DISClaimer Single Reviews: Tracy Lawrence Serves Up A Helping Of Classic Country

Tracy Lawrence. Photo: Jon-Paul Bruno

It’s in with the new and in with the old today in DISClaimer.

I’m pleased to report that we have a trio of fine first-timers in the column—Karley Scott Collins, Sacha and our DISCovery Award winner, Stefanie Joyce.

At the same time, we have dandy new music from three veterans—Jeannie Seely, Deborah Allen and our Disc of the Day awardee, Tracy Lawrence.

Spin ‘em all.

THE KENTUCKY GENTLEMEN / “Whatever You’re Up For”
Writers: Brandon Campbell/Chris Sligh/Derek Campbell/Paul Wrock/Ty March; Producers: Chris Sligh/Matt McClure; Label: KG
–I was quite taken with these twins (Derek & Brandon Campbell) when I reviewed their infectious disc debut last year. They’re back with a sexy, good-time come-on that is ready for any country dance floor. This jam is star-making stuff.

TRACY LAWRENCE / “Don’t Drink Whiskey”
Writers: Cassidy Lynn Alexander/Conner Lawrence Sweet/Marla Cannon-Goodman; Producers: Tracy Lawrence/Julian King; Label: TL
–Classic country. This is honky-tonk heartache at its finest, and Tracy’s singing has never sounded more accomplished. Thank goodness someone is still making music like this; it’s what made this genre great.

BLANE HOWARD / “Boot N’ Rally”
Writers: Blane Howard/Keesy Timmer; Producers: John Shaw/Blane Howard; Label: BH
–It’s one of them rock ‘em, sock ‘em thangs with screaming electric guitar and pounding rhythm. The ditty is aided considerably by a cleverly written lyric.

MAREN MORRIS / “Background Music”
Writers: Maren Morris/Jimmy Robbins/Laura Veltz; Producer: Greg Kurstin; Label: Sony
–Her voice emerges from a deep well of echo with only the barest accompaniment. As the ballad progresses, the production adds layers and her singing increases in intensity. Fascinating, ear catching, magnetic.

SACHA / “We Did”
Writers: Brad Rempel/Ben Stennis; Producer: Gavin Slate; Label: Starseed
–This Canadian is on all kinds of artist-to-watch lists. I can certainly hear why. Her dazzling, bopping country rocker is produced like there’s no tomorrow. Her singing has all the verve, joy and delirium of young love. The twirling, swirling sound is utterly celestial. Make her a star.

KASSI ASHTON / “Dates in Pickup Trucks”
Writers: Kassi Ashton/David Garcia/Luke Laird; Producers: Luke Laird/Dave Garcia/Kassi Ashton; Label: MCA/Interscope
–Her quasi-spoken singing has more than a hint of R&B, and vibe here is distinctly hip-hop. In what sense is this record “country” music?”

JEANNIE SEELY / “So Far So Good”
Writers: Penn Pennington/Mitch Ballard; Producer: Don Cusic; Label: Curb
–Delightful. It’s a lively western swinger with scampering piano, twin fiddles and flawless background harmonies by The Whites (Sharon & Cheryl). It left me grinning from ear to ear.

LEVI HUMMON / “Bottled Up”
Writers: Levi Hummon/Mason Thornley/Grant Vogelfanger; Producer: Eric Arjes; Label: Reservoir
–Second-generation country guy Levi is the son of mega-hit writer Marcus Hummon (who recently debuted an opera in Music City). This track from his forthcoming EP is a well-written tune about the repressed emotions of a broken-hearted dude on a barstool. Catchy and commercial.

CHRIS LANE / “Howdy”
Writers: John Byron/Sam Ellis/Blake Pendergrass; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud
–Breezy and easy going. His plain-spoken, relaxed delivery sidles up next to you in an instantly-familiar way while the track twangs and thumps in a lulling pattern around him. Gently endearing.

Writer: Stefanie Joyce; Producer: Kyle Manner; Label: Avalon
–The funky, backbeat production is uber cool. Her drawling vocal is an arrow of truth. The guitar-groove melody is solid and hooky. Best of all, the lyric is a brilliantly fashioned plea for salvation from pills and booze. This is an extraordinary disc debut. I can’t wait to hear what else this singer-songwriter has in her arsenal.

DEBORAH ALLEN / “Blue Collar Baby”
Writers: Deborah Allen/Margaret Phillips; Producer: Deborah Allen; Label: DA
–This romping retro-rockabilly rave up is a rollicking audio party, complete with stuttering guitar, piano plunking and non-stop rhythm.

Writers: Karley Scott Collins/Nathan Champan; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Label: Sony
–Her burlap-and-velvet vocal tone is enchanting. The song is a regulation positive love tune, but she makes it sound like something exceptional. Promising. Send more.

57th Annual ACM Awards Nominees: See The Full List

The nominees have been revealed for the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards.

The ACM Awards, hosted by Dolly Parton alongside Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett, will take place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on March 7, and will exclusively stream on Prime Video.

Allen and Barrett announced select nominees this morning (Feb. 10) on the ACM official Twitter account. Both nabbed nominations for the Male and Female Artist of the Year categories, respectively.

Leading the ACM nominees this year is Chris Young with seven nominations including for Album of the Year and Single of the Year. He shares three of his nominations with fellow artist and collaborator Kane Brown for their hit “Famous Friends.”

Miranda Lambert receives a record-tying 16th Female Artist of the Year nomination (tied with Reba McEntire), as well as four other nominations. Walker Hayes, a first-time nominee, also receives five nominations; as does Chris Stapleton, including his fourth nod for Entertainer of the Year and his seventh for Male Artist of the Year.

Jordan Davis, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Carly Pearce, Carrie Underwood, and Morgan Wallen each receive four nominations.

Notably, there are women nominated in every single eligible main awards category this year. Female pulled in 37% of nominations this year, compared to an average of 35% in the past 5 years.

Stapleton, Lambert and Luke Combs are nominees for Entertainer of the Year. A win for either artist in that category will also clinch the coveted Triple Crown Award, which consists of an Entertainer of the Year win, plus wins in an act’s respective New Artist (male, female, or duo or group) and Artist (male, female, duo or group) categories.

Lambert and Kelsea Ballerini both receive nominations as producers for the first time, while Nicolle Galyon receives her first Songwriter of the Year nomination. Galyon has previously been nominated for three ACM Awards, winning two, and is the second woman to be nominated for Songwriter of the Year.

Marking a year of collaborations, all videos nominated for Video of the Year are collaborations for the first time in ACM Awards history.

Overall, this year’s nominations include 31 artists and industry creators receiving their first-ever ACM Awards nominations. Cameron Bartolini, Brandon Bell, Ryan Byrd, Priscilla Block, Alexa Campbell, Jacob Davis, Paul DiGiovanni, Jacob Durrett, Kat Higgins, Walker Hayes, Ryan Hurd, Adam James, Josh Jenkins, Matt Jenkins, Billy Justineau, Viktor Krauss, Blake Lively, Todd Lombardo, Josh Matheny, Jason Nix, Kathy Palmer, Lily Rose, Elvie Shane, Caitlyn Smith, Jonathan Singleton, Wesley Stebbins-Perry, Shane Stevens, James Stratakis, Austin Swift, Joe Thibodeau and Lainey Wilson all receive their first ACM Award nomination.

See the full list of ACM nominees below:

Main Awards:
Entertainer Of The Year
Eric Church
Luke Combs
Miranda Lambert
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood

Female Artist Of The Year
Gabby Barrett
Miranda Lambert
Ashley McBryde
Maren Morris
Carly Pearce

Male Artist Of The Year
Jimmie Allen
Luke Combs
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Morgan Wallen

Duo Of The Year
Brooks & Dunn
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Maddie & Tae

Group Of The Year
Lady A
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
The Cadillac Three

New Female Artist Of The Year 
Tenille Arts
Priscilla Block
Lily Rose
Caitlyn Smith
Lainey Wilson

New Male Artist Of The Year 
Walker Hayes
Ryan Hurd
Parker McCollum
Elvie Shane

Album Of The Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]
29: Written in Stone – Carly Pearce
Producers: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Jimmy Robbins, Tony Brown
Record Company-Label: Big Machine Records

Country Again: Side A – Thomas Rhett
Producers: Dann Huff, Jesse Frasure, Matt Dragstrem
Record Company-Label: Big Machine Label Group

Dangerous: The Double Album – Morgan Wallen
Producer: Joey Moi, Jacob Durrett, Charlie Handsome, Matt Dragstrem, Dave Cohen
Record Company-Label: Big Loud Records / Republic Records

Famous Friends – Chris Young
Producer: Mark Holman, Corey Crowder, Chris Young, Chris DeStefano
Record Company-Label: RCA Records Nashville

The Marfa Tapes – Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall
Producers: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall
Record Company-Label: Vanner Records / RCA Records Nashville

Single Of The Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]
Buy Dirt – Jordan Davis featuring Luke Bryan
Producer: Paul DiGiovanni
Record Company-Label: MCA Nashville

Famous Friends – Chris Young and Kane Brown
Producers: Corey Crowder, Chris Young
Record Company-Label: RCA Records Nashville

Fancy Like – Walker Hayes
Producers: Walker Hayes, Shane McAnally, Joe Thibodeau
Record Company-Label: Monument Records

If I Didn’t Love You – Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood
Producers: Michael Knox
Record Company-Label: Broken Bow Records; Macon Music, LLC; BBR Music Group, BMG

You Should Probably Leave – Chris Stapleton
Producer: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton
Record Company-Label: Mercury Nashville

Song Of The Year [Awarded to Songwriter(s)/Publisher(s)/Artist(s)]
7 Summers – Morgan Wallen
Songwriters: Morgan Wallen, Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally
Publishers: Big Loud Mountain, Bo Wallace Publishing, Smackborne Music, Sony/ATV Accent, Smackstreet Music, Tempo Investments, Warner Geo Met Ric Music

Buy Dirt – Jordan Davis featuring Luke Bryan
Songwriters: Jordan Davis, Jacob Davis, Josh Jenkins, Matt Jenkins
Publishers: Anthem Music Publishing II, Bentprop Pub, Big Blue Nation Music, Combustion Five, Jentown, Jordan Davis Music, Smackwork Music, Smack Blue, Kobalt Music Group Music, Universal Music Corporation, WC Music Corp

Fancy Like – Walker Hayes
Songwriters: Cameron Bartolini, Josh Jenkins, Shane Stevens, Walker Hayes
Publishers: Songs of SMACK, Rarespark Media Group, Smackworks Music, Smack Blue, Kobalt Music Group, Holy Graffiti Music, Purplebeatz, WC Music Corp

Knowing You – Kenny Chesney
Songwriters: Adam James, Brett James, Kat Higgins
Publishers: 3 Ring Circus, BMG Platinum Songs, Pompano Run Music, Songs of Brett, WC Music Corp

Things A Man Oughta Know – Lainey Wilson
Songwriters: Jason Nix, Jonathan Singleton, Lainey Wilson
Publishers: Sony/ATV Accent, Sony/ATV Countryside, Spirit Two Nashville, Super Big Music

Video Of The Year [Awarded to Producer(s)/Director(s)/Artist(s)]
Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home) – Elle King and Miranda Lambert
Producers: Angie Lorenz, Wes Edwards, James Stratakis
Directors: Alexa Kinigopoulos, Stephen Kinigopoulos

Famous Friends – Chris Young and Kane Brown
Producer: Jennifer Ansell
Director: Peter Zavadil

I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift featuring Chris Stapleton
Producers: Jil Hardin, Blake Lively, Kathy Palmer, Austin Swift
Director: Blake Lively

If I Didn’t Love You – Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood
Producers: Christen Pinkston, Wesley Stebbins-Perry
Director: Shaun Silva

Never Wanted To Be That Girl – Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde
Producer: Ryan Byrd
Director: Alexa Campbell

Songwriter Of The Year (Off Camera Award)
Jesse Frasure
Nicolle Galyon
Ashley Gorley
Michael Hardy
Josh Osborne

Music Event Of The Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]
Buy Dirt – Jordan Davis featuring Luke Bryan
Producer: Paul DiGiovanni
Record Company-Label: MCA Nashville

Famous Friends – Chris Young and Kane Brown
Producers: Corey Crowder, Chris Young
Record Company-Label: RCA Records Nashville

half of my hometown – Kelsea Ballerini featuring Kenny Chesney
Producers: Ross Copperman, Jimmy Robbins, Kelsea Ballerini
Record Company-Label: Black River Entertainment

If I Didn’t Love You – Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood
Producer: Michael Knox
Record Company-Label: Broken Bow Records; Macon Music, LLC; BBR Music Group, BMG

Never Wanted To Be That Girl – Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde
Producers: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Record Company-Label: Big Machine Label Group, Warner Music Nashville

The 2021 Industry Awards and Studio Recording Awards will be presented to recipients at Academy of Country Music Honors, a special event held annually in August at the historic Ryman Auditorium. More details to be announced in coming months.

Studio Recording Awards
Bass Player Of The Year
J.T. Cure
Mark Hill
Viktor Krauss
Jimmie Lee Sloas
Glenn Worf

Drummer Of The Year
Chad Cromwell
Fred Eltringham
Evan Hutchings
Derek Mixon
Jerry Roe
Nir Z

Acoustic Guitar Player Of The Year
Dave Cobb
Todd Lombardo
Bryan Sutton
Ilya Toshinskiy
Charlie Worsham

Piano/Keyboards Player Of The Year
David Dorn
Charlie Judge
Billy Justineau
Gordon Mote
Benmont Tench

Specialty Instrument Player Of The Year
Stuart Duncan
Paul Franklin
Josh Matheny
Mickey Raphael
Kristin Wilkinson

Electric Guitar Player Of The Year
Tom Bukovac
Dan Dugmore
Jedd Hughes
Rob McNelley
Derek Wells

Audio Engineer Of The Year
Brandon Bell
Jim Cooley
Gena Johnson
Jason Hall
Vance Powell

Producer Of The Year
Buddy Cannon
Dave Cobb
Ian Fitchuk
Dann Huff
Joey Moi

Industry Awards
Casino Of The Year – Theater
Agua Caliente – Rancho Mirage, CA
Choctaw Casino – Durant, OK
Deadwood Mountain Grand – Deadwood, SD
Resorts World – Las Vegas, NV
Soaring Eagle Casino – Mt. Pleasant, MI

Casino Of The Year – Arena
Hard Rock (Live at Etess Arena) – Atlantic City, NJ
Laughlin Event Center – Laughlin, NV
Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, CT
Mystic Lake Casino – Prior Lake, MN

Festival Of The Year
Carolina Country Music Fest – Myrtle Beach, SC
Country Thunder – Florence, AZ
Faster Horses Festival – Brooklyn, MI
Tortuga Music Festival – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Windy City Smokeout Festival – Chicago, IL

Fair/Rodeo Of The Year
Auburn Rodeo – Auburn, AL
California Mid-State Fair – Paso Robles, CA
Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, WY
Minnesota State Fair – St. Paul, MN
San Antonio Rodeo – San Antonio, TX

Club Of The Year
Basement East – Nashville, TN
Billy Bob’s – Ft. Worth, TX
Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK
Coca-Cola Roxy – Atlanta, GA
Georgia Theatre – Athens, GA

Theater Of The Year
American Music Theatre – Lancaster, PA
Andrew J Brady ICON Music Center – Cincinnati, OH
Blue Gate Performing Arts Center – Shipshewana, IN
Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FL
Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN

Outdoor Venue Of The Year
Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion – Gilford, NH
Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
Saint Augustine Amphitheatre – St. Augustine, FL
The Wharf Amphitheater – Orange Beach, AL
Whitewater Amphitheater – New Braunfels, TX

Arena Of The Year
BOK Center – Tulsa, OK
Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN
Dickies Arena – Ft. Worth, TX
Ford Center – Evansville, IN
Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY

Don Romeo Talent Buyer Of The Year
Brent Fedrizzi
Michelle Romeo
RJ Romeo
Shawn Radley
Todd Boltin

Promoter Of The Year
Aaron Spalding
Adam Weiser
Bradley Jordan
Brian O’Connell
Ed Warm

My Music Row Story: KP Entertainment’s Kerri Edwards

Kerri Edwards. Photo: Angelina Olivia

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.

As the founder and president of management firm KP Entertainment, Kerri Edwards is a key figure in the careers of country stars Luke Bryan and Cole Swindell.

The West Virginia native started her career as an intern while studying at David Lipscomb University in Nashville. Edwards interned at Arista Records, and was eventually brought on to the staff who helped guide the careers of Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Pam Tillis, Diamond Rio and other ’90s country greats.

Edwards later joined EMI Music Publishing, followed by the High Five video production house, and then took a job with producer Mark Bright, before landing at Murrah Music. That’s where she met Luke Bryan, a staff writer at the time, and would start working with him to help further his career.

Now a decade into management, Edwards is the ultimate insider, involved in the touring, publishing, branding and business decisions for some of the genre’s most-sought-after performers. She spoke with MusicRow about her journey to the top, and the special moments along the way.

Pictured (L-R): Former Arista Records head Tim DuBois, Kerri Edwards. Photo: Courtesy KP Entertainment

MusicRow: You started your career at Arista Records. Tell me about those days.

Arista then was ran by Tim DuBois and it was a smaller label. What was awesome about that was you learned a ton of stuff because you heard everything that was going on—whether it was somebody calling a radio station or the mail room guy getting the stuff that was shipping out for somebody’s next single, you just overheard everything. I interned there probably a year and a half and then graduated and they found a job for me there as an A&R assistant.

I have never been in an environment like that. We were so tight. I don’t know that it would ever be repeated, to be honest. It was just a great era.

After Arista merged into RCA, you went into publishing where you met Luke Bryan. How did your relationship start?

It felt natural for A&R to switch sides to publishing, so I stayed in publishing probably seven years or so. During that seven year period, I met Luke at [Murrah Music], the company where he had just gotten signed to his first publishing deal. I really wasn’t trying to get into management at all, I was just trying to help him find his way in town and figure out how to help him eventually get a deal. I was still pitching songs and working with the other writers.

I went and saw him do a show in Georgia and was truly shocked. I think I’d focused so much on writing and the books and all that, I just wasn’t expecting what I saw on stage. Looking back, he was still obviously very green, but he just had this thing about him.

But even at that point I wasn’t trying to be his manager, I really was just trying to help him. I started calling in favors from writers, begging them to write with this guy. That’s how that started and then we just kept working together. I introduced him to Jeff Stevens, who ended up being his producer. Then we got in with Larry Willoughby, who at the time was an A&R at Capitol. Larry [suggested to Jeff for Luke to keep singing demos]. That’s how all the pieces started falling together.

Pictured (L-R): Kerri Edwards, Luke Bryan. Photo: Courtesy KP Entertainment

What pushed you into officially becoming Luke’s manager?

Three or four years later, [Mike] Dungan had agreed to sign him. So I took him around to manager meetings, I thought that’s the next step you do, right?

While we were doing that, he had asked me a few times, “Why don’t you just do it?” I was like, “No, I don’t know how to do that. I’ve never done that nor do I think I want to do that.” But then I thought, if I don’t do this, I wouldn’t be working with him anymore—and that kept haunting me. I called Mike Dungan and said, “Luke keeps asking me to do this, but I won’t do it without your blessing. You’re taking a risk on him and I do not want to walk in and you be in a panic that now he has a brand new manager.” So we talked it out and he graciously gave me the nod. Then I just started trying to stay above water.

When did you feel comfortable in your new role as a manager?

I guess when I truly took a breath was with “Do I.” That felt like a big moment for [Luke]. And then “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” felt really different.

Truthfully, there’s still always a weight in this business no matter what level you’re at. It’s just a different kind of weight. So it’s not like I felt like we had made it, not at all. But I felt like I could breathe for a second at that moment.

Pictured (L-R): Waylon Weatherholt (KPE), John Esposito (WMN), Cole Swindell, Kerri Edwards (KPE), Michael Monaco (FlyHi Films), Jacoby Plyler (KPE), Luke Bryan, Caroline Bryan. Photo: Courtesy KP Entertainment

After Luke became established, you added Cole Swindell as a management client, who had worked for Luke for years selling merch. What made you decide to take him on?

He obviously didn’t want to sell merch for the rest of his life. His dream was to start writing songs, so Luke and I tried to help him get a publishing deal. Once that happened…when I say workhorse, that guy started writing and writing. To this day, he is probably one of my favorite writers.

One day he calls and he’s like, “Where are you?” I was like, “I’m in the office.” He goes, “Can I play you a song?” So he comes by and he had “Chillin’ It.”

He was pacing. In that moment, with someone staring you down, listening to your song [he was nervous]. I turned it off and he’s like, “Okay, well I probably just got excited.” I just looked over and said, “Cole, do you really want to do this artist thing? Then that’s it.” He was like, “Oh God, I thought you hated it!” (laughs)

Now KP Entertainment has grown to include Dylan Scott, Jon Langston, CB30, DJ Rock and Whitney Duncan. How did you build your team?

I had teamed up with Red Light and Coran [Capshaw] on Luke early on. I still had a standalone office, but I didn’t really have that many employees. I was still doing most of it by myself. Then Waylon Weatherholt came on the team from Capitol Records. He’s been with me 12 years now, but it was he and I forever. It was just so busy, I couldn’t stop to even realize I needed more people. But once I did start hiring a few people, it was obviously life changing. I have great people here. They’re so awesome.

When do you feel most fulfilled in your role?

I truly still pinch myself that I get to work in music every day. I really do love it. The minute that I walked in that Arista door, not even understanding what I was about to get into, I’ve never not felt that. Luckily that feeling has truly stayed this whole time.

Pictured (L-R): DJ Rock, Waylon Weatherholt (KPE), Kerri Edwards (KPE), Dylan Scott, Jacoby Plyler (KPE), Dustin Eichten (KPE). Photo: Courtesy KP Entertainment

What’s something that people may not know about you?

I still do publishing stuff. I’m not in it every single day, because I can’t be, but I love it. It’s not something I’ve hung a separate sign for, but we have seven writers under our umbrella and it’s still something I’m super passionate about.

If someone says “old school Music Row,” what do you think of?

I just go to community. We’re competitive, but we would kill for each other. Even our artists do that with each other. They’re competitive, they don’t want to lose to the other one, but they also are truly great friends. I think that is a special thing in the country music industry.

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

I go back to something my parents have said about finding that thing that makes you happy. I do truly feel like I was blessed to find that and fulfill it. I surround myself with artists that I’m super proud to represent. Not to sound cheesy, but I really do feel like I have the best staff. It’s all mind blowing some days with some of the things that they have accomplished with our clients. I guess it’s just surrounding yourself with the people that keep you going and bring out the good in you.

Charlie Cook Signs Long-Term Extension With Cumulus Media

Charlie Cook

Cumulus Media has signed a long-term contract extension with Charlie Cook, its Vice President of Country Music.

The extension includes Cook’s role with Cumulus Nashville as Programming Operations Manager for Cumulus Nashville’s five-station cluster and as the Program Director for both 95.5 Nash Icon (WSM-FM) and 103.3 Country (WKDF).

Brian Philips, Executive Vice President, Content and Audience, Cumulus Media, shares, “Charlie Cook is a warrior who lives to lead our powerful Nashville stations, the Cumulus country stations and the Nashville music industry. He’s a legendary programmer who serves as a wise teacher and mentor to many at Cumulus.”

“It is always our goal that through our Program Directors and their leadership we bring thoughtful, engaging, and entertaining audio content and music to our audiences. In Charlie, we have a talented and well-respected leader that is driven to harness the very best of what Cumulus and country music has to offer. He has a wealth of radio experience and has built an impressive track record of accomplishments,” adds Vice President/Market Manager, Cumulus Nashville, Allison Warren.

“I have had the pleasure to work as part of, and alongside, our local management team and corporate programming team, and as I continue in this role, I will do my best to help Cumulus innovate, and reach its next phase of growth,” says Cook, a Country Radio Hall of Fame inductee. “It is an exciting time to be a part of the business and realize some of the significant opportunities out there as we continue to grow our audio capabilities.”

AmericanaFest To Return To Music City In September

AmericanaFest 2022, the Americana Music Association’s marquee festival and conference, will return to Nashville from Sept. 13 – 17.

This year, AmericanaFest will take place over five days in multiple premier venues throughout Music City. The first three days will consist of music business panels as part of its conference at The Westin Nashville. There will also be four nights of music discovery showcases and a variety of daytime special events hosted by friends and supporters of AmericanaFest all week long.

AmericanaFest. Photo: Nathan Zucker

The Americana Music Association’s Americana Honors & Awards ceremony will once again serve as the hallmark event of the week. The roots music community’s brightest musicians will be celebrated on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Tickets for the show will go on sale at a later date.

There will be many types of passes available for those wanting to attend AmericanaFest. For attendees wanting the full experience with access to panels, showcases and all special events, Conference + Festival Passes are recommended. For music fans interested in the nighttime showcases and select special events, Festival Passes are also available.

Passes for the 2022 festival will go on sale this Friday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. CT at americanafest.com.

Artists interested in showcasing at this year’s festival can apply online beginning Feb. 15. The first programming announcement for AmericanaFest 2022 will be revealed in late summer.

Jimmie Allen, Gabby Barrett To Co-Host 2022 ACM Awards Alongside Dolly Parton

ACM award-winning country artists Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett will join Dolly Parton to co-host the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards.

Allen is a 2x ACM-nominated artist and the reigning New Male Artist of the Year. A multi-Platinum recording artist and songwriter, Allen is currently nominated for Best New Artist at the 64th annual Grammy Awards, marking his first ever Grammy nomination and the only country nominee in an all-genre category. He made history as the first Black artist to launch a career with two consecutive No. 1 hits off his 2018 debut album, Mercury Lane–his RIAA 2x Platinum debut single “Best Shot,” which claimed the No. 1 spot on country radio for three weeks, and Platinum-certified “Make Me Want To.”

Barrett is a three-time ACM-nominated artist and the reigning New Female Artist of the Year. A multi-Platinum vocalist, she has amassed nearly 2 billion global streams to her credit. She broke out with her massive 5x Platinum hit, “I Hope,” which was the most-streamed country song of 2020 and earned the iHeartRadio Titanium Award for reaching over 1 billion radio spins, and Platinum three-week No. 1 “The Good Ones.”

“The Academy has a long history of highlighting the biggest stars in country music alongside today’s rising stars, and this year that will spotlight even further,” says Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “Reigning ACM New Male Artist of the Year winner Jimmie Allen and reigning ACM New Female Artist of the Year Gabby Barrett will co-host the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards side-by-side with Dolly Parton, pairing two of today’s most exciting new artists in the genre with one of the world’s most beloved music icons.”

In addition to joining Parton as co-hosts for the live show, airing exclusively on Prime Video on March 7, the pair will also unveil select nominations for the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards on the @ACMawards Twitter account. Select nominees will be announced this Thursday, Feb. 10 beginning at 9:30 a.m. CT.

The 57th Academy of Country Music Awards will stream live without commercial interruption on Prime Video Monday, March 7 at 7 p.m. CT from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Austin Neal Launches The Neal Agency With Morgan Wallen, Chase Rice, More On Roster

Austin Neal, Founder of The Neal Agency. Photo: Tanner Gallagher

Austin Neal, a third generation country music booking agent and artist advocate, has launched The Neal Agency.

Designed to be a smaller, more artist-focused organization, the eight-act company aims to create touring plans that embody and build upon each artist’s individuality. Neal’s initial roster includes Morgan Wallen, Chase Rice, Hardy, Ashland Craft, Ernest, Riley Green, John Morgan, and Seaforth.

“I hope to have an agency that’s reflective of the kinds of relationships with my artists that I have with the people I’m starting this agency with,” shares Neal. “I truly care about each person and the vision of what that artist wants to build. Beyond long careers and relationships, it’s a way to make a community of people through touring.”

Neal’s background includes time in management, working with both Big & Rich and Bruce Kalmick while at Triple 8. He returned to the agency business at his father Kevin Neal’s urging. The third generation agent is also following in the footsteps of his grandfather Bob, who managed Elvis and then opened the original Neal Agency in Nashville in the mid-60s after stints in Memphis and California booking Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Sonny James and Jerry Lee Lewis.

“My father grew up in this business with his father,” adds Neal. “He learned not just how to make deals, set up tours and build careers, but a wonderful sense of ethics and how to spot real talent. He did that with Jason, FGL and Morgan, and carried on the family tradition.

“My grandfather, who was a disc jockey, concert promoter and owned a record store understood recognizing talent, then helping the artists realize their potential. He brought people together, and that’s something I hope the new Neal Agency will do, too.”

The Neal Agency is located in the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood in Nashville.

Reservoir Acquires Buddy Cannon’s Producer Catalog

Buddy Cannon

Reservoir Media, Inc. has acquired the producer catalog of Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Buddy Cannon.

The deal includes rights to all of Cannon’s Kenny Chesney collaborations from 1997’s I Will Stand through 2017’s Live In No Shoes Nation. Reservoir’s deal with Cannon does not include his SoundExchange royalties.

Cannon, a decorated songwriter, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021. He was named the Academy of Country Music’s Producer of the Year in 2006, and also received the CMA Song of the Year for George Strait’s “Give It Away.” Cannon has also collaborated with other country music giants, including Willie Nelson, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Reba McEntire.

Cannon’s collaborative relationship with Chesney spans more than 20 years, with the music they created accumulating over three billion streams, 31 million album sales, and 36 million track sales. Among the most successful titles Cannon contributed to are 2x Platinum “American Kids,” two-time Grammy-nominated and Platinum-certified “You and Tequila” featuring Grace Potter, and Platinum-certified “When the Sun Goes Down,” as well as recordings across 18 Gold-or-higher certified albums by the country music superstar.

This news comes on the heels of Chesney selling one of his catalogs to Hipgnosis Song Management.

“I have worked very hard with Kenny for the past 25 plus years to make the best music possible and with the help of all the publishers and songwriters who have given us their very best songs we have managed to stay consistently around the top of the charts for a very long time,” shares Cannon. “When I was presented with this offer from Reservoir it seemed like it was the right thing to do and the right time for me to turn over my portion of future Kenny Chesney royalties to them. And now it’s time to make some more records and I promise to continue making the best music that I can make from here on down the road.”

Reservoir Executive Vice President of Creative, John Ozier, adds, “Buddy has created some of country music’s biggest tracks for over two decades. We are honored to be entrusted with rights to his phenomenal legacy and are excited to continue expanding our country catalog with these fantastic songs.”

Cody Johnson Skyrockets On MusicRow Radio Chart

Cody Johnson’s “’Til You Can’t” bolts from No. 4 to No. 1 this week on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart. Matt Rogers penned the single with Ben Stennis, and it appears on Johnson’s sophomore effort Human The Double Album which contains songs originally rejected by other Nashville artists for what Johnson considers being “too country for country.”

“It’s so hard to watch the fight to get the cowboy back on the radio, so I told them to bring those songs to me because that’s who I am and the lifestyle I live,” Johnson shares. “There was too much good out there to let go of, so I just said, ‘We’re going to cut all of them.’ There are ones I wrote on, there are ones I didn’t write on, and there are ones that I wish I’d written.”

In addition to the release of Human, Johnson also released a Christmas album in 2021 and made his silver screen debut with his autobiographical documentary, Dear Rodeo: The Cody Johnson Story.

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

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Eddie Montgomery, Tanya Tucker Lead Week Full Of Strong Releases

Eddie Montgomery. Photo: Michael Gomez

Today, we shower country record makers with a plethora of praises.

The award for Best Drinking Song goes to Adam Doleac. The honor for Best Comeback belongs to Pat Green. The Best Performance By a Superstar salute goes to Kenny Chesney. Best Production is Caitlyn Smith. Best Song is Tom Douglas. Elvie Shane gets the Best Rocker prize. Rayne Johnson wins the Best Topical Record award.

Returning to our traditional DISClaimer honors, the Disc of the Day goes to Eddie Montgomery & Tanya Tucker for their fiery duet. Happy listening.

Writers: Caitlyn Smith/Miley Cyrus/Jennifer Erin Decilveo; Producer: Caitlyn Smith; Label: Monument
–Her earth-shaking vocal performance is backed by booming percussion, dancing fiddle and a celestial choir. Originally recorded by Miley on her Plastic Hearts CD, Smith reclaims the song by self-producing this whisper-to-scream epic. The definition of power ballad, this single confirms the widely admired songwriter’s status as a first-rate record maker. This gal has the goods in every department.

Writers: Morgan Wade/Sadler Vaden; Producer: Sadler Vaden; Label: Sony
–A repeated guitar figure and steady-state percussion hypnotize you. Then she lays on the drama of escaping from a bad relationship and finding freedom. Her hurtin’ vocal is an emotional bullseye. I remain a fan.

ELVIE SHANE / “County Roads”
Writers: Dan Couch/Elvie Shane/Oscar Charles; Producer: Oscar Charles; Label: Wheelhouse/BBR
–Elvie bites off a piece of snarling country rock, chews it well and sends it south. It’s about growing up wild and restless, learning about life and love on the streets. The pounding track will have you pumping your fist in the air, and his vocal performance will have you shouting, “Amen!” If this ain’t a smash, there’s no justice.

Writers: Jim “Moose” Brown/David Wade/Shane Grove/Erik Michael Westfall; Producers: Noah Gordon/Shannon Houchins; Label: Average Joes
–These two strike twin vocal matches and burn this duet to the ground. It sounds like neither one held anything back as they created this romantic inferno. Fierce and forceful from start to finish. Applause, applause, applause.

RAYNE JOHNSON / “Who-Dey Nation”
Writers: Eliot Sloan/Joe Jordan/Ronnie Vaughn/Kevin Fox/Michael Star/Greg Jackson; Producers: Mark Liggett/Jerry Lane/Ronnie Vaughn; Label: Mountain Road/Verge
–It’s official: The Bengals now have a bona fide anthem. It’s a smashing, crashing fusion of rock guitars, hip-hop beats and hillbilly sass. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I know where my heart is gonna be on Super Bowl Sunday. Rock on, Rayne.

BRANTLEY GILBERT / “How to Talk to Girls”
Writers: Brantley Gilbert/Brock Berryhill/Brian Wayne Davis/Brandon Day/Chase McGill/Josh Phillips/Michael Ray/Taylor Phillips; Producers: Brock Berryhill/Brantley Gilbert; Label: Valory
–Very nice. This artist has always excelled at the softer ballads, and this one is a pip. He knows how to ask for dates and how to use a good bar pick-up line. But when it comes down to the serious moment of asking her to be his bride, he’s tongue tied. And when it comes to talking to his daughter, he’s at a loss for words.

PAT GREEN / “Miles and Miles of You”
Writers: Jon Randall/John Scott Sherrill; Producer: Dwight A. Baker; Label: Empire
–Finally! This million-selling Texas fave hasn’t issued a new collection since 2015. Here’s the title tune of his comeback album, a gorgeous romantic ballad with wave-on-wave of echoey atmosphere and liquid ripples of mandolin. A welcome return.

KENNY CHESNEY / “Everyone She Knows”
Writers: Shane McAnally/Ross Copperman/Josh Osborne; Producers: Kenny Chesney/Ross Copperman; Label: Warner
–A steady thump and ringing guitars lead you into this toe-tapping ode of female independence. “She’s stuck between being 17 and everyone she knows.” This gal wants nothing to do with marriage, babies, sobriety and settling down. She enjoys the freedom of being single on Saturday night, even though the boys bore her and the men are too old. A portrait of a character you’re bound to love, sung by a master storyteller.

ADAM DOLEAC / “Drinkin’ It Wrong”
Writers: Adam Doleac/Cary Barlowe/Jordan Schmidt; Producer: Jordan Schmidt; Label: Arista
–This is a boatload of fun. The rump-shaking percussion and scampering banjo let you know you’re in for a good time on this rollicking rocker. If you’re still thinking about your worries and your work, you’re drinkin’ it wrong sez this hearty-sounding merry maker. The party anthem is a delightful change of pace for the newcomer.

IAN MUNSICK & CODY JOHNSON / “Long Live Cowgirls”
Writers: Ian Munsick/Aby Guitierrez/Phil O’Donnell; Producers: Ian Munsick/Jared Conrad; Label: Warner
–It’s a slow waltz with weaving fiddles and a languid mood. The singers swap verses in praise of the brave ladies of the west. Gently persuasive.

TOM DOUGLAS / “Van Gogh”
Writers: Tom Douglas/Allen Shamblin; Producers: Andy Skib/Alyson McAnally; Label: Monument
–This track teases a documentary titled Love, Tom that will start streaming on Paramount+ on Feb. 24. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member is joined on its soundtrack album by some of the folks who have made his works come to life (Miranda, Tim, Collin, Lady A, Chris Janson). But he’s singing solo here. Accompanied by sighing harmonica, he advises courage in the face of adversity. When you pour your heart into your work and they reject you, persevere. Soul piercing, touching and true.