On The Cover: MusicRow’s Artist Roster Issue Features Old Dominion

Reigning CMA and ACM Group of the Year Old Dominion graces the cover of MusicRow Magazine’s 2021 Artist Roster issue, out now.

Old Dominion has emerged as one of the hottest bands out of Nashville, fusing clever lyrics and an infectious sound. The ASCAP songwriters’ lyrical wit and hook-heavy songwriting has certainly proved a winning method. Since breaking onto the music scene in 2014, the band has notched eight No. 1 singles at country radio, surpassed one billion on-demand streams, earned several Platinum and Gold single certifications, and headlined arenas and amphitheaters around the globe.

Comprised of lead singer Matthew Ramsey, lead guitarist Brad Tursi, multi-instrumentalist Trevor Rosen, bassist Geoff Sprung and drummer Whit Sellers, the Arista Nashville act has earned numerous awards together. Most recently, Old Dominion earned their fourth consecutive Group of the Year win at the 56th Annual ACM Awards. At the 2020 CMT Awards, the band took home their first win for Group Video of The Year. The group also notched two nominations for the 2020 CMAs including Vocal Group and Album of the Year for their self-titled 2019 studio album, nominations for Top Country Duo/Group and Top Country Song for the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, as well as a Favorite Duo/Group – Country nod for the 2020 American Music Awards. In 2020, the band received their first two Grammy nominations for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Country Song, for their hit single “Some People Do” which is featured on their third studio album.

Over the course of their career, the band has also been notably named ACM New Group of the Year, ACCA Breakthrough Group of the Year, AIMP Songwriter Artist of the Year, MusicRow Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and in 2016, front man Ramsey was ASCAP’s Artist of the Year. The band has also received nominations for CMT Awards, American Music Awards, Billboard Awards, and iHeart Radio Awards.

In May of 2021, Old Dominion debuted their newest single “I Was On a Boat That Day.” Of the new track, Ramsey said, “When you listen to ‘I Was On a Boat That Day’ you are hearing us in the full joy of making music together. From the moment I counted the band off we were smiling from beginning to end. The tequila was flowing, the laughter was loud, and we knew in that moment we were creating something that would bring people as much joy as it was bringing us.”

Single copies of MusicRow’s 2021 Artist Roster print issue are available for purchase at musicrow.com for $45, and are included with yearly MusicRow subscriptions.

Loretta Lynn, Joe Galante, Luke Combs, More To Be Celebrated At 14th Annual ACM Honors

The Academy of Country Music has revealed the recipients of the Special Awards for the 56th ACM Awards. The honorees will be celebrated during the 14th Annual ACM Honors on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 at the Ryman Auditorium.

Off-camera categories to be feted at ACM Honors include Studio Recording Award winners, the Songwriter of the Year Award, and more. Additionally, SRA (Studio Recording Awards) and Industry Award winners from 2020’s 55th ACM Awards will also be celebrated during this year’s ACM Honors. The eligibility period for this year’s ACM Honors was Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2020 and the eligibility period for 55th ACM Awards was Jan. 1, 2019 – Dec. 31, 2019.

Joe Galante and Rascal Flatts have been chosen to receive the ACM Cliffie Stone Icon Award this year. This award is presented to a country music artist, duo/group, or industry leader who throughout their career has advanced the popularity of the genre through their contributions in multiple facets of the industry such as songwriting, recording, production, touring, film, television, literary works, philanthropic contributions, and other goodwill efforts. Lady A and Ross Copperman have been chosen to receive the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award, which is presented to a country music artist, duo/group, or industry professional who is devoted to improving lives through the power of music, has a generosity of spirit, and is committed to serving others, voted on by the ACM Lifting Lives Board of Directors.

Luke Combs will be honored with the ACM Gene Weed Milestone Award. This award is presented to a country music artist, duo/group, or industry leader for a specific, unprecedented or outstanding achievement in the field of country music during the preceding calendar year. Dan + Shay has been chosen to receive the ACM Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an artist or industry leader for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.

RAC Clark has been chosen as the recipient of the ACM Mae Boren Axton Service Award, which honors an outstanding country music artist, duo/group, or industry leader in recognition of years of dedication and service to the Academy of Country Music. Toby Keith has been chosen for the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award, which is presented to a singer-songwriter who is continuing the legacy of country legend and 20-time ACM Award winner Merle Haggard by following his/her own path, crafting great songs and epitomizing Merle’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.

Loretta Lynn, Gretchen Peters, and the late Curly Putman (posthumously) have been chosen as recipients of the ACM Poet’s Award. This award goes to a country music songwriter for outstanding and longstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their career, with special consideration given to a song or songs’ impact on the culture of country music.

Ken BurnsCountry Music documentary has been chosen to receive the ACM Tex Ritter Film Award. This award recognizes an outstanding television movie, series, or feature film released during the preceding calendar year which prominently features country music.

Hillary Lindsey has been chosen as the recipient of the ACM Songwriter of the Year for the second year. This award is presented to an individual known predominately as a songwriter, selected by a professional panel of judges composed of songwriters, publishers, producers, and performing rights organization representatives.

56th ACM Awards (2020 Studio Recording Award Winners):
Bass Player Of The Year: Tony Lucido
Drummer Of The Year: Aaron Sterling
Guitar Player Of The Year: J.T. Corenflos (Awarded Posthumously)
Piano/Keyboards Player Of The Year: Dave Cohen
Specialty Instrument(S) Player Of The Year: Ilya Toshinskiy
Steel Guitar Player Of The Year *Tie In Category*: Dan Dugmore & Mike Johnson
Audio Engineer Of The Year: F. Reid Shippen
Producer Of The Year: Jay Joyce


The ACM will also be celebrating the 55th ACM Awards Industry and Studio Recording Award winners along with newly announced winners of the Studio Recording Awards for the 56th ACM Awards. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Industry Awards were not given out during this cycle.

Previously Announced Winners (Industry Awards Not Given In 2020 Due To Pandemic):

55th ACM Awards (2019 Industry Award Winners):
Casino Of The Year – Theater: The Joint: Tulsa – Tulsa, OK
Casino Of The Year – Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, NV
Fair/Rodeo Of The Year: Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo – Houston, TX
Festival Of The Year: Tortuga Music Festival – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Club Of The Year: Joe’s Live – Rosemont, IL
Theater Of The Year: The Beacon Theatre – New York, NY
Outdoor Venue Of The Year: Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
Arena Of The Year: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Don Romeo Talent Buyer Of The Year: Gil Cunningham – Neste Live!
Promoter Of The Year: Brian O’Connell – Live Nation

55th ACM Awards (2019 Studio Recording Award Winners):
Bass Player Of The Year: Jimmie Lee Sloas
Drummer Of The Year: Miles McPherson
Guitar Player Of The Year: Rob McNelley
Piano/Keyboards Player Of The Year: Gordon Mote
Specialty Instrument(S) Player Of The Year: Jenee Fleenor
Steel Guitar Player Of The Year: Paul Franklin
Audio Engineer Of The Year: Justin Niebank
Producer Of The Year: Busbee (Awarded Posthumously)

Rhett Akins, Brad Paisley, Shania Twain Among 2021 Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame Nominees

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (NaSHOF) has announced the 12 nominees for the class of 2021. Eight of these nominees are for the Songwriters category, while the remaining four are for the Songwriter/Artist category.

Nominees in the Songwriters category are Rhett Akins, Buddy Cannon, Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson, Mary Ann Kennedy, David Malloy, Frank J. Myers, and Tia Sillers. Nominees in the Songwriter/Artists category are Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Shania Twain, and Phil Vassar.

All nominees experienced their first Top 20 song at least 20 years ago. Two songwriters and one songwriter/artist will be elected in these categories by their professional songwriter peers and members of the Hall of Fame. In addition, two more will be named to the Class of 2021. A separate body of veteran voters will elect a veteran songwriter and a veteran songwriter/artist, both of whom experienced their first Top 20 song at least 30 years ago. As part of that process, nominees in those categories are not announced.

The new group will be among those honored at the “50/51” Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala on Monday, November 1, 2021, at the Music City Center alongside the organization’s previously named Class of 2020: Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry, Kent Blazy, Brett James and Spooner Oldham.

“We were forced to postpone our 50th Anniversary celebration last year, so this will be our ‘50/51’ party—celebrating two years and two classes in a special double-sized event,” says NaSHOF Executive Director Mark Ford. “We congratulate all of this year’s nominees and look forward to next month, when we will announce those who will be inducted as members of the Class of 2021.”



Category 1 – SONGWRITERS
Valdosta, Georgia, native Rhett Akins began his professional music career as a performer at San Antonio’s Fiesta Texas theme park. In 1992, he made the move to Nashville. Initially a performer at Opryland theme park, he also worked as a demo singer, later signing a recording contract with Decca Record. As an artist, Akins topped the charts in the mid-1990s with “Don’t Get Me Started” and his signature song, “That Ain’t My Truck.” By the later 2000s, he was writing songs for other artists, including “Put A Girl In It” by Brooks & Dunn, “What’s Your Country Song” by Thomas Rhett, “All About Tonight” by Blake Shelton and “Boys ’Round Here” by Shelton with Pistol Annies & Friends. Akins also wrote “All Over Me” by Josh Turner (the 2011 BMI Country Song of the Year), “Honey Bee” by Shelton (the 2012 ASCAP Country Song of the Year), “Take A Back Road” by Rodney Atkins (the 2012 BMI Country Song of the Year) and “It Goes Like This” by Rhett (the 2014 ASCAP Country Song of the Year). Akins was named BMI Country Songwriter of the Year in 2011 and 2014. He was the 2017 ACM Songwriter of the Year and the 2019 ACM Songwriter of the Decade.

Buddy Cannon was born in Lexington, Tennessee. He began his diverse career as a songwriter, singer, musician, publisher, producer, and label executive in the early 1970s as bass player in Bob Luman’s band, later making the jump to play in Mel Tillis’ band and write for his publishing company. During their 11 years together, Tillis recorded several of Cannon’s songs, including the chart-topping “I Believe In You.” Throughout his career, Cannon’s keen song sense has served him well in the studio, helping select and record hit songs for artists ranging from Shania Twain to Kenny Chesney to Willie Nelson, with whom he has written regularly since 2008. His credits as a songwriter include “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” by Billy Ray Cyrus, “Look At Us” by Craig Morgan, “I’ve Come To Expect It From You” by George Strait, the Vern Gosdin hits “I’m Still Crazy,” “Set ’Em Up Joe” and “Dream Of Me,” as well as the Sammy Kershaw hits “Anywhere But Here” and “If You’re Gonna Walk, I’m Gonna Crawl.” “Give It Away” by Strait was named the 2007 ACM Song & Single of the Year and also the 2007 CMA Song of the Year.

Larry Cordle was raised in eastern Kentucky, where he began playing guitar and writing songs at a young age. He scored his first hit in 1983 when Ricky Skaggs topped the charts with “Highway 40 Blues.” Two years later, Cordle moved to Nashville and began creating a catalog that includes “Heartbreak Hurricane” by Skaggs, “Honky Tonk Crowd” by John Anderson, “Mama Don’t Forget To Pray For Me” by Diamond Rio, “Against The Grain” by Garth Brooks and “Hollywood Squares” by George Strait. “Lonesome Standard Time,” by his band of the same name, was the 1993 IBMA Song of the Year, as well as a country hit for Kathy Mattea. “Murder On Music Row,” also by Lonesome Standard Time, was the 2000 IBMA Song of the Year and the 2001 SPBGMA Song of the Year. The following year, the country version by Strait & Alan Jackson was named the 2001 CMA Song of the Year. “If I’d Have Wrote That Song” by Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, was named the 2018 IBMA Song of the Year. He was named the 2001, 2019 and 2020 SPBGMA Songwriter of the Year. In 2015, Cordle was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.

Carl Jackson was born in the small town of Louisville, Mississippi. By age 8, he was well on his way to being an accomplished musician, and by age 14, he was invited to play banjo in Jim and Jesse McReynolds’s band. Five years later, Jackson joined Glen Campbell’s band. During that time, he began to concentrate on songwriting. Among his diverse catalog of songs, Jackson has bluegrass hits such as “Comet Ride” by Ricky Skaggs and “Run Mississippi” by Rhonda Vincent; Gospel hits such as “It’s Not What You Know (It’s Who You Know)” by The Whites; and country hits such as “(Love Always) Letter To Home” by Glen Campbell, “No Future In The Past” by Vince Gill, “Put Yourself In My Place” by Pam Tillis, “Breaking New Ground” by Wild Rose and his own “Dixie Train.” “Little Mountain Church House” by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver was named the 1990 IBMA Song of the Year. “Where Shadows Never Fall” by Campbell & Kelly Nelon Thompson earned the 1991 GMA Dove Award for Best Southern Gospel Song. Jackson was named the 1998 and 2000 SPBGMA Songwriter of the Year. He was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2006.

Mary Ann Kennedy hails from Muskego, Wisconsin, where she grew up singing in school choirs and performing in her family’s band. After college graduation, she taught junior high school choral music for two years before deciding to move to Nashville in 1978. A few years later, she was signed to a record deal as part of the all-female group Calamity Jane and also saw her first hit as a songwriter – 1982’s “Ring On Her Finger, Time On Her Hands” by Lee Greenwood (later a hit for Reba McEntire in 1996). By 1983, Kennedy and frequent co-writer Pam Rose left Calamity Jane to form Kennedy Rose. The duo recorded a pair of albums for Sting’s Pangea Records label and toured with him in the early 1990s. Beyond the duo, Kennedy’s catalog includes songs such as “Dixie Road” by Greenwood, “Me Against The Night” by Crystal Gayle, “Safe In The Arms Of Love” by Martina McBride, “You Will” by Patty Loveless, “A Little Bit Closer” by Tom Wopat and “He’s Letting Go” by Baillie & The Boys. Janie Fricke hit with “Somebody Else’s Fire” and “The First Word In Memory Is Me.” “I’ll Still Be Loving You” by Restless Heart was named the 1988 ASCAP Country Song of the Year.

California native David Malloy moved with his family from Los Angeles to Nashville at age 13. The son of an award-winning recording engineer, Malloy took his first guitar lesson at 15 and immediately knew that he wanted to write and produce music for a living. After a pair of early singles by Sammi Smith and Carmol Taylor, his first major success as a songwriter came through his collaboration with Eddie Rabbitt and Even Stevens. Together, the trio wrote and produced classic chart-topping hits for Rabbitt such as “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “I Love A Rainy Night,” “Step By Step,” “Someone Could Lose A Heart Tonight,” “Gone Too Far” and “You Can’t Run From Love.” Rabbitt’s “Suspicions” (also a hit for Tim McGraw in 2008) was BMI’s 1980 Country Song of the Year. “Love Will Turn You Around” by Kenny Rogers was named ASCAP’s 1983 Country Song of the Year. Other hits from Malloy’s catalog include “Real Love” by Dolly Parton & Rogers and “One Honest Heart” by Reba McEntire.

Frank J. Myers grew up in Dayton, Ohio. His father, a champion fiddle player and singer, taught Myers to play the guitar. By age 14, he had formed a band with his brother and was featured on Porter Wagoner’s TV show. In 1981, Myers moved to Nashville, where he was hired by Eddy Raven as a guitar player – later becoming Raven’s band leader and road manager. During that time, he co-wrote 10 Top 10 singles for Raven, including “Bayou Boys,” “I Got Mexico” and “Sometimes A Lady.” In 1982, Myers’ “You And I” became a hit for Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle. Other hits from his catalog include “My Front Porch Looking In” by Lonestar, “Come In Out Of The Pain” by Doug Stone and “Once Upon A Lifetime” by Alabama. The John Michael Montgomery version of “I Swear” earned a slew of awards — the 1994 Grammy for Best Country Song, 1994 ACM Song and Single of the Year, 1994 CMA Single of the Year, 1995 ASCAP Country Song of the Year, and 1994 NSAI Song of the Year — with the All 4 One version topping the pop chart for 11 consecutive weeks. “I’m Already There” by Lonestar was the 2002 ASCAP Country Song of the Year and the 2002 BMI Country Song of the Year. “Tomorrow” by Chris Young was the 2011 SESAC Country Song of the Year.

Growing up in Nashville, Tia Sillers became hooked on songwriting as a high-school student when she attended her first songwriters round. Years later her first publishing deal yielded “Lipstick Promises” by George Ducas in 1995. Also that year, Kenny Wayne Shepherd made her “Deja Voodoo” a Top 10 rock hit. Three years later, Shepherd delivered a No. 1 rock hit with “Blue On Black,” which earned the 1998 Billboard Music Award for Rock Track of the Year. The song was re-recorded in 2019 by Five Finger Death Punch with Shepherd, Brantley Gilbert & Brian May. In 2008, Sillers’ co-written “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack with The Sons of the Desert became a chart-topping multi-genre smash that earned the 2000 Grammy for Best Country Song, as well as the 2000 ACM Song and Single of the Year, the 2000 CMA Song and Single of the Year, the 2001 ASCAP Country Song of the Year, the 2001 BMI Country Song of the Year, and the 2000-2001 NSAI Song of the Year. Other notable songs from her catalog include “Land Of The Living” by Pam Tillis, “There’s Your Trouble” by the The Chicks, “I Cry” by Tammy Cochran, “That’d Be Alright” by Alan Jackson, “A Joyful Noise” by Jo Dee Messina and “Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love” by Trisha Yearwood.


Oklahoma native Toby Keith received his first guitar at age eight. After high-school graduation, he worked in the oil fields by day and played with his band at night. In the early ’90s, one of his demo tapes found its way to producer Harold Shedd, who signed him to a deal with Mercury Records. In 1993 Keith’s solo-written debut single, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” reached No. 1 on the country chart and would go on to become the most played country song of the 1990s. As an artist, he has placed 45 self-penned Top 20 songs on the Billboard charts, including 16 No. 1 songs and 17 more in the Top 10. Among those compositions are “You Ain’t Much Fun,” “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This,” “Beer For My Horses,” “I Love This Bar,” “American Soldier,” “A Little Too Late,” and “God Love Her.” “As Good As I Once Was” was BMI’s 2006 Country Song of the Year. Among his many awards, he was named BMI’s 2001 Songwriter of the Year, 2004 Writer/Artist of the Year and 2006 Songwriter of the Year. He was NSAI’s 2003, 2004, 2006 Songwriter/Artist of the Year, as well as that organization’s Songwriter/Artist of the Decade (2000-2009). In 2015, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York.

Brad Paisley was born and raised in Glen Dale, West Virginia. He received his first guitar from his grandfather, who taught him to play at eight years old. At age 13, Paisley wrote his first song, which he performed publicly and eventually led him to an eight-year stint performing on Wheeling’s Jamboree USA. After high-school graduation and two years at West Liberty State College, he was awarded a fully paid ASCAP scholarship to Belmont University in Nashville where he majored in music business. A week after graduating from Belmont, Paisley signed as a writer with EMI Music Publishing. Following cuts by David Kersh, David Ball, and Tracy Byrd, he signed with Arista Nashville and soon began to record his own songs. As an artist, he has placed 33 self-penned Top 20 songs on the Billboard charts, including 15 No. 1s and 14 more in the Top 10. Among those compositions are “He Didn’t Have To Be,” “Alcohol,” “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song),” “Celebrity,” “Ticks,” “Letter To Me,” “Then,” “This Is Country Music,” “Water,” and his duet with Carrie Underwood “Remind Me.” Paisley was ASCAP’s 2004 Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year. He was NSAI’s Songwriter/Artist of the Year in 2002 and 2005.

Shania Twain was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. When she was two, she moved with her family to Timmins, Ontario. During high school, she began writing songs and fronting a local cover band. After graduation, she toured Ontario with another band before returning home in 1987 to care for her younger siblings after their parents died in a car accident. A few years later she was signed to Mercury Nashville. Since the release of her debut album in 1993, Twain has placed 22 self-penned Top 20 songs on the Billboard charts, including 7 No. 1 songs and 8 more in the Top 10. Among those compositions are “You’re Still The One” (1998 Grammy for Best Country Song and 1999 BMI Country Song of the Year), “Come On Over” (1999 Grammy for Best Country Song) and “Forever And For Always” (2004 BMI Country Song of the Year), along with “You’ve Got A Way,” “(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here!,” “Love Gets Me Every Time,” “No One Needs To Know,” “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!,” “From This Moment On” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” Twain was named NSAI’s 1998 Songwriter/Artist of the Year, as well as BMI’s 1999 Country Songwriter of the Year and 2000 Country Songwriter of the Year. She was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Phil Vassar was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. During his college years, he began playing piano and singing in local clubs. Moving to Nashville to pursue music, he found the going slow for several years until 1997 when some of his initial songs were recorded by BlackHawk, Skip Ewing, and The Sons of the Desert. Then in 1998, Vassar’s songs started gaining traction as singles for a variety of artists. During the next two years, he garnered six chart-topping hits from Collin Raye, Alan Jackson, Jo Dee Messina (including the No. 1 “Bye, Bye”) and Tim McGraw (including the No. 1 “My Next Thirty Years”). During that time, he was named NSAI’s 1998 Songwriter of the Year and ASCAP’s 1999 Country Songwriter of the Year. In late 1999, he signed a record deal with Arista Nashville. Released the following year, his debut album generated the self-penned hits “Carlene,” “Rose Bouquet,” “Six-Pack Summer,” “That’s When I Love You” and “Just Another Day In Paradise,” Vassar’s first No. 1 as an artist. Propelled by that success, he was named ASCAP’s 2001 Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year. Other hits by Vassar as an artist include “American Child,” “In A Real Love” and “Last Day Of My Life.” He was named NSAI’s 2006 Songwriter/Artist of the Year.

River House Artists Ups Zebb Luster To VP/General Manager

Zebb Luster. Photo: Acacia Evans

River House Artists (RHA) has announced the promotion of Zebb Luster to VP/General Manager, effective immediately.

River House Artists is a Nashville-based label, publishing, management and artist development company led by industry veteran Lynn Oliver-Cline and boasts a roster including Luke Combs, Ray Fulcher, Nicolette Hayford, Drew Parker, Jameson Rodgers, Jordan Rowe, Southerland, Driver Williams, Billy Strings and more.

Luster, who previously served as creative director, has been with the company since 2017 and was RHA’s first hire. In Luster’s newly created role, he will be responsible for assisting CEO Oliver-Cline in label services and overseeing the company’s artist development, management and publishing roster.

“I am so grateful to find an executive like Zebb who is as passionate about River House and our amazing artists and writers as I am. He not only super serves them, but is there for our young and talented team every day as well,” shares Oliver-Cline. “Thank you, Zebb, for believing. Congrats on being the first employee four years ago, to now accepting your new role as the VP/GM!”

Originally from Fort Myers, Florida, Luster moved to Nashville in 2015 and started the lifestyle and apparel brand YNOT, morphing into the largely successful songwriters round YNOT Wednesday. Luster joined River House Artists as a publishing manager in 2017 before being promoted to creative director/A&R in 2019. Luster has helped grow the RHA roster by helping sign songwriters like Hayford, Williams, Parker, Rowe, Neil Medley and more.

“When I moved to Nashville six years ago, being a music executive was my dream. I had the drive and the passion, but I couldn’t have even dreamt up the path God had planned for me. I owe everything to Lynn Oliver-Cline because she saw something in me early on and gave me an unmatched opportunity to learn and grow,” shares Luster. “The RHA team works harder than anyone I know and we are all following Lynn’s ‘super serve’ mentality that has proven to be successful. Being at River House has been a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.”

Luster can be reached at [email protected].

Sandi Spika Borchetta Elevated To Executive VP, Creative At BMLG

Sandi Spika Borchetta

Big Machine Label Group has announced Sandi Spika Borchetta has been elevated to Executive Vice President, Creative. Overseeing all visual elements across multiple imprints and brands since the company’s inception in 2005, Spika Borchetta will continue to spearhead content including film, music videos, live performances, photography, design and graphics for BMLG.

“Sandi has been a critical component of BMLG since the idea of the label”, says BMLG President/CEO Scott Borchetta. “Her undying support and belief in what the label could become has been my rock.” Borchetta continues, “There is nobody that works harder than Sandi and the Creative team and their content output is arguably unmatched.”

Under her leadership, BMLG has scored numerous CMA, ACM and CMT Awards for videos such as Tim McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care” & “Humble & Kind,” Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man,” Lady A’s “What If I Never Get Over You,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” and Carly Pearce’s “Every Little Thing.” Additionally, the Creative team has garnered Davey Awards for BMLG Corporate Integrative Campaigns and projects such as Steven Tyler’s “Somebody From Somewhere” lyric video, Sugarland’s “Babe” music video and Cheap Trick’s BANG, ZOOM, CRAZY…HELLO album.

“Big Machine Label Group has been such a rewarding experience,” says Spika Borchetta.  “It’s been amazing to be a part of this company from day one in 2005. I feel fortunate and blessed to have worked side by side with my best friend and hero, Scott, for the past 16 years. The BMLG Creative Team is the very best on the planet and I’m grateful for their passionate talents contributing to the success of the entire machine.”

Spika Borchetta has also been inducted into the Tennessee State Museum Costume and Textile Institute recognizing design work for Reba McEntire, Taylor Swift, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, and Kenny Rogers to name a few.

Thomas Rhett Remains At No. 1 On MusicRow Radio Chart

Thomas Rhett‘s song,” Country Again” remains No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week. This is Rhett’s second single this year to spend two weeks at No. 1 following “What’s Your Country Song,” which peaked in January.

The single is the title track to Rhett’s double album and appears on Side A of the release. Rhett co-wrote every song on Side A, and penned “Country Again” with Zach Crowell and Ashley Gorley.

“It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written yet and honestly just feels full circle in so many ways… it’s about the crazy journey I’ve been on over the last decade and ultimately finding my way back home,” Rhett says of the song.

Dates have been rescheduled for Rhett’s Center Point Road Tour with Cole Swindell and Gabby Barrett. The tour kicks off in Aug. 13 in Orange Beach, Alabama. 

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

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Brad Paisley, Tyler Booth, Ernest

Brad Paisley

The winners here are all gentle persuaders.

Country music makers often make the mistake of believing that listeners need to be hit over the head to get them to pay attention. Defying that mindset today are the subtle and charming Brittney Spencer, Ernest, Jameson Rodgers and our Disc of the Day winner, Brad Paisley. Our Fourth of July superstar drops his “City of Music” tomorrow. Get ready to be impressed.

Our DisCovery Award winner comes to us from Sony, a busy company that accounts for four of our DisClaimer entries this week. It’s Tyler Booth with his dandy “Beautiful Outlaw.”

TYLER BOOTH / “Beautiful Outlaw”
Writers: Buddy Owens/Phil O’Donnell/Tyler Booth; Producer: Phil O’Donnell; Label: Villa 40/Sony Music Nashville
— The solid “outlaw” beat and the drawling, personality-plus vocal draw you in at once. The clever lyric does the rest of the work. I’m in.

ROSS ELLIS / “I Wish You Would”
Writers: Dan Fernandez/Michael Whitworth/Ross Ellis; Producer: Brandon Hood/Dann Huff; Label: RCA Nashville
— It’s well produced, and his pleading vocal is on the money. The song seems kinda masochistic to me.

KYLIE MORGAN / “Shoulda”
Writers: Kylie Morgan/Shane McAnally/Ben Johnson; Producer: Shane McAnally/Ben Johnson; Label: EMI
— Rocking and sexy. She has a pert, saucy vocal style. The stomping, guitar-screaming track is mixed a little too high, threatening to thoroughly overwhelm her. Tone it down.

BRAD PAISLEY / “City of Music”
Writers: Brad Paisley/Lee Thomas Miller/Ross Copperman; Producer: Ross Copperman/Luke Wooten; Label: Arista
— It’s a musical love letter to Nashville. A wonderful song, delivered by one of our greatest artists.

ERNEST / “American Rust”
Writers: Ernest/Rodney Clawson/Jordan Reynolds; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud
— This new artist is an award-winning songwriter (as Ernest Keith Smith), having been behind hits by FGL, Sam Hunt, Morgan Wallen and Chris Lane. On disc, he is a marvelously evocative story teller. Over a shuffling beat, he softly sings of heartland America in a lyric loaded with vivid imagery. A superb debut.

Writers: Barry Smith; Producer: Ray Stevens; Label: MCC/Curb
— Pun after pun after pun after pun … about farting. Goofy and maybe a little crass, but awfully clever. His legendary zaniness remains intact.

JAMESON RODGERS / “When You Think of Mississippi”
Writers: Jake Mitchell/Jameson Rodgers/Josh Miller/Smith Ahnquist; Producer: Chris Farren/Jake Mitchell; Label: River House/ Columbia
— Beautifully done. Heartfelt, wistful, dreamy and country all the way. This guy is the bomb and should be a star.

CLAY WALKER / “You Look Good”
Writers: Clay Walker/Jaron Boyer/Michael Tyler; Producer: Michael Knox/Jaron Boyer; Label: Show Dog Nashville
— She looks attractive to him no matter the setting. It’s a simple sentiment, simple production and simple performance. A little too simple. I liked his last single better. Pass.

BRITTNEY SPENCER / “Sober & Skinny”
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: BS
— Very nice. Over a gently rolling rhythm, she plaintively sings of the little failings we all have. Most especially, she relates to the imperfections in a relationship—“when you get sober, I’ll get skinny.” There is magic in her voice, an instrument of lovely nuances and beautifully turned phrases. Open the door and let her in.

Writers: Tracy Lawrence/Brad Arnold/Rick Huckaby; Producer: Tracy Lawrence/Flip Anderson; Label: TL
— These two veterans sound completely authentic on this rolling anthem about the cost of living your life on the country-music highway. Produced with clarity and sung with finesse.

Writers: Daniel Breland/Keith Urban/Sam Sumser/Sean Small; Producer: Sam Sumser/Sean Small; Label: Bad Realm/Atlantic
— It’s a thumpy, banjo-laced banger that combines Urban’s soaring tenor with Breland’s droll, dry, quasi-rapped electronically-processed baritone. It’s quite repetitive, but that’s the way pop and hip-hop are, right?

Writers: Noah Schnacky/Joshua Wade Dorr/Dylan Guthro; Producer: Dylan Guthro; Label: Big Machine
— Noah brings youthful verve to this, and Jimmie rides along gamely. Electronic burbles of sound, synth beats and a murky hip-hop vibe are all deployed. But the whole thing sounds aimless and vague. I think the gist of the “song” is talking a city girl into loving a country boy, but beyond that, I find no real point to it.

2021 CMT Music Awards Highlights: Winners, Performances, Collaborations

Carrie Underwood wins Video of the Year at the 2021 CMT Music Awards.

Last night (June 9) the 2021 CMT Music Awards were held live at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Hosted by Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown, the show included its traditional array of awards and an impressive lineup of performers and collaborations.

After winning the award for Video of the Year, the biggest honor of the night, Carrie Underwood maintained her position of most decorated artist in CMT Music Awards history with a whopping 23 career wins. Curb Records recording artist Dylan Scott won Breakthrough Video Of The Year for his music video for “Nobody,” his first CMT Award.

Hosts Kelsea Ballerini, Kane Brown

Hosts Brown and Ballerini both walked away with CMT trophies, Ballerini for her her performance of “The Other Girl” at the 2020 CMT Music Awards with Halsey. Brown took home Male Video Of The Year for “Worship You,” as well as Collaborative Video Of The Year with Chris Young for “Famous Friends.” For a full list of winners, click here.

The CMT Equal Play Award was presented to Linda Martell. The trailblazer was honored with a reel of her story and role in music history as the first Black female solo country artist to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage along with a slew of her additional career achievements.

Chris Stapleton and H.E.R. perform “Hold On” at the 2021 CMT Music Awards.

Among the performers who took the stage last night were impressive collaborations like country crooner Chris Stapleton and soulful singer H.E.R.’s jaw dropping rendition of “Hold On;” Underwood and Needtobreathe delivering their recent track “I Wanna Remember;” Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall, and Jack Ingram teaming up to perform a stripped down version of “Tequila Does;” and Ballerini with Paul Klein (LANY) debuting their brand new song “I Quit Drinking.”

Lady A, Carly Pearce, Lindsay Ell, and a full spread of female band members opened up the show with their powerhouse anthem “Lady” while Mickey Guyton, Breland, and Gladys Knight joined forces for a medley of “Cross Country” and The Temptations 1970 song “Friendship Train.”

Ingrid Andress performs “Lady Like” at the 2021 CMT Music Awards.

Ingrid Andress performed her hit song “Lady Like,” and also lended her vocals on “Like That” with JP Saxe; Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi took the stage to perform “Getting Over Him;” Brothers Osborne and Dierks Bentley sang “Lighten Up” from the Bonaroo Farm; and Brown and Chris Young closed out the night with “Famous Friends.” Luke Combs (“Cold As You”), Luke Bryan (“Down To One”), and Thomas Rhett (“Country Again”) also gave solo performances throughout the night.

2021 CMT Music Awards Winners List

The 2021 CMT Music Awards aired live from Nashville on Wednesday night (June 9). Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini served as hosts.

Carrie Underwood and John Legend were awarded the night’s top honor of Video Of The Year for “Hallelujah.”

Little Big Town took home Group/Duo Video Of The Year for their lively “Wine, Beer, Whiskey.” Chris Young and host Brown won Collaborative Video Of The Year for their charming “Famous Friends,” and Brown also took home Male Video Of The Year for “Worship You.”

Brown’s co-host Ballerini won  CMT Performance Of The Year for her performance of “The Other Girl” at the 2020 CMT Music Awards with Halsey.

Dylan Scott was presented the Breakthrough Video Of The Year for “Nobody,” his first-ever award.

Gabby Barrett, who announced she would not attend the CMT Music Awards due to “personal circumstances” days before the event, won Female Video Of The Year for “The Good Ones.”

For a full recap of the 2021 CMT Music Awards including performances and special collaborations, click here.

The 2021 CMT Music Awards winners are highlighted below:

Video Of The Year
Best video of the year; awarded to the artist (male, female, group/duo or collaboration)

  • Carrie Underwood with John Legend – “Hallelujah” – WINNER
  • Kane Brown – “Worldwide Beautiful”
  • Keith Urban with P!nk – “One Too Many”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “hole in the bottle”

Female Video Of The Year
Best video by a female artist; awarded to the artist

  • Carly Pearce – “Next Girl”
  • Gabby Barrett – “The Good Ones” – WINNER
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “hole in the bottle”
  • Maren Morris – “To Hell & Back”
  • Mickey Guyton – “Heaven Down Here”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Settling Down”

Male Video Of The Year
Best video by a male artist; awarded to the artist

  • Chris Stapleton – “Starting Over”
  • Darius Rucker – “Beers and Sunshine”
  • Kane Brown – “Worship You” – WINNER
  • Luke Bryan – “Down To One”
  • Luke Combs – “Lovin’ On You”
  • Thomas Rhett – “What’s Your Country Song”

Duo/Group Video Of The Year
Best video by a duo or group; awarded to the artists

  • Brothers Osborne – “All Night”
  • Lady A – “Like A Lady”
  • Little Big Town – “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” – WINNER
  • Old Dominion – “Never Be Sorry”
  • Parmalee and Blanco Brown – “Just The Way”
  • Runaway June – “We Were Rich”

Breakthrough Video Of The Year
Best video from an artist’s major breakthrough album; awarded to the artist (male, female or group/duo)

  • Dylan Scott – “Nobody” – WINNER
  • Hailey Whitters feat. Little Big Town – “Fillin’ My Cup”
  • HARDY – “Give Heaven Some Hell”
  • Lainey Wilson – “Things a Man Oughta Know”
  • Mickey Guyton – “Black Like Me”
  • Niko Moon – “GOOD TIME (Ride Along Video)”

Collaborative Video Of The Year
Best video from a collaboration; awarded to the artists

  • Carrie Underwood with John Legend – “Hallelujah”
  • Chris Young and Kane Brown – “Famous Friends” – WINNER
  • Elle King and Miranda Lambert – “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
  • Keith Urban with P!nk – “One Too Many”
  • Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris – “Chasing After You”
  • Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard – “Undivided”

CMT Performance Of The Year
Musical performance on a television show, series or variety special on CMT; awarded to the artist (individual, group or duo)

  • From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Brooks & Dunn and Luke Combs “1, 2 Many”
  • From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Dan + Shay “I Should Probably Go To Bed”
  • From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Jimmie Allen and Noah Cyrus “This Is Us”
  • From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey “The Other Girl” – WINNER
  • From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Little Big Town “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”
  • From CMT Crossroads – Nathaniel Rateliff and Margo Price “Twinkle Twinkle”

Sam Williams Signs To UMG Nashville

Pictured (L-R): Missi Gallimore (Owner & CEO, T.R.U.T.H. Management), Sam Williams, Cindy Mabe (President, UMG Nashville), Mike Dungan (Chairman & CEO, UMG Nashville)

Universal Music Group Nashville has signed singer-songwriter Sam Williams.

Williams, the grandson of country music pioneer Hank Williams and the son of outlaw legend Hank Jr., sings and writes in his own style, fusing gut-wrenching honesty and plainspoken poetics with raw vulnerability and empathy.

“We are so proud and excited that Sam Williams is joining Universal Music Group,” says President of UMG Nashville Cindy Mabe. “His powerful, soulful vocals combine with his introspective storytelling to fully immerse you into Sam’s own life making you feel everything he feels. He’s such a special talent and I believe Sam’s music will help lead country music into its next evolution.”

Williams is set to release his debut album, Glasshouse Children, later this summer. Early releases from the project include “Shuteye,” “Can’t Fool Your Own Blood,” “The World: Alone,” and most recently “10-4,” which have all garnered critical acclaim. Williams also made his national television debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in April of this year where he performed “Can’t Fool You Own Blood.”