Music Row Past Award Winners

mrawards20Producer Honor Role
A listing of producers scoring the most top-20 Singles and Top-10 Albums for each year.
1982-89: Jimmy Bowen
1990: Tony Brown
1991-92: Allen Reynolds
1993: Tony Brown
1994: James Stroud
1995: Allen Reynolds
1996: Tony Brown
1997: Wilbur C. Rimes
1998: No Award presented
Becomes Producer of the YearTo honor a producers work on albums active during the awards time period. Can include, but is not limited to, single chart performance and album sales.
1999: Byron Gallimore
2000: Byron Gallimore
2001: Mark Wright
2002: Keith Stegall
2003: James Stroud
2004: Buddy Cannon
2005: Frank Rogers
2006: Dann Huff
2007: Byron Gallimore
2008: Frank Rodgers

Top Songwriters
A listing of writers scoring the most Top-20 Singles for each year.
1985: Troy Seals
1986: Dave Loggins
1987-90: Don Schlitz
1991: Pat Alger
1992: Garth Brooks
1993: Clint Black
1994: Gary Burr
1995: Tom Shapiro
1996: Mark D. Sanders
1997: Craig Wiseman
Becomes Breakthrough Songwriter-Honors a Nashville writer who, for the first time in their career, wrote or co-wrote a top 10 song.
1996: Jim Lauderdale
1997: Cathy Majeski, Sunny Russ, Stephony Smith
1998: Harley Allen
1999: Phil Vassar
2000: Carolyn Dawn Johnson
2001: Troy Verges
2002: Anthony Smith
2003: Lee Thomas Miller
2004: Jim Brown/Don Rollins
2005: Vicky McGehee
2006: Jason Matthews
2007: Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear
2008: Luke Bryan

Song of the Year
1996: “What Mattered Most,: Vince Melamed and Gary Burr; Publishers MCA Music, Patrick Joseph Music
1997: “Friends,” Jerry Holland; Publishers: That’s A Smash Publishing, Mike Curb Music; Performed by John Michael Montgomery
1998: “Something That We Do,” Clint Black and Skip Ewing; Publishers: Blackened Music & Opryland Music Group
1999: “Don’t Laugh At Me,” Allen Shamblin & Steve Seskin; Publishers: Built On Rock Music; David Aaron Music/Love This Town Music (ASCAP)
2000: “He Didn’t Have To Be,” Brad Paisley & Kelley Lovelace; Publishers EMI April Music, Sea Gayle Music, Love Ranch Music
2001: “There Is No Arizona,” Jamie O’Neal, Shaye Smith and Lisa Drew; Publishers EMI Music, Zomba Music
2002: “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” Alan Jackson, Publisher EMI Music Publishing
2003: “Red Ragtop,” Jason White; Publisher Sony/ATV Music
2004: “Almost Home, “Craig Morgan, Kerry Kurt Phillips; Publishers Magic Mustang Music Inc. & Sufferin’ Succotash Songs
2005: “Whiskey Lullaby,” Bill Anderson, John Randall; Publishers by Sony-ATV Tree/Mr. Bubba/Reynsong/Who Ya Say/Wrensong, BMI
2006: “What Hurts The Most,” Jeffrey Steele, Steve Robson; Publishers Songs of Windswept Pacific & Almo Music Corp.
2007: “Stealing Kisses,” Lori McKenna; Publisher Melanie Howard Music, Inc.
2008: “Letter To Me,” Brad Paisley; Publishers EMI April Music/New Sea Gayle Music

Critic’s Pick/New Artist
2000: Eric Heatherly
2001: Mark McGuinn
2002: Blake Shelton
2003: Joe Nichols
2004: Buddy Jewell
2005: Miranda Lambert
2006: Carrie Underwood
2007: Taylor Swift
Becomes Breakthrough ArtistVoted by readers to honor an artist who achieved significant career progress for the first time.
2008: Lady Antebellum

Marketing Achievement
1996: MCA Records for Joe Ely’s Hour At Tower Train Tour
1997: RCA Records for Clint Black’s Greatest Hits
1998: Curb Records for LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live”
1999: RCA Records for Alabama’s For The Record—41 Number One Hits and Monument Records for the Dixie Chick’s Wide Open Spaces
2000: Dreamcatcher Entertainment for Kenny Rogers “The Greatest” and “Buy Me A Rose”
2001: Sony Music Nashville for Billy Gillman, One Voice
2003: Lyric Street Records for Rascal Flatts, Melt
2004: DreamWorks/Sony music for Toby Keith Shock ‘n Yall and Buddy Jewel
2005: none
2006: Lyric Street Records for Rascal Flatts, My And My Gang and Equity Music Group for Little Big Town, The Road To Here (tie)

Past Musician Award Winners

mrawards200Top Ten Album All-Stars

1989: Steve Gibson
1990: Steve Gibson
1991: Steve Gibson
1992: Steve Gibson
1993: Mark Casstevens
1994: Brent Mason
1995: Brent Mason
1996: Dann Huff
1997: Brent Mason
1998: Brent Mason
1999: Brent Mason
2000: Brent Mason
2001: Brent Mason
2002: B. James Lowry
2003: Brent Mason
2004: Brent Mason
2005: Tom Bukovac
2006: Tom Bukovac
2007: Tom Bukovac
2008: Tom Bukovac

1989: David Hungate
1990: David Hungate
1991: Edgar Meyers, Roy Husky Jr., Michael Rhodes (3-way tie)
1992: Michael Rhodes, Glenn Worf (tie)
1993: Mike Chapman, Glenn Worf (tie)
1994: Glenn Worf
1995: Glenn Worf
1996: Glenn Worf
1997: Glenn Worf
1998: Glenn Worf
1999: Glenn Worf
2000: Glenn Worf
2001: Glenn Worf
2002: Glenn Worf
2003: Glenn Worf
2004: Glenn Worf
2005: Glenn Worf
2006: Glenn Worf, Michael Rhodes (tie)
2007: Glenn Worf
2008: Glenn Worf

1989: Mike Lawler, John Jarvis (tie)
1990: John Jarvis
1991: Barry Beckett, Matt Rollings (tie)
1992: Matt Rollings
1993: John Jarvis
1994: Matt Rollings
1995: John Jarvis
1996: Steve Nathan
1997: Steve Nathan
1998: Steve Nathan
1999: Steve Nathan
2000: Steve Nathan
2001: Steve Nathan
2002: Steve Nathan
2003: Steve Nathan
2004: Steve Nathan
2005: Steve Nathan
2006: Steve Nathan
2007: Steve Nathan
2008: Steve Nathan

1989: Eddie Bayers
1990: Eddie Bayers
1991: Eddie Bayers
1992: Eddie Bayers
1993: Eddie Bayers
1994: Eddie Bayers
1995: Eddie Bayers
1996: Lonnie Wilson
1997: Eddie Bayers
1998: Lonnie Wilson
1999: Paul Leim, Eddie Bayers (tie)
2000: Eddie Bayers
2001: Eddie Bayers, Greg Morrow (tie)
2002: Lonnie Wilson
2003: Lonnie Wilson
2004: Shannon Forrest
2005: Shannon Forrest
2006: Shannon Forrest
2007: Shannon Forrest
2008: Shannon Forrest, Chris McHugh (tie)

1989: Dennis Wilson
1990: Curtis Young
1991: Curtis Young
1992: Curtis Young
1993: Curtis Young
1994: Curtis Young
1995: Dennis Wilson
1996: Curtis Young
1997: Dennis Wilson
1998: Curtis Young
1999: John Wesley Ryles
2000: Liana Manis, John Wesley Ryles (tie)
2001: John Wesley Ryles
2002: Wes Hightower
2003: Wes Hightower
2004: Wes Hightower
2005: Wes Hightower
2006: Wes Hightower
2007: Wes Hightower
2008: Wes Hightower

Miscellaneous Instruments
1989: Mark O’Connor
1990: Mark O’Connor
1991: Paul Franklin
1992: Rob Hajacos
1993: Nashville String Machine
1994: Jim Horn
1995: Terry McMillan
1996: Terry McMillan
1997: Nashville String Machine
The Miscellaneous Instruments category was retired after 1997

Steel Guitar
1993: Bruce Bouton, Sonny Garrish (tie)
1994: Paul Franklin
1995: Paul Franklin
1996: Paul Franklin
1997: Paul Franklin
1998: Paul Franklin
1999: Paul Franklin
2000: Paul Franklin
2001: Paul Franklin
2002: Paul Franklin
2003: Paul Franklin
2004: Paul Franklin
2005: Paul Franklin
2006: Paul Franklin
2007: Dan Dugmore
2008: Paul Franklin

1993: Rob Hajacos
1994: Stuart Duncan, Rob Hajacos (tie)
1995: Stuart Duncan
1996: Stuart Duncan
1997: Rob Hajacos
1998: Stuart Duncan
1999: Stuart Duncan
2000: Stuart Duncan
2001: Aubrey Haynie
2002: Aubrey Haynie
2003: Aubrey Haynie
2004: Stuart Duncan
2005: Jonathan Yudkin
2006: Jonathan Yudkin
2007: Larry Franklin, Aubrey Haynie, Jonathan Yudkin (tie)
2008: Jonathan Yudkin

1995: Mike Bradley
1996: Mike Bradley
1997: Mike Bradley
1998: Julian King, Mike Bradley (tie)
1999: Chuck Ainlay
2000: Jeff Balding
2001: Jeff Balding, Julian King (tie)
2002: Julian King, Clarke Schleicher (tie)
2003: Julian King
2004: Greg Droman, Julian King (tie)
2005: Justin Niebank
2006: Justin Niebank, Derek Bason (tie)
2007: Justin Niebank
2008: Justin Niebank

Carla Williams

“Every Word You’re Thinking”

Lofton Creek

cwilliams-playlistHer throaty delivery handles this sophisticated melody with aplomb. The piano and synth accompaniment is fairly pop, but the vocal keeps it down to earth.
—Robert K. Oermann, MusicRow

Born and raised in the Heart of Dixie, Carla Williams has long had a passion for singing and performing. The Mobile, Alabama native recently signed with Mike Borchetta’s Lofton Creek Records and the label is releasing her debut single “Every Word You’re Thinking.”

In 2007 Williams decided to pursue her dreams of singing and found songwriter and award-winning filmmaker, Milton Brown via Myspace. After meeting with Brown, the two realized that this dream could very well happen. Brown introduced Williams to legendary songwriter, producer and composer Steve Dorff, who co-produced Williams’ debut album I’m Home with Brown.

Williams’ journey is just beginning, but she is enjoying every second of the road to fulfilling her dream. “It was all about someone in the industry believing in me and taking that leap of faith and encouraging me to believe that my dreams were just as important as the big stars in Nashville,” says Williams.

James Otto

“Since You Brought It Up”

Warner Bros.

jotto-playlist2Standing an easy 6’5” tall with a frame more akin to an NFL lineman than an entertainer, James Otto’s mere presence is enough to garner your attention. And his voice? Maybe bigger. John Rich of the country duo Big & Rich often introduces Otto as “The Biggest Voice in Country Music,” a claim few refute upon hearing him sing.

“As long as I can possibly remember I have been obsessed with music,” Otto says. “Listening to it on the radio, getting into my mom’s record collection—my tastes have changed, but music has been there my whole life.” Otto was raised all over the country, from Washington State, to his grandparents’ farm in North Dakota, and in rural Alabama. Otto didn’t just listen to music, he made it. “I got a record player with a mic on it when I was three or four, and I’ve been singing ever since,” he recalls.

Otto’s No. 1 hit “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” put the gentle giant on the map and earned him a spot on the Country Radio Broadcaster’s New Faces show. The song was also nominated for CMT’s Breakthrough Video of the Year. Another recent triumph was winning his first ACM award—Song of the Year, with co-writers Jamey Johnson and Thomas Lee Miller for the song, “In Color.”

James Otto’s new single, “Since You Brought It Up,” from his upcoming CD, shipped to radio on April 24 and will go for adds May 18th.

Due West

“I Get That All The Time”

Bigger Than Me/Nine North

duewest-playlistWith an independent spirit as great as the American frontier, Due West is staking its claim to Nashville fame with first single “I Get That All The Time.” Tim Gates, Brad Hull and Matt Lopez comprise the energetic young band based on tight harmony, sincere songwriting and perhaps most of all, the kind of friendship legends are made of.

Matt Lopez and Brad Hull knew one another from living in Arizona and, after moving to Nashville, encountered Tim Gates at a house party. They were taken with his guitar playing, singing, and repertoire: old Shenandoah, Mark Chesnutt, McBride & The Ride, and Keith Whitley. As Lopez and Hull jumped in on harmonies, the trio made an instant connection that night.

While friendship may be the glue that holds Due West together, their music that moves them forward. All three are accomplished songwriters who have cuts by Lady Antebellum, Bucky Covington, and the Gaither Brothers. With a wealth of songs in their own catalogs, let alone the gems from outside writers, Due West’s debut album (produced by Jason Deere) is full of songs written from the heart.

Real issues jump to life in “I Get That All The Time,” a celebration of the highs to be had from everyday family life. “Whether we’re a parent, a child, or an adult looking back on our lives growing up, there’s just something to be said about walking in the front door of your home and feeling the weight of the day whisked away by the chaotic familiarity and peacefulness of family,” says Lopez.

On The Cover—Jake Owen

jowen2_jamesminchinLabel: RCA Nashville
Current Album: Easy Does It
Current Single & Video: “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You”
Current Producer: Jimmy Ritchey
Hometown: Vero Beach, Florida
Birthdate: August 28
Management: Morris Management Group
Booking: Dale Morris & Associates
Recent Hits: “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” “Startin’ with Me,” “Something About a Woman,” “Yee Haw”
Awards: Jake is the recently crowned ACM Top New Male Vocalist and has been an ACM, CMA, and Grammy nominee.
Interesting Facts: Jake co-wrote eight of the songs on Easy Does It, and he’s been a writer on each of his first four hits.
Touring & Special Appearances: Since the release of his debut album, Jake has toured with Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, and more. He recently made his second appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Musical Influences: Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr.

Jake Owen’s major label life kicked off back in 2006 with a rowdy “Yee Haw,” the leadoff single from his RCA debut, Startin’ With Me. That song hit the Top 10 and earned the Florida native his first ACM nomination for Top New Male Vocalist. His participation in the multi-artist single, “Life In A Northern Town” helped to kick the singer/songwriter’s career into high gear and led to his first CMA and Grammy nominations in 2008. That momentum continued with “Don’t Think I Don’t Love You,” the hit single and video and leadoff track from his sophomore release, Easy Does It. The album’s title sums up Owen’s reaction to what might have been a sophomore curse.

“My main goal with this album was to make music that’s not overdone or over thought,” Owen said. “I just went in the studio and sang. I’d sing the song from start to finish a couple of times and then leave because there was no doubt in my mind that I’d done the best I could do. Whether it’s perfect or not, it’s who I am.”

Throughout Easy Does It, Owen does indeed sound more relaxed and confident as an artist. “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” is the perfect example of how the personal experiences inspire his lyrics. Partly inspired by his father’s devotion to his mother over the years, the song is just the first of several songs written specifically about romantic relationships. Though some of the love songs on Easy Does It, such as “Eight Second Ride,” veer toward the rowdy side, Owen has his own set of standards when it comes to addressing the fairer sex.

“It’s really important for me when I’m writing songs that speak to women that I speak to them in a way of respect,” Owen says. “I try to write in a way where a guy listening would say, ‘Man, I’d say that to a girl.’ Conway Twitty did that. He sang songs to women all the time, but it was a very masculine way of saying it. It wasn’t soft. I don’t think any of my love songs on this record are soft.”

As he works to refine his own musical identity in the studio, Owen gives a lot of credit to his producer, Jimmy Ritchey. Their working relationship provides the perfect environment for Owen to experiment with his emerging sound. As a result, Easy Does It offers a freewheeling and creative brand of country music that goes well beyond the standard country radio fare. Whether it’s the haunting bagpipe passage that closes the album on “Nothin’ Grows in Shadows” or the expansive musical build-up that leads in to the opening track, “Tell Me,” every song on Easy Does It contains echoes of Owen’s musical heroes while allowing him to forge his own musical path.

“I’m not doing this for the money,” he says. “It’s about believing in what you do, and doing it because you love it. Making music is what I love to do.”

Mac McAnally

“You First”

Show Dog Nashville

mac-playlist-42009Mac McAnally has worn many hats in his storied career—producer, vocalist, guitarist, chart-topping songwriter, member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer band—and his recording artist cap recently earned a nice feather in “Down The Road,” his No. 1 duet with Kenny Chesney. Now, McAnally and his new label Show Dog Nashville look to build on that success with the release of “You First,” which impacts radio April 27.

A poignant series of vignettes about brotherly love, “You First,” is the first release from McAnally’s upcoming Show Dog debut album.

The single follows the successful of “Down The Road,” a song penned by McAnally and recorded by Kenny Chesney, who invited the Mac to sing on the track with him. It was McAnally’s sixth No. 1 as a writer and first as a recording artist, which led to an ACM Vocal Event of the Year nod.

Significant as those milestones are, however, they only tell part of McAnally’s accomplishments. From his days as a Muscle Shoals session musician, Mac has given musical support to artists including Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr., Amy Grant, Jimmy Buffett, Travis Tritt, Linda Ronstadt, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dolly Parton and many more. He’s a longstanding member of Buffett’s Coral Reefer band, and his production credits include Ricky Skaggs, Sawyer Brown, Chris LeDoux and Little Feat.

Mac was named 2008 Musician of the Year by the Country Music Association, the same year he was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. He is also a 2007 inductee to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. McAnally signed his first record deal at the age of 16 and was the first artist signed to the legendary Geffen Records.

Kate and Kacey

“Dreaming Love”

Big Machine

katekacey-playlist41309“Dreaming Love” is the debut single for Big Machine’s twin sisters Kate and Kacey, who combine country music’s best traditions with its future. Family harmony has always been an integral part of country music and it is clear the sisters have that special vocal magic that runs in the blood.

Prior to inking a deal with Big Machine Records, Kate and Kacey had already garnered an enthusiastic legion of fans as contestants on the CMT series Can You Duet? where they made it to the semi-finals. “It was one of the most difficult things in our career and one of the most rewarding,” says Kacey. “We are here today because of it, and I think it made us so much stronger.”

In addition to the television exposure, they have also gained notice on Music Row for their songwriting skills. Signed to EMI Music Publishing, the twosome has already obtained every songwriter’s dream—a George Strait cut. “House with No Doors,” which the twins co-wrote with Jamey Johnson, is on Strait’s current album Troubadour.

Kate and Kacey initially moved to the West Coast to attend college at USC, courtesy of music scholarships, and though they had begun to make inroads as songwriters/background vocalists in Los Angeles, they wanted to make country music, so a move to Nashville was inevitable. “It just absolutely fit for us,” says Kacey. “It felt like home.”

Adds Kate, “The values and traditions that country music stands for is exactly in line with Kacey and I, as performers and artists and daughters and sisters and friends. Like she said, it’s always felt like home. There’s a place to still believe in those traditions, have hope and a sense of family.”

Kate and Kacey will join the Corona Sun City Tailgate Experience with Kenny Chesney for 11 dates this summer.

Shawna Russell

“Fire In The Desert”

Way Out West Records

srussell-playlist40609“A scorcher”
—Chris Neal, Country Weekly

Shawna Russell has released her new Way Out West Records single “Fire In The Desert” to country radio. The follow-up release to her hit single and video, “Should’ve Been Born With Wheels,” “Fire In The Desert” is a hot summertime rocker delivered with power and passion by Russell, who wrote the song with her father/guitarist, Keith, and uncle/producer, Tim.

The track features an all-star line up of musicians including famed L.A. session drummer Russ Kunkel (Lyle Lovett/James Taylor/Stevie Nicks) and bassist David Santos (John Fogerty/Elton John). Russell’s vocals were engineered by Grammy award-winning Julian King (Tim McGraw/Faith Hill), and the track was mixed by Emmy and Grammy recipient Nathaniel Kunkel (The Police/Diana Ross).

“Fire In The Desert” is from Russell’s critically-acclaimed debut CD Goddess which has received rave reviews from the CMA Close Up, Country Weekly, The Oklahoman, and was singled out for a DISCovery Award by esteemed Music Row critic, Robert K. Oermann.

Russell currently maintains a busy live performance schedule, and she and her band are gearing up for a full slate of summer concerts – including appearances at the Country Fever festival in Pryor, Oklahoma and the Expert Mobile Extreme Country Fever in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

Joe Nichols


Universal Records South

“Believers,” the new single from Joe Nichols, has shipped to radio. According to the artist, it is the perfect fit for him, both musically and personally.

“This song is about passion—when people have passion about something, the sky’s the limit,” says Nichols. “It’s also about believing in something bigger than what’s right in front of you. There have been a lot of times in my life, both recently and in the past, that I’ve needed a lot of belief just to move me forward. This song gives me that.”

The single was written by Ashley Gorley, Wade Kirby and Bill Luther, and produced by Nichols’ longtime producer Brent Rowan.

“Believers” is the lead single from the artist’s new album, which will be released by Universal Records South later this year. The as yet untitled recording is the follow-up to Nichols’ critically acclaimed 2007 release, Real Things.

Nichols has had 4 Grammy nominations over the course of his career and notched massive hits with singles like “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” “Brokenheartsville” and “The Impossible.”