Warner Music Nashville’s Tom Starr Passes

Tom Starr. Photo: Courtesy Warner Music Nashville

Warner Music Group Nashville’s Tom Starr has died following a battle with cancer.

Starr was a part of the WAR promotion team, joining in 2014. He was Regional Mgr. of Radio & Streaming when he passed. With the Warner team, Starr helped work singles for Dan + Shay, Chris Janson, Ashley McBryde, Zac Brown Band, Frankie Ballard, and more.

Pictured: Tom Starr with Gator Harrison, Tennille Harrison, Kelly Janson, Chris Janson, John Esposito, and Rod Phillips at a Country Radio Seminar celebration in 2018. Photo: Alan Poizner/Peyton Hoge

Prior to joining Warner, Starr worked in pop world music, including stops at Interscope, EMI/Capitol, Jive, MCA and Elektra Records.

Dan + Shay’s Dan Smyers posted a heartfelt tribute to Starr on his Facebook page, with a photo of a backstage photo from the early days in their career.


man, this one hurts. we’re so grateful to have had Tom Starr with us through the majority of our career (including our…

Posted by Dan Smyers on Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Memorial arrangements have not yet been announced.

Quartz Hill Records Signs Ben Gallaher

Pictured (L-R, top row): Quartz Hill Records’ Paul Brown and April Rider; Warner Chappell Music’s Ben Vaughn, BSB Management’s Shawn Pennington. Pictured (L-R, bottom row): Quartz Hill Records’ Jason Sellers, Ben Gallaher, Benny Brown.

Quartz Hill Records, the newly-formed joint partnership with global music distribution company The Orchard, announced the signing of Ben Gallaher to its label roster.

Gallaher has earned a fast-growing fanbase due to his commanding guitar prowess and energetic live shows while opening for the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Blake Shelton, 3 Doors Down, Lee Brice, and has toured the Pennsylvania State Prisons for ten years on his annual, headlining Prison Tour.

Gallaher was introduced to Quartz Hill Records’ Benny Brown by Brown’s longtime friend Ben Vaughn, President & CEO of Warner Chappell Music Nashville, and Gallaher’s publisher. After meeting with Brown and Quartz Hill managing partners Paul Brown and Jason Sellers, they knew the label had found its next rising star.

“I was immediately taken with Ben’s ability to sit and perform just a guitar vocal and make it sound huge—like we were in an arena instead of in a conference room. After performing only three songs, I knew Ben was a star. And after spending time with more than 100 songs Ben had written, I knew we needed him in country music. His songs not only have a good beat but each one has a message that fans can wrap their arms around,” says Benny Brown.

“I’m humbled to work with Benny Brown and the Quartz Hill Records team. Since our first conversation, they have welcomed me as a member of their family,” says Gallaher. “Our visions for my brand and future are perfectly aligned and I’m fired up to share the new music we have been working on!”

Fans will get their first taste of new music from Gallaher on Friday, Feb. 5 with the worldwide release of “Every Small Town,” co-written by Gallaher, Ash Bowers and Jim Collins. Gallaher is currently in the studio recording his debut Quartz Hill Records album with producers Mickey Jack Cones (Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett) and Derek George (Dustin Lynch, Randy Houser).

Gallaher is signed to Warner Chappell Music Nashville and is an ASCAP writer. He is booked by WME and managed by BSB Management.

Aaron Tannenbaum Joins WME As Partner

Aaron Tannenbaum

Music agent Aaron Tannenbaum has joined WME as a Partner, based in its Nashville office.

Prior to joining WME, Tannenbaum was at CAA since 2010. He was previously an agent at Paradigm. Tannenbaum has been recognized throughout the music business for his accomplishments, being named to Billboard’s Rising Stars List, Country Power Players List, and HITS’ Next Wave Agents list.

“Aaron has earned a reputation in our business as an agent who has a strong ability to identify talent and takes the long-view in building an artist’s career, making him a great fit for us,” said Scott Clayton, WME’s Co-Head of Music.

“As our Nashville office continues to grow, Aaron represents a significant addition to our team and we look forward to bringing his creativity and strategic approach to our colleagues and clients,” said Jay Williams, Co-Head of WME’s Nashville office.

BREAKING: Joel Katz Resigns From Greenberg Traurig

Joel Katz

Attorney and founding chairman of the Greenberg Traurig’s entertainment and media practice, Joel Katz, notified Greenberg Traurig of his resignation from the firm on Dec. 31, 2020, MusicRow has confirmed.

A top entertainment attorney frequently listed in Billboard‘s Power 100 list, Billboard‘s Country Power Players List, and MusicRow‘s InCharge, Katz has represented legendary entertainers from an array of genres, including artists, producers, record companies, concert promoters, and business leaders. His client list has included Jimmy Buffett, Jamie Foxx, Steve Harvey, Faith Hill, Julio Iglesias, Alan Jackson, Estate of Michael Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Little Big Town, Ludacris, Tim McGraw, L.A. Reid, George Strait, James Taylor, Justin Timberlake, TLC, and others.

In a statement provided to MusicRow, Greenberg Traurig Executive Chairman, Richard A. Rosenbaum, said: “Joel Katz has, by mutual understanding, resigned from the firm as of December 31, 2020. Our global entertainment practice remains strong, diverse and among the largest, most dynamic and highest rated in the world, led by Chair Bobby Rosenbloum in Atlanta, assisted by Vice Chairs Barbara Meili in New York and Dan Black in Los Angeles, as well as Jay Cooper, the founder of our Los Angeles Entertainment Practice, leading music industry lawyers Jess Rosen in Atlanta and Paul Schindler in New York, and many others. We thank Mr. Katz for his contributions over the years and have no further comment at this time.”

Grammy Winning Singer-Songwriter Jamie O’Hara Passes

Jamie O’Hara

Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Jamie O’Hara has died at age 70. He courageously battled cancer and sadly succumbed on Jan. 7, with his wife, Lola White O’Hara, by his side.

O’Hara won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song for “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days),” a 1986 hit for The Judds. He was also noted as half of the performing and recording duo The O’Kanes alongside Kieran Kane. The O’Kanes had six consecutive top 10 hits in 1986-88, all of which were co-written by O’Hara and Kane.

James Paul O’Hara was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. He was an all-American high-school football star who was offered a tryout by the Detroit Tigers right out of high school, which he turned down to play football at Indiana University. A knee injury ended his football career. During his recovery, he took up the guitar and started writing songs.

Despite family and friends’ disapproval, he moved to Nashville at age 26. Within a year, he was signed as a staff songwriter by the industry giant Sony-ATV (then called Tree International Publishing).

He initially tasted success as a songwriter in 1980-87 with cuts by John Conlee, T.G. Sheppard, Conway Twitty, Johnny Lee, Michael Johnson and other stars of the era. In 1981, Ronnie McDowell scored back-to-back smash hits with O’Hara’s “Wandering Eyes” and “Older Women.” The 1986 Judds hit “Grandpa (Tell Me Bout the Good Old Days) earned Grammys for the duo’s performance as well as for O’Hara’s songwriting.

Jamie O’Hara next formed The O’Kanes with fellow songwriter Kieran Kane. The duo debuted on the charts with the 1986 top 10 hit “Oh Darlin.'” The O’Kanes scored a No. 1 hit in 1987 with “Can’t Stop My Heart From Loving You.” This was followed by the 1987-88 top 10 successes “Daddies Need to Grow Up Too,” “Just Lovin’ You,” “One True Love” and “Blue Love.”

The duo issued three LPs – The OKanes (1987), Tired of Runnin’ (1988) and Imagine That (1990) – before amicably parting ways.

Don Williams had scored a top 10 hit in 1988 with O’Hara’s co-written “Desperately,” and Tammy Wynette succeeded with “Talkin’ To Myself Again” in 1987. So O’Hara returned to writing for others. Trisha Yearwood, The Chicks, Randy Travis, Emmylou Harris, Mark Collie and Michael Martin Murphey were among those who recorded his songs in the early 1990s. Tanya Tucker popularized his farm-crisis song, “Bidding America Goodbye.”

The songwriter returned to recording with the 1994 solo CD Rise Above It. His second solo CD was 2001’s Beautiful Obsession, and in 2012 he followed it with Dream Hymns. The first of these contained his notable Vietnam War elegy “50,000 Names.”

O’Hara’s songwriting success continued with “You’ve Got to Talk to Me,” a major hit for Lee Ann Womack in 1997. George Jones (2000’s “The Cold Hard Truth”) and Wynonna (1997’s “When Love Starts Talkin’”) also maintained O’Hara’s songwriting prominence.

Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris included his “When We’re Gone Long Gone” on their 1999 Trio II collection. In 2001, Gary Allan had a No. 1 hit with “Man To Man,” and he also recorded several other O’Hara compositions.

Tim McGraw, Sara Evans, Joey & Rory, The Oak Ridge Boys, Pam Tillis and Josh Turner were among those who have recorded O’Hara songs in recent years. He also has a number of bluegrass-music successes.

During his songwriting career, Jamie O’Hara provided songs to dozens of stars. The list includes Janie Fricke, Mel McDaniel, Brady Seals, Shelby Lynne, Mandy Barnett, Kathy Mattea, Larry Stewart, Dave & Sugar, Tom Wopat and Stacy Dean Campbell, among many others.

There are no plans for a public memorial at this time. In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted in Jamie O’Hara’s name to Bonaparte’s Retreat, Doctors Without Borders, MusiCares, and SmileTrain.

Jordan Davis Ranks No. 1 On ‘MusicRow’ CountryBreakout Radio Chart

Jordan Davis moves two positions, climbing to No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week with his single “Almost Maybes.” The single appears on Davis’ self-title EP and was written by Davis, Hillary Lindsey, and Jesse Frasure.

Davis sat down with MusicRow to discuss “Almost Maybes” and his latest project. “It’s just looking back at past relationships and not just taking the negatives from them, since they didn’t work out,” Davis says. “For me it led to me findin’ my wife, and now we have a six month-old daughter. But looking back on those relationships and not thinking about them in a bad light, just realizing that I learned a lot about myself. With the good and the bad, I’m a better person because of it.” To read the full interview, click here.

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

Country Artists React To D.C. Violence

US Capitol, Washington DC

Yesterday (Jan. 6) a mob of Pro-Trump protesters stormed the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., as Congress began counting the Electoral College votes.

Chaos and violence ensued, as demonstrators broke through barricades and entered the Capitol building, putting the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives into lockdown.

Now, several country music artists are speaking out about the violence on social media:

Who Ruled 2020 Year-End Sales? Luke Combs, Gabby Barrett, Morgan Wallen, Maren Morris, Dan + Shay

Pictured (L-R, top row): Maren Morris, Gabby Barrett; (L-R, bottom row): Luke Combs, Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, Morgan Wallen

According to Nielsen, Gabby Barrett tops the Top 5 on-demand audio Streaming Country Songs for 2020, with her breakout single, “I Hope,” garnering 409 million streams.

Maren Morris follows Barrett, with “The Bones” earning 342 million streams. Morgan Wallen‘s collaboration with Diplo and Julia Michaels on “Heartless” comes in at No. 3 with 340 million; and his “Chasin’ You” is at No. 4 with 303 million streams. Dan + Shay‘s collaboration with Justin Bieber, “10,000 Hours,” rounds out the Top 5 on-demand audio Streaming Country Songs for 2020 with 281 million streams.

Notably, each song in the top five—apart from Wallen’s “Chasin’ You”—has a pop radio remix or collaboration. Barrett’s remix of “I Hope” that included Charlie Puth went to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 all-genre chart and No. 1 on their Adult Top 40. Morris’ remix of “The Bones” with Hozier was a No. 1 Adult Top 40 song. Diplo and Wallen’s “Heartless” has been certified 3x-Platinum.

Dan + Shay and Bieber’s “10,000 Hours” made history on Billboard‘s Streaming Songs chart by becoming the highest-charting non-holiday country song in the history of the chart, beating Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise.”

As far as albums, there were 19 country titles in the top 200 overall for 2020. Luke CombsWhat You See Is What You Get is the highest ranking country album at No. 10 in the top 200. His This One’s For You is the second highest title, at No. 25.

Other country albums in the top 200 for 2020 include:
Morgan Wallen’s If I Know Me (No. 27)
Sam Hunt’s SOUTHSIDE (No. 62)
Chris Stapleton’s Traveller (No. 65)
Blake Shelton’s Fully Loaded: God’s Country (No. 71)
Gabby Barrett’s Goldmine (No. 100)
Maren Morris’ Girl (No. 106)
Luke Bryan’s Born Here Live Here Die Here (No. 107)
Kenny Chesney’s Here And Now (No. 112)
Dan + Shay’s Dan + Shay (No. 125)
Kane Brown’s Experiment (No. 133)
Carrie Underwood’s My Gift (No. 137)
Jason Aldean’s 9 (No. 138)
Zac Brown Band’s Greatest Hits So Far… (No. 141)
Kane Brown’s Kane Brown (No. 156)
Old Dominion’s Old Dominion (No. 159)
Kane Brown’s Mixtape Vol. 1 (No. 168)
Lee Brice’s Hey World (No. 175)

BREAKING: The Recording Academy Postpones Grammy Awards To March

[UPDATED: The original show date (March 21) announced by The Recording Academy has subsequently been changed by the organization to March 14 and updated in the story below.]

The Recording Academy has postponed the Grammy Awards to March 14, 2021. The show’s postponement is due to health concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday (Jan. 4), California set a new single-day record of 74,000 new cases.

The 63rd Grammy Awards were to broadcast from Los Angeles on the CBS network on Sunday, Jan. 31.

In a joint statement, Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason jr.; Executive Vice President, Specials, Music, Live Events and Alternative Programming, CBS, Jack Sussman; GRAMMY Awards Executive Producer, Fulwell 73 Productions, Ben Winston, said:

“After thoughtful conversations with health experts, our host and artists scheduled to appear, we are rescheduling the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards to be broadcast Sunday, March 14, 2021. The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show.

We want to thank all of the talented artists, the staff, our vendors and especially this year’s nominees for their understanding, patience and willingness to work with us as we navigate these unprecedented times.”

Nominees for the 63rd Grammy Awards were announced in November of 2020. Yesterday (Jan. 4) was the last day for Recording Academy members to vote for the winners. Grammy-nominated comedian Trevor Noah was slated to be the host of the 2021 Grammys, but it is unclear if he will still host this year’s show.

Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley To Release Solo Music

Florida Georgia Line. Photo: John Shearer

Florida Georgia Line members Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley announced on social media that they will be releasing their own music, as individuals, in the near future. The duo also assured fans that they are not splitting up; with their fifth studio album, Life Rolls On, due out in February and a tour to follow once it is safe to do so.

Florida Georgia Line started their hit-filled career in 2010. Their breakout single “Cruise” was certified 11x multi-Platinum, making them the first country act to achieve RIAA’s Diamond certification. They hold the longest reign on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart of 50 consecutive weeks with another Diamond, No. 1 single, “Meant to Be” with Bebe Rexha. They’ve tallied 17 career No. 1 singles.

In an effort to be “transparent and real” with their fans, Kelley and Hubbard uploaded a nearly 10-minute video explaining that while they will still be making music and touring as FGL, they will also be working on music individually, with Kelley announcing an album he’s planning for the summer. Hubbard mentioned some collaborations to be released soon.

“I did a lot of soul-searching,” said Kelley. “I took some time off from writing songs. I didn’t know what I was searching for. I got my arm back in shape and thought I was going to start pitching again, I fished as much as I could, and did pretty much anything I could do to get a lot of energy out and kill some time.

“Where I landed was really falling in love with my guitar and writing songs again, more than ever,” Kelley continued. “This has been a lifelong dream of mine, but I started writing an album once I started writing again. I had a couple songs that I was writing and I thought, ‘I think I’m supposed to sing these and have a project or an outlet for these to come out on.'”

Kelley said that he approached Hubbard in September with the idea for a solo project., to which Hubbard gave him his blessing as a collaborator.

“We’re really creating some freedom for ourselves in addition to what we do with FGL” Kelley said.

“There’s a lot going on,” Hubbard said. “We want to make sure that our truth is out there for you guys, and our genuine excitement and support of each other for the next chapter of our career, of our music, of our journey, of our touring, and everything. We’re really excited.”