Florida Georgia Line Cancels ‘I Love My Country 2021 Tour’ Due To COVID-19

Florida Georgia Line. Photo: John Shearer

Out of an abundance of caution, Florida Georgia Line announced today (Aug. 20) the cancellation of their “I Love My Country Tour 2021” due to COVID-19.

“There is nothing better than seeing all of your faces from the stage, feeling your good energy, and making memories together,” shares FGL’s Tyler Hubbard. “We were hopeful we could get back on the road this fall, and are so bummed to have to cancel this tour, but we know in our hearts that we still have to make sure we’re keeping our fans and crew safe. It’s unfortunate that we have to cancel but we hope y’all understand. We love our fans and can’t wait to be back out when the time is right.”

“Although we’ve been able to see some of y’all at shows recently, everyone’s continued safety has been weighing heavy on us,” adds FGL’s Brian Kelley. “To our fans, band, crew, and all of the venues around the country, thank you for your love and support! We couldn’t do what we do without you, and we hope we can all do our part to bring live music back soon.”

Presented by Old Camp and sponsored by T-Mobile, the anticipated 29-stop trek featuring Russell Dickerson as direct support, plus openers Lauren Alaina and Redferrin, was due to launch at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept. 24, and run through Nov. 20 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington.

For all current ticket holders, no action is required. All refunds will be issued to the original method of payment used at time of purchase.

Priscilla Block Earns First No. 1 On MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart

In a tight race to No. 1 this week, Priscilla Block makes her debut at the top of the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart edging out Lainey Wilson by two spins and Jameson Rodgers by five spins.

“Just About Over You” was written by Block, Emily Kroll, and Sarah Jones. It appears on her debut self-titled EP released earlier this year via Mercury Nashville.

“This EP is such a vulnerable side of who I am and where I’ve been,” says Block. “It’s my story of falling apart in order to find myself again. I hope that when you hear these songs, they make you feel that it’s ok to not be perfect and realize that sometimes we need the lows to value the highs… And once you regain that confidence… Let it show baby!”

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

33rd Annual MusicRow Awards Winners

MusicRow Magazine revealed the winners of the 33rd annual MusicRow Awards in a series of videos on all MusicRow online platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, today (Aug. 19).

Presenting Sponsor of the 2021 MusicRow Awards is City National Bank. All the MusicRow Award nominees are profiled in the recently released MusicRow Awards print issue.

MusicRow Magazine Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson, and respected television host, entertainment journalist, writer and producer, Alecia Davis serve once again as “hosts” on each winner video.

The winners for the 33rd annual MusicRow Awards are (winners marked in red):

Producer of the Year [VIDEO]
Dave Cobb
Ross Copperman
Corey Crowder
Dann Huff
Jay Joyce
Joey Moi

Label Group of the Year [VIDEO]
BBR Music Group
Big Loud Records
Big Machine Label Group
Sony Music Nashville
UMG Nashville
Warner Music Nashville

Talent Agency of the Year [VIDEO]
Kinkead Entertainment Agency
Reliant Talent Agency
United Talent Agency
Wasserman Music

Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year [VIDEO]
Matt Alderman
Benjy Davis
Nicolette Hayford
Joey Hyde
Dan Isbell
Greylan James
Alex Kline
Chris La Corte
Emily Landis
Michael Lotten
James McNair
Neil Medley
Jordan Minton
Jake Mitchell
Anna Moon
Joshua Murty
Mitch Oglesby
Matt Roy
Mark Trussell
Dallas Wilson

Breakthrough Artist-Writer of the Year [VIDEO]
Tenille Arts
Ben Johnson (Track45)
Chris Lane
Ashley McBryde
Parker McCollum
Ernest K. Smith

Male Songwriter of the Year [VIDEO]
Ross Copperman
Jesse Frasure
Ashley Gorley
Randy Montana
Josh Osborne
Josh Thompson

Female Songwriter of the Year [VIDEO]
Allison Veltz Cruz
Nicolle Galyon
Natalie Hemby
Alex Kline
Emily Landis
Hillary Lindsey
Parker Welling

Song of the Year [VIDEO]
“Black Like Me” — Songwriter(s): Mickey Guyton, Nathan Chapman, Emma Davidson-Dillon, Fraser Churchill
“Give Heaven Some Hell” — Songwriter(s): Michael Hardy, Hunter Phelps, Ben Johnson, Ashley Gorley
“Half Of My Hometown” — Songwriter(s): Kelsea Ballerini, Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman, Jimmy Robbins, Nicolle Galyon
“Hell Of A View” — Songwriter(s): Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell
“My Boy” — Songwriter(s): Elvie Shane, Lee Starr, Nick Columbia, Russell Sutton
“Next Girl” — Songwriter(s): Carly Pearce, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne

Discovery Artist of the Year [VIDEO]
Priscilla Block
Tyler Braden
Ian Munsick
Drew Parker
Lily Rose
Lainey Wilson

Breakthrough Artist of the Year [VIDEO]
Tenille Arts
Mickey Guyton
Parker McCollum
Niko Moon
Jameson Rodgers

Artist of the Year [VIDEO]
Luke Bryan
Luke Combs
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton

MusicRow also honors the Top 10 Album All-Star Musicians at the 2021 MusicRow Awards, recognizing the studio players who performed on the most albums reaching the Top 10 of Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart during the eligibility period. The honorees are:

Jimmie Lee Sloas

Jerry Roe

Justin Niebank

Stuart Duncan

Ilya Toshinskiy

Dave Cohen

Paul Franklin

Russell Terrell

Garth Brooks Cancels Next Five Shows On Stadium Tour Due To Threat Of COVID-19

Garth Brooks at a press conference on Friday (July 30). Photo: Sherod Robertson

After announcing that he will be reassessing the remainder of his stadium tour due to the most recent onslaught of COVID-19, Garth Brooks has shared the news that he will be cancelling his next five dates as well as refunding the approximately 350,000 tickets sold.

The five concert locations being cancelled are Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, scheduled for Sept. 18, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, scheduled for Sept. 25, M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, scheduled for Oct. 2, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, scheduled for Oct 9, and Nissan Stadium in Nashville which has not yet been rescheduled.

“In July, I sincerely thought the pandemic was falling behind us. Now, watching this new wave, I realize we are still in the fight and I must do my part,” Brooks shares. “I have asked the wonderful cities of Cincinnati and Charlotte to wait too long and I don’t want to now do that same thing to the great folks in Boston and Baltimore. As far as Nashville, we are looking for a makeup date from the July rain out and though this is not COVID related, to make them wait makes me sad, as well. So, it is with a heavy heart we announce the decision to cancel all five shows but with a hopeful heart, we will reschedule and start over when this wave seems to be behind us.

“The joy I have seen in everyone’s faces as live music returns has been more than worth our constant diligence to maintain safety protocols not only for the fans, but for our band, the crew and the hardworking staff in these stadiums. Their dedication to safety for the people who fill those seats has been a miracle to watch and a blessing to receive. I am truly grateful,” he continues. “I’m sincerely hoping we are back on tour before the year’s end. With that said, the most important thing to me is fulfilling my end of the Stadium Tour by making sure every show is doable before putting tickets on sale (that is why we pulled the Seattle on sale) and making sure the environment these people are trading their time and money to put themselves into is not only the best experience ever, but also the safest one we can provide.”

A spokesperson for the tour said the team will continue to monitor the virus’ impact and watch how schools, sports, and other entertainment entities are handling this stage of the pandemic.

No action from ticket holders is required to obtain a refund. Ticketmaster will issue a refund to the original method of payment used at time of purchase.

Stephen Wilson Jr. Signs With River House Artists For Management, UTA For Representation

Pictured (L-R): UTA’s Brett Saliba, River House Artists’ Alicia Jones, Stephen Wilson Jr., UTA’s Lance Roberts. Photo: Jake Moore

Singer-songwriter Stephen Wilson Jr. has signed with River House Artists for management and UTA for representation.

An accomplished songwriter and rising artist, Wilson Jr. has secured cuts with Caitlyn Smith and Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne and Tim McGraw, among others. The Indiana native and BMG Nashville songwriter was recently featured on the single “Made For This” in collaboration with his wife Leigh Nash (Sixpence None The Richer). Wilson Jr. also released two singles in 2020, including “Year To Be Young 1994” and “The Beginning.”

“I have been following Stephen and his incredible songwriting and artistry for some time,” shares Alicia Jones, manager, River House Artists. “He is truly one of the most talented people I’ve ever met and to get the chance to be part of his career is a dream come true.”

“We are beyond excited to get to work with such a prolific writer and artist. I just happened to be watching CMT one afternoon and ‘Year to Be Young 1994’ was on their countdown. I immediately started searching to find out more,” adds Lance Roberts, agent, Nashville Music Leadership, UTA. “Fast forward 12 months and here we are joining the remarkable team he’s built with BMG and River House.”

In 2020, Wilson Jr. served as a co-writer on the title track for Trace Adkins’ EP Ain’t That Kinda Cowboy. Recently in the studio with producer Ben West, Wilson Jr. plans to release new music by the end of the year and will join Brothers Osborne on a European tour in 2022.

“I’m so happy to have found a management home at River House as well as adding an agency like UTA to be part of my team. As a former boxer and fan of the sport, I understand the importance of having the right people in my corner,” shares Wilson Jr. “I am thrilled and honored to be part of the River House and UTA organizations who both bring a unique and exciting set of talents.”

Jonathan Singleton Makes Top Five On MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

Jonathan Singleton moves up into the top five on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart this week, moving into the fourth position. Singleton co-wrote Lainey Wilson’s “Things A Man Oughta Know,” Luke Combs’ “Cold as You,” and Zac Brown Band’s “Same Boat.”

Ashley Gorley stays at No. 1 for the fifth consecutive week with “Good Things” (Dan + Shay), “Country Again” (Thomas Rhett), “Give Heaven Some Hell” (Hardy), “Sand In My Boots” (Morgan Wallen), “Single Saturday Night” (Cole Swindell), “You Should Probably Leave” (Chris Stapleton), and “Beers On Me” (Dierks Bentley, Hardy & Breland).

The weekly MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart uses algorithms based upon song activity according to airplay, digital download track sales and streams. This unique and exclusive addition to the MusicRow portfolio is the only songwriter chart of its kind.

Click here to view the full MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart.

BREAKING: The Judds, Ray Charles, Eddie Bayers, Pete Drake To Be Inducted Into Country Music Hall Of Fame

The Judds, Ray Charles, Eddie Bayers, and Pete Drake will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was announced this morning (Monday, Aug. 16) via a virtual press conference. Hall of Famer Reba McEntire announced the honorees.

Five-time Grammy, nine-time CMA and seven-time ACM Award-winning iconic duo, The Judds were announced as the inductees in the Modern Era Artist category.

“When we moved to Nashville in the late 70s, still struggling to make ends meet and dressing Wy and Ashley in thrift store dresses, I could’ve never imagined the success we achieved as The Judds,” says Naomi Judd. “I am beyond thrilled and humbled for this incredible recognition. There’s no greater pinnacle in country music than the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

“This moment takes me back to 1983 when Mom and I first started,” says Wynonna Judd. “We would get in the car and visit multiple radio stations a day. It kind of feels like I’ve hit the lottery. It is so surreal. John Lennon always said that he just wanted to be remembered, and now we’re truly part of history, or I should say HERstory. What an honor.”

R&B, pop, and country icon Ray Charles was selected to be inducted in the Veteran Era Artist category.

“I’d like to thank everyone who voted to induct Ray Charles into the Country Music Hall of Fame,” says Valerie Ervin, Ray Charles Foundation President. “Needless to say, Ray Charles loved country music. As a matter of fact, he risked a lot in 1962 when he decided to record Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. I cannot express enough how happy and honored Ray Charles would be at this moment in time, as I am for him. Congratulations to all the fellow inductees and as Ray Charles would say, ‘That is so nice.’”

Eddie Bayers was selected for the honor in the Recording or Touring Musician category. Bayers is the first drummer inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“My heartfelt thanks to those who voted for me,” says Bayers. “I’ve been blessed to be a recording musician for 58 years, and it continues. I’ve been in the Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Band for 18 years, and it continues. I’ve been in the Opry Band for 18 years, and it continues. Now I’m blessed to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which will be everlasting.”

There was a tie in the Recording or Touring Musician category, and the late steel guitar player Pete Drake was also selected. Drake is the first pedal steel player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as well.

“I am so happy for Pete to receive this well-deserved honor,” says Drake’s widow, Rose Drake, on behalf of the family. “We are deeply touched and honored for the great recognition of this unique and talented icon that enriched so many illustrious recordings with his special steel guitar tone and sound that distinguished itself, in hundreds of successful recordings.”

A formal induction ceremony for Bayers, Charles, Drake and The Judds will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater at a to-be-determined date. The induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which includes Dean Dillon, Marty Stuart and Hank Williams Jr., is scheduled for this November, pending public health guidance and the state of the pandemic. Since 2007, the Museum’s Medallion Ceremony, a reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, has served as the official rite of induction for new members.

“The works of this year’s inductees span crucial timestamps of country music history,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “This impressive career landmark is the pinnacle of accomplishment in country music and I’m so proud to see Eddie, Ray, Pete, Naomi and Wynonna getting their much-deserved plaques on the wall of the Rotunda. Today’s fans and generations to come will forever be reminded of the distinct impact each made on this genre.”

“These people saw through artificial divisions, moved beyond rigid stylistic restrictions, and connected with worldwide audiences,” says Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Chief Executive Officer. “In revealing their individuality, they taught us about commonality. Lately, we’ve lived through a time of division and a time of isolation. But in the music of these greats, we find connection and inclusion.”

Bios for each inductee are below:

Modern Era Artist – The Judds
Country music has a long history of family ties, and the genre has never had another family like The Judds. One of the most successful duos in country music history, mother Naomi and daughter Wynonna scored 20 Top 10 hits, including 14 No. 1s, between 1984 and 1991. Those recordings —“Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘bout the Good Old Days)” among them —stood out not only because of Wynonna’s disarming voice and Naomi’s unique approach to harmonies but also for their way of combining folk, bluegrass and blues into a sound like nothing else at the time.

The Judds. Photo: Kristin Barlowe

Naomi — born Diana Ellen Judd on January 11, 1946 — grew up in Ashland, KY, the daughter of a filling-station owner and his wife. She married as a teenager and had two daughters, Christina and Ashley Ciminella. Following a move to California and a divorce, Diana raised her daughters in California. As part of a fresh start, all three took Diana’s maiden name. Diana and her older daughter changed their first names, as well. Diana became Naomi, a biblical figure she admired, and Christina became Wynonna, using an adapted spelling of Winona, the northern Arizona town mentioned in the song “Route 66.”

Naomi financed the family’s move to Nashville by renting her restored 1957 Chevrolet — the same she’d drive from California to Tennessee — for use in “More American Graffiti” and by securing roles for her and Wynonna in the film. They made the move in 1979, and Naomi took a job as a nurse at Williamson County Medical Center. In early 1980, she and a 15-year-old Wynonna began appearing in the early mornings on WSM-TV’s The Ralph Emery Show. Emery dubbed them the “Soap Sisters” after Naomi told him she made her own lye soap.

Their break came via a chance encounter with Nashville producer Brent Maher, whose teenage daughter — a schoolmate of Wynonna’s — was injured in a car accident. Maher had seen the Soap Sisters’ television performances and recognized Naomi, one of his daughter’s nurses. When Maher’s daughter was dismissed from the hospital, Naomi gave Maher a tape she and Wynonna had made on a portable tape recorder in their kitchen. Maher began working with the two singers and, following a live audition in the offices of RCA Records’ Nashville office, they secured a recording deal with RCA Records/Curb Records.

The Judds made their debut in late 1983 with “Had a Dream (For the Heart),” a B-side for Elvis Presley seven years before. It began with a simple guitar strum, followed by a line of a cappella vocal from Wynonna. The record only cracked the Top 20, but the record’s less-is-more approach made the necessary impression. The follow-up, “Mama He’s Crazy,” went straight to No. 1, immediately making The Judds country music’s most successful mother-daughter act since Mother Maybelle Carter and the Carter Sisters. “Mama He’s Crazy” was the first of eight straight chart-toppers for the duo and earned Naomi and Wynonna their first of five Grammy Awards.

On the strength of “Mama He’s Crazy” and the six-song Wynonna & Naomi  EP, The Judds won the Horizon Award at the 1984 CMA Awards ceremony (where Naomi famously began her acceptance speech by exclaiming, “Slap the dog and spit in the fire!”). They released their first full-length album, Why Not Me, the following week.

The Judds went on to win nine CMA Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music, dominating both organizations’ vocal duo categories through the 1980s. In 1986, The Judds received their first of three CMA Awards nominations for Entertainer of the Year, making 22-year-old Wynonna the youngest person ever to be nominated for the honor. She held that distinction for more than 20 years.

Between 1984 and 1991, The Judds released six studio albums and an EP, their stripped-back style helping revive the popularity of acoustic sounds in country music and opening up the genre for more traditional approaches.

In October 1990, Naomi announced her retirement from performing due to chronic hepatitis. That retirement would come after the 124-date Love Can Build a Bridge Farewell Tour, which wrapped December 4, 1991, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. They have occasionally reunited since then, notably for the 1994 Super Bowl halftime show, a 2000 reunion tour, a 2008 performance at the Stagecoach Festival and the Last Encore Tour in 2010-2011.

Following the Love Can Build a Bridge Farewell Tour, Naomi and Wynonna pursued separate career paths. Wynonna launched a solo recording career with three No. 1 singles and a 5x Platinum album, Wynonna, in 1992. Naomi published her autobiography, “Love Can Build a Bridge,” in 1993. Wynonna published her own memoir, “Coming Home to Myself,” in 2005. Naomi pursued acting and television, hosting a talk show and serving as a judge and mentor on an entertainment competition series.

Together, the Judds have 16 Gold, Platinum, and multi-Platinum albums and longform videos, led by 2x Platinum albums Why Not Me and The Judds Greatest Hits. Wynonna has another half-dozen albums and videos certified by the Recording Industry Association of America.

During 2018-2019, Naomi and Wynonna were the subjects of the Country Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit, “The Judds: Dream Catchers,” which followed the duo from their beginnings in Eastern Kentucky to the peak of their careers. At the time, museum CEO Kyle Young quoted “A Million Miles to the City,” a song by another Kentuckian, Tom T. Hall, adding that the tale of The Judds was “a million-mile story, told with heart and soul, about a miraculous, fortunate and harmonious journey.”

In her autobiography, Naomi wrote of her first visit to Music Row and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, saying, “It was as if we’d entered the pearly gates and were riding down streets of gold” and comparing the Hall to “a cathedral filled with holy relics.”

Now she and Wynonna have found a permanent home in the cathedral.


Veterans Era Artist – Ray Charles
With one album, Willie Nelson has said on more than one occasion, Ray Charles did more for country music than any single artist has ever done. The album, of course, was 1962’s Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Though it remains Charles’ best-known album, it was far from his only foray into country music; it wasn’t even his first. The Genius of Soul’s love of country music goes back to his earliest days.

Ray Charles. Photo: Courtesy of The Ray Charles Foundation

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson in Albany, GA, in 1930 but raised across the state line in Greenville, FL, where juvenile glaucoma took his eyesight by age 7. During the school year, he attended St. Augustine’s State School for Blind and Deaf Children. There, he studied Mozart, Chopin and Bach and when he got to stay up past nine o’clock on a Saturday night, he tuned into the Grand Ole Opry to hear Roy Acuff, Grandpa Jones and Eddy Arnold.

From Florida, Charles headed west. He made his first records for the Swing Time and Down Beat labels. His records began charting nationwide once he signed with Atlantic Records in 1952, first on the R&B charts (“I’ve Got a Woman,” “A Fool for You,” “Drown in My Own Tears”), then on the pop charts (“Night Time Is the Right Time,” “What’d I Say”).

Charles began to show his affinity for country after his national breakthrough with “What’d I Say.” For his follow-up, he recorded a rave-up cover of Hank Snow’s 1950 country smash “I’m Movin’ On.” It reached No. 40 on Billboard’s pop chart and No. 11 on the R&B chart. It was also his last charting single for Atlantic. He soon signed with ABC-Paramount, where he had his first chart-topping pop hits with “Georgia on My Mind” in 1960 and “Hit the Road, Jack” in 1961.

Having finally established himself as a national act — and with his contract up for renewal — Charles decided to test his label’s faith: He would record an album of country songs. ABC’s president, Sam Clark, warned Charles that he might lose fans with such a concept. Charles, who’d seen white singers cover Black artists with great success, figured he could flip the script and gain more fans than he’d lose. His prediction turned out to be accurate.

Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music became Charles’ first album to top Billboard’s pop albums chart. It spent 14 weeks at No. 1, an achievement it would take a country album from Nashville 30 years to match.

Charles’ 12 selections for the album spanned three decades of country songs, from Floyd Tillman’s late-1930s favorite “It Makes No Difference Now,” to Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s “Bye Bye Love,” which already had a track record with crossing formats, having been a Top 5 hit in pop, country and R&B. That made it perfect for Charles, who was looking for standards, or songs that could become standards. He picked songs associated with Arnold and Hank Williams, as well as a Don Gibson B-side called “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart, Charles’ third — and biggest — chart-topper. It sold so briskly that one Atlanta distributor told Billboard that “people who don’t even own record players are buying it.”

Charles released another dozen songs, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Volume 2, which included covers of Jimmie Davis’ “You Are My Sunshine,” Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and Fred Rose and Hy Heath’s “Take These Chains From My Heart,” which Williams also recorded.

The Modern Sounds albums’ across-the-board success changed the way the world saw Nashville and the way Nashville saw the world. Charles’ big-band and string-and-voice arrangements gave Nashville’s producers and arrangers a new palette. Nashville publishers found fresh markets for their catalogs as other pop and R&B singers sought to replicate Charles’ approach.

Charles also showed the full magnitude of commercial potential country music had when racial and stylistic barriers between the music and the audience were stripped away.

Charles returned time and again to country’s catalog with remakes of Buck Owen’s “Crying Time” and “Together Again” and albums like 1965’s Country and Western Meets Rhythm and Blues and 1970’s Love Country Style. Despite his track record of success with the material, Charles didn’t appear on the Billboard Country singles charts as an artist until more than 30 years into his recording career (though Jerry Lee Lewis did manage a modest hit by covering Charles’ “What’d I Say” in 1961).

In the early 1980s, the head of CBS Records’ Nashville division, Rick Blackburn signed Charles to Columbia Records. He’d made modern sounds with country and western music, now he wanted to make modern country sounds. It was a “lifelong dream,” he told journalist Robert K. Oermann, “to do country music with country people.” He released a half-dozen albums for Columbia between 1983 and 1988, including his 1985 No. 1 duet with Willie Nelson, “Seven Spanish Angels.”

The following year, Charles was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1987, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Charles won 17 Grammy awards across 44 years, including Best Rhythm and Blues Recordings for “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Crying Time” and his version of Harlan Howard’s “Busted.” He was also nominated for two CMA Awards in 1985, the CMA Horizon Award and CMA Vocal Duo of the Year with Willie Nelson for their duet, “Seven Spanish Angels.”

Eight of his Grammys came posthumously. Charles died of liver cancer on June 10, 2004, shortly after completing an album of duets called Genius Loves Company that would go on to win Album of the Year at the Grammys. True to form, he gave country a prominent role in the project.

During a recording career that spanned more than 50 years, Charles rarely conformed to anyone else’s notions about country music, how it should sound, or how it could sell. His genius extended beyond country music, but it always included it. And when Charles performed country and western music, he didn’t just create modern sounds. He created timeless ones.


Recording and/or Touring Musician – Eddie Bayers and Pete Drake (tie)

Eddie Bayers
Eddie Bayers has been a first-call drummer in Nashville for nearly 50 years, so it’s appropriate that he’ll be the first drummer inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Recording and/or Touring Musician category. Bayers has been an indispensable part of the musical foundation during country music’s most commercially successful years. Laying down the groove on some 300 Gold and Platinum records, he is the beat behind some of country’s most popular artists and leaves an enduring impact on the industry as a whole.

Eddie Bayers. Photo: Rick Malkin

Bayers moved to Nashville in 1974, living for a while in his car. He auditioned for a spot as a keyboard player at the Carousel Club in Printer’s Alley and wound up playing in a quartet with drummer Larrie Londin, who had played on many Motown Records sessions before settling in Nashville. Under Londin’s mentorship, Bayers transitioned from keyboards to drums, the Carousel gig sustaining him as he developed his drumming skills.

Bayers eventually moved into studio work, with early sessions playing for Anne Murray, Mickey Gilley, Charlie Rich, and others, including Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs album. Maher brought him in to play on demos for a mother-daughter duo. Those sessions formed the core of The Judds’ debut EP, 1983’s Wynonna & Naomi, and Bayers ended up being the only drummer for every studio album his fellow Hall of Famers recorded, and continued to record with Wynonna Judd when she launched her solo career.

Bayers developed longstanding working relationships with artists like Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney, recording with them over a series of albums and hits.

Other country acts who have employed Bayers on their records include Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, George Jones, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Keith Whitley, Tammy Wynette and Trisha Yearwood. Beyond country, he has recorded with acts such as The Beach Boys, John Fogerty, Mark Knopfler, Richard Marx, Aaron Neville, Stevie Nicks, Bob Seger and Steve Winwood.

He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry’s House Band since 2003 and received a 2004 Grammy nomination as part of The Notorious Cherry Bombs. He is also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Medallion All-Star Band.

Bayers was named the Academy of Country Music’s top drummer 14 times between 1991 and 2010, including an 11-year stretch where he won every year.  The Country Music Association has nominated him for Musician of the Year 10 times. DRUM magazine named him one of the Top 10 Session Drummers of All Time, and he is a member of  Modern Drummer  magazine’s Honor Roll. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum honored him as one of its “Nashville Cats” in 2010. He was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019.

Bayers’ impact on the music industry has been felt far beyond the drummer’s stool. He has worked with students and faculty at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, which bestowed its American Master Award on him in 2015. He has also served multiple terms on the Board of Trustees for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

Pete Drake
Country music as the world knows it wouldn’t sound like country music without the pedal steel guitar. And the pedal steel wouldn’t sound like pedal steel without Pete Drake.

Pete Drake. Photo: Courtesy of Rose Drake

Drake helped define the sound of the pedal steel on some of country music’s most enduring hits, among them  Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden,” Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man,” Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl” and George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

In 1959, Drake moved to Nashville with the goal of playing on the Opry, as his hero Byrd had. He backed Don Gibson, Marty Robbins and Carl and Pearl Butler, but he didn’t take to road life, so he decided to stay in Nashville and try to become a session musician.

Drake could make the pedal steel sing, moving a bar across its strings to make it swoop and sigh, and pressing its pedals or squeezing its knee levers to make it moan. The pedal steel, Drake liked to say, was the closest instrument to the human voice.  Not only could he make the pedal steel sing, but he could also make it talk. Literally. After seeing a film with musician Alvino Rey and his “talking” steel guitar, Drake developed one of his own.

Drake used his “talk box” on station breaks for Nashville radio station WSM-AM and on records like Roger Miller’s “Lock, Stock and Teardrops” and Jim Reeves’ “I’ve Enjoyed as Much of This as I Can Stand.”

In 1966, Drake played on sessions for Elvis Presley’s How Great Thou Art album. He also appeared on the soundtracks for Presley films “Spinout,” “Easy Come, Easy Go,” “Double Trouble,” “Clambake” and “Speedway,” work that opened doors to acceptance in the pop and rock realm.

He played on Bob Dylan’s  John Wesley Harding, recorded in Nashville in 1967, as well as on Dylan’s subsequent albums,  Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait. The Dylan recordings led to an invitation from George Harrison to fly to London and play on sessions for his All Things Must Pass album. At those sessions, Drake met a 20-year-old Peter Frampton and demonstrated his talk box for the fascinated young guitarist (Frampton would take the effect to multi-Platinum heights a few years later on records like “Show Me The Way” and “Do You Feel Like We Do”). Drake also invited Ringo Starr to Nashville and, within a matter of days, was producing Starr’s Beaucoups of Blues album with country musicians, marking the first time a Beatle had recorded in the United States.

The country sessions continued, as well, with Drake playing on records by artists including Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson, Ronnie Milsap, the Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, The Statler Brothers, Hank Williams Jr. and Ray Charles. During his lifetime, Drake played on 118 Gold and Platinum albums, but his impact was felt beyond the recording sessions on which he played.

Drake was inducted into the International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1987. The following year, on July 29, Drake died at his Brentwood, TN home due to complications from emphysema. He was posthumously inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame (2007) and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame (2010).

Drake is the first pedal steel player to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Recording and/or Touring Musician category.

Renowned Singer-Songwriter Nanci Griffith Passes

Nanci Griffith

American singer, guitarist, and songwriter Nanci Griffith passed away today (Friday, Aug. 13). She was 68.

Born Nanci Caroline Griffith in Austin, Texas, Griffith became known for her unique version of country-folk music.

She released over 20 albums, perhaps most notably her 1993 project Other Voices, Other Rooms, which consisted entirely of cover songs, in tribute to songwriters who influenced her own songwriting. Other Voices, Other Rooms earned a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1994.

As a songwriter, some of Griffith’s greatest hits include Kathy Mattea’s cover of “Love at the Five and Dime” and Suzy Bogguss’s hit with “Outbound Plane.”

Griffith was awarded the Kate Wolf Memorial Award by the World Folk Music Association in 1995, and in 2008 the Americana Music Association awarded her its Lifetime Achievement Trailblazer Award. Most recently Griffith was invited to be a member of the Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Association’s Hall of Fame. She was to be inducted in February of 2022.

“Nanci Griffith was a master songwriter who took every opportunity to champion kindred spirits, including Vince Bell, Elizabeth Cook, Iris DeMent, Julie Gold, Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Eric Taylor and Townes Van Zandt,” said Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Her voice was a clarion call, at once gentle and insistent. Her brilliant album The Last of the True Believers is a template for what is now called Americana music, and her Grammy-winning Other Voices, Other Rooms is a compelling guide to 20th-century folk songs. Nanci offered gifts that no one else could give.”

Griffith is a survivor of breast cancer which was diagnosed in 1996, and thyroid cancer in 1998.

Her death was confirmed by her management company, Gold Mountain Entertainment. A cause of death was not provided.

Memorial services have not yet been announced.

On The Cover: Gabby Barrett Graces The Cover Of MusicRow Awards Print Issue

Warner Music Nashville’s Gabby Barrett is featured on the cover of the 2021 MusicRow Awards print issue, which releases today (Aug. 13). The American Idol alum has had a groundbreaking year, being named the ACM New Female Artist of the Year while also racking up three Billboard Music Awards for Top Country Female Artist, Top Country Song (“I Hope”) and Top Collaboration with Charlie Puth (“I Hope”); iHeartRadio Music Awards Best New Country Artist; and the 2021 CMT Music Awards top honor for Female Video of the Year (“The Good Ones”).

Her debut single, “I Hope” has been certified 5X Platinum, becoming the most-streamed country song of 2020 and reigning atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for a record-breaking 27 weeks. “I Hope” was also the first debut single by a solo female artist to top the country radio charts since 2017 and made her the youngest artist with a No. 1 debut at country radio in over two decades. Adding to her over 1.5 billion global streams, Barrett’s LP Goldmine includes the 4-week Hot AC No. 1 crossover version of “I Hope” feat. Charlie Puth alongside her Platinum three-week No. 1, “The Good Ones,” and latest single “Footprints On The Moon.”

The powerhouse artist returned to the road in August with headlining shows, fairs and festivals. She also started her opening slot on Thomas Rhett’s The Center Point Road Tour in August, and will take the stage at the all-genre iHeartRadio Music Festival on Sept. 18.

Single copies of MusicRow’s 2021 MusicRow Awards print issue are available for purchase at musicrow.com for $20, and are included with yearly MusicRow subscriptions.

Lainey Wilson Notches First No. 1 On MusicRow’s CountryBreakout Radio Chart

Lainey Wilson earns her first MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart No. 1 this week with “Things A Man Oughta Know.” In addition to being nominated for MusicRow’s Discovery Artist of the Year, Wilson was also named the featured artist for August for Opry NextStage.

“Things A Man Oughta Know” appears on Wilson’s latest album, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ and was co-written by Wilson, Jonathan Singleton, and Jason Nix. Wilson sat down with MusicRow to discuss the making of her album. Read the exclusive interview here.

Wilson will join Jason Aldean on his Back in the Saddle Tour kicking off this month.

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