Brett Young Pulls Back The Curtain With New Album Out Now [Interview]

ACM Award-winning recording artist Brett Young released his third studio album, Weekends Look A Little Different These Days, today (June 4) via BMLG Records.

Since making his debut in 2016 with his No. 1 smash hit “Sleep Without You,” Young has continued with an impressive string of success, evident by the fact that he is one of four modern-day artists to have their first seven singles go No. 1 on Mediabase/Country Aircheck. These seven consecutive singles have also gone on to receive Gold and Platinum certifications, including “In Case You Didn’t Know” at 5X Platinum; “Mercy” at 3X Platinum; “Sleep Without You,” “Like I Loved You,” “Here Tonight,” and “Catch” which all went Platinum, and his previous radio single “Lady,” which has already been Gold-certified.

Now, with more than 5 billion global streams, international tours under his belt, his own clothing line, and his first ever Caliville Weekend festival this coming September, Young has also stepped into a new phase of life with the birth of his first child, Presley, in October of 2019. With this little addition plus another baby due in July, Young has had to make a wave of adjustments both in his personal life and in his songwriting.

“I finally reached a stage of my life that, if I’m lucky, is going to be pretty static for a while,” Young tells MusicRow. “I’m married with a baby and another one on the way, but you can’t just talk about adding the next child in every song. That’s not interesting for people,” he explains. “The biggest challenge with the songwriting for this record was to continue to be myself—to be super honest and vulnerable, but also not write eight songs about my daughter. That alienates a lot of the listeners that have been there since the first record and ‘Sleep Without You.’

“I would sit down with writers and say, ‘I need a break up song but I’m happily married, so tell me a story about your worst breakup.’ I would try to take something they said about their experience and find something that reminded me of an experience that I went through and tap into how I felt when I was there,” he shares. “It was really challenging, but I think it made me a better songwriter. It was an interesting thing to emotionally put myself in a bunch of different people’s shoes while writing and choosing songs for this record.”

Working again with producer Dann Huff, Young takes listeners through the full spectrum of emotions and several sonic landscapes on the eight tracks that make up Weekends Look A Little Different These Days. Songs like the project’s lead single, “Lady,” acts as an open letter to Presley, while the title track and songs “This” and “Dear Me” find Young reflecting on his personal growth. Meanwhile, his current single at country radio, “Not Yet,” reminds listeners of the importance of being present in the moment. “Leave Me Alone” finds Young letting things in the past melt away with a tropical, easy-going sound. Also included on the project is the ‘80s rock anthem-esque “You Got Away With It,” and the soulful album closer, “You Didn’t.”

As he puts out each new record, Young constantly aims to pull back the curtain on his life little by little, each time becoming more and more vulnerable with his music. With Weekends Look A Little Different These Days, he’s found a new level of authenticity and yet another way to let people in. “I hope that it never feels fake, but that it always feels vulnerable and honest. It’s like being naked when you get this honest with your music, so if I don’t feel that way, I’ve done it wrong,” he shares. “There’s nothing that’s left unsaid or anything that I left out in these eight songs.”

Since having to postpone his headlining tour in the early months of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Young chose to look at the silver linings that came with lockdown. Most importantly, during that time without touring, he was able to be present for much of Presley’s first year.

“I got to see all of the firsts or at least most of them. I heard her say ‘da-da’ for the first time and all of the important stuff,” he gushes. “If I was going to pick a year for this to happen, it would definitely be my child’s first year of life. [Having a baby] is a huge adjustment and it changes everything, but in a way that you would never trade for the world.”

Brett Young. Photo: Seth Kupersmith

With the release of a new album, Young also has his eyes set on the future, including what shows might look like with these eight new tracks to add to the setlist. However, getting back out on the road and finding a new normal with two little ones will undoubtedly be an adjustment, but one that Young is excited for. He just announced he will be heading back out on the road this fall on his headlining The Weekends Tour. Launching Sept. 11, the tour features special guests Maddie & Tae and Filmore, with Ryan Hurd and Matt Ferranti on select shows.

In April, Young also announced that his first stab at a festival, Caliville Weekend, will take place over Labor Day Weekend in Palm Springs, California with tickets on sale now. What first began as three days full of the California native’s favorite things and capped off by a concert on the last night has quickly become a weekend full of activities, events, and live music each night. With his friends Maddie & Tae, Filmore, Chase Rice, Seaforth, and Devin Dawson, Young has created yet another opportunity for fans to pull back the curtain on his life a little more.

“I’m looking forward to everything about [that weekend]. It’s going to be full of all my favorite things, so if you want to really get to know me, here’s another chance,” Young says. “I’ll be there hanging out with everybody, golfing, swimming, and going to the concerts every night… One thing I will promise is that it’s going to make it late into the night every night.”

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Balsam Range, Rhonda Vincent, Danny Paisley

Balsam Range

The bluegrass grows all around in today’s edition of DisClaimer.

Unquestionably, the DisCovery Award goes to The Kody Norris Show, a band that simply delighted my senses.

The Disc of the Day contest is a little more complicated, so I’m giving out three of these prizes. The Female vocal winner is bluegrass queen Rhonda Vincent with her Porter Wagoner song revival. The Male vocal winner is big Danny Paisley, who has soul to spare. The Group performance award goes to the lovely gospel effort by Balsam Range.

Happy listening.

Writers: Kody Norris; Producer: none listed; Label: Rebel
— Charming. This rhinestoned, retro costumed foursome plays with crisp precision and sings with high-lonesome authenticity. The song is an upbeat, light-hearted ditty about falling head over heels… and it will leave you with a grin on yer face.

DALE ANN BRADLEY / “Falling Down”
Writers: Ashby Frank; Producer: none listed; Label: Pine Castle Records
— This much awarded bluegrass Female Vocalist winner has a sterling collection titled Things She Couldn’t Get Over that is currently the No. 1 bluegrass album. This thoughtful, mid-tempo song from it has both poetry and rippling instrumental textures to transport you to hillbilly nirvana.

ALAN BIBEY & GRASSTOWNE / “Hitchhiking to California”
Writers: Wes Goldberg/Alan Bibey/Jerry Salley; Producer: Alan Bibey, Grasstowne, Ron Stewart, Jerry Salley; Label: Billy Blue
— The sprightly title tune of this quintet’s current CD is presently at No. 1 on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart. The vocals are somewhat creamy, rather than edgy, so it goes down smoothly.

ROLAND WHITE & FRIENDS / “Alabama Jubilee”
Writers: George L. Cobb/Jack Yellen; Producer: Ty Gilpin & Jon Weisberger; Label: Mountain Home
— White’s illustrious career has included stints with Country Gazette and The Nashville Bluegrass Band. His current CD is A Tribute to The Kentucky Colonels, the group that launched the legendary mandolinist’s career. On this deliciously lively instrumental track, he’s joined by Kristin Scott Benson of The Grascals, and the album’s other bluegrass celeb guests include Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Gina Furtado, David Grier, Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle. At age 83, his fingers still fly over the fretboard like greased lightning.

BALSAM RANGE / “Grit and Grace”
Writers: Ann Melton/Beth Husband/Milan Miller; Producer: Balsam Ridge; Label: Mountain Home
— Sublimely lovely. The gentle gospel ballad is caressed by this durable ensemble with enormous heart. As a man looks back at his life’s ups and downs, he recognizes, “I supplied the grit, and God supplied the grace.”

RHONDA VINCENT / “What Ain’t to Be Just Might Happen”
Writers: Porter Wagoner; Producer: Rhonda Vincent; Label: Upper Management
— Vincent takes a 1972 Porter Wagoner country oldie out for a brisk romp with dynamic fiddle, mandolin and banjo breaks. It goes without saying that her wailin’ vocal is supreme. This new track is headed skyward.

Writers: Robert Amos; Producer: Wes Easter, Danny Paisley, Ryan Paisley & Bobby Lundy; Label: Pinecastle
— This new release is the lead track from Paisley’s Bluegrass Troubadour collection. It has a captivating, cool, rolling groove, and the excellent, bluesy singing is mountain soulful in the extreme. Mournful majesty. So nice I played it twice.

LARRY CORDLE / “Cherokee Fiddle”
Writers: Michael Martin Murphey; Producer: none listed; Label: Mighty Cord
— I’ve always liked this Michael Martin Murphey tune from 1977 (revived by Johnny Lee on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack) and am not at all surprised by how well it adapts to a bluegrass treatment. Nashville tunesmith Cordle can always be counted on for quality.

Writers: none listed; Producer: Barry Abernathy & Jim VanCleve; Label: Billy Blue
— Banjo picking singer Abernathy has rounded up a busload of buddies for his new CD, which debuted on the bluegrass album chart this month. They include Dan Tyminski, Rhonda Vincent, Steve Gulley, Doyle Lawson, Sam Bush, Bryan Sutton, Rob Ickes and, on this toe-tapping album opener, everyone’s favorite tenor harmony singer.

JUNIOR SISK / “Just Load the Wagon”
Writers: J.R. Satterwhite; Producer: none listed; Label: Mountain Fever
— Rural nostalgia reigns here, and it doesn’t get much more down-home and old timey than this. The tempo will have you dancing around the kitchen, and the vintage mood will make you smile. Pure pleasure.

HIGH FIDELITY / “Banjo Player’s Blues”
Writers: Charlie Monroe; Producer: Jeremy Stephens, Corrina Rose Logston & Brad Benge; Label: Rebel
— Infectious. It’s the title track of this Nashville band’s current album. Jeremy Stephens’ hearty lead vocal is nearly outshone by the dashing fiddle of Corrina Rose Logston, and the overall effect is good vibrations all around.

Writers: Peter Rowan; Producer: none listed; Label: Sugar Petunia
— Fiddler Keith-Hynes has a high, yearning vocal delivery, but the spotlight shines brightest here on the sizzling instrumental work featuring mandolin magician Jarosz as well as her own slippery, silvery bowed notes.

BREAKING: UTA Opens New Nashville Headquarters

Photo: Eric Laignel, HASTINGS Architecture

Global talent, entertainment and sports company UTA has officially opened its new Nashville headquarters, now occupying the site of the former downtown Carnegie Library at 225 Polk Avenue.

The office was designed by award-winning firm HASTINGS Architecture, which transformed the three-story, mid-century historic building into the agency’s new Nashville headquarters. Elements of the original library have been preserved and integrated into the office with highlights such as the old book drop on the parking level.

“We are thrilled to open the doors to our new Nashville headquarters and bring new life to this historic space that will now serve as a gathering place for colleagues, artists and storytellers across the community,” says David Zedeck, Partner and Co-Head of Worldwide Music. “Nashville’s music roots run deep and these new offices are meant to reflect UTA’s commitment to sharing this city’s powerful creativity with the world.”

Photo: Eric Laignel, HASTINGS Architecture

Over the past year, UTA Music’s Nashville office has expanded its agent ranks by bringing in key hires, including Jeffrey Hasson, Jenny DeLoach, Brett Saliba, Matt Korn and Emily Wright.

The Nashville team recently welcomed Grammy Award-nominated country band Midland and Diamond-selling Billy Ray Cyrus to the roster. Other recent signings include Brittney Spencer, Alana Springsteen, Sam Williams, Reyna Roberts, Josh Kiser, Lathan Warlick and Chase Martin, among others.

UTA also represents country stars Toby Keith, Jamey Johnson, Jimmie Allen, Matt Stell, Blanco Brown, Clay Walker, Clint Black, Wheeler Walker Jr., Ian Munsick, Elvie Shane and Chris Bandi, in addition to Young The Giant, Tori Kelly, Surfaces, Dashboard Confessional, Dayglow, COIN, Ruston Kelly, Ayron Jones, Timbaland, Blues Traveler, Laine Hardy and more.

Photo: Eric Laignel, HASTINGS Architecture

Photo: Eric Laignel, HASTINGS Architecture

Leadership Music Announces Class Of 2022

Leadership Music has tapped 46 music industry leaders to be part of its 32nd class.

Founded in 1989 by twelve music industry alumni of Leadership Nashville, Leadership Music is a nationwide program based in Nashville that is designed to create a forum for recognized music industry leaders to learn as they deep-dive into almost every segment of the music business, while identifying and exploring issues currently affecting the music industry; and to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences while building lasting relationships with classmates and alumni in all areas within or related to the music industry. The esteemed program has graduated close to 1,300 leaders.

“To be able to announce that we have selected the Class of 2022 after having to, for the first time in our history, defer the Class of 2021 is a huge cause for celebration,” says Diane Pearson, Leadership Music President and Selection Co-Chair. “The members of the Selection Committee feel a great sense of pride in the 46 industry leaders chosen to make the Leadership Music journey. They are exceptional in every way, and we expect them to leave an indelible mark on the organization, both individually and as a group.”

Jimmy Wheeler, Past President of LM and Co-Chair of the Selection Committee, echoes that sentiment. “As the committee is tasked every year, the focus is assembling a class that is uniquely talented and diverse in every way,” he says. “We were all so excited at the end of the selection process. Few things have signaled to me ‘business as usual’ like starting the annual program at Leadership Music this fall. Those of us who stay involved with the program are anxiously awaiting the starting bell (or clock) September 13th.”

The Class of 2022 participants will attend an orientation and alumni welcome reception in September, a two-day opening retreat in October, followed by six all-day sessions once a month, ending in May with graduation at a two-day closing retreat.

The Leader Music Class of 2022 includes:

  • Stephanie Alexa, VP, Finance, Universal Music Group Nashville
  • Renee Alexander, Deputy General Manager, Entertainment & Marketing, Minnesota State Fair (St. Paul, MN)
  • Katie Anderson, Strategy & Operations Executive, Music Leadership, CAA
  • Scott Bailey, President, Opry Entertainment Group
  • Scott Berenson, Director, Client Resolutions, SoundExchange (Washington, DC)
  • Mike Betterton, SVP, Wasserman Music
  • Peter Brown, General Manager, G7 Entertainment Marketing
  • Teri Nelson Carpenter, President/CEO, Reel Muzik Werks
  • Manuel A. Delgado, Owner/Luthier, Delgado Guitars, Music Makers Stage, LA Tradición Music
  • Jade Driver, Co-Founder/Crowd Surf
  • Tim Foisset, VP, Streaming, Warner Music Nashville
  • Justin Fratt, EVP, Gospel Music Association (GMA)
  • Edward Ginis, Co-Founder, OpenPlay
  • JoJamie Hahr, SVP, BBR Music Group/BMG Nashville
  • Alex Heddle, VP, Publishing, Big Machine Music
  • Bobbii Jacobs, President/Co-Founder, Live in the Vineyard/Live in the Vineyard Goes Country/FF Entertainment (Parker, CO)
  • Scott Jungmichel, EVP, Royalty Distribution and Research Services and Chief Information Officer, SESAC
  • Kevin Kadish, Owner, Slowguy Songs Inc.
  • Brian Kaplan, VP, EM.Co
  • Sally Rose Larson, VP, Government Relations, Digital Media Association (DiMA) (Washington, DC)
  • Michael Lewan, Director, Government Relations, The Recording Academy (Washington, DC)
  • Carlos Linares, SVP, Content Protection and Enforcement, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
  • Jeremy Lister, Singer/Songwriter, Big Yellow Dog/Street Corner Symphony
  • Gina Waters Miller, SVP/General Manager, Entertainment One
  • Boo Mitchell, Producer/Engineer/Chief Manager, Royal Studios
  • Tommy Moore, VP, Artist and Industry Relations, Board Administration & Governance, Academy of Country Music (ACM) (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Matthew Morgan, Agent/Partner, WME
  • Paul Nelson, Contractor, Paul Nelson Music
  • Ron Pateras, Talent Buyer, Neste Live!
  • Doug Phillips, Head of Digital, QPrime South
  • Sam Powers, Principal, O’Neil Hagaman, LLC
  • Julian Raymond, SVP, A&R/Staff Producer, Big Machine Label Group
  • Leslie Richter, Engineer/Producer/Educator
  • Portia Sabin, President, Music Business Association
  • Brittany Schaffer, Nashville Head of Artist and Label Partnerships, Spotify
  • Tanya Schrage, VP, Marketing, Black River Entertainment
  • Charlotte Sellmyer, SVP, External Affairs, National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) (Washington, DC)
  • Tuwisha Rogers Simpson, VP, Brand and Partnerships, National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM)
  • Regan Smith, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights, U. S. Copyright Office (Washington, DC)
  • Allison Stillman, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP (New York, NY)
  • Patrick Thomas, President, Silverfish Media
  • Ellen Truley, Chief Marketing Officer, The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC)
  • Jennifer Turner, President/CEO, Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC)
  • JaHan Wang, SVP, East Coast Regional Manager Entertainment Banking, City National Bank (New York, NY)
  • Jennifer Way, SVP, Marketing, Sony Music Nashville
  • Russell Ziecker, EVP/Global Head of Television Music, Lionsgate (Studio)/Starz (Network) (Los Angeles, CA)

Randy Travis Marks 35th Anniversary Of Debut Album With Remastered Version

Randy Travis

Randy Travis will celebrate the 35th anniversary of his album Storms of Life with a newly remastered version including classic songs “Diggin’ Up Bones” and “On The Other Hand,” as well as three previously unreleased tracks.

Storms of Life (35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) will be released Sept. 24 with pre-order beginning Aug. 27.

Travis and his triple-Platinum debut album Storms of Life helped bring the country genre back to its traditional roots. Released in 1986 by Warner Bros. Records, it was his first of five consecutive No. 1 albums and went on to sell more than 3 million copies. The 35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition will be released by Warner Music Nashville.

“I love the timeless lyrics and the traditional country instruments, like steel guitar, banjo, piano, fiddle,” says the Country Music Hall of Fame member. “It was music I believed in, that told a story I wanted to share. We were fortunate to have a large catalog of songs to choose from that were more traditional. At the time, people and radio really weren’t playing this kind of music. Most people were recording more of an urban cowboy sound, so I got to choose from the best of the best, cream of the crop. It was exciting for all of us to get back to our roots.”

Storms of Life (35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) Track Listing:
1. “On The Other Hand” (Paul Overstreet, Don Schlitz)
2. “The Storms of Life” (Max D. Barnes, Troy Seals)
3. “My Heart Cracked (But It Did Not Break)” (Ronny Scaife, Don Singleton, Phil Thomas)
4. “Diggin’ Up Bones” (Al Gore, Paul Overstreet, Nat Stuckey)
5. “No Place Like Home” (Paul Overstreet)
6. “1982” (Buddy Blackmon, Vip Vipperman)
7. “Send My Body” (Randy Travis)
8. “Messin’ With My Mind” (Joseph Allen, Charlie Williams)
9. “Reasons I Cheat” (Randy Travis)
10. “There’ll Always Be A Honky Tonk Somewhere” (Steve Clark, Johnny MacRae)
Unreleased Tracks: (songwriters not listed in press release)
“Ain’t No Use”
“Carryin’ Fire”
“The Wall”

*All tracks produced by Kyle Lehning, except “On The Other Hand” and “Reasons I Cheat” produced by Lehning and Keith Stegall.

Country Radio Hall Of Fame Class Of 2021 Announced

Pictured (L-R, top row): off-air inductees Bob Call, RJ Curtis, Bill Hagy, Norm Schrutt; (L-R, bottom row): on-air inductees Heather Froglear, Buzz Jackson, Bob Pickett, Angie Ward

The Country Radio Broadcasters announced the Class of 2021 Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees Wednesday (June 2).

The 2021 class includes four off-air radio broadcasters and four on-air radio personalities. The off-air honorees are Bob Call, RJ Curtis, Bill Hagy, and Norm Schrutt. The on-air honorees are Heather Froglear, Buzz Jackson, Bob Pickett, and Angie Ward.

The Country Radio Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals who have made significant contributions to the radio industry over a 20-year period, 15 of which must be in the country format.

“Country Radio should be extremely proud of this year’s 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees. They represent the best of the best from a large group of excellent nominees,” says CRB’s Country Radio Hall of Fame Committee Chairman, Joel Raab.

The Country Radio Hall of Fame Induction and Dinner will be held in person on Oct. 13, 2021, at the Westin Nashville. Exact times and ticket information will be released closer to the event. Tickets go on sale on Sept. 8.

About the 2021 Inductees:

Radio (off-air) Category:

Bob Call has been directly involved in the country music format as an air personality, Program Director, or Market Manager for 44 years, the last 41 at KYGO/Denver. Call was the first-ever Program Director at KYGO, signing on the station in 1980. He was elevated to Operations Manager in 1987 and has served as KYGO’s GM/Market Manager since 1989, leading the station to local ratings and revenue success, while establishing KYGO as a highly-respected national country radio brand. He is responsible for establishing successful careers for generations of artists and exposing listeners to their music. KYGO has earned numerous industry honors during Call’s tenure, including CMA and Marconi Station of the Year honors, plus individual awards for its personalities and Program Directors.

RJ Curtis is a 41-year country radio/Music Row executive whose career has impacted nearly every aspect of the format. His resume features 30 years in major market radio (Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio), where he served as Program Director, Operations Manager, Music Director, and on-air talent for iconic radio brands such as KNIX/Phoenix, KCYY/San Antonio and KZLA/Los Angeles, as well as the nationally syndicated “After Midnite” show. Curtis later spent 13 years providing insight, analysis, and commentary on the country music industry while writing and reporting for Radio & Records Magazine, Billboard, Country Aircheck, and All Access Music Group. His experience includes time in the record industry, too, with Arista Nashville, as Dir./Regional Promotion. A 20-year CRB Board member and the organization’s past President, VP, Secretary, and Treasurer, Curtis transitioned to his current role as CRB Executive Director in 2018. He has served on the Board of Directors of both ACM and CMA and has served on the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Radio Advisory Board since 2015.

Bill Hagy had already established himself as a successful radio programmer when he assumed Head of Programming responsibilities for Bristol Broadcasting Company in 1984. While anchored in Bristol, Tenn., Hagy took direct oversight of country outlet WXBQ, leading the station to decades of overwhelming ratings and revenue success, with audience listening shares consistently reaching north of the 20s, often making WXBQ the highest-rated radio station in America. During his career, Hagy has been instrumental in launching the careers of artists like Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Montgomery Gentry, and many others, while maintaining WXBQ’s dominance and influence in the promotion of live and local music in the Tri-Cities. Even in retirement, Hagy continues to serve as a programming consultant for Bristol Broadcasting Company, where his influence continues to lead WXBQ to market success and national prominence.

Norm Schrutt joined Capital Cities in 1963 as WKBW/Buffalo Account Executive. In 1971, Schrutt was named LSM and was elevated to GSM in 1974 before taking the VP/GM role in 1977. In 1980, Capital Cities sent Schrutt to manage the company’s two Los Angeles-based radio stations – including KZLA, which he flipped from AC to country, making it the first FM country station in the market. The following year, he was transferred to Atlanta to manage the company’s new purchase of WKHX-AM/FM and WYAY. Schrutt also oversaw KSCS/Dallas, where he hired Country Radio Hall of Famer Terry Dorsey for mornings. Schrutt was named to his final post in 1987 due to restructuring following the acquisition of the American Broadcasting Companies by Capital Cities, Inc. He retired from radio in 1996 as Capital Cities/ABC Pres./Owned Radio Stations, where his corporate responsibilities included supervision of the company’s stations in Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. He served on the board of the CMA, Georgia Association of Broadcasters, Atlanta Radio Association, and the All Radio Negotiating Committee. He was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame of Western New York in 2006. Schrutt passed away in 2020 and will enter the Country Radio Hall of Fame posthumously.


Personality (on-air) Category:

Heather Froglear has been an important member of the KFRG/Riverside on-air and programming team since 1993, currently serving as APD/MD/West Coast Talent, co-hosting a nationally syndicated afternoon show for Audacy. Froglear began her career at KFRG, doubling as Dir./Promotions and middays, eventually co-hosting morning drive and segueing to a programming role as KFRG MD, rising to APD in 2019. She has received multiple Best Radio Personality honors in the Riverside-San Bernardino market, while staying active in her community, serving on the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital Board of Directors. Froglear has also been active in national industry events, as a four-time CRS Agenda Committee member, and is an architect of the popular and always well attended Woman’s Mentoring Breakfast.

Buzz Jackson is the longtime PD/afternoon personality for KIIM/Tucson, where he has enjoyed consistent ratings dominance, and garnered national industry recognition, winning ACM (2009) and CMA (2014) Broadcast Personality of the Year honors, in addition to CRS/Country Aircheck Awards for both PD and Air Personality of the Year. Jackson also hosts a nationally syndicated show for three dozen Westwood One Mainstream country affiliates. Prior to establishing himself as a Tucson radio staple, Jackson enjoyed programming and on-air success at WCFB/Orlando and WROO/Jacksonville.

Bob Pickett has been a member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame since 2015 and a programming/on-air fixture in the Austin radio market since 1981 when he first arrived at KOKE. He joined crosstown KVET in 1984, then moved to country sister KASE in 1988. While at KASE, Pickett helped lead the station to four CMA Station of the Year trophies before transitioning back to KVET in 2011. As PD and MD for both over many years, he’s been honored with multiple CRS/Country Aircheck Large Market PD honors. Pickett began his radio career in Sweetwater, TX in 1977 at KXOX, and currently hosts the “Tales of the Broken Spoke” podcast.

Angie Ward is the APD/Midday personality for WUBL/Atlanta, where she moved in 2009, following success at WTQR/Greensboro, NC, where she served as MD/middays and morning drive. Her resume includes time at WNEU/High Point, NC, WSTH/Columbus, GA, and WMXA/Auburn, AL. In addition to her day-to-day duties in Atlanta, Ward voice tracks shows for ten iHeart Country sister stations, including WKKT/Charlotte, KVET/Austin, WFUS/Tampa, and WESC/Greenville, SC. Ward has earned multiple industry awards for both programming and air personality achievements, including 2000 CMA Large Market Personality of the Year. She has also volunteered her time with numerous local and national charitable organizations and received honors from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the “Can Do” Media Award from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

Corey Crowder Takes Top Position On MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

Corey Crowder. Photo: Nicola Harger

Corey Crowder moves up to the No. 1 spot this week on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart. He is a co-writer on the charting songs “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” by Chase Rice featuring Florida Georgia Line, “Famous Friends” by Chris Young and Kane Brown, and “Minimum Wage” by Blake Shelton.

Ashley Gorley shifts down one to No. 2 this week, along with Jesse Frasure who lands at No. 3. The remainder of the top 10 stays the same this week.

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.

B.J. Thomas Dead At 78

B.J. Thomas

Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, B.J. Thomas, died May 29 at home in Arlington, Texas from complications due to stage four lung cancer. He was 78.

Thomas’ expansive career crossed multiple genres, including country, pop, and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove, and Grammy awards and nominations since his emergence in the 1960s.

His career was anchored by numerous enduring hits, among them his million-selling cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the Grammy-winning “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” and the iconic “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which won the Academy Award for best original song. A five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, Thomas has sold over 70 million albums worldwide, scoring eight No. 1 hits and 26 Top 10 singles over his 50+ years in the music industry. His lengthy chart history led to him being named one of Billboard’s Top 50 Most Played Artists Over The Past 50 Years. Such memorable hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks From An Old Lover” and “Hooked on a Feeling” have made him a staple on multiple radio formats over the years.

He was born Billy Joe Thomas in rural Hugo, Oklahoma, before he moved to Houston, Texas with his family. He began singing in church as a child and in his teens joined the Houston-based band the Triumphs.

Thomas’s first taste of success came in 1966 when he recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with producer Huey P. Meaux. Released by Scepter Records, it peaked at No. 8 on the pop charts and became his first million-selling single. He released the follow-up single, “Mama,” and delivered his first solo album that same year.

Thomas’ second million-selling hit came in 1968 with the release of “Hooked on a Feeling” from On My Way, his sophomore album for Scepter. During his days with the New York label, he became friendly with Ronnie Milsap and Dionne Warwick, who were also on the roster at the time. It was Warwick who introduced him to songwriter-producer Burt Bacharach. In January 1970, Thomas topped the charts with “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” Penned by Bacharach and Hal David, the song was featured in the classic Paul Newman/Robert Redford film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, earning the Oscar for best original song. Sales quickly exceeded two million copies and it has remained one of the most enduring pop hits of all time, reoccurring in such films as Forrest Gump, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Clerks II, and Spider-Man 2 as well as multiple TV shows over the years. He followed that career-defining single with a string of pop/rock hits, including “Everybody’s Out of Town,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “No Love at All” and “Rock and Roll Lullaby.”

After six years with Scepter Records, Thomas signed with Paramount Records where he released two albums—1973’s Songs and 1974’s Longhorns & Londonbridges. In 1975, Thomas released the album Reunion on ABC Records, featuring “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” which holds the distinction of being the longest titled No. 1 hit ever on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Like many successful pop/rock artists, Thomas fell into drugs and battled substance abuse. His wife Gloria became a born-again Christian and the turning point in Thomas’ life came when he became a believer in 1976. He immediately quit drugs and found an avenue for expressing his faith in gospel music. Thomas signed with Myrrh Records and released the album Home Where I Belong in 1976. Produced by Chris Christian, the project won Thomas a Grammy and became the first of two Dove Award wins. The album became the first gospel record to sell a million copies. The warmth and emotional timbre of Thomas’ voice was well suited to the genre and he became one of gospel music’s most successful artists. His rendition of “Amazing Grace” is considered one of the most poignant of the classic hymn’s many covers.

In addition to his country and gospel success, Thomas also enjoyed a healthy run on the country charts in the 1980s with such hits as “Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks from an Old Lover Again,” “The Whole World’s in Love When You’re Lonely” and “Two Car Garage.” “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” was No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Country Songs charts. It won the Grammy for Best Country Song in 1976 and was nominated for CMA Single of the Year. On his 39th birthday in 1981, Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Beyond populating multiple radio formats with so many beloved hits, Thomas also voiced the theme song, “As Long As We’ve Got Each Other,” for the popular TV series Growing Pains, and has lent his voice to numerous commercials, including campaigns for Coca-Cola and Pepsi. He can also be seen on television hosting Time Life Music’s Forever 70s infomercial. As an actor, he also appeared in the films Jory and Jake’s Corner. Thomas authored two books, including his autobiography Home Where I Belong.

In 2013, he released The Living Room Sessions, an acoustic album, which celebrated Thomas’ nearly six decades in the music industry. The project featured Thomas dueting with other high profile artists on his most beloved hits, which included teaming with Richard Marx for “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” Vince Gill on “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” Sara Niemietz on “Hooked on a Feeling,” Keb’ Mo’ on “Most of All,” Lyle Lovett on “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and The Fray’s Isaac Slade on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” The album was well-received with critics praising it as a reminder of just how engaging his voice remained after decades of recording and touring.

Though Thomas will be remembered as one of this generation’s premiere vocalists and a consummate entertainer, the humble artist was most proud of his family. He’s survived by his wife of 53 years Gloria, their three daughters Paige Thomas, Nora Cloud, and Erin Moore, and four grandchildren, Nadia Cloud, Keira Cloud, Ruby Moore, and Billy Joe Moore.

A quote from his website exemplifies Thomas’ humble attitude and appreciation for life. “All I am is just another guy. I’ve been very lucky,” he shared. “I’ve had a wonderful life, I’ve been a husband and a father who cherishes his children and now I’m a grandfather, and I’m motivated like all these teachers and preachers and mothers and fathers to help my kids grow up with character and self-respect. I hope that doesn’t sound too grandiose, but that’s what it comes down to. It’s what I’ve tried to do with my music and with the majority of my life.”

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming and will remain private. In lieu of flowers, in-memoriam donations will be accepted by Mission ArlingtonTarrant Area Food Bank, and the SPCA of Texas.

Justin Moore Earns Fifth No. 1 On MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart

“We Didn’t Have Much” by Justin Moore is this week’s No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart. The single was written by Paul DiGiovanni, Randy Montana, and Jeremy Stover. It appears on his sixth studio album, Straight Outta The Country released in April via The Valory Music Co.

In a recent interview with MusicRow, Moore said spoke about the song. Moore says, “It’s more special to me because of what we’ve all dealt with this year than it would have been otherwise. I heard the song really early on in the pandemic. We had Tracy Lawrence on as one of first guests on my podcast. He said something that really resonated with me and I really related to, and then after hearing this song, I related it to the song. What he said was that especially early on in the pandemic, he and his wife and family had been forced to lead a much more simple life, literally borrowing eggs from neighbors and things like that. Things that sound like a cliche country song, but we were kind of in the same boat here at home. I thought, man, this song speaks to the beauty in that simplicity.”

This month, Moore was awarded Pandora’s Billionaire Plaque to commemorate 3 billion streams on the platform.

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DISClaimer Single Reviews: Old Dominion, Marty Stuart, Frank Ray

Old Dominion. Photo: Mason Allen

Sometimes your head has to overrule your heart.

My favorite tracks this week are by Hall of Fame members—Marty Stuart’s “Skip a Rope,” The Oaks’ “Swing Down Chariot” and Michael McDonald & Willie Nelson’s “Dreams of the San Joaquin.” I’d crown any one of them my Disc of the Day. But bowing to radio reality, I have to give the prize to Old Dominion and its outstanding song of summer.

There are a number of new faces in the column this week. I am most interested in Frank Ray, who earns the DisCovery Award.

Writers: Vincent Neil Emerson; Producer: Rodney Crowell; Label: La Honda/Thirty Tigers
— His folkie vocal is backed by an enchanting bluegrassy blend of rippling acoustic guitars, fiddle and banjo. The dandy song is about a wandering fellow who is headed home to the Lone Star State. Highly promising.

RAY SCOTT / “Cover the Earth”
Writers: Ray Scott; Producer: Ray Scott & Michael Hughes; Label: OneRPM
— I have always liked this guy. His dark, rich baritone is a voice to get lost in. This mid-tempo tune rolls along with hearty energy and charisma, punctuated with semi-spoken accents. A winner.

DAVID FERGUSON / “Knockin’ Around Nashville”
Writers: Pat McLaughlin; Producer: David Ferguson; Label: Fat Possum
— Super producer Fergie is best known for being behind the board for Cash, Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price and more. Now he’s stepping out as an artist, himself, with this wistful, ultra-traditional, steel-soaked, slow ballad. Country, country, country.

MIRANDA LAMBERT / “They’ve Closed Down the Honky Tonks”
Writers: Miranda Lambert; Producer: Jon Randall; Label: Vanner Records/RCA Records Label Nashville
— Stark and acoustic, like the rest of The Marfa Tapes album. The simple setting throws a spotlight on her extraordinary, stone-country vocal powers. There are a zillion reasons why she is at the top of this format, and this performance is yet another.

FILMORE / “Who Cares”
Writers: Filmore/Zach Abend/Josh Kerr; Producer: Zach Abend; Label: Curb Records
— Bubbling joy. Full of delightful rhythm and jaunty attitude. This guy always impresses me with his sonic creativity.

MICHAEL McDONALD & WILLIE NELSON / “Dreams of the San Joaquin”
Writers: Randy Sharp/Jack Wesley Routh; Producer: none listed; Label: Stem/Chonin
— This single benefits the United Farm Workers. McDonald leads the way with a languid, haunting delivery of the contemplative ballad. Then he and Nelson begin entwining their golden voices with accompaniment by David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and the effect is utterly magical.

FRANK RAY / “Streetlights”
Writers: Frank Ray/Bobby Hamrick/Frank Rogers; Producer: Frank Rogers; Label: BBR
— This Texan is a former police officer who mixes his Latino heritage with pop-country production. The bilingual track has bright bursts of brass amid nervous rhythmic beats. Intriguing. Send more.

OLD DOMINION / “I Was on a Boat That Day”
Writers: Shane McAnally/Brad Tursi/Geoff Sprung/Josh Osborne/Matthew Ramsey/Trevor Rosen/Whit Sellers; Producer: Old Dominion/Shane McAnally; Label: Arista Nashville
— How timely. Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and here’s the official summer kick-off song. This sunny bopper is the sound of happiness.

LILY ROSE / “Remind Me of You”
Writers: Sam Hunt/Corey Crowder/Ryan Vojtesak/Ernest Keith Smith; Producer: Matt Morrisey/Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud/Back Blocks/Republic
— Decidedly on the pop side of pop-country, but a listening delight. Catchy, sweet, warm and winning while delving in relationship regret.

MARTY STUART / “Skip a Rope”
Writers: Glenn Douglas Tubb/Jack Moran; Producer: Marty Stuart; Label: MS
— One of the all-time cool country social-message songs is dusted off by this new Country Music Hall of Famer. The song was a huge hit for Henson Cargill in 1968. Co-writer Tubb passed away this week, and this is a more than fitting elegy.

TIGIRLILY / “My Thang”
Writers: Kendra Slaubaugh/Krista Slaubaugh/Walker Hayes; Producer: Shane McAnally/Louis Newman; Label: Monument
— This sister duo harmonizes perfectly. The choppy, bouncy track is packed with pop energy.

THE OAK RIDGE BOYS / “Swing Down Chariot”
Writers: Marty Matthews; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Lightning Rod/Thirty Tigers
— If you aren’t tapping your toes by the time this concludes, check your pulse. This scratches that old-time gospel itch, big time. Loved every note.