Chris Young To Headline Nashville’s ‘Let Freedom Sing!’ Fourth Of July Celebration

Chris Young. Photo: John Shearer

Chris Young is slated to headline this year’s “Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th” celebration, presented by Dr Pepper.

The country star will be joined on the Jack Daniel’s Broadway Stage by Yola, Girl Named Tom and Blessing Offor. Free and open to the public, the annual downtown event will feature one of the nation’s largest Independence Day firework shows, which will include drone light elements synchronized to live music from the Nashville Symphony for the first time. The Amazon Family Fun Zone will also return, and include inflatables and live music.

“Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th” is partnering with Public Education Needs Community Involvement & Leadership (PENCIL), which links community resources with students and teachers at Metro Nashville Public Schools, to raise funds and collect school supplies. A dollar from each official event T-shirt sold will also go to PENCIL. To help support the organization, household essentials brand and event sponsor Simply Done is donating supplies such as crayons, folders, glue sticks, markers, notebooks, rulers, scissors and more to benefit 500 Metro Nashville students. Additionally, Presenting Sponsor Dr Pepper is providing 500 student backpacks.

“Chris Young is going to deliver an unforgettable performance as the headliner for yet another spectacular Fourth of July celebration, and we are truly excited about the exceptionally diverse lineup, which features talents like Yola, Girl Named Tom and Blessing Offor,” says Ken Levitan, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC) Board of Directors Chairman and Vector Management Co-President. “In addition to these thrilling performances, we are proud to introduce new elements to enhance the festivities, such as incorporating drones into the fireworks display and partnering with PENCIL to support their invaluable work of empowering Nashville’s youth. We invite everyone to join us for a full day of music, fireworks and giving back to our community.”

Curb | Word Music Publishing Signs Josh Melton

Pictured (L-R): Victory Entertainment’s Chris Perkins, Curb | Word’s Colt Murski, Josh Melton, Curb | Word’s Sarah Schumacher and Calista Miller

Curb | Word Music Publishing has signed singer-songwriter Josh Melton.

The Ohio native grew up listening to the likes of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra with his dad. After high school, he attended nursing school before making the move to Music City in 2014. While working as a nurse’s assistant at a Nashville retirement home, Melton would bring his guitar to work and play at the residents’ request. He was then gifted a car from a patient on his deathbed, under the condition that Melton would use it to travel to bigger stages outside of the retirement home.

Melton has since worked with notable songwriters and producers including Justin Ebach, Zach Abend, Matt Alderman, Dallas Wilson and more. Last year, he earned his first No. 1 with Dylan Scott’s Platinum single “Can’t Have Mine.”

“Watching Josh continue to grow as a person, musician and songwriter over the last few years made it a no-brainer to add him to the roster,” shares Colt Murski, VP, Country Publishing, Curb | Word Entertainment. “We are very excited to welcome Josh as a part of the Curb | Word family and thrilled to continue to share his success!”

“I’m very humbled and excited to join the Curb | Word family,” shares Melton. “Continuing to do what I love for a living and doing it with friends is a dream come true. I cannot wait to see what this partnership brings.”

Caroline Hodson Rises To Director, A&R At Tape Room Music

Caroline Hodson. Photo: Alex Wieland

Caroline Hodson has risen to Director, A&R at Nashville publishing company Tape Room Music.

The Belmont University graduate and former Director of Education for Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP) of Nashville joined Tape Room as an intern in 2020 and has risen through the ranks to her current position, collaborating with the team in order to cultivate a motivating and fulfilling environment for the company’s roster of writers. In her new role, Hodson will expand her creative position of managing calendars and pitching songs for Tape Room writers as well as company leader and hitmaker Ashley Gorley.

“Caroline has been a rockstar since day one and is immensely deserving of this promotion,” says Blain Rhodes, Tape Room Music President. “She is an integral part of our team, and our writers are lucky to have her in their corner.”

“The writers and staff at Tape Room Music are once in a lifetime,” shares Hodson. “I am incredibly grateful for the past four years, and I am humbled to continue working with the crew that has inspired me to learn and develop a passion for this community. Huge thank you to Ashley, Blain and our writers for trusting me with this position. Excited to see where we continue to grow!”

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Kameron Marlowe Brings Soulful Voice To Ballad

Kameron Marlowe. Photo: Trea Allen.

The voices of today meet the legends of yesterday in this week’s DISClaimer. 

Country music is in good hands (throats?) with such new talents as Avery Anna, Sam Williams, Harper Grace, Kane Brown and Disc of the Day winner Kameron Marlowe.

Showing the kiddies how it’s done are Barbara Fairchild and the late Ed Bruce.  

This week’s DISCovery Award goes to Dustin Kensrue, the singer from the band Thrice. He is apparently transitioning from rock to country.

BARBARA FAIRCHILD/ “All My Cloudy Days Are Gone”
Writer: Alan Rhody; Producer: Don Williams; Label: 65South
– Prior to his death in 2017, Country Music Hall of Fame member Don Williams collaborated with ‘70s hit maker Fairchild. He both produced and sang harmony on her project, which is now seeing the light of day. The album’s title tune is a splendid two-step with a rolling rhythm track and soft strings backing her heartfelt delivery. As country as a mountain stream.

NATE SMITH/ “Bulletproof”
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Ben Johnson/Hunter Phelps; Producer: Lindsay Rimes; Label: RCA Records Label Nashville
– The “World On Fire” man returns with a rocking barroom stomper. No matter how many shots he drinks, he can’t forget her. Hence, her “memory must be bulletproof.”

HARPER GRACE/ “Break It Like A Man”
Writers: Scott Stepakoff/Alex Kline Eisberg/Harper Gruzins; Producers: Alex Kline/Cooper Bascom/Tedd T.; Label: Curb Records
– Grace spits out this country-rocker with fiery force. She wails righteously on the choruses of the fiesty, wronged-woman outing. Well worth your spins. The video debuted on CMT yesterday.

KANE BROWN/ “Fiddle In The Band”
Writers: Gabe Foust/Jordan Walker/Kane Brown/Russell Sutton; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: RCA Records Label Nashville
A blast furnace of energy. Brown paints the town red while a scorching fiddle in the house band sizzles. A little r&b, a little honky-tonk and a whole lotta rock percussion. A wild ride.

SAM WILLIAMS/ “Carnival Heart”
Writers: Ned Houston/PJ Harding/Sam Williams; Producers: Ben Roberts/Nathan Sexton; Label: Mercury Nashville
– This was created to accompany Cirque du Soleil’s new country show “Songblazers “which will open in Nashville in July. The orchestrated track has a celestial, dreamy quality, and Williams delivers a message of pain and hope brilliantly. An epic ballad, beautifully produced and sung.

RAELYNN/ “Funny Girl”
Writers: Lauren Hungate/Racheal Davis; Producer: Tofer Brown; Label: Daisy Rae Productions
A winsome little piece of advice for a youngster who is hurting. You’ll grow out of this and blossom into a winner, she promises in this anthem of perseverance.

ED BRUCE/ “Old Timer”
Writers: E. Bruce/J.Bruce/T.Bruce; Producers: Ed Bruce/Jeff Elliott/Mike Morgan; Label: MRT/Old Hat
The songwriting  great, successful actor and country hit maker (14 top-20 hits in 1975-86) passed away in 2021. But Bruce left behind many guitar-vocal demos, sung in his unforgettable, resonant baritone. Producers Elliott and Morgan have fleshed some of these out with sympathetic accompaniment to create an album titled After Hours. The 16-track  collection concludes with this wistful waltz. The first verse concerns a combat vet, the second describes a retired rodeo rider and the third is about a forgotten music star. It chillingly suggests an obituary. It also proves that the creator of such classics as “Texas (When I Die),” “The Last Cowboy Song,” “The Man That Turned My Mama On,” “Everything’s a Waltz” and “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” was a songwriting master to the end.

AVERY ANNA/ “Two Sides Of The Story”
Writers: Andy Sheridan/Avery Anna/Ben Williams/David Fanning; Producer: David Fanning; Label: Warner Music Nashville
This streaming sensation (“Make It Look Easy,” “Narcissist”) caresses this ballad of heartbreak resignation with elegance and eloquence. The CMT-nominated youngster seems to be going from strength to strength. She has a voice of gold.

KAMERON MARLOWE/ “Keepin’ The Lights On”
Writers: Kameron Marlowe/Kendell Marvel/Phil O’Donnell; Producer: Dan Huff; Label: Columbia Nashville
The title tune of Marlowe’s upcoming sophomore album is a recollection of hard times when his hard-working parents weathered spirit-crushing storms to provide for the family. The beautifully produced ballad mixes his expressive, soulful voice up front and intimately in your ear. I have been a consistent fan of this artist for four years and am more convinced than ever that he is one of our greatest living country singers.

Writers: Graham Barham/Lauren Watkins/Lydia Vaughan/Will Bundy; Producer: Will Bundy; Label: Sony Music Nashville
Highly engaging. “Whiskey went straight to my head/Goodbye went straight to my heart.” Nicely done, from pristine vocal harmonies to propulsive production.

DUSTIN KENSRUE & CAT CLYDE/ “Death Valley Honeymoon”
Writer: Dustin Kensrue; Producer: Dustin Kensrue; Label: Vagrant Records
This is an alt country gem, packed with retro harmonies, echoey twang and standout pedal steel guitar. Immensely cool. This is the California rock artist’s country debut, and Clyde adds an extra layer of audio authenticity. Absolutely send more. Mark your calendars: Kensrue is playing the fantastic Eastside Bowl on April 29.

Kate Hudson To Unveil Her ‘Glorious’ Debut Album In May

Photo: Guy Aroch

Acclaimed actress Kate Hudson will unveil her debut album, Glorious, on May 17.

Her love for music has been a driving force in her life since childhood. So when it came to sharing her work as a singer-songwriter with the world, Hudson set the bar very high for both the execution and creation of a project that aims to reflect the woman she’s become.

“I’d say it doesn’t seem real,” she says. “But the truth is: this is realer to me than anything I’ve done in my entire life. It was always this, I just needed to get to a place where I was ready…and the songs got to the core of who I am.”

For the independently-recorded, 12-song collection, Hudson worked with Danny Fujikawa, Johan Carlsson and Linda Perry to concoct a sound that seeks to be both fresh and somehow familiar. Yesterday (April 17), BBC Radio 2 premiered “Gonna Find Out,” which joins previously-released Glorious tunes “Talk About Love” and its Party Pupils remix as well as “Live Forever.”

Distributed by Virgin Music Group, Glorious intends to take a closer look at how we face life while delivering the kinds of tunes that you can sing, dance or listen to after a long day when you just want someone to understand. Hudson plans to celebrate the album’s release with a ticketed show at The Bellwether in Los Angeles, California on May 18. For more information, click here.

CMA Promotes Michelle Kirk & Mary Overend To Senior Director Roles

Michelle Kirk & Mary Overend. Photos: John Russell/CMA

The Country Music Association has promoted Michelle Kirk to Senior Director, Integrated Marketing and Mary Overend to Senior Director, Marketing.

Kirk previously held the position of Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships at CMA before becoming a Brand Partnerships Agent at WME. The Illinois State University graduate returned to the organization as Director, Integrated Marketing in 2019. In her new role, she is responsible for managing day-to-day activity on all broadcast television integrations and CMA’s network sales partnership as well as developing strategies and managing relationships with key marketing and digital partners. Additionally, Kirk and her team work to ensure the organization’s strategic initiatives, marketing relationships and industry needs are met, while educating corporate partners on the power and potential of strategic alliances with country music. She reports to Senior Vice President, Marketing, Content & Communications Strategy Kelly Striewski.

Prior to joining CMA, Overend was the eCommerce Marketing Coordinator at Carter’s and OshKosh B’gosh. The University of Tennessee alumna most recently served as CMA’s Director, Marketing. In her new position, she oversees the organization’s digital properties including social media, email marketing, multiple websites, year-round app and curated playlists in addition to advertising campaigns and radio partnerships. Overend determines strategies to support CMA’s key goals and integration with data architecture/CRM initiatives, while her team manages day-to-day operations and relationships with internal teams and external vendors. She reports to Vice President, Marketing Catherine Frizzell.

“Michelle and Mary are valuable leaders and integral members of our team at CMA,” says Striewski. “Beyond a broad knowledge base of marketing, their expertise across the broadcast and digital landscapes specifically, allows CMA to continually expand our fan engagement and brand footprint, further develop our partnership opportunities and ultimately grow all categories of our audience; all of which feeds into our mission of driving awareness and consumption for the country music genre. I look forward to seeing them shine in their new roles!”

Kirk can be reached at [email protected], and Overend can be reached at [email protected].

Industry Ink: Drew Baldridge, CMHOFM, Ole Red Las Vegas

Drew Baldridge Receives First-Ever RIAA Gold Certification

Pictured (L-R): Cameron Jaymes, Drew Baldridge, Jimmy Yeary and Nick Schwarz. Photo: Amy Allmand.

Country newcomer Drew Baldridge celebrated his first-ever RIAA Gold certification with friends, family and industry professionals at Sony Music Publishing on Tuesday (April 16). The certification was awarded to his current single “She’s Somebody’s Daughter,” which is currently sitting at No. 32 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and No. 33 on the Country Aircheck/Mediabase chart.

The track was co-penned by Baldridge, Cameron Jaymes and Jimmy Yeary,and was produced by Nick Schwarz. Baldridge’s wife, who served as inspiration for the song, was also in attendance to celebrate the achievement. Hosted by Sony Music Publishing’s Rusty Gaston, the event also featured a performance of the track.


CMHOFM Hosts Panel Discussion On History Of British Archive Of Country Music

Pictured (L-R): Martin Hawkins, Olivia Tyson (President of the Tyson Family Foundation), Paul Kingsbury (Museum Senior Director of Editorial), Alan Barnes, Kevin Fleming (Museum Director of Library & Archival Collections), Alan Stoker (Museum Curator of Recorded Sound Collections), Brenda Thomas (Museum Recorded Sound Processing Specialist) and John H. Tyson (Chairman of the Board for Tyson Foods Inc). Photo: Courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (CMHOFM) hosted a panel discussion and listening session about the history of the British Archive of Country Music (BACM) on Tuesday (April 16). The museum recently acquired the BACM, which was compiled by late British collector Dave Barnes, and is comprised of over 50,000 historic sound recordings and more. The acquisition and transport of the collection from England was made possible through the Tyson Family Foundation.

The panel discussion, held in the museum’s Ford Theater, consisted of fine art dealer Alan Barnes, CMHOFM’s Director of Library & Archival Collections Kevin Fleming and music historian Martin Hawkins. The discussion was moderated by CMHOFM’s Senior Director of Editorial Paul Kingsbury.Following the panel, CMHOFM’s Curator of Recorded Sound Collections Alan Stoker and Recorded Sound Processing Specialist Brenda Thomas led a conversation and listening session of the collection’s records.


Ole Red Las Vegas Celebrates Grand Opening With Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton performing at Ole Red Las Vegas. Photo: Stephen Greathouse

Ole Red Las Vegas celebrated its grand opening on Tuesday (April 16) with a private concert from Blake Shelton. This marks the franchise’s sixth location, and the largest so far.

Shelton treated attendees to performances of some of his biggest hits. Gwen Stefani also joined him for their single “Nobody But You.”

“I know Las Vegas has been a big destination for cowboys, but not until tonight has there been a destination for absolute hillbillies, and now we got it,” Shelton shared from the stage.

John Berry Celebrates 30th Anniversary Of ‘Your Love Amazes Me’

John Berry is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his No. 1 hit, “Your Love Amazes Me.”

Penned by Amanda Hunt-Taylor and Chuck Jones, Berry recorded and released the song in January 1994 as the third single from his self-titled album. It went No. 1 on May 21, 1994 and became known as Berry’s “signature song” throughout his career.

“Amanda got the idea when her boyfriend proposed to her on the beach at sunset,” recalls Jones. “She had some melody and the hook, and we were off and running! John heard the song, and the rest is history. It was my first No. 1 and the song that brought me to the dance. It was the beginning of not only a rewarding musical relationship with John but a decades-long friendship with him and the whole family. Definitely the most consequential song of my career! Thank you, John, and happy 30th Anniversary!”

‘”Your Love Amazes Me’ was inspired by true love and written from the heart, which is why it continues to move so many,” says Hunt-Taylor. “John Berry was the perfect match for this song. His heartfelt performance is absolutely magical.”

Berry also recently re-released some albums in partnership with StarVista Music, including Thomas Road, Christmas Hits, I Give My Heart and What I Love The Most. He was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ninth annual Carolina Country Music Awards and was inducted into the North American Country Music Hall of Fame International.

Berry’s career has spanned over three decades and includes 25 albums and 20 charting singles including “A Mind Of Her Own,” “You And Only You,” “Standing On The Edge Of Goodbye,” “I Think About It All The Time,” “She’s Taken A Shine” and his Grammy-nominated hit, “Your Love Amazes Me.”

Recording Academy & Coursera Launch Grammy Go

The Recording Academy has partnered with Coursera to launch Grammy Go, an online initiative to offer classes geared towards music creators and industry professionals.

As part of the Academy’s ongoing goal to serve all music people, this program empowers the next generation of the music community with content that provides wisdom for both emerging and established members of the industry. It will offer a plethora of topics tailored to creative and professional growth, and will include courses taught by Recording Academy members, as well as Grammy winners and nominees offering real-life lessons learners can put to work right away.

“Whether it be through a Grammy Museum program, Grammy Camp or Grammy U, the Grammy organization is committed to helping music creators flourish, and the Recording Academy is proud to introduce our newest learning platform Grammy Go in partnership with Coursera,” says Panos A. Panay, President of the Recording Academy. “A creator’s growth path is ongoing, and these courses have been crafted to provide learners with the essential tools to grow in their professional and creative journeys.”

Enrollment is already open for the first Grammy Go course, “Building Your Audience for Music Professionals.” The course will be taught by international music/marketing executive Joey Harris, and will also feature Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Jam, 10-time Grammy nominee Janelle Monáe and three-time Grammy winner Victoria Monét. Participants in the course will gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to build a strong brand presence and gain a devoted audience.

The second Grammy Go course, “Music Production: Crafting An Award-Worthy Song,” will be offered later this summer. This course will be taught by Howard University professor Carolyn Malachi. Grammy winner Cirkut, three time grammy winner Hit-Boy, celebrity vocal coach Stevie Mackey, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. and 15-time Grammy winner Judith Sherman will all also be featured in the course. Pre-enrollment is open now.

“We are honored to welcome Grammy Go, our first entertainment partner, to the Coursera community,” says Marni Baker Stein, Chief Content Officer at Coursera. “With these self-paced online Specializations, aspiring music professionals all over the world have an incredible opportunity to learn directly from iconic artists and industry experts. Together with Grammy Go, we can empower tomorrow’s pioneers of the music industry to explore their passion today.”

BREAKING: Big Loud Records Elevates Tyler Waugh To VP, Radio Promotion

Tyler Waugh. Photo: Brayln Kelly Smith

Big Loud Records has elevated Tyler Waugh to VP, Radio Promotion, effective May 1.

Current VP, Radio Promotion Ali Matkosky will exit the company for a new role with Relative Music Group starting this summer. Her last day with Big Loud will be May 14.

“Ali has been an integral part of this team and her contribution over the past six years has been nothing less than significant,” says Stacy Blythe, SVP, Radio Promotion, Big Loud Records. “Tyler’s unwavering passion and dedication have propelled him to the role of VP of Radio Promotion, where his leadership will continue to inspire and drive success.”

“I hope everyone gets to experience firsthand the kind of belief that Big Loud has had in me,” Matkosky shares. “I’m forever grateful to [Big Loud Partners] Craig [Wiseman], Seth [England] and Joey [Moi] for putting their trust in me, and to my girl Stacy for kicking down every door just to grab my hand and walk me through it with her. It’s been an honor. I am immensely excited about my next chapter with Relative Music Group and all that is to come.”

The label is not looking to fill any other positions within the Radio Promotion department at this time.