Favorite Music of 2018

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As the years go on, my “Best Of” list is more about what I personally listen to and gravitate toward and less about making a statement or trying to be edge relevant. With that said, these were my favorites from 2018, and as always, there are artists and music I undoubtably missed.


  • Lucie Silvas “E.G.O.”
  • A Star Is Born Soundtrack
  • Caitlyn Smith “Starfire”
  • Layup “Whole New Level”
  • Dierks Bentley “The Mountain”
  • Patrick Droney “EP”
  • Lauren Daigle “Look Up Child”
  • Pistol Anies “Interstate Gospel”
  • Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour”
  • Eric Church “Desperate Man”
  • Imagine Dragons “Origins”
  • Heather Morgan “Borrowed Heart”
  • Ashley Monroe “Sparrow”
  • The Greatest Showman Soundtrack
  • Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite “No Mercy In This Land”
  • Panic! At The Disco “Pray For The Wicked”
  • Camila Cabello “Camila”
  • Shinedown “Attention Attention”
  • Ashley McBryde “Girl Going Nowhere”
  • Brothers Osborne “Port St. Joe”



  • Lucie Silvas
  • Lauren Daigle
  • Lady Gaga
  • Maren Morris
  • Caitlyn Smith
  • Camila Cabelo
  • Heather Morgan
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Halsey
  • Ashley McBryde



  • Dierks Bentley
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Patrick Droney
  • Marc Scibilia
  • Eric Church
  • Jason Isbell
  • Cody Johnson
  • Khalid
  • Ruston Kelly
  • Zach Williams


10 TOP DUOS or GROUPS of 2018

  • Layup
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Panic! At The Disco
  • Shinedown
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Little Big Town
  • The Record Company
  • Royal Blood
  • Greta Van Fleet
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Songwriter Spotlight: Natalie Hemby

With an authentic heart and distinct style, Natalie Hemby has become one of music’s defining songwriters. The Nashville native has written six #1 singles including Lady Antebellum’s “Downtown,” Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” and “Tornado,” Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar” and “Automatic,” and Justin Moore’s “You Look Like I Need A Drink.”


“Automatic” earned Hemby a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song in 2015. The hit also took home ACM Song of the Year honors the same year, as well as a NSAI Song of the Year win and a CMA Song of the Year nomination in 2014. Hemby co-wrote 10 songs on Miranda Lambert’s latest award-winning album The Weight of These Wings, as well as seven tracks on her 2014 release Platinum. In 2017 she released her first solo project entitled Puxico and opened for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on tour.

Most recently, Natalie scored two cuts on the #1 album soundtrack to “A Star Is Born,” including “Always Remember Us This Way” and “I’ll Never Love Again,” both of which are performed by Lady Gaga in the film and receiving critical acclaim. 

Hemby has also written songs for Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Amy Grant, Eli Young Band, Rosi Golan, Toby Keith, Lee Ann Womack, Labrinth, Lucie Silvas, and many others.

Natalie’s unique style, striking vocals, and likable personality makes her a favorite of Songwriter City shows and events. She’s a talent that outshines even the most popular recording artists and we’re proud to call her a long-time friend. 

Check out this spotify playlist of some of her most popular music.

Videos of her biggest songs are HERE.


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Featured Songwriter: Rhett Akins

Rhett - Songwriter CityMusic has always been in Rhett Akins’ blood. The Valdosta, GA. native grew up in a close-knit family that supported his musical interests and his desire to pursue music as a career. 

One of Rhett’s song demo tapes found its way to the reactivated Decca Records label. Impressed by what they heard, they quickly signed Rhett to a recording contract. In 1995 his first album, A Thousand Memories was released to critical acclaim and spawned his first # 1 single and a song he co-wrote “That Ain’t My Truck”. That success was duplicated the following year with his second #1 single, “Don’t Get Me Started”, from his follow up album “Somebody New”.

Rhett has an incredible 28 career number one singles as a songwriter, including: “Dirt On My Boots” by Jon Pardi, “All Over Me” by Josh Turner, “Gimmie That Girl” by Joe Nichols, “Put A Girl In It” by Brooks & Dunn, “Take A Back Road” by Rodney Atkins, “I Don’t What This Night To End” by Luke Bryan, “I Can Take It From There” by Chris Young, “All About Tonight”, “Honey Bee” and “Boys Round Here”, all three by Blake Shelton, “Point At You” by Justin Moore, “Hey Girl” by Billy Currington, “When She Says Baby” by Jason Aldean, “Get Me Some Of That” and “It Goes Like This” by Thomas Rhett and many others.

Akins was named BMI’s songwriter of the year in 2011 and received Triple Play Awards in January 2012, 2014, and 2018 for having three number one singles in a 12 month period. Most recently, he was named 2018 ACM Songwriter of the Year.

A gifted singer, songwriter, entertainer, and storyteller, Rhett has all of the critical elements to deliver stellar Songwriter City shows!


 #1 Songs

  • “Dirt On My Boots” – Jon Pardi
  • “Boys Round Here” – Blake Shelton
  • “Hey Girl” – Billy Currington
  • “Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton
  • “Small Town Boy” – Dustin Lynch 
  • “Get Me Some Of That” – Thomas Rhett
  • “Tonight Looks Good On You” – Jason Aldean
  • “I Know Somebody” – LoCash
  • “Young & Crazy” – Frankie Ballard
  • “Star Of The Show” – Thomas Rhett
  • “Ready Set Roll” – Chase Rice
  • “Mind Reader” – Dustin Lynch
  • “Take A Back Road” – Rodney Atkins
  • “Just Getting’ Started” – Jason Aldean
  • “I Don’t Want This Night To End” – Luke Bryan
  • “It Goes Like This” – Thomas Rhett
  • “Small Town Throwdown” – Brantley Gilbert
  • “That Don’t Sound Like You” – Lee Brice
  • “When She Says Baby” – Jason Aldean
  • “All About Tonight” – Blake Shelton
  • “All Over Me” – Josh Turner
  • “Gimmie That Girl” – Joe Nichols
  • “Huntin’, Fishin’, & Lovin’ Every Day” – Luke Bryan
  • “Put a Girl In It” – Brooks & Dunn
  • “Point At You” – Justin Moore
  • “I Can Take It From There” – Chris Young
  • “Don’t Get Me Started” – Rhett Akins
  • “That Ain’t My Truck” – Rhett Akins

Top 5 Songs

  • “Farmer’s Daughter” – Rodney Atkins
  • “Parking Lot Party” – Lee Brice
  • “I Lived It” – Current Blake Shelton single
  • “Kinda Don’t Care” – Current Justin Moore single

Other cuts by: Jack Ingram, Craig Morgan, Jerrod Niemann, Trent Willman, Reba McEntire, Tyler Farr

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2018 ACM Songwriter Awards

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Congratulations to all of the songwriters who were nominated for ACM Awards for Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year, especially Songwriter City partners Rhett Akins, Jon Randall, Lee Thomas Miller, and Ross Copperman.

Rhett was named Songwriter of the Year and Jon took home the Song of the Year honor “Tin Man” by Miranda Lambert at the 2018 awards held in Las Vegas.

“Body Like a Back Road” Sam Hunt (written by Sam Hunt, Zach Crowell, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne)
“Female” Keith Urban (written by Ross Copperman, Nicolle Galyon, Shane McAnally)
“Tin Man” Miranda Lambert (written by Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall) – winner 
“Whiskey and You” Chris Stapleton (written by Chris Stapleton, Lee Thomas Miller)

Rhett Akinswinner
Ashley Gorley
Hillary Lindsey
Shane McAnally
Josh Osborne

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Event Entertainment: The Challenge of New & Original

The event business is teaching me a great deal about the ability to bring high-quality entertainment to a diverse cross-section of companies, associations, and organizations. One key theme I have learned about and heard repeatedly from event planning professionals, is the desire for unique, memorable, compelling, and experience based entertainment. There is a constant searching out of the special and inspirational that makes an impact on people. I completely resonate with that desire and it’s exactly the core of what we aim to provide with Songwriter City. The challenge, we find, is to get those decision makers who are wanting an out-of-the-box experience to actually move in that direction. It’s the paradox of desiring something original, but not committing on follow through because of lack of familiarity.

Songwriter City Descriptions

Authentic songwriters-in-the-round events are never easy to describe in detail because the concept doesn’t fit into the typical and tried entertainment box. If something has been done thousands of times, there’s a very high familiarity with it and it’s easy to squeeze down into a sound bite. However, if it’s specialized and original, it will likely be somewhat unknown to the masses. To bring audiences something they may have never been exposed to before may result in them never hearing of it before either, but isn’t that a byproduct of discovering new and inspiring entertainment?

In general, if you’re genuinely committed to crafting a true experience for your guests and considering an unfamiliar option, it is essential to do the worthwhile research including, but not limited to:

  • Go see it in person if possible. Nothing is better than being in the room while it’s happening and watching the audience react in real time.
  • Seek out testimonials. Contact some of the past clients and have a conversation about the experience and the impact it had on them.
  • Ask the entertainment supplier for more references and testimonials if necessary. If they are as good as they say, they will gladly provide whatever they can.
  • Understand that video of a show doesn’t necessarily translate adequately, especially experience based and audience interaction type of events. It only tells a portion of the story and doesn’t capture the feel and emotion of the event.

There’s always an inherent risk in putting on any special event; with venue, catering, transportation – everything. Entertainment is no different, although it’s widely considered to be what most people will take with them after the event, and if it’s a stellar experience, will remember for a very long time to come.

It’s understandable to be cautious in planning a special event, but don’t let it limit your creative vision of what is possible in crafting a one-of-a-kind experience.



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Featured Songwriter: Wendell Mobley

Wendell MobleyWendell began playing in local bands before moving from Celina, Ohio to Nashville, where he found a job playing guitar for Jack Greene and Alabama. After having his songs recorded by Joe Diffie and Kenny Rogers, he became a full-time songwriter.

Mobley’s first cut as a single was Alabama’s “We Can’t Love Like This Anymore” in 1994. Since then he’s written #1 hits such as “Take Me There” and “Fast Cars and Freedom” by Rascal Flatts, “How Forever Feels” and “There Goes My Life” by Kenny Chesney, “Tattoos In This Town” and “A Little More Summertime” by Jason Aldean, and “How Country Feels” by Randy Houser. He’s had other songs recorded by Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Dustin Lynch, Rodney Atkins, Alabama, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Edwin McCain and many others.

His songs have been at #1 for 25 weeks and they’ve sold over 60 million records and he continues to create refreshing lyrics and melodies for the biggest acts and brightest newcomers. He’s also been showing his range with the national ad campaign for Napa Auto Parts, writing and singing their theme song, “Napa Know How.”

Wendell has one of the best voices in country music (or any genre for that matter), and it’s always fun watching people be blown away by his incredible combination of writing and vocal talent at a live songwriter performance. We’re proud to have him as a Songwriter City partner!

Here’s a video of Wendell performing “There Goes My Life” with Kenny Chesney at a songwriter round in 2017.

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Two Years In Songwriter City

It’s been two years since our first Songwriter City show in 2016 and I began the full-fledged plunge into owning and running my own business. Working in the corporate world and hired as an independent contractor have been the only roles I’ve known for my entire professional career. I’ve dipped my toe in the entrepreneurial world Logos1 - Copya couple times, but never jumped in. And jumping is exactly what I needed to do. It forced me to commit myself and pursue this endeavor head on and see where the road traveled. 

I am thrilled to say that our first year was good and our second year exceeded expectations. As we forge ahead on this third year, I’m proud of these incredibly gifted songwriters who are the “why” behind Songwriter City and I’m excited to get them in front of as many companies, organizations, and people as possible. Raising the awareness of one of the most entertaining and authentic music experiences in existence, as well as telling the story of the songwriter is a privilege. I don’t take it lightly.

Just like any new venture, there have certainly been challenges, but I’m learning a great deal along this journey and meeting many exceptional people. So a big THANK YOU to friends, partners, clients, and advocates who believe in what we’re doing and who have come along side us to bring these Songwriter City experiences to life. I am grateful for all of you!

Collage - February 2018

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