Following the announcement of this year’s nominees for the 33rd MusicRow Awards, we take a look at the MusicRow Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year category. The Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year is voted by MusicRow’s subscribed members to honor a Nashville songwriter who wrote or co-wrote a Top 10 song for the first time during the eligibility period of June 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021.
The MusicRow Awards will be announced virtually among multiple MusicRow platforms on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021. Presenting Sponsor of the 2021 MusicRow Awards is City National Bank.
Winners are determined solely by MusicRow Magazine subscribed members. Voting is now open and closes on July 23 at 5 p.m.
Matt Alderman has a recent hit as a co-writer and coproducer of “Nobody” recorded by Dylan Scott. Perfect for summer, he’s also a writer on the sunny new single from Dustin Lynch and Chris Lane, “Tequila On A Boat.” This follows previous cuts by Clare Dunn, Matt Stell, Brett Young and Jake Owen.
Benjy Davis and fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominees Joey Hyde and Neil Medley teamed up to write the hit song “Made For You,” recorded by Jake Owen. Davis has a track record of cuts by Dan + Shay, Eli Young Band, Josh Abbott Band, Rascal Flatts, and Chris Young.
Nicolette Hayford had her first hit as a co-writer of the award-winning song “One Night Standards,” recorded by Ashley McBryde. Hayford’s other McBryde credits include “Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega,” “Shut Up Sheila,” “Voodoo Doll” and “Sparrow.” Additionally Hayford has recent cuts by Chrissy Metz and Kylie Morgan.
Joey Hyde scored his first hit with “Made For You,” cowritten with fellow nominees Benjy Davis and Neil Medley, and recorded by Jake Owen. Hyde’s credits include the new single by Walker Montgomery and recordings by Luke Dick, Sam Grow, Lindsay Ell, and Ryan Hurd.
Dan Isbell earned his first hit as a co-writer of “Better Together” recorded by Luke Combs. He wrote the song with Combs, who is nominated for MusicRow Artist of the Year, and Randy Montana, who is nominated for Male Songwriter of the Year. Isbell also has new cuts by Flatland Cavalry, Kameron Marlowe, Laine Hardy, Matt Stell, Tucker Beathard and Scotty McCreery.
Greylan James was honored when his first hit single “Happy Does” was recorded by one of his heroes, Kenny Chesney. James is a Knoxville native with other cuts by Chris Young, Chris Janson, Drake White, and Alexander Ludwig.
Alex Kline is part of the first all-female team to write, perform and produce a No. 1 country radio single, with Tenille Arts’ “Somebody Like That.” Accordingly, Kline is also nominated for Female Songwriter of the Year. She has previous cuts by Ronnie Dunn, Reba McEntire, Mitchell Tenpenny, Gary Allan, Terri Clark, and Cassadee Pope, as well as numerous production credits. Kline wrote the song with Arts, who is nominated for two MusicRow Awards, and Allison Veltz Cruz, who is also nominated for Female Songwriter of the Year.
Chris La Corte scored his first hit with “Breaking Up Was Easy in the ‘90s” recorded by Sam Hunt, from the album Southside. La Corte is the first writer signed to Hang Your Hat Music, Hillary Lindsey’s partnership with Concord. He also has a new cut by Andrew Jannakos.
Emily Landis charted her first hit as a co-writer of ”The Good Ones” recorded by Gabby Barrett. Landis is a graduate of Belmont University where she studied songwriting and has other cuts by Smithfield, Carolyn Miller, Eric Paslay and Kassi Ashton.
Michael Lotten earned his first hit with “Momma’s House” recorded by Dustin Lynch. This follows cuts by Mitchell Tenpenny (“Alcohol You Later”), Jon Langston (“All Eyes On Us”), Dylan Schneider, Chuck Wicks, Willie Jones, and Sam Grow.
James McNair has had several Luke Combs cuts and scored a hit with Combs’ recording of “Lovin’ On You.” Other artists who have recorded McNair’s songs include Kylie Morgan, Chase Rice, RaeLynn, The Cadillac Three, Chris Janson, Scotty McCreery, Morgan Wallen and Craig Campbell.
Neil Medley teamed with Benjy Davis and Joey Hyde to write “Made For You,” a hit for Jake Owen. He has had previous singles by Lindsay Ell (“I Don’t Love You”) and Josh Abbott Band (“Wasn’t That Drunk”). Medley also has cuts by Hailey Whitters, Tiera, CJ Solar, Cody Johnson, Luke Bryan, Kid Rock, and Brent Cobb.
Jordan Minton is a co-writer of Niko Moon’s hit “Good Time,” along with fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominees Anna Moon, Joshua Murty, and Mark Trussell. He has cuts on Keith Urban’s Graffiti U record, as well as by Dan + Shay, Trent Harmon, Abby Anderson and Mitchell Tenpenny’s track “Telling All My Secrets.”
Jake Mitchell is the only nominee in this category with two qualifying songs: “Some Girls” recorded by Jameson Rodgers, and “One Beer” recorded by Hardy ft. Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson. He co-wrote the title track to Luke Bryan’s current album Born Here Live Here Die Here, and has other cuts by Dawson, Rodgers, Ashley McBryde, Ashley Monroe, Matt Stell, Chrissy Metz, Florida Georgia Line and CJ Solar.
Anna Moon co-wrote “Good Time” with fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominees Joshua Murty and Mark Trussell, and Breakthrough Artist nominee Niko Moon. Anna Moon contributed multiple songs to her husband’s debut project.
Joshua Murty teamed with Anna Moon, Niko Moon, Jordan Minton, and Mark Trussell to write Niko’s hit “Good Time.” They collaborated on much of the EP, with Murty co-producing. Murty’s career includes time as a touring guitarist with Maren Morris.
Mitch Oglesby scored his first hit with Chris Janson’s recording of “Done.” The song was co-written with Janson, Jamie Paulin and fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominee Matt Roy. Oglesby has multiple cuts by Janson, as well as artists Cody Johnson, Tyler Booth, and Styles Haury.
Matt Roy earned his first hit with Chris Janson’s “Done,” cowritten with Janson, Jamie Paulin and fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominee Mitch Oglesby. Roy also has cuts by Chris Young, Alexander Ludwig, and Kane Brown.
Mark Trussell is a co-writer of the Niko Moon hit “Good Time,” which he penned with Niko, Anna Moon, Jordan Minton, and Joshua Murty. Trussell also has recordings by Chris Lane (“Fill Them Boots”), Keith Urban (“Polaroid”), Devin Dawson (“Range Rover”), Billy Currington (“Details”), Maren Morris (“RSVP”) and many others.
Dallas Wilson, Matt Alderman, and Dylan Scott penned Scott’s hit single “Nobody,” which earned Breakthrough Songwriter nominations for Wilson and Alderman. Among Wilson’s other co-writes are cuts by Mitchell Tenpenny, Lainey Wilson, Jimmie Allen, Dylan Scott and Karl Michael. He is the son of studio musician and songwriter Lonnie Wilson.