My Music Row Story: CMT’s Leslie Fram

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.

 

As Sr. VP Music and Talent at CMT, Leslie Fram oversees music on all of its platforms and negotiates talent for major tentpoles specials and music specials. A champion of female artists, in 2013 she created CMT’s Next Women Of Country franchise which has grown to include a tour, and also oversees CMT’s Equal Play platform. Before joining CMT in 2011, Fram had a long and impressive career in radio. She is one of the Co-Founders of Change The Conversation and Nashville Music Equality. Fram has been honored by the T.J. Martell Foundation, Billboard Women In Music and more.

MusicRow: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a little town called Fairhope, Alabama. I’m the only southerner in my family. My family is from Massachusetts and moved to the south before I was born.

Were you musical as a child?

Yes. I didn’t play an instrument, but was turned on to music by my older brother who turned me on to a lot of classic rock, from Led Zeppelin to Heart. Then I started discovering my own artists that I liked. It went from one extreme to the other—I loved rock and folk. Country was not in my sphere at all, I have to admit. I would listen to radio stations late at night and really liked a lot of underground music. I was very shy, so I listened to music as a form of entertainment. I would call DJs to request songs.

Pictured: Sting and Leslie Fram

Is that why you started your career in radio?

At first, I wanted to be a journalist, but I got a job at this radio station and I was hooked. Radio was IT for me. It was definitely my first love.

In college I was working an album-oriented rock and top 40 radio station. So I was doing midnight to 6:00 a.m. and going to college from 8:00 a.m. to noon—and falling asleep in my 12 o’clock class.

When I graduated, I ended up getting a job in Atlanta at a radio station called Power 99 that turned into 99X in 1992, which was the beginning of the evolution of alternative music and the explosion of Nirvana and all of those bands. So I was really lucky to be at the height of alternative in the ’90s.

What was next?

I left Atlanta and went to a radio station in New York for three years called WRXP. It was a rock-alternative hybrid. I went to be the program director in 2008, but when I got there, they said, “Hey, how would you like to do a morning show with Matt Pinfield?” He came from MTV and had a radio background. I was like, “Well, how can I turn this down?” [I didn’t realize] that my day would be getting up at 4:00 a.m. and working until 6:00 or 7:00 at night and then going out. (Laughs) But I did it for three years, living and doing radio in New York and going to all these historic venues to see shows. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was incredible. So I was the program director and on-air with him, but the company sold the station in 2011 and the new owners turned it into a news talk station.

Pictured: Leslie Fram and 99X colleagues with Johnny Cash

My radio mentor was Brian Philips when I worked at 99X. Brian was president of CMT, so he invited me to come to Nashville to meet everyone and see CMT. I came in for a very long weekend and at the end of the weekend, he offered me the job to come and oversee music. I said “Yes” without even thinking about it because I loved it in Nashville and obviously loved Brian.

How did you get your feet wet in country music?

For the first year, I really put my head down and people in the building were so helpful. I would go to shows just so I could learn the format and how it worked. I discovered all the artists and met a whole new set of people from managers, labels, publishers and publicists. I obviously fell in love with, first and foremost, Nashville. The community of people here are incredible.

[Before I got to Nashville,] when I was in New York and at this rock station, Skip Bishop was working for Sony. Skip and I knew each other from my rock years, and he would send me music all the time. He sent me music from this up-and-coming female artist they had signed named Miranda Lambert, and he invited me to go to her show. So I go to this show in New York, not realizing it was a CMT Tour, and I see a lot of the rock [staffers from the] management company Q-Prime. I said, “Why are you guys here?” They said, “We have the opening act, Eric Church.” So I fell in love with Miranda and Eric Church. I just couldn’t believe how much of a rockstar she was on stage.

Pictured: Matt Pinfield, Brad Paisely & Leslie Fram

Skip also brought Brad Paisley into our studio. We had him on the air for an hour. I went to see him in Madison Square Garden. Keith Urban played Madison Square Garden and I went to see him, so I started opening up my eyes to some of these [country] shows then.

You joined CMT in 2011, and your impact since then has been enormous with new initiatives like Next Women of Country and many more. What was your vision for CMT when you started moving up the ranks?

When I got there, I was blown away by the music team. They’re all experts in their own field; they are music junkies. They go see all types of music. I was like, “Wow, I have this team that I can empower that are so incredibly talented. They are music fans first and foremost.”

The lay of the land was that women were not being well represented on contemporary country radio, and I didn’t understand why. So after doing a deep dive there, and knowing that Viacom was behind us wanting to start a female franchise, my first passion point was launching Next Women of Country in 2013. [We wanted] CMT to be a vehicle to support these artists on all of our platforms and then continue to grow it with a tour, because if you remember, you couldn’t get on a tour unless you had a song on the radio. Half of these artists had no tours and no chance to play on stage anywhere, so we started the tour. It just kept developing, so we knew that we could have an impact on new artists and artist discovery.

Pictured: Tracy Gershon, Leslie Fram, Beverley Keel & Dr. Jada Watson

Not only are you helping to lift up female artists at CMT with Next Women of Country, but you also co-founded the initiatives Change the Conversation and Nashville Music Equality, and are a very big advocate for equality in country music when it comes to gender and race. Do you feel we are moving in the right direction?

I do. Even for us, we had to look at ourselves first and foremost. That’s why we started Equal Play. We had to ask ourselves, “What more can we do?” Knowing that we program our own music channels and we have three video channels, we could do even better. So we started Equal Play to have 50-50 parody: male, female. Then we looked at ourselves again and said, “We can’t wait for people to come to us, whether it’s a label or a publisher or artist reaching out. We actually need to do the research to find these artists that make our format move forward.” I’m really proud of what the team has done there with our Equal Play, Next Women of Country, and Listen Up programs, and being a voice for these artists.

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

Speaking for myself, because I love to do it, I do a lot of mentoring and make myself available because people did that for me when I was getting into the industry. I always feel like I have that responsibility to give back, but I honestly enjoy doing it. I think a little encouragement goes a long way for someone and if you’re being a good listener and you’re encouraging someone, it’s incredible to see what happens next.

Who have been some of your mentors?

Early on when I was in radio, there was a guy named Eric Tracy. When I was a little baby DJ, he would listen to my airchecks. He was a big DJ in New Orleans and he would actually get back to me and would critique my airchecks. I speak a lot about Brian Philips because, throughout my career from radio to television, he’s always given me solid advice. When I made the move to come [to Nashville], he was the one that said, “You should look outside of radio. You should think about other opportunities.” He’s been a huge mentor to me throughout my career and still is.

Pictured: Mickey Guyton & Leslie Fram

What are some of the best qualities about our industry?

The support. When I moved here, I couldn’t believe how people got back to you. They were willing to meet, they were willing to give advice. It’s just an open arms policy. I don’t think you find that in other cities. We all want to support the next generation of industry leaders.

If you had to name something that helped make you a successful person, what would it be?

Number one is just respect. You treat everyone the same. If I’m going to walk into a room, I’m going to talk to everybody. I know that there’s a hierarchy with some people, but for me, it’s just about treating everyone with respect and kindness.

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

When I was 19, I was working at this little radio station and we were covering this Eagles concert in Pensacola, Florida. I was going to drive back late at night and Irving Azoff said, “Why don’t you just jump on the plane with us and we’ll take you back?” I said, “Okay.” I didn’t know who was going be on the plane, I thought maybe the label [staff would be]. I get on the plane and it’s me Irving Azoff and the Eagles. I didn’t say one word the entire time, because I was sitting there going, “What do I say? What do I do?” I’ve got Don Henley to the left of me. (Laughs) Looking at it now, I’m like, “What would I do today if I was on a plane with the Eagles?” I probably wouldn’t say anything again!

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m proud of the team that we have at CMT because we are a big family in how we all support each other. That doesn’t always happen, but I think everyone has each other’s back and everyone supports each other. For me, personally in my career, it’s just the friendships that I’ve made along the way. It’s not about getting an award. It’s not about recognition. To me, it’s just the friendships along the way that are invaluable.

From Door Duty To Top Dog: Meet Charly Salvatore [Interview]

Charly Salvatore. Photo: Jason Myers

At the top of 2022, music industry veteran Charly Salvatore launched his very own Underscore Works, an entertainment company that aims to redefine the path for new artists to gain digital success through artist management, development, and marketing.

With experience in many facets of the music industry, including radio, PROs, publishing, label, merchandise, tour management, and artist management, Salvatore’s Nashville career began in BMI’s Copyright Works department in 2004. He also worked the doors at the historic Bluebird Cafe, which Salvatore refers to as his first music career highlight.

“I really knew nothing about the town but I was working the door at the Bluebird. I was starting to get this master’s degree in songwriting and falling in love with songwriting,” he explains to MusicRow. “I started looking at who was playing and Googling everybody so that I knew what publishers were walking through the door. Through that job, I got to know the town, who was who, and who the players were.”

While at the Bluebird, Salvatore teamed up with a waitress to dive into the world of independent song plugging, eventually quitting his job at BMI. Through this new endeavor, he discovered Logan Mize, who would become the first addition to his personal management roster in 2009. Along the way, he was also picking up internships at companies such as AEG.

“I was doing all these side things at the same time and my stint with the song plugging was coming to an end. Someone had asked me if I wanted to go out on the road to sell merchandise for Little Big Town. I didn’t even know that side of the world existed at the time, so I found my way over to the road,” Salvatore recalls. “It was there where it hit me that artist management seemed like the key. They have the ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ kind of mentality, and I really felt like that fit my skill set.”

Pictured (L-R): John Dennis, Charly Salvatore, Carla Wallace, Logan Mize, Gary Overton, Jim Catino, Kelly Donley, Kerry O’Neil. Photo: Alan Poizner

Salvatore continued to sell merchandise on the road with acts such as Eric Church, and eventually nabbed a spot tour managing for LeAnn Rimes, all the while managing Mize. He soon left the touring lifestyle, though, knowing that Mize was on the brink of signing at Sony Music Nashville.

“I’d gone around and met with a couple different companies and I ended up at Dennis Entertainment. I worked there for a little bit with Russell Dickerson and Billy Currington.” He sums, “From there, I just decided to start my own company. That was really my only daily management experience at another company.”

With a roster that already boasts a handful of rising country heavy-hitters, such as Priscilla Block, Warren Zeiders, Dalton Dover and Mize, Salvatore currently serves as the Founder and CEO of Underscore Works. Through his work with the new company, his main goal is to bridge the gap between the growing list of artists gaining attention and success in the digital space and bring it into the mainstream.

“There’s this gap right now where some people are looking at artists as ‘TikTok artists,’ and it almost has a negative connotation. It’s just another form of stereotyping and it’s just so misinformed. They’re trying to put them in a box when they’re just using a tool to the best of their ability,” he shares. “What I really wanted to focus on with this company is helping these digital artists that leverage the platform not be put in that box and help them grow out of that box to become ‘real artists.’ It’s really that intersection where I hope to stand out.”

He continues, “I feel like I’ve always had an eye for doing it differently. When I see and hear the artists on my roster, I just think they’re superstars—superstar personalities, voices, everything. For me, I think the artists that I work for are a cut above just because they’re great. It’s all subjective, but if I think they have that kind of potential, an amazing voice and a unique twist on everything, that’s what I’ve always been looking to work with.”

Alongside his four signings and with only a little time under his belt, Salvatore and Underscore Works have already celebrated much success.

Among his most impressive success stories is that of Zeiders’ 2021 release “Ride The Lightning,” which achieved Gold status within six months of its release. The product of a co-write set up by Salvatore with Eric Paslay and Rob Crosby, the track marks the first song Zeiders’ had ever written with other people, and only his second song ever.

“He had come to Nashville for the first time and it was supposed to be an in-person co-write with Eric Paslay and Rob Crosby, but it was during COVID and someone had to quarantine so he wrote that song in my guest bedroom over Zoom,” Salvatore shares. “He was back on another trip a couple months later and we had recorded it. He produced it with just his guitar and recorded it. We were just going to do these really lo-fi recordings because we wanted this era to feel like a mixtape.”

The 22-year-old singer-songwriter, who signed with Warner Records earlier this year, now boasts over 72 million streams and released his debut EP, 717 Tapes, last fall.

Similarly, Block, who released her debut album Welcome to the Block Party in February 2022, has already seen a nomination for New Female Artist of the Year at the 2022 ACM Awards, as well as a nod for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the upcoming CMT Music Awards for her debut, Gold-certified single “Just About Over You.” She was also named MusicRow‘s Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2022 CountryBreakout Awards.

With much of his success revolving around TikTok, it’s clear that Salvatore has found a special niche as he helps artists learn how to utilize the newest component of the modern day artist’s toolkit.

“It’s not a social media platform, it’s an entertainment platform and it’s fast consumption. I can’t find anything else right now that can move the needle as fast as TikTok. You have to have a strategy,” Salvatore explains. “Someone asked me a couple of months ago if I thought an artist like Nirvana would be able to survive in today’s climate—someone that seems really unwilling to do ‘self promotion.’ I told them that I want to find artists that don’t want to fully self promote and help them really craft the content to use.”

He expands, “TikTok is just like a living, in your hand version of MTV when it first came onto the scene. It’s a place to put music but with a creative aspect to it. Plus, it’s curated to the users’ experiences and likes, so it’s always going to deliver. MTV had a limited amount of slots, but there’s an infinite amount of slots on TikTok. It is a global audience and it’s consumed very quickly. You’re not going to tell your artist’s story on TikTok, but you can significantly expose their music. You just need to have a plan.”

As far as future plans go for Underscore Works, Salvatore looks ahead to eventually growing into a diverse company with a variety of avenues, including a label component, publishing and content creation, among others.

“I don’t want to be known as the company that can help break artists but can’t see it the whole way through. I want to go all the way. It’s about the long [game] for my artists that are on my roster right now,” he puts simply. “I want to be a robust boutique company that stays independent, God-willing, as long as it can.”

Garth Brooks To Open New Entertainment Concept On Nashville’s Lower Broadway

Garth Brooks. Photo: Becky Fluke

Garth Brooks has announced he will open a new entertainment concept and bar in Nashville at 411 Broadway. The country superstar will take over a 3-story, 40,000+ square foot property that he purchased in December, 2021 via 411, LLC.

“We feel very lucky to have the chance to be part of Lower Broad, which is arguably THE hottest spot in the country,” says Brooks. “The goal is a classic honky-tonk that welcomes all and encourages love and kindness while playing the greatest music in the world in the home of country music!”

Brooks has tapped Strategic Hospitality, a Nashville-based hospitality company owned by brothers Benjamin and Max Goldberg, to help execute his vision.

“Garth’s long-standing commitment to Nashville is far beyond music and has been so meaningful to our city,” adds the Goldbergs. “We couldn’t be more excited than to help him bring his concept to reality.”

Brooks will join fellow country stars Jason Aldean, Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and more with spots on Lower Broadway. Details about the establishment will be announced as they become available.

Nashville Well Represented At 64th Annual Grammy Awards

Brothers Osborne. Photo: Lindsey Byrnes

Musicians, songwriters and industry professionals of all genres came together in Las Vegas Sunday night (April 3) for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, hosted by Trevor Noah.

Chris Stapleton was country music’s big winner of the evening. In addition to his wins in the pre-televised ceremony for Best Country Solo Performance for “You Should Probably Leave” and Best Country Song for “Cold,” he took home the only televised country award, Best Country Album, for Starting Over.

Stapleton spoke eloquently when he approached the mic to accept his award. He started his speech by mentioning that it was his twins’ fourth birthday. “I’m thinking a lot about sacrifices because I missed out on some of their birthday toady,” Stapleton said. “I know everybody in this room has made some kind of a sacrifice to be up here doing this. I don’t know what it is for everybody, but I know that it hurts sometimes. Hopefully we’re all doing it so that we make the world a better place and that the people who live in it will love each other, have a good time together, and come together.”

Chris Stapleton. Photo: Becky Fluke

Producer Dave Cobb beamed onward, and thanked God and his family when he had his time to speak. Stapleton and Cobb later took the stage to perform his Grammy-winning song, “Cold.” As usual, Stapleton’s extraordinary skill left the Grammy audience on their feet.

Another powerful country performance came from Carrie Underwood, who took home a trophy for Best Roots Gospel Album for her hymns record My Savior. Underwood performed a rousing rendition of her new single, “Ghost Story.”

Both Stapleton and Underwood, along with other artists throughout the evening, were introduced by personnel from their touring crew—an homage to the pandemic’s havoc on the live music segment of the industry. Stapleton was introduced by his assistant tour manager and Underwood by her wardrobe supervisor.

Brothers Osborne closed the evening with a rocking “Dead Man’s Curve.” Before the televised ceremony, the duo won their first Grammy ever for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Younger Me.” In an emotional acceptance speech, TJ Osborne spoke about the magnitude of the win, given his sexuality in country music.

“For those of you who do not know, this song was written in response to me coming out,” TJ said. “I never thought that I would be able to do music professionally because of my sexuality. I certainly never thought I would be here on this stage accepting a Grammy after having done something I felt was going to be life-changing in potentially a very negative way.”

After thanking his wife, team and brother, John Osborne said, “This song is called ‘Younger Me,’ so I think if I want to thank somebody, I want to thank my younger self for pursuing this. We all have a younger self in us. Thank them because they got you here.”

Carrie Underwood. Photo: David Jay Becker, Getty Images

Brandi Carlile gave a stunning performance of “Right On Time,” after being introduced by two legends, Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt. First-time Grammy winners Maverick City Music became the first Christian artist to perform at the ceremony in over 20 years. Billy Strings also got some screen time when he played “Hide and Seek.”

Other standout performances of the evening included Jon Batiste, who was the most nominated artist of the night and who took home Album of the Year, as well as Olivia Rodrigo‘s rendition of “Driver’s License,” Billie Eilish‘s rocking performance of “Happier Than Ever,” a medley of hits from Lil Nas X, BTS’ performance of “Butter,” and H.E.R.’s rendition of “Damage,” alongside Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Lenny Kravitz and Travis Barker.

John Legend led a touching tribute to the violence in Ukraine, complete with a videotaped speech from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Nashville music-makers and business people recognized in the In Memoriam segment of the show included Tom T. Hall, Connie Bradley, Stonewall Jackson, Don Everly, Bobbie Nelson, Nanci Griffith, Dallas Frazier, and more.

Click here for a list of Nashville-related Grammy winners.

Lauren Alaina Parts Ways With UMG Nashville

Lauren Alaina. Photo: Katie Kauss

Lauren Alaina is parting ways with her long-time label UMG Nashville, MusicRow has confirmed. In a social media message posted on Monday (April 4), Alaina wrote that she had come to the “tough decision to spread [her] wings and close a very important chapter of [her life.]”

Alaina signed with UMG imprint Mercury Nashville after she placed as the runner-up on the tenth season of American Idol in 2011. The singer-songwriter has gone on to become a multi-Platinum-selling artist, with three No. 1 singles including 2017’s “Road Less Traveled,” the now 6x Platinum “What Ifs” (2018) with Kane Brown, and “One Beer” (2020) with Hardy and Devin Dawson.

Alaina released her third album, Sitting Pretty On Top of the World, in September of 2021 and was welcomed as a Grand Ole Opry cast member in February.

In her social media post, Alaina thanked her Mercury team who took a chance on her, and let her fans know that “exciting things” were on the horizon for her career. It’s unclear if Alaina has plans to sign another recording contract or if she will remain independent.

Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, Brothers Osborne Among Grammy Winners

Nashville was well represented at the 64th annual Grammy Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday evening (April 3).

Chris Stapleton walked away with three more Grammy Awards, including Best Country Solo Performance for “You Should Probably Leave,” Best Country Song for “Cold” (alongside co-writers Dave Cobb, J.T. Cure, and Derek Mixon), and Best Country Album for Starting Over.

Brothers Osborne won Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Younger Me.” Carrie Underwood took home Best Roots Gospel Album for My Savior.

Another winner in the gospel and Christian categories was CeCe Winans, who won Best Gospel Performance/Song for “Never Lost,” Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “Believe For It” (alongside co-writers Dwan Hill, Kyle Lee, and Mitch Wong), and Best Gospel Album for Believe For It. Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for Old Church Basement.

Best Folk Album went to Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi for They’re Calling Me Home. Los Lobos won Best Americana Album for Native Sons.

In the general field, Olivia Rodrigo won Best New Artist. Silk Sonic took home Song and Record of the Year for “Leave The Door Open.” Jon Batiste won Album of the Year for We Are.

Below are a selection of winners:

Record Of The Year
“I Still Have Faith In You,” ABBA
“Freedom,” Jon Batiste
“I Get A Kick Out Of You,” Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
“Peaches,” Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon
“Right On Time,” Brandi Carlile
“Kiss Me More,” Doja Cat Featuring SZA
“Happier Than Ever,” Billie Eilish
“Montero,” (Call Me By Your Name) Lil Nas X
“drivers license,” Olivia Rodrigo
“Leave The Door Open,” Silk Sonic – WINNER

Album Of The Year:
We Are, Jon Batiste – WINNER
Love For Sale, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe), Justin Bieber
Planet Her (Deluxe), Doja Cat
Happier Than Ever, Billie Eilish
Back Of My Mind, H.E.R.
Montero, Lil Nas X
Sour, Olivia Rodrigo
Evermore, Taylor Swift
Donda, Kanye West

Song Of The Year
“Bad Habits,” Fred Gibson, Johnny McDaid & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Ed Sheeran)
“A Beautiful Noise,” Ruby Amanfu, Brandi Carlile, Brandy Clark, Alicia Keys, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Linda Perry & Hailey Whitters, songwriters (Alicia Keys And Brandi Carlile)
“drivers license,” Daniel Nigro & Olivia Rodrigo, songwriters (Olivia Rodrigo)
“Fight For You,” Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. & Tiara Thomas, songwriters (H.E.R.)
“Happier Than Ever,” Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)
“Kiss Me More,” Rogét Chahayed, Amala Zandile Dlamini, Lukasz Gottwald, Carter Lang, Gerard A. Powell II, Solána Rowe & David Sprecher, songwriters (Doja Cat Featuring SZA)
“Leave The Door Open,” Brandon Anderson, Christopher Brody Brown, Dernst Emile II & Bruno Mars, songwriters (Silk Sonic) – WINNER
“Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” Denzel Baptiste, David Biral, Omer Fedi, Montero Hill & Roy Lenzo, songwriters (Lil Nas X)
“Peaches,” Louis Bell, Justin Bieber, Giveon Dezmann Evans, Bernard Harvey, Felisha “Fury,” King, Matthew Sean Leon, Luis Manual Martinez Jr., Aaron Simmonds, Ashton Simmonds, Andrew Wotman & Keavan Yazdani, songwriters (Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon)
“Right On Time,” Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth & Tim Hanseroth, songwriters (Brandi Carlile)

Best New Artist
Arooj Aftab
Jimmie Allen
Baby Keem
FINNEAS
Glass Animals
Japanese Breakfast
The Kid Laroi
Arlo Parks
Olivia Rodrigo – WINNER
Saweetie

Best Pop Vocal Album
Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe), Justin Bieber
Planet Her (Deluxe), Doja Cat
Happier Than Ever, Billie Eilish
Positions, Ariana Grande
Sour, Olivia Rodrigo – WINNER

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Love For Sale, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – WINNER
Til We Meet Again (Live), Norah Jones
A Tori Kelly Christmas, Tori Kelly
Ledisi Sings Nina, Ledisi
That’s Life, Willie Nelson
A Holly Dolly Christmas, Dolly Parton

Best Country Solo Performance
“Forever After All,” Luke Combs
“Remember Her Name,” Mickey Guyton
“All I Do Is Drive,” Jason Isbell
“Camera Roll,” Kacey Musgraves
“You Should Probably Leave,” Chris Stapleton – WINNER

Best Country Duo Or Group Performance
“If I Didn’t Love You,” Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood
“Younger Me,” Brothers Osborne – WINNER
“Glad You Exist,” Dan + Shay
“Chasing After You,” Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris
“Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home),” Elle King & Miranda Lambert

Best Country Song
“Better Than We Found It,” Maren Morris
“Camera Roll,” Kacey Musgraves
“Cold,” Chris Stapleton – WINNER
“Country Again,” Thomas Rhett
“Fancy Like,” Walker Hayes
“Remember Her Name,” Mickey Guyton

Best Country Album
Skeletons, Brothers Osborne
Remember Her Name, Mickey Guyton
The Marfa Tapes, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall & Jack Ingram
The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita, Sturgill Simpson
Starting Over, Chris Stapleton – WINNER

Best American Roots Performance
“CRY,” Jon Batiste – WINNER
“Love And Regret,” Billy Strings
“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” The Blind Boys Of Alabama & Béla Fleck
“Same Devil,” Brandy Clark Featuring Brandi Carlile
“Nightflyer,” Allison Russell

Best American Roots Song
“Avalon,” Rhiannon Giddens With Francesco Turrisi
“Call Me A Fool,” Valerie June Featuring Carla Thomas
“CRY,” Jon Batiste – WINNER
“Diamond Studded Shoes,” Yola
“Nightflyer,” Allison Russell

Best Americana Album
Downhill From Everywhere, Jackson Browne
Leftover Feelings, John Hiatt With The Jerry Douglas Band
Native Sons, Los Lobos – WINNER
Outside Child, Allison Russell
Stand for Myself, Yola

Best Bluegrass Album
Renewal, Billy Strings
My Bluegrass Heart, Béla Fleck – WINNER
A Tribute to Bill Monroe, The Infamous Stringdusters
Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions), Sturgill Simpson
Music Is What I See, Rhonda Vincent

Best Folk Album
One Night Lonely (Live), Mary Chapin Carpenter
Long Violent History, Tyler Childers
Wednesday (Extended Edition), Madison Cunningham
They’re Calling Me Home, Rhiannon Giddens With Francesco Turrisi – WINNER
Blue Heron Suite, Sarah Jarosz

Best Gospel Performance Song
“Voice Of God,” Dante Bowe Featuring Steffany Gretzinger & Chandler Moore
“Joyful,” Dante Bowe
“Help,” Anthony Brown & Group Therapy
“Never Lost,” Cece Winans – WINNER
“Wait On You,” Elevation Worship & Maverick City Music

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song
“We Win,” Kirk Franklin & Lil Baby
“Hold Us Together (Hope Mix),” H.E.R. & Tauren Wells
“Man Of Your Word,” Chandler Moore & KJ Scriven
“Believe For It,” Cece Winans – WINNER
“Jireh,” Elevation Worship & Maverick City Music Featuring Chandler Moore & Naomi Raine

Best Gospel Album
Changing Your Story, Jekalyn Carr
Royalty: Live At The Ryman, Tasha Cobbs Leonard
Jubilee: Juneteenth Edition, Maverick City Music
Jonny x Mali: Live In LA, Jonathan McReynolds & Mali Music
Believe For It, CeCe Winans – WINNER

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
No Stranger, Natalie Grant
Feels Like Home Vol. 2, Israel & New Breed
The Blessing (Live), Kari Jobe
Citizen of Heaven (Live), Tauren Wells
Old Church Basement, Elevation Worship & Maverick City Music – WINNER

Best Roots Gospel Album
Alone With My Faith, Harry Connick, Jr.
That’s Gospel, Brother, Gaither Vocal Band
Keeping On, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Songs for the Times, The Isaacs
My Savior, Carrie Underwood – WINNER

For a full list of winners, visit grammy.com.

The Judds To Reunite For CMT Music Awards Performance

The Judds

5x Grammy-winning duo The Judds will reunite for the first time in more than two decades as they mark their first performance on the 2022 CMT Music Awards. Hosted by Kelsea Ballerini and Anthony Mackie, the show will broadcast live from Nashville on Monday, April 11 at 7 p.m. CT on CBS and Paramount+*.

One of the most successful duos in country music history, Wynonna and Naomi Judd will perform their international hit and chart-topping single, “Love Can Build A Bridge” with the Country Music Hall of Fame as their background, signaling a nod to the duo’s upcoming 2022 induction this May.

2x CMT Music Awards nominee Kacey Musgraves will introduce the duo’s performance and acknowledge the lasting influence that The Judds’ music has had on her career.

The mother-daughter duo celebrated a stretch of 14 No. 1 hits as each single released by Curb/RCA landed in the Billboard top 10. The Judds also dominated touring in the ‘80s with 20 top 10 hits and have sold more than 20 million albums. Together, The Judds have 16 Gold, Platinum and multi-Platinum albums.

Other previously announced performers for the CMT Music Awards include Ballerini, Kane Brown, Cody Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd, Carly Pearce, Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson, and Keith Urban. Rising stars Priscilla Block, Breland, Jessie James Decker, Parker McCollum, Elvie Shane and Caitlyn Smith will also appear on the Ram Trucks Side Stage.

Fan voting for the 2022 CMT Music Awards is now open at vote.cmt.com. For a full list of nominations, click here.

Luke Bryan Gets Raised ‘Up’ To No. 1 On MusicRow Chart

Luke Bryan continues to rise “Up,” jumping three positions into the No. 1 spot on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart. “Up” was written by Jeremy Bussey, Taylor Phillips, and Bobby Pinson. This is the sixth single to go No. 1 on MusicRow from Bryan’s Born Here Live Here Die Here album.

Shaun Silva directed the music video for “Up,” which features personal videos of Bryan’s family while he was growing up as well as new footage shot in recent months, fishing with his dad, hunting with his two sons, and holding his kids for the very first time.

“When I saw the footage of my boys with both their grandfathers and then the closeup clip of my brother basically looking at me it was so overwhelming,” says Bryan. “I could not be prouder, not only of the message of this song, but also how this video turned out. I hope everyone enjoys watching it as much as I have.”

Bryan is hitting the road on his “Raised Up Right Tour,” beginning in June. Riley Green, Mitchell Tenpenny and DJ Rock will join Bryan on the tour, which takes its name from the chorus of “Up.”

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

DISClaimer Single Reviews: The Isaacs Give A Handful Of Hope On ‘Humpty Dumpty Heart’

It’s a pop-country day here at DISClaimer.

With Maren Morris, The Brethren, Ya’Boyz and CB30 setting the pace, there was plenty of youthful verve in the listening session. And CB30 caps it by winning this week’s DISCovery Award.

That said, there was still some dandy regulation-country listening. Most especially from Chapel Hart, Jake Owen, Drew Parker and our Disc of the Day winners, The Isaacs.

THE BRETHREN / “Staring at Stars”
Writers: Chad Chapin/Lonnie Chapin/Casey Parnell/Corey Parnell/Brian White/Barry Zito; Producer: The Brethren; Label: OneRPM
–Beautifully harmonized and lushly melodic, this bit of pop-country ear candy evokes summer romance and vacation joy. The luxurious, layered production ain’t exactly down home, but it is mighty, mighty pretty.

DONNA FARGO / “One of the Good Guys”
Writers: Donna Fargo; Producer: Stan Silver; Label: PrimaDonna
–Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Donna Fargo is renowned for “Funny Face,” “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” and a string of other hits in the 1970s and 1980s. Her career was a partnership with husband/manager/producer Stan Silver, whom she lost to COVID last year. Donna’s new All Because of You EP contains the songs they were working on at the time of his death. It leads off with this celebration of his love. The tenor-sax riffs in the arrangement add depth to her sweetly sincere, heartfelt delivery.

YA’BOYZ / “Ya’Boyz”
Writers: Zach Kale/Joe Ragosta/Joseph Patton/Nick Zinnanti; Producers: Zach Kale/Joe Ragosta/NCKSZN; Label: MCA/Republic
–This energetic collaboration features High Valley, Filmore, Levi Hummon, Kyle Clark and Jojo Mason. Group members Kale and Ragosta lead the way on a loud, backwoods banger that sports rock percussion, hick-hop vocals and plenty of redneck imagery. Rowdy and fun sounding, if not exactly my cup of tea.

DYLAN SCOTT / “Livin’ My Best Life”
Writers: Tyler Hubbard/Brian Kelley/Thomas Rhett/Corey Crowder; Producers: Will Weatherly/Matt Alderman/Jim Ed Norman/Curt Gibbs/Mark Holman; Label: Curb
–Considering the quality he previously displayed on “Nobody,” “Can’t Have Mine,” “My Girl,” “Crazy Over Me” and the splendid current rocker “New Truck,” the title tune of Scott’s upcoming album is a bit of a disappointment. The generic production kinda goes in one ear and out the other.

CHAPEL HART / “Made For Me”
Writers: Danica Hart/Devynn Hart/Trea Swindle; Producers: Jack Meile/Brentt Arcement; Label: CH
–This joyous bopper traces the totally talented trio’s journey from Poplarville, Mississippi to New Orleans. From there, these gifted gals made the trip to Music City, where surely country stardom awaits. The hooky song is irresistible. The production is dandy. The vocals are splendid. Chapel Hart rules.

MAREN MORRIS / “Humble Quest”
Writers: Jimmy Robbins/Maren Morris/Laura Veltz; Producer: Greg Kurstin; Label: Columbia
–The title tune of Morris’s new album is a moody, oblique thumper. It sounds like she continues to aspire to pop stardom.

BRANTLEY GILBERT & JASON ALDEAN / “Rolex on a Redneck”
Writers: Brantley Gilbert/Brock Berryhill/Michael Hardy/Randy Montana/Taylor Phillips; Producers: Brock Berryhill/Brantley Gilbert; Label: Valory
–All the brand-name shout-outs can’t disguise the overwhelming dullness of this tuneless, repetitive outing. I was so bored I practically nodded off.

THE ISAACS / “Humpty Dumpty Heart”
Writers: Sonya Isaacs/Becky Isaacs Bowman/Ronnie Bowman; Producers: Ben Isaacs/Bryan Sutton; Label: House of Isaacs
–These new Grand Ole Opry members sing like angels. With Sonya’s celestial soprano leading the way, the group’s harmonies carry this lilting message along while mandolin, guitar, dobro and bass ripple rhythmically. Heartbroken? Pick yourself up, put the pieces back together and carry on.

HANK WILLIAMS JR. / “.44 Special Blues”
Writers: Robert Johnson; Producer: Dan Auerbach; Label: Easy Eye Sound
–Bocephus has always been a bluesman at heart, and that is what is celebrated on his upcoming album. Producer Auerbach recorded him live, singing and playing classics as well as new songs. This advance single is as pure and unadulterated as can be.

JAKE OWEN / “Up There Down Here”
Writers: Zach Dyer/Summer Overstreet/Travis Wood; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud
–The hooky track rolls on relentlessly with a happy thump. Owen drawls the Saturday-night/Sunday-morning lyric with easy-going charm. Absolutely play this.

CB30 / “Don’t Say Goodnight”
Writers: Christian Clementi/Dallas Wilson/Trannie Anderson; Producer: Paul DiGiovanni; Label: Buena Vista/UMG
–The wafting, boyish, romantic vibe is pleasing, and their twin-like vocal harmony blend is outstanding. The duo’s billing is derived from the brothers’ first names, Christian and Brody (Clementi), plus the fact that they were both born on the 30th day of the month (May 30, 2001 and March 30, 2004, respectively).

DREW PARKER / “Raised Up Right”
Writers: Drew Parker/Matt Jenkins/Ben Hayslip; Producers: Phil O’Donnell/Scott Hendricks; Label: Warner
–Frequent Luke Combs songwriting collaborator Drew Parker has also been making waves as a record maker. His engaging, country boy tenor drawl is warm and endearing on this earthy, positive ditty. He sounds like he’d be a pleasure to have a beer with.

My Music Row Story: The Recording Academy’s Alicia Warwick

Alicia Warwick

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.

Alicia Warwick is the Senior Executive Director of the Recording Academy’s Nashville Chapter. She has been with the Recording Academy for more than ten years and currently leads day-to-day operations of the Nashville Chapter. Warwick works with the board to engage artists and industry members regarding initiatives, programming, and outreach. Prior to joining the Academy, she served as National Membership Director for Nashville Songwriters Association International.

MusicRow: Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?

I was born in Weatherford, Oklahoma, and I grew up in Chickasha. My grandparents have a lot of farmland, and my parents are teachers and ranchers. So I had a very sweet childhood and was outside all the time.

Music was always in the household. My mom sang and played piano, and so did my grandmother. My mom tells the story that when I was six, I used to sing harmony along to songs in the car with her. I think I had the gene. I was just lucky that at a young age, I really enjoyed it and felt connected to it.

Pictured: Alicia with Bart Herbison at NSAI in 2001.

How did you pursue music as a career?

I sang in high school and I played in band. [During high school], I specifically remember having the opportunity to meet a gentleman named Joe Settlemires in Oklahoma City. A dear friend of mine in high school, Travis Linville—who is a phenomenal guitar player and singer-songwriter—introduced me to Joe. We started going to Oklahoma City and I would sing demos for Joe. That was such an eye opener because you got to see more than just what’s on the radio. You got to see behind the scenes. I realized this could be a career.

My high school music teacher pulled me aside in high school and said, “You need to sing or do something in music.” I think having some support outside of family was really a catalyst for me. I also had the opportunity to audition and be a part of the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute in high school. All of these continuous opportunities happened because I loved music and I loved to sing and write. They opened doors that provided the next steps.

I had a vocal scholarship in college and went to Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and really loved it there. I went to school there for two years, but I wasn’t learning about the music business quite like I wanted to. I had met with the gentleman in Oklahoma City and he mentioned MTSU, so I transferred to MTSU my junior year. I realized that this is where I needed to be and the opportunities, again, happened through connections. I always tell everybody, whether it’s a student or someone that’s asking for advice, it’s the “class of” mentality. You join the industry in a “class of.” I was lucky to go to college with dear colleagues like Amanda Joyner, Daniel Miller and Luke Laird.

Pictured: Alicia at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards Nashville Chapter Nominee Celebration with Thomas Rhett, Lady A and Little Big Town. Photo: Courtesy of the Recording Academy/Getty Images © 2018

How did you get into the industry?

I interned at Zomba Music Publishing. At the time that was unique to me because it was multi-genre. I love country music, but I was really excited about that. The boy bands were hot then. (Laughs)

I interviewed for a position with Bart Herbison a couple weeks before I graduated. It was for the receptionist position and I didn’t get it, but I heard from him a couple weeks later. He gave me a call and said, “You’re very Type A, like me. I think you’re going to love this new position.” He hired me as a Member Services Coordinator. [In that job] I had the opportunity to work with the pro writers for an auction that I produced. I had so much freedom in creating the program and I am really thankful to Bart for that. I would call pro writers and Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame members and ask them to submit their lyrics in some unique way [for the auction]. So Don Schlitz wrote “The Gambler” on a set of cards, Merle Kilgore wrote “Ring of Fire” [on some paper] and burned the edges, and Larry Henley wrote “Wind Beneath My Wings” on a kite. I was literally receiving a Grammy 101 from the legacy writers in Nashville, and it was such a memorable time. It was a really successful program and auction to raise money for NSAI.

I later worked my way up in the company there, through the support of Bart and all of my amazing colleagues there, and I became the National Membership Director. I oversaw membership, the workshops program and events in that role. I truly loved it because I love working with the songwriters where it all begins, the true heart of where the music starts. That was an amazing time.

Pictured: Alicia at the 20th Annual Nashville Block Party with T-Pain, Gavin DeGraw, Francesca Battistelli and Jimmie Allen. Photo: Courtesy of the Recording Academy / Getty Images © 2019

How did you get involved with The Recording Academy?

I had run into a colleague at an industry holiday party. They mentioned that there was an opening at the Academy—it was actually called NARAS back then, before The Recording Academy. I applied and I was hired as a Project Manager at the Academy in 2006.

You have worked your way up in the Academy, eventually being named the Senior Executive Director of the Nashville Chapter. What all does that entail?

The role of Senior Executive Director means I get to oversee a board of around 40 industry professionals and creators in all genres and in all professions. I am also charged with keeping the Academy’s Nashville Chapter fiscally smart and making sure we’re staying on budget. I raise funds for sponsorships along with really supporting the community at large. And of course, I help bring our national efforts with the Academy to the forefront, making sure that our members are aware of the amazing support that MusiCares provides, working philanthropically with the Grammy Museum, and working alongside our significant advocacy efforts.

My role varies in so many ways, but I would say the most important thing I do as Senior Executive Director is [help make] connections. It’s a multi-genre world. We’re charged with making sure that we are embracing all creators and all genres. That is such a fun aspect of my job.

Pictured: Alicia backstage at the Nashville Block Party with Shannon Sanders and Pentatonix. Photo: Courtesy of the Recording Academy / Getty Images © 2016

From the recent Grammy party, it seems quite clear that Nashville is very focused on diversity in its chapter. How are you guys addressing that?

The Nashville chapter absolutely supports our diversity efforts. Some of the ways in which we do that are working with our Nashville staff, our board and our committees, along with Senior Membership Manager Laura Crawford, to recruit the new member classes of the Academy. We do that through one-on-one connection, making sure that we’re allowing all of our creators to see themselves in the Academy. Whether it be by genre, generational inclusion, or racial equity, they’re all highly important to the Academy. That’s something we talk about on a daily basis. We specifically have a diversity outreach initiative committee here locally, and it has been at the top of our minds consistently on any meeting we have. It’s about how can we make all of our members feel welcome and included, because that’s what music is and that’s important to us.

Other initiatives that the Academy has worked on in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion are the creation of the Black Music Collective, and making sure that we are focusing our energy on highlighting Black creators. We also have a Women In The Mix survey that went out to women throughout the country in all genres and all areas of music to see how we can support women in music. I’m happy to say that we have increased our membership and are at 60% towards our goal in doubling our women voting members by 2025. So there’s a lot of exciting action going on.

Who have been some of your mentors throughout your career?

Connie Bradley and Pat Rolfe were absolutely mentors to me. They were so phenomenal. I remember being in the industry early on and they remembered me, they made me feel seen, and they would give me advice. Sometimes I don’t even know if they knew how much they mentored me.

I was also mentored by a lot of the professional, established writers in Nashville. A lot of members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame would come in to NSAI and they really helped pave the way for me, helped me see how the industry could work and how it really was a family.

What is some of the best advice you’ve gotten from any of them?

The best advice from Connie was to be nice to everybody no matter where you are in your career. She used to say, “You never know who your boss is going to be someday.” That really stuck with me.

Pictured: Alicia with Phil Ramone at Ocean Way. Courtesy of the Recording Academy / Getty Images © 2010

What moment have you had that your little kid self would be proud of?

About three years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Linda Perry. She was working on producing an album with Dolly Parton. I wanted to meet Linda and really engage her in the Academy. I emailed her and had a chance to connect. She said to just come by the studio and say hi. So I come in and they were like, “We’re expecting you, Alicia. Please sit here.” And I said, “I just want to be a fly on the wall. Just sit me over to the side and I will be ready to meet with Linda whenever she can.” Linda came [in the room], just going to get a drink, and she said, “Alicia, just go on into the control room.”

I was still a little hesitant, but as I walked in, Dolly was sitting in the control room and greeted me like it was just another morning. (Laughs) Linda sat down at the console, turned and chatted with me for a second, and said, “Just hang with us for a while.” Macy Gray was in that day singing and Dolly was singing harmony. That moment to me [affirmed that] this is why I love music so much and why I love the Nashville community. It reminded me that everyone is so welcoming. That was a fly on the wall moment for me that I think my younger self would’ve really cherished.

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

That’s such a hard one. I would say that I cared and that I had a real open door policy. Whether someone’s joined for the first time or been a member for 30 years, I’m here.