BREAKING: Michael Knox Named President Of Peermusic Nashville

Michael Knox. Photo: Haley Crow

Michael Knox has been promoted to President of Peermusic Nashville, expanding his role from Sr. VP. Knox will continue to report Peermusic President & Chief Operating Officer, Kathy Spanberger.

Under Knox’s guidance, Peermusic Nashville has celebrated the 2016 SESAC Country Song of the Year with Dierks Bentley‘s “Somewhere on a Beach,” co-written by Michael Tyler and Jaron Boyer, and the 2013 ASCAP Song of the Year with Randy Houser‘s “How Country Feels,” co-written by Neil Thrasher and Vicky McGehee. Recent highlights for the company include Jason Aldean‘s “Rearview Town,” “Got What I Got” and “Blame It On You;” Jon Pardi‘s “Ain’t Always The Cowboy;” Cole Swindell‘s “Love You Too Late;” Riley Green‘s “There Was This Girl;” and Dustin Lynch‘s “Hell of a Night.”

“In the 12 years that he has been with Peermusic, Michael Knox has distinctively guided our Nashville office song by song, hit by hit, resulting in major impact for our roster of songwriters,” shares Spanberger. “Knox is one of the most prolific publishers and music producers in Nashville with an extraordinary amount of production credits to his name, but it’s his thoughtful approach, quick humor, and devotion to our music creators that really draws people to want to build their careers with Peermusic Nashville. Knox is delivering career-making opportunities for our writers.”

“For over 94 years, the Peers have been widely considered the first family of country music publishing with a history of delivering ‘firsts’ in the industry,” Knox notes. “I jumped at the invitation to be a part of this this publishing team 12 years ago and to work alongside some of the best and most trusted music publishers in the business. The important legacy that we’re building upon here in Nashville, our commitment to continue delivering ‘firsts’ for songwriters, and the genuine connections we have with our Peermusic writers is something that I’m flat-out proud to be a part of. I’m thankful to Kathy, Mary Megan Peer, Ralph Peer II, and our Peermusic team for this opportunity.”

In addition to his success as a publisher, Knox is also a hit producer with 28 No. 1 songs under his belt. His production credits includes songs and albums for Thomas Rhett, Trace Adkins, Kelly Clarkson, Ludacris, Luke Bryan & Eric Church, Montgomery Gentry, Josh Thompson, Randy Owen, Frankie Ballard, Hank Williams Jr., Clay Walker, Tim Montana, and more. He has celebrated a myriad of hit albums and songs alongside frequent collaborator Aldean.

Knox is also a record label executive with a Music Knox Records—imprint with BBR Music Group/BMG—and serves as both host and producer of the United Stations nationally syndicated radio show Knox Country 360. Earlier this year, Knox was selected by the Academy of Country Music as a first-time nominee for National Weekly On-Air Personality of the Year along with his co-host Shalacy Griffin.

My Music Row Story: UMG Nashville’s Stephanie Wright

Stephanie Wright

The “My Music Row Story” weekly column features notable members of the Nashville music industry selected by the MusicRow editorial team. These individuals serve in key roles that help advance and promote the success of our industry. This column spotlights the invaluable people that keep the wheels rolling and the music playing.

Stephanie Wright has been an integral part of Universal Music Group for more than 20 years. As Senior VP, A&R, she aids A&R initiatives for Capitol, EMI, MCA and Mercury, including talent recruitment, artist development and oversight of respective recording projects for UMG artists Sam Hunt, Jordan Davis, Maddie & Tae, Parker McCollum, Little Big Town, Mickey Guyton and more. Her artist signings include Hunt, Davis, McCollum, Kacey Musgraves, Kassi Ashton, and Catie Offerman. She was promoted to her current role in 2018.

A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Wright came to the music business through her cousins, the Platinum-selling sibling trio SHeDAISY. Since, Wright has been instrumental in critically-acclaimed albums, including Lee Ann Womack‘s Call Me Crazy, Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park, and Hunt’s Montevallo. She serves on the T.J. Martell Foundation (Southern Region) board of directors and is a member of the ACM, CMA, Recording Academy and N.O.W. In addition to Rising Women on the Row, Wright has been honored multiple times as one of the Nashville Business Journal‘s Women of the Year.

Wright will be honored as part of the current class of MusicRow’s Rising Women on the Row on Oct. 20. For more details about the class and the event, click here.

MusicRow: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Utah in a town called Magna that’s about 20 minutes outside of Salt Lake. We called Magna the armpit of Salt Lake. It was close to the Great Salt Lake and the Great Salt Lake stinks. It’s sort of centered in between the lake itself and then this big copper mine that’s there. Copper smells and the Great Salt Lake smells, so we called it the armpit.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

What did you want to do when you were growing up there?

I didn’t really know. After graduating high school, I started college to be an interior designer. The creative side of that was great. My cousins are the girls from SHeDAISY. Kristyn and Kelsi had moved [to Nashville]—I don’t think Kassi had moved there yet—but they were pursuing a career and trying to get a recording contract. Kristyn and I were really close. She would call me and tell me all about what was going on here in Nashville. We had a lot in common in that I was the kid at the record store that would go in Tuesday to find the albums that had just released.

The reason I ended up moving here was because my starter marriage. My son’s dad wanted to come to Nashville or to Iowa. He wanted to become a dentist and he wanted to go to Meharry [Medical College School of Dentistry], so that’s the reason we ended up here. We ended up buying a house right next to where my cousins were living. My first trip into Nashville was the weekend Kristyn signed her record deal. I flew in and she said, “I have a busy schedule, but we can at least look at a few different houses.” I met Dann Huff that weekend because they were in the process of recording. I met Randy Goodman, Shelby Kennedy, Connie Harrington, Bonnie Baker and more. I didn’t know who any of those people were, but looking back on the magnitude of what that is, I had no idea what a blessing it was.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

Did you join the music business when you got here?

When I got here, I ended up going to work for a company that was buying up small mom and pop heating and air conditioning companies in Maryland Farms. I had a young son, so I needed to figure out how to make an income. I took that job immediately but really hated it. I started going to some of Kristyn’s business meetings. I really did not know anything about the background of what happens in the music business other than what she was doing, but the more I was in these meetings, I started thinking maybe management would be kind of cool. I also thought working at a record label seemed pretty interesting. But I found out really quickly that if you did not go to school here and you did not go through the networking process of meeting people, you were definitely an outsider. I would go into interviews and they’d be like, “So are you trying to be an artist?” [Laughs]

I probably went on 10 or 15 interviews. I got to a place where I felt like this must not be the right path for me. No one wants to let you in if you’re not already in. Then I saw this advertisement in the newspaper for an executive assistant position for a CEO of a major record label. At this point, I’d had at least enough experience to know that is not how those jobs come about, but in this particular case, it was. I had to go through a staffing agency. I had to go in and take a type test and go through several interviews. The job was to work for Capitol Records for Pat Quigley. I think the only reason I got the job is because I talked fast and he wanted someone that had not been in the music business. He wanted someone that had really just done executive assistant work outside of the business. It was a big blessing and a really great overview of structure of the label, how it all worked, and all the different departments. He was an interesting person to work for. He was also an outsider and he relished in that.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

How did you become interested in A&R?

I found myself really watching the A&R department at the time when Larry Willoughby ran it. Molly Reynolds was there as well. Larry was really good about coming in and playing songs. He would say, “Wait until you hear this new Keith Urban track we just cut.”

One day Pat came in and said, “There’s a meeting happening. I think I’m going to be let go. I have a contract, you do not, so you need to go find another job.” I didn’t know enough about the music business to know that this was not uncommon, so I was completely panicked. Larry came to me and said, “You should probably reach out to Mike Dungan because that’s who is going to take this job.” I felt like that would be a betrayal to Pat—I didn’t know how to navigate that.

Haley McLemore had been working with me at Capitol under the finance department. I called her and she said, “I think there might be a job opening in the A&R department. Why don’t you come over? I’ll introduce you to Gary Harrison and Carson Chamberlain and you can see if that’s something that might be interesting to you.” Gary Harrison and I spent the afternoon talking. I came back in for an interview and they offered me the job, thankfully. It was a lot less than what I had been making, but I needed a job and I didn’t want to not be in this anymore. Little did I know how that would greatly affect the rest of my life and where I am today.

What was one of your most memorable experiences from that time?

I was in the studio when Alan Jackson recorded “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).” It was so fresh. We were finishing up the Drive project and it was the second to last song that we recorded that day. He came in and said, “I want to play this for you. I woke up last night and finished this song.” We all sat there just completely blown away by what it was. Then the musicians all just quietly and very reverently got up and started playing music. Right after we cut that song, he forgot he had to do a song for a ZZ Top collaboration record that they were doing. We were having to shuffle from this big reverent, somber, heavy moment to ZZ Top. (Laughs)

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

What was next for you?

There’s been several mergers that have happened and different labels that have been brought under the umbrella of Universal. Gary and Carson left and they brought in Mary Martin. I got to work with her for a year and a half, which was extremely educational and very helpful. Then we merged with MCA and at that point, David Conrad came over. I was his executive assistant, but I found myself liking more of the recording admin. and I also was starting to like the creative stuff. At that point I had been divorced and I was a single parent, so I looked at the person that was in the spot I wanted and they’d been there for 28 years. So I really dug into what that process was and following up a project from start to finish. David was great about it. He said, “As long as you can take care of me or train someone to take care of me, I’ll let you have some of this.” I was still going to the studios. I was still seeing how Mark Wright, Richard Marks, and Byron Gallimore worked in the studio.

Next, we merged with DreamWorks. Then it was James Stroud and Luke Lewis that were the head of the label. James came in and said, “I want everybody in here, no matter what you’re doing in this department, to be creative.” So I started begging people to come in and play songs for me. People like Jeff Skaggs, Kerri Edwards, Cris Lacy and Cyndi Forman who I’d met booking appointments for David or for whoever else at the time. I even reached out to someone like Brandy Clark, who was just starting to come up through the ranks. I had her pitch group—which was all songwriters—come in and play for me in my little tiny office. I would have them all take turns at the CD player. I was taking notes and was really dedicated to trying to figure out how to make it work.

When did you start to have success as a creative A&R executive?

During that time, Erin Enderlin came in and played a song for me called “Last Call.” It was a song that her and Shane McAnally had written together that Lee Ann Womack eventually cut. I remember being really brave that day and I walked into Brian [Wright]‘s office saying, “This is a really great song for Womack. I know she’s looking.” It ended up getting cut. Through that, I realized I really loved this.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

During that time, we had changed buildings again. I think we had moved downtown at this point. I had met with Alicia Pruitt one day and she mentioned something about Kacey Musgraves. They had just signed her. She played me a couple things and I knew I had to reach out. I cold called her one day. I didn’t really have the ability to sign anybody at that point. I went and met with her and we had a great conversation. I came back to Brian and I said, “I don’t know what goes into signing someone, but I know that I sat across from someone today that’s magical and mesmerizing. If there was a sheet of things that you should probably have [to get signed], I think she has all of those things. She has vision. She’s unique.” It took a long time to convince people that I was serious, but I finally talked Brian and Luke into meeting with her and signing her.

It comes full circle back to Mike Dungan. When we merged with Universal, Mike and I went to breakfast one morning, which is what he was doing with everyone when we merged. He said, “I think you should be doing creative full time and not the other stuff.”

We will be honoring you tomorrow at Rising Women On the Row. If someone were to ask you what success meant to you, what would you tell them?

Where I feel like the success comes in is when you see the satisfaction of an artist when a crowd reacts to a song. You see that crowd sing a song back to the artist, and them get emotionally overwhelmed at what’s happening, that’s pretty magical. I still live for those moments. Those moments are super precious and the ones that keep me interested in trying to continue to do this for other people.

I think I take the things that I don’t have success at a whole lot harder and they stick with me a lot more, so I think learning from the mistakes I’ve made along the way is so much more of a motivator for me. I don’t do a lot of thinking on success, so that’s why these interviews are a little bit difficult because, while there is a lot of that, I think that there’s still much more to accomplish and more people to help.

Russell Dickerson Signs With Concord Music Publishing

Pictured (L-R, top row): John Dennis, Grace Schoper, Legina Chaudoin, David Crow, Matt Turner, Ashley Nite, Shawn Thompson, Duff Berschback. (L-R, bottom row): Courtney Allen, Brad Kennard, Russell Dickerson, Melissa Spillman, Jen Hubbard

Russell Dickerson has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Concord Music Publishing.

The deal includes Dickerson’s full catalog and future works, and Concord has additionally acquired an interest in his back catalog, including titles such as “Yours,” “Every Little Thing,” “Blue Tacoma” and more.

A Tennessee native, Dickerson’s breakthrough hit “Yours” arrived in 2015 and is triple Platinum. He followed that up with three more Platinum chart toppers: “Blue Tacoma,” “Every Little Thing” and “Love You Like I Used To.” Dropping two albums –Yours (2017) and Southern Symphony (2020) – his streaming numbers have hit 2.2 billion across platforms and led to tours with Thomas Rhett, Lady A, and Kane Brown.

Dickerson is the first artist to release four consecutive singles that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart since Luke Combs. He also joins Combs as the second solo artist and fourth act overall to have four or more singles reach No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart since its inception.

His latest single, “She Likes It” with Jake Scott, already reached Platinum status with over 170 million streams to date. His 15-track, self-titled third album will be released on November 4, and he co-wrote all 15 tracks, including “I Wonder,” his newest single released on September 30. Dickerson also collaborated with Cheat Codes on the crossover hit “I Remember,” which dropped this summer. He is currently embarking on a sold-out tour in the UK and will headline a U.S. tour starting next month.

“Russell is a bona fide country music super-star! From the writing and recording of his albums, to the incredibly energetic performances in his live shows, he leads every facet of his career with true passion and intense emotion,” shares Brad Kennard, SVP of A&R at Concord Music Publishing in Nashville. “We could not be more thrilled to represent his incredible catalog and work alongside him in the years to come!”

“I’m excited to be joining the Concord family,” shares Dickerson. “I love that they are an independent company with worldwide reach. They value songwriters and today I’m humbled to be joining their roster of incredible talent.”

Carrie Underwood Launches ‘The Denim & Rhinestones Tour’ [Interview]

Carrie Underwood performs at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

Eight-time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood launched “The Denim & Rhinestones Tour” Saturday night (Oct. 15) with a sold-out show at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

The tour, named after Underwood’s new album of the same name, will make stops in 43 U.S. cities, including New York’s Madison Square Garden, Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, and L.A.’s Crypto.com Arena before concluding in Seattle, Washington on March 17.

Underwood’s two-hour show features hits that span the star’s 17-year career. It also includes Underwood performing aerial acrobatics within a suspended sphere-shaped apparatus.

Carrie Underwood performs at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

“I always want to be sure every tour is a new and unique experience for the fans,” Underwood tells MusicRow. “We’re always looking at different ways to perform the hits that everyone knows and loves and, of course, it’s fun to get to bring the new music to life on stage. The challenge is always figuring out how much we can fit into a show and we like to get creative with different ways to represent as many songs as we can, even if we aren’t able to perform entire versions of every one.”

The trek follows Underwood’s first portion of shows from her “Reflection: The Las Vegas Residency” at the Resorts World Theatre, which will pick back up in 2023 following “The Denim & Rhinestones Tour.”

“I feel so blessed to have gotten to start my ongoing ‘Reflection’ residency at Resorts World Las Vegas at the end of last year—we’ve all been missing live performances and it was so great to get back on stage in front of an audience,” Underwood shares.

As for what she’s brought from her Vegas residency to her traveling show, Underwood says she’s learned some new musical arrangements of some of her hits.

“We’re able to do a lot of big set pieces with that show that we could never pack up and take on the road, so a lot of those moments will continue to be unique to that show,” she shares. “That said, we are definitely having fun with new versions of the hits on this tour and are really excited about the new songs that weren’t in the ‘Reflection’ show in Vegas, which we’ll resume next year after ‘The Denim & Rhinestones Tour’ ends. I love being able to do both!”

Jimmie Allen and Carrie Underwood performs at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

Joining Underwood on “The Denim & Rhinestones Tour” is breakout star Jimmie Allen. Underwood says one of her favorite moments of the show is when she gets to bring him out.

“A really fun moment for me is bringing Jimmie Allen on stage to perform ‘Denim & Rhinestones’ together—we just had to do it, and even incorporated a little of his Dancing With the Stars magic. He is literally as much denim and rhinestones as I am.”

Performing new songs from Denim & Rhinestones is another highlight of this tour for Underwood.

“I’m most excited about performing new music from Denim & Rhinestones—it’s such a fun, energetic album, which I think we all need right now, and we definitely bring that upbeat, party vibe to the stage,” adding that every song on the new album is represented in some way at the show.

“We have some really exciting effects throughout the show. And I love performing ‘Ghost Story’ and ‘Crazy Angels’—it’s such a thrill to be singing those songs live up in the air and getting closer to all the fans.”

For a full list of dates on “The Denim & Rhinestones Tour,” click here.

Country Music Hall Of Fame Inducts A Trio Of Greats

Pictured (L-R): Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Joe Galante, Lorrie Morgan and Judith Lewis attend the class of 2022 Medallion Ceremony at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

A record-label genius and two of the finest honky-tonk singers who have ever lived entered the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday (Oct. 16) during a star-studded ceremony.

RCA’s Joe Galante, tragically departed singer Keith Whitley and legendary Jerry Lee Lewis were lauded as the 2022 inductees at the Medallion Ceremony in the Hall’s CMA Theater. The capacity crowd in attendance was entertained by compelling video bios of the three honorees and tribute celebrity performances, all of which were surprise appearances.

“Jerry Lee Lewis, Keith Whitley and Joe Galante changed country music in ways that will be felt long after tonight’s ceremony,” said CMA chief Sarah Trahern in greeting the audience. “In very individual ways, they rewrote the rules.”

Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young presided. He noted Galante’s accomplishments in gaining more autonomy for Nashville’s major labels, in directing star-making marketing and promotion, in becoming noted for his visionary artist signings and team building as the youngest label head on Music Row.

Pictured: Joe Galante inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, presented by Kix Brooks (left) and CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Kyle Young (right). Photo” Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

“He recalibrated the commercial possibilities of country music,” Young noted. He cited the dramatic increase in the number of Gold and Platinum selling country artists during Galante’s 30 years as a label chief.

The careers of The Judds, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Martina McBride, Ronnie Milsap, K.T. Oslin, Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, Kenny Rogers, Earl Thomas Conley, Charley Pride, Clint Black, Aaron Tippin, Alan Jackson, Restless Heart and Alabama were all impacted by Galante’s leadership.

Galante and each of the other inductees were saluted with a video bio that featured rare footage and stills. Young then spoke at length, often repeating the same biographical information. Then came the star surprises.

Pictured: Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry of Alabama perform onstage for the class of 2022 Medallion Ceremony. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry of Alabama took the stage to sing “My Home’s in Alabama” for the man who made them stars. Miranda Lambert scored her first No. 1 hit when Galante became involved in her career. With just her own solo guitar accompaniment she sang it, “White Liar.” Then Galante-signee Kenny Chesney sang “The Good Stuff.”

Kix Brooks presented the Medallion to Joe Galante while Young unveiled the bronze plaque. These acts mark a person’s official Hall of Fame induction. “It’s really humbling when you get to this place,” Brooks said. “He loves music the same way that we do.”

“This has been a spectacular feeling for me,” said Galante. “I was their record-label head, but I was a huge fan of their music… Business became friendship, and friendship became family. I am both humbled and honored to be here.” He spoke movingly of his late wife Phran, who accompanied him on his journey to greatness.

The Keith Whitley video featured the star’s early singing as a child and as a strikingly accomplished Kentucky teen. Young extolled Whitley’s extraordinary vocal talent.

Pictured: Lorrie Morgan accepts Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum induction on behalf of Keith Whitley presented by Garth Brooks (left) and CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Kyle Young (right). Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

“Not many singers could so inhabit a song,” he said. “He was a singer fo the ages. This was a once-in-a-generation singer.” He also noted the irony of Whitley’s album title when he was the lead singer for J.D. Crowe & The New South, My Home Ain’t in the Hall of Fame.

Mickey Guyton saluted Whitley with “When You Say Nothing at All.” Ricky Skaggs, who was Whitley’s singing partner when they were Kentucky teens, performed “Tennessee Blues” alongside Molly Tuttle and Justin Moses. “This is a bittersweet night for all of us,” Skaggs said. Whitley succumbed to alcoholism in 1989 at age 33.

Young pointed out that Whitley’s influence pervades current country, citing Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton and Chesney as disciples. This led to the introduction of another disciple, Garth Brooks.

Pictured: Mickey Guyton performs onstage for the class of 2022 Medallion Ceremony at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

“For all country-music fans, this night in long overdue,” Brooks said.

“The guy could out-sing 99% of us.” Brooks performed “Don’t Close Your Eyes” as a solo-acoustic gem. He also did the Medallion honors, presenting it to Whitley’s widow, Grand Ole Opry star Lorrie Morgan.

When he died, Whitley “was three weeks away from being a member of the Grand Ole Opry — he didn’t know it,” Morgan shared. “He loved all of these Hall of Fame members — he was such a fan. He would feel so undeserving.”

The Jerry Lee Lewis video illustrated his triumphs as the 1950s rocker of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Breathless,” followed by a decade in musical exile. His 1968-81 comeback was as the peerless country stylist of more than 30 top hits, including “Another Place Another Time,” “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous,” “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye,” “There Must Be More to Love Than This” and “Thirty Nine and Holding.”

Young said of Lewis, “There is no entertainer like him — a genius of rare musical spontaneity….an unquestioned pillar of rock & roll and country music.” “The Killer,” as he is known, was a charter inductee into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Pictured (L-R): Kris Kristofferson and Hank Williams Jr. accept Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum induction on behalf of Jerry Lee Lewis presented by CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Kyle Youn. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Lee Ann Womack saluted Lewis with her version of his 1977 hit “Middle Age Crazy.” The McCrary Sisters had everyone on their feet and clapping to a rollicking, rousing treatment of “My God Is Real.” Lewis was expelled from Bible college for similarly rocking the song. Chris Isaak was joyous and charismatic on “Great Balls of Fire,” supported by Jen Gunderman’s piano pyrotechnics.

Hank Williams Jr. inducted Lewis. “Jerry Lee was one of my teachers,” he recalled. “It was then that I realized I was ‘Born to Boogie.’ Jerry Lee doesn’t ask for your attention, he demands it….He will be The Best as long as people listen to recorded music.”

Lewis, 87, was planning to attend, despite being wheelchair bound and increasingly frail. But doctors advised him on Sunday morning that he should not travel from his Mississippi home to Nashville. So Williams read a statement from the legend.

“I was so looking forward to it,” Lewis wrote. “Country music has always been the genre where I feel most at home. To be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame is the highest honor… Thanks to God for allowing me to experience this honor while I’m still here.”

Kris Kristofferson, who wrote Lewis’s hits “Once More With Feeling” and “Me and Bobby McGee,” accepted the Medallion from Williams. Then Bill Anderson led the crowd in singing the traditional ceremony closing song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” He got a big assist via the fiddle filigrees of Deanie Richardson.

Kenny Chesney performs onstage for the class of 2022 Medallion Ceremony. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Anderson, Kristofferson, Williams, Skaggs, Owen, Gentry, Kix Brooks, Garth Brooks, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Bud Wendell, Charlie McCoy, Don Schlitz, Vince Gill, Ray Stevens, Wynonna Judd, Randy Travis and Oak Ridge Boys William Lee Golden and Duane Allen were among the Hall of Fame members in attendance. The new inductees are the 147th, 148th and 149th members.

The three-hour ceremony began with an audio entertainment, the 1930 Jimmie Rodgers hit “Blue Yodel No.9.” On it, country music’s first superstar was accompanied by jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Lili Hardin Armstrong.

Young’s ceremonial title is Commander General of the Circle Guard. Mary Ann McCready introduced their fellow Circle Guard members David Conrad, Steve Turner, Bill Denny, Mike Milom, Seab Tuck, Jerry Williams, Ken Levitan and Ken Roberts.

Also prior to the inductions, Trahern offered a eulogy for American music icon and Country Music Hall of Fame member Loretta Lynn, who died at age 90 on Oct. 4.

The evening’s performances were accompanied by the Medallion All-Star Band. Richardson and Gunderson were members of the group, led by bandleader Bifff Watson. Their instrumental confederates included Russ Pahl, Rachel Loy, Jeff White, Mark Beckett and young guitar virtuoso Charlie Worsham.

Following the ceremony, guests attended a cocktail supper. Morgan, Galante and Lewis’s wife Judith Lewis mingled with a crowd that included singers Sharon & Cheryl White, The Isaacs, Jeannie Seely, Paul Overstreet and Ranger Doug Green of Riders in the Sky.

My Music Row Story: City National Bank’s Mandy Gallagher Morrison

Mandy Morrison

The “My Music Row Story” weekly column features notable members of the Nashville music industry selected by the MusicRow editorial team. These individuals serve in key roles that help advance and promote the success of our industry. This column spotlights the invaluable people that keep the wheels rolling and the music playing.

With over 18 years of music industry banking experience, Mandy Gallagher Morrison’s specialty is helping her clients meet their financial goals. She joined City National Bank in 2011 to help launch its Nashville office, which made her the youngest relationship manager in the bank’s entire Entertainment division. Morrison was promoted to vice president in just two years, and has played an integral role in the bank’s growth story as it has become one of Nashville’s premiere entertainment banks. During the pandemic, Morrison quickly pivoted to helping clients secure Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to help them survive the uncertainty and build their businesses for the “new normal.”

A year after joining City National, Morrison helped to start the Troubadour Society, an organization for young professionals that supports the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. As one of the founding leaders, she spearheaded the collaboration with the Hall of Fame to launch the organization, and is still a member today. She is currently a member of the nonprofit SOURCE, of which she sat on the board for eight years including as board president, past president and program committee chair. Morrison is also a member of the Gospel Music Association’s Business Advisory Council. She is heavily involved in Leadership Music after graduating from the program in 2015.

Morrison will be honored as part of the current class of MusicRow’s Rising Women on the Row on Oct. 20. For more details about the class and the event, click here.

MusicRow: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Altamont, Tennessee, which is about an hour and a half from Nashville going towards Chattanooga. It’s a very small, rural town in Grundy County.

Photo: Courtesy of Mandy Morrison

Were you musical? Did you have aspirations of being in the music business when you were growing up?

No. It’s a total God thing, when you look back at your life. When I graduated, I wanted to go to the University of Tennessee but I ended up getting a scholarship at MTSU. So obviously the wise decision was to go to MTSU. I knew I wanted to do business, but I didn’t know necessarily what I wanted to do. My next door neighbor back in Grundy growing up was very high up at SunTrust Bank. When she found out I was going to MTSU, she said, “We’re always hiring college kids to be part-time tellers. Would you be interested in a job?” So my freshman year of college, I got a part-time job at SunTrust. In the summers, I would work there full time. Throughout that process, I decided to go the marketing route, so that’s what I ended up graduating in.

What did you do after college?

After I graduated from school, my manager at the time at SunTrust said, “I know you graduated in marketing and you’re probably going to be looking for a marketing job, but you are really good at your job and I think that you need to try to move up within our company until you find something that you like. There’s a position open at our music industry office in Nashville that I think you would be a great fit for. I think you need to go interview.” It wasn’t necessarily what I was planning on, but it sounded like a great opportunity. I wanted to make some more money and move up at the company while I could. So I went and interviewed. Beverly Templeton was the manager at the time, and Brian Williams managed the whole office. One Friday morning I came in and interviewed with Beverly. She called me on Monday and offered me the job.

I moved and started working at the SunTrust Entertainment Office. I probably wasn’t there for a month before I was like, “This is the coolest thing ever.” I’m in the music industry, but not in the music industry. It’s a different side of banking. You’re getting to work with artists, songwriters, business managers and publishers. Diane [Pearson] and Lori [Badgett] were there. After seeing what Beverly, Brian, Diane and Lori were doing, I knew I could actually make this a career.

Mandy Morrison, Diane Pearson, Lori Badgett. Photo: Courtesy of Mandy Morrison

What was your path at Sun Trust?

In the banking world, there are so many avenues that you can go down—especially when you were at SunTrust. You could get on the mortgage team, you could go investments, you could go into business banking, et cetera. I just knew I wanted to be Lori and Diane one day. [Laughs] I eventually wanted to be a relationship manager or a private banker.

I started as what they call a financial service representative and I did that for a few years. After that I became the assistant manager. Then my area manager at the time was like, “In order to move you up within the entertainment division, we’re going to have to move you out of the entertainment division.” So I actually went and worked at the West End office for about a year and a half, outside of entertainment. I hated it the whole time.

After that, they had a business banking position come open at the entertainment office and they immediately took me back. So I moved back to business banking for about another year and a half. Then the management position came open for the retail side of the entertainment office. So at that point, I was managing the whole team downstairs: the tellers, the financial service representatives, the assistant manager, and the retail office of the entertainment business. I loved it.

How did you get to City National Bank?

Me and Diane Pearson went to Vegas for an awards show. Diane said, “Mandy, I have an offer for you. I’ve been talking to City National Bank. They’re coming to town. I would love for you to come and be a junior relationship manager under me.” That’s what I wanted to do from the very beginning. But at first, I wasn’t sure. I had been working at SunTrust since I was 18. It sounded exciting, but it was very scary. My dad worked at Carrier for years because it was a company that was good to him. My parents instilled in me that you stay with companies that are good to you, there’s no reason to move just to move. SunTrust has been great to me, so at first I started back paddling but we talked about it again and I started feeling good about it.

I remember walking in and telling my manager at the time that I was leaving. My heart was pounding. I was taking a big leap of faith. It was like nothing that I’ve never done. I was scared to death. But Diane was coming and Lori was coming, so at least I knew that I was going to be surrounded by amazing people that could help me and cheer me on. 11 years later, here we are.

Photo: Courtesy of Mandy Morrison

What were those first years of building the Nashville branch of CNB like?

Hard. [Laughs] We had to figure out the systems of CNB. Diane and Lori had been at SunTrust pretty much their whole career as well. We were all trying to figure it out together. We were all in it together. The LA teams and the New York teams were so helpful. CNB is an incredible company, especially when it comes to entertainment.

11 years later, what all does your role entail?

I describe myself as the quarterback for my clients. My book of business is a lot of songwriters, so I deal a lot in songwriter markets in addition to business managers, producers, et cetera. I help them with, ultimately, whatever they need. If they need a mortgage, then I’ll get my mortgage advisor involved and we’ll get a mortgage. If they’re looking at investments, I get my investment guy and we talk through everything. You never really know what’s going to happen day to day. It’s really just continuing to grow my book and elevating and helping my clients financially as as much as I can.

Photo: Courtesy of Mandy Morrison

You’ve talked a lot about Diane and Lori, what are some things you’ve learned from them?

Those two are two of the hardest working women. I could cry talking about them. They are so inspiring. They’re very humble. They’re just great leaders in their own unique ways. They both bring so much to the table.

Do you think that having women in your life like that impacted your experience as a woman in the music industry?

100%. Diane took me under her wing when we were in SunTrust and really helped me along way. I remember when I had to go out to the West End office, I asked her if that was a good move. With her experience, she guided me in that decision and really helped me understand that. They’re brilliant bankers. Lori, for example, is incredible with catalog loans. The knowledge that they bring to the table is wonderful. Having mentors and grabbing them early is such a key to succeed.

Photo: Courtesy of Mandy Morrison

You’re super involved in philanthropy efforts as well. What have been some of your proudest accomplishments over the years?

I would say one of my proudest is the Troubadour Society with the Country Music Hall of Fame. I helped start that from the ground up. It has been really rewarding seeing it become what it has become. SOURCE has also been a great one that I’ve loved to be part of.

Starting so young in my career, I was able to get involved with SOLID at the very beginning. Then I sat on the board of SOLID. I went from SOLID straight into SOURCE. Then I was able to get into Leadership Music in 2015. All of that has been rewarding.

You will be honored at MusicRow’s Rising Women on the Row breakfast on Oct. 20. If somebody was to ask you what success for you, what would you tell them?

During that process of transitioning from SunTrust and CNB, I actually got my master’s at Lipscomb. They have an MBA on leadership. I took a class on leadership over there and something in that class hit home for me. The professor had a deck of card that had all of these adjectives on them. You had to go through the deck four or five times and pick cards that you felt were meaningful to you as a person. Once you got down to five cards, she said, “When these five values are coming out of your job, that means that you’ve found the job that is true to yourself.” So to me, success is defined when you are being true to who you are and your values are pouring out in what you’re doing. My five values were faith, family, service, trust, and legacy.

Luke Bryan Rises To No. 1 On MusicRow Radio Chart

“Country On” by Luke Bryan is crowned this week’s No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart. The single was written by Mark Nesler, David Frasier, Mitch Oglesby, and Styles Haury.

Next month, Bryan will co-host the 56th Annual CMA Awards alongside Peyton Manning, where he has a nomination for Single of the Year for his duet with Jordan Davis, “Buy Dirt.” In addition to headlining Stagecoach in 2023, he also announced his eighth annual Crash My Playa concert vacation for January.

Bryan will return as a judge for the sixth season of American Idol alongside Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. The new season is set to premiere next spring.

Click here to view the latest edition of The MusicRow Weekly containing the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart.

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Ashley McBryde Serves Up Feisty ‘Sisterhood Anthem’

We’re all about gender parity today at DISClaimer.

Note that half of the tracks reviewed in this edition of the column feature female voices. Which is the way things ought to be, since that’s half of the listening audience.

Note also that the two best written songs here come from female artists. I refer to Ingrid Andress’ lovely “Blue” and to Ashley McBryde’s inspiring “Bonfire at Tina’s.” On the other hand, Travis Denning’s fine composition gives the gals a run for their money, and Restless Road is a total rush.

Finally, note that the Disc of the Day award belongs to a mighty country woman, Ashley McBryde.

DARIUS RUCKER & CHAPEL HART / “Ol’ Church Hymn”
Writers: Darius Rucker/Ben Hayslip/Josh Miller/Greylan James; Producer: Ross Copperman; Label: Capitol
–Warm, loving and kind sounding. He sings of the soothing power of love while the Chapel Hart trio harmonizes softly in the background. I’d have mixed them up louder in the mix and given them a verse of their own.

TRAVIS DENNING / “Buy a Girl a Drink”
Writers: Travis Denning/Jeremy Stover/Paul DiGiovanni/Chase McGill; Producers: Jeremy Stover/Paul DiGiovanni; Label: Mercury
–Very, very sweet. Sung with boyish charm, yet laced with aged wisdom, it’s an encapsulation of life and love that’s impossible to resist. The churning production is a big plus, too.

CARRIE UNDERWOOD / “Hate My Heart”
Writers: Carrie Underwood/Hillary Lindsey/David Garcia/Michael Hardy; Producers: Carrie Underwood/David Garcia; Label: Capitol
–It’s a rollicking banger that contrasts her desire to party with a heartbreak that’s holding her back. The stacked female harmonies are cool, but the guitar-dominated track could have been more creative.

HARDY / “Jack”
Writers: Michael Hardy/David Garcia/Hillary Lindsey; Producers: Joey Moi/Michael Hardy/David Garcia/Derek Wells; Label: Big Loud Rock
–Don’t misled by the soft, quiet intro. This turns into a slammin’ rock track with ferociously pounding rhythm. “Jack,” as you might expect, is a certain Tennessee whiskey who may or may not become your pal.

MADELINE EDWARDS / “Too Much of a Good Thing”
Writers: Madeline Edwards/Ian Christian/Trannie Anderson; Producer: none listed; Label: Warner
–I have long loved the smokey quality in her voice. A string of excellent indie releases has led to this major-label debut. Her gospel-y piano provides understated power and pulse to the enveloping ballad. I’m in. Make her a star.

JAMESON RODGERS / “Things That Matter”
Writers: Lynne Hutton/Jameson Rodgers/Elwyn Ahnquist Smith/Will Bundy; Producers: Chris Farren/Jake Mitchell; Label: Sony
–Forget about politics, the economy and material possessions and concentrate on the simple pleasures of life, advises Mr. Rodgers on this gently swaying outing. It’s a breezy and totally country sound that’s as refreshing as a soft spring rain.

ASHLEY McBRYDE / “Bonfire at Tina’s”
Writers: Ashley McBryde/Brandy Clark/Benjy Davis/Connie Harrington/Nicolette Hayford/Aaron Raitiere; Producer: John Osborne; Label: Warner
–This woman is tower of talent. On this slow-burn blazer she’s feisty and fierce. It’s a sisterhood anthem with lots and lots of heart. The gals get together to drink, smoke and bitch around a bonfire, and the result builds to an inspiring crescendo.

ADAM DOLEAC / “Whiskey Barstool Wonderland”
Writers: Adam Doleac/Lindsay Rimes/Jonathan Singleton; Producer: Jordan Schmidt; Label: Arista
–The power ballad yearns for lost love while deep percussion pounds and electric guitars soar. I think what I like best about it is how his singing ranges from feathery whisper to shouted tenor anguish. Definitely hooky. It’s the title track to his debut album, an 18-track serving.

INGRID ANDRESS / “Blue”
Writers: Ingrid Andress/Sam Ellis/Derrick Southerland/Shane McAnally; Producers: Sam Ellis/Ingrid Andress; Label: Warner/Atlantic
–Languid and dreamy, this is a mini-masterpiece of a romantic ballad. The lines are exquisite as she describes a shade that she is seeing for the first time, the blue of his eyes. You’ll find it on her new sophomore album, Good Person.

RESTLESS ROAD / “Sundown Somewhere”
Writers: Ben Hayslip/Cole Swindell/Cole Taylor/Jacob Rice; Producer: Lindsay Rimes; Label: RCA
–A wafting country rocker loaded to the gills with the trio’s stunning harmony voices. These guys are so radio ready it’s ridiculous. In a word, irresistible.

ROBYN OTTOLINI / “Busy”
Writers: Robyn Ottolini/Seth Mosley/Jessica Cayne; Producers: Erik Fintelman/Mark Schroor/Michael O’Connor/Seth Mosley; Label: Warner
–There’s not a lot of singing going on here. More like shouting with hints of melody. However, it does have plenty of attitude.

TYLER BOOTH / “Feeling Whitney”
Writers: Andrew Wotman/Austin Post; Producers: Tyler Booth/John Johnson; Label: Sony/Villa 40
–Covering a Post Malone tune as a country single might sound nutty. Melodically, it actually works pretty well, and Tyler’s baritone voice is fine, as usual. The lyrics are still oblique.

Blake Shelton To Leave ‘The Voice’ After 12 Years As A Coach

Blake Shelton

After 12 years, country superstar Blake Shelton has announced that he will be leaving The Voice after Season 23. Shelton served as a coach on the singing competition’s 22 seasons.

Throughout his 12 years on the show, Shelton’s team has notched eight wins, including Jermaine Paul (Season 2), Cassadee Pope (Season 3), Danielle Bradbery (Season 4), Craig Wayne Boyd (Season 7), Sundance Head (Season 11), Chloe Kohanski (Season 13), Todd Tilghman (Season 18) and Cam Anthony (Season 20).

“I’ve been wrestling with this for a while and I’ve decided that it’s time for me to step away from The Voice after next season,” the decorated entertainer shared on social media. “The show has changed my life in every way for the better and it will always feel like home to me.”

Shelton took a moment to share a series of thanks to the entire The Voice team, including NBC, the producers, writers, musicians, crew and catering, as well as longtime host Carson Daly and all of his fellow coaches over the years, including his wife Gwen Stefani.

 

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“I have to give a huge shouts to the singers—the ‘Voices,’ who come on this stage season after season and amaze us with their talent and a special thanks to those who chose me to be their coach,” he continued. “Lastly, it’s about y’all, the fans, who watch and support these artists, us coaches, and everyone at The Voice who are chasing our dreams. It would not happen without you!”

Joining Shelton in the coaches chairs for his last season will be Kelly Clarkson, who has previously served as a coach. A few new faces, Niall Horan and Chance The Rapper, will also take a seat in the signature red spinning chairs. It is set to debut in spring of 2023.

Shelton, along with fellow coaches Stefani, Camilla Cabello and John Legend, can be seen on the show’s current season on NBC.

SESAC Announces Date For Nashville Music Awards

SESAC has announced that its Nashville Music Awards will be back in person this year for the first time since 2019. The invitation-only event will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday, Nov. 6, kicking off CMA week in Nashville.

At the annual awards, SESAC will be honoring the Song of the Year, Publisher of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year, as well as performance activity awards for both country and Americana music. Previous award winners include Jimmie Allen, Hillary Scott, Matt McGinn, Lee Brice, Blanco Brown, Lance Miller, Margo Price, Niko Moon, Justin Ebach, Alex Kline, Jon Nite, Hayes Carll, and more.

“We can’t wait to celebrate our songwriters and publishers in person this year,” shares Shannan Hatch, Vice President of Creative Services. “Our writers have made some incredible music over the past few years, and we are thrilled to have a night honoring all their amazing achievements.”