Keith Urban And Mickey Guyton To Host 2021 ‘ACM Awards’

Keith Urban, Mickey Guyton

The Academy of Country Music announced today (March 11) that 15-time ACM Award winner Keith Urban, and New Female Artist of the Year nominee Mickey Guyton, will host the 56th ACM Awards.

This will mark a return for Urban as host, and Guyton’s first time with hosting duties.

“I’m beyond thrilled to be co-hosting with my friend Mickey,” says Urban. “I love that finally everyone will get to see her infectious energy and uber creative spirit in full light.”

“Last year I had the opportunity to perform at the Academy of Country Music Awards with someone I long admired, Keith Urban, and this year I am incredibly excited to share hosting duties with him,” says Guyton. “As I’ve said before ‘if you can see it, you can be it,’ and it’s such an honor to step onto the ACM stage as the first ever Black woman to host the show. Over the years, the Academy of Country Music has always been a home for me through opportunities both onstage and throughout their work on diversity and inclusion. This is a moment of great significance for me and I am so thrilled to share it with all the fans.”

“Following Mickey’s groundbreaking and emotional performance featuring Keith Urban at last September’s ACM Awards, the producers knew that they would make a perfect hosting duo,” says ACM, dick clark productions and CBS in a joint statement. “Since then, Mickey had a stratospheric rise and Keith has continued to top the charts. They will make a dynamic pairing that captures the warmth, humor, and comfort that the fans are looking for, and join a legendary list of talented artists that have hosted the ACM Awards over the years.”

Urban is nominated in the Music Event of the Year Category for his collaboration with P!nk on his latest single, “One Too Many,” for which he received an additional nomination as the song’s producer. He is also nominated for his collaboration with Thomas Rhett, Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, and Chris Tomlin on “Be A Light.” To date, Urban has won 15 Academy of Country Music Awards, securing his first win in 2001.

Guyton was nominated for her first ACM Award in 2016 for New Female Vocalist. This last year, she performed her first solo ACM Awards performance of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” with labelmate Urban’s accompaniment on piano. She is up for New Female Artist of the Year at this year’s awards.

CBS will present the 56th ACM Awards live from Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House, Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe on Sunday, April 18 (8:00-11:00 p.m., live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

Entertainment Companies Comment On Passage Of American Rescue Plan Act Of 2021

On March 10, Congress passed President Joe Biden‘s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package.

The package was proposed by President Biden to help speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is scheduled to sign the bill into law on Friday (March 12).

Several representatives of the American music and entertainment community issued the following statement on the passage of the COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus bill:

“The American Rescue Plan provides absolutely essential economic relief for workers in the American creative community who continue to face an uncertain path back to work due to the pandemic. This legislation’s extension of CARES Act and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation benefits into early September, as well as critical tax forgiveness for the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance claimed in 2020, will provide much-needed certainty for creative community workers and their families. We are also grateful for the inclusion of additional funds for shuttered venue operators and live entertainment businesses, and continued support for the Paycheck Protection Program. Businesses are in desperate need of these funds.

We are hopeful that enactment of the American Rescue Plan is one more step toward a future where music and entertainment are again at the center of our lives and communities, and where creative community workers can put the hardship of the pandemic behind them. Until then, we will continue to work as one community to advocate for greater, enhanced relief and ensure policymakers at all levels understand American creators’ outsized contribution to our economy and our culture.”

The joint statement is from the following:
Actors’ Equity Association
American Association of Independent Music (A2IM)
American Photographic Artists
Artist Rights Alliance
Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston
The Authors Guild
CERF+ the Artists Safety Net
Copyright Alliance
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
Digital Media Association (DiMA)
Freelancers Union
Future of Music Coalition
The Graphic Artists Guild
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)
Lawyers for the Creative Arts (Chicago)
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
Music Artists Coalition (MAC)
Music Managers Forum – US (MMF-US)
Music Workers Alliance (MWA)
Musicians for Musicians
Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI)
National Independent Talent Organization (NITO)
National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA)
National Writers Union (NWU)
Recording Academy
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
Songwriters Guild of America
Songwriters of North America (SONA)
St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA)
Volunteer Lawyers for The Arts
Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA)

Sony Music Publishing Extends Global Deal With Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan. Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson

Sony Music Publishing has announced it has renewed a global deal with Luke Bryan.

The four-time Entertainer of the Year and American Idol judge has earned 26 career No. 1 singles, including 13 he co-wrote—among them “I Don’t Want This Night To End,” “Huntin’, Fishin’, And Lovin’ Every Day,” “Move,” “Fast,” “What Makes You Country” and more.

“I’ve enjoyed many years with Sony Music Publishing and I’m happy to continue our partnership. Songwriters are the backbone of country music and being included in this category with arguably the biggest company in the business is unreal. I’m so thankful,” Bryan says.

Sony Music Publishing Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston says, “I am personally so excited for Luke to extend his long-standing relationship with Sony Music Publishing Nashville. His songs are genuine enough to touch the heart of the individual listener and engaging enough to bring an entire stadium to its feet.”

Bryan launched his music career as a songwriter. He first gained prominence after co-writing Billy Currington’s No. 1 single “Good Directions.” Soon to follow was Bryan’s success as an artist with his breakthrough single “All My Friends Say,” from his debut album I’ll Stay Me.

Since his debut in 2009, Bryan has earned more RIAA certified digital singles than any other country act with 54.5 million, tallied 14.6 billion streams, sold 12.5 million albums, and earned seven RIAA album certifications, 22 Platinum singles and 12 multi-Platinum singles.

Recently, Bryan announced that he plans to release a deluxe version of his seventh studio album Born Here Live Here Die Here on April 9, adding six new songs to the original 10 tracks.

CMA Announces Donation Drive, Sarah Trahern Talks Ongoing COVID Support [Interview]

Through its Music Industry COVID Support (MICS) initiative, the Country Music Association has helped aid music industry professionals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today (March 9) the organization announced a support donation drive benefiting Musically Fed and will be accepting goods at the CMA office (35 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203) Monday, March 15 through Friday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Among the items needed are basic food items such as pasta and rice, as well as toiletries.

Food Items Needed:
Dried Pasta & Sauce
Oatmeal, Cereal
Canned Fish/Meat
Canned Fruits/Veggies
Soup, Crackers
Rice, Quinoa, Dry Beans
Peanut Butter

Toiletries Needed:
Laundry Detergent
Dish Soap
Hand Soap
Body Wash
Shaving Cream
Toilet Paper
Paper Towels

Musically Fed also has an Amazon Wish List, from which donations can be purchased before March 19. To direct your purchase to the food drive, select “Country Music Association, c/o FOOD DRIVE’s Gift registry” as the shipping address.

Sarah Trahern. Photo: Courtesy CMA

CMA CEO Sarah Trahern spoke to MusicRow about the donation drive, and about CMA’s continued efforts to help support music industry professionals who are struggling during this health crisis.

In the state of Tennessee alone, more than 50,000 music jobs have been impacted by the pandemic, and that number is estimated to be hundreds of thousands more nationwide.

“One of the people on our board drew a diagram for us one day and around this person’s artist, there were about 140 people directly on the road food chain—not to mention the manager in the office, a publicist, and a freelance staff,” Trahern says.

“We started working on ‘What can we do over the course of the year?’ Some of it is hard investment dollars.”

At the onset of the pandemic, CMA donated $1 million to The Recording Academy’s MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund in addition to a $100,000 donation to Music Health Alliance.

CMA has since outlined additional funding to six nonprofit partners—Music Health Alliance, Musically Fed, Notes for Notes, Porter’s Call, The Store and Touring Professionals Alliance Kitchen —which, along with previous nonprofit investments, are funded through CMA’s $3 million long-term COVID-19 commitment that began in early 2020.

The organization has continued to analyze and assess the specific needs of music professionals to determine the most vital resources and services to provide. Established as a portal for key resources in the categories of food supply, health and wellness, and career services, MICS helps to connect industry professionals with appropriate nonprofit partners offering critical support.

“One of the things that I was most proud of during this time was a small program that we worked on to help people with their resumes and to find temporary jobs for people who don’t have work right now. We don’t want them to leave our business, but they might need access to a job for six months.

“[The donation drive] is something easy for us to engage the people in the Nashville community and the people in the music community, the ones who are doing okay right now to say, ‘Hey, come lean in and help us. Help us help our brethren get back on their feet.”

While Trahern is hopeful that touring is on the horizon with vaccines beginning to roll out, programs like the resume workshop and the upcoming donation drive are put in place to help get touring professionals to the other side. “They’re not a population that is used to asking for help,” she says. “They’re the people in black, they’re the ones who crawl up in the rafters. Our business was one of the first businesses to close and we’ll probably be the last one to open back up in a lot of ways.”

CMA will march on to support the music industry during this hardship. “We’re going to continue to support programs around the country. We’re doing another nationwide program that will be announced in the next few weeks with six to eight markets that are music cities outside of Nashville, but that have a high density of people in the music business who are hurting right now. We’ll continue our support with groups like the Music Health Alliance, and Porter’s Call to work on creating access to mental health resources during this time.”

Creative Nation Taps Emily Furman As Sr. Director, Creative

Emily Furman. Photo: Spencer Combs

Creative Nation has announced the addition of Emily Furman to their team as Sr. Director, Creative. In her new role, Furman will help lead the publishing team, sign new talent, and develop the current roster of songwriters and artists.

At age 17, Furman moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University. She graduated in May of 2009 with a BBA in Music Business and in July of 2009, was hired at Carnival Music where she spent over eleven years working in publishing and artist development.

“Emily’s 11 years of experience at a respected independent publishing company, and her passion for great songs and songwriters, make her a perfect fit for Creative Nation. We are excited to add her fresh perspective to our publishing team,” Co-Founder and CEO, Beth Laird, says.

“Creative Nation operates with a strong team culture and a commitment to quality and success in a way that’s unique and forward-thinking. I’m grateful for Beth and Luke [Laird]‘s belief in me and to be a part of what they’re doing in the Nashville music community and beyond,” Furman says.

Jake Owen Earns No. 1 On MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart

Topping the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week is “Made For You” by Jake Owen. The single gained an additional 73 spins this week for a total of 1,808 spins and 60 stations playing the single.

“Made For You” was written by Benjy Davis, Joey Hyde, and Neil Medley. It appears on his debut album for Big Loud Records, Greetings From…Jake, which was produced by Joey Moi.

This marks 85 No. 1 singles for independent record promotion company, Jerry Duncan Promotions. “Made For You” quickly followed their last chart success “7 Summers” by Morgan Wallen, which hit No. 1 in January.

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Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram And Jon Randall To Release ‘The Marfa Tapes’ In May

Jon Randall, Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert. Photo: Spencer Peeples

Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, and Jon Randall are releasing a collection of intimate and raw songs written and recorded together in the tiny town of Marfa, Texas, called The Marfa Tapes, on May 7.

Over the past several years, the desolate location has become a songwriting haven for the trio, yielding hits and some profound personal growth. When they returned for five days last November, they recorded the new project, inspired by the stark beauty of west Texas and the deep, lasting bonds the three have forged there. Recorded raw and loose with just a pair of mics and an acoustic guitar, The Marfa Tapes is an intimate, unadorned snapshot of a moment in time fueled by love, trust, and friendship.

“I’ll never forget pulling into Marfa that first night at 4 a.m.,” said Lambert. “The stars were like nothing I’d ever seen before, just this endless blanket hanging so low you could reach up and touch them. I immediately understood why this place was so special.”

“There’s no TV, no radio, nothing to do out there but pour a cocktail, sit around the campfire, and talk,” continued Randall. “Eventually, that just inevitably leads to songs. There’s no pressure to write, but most of the time, the three of us can’t seem to help ourselves.”

“There’s something singular that happens in that moment of collaboration and creation, something you can never really recreate in the studio,” said Ingram. “Our hope with this album was to share a little bit of that magic with people.”

The Marfa Tapes Track List:
1) In His Arms
2) I Don’t Like It
3) The Wind’s Just Gonna Blow
4) Am I Right Or Amarillo
5) Waxahachie
6) Homegrown Tomatoes
7) Breaking A Heart
8) Ghost
9) Geraldene
10) We’ll Always Have The Blues
11) Tin Man
12) Two-Step Down To Texas
13) Anchor
14) Tequila Does
15) Amazing Grace (West Texas)

Thomas Rhett Announces Double Album, ‘Country Again’

Reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Thomas Rhett has announced his fifth studio double album: Country Again. Side A will release on April 30 via The Valory Music Co, while Side B is planned for release later this year.

Country Again: Side A is everything I wanted to say when I was 19 years old, but hadn’t lived enough to know how to say any of those things yet,” Rhett says. “It’s about the crazy journey that took me out into the world over the last ten years and ultimately brought me back home, more centered and content than ever, with a deep understanding for what’s important in life. I’ve had a blast sharing some of these songs in their acoustic form during quarantine and am blown away by the reaction the fans have already shown.”

In what is described as a musical and thematic return to his roots, Rhett co-wrote every song on Side A. He teamed up with longtime producers Dann Huff and Jesse Frasure for the project.

Rhett, who was reportedly already feeling a pull back to his musical roots, was prompted to make the music when the pandemic struck and the world shut down.

“How else do you slow down unless you’re forced to?,” Rhett says. “For the first time, I had to look at myself and say ‘Who am I? Who is Thomas Rhett without a microphone or a guitar or a stage?’ I had to really dig deep and figure it out. So in many ways, 2020 was a big ol’ reality check, a complete reset. And when I finally settled into myself and my family, and started to work again, it completely influenced all of my songwriting.”

Country Again: Side A Track List:
1. “Want It Again” | Thomas Rhett, Matt Dragstrem, Josh Miller, Josh Thompson
2. “Growing Up” | Thomas Rhett, Matt Dragstrem, Josh Miller, Josh Thompson
3. “What’s Your Country Song” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Parker Welling
4. “Where We Grew Up”* | Thomas Rhett, Luke Laird, Josh Miller
5. “Heaven Right Now” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Matt Dragstrem, Josh Thompson, Laura Veltz
6. “To The Guys That Date My Girls” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Will Bundy, Josh Thompson
7. “More Time Fishin’” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Will Bundy, Josh Thompson
8. “Country Again” | Thomas Rhett, Zach Crowell, Ashley Gorley
9. “Put It On Ice (featuring Hardy)”+ | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Matt Dragstrem, Josh Thompson
10. “Blame It On A Backroad” | Thomas Rhett, Zach Crowell, Ashley Gorley
11. “Ya Heard” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Matt Dragstrem, Chase McGill

Produced by Dann Huff and Jesse Frasure
+Produced by Dann Huff and Matt Dragstrem
*Produced by Dann Huff

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark

Disc of the Day winner Eric Church Photo: Reid Long

I must be living right.

How else can you explain new music in the same listening session from three of my very favorite artists—Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Brandy Clark? They are among the reasons I still listen to country music, no matter how bad most of the rest of it is. Any one of them could be the Disc of the Day. I’m giving the nod to my main man, Eric Church.

There are bright rays of hope in this edition of DISClaimer. I refer to the dandy disc debuts by Ian Munsick, Hannah Dasher and Callista Clark. Hannah Dasher wins this week’s DISCovery Award. I look forward to hearing much, much more from her.

HEATH SANDERS / “Old School’s In”
Writers: Casey Beathard/Heath Sanders/Houston Phillips; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: The Valory Music Co.
— He’s bellowing about how things haven’t changed where he lives, as though someone was arguing with him about it. It’s meant to be some kind of redneck anthem, but it sounds like we’ve heard all this before from other flag wavers. A worn retread.

ELLE KING & MIRANDA LAMBERT / “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Writers: Elle King/Martin Johnson; Producer: Martin Johnson; Label: RCA Records Nashville/Vanner Records
— Feisty, rocking and oh-so-adorable. I never would have imagined these two together, but the result is ridiculously catchy.

NOAH SCHNACKY / “She Broke My Heart”
Writers: Noah Schnacky/Lindsay Rimes/Laura Veltz; Producer: Lindsay Rimes; Label: Big Machine
— The production is too busy, but his charm is undeniable on this jaunty ditty. Despite what the title might lead you to believe, it is an upbeat bopper about how getting dumped led to True Romance. Or at least to meeting a hottie at the House of Blues.

Writers: Brad Paisley/Ross Copperman/Lee Thomas Miller; Producers: Ross Copperman/Luke Wooten; Label: Arista Nashville
— If you want to go with her, get ready for a wild ride with an empowered woman. She might have some “dust on her halo,” but you can’t keep her down. She’s heading for parts unknown with her moxie and grit intact.

HANNAH DASHER / “Left Right”
Writers: Brandon Hood/Hannah Dasher/Wynn Varble; Producer: Brandon Hood; Label: RCA Nashville
— I like her a lot. She’s got lots of country-female attitude, a witty way with words and twang to spare. While the rhythm thumps merrily, she advises him to make up his mind and “put a ring on her left right now.” Sign me up for the fan club.

BRETT YOUNG / “You Got Away With It”
Writers: Brett Young/Justin Ebach/Ashley Gorley/Jon Nite/Jimmy Robbins; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: BMLG Records
— She stole his heart and got away with the crime. I like it that this track has some stomp to it, which is a new texture for this guy. The harmonica work is cool, too.

CALLISTA CLARK / “It’s ‘Cause I Am”
Writers: Callista Clark/Cameron Jaymes/Laura Veltz; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Label: Big Machine Records
— She’s way too complicated for you. Get used to it. It ain’t real “country,” but the tune has its spicy, saucy moments.

TRAVIS TRITT / “Smoke in a Bar”
Writers: Jeremy Bussey/Derek George/Tim Montana; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Big Noise Label Group
— Nostalgia for simpler times. I’m a huge fan of Tritt, and he’s been away for far too long. But, sorry, I don’t miss smoking in a bar at all. Seat belts save lives. The six o’clock news does tell the truth, and implying that it doesn’t is twisted. Find a better song.

IAN MUNSICK / “Long Haul”
Writers: Ian Munsick/Dave Villa/Jamie Kenney; Producers: Jamie Kenney/Dave Villa/Ian Munsick; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— He has a heart-tugging tenor voice and a marvelous sense of melody. The sonic atmosphere is beautifully airy and open. A simply stunning disc debut. Munsick’s first album, Coyote Cry, dropped last week, and the whole thing is heartily recommended.

ERIC CHURCH / “Never Break Heart”
Writers: Eric Church/Luke Dick; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: EMI Music Nashville
— I love everything about this. The production is a wonderland of rhythmic punch, twinkling mandolin, echoey harmony singing, sighing organ, stately piano and crunch guitars. The song is superbly well written. The message is inspirational. Three albums at once? Really? Believe it, when a man this gifted is doing it. The Church Choir rises with one mighty voice. Sing along.

BRANDY CLARK / “The Past Is the Past” feat. Lindsey Buckingham
Writers: Brandy Clark/Barry Dean/Luke Laird; Producer: Lindsey Buckingham; Label: Warner Records
— On her album, this is a gentle ode of farewell. This new version, produced by Lindsey Buckingham, rocks out with splendor and verve. However you slice it, this is a very cool song, and Clark is as good as it gets.

MARK COLLIE / “Born Ready”
Writers: Mark Collie/Kenny Greenberg/Gary Nicholson; Producers: Kenny Greenberg/Chad Cromwell; Label: BFD/Audium/Orchard
— That Waylon/outlaw beat gets me every time. And it fits this renegade/rebel song perfectly. Welcome back, buddy. We’ve missed ya.

This week’s DISCovery Winner Hannah Dasher. Photo: Andrew Morton

Miranda Lambert To Become First Female Country Artist With A Bar On Broadway

Miranda Lambert. Photo: Ellen Von Unwerth

Miranda Lambert will be the first female country artist with a branded bar on Broadway in Nashville.

The restaurant will be called Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa and, according to a report by the Nashville Business Journal, will be located at 308 Broadway.

TC Restaurant Group—the restaurant and hospitality company behind Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar, FGL House, Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge, and more—has teamed with Lambert on the establishment. The most nominated female artist in ACM history will join Aldean, Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and more male country artists with bars and restaurants on lower Broadway.

TC Restaurant Group provided the following statement to MusicRow: “In true Miranda Lambert fashion, the two-time Grammy Award winning artist will make history in 2021 by partnering with TC Restaurant Group to become the first female country star to have a bar and restaurant on Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee. TC Restaurant Group and Miranda Lambert are excited to release more details in the coming week.”