DISClaimer Single Reviews: Luke Combs Gives Taste Of New Music With ‘Tomorrow Me’

That cool breeze you feel comes from Canada this week.

North-of-the-border stars High Valley, Brett Kissel, Gord Bamford and Terri Clark all have new sounds for your consideration. Gord and Terri’s duet is essential.

That said, whenever a listening session includes Country Champ Luke Combs, you know who is taking home the Disc of the Day award. Luke wasn’t without challengers, namely Morgan Wallen and Lindsay Ell, as well as Gord & Terri.

The DISCovery Award has three contenders—Ryan McMahon, Jessica Willis Fisher and our winner, third-generation country talent Tess Frizzell.

BRENNEN LEIGH & ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL / “Obsessed With the West”
Writer: Brennen Leigh; Producer: none listed; Label: Signature Sounds
–This is the title tune of Leigh’s new album. She’s a western-swing revivalist on it, but this languid track is a ballad with her gracious croon backed by swaying fiddle. An audio delight.

LUKE COMBS / “Tomorrow Me”
Writers: Luke Combs/Dean Dillon/Ray Fulcher; Producers: Luke Combs/Chip Matthews/Jonathan Singleton; Label: Columbia
–He has one of those voices that has you hanging on every line. On this melodic mid-tempo outing, he expresses desire, regret and emotional conflict in a wonderfully shaded performance. Beautifully sung and produced with clarity and elegance.

TESS FRIZZELL / “The Wrong One”
Writers: Dottie West/Tess Frizzell/Bobby Tomberlin/Billy Lawson; Producer: none listed; Label: TF
–Tess is the daughter of Shelly West and Allen Frizzell. This lovely ballad is based on a song that grandmother Dottie West began in the 1960s. The song has a magnetic pull, and the singer’s lustrous alto is a deep pool of wistful meditation. I’m in.

BRETT ELDREDGE / “Songs About You”
Writers: Brett Eldredge/Jessie Jo Dillon/Ben West; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Label: Warner
–Hearing songs like “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Dancing in the Dark” transport him back to their love affair. Brett’s muscular vocal is backed by a serious R&B backbeat. A Southern soul strutter.

RYAN McMAHON / “One More Fire”
Writer: Ryan McMahon; Producers: Jordan Pritchett/Danielle King; Label: Elbowroom (Canada)
–This one’s an upbeat toe tapper. He seeks new adventures and experiences in a hearty, range-y voice backed by a kickin’ band. Promising.

MORGAN WALLEN / “Don’t Think Jesus”
Writers: Jessi Leigh Alexander/Mark L. Holman/Richard Chase McGill; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud
–In this aching, deliberately paced ballad, he falls into substance abuse and fast living until he pulls himself back from the brink. It’s a slow but dramatic build from a wounded, frail beginning to a torrid, top-of-his-range midsection. Then it resolves in a hushed, tender finale. A terrific performance from one of country’s most expressive artists.

HELENE CRONIN / “Barbed Wire”
Writers: Helene Cronin/Nicole Lewis/Davis Corley; Producer: Brianna Tyson; Label: HCM
–She has a low folkie alto voice on this moody, offbeat, somewhat wordy ballad. The production lays on plenty of echoey ambiance.

HIGH VALLEY & GRANGER SMITH / “Country Music, Girls and Trucks”
Writers: Brad Rempel/Micah Wilshire/Jaron Boyer; Producer: Micah Wilshire; Label: HV
–You read that title correctly. And, no, they aren’t kidding. We are supposed to take these cliches with straight face.

BRETT KISSEL & 98 DEGREES / “Ain’t the Same”
Writers: Brett Kissel/James Timothy Nichols/Karen Kosowski; Producer: Karen Kosowski; Label: Warner (Canada)
–Creamy harmonies color this lovelorn pop-country ditty. Pleasant and catchy, but ultimately bland.

LINDSAY ELL / “Right On Time”
Writers: Lindsay Ell/Jordan Schmidt/Geoff Warburton; Producer: Jordan Schmidt; Label: LE
–Her strongest track yet. The rhythm punch is totally hooky, and her husky vocal delivery is supremely confident. The rapid-fire lyric is matched by sizzling electric guitar work and her conversational pep. Loved it from top to bottom.

GORD BAMFORD & TERRI CLARK / “I Ain’t Drunk”
Writers: Buddy Owens/Meghan Fitzpatrick/Mitchell Edward Oglesby; Producers: Gord Bamford/Phil O’Donnell; Label: GB
–I am a big fan of both of these singers. Bamford’s beefy baritone is matched note-for-note by the honky-tonk drawl of Clark. She shadows him perfectly in soprano harmony while the soaring, melody-rich tale of heartache unspools. This is country music the way it was meant to be. The song is drawn from Bamford’s Diamonds in a Whiskey Glass collection, which is also highly recommended.

JESSICA WILLIS FISHER / “Fire Song”
Writers: Jessica Willis Fisher/Jon Randall; Producer: Ben Fowler; Label: JWF
–Formerly of The Willis Clan, Jessica Willis Fisher is issuing her debut solo album, Brand New Day. This dramatic, minor-key rocker is the collection’s first single. Her haunting, Appalachia-flavored soprano is backed by her own fierce fiddling and a furious rhythm undertow. The song of a survivor.

Jim Ed Norman Comes Full Circle On The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California Tour’ [Interview]

Jim Ed Norman

When the Eagles take the stage on Thursday (April 28) and Friday (April 29) night in Nashville, they will be joined by not one, but two Music Row mavericks on stage.

Vince Gill has been touring with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members for a while. Most recently Gill has joined Eagles Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit, on the “Hotel California 2022 Tour,” where the band plays the Hotel California album in its entirety from start to finish, accompanied by an orchestra and choir. After a short intermission, the Eagles perform a set of their greatest hits.

But Gill isn’t the only Nashvillian traveling around with the Eagles. The band also picked up an old friend for this special tour, renowned Nashville music business titan, Jim Ed Norman. He leads the 60-piece orchestra and choir for the band each night.

Norman established himself as a top producer and A&R executive before leading Warner Bros. Nashville for two decades. His leadership played a key role in the careers of Faith Hill, Blake Shelton, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, Dwight Yoakam, and Take 6, among many others. What some may not know about Norman is that his history with the Eagles goes back to his college days, when he met Henley at North Texas State University.

Norman grew up musical and decided to pursue a career as a music teacher. He was interested in big band music, and North Texas was the place to be for that kind of music. He met a young Henley on campus there in a chance encounter that would alter his future.

“While at North Texas, I was walking along the sidewalk that was connected to the apartment complex that I lived at. It was a beautiful day and there was a fellow that had his door open playing music,” Norman recalls to MusicRow. “He was playing his Led Zeppelin record. I walked in and handed him a Dillard‘s record, which was a progressive bluegrass group, and said ‘Hey, you need to check this out.’ That fellow was Don Henley.

“Through that meeting of walking in, sticking out my hand, and introducing myself, I got to know Don and we shared music.”

After a summer back in his home-state in Florida, Norman received a call from Henley asking if he’d like to be in his band.

“I had really come to understand that I really wasn’t cut out to be a music teacher, so I dropped out of school and I went to join Don’s band that already existed, Shiloh.

“We went to Los Angeles, but then the band did as they sometimes do: we broke up,” Norman recalls. “I had been afforded the opportunity to write a small string quartet part on the Shiloh record, so Don knew that I was interested in being an orchestral arranger. When the Eagles formed and on the second record, they decided they wanted to use orchestra. Don and Glenn [Frey] reached out and asked if I wanted to write the string arrangements on the record. That was one of the quickest times I’ve said ‘Yes’ in my life.”

Jim Ed Norman

The first professional orchestral arrangement Norman composed in his life was for the Eagles 1973 hit album, Desperado.

“With the credit on that record, I had the imprimatur that it took to give me an opportunity to then go on to arrange. Not only did I arrange all of the Eagles’ projects through Hotel California, but it brought me [an opportunity to arrange] Linda Ronstandt‘s version of ‘Desperado,’ [as well as projects for] Bob Segar, America, Kim Carnes, and a lot of other things.”

As Norman advanced in his career and eventually became a titan on Music Row, he kept in touch with the Eagles. He worked on Frey’s solo record, No Fun Aloud, and regularly spoke with Henley.

“Because of the relationship in particular that I had with Don, he reached out when [they decided to do] the ‘Hotel California Tour.’ It was stimulated by the album coming up on 50 years and all of these anniversary moments. He said, ‘We’re going to have an orchestra and you can be involved as much or as little as you want, because you did all those original arrangements.’ On the front end, I demurred because I didn’t know if wanted to be on the road to conduct.

“My fiancé said, ‘Are you crazy? You need to do this.’ The more I thought about it, the more I realized I’m not going get a chance to stand in front of an orchestra and conduct parts that I wrote when I was a kid.”

Norman sums, “My life as an arranger started with Desperado. Right now on the road with the guys, the last performance that’s done with orchestra each night is ‘Desperado.’ I get to essentially be swept off my own feet every night. At certain times I become separated from my hands waving and I’m just listening and absorbing.”

Norman’s full-circle moment is on display in Music City tonight (April 28) and tomorrow (April 29) at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are still available now.

 

My Music Row Story: Natalie Hemby

Natalie Hemby. Photo: Alysse Gafjken

The “My Music Row Story” weekly column features notable members of the Nashville music industry selected by the MusicRow editorial team. These individuals serve in key roles that help advance and promote the success of our industry. This column spotlights the invaluable people that keep the wheels rolling and the music playing.

Award-winning songwriter Natalie Hemby has written some of the last decade’s most loved country songs. Since signing her first publishing deal at 19, Hemby has amassed eight No. 1 country singles, including Lady A’s “Downtown,” Justin Moore‘s “You Look Like I Need A Drink,” Jon Pardi’s “Heartache Medication,” Little Big Town’s “Pontoon,” and Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar,” “Automatic,” and “Bluebird.” Her songs have been recorded by the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Maren Morris, Sheryl Crow, Dierks Bentley, Eli Young Band, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Isaak, Blake Shelton, and Lee Ann Womack among many others.

In 2019, Hemby joined Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires to form The Highwomen. Their self-titled album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s country albums chart. That year, The Highwomen won Americana Music Honors & Awards for Album of the Year, Duo/Group of the Year, and Song of the Year for their single “Crowded Table,” which was also dubbed the Best Country Song at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

In 2021, Hemby stepped out with an artist project herself, releasing her album Pins and Needles to wide acclaim.

Photo: Courtesy of Natalie Hemby

MusicRow: Tell me about your childhood.

I was born in Illinois. My parents were very young when they got married and were very young when they had me. My dad was in music and he decided to move us [to Nashville] because music was becoming a really big thing here back in the ’70s. We moved here in ’79, so I grew up in Nashville. We lived in the Iroquois Apartments over in Bellevue, then they bought a duplex and then we bought our first house when I was about 11 years old. I was actually a sick child growing up. I had horrible ear infections and I had a tumor on my ear, so I couldn’t hear very well. My mom had to take me to the doctor all the time and she ended up losing her job over it—and my dad was on the road a lot. Long story short, I had to have surgery and all this kind of stuff. I got baptized when I was seven and I’m not even joking when I say that after I got baptized, I got all my hearing back. It was a miracle, honestly.

My dad started working for this woman named Amy Grant, playing in her band. My mom started cleaning houses because she didn’t have a job and she started cleaning Amy’s house. One day my mom said to Amy, “Listen, if you ever need an assistant, I’m really good at organization. I can help you get your house in order.” She’s been with her for over 35 years now, so I really grew up in the music business.

Were you musical as a child?

I was very musical, I loved piano. I started taking piano lessons when I was about six. I played in talent shows and I played saxophone in band. I’ve always loved music, not because my parents were in it, but because it brought me so much joy. It was a passion.

Photo: Courtesy of Natalie Hemby

When did you start writing songs?

I was such a dreamer. I just thought I’d be the singer on stage and it would be that easy. I never dreamed about music business, I didn’t even dream about writing. I was not a big songwriter [growing up], but what I did do was write a lot of poetry. I was a diary writer as a kid and wrote all my feelings down. (Laughs) Honestly, I didn’t start writing songs until I was about 18. Some people would consider that late in life. (Laughs)

Once you started writing songs, how did you start your journey to become a professional songwriter?

I started figuring out that all the artists that I love, a lot of them wrote their own songs. So I started writing my own songs. At the time I was listening to Sarah McLachlan and I was writing really sad piano songs, but I quickly evolved. I started writing with other people. I got my first publishing deal with Barbara Orbison at Still Working Music. Tommy Lee James was my first professional co-write. He was the first person on Music Row that I started writing with a lot. I wrote a lot of songs and I almost got a record deal, but those doors did not open. Throughout the whole process, the one thing I kept doing was writing and writing.

I never wanted to do country music, I wanted to do Tom Petty or Sheryl Crow-style music. But radio just kept changing. It went through a Britney Spears era, it went through a time where you had to be on a TV show to get a record deal, then it went through a Coldplay era. It kept evolving and, as far as being an artist goes, I couldn’t figure out what direction I was going in and what I wanted to do. So I just kept writing songs with and for other people. Then eventually, my husband [Mike Wrucke] was co-producing this girl, Miranda Lambert.

Miranda Lambert and Natalie Hemby. Photo: Courtesy of RIAA

You and Miranda have had a long and fruitful relationship, co-writing many of her hits together. How did you guys start writing?

My husband co-produced her first three records. I sang all the backgrounds on all the records, but the third record was when I got to write with her. I told her, “Look, I realize I’m the producer’s wife, but I have some song ideas I’ve been saving for you. If you just gave me one day, I feel like we could write a bunch of great stuff.” That first day we wrote “White Liar” and “Only Prettier.” We wrote four songs that day, and then she came back and we ended up writing “Virginia Bluebell.” Meeting Miranda and writing with her was a huge turning point.

Now we’re tight, but we don’t see each other all the time, so whenever we do, I feel like it all comes out in songs. The most important thing about writing with someone is not hitching all of your wagons to this one person’s journey. I have written with lots of people and she’s been so supportive of that. She writes with lots of people and I love the songs that she writes with other people. I’m a genuine fan of her and I feel like that’s how our relationship throughout the years has been able to grow and keep us together. That’s why we keep musically going back to each other.

Was “White Liar” your first cut?

My first cut was with a Christian artist, Rachael Lampa. I wrote a song called “When I Fall.” It was single for her on Christian radio. I was so excited about that.

My first [country cut] that was a really big turning point for me was with Lee Ann Womack. She cut a song of mine that I did not write for anybody, I wrote it for myself with Daniel Tashian. We wrote a song called “The Bees.” It was on her Call Me Crazy album. It wasn’t a single or anything, but she got Keith Urban to sing on it with her. Everybody started calling me after that song, saying, “I love that song. I want to write some time.” So it wasn’t a single, but it was definitely a song that opened so many other doors.

In addition to being a hit songwriter, you’ve also released a lot of music as an artist. Do you have any trouble with separating your artistry with writing for other artists?

Honestly, it’s been pretty natural for me. I write so many different kinds of music that I can compartmentalize things. [My first record] Puxico was a love story to my family and to a town that I love. To me, nobody could do those songs justice like I could. I could pitch it around to a thousand people, people could cut it, but it just meant the world to me. With my new record, those songs have been sitting around for a while. Sometimes you have to say to yourself, “Maybe no one has cut these songs because I need to cut them.” (Laughs) I wanted to make a 1990s-Lilith Fair-Sheryl Crow-Tracy Chapman-type of record. All those female artists that I loved from Lilith Fair. So I took those songs and made that record with them.

What did you think of the Music Row community before you became a part of it?

Here’s a little truth serum. When I was growing up, I don’t know if it was because I was intimidated by it a little bit, but I did think of it as a boys club. I was young at the time and I thought people probably thought I sang really good but didn’t really take me seriously. With that respect, when I was younger it was hard to take myself seriously because I never felt like I quite fit in on Music Row. It’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s just what it was at the time. But as things progressed and I’ve gotten older, I feel like a lot of things have changed. There’s so much more diverse music and people. It’s been a nice change. Nashville was a small town back then, and it’s hard for [diversity] to be present in a small town. But as it has grown, it’s been forced to take a look at itself.

Who have been some of your mentors along the way?

If I’m being honest, my husband has been a huge mentor to me. I’ve almost quit so many times that he hasn’t let me, and part of the reason why people like my music is because of him. He is my music and I can’t imagine doing it without him.

I wouldn’t be here if Jody Williams wasn’t here. I used to sing all his demos at his company. My husband would produce those demos and that’s how I met my husband. Jody literally kept my lights on because he paid me so well when I sang demos. When he went to BMI, he got me a couple of really big co-writes. He showcased me and I would go meet with him and play songs. He was so supportive of me. And now he’s representing me in publishing, so it’s been a real full circle moment. I’ve gone to him for advice, I’ve gone to him for so many different situations and he has been a guiding light in my career.

Photo: Courtesy of Natalie Hemby

If someone was describing you, what would you want them to say?

I would want them to say that I was kind, genuine, and sincere. That I never used them to get anywhere. I grew up in this town so I’m constantly searching for that quality in people—the sincerity in the love of music and for friendship. One of the things I always tell my friends is, “Hey, we’re friends beyond music.”

What moment have you had that your little kid self would think is so cool?

Singing with Dolly Parton. That was pretty cool. (Laughs) Dolly is like the female Santa Claus. You can’t stop staring at her. She goes around and talks to everybody, looks everyone in the eye. My young self would have been so enamored with her.

Jason Aldean Talks Georgia Music, Staying Consistent, & Fostering Young Talent [Interview]

Jason Aldean. Photo: Brian Higbee

Multi-Platinum country entertainer Jason Aldean has always been a proud Georgia native. He has released songs about the peach state, supports Georgia sports teams, and has always talked openly about the influence his home state has had on his music. That’s why it comes as no surprise that his tenth studio album, out now, is simply called Macon, Georgia—his hometown.

“Macon has a rich music history with the Allman Brothers, Otis Redding, Little Richard, and more being from there,” Aldean tells MusicRow. “But for me, it’s my hometown. It’s where this whole ride started. It’s where I learned to be a musician and play on stage for the first time.

“When I was coming up, there was a lot of people that were coming out of Georgia that almost made it seem like this wasn’t an unreachable goal. Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, and Alan Jackson were coming out of Georgia. I came up playing some of the same bars and towns, and doing some of the same stuff.”

The home state-inspired project is a double album, with the Macon half having released in November of 2021 and the Georgia half out today (April 22.) Both sides find Aldean’s signature southern rock sound on some new songs, and feature live versions of some classics.

The 30-song project releases as Aldean celebrates 16 years in the music business. Since releasing his debut single “Hicktown” in 2005, he has gone on to notch 26 No. 1 hits, garner 15 billion streams, and win numerous awards, including the ACM’s Entertainer of the Year three times. Aldean says if he could go back and talk to the kid moving from Macon, Georgia to Nashville in 1998, he would tell him to hold on tight.

“[I would tell him] this thing is going to be bigger than you ever imagined possible. You’re going to have some ups and downs along the way. Just enjoy it,” he says. “Early on, when things really started to happen, I was so worried about it going away after I worked so hard to get there. In the early days, I don’t think I ever took the time to enjoy it and appreciate what I had accomplished. I don’t think that happened until later in my career.”

Aldean’s non-stop grind paid off, though. His ten albums have solidified him as one of this generation’s top country record-makers. With songs such as “She’s Country,” “Big Green Tractor,” “Tattoos On This Town,” “My Kinda Party,” “Crazy Town,” and many more, Aldean has consistently delivered the music his fans have come to expect: hard-hitting, southern rock-infused country hits.

Like his sound, Aldean’s all-star team and album-making process has also remained pretty consistent over the years. Alongside his long-time producer, Michael Knox, Aldean has celebrated more than 20 million albums sold.

“I cut records now the same way I always did; with the same band and same producer. I’ve had the same crew, basically, this whole time,” he says. “The difference now is just a confidence factor. As an artist, I know a lot more about who I am at this point, what I want to do and the kind of stuff that works for me.”

Of the new tunes on Macon, Georgia, Aldean has made waves with Macon‘s “Small Town Small” and “If I Didn’t Love You,” his hit duet with Carrie Underwood that was crowned the Single of the Year at the 2021 ACM Awards.

Georgia features Aldean’s new single, “Trouble with a Heartbreak,” which has already hit No. 1 on MusicRow‘s radio chart and looks to be heading that way on other charts. Another track on Georgia, “Ain’t Enough Cowboy,” shows off Aldean’s rap influences—a theme ever-present from 2011’s “Dirt Road Anthem.”

“Early on in my career, I knew that I never wanted to get painted into a corner. I knew that I was going to have a lot of rock influence in my music as well as some really traditional stuff. But people my age, we grew up listening to everything. Early on I made it a point to start branching off and doing some different things so that whenever I wanted to do those things later, it wasn’t that far of a stretch.

“Even with ‘Dirt Road,’ it’s got the rap verses, but once the chorus kicks in, that’s country. It’s just finding those certain ones that work. Every once in a while, you get one that comes along.”

A stand-out track on Georgia is “God Made Airplanes,” a heatbreak tune about getting ‘out of Dodge’ after a break up.

John Morgan wrote that with the Warren brothers [Brad and Brett Warren] and Jessi Alexander. John is a new artist that I actually signed to a publishing deal, a record deal, and I produce his records,” Aldean says. “He wrote a bunch for his record and he co-wrote the song. As soon as they demoed it, I got a text from John, both the Warren brothers, and Jessi. They all texted me the song saying, ‘This has got you all over it.’ I heard it the first time and fell in love with the song.”

Morgan isn’t the only new writer credited on Macon, Georgia. Lydia Vaughan scored her first hit, along with Morgan, on “If I Didn’t Love You,” and new songwriter Lalo Guzman co-wrote “Ain’t Enough Cowboy.”

“Obviously we have our go-to guys that always seem to come through with songs, like Neil Thrasher, Rhett Akins, and some of those guys. Michael Tyler has some stuff on this record,” Aldean says. “John Morgan, Kurt Allison, and Tully Kennedy—who are two of the guys in my band—they were writing a ton for this record. You’ll see a lot of stuff from those three guys on this record more so than you have in the past. They just got really locked in on this album and were writing some cool stuff.”

Pictured (L-R): Colton McGee (BBR Music Group/BMG), JoJaimie Hahr (BBR Music Group), Sara Knabe (BBR Music Group), Chris Parr (Maverick), Jason Aldean, John Morgan, Jon Loba (BBR Music Group/BMG), Tori MacDonald (Maverick), Clarence Spalding (Maverick), Tully Kennedy, Kurt Allison. Photo: Jessica Crans

In addition to cutting eight of his songs for Macon, Georgia, Aldean has invested in John Morgan by signing him to his new publishing company, as well as his imprint with BBR, Night Train Records. Aldean says fostering young talent has always been a part of his plan.

“I always felt like at some point I would transition into the producer role a little bit. I knew, at some point, there would be some artists that came along that I would want to work with and help this next generation do their thing,” he says. “The publishing side of it was a little bit of a different story. That all happened because of John Morgan and the stuff that I heard him writing. I thought, ‘Man, this guy is so good. Between him, Kurt and Tully, we can build this thing around those guys.”

Now, with his tenth studio album out, a growing music business empire, and 16 years behind him, Aldean is poised to spend the next 16 as a Music Row maverick. His new project, Macon, Georgia, is available everywhere now.

MusicRow Job Opening: Graphic Design & Production Manager

MusicRow, Nashville’s leading music industry publication, is seeking a Graphic Design & Production Manager. This position is responsible for all aspects of layout and design for both print and online publications, as well as, management of advertisements and other duties listed below. The ideal candidate will have an impressive skill set, strong creative ability and organizational skills, and enjoy working in a fun environment.

Job Requirements:
– Degree/Education in graphic design or related field with demonstrated proficiency in – Adobe InDesign and Photoshop is a must
– Creative ability to do editorial layout and design
– Strong organizational skills
– 1-3 years job experience is preferred
– Experience utilizing WordPress is preferred
– Excellent verbal and written communication skills
– Must have strong project management skills, be deadline-driven and enjoy working with a team

Job Duties:
– All aspects of Layout and Design for both print publication and online websites
– Management of all advertisements (both print and online)
– Sending daily news emails, breaking news emails and advertising emails
– Creating weekly charts (radio chart, songwriter chart)
– Carrying out all graphic needs and email design for MusicRow’s sister publication, The Sports Credential
– Miscellaneous other duties (i.e., designing graphics for company use, creating plaques, archiving files, some photography, and more)

Send resume (with salary requirement) and online portfolio to [email protected]

Candidates must be eligible to work in the U.S. for any employer. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Maren Morris Drives To No. 1 On MusicRow Chart

Maren Morris climbs to the helm of the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart with “Circles Around This Town,” the lead track to her latest album, Humble Quest. The track broke Amazon Music’s record for most streams for a country song debut by a female artist.

Morris wrote the single with her husband, Ryan Hurd, along with Julia Michaels and Jimmy Robbins. She also launched a weekly radio series, Humble Quest Radio, airing on Apple Music’s global live-streaming radio stations Apple Music 1 and Apple Music Country.

Her headlining tour will kick off in June and she will be joined by a variety of friends as direct support, including Brent Cobb, Ruston Kelly, Joy Oladokun, Natalie Hemby, The Lone Bellow, and Brittney Spencer.

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

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Mitchell Tenpenny Shows His Star-Making Potential

Mitchell Tenpenny. Photo: Matthew Berinato

The listening highlights were sparse today in DISClaimer.

To be sure, there is a lot of competent music making at play in this stack of sounds. But as for real excitement, only a few created it.

The best of the batch are Jenny Tolman, Niko Moon, Jake Hoot and our Disc of the Day winner, Mitchell Tenpenny.

The DISCovery Award goes to the already TV-famous Chayce Beckham.

CHAYCE BECKHAM / “Doin’ It Right”
Writers: Andy Albert/Chayce Beckham/Lindsay Rimes; Producers: Lindsay Rimes/Ross Copperman; Label: Wheelhouse/BBR
–The reigning American Idol champ introduces the title tune of his EP with style. His vocal warmth and hidden power are bolstered by a chiming production on this mid-tempo banger. Confidence, professionalism and passion are the hallmarks here.

NIKO MOON / “Easy Tonight”
Writers: Niko Moon/Patrick Davis/Wyatt Durette/Levi Lowery/Kevin Mac/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty; Producers: Niko Moon/Joshua Murty; Label: RCA
–A summer groove, for sure. Electronic finger snaps, twang guitar, light percussion thumps and a mellow vocal delivery are all mighty attractive. With seven writers listed, I’m guessing somebody is getting a free ride.

JENNY TOLMAN / “Married in a Honky Tonk”
Writers: Dave Brainard/Jenny Tolman/Bill Whyte; Producer: Dave Brainard; Label: Old Sol
–This has just about everything going for it: Witty lyrics, country-rock sparks, personality vocals, kickin’ production. For sheer unadulterated talent, this lady stands head and shoulders above her country-music peers. And in a case of life imitating art, Tolman and producer Brainard were married last month in Jackson, Wyoming, which is where she shot this tune’s video.

MITCHELL TENPENNY / “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades”
Writers: Dallas Wilson/James Mitchell Tenpenny; Producer: Mitchell Tenpenny/Jordan M. Schmidt; Label: Sony
–Audio charisma that’s so strong you can feel it in your bones. His feathery vocal performance ranges from a whisper to a scream while the big production crashes like waves around him. A star-maker of a single.

JAKE HOOT & BRITTNEY HOOT / “Wherever Time Goes”
Writers: Jake Hoot/Houston Phillips/Michael Farren; Producer: Danny Myrick; Label: ONErpm
–The giant winner of The Voice has a gigantic voice to match his stature. The surprise is that his wife can vocally hold her own harmonizing with his massive power. Together, they make this super romantic ballad an electrifying listening experience.

DOLLY PARTON / “Woman Up”
Writer: Dolly Parton; Producers: Dolly Parton/Richard Dennison/Tom Rutledge; Label: Butterfly
–Dolly’s mystery-thriller novel Run Rose Run (with James Patterson) continues to dominate the fiction best-seller lists in its second month of release. Its soundtrack album features this feisty feminist county rocker that is shot through with her one-of-a-kind personality. A fun frolic.

KRISTIAN BUSH / “Everybody Gotta Go Home”
Writers: Kristian Bush/Taylor Davis/Steve Bogard; Producer: Kristian Bush; Label: Big Machine
–This is the lead-off track on Bush’s new album. Before he was in Sugarland, the singer-songwriter was in the folk-pop act Billy Pilgrim and the rock jam band Dark Water. His eclectic musical nature is on full display here as the country-pop ditty is punctuated with R&B horns, rock percussion and cheerleader backing vocals.

BILLY RAY CYRUS, SNOOP DOGG & THE AVILA BROTHERS / “A Hard Working Man”
Writers: Bobby Ross/IZ Avila/Billy Ray Cyrus/C Broadus; Producer: The Avila Brothers; Label: Avila Brothers/BMG
–Complete, thorough and unremitting audio junk.

ADAM HOOD / “Business With Jesus”
Writers: Adam Hood/Pat McLaughlin; Producer: Brent Cobb; Label: Southern Songs
–Hood has songwriting credentials to spare, with cuts by Miranda, Cody Jinks, The Oaks, Travis Tritt, Whiskey Myers, LBT, Lee Ann Womack, Luke Combs, Riley Green, Anderson East, Frankie Ballard and Drake White, among others. This Dixie-fried band bopper has a groove-soaked, funky backbeat that is wildly infectious.

THOMPSON SQUARE / “Country In My Soul”
Writers: Lainey Wilson/Daniel Ross/James McNair; Producers: Mickey Jack Cones/Derek George; Label: Quartz Hill
–The husband-wife duo returns following a long silence with this strongly sung rocker. I just wish the song was stronger and the production was more imaginative.

KAMARA THOMAS / “No Peace at Appomatox”
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: KT
–The Kamara Thomas album Tularosa: An American Dreamtime is a song cycle about the American West. In tandem with the record, she’ll have a summer residency at the Santa Fe Arts Institute and a two-year teaching fellowship at Princeton beginning in the fall. On this draggy, borderline-irritating track from the collection, she applies a sleepy, languid vocal delivery to an atmospheric folkie/acoustic track with a meandering melody.

LEVI HUMMON / “For Me”
Writers: Levi Hummon/Trannie Anderson/Jimmy Robbins; Producers: Eric Arjes/Jimmy Robbins; Label: LH
–This is a piano ballad about aspiring to improve and trying to find the better angel inside so that you can be worthy of her love. Nicely done.

On The Cover: Jason Aldean Graces Cover Of MusicRow Magazine’s 2022 InCharge Issue

MusicRow, Nashville’s leading music industry trade publication, is proud to announce the 2022 release of its flagship print directory, InCharge. Multi-Platinum entertainer and country mainstay, Jason Aldean, graces its cover.

Over the past 16 years, Aldean has released nine studio albums and bolstered 26 No. 1s, 15 billion streams, and over 20 million albums sold. With his tenth studio project—a double-album titled Macon, Georgia—releasing on April 22, Aldean is gearing up to take the road this summer on his “Rock N’ Roll Cowboy Tour.” The trek will launch on July 15 in Scranton, Pennsylvania and will span 34 cities.

MusicRow‘s InCharge issue highlights some of the most influential music industry executives in the Nashville entertainment community. This year’s edition includes 381 profiles which are accompanied by contact information, career biographies, and detailed board and organizational membership affiliations.

This annual guide also includes a company appendix, record label staff appendix, and a professional categories appendix, which lists executives by their areas of expertise, including label, talent agency, management, music publishing, legal, finance, performing rights organizations and more.

“Our industry is filled with both opportunities and challenges. The leaders featured in this publication are able to identify and navigate both successfully while guiding the industry forward. From the restructuring of distribution channels due to changing technology, to unexpected hardships created by a pandemic, these executives champion and lead our industry through triumph and evolution,” says MusicRow Owner/Publisher, Sherod Robertson.

In this issue of InCharge, MusicRow also takes a deep dive into the world of the metaverse as it becomes more and more buzzworthy in our culture. Tracing the journey that its cutting-edge technology has taken so far, this article also looks ahead to potential uses pertaining specifically to the music industry and opportunities that the metaverse may offer in the years to come.

Single copies of MusicRow’s 2022 InCharge issue are available for purchase at musicrow.com for $110, and are included with yearly MusicRow memberships.

My Music Row Story: Fusion Music’s Daniel Miller

Daniel Miller

The “My Music Row Story” weekly column features notable members of the Nashville music industry selected by the MusicRow editorial team. These individuals serve in key roles that help advance and promote the success of our industry. This column spotlights the invaluable people that keep the wheels rolling and the music playing.

 

This edition of “My Music Row Story” is sponsored by Worldwide Stages.

 

Daniel Miller is Managing Partner of Fusion Music where he and his team guide the careers of Martina McBride, Riley Green, Lily Rose, Cassadee Pope, Laine Hardy, and pop artist Jeffrey James. Miller, who has 20-plus years of management experience, opened Fusion Music in 2013 and aligned with Red Light in 2014. In 2015, he was named to the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment Wall of Fame, and has served as an adjunct professor there.

MusicRow: Where did you grow up? How did you get into the music business?

It’s hard to believe that this August will mark 25 years from when I moved here. I grew up on a small family farm in rural Missouri. My only exposure to the outside world was the local country radio station and the three or four TV channels our antenna would pick up. I was a finance and banking major at the University of Missouri in the early ’90s when I made friends with the owner of the local country nightclub who managed a band out of Nashville. I soon transferred to MTSU for their Recording Industry Management program. On the day I moved, my mom took me to lunch at the old Shoney’s on Demonbreun and said, “I have no idea what you’re about to do, but I know you’ll figure it out.”

Pictured (L-R): Chris Ferren (Fusion Music), Martina McBride, Daniel Miller at ACM Honors in 2019

Take me through your career journey thus far.

I had only been at MTSU a few weeks when I had the chance to volunteer for the radio remotes at the 1997 CMA Awards. I met Wes Vause, who eventually got tired of me badgering him over email and introduced me to Schatzi Hageman. They ran their independent PR firms out of a shared office space and gave me my first opportunity to learn the business. It’s hard to even remember how we got so much done without Internet access or cell phones back then, but we did.

After graduating from MTSU, I took a position with Simon Renshaw’s management company handling ticketing for the Dixie Chicks 2000 “Fly Tour.” Later that year, I moved over to Borman Entertainment in the middle of the first Tim McGraw and Faith Hill “Soul2Soul Tour,” assisting the great, late Joni Foraker. I spent the next 13 years there working in various support positions. In 2007, Lady A walked in the door and that was my first real shot at being an overzealous day-to-day manager. Gary Borman was a brilliant visionary to learn from.

When did you start your own company?

In the summer of 2013, I was convinced it was time to step out on my own, so I created Fusion Music. It was the wrong time, and I made every mistake imaginable, but no one could have convinced me otherwise. I quickly found out what I knew and mostly what I didn’t. Six months into it, Coran Capshaw extended the opportunity to partner with Red Light Management. His knowledge and intuition are highly underrated and Red Light gave us a place to incubate our business. We still work with them across all our artist projects.

Today our roster includes Martina McBride, Riley Green, Lily Rose, Cassadee Pope, Laine Hardy, and developing pop artist, Jeffrey James. My original business plan had a concept for content development but aside from a couple TV production credits, it didn’t pan out as I had hoped…until now. We recently started consulting on brand direction for The Morning Hangover, and have begun looking at unscripted TV concepts. We’re also about to start construction on a content studio adjacent to our new office in Berry Hill.

Pictured (L-R): Dylan McGraw (Fusion Music), Daniel Miller, Lily Rose, Daira Eamon (Lily Rose fiance), Lexi Howder (OH Creative) at the 2022 ACM Awards

We’re not the biggest or flashiest—nor will we ever be—and I’m fiercely protective of our team and the culture we’ve built. Chris Ferren was our first intern eight years ago, and he was recently elevated to VP of Artist & Business Development. He, Nicholas Garvin, Danielle Broome, Dylan McGraw, our co-managers and the extended management team we work with are relentless in finding the best opportunities we can to set our artists up for success.

When did Martina join the roster? How did you two come together?

We met with Martina in the fall of 2015 and I told her, “I know your catalog. I know your career.” Working with an iconic artist was a bucket list dream of mine and over the past six years, we have worked to build upon her incredible catalog and touring history.

You have several artists who are owning their own lane such as Lily Rose and Riley Green. What would you say is the ticket to developing a new artist who is different from your ordinary country artist?

It’s important to me that each of our artists have a unique career path and none are too similar or in direct competition with another. We don’t commit to a client relationship unless we can make a significant difference. The vision is ultimately theirs and we work to surround them with the resources needed to reach their goals. Then we move the goalpost. The secret recipe lies within the artists themselves, whether they know it at first or not.

I don’t think this is unique to us, but we look closely at each artist’s life—from childhood to the present moment—and try to understand their values and what motivates them. The superstar armor comes off at the door and we work as partners to create the most authentic connection between who they are and what they sing about. That’s easier said than done.

Pictured (L-R): Daniel Miller, Riley Green, RAC Clark, Zach Sutton (Red Light Management)

Riley Green knows his brand with laser-sharp precision and is a natural-born entertainer. He already had an incredibly passionate team around him when we came on board a few years ago. Our focus has been to show how who he is off stage informs the lyrics in his songs.

WME brought Lily Rose to us. I was not familiar with her music yet and until then had refused to use TikTok or take artists emerging from the platform seriously. She showed me how wrong I was. Her progressive approach challenges us to find a unique cross-section of fans influenced by a completely different generation of music and her fans are unconcerned with the genre confines.

What is something people might not know about what you do?

Philanthropic work is required of the team and expected of our artists. We owe our privilege and success to society whenever possible. The Academy of Country Music gave me an opportunity to serve on their board of directors a few years ago and I quickly learned more about ACM Lifting Lives and the significant impact it makes on our community and countless other benefactors. After witnessing the insurmountable reach of their COVID-19 Response Fund, I was honored to accept a leadership position on Lifting Lives’ board of directors.

When do you feel most fulfilled in your role?

We encourage all our artists to be completely unrealistic with their dreams and then we try our damnedest to bring them to life.  Every big “first”—single release, album release, or tour—is uniquely special. Nothing is more magical than standing at front of house for the top of a big show and hearing the thunderous crowd respond to an artist’s entrance onto the stage. That beats any amount of money you could ever earn.

My other passion is mentoring people up. I had the great privilege to be an adjunct professor for a few semesters at MTSU and loved sharing our daily experience with excited young students. After my time is done on Music Row, I hope to bore students with my stories.

Pictured (L-R): Daniel Miller, Cassadee Pope, Shannon Radel (Rising Star Travel)

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Don’t go bankrupt buying your own hype.

Who are some of your mentors?

I was raised by strong, independent women so it’s not surprising that my mentors are also. Schatzi Hageman, Karen Krattinger, JoAnn Burnside, Joni Foraker, Donna Jean Kisshauer, and Sandra Westerman gave me opportunities I didn’t deserve and taught me the business. Ed Hardy, Joe Galante, Clarence Spalding and Paul Worley have been incredible resources over the years.

If you could change anything about the Nashville music industry, what would it be?

We have a songwriting community in Nashville like none other in the world but can’t find a way to properly pay them for their works that fuel the entire industry.

What is one of your favorite experiences in the industry that you will share for the rest of your life?

This job isn’t real life. Most of the world works a whole lot harder for much less money. We have been fortunate enough to have artists tour the world and it is overwhelming when an audience in a foreign country sings back every word of their songs.

John Esposito Reportedly Transitioning To Chairman Emeritus At Warner Music Nashville

John Esposito. Photo: Eric Brown

According to reports, Warner Music Nashville’s John “Espo” Esposito will be transitioning from Chairman/CEO to Chairman Emeritus beginning in early 2023. The news was originally published by Billboard. Warner Music Nashville has not confirmed with MusicRow despite multiple attempts.

In his emeritus role, Esposito will likely remain involved in strategy and long-range planning, as well as serve in an advisory role.

As noted by Billboard, it is expected that either Ben Kline and Cris Lacy will take over running the day-to-day running of the company in a phased transition. In 2019, Kline was elevated to Executive VP/General Manager and Lacy to Executive VP/A&R.

Esposito took over operations at WMN in 2009 after seven years at WEA Corp. where he served as President/CEO of WMG’s sales and marketing division. In 2019, Esposito also signed a new multi-year contract with the company.

WMN’s roster includes Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Dan + Shay, Chris Janson, Ashley McBryde, Cole Swindell, Brett Eldredge and Gabby Barrett, among others.

This story is developing…