Bailey Zimmerman Shatters Global Amazon Music Record [Exclusive]

Bailey Zimmerman

Bailey Zimmerman continues his record-breaking streak following the release of his debut album Religiously. The Album. on Friday (May 12). The album’s first-day streams exceeded any other debut country album ever on Amazon Music globally. The project also earned the most first-week streams of any debut country album on Amazon Music globally.

Zimmerman is the 2023 country Amazon Music Breakthrough Artist, which means he receives support platform wide. As part of the Breakthrough program, Zimmerman and his team get to work alongside Amazon Music to develop a long-term, customized global plan tailored to their specific needs. This includes video and audio content, global marketing support, custom merch stores on the Amazon website and increased visibility across Amazon Music’s playlists and programming.

For Zimmerman, the Breakthrough Artist program allowed him to participate in Stagecoach opportunities including a backstage livestream interview on the Amazon Music channel on Twitch, meet-and-greet and merch giveaways with fans at the Amazon Music Live lounge, along with a dedicated Breakthrough billboard placement in Palm Springs. He was also a featured guest on Country Heat Weekly podcast, performed at the 58th annual ACM Awards as a part of the annual Breakthrough performance and came together with Amazon Music to celebrate his new album with an album release event in Austin.

In June, Zimmerman will participate in a CMA Fest activation, make a special guest appearance on Country Grammar Radio on Amazon Music, participate in Country Music Month initiatives and will receive campaign support from Amazon Live.

Zimmerman’s record-breaking success with Religiously. The Album. marks the third consecutive time that a country Breakthrough Artist has broken this record. Amazon Music Breakthrough Artist, Gabby Barrett, broke the record in 2020, as did Breland in 2022, exemplifying the strength of the program.

“Amazon Music is dedicated to championing artists in all facets of their career and our Breakthrough Program allows us to work alongside artists in a special way,” Amazon Music’s Artist Relations Co-Lead, Chris Graham, tells MusicRow. “Breakthrough includes increased visibility across our stations and playlists, such as Amazon Country Music’s global playlist Country Heat, but it also extends to livestream performances (including Festivals), bespoke marketing activations and events, social promotion, merch offerings, Amazon Original songs, editorial content and more.”

He adds, “Breakthrough is intentionally a long-term program that allows us to get behind an artist for several months. That long-game perspective is key to finding and growing a fanbase for our Breakthrough Artists on Amazon Music and executing on their behalf throughout the campaign and beyond. It really allows us to take the time to build with them and take our customers and their fans along for the ride; and in turn, breaking some records along the way!”

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Lee Brice Honors Late Collaborator, Kyle Jacobs

Kyle Jacobs and Lee Brice

We’re mixing it up with hard country, pop country, blues, rock and folk-pop in this edition of DISClaimer.

For real meat-and-potatoes country music, I prescribe Brennen Leigh, Thompson Square, Chase Matthew and Colby Acuff.

We have two excellent entries by Black country stylists this week. One is from a previous favorite, O.N.E. The Duo. The other comes from our DISCovery Award winner, Tae Lewis.

Towering above everybody else is the sublime single by Lee Brice, which earns the Disc of the Day prize.

TAE LEWIS / “Summer of 21”
Writers: Brian Alexander/Mary Kutter/Chris Sligh/Heath Warren/Tae Lewis; Producers: Taylor Bias/Lukas Scott Klingensmith; Label: Tae Lewis Music
– Nostalgia for that summertime beach romance with oomphy production to match his sterling, range-y, tenor-vocal performance. Best debut disc I’ve heard in ages. Lewis is one of the Black Opry talents.

JD DARLING / “1995”
Writer: Jonathan Darling; Producers: John Kennedy/JD Darling; Label: JD Darling
– He has an honest, slightly pitchy baritone, and the spare production is attractive. His song is kinda simplistic, sing-songy and overly wordy, but the overall listening experience goes down smoothly. He’s still on the amateur side of things. But keep him writing. He’s on the path.

LEE BRICE / “Save the Roses”
Writers: Lee Brice/Joe Leathers/Kyle Jacobs; Producers: Ben Glover/Kyle Jacobs; Label: Curb Records
– I love this man. He’s a song magnet who gets to me every time. Brice is a superb country singer who delivers a lyric like no one else in this business. In this case, it is a powerful, chesty elegy to the late songwriter Kyle Jacobs, and I promise it will hit you in your heart.

BRENNEN LEIGH / “I Ain’t Through Honky Tonkin Yet”
Writers: Brennen Leigh/John Scott Sherrill; Producer: Chris Scruggs; Label: Signature Sounds
– I’ve been a fan of this talented Texan for years. She is unashamedly country down to her fingertips, unafraid to bask in fiddles and steel while delivering songs of beers & tears. This is the title tune of her Nashville album, which drops June 16. On board in the CD’s cast are Rodney Crowell, Chris Scruggs and Marty Stuart. This exquisitely retro tune will make you want to grab a partner and two-step across that dance floor. To coin a phrase—This is music to my ears.

CHASE MATTHEW / “Where There’s Smoke”
Writers: Rodney Clawson/Alysa Vanderheym/Josh Miller/Jordan Reynolds; Producer: Alysa Vanderheym; Label: Warner Music Nashville/Chase Matthew Music
– Matthew’s new 25-song album arrives on June 9, but there’s already a lot to preview. Its single is “Love You Again.” The collection’s title tune is “Come Get Your Memory.” There’s a video of “County Line.” Yet another advance is this track marrying heartache and doubt with driving, top-down energy. Modern country with a twang.

DOLLY PARTON / “World on Fire”
Writer: Dolly Parton; Producer: Kent Wells; Label: Big Machine Records, LLC
– Dolly premiered this stomping, apocalyptic, thunderous call for love and unity on last week’s ACM awards show. She’s channeling Queen, U2 and Springsteen as she introduces us to her new rock personna. The chanted barn burner will be found on Rockstar, her 30-track, star-studded rock collection coming this fall. An audio revelation.

O.N.E. The Duo / “Hearts Like Mine”
Writers: Tekitha Washington/Prana Supreme Diggs/Rebecca Lynn Howard/Elisha Hoffman/Lincoln Morris; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Visionary Media Group
– The mother-daughter team displays a glossy, melodic, pop-ish sound on this outing. Their wafting, gently harmonized, feminine bopper is simply lovely. It joins the video of “Feels Good” and last year’s “Stuck in the Middle” as advance tracks. All three songs are drawn from Blood Harmony, O.N.E. The Duo’s debut album, which drops Aug. 11.

RILEY GREEN & LUKE COMBS / “Different ‘Round Here”
Writers: Randy Montana/Jonathan David Singleton/Riley Green; Producer: Dan Huff, Jimmy Harnen; Label: BMLG Records
– Let’s see: So far, Mr. Green has released duets with Justin Moore, Thomas Rhett and Dustin Lynch. Now here’s another. This redneck anthem features country king Combs. It pre-supposes that their hometown is “different” because it can tell “right is right and wrong is wrong.” Unlike the rest of us?

THOMPSON SQUARE / “Without You”
Writers: Tim Nichols/Anthony Olympia/Brent Rupard; Producers: Derek George, Mickey Jack Cones; Label: Quartz Hill Records
– Rippling banjo notes set the merry mood as the husband-wife duo rolls out of the driveway and out onto the open road with this zesty, made-for-summer ditty. Keifer sings lead and Shawna shadows him in perfect harmony. The electric guitars soar as the track hits its stride. Highly recommended.

LINDSAY ELL / “Sweet Spot”
Writers: Lindsay Ell/Mark Campbell/Pete Groenwald; Producers: Mark Campbell/Peter Groenwald; Label: WM Canada
– The Canadian guitar-slinging country troubadour unleashes a punchy, pop production that motors along steadily with relentless beats in an echoey atmosphere. Breezy and pleasant. North of the border, she’s the host of Canada’s Got Talent. In a recent People magazine story, she revealed that she has been battling an eating disorder.

GRIFFEN PALMER / “Put Me Through Hello”
Writers: Griffen Palmer/Geoff Warburton; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud Records
– He lets her put him through “Hell-oh” every time his ex calls him and reels him back in. The rapid-fire delivery is expertly done, and the production has just the right touches of electric instrumentation, thumping rhythm and swirling atmosphere. This is drawn from Palmer’s debut album, the recently released Unlearn. Nicely done, bro.

TRACY NELSON & WILLIE NELSON / “Honky Tonkin’”
Writer: Hank Williams; Producers: Roger Alan Nichols/Tracy Nelson; Label: BMG
– On her new Life Don’t Miss Nobody album, timeless Nashville blues diva Tracy Nelson dips into the catalogs of Ma Rainey, Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Gene McDaniels, the Nevilles and Stephen Foster. Among the highlights is her reunion with Willie. The two last scored a blazing duet success with “After the Fire Is Gone” in 1974. On this upbeat. loosey-goosey rendition of the Hank Williams classic, the two are equally charming. The hot harmonica licks by Mickey Raphael don’t hurt a bit. Throughout the collection, producer Roger Nichols’ tracks are brilliantly imaginative.

COLBY ACUFF / “Playing God Again”
Writers: Colby Acuff/Dwight Baker; Producer: Eddie Spear; Label: Sony Music Nashville
– This Idaho singer-songwriter has issued three self-penned indie albums. For his Sony debut, he trots out a fiddle-led romper that tells us to “sit back and let the future unfold” and don’t try to control what you can’t. His energy and his reedy, heartfelt voice are infectious. Also check out the lilting folkie ballad that is his album’s title tune, “Western White Pines.”

Luke Bryan & Peyton Manning To Host CMA Awards

Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning hosting the 56th Annual CMA Awards. Photo: Courtesy of CMA

Two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan and NFL star Peyton Manning will return as hosts for the 57th Annual CMA Awards, which is set to air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on ABC.

This will mark the second year that Bryan and Manning take on hosting duties. Last year’s show totaled 9.7 million viewers and earned a 1.79 rating among adults 18-49, after seven days of viewing across linear and digital platforms.

The eligibility period for this year’s CMA Awards runs from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. CMA members will receive the first nomination ballot and submission instructions on Wednesday, July 5. For more details regarding this year’s ballot timeline, click here.

Parker McCollum Stays True To Himself On New Album ‘Never Enough’ [Interview]

Parker McCollum

For his new album Never Enough, which released via MCA Nashville on Friday (May 12), Parker McCollum dialed in on the sound that differentiates him from the rest.

The 15-song project once again finds Jon Randall at the helm of production, polishing up the specific McCollum sound that first turned fans on to the Texas native with his critically acclaimed 2015 album The Limestone Kid. After making a hit album with 2021’s Gold Chain Cowboy, which included popular songs “Pretty Heart” and “To Be Loved by You,” McCollum and Randall have doubled down with Never Enough, which McCollum says was a welcomed challenge.

“I was bored of what I’ve always done and the style I’ve always cranked out. I didn’t reinvent it, but I tried to be fresh and almost entertain myself with the songs I was writing and the direction I was going this time,” he tells MusicRow.

McCollum’s songwriting skills have sharpened in the two years since Gold Chain Cowboy. Enlisting Music Row hitmakers Ashley Gorley, Hillary Lindsey, Brett James, Lori McKenna, Lee Miller, Monty Criswell and Liz Rose—as well as Texas mavericks and frequent collaborators Randall, Wade Bowen and Randy RogersNever Enough finds McCollum at the top of his game as a songwriter.

“[The writers on this record] are some of my favorite writers in town,” McCollum says. “They’re the best songwriters in the world and now they’re my good friends. They just come over to my house and write songs on my couch, so it’s a different opportunity. I didn’t have access to that before, so I’ve really enjoyed that.”

A songwriting highlight on the project is “Tails I Lose.” The tune, co-written with Bowen alongside Brad and Brett Warren, finds the subject drinking away his heartbreak at bar, toying with a quarter that he says decides his fate. McCollum wails, “Jukebox quarter up, I’ve done everything I can. It don’t matter where it lands, Ain’t a damn thing I can do. It’s heads you win, tails I lose.”

“I was kicking around this melody and I had written some other stuff to it. I really loved the melody but I knew that nothing I had rambled off to it was very strong,” McCollum says. “Somebody had the line ‘heads you win, tails I lose,’ which I had heard before but never in a song. So as any typical songwriter, we decided we had to write that before somebody else does.”

Another highlight, “Have Your Heart Again,” was several years in the making.

“I had that melody for about six years. It was one of my favorite melodies I’ve come up with and I didn’t want to take a chance at missing. I played it for Ashley and Lee one night at Ashley’s house and they were into it, so we sat around and wrote a piano heartbreak ballad,” McCollum remembers. “I was going to cut it for Gold Chain Cowboy, but it just didn’t feel like it fit. I’m not sure it fits on this record either, but I’ve never done a piano ballad, so it was chance to do something different.”

Never Enough has already yielded a hit, with the Monty Criswell co-written “Handle On You” topping the charts a few weeks ago. McCollum says that that song set the bar for the rest of the album.

“That song was what I was trying to go for more than anything else. Monty and I wrote that and I said, ‘Man, that’s what I would like to lean into more,'” McCollum shares. “But like I said, I get bored real quick, so I’ll write ‘Handle On You,’ ‘Tails I Lose’ and ‘Lessons From An Old Man,’ and then I’m bored of it and want to go write something like ‘Burn It Down’ that’s big and rocking. Then I’ll go write ‘Wheel,’ which is this waving goodbye song that ends the record on an upbeat note, not such a sad and terrible note like everything else.”

When it comes to “sad and terrible,” McCollum does it well. His hits often find him heartbroken, such as the self-loathing “Pretty Heart,” the downtrodden “Young Man’s Blues,” the agonizing “To Be Loved By You” and the regretful “Hell Of A Year.” The 30-year-old says he feels at home writing sad songs, and his new album has quite a few.

“Those are my favorite kinds,” he says. “Those seem to get the most attention from me.”

But Never Enough has more than sad songs. Tracks “Stoned” and “Speed” find McCollum on the rocking side of the tracks. “Burn It Down,” which is sure to be a hit, was written by McCollum with The Love Junkies (Lindsey, McKenna and Rose), and has earned some early attention from fans.

Though Never Enough finds McCollum leveling up in songwriting and zeroing in on his sound, he credits staying true to himself as the key to his success.

“Staying super authentic to what you are, what you like and what you think is good is how you sleep the best at night. You have to be able to stand behind whatever you do, regardless if the general public accepts it and embraces it or doesn’t,” McCollum says. “For lack of a better term, I never really gave a shit. I did not think country radio would embrace my songs like they have. I never dreamed any of my songs of be on country radio, go double Platinum or do all this crazy stuff. I think my biggest strength is that I just stuck to what I did best and tried to do it as well as I could.”

McCollum performs at his album release party, hosted by Lucchese, in Texas during ACM Week. Photo: Chris Kleinmeier

He credits his label, UMG Nashville, for allowing him to make the music he wants to make.

“When I signed my record deal, my biggest thing was creative control. I passed on all the advance money and all that because I was already selling tickets and touring, so I didn’t really need the cash advance like a lot of artists do when they sign a deal. I really just tried to leverage that and get as much creative control as I could.

“Luckily I got all of it,” McCollum says. “It starts and stops with me on what songs are written, what songs are cut and what songs aren’t cut. They can send whatever songs to radio that they want—they know more about what can be a hit than I do. Shout out to Universal Records because they’ve totally kept their word.”

When asked what he hopes his fans take away from Never Enough, McCollum says he hopes they see his authenticity in its 15 songs.

“I just hope they believe it,” he sums. “All of these songs come from a super authentic, genuine and real place. My favorite songs in the world hit me so hard every time I listen to them. I love to get lost in a song, so I really hope they get lost in these and it does something for them.”

Listen to McCollum’s new album Never Enough, out now.

SESAC Ups Shannan Hatch To SVP, Head Of Nashville Creative

Shannan Hatch. Photo: Katie Kauss

SESAC Performing Rights has promoted Shannan Hatch to SVP, Head of Nashville Creative.

Rising from Vice President, Creative Services in the Nashville office, Hatch’s new role will maintain leadership of the Nashville-based Creative Services team in supporting SESAC-affiliated songwriters and publishers. Reporting to Chief Creative Officer Sam Kling, she will work closely with senior management to support creator-focused initiatives.

“Shannan is a staple in the Nashville songwriting community,” says Kling. “Her commitment to our affiliates is unparalleled and I am thrilled to announce this well-deserved new role.”

Hatch and her team are responsible for the recruitment, signing and nurturing of songwriters and publishers as well as the retention of existing SESAC-affiliated writers and publishers. During her more than 20 years at SESAC, Hatch has worked closely with affiliates Lee Brice, Jamey Johnson, Runaway June, Craig Campbell, Matt McGinn, Josh Hoge, Jesse Lee, Richard Leigh, Jaron Boyer, Cary Barlowe, Lance Miller, Monty Powell and Michael Tyler, along with Americana tunesmiths Hayes Carll, Jim Lauderdale and Allison Moorer, among many others.

She is instrumental in the production of SESAC-sponsored songwriter events including Tin Pan South, SESAC Presents at the Bluebird, CMA Showcases, Pensacola Songwriters Festival, SESAC Nashville Music Awards as well as many charitable events in and around Music City.

ACM Winners Fill MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

Ashley Gorley at the ACM Songs & Stories event in Frisco, Texas. Photo: Michael Buckner

The newly-crowned ACM Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley marks another week at No. 1 on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart, with a whopping 14 songs on the country charts. Announced during the ACM Awards festivities last week, this was Gorley’s first-ever win for ACM Songwriter of the Year after 10 nominations.

In addition to his Songwriter of the Year win, Gorley joined the elite company of Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson with three Song of the Year nods in a single year, becoming the third person to achieve the feat in ACM’s history. With good odds, Gorley did take home a Song of the Year trophy during the livestreamed ACM Awards for “She Had Me at Heads Carolina,” recorded by Cole Swindell.

Another ACM winner, Male Artist of the Year Morgan Wallen, remains at No. 2 on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart this week. New Male Artist of the Year winner Zach Bryan remains at No. 4 and Artist-Songwriter of the Year Michael Hardy is at No. 23.

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.

ACM Awards Bring The Party To Texas [Show Recap]

Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton at the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 11, 2023 in Frisco, Texas.

The 58th Academy of Country Music Awards took over Frisco, Texas Thursday night (May 11).

Lainey Wilson and Hardy tied for the most wins, taking home four awards each. Lainey won Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year, as well as Music Event and Visual Media of the Year for her collaboration with Hardy, “Wait In The Truck.” In addition to his shared wins with Lainey, and his second trophy earned in the Music Event category as a producer of the song, Hardy took home Artist-Songwriter of the Year prior to the ACM Awards livestream.

Chris Stapleton at the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 11, 2023 in Frisco, Texas.

Chris Stapleton won the night’s top honor, ACM Entertainer of the Year, for the very first time.

Keith Urban kicked off the ACM Awards livestream on Prime Video with his groovy “Texas Time” before introducing one of the night’s co-hosts Garth Brooks.

When the roar of applause died down, Garth welcomed everyone to the 58th ACM Awards. He was stoic in his opening remarks about the legacy of country music and went through a list of country music GOATS (“Greatest. Of. All Time.”), naming Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Randy Travis and George Strait.

“When you break down what makes up the GOAT, it’s about picking, singing, musicianship, awards and all that stuff,” he said. “When you add the last category—time, length of career—that makes the king of country music a female.

“Give it up for the GOAT: Dolly Parton,” Garth exclaimed. Parton appeared on-stage with a live goat in a wagon. “Did I hear you say you were looking for a goat?” she quipped.

“This is Garth’s very first time hosting an award show,” Dolly said. “You never forget your first time.” She then made a joke about a threesome, exemplifying that all bets are off on the first and only fully livestreamed award show.

Cole Swindell and Jo Dee Messina at the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 11, 2023 in Frisco, Texas.

Cole Swindell and Jo Dee Messina were next to take the stage with their sonic boom of a hit, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina.” Just as Cole sat back down, he was called to the podium as the night’s first winner, taking home Song of the Year for the smash.

“I moved to Nashville, Tennessee because I wanted to be a songwriter. That’s what this award is,” he said. Cole thanked Messina and his team, and recognized Sony Music Publishing’s Rusty Gaston and Anna Weisband for their contributions to the massive hit. “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” co-writers Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley and Tim Nichols thanked their families and teams, as well as co-writer Thomas Rhett, who was not in attendance.

Next up, Kane Brown performed his hard-hitting new single, “Bury Me In Georgia” before reigning Female Artist of the Year Carly Pearce took the stage to honor Trisha Yearwood‘s 25th anniversary of winning ACM Female Vocalist of the Year. Yearwood joined her for an awesome medley of “Wrong Side Of Memphis,” “XXX’s and OOO’s” and “She’s In Love With The Boy.”

Dustin Lynch and MacKenzie Porter presented Duo of the Year to Brothers Osborne for the night’s next award presentation.

TJ Osborne kept it short and sweet because, as he said, he was hot, nervous and sucking his belly in. John Osborne concurred, adding a special thank you to his wife Lucie Silvas, who just gave birth to twins a month ago.

“I love the country music community. We’re the luckiest people in the world,” John said.

Hardy at the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 11, 2023 in Frisco, Texas.

Next up it was time to hear from the night’s top honoree, Hardy, who started the night as a two-time winner, having won Artist-Songwriter of the Year and Visual Media for his “Wait In The Truck” duet with Wilson.

Hardy brought his country-rock sound to the ACM Awards stage, performing his hard-hitting “Truck Bed,” complete with the screamo verse that thrilled the artists and industry members in the audience.

Chris Young and Mitchell Tenpenny then presented Old Dominion with Group of the Year honor.

“There’s people in this room like Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton and Randy Travis. Somehow we are included in this party,” Old Dominion’s Matt Ramsey said “We’re so proud to be in a room full of country music fans and make music for those people, but we’re most proud to be able to make music for people that are hurting right now.”

Bailey Zimmerman made his debut ACM performance with “Rock and A Hard Place.” He grinned and pumped his fist in the air as the crowd sang back. “Way to make your breakthrough moment count, young man,” Dolly said when her and Garth re-appeared.

Willie Nelson FaceTimed in for a moment to celebrate his 90th birthday. Cody Johnson did a stellar job with Willie and Waylon’s “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys.” Another Texas native, reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Miranda Lambert, performed a stunning rendition of her gorgeous “Carousel,” an enchanting tune about carnival performers from her Palomino album.

Lainey Wilson at the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 11, 2023 in Frisco, Texas.

Next up, Tanya Tucker presented Single of the Year to Cole Swindell for “She Had Me At Heads Carolina.”

“I don’t know what’s going on, y’all. Thank you country music fans—that’s all I’ve ever been,” Cole said. He thanked Warner Music Nashville, Sony Music Publishing, Kerri Edwards and KP Entertainment.

The ACM New Female Artist of the Year, Hailey Whitters, charmed the room with “Everything She Ain’t.” Donning a pink, frilly dress, Whitters had the audience tickled to clap along to the beat.

Music Event of the Year was the next award presentation. It went to Hardy and Lainey for “Wait In The Truck.” Hardy let everyone know that he forgot to spit his dip out, so to bare with him. He thanked Wilson and said, “thank you everyone for resonating with this song, especially something with this subject matter.”

Lainey agreed, “I think it’s really important to sing about things that are hard to talk about. This is a song about real life.”

Next up was a performance of “Love You Anyway” from Luke Combs. Combs introduced pop superstar Ed Sheeran, who sang a verse of his folky “Life Goes On,” before Combs joined him. The two sounded great together and embraced in a friendly hug before Garth appeared and asked the two about their friendship.

Carly Pearce and TJ Osborne introduced The War And Treaty, who blew the roof off the place with “Blank Page.” Garth and Dolly gave it high praise, rightfully so.

The hosts then recognized some of the country giants we lost this past year, including Loretta Lynn and Naomi Judd. Dolly broke out in a verse of “Precious Memories” to mark the moment.

Dolly then presented the Female Artist of the Year award to Lainey Wilson.

“I can’t believe I just met Dolly Parton,” an emotional Lainey said. She thanked Jesus, her family, her label, Red Light Management, Sony Music Publishing and WME. “For the little girls watching this, this right here stands for hard work. If you’re going to be a dreamer, you better be a doer.”

Ed Sheeran and Luke Combs at the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 11, 2023 in Frisco, Texas.

ACM’s Entertainer of the Decade Jason Aldean brought the party for a performance of his new song, “Tough Crowd” before Ashley McBryde enlisted Caylee Hammack, Pillbox Patti, Brandy Clark and John Osborne for a rousing performance of “Bonfire At Tina’s.”

Garth presented Male Artist of the Year to Morgan Wallen, who was not in attendance to accept due to a vocal injury.

Jelly Roll performed “Save Me.” Lainey joined him for a verse before bringing the heat on her performance of “Grease.” After an additional stunning performance, Lainey won yet another award for Album of the Year for her Bell Bottom Country.

Jordan Davis played a sweet acoustic version of “Next Thing You Know” before it was time to crown the night’s top honor, Entertainer of the Year. Trisha Yearwood re-appeared to present the honor to Chris Stapleton. It was his first time receiving the award and qualifies him for the ACM Triple Crown Award, celebrating artists who have won New Female/Male Artist of the Year, Female/Male Artist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.

“I am in shock, truly. Thank you. By an imaginable metric, I don’t deserve this,” Stapleton said, thanking his band and crew, Red Light Management, UMG Nashville and his family.

Before the night was over, Dolly took the stage for the world premiere of the debut single from her new rock album, Rockstar, called “World on Fire.” It was the right way to end the night, capturing the audience in one final celebration and marking the end of the 58th ACM Awards.

Storme Warren To Exit SiriusXM The Highway

After nearly two decades, SiriusXM The Highway morning show host Storme Warren is leaving the company, MusicRow has confirmed. Today (May 12) is his last day.

Warren is a 26-year Nashville industry veteran, celebrating his 36th year in broadcasting this year. As SiriusXM The Highway’s morning show host, he has been responsible for the Hot 30 Countdown and conducting Prime Country interview specials.

In addition to hosting numerous events for BMI and their affiliates, Warren has hosted several high-profile events in Music City and around the world, including Nashville’s annual Independence Day and New Year’s Eve celebrations as well as music festivals all over North America, the Caribbean and Australia. His television credits as host and contributing talent include TNN’s TNN Country News, CNN’s Showbiz Today and GAC & CMC’s Country Music Across America and Headline Country.

Additionally, Warren runs Stone Beaver Productions, a full-service video production company, which has created numerous live and recorded television concert events, DVDs and specials, including Charlie Daniels’ Band CDB DVD Live and Vince Gill: Live at the Ryman.

“We are grateful for Storme’s contributions over the years in helping build The Highway on SiriusXM into the leading destination for today’s country music. We wish Storme all the best and look forward to continuing the tradition of presenting our listeners with the next generation of new country superstars,” says SiriusXM The Highway SVP/GM, Music Programming Steve Blatter.

Warren’s co-host, Macie Banks, will continue on as the sole host on an interim basis. Johnny Chiang, who joined Pandora as Senior Director of Country Programming in August of 2022, has expanded his role to also oversee country music programming at SiriusXM.

Country Artist Jimmie Allen Sued For Sexual Assault By Former Manager

Jimmie Allen

A lawsuit has been filed against Jimmie Allen for sexual assault by his former manager. Allen’s alleged assaults on his former manager are detailed in her interview with Variety. To protect her identity, she is referred to as “Jane Doe” throughout the Variety piece.

MusicRow has confirmed with BBR Music Group they they have suspended all activity with Allen effective immediately. UTA has also suspended representation of Allen.

Among other claims, his former manager says Allen raped her and repeatedly sexually harassed and abused her. In a statement to Variety, Allen denies the allegations but does acknowledge that the two had a sexual relationship.

The lawsuit also includes Allen’s former management company, Wide Open Music, and its founder Ash Bowers, whom she says fired her when she complained. According to the report, Bowers denies the allegations.

ACM Awards Week Rocks Texas, Tune In Tonight For Awards

Pictured (L-R): ACM CEO Damon Whiteside, ACM New Female Artist of the Year Hailey Whitters and 2020 ACM New Female Artist of the Year Gabby Barrett. Photo: Courtesy of ACM

The country music industry is celebrating all week down in Frisco, Texas in preparation for the 58th annual ACM Awards, which will air live tonight (May 11) at 7 p.m. CT on Prime Video.

In addition to rehearsals taking place throughout the week, public festivities kicked off on Tuesday (May 9) with the first day of the ACM Country Kickoff at The Star free fan festival, including a special opening ceremony with Frisco resident and RCA recording artist Corey Kent, Academy of Country Music CEO Damon Whiteside as well as local and state officials and representatives of the Dallas Cowboys.

Pictured (L-R): Brendon Anthony, Director, Texas Music Office; Corey Kent, RCA recording artist, ACM Country Kickoff performer, and Frisco, TX resident; Jeff Cheney, Mayor, Frisco, TX; Chuck Aly, Chair, ACM Board of Directors; Damon Whiteside, CEO, ACM; and Chad Estis, EVP Business Operations, Dallas Cowboys and Legends. Photo: Courtesy of ACM

Other country artists who performed at The Star were exciting up-and-coming artists Kent, Ashley Cooke, Randall King, Erin Kinsey, Chase Matthew, Ian Munsick, Neon Union and Frank Ray.

On Tuesday night (May 9), Gabby Barrett revealed some early winners at the Live From the ACMs: ACM New Artist Winners Celebration. The ACM New Male Artist of the Year was awarded to Zach Bryan, and ACM New Female Artist of the Year was presented to Hailey Whitters. Whitters performed for the crowd after accepting her award and will also take the stage at Ford Center tonight to perform live at the 58th ACM Awards, marking her win.

Pictured (L-R): Chase McGill, The Bluebird Cafe General Manager Erika Wollam Nichols, ACM CEO Damon Whiteside, Nicolle Galyon, Ashley Gorley and Hunter Phelps. Photo: Courtesy of ACM

On Wednesday (May 10), fans gathered at the ACM Country Kickoff at The Star stage were treated to performances from ACM New Male Artist of the Year nominees Dylan Scott and Nate Smith; ACM New Female Artist of the Year nominee Caitlyn Smith; ACM Music Event of the Year nominee MacKenzie Porter, who surprised the crowd with a special appearance by her chart-topping duet partner Dustin Lynch; as well as Chayce Beckham, Chapel Hart, Hannah Ellis, Tiera Kennedy, Catie Offerman, Josh Ross and MaRynn Taylor.

Elsewhere, The Bluebird Cafe and NSAI brought four of the ACM Songwriter of the Year nominees together to the brand-new Omni PGA Frisco Hotel for an intimate celebration.

Hosted by beloved actor and singer-songwriter Charles Esten (Nashville, Outer Banks), the brunch featured Nicolle Galyon, Ashley Gorley, Chase McGill and Hunter Phelps performing some of their top hits for an enthusiastic crowd. After the show, Esten surprised Gorley with his first ACM Award for ACM Songwriter of the Year.

Pictured (L-R): BBR Music Group’s Lainey Wilson and Big Loud’s Hardy with their ACM Awards for ACM Visual Media of the Year. Photo: Courtesy of ACM

ACM Radio Award winners for the 58th ACM Awards were celebrated at Frisco’s Monarch Stag Cocktail Bar, just blocks away from the ACM Country Kickoff at The Star, toasting their well-deserved recognition and the vitality of country radio.

Later on, Bailey Zimmerman, Ernest, Lainey Wilson, Jason Aldean and Hardy performed at Frisco’s Topgolf The Colony for the ACM Lifting Lives Live benefit concert. At sunset, Gorley surprised Hardy with the ACM Award for Artist-Songwriter of the Year.

After the show was over, Hardy and Wilson were surprised by SiriusXM The Highway’s Storme Warren with the news that they had won the award for ACM Visual Media of the Year for their “Wait In The Truck” music video.

Tune in to the 58th ACM Awards tonight on Prime Video.