Oh Boy Records Turns 40

Oh Boy Records, home to music by the late songwriting icon John Prine, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a series of special releases and events.

To commemorate the milestone, Oh Boy will share a new documentary series chronicling the label’s rich history and legacy via its YouTube page. Additionally, Oh Boy will roll out new releases from Tré Burt and Dan Reeder, as well as a special edition John Prine 7-inch box set, Fair & Square on vinyl. There will be exclusive new merchandise, special curated playlists, outdoor pop-up events and more.

Each week the label will celebrate a different album or artist from its extensive catalogue. The series kicks off Wednesday, Feb. 24 highlighting The Bis-Quits.

Founded in 1981 by Prine, and his longtime manager, the late Al Bunetta, Oh Boy says it is the country’s second oldest artist-owned independent label, and the oldest in Nashville.

It continues today as a vital part of Nashville’s independent music community with the recent signings of emerging artists Burt, Arlo McKinley and Kelsey Waldon.

Prine’s widow and President of Oh Boy, Fiona Whelan Prine shares, “As long as there are people who want to listen to good music, who will value the singer-songwriter then we will keep on going.”

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Prine’s landmark self-titled debut album, featuring the songs “Hello In There,” “Paradise,” “Sam Stone” and “Angel From Montgomery.” In celebration, Oh Boy will release a special anniversary edition of the album.

Kelly Price To Release New Album ‘Grace’ For Motown Gospel

Kelly Price has signed with Motown Gospel in a joint venture with SANG GIRL! Inc.

Price is currently readying the release of her new gospel project, Grace, due out on April 2. The six-track EP is available for pre-order, with the lead single, “Grace,” and an accompanying lyric video out now. Price poured her heart into the new album, and used it as a healing tool after losing her grandfather early in the 2020 pandemic, followed by the sudden passing of her mother at the end of the year.

The release of Grace comes 15 years after Price’s acclaimed gospel album, This Is Who I Am, hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top Gospel Albums chart and landed in the top ten of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

“From her iconic vocals to her vast songwriting catalog, Kelly Price’s contributions to hip-hop, R&B and gospel music cannot be overstated,” said EJ Gaines, Co-Executive Director, Motown Gospel. “We’re excited to partner with her as she shares her craft, and her heart, with the world.”

“Whatever side of me that people have loved through the years, be it R&B or gospel, they are going to get all of that on this album,” Price said. “I let my team know that I needed to get back to work to finish this project and get my message out. I couldn’t imagine going through 2020 without having a foundation of faith and a strong belief in God.”


Nashville-Based 8 Pound Gorilla Records Specializes In Family Music

A new record label specializing in children’s and family music has launched in Nashville. 8 Pound Gorilla Records is a division of the noted comedy label 800 Pound Gorilla Media.

8 Pound Gorilla Records has tapped Kenny Curtis (SiriusXM Kids Place Live) to handle A&R, and Ed Rivadavia as Head of Marketing. 800 Pound Gorilla Media Head of Music Luke Youngblom handles that role at both labels.

8 Pound Gorilla has scheduled releases by Genevieve Goings (known for her work with Disney Jr.), comedian-musician Mike Phirman, pop songwriting duo Rabbit!, and Sesame Street songwriter Erica Rabner. In the fall of 2020, it released music by Australia’s Formidable Vegetable and Grammy-nominee Frances England.

Curtis said, “These are artists who go way beyond ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ when they write songs for kids. These are honest, well-crafted songs that speak to kids in their world today. Family dynamics are changing as millennials become parents, and there’s a new appetite for music and content that families can share. For artists, the possibilities of working in this genre are endless, and we give them free rein to imagine and create their own ‘8 pounds’ of fun.”

Also signed to the label are award winners Elliott Park, Tim Kubart, SaulPaul, The Lucky Band, RAII & Whitney and DJ WillyWow.

Youngblom said, “The children’s music genre is clearly untapped. With many talented artists not yet recognized in the mainstream, we hope to change that. We are developing a nimble indie approach to this niche genre, and we will individualize our process with each artist as we grow this space, releasing original music that only a few major labels have been able to undertake.”

The comedy label 800 Pound Gorilla Media was founded by Ryan Bitzer and Damion Greiman, and is home to Marc Maron, George Lopez, Kathleen Madigan, Affion Crockett and Kevin Hart’s LOL Records.

Darius Rucker’s Sunny Single Soars To No. 1

Darius Rucker is celebrating his tenth trip to the top of the charts with latest single, the upbeat “Beers And Sunshine.”

Written during a Zoom session with producer Ross Copperman, Josh Osborne, and JT Harding at the onset of the pandemic, the anthem has been celebrated for its calls for slowing down to recognize the important things in life when the world feels out of control. It was recorded virtually from Rucker’s home.

“It’s certainly been a challenging year,” said the singer. “Like a lot of people, when I got home from being on the road last March and we parked the tour bus for the foreseeable future, we had no idea what our future would actually look like. I don’t have the answers for how we fix the complex issues that we’re facing in our country or in country music, however while we work through this time I think it’s important that we balance the heaviness by finding the silver lining, where we can really enjoy the simple joys this song talks about like time spent together with friends and family.”

Rucker, who is currently at work on a forthcoming studio album, will perform the song this week when he appears live on NBC’s Today show Friday (Feb. 25).

Comedian/Actor Leslie Jordan Pairs With Brandi Carlile, TJ Osborne, More On New Duets Album

Comedian/actor Leslie Jordan is releasing a star-studded duets album, Company’s Comin’, on April 2 via Platoon. The first single from the project, “Angel Band” featuring Brandi Carlile, is out today (Feb. 22).

The project was inspired by Jordan’s weekly “Sunday Mornin’ Hymn Singin’” live stream, and features Jordan performing southern gospel hymns with special guests including Tanya Tucker, TJ Osborne (of Brothers Osborne), Travis Howard, and Katie Pruitt, with more surprise guests to be announced.

Company’s Comin’ offers takes on traditional hymns and brand new originals written just for the occasion, with a playful mix of righteous gospel, classic country, vintage soul and Americana/roots influences. Co-produced by Nashville songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Travis Howard and Danny Myrick, Company’s Comin’ is a bold and gleeful collection of songs, delivered by an artist coming full circle on his own personal journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

“My dear friend Travis Howard and I would get together on Sundays to sing these old hymns just because we loved them,” says Jordan. “Somewhere along the way, my business partner, Mike Lotus, took a real interest in what we were doing and started looking up and learning about every old Baptist hymn he could find. I think he realized, like we did, that the songs held something brilliant about the human condition and were a deep comfort to anyone who heard them, religious or not. He started posting our performances online, and the response was just incredible.”

Raised Southern Baptist in East Tennessee, Jordan is most known for his breakout role as Beverley Leslie on the iconic sitcom Will and Grace. His larger-than-life personality and southern drawl have captured fans around the world, and in 2020, Jordan’s hilariously relatable, slice-of-life videos on Instagram went viral and his popularity skyrocketed as he racked up more than five million followers in a matter of months. As the pandemic continued, Jordan found solace in the music from his youth, and with encouragement and accompaniment from Howard, he began performing the songs on social media.

Jordan is also launching his Apple Music Country show Hunker Down Radio with Leslie Jordan, which is set to premiere Feb. 28. He is also currently starring in the new FOX sitcom Call Me Kat and just announced his new book How Y’all Doing?, an essay collection of entertaining stories about the odd, funny, and unforgettable events in his life.

Leslie Jordan. Photo: Miller Mobley

Singer-Songwriter Bill Nash To Release Autobiography, ‘Saint Sinner Singer’

Veteran singer-songwriter Bill Nash will release a new memoir, Saint Sinner Singer: An Unexpected, Redirected, Resurrected Life, on March 23.

Nash’s career has spanned across seven decades, and five major record labels. His songs have been recorded by Diamond Rio, Dolly Parton, Larry Gatlin, Reba McEntire, Wayne Newton, and Eddy Arnold. He and his wife and frequent songwriting partner Kim Nash, also founded Champions Kids Camp, a camp for survivors of traumatic events, in honor of their oldest son’s healing from Leukemia.

The autobiography will detail the ups and downs of Nash’s music career and personal life. From growing up on the road singing in his family’s band, his first meeting with Kris Kristofferson, his first record deal and writing songs for country music artists, to meeting his wife and the fearful times their family has endured, Saint Sinner Singer will take readers through the triumphs and struggles.

“Hope. If I could give everyone one gift by way of reading this book, it would be hope,” says Nash. “Sure, I love telling my stories about Kristofferson and Reba and everybody else I’ve been so fortunate to work with, but at the end of the day, I would like anyone reading my story to come away with a feeling that they can make it through whatever life throws at them.”

Saint Sinner Singer is available for pre-order now.

‘May We All’ Musical Announces Nashville Residency For Summer 2022

May We All, the new musical from Floria Georgia Line member Brian Kelley‘s production company CuzBro Productions and Michael Barra’s Lively McCabe Entertainment, will world premiere in June 2022 in a special Nashville residency as part of Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Broadway at TPAC series. The production is being developed in partnership with BMG and will have a multi-week run at TPAC.

May We All is a story of disappearing small-town America as seen through the hopeful eyes of its youth. Jenna Coates, a fledgling country singer, reluctantly comes home after a rough start in Nashville, ultimately to discover that her roots may take her a lot further than her dreams. A celebration of America’s heartland, the musical features the music of Tim McGraw, Sara Evans, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, Shania Twain, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, John Denver, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, The Chicks, Old Dominion, Jessica Andrews, and LOCASH, among others. Two original songs co-written by Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of FGL are also featured in the score and will debut exclusively in the project.

“TPAC is looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the theater again, and we can’t wait to share all the new and uplifting arts experiences we have in store for you next year,” says Jennifer Turner, TPAC President and CEO. “We’re delighted to host the world premiere engagement of May We All in the summer of 2022. It’s the perfect opportunity for fans of musical theater and fans of country music to unite here in Music City for this special presentation before the launch of a national tour.”

The Nashville debut will also jumpstart a 2022/23 national tour of the musical. Following production delays in 2020 due to the pandemic, the previously announced developmental production of May We All at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis is now planning to proceed in Fall 2021.

“We’re so excited for May We All to be in residence in Nashville next summer,” says Lively McCabe Entertainment Executive Producer Michael Barra. “Music City followed by a coast-to-coast tour has been our goal for this show since day one, and the overwhelming response from country music fans has granted us the opportunity to achieve this milestone. We’re so grateful to Jennifer Turner and her first-rate team at TPAC for their support and partnership on this production.”

Sara Haze Signs With Sheltered Music Publishing

Pictured (L-R): Jenny Hall (Sheltered Music Publishing), Sara Haze, Darrell Frankling (SVP Sheltered Music Publishing)

Sara Haze has signed with Sheltered Music Publishing.

Haze began her career at 13 as a performer for film and TV scores. Her writing career took off soon after and she began securing placements in major films and in shows on MTV, Fox, WB, and E!. In 2011, Haze moved to Nashville to pursue a solo career where she toured with artists such as Little Big Town and Hunter Hayes. A collaboration she did with Hillary Scott of Lady A was discovered by Elle King, who recorded it for the 2015 film Hot Pursuit featuring Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon, and the song later became the nationwide campaign for Coors Light Beer. Haze’s writing success has continued with cuts by Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Lady A, Carly Pearce, Hunter Hayes, and more.

“I am so proud to have Sara as part of the roster here in Nashville, said Darrell Franklin, SVP, Sheltered Music Publishing. “Having been an artist herself, Sara brings such a depth of vision and perspective to other artists and writers to help them express what they are trying to say lyrically and melodically.  She has a unique skillset that is truly one of a kind.”

“I am extremely grateful to be able to call Sheltered Music my new publishing home,” said Haze. “The excitement of a newly formed company with industry veterans such as Lance Freed, Darrell Franklin, and Dann Huff is an absolute dream come true. Darrell’s proven ability to recognize talented new artists, as well as his relationships with labels and producers throughout Music Row, is an invaluable asset as a songwriter. I am thrilled to work with Jenny Hall and the incredible roster of talented songwriters on this team.”

In its first year, Sheltered Music has completed deals with Burt Bacharach, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Melissa Peirce, and Jenna LaMaster, as well as established a creative development partnership with producer Dann Huff.

Luke Bryan Featured In CRS Artist Interview, Honored With Humanitarian Award

Pictured (L-R): CRB/CRS Executive Director RJ Curtis, UMG Nashville EVP, Promotion Royce Risser, Luke Bryan, CRB/CRS Board President and Townsquare Media’s Kurt Johnson, and UMG Nashville Chairman & CEO Mike Dungan. [Note: All personnel on-site for CRS 2021 were required to take COVID-19 tests upon arrival on-site]

During the CRS Artist Interview, Luke Bryan was named Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) 2021 Artist Humanitarian Award recipient. The interview, sponsored by BMI, was conducted by CRS/CRB Board President Kurt Johnson during CRS 2021: The Virtual Experience.

Bryan was recognized for his charitable work with numerous organizations throughout his career, including ACM Lifting Lives, CMA Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Shriners Hospital, St. Jude, TJ Martell, and more. His charitable work also includes his ongoing efforts with the Brett Boyer Foundation and Bayer’s #HeresToTheFarmer campaign through his annual Farm Tour.

Johnson, who surprised Bryan with the honor, commented, “Luke is a big star with a bigger heart. From his earliest days to as recently as Super Bowl LV, he’s leveraged his influence for good and helped songwriters, farmers, children, small businesses—people in so many different walks of life that Luke Bryan’s philanthropic work has touched. We’re so proud to honor him with this much-deserved award.”

Luke Byran, CRB/CRS Board President and Townsquare Media’s Kurt Johnson

Bryan, who finished the 2011-2020 decade as the most played artist on country radio, walked through his career with Johnson, starting with his debut single “Do I,” and his Spring Break EPs.

“I think there’s a lot of naiveness behind building stuff like Spring Break and Farm Tours,” Bryan said. “It was methodical, controlled, naiveness.”

In addition to his full length albums targeted for radio airplay, Bryan released a series of seven Spring Break EPs, targeted at college-aged fans, with an accompanying Spring Break concert series. “I kept it going until it just seemed like I was too old and it got weird,” Bryan joked, “and Panama City said there’s 200,000 people on the beach and we can have you here anymore.”

Taking the party further down south, Bryan’s annual Crash My Playa concert series in drew fellow country artists and fans to resorts in Mexico. The 2020 Crash My Playa festival, that took place in January of 2020 before the pandemic halted touring, was the sixth annual event.

“What I’m proud about with Crash My Playa is that the artists come down and they have fun,” Bryan says. “I remember being the artist to go play festivals and I remember going, ‘They’re really not doing this properly. I mean, Hillshire Farm deli meat for your main entree probably isn’t the way this ought to go.’ The fact that we can go to Playa and I can ask, ‘Where do we knock it out the park?'”

Bryan’s annual Farm Tours, launched in 2009, highlight and celebrate the contributions of America’s farmers. Every year a portion of the concert proceeds are donated as college scholarships for students of farming families where the tour is played. In 2015, Luke partnered with Farm Tour sponsor Bayer who launched the #HeresToTheFarmer campaign to support their hard work and help fight hunger throughout the country. Since its inception, the campaign has donated four million meals across the U.S. in addition to thousands of dollars to area food banks and local farmers in each of the Farm Tour cities.

“To grow up with a farming background and to go do the Farm Tours is great,” Bryan says, commenting about his great partnership with Bayer and the thrill of giving back.

Now that Bryan, a four-time entertainer of the year, is looking back on his career, he can point out two moments in his career where the gravity of his success hit him.

“When add-day came for ‘Country Girl (Shake It For Me),’ which was a crazy song, we had about 35 adds. Me and my wife sat in my room, and everyone at the label and Kerri [Edwards, Bryan’s manager] said we had 35 adds, and I was just crying. Caroline was crying. That was the moment that I knew radio was starting to trust. They had to trust me with a song ‘Country Girl (Shake It For Me).’ When they started trusting me and what me and my team were doing, I was like, ‘We’re turning a corner, radio is coming around.'”

The next moment came after the label had decided to release the single “I Don’t Want This Night To End.” Bryan’s dad, who was not a fan of the decision, had driven to Louisville, Kentucky for a concert and watched the audience’s reaction to the song.

“When I hit the stage it was crazy energy. And when I kicked into ‘I Don’t Want This Night To End,’ they lit up [the crowd] and I looked at my dad. He’s over there drinking a beer, checking it all out. We get off stage and my dad was like, ‘Well son, you picked the right next damn single.'”

Now, many singles and more than 25 No. 1 songs later, Bryan has expanded his brand into more avenues of entertainment. For the past several years, Bryan has served as a judge on American Idol.

“Every phase of your entertainment career is about pushing yourself into new little avenues and challenges,” Bryan said about his journey into American Idol. “At the core of what I am, I will always be a guy that likes to sit down and write a song, play it for people, record it, hear it on the radio and watch the people respond to that.

“My biggest thing with Idol was will it affect my music career? Will country radio go ‘He thinks he’s went on to other things,” Bryan said. Turns out the soon to be Idol judge called some fellow country artist friends, including Blake Shelton and Keith Urban, to run the idea by them. “They were like, ‘Man, you’re just going to enjoy learning something different.'”

Now on his fourth season of Idol, Bryan has found his footing as a judge. Earlier in February, Bryan announced that he will release a deluxe version of his No. 1, Gold-certified album BORN HERE LIVE HERE DIE HERE (Deluxe Edition) on April 9, 2021 adding six new songs to add to the album’s original 10 tracks.

Chart Action: Goodvin Debuts; Ballerini Sees Spin Bump

Aaron Goodvin debuts at No. 52 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week with his latest single “Lonely Drum.” He is also the most added record with 26 new stations and has the greatest spin increase with 290 spins. The single was certified Platinum in Canada and peaked in the top 10 of Billboard’s Canada Country chart.

Kelsea Ballerini sees an increase in plays this week on the Mediabase and Billboard charts propelling her to No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. “Hole In The Bottle” rose to No. 1 in October on MusicRow‘s CountryBreakout Radio Chart.

Dan + Shay’s “Glad You Exist” continues to be most added for the second consecutive week on the Mediabase and Billboard charts with 29 stations adds per chart.