Bobby Karl Works The Room: The 14th Annual ACM Honors

Luke Combs accepts the Gene Weed Milestone Award while Ashley McBryde looks on. Photo: Getty Images / Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

Chapter 647

If we are all going to celebrate music together, let’s try and do it safely, shall we?

So when the fabulons gathered at the Ryman for the ACM Honors on Wednesday (Aug. 25), it was with the stipulation that we will all be vaccinated. The rest of you can feel free to infect one another. Despite the vax stipulation, some wore masks nevertheless. John Esposito, Ben Vaughn and Don Cusic were being extra careful. Other celebrants in the Ryman crowd included David Fox, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, John Zarling, Clarence Spalding, Jessica Nicholson (who has just been hired by Billboard), Katharine Richardson, Troy Putman, Katy Varney & Dave Goetz, LB Cantrell, Sherod Robertson and Paul Kingsbury.

Host Carly Pearce performs during the 14th Annual Academy Of Country Music Honors. Photo: Getty Images / Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

Considering that the show saluted two years’ worth of honorees and included 19 musical performances, the ACM got the job done with alacrity. Clocking in at three hours, it was quite efficient.

Following opening greetings by new ACM exec Damon Whiteside, rising star Chris Janson presented the Studio Recording Awards for both 2019 and 2020. They were Jenee Fleener & Ilya Toshinskiy, busbee & Jay Joyce, Gordon Mote & Dave Cohen, Rob McNelley & J.T. Corenflos, Jimmie Lee Sloas & Tony Lucido, Miles McPherson & Aaron Sterling, Justin Niebank & F. Reid Shippen and Paul Franklin, Dan Dugmore & Mike Johnson.

Following the announcements of winners Gil Cunningham and Brian O’Connell, plus the venue awards, Michael Strickland was presented with a Gene Weed Milestone Award. When the pandemic hit, he lobbied Congress for funds to shore up the crippled touring industry via the Save Our Stages part of Pres. Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Lee Ann Womack and Alan Jackson perform. Photo: Getty Images / Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

ACM show host Carly Pearce was a definite plus. She kept up a lively pace with warmth, professionalism and sincerity. The night’s first Poet’s Award went to Loretta Lynn, about whom Carly has a new song called “Dear Miss Loretta,” which she sang with country class. It earned a standing ovation. But then, so did every performance. That’s the benefit of having the hall full of fans to offset the jaded industry attendees. On the downside, fans sometimes enthusiastically shouted inappropriate and/or irrelevant commentary during the show.

Alan Jackson & Lee Ann Womack offered a sprightly “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” in salute. Loretta accepted via an audio recording, saying, “It’s the greatest award I could get.” Hers was the first of the night’s three Poet’s Award honors.

Cliffie Stone Icon Award Winner Joe Galanta accepts his award. Photo: Getty Images / Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

Ronnie Dunn presented the first Cliffie Stone Icon Award to Joe Galante. Still one of country’s most electrifying vocalists, Ronnie sang “There Ain’t Nothin’ ‘Bout You,” which Joe had suggested he record. “This town has given me a lot more than I deserve,” said Joe. “The people I’ve met are more than friends to me. They are my family.”

The second Cliffie Stone Icon honor went to Rascal Flatts. Carly sang “Bless the Broken Road.” Caylee Hammack performed “My Wish.” RaeLynn offered “Life Is a Highway.”

“When you’re blessed to do what you love to do, time flies,” said Joe Don Rooney during his rather long-winded acceptance. “Twenty years, snap, like that.” Added Jay DeMarcus, “Everything that’s happened has been one blessing after the next, after the next.” The absence of Gary LeVox was not explained.

Lauren Alaina presented two Songwriter of the Year awards to Hillary Lindsey, commenting on how melodic her compositions are. Then she sang the distinctly unmelodic “One Beer” with HARDY and Devin Dawson. Lindsey was not present.

Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay accept the Jim Reeves International Award. Photo: Getty Images / Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

Chris Janson returned to give the second Poet’s Award to the late Curly Putman, singing “He Stopped Loving Her Today” in Curly’s honor. “His contributions will always be remembered and will play on through the years,” said Chris of Curly.

Sarah Trahern presented the Mae Boren Axton Service Award to RAC Clark. Alan and Lee Ann reappeared to perform “Murder on Music Row.” RAC related that he lobbied for that song to be performed on the first ACM Awards he produced. I’ll leave aside my misgivings about organizations giving awards to their own employees for doing the jobs they were hired to do.

The Jim Reeves International Award was given to Dan + Shay. They co-wrote their hits with Laura Veltz, Nicolle Galyon, Jordan Reynolds and Jessie Joe Dillon. Those four winningly performed “Speechless,” “Tequila” and “10,000 Hours.”

“We’re so honored to have our friends here,” commented Shay Mooney. “It all starts with you guys, our co-writers on the songs,” added Dan Smyers.

The Merle Haggard Spirit Award went to Toby Keith. This was preceded by Trace Adkins singing Toby’s hit “Love Me If You Can.” Toby was not present, but sent an audio reminiscence of his conversations and performances with the late, legendary Merle.

Carly paused the proceedings to honor Lisa Lee, the ACM’s Senior VP of Creative/Content, who passed away last Saturday. Lisa was loved by all of us who knew her, and her talents as a show producer were acutely missed during the show’s clunky video tributes and its many “dead air” moments. She died of brain cancer at age 52.

Lisa was a charming, small-town personality from Arkansas who rose to the top of her profession. Ashley McBryde sang “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” in her honor. “What a moving performance to honor such a wonderful person,” commented Carly.

Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood of Lady A accept the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award. Photo: Getty Images / Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

Earning the Tex Ritter Film Award was the 16-hour PBS Country Music documentary by the Ken Burns team. Ken accepted via video. Thank goodness somebody has finally talked him into cutting off his hair’s Beatle-y bangs. Hank Williams‘ grandson Sam Williams offered an emotional “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” as a salute to the landmark film.

ACM Lifting Lives exec Lindsay Cruz presented the first Gary Haber Lifting Lives award to Lady A. The group sang a splendidly harmonized rendition of “What a Song Can Do.”

“We are so honored and humbled it’s unbelievable,” said the group’s Hillary Scott. “We are always looking for ways to give back.”

Ross Copperman accepts Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award. Photo: Getty Images / Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

Added bandmate Charles Kelley, “When you come into this world of country music, it’s part of the job: You give back.” Amen, brother.

The second Gary Haber Lifting Lives award went to Ross Copperman, whom Keith Urban dubbed, “Mr. Positivity.” Keith performed “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” which Ross co-wrote. “I would not be on this stage were it not for Lisa Lee lifting me up,” said Ross.

The third Poet’s Award went to Gretchen Peters. Making her debut on the Ryman stage was Brittney Spencer. She sang a slowed-down, impassioned version of Gretchen’s “Independence Day” and brought down the house.

“I was a fool to think I wouldn’t cry,” said Gretchen. “Brittney, that was so moving. I am so proud to receive this alongside Loretta and Curly Putman. Songwriting is a calling. At their best, songs are empathy machines. The world needs love and empathy more than it ever has right now. We need our Poets.”

Brittney Spencer performs. Photo: Getty Images / Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music

The Gene Weed Milestone Award was presented to Luke Combs by Ashley McBryde. She sang “She Got the Best of Me.” That song is one of the 11 consecutive debut singles by Luke that have gone to No. 1, an unprecedented accomplishment.

“Here I am: I cannot believe this,” said Luke. “I’m 31 years old, and I just had my 11th No. 1 song. The reason all of us get to do what we love to do is because of you. Everybody in this room, I love you. There’s a helluva lot more country music in this boy,” added the Everyman entertainer.

Carly Pearce bid us a fond goodnight.

Kelly Rich To Exit Amazon Music

Kelly Rich

Kelly Rich will exit her position as Amazon’s Head of Country Music, MusicRow has confirmed. Her last day will be Aug. 30.

Rich joined Amazon four years ago after time at Big Machine Label Group, UMG Nashville, DreamWorks, Arista Nashville, BMG and Western Merchandisers. At Amazon she worked with artists and labels to drive collaborative efforts around content launches, events and promotions.

Rich has been honored multiple times, with inclusion on power player lists in Billboard and Variety, awards from the Nashville Business Journal and MusicRow’s Rising Women on the Row.

Amazon has posted a job opening for Head of Country Music, Nashville Office. Click here to view the application.

Kacey Musgraves Announces Long-Awaited Fourth Studio Album, ‘Star-Crossed’

Kacey Musgraves. Photo: Sophia Matinazad

Six-time Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves has announced that she will release her highly-anticipated fourth studio album Star-Crossed on Sept. 10 via Interscope Records / UMG Nashville.

Star-Crossed is Musgraves’ first album of new material from the Grammy winner since 2018’s Golden Hour. Musgraves collaborated once again with co-producers and writers, Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian, and recorded the album in Nashville in under three weeks.

The 15-song collection is structured as a modern-day tragedy in three acts, with themes of heartache and healing.

Musgraves will also release Star-Crossed: The Film, directed by Bardia Zeinali, on Sept. 10 via Paramount+. The title track written by Musgraves, Tashian, and Fitchuk, along with the film’s trailer, are both out now.

Star-Crossed: The Film takes the music from the studio to the screen with visuals envisioned by Musgraves and Zeinali and shot by Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Matthew Libatique (A Star Is Born, Black Swan). The 50-minute movie was filmed over a 10 day shoot in Los Angeles and features cameos from Emmy Award-winner Eugene Levy, Victoria Pedretti (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, You), singer-songwriter Princess Nokia, Symone (RuPaul’s Drag Race winner) and comedian Megan Stalter.

Star-Crossed Track List:
Star-Crossed
Good Wife
Cherry Blossom
Simple Times
If This Was A Movie..
Justified
Angel
Breadwinner
Camera Roll
Easier Said
Hookup Scene
Keep Lookin’ Up
What Doesn’t Kill Me
There Is A Light
Gracias A La Vida

 

Beloved TV Journalist And Producer Lisa Lee Dies At 52

Lisa Lee. Photo: Courtesy Academy of Country Music

Lisa Lee, senior vice president of creative and content for the Academy of Country Music, passed away on Saturday (Aug. 21) after a battle with brain cancer. She was 52.

Born Alicia Faye Young in Cabot, Arkansas, on Dec. 24, 1968, Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After graduation, Lee got a reporting job at Cabot Star-Herald newspaper.

One of her early jobs was at KTAL-TV, an NBC affiliate serving Texarkana and Shreveport, Louisiana, where she began to be interested in entertainment stories. Although her assignments covered a variety of topics, Lee eventually convinced station management to allow her to do movie reviews; she promptly constructed her own little critic’s corner set. She also started covering country music concerts and events in the Arkansas area and surrounding states at this time.

Lee started a friendship with a reporter/producer from Jim Owens and Associates, the Nashville-based production company behind TNN Country News at the time. Soon she was checking in with the folks at Jim Owens, updating them on all the entertainment pieces she was working on, while not so subtly working to convince them to hire her. Her persistence paid off when Jim Owens and Associates hired her, and she moved to Nashville to work for the company from 1995 to 1999.

In 2000, Lee moved to CMT and CMT.com as a news correspondent and producer.

Lee also had a calling to expand the social conversation. She wrote and produced the Prism Award-winning special Addicted to Addiction, as well as the TV news specials Sex in Videos: Where’s the Line and Controversy: Tammy Wynette.

In 2004, Lisa moved to Los Angeles, becoming the Hollywood-based correspondent and West Coast News Bureau Chief for CMT Insider, the network’s interview-driven news show, where she covered music, movies, and television.

In 2007, three years after her move to L.A., Lisa accepted the Academy of Country Music’s offer to draw on her experience as a TV journalist and producer to help the Academy establish and grow their own in-house creative and video production department. As the Academy’s lead staff producer, she oversaw all video production as well as the design, creation, and editing of ACM logos, digital and printed materials including ACM Tempo magazine, the ACM Awards program book, and both the ACM and ACM Lifting Lives websites.

With her long history of production and network teamwork, Lee served as a liaison with CBS television’s creative departments and CBS.com for promos and creative content surrounding the annual ACM Awards. She was named producer of the Academy of Country Music Honors, a live industry event dedicated to celebrating the Academy’s special award honorees, off-camera category winners, and ACM Industry and Studio Recording Awards winners. Held each year at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Lisa imbued the event with a real love for the people who go the extra mile to support, expand, and protect Country Music in its most creative places.

In 2014, Lee wrote and created This Is Country: A Backstage Pass to the Academy of Country Music Awards. The deeply researched coffee table book celebrated the 50 the anniversary of the ACM Awards and included a forward by Reba McEntire.

Lee was a member of the Writers Guild of America. She was also a Leadership Music alum.

Lisa Lee is survived by her parents, Charlie and Faye Young; her husband (and high school sweetheart) Doug Lee; daughter Grayson, and son Jackson. Also, in laws Phillip and Sarah Lee of Cabot and many other Lee family members. She was preceded in death by her grandparents and brothers, Jason Young and Dennis Young.

Visitation is to be held this Friday from 5-8 pm at Moores Funeral Home, 700 North Second Street, Cabot, Arkansas followed by a memorial service Saturday. To stay updated on details for next weekend’s services, the celebration of life to be held in Nashville at a later date, and to support her family by contributing to her memorial fund, please click here.

Luke Bryan & Lisa Lee. Photo: Courtesy of Academy of Country Music

“Lisa has always been a light inside our industry,” shares Luke Bryan. “Her ability for telling not only my story but the story of so many was unmatched because it was from her heart. She truly loved her job and it showed on her face every time she was around. I will miss her.”

“I always loved getting to visit with Lisa whether it be about the music business or an interview. She was a huge asset to our business. I sure will miss her smiling face,” comments Reba McEntire.

“We lost one of our true lights yesterday. Lisa Lee was one of the most passionate and caring people I’ve ever met. Her love and appreciation of music, and the artists who made it, was everything you’d ever want,” adds Keith Urban. “I loved being interviewed by her for that reason and because she always brought such a warmth into the room. Peace be with all of her family today.”

“It is certainly a sad day for Country Music. We have lost a bright light and true leader in our business who cared deeply for telling the story of the music, artists and creators,” Lori Badgett, ACM Chair & Senior Vice President of City National Bank says. “Our hearts go out to her entire family, especially her husband, Doug and precious children, Grayson and Jackson at this terribly difficult time. We look forward to honoring her in many ways in the future.”

Lisa Lee & Kenny Chesney. Photo: Courtesy of Lisa’s Instagram

“Lisa Lee and I grew up together in this business. She was a TV reporter, producer, writer and big executive. She covered my heroes and my friends, she wrote about me and my mother,” Kenny Chesney says. “She truly cared about country music – and I absolutely cared about her. Good-bye, my sweet friend.”

“The Academy has lost a huge part of its heart and soul with the passing of Lisa Lee. She was a champion for Country Music and fiercely dedicated to the Academy’s mission for her over 15 years of service to the ACM,” shares Damon Whiteside, CEO, Academy of Country Music. “She is irreplaceable, but her heart and spirit will live on throughout our industry. ACM Honors was her favorite event, and I know she will be singing along and smiling down on us from above on Wednesday night.”

Lisa Lee & Reba McEntire. Photo: Courtesy of Lisa’s Instagram

“Ever since she joined the Academy, she became the heart, the soul and the historian for the ACM… On a personal level, I relied on her to keep me honest when it came to telling the Academy’s story. She had such depth of knowledge and passion. I will miss her tremendously,” comments RAC Clark, Executive Producer of the ACM Awards, 1999 to present, ACM Board Member and interim Executive Director of the Academy of Country Music 2019.

“I always loved getting to visit with Lisa whether it be about the music business or an interview. She was a huge asset to our business. I sure will miss her smiling face,” comments Reba McEntire.

Rock And Country Titan Don Everly Passes [Updated]

The Everly Brothers. Photo: Country Music Hall of Fame

Don Everly, one of the most influential artists in pop-music history, died in Nashville on Saturday (Aug. 21).

His death at age 84 was confirmed yesterday by Variety, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the BBC and other worldwide media outlets. As half of The Everly Brothers, he became an inaugural inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The team is also in the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Everlys have sold more than 40 million records. They toured globally for six decades.

Don and younger brother Phil Everly (1939-2014) were famed for their spine-tingling vocal harmonies, The Everly Brothers were profound influences on artists ranging from The Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel. Their sound has been cited by The Byrds, The Eagles, Peter & Gordon, The Hollies, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, The Beach Boys, Rodney Crowell, The Bee Gees and every harmony duo that has succeeded them.

Don’s driving, open-tuned, steel-string guitar work was also influential. Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones is among many who emulated it.

Don Everly was the writer behind such enduring songs as “Cathy’s Clown,” “So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad),” “(‘Til) I Kissed You” and “The Price of Love.” Both he and Phil also had solo recording careers.

Born in 1937, Isaac Donald Everly was the son of country entertainers Ike Everly (1908-1975) and Margaret Everly. He was born in the family’s home state of Kentucky. Phil followed two years later. He was born in Chicago, where Ike was working in local clubs and on WLS radio.

Former coal miner Ike Everly was an accomplished guitarist whose distinctive thumb-picking style was admired by Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, Mark Knopfler and many others. Don was mentored by his father from an early age, and made his debut as a radio performer in 1945 when Ike was working at KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa. He had a regular singing segment as “Little Donnie.”

The Everly parents and their sons turned their radio appearances into a family affair when Margaret, Don and Phil joined Ike’s act. Thus, The Everly Brothers became show-biz professionals in 1949, when Don was 12 and Phil was 10. The family relocated to WROL in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1953.

Ike contacted Chet Atkins in Nashville, who took an interest in Don’s songwriting. Atkins took the teenager’s song “Thou Shalt Not Steal” to Kitty Wells, who scored a big country hit with it in 1954. In addition, Anita Carter recorded Don’s “Here We Are Again.” After he graduated from high school, the brothers moved to Nashville.

Still shepherded by Atkins, The Everly Brothers signed with Columbia Records in 1955 and issued “The Sun Keeps Shining”/ “Keep A Lovin’ Me,” both Everly originals. The single went nowhere. Atkins kept plugging away on the brothers’ behalf. They were rejected by RCA and Capitol. But Justin Tubb recorded their song “The Life I Have to Live” for Decca in 1957.

The Everly Brothers. Photo: Ed Caraeff

Wesley Rose at Acuff-Rose Publishing signed the boys to songwriting contracts and took them to Cadence Records. Acuff-Rose staff writers Boudleaux & Felice Bryant supplied the Everlys with “Bye Bye Love,” to which Don applied a rollicking Bo Diddley beat. In the summer of 1957, it rocketed to the top of the pop, r&b and country charts. Backed by Don and Chet’s ringing guitars, the single combined the brothers’ hillbilly harmonies with the punch of rhythm & blues, a perfect distillation of the emerging rock & roll sensibility.

The single’s flip side also charted. Credited to both Don and Phil, “I Wonder If I Care As Much” has since been recorded by Dickey Lee, Johnny Winter, Robin & Linda Williams, Tracy Nelson, Andy Kim and more. In 1987, it was a country hit for Ricky Skaggs.

Although they effortlessly switched harmony vocal parts, Don generally sang lead, was usually the dominant songwriter and led the band. Phil’s electrifying high harmonies and “sock” rhythm guitar rounded out their thrilling sound.

The follow-up single to “Bye Bye Love” was the even bigger hit “Wake Up Little Susie,” again penned by the Bryants. Don once again wrote the flip side, “Maybe Tomorrow.” It was subsequently sung by Don Gibson, The Browns, Englebert Humperdinck, Richard Leigh and Del Shannon, among others.

In 1957-59, the Bryants supplied The Everly Brothers with additional major hit songs – “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Bird Dog,” “Devoted to You,” “Problems,” “Take a Message to Mary” and more.

The brothers continued to contribute their own compositions to the cause. The Everly-penned success “Should We Tell Him” of 1958 was revived by The Flying Burrito Brothers in 1990. Don’s “(‘Til) I Kissed You” was a top-10 Everly hit in 1959. The song is now certified as a Million-Air song by BMI, thanks to recordings by Tom Wopat, Kenny Rogers, Connie Smith (top-10 in 1976), The Angels, Johnny Rodrguez, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Sue Thompson, Sandy Posey, Anne Murray and others. The hit single’s flip side was also a Don Everly song, “Oh What a Feeling.”

The brothers paused in their rocking and rolling to create their acclaimed 1958 LP Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. This eloquently gentle, folk/country collection was ahead of its time and an early “concept” album.

Between 1957 and 1959 the duo had eight million-selling singles. In 1960, the Everlys became the first artists to be offered a million-dollar recording contract when they signed with the fledgling Warner Bros. Records. Their presence on the label led to it becoming a major force in the music world.

The Everly Brothers. Photo: Courtesy Robert K. Oermann

Don’s song “Cathy’s Clown” became their first hit for the company. It sold three million copies, the biggest selling record of their career. It also became an evergreen, with recordings by Pat Boone, The Shadows, The Williams Brothers, The Springer Brothers, Neil Sedaka, Dee Dee Ramone and more. Reba McEntire’s giant country smash with “Cathy’s Clown” led to it being named BMI’s Country Song of the Year in 1990.

Phil provided the team with the 1960 hit “When Will I Be Loved.” Don followed suit by penning “So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)” as the follow-up single. The song has since been a country hit for Hank Williams Jr. & Lois Johnson (1970), Connie Smith (1976) and Emmylou Harris (1983). It has also been recorded by Tammy Wynette, Del Reeves, Frank Ifield, Dillard & Clark, Mott the Hoople, Steve Wariner, Albert Lee, Louise Mandrell, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Bryan Hyland, The Hombres and John Prine, to name a few.

Don’s “Since You Broke My Heart” (1960) has been reprised by The Searchers, The Chocolate Watchband, Terry Jacks and Dino, Desi & Billy. The Everly Brothers hits with Warners continued, particularly overseas. “Walk Right Back,” “Ebony Eyes,” “Temptation,” “Stick with Me Baby,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “Crying in the Rain,” “How Can I Meet Her,” “No One Can Make My Sunshine Smile” and “The Ferris Wheel” were big British Everly successes in 1961-64.

The brothers served in the Marines in 1961-62. Don was troubled, hospitalized and sidelined by drug and psychological problems in late 1962.

Both Don and Phil are credited with writing 1964’s “Gone, Gone, Gone.” It has been covered by The Ventures, The Surfaris, Crow and Fairport Convention. In 2007, it was a stand-out track on Raising Sand, the Grammy Album of the Year by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss.

The brothers’ composition “The Price of Love” became a No. 1 hit on the British charts in 1965. It has since been recorded by a myriad of acts, including The Move, Bryan Ferry, The Status Quo, Poco, The Highthawks, Roxy Music, The Cactus Brothers, The Kinleys, BR5-49 and Buddy Miller.

The Everlys continued to record for Warner Bros. throughout the rest of the decade. Their 1968 LP for the label, Roots, is regarded as one of the seminal country-rock records. In 1970, the siblings starred in a network TV variety series on ABC, Johnny Cash Presents The Everly Brothers.

A contract with RCA resulted in the albums Stories We Could Tell (1972) and Pass the Chicken and Listen (1973). The latter was produced by their old benefactor, Chet Atkins.

The brothers broke up in 1973. Phil settled in L.A. Don returned to Nashville.

Don issued his solo albums Don Everly (1971, Ode Records), Sunset Towers (1974, Ode Records) and Brother Jukebox (1977, Hickory Records). He made the country charts with “Yesterday Just Passed My Way Again,” “Since You Broke My Heart” and “Brother Jukebox” in 1976-77.

After a decade of estrangement, The Everly Brothers joined forces again in 1983. Their reunion concert in London’s Royal Albert Hall aired around the world on HBO.

Paul McCartney wrote their 1984 comeback single “On the Wings of a Nightingale.” It became their first music video. Don’s song “Born Yesterday” brought the duo back into the country top-20 in 1986, and it, too, spawned a hit video.

He also wrote “Asleep,” “Some Hearts,” “Be My Love Again,” “Can’t Get Over It” and “Three Bands of Steel” for the team’s 1984-88 comeback albums on Mercury Records. His “Following the Sun” and “You Make It Seem So Easy” inspired music videos in 1984 and 1986, respectively.

In 1986, The Everly Brothers were among the 10 debut selections for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Neil Young inducted the Everlys. Of their fellow pioneer inductees—Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Little Richard—Don’s death makes Lewis the only one still living.

The Everlys final appearance on the charts was on a 1989 remake of “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” with Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash. Heartaches and Harmonies was issued as their four-CD, boxed-set salute in 1994.

The Everly Brothers were given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001.

In 2003-04, Don and Phil toured with Simon & Garfunkel nationwide. It was the farewell concert tour for the latter duo, whose career began in imitation of the Everly Brothers.

The siblings drifted apart again around 2005. Phil eventually settled south of Nashville, in Columbia, Tennessee. He passed away in 2014.

Four Everly Brothers tribute records were released in 2013. Norah Jones and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong offered Foreverly. The Chapin Sisters issued A Date With The Everly Brothers. The albums Bird Dogs and What the Brothers Sang came from The Wieners and Bonnie Prince Billy & Dawn McCarthy, respectively.

One of Don’s last notable public appearances was when he joined Paul Simon to sing “Bye Bye Love” at the latter’s 2018 Nashville concert. In 2019, Don was voted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Don and Phil Everly have been the subjects of a theater musical, 1998’s Bye Bye Love. They have provided authors with the material for at least four books, John Hosum’s Living Legends: An Illustrated Discography (1985), Phyllis Karpp’s Ike’s Boys (1988), Consuelo Dodge’s The Everly Brothers: Ladies Love Outlaws (1991) and Roger White’s The Everly Brothers: Walk Right Back (1998).

Don Everly is survived by his wife of 24 years, Adela, his son Edan. and daughters Venetia, Stacy and Erin, once married to Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose. He is also survived by his mother Margaret Everly, who is 102. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

“The Storyteller“ Tom T. Hall Passes [Updated]

Tom T. Hall. Photo: Courtesy Robert K. Oermann

Country Music Hall of Fame member Tom T. Hall has died at age 85.

Known as “The Storyteller,” the singer-songwriter and Grand Ole Opry star passed away on Friday, according to his son Dean Hall. He had been in failing health for several years.

Tom T. Hall created such indelible songs as “Harper Valley P.T.A.” for Jeannie C. Riley, “Little Bitty” for Alan Jackson and “How I Got to Memphis” for Bobby Bare. As a recording artist, he placed more than 50 singles on the country popularity charts in 1967-87, 21 of which became top-10 hits.

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee was born near Olive Hill, KY in 1936. His family was poor, but the boy’s upbringing was relatively carefree. He picked up the guitar at age four and wrote his first song when he was nine.

His childhood ended at age 13 when his mother died, as did his boyhood musical hero, the latter immortalized in his 1971 hit “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died.” When he was 15, his father was shot and wounded in a hunting accident, Hall dropped out of school and went to work in a garment factory, a “sweat shop.”

He joined a local bluegrass band and began appearing on WMOR radio in Morehead, Kentucky. When his fellow musicians were drafted for the Korean War, Hall remained at the station as a disc jockey.

In 1957, he enlisted in the Army for a three-year hitch. While stationed in Germany, he earned his high-school diploma and performed in a servicemen’s country band. He impressed the G.I.’s with his original songs. His 1970 hit “Salute to a Switchblade” was inspired during this time.

Back in civilian life, he resumed work as a D.J. and attended college in Virginia on the G.I. Bill. An acquaintance sent his songs to Nashville, where Newkeys Music signed him to a songwriting contract. The company’s co-founder Jimmy C. Newman turned Hall’s “D.J. For a Day” into a top-10 country hit in 1963. On Jan. 1, 1964, Tom T. Hall moved to Music City with $46 and a guitar.

Within months of his arrival, Dave Dudley scored with Hall’s songs “Mad” (1964) and “What We’re Fighting For” (1965). Dudley subsequently issued singles of eight additional Hall songs, including the No. 1 hit “The Pool Shark” (1970). Newman reprised his support with the top-10 hits “Artificial Rose” (1965) and “Back Pocket Money” (1966). Meanwhile, Johnny Wright hit No.1 in 1965 with Hall’s “Hello Vietnam.”

Mercury Records signed Tom T. Hall as a recording artist, and he debuted on the country charts with the top-40 hit “I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew” in 1967. During that same year, fellow Mercury artist Margie Singleton asked him to write her a song. She was out of town when he finished it, so newcomer Jeannie C. Riley was pitched the tune. Her version of “Harper Valley P.T.A.” was recorded on a Friday night in 1968. By Saturday afternoon, radio stations were playing it. By the close of the following week, factories were shipping the singles to stores as fast as they could press them.

“Harper Valley P.T.A.” topped the pop and country charts, sold six million copies, won a Grammy and a CMA award, inspired a movie and a TV series and became a national sensation. Tom T. Hall never recorded it.

Instead, he released his debut top-10 hit in 1968, “Ballad of Forty Dollars.” The following year, he repeated the feat with “Homecoming.” In 1970, he had his first No. 1 hit as an artist, “A Week in a Country Jail.”

With songs like these, Tom T. Hall vaulted to the front ranks of Nashville songwriters. Along with Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, Dolly Parton and a handful of others, he transformed country songwriting, taking the artform to new levels of insight and sensitivity.

Bobby Bare scored with Hall’s “(Margie’s At) The Lincoln Park Inn,” “The Town That Broke My Heart” and “How I Got to Memphis” in 1968-70. The last-named became a perennial favorite, thanks to recordings by Buddy Miller, Rosanne Cash, Solomon Burke, Eric Church, Ronnie Dunn, The Avett Brothers, Kelly Willis, Lee Hazelwood and Deryl Dodd, among others.

As a recording artist, Hall’s next No. 1 hits were 1971’s “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” plus 1973’s “(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine” and “I Love.” They opened the floodgates for a string of top-10 smashes, including “Ravishing Ruby,” “County Is,” “I Like Beer,” “Faster Horses,” “Fox on the Run” and “Your Man Loves You Honey.” All were produced by legendary session guitarist Jerry Kennedy.

Hall’s peers voted him into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1978, but he was far from finished. Success continued on RCA Records with “I Wish I Loved Somebody Else” (1978), “What Have You Got to Lose” (1978), “The Old Side of Town” (1980) and more.

Despite the hit records, he insisted he wasn’t a “star.” Nevertheless, he was the TV host of the nationally syndicated Pop Goes the Country (1980-83), the longtime commercial spokesman for Tyson Chicken and Chevy Trucks, a guest on the top variety and talk shows and an inductee into the Opry cast.

And despite being something of a “loner” in Nashville, he discovered Johnny Rodriguez and brought him to town. He championed songwriter Billy Joe Shaver by recording “Old Five and Dimers Like Me” and “Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me.” He teamed with Earl Scruggs on a 1982 LP that introduced the future Alabama No. 1 hit “Song of the South.” He sang with Johnny Cash on his 1988 composition “The Last of the Drifters.”

Hall returned to Mercury Records in the mid-1980s and recorded a series of albums in rural Florida in the following decade. One song from these sessions was “Little Bitty,” which became a No. 1 hit for Alan Jackson in 1996.

Storyteller, Poet, Philosopher was issued as the Tom T. Hall boxed set in 1995. The title reflects the literary bent that underlies his music. He published six books, including the novel The Laughing Man of Woodmont Cove, a short-story collection titled The Acts of Life and the autobiographical The Storyteller’s Nashville.

The depth of Tom T. Hall’s songwriting catalog is revealed on such albums as I Witness Life (1970), 100 Children (1971), In Search of a Song (1971), We All Got Together And (1972), The Storyteller (1972), The Rhymer and Other Five and Dimers (1973) and his much- loved children’s album Songs of Fox Hollow (1974). The last-named was saluted with a tribute album in 2011.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. He was presented with a BMI Icon award three years later.

In 1968, Tom T. Hall married song lyricist and former Music City News journalist Dixie Dean (1934-2015). Born in England as Iris Violet May Lawrence, she blossomed as his song collaborator in the 1990s. Separately and together, they enjoyed more than 500 bluegrass recordings of their songs.

Hall had grown up playing bluegrass and dedicated his 1976 LP The Magnificent Music Machine to the genre. He often opened his Toy Box Studio to bluegrass bands. Dixie formed a bluegrass song-publishing company and record label. Tom T. and Dixie Hall were inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

Literary scholars have taught Tom T. Hall’s songs as poetry in university courses. More than anyone, Hall illustrated the elevation of country songwriting from a simple folk art to an expression that can plumb the depths of the soul, comment on politics, paint a vivid personality portrait, observe an emotional tumult or take a snapshot of the social world. Even decades after their creation, the best of them remain extraordinary listening experiences.

Tom T. Hall died at his home, Fox Hollow, according to his son Dean Hall, a blues-rock performer. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Tom T. Hall speaks at the 2008 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Photo: John Russell

“Tom T. Hall’s masterworks vary in plot, tone and tempo, but they are bound by his ceaseless and unyielding empathy for the triumphs and losses of others,” says Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “He wrote without judgment or anger, offering a rhyming journalism of the heart that sets his compositions apart from any other writer. His songs meant the world to Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, George Jones and other greats, and those songs will continue to speak to generations. He was a storyteller, a philosopher, a whiskey maker, a novelist, a poet, a painter, a benefactor, a letter writer, a gift giver, a gentleman farmer and many more things. My bet is that we won’t see the likes of him again, but if we do I’ll be first in line for tickets to the show.”

“Few could tell a story like Tom T. Hall. As a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, he was one of those triple threat artists who continued to make an impact on the next generation. I’ll always remember growing up listening to Tom T.’s music with my father, who was a huge bluegrass and country fan,” says Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association, CEO

Florida Georgia Line Cancels ‘I Love My Country 2021 Tour’ Due To COVID-19

Florida Georgia Line. Photo: John Shearer

Out of an abundance of caution, Florida Georgia Line announced today (Aug. 20) the cancellation of their “I Love My Country Tour 2021” due to COVID-19.

“There is nothing better than seeing all of your faces from the stage, feeling your good energy, and making memories together,” shares FGL’s Tyler Hubbard. “We were hopeful we could get back on the road this fall, and are so bummed to have to cancel this tour, but we know in our hearts that we still have to make sure we’re keeping our fans and crew safe. It’s unfortunate that we have to cancel but we hope y’all understand. We love our fans and can’t wait to be back out when the time is right.”

“Although we’ve been able to see some of y’all at shows recently, everyone’s continued safety has been weighing heavy on us,” adds FGL’s Brian Kelley. “To our fans, band, crew, and all of the venues around the country, thank you for your love and support! We couldn’t do what we do without you, and we hope we can all do our part to bring live music back soon.”

Presented by Old Camp and sponsored by T-Mobile, the anticipated 29-stop trek featuring Russell Dickerson as direct support, plus openers Lauren Alaina and Redferrin, was due to launch at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept. 24, and run through Nov. 20 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington.

For all current ticket holders, no action is required. All refunds will be issued to the original method of payment used at time of purchase.

Priscilla Block Earns First No. 1 On MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart

In a tight race to No. 1 this week, Priscilla Block makes her debut at the top of the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart edging out Lainey Wilson by two spins and Jameson Rodgers by five spins.

“Just About Over You” was written by Block, Emily Kroll, and Sarah Jones. It appears on her debut self-titled EP released earlier this year via Mercury Nashville.

“This EP is such a vulnerable side of who I am and where I’ve been,” says Block. “It’s my story of falling apart in order to find myself again. I hope that when you hear these songs, they make you feel that it’s ok to not be perfect and realize that sometimes we need the lows to value the highs… And once you regain that confidence… Let it show baby!”

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

33rd Annual MusicRow Awards Winners

MusicRow Magazine revealed the winners of the 33rd annual MusicRow Awards in a series of videos on all MusicRow online platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, today (Aug. 19).

Presenting Sponsor of the 2021 MusicRow Awards is City National Bank. All the MusicRow Award nominees are profiled in the recently released MusicRow Awards print issue.

MusicRow Magazine Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson, and respected television host, entertainment journalist, writer and producer, Alecia Davis serve once again as “hosts” on each winner video.

The winners for the 33rd annual MusicRow Awards are (winners marked in red):

Producer of the Year [VIDEO]
Dave Cobb
Ross Copperman
Corey Crowder
Dann Huff
Jay Joyce
Joey Moi

Label Group of the Year [VIDEO]
BBR Music Group
Big Loud Records
Big Machine Label Group
Sony Music Nashville
UMG Nashville
Warner Music Nashville

Talent Agency of the Year [VIDEO]
CAA
Kinkead Entertainment Agency
Reliant Talent Agency
United Talent Agency
Wasserman Music
WME

Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year [VIDEO]
Matt Alderman
Benjy Davis
Nicolette Hayford
Joey Hyde
Dan Isbell
Greylan James
Alex Kline
Chris La Corte
Emily Landis
Michael Lotten
James McNair
Neil Medley
Jordan Minton
Jake Mitchell
Anna Moon
Joshua Murty
Mitch Oglesby
Matt Roy
Mark Trussell
Dallas Wilson

Breakthrough Artist-Writer of the Year [VIDEO]
Tenille Arts
Ben Johnson (Track45)
Chris Lane
Ashley McBryde
Parker McCollum
Ernest K. Smith

Male Songwriter of the Year [VIDEO]
Ross Copperman
Jesse Frasure
Ashley Gorley
Randy Montana
Josh Osborne
Josh Thompson

Female Songwriter of the Year [VIDEO]
Allison Veltz Cruz
Nicolle Galyon
Natalie Hemby
Alex Kline
Emily Landis
Hillary Lindsey
Parker Welling

Song of the Year [VIDEO]
“Black Like Me” — Songwriter(s): Mickey Guyton, Nathan Chapman, Emma Davidson-Dillon, Fraser Churchill
“Give Heaven Some Hell” — Songwriter(s): Michael Hardy, Hunter Phelps, Ben Johnson, Ashley Gorley
“Half Of My Hometown” — Songwriter(s): Kelsea Ballerini, Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman, Jimmy Robbins, Nicolle Galyon
“Hell Of A View” — Songwriter(s): Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell
“My Boy” — Songwriter(s): Elvie Shane, Lee Starr, Nick Columbia, Russell Sutton
“Next Girl” — Songwriter(s): Carly Pearce, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne

Discovery Artist of the Year [VIDEO]
Priscilla Block
Tyler Braden
Ian Munsick
Drew Parker
Lily Rose
Lainey Wilson

Breakthrough Artist of the Year [VIDEO]
Tenille Arts
Breland
Mickey Guyton
Parker McCollum
Niko Moon
Jameson Rodgers

Artist of the Year [VIDEO]
Luke Bryan
Luke Combs
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton

MusicRow also honors the Top 10 Album All-Star Musicians at the 2021 MusicRow Awards, recognizing the studio players who performed on the most albums reaching the Top 10 of Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart during the eligibility period. The honorees are:

Bass
Jimmie Lee Sloas

Drums
Jerry Roe

Engineer
Justin Niebank

Fiddle
Stuart Duncan

Guitar
Ilya Toshinskiy

Keyboards
Dave Cohen

Steel
Paul Franklin

Vocals
Russell Terrell

Garth Brooks Cancels Next Five Shows On Stadium Tour Due To Threat Of COVID-19

Garth Brooks at a press conference on Friday (July 30). Photo: Sherod Robertson

After announcing that he will be reassessing the remainder of his stadium tour due to the most recent onslaught of COVID-19, Garth Brooks has shared the news that he will be cancelling his next five dates as well as refunding the approximately 350,000 tickets sold.

The five concert locations being cancelled are Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, scheduled for Sept. 18, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, scheduled for Sept. 25, M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, scheduled for Oct. 2, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, scheduled for Oct 9, and Nissan Stadium in Nashville which has not yet been rescheduled.

“In July, I sincerely thought the pandemic was falling behind us. Now, watching this new wave, I realize we are still in the fight and I must do my part,” Brooks shares. “I have asked the wonderful cities of Cincinnati and Charlotte to wait too long and I don’t want to now do that same thing to the great folks in Boston and Baltimore. As far as Nashville, we are looking for a makeup date from the July rain out and though this is not COVID related, to make them wait makes me sad, as well. So, it is with a heavy heart we announce the decision to cancel all five shows but with a hopeful heart, we will reschedule and start over when this wave seems to be behind us.

“The joy I have seen in everyone’s faces as live music returns has been more than worth our constant diligence to maintain safety protocols not only for the fans, but for our band, the crew and the hardworking staff in these stadiums. Their dedication to safety for the people who fill those seats has been a miracle to watch and a blessing to receive. I am truly grateful,” he continues. “I’m sincerely hoping we are back on tour before the year’s end. With that said, the most important thing to me is fulfilling my end of the Stadium Tour by making sure every show is doable before putting tickets on sale (that is why we pulled the Seattle on sale) and making sure the environment these people are trading their time and money to put themselves into is not only the best experience ever, but also the safest one we can provide.”

A spokesperson for the tour said the team will continue to monitor the virus’ impact and watch how schools, sports, and other entertainment entities are handling this stage of the pandemic.

No action from ticket holders is required to obtain a refund. Ticketmaster will issue a refund to the original method of payment used at time of purchase.