NEEDTOBREATHE Announce New Live Album, Two Socially Distanced Shows

NEEDTOBREATHE has announced a brand new live album, Live from the Woods Vol. 2, set for release on April 16. The album is available to pre-order physically and digitally now via Elektra Records. Fans are invited to witness the live recording of the album during two socially distanced outdoor concerts at famed venue The Caverns in Pelham, Tennessee on Saturday, March 13 and Sunday, March 14. Pre-sale tickets will be available for The Insiders Fan Club beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13 HERE, and general on sale begins this Friday, Jan. 15 at 12:00 pm CT HERE.

Live from the Woods Vol. 2 follows NEEDTOBREATHE’s 2015 live album Live from the Woods and marks one of the band’s first concerts in front of a live crowd since January 2020. NEEDTOBREATHE decided to invite local audiences to experience these unforgettable shows, while simultaneously capturing them for listeners worldwide. Fans can expect electrifying performances of tracks from the Platinum-selling group’s catalog, songs off their chart-topping new album Out of Body, and more.

The band and venue ensure the utmost adherence to COVID-19 guidelines for maximum safety. As such, the venue is following guidance provided by the CDC and the State of Tennessee’s “Tennessee Pledge” for reopening. Guests will arrive at staggered times, be asked COVID-19 screening questions, receive a temperature check, and enjoy the show from 2-person, 4-person and 6-person socially-distanced pods. Pods are spaced with a minimum of six feet distance between each other with wide foot paths between pods to maintain social distancing. The concerts are “bring your own chair.”

Masks will be mandatory, except when guests are in their pods. All concessions and merchandise will be ordered through an app and delivered contactless to pods eliminating lines and limiting the need for guests to leave pods. While the music plays on above ground, restrooms will be used inside The Caverns to give guests an opportunity to duck below the surface to see the world-famous, subterranean music venue. Restrooms will be continuously cleaned with limited capacity.

NEEDTOBREATHE’s critically acclaimed 2020 studio album Out of Body is available physically and digitally via Elektra Records/Centricity Music now. In October, the band unveiled a brand new version of the album’s current single “Who Am I” featuring vocals from multi-Platinum recording artist, Elle King. “Who Am I” (feat. Elle King) is available to stream and download as an official Out of Body bonus track now.

NEEDTOBREATHE. Photo: Brett Warren

Country Music Personality Kelly Sutton Launches New YouTube Series

Kelly Sutton. Photo: Cameron Powell

Emmy-winning television anchor and country music personality Kelly Sutton has launched a new YouTube series, “Connected with Kelly.” The weekly show features long form conversations with Nashville personalities including country music stars, business owners and public figures.

“After a year like 2020 where we were so disconnected, I want to use technology to bring us around one big virtual table,” says Sutton. “My new show helps connect people to the personalities, places, and stories they love.”

“Connected with Kelly” launched last November, boasting Carrie Underwood as her first guest on an episode with more than 10,000 views. Since then, Sutton has featured in depth conversations with country music stars Rascal Flatts, Kane Brown, songwriters Shane McAnally and Luke Dick, and survivors of the Nashville bombing. Upcoming episodes include Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell and Little Big Town.

Quartz Hill Records Signs Ben Gallaher

Pictured (L-R, top row): Quartz Hill Records’ Paul Brown and April Rider; Warner Chappell Music’s Ben Vaughn, BSB Management’s Shawn Pennington. Pictured (L-R, bottom row): Quartz Hill Records’ Jason Sellers, Ben Gallaher, Benny Brown.

Quartz Hill Records, the newly-formed joint partnership with global music distribution company The Orchard, announced the signing of Ben Gallaher to its label roster.

Gallaher has earned a fast-growing fanbase due to his commanding guitar prowess and energetic live shows while opening for the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Blake Shelton, 3 Doors Down, Lee Brice, and has toured the Pennsylvania State Prisons for ten years on his annual, headlining Prison Tour.

Gallaher was introduced to Quartz Hill Records’ Benny Brown by Brown’s longtime friend Ben Vaughn, President & CEO of Warner Chappell Music Nashville, and Gallaher’s publisher. After meeting with Brown and Quartz Hill managing partners Paul Brown and Jason Sellers, they knew the label had found its next rising star.

“I was immediately taken with Ben’s ability to sit and perform just a guitar vocal and make it sound huge—like we were in an arena instead of in a conference room. After performing only three songs, I knew Ben was a star. And after spending time with more than 100 songs Ben had written, I knew we needed him in country music. His songs not only have a good beat but each one has a message that fans can wrap their arms around,” says Benny Brown.

“I’m humbled to work with Benny Brown and the Quartz Hill Records team. Since our first conversation, they have welcomed me as a member of their family,” says Gallaher. “Our visions for my brand and future are perfectly aligned and I’m fired up to share the new music we have been working on!”

Fans will get their first taste of new music from Gallaher on Friday, Feb. 5 with the worldwide release of “Every Small Town,” co-written by Gallaher, Ash Bowers and Jim Collins. Gallaher is currently in the studio recording his debut Quartz Hill Records album with producers Mickey Jack Cones (Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett) and Derek George (Dustin Lynch, Randy Houser).

Gallaher is signed to Warner Chappell Music Nashville and is an ASCAP writer. He is booked by WME and managed by BSB Management.

Weekly Register: Luke Combs Begins 2021 On Top

Luke Combs. Photo: Zack Massey

Luke Combs starts off 2021 where he left 2020, with two hits in the top five streaming songs. “Forever After All” earned 7.4 million streams this week, according to Nielsen, and is at No. 1. “Better Together” earned 7.3 million and is at No. 3.

The top five streaming songs remain the same this week, with Gabby Barrett‘s “I Hope” at No. 2, Chris Stapleton‘s “Starting Over” at No. 4, and Morgan Wallen‘s “More Than My Hometown” at No. 5.

Combs and Stapleton each score two in the top five country albums this week. Combs is at No. 1, with What You See Is What You Get earning 32K in total consumption, and This One’s For You is at No. 3 with 16K. Stapleton is at No. 2 with Starting Over (18K), and No. 5 with Traveler (13K).

Wallen’s If I Know Me is at No. 4 this week, with 16K. He released his highly-anticipated sophomore album Dangerous on Jan. 8.

Thomas Rhett Debuting New Tequila Brand, Dos Primos

Jeff Worn, Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett is collaborating with his cousin Jeff Worn on a new ultra-premium tequila, Dos Primos. Spanish for “Two Cousins,” Dos Primos is a blanco tequila made from hand-harvested 100% Blue Agave sourced from estates in Los Altos and the valley area of Jalisco, Mexico. Dos Primos is available in select U.S. markets now and nationwide soon.

Third-generation Master Distiller Rodolfo González worked with Rhett and Worn to create the product’s taste profile and oversees the distillation process.

“Our decision to create a new tequila brand grew out of just loving being with family,” said Rhett. “Jeff and I wanted to create a tequila that was expertly crafted and could be enjoyed year-round—regardless of the season or activity—with the people we care about most. Dos Primos is all about who we are and what’s important to us. My wife and I love to enjoy tequila together and I’m excited for people to share a bottle with friends, sip it around a bonfire or enjoy it on a fishing trip, tailgate or concert. Dos Primos is about unwinding and enjoying the people and things that really matter in life.”

“There’s no greater thrill or commitment than putting your name on something you believe in,” added Worn. “Our names are more than just our reputation—they represent our legacy and our future. That’s not something Thomas Rhett and I take lightly. We are proud and we’re excited to introduce Dos Primos.”

New Year, New Look: MusicRow Website Gets ‘Fresh Vibe’

It’s a new year and a new look for MusicRow magazine’s website.

With over 30,000 articles on its website, MusicRow has upgraded its website offering an easy-to-read and streamlined experience that includes larger photos, larger fonts, an enhanced search engine, and improved mobile experience among other upgrades.

MusicRow website.

Perhaps the biggest enhancement is related to the back end of the website now hosted on its dedicated server by the Horton Group which will allow future improvements to be more easily implemented.

MusicRow has also launched it’s new online store, as well as, a new improved membership portal that continues to allow industry readers to join as subscribed members of the publication where they receive six annual print magazines, news emails (morning, afternoon and breaking), MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart, voting eligibility, exclusive event notifications, and more.

MusicRow Publisher Sherod Robertson says, “This refreshed look was something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. The year 2020 emphasized the need and role of MusicRow in helping us all stay connected. That’s our key mission, so we took that opportunity to review our infrastructure and make some improvements. I’m really excited to have this new upgraded site launched which offers a very simple, fresh, streamlined experience for readers so they can access all of their Nashville music industry news. Late last year, we launched our new weekly digital newsletter, the MusicRow Weekly, so this is just the next step in our desire to always be improving and finding ways to better serve our industry as we begin our 40th year. Stay tuned.”



Phil Joel Returns To Solo Spotlight With New EP ‘Better Than I Found It’

Known as a member of Christian group Newsboys, Phil Joel is releasing a new solo project on Jan. 22. The six-song EP, Better Than I Found It, was written, recorded and produced entirely by Joel with some help from his family and a few friends in an old carriage house-turned home studio on his property during last year’s quarantine, and is available for pre-order now. 

Kicking off with the Beatles-esque title cut—a plea to leave our world better than we found it—the collection finds Joel reflecting on timely topics, including the embrace of a simpler life; seeking unity in a divided nation; offering comfort for the hurting; and mending broken relationships. Highlights of Better Than I Found It include “Sailing Speed,” an ode to the pursuit of life’s simple joys, and EP-closer “Alright,” an impassioned call to unity showcasing spoken word interludes from President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I’d felt for quite a while that I needed to take some time and musically get back to simply making art, but I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen,” Joel said. “Well, 2020 made it happen for me. In March, we got word that touring was off until further notice, so I went home and locked myself away in my studio. It put me in a position to have to make production decisions alone and create a sound that’s truly me.”

Auckland, New Zealand native Joel first arrived in the United States in 1994 to join one of Christian music’s most iconic bands, Newsboys. During his 12-year tenure in the Platinum-selling group, Joel was featured on such seminal albums as Take Me To Your Leader and Step Up To The Microphone. Rejoining Newsboys in 2018, along with founding member Peter Furler, the supergroup has since played hundreds of shows around the country and released Newsboys United in 2019. In addition, Joel has seven solo albums to his credit, he founded and fronted the acclaimed worship band Zealand, and his first book, Redwoods and Whales: Becoming Who You Actually Are, a collection of personal stories and truths learned from his life and musical journey, was published in 2019 by Thomas Nelson’s Emanate Books.

Aaron Tannenbaum Joins WME As Partner

Aaron Tannenbaum

Music agent Aaron Tannenbaum has joined WME as a Partner, based in its Nashville office.

Prior to joining WME, Tannenbaum was at CAA since 2010. He was previously an agent at Paradigm. Tannenbaum has been recognized throughout the music business for his accomplishments, being named to Billboard’s Rising Stars List, Country Power Players List, and HITS’ Next Wave Agents list.

“Aaron has earned a reputation in our business as an agent who has a strong ability to identify talent and takes the long-view in building an artist’s career, making him a great fit for us,” said Scott Clayton, WME’s Co-Head of Music.

“As our Nashville office continues to grow, Aaron represents a significant addition to our team and we look forward to bringing his creativity and strategic approach to our colleagues and clients,” said Jay Williams, Co-Head of WME’s Nashville office.

BREAKING: Joel Katz Resigns From Greenberg Traurig

Joel Katz

Attorney and founding chairman of the Greenberg Traurig’s entertainment and media practice, Joel Katz, notified Greenberg Traurig of his resignation from the firm on Dec. 31, 2020, MusicRow has confirmed.

A top entertainment attorney frequently listed in Billboard‘s Power 100 list, Billboard‘s Country Power Players List, and MusicRow‘s InCharge, Katz has represented legendary entertainers from an array of genres, including artists, producers, record companies, concert promoters, and business leaders. His client list has included Jimmy Buffett, Jamie Foxx, Steve Harvey, Faith Hill, Julio Iglesias, Alan Jackson, Estate of Michael Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Little Big Town, Ludacris, Tim McGraw, L.A. Reid, George Strait, James Taylor, Justin Timberlake, TLC, and others.

In a statement provided to MusicRow, Greenberg Traurig Executive Chairman, Richard A. Rosenbaum, said: “Joel Katz has, by mutual understanding, resigned from the firm as of December 31, 2020. Our global entertainment practice remains strong, diverse and among the largest, most dynamic and highest rated in the world, led by Chair Bobby Rosenbloum in Atlanta, assisted by Vice Chairs Barbara Meili in New York and Dan Black in Los Angeles, as well as Jay Cooper, the founder of our Los Angeles Entertainment Practice, leading music industry lawyers Jess Rosen in Atlanta and Paul Schindler in New York, and many others. We thank Mr. Katz for his contributions over the years and have no further comment at this time.”

NSAI Announces 20th Annual Song Contest Winners, 2021 Judging Underway

Each year, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), along with presenting partners Martin Guitars and Strings and CMT hold an annual song contest inviting aspiring songwriters around the world to enter their songs and/or lyrics into one of two categories for a chance to win several incredible prizes.

Pictured (L-R): Robert Ragosta, Grand Prize Winner; Mark Giufre, Lyric-Only Winner.

Robert Ragosta (Nashville, Tennessee) was awarded the 20th annual contest’s Grand Prize for his song “Bad Idea For A Love Song,” (co-written with Zack Dyer, Austin Nivarel, and Joe Ragosta) and took home $5,000 cash, mentor sessions with multi-platinum singer-songwriter Elle King and hit songwriters Ross Golan and Joe London, as well as several other prizes including a brand new Martin guitar.

Mark Giufre (Burnt Hills, New York) won the 20th annual contest’s Lyric-Only category with his entry “Cast Away,” winning a mentor session with legendary songwriter Tom Douglas, $2,000 cash, a Martin guitar, and more. Ten additional songwriters placed in the contest, each winning a Martin guitar as well as a year membership to NSAI.

With nearly 3,000 entries, each of the total 21 placing songs advanced through several levels of judging with the final judging event taking place Spring 2020, where the Grand Prize-winning song was determined by a panel of elite judges. In the Fall of 2020, each of the winners connected via Zoom with their mentors, receiving valuable insight and inspiration to propel them into the new year.

“Tom [Douglas] was the most down to earth person,” said Lyric-Only winner Giufre. “Being a relative ‘outsider’ to the business and coming face to face with one of the best is unnerving, but talking to Tom was like connecting with an old friend. His authenticity, knowledge, and passion are what makes him the perfect mentor, especially to someone like myself. His goal is always to connect to the listener in a deeply personal way and to tell a story. Tom said that the power of song lies in its ability, in only a couple of minutes, to tell a story that may span many years and evoke the strongest of emotions in the listener. I think he embodies this as well and it was a perfect connection.”

The judging process for the 21st Annual NSAI Song Contest presented by Martin Guitars and Strings and CMT is now underway, with the final judging set to take place February 2021. Up to 22 songwriters will place, and this year the Grand Prize winner will take home $5,000 cash, mentor sessions with songwriter-artist Tenille Townes and hit songwriters Ross Golan and Joe London of And The Writer Is… podcast, a CMT prize pack, and a Martin guitar. The Lyric-Only winner will receive $2,000 cash, a mentor session with Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Brett James, and a Martin guitar as well.

NSAI sends special thanks to And The Writer Is…, Anthem Entertainment, ASCAP, BMI, CMT, Martin Guitars and Strings, SESAC, Southwest Airlines®, and We Make Tapes & Discs for supporting the contest and NSAI Mission.