ACM Announces Board Of Directors For 2021-2022 Term

The Academy of Country Music has announced its newly-elected Board of Directors for the 2021-2022 term.

As previously announced, officer roles for the 2021-2022 term are Chair Lori Badgett, Vice Chair Chuck Aly, Vice President Ebie McFarland, Treasurer Carmen Romano, Sergeant-at-Arms Gayle Holcomb, Parliamentarian Paul Moore, and Secretary Tommy Moore.

“We are honored to usher in the upcoming term by welcoming our newly elected Board of Directors who have graciously agreed to serve the Academy through what is sure to be a pivotal year,” says Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “As we prepare for 2022 and our awards show’s historic move to Amazon Prime Video, we remain grateful for the guidance these well-respected professionals will provide to ensure the Academy’s success well into the future.”

Six of this year’s 13 qualifying professional categories were elected by the Academy’s membership. In addition to those elected, director-at-large positions have been appointed by Badgett, Aly, and McFarland.

Directors are elected from each category based on the number of members in that category. Each director serves a staggered two-year term.

Academy of Country Music Board of Directors 2021-2022:
Chair of the Board – Lori Badgett, City National Bank
Vice-Chair – Chuck Aly, Country Aircheck
Vice-President – Ebie McFarland, Essential Broadcast Media
Treasurer^ – Carmen Romano​, FBMM
Sergeant-at-Arms – Gayle Holcomb, WME
Parliamentarian – Paul Moore, PGM Connections
Secretary – Tommy Moore, Academy of Country Music
^Treasurer elected in 2019 for a three-year term

Deana Ivey, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp
Beverly Keel, MTSU*
Chris Lisle, CLLD, LLC / The Touring Career Workshop
Scott Scovill, The Steel Mill/Moo TV
Sally Williams, Live Nation

Chuck Ainlay*
TJ Osborne*
Frank Rogers*
Derek Wells*

Digital Marketing/Distribution:
Beville Dunkerley, Pandora

Enzo DeVincenzo, 377 Management*
Kerri Edwards, KP Entertainment*
Chris Kappy, Make Wake Artists*

Media/Public Relations:
Ebie McFarland, Essential Broadcast Media

Music Publisher/PRO:
Cyndi Forman, UMPG
Mike Molinar, Big Machine Music*

Tim Roberts, Entercom

Record Company:
Cindy Mabe, Universal Music Group Nashville
Katie McCartney, Monument Records*
Annie Ortmeier, Universal Music Group Nashville*
Ken Robold, Sony Music Nashville*

Lee Thomas Miller

Talent Agent:
Becky Gardenhire, WME

Talent Buyer/Promoter:
Ali Harnell, Live Nation

Kevin Ream, Cheatham Street Warehouse*
Troy Vollhoffer, Premier Global Production*

Visual Content:
Tom Forrest, Taillight

Directors At Large:
Scott Bailey, Opry Entertainment**
Randy Bernard, Bob Doyle & Associates**
Bobby Bones, iHeart Media
Jackie Campbell, 615 Leverage + Strategy
RAC Clark, Lion’s Heart Entertainment**
Crystal Dishmon, Shopkeeper Management**
Charlie Cook, Cumulus
George Couri, Triple 8 Management***
Rusty Gaston, Sony Music Publishing Nashville**
Jeremy Holley, FlyteVu
Will Hitchcock, Morris Higham Management**
Andrew Kautz, BMLG**
Ben Kline, Warner Music Nashville**
Jeff Krones, CAA**
Cris Lacy, Warner Music Nashville**
Beth Laird, Creative Nation**
Frank Liddell, Carnival Music
Jon Loba, Broken Bow Music Group
Shawn McSpadden, Red Light Management
Daniel Miller, Fusion Music**
Curt Motley, UTA
Brian O’Connell, Live Nation
Tree Paine, Premium PR**
Chris Parr, MAVERICK**
Rod Phillips, iHeart Media
Ryan Redington, Amazon Music**
Kelly Rich
Shannon Sanders, BMI**
Brittany Schaffer, Spotify***
Sally Seitz, Apple Music
Candice Watkins, Big Loud Records
Trisha Yearwood

*Newly elected members of the Board of Directors
**Newly appointed director-at-large members of the Board of Directors
***Appointed to a one-year term to fill a previous vacancy

Warner Music Nashville Promotes Three On A&R Team

Pictured (L-R): Mackenzie Blake, Stephanie Davenport, Jason McColl. Photos: Michael Tedesco

Warner Music Nashville’s A&R team has announced three promotions across the department.

Representing artists such as Drew Parker, Jessie James Decker, Ian Munsick, Randall King and Tyler Braden, Stephanie Davenport rises from Director to Sr. Director. Meanwhile, Jason McColl is being elevated from Manager to Director, and Mackenzie Blake from Assistant to Project Coordinator. All three positions will report to EVP A&R Cris Lacy.

“In what I would consider one of the toughest seasons for the entire industry, every person in our A&R department has demonstrated how industrious, innovative and dedicated they are,” Lacy says. “They have leaned into the challenges of this changing climate and have been instrumental in growing and developing our roster. Stephanie, Jason and Mackenzie, along with Scott Hendricks and Rohan Kohli, form the perfect A&R team.”

Davenport joined the Warner Music Nashville family as a coordinator a decade ago. She started her career at William Morris Endeavor in 2007 after graduating from Belmont University. Lacy comments: “Stephanie’s A&R prowess is in part due to her broad appreciation for all types of music and a comprehensive knowledge of what it takes for an artist to be a stadium act. I’m proud to work alongside her every day.”

McColl, also a Belmont alumnus, spent three years in radio promotions at Universal Music Group before joining the WMN A&R team in 2018. He will continue managing the Warner Nashville music catalog while transitioning into a more traditional A&R role. “Jason has an innate song sense that can’t be taught,” Lacy offers. “I’m excited for him to take on a larger creative role where he can apply that to our present and future signings.”

Blake graduated from Indiana University and entered into the industry via WME. Following a stop at Live Nation Entertainment, she began at Warner Music Nashville in 2019. Lacy adds: “Mackenzie is the glue that keeps us all together. Her ability to bring structure to our creative madness is a true superpower.”

SESAC To Hold Nashville Music Awards Online

SESAC will celebrate country and Americana songwriters and publishers this year with a virtual version of its Nashville Music Awards on Nov. 16.

The celebration will take place on SESAC’s social media platforms and at and will feature exclusive videos from award winners. The celebration will honor the Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Publisher of the Year, and the top performing country and Americana songs of the past year. A full list of 2021’s winners will be posted on

Last year, songwriters including Matt McGinn and Wyatt Durrette III were among those receiving top honors during the online 2020 SESAC Nashville Awards.

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Jameson Rodgers, Tenille Townes, Nate Smith

Jameson Rodgers. Photo: Matthew Berinato

With five contenders this week, the folks at Sony are on fire.

Drew Green, Willie Nelson and Tenille Townes all have worthy new tracks.

The label group also chimes in with the Disc of the Day by Jameson Rodgers, as well as the DISCovery Award winner, Nate Smith.

NATE SMITH / “Raised Up”
Writers: Nate Smith/Trannie Anderson/Jonathan Smith; Producer: Joel Bruyere; Label: Sony
—This guy’s resonant voice grabbed me from the very first note. The track begins simply, with just stark piano accompaniment, then gradually builds its punchy, oomphy instrumentation to match his soulful vocal emoting. The power ballad is about looking to the roots of your values whenever you lose your way. Promising in the extreme.

Writer: Paulette Carlson; Producer: Mark Capps; Label: The Orchard/CDX
—Noted in the 1980s for her lead singing in Highway 101 on Warner and solo work on RCA, Carlson is still singing with throaty distinction. This mid-tempo outing has a nicely rumbling production, but she needs a stronger song for a comeback.

DENNIS QUAID / “Heartbeat”
Writers: Dennis Quaid; Producer: Chris Lindsey; Label: DQ
—The beat of her heart is an ocean in which he drowns. Not exactly a metaphor I understand, but his singing on this lovely waltz is steady and strong. The clear, eloquent production is exquisite. I think I can finally forgive him for his dreadful portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis in the 1989 feature film Great Balls of Fire.

Writers: George Harrison; Producer: Willie Nelson/Steve Chadle; Label: Legacy
Willie’s new album, which drops Nov. 19, is a family affair wherein children Micah, Amy, Paula and Lukas, plus sister Bobbie participate. Lukas takes the lead on this sweet, gentle revival of the George Harrison pop classic. Willie softly harmonizes while Mickey Raphael’s harmonica sighs in sympathy.

RANDALL KING / “You in a Honky Tonk”
Writers: John King/Matt Rogers/Brandon Day; Producer: Bart Butler/Ryan Gore; Label: Warner Music Nashville
—Drenched in steel guitar, neo traditionalist King is turned on by seeing his gal in a roadside dive. Whatever floats your boat….

MICHAEL RAY / “Higher Education”
Writers: Derek George/Frank Rogers/Jeremy Bussey/Monty Criswell/Tim Montana; Producer: Frank Rogers; Label: Warner Music Nashville
—“Learnin’ how to rock, learnin’ how to roll,” in the school of hard knocks, that’s Ray’s “Higher Education” according to this rousing romper. Lee Brice, Kid Rock, Tim Montana and Billy Gibbons provide hearty guest vocals. A good-time vibe, for sure.

CLARE DUNN / “Holding Out for a Cowboy”
Writers: Clare Dunn/Whitney Phillips; Producer: Clare Dunn; Label: Big Yellow Dog
—This is a powerful performance, full of soulful vocal licks that range from dark, chesty tones to soaring high-end dramatics. Her own electric guitar passages are the icing on this tasty cake. Very cool, indeed.

Writers: Hunter Phelps/Smith Ahnquist/Jameson Rodgers; Producer: Chris Farren/Mickey Jack Cones; Label: River House/Columbia
—Since their breakup, he’s missing one of his Eagles records she took, missing cigarettes and missing his own heart. The thumping, heartbeat tempo is cool. The furious guitars are cooler. His scintillating vocal performance is coolest of all. I love this record. It pulses with passion.

LEA SWEET / “Can I Kiss Away a Broken Promise”
Writers: Jeff Silverman/Lolita Lea Sweet; Producer: Lea Sweet/Jeff Silverman; Label: LS
—I love it that her album is called The Black Queen of Country Music. The single from it demonstrates that she has the vocal chops to back up that claim. A promising disc debut.

TENILLE TOWNES / “Villain in Me”
Writers: Tenille Townes/Alex Hope; Producer: Alex Hope; Label: Columbia
—Kinda dark, intimate and personal, and wholly involving. This woman is consistently excellent. Another building block in a star-making career.

THOMAS RHETT / “Slow Down Summer”
Writers: Thomas Rhett/Rhett Akins/Sean Douglas/Jesse Frasure/Ashley Gorley; Producer: Dann Huff/Jesse Frasure; Label: Valory
—Now that he’s back at home in country music, he’s going from strength to strength. This is a wonderfully well written bit of wistful romance—they were so madly in love that they wanted time to stop moving. Sincerity shines here.

DREW GREEN / “Dirt Boy”
Writers: Drew Green/Kelley Lovelace/Lynn Hutton; Producer: Mark Trussell; Label: RCA
—Instead of “hillbilly” “hayseed” and “hick,” they called him “dirt boy” because he was a farm kid. Now he’s proud of it, and singing about it with gusto. Sing on, bro.

Lauren Alaina Becomes Latest CMA Foundation Artist Ambassador

Lauren Alaina. Photo: Katie Kauss

Lauren Alaina has been named the CMA Foundation’s newest Artist Ambassador. She will participate in events and initiatives that enhance the CMA Foundation’s mission.

Alaina sat down with ABC’s On the Red Carpet ahead of The 55th Annual CMA Awards to discuss her passion for music education and the importance behind ensuring access to equitable music education opportunities. The interview will air in various markets this coming weekend, Nov. 6-7, during the On the Red Carpet: CMA Awards Countdown preview show.

“We are excited to welcome Lauren Alaina to the CMA Foundation Artist Ambassador collective,” says Tiffany Kerns, CMA Foundation Executive Director. “Lauren’s passion for music and music education is so evident. She continues to use her voice in a way that magnifies the power of music, and we could not be more grateful to her for joining us to further drive our mission forward, making sure all students across the U.S. have access to participate in quality music programs.”

On Nov. 22, Alaina will host a live virtual “Fansgiving,” benefiting the CMA Foundation in celebration of her new book, Getting Good at Being You. Fans can chat with Alaina and cook alongside her as she reads from her book and prepares for the holiday season. Tickets for the event start at $10 and go on sale Nov. 5.

“I would not be Lauren Alaina without the role music education played in my life,” Alaina shaers. “I’m grateful for the music programs I was in throughout my middle school and high school years. I’m honored to join the CMA Foundation in their mission to make sure all kids have the same opportunity to make music a part of their lives.”

Alaina joins the CMA Foundation’s Artist Ambassador collective alongside Jimmie Allen, Charlie Worsham, Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell, Maddie & Tae, Ashley McBryde and Caitlyn Smith.

Brad Paisley Launches American Highway Bourbon

Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley is launching his line of bourbon, called American Highway, later this month. The whiskey was aged in barrels stored in a 53-foot semi-trailer that followed his 2019 nation-wide tour for 7,314 miles across 25 states, from coast to coast.

The fluctuating climate of the barrels’ journey expanded and contracted their staves, imparting oak and char into the flavor. This well-traveled batch was then blended with three-year, 13-year and 15-year-old Kentucky bourbons to create the final product. The next batch, to be released in 2022, was aged on the “Rolling Rickhouse” during Paisley’s 2021 tour.

“Bourbon is like songwriting, it’s a blend of things coming together to make something incredible,” says Paisley. “These are really special barrels that saw more of the United States than most people I know.”

Paisley worked closely with award-winning bourbon distiller Bardstown Bourbon Company to create the final blend. Located in Bardstown, Kentucky the “Bourbon Capitol of the World,” this modern bourbon distiller creates custom whiskey, bourbon and rye for more than 30 different brand-owners worldwide and has won critical acclaim for its releases.

“You don’t get to see many celebrities that have such a technical palate,” says VP of New Product Development Dan Callaway. “It was a super collaboration that resulted in a travelled bourbon in an exemplary expression.”

With just 30,000 bottles of the initial release produced, the 96-proof blend has a suggested retail price of $99.99 and will be sold exclusively online through For information about the whiskey, visit American Highway’s website.

High Valley Reemerges With New Music Due Out Nov. 12

High Valley. Photo: Crystal K. Martel

High Valley is back with new music. Now emerging as a country band led by Brad Rempel, they will release two tracks, “Whatever It Takes” and “Never Not,” on Nov. 12.

This summer, Curtis Rempel, one half of the brother duo, made his exit from the group. In a tweet, Curtis wrote that he decided to step away from High Valley and has since moved back to his hometown in Alberta, Canada to start a business with his wife Myranda.

Brad is joined by Dave Meyers, Sam Bergeson, Raymond Klasson, Clint Milburn, and Andrew Hemmerling. All the band members have been working with High Valley for the better part of the last decade, with the exception of Sam, who has been writing with Brad for the last couple years.

“It feels so amazing to be releasing new music again,” Brad shares. “From the moment we started writing ‘Whatever It Takes’ we felt like we had captured that signature High Valley magic! I’ve always felt we were at our best and most natural when we tap into that bluegrass stomp kind of sound that we love.” He continues, “‘Never Not’ is such a true song for us and the second verse is maybe one of the most honest straightforward lyrics I’ve ever written. I have big dreams and hopes for this song finding its way into the hearts and lives of our fans!”

Brad co-wrote both of the new tracks. “Whatever It Takes” was co-penned by Jon Nite and Ben Stennis, while “Never Not” features writers Ben West and Matt Willis. The new music follows back-to-back Gold-certified singles in the U.S., as well as success in Canada with three No. 1 songs at Canadian country radio, two Gold-certified albums, and six Platinum singles.

High Valley is one of the highest selling Canadian band in country music history with over half a billion streams. As a frequent performer at the Grand Ole Opry, the band is known for their fan-favorites and U.S. radio singles “Make You Mine,” “She’s With Me,” and “Grew Up on That.” They have received nominations for ACM New Duo of the Year and have earned multiple CCMA Awards wins and Juno Awards nods.

Priscilla Block Announced As Opry Nextstage Artist For November

Priscilla Block. Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson

Priscilla Block has been named the Opry Nextstage featured artist for November. She joins prior 2021 Opry NextStage artists Hailey Whitters, Parker McCollum, Lainey Wilson, Niko Moon and Yola.

In early 2020, Block began experimenting on TikTok and quickly developed a fanbase with songs like “Thick Thighs,” “PMS” and “Just About Over You.” Fans independently funded her recording and “Just About Over You” eventually peaked on both the iTunes Country and All-Genre song charts, was named one of The New York Times Best Songs of 2020, and is now top 15 on the charts.

“I am so honored to get to continue my journey with this new Opry chapter,” says Block. “I am forever grateful for their foundation to country music, the fact that I have their support is more than I could ever wish for. I am pinching myself that I am getting to join this year’s class of talented people, many of whom I have been a fan of for the last few years.”

Named a 2021 Artist to Watch by Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, CMT, The Boot, MusicRow, Sounds Like Nashville, and more, Block is set to hit the Opry stage for the first-ever Opry NextStage Live in Concert show on Nov. 21. The special evening will feature performances by Block, Travis Denning, McCollum, Moon, Tenille Townes, Whitters and Wilson.

Opry NextStage collaborations include live performances, strategic marketing support and short-form documentary-style storytelling created by Opry Entertainment’s content team. Opry NextStage presents rising artists who are making standout music at the forefront of their careers through the Opry’s marketing platforms, which are set to deliver more than 100 million impressions.

Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, More Join CMA Awards Performers Lineup

Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Gabby Barrett, Thomas Rhett, Dierks Bentley featuring Breland and Hardy, Jennifer Hudson, and Zac Brown Band have joined the list of performers for The 55th Annual CMA Awards on Nov. 10.

Quadruple nominee Barrett is slated to perform her chart-topping hit “The Good Ones,” while double nominee Bentley welcomes collaborators Breland and New Artist of the Year nominee Hardy for their single, “Beers On Me.”

Two-time CMA Entertainer Of The Year winner and this year’s host Luke Bryan will perform his new single “Up” on the star-studded show, while singer, actress and star of the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, Hudson makes her debut on the CMA Awards stage.

CMA Male Vocalist of the Year nominee Thomas Rhett will play his chart-topping single “Country Again,” 12x CMA winner Urban will perform his new single “Wild Hearts,” and CMA Vocal Group of the Year nominees Zac Brown Band will take the stage to perform their unifying track “Same Boat.”

The 55th Annual CMA Awards will broadcast live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena next Wednesday (Nov. 10) from 7-10 p.m. CT on ABC.

Farris, Self & Moore Adds Stephanie Alderman, Dorian Hanna, More To Team

Stephanie Alderman &  Dorian Hanna

Business management firm Farris, Self & Moore (FSM) have recently announced a wave of new hires, including seasoned Business Manager Stephanie Alderman and long-time accountant Dorian Hanna, who will act as a Client Manager.

FSM also added Emma Gibson (Client Bookkeeper), Graham Haney (Office Administration Team), and Elaina Riggs (Royalty Team) who will report to recently promoted Royalty Director Matt Najdowski.

“From the moment I met Kella [Farris], Stephanie [Self], and Catherine [Moore], I knew I would thrive on this team,” says Alderman. “We have shared values and vision for what exceptional business management can mean for artists at all stages of their professional journey. I’m absolutely thrilled to join forces with Farris, Self & Moore.”

“I am excited for the opportunity to be a part of a growing firm that is still able to focus on the individual needs of each client,” adds Hanna. “Kella, Catherine, and Stephanie have created an inspiring and motivating place to work, and I look forward to contributing my efforts to expanding their vision for the firm.”

“We could not be happier to welcome Stephanie and Dorian to the FSM family and team,” shares FSM co-founder Moore. “Their extensive knowledge and experience in the music industry will be a significant resource to our firm and all of our staff. Their leadership will help FSM continue to serve our clients at the all-in, full service level our firm is known for.”

Stephanie Alderman can be reached at [email protected].
Dorian Hanna can be reached at [email protected].
Emma Gibson can be reached at [email protected].
Graham Haney can be reached at [email protected].
Elaina Riggs can be reached at [email protected].
Matt Najdowski can be reached at [email protected].