Morgan Wallen’s Eligibility For 2021 CMA Awards

Morgan Wallen. Photo: John Shearer

The CMA Board of Directors have voted to amend Morgan Wallen’s 2021 CMA Awards eligibility.

Wallen, who came under fire in February when a video surfaced of him using the N-word outside of his Nashville home, was disqualified from the 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards.

The  Country Music Association announced its ballot schedule for The 55th Annual CMA Awards, slated for this November.

The CMA Board of Directors amended Wallen’s 2021 CMA Awards eligibility, making him eligible in categories that honor artistic works (Single, Song, Album, Musical Event, and Music Video of the Year categories), so as not to limit opportunity for other credited collaborators. He will not be eligible for nomination in the individual artist categories (Entertainer and Male Vocalist of the Year categories), however.

After a period of social media silence, Wallen has begun to post again and was even spotted performing at Kid Rock’s bar on Broadway Avenue in Nashville recently.

Jason Aldean Earns 15th No. 1 Song On MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart

Jason Aldean earns his fifteenth No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week with “Blame It On You.” Written by Kurt Allison, John Edwards, Tully Kennedy, Michael Tyler, and Brian White, the single appears on Aldean’s latest album, 9, released via Macon Music and Broken Bow Records. 

While performing his first live show since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic at the Bonnaroo Farm last weekend, Aldean announced his Back in the Saddle Tour will kick off on Aug. 5. Hardy and Lainey Wilson will serve as opening acts.

“It’s been emotional being back on stage with my band for the first time in a year this weekend,” says Aldean of the Bonnaroo shows. “It’s made us all even more ready to get back to life as we all know it. Being on the road makes all of us – the band, the crew, and me – happy and I haven’t felt this excited about going on tour in 15 years.”

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DISClaimer Single Reviews: Cody Johnson & Willie Nelson, Dustin Lynch & Chris Lane

Willie Nelson, Cody Johnson

Collaborations are on the menu today in DisClaimer.

Sometimes they are between country acts (Dustin Lynch & Chris Lane, Willie & Cody Johnson) and sometimes they are cross-genre efforts (Needtobreathe & Carrie, Maren & Joy Oladokun). But in every case, they are all worthwhile.

The Disc of the Day award goes to my man Cody Johnson for his revival (with Willie) of Willie’s song “Sad Songs and Waltzes.” If you must have tempo, you can’t do better than the Lynch/Lane collab “Tequila on a Boat” or the Nashvillains’ bopping “Who Don’t.”

Give the James Barker Band this week’s DisCovery Award.

CODY JOHNSON & WILLIE NELSON / “Sad Songs and Waltzes”
Writers: Willie Nelson; Producer: Trent Willmon; Label: CoJo Music/Warner Music Nashville
— I have always loved this Willie chestnut. As a duet between these two awesome Texans, it becomes an atmospheric mini masterpiece. The production is perfection, and the vocals are as warm as a campfire.

Writers: Hillary Lindsey/Justin Ebach/Matt Alderman; Producer: Zach Crowell; Label: Broken Bow Records
— This funky groover sounds exactly like a summer anthem. Bob heads and smile.

JOEY HEFFERNAN & JOE DIFFIE / “When the Golden Leaves Begin to Fall”
Writers: Bill Monroe; Producer: none listed; Label: JH
— Veteran sideman, Dobro instructor and touring artist Hefferman teamed up with the late great vocalist Diffie for this stately, slow-waltz rendition of a Bill Monroe gem. Their accompanying band is an all-star get together. Diffie’s lead vocal is a stirring reminder of what a fine talent we lost when he became the first music star to die of Covid-19 last year.

WILLIE JONES / “Down By the Riverside”
Writers: Willie Jones/Josh Logan/Jason Afable; Producer: Jason Afable; Label: Sony Music Nashville/Penthouse
— This guy manages to fuse hip-hop and country better than most. This tilts a little more more urban than country, but there’s still singing plus a square-dance element. Catchy and clever.

Writers: Chase Bryant/Joe Haydel/Tim Owens; Producer: Jon Randall/Chase Bryant; Label: Green Iris
— Exquisitely heartbreaking. This is the best written and most beautifully sung breakup ballad I’ve heard in ages. Play and believe.

MICHAEL RAY / “Picture”
Writers: Michael Ray/Michael Hardy/David Garcia/Ross Copperman; Producer: Ross Copperman; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— “Take every snapshot while you can/Tell them that you love them while you got a chance.” Because one day all you will have is the memory and a photo. A lovely sentiment, a pretty melody and a sincere performance. What’s not to love?

JAMES BARKER BAND / “Over All Over Again”
Writers: Gavin Slate/James Barker/Todd Clark/Travis Wood; Producer: none listed; Label: Sony Music Nashville
— The ingredients here are dynamic country-rock rhythm, dandy lyrics, youthful energy and a soaring lead vocal. I dig this. Play it again.

Writers: Billy Edd Wheeler/Jerry Leiber; Producer: Nick Goldston; Label: TM
— Trixie is a country-music drag queen. Orville is that guy in the fringed mask with the throaty, melodramatic delivery. Their pairing on this Johnny-and-June classic is country camp all the way. It has verve and moxie to spare.

Writers: Bear Rinehart; Producer: Konrad Snyder/Needtobreathe; Label: Elektra
— The Grammy winning Christian rock band teams with the mighty voiced country queen on a boiling, emotive power ballad. This little pop beauty will definitely stir yer blood.

JADEN HAMILTON / “Heaven’s Jukebox”
Writers: Jaden Hamilton/Ryan Beaver/Jared Keim; Producer: Matthew McVaney; Label: Sony Music Nashville
— I remain in this neo-traditionalist kid’s corner. This time, he’s treating us to a rolling, upbeat ditty that is a country fan’s vision of the Hereafter. Worthy.

Writers: Joy Oladokun/Maren Morris/Jimmy Robbins/Laura Veltz; Producer: Jimmy Robbins/Joy Oladokun; Label: Amigo/Verve Forecast/Republic
— Joy is a Nigerian American who has moved to Music City from Arizona. She cites Tracy Chapman as an influence, and I can certainly hear that in her folk-tinged, Americana style. Maren helps to anchor the downbeat, poetic lyric with her languid, earthy vocals. Intriguingly different.

Writers: Andrew Dorff/Brad Tursi/Corey Crowder; Producer: Steve Dorff; Label: Fate Entertainment
— This is a trio comprised of Music City songwriters/producers Brett Boyett, Troy Johnson and Scott Lindsey. Their single is a thumpy, rhythm-happy outing with bounce and charm. I defy you not to tap your toes.

Phil Guerini Joins Jonas Group Entertainment As CEO

Phil Guerini. Photo: Acacia Evans

Jonas Group Entertainment has announced that music industry power player Phil Guerini has joined the team as CEO, effective immediately.

Based in Nashville, Guerini will be at the helm of Jonas Group Entertainment. The company was founded in 2005 by Kevin Jonas, Sr., who was managing his sons, Grammy-nominated, multi-Platinum selling group Jonas Brothers. Jonas Group Entertainment now houses entertainment, publishing, and marketing divisions, with offices in Nashville and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Guerini last oversaw music strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide networks, alongside all aspects of Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country. He played a vital role within three divisions and five businesses of The Walt Disney Company with highlights that include spearheading the development and launch of the annual Radio Disney Music Awards in 2013, and reimagining Radio Disney’s highly-acclaimed artist development program Next Big Thing (NBT). Prior to that he spent time in roles at radio stations in Miami and Atlanta, in addition to record labels like MCA Records, A&M Records, Chrysalis Records, and East West Records. He launched his career as a staff writer for the Miami Herald.

“Life is truly an unpredictable blessing and every once in a while, we’re lucky enough to experience a full circle moment. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have spent the last 28+ years of my career with the world’s leader in family entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, and I plan to bring that knowledge and experience to Jonas Group Entertainment,” Guerini says. “This dynamic organization is boldly redefining diversified management and the entertainment business model by integrating music, strategic partnerships, and content creation all done with a purpose. I had the honor of first meeting the Jonas family and working with Kevin, Joe, and Nick back in 2005, so it is extremely special that I now get to join forces with Kevin Jonas, Sr. to build something that I feel will be extraordinary. I want to thank Kevin Sr. and Jonas Group Entertainment for giving me this amazing opportunity. It feels like a homecoming and I’m very excited to begin this next chapter.”

“It is a great honor to have Phil Guerini join us as CEO of Jonas Group Entertainment. He has been an instrumental part of my family’s journey and was an early supporter of my sons before they experienced their tremendous success,” recalls Jonas, Sr., founder and chairman of Jonas Group Entertainment. “Phil is a force of nature; a true entertainment professional; a developer of talent and opportunities; a wealth of knowledge and experience; and a personal friend. Matching our current projects and talent with his tremendous leadership will assist in bringing Jonas Group Entertainment into its finest days. I am confident that we will move forward into incredible things with Phil leading the way.”

RCA Records Partners With Sony Music Nashville To Support Elle King Country Projects

Elle King. Photo: Corey Bost

RCA Records and Sony Music Nashville have announced a new partnership in support of global entertainer Elle King.

King’s new intoxicating duet with Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home),” has already racked up over 40 million streams globally. The single debuted at No. 1 in early March on both Billboard’s Rock Digital Sales Chart and the Country Digital Song Sales Chart. Additionally, King is the first female artist in history to have scored four radio No. 1 singles on different formats including Adult Pop Songs, Adult Alternative Songs, Alternative Songs and Country Airplay charts.

King has enjoyed over 1.5 billion streams worldwide. Her debut album Love Stuff featured her breakthrough single “Ex’s & Oh’s,” which earned her two Grammy nominations and is certified 4x Platinum. Her single “Shame,” off her second studio album Shake The Spirit, marked King’s fourth radio No. 1 single. King released her latest EP, Elle King: In Isolation, in summer of 2020, a collection of raw demos and songs she recorded acoustically while quarantining at home.

“Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” officially impacts country radio on June 14. King will join Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show this summer.

Country Music Industry Stalwart Patsy Bruce Passes

Patsy Bruce. Photo: Bev Moser

Businesswoman, songwriter and artist manager Patsy Bruce died on Sunday, May 16. She was 81.

Patsy’s impressive resume spanned industries, skill sets and states as she found success in the entertainment industry, event planning, tourism, journalism, activism and politics.

Born Patsy Ann Smithson in Brownsville, Tennessee to a military family. She married the late Ed Bruce, who was working as a car salesman and trying to break into music at the time. They met in 1964, married shortly after in Memphis, and moved to Nashville in 1966. The two had three children together before separating in 1986.

During their marriage, Patsy worked as Ed’s manager, during which time he became known as a singer, songwriter and actor. She was also a casting director, and worked on the TV show Maverick and the movie Urban Cowboy.

She is credited as a songwriter, along with Ed, on Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings’ iconic duet, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” She also collaborated with Ed on his songs “Texas (When I Die),” “Girls, Women and Ladies,” “(When You Fall in Love) Everything’s a Waltz,” “Ever, Never Lovin’ You,” and “After All.”

Patsy briefly served as president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International in the late 1970s and early ’80s, and she and Ed ran the Ed Bruce Talent Agency and their publishing companies during that period.

Patsy worked in event planning in the ’80s and ’90s, after her divorce. As owner of Events Unlimited, she converted the Super Dome into a one-third replica of the famed French Quarter for a $9 million Honda event with a team of 1,300 people. This success helped her win Events magazine’s Gala Award, the event industry’s top award. She also launched Patsy Bruce Productions Inc., a film and television production company.

She also became a political activist and community leader, working with Phil Bredesen’s campaign for Tennessee governor. After the election, Bredesen appointed Patsy to the Tennessee State Board of Probation and Parole, where she served for 10 years in the early 2000s. She also became involved in Bredesen’s wife Andrea Conte’s non-profit, You Have the Power, which provides support for victims of crimes.

In 2017 Patsy launched Songbird Tours, a songwriting-focused tour company in Nashville, with her son and songwriter Trey Bruce.

Patsy is survived by her devoted partner Jim Trout, son Trey Bruce (Laci); daughters Ginny Bruce and AnnMarie Bruce Pinhal (Joey); grandchildren Sara Bruce Manual (Greg), Maggie Bruce Emmick (Cory), Sela Bruce, Railee Bruce, Patrick Elder, Chelsea Jensen, Joseph Pinhal (Katie), Cathrine Pinhal and Juliana Pinhal; and great-grandchildren Eisley, Elynn, Lilah, Cason, Addison, Bentley, Bella and Cade; and her personal angel on the ground and caregiver, Meaghan Stack. She is preceded in death by her son, Beau Bruce, who died in 2019, and her parents, Henry and Hazel Smithson.

Memorial service details have not yet been announced.

Cassadee Pope Finds Herself And New Sound In Upcoming Project [Interview]

Cassadee Pope. Photo: John Shearer.

Singer-songwriter Cassadee Pope is back with new music that speaks to her musical past, present and future. Her brand new single “What The Stars See” serves as a sneak peek into her new project due out later this fall, distributed through The Orchard.

In the turbulent year of 2020, Pope used the time to think about what kind of music she wanted to pursue and who she wanted to be as an artist going forward. Like a lot of other people, she also used the time to reflect on her career up to this point.

“COVID forced everyone to just be still, think and reflect. Obviously, when you’re reflecting you think of your past, and my past is all pop-punk and touring and Hey Monday,” says Pope.

Before her win with Team Blake on season three of NBC’s The Voice, Pope was the frontwoman for the pop-punk band Hey Monday. Formed in 2008, Pope and her fellow bandmates toured around the world with the likes of We The Kings, The All-American Rejects, The Cab, All Time Low, and others before the group’s hiatus in 2011. However, after coming into town with a new record deal, Pope explains that she had initially shied away from her pop-punk roots.

“I already had a lot of proving to do to show everyone that I’m an artist. I’m a songwriter—I didn’t just sing covers on a reality singing competition show,” Pope shares. “The show really highlighted my story about being in Hey Monday, so people didn’t realize that I sang country as a kid… It was almost like I had to prove to people that I’m a country artist.” Pope continues, “There was a lot of pressure to fit a mold and I became kind of lost a few times in my career because of that.”

Over the last few years, Pope has started becoming comfortable in her own skin and learning to love the things that make her different from what is traditionally associated with country music. Through working on her mental health, Pope thinks that she has finally hit the sweet spot in combining her two musical worlds: country and pop-punk.

Cassadee Pope. Photo: John Shearer.

However, there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to this new dynamic sound. “Pop-punk has a lot of different versions and so does country,” Pope explains. “I love bands like Blink-182 but I also love bands like Foo Fighters, and they are not the same. I love artists like Little Big Town but I also love Maren Morris, and they aren’t the same.”

In order to figure out this new direction without losing her country sensibilities when it comes to songwriting, Pope began to write with artists and peers from her past, including Kevin Bard from Stereo Skyline, Paul DiGiovanni from Boys Like Girls, and Holiday Parade’s Andy Albert. Pope also teamed up with The All-American Rejects lead guitarist Nick Wheeler to help produce the project.

“I’ve known Nick for like 10 years now, maybe even more. We wrote a few times and every demo that came back sounded like I could release it the next day,” says Pope. “ I was convinced he was the guy and thought it was just meant to be. So I asked him if he would produce and he said yes!”

Accompanying Wheeler, in a surprisingly stunning marriage of music, is Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild. As one of Pope’s mentors and musical inspirations, the country powerhouse serves as co-producer on the upcoming project and even lends her voice as a feature on the album’s lead single.

“Having Nick who is a huge part of my past and where I come from on that pop-punk side, mixed with Karen who’s been a part of my more recent history and a mentor for me here in Nashville… blending those worlds just feels so right and so fun,” she shares.

Pope has given fans a glimpse into this next era of music with “What The Stars See,” available everywhere now. Teaming up with co-writers Jake Rose and Lindsey Rimes, the trio brought to life Pope’s wish of wanting to see what her exes were doing the night they broke up from the perspective of the stars.

The new track mixes a vulnerable, revealing lyric with a high-energy rock flare that is reminiscent of her Hey Monday days. Accompanied by fellow singer-songwriter Lindsey Ell lending her signature guitar riffs and Fairchild’s complimentary vocals, the new single delivers a striking preview of what to expect from Pope in the months to come as she takes off on her most honest project yet.

She also debuted the music video for the track today (May 14), directed by Ed Pryor and produced by Wes Edwards, which is a colorful take on the famed sci-fi action movie Blade Runner.

Pope is excited to be making the music that feels most authentic to her. “It has been the best experience ever in the studio; it has been the most fun I’ve ever had,” she gushes. “I’ve just been so focused on staying authentic and doing what makes me happy. It’s definitely opened up all these different doors in my brain when it comes to creativity and songwriting.

“I think the project as a whole, the way it’s shaping, is an album that really confronts things from my past that I’ve shied away from writing about until now and letting myself feel sad about it,” Pope admits. “The songs that came out of just that acceptance… I mean, they’re the most powerful songs I’ve ever written, so I think the gist of the album is just letting yourself feel whatever those feelings are and not just surviving but thriving from those experiences.”

Carly Pearce Is ‘Next Girl’ To Receive MusicRow No. 1

Carly Pearce claims the No. 1 spot this week on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart, earning a cumulative 38,294 spins in the 34 weeks since its release. “Next Girl” spent 15 weeks in the top 10 on the chart. The single was written by Pearce, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, and it appears on her latest project 29.

Pearce and Lee Brice won Musical Event of the Year for “I Hope You’re Happy Now” at both the 54th Annual CMA Awards and 56th ACM Awards. They also received a Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America for the single.

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Canadian Group James Barker Band Signs To Villa 40/Sony Music Nashville

James Barker Band. Photo: Matthew Berinato.

Sony Music Nashville and Villa 40 have announced that Platinum-selling group, the James Barker Band, has signed with Villa 40/Sony Music Nashville.

“It’s not every day you start working with an act that already has an engaged, global fan base,” says Villa 40 Co-Founder Brad Margolis. “We look forward to collaborating with our partners at Sony Music Nashville in continuing to build the band’s success in Canada and making them a household name in the U.S.”

Originally from Ontario, Canada, the band is celebrating the new record deal signing by releasing “Over All Over Again,” their first release through the label, today (May 14).

“We’re so excited to be putting new music out and starting this new chapter in the U.S.,” adds frontman James Barker. “They’ve been so great at allowing us to chase down different creative avenues while staying true to our sound.”

Building off the success and fan base the band has built in Canada, their signing with Sony Music Nashville and Villa 40 will contribute further their international success story.

BREAKING: ACM Heading Back To Las Vegas For 2022 Awards

[Updated: This post has been updated on Nov. 18, 2021 to reflect the revised date for the 2022 ACM Awards.]

The Academy of Country Music has revealed that it will head back to Las Vegas for its 2022 awards, after having held the last two awards ceremonies in Nashville.

The 57th ACM Awards will take place in Las Vegas on Monday, March 7, 2022.

The 2021 awards ceremony, hosted at iconic country music venues including the Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry and Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, saw Luke Bryan walk away with Entertainer of the Year, with other honors handed out to Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, and more.

More details about the 57th ACM Awards will be announced at a later date.