Nominees Revealed For 33rd Annual MusicRow Awards

MusicRow is proud to reveal the nominees for the 33rd annual MusicRow Awards. The industry-voted winners of the MusicRow Awards will be announced virtually on all MusicRow platforms on Aug. 19. Subscribed members of MusicRow will receive their ballots via email on Wednesday, July 14.

Click here to view the digital “Nominator” newsletter for a complete list of all nominees.

Presenting Sponsor of the 2021 MusicRow Awards is City National Bank.

There are 11 member-voted categories, including:
1. Producer of the Year
2. Label Group of the Year
3. Talent Agency of the Year
4. Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year
5. Breakthrough Artist-Writer of the Year
6. Male Songwriter of the Year
7. Female Songwriter of the Year
8. Song of the Year
9. Discovery Artist of the Year
10. Breakthrough Artist of the Year
11. Artist of the Year

Nominees for the MusicRow Awards are determined by committee, with outside nominations being considered for Breakthrough Songwriter and Breakthrough Artist-Writer. Male and Female Songwriter nominees are based on data from MusicRow’s Top Songwriter Chart. Eligible projects were active between June 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021.

MusicRow‘s August/September print magazine, which is produced and mailed out prior to the MusicRow Awards winners announcement on Aug. 19, features all of the nominees for the 33rd Annual MusicRow Awards. This print edition also includes exclusive industry-related editorial features.

Top 10 Album All-Star Musician Awards for Bass, Drums, Engineer, Fiddle, Guitar, Keyboards, Steel, and Vocals will also be announced on Thursday, Aug. 19, 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.

Voting for the MusicRow Awards will begin Wednesday, July 14 and run through Friday, July 23 for all MusicRow subscribed members. To become a subscribed member and become eligible to vote, sign up here.

Martin Johnson Enters Top 10 On MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

Martin Johnson

Newly-signed Warner Chappell writer Martin Johnson has jumped 10 slots to No. 10 on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart this week. Johnson is a co-writer on “Like A Lady” recorded by Lady A and “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” recorded by Elle King and Miranda Lambert.

Corey Crowder remains at No. 1 on the chart this week for the seventh consecutive week. He is a co-writer on “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” (Chase Rice feat. Florida Georgia Line), “Famous Friends” (Chris Young and Kane Brown), and “Minimum Wage” (Blake Shelton).

The weekly MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart uses algorithms based upon song activity according to airplay, digital download track sales and streams. This unique and exclusive addition to the MusicRow portfolio is the only songwriter chart of its kind.

Click here to view the full MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart.

Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Luke Combs To Headline Stagecoach 2022

Stagecoach is hitching the wagon back up in 2022 with recently announced headliners Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Luke Combs heading to the desert on April 29-May 1. Passes go on sale starting July 16 at 12 p.m. CST at stagecoachfestival.com.

“I have been looking forward to this for so long! I dreamed about headlining Stagecoach ever since I first played there in 2014. I cannot wait to get back out in the desert in 2022 and play for those fans,” says Rhett.

“There’s nothing like a Stagecoach audience and I can’t wait to take that stage and be with the fans in the desert again,” Underwood shares. Combs adds, “Stagecoach, it’s a dream come true to headline the festival in 2022. It will be here before we know it, and I’m already looking forward to seeing y’all there!”

Also on tap for the 14th annual Indio, California festival are Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne, The Black Crowes, Midland, Lee Brice, Cody Johnson, Jordan Davis, Cody Jinks, and many more. Additionally, YouTube and Goldenvoice are partnering this year to offer an exclusive, first time livestream of the famed Stagecoach festival.

“We are so excited to be adding Stagecoach, country music’s biggest festival weekend, into our live stream lineup for the first time ever,” says YouTube’s Head of Live Music and West Coast Artist Relations Ali Rivera. “2022 marks our 10th year partnering with Goldenvoice to stream some of their most coveted music festivals like Stagecoach and Coachella. We are both honored and proud to be bringing three consecutive weekends of extraordinary live music to fans around the world next year.”

Returning to the festival this year is the SiriusXM Spotlight Stage, which will once again highlight today’s rising stars like Breland, Caylee Hammack, Hailey Whitters and others. In addition to the Spotlight Stage, Stagecouch Weekend will also be returning featuring headliners Combs and Rhett, as well as new performances from Morris, Dierks Bentley, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, and more. Stagecouch Weekend begins July 16 at 11 a.m. CST through July 18 on SiriusXM’s The Highway.

Lady A Earns Sixth MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart No. 1

Rising to No. 1 this week on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart is Lady A with “Like A Lady.” This is their sixth MusicRow No. 1, following “Champagne Night” which peaked in Sept. 2020. It appears on their latest collection What A Song Can Do (Chapter One) and was written by the group’s Hillary Scott with Dave Barnes, Michelle Buzz, Martin Johnson and Brandon Paddock.

Scott comments “I feel my most confident when I’m not trying too hard. I love getting glammed up and all the fancy clothes, but when I feel the most ‘me,’ it’s a lot more laid back – and I think that’s a lot of us. You are your most authentic self in blue jeans with a tequila drink, ya know? As we were writing it, I was like ‘It’s always been my dream to do a song that combines the things I love about Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’ and Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’ – two of the most strong, powerful female songs ever. So it was like ‘How can we do our version of that?’”

The group’s Lady A: What A Song Can Do Tour kicks off this month with support from Carly PearceNiko Moon and Tenille Arts.

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

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Jordan Davis & Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Randall King

I sense that somehow we are in the midst of a big shift of the country landscape, with more new talent being injected into the format than is usual.

With that in mind, note that Kat & Alex, Mitchell Tenpenny, Robyn Ottolini and Morgan Evans continue to make sonic waves. Adding to the energy is the stone-country Randall King, who wins this week’s DisCovery Award.

The supremely gifted Eric Church has won more Disc of the Day awards in this column than any other artist. I’d give him another one today, but for the fact that it seems like he needs to share at this point. So give the prize to the lovely sentiments being expressed by Jordan Davis with Luke Bryan along for the ride.

KAT & ALEX / “You and the Radio”
Writers: Jordan Minton/Mark Trussell/Robyn Collins; Producer: Brad Hill; Label: Sony Music Nashville
— It’s a rockin’ country summer jam. Alex, a Puerto Rican, sings lead. Kat, a Cuban American, provides sprightly vocal harmony. You’ll tap your toes to the snappy beats.

MIDLAND / “Sunrise Tells the Story”
Writers: Jess Carson/Jessi Alexander/Aaron Raitiere; Producer: Dann Huff/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne; Label: Big Machine Records
— A steel cries in the distance as the trio moans this slow honky-tonk waltz. The harmonies are solid and the mood is just right.

MITCHELL TENPENNY / “Truth About You”
Writers: Mitchell Tenpenny/Matt Alderman/Thomas Archer; Producer: Jordan M. Schmidt/Mitchell Tenpenny; Label: Sony Music Nashville
— It’s a breakup song with a hushed, whispery delivery that catches your ear and makes you pay attention. The screaming electric guitar on the backing track is distracting and unnecessary.

MORGAN EVANS / “Love Is Real”
Writers: Morgan Evans/Jordan Reynolds/Parker Welling; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— This zippy, peppy, ultra-positive country rocker takes a page or two from the Keith Urban playbook. Which is to say, it is sugary ear candy.

ROBYN OTTOLINI / “Tell You Everything”
Writers: Robyn Ottolini/Jesse Slack; Producer: Erik Fintelman/Mark Schroor; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— The somewhat tedious “F-150” remains the single, but this new release from her EP suggests that she is holding back some of her best stuff. The bright, aware lyric has lots of verve, and the track boasts tempo shifts, cool echoey touches and a complex, layered mix that are all quite involving.

ERIC CHURCH / “Heart on Fire”
Writers: Eric Church; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: EMI Records Nashville
— Oh yeah! A little Bruce, a little Elvis, a little Skynyrd, a little Seger and a whole lotta rump shakin’ goodness. This rollicking rocker is one more example why the Chief stands head and shoulders above just about everyone else in this format. Turn it up and lose yourself in its soulfulness.

RANDALL KING / “Record High”
Writers: Drake Milligan/John Pierce/Rodney Clawson; Producer: Bart Butler/Ryan Gore; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— This dude is a for-real country singer, and this rhythm-happy Texas honky tonker stakes a for-real claim to stardom.

JORDAN DAVIS & LUKE BRYAN / “Buy Dirt”
Writers: Jordan Davis/Jacob Davis/Josh Jenkins/Matt Jenkins; Producer: Paul DiGiovanni; Label: MCA Nashville
— Words of wisdom from a fictional octogenarian set to a shimmering, sterling-silver audio track. Terrific truthful lyric. The two voices blend beautifully. I’m in.

THE CADILLAC THREE / “Bridges”
Writers: Frank Rogers/Jaren Johnston/Neil Mason; Producer: The Cadillac Three; Label: Big Machine Records
— While certainly novel and ear catching, this has nothing to do with country music.

KANE BROWN & BLACKBEAR / “Memory”
Writers: Kane Brown/Matthew Musto/Andrew Goldstein/Joe Kirkland/Ernest Smith; Producer: none listed; Label: RCA
— Although Brown is coming off a No. 1 country hit (”Famous Friends” with Chris Young), this hip hopper is being correctly marketed as a Top-40, pop-music effort. Brown has previously successfully collaborated with Marshmello and with Swae Lee & Khalid, so this effort with Musto a.k.a. blackbear suits him just fine.

BILLY CRASH CRADDOCK / “Paint Your Toes”
Writers: Billy Crash Craddock/David Wade/Mary Beth Stone; Producer: David Wade; Label: ONErpm
— He’s 82 years old now, but this rockabilly veteran still has rhythm in his heart. Very much in the mode of his classic “Rub It In,” this is a very cute little outing.

FIREROSE & BILLY RAY CYRUS / “New Day”
Writers: Billy Ray Cyrus/Firerose; Producer: none listed; Label: Repost
— Firerose is an Aussie-born singer-songwriter now based in L.A. She and Billy Ray co-wrote this on Zoom during the quarantine. It’s a hypnotic, swirling, dreamy confection, underpinned by echoey synths and slow, thumpy beats. I can hear this becoming a big pop hit. After all, he’s done it before.

Ash Bowers Exits Records Nashville To Focus Fully On Management

Ash Bowers

Music executive, songwriter, and producer Ash Bowers has exited his position as President at Records Nashville.

Bowers was tapped in 2020 to start the Nashville office of Barry Weiss‘ New York City-based label, Records. Co-founded in 2015 by Weiss, Records began as a joint venture with Songs Music Publishing, and found early success with their first two signings, Platinum-selling singer Noah Cyrus and legendary hip-hop artist Nelly. In 2017, when Kobalt bought Songs, Sony Music partnered with Records and has since signed a roster that includes 24kGoldn and Lennon Stella. They are also home to 2019’s debut project, Labrinth, Sia & Diplo present…LSD.

Since opening in 2020, Records Nashville has developed a roster that includes Matt Stell, Chris Bandi, Jennifer Smestad, Dylan Brady, Chase Martin, Lathan Warlick and George Birge. Stell has earned more than 415 million cumulative streams across his catalog to date, with back-to-back No. 1 songs including the Platinum-certified track “ Prayed For You” and Gold-certified “Everywhere But On.” He is one of only eight debut country artists in the last six years to have their first two singles top the charts.

According to Bowers, he is stepping away from the company to shift his focus back fully to his management company Wide Open Music. Wide Open handles management for Platinum-selling recording artist and current ACM New Male Artist of the Year Jimmie Allen in addition to Records Nashville artists Stell, Warlick, Bandi, Martin, and Birge.

“I have a strong passion for managing and developing artists. Shifting all of my focus back to that is undoubtedly the right thing for us all,” Bowers tells MusicRow. “This is not the end of the road for Barry and me. We still have a lot of work to get done together. I am excited to see what’s ahead for us and the artists we’re both involved with.”

Records is looking to fill the position. Click here to apply on MusicRow‘s Job Listings board.

Monument Records Adds Luke Jensen As VP, Promotion

Luke Jensen. Photo: Robert Chavers

Monument Records has announced the hiring of Luke Jensen as VP, Promotion. Jensen will lead the promotion staff, including three regionals and a coordinator, and report directly to General Manager Katie McCartney. This news comes shortly after it was announced that Drew Bland had exited the position.

Monument’s current roster includes Caitlyn Smith, Walker Hayes, Brandon Ratcliff, Teddy Robb, Tigirlily, Alex Hall, and The Shady Ladies of Music City podcast. Smith just played her single, “I Can’t (feat. Old Dominion),” for the first time live with the band in front of a 9,000-person crowd while on tour and announced her opening slot for George Strait and Eric Church at Mercedes-Benz Stadium later this year. Hayes’ new viral track “Fancy Like” has sat at the top of the iTunes Country Songs Chart for the last three weeks after peaking at No. 1 all genre. The song has been the top selling country song on the Billboard Country Digital Song Sales chart for three weeks and is top 5 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart.

“We are thrilled to welcome Luke to the team at Monument,” says Co-President Jason Owen. “His experience, expertise, and excitement towards radio promotion is infectious. We can’t wait for him to get started on the hit Caitlyn Smith single ‘I Can’t (feat Old Dominion),’ and the monster coming to radio which is Walker Hayes’ ‘Fancy Like.’”

After spending time at radio stations across the country, including KVOO in Tulsa, WSOC in Charlotte, and KBEQ in Kansas City, Jensen has spent the last five years with Sony Music’s Arista Nashville and the previous four at Blaster Records. Throughout his career, he has worked with an array of artists including country superstars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, three-time ACM and CMA Vocal Group of the Year Old Dominion, as well as helped newcomers Matt Stell and Lanco achieve their first No. 1 radio singles.

“We’ve known Luke a long time and his passion for our artists and music is unmatched,” says Co-President Shane McAnally. “We couldn’t be more confident that Luke will carry that bright torch for us at country radio.”

“I’m so grateful to Jason, Shane, and Katie for this opportunity,” says Jensen. “I’ve come to know them as some of the brightest minds in this industry, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with them, the rest of the team at Monument, and this amazing roster of artists.”

CBS Announces 2022 Date For Its Inaugural Broadcast Of The ‘CMT Music Awards’

CBS has announced its inaugural broadcast of the CMT Music Awards will air live from Nashville on Sunday, April 3, 2022. CMT will kick off the company’s first ever Country Music Week, including special programming all week and events capped by exclusive director’s cut airings of the CMT Music Awards later on CMT and various ViacomCBS platforms.

ViacomCBS recently announced that its signature country music award show would move to CBS from CMT after this year’s success. The 2021 CMT Music Awards saw more than a 10% increase in total viewers and was the No. 1 most social program across all of television for the night. Across the six ViacomCBS network simulcast, P18-34 ratings saw a 32% increase over last year’s event.

The CMT Music Awards, country music’s only entirely fan-voted award show, have aired live since 2005. The 2021 show, hosted by Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown, featured the most first-time collaborations and blended-genre pairings in the show’s history. Standout performances included H.E.R. & Chris Stapleton; Gladys Knight, Mickey Guyton, & Breland; and Needtobreathe & Carrie Underwood, who remains the most-awarded artist in CMT Awards history with 23 wins. For a full recap of this year’s CMT Music Awards, click here.

Additional information about the 2022 CMT Music Awards on CBS will be available in the coming months.

Crowder, Frasure, Gorley Lead MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

Corey Crowder remains at No. 1 on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart this week for the sixth consecutive week. He is a co-writer on “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” (Chase Rice feat. Florida Georgia Line), “Famous Friends” (Chris Young and Kane Brown), and “Minimum Wage” (Blake Shelton).

Jesse Frasure also maintains position this week at No. 2, with co-writer credit on “Almost Maybes” (Jordan Davis), “Minimum Wage” (Blake Shelton), and “Whiskey And Rain” (Michael Ray).

Ashley Gorley moves into the No. 3 position on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart, as a co-writer on “Country Again” (Thomas Rhett), “Give Heaven Some Hell” (Hardy), “Single Saturday Night” (Cole Swindell), and “You Should Probably Leave” (Chris Stapleton).

Nicolle Galyon and Hunter Phelps round out the top five.

The weekly MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart uses algorithms based upon song activity according to airplay, digital download track sales and streams. This unique and exclusive addition to the MusicRow portfolio is the only songwriter chart of its kind.

Click here to view the full MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart.

Alabama Brings Live Music Back To Bridgestone Arena, Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Tour

Alabama’s Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry. Photo: Rick Diamond

Country Music Hall of Fame members Alabama are celebrating 50 years with their anniversary tour that kicked off with two nights at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena this weekend. It was the band’s first arena performance in Nashville in nearly two decades, and was the first full-capacity concerts held at Bridgestone Arena since the start of the pandemic in early March of 2020.

Alabama’s set was lively and homespun, like a comforting welcome back to live music at Bridgestone Arena after a long hiatus due to the pandemic. They got things started with “Pass It Down,” and transitioned into “Can’t Keep A Good Man Down.” Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry thrilled the crowd when they went into “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band).” Iconic country bands and fiddle players flashed up on the screens behind the 10-piece ensemble. The audience roared when the great fiddle player Charlie Daniels’ picture appeared on the screen. “If I said that we were thankful to see you,” Owen said, trailing off, looking into the crowd with awe.

Wasting no time, the band went into their 1983 hit “The Closer You Get” and 1989’s “High Cotton,” with Owen dancing along with the crowd. While the musicianship was top-notch with virtuoso players like Gordon Mote on keys and Megan Mullins on fiddle, the show’s production was simple and served as a great way to remind Nashville of its roots for its first full-capacity arena show back.

Before the band launched into their monster hit “Dixieland Delight,” Gentry said, “Every time I drive downtown, I hear it in one of [those] clubs, so they still like it.” “Thank the Lord,” Owen responded. The electrifying tune had all of Bridgestone Arena on their feet, dancing a jig. Alabama then seamlessly transitioned into “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

Bringing out a string section and a choir, the band played the song that has become somewhat of a theme song for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, “Angels Among Us.” Cell phone lighters waved in the air.

“This is an emotional night,” Owen said mid-way through Alabama’s set. “A few years ago we didn’t know if anyone cared about us anymore. Thank you for letting us share 50 years of our lives.”

“The only thing that would make this the perfect night is if our cousin Jeff Cook was here,” Gentry added. They then played a song written about Cook, whose 2017 diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease left him unable to tour with the band.

After turning on the romance for “Love In The First Degree” and “Feels So Right,” Alabama welcomed their “long lost cousin” Jake Owen on stage for “Lady Down On Love.” Owen was clad in an Alabama jacket, and stood back in awe of the iconic country band in action.

Randy Owen, Jake Owen. Photo: Rick Diamond

Keeping the energy alive, Alabama invited the crowd to shag to “Dancin’, Shaggin’ On The Boulevard,” and the whole arena sang along to another staple, “Mountain Music,” before the band walked offstage and the lights turned down. A relentless roar from the audience sent Alabama back out to the Bridgestone Arena stage, this time in Nashville Predators jerseys, to encore to “My Home’s In Alabama.” Beautiful photos of the bands sacred home state flashed behind the country music icons. Owen and Gentry took an emotional bow, and ended the heart-warming evening.

Martina McBride. Photo: Rick Diamond

Another country great Martina McBride opened the show with her many hits and stellar voice on including “This One’s For The Girls,” “Wild Angels,” and the appropriate “Independence Day.” Alabama brought McBride back out during their set just to recognize her and tell her they loved her. It was just announced that the Country Music Hall of Fame will highlight McBride’s three-decade career with an exhibit opening at the end of July.

Alabama will continue their 50th Anniversary tour on July 23 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania with Tracy Lawrence. Click here to see all the upcoming dates.