Following the announcement of this year’s nominees for the 34th MusicRow Awards, we take a closer 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, 2021 to May 31, 2022.
The winners of this year’s honors will be announced online on all MusicRow platforms on Tuesday, August 30. Presenting Sponsor of the 2022 MusicRow Awards is City National Bank.
Winners are determined solely by MusicRow Magazine subscribed members. Voting is now open and closes on July 29 at 5:00 p.m.
Brinley Addington scored his first No. 1 with the Ryan Hurd and Maren Morris duet, “Chasing After You,” which he co-wrote with Jerry Flowers. Addington has also had songs recorded by artists Tyler Farr, Parmalee, Kameron Marlowe, and more.
Cameron “Cambo” Bartolini hit it big with his first country hit when he co-wrote “Fancy Like” with Artist of the Year nominee Walker Hayes. Prior to becoming a hit country songwriter, Bartolini had a hand in writing songs with Doja Cat, including “Candy” and “Freak.” He also co-wrote BRELAND’s new single, “Natural.”
Nick Columbia co-wrote “My Boy” alongside Breakthrough Writer of the Year nominees Lee Starr and Russell Sutton, and Breakthrough Artist-Writer nominee Elvie Shane. Columbia also co-wrote Conner Smith’s viral hit “I Hate Alabama,” as well as songs recorded by Drew Green.
Cale Dodds scored his first No. 1 with the Chase Rice and Florida Georgia Line hit, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” A former Warner Music Nashville artist, Dodds is currently focused on songwriting. He’s had songs recorded by A Thousand Horses, Cassadee Pope, Filmore, Lit and more.
Levon Gray hit the top of the charts with his first-ever cut: Kane Brown’s “One Mississippi.” After finding him on social media, Artist of the Year nominee Brown invited Gray to co-write with him, ERNEST and Jesse Frasure. What resulted was a No. 1 song and publishing deal with Brown’s Verse 2 Music.
Kat Higgins lived a songwriter’s dream when Kenny Chesney decided to cut “Knowing You,” a song she co-wrote with hitmaker Brett James and fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominee Adam James. The massive song also landed Higgins in the Female Songwriter of the Year nominees. Other Higgins cuts include songs recorded by Carrie Underwood, Peytan Porter, The Lone Bellow and more.
Adam James scored his first hit with a dream-cut from Kenny Chesney on a song he wrote with Songwriters Hall of Famer Brett James and fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominee Kat Higgins, “Knowing You.” James has co-written songs recorded by Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band, The Cadillac Three, Charlie Worsham and Filmore.
Josh Jenkins hit a double this year with his first two hit songs: “Fancy Like” recorded by Walker Hayes and “Buy Dirt” recorded by Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan. Jenkins has landed cuts with Adam Doleac and Teddy Robb, and fronts the rock band Green River Ordinance.
Jason Nix co-wrote “Things A Man Oughta Know” with Jonathan Singleton and Breakthrough Artist-Writer nominee Lainey Wilson. The tune took home Song Of The Year at the 2022 ACM Awards. Nix has also had song recorded by Tyler Braden, Eli Young Band and scored a hit on the Texas country charts with Flatland Cavalry’s “Gettin’ By.”
Brandon Paddock translated success in the pop world into country music, scoring his first No. 1 with Lady A’s “Like A Lady.” He has also had songs recorded by Dan + Shay and Warren Zeiders. As a producer, Paddock’s pop credits include Platinum singles for Avril Lavigne and Christina Perri, and his country credits include Elle King and Miranda Lambert’s “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home.)”
Jennifer Schott co-wrote Tim McGraw’s “7500 OBO” with Matt McGinn and fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominee Nathan Spicer. Schott co-wrote Mickey Guyton’s debut single, “Better Than You Left Me,” as well as songs recorded by Rascal Flatts and Natalie Hemby. She is also nominated for Female Songwriter of the Year this year.
Nathan Spicer co-wrote Tim McGraw’s “7500 OBO” with Matt McGinn and fellow Breakthrough Songwriter nominee Jennifer Schott. Spicer also co-wrote Ryan Hurd’s “To A T,” as well as songs recorded by Jake Owen, ERNEST, and Travis Denning.
Lee Starr co-wrote “My Boy” alongside Breakthrough Writer of the Year nominees Nick Columbia and Russell Sutton, and Breakthrough Artist-Writer nominee Elvie Shane. Starr also co-wrote Conner Smith’s viral hit “I Hate Alabama,” as well as songs for Drew Green and Ashland Craft.
Russell Sutton co-wrote “My Boy” alongside Breakthrough Writer of the Year nominees Nick Columbia and Lee Starr, and Breakthrough Artist-Writer nominee Elvie Shane. Sutton also co-wrote Discovery Artist of the Year nominee Nate Smith’s “Whiskey On You.”
Brett Tyler celebrated his first No. 1 this year with the Jameson Rodgers and Luke Combs-recorded “Cold Beer Calling My Name.” His other cuts include Blake Shelton’s “Hell Right,” Luke Bryan’s “Build Me A Daddy,” and Corey Kent’s “Wild As Her.”
Lydia Vaughan hit the top of the charts for the first time with a dream collaboration, Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood’s “If I Didn’t Love You.” Co-written with Kurt Allison, Tully Kennedy, and Breakthrough Artist-Writer nominee John Morgan, the duet won Single of the Year at the ACM Awards, and landed Vaughan in MusicRow‘s Female Songwriter of the Year category.
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