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.

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.

Shane McAnally Hits Peak Of MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

Shane McAnally. Photo: Robby Klein

Shane McAnally has made his way to the top spot on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart this week.

McAnally is a co-writer on five currently charting songs, including Old Dominion’s “No Hard Feelings,” Kenny Chesney’s “Everyone She Knows,” Walker Hayes’ “AA,” Sam Hunt’s “23,” and Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde’s “Never Wanted To Be That Girl”

After eight weeks at No. 1, Ashley Gorley moves to the No. 2 spot on the chart to make way for McAnally. He is a co-writer on such songs as “New Truck” (Dylan Scott), “Sand In My Boots” (Morgan Wallen), “Beers On Me” (Dierks Bentley, Hardy & Breland), “Slow Down Summer” (Thomas Rhett), “Give Heaven Some Hell” (Hardy), “Take My Name” (Parmalee), and “You Didn’t” (Brett Young).

Eric Church and Michael Hardy also swap places this week, with Church at No. 3 and Hardy at No. 4.

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.

Ryan Dokke Named VP, Promotion & Marketing At BMLG Records

Ryan Dokke

Big Machine Label Group, a subsidiary of HYBE America, has added Ryan Dokke as Vice President, Promotion & Marketing, for the BMLG Records imprint effective immediately.

Reporting directly to BMLG Records President/CEO Jimmy Harnen, Dokke will support the label’s roster, which includes five-time Grammy award-winning trio Lady A, multi-Platinum-selling vocalist Brett Young, ACM award-winner Riley Green, and rising female vocalist Laci Kaye Booth.

Dokke most recently served as CEO of Dallas Davidson‘s Play It Again Music following prior stops at Curb | Word Entertainment (Curb Records) and Sony Music Nashville (Arista Records). Dokke can be reached at [email protected].

“I first met Ryan while he was working in radio and have considered him a friend for over a decade,” shares Harnen. “I’ve watched him rise through the ranks, expand his knowledge and succeed in very challenging times. I am confident he will continue leading this team at the level that Matthew Hargis did over the past 12 years.”

“First, I salute and honor Matthew Hargis and the tremendous leadership he has provided over the past decade,” adds Dokke. “I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the legacy of BMLG Records and advocate on behalf of this incredible artist roster. I am excited to work with this team of professionals and can’t thank Scott Borchetta and Jimmy Harnen enough for their belief that I am the right person for this role!”

Hargis served as the former Sr. VP of Promotion and Marketing at the Big Machine Label Group imprint BMLG Records. He announced his exit from the company earlier this month.

Warner Music Nashville, Warner Chappell Music Open Renovated Offices On Music Row

Newly renovated Warner Music Nashville office. Photo: Diana King

After nearly two years of work-from-home, Warner Music Nashville and Warner Chappell Music Nashville are welcoming employees, artists, and songwriters back to the office—now with newly renovated buildings.

The 20 and 21 Music Square East headquarters span 52,000 square feet of modernized office space. This project makes Warner Music Nashville the only major label still on Music Row.

Studio inside Warner Music Nashville office. Photo: Diana King

Redevelopment efforts at Warner Music Nashville, housed at 20 Music Square East, included transforming the lobby into a large-scale performance area equipped with a specialized lighting grid and advanced PA system. Still to come is a mural depicting a multi-cultural chronology of the history of country music through Warner Music Nashville’s own label icons, which will greet artists as they prepare to perform on the new stage. Other additions include a fully outfitted, multi-purpose audio and video production studio designed by Michael Cronin. The studio, which will allow for Dolby Atmos mixing and playback, features a tracking room for recording and content capture, multiple isolation booths, and more. The project also modernized three floors of traditional offices by introducing a more open, flexible space.

The Warner Music Nashville team ensured that the renovation would utilize sustainable materials, including Cradle to Cradle certified carpet and GreenGuard certified countertops. The design team upgraded all light fixtures to LED and added occupancy sensors to conserve energy, used low-VOC paint (volatile organic compounds) in order to improve indoor air quality, and added five-stream composting and recycling stations.

“Warner Music Nashville artists and employees deserved a label home that could both honor its history and adapt to the modern needs of a creative industry,” shares John Esposito, Chairman & CEO, Warner Music Nashville. “I am proud that we were able to bring our vision to life in a way that aligned with our environmental values. We now remain part of the legacy that is Music Row in a more sustainable, future-facing building. The remodeled office space provides our amazing team with updated resources and a crucial degree of flexibility.

“Meanwhile, we are also able to provide a world-class tool set to an emerging generation of creators,” Esposito adds. “The design of the new spaces will allow us to tell each artist’s individual story from start to finish—whether it’s live-streaming a full-band concert, capturing high-end video content or recording music from demo to master.”

Renovated writer room at Warner Chappell Music’s Nashville office. Photo: Diana King

Across the street at 21 Music Square East, Warner Chappell Music underwent an entire gut-renovation. The two-story building includes ten technologically advanced writer’s rooms again designed by Cronin with top-end gear and robust acoustics. It also features an indoor stage with a fully stocked bar and an open kitchen, all connected to an outdoor space through a massive garage style door that leads to an additional stage and basketball hoop. For added entertainment, there’s a Led Zeppelin pinball machine and WCM-branded pool table layered into the design. A collaborative effort, the team solicited input from songwriters—everything from what a writer would want in a writer room to putting their favorite books on the shelves.

Gaming console inside Warner Chappell Music’s Nashville office. Photo: Diana King

Ben Vaughn, President & CEO, WCM Nashville, says: “Today is extremely special, as we now have an office dedicated entirely to team Warner Chappell and the songwriters who drive music forward in Nashville. A process years in the making, we dreamed this space up in collaboration with our writers and with creativity in mind, to design an environment where everyone who walks through our doors feels inspired and at home. We’re proud of the space and are excited to continue to deepen our roots on Music Row—the true heart and soul of Music City.”

JLL Nashville, along with Turner Construction and Hastings Architecture Associates, supported on the project.

Thomas Rhett Rises To Radio Chart Peak On MusicRow Chart

“Slow Down Summer” by Thomas Rhett inches its way into the No. 1 position on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week. This is the lead single off his sixth studio album, Where We Started, set for release next week (April 1). It was written by Rhett, Ashley Gorley, Jesse Frasure, Sean Douglas, and Rhett Akins.

Rhett is scheduled to “Bring The Bar To You” on his upcoming tour in June with Parker McCollum and Conner Smith. The tour is presented by Dos Primos, Rhett’s own tequila brand which recently announced a new variant Dos Primos Tequila Reposado. The reposado tequila is made from hand-harvested, 100% blue agave sourced from estates in Los Altos and the valley area of Jalisco, Mexico, and aged for at least six months in used bourbon barrels.

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

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Nate Smith & Tenille Townes Take The Cake With Stunning Duet

This is Collaboration Day here at DISClaimer.

Today’s review stack is replete with match-ups—Blackberry Smoke with Jamey Johnson, The Gatlins meeting Flat River Band, The Bellamys discovering Charles J. & The Conquistadors and Nate Smith dueting with Tenille Townes. From those ranks come two of our award winners.

The Disc of the Day field was so competitive that I split the award in three. The Male performance honor goes to the electrifying Kip Moore. The Female prize goes to the dazzling stylist Danielle Bradbery. The Duo/Group winners are the afore-mentioned and totally superb Nate Smith & Tenille Townes.

There’s no crowd contending for this week’s DISCovery Award. The Latin-country combo Charles J. & The Conquistadors have it all to themselves.

HAILEY WHITTERS / “Boys Back Home”
Writers: Hailey Whitters/Brandy Clark/Jessie Jo Dillon; Producers: Hailey Whitters/Jake Gear; Label: Pigasus/Songs & Daughters/Big Loud
–Superbly written, as usual. This pure-country lady has had my heart for a long time. On this anthem-like jewel, she praises the everyday guys in her hometown who grow from wild young bucks into dependable men who’ll, “Pull you out of a ditch or a bar.” The stirring production supports her sturdy hillbilly soprano at every turn. This one’s a keeper.

CHRIS STAPLETON / “Joy of My Life”
Writer: John Fogerty; Producers: Dave Cobb/Chris Stapleton; Label: Mercury
–This ultra-romantic ballad is shot through with Stapleton’s searing soul singing. Simple acoustic-guitar, brushed drums and plucked bass softly frame his performance. Rising out of the audio mist is a ghostly, echoey electric-guitar solo. Lovely work.

ELLE KING / “Out Yonder”
Writers: Bobby Hamrick/Ella Langley/Matt Mckinney; Producer: Ross Copperman; Label: Sony
–Yowza! Her chesty, throaty delivery has charisma to spare. The pounding, twang-fest production gives her warning to the guys extra moxie. Stompin’ and righteous.

KIP MOORE / “Crazy One More Time”
Writers: Kip Moore/Chris Lindsey/Aimee Mayo; Producers: Kip Moore/Matt Bubel; Label: MCA
–This man’s musical instincts are just about flawless. This slab of country-rock thumps ya right in the gut. His gripping singing sends chills up and down the spine while the band kicks ass with finesse. Blue-collar brilliance.

Writers: Madeline Edwards/Court Clement/Josh Moore; Producers: none listed; Label: ME
–She memorably staged her national TV debut with Mickey Guyton and Brittney Spencer on the CMA Awards, and I’ve been waiting for a breakout single ever since. This could be it, a thoughtful, swirling, orchestrated ballad about taking a leap of faith and following your dreams. Captivating.

Writers: David Garcia/Josh Kear/Hillary Lindsey; Producers: David Garcia/Carrie Underwood; Label: Capitol
–The ear-catching, burbling country-pop production flows like a rushing stream beneath her penetrating, processed vocal. She vows to haunt her ex, troubling his sleep and making him wish he’d never left her. Hit bound, for certain.

NATE SMITH & TENILLE TOWNES / “I Don’t Wanna Go to Heaven”
Writers: Nate Smith/Daniel Fernandez; Producers: Nate Smith/Joel Bruyere; Label: Sony
–In a word, “Wow.” There’s nothing I love better than a harmony-soaked country duet, and these two toss vocal lightning bolts in this thrilling performance. Beautiful. Awesome. Amazing. The song has at least two other versions, one with Nate singing solo and one with a choir backing. But the presence of two excellent singers matching one another note-for-note means this version takes the cake.

FLAT RIVER BAND & THE GATLIN BROTHERS / “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love”
Writer: Larry Gatlin; Producers: none listed; Label: Early Bird
–It’s a brother-singing confabulation as Chad, Dennijo & Andy Sitze (Flat River) meet Larry, Rudy & Steve Gatlin on this fantastic revival of The Gatlins’ 1978 chart topper. Tune up your harmony chops and sing along.

Writer: David Bellamy; Producers: Charles J. Jones/Angel Duran; Label: CJJ
–Mariachi trumpets, deep-twang guitar, Latin rhythm, steel guitar and hearty harmony vocals are the ingredients in this audio delight. Hooky in the extreme. Get on board. Lead singer Charles J. previously charted as “JC Jones” on Rising Tide in ’98.

Writer: Charles Gray; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Legged/Thirty Tigers
–It’s a straight-ahead honky tonker, at least until Jamey’s fiery voice enters the mix. Then it becomes something extraordinary. He’s a mighty man, and I jumped for joy when Bill Anderson invited him to become a member of the Opry cast last weekend. So cool, so deserved, so real, so right.

FILMORE / “Johnny Got a Girl”
Writers: Filmore/Jordan Schmidt/Geoff Warburton/Kyle Clark; Producers: Zach Abend/Jordan Schmidt; Label: Curb
–This guy is in the midst of a release barrage where he’s been dropping one song per week all spring long. It started with this catchy toe tapper, a cleverly written lament for a buddy who’s gone M.I.A. from the old gang because he fell in love with a beautiful babe. I remain a huge fan of this always-engaging artist.

DANIELLE BRADBERY / “Look at the Mess I’m In”
Writers: Gordie Sampson/Caitlyn Smith/Troy Verges; Producers: Nathan Chapman; Label: Big Machine
–What a terrific vocal. This range-y ballad takes some hairpin turns and challenges the upper register. But Bradbery takes every tricky note in stride, turning in one of the finest performances of her career to date. The power ballad is unusual in its lyric of self-recrimination and blame for wrecking her own life. This is a very groovy single. Play and be swept away.

Elvie Shane Commemorates First No. 1 With Emotional Celebration For ‘My Boy’

Pictured (L-R, back row): Rusty Gaston (Sony ATV), Gary Reamey (Block of Marble), Brian Wolf (Maverick Management), Clarence Spalding (Maverick Management), Mason Hunter (BMI), John Ozier (Reservoir Media), RJ Romeo (Romeo Entertainment Group), Lisa Johnson (Rome Phrey Publishing), Will Overton (Warner Chappell); (L-R, front row): Nick Columbia (Songwriter), Russell Sutton (Songwriter), Elvie Shane, Lee Starr (Songwriter), Jon Loba (Broken Bow Records). Photo: Steve Lowry

It was a family affair at The Local on Wednesday (March 23) when Wheelhouse Records singer-songwriter Elvie Shane and his co-writers celebrated their No. 1 hit, “My Boy.” The sentimental tune about nontraditional family dynamics was the first chart-topper for all four co-writers: Shane, Russell Sutton, Nick Columbia and Lee Starr.

BMI’s Mason Hunter led the festivities for the tune, which was inspired by Shane’s relationship with his stepson Caleb, who was in attendance.

Hunter set the tone for the rest of the team-member presentations that followed by recognizing how special of a song “My Boy” is. He let the room know that the song was written in 2016 on a porch in Hendersonville, and that all four writers were completely independent at the time it was written.

“This song gives all us the belief that great songs still live in this town,” Hunter said. “I can’t think of a better way to launch a career than with this single.”

Block of Marble and SNG’s Gary Reamey was on hand to support Starr. He called out the village of folks that had supported the writers on their climb to the top.

Sony Music Publishing’s Rusty Gaston, who Hunter referred to as the reverend, hit the nail on the head on how “My Boy” represents the spirit of Nashville.

Pictured (L-R): “My Boy” co-writer Nick Columbia, co-writer Russell Sutton, co-writer Elvie Shane, Shane’s Stepson Caleb, co-writer Lee Starr. Photo: Steve Lowry

“These guys didn’t write a hit song, they arguably wrote probably the best song in country music of the last decade. And they did it independently,” Gaston said. “It led to independent publishers championing them.”

Gaston added, “This town is built upon independent publishers like Gary starting these companies to take chances on people that are absolute dreamers and absolutely independent. Championing those dreams end up with songs that change people’s lives. That’s what happened here.”

Romeo Entertainment Group’s RJ Romeo and Rome Phrey Publishing’s Lisa Johnson—who were two of Shane’s first believers—spoke about the persistence of the writers. Johnson recognized Shane’s stepson Caleb. “If you hadn’t happened, nobody would be up here right now,” she said.

Warner Chappell’s Will Overton spoke about Shane, highlighting his wild exterior but tender heart. “It’s rare to meet someone who radiates the energy and creativity as much as Elvie does,” he said. “When I think of Elvie, I think LOUD—in all capital letters.”

Reservoir’s John Ozier was on hand to celebrate the company’s first in-person Nashville No. 1 party since opening in Music City in 2019. Ozier and his team represent co-writer Columbia, who got a custom guitar for his achievement.

“Every now and then there’s a song that stops you in your tracks, and you know exactly where you were when you heard it. This song did that for me,” he said.

Pinnacle Bank’s David DeVaul, donning a pair of similar-looking glasses to Shane’s signature look, let the crowd know that a donation had been made to SarahCare in honor of “My Boy.” Country Aircheck‘s Chuck Aly spoke about the feat of achieving a country radio No. 1.

When BBR head Jon Loba got up to speak, he highlighted the significance of the song. “This was a one-listen song for me. I wouldn’t hear of anything else but this being the first single,” Loba said, calling out the Wheelhouse promotion team for fighting for “My Boy.”

Pictured (L-R, back row): Ellen Ford (BBRMG), Nick Columbia (co-writer), Russell Sutton (co-writer), Lee Starr (co-writer); (L-R, front row): Ashley Wojcinski (BBRMG), Caitlyn Gordon (Wheelhouse Records), Kendra Whitehead (Wheelhouse Records), Brittany Pellegrino (Wheelhouse Records), Elvie Shane, Jennifer Shaffer (Wheelhouse Records), Ken Tucker (Wheelhouse Records), Carson James (BBRMG). Photo: Steve Lowry

When the writers spoke, the drinks and tears were flowing in the room. Each writer spoke about the night the song was written, and the struggle professional songwriters go through to make it happen.

“We were just four kids that were broker than hell, just trying to write something that mattered,” Sutton said. “These are three of my best friends in the world. I’d do anything for them.”

Sutton also pointed out that all four co-writers had all had babies since they wrote the song. “We had a promise of a check in nine months and were like ‘Let’s do it!” he joked. “That’s all gone now because we had those babies.”

Columbia thanked his family, co-writers and team. “Thank you guys for giving me a place to land,” he said.

Starr emphasized what “My Boy” had survived, and took time to encourage hopeful songwriters. “If there’s anyone out there who writes songs, you may have already done it and you don’t know it yet. For years we were sitting on [‘My Boy’], and we were struggling, wondering when our chance was going to come, when in reality, we had already written our check,” he said. “Keep fighting the good fight, keep believing in what you’re doing.”

Shane warned the crowd that he was going to be long-winded, as he grew up Baptist.

“I am going to cry because I’m a wimp and it’s what I do,” he joked. “I remember many nights sitting on the porch or tailgate talking about how we were going to take over this town. Started at the bottom, now we in the middle!” The crowd roared with laughter.

Shane recognized his team, co-writers and family, trying to hold back tears. “You work so hard for this. Not only as an artist or songwriter, but you have these people who take time away from their families and fly out to these cities and meet with radio people,” he said. “It’s such a long and hard process.

“Then you get a No. 1,” he said. “You dream about what it would feel like to get a No. 1. It didn’t feel right at first, but it feels right tonight.”

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Mary Jane Thomas, Wife To Hank Williams Jr., Suddenly Passes

Mary Jane Thomas and 2020 inductee Hank Williams Jr. seen during the 2021 Medallion Ceremony, celebrating the Induction of the Class of 2020 at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on November 21, 2021. Photo: Jason Kempin

Mary Jane Thomas, wife to country icon Hank Williams Jr., has passed away at the age of 58.

MusicRow has confirmed that Thomas passed away Tuesday (March 22) in Jupiter, Florida from what appears to be a complication following a recent medical procedure. At this time, her death does not appear to be suspicious.

Thomas, a former model for Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion, has been married to Williams since 1990. The couple separated in 2007, but fully reconciled in 2011 as they celebrated their 21st anniversary.

The pair had 2 children together, daughter Katie Williams-Dunning and son Samuel Williams. In 2020, Katie tragically died in a car accident in Tennessee.

Sam Williams & Mary Jane Thomas. Photo: Courtesy of BB Gun Press

“My dear Mama Mary Jane was a beautiful soul who forever affected everyone who knew her,” Sam, who is also a rising country artist, shares in a statement. “She had a smile and presence that lit up every room and she never met a stranger she didn’t befriend. Her spirit was gentle and giving. She could take down a ten-point buck and fix dinner for her grandchildren at the same time! Now she gets to radiate from above with my sister Katherine Diana right by her side.

“She grew up competing in baton and cheerleading and was one of Hawaiian Tropic’s top models. My father fell in love with the Daytona Beach beauty the minute he set eyes on her in the early 80s. They went on to live the most powerful love story of travel and hunting and raising a family,” he continues. “Rest in peace Mama, I will always be the son of Mary Jane.”

Thomas is survived by Hank; parents Ramona and Bill; brother Andy; sister Angelason; son Sam Williams; and 3 grandchildren, Beau Weston, Tennyson Hiram and Audrey Jane.