Forman joined UMPG in 2002, and previously served as VP, Creative for the company.

“Cyndi represents the very heart and soul of Universal Music Publishing,” said Troy Tomlinson, Chairman/CEO of UMPG’s Nashville division. “Her love for songwriters, her positive attitude and energizing personality permeates our entire team and our writer roster.”

Forman has been a mainstay in Nashville’s music community for nearly 25 years, working with songwriters and artists including UMPG artist-writers Maren Morris, Kane Brown, Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi, Ryan Hurd, Chris Young, Caylee Hammack, and Hunter Hayes. After graduating from Belmont University, she became Creative Director for Balmur Entertainment. In 2002, she joined Almo Irving Music, shortly before the company became part of Universal Music Publishing Group.

Forman was honored as one of MusicRow Magazine’s Rising Women on the Row in 2013, and in 2018 she was honored by Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, alongside ASCAP, with the Music City Milestone Award recipient, which honors a Belmont graduate who has earned superlative success in the music industry.
Forman spoke with MusicRow Magazine about her new role as UMPG Nashville’s Sr. VP, A&R, and the state of music publishing.

MusicRow: How does this new title change the scope of your work for UMPG?

Forman: My role will continue to consist of the fundamentals of any A&R/Creative role, to identify, sign and promote songwriters. I do feel that after 24 years of working in the publishing community, I’m positioned as a leader to expand my influence with signings in the broader music community that I’m so passionate about.

MR: UMPG has added several new and established artists to its fold in recent months, such as working with Maren Morris, Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi, and one of the latest signings, singer-songwriter Caitlyn Smith. Sam Ellis recently celebrated his first No. 1 song with Lady Antebellum’s “What If I Never Get Over You.”

Forman: My passion is developing new talent. It’s so rewarding and it’s so fulfilling, helping them live out their dreams. I’m fortunate to be at a company where we can sign new songwriters, sign established talent, and buy catalogs to continue growing the company.

Sam Ellis is a perfect example of developing and nurturing a writer, and being along for that ride. That was his first No. 1 and we signed him seven years ago. He never gave up and we didn’t either, so this year is going to be a fun one with him. I signed Sam about the same time I signed Hunter Hayes. Tinti Moffat sent me a couple of songs and I really believed in what he could do as a songwriter, but also, his passion was production.

MR: Publishers are regularly signing individuals who are writers and artists in equal measure. Is that something you look for specifically when signing writers?

Forman: Absolutely, but I always say we want them to be a songwriter first and foremost, before anything else, and for a few reasons. First, I find the most successful artists in our genre tell their own stories through their own words. And if we are lucky enough to snag a few cuts while we are developing them, that helps tell their story. It’s about balancing those two sides; I think it works as long as the artist and the song plugger work together to balance the writing schedule and communicate about which songs to keep for their artistry, and which songs to pitch [to other artists].

MR: What role has music streaming played in music publishing A&R?

Forman: If we are looking to sign someone that has a streaming presence or an online presence, it helps us get to know them and their music. On the other side, the development side of things, if we are working with someone who does not have their music out there where we think it deserves to be out there, it certainly opens up a platform for us to easily do that.

MR: What are the biggest challenges you see in A&R right now?

Forman: Finding the time to develop writers, and also making sure your writers are in the correct writing rooms and being developed. Also, balancing developing writers, versus the true song plugging side of things, but we are so passionate about both.

MR: As more songwriters write for multiple genres, how do you work to make sure their song are given proper consideration in other genres?

Forman: The biggest challenge in the past has really been getting these A&R communities in the other genres to recognize that we have writers that can write more than just country music. I think the recent success of songs that have been country collaborations has helped. When artists like Kane [Brown], Maren [Morris] and Sam [Hunt] have that crossover ability, that helps everybody. We now are getting calls from managers and A&R reps from outside of Nashville asking about songs, and that’s been encouraging.

MR: As you look at the next few years, what developments do you see happening in songwriting and music publishing?

Forman: I’m excited about the integrity of the songs I’m seeing in some of these new writers and artists. I’m hoping that trend continues, because that’s what we are passionate about, the storytelling.
In a world where we ware constantly talking about how the conversation has to change about female [artists], we are proud to say we have two of the most recent ACM nominees for New Female Artist of the Year, with Caylee [Hammack] and Ingrid [Andress]. We are excited to be part of those new females coming along.

The Palm’s Rae Krenn To Receive T.J. Martell’s First Sunshine Award

The T.J. Martell Foundation will bestow its first Sunshine Award to The Palm Restaurant’s Rae Krenn during the Nashville Comedy Festival on April 13. Krenn has been the hostess at The Palm for more than 20 years, and has met and befriended everyone from country greats Charlie Daniels and Blake Shelton to former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George.

“My mom was from Lismore, Australia, and she loved Rae,” says T.J. Martell Southern Region Vice President Mike Smardak. “It just makes me happy to see her smiling face and be around her. She’s a treasure.”

Krenn is known throughout Nashville for her unwavering hospitality, warm demeanor and oftentimes risqué banter. Some refer to Krenn as the “Unofficial Mayor of Nashville” due to the five-foot Aussie knowing everyone in town. Born in Sydney, Australia in 1951, Krenn journeyed to the U.S. in the ’80s when her eldest daughter, Sherrié Austin, landed a role in the hit American TV show The Facts of Life. The whole family then moved continents, landing in L.A. and eventually migrating to Nashville after the 1994 earthquakes in California.

She will receive her award at the  Nashville Comedy Festival’s No Laughing Matter event to be held at Liberty Hall at the Factory at Franklin. Slated to perform at the event (officially titled No Laughing Matter —A Night of Comedy for a Cure to Benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation: Music’s Promise for Curing Cancer) are comedians Karen Mills, Dusty Slay, Pat McGann, Aaron Weber, Steven Bargatze and Killer Beaz. Bone Hampton is set to host.

Outback Presents is the official promoter for the Nashville Comedy Festival. For No Laughing Matter ticketing information, contact Taylor Freeman at 615-969-8738 or [email protected]outbackpresents.com.

CMT, WSMV News 4, The Red Cross To Hold Tornado Relief Telethon Today

CMT, WSMV-TV, and the American Red Cross have joined forces for a telethon this afternoon (March 5) to support tornado disaster relief efforts in Middle Tennessee. The telethon will air live this afternoon from 4-7 p.m. from the CMT Studio in downtown Nashville with WSMV anchors, CMT’s Cody Alan, and more talent to be announced, alongside volunteers from CMT and the music industry. It will also be featured on all CMT social platforms.

The telethon will air live on WSMV News 4 and featured on all CMT social platforms.

Country artists, local TV personalities and volunteers will be answering phones live during the telethon taking donations, sharing personal stories, and offering support to tornado victims following the devastation that swept through the area earlier this week.

Outside of the telethon, donations can be made to the American Red Cross by visiting rdcrss.org/cmt. Proceeds from the sale of a special CMT Country Gives Back t-shirt will also benefit the American Red Cross Southern Tornado and Flood Relief Program.

Gibson Giving Guitars To Musicians Affected By Nashville Tornadoes

Gibson’s charitable arm Gibson Gives has announced an initiative to provide a guitar to any musician whose instrument was damaged, lost or destroyed by the tornadoes.

“Our goal is to get a guitar back into the hands of anyone who has had their guitar damaged or destroyed in the recent Tennessee storm,” says Dendy Jarrett, Executive Director of Gibson Gives. “As a Nashville, Tennessee based company, we are also engaging with our artists and other partners to provide support across many areas.”

Musicians who lost their guitar in the recent storm can send their story to the Gibson Gives Guitar Recovery Plan at [email protected]. Guitars will be provided at Gibson’s discretion, based on proof of damage or loss. Replacement guitars given out may be demo models, prototypes or shop worn, across Gibson’s various guitar brands.

Gibson moved its headquarters to Nashville’s Cummins Station in July 2019.

Reservoir Teams With Americana Music Publisher One Riot, Signs The Secret Sisters

Pictured: John Ozier (Reservoir EVP Creative), Lydia Slagle (The Secret Sisters), Laura Rogers (The Secret Sisters), Holly Lowman (Red Light Management), Ash Wolk (One Riot), Kirby Lee (Red Light Management), Greg Gallo (Reservoir VP Creative)

Music publisher Reservoir has teamed with Nashville-based, Americana/Roots boutique music publisher One Riot, to sign and develop new songwriters and manage writer catalogs. One Riot is headquartered out of Reservoir’s Nashville office and has creative offices in Los Angeles and New York.

The first signing under the Reservoir and One Riot joint venture is duo The Secret Sisters. The deal includes future titles from the sibling duo, including their Brandi Carlile-produced recent project Saturn Return.

“We are very excited to have signed our very first publishing deal as songwriters and to be joining the One Riot family. It’s been our desire to take our songwriting to the next level and we can’t wait to see what this partnership will inspire in us,” said The Secret Sisters. “Grateful for a team of good folks who believe in us!”

“One Riot was established to focus on the music that we hold closest to our hearts; music that embodies honesty and authenticity,” said Founder Amy Patton. “That is the legacy of many of the incredible artists in this genre and is the core of what we hope to cultivate within our community of songwriters. We couldn’t think of a better way to launch than with The Secret Sisters, who embody everything we love about this genre, as the first signing along with Reservoir, who shared our vision right out of the gate.”

“Reservoir’s expertise in creative, administration, and synch coupled with One Riot’s passion for the music and songwriters in this space, is a winning combination,” adds Reservoir EVP, Creative John Ozier. “Americana music spans a broad spectrum of styles including folk, country, blues, roots, gospel, soul, rock, and more, but one thing it all has in common is that it is song-driven music. The genre is often underserved due to the ambiguity of its definition, but it is our privilege to work alongside One Riot to amplify and celebrate the amazing musicians in this space, starting with The Secret Sisters.”

Pictured (L-R): Golnar Khosrowshahi (Reservoir Founder and CEO), Amy Patton (One Riot Founder), Rell Lafargue (Reservoir President and COO)

Mitchell Tenpenny To Lead Nashville Tornado Relief Concert

Dierks Bentley‘s Whiskey Row has teamed with Cumulus to hold a tornado relief concert in Nashville on Monday, March 9, hosted by Mitchell Tenpenny. Others performing during the benefit include HARDY, Devin Dawson, The Band CAMINO, Jessie James Decker, The Sisterhood, Runaway June‘s Naomi Cooke, and more. A first show, slated for 7 p.m., has already sold out and a second show has been added for 10 p.m.

All ticket sales from the event and all proceeds from bar sales during the show will benefit Hands on Nashville, as will all funds raised from a raffle that will be held alongside the event. Hands on Nashville is one of several organizations aiding those affected by the storm that hit Nashville early on March 3.

The 21-and-over shows will be held on the second floor of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in downtown Nashville.

CMA Promotes Evans, Kerns

Pictured (L-R): Emily Evans, Tiffany Kerns

The Country Music Association has announced two promotions in support of ongoing strategic efforts. Emily Evans has been elevated to Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, while Tiffany Kerns adds Vice President, Community Outreach to her current role as CMA Foundation Executive Director.

“Both Emily and Tiffany have been key strategic leaders on our CMA team for a number of years,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “Both possess a high level of integrity and are innovators in their respective fields. I’m pleased that both Emily and Tiffany will be interacting and engaging with our country music community and our CMA Board of Directors on a much deeper and more frequent level.”

In her new role, Evans will oversee programs and projects that support CMA’s mission and short-and long-term objectives, including the CMA Songwriters Series, CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship, various CMA industry task forces as well as the implementation of a company-wide CRM program. She will be responsible for overseeing all awards processes and special awards events, which include the CMA Awards, CMA Touring Awards, CMA Triple Play Awards, and the Country Music Hall of Fame inductions, among others. In addition, Evans will continue to lead all integrated marketing efforts with the organization’s network partner ABC in order to secure high-quality and high-value broadcast, social and digital content integrations.

Evans previously held the title of Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships. Prior to joining CMA in 2014, Evans held positions with st8tmnt, 13 Management, MAC Presents, and MAD Booking and Events. Originally from Cleveland, Tennessee, Evans graduated summa cum laude from Carson-Newman University with a degree in business management and marketing.

In addition to her current team consisting of Michelle Kirk (Director, Integrated Marketing), Megan Sykes (Director, Sales Development & Strategy), Kevin Coffey (Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships) and Lara Henley (Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships), Brenden Oliver (Senior Manager, Awards & Strategic Initiatives) and Michael Farris (recently promoted to Business Intelligence Lead) will now report to Evans. Contact Evans at [email protected].

Kerns will continue to oversee CMA’s nonprofit arm, the CMA Foundation, as Executive Director and adds Vice President, Community Outreach to her role, creating and implementing CMA’s community outreach initiatives including the CMA Foundation as well as CMA EDU, the organization’s collegiate development program. She will also oversee CMA’s membership practices and programming to ensure transparency and integrity for CMA Awards voting, including the CMA Awards, CMA Touring Awards, CMA Triple Play Awards, and various CMA industry awards. Kerns will also provide strategic direction and management of CMA membership development, evaluating the effectiveness of existing structures and developing strategies to ensure effective membership recruitment and retention.

Prior to joining CMA in 2012, Kerns worked for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She is a 2018 Women in Music City Award recipient and led the CMA Foundation to receiving the 2017 National Stand for Music Award supporting music education advocacy. Originally from Bradenton, Florida, Kerns graduated from the University of Tennessee—Knoxville with a degree in political science and a minor in business administration.

In addition to her current team consisting of Lindsey Jones (Project Manager, Community Outreach), Falon Keith (Grants Associate) and Kate Kaltenbach (recently promoted to Manager, Membership Engagement), Angela Strader (recently promoted to Manager, Board & Membership Services) will now report to Kerns. Contact Kerns at [email protected].

Lady Antebellum Offers Fresh Takes From ‘Ocean’ On New Live Album

Lady Antebellum is releasing Live: In The Round today, featuring five standout tracks from their studio album Ocean that were recreated in one take at Nashville’s Skyways Studios.

The project offers up an unconventional mix of Ocean’s No. 1 hit “What If I Never Get Over You” along with the immediate follow-up, “What I’m Leaving For,” the heartland-rock track “Boots,” “Be Patient With My Love,” a striking ode to commitment that balances raw feelings with squealing guitars, as well as the title track. The album is available now at all digital retailers.

“We really enjoyed getting to strip down some of our favorites songs from OCEAN and put focus on the lyrics that drew us in from the beginning,” Lady A’s Charles Kelley said. “It was refreshing to get back in the studio with just the three of us and our road band. We were able relive those initial feelings and reflect on how these songs have already made such a huge impact on our career.”

Live: In The Round Track List:
1. “What If I Never Get Over You” | Sam Ellis, Jon Green, Ryan Hurd, Laura Veltz
2. “Be Patient With My Love” | Charles Kelley, Dave Barnes, Ben West
3. “What I’m Leaving For” | Sam Ellis, Micah Premnath, Laura Veltz
4. “Boots” | Charles Kelley, Ross Copperman
5. “Ocean” | Tofer Brown, Sarah Buxton, Abe Stoklasa