Studio2Bee Entertainment Promotes Two, Adds One [Exclusive]

Pictured (L-R): Kylee Laynee Higgins, Jenn Littleton, Chris Waters

Nashville-based artist development conglomerate Studio2Bee Entertainment has expanded its team with two new hires and a promotion to their Executive Staff.

Jenn Littleton has been added as Sr. VP, Artist Development and Marketing; Chris Waters assumes the role of Sr. Director, National Promotion; and Kylee Laynee Higgins has been promoted to Sr. Director, National Modern Media and Creative. They will all be working with newly-appointed Executive Vice President/General Manager Glenn Noblit.

A seasoned Marketing and A&R executive, Littleton joins the team after stops as Sr. Marketing Director/A&R at Geffen Records, as well as GM for labels including Ironworks (Kiefer Sutherland), RH Music (Restoration Hardware), and jk livin (Matthew McConaughey). Littleton will continue to run her own marketing, management and consulting company, Red 4 Music. She can be reached at Jenn@Studio2bee.com.

“Jenn’s major label, top level management experience with exposing artists from multiple genres brings acute creative fire-power to our developing roster,” says Studio2Bee CEO Skip Bishop.

A radio promo veteran, Waters comes from Pearl Records where he was Director, Regional Promotion. He has also had posts at Show Dog Nashville, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Cumulus Media. Waters can be reached at Chris@Studio2Bee.com.

“Chris is one of the most creative and gifted promotion minds in the industry,” adds Bishop. “His dynamic motivational drive makes him the crystal-clear choice to lead the new expanded promotional team.”

Noblit offers: “I’m thrilled to be working with my Pearl brother again. Chris is one of the best, most tenacious and respected promotion leaders in our format.”

Additionally, Higgins, who joined Studio2Bee in 2019, has been promoted from Operations and Head of Modern Media to Sr. Director, National Modern Media and Creative. She can be reached at Kylee@studio2bee.com.

“Kylee came to us as a talented singer-songwriter and over the years has become a fresh perspective contributor to our executive strategy team,” Bishop offers.

Concord Announces Multiple Executive Promotions

Concord has announced ten staff promotions, including three in Nashville.

Among the promotions is Brian Buchanan, who has been upped to VP, Income Tracking in Concord’s Nashville office. Buchanan joined the company in October 2018 as Revenue Analyst after spending two years at Big Deal Music Group. Leading the Income Tracking Department, his main responsibilities will include taking large sets of data and extracting from them valuable information about the company’s revenue that management can use to make business decisions. Previously, Buchanan spent time at Sussman & Associates, BMI and CMT/MTV Networks.

Additionally, Mark Copeland rises to VP, Rights Optimization in the Nashville office. Copeland started with The Bicycle Music Company in 2013, which merged with Concord in 2015. Launching Concord’s first ever Rights Optimization department in 2018, Copeland and his team have developed a vibrant business model managing Concord’s video rights and revenue that continues to grow with the meteoric rise of short form creative at YouTube, Facebook and TikTok. Previously, Copeland led the catalog division for the legendary Priority Records and was also the GM of an indie label which landed first ever Grammy nominations for George Lopez and Robby Krieger.

Finally, Nashville’s Brandon Schott has been promoted to VP, Licensing. Schott joined Concord in the summer of 2020 with 20+ years experience in the entertainment industry, both as an independent songwriter and as a music licensing expert at ole / Anthem and Warner Chappell. Working alongside Sr. VP Kelly Baden, Schott was instrumental in building out and managing Concord’s new Nashville-based clearance department, assembling an incredible team of licensing talent and ushering in a new era in Concord’s synchronization story. In addition, working collaboratively with Concord’s publishing and recorded music creative teams, he secured major advertising opportunities for its celebrated songwriters and artists.

Pictured (L-R): Brian Buchanan, Mark Copeland, Brandon Schott

In addition to the promotions affecting Nashville, Concord elevated Kay Anderson to VP, Marketing, Craft Recordings, and Yimage Yousuf to Vice President, Repertoire Management in the Los Angeles Office.

In Concord’s New York office, Caroline Barnard was upped to Sr. VP, Business & Legal Affairs; Rob Dekker to VP Marketing, KIDZ BOP; Jackie Turner to VP, KIDZ BOP Partnerships; and Robin Walton to VP, Business & Legal Affairs, Theatrical. Fred Gillham was promoted to Managing Director, Recorded Music, Europe & UK, in the London office.

“2021 was yet another transformational year,” says Concord CEO, Scott Pascucci. “Concord’s staff worked relentlessly for all of our artists across the globe.”

Concord President, Bob Valentine, adds: “The employees who earned these promotions exemplify why Concord continues to grow rapidly—a persistent focus on our core values of championing artists, elevating voices, and impacting culture. Congratulations and thank you for everything that you did to earn your promotions.”

CMHOF Names 2022 Troubadour Advisory Council & Leadership Team

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Troubadour Advisory Council has appointed its 2022 members, as well as its leadership team.

Troubadour members enjoy quarterly networking events at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. They connect with other industry professionals, ages 21-45, and play a part in supporting the museum’s educational mission. Membership directly supports the museum’s Community Counts program, which provides free museum admission to youth from Davidson County and bordering counties.

The leadership team includes Patrick Thomas, Chair (President, Silverfish Media); Zach Farnum, Vice-Chair (Owner, 117 Entertainment); Katie Cline Moore, Vice-Chair (Owner, Cline Co Business & Financial Management); and Mary Lauren Teague, Vice-Chair (Owner, Dotted i Entertainment).

This newly appointed leadership team will work closely with the Troubadour Advisory Council’s 2022 members.

The 2022 Troubadour Advisory Council members include:
Scott Adkins (President/CEO, Adkins Publicity)
Chris Beverly (Attorney, King & Ballow Law Offices)
Lyndsay Church (Director, Regional Promotion, Columbia Nashville, Sony Music Nashville)
Kasey Cleckler (Owner, Executive + Performance Coach, Cape + Anchor)
Nina Jenkins (Creative Director, Jody Williams Songs)
Elizabeth Lombardi (Attorney, Milom Horsnell Crow Kelley Beckett Shehan PLC)
Brenden Oliver (Sr. Manager of Awards & Strategic Initiatives, Country Music Association)
Will Overton (A&R Director, Warner/Chappell Music)
Carter Robinson (SVP Portfolio Manager, Music Entertainment & Sports Group, Pinnacle Bank)
Molly Shehan (Partner, Milom Horsnell Crow Kelley Beckett Shehan PLC)
Casey Thomas (Director, Publicity and Creative, Monument Records)
Josh Tomlinson (Director – Creative, BMI)
Torianne Valdez (Sr. Program Manager, Musicians on Call)

Craig Shelburne Joins AmericanaFest Team As Festival Producer

Craig Shelburne

Craig Shelburne has been named the Festival Producer for AmericanaFest, set for Sept. 13-17 in Nashville. Reporting to Executive Director Jed Hilly, Shelburne will be responsible for producing the nighttime showcases during the event.

Shelburne has been writing about roots music for more than 25 years and, in addition to his new role, also currently serves as Managing Editor at the Bluegrass Situation. Other career stops include a VP role at Richlynn Group and a general manager position at MusicRow Magazine. He also spent 13 years in an editorial role at CMT.com, where he launched a roots music blog called CMT Edge and co-produced the online series Concrete Country.

The Nashville-based journalist has written the script for the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards five times, and co-produced the 2021 show in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition, he has written for the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Nashville Scene. He is also the author of an upcoming biography of country legend Don Gibson.

Official showcase applications for AmericanaFest 2022 are open now.

IBMA Foundation Launches J.D. Crowe Banjo Scholarship

J.D. Crowe. Photo: Courtesy of IBMA Foundation

The IBMA Foundation has launched the J.D. Crowe Banjo Scholarship. Kentucky bluegrass musician Arthur Hancock III made the initial $20,000 donation to create the fund and endow the scholarship for banjo players for generations to come.

The scholarship’s namesake, Bluegrass Hall of Fame member J.D. Crowe, passed away in December of 2021. Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, and inspired by the playing of Earl Scruggs, Crowe began performing as a teenager with Esco Hankins, Benny Williams, Curly Parker and Pee Wee Lambert before joining Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys in 1954. After a 1955 stint with Mac Wiseman, he re-joined Martin’s band in 1956. In 1961, Crowe formed the Kentucky Mountain Boys, changing the band name to J.D. Crowe & the New South in 1971.

He received a Grammy award in 1983 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Kentucky in 2012. He was also a member of the landmark Bluegrass Album Band alongside Doyle Lawson, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Bobby Hicks, Todd Phillips, and later, Vassar Clements and Mark Schatz.

“J.D. is a legend in bluegrass music, and I followed him all those years since the ’60s, watching him inspire and put together bands with so many important and influential musicians,” Hancock shares. “Outside of Nashville, Lexington became the mecca for bluegrass music, and it was all spearheaded and organized by J.D. Crowe. I am proud to have called him my friend and take great pleasure and pride in having seen this original art form flourish and become world famous, in no small part due to the lifelong dedication and expertise of J.D.”

IBMA Foundation board chair Fred Bartenstein offers: “We are so pleased about the establishment of a scholarship specifically for bluegrass banjo players in memory of the great J.D. Crowe. He taught and mentored so many banjo players during his lifetime; it is appropriate that a scholarship named for him will continue to educate and influence bluegrass banjo players for generations to come. We thank the Hancock family for their generous donation to found the J.D. Crowe Banjo Scholarship, and it is our hope that other bluegrass colleagues, friends and fans of J.D. Crowe will also support this scholarship.”

The J.D. Crowe Banjo Scholarships will be awarded to individuals planning to study the banjo on the college level or play the banjo in a college-level bluegrass ensemble. Applicants must demonstrate a high level of performance skills on the five-string banjo and plan to become involved in the bluegrass music industry on a professional level.

The first scholarship will be awarded in August 2022 for the fall semester of study. Applications will open on March 1 and the deadline will be June 1.

Thomas Rhett, Maren Morris, Chris Stapleton, More To Perform On 2022 ACM Awards

The first round of performers for the upcoming 57th Academy of Country Music Awards has been announced.

Slated to perform are Kelsea Ballerini, Walker Hayes, Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, Parmalee and Blanco Brown featuring Brooke Eden, Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde, and Breland. Additional details on the show’s more than 20 performances will be announced in the coming weeks.

As previously announced, the two-hour show will be hosted by Dolly Parton and co-hosted by reigning ACM New Male Artist of the Year Jimmie Allen and reigning ACM New Female Artist of the Year Gabby Barrett.

The show, airing live from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on March 7, will livestream exclusively on Amazon Prime without commercial interruption. The broadcast will begin at 7 p.m. CT.

Making their ACM Awards performance debuts, Parmalee and Blanco Brown will be joined by Brooke Eden for a version of their Platinum-certified No. 1 “Just the Way.” McBryde and Pearce will also take the stage for a performance of their Music Event and Video of the Year-nominated hit “Never Wanted To Be That Girl.” Breland will perform his new song “Praise The Lord.”

Performance details for Ballerini, Hayes, Morris, Rhett, and Stapleton will be announced in the coming weeks.

Morris Higham Management Promotes Five Across Marketing Department

Pictured (L-R, top row): James Deaton, Emily Galloway, Lily Smith; (L-R, bottom row): Dustin Stout, Matt Zahn. Photos: Anna Clary

Morris Higham Management has promoted five staff members across the marketing department.

Staffers Dustin Stout, Emily Galloway, Matt Zahn, Lily Smith and James Deaton each earn elevated titles as they continue to serve the company’s full roster, which includes Kenny Chesney, Brantley Gilbert, Barbara Mandrell, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, Michael Ray and more.

“The greatest strength of our company is the team working tirelessly for our roster behind the scenes,” notes Morris Higham President, Clint Higham. “I’m so proud of our marketing team and the value they bring to each artist on a daily basis.”

Stout rises from Director of Digital & Tour Marketing to VP of Marketing. He can be reached at dustin@morrishigham.com.

Galloway rises from Marketing Coordinator to Director of Interactive Marketing. She can be reached at emily@morrishigham.com.

Zahn, who formerly served as Director of Marketing for Morris Light and Sound, rises to Director of Digital Marketing at Morris Higham Management. He can be reached at matt@morrishigham.com.

Smith rises from Office Manager to Marketing Manager. She can be reached at lily@morrishigham.com.

Deaton rises from intern to Marketing Coordinator following his recent graduation from Belmont University. He can be reached at james@morrishigham.com.

“We have one of the strongest marketing teams in the business,” adds General Manager, Kyle Quigley. “Their vision and strategy, alongside their ability to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace, positions our roster for continued success.”

Reba Set To Release Collection Of Hymns, ‘My Chains Are Gone’

Reba McEntire is set to release a special new CD and DVD set, My Chains Are Gone: Hymns and Gospel Favorites, featuring the superstar performing some of the most beloved hymns of all time.

Due out March 25, the 12-track CD includes standards like “Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Because He Lives,” and more, and includes special guest appearances by Lauren Daigle, Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood and The Isaacs.

Hosted by Gospel music legend Bill Gaither, the companion DVD offers fans a long-requested recording of McEntire’s 2017 first-ever solo headlining show at the Ryman in Nashville, now being released with Gaither Music Group. Featuring Yearwood, Clarkson and The Isaacs, the special combines footage from that historic show along with newly-captured 2021 performances recorded at Clementine in Nashville. Fans will also be able to watch a special broadcast premiere of the performance on UPtv on March 25 at 8 p.m. ET, with an encore on April 4 at 2 a.m. ET. 

Fans can also tune in for a special talkshoplive with McEntire on March 1 at 5 p.m. CT, where she’ll share stories behind the album as well as a special sneak peek at one of the performances from the DVD.

McEntire is currently out on the road as part of her “Reba: Live In Concert Tour” which features newcomers across various dates including Caylee Hammack, Brandy Clark, Hannah Dasher, Reyna Roberts, Caitlyn Smith, Brittney Spencer and Tenille Townes.

My Chains Are Gone: Hymns and Gospel Favorites Track List: 
1. Jesus Loves Me
2. Oh, How I Love Jesus
3. When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder
4. Amazing Grace / My Chains Are Gone
5. I’ll Fly Away
6. Because He Lives
7. In The Garden / Wonderful Peace (Featuring The Isaacs)
8. How Great Thou Art
9. Softly & Tenderly (Featuring Kelly Clarkson & Trisha Yearwood)
10. I’d Rather Have Jesus
11. The Lord’s Prayer
12. Back To God (Acoustic Version) (Featuring Lauren Daigle)

Jordan Reynolds, Nick Burnett Launch Hit Ranch

Pictured (L-R): Jordan Reynolds and Nick Burnett

Grammy-winning songwriter Jordan Reynolds has launched Hit Ranch, a brokerage firm founded to help songwriters sell their catalogs. Alongside business partner and co-founder Nick Burnett, the pair aim to provide a simple, lower fee option to songwriters interested in selling.

The company’s first sale was Reynolds’ own catalog, which includes massive hits such as Dan + Shay‘s “Tequila,” “10,000 Hours,” and “Speechless,” to Warner Chappell.

“I was interested in possibly selling my catalog but realized I really didn’t know where to start. There’s still a lot of ambiguity around the process,” Reynolds shares. “In talking to my songwriter friends, I realized many of them felt the same way. I wanted to figure out a way to change that and offer a simple solution to anyone considering selling their catalog.”

“Jordan understands the songwriting community better than just about anybody and brings such important perspective to the world of catalog sales. I’m excited to work with him on Hit Ranch to offer a transparent and low-fee option to songwriters,” adds Burnett, a Vanderbilt MBA with a background in management, operations and strategy. “We’ve found the community of publishers and song funds to be exceptional and fair people who genuinely care about the songs they are purchasing and the future deals for the songwriters. We are looking forward to continuing to work closely with them on many future deals.”

For more information contact info@TheHitRanch.com.

Jimmie Allen, Brad Paisley Notch The Top Spot With ‘Freedom Was A Highway’

Multi-Platinum recording artist Jimmie Allen has landed his third career chart-topping single as “Freedom Was A Highway” hits No. 1 on both the Billboard and Mediabase charts. The track, which features country music icon Brad Paisley, also marks Paisley’s 25th trip to the top.

Co-written by Allen, Ash Bowers & Matt Rogers, the song features a signature Paisley guitar solo. The duo’s vocals pair to reminisce about the nostalgia and simplicity of carefree, youthful days.

Allen has had two other trips to the top of the charts with “Make Me Want To” in March 2020 and “Best Shot” in November 2018, both of which were from his debut album Mercury Lane.

This newest milestone adds to a growing list of Allen’s achievements over the last year, including a Best New Artist nomination at the 64th Annual Grammy awards, an Outstanding New Artist nomination at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards, and a nod for Male Artist of the Year at the upcoming 57th ACM Awards–where he will co-host alongside Dolly Parton & Gabby Barrett. He has also celebrated inclusion in The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s upcoming American Currents: State of the Music exhibit, and a sold-out start to his “Down Home Tour.”