The Best Entertainment in Nashville (or anywhere)

Songwriter City’s The Warren Brothers, Jessi Alexander, and Josh Kear during a live corporate conference event in Nashville.

Having lived in Nashville for over 25 years and worked with countless top recording artists in my career, I frequently get asked, “What was your favorite show you’ve ever worked?” That’s always a tough, if not impossible, question, as I’ve seen the best – Garth Brooks, George Strait, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and so many others who put on amazing shows. However, if I break it down to what my absolute favorite type of show is, well that’s easy. A songwriter round. Often called Songwriters in the Round, which was made popular by the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. Songwriters sitting together, trading songs and stories, like what would happen in a writing session, on a front porch, or by a camp fire. Some of the best performances I’ve ever seen in my life are from the songwriters themselves, who have written hit songs for the biggest artists in the world in country, pop, and rock music, including the ones mentioned above.

It’s not only a unique experience to witness a high-end songwriter round in action, but it’s fun to watch the guests who have never seen one before and their reactions to it. First comes the, “I thought the artists wrote these songs!” or “THIS person wrote that song!” So there’s the revelation that Kenny, Tim, Blake, Carrie, etc. didn’t actually write that big #1 hit themselves.

The second revelation is the incredible stories behind each of these songs, which the songwriters share before performing them. A peak behind the curtain of the music industry and the stories behind the songs. Always fascinating, fun, intimate, and inspiring. People laughing and crying are not uncommon within the same show.

Third, it becomes very obvious just how incredibly talented the songwriters are. Many are more talented than the artists who recorded their songs. People end up liking the songwriter’s version more than the one they know from the radio or from streaming. I know I do.

And I shouldn’t really call it a “show” or a “concert.” It’s an experience to take part in. No two are ever the alike, even with the same songwriters. It’s spontaneous, authentic, engaging, and memorable. Many times the audience can even take part. So there’s a lot of connection happening for the guests – to the songs, to the stories, and to the songwriters themselves. It’s something you take part in and take with you when you leave. That makes it even more special and memorable.

When it’s done right, the songwriter experience is undoubtably the best entertainment in Nashville, but honestly, it’s the best music experience I’ve seen anywhere.

I’m thankful that Songwriter City is doing it right, by making this experience more famous and accessible to anyone, anywhere around the country, by curating these special songwriter rounds. Event and meeting planners, DMC’s, hotels, venues, resorts, and companies are discovering this door to booking corporate, private, and public events. As a result, more people are getting to experience these premier songwriters and their incredible talents and gifts. I’m grateful for that because these songwriters are the true talent and champion of songs. They understand the power of songs and without a great song there wouldn’t be recording artists or the music we love to live are lives to. Songwriters deserve to be known and celebrated!

For more information on how to bring a one-of-a-kind songwriter experience to you and your group or organization, for both in-person and virtual events, you can contact

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Shy Carter

Shy Carter is a multi-talented songwriter, artist, rapper and producer Shy Carter as a Songwriter City partner who has reached all corners of the industry with his early success. With #1 song credits that span Kane Brown’s “Heaven” to Charlie Puth’s “One Call Away,” Carter is one of the most formidable up-and-coming talents in Nashville and beyond.

#1 hit songwriter and producer Shy Carter, available for corporate and private event booking from Songwriter City.

Shy is among the writers behind Billy Currington’s “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To,” Sugarland’s smash hit “Stuck Like Glue,” Rob Thomas’ single “Someday,” and Keith Urban’s “God Whispered Your Name.” Carter also collaborated Urban on both “Never Coming Down” and “My Wave.” He’s also featured on Tim McGraw’s “Way Down.”

Named to Variety’s 2018 Hitmakers list, he has also worked with Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, Nelly and more.

Shy recently released his single “Good Love” to radio through Warner Music Nashville.

Check out our Shy Carter Video Playlist.

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Songwriter City Spotlight: David Hodges

David Hodges 5

David Hodges is a multi-platinum, Grammy, and BMI award winning writer and producer. He was a founding member of Evanescence and has been penning hits with and for world-renowned artists for over a decade, selling over 65 million records. His #1 singles include “Bring Me To Life” and “My Immortal” (Evanescence), “A Thousand Years” (Christina Perri for Twilight), “Because of You” (Kelly Clarkson), “See You Again” (Carrie Underwood), and most recently “Miss Me More” (Kelsea Ballerini). He also co-wrote powerful hits such as “Dear Hate” (Maren Morris and Vince Gill), “Going Under” (Evanescence), and “What About Now” (Daughtry). Other artists who have cut his songs include Keith Urban, Jason Mraz, 5 Seconds of Summer, Blink 182, Ben Rector, Betty Who, Devin Dawson, Switchfoot, and many others.

Hodges has released many of his own albums and EP’s over the last ten years, including three in 2019 (“The December Sessions Volume 3,” “Discrepancies in the Recollection of Various Principles / Side A” and “Side B”). All very strong releases. 

David offers a unique mix of country, pop, and rock hits and is an incredible vocalist, musician, and entertainer. We are proud to have such a gifted artist as a Songwriter City partner.

To book David for corporate, private, and special events please contact: 

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Songwriter City Spotlight: The Warren Brothers

The Warren Brothers – Brett and Brad Warren performing during a Songwriter City event in Nashville.

Brett and Brad Warren are highly sought-after songwriters and entertainers. They have written hits for Tim McGraw (“If You’re Reading This”, “Felt Good on My Lips”, “Highway Don’t Care”), Toby Keith (“Red Solo Cup”), Keith Urban (“Little Bit of Everything”), Faith Hill (“The Lucky One”), Martina McBride (“Anyway”, “Wrong Baby Wrong”), Dierks Bentley (“Feel That Fire”), Jerrod Niemann (“Drink To That All Night”) and more. Their most recent #1 hits are “Lights Come On” by Jason Aldean, “Every Time I Hear That Song,” by Blake Shelton and “Sober Saturday Night” by Chris Young.

Check out their video playlist HERE.

To book the Warren Brothers for any corporate, private, or special event, please contact


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Songwriter City Spotlight: Josh Kear

Josh Kear is the only songwriter in Grammy history to win Best Country Song three times (for Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” and Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” and “Blown Away”). He also won CMA, ACM, and ASCAP Song of the Year awards for “I Need You Now,” which spent 14 weeks at #1 on the AC chart and 5 weeks at #1 on the country charts.

Hit songwriter Josh Kear during a Songwriter City private event.

Kear has a total of 15 number one songs, including Luke Bryan’s “Drunk On You”, Blake Shelton’s “Neon Light”, and Tim McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care”. His most recent #1’s are “Woman, Amen” by Dierks Bentley and “Most People Are Good” by Luke Bryan, which spent three weeks on top of the country charts.

The long list of country and pop performers who have cut his songs also includes Frankie Ballard, Martina McBride, Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, Charlie Puth, Jimmie Buffet, Labrinth, Chris Young, Tyler Farr, Darius Rucker and many others.

Josh has incredible gifts as, not only a songwriter, but a storyteller, singer, and entertainer, and knows how to connect to an audience whether it’s an intimate private dinner or a large scale corporate or conference event. He’s been with Songwriter City since the beginning and we’re honored to call him a friend!

To book Josh for any event, please email

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Favorite Music of 2019


Annual music thing. Gotta do it. My musical tastes narrow, then expand, then narrow. Cyclical for sure based on what’s happening with artists and current music styles. 


  • twenty one pilots
  • Jonas Brothers
  • The Steel Woods
  • The Black Keys
  • The Highwomen
  • The Raconteurs
  • Panic At The Disco
  • The Struts
  • Switchfoot
  • Midland
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band


  • Halsey
  • Joy Williams
  • H.E.R.
  • Grace Potter
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Lauren Daigle
  • Billie Eilish
  • Maren Morris
  • Lizzo
  • Pink
  • Camila Cabello
  • Ledger


  • Joy Williams “Front Porch”
  • The Steel Woods “Old News”
  • The Black Keys “Let’s Rock”
  • The Highwomen “The Highwomen”
  • Audrey Assad “Peace”
  • Mike & The Moonpies “Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold”
  • Cody Johnson “Ain’t Nothin’ To It”
  • twenty one pilots “Trench”
  • Billie Eilish “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go”
  • Tyler Childers “Country Squire”
  • The Raconteurs “Help Us Stranger”
  • Jonas Brothers “Happiness Begins”
  • Miranda Lambert “Wildcard”


  • Tyler Childers
  • Wiler Woods
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Khalid
  • Cody Johnson
  • Gary Clark Jr.
  • Eric Church
  • Keb Mo’
  • Luke Combs
  • Billy Strings
  • Zach Williams


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Songwriter City Spotlight: Heather Morgan

Vince Gill once described Heather Morgan’s voice as a combination of Patty Griffin and Dolly Parton.

Growing up in Richardson, Texas, Heather was raised on Willie Nelson, Dolly, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, George Strait, Lee Ann Womack, Dixie Chicks, and Motown classics.

Heather has written songs for such artists as Randy Rogers Band, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley and Maren Morris. She had her first #1 song “Beat of the Music”, which was co-written with Ross Copperman and Brett Eldredge. The song won BMI’s Song of the Year in 2015. These three writers followed up with another #1 song for Brett, “Lose My Mind.” She also co-wrote “Love Someone” for Eldredge, which just hit #1 this week!

In 2018 Morgan released her own album entitled “Borrowed Heart” with Grammy-nominated producer Paul Moak, and she has recently added her vocals to records with Drake White and Dierks Bentley.

Heather is also the co-founder of Girls of Nashville, a singer-songwriter show that began in 2014 to highlight female talent in Nashville. The show was recently featured in People.

Heather is a shining light of a songwriter, vocalist, and individual, and we’re so glad to shine the light on her!

Heather Morgan Video Playlist

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Laura Veltz

Originally from New York City, Laura Veltz has spent her entire adult life writing and performing music. After a decade touring and recording with her family band, Cecilia, culminating in a record deal with Atlantic Records, she zeroed in on her love of commercial songwriting in 2008 and was lured to Music City.

Since then, Veltz has garnered cuts and hits by Country’s newest and hottest superstars alike, becoming one of today’s most respected songsmiths. Her list of hits and placements continues to grow daily including the chart toppers “I Could Use A Love Song” by Maren Morris, “Drunk Last Night” by Eli Young Band, “Lonely Eyes” by Chris Young, and her latest #1 “Speechless” by Dan + Shay, which is crossing over on the pop charts.

Veltz co-wrote four songs, including the smash, “Rich,” from Maren Morris’s Grammy-nominated album, Hero. She has also co-written songs from the latest albums by Dierks Bentley, Kane Brown, Brothers Osborne, Ryan Hurd and Little Big Town. Her songs have also been recorded by such artists as Devin Dawson, Maddie & Tae, Carly Pearce, Cassadee Pope, The Cadillac Three, and the Queen of Country Music herself, Reba McEntire.

With a distinctive style, engaging personality, and incredible talent, we are excited to have Laura as a Songwriter City parter!

Laura Veltz Video Playlist

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Neil Thrasher

Songwriter City partner Neil Thrasher during a corporate event at the Bluebird Cafe.

Neil Thrasher has penned many #1 hits including “Fast Cars & Freedom”, “Take Me There” and “Banjo” by Rascal Flatts, “There Goes My Life” by Kenny Chesney, “Fly Over States” and “Night Train” by Jason Aldean, and “How Country Feels” by Randy Houser”. He also has the current single “Rearview Town” by Jason Aldean which is currently climbing the charts.

Neil’s songs have also been recorded by some of music’s most successful acts including: Carrie Underwood Luke Bryan Montgomery Gentry Reba McEntire David Nail Diamond Rio Martina McBride Trace Adkins, and many sothers.

Neil is one of the best vocalists and songwriters in Nashville and we love being able to book him as a part of a songwriter round.

Neil Thrasher Video Playlist

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Jordan Reynolds

Songwriter City partner Jordan Reynolds.

Rising songwriter Jordan Reynolds, originally hailing from St. Louis, has quickly made a name for himself in Nashville. Reynolds’ songwriting is a fusion of classic country and soulful pop. His songs have been cut by Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, Lauren Alaina, Thomas Rhett and many others.

Reynolds scored his first #1 with Dan + Shay’s “Tequila” and also with their follow up single “Speechless,” which spent 4 weeks at #1 and is now crossing over on the pop charts. He also scored a #1 with For King & Country’s “God Only Knows” on the Contemporary Christian chart. He currently has Dan+Shay’s most recent single “All To Myself,” which is soaring up the charts.

When Jordan is not working as a well-rounded musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer he spends his time with his wife Taylor and their dog Maddy.

He’s an incredibly gifted singer, songwriter, and storyteller….and we’re thrilled to have him as a Songwriter City parter!

Jordan Reynolds Video Playlist

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Jon Randall

Songwriter City partner Jon Randall during a corporate event in Cleveland, Ohio.
Photo credit: Mike Severson

Jon Randall Stewart was born in Dallas, TX and in his teenage years relocated to Nashville where he started his professional musical journey singing backup and playing guitar with Emmylou Harris’s Nash Ramblers, who he won a Grammy with in 1992 for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group. He released his debut solo album, “What You Don’t Know, in 1995 on RCA. His three subsequent albums have all been met with much critical acclaim.

As a songwriter, Randall is most known for “Whiskey Lullaby,” the Brad Paisley and Alison Krausss hit single he co-wrote with Whisperin’ Bill Anderson, which won the CMA Award for Song of the Year in 2005. Jon’s #1 songs include “Am I The Only One” from Dierks Bentley and “Drink On It” by Blake Shelton. Other artists who have recorded his songs include Tim McGraw, Gary Allan, Jack Ingram, Reba McEntire, Guy Clark, and more.

Jon also produced Dierks Bentley’s acoustic project “Up on the Ridge,” which earned CMA, Grammy, and ACM nominations. He also won ACM Song of the Year in 2018 for “Tin Man,” which was recorded by Miranda Lambert.

Most recently, Randall has been nominated for a 2019 ACM Award for Album of the Year as a producer on Dierks Bentely’s “The Mountain,” which Jon also has 4 cuts on. In addition, he scored a track on the new Maren Morris album “Girl,” which was released March 8th.

Randall’s success as a musician, performer, songwriter, and producer continues to flourish from the heart of Nashville and we love to showcase all of his incredible gifts at corporate and special events all around the country!

To book Tom and other world-class songwriter entertainers, email Songwriter City at

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Tom Douglas

“Tom Douglas is, quite simply, our conscience. He shines a spotlight on the dark side of society so brightly that we can no longer ignore it. He’s a realist, but he’s also an optimist. As he says, the pain in this world is great, but the love is even greater. I love his raspy voice. When you hear him sing, you know he just knows. He’s lived every word that he writes. He makes mature music for mature people. He’s had some huge hits, but I always like his versions better. No one can sing a Tom Douglas song better than Tom.”   – Music journalist Beverly Keel

Songwriter City partner Tom Douglas

After a successful career in commercial real estate, Tom Douglas scored his first charting single as a songwriter when Collin Raye took “Little Rock” to the top of the charts in 1994. The single earned Tom a CMA Song of the Year nomination, which began a long string of Top 10 singles that has stretched for more than two decades. His #1 songs include “I Run to You” and “Hello World” for Lady Antebellum, “Love’s the Only House” for Martina McBride, “Grown Men Don’t Cry,” “Southern Voice,” and “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” for Tim McGraw, “Raise ‘Em Up” for Keith Urban and Eric Church, and Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” which was nominated for two Grammy awards and won CMA and ACM Song of the Year. His latest hit was “Drunk Girl” for Chris Janson.

Tom’s songs have also been recorded by Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood, Kenny Chesney, Brett Eldredge, Alabama, Lee Ann Womack and many others. Tom is a Golden Globe and Oscar nominee, has been nominated for four Grammy awards, and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014.

Tom is a songwriting treasure and we love to get him on a stage to show his gifts of music and storytelling to others.

Tom Douglas Video Playlist

To book Tom and other world-class songwriter entertainers, email Songwriter City at

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Chris DeStefano

Chris DeStefano is a Grammy Award Winning singer/songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist. As a songwriter, he has 14 #1 songs with artists including Carrie Underwood (“Good Girl”, “Little Toy Guns”), Billy Currington (“Hey Girl”), Brett Eldredge (“Don’t Ya”), Luke Bryan (“That’s My Kind of Night”, “Kick the Dust Up” ), Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood (“Somethin’ Bad,” later reworked as the opening theme for NBC Sunday Night Football), Rascal Flatts (“Rewind”) and Jason Aldean (“Just Gettin’ Started”).

Chris also co-wrote the Carrie Underwood, 7 week, #1 song “Something in the Water.” His most recent #1 is “Kiss Somebody” by Morgan Evans. He’s also had other cuts recorded by the likes of Bon Jovi, Thomas Rhett, Jake Owen, Florida Georgia Line, Kelly Clarkson, Cole Swindell, Scotty Mcreery, Lauren Alaina, Lucy Hale, David Archuleta, Rachel Platten, Eli Young Band, Connie Britton, Big Time Rush and many others.

Great to have Chris as a Songwriter City partner to show off his incredible voice, songs, and talent to the event world!

Chris DeStefano Video Playlist

Songwriter City partner Chris DeStefano
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Songwriter City Spotlight: Bob DiPiero

Since his first #1 in 1983, Hall of Fame Songwriter Bob DiPiero has been one of music’s most prolific and consistent songwriters. He’s had over 1,000 songs recorded, countless hit singles, and an incredible 15 #1 hits. Bob has won numerous awards including most recently, BMI’s Icon Award, celebrating his outstanding career achievement and honoring his unique and influence on generations of music makers.

Bob is a master of telling incredibly fun stories behind his many hits and is so engaging and entertaining at corporate events in Nashville and around the country. We are honored to have him as a Songwriter City partner!

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Favorite Music of 2018

  • collage

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”
  • twenty one pilots “Trench”
  • 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
  • twenty one pilots
  • Little Big Town
  • The Record Company
  • Royal Blood
  • Greta Van Fleet
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Songwriter City Spotlight: Natalie Hemby

Songwriter City partner 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. She also has three songs on Kacey Musgraves’ Grammy Award Winning Album “Golden Hour.”

Hemby has additional cuts by 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. Book her for your event here:

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

Videos of her biggest songs are HERE.

To book Natalie for an event, please email

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Rhett Akins

Music 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!

Rhett - Songwriter City
Songwriter City partner Rhett Akins. Photo credit: Mike Severson

Spotify Playlist

Video Playlist

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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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Songwriter City Spotlight: 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!

Spotify Playlist

Video Playlist

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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Favorite Music of 2017


I have to admit I wasn’t on top of my discovery game this year, but decent enough to compile an end of year list. There seems to be an unintentional common thread in my favorite music from 2017 and it is that a good portion of the artists are female and from the south. That’s a great thing, y’all! And another take away is that there is still hope for country and rock and roll. These were my favorites from 2017 that were excellent and stood out from the rest, in my personal opinion. 



  • Chris Stapleton “From A Room: Vol 1”
  • Greta Van Fleet “From the Fires”
  • Valerie June “The Order of Time”
  • Natalie Hemby “Puxico”
  • Imagine Dragons “Evolve”
  • Sunny Sweeney “Trophy”
  • Alison Krauss “Windy City”
  • Tyler Childers “Purgatory”
  • U2 “Songs Of Experience”
  • Lee Ann Womack “The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone”
  • Charlie Worsham “Beginning Of Things”
  • Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit “Nashville Sound”
  • Midland “On The Rocks”
  • Larkin Poe “Peach”
  • Khalid “American Teen”
  • Halsey “hopeless fountain kingdom”
  • Angeleena Presley “Wrangled”
  • NF “Perception”
  • Portugal, The Man “Woodstock”
  • Lorde “Melodrama”



  • Valerie June
  • Natalie Hemby
  • Sunny Sweeney
  • Alison Krauss
  • Taylor Swift
  • Rhiannon Giddens
  • Angeleena Presley
  • Halsey
  • Camila Cabello
  • Lorde
  • Ellie Holcomb



  • Charlie Worsham
  • Tyler Childers
  • Jason Isbell
  • Keith Urban
  • Luke Combs
  • Khalid
  • Colter Wall
  • Drew Womack
  • NF
  • Aaron Watson


10 BEST DUOS or GROUPS of 2017

  • Greta Van Fleet
  • Imagine Dragons
  • U2
  • Larkin Poe
  • Little Big Town
  • Jule Vera
  • The War On Drugs
  • The Mavericks
  • Turnpike Troubadors
  • Ranky Tanky



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Songwriter City Spotlight: Jessi Alexander

Jessi Alexander

In 2001, after a friend submitted a demo tape to the NARAS Grammy Showcase, Jessi Alexander — who had no prior knowledge of the submission — found herself a very surprised winner, an achievement that helped the young singer get signed to Columbia Records in 2003. Despite being one of the finest female vocalists in Nashville, the record deal didn’t work out, proving that the best artists don’t always get the attention, airplay, and notoriety they deserve. 

Alexander turned the focus to songwriting and her career skyrocketed with her worldwide #1 hit “The Climb”. Miley Cyrus recorded the song and it soon became the anthem for her box office hit “The Hannah Montana Movie” and won the 2009 MTV Movie Awards ‘Best Song From A Movie’. Since then Jessi has penned three other number one’s including “I Drive Your Truck” recorded by Lee Brice, which won Song of the Year from the 2013 CMA Awards, 2014 ACM Awards, and 2013 NSAI Awards. Additional #1’s include Blake Shelton’s “Mine Would Be You” and “Drink On It.” 

Other artists who have recorded Jessi’s songs inlcude Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne, Little Big Town, High Valley, Ashley Monroe, Patty Loveless, Eric Paslay, Trisha Yearwood, Celine Dion, Darius Rucker, Will Hoge, and more. 

Jessi is one of the best female vocalists you’ll ever find and there are many more hits and great things coming for her in the years ahead. We are thrilled to have her as a Songwriter City partner!

Book Jessi for your next corporate, private, or special event! Contact 

Jessi telling the story behind and performing “Drink On It” which was a #1 for Blake Shelton.


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Celebrating Songwriters

Having been in Nashville for over 20 years now, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many Tin Pan South Songwriters Festivals, which just concluded their 25th annual event last week. The packed five nights of over 300 writers, at ten different venues, allow songwriters to share their compelling stories of inspiration and heartbreak behind their songs and give the audience a unique look behind the creative curtain. It’s a community celebration of songwriters everywhere and of the Songwriting Capital of the World – Nashville.

Over the years I’ve witnessed countless Tin Pan South songwriter rounds of top names with the biggest hits and also talented emerging songwriters who are searching for their first big break. I recall conversations at past shows with songwriters who were relatively new to town and didn’t have a performance slot, who are now some of the biggest names in the songwriting world. I’ve seen multi-genre songwriters deliver incredible performances and tell fascinating stories behind their songs and about their songwriting journey.

It was no different this year. The level of talent was exceptional and a spirit of songwriter celebration was thick in the air. And that’s what I love the most – the celebration of the heart and soul of music – the lifeblood of our entire existence as an art form and a business. The songwriters who come to town with a gift and a dream, to the city of songwriter dreams.

It’s an honor to be a small part of this special community and do whatever is in my ability to shine the deserving spotlight on their immense talent. To increase their value and to bring more awareness to the masses. Songwriter City was born to celebrate the songwriter and it’s never been more apparent to me than last week at Tin Pan South.

Thanks to the Nashville Songwriters Association International for everything they do for songwriters around the world and for being the catalyst behind Tin Pan South. To all the sponsors who help put the festival on as well. It was yet another magical week of memories and I’m already looking forward to next year.

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Songwriter City Spotlight: Lee Thomas Miller



Lee Thomas Miller left his hometown to attend Eastern Kentucky University and graduated in 1990. After graduation, he moved to Nashville to find work as a songwriter. Ken Mellons was the first artist to record his material in 1994, but it was not until Blackhawk released “Days of America” in 2002 that Miller had a writing credit for a chart single. Another recording from 2002, “The Impossible” by Joe Nichols, was nominated for a Grammy Award a year later. Both it and Terri Clark’s 2003 single “I Just Wanna Be Mad” earned Miller BMI Million-Air awards in 2004 for receiving one million radio plays each. In addition to 3 Grammy nominations, Miller won CMA and ACM song of the year awards for “In Color” which was recorded by Jamey Johnson.

Lee has served as President of the Board of Directors for the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International (NSAI), which takes him to Washington DC often to advocate in congress on behalf of all songwriters.

Lee is an amazing songwriter performer, whether it’s in-the-round or a solo show, he skillfully delivers hit songs, fascinating stories, and is one of the best at interacting with a crowd and making them part of the experience. We’re proud to have Lee as a Songwriter City partner!

Lee has seven #1 singles including:

“The Impossible” – Joe Nichols
“I Just Wanna Be Mad” – Terri Clark
“The World” – Brad Paisley
“You’re Gonna Miss This” – Trace Adkins
“I’m Still A Guy” – Brad Paisley
“Southern Girl” – Tim McGraw
“Perfect Storm” – Brad Paisley

Top 10 singles:

“In Color” – Jamey Johnson
     • 2009 ACM awards for Song of the Year
     • 2009 CMA award for Song of the Year
     • 2009 Music Row Song of the Year
“Nothin’ To Die For” – Tim McGraw
“Jesus In Disguise” – Brandon Heath
“Just A Girl” – Brandon Heath
“Crushin’ It” – Brad Paisley

Miller also has the current Brothers Osborne single “It Ain’t My Fault” which is currently climbing the charts.

Other cuts by: George Strait, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Scotty McCreery, Josh Turner, David Nail, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, John Michael Montgomery, Sammy Kershaw, Tracy Byrd, Tracy Lawrence, Randy Travis, Rhett Akins, Billy Currington, Craig Morgan, The Wreckers, Chris Young, and more!



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Featured Songwriter: Josh Kear

IMG_6908.JPGJosh Kear is a four-time Grammy nominated songwriter and recipient of the ACM Song of the Year for Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” He is the only songwriter in Grammy
history to win Best Country Song three times. Josh boasts a total of 11 number one songs and dozens of cuts by some of the world’s most famous musical artists including Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, Labrinth, and Charlie Puth. 

Not only is Josh an incredibly successful songwriter, but is also a strong vocalist and tells great behind the scenes stories of how his hits came to be. He always gives a great Songwriter City experience.

#1 Songs

“Need You Now” –  Lady Antebellum  (14 week #1 AC, 5 week #1 Country, #2 Top 40)
·  2011 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Country Performance     by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and Best Country Song
·  2010 ACM award for Single of the Year and Song of the Year
·  2010 CMA award for Song of the Year
·  2010 ASCP Song of the Year
“Before He Cheats” – Carrie Underwood  (5 week #1)
·  2008 Grammy award for Country Song of the Year and Best Female Country Vocal        Performance
·   2007 CMA award for Single of the Year
·   2007 ASCAP awards for Song of the Year and Most Performed Song of the Year
“Drunk on a Plane” – Dierks Bentley
“Neon Light” – Blake Shelton
“Helluva Life” – Frankie Ballard 
“Highway Don’t Care” – Tim McGraw (feat. Taylor Swift & Keith Urban)  
“Drunk on You” – Luke Bryan  
·   ASCAP Song of the Year
“Blown Away” – Carrie Underwood 
  ·  2013 Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance
“Two Black Cadillacs” – Carrie Underwood
“Drinking Class” – Lee Brice

Top 5 Songs

“(Kissed You) Good Night” – Gloriana #2
“Dancin’ Away with My Heart” – Lady Antebellum #2
“Redneck Crazy”  – Tyler Farr  #3

Other cuts by:  Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Susan Boyle, Jimmie Buffet, Darius Rucker, Labrinth, Eli Young Band, Martina McBride, Chris Young, Charlie Puth


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Thank You for an Amazing Year!


We want to thank our clients, partners, friends, supporters, and songwriter advocates for making it an incredible 2016 for Songwriter City. Many of Nashville’s elite songwriters gave the authentic music experience for conferences, dinners, lunches, closing ceremonies, conventions, corporate events, private parties, and more! Small groups, large groups, and everything in between. We are beyond excited for what 2017 holds as we bring tailor-made songwriter shows to more groups wanting a special one-of-a-kind experience. 

All of us with Songwriter City wish you the best of everything in 2017!



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Favorite Music of 2016

I don’t get too caught up in the “best of” list frenzy, but I do make an effort to list my favorites from the past year. Critically acclaimed or not. So here are some from 2016.



Top Musical Groups of 2016:

NEEDTOBREATHE, Little Big Town, Shovels & Rope, Judah & the Lion, twenty one pilots, Radiohead

Top Female Musical Artists of 2016:

Caitlyn Smith, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Lucie Silvas, Lori McKenna, Margo Price, Adele, Lauren Daigle, Brandy Clark, Daya

Top Male Musical Artists of 2016:

Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Dwight Yoakam

Top Albums of 2016:

  • Caitlyn Smith “Starfire”
  • Gabe Dixon “Turns To Gold”
  • Various Artists “Southern Family”
  • Maren Morris “Hero”
  • Dwight Yoakam “Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…”
  • Dawes “We’re All Gonna Die”
  • Audrey Assad “Inheritance”
  • Keith Urban “Ripcord”
  • Radiohead “A Moon Shaped Pool”
  • Sturgill Simpson “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”
  • Miranda Lambert “The Weight of These Wings”
  • twenty one pilots (featuring MUTEMATH) “TOPxMM”
  • Margo Price “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”
  • Lori McKenna “The Bird & The Rifle”
  • Gregory Porter “Take Me To The Alley”
  • Joe Bonamassa “Blues of Desperation”
  • Allen Toussaint “American Tunes”
  • Vince Gill “Down To My Last Bad Habit”
  • Kacey Musgraves “A Very Kacey Christmas”
  • Brandy Clark “Big Day In A Small Town”
  • Shovels & Rope “Little Seed”
  • Hillary Scott & The Scott Family “Love Remains”
  • Norah Jones “Daybreaks”

Top Singles of 2016:

  • “Starfire” – Caitlyn Smith
  • “Holding Her Freedom” – Gabe Dixon
  •  “Testify” – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • “Chain Breaker” – Zach Williams
  • “Better Man” – Little Big Town
  • “Driver” – Charles Kelley with Dierks Bentley and
  • “Humble & Kind” – Tim McGraw
  • “My Church” – Maren Morris
  • “Sober Saturday Night” – Chris Young w/ Vince Gill
  • “Good Good Father” – Chris Tomlin
  • “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars
  • “Parachute” – Chris Stapleton
  • “These Arms” – Dwight Yoakam
  • “Thy Will” – Hillary Scott & The Scott Family
  • “Letters To Ghosts” – Lisa Silvas
  • “Sit Still, Look Pretty” – Daya
  • “Black Magic” – Ruston Kelly
  • “Record Year” – Eric Church
  • “Tacoma” – Caitlyn Smith
  • “Take It All Back” – Judah and the Lion
  • “Money & Fame” – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • “Cake By the Ocean” – DNCE
  • “Back From The Dead” – Skillet
  • “Dangerous Woman” – Ariana Grande
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Doing The Prep Work

Brown and Brown Insurance 3-4-16
Songwriter City Events

In the business world we all realize how important it is to execute and deliver for a big day, whether it’s a show, meeting, procedure, or any other important event. And while that target day is a pinnacle of importance,  it’s the advance work we do in preparation for it that matters just as much.  Not only our own normal personal planning we go through for the actual day, but the communication and prep work we must do in advance to equip clients, associates, and others we are partnering with for success. Otherwise we are just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, which could be setting us up for falling below expectations.

Advance prep work has been an integral part in the early stages of Songwriter City. We have had a number of successful shows, and though it can be a challenge to prepare an audience who is unfamiliar with what our songwriters do exactly, it’s essential to lay the groundwork for a successful evening. Then the talented songwriters can deliver their best show and the audience can be ready to receive it.

In setting up these songwriter-round type events, I can’t stress enough to the client and buyer that what we’re putting together is not just another average show or background entertainment. It’s so much more than that. And if they’ve never seen a premiere songwriter show in action, it can be beyond conception. So we do everything we can to help that process along. Take for instance a recent corporate show we did for a group of about 50 business professionals from all over the U.S.. Only one or two had ever seen a songwriters in the round show, so we had to do our best to make sure they were initially attentive. During the course of the performance the entire crowd went from attentive to engaged and then to captivated. Standing ovation at the end. The stuff we aim for every show.

If the time isn’t put in on advance communication and prep work, then we leave it all to chance. Risking that the crowd will be more interested in networking or their dinner than the songwriters and missing something unmatched anywhere – getting to know the songwriters, how the hit songs were born, where they got the idea from, how it got from them to the artist that recorded it, all of which personalizes the song and gives it a deeper meaning. The crowd will miss the transparency, raw emotion, and interaction with true music creators. As a result they miss the power of the song and the essence of the music. So we do our best to ensure our guests understand that this is like nothing else they’ve seen and heard, but it takes a good amount of front end work to advise the client, event planner, or destination company so they’ll get everything they can out of the Songwriter City experience.

In business it bodes us all well to take the necessary time to lay the foundation, communicate details, and walk with clients and colleagues through what our cumulative goals are. The more informed they are and the greater understanding they have about what is going to take place, the more they can partner with us in bringing everything to the highest level of success for everyone involved.

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Ridiculously Talented – Jessi Alexander

I’ve always known it. The music industry has always known it. Jessi Alexander is one of the best female vocalists in Nashville. Unfortunately the general public didn’t get a full opportunity to discover it for themselves, in further proof that cream doesn’t always rise to the top, or at least in the way that is expected.Jessi_Alexander

After a friend submitted a demo tape to the NARAS Grammy Showcase in 2001, Alexander, who had no knowledge of the submission found herself a very surprised winner of the contest, an achievement that helped her get signed to a label deal with Columbia Nashville in 2003. Her debut album, Honeysuckle Sweet, was released in March 2005, but Alexander was dropped from the label a year later. So much for artist development. But she moved on to become one of the best songwriters in Nashville.

Alexander has since penned four #1’s including:

“The Climb” – A world-wide smash for Miley Cyrus and the anthem to her box office hit “The Hannah Montana Movie.” The track won the 2009 MTV Movie Awards Best Song from a Movie.

 “I Drive Your Truck” – Recorded by Lee Brice which won Song of the Year from the 2013 CMA Awards, 2014 ACM Awards, and 2013 NSAI Awards. The single was also nominated for a Grammy Award for “Country Song of the Year” in 2014

“Mine Would Be You” – A three week #1 for Blake Shelton and 2014 Grammy Award nominee for “Country Song of the Year.”

“Drink On It” – Another #1 for Blake Shelton

Jessi has had other cuts by: Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Ashley Monroe, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Tim McGraw, Celine Dion, Darius Rucker, Will Hoge, Sheryl Crow, Jana Kramer, and others.

Choosing to be her own artist, in her own way, and enjoying the life balance of family and career, Jessi Alexander is proof that the traditional music business game isn’t always the ideal road for a successful career as an artist and being Ridiculously Talented isn’t dependent or validated by a record deal. It’s by being the real deal. So if you aren’t familiar with her, then I would highly encourage you to get to know her music.



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The “Why” Behind Building Songwriter City

After more than 20 years working at various companies in the music business, I have been
getting asked the question in recent months, “Why did you decide to launch Songwriter City?” It sounds like an innocuous question, but it’s also profound. Anyone in the process of starting a business should be asking themselves the question of “why?” Mine is wrapped up in my fundamental design and desires.

It begins with the “why” I moved to Nashville, which was to be a part of the music industry because I had an intentional desire to work with talented artists and to help them be successful. It started in radio, went deeper with record labels, and then moved into other various forms of business. But my work with companies came to a point where it was more about the business and less about the artist. More about ego and power and less about the music. In an effort to get back on course, the opportunity  came to take the helm into my own hands.

I’m a big believer in “do what you love.” So what was it I loved most about the music industry? Songwriters. The foundation of everything artistic and creative. The fabric of talent that holds it all together. And my favorite form of entertainment are songwriter rounds. Those events when gifted songwriters gather together on stage to tell their stories of how their songs came to life, and perform those original songs in an intimate setting. Songs that may have been huge hits for other recording artists. It’s an authentic time of music and storytelling, and with the right combination of songwriters, a profound experience that is unmatched in any form of entertainment.

Time and time again I’ve seen people walk away from those type of shows saying it was one of the best music experiences they have ever been a part of and how special it was getting a glimpse behind the scenes. Songwriter City was born to bring those magical songwriter shows to as many people as possible and provide songwriters more opportunities through private, corporate, and select public shows. That gets me fired up.

So the simpler answer? Because I’m passionate about it. Because songwriters need to be lifted up and celebrated. A new mission has formed from the original desire, but it’s not about me or a business. It’s about songs, music, and true artists. Again.

Do you have a “why?”


We’d love for you to connect with us!

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Song: Humble & Kind

Without going into the abyss of current stylistic debates of country music, one particular thing that has been missing on country radio is a great uplifting, inspiring, and introspective type of song.


Well, the wide chasm just waiting to be satisfied is getting its fill with the new single from Tim McGraw entitled “Humble & Kind.”

Written by the immensely talented singer/songwriter Lori McKenna, “Humble & Kind” is an important song at the perfect time. A song that, in the words of McGraw, “needed to be heard,” and I couldn’t agree more.

This should be one of the biggest songs of the year as people soak in the truth and wisdom of the lyric, stirring music, and the meaningful reminder of things lost which we must get back to again. Be humble. Be kind. Be better than we are. Love our neighbor as ourselves. Raise the bar back up from where it has fallen.

Music that matters and moves people deeply is vitally important to the health of not only country music, but music as a whole. May we have more of these category of songs to help heal and lift up our heads; to focus on what is most important in our lives and the lives of those around us.


“You know there’s a light that glows by the front door / Don’t forget the key’s under the mat / When childhood stars shine, always stay humble and kind / Go to church ’cause your momma says to / Visit grandpa every chance that you can / It won’t be wasted time / Always stay humble and kind.”

“Hold the door, say please, say thank you / Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie / I know you got mountains to climb but / Always stay humble and kind / When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you / When the work you put in is realized / Let yourself feel the pride but / Always stay humble and kind.”

“Don’t expect a free ride from no one / Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why / Bitterness keeps you from flyin’ / Always stay humble and kind / Know the difference between sleeping with someone / And sleeping with someone you love / “I love you” ain’t no pick up line so / Always stay humble and kind.”

“When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle / Shut off the AC and roll the windows down / Let that summer sun shine / Always stay humble and kind / Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you / When you get where you’re goin / Don’t forget turn back around / And help the next one in line / Always stay humble and kind.”



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ACM Award Artist & Broadcast Nominations

Here is a complete listing of the artist and broadcast nominations for the 51st Annual ACM Awards, which will air live from Las Vegas on Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 8pm (ET) on CBS.

Entertainer Of The Year:

 Male Vocalist Of The Year:

 Female Vocalist Of The Year:

 Vocal Duo Of The Year:

 Vocal Group Of The Year:

 New Male Vocalist Of The Year:

 New Female Vocalist Of The Year:

 New Vocal Duo Or Group Of The Year:

 Album Of The Year:

  • “I’m Comin’ Over” – CHRIS YOUNG, Producers: COREY CROWDER, CHRIS YOUNG
  • “Montevallo”- SAM HUNT, Producers: ZACH CROWELL, SHANE MCANALLY
  • “Mr. Misunderstood” – ERIC CHURCH, Producer: JAY JOYCE

 Single Record of the Year:

  • “Burning House” – CAM, Producers: JEFF BHASKER, TYLER JOHNSON, CAMARON      OCHS
  • “Die A Happy Man” – THOMAS RHETT, Producers: DANN HUFF, JESSE FRASURE
  • “Girl Crush” – LITTLE BIG TOWN, Producer: JAY JOYCE
  • “I’m Comin’ Over”- CHRIS YOUNG, Producers: COREY CROWDER, CHRIS YOUNG
  • “Take Your Time” – SAM HUNT, Producers: ZACH CROWELL, SHANE MCANALLY

 Video of the Year:

  • “Biscuits” – KACEY MUSGRAVES, Director: MARK KLASFELD
  • “Burning House” – CAM, Director: TREY FANJOY
  • “Mr. Misunderstood” – ERIC CHURCH, Directors: REID LONG, JOHN PEETS
  • “Riser” – DIERKS BENTLEY, Director: WES EDWARDS





  • “Americas Morning Show” (BLAIR GARNER, CHUCK WICKS)
  • “After Midnight with Cody Alan” (CODY ALAN)
  • “Country Countdown USA with Lon Helton” (LON HELTON)
  • “The Crook & Chase Countdown” (LORIANNE CROOK, CHARLIE CHASE)
  • “Taste of Country Nights” (SAM ALEX)
  • “The Bobby Bones Show” (BOBBY BONES SHOW)
  • “The Big Time with Whitney Allen” (WHITNEY ALLEN, JACKIE STEVENS &        MIKE MCNAMEE)

 Major Market:

  •   Ben Campbell & Matt McAllister – KNIX/PHOENIX
  •   Cadillac Jack – WQYK/TAMPA
  •   Chris Carr, Maverick & Kia – KEEY/MINNEAPOLIS
  •   Paul Schadt, Meg Butterfly & Geof Knight –  WKKT/CHARLOTTE
  •   Tanner in the Morning – WSOC/CHARLOTTE

 Large Market:

  • AJ & Ashley – WWKA/ORLANDO, FL
  •   Dave O’Brian – WLHK/INDIANAPOLIS, IN
  •   Jim Denny, Deborah Honeycutt & Kevin Freeman – WFMS/INDIANAPOLIS, IN
  •   Karen, Scott & Radar – WMIL/MILWAUKEE. WI
  •   Randy Carrol, & JAmie Martin – KAJA/SAN ANTONIO, TX

 Medium Market:

  •   Andy Ritchie, Alison Mencer & Jimmy Holt – WIVK/KNOXVILLE, TN
  •   Broadway, Cory & Jordan – WWYZ/HARTFORD, CT
  •   Buzz Jackson – KIIM/TUCSON,  AZ
  •   Scott Wynn, Sarah Kay & Sue Wilson – WQMX/AKRON, OH
  •   The Dex & Mo Show – WUSY/CHATTANOOGA, TN

 Small Market:

  •   Bill Barrett, Tim Fox & Tracy Berry – KKNU/EUGENE, OR
  •   Brent Lane & Candy Ruddy – WYCT/PENSACOLA, FL
  •   Bran Gary, Todd Harding & Susan Moore – KUAD/FT. COLLINS, CO
  •   Scotty Cox & Cara Denis – KCLR/COLUMBIA, MO
  •   Sherry St. John – WXFL/FLORENCE, AL



 Major Market:


 Large Market:


 Medium Market:


 Small Market:




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Favorite Music of 2015



Best Musical Groups of 2015:

The Lone Bellow, Mumford & Sons, Hillsong United, Florence + The Machine, Dawes, Imagine Dragons, Alabama Shakes, The Steeldrivers,

Best Female Musical Artists of 2015:

Adele, Grace Potter, Cam, Ashley Monroe, Laura Marling, Megan Trainor, Taylor Swift, Lauren Daigle, Rachel Platten, Allison Moorer, Ellie Goulding, Kacey Musgraves

Best Male Musical Artists of 2015:

Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Gary Clark, Jr., Jason Isbell, Matt Maher, Pat Green, Marc Scibilia, Harry Connick, Jr., Aaron Watson

Best Albums of 2015:

  • Chris Stapleton “Traveller”
  • Adele “25”
  • Grace Potter “Midnight”
  • Asleep at the Wheel “Still The King”
  • Mumford & Sons “Wilder Mind”
  • Ashley Monroe “The Blade”
  • Eric Church “Mr. Misunderstood”
  • The Lone Bellow “Then Came The Morning”
  • Cam “Untamed”
  • Matt Maher “Saints and Sinners”
  • Dawes “All Your Favorite Bands”
  • Alison Moorer “Down To Believing”
  • Ellie Goulding “Delirium”
  • Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers “Hold My Beer, Vol. 1”
  • Florence + The Machine “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”

Best Singles of 2015:

  • “Tennessee Whiskey” – Chris Stapleton
  • “Brother” – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • “Riser” – Dierks Bentley
  • “Burning House” – Cam
  • “Hello” – Adele
  • “Your Girl” – Grace Potter
  • “Cold As It Is” – The Lone Bellow
  • “Drink You Away” – Justin Timberlake
  • “(I Do) Like We Do” – Harry Connick, Jr. 
  • “Don’t Wanna Fight” – Alabama Shakes
  • “On My Mind” – Ellie Goulding
  • “Empty Heart” – Grace Potter
  • “Traveller” – Chris Stapleton
  • “Take Your Time” – Sam Hunt
  • “Buy Me A Boat” – Chris Janson
  • “Because He Live (Amen)” – Matt Maher
  • “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” – Megan Trainor
  • “Same Old Love” – Selena Gomez
  • “While I Was Away” – Pat Green
  • “Greater” – MercyMe
  • “Homegrown” – Zac Brown Band
  • “The Driver” – Charles Kelley
  • “Want To Want Me” – Jason Derulo
  • “Nobody To Blame” – Chris Stapleton
  • “Drag Me Down” – One Direction
  • “Soul On Fire” – Third Day
  • “First” – Lauren Daigle
  • “Fly” – Maddie & Tae
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Grammy Nominations 2016

Grammy Nominations 2016

Following is a comprehensive list of the nominees in featured categories. The Grammy Awards will be taking place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 15 and will be aired live on CBS. Congrats to all of the nominees!

Album of the Year
Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Chris Stapleton, Traveler
Taylor Swift, 1989
The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

Song of the Year
Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

Record of the Year
D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Really Love”
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel my Face”

Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

 Best Pop Solo Performance
• Heartbeat Song
Kelly Clarkson

• Love Me Like You Do
Ellie Goulding

• Thinking Out Loud
Ed Sheeran
Track from: X

• Blank Space
Taylor Swift

• Can’t Feel My Face
The Weeknd

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
• Ship To Wreck
Florence + The Machine

• Sugar
Maroon 5

• Uptown Funk
Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars

• Bad Blood
Taylor Swift Featuring Kendrick Lamar

• See You Again
Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth

Best Country Solo Performance
• Burning House
Track from: Welcome To Cam Country
[Sony Music Entertainment]

• Traveller
Chris Stapleton
Track from: Traveller
[Mercury Nashville]

• Little Toy Guns
Carrie Underwood
Track from: Greatest Hits: Decade #1
[19 Recordings/Arista Nashville]

• John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16
Keith Urban
[Capitol Records Nashville]

• Chances Are
Lee Ann Womack
Track from: The Way I’m Livin’
[Sugar Hill Records]

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

• Stay A Little Longer
Brothers Osborne
[EMI Records Nashville]

• If I Needed You
Track from: Country Classics
[Gaither Music Group]

• The Driver
Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley & Eric Paslay
[Capitol Records Nashville]

• Girl Crush
Little Big Town
Track from: Pain Killer
[Capitol Records Nashville]

• Lonely Tonight
Blake Shelton Featuring Ashley Monroe
[Warner Bros]

Best Country Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

• Chances Are
Hayes Carll, songwriter (Lee Ann Womack)
Track from: The Way I’m Livin’
[Sugar Hill Records; Publisher(s): Highway 87 Music admin. by BMG/Chrysalis]

• Diamond Rings And Old Barstools
Barry Dean, Luke Laird & Jonathan Singleton, songwriters (Tim McGraw)
Track from: Sundown Heaven Town
[Big Machine Records/McGraw Music; Publisher(s): Songs of Universal, Inc./Creative Nation Music/Twangin and Slangin Songs/Country Paper/Pulse Nation/BMG Gold Songs /Glassbean/We Jam Writers Group]

• Girl Crush
Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose, songwriters (Little Big Town)
Track from: Pain Killer
[Capitol Records Nashville; Publisher(s): Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Songs Of Crazy Girl Music, Songs of Universal, Inc., Hoodie Songs, HillarodyRathbone Music admin. by BMG Rights Management (US) LLC]

• Hold My Hand
Brandy Clark & Mark Stephen Jones, songwriters (Brandy Clark)
Track from: 12 Stories
[Warner Bros Records; Publisher(s): Songs of Parallel/Vista Loma Music admin. by Amplified Administration and Harlan Howard Songs]

• Traveller
Chris Stapleton, songwriter (Chris Stapleton)
Track from: Traveller
[Mercury Nashville; Publisher(s): WB Music Corp./Ken Tucky Music]

Best Country Album
• Montevallo
Sam Hunt
[MCA Nashville]

• Pain Killer
Little Big Town
[Capitol Records Nashville]

• The Blade
Ashley Monroe
[Warner Bros.]

• Pageant Material
Kacey Musgraves
[Mercury Nashville]

• Traveller
Chris Stapleton
[Mercury Records]

Best American Roots Performance
(For new vocal or instrumental American Roots recordings. This is for performances in the style of any of the subgenres encompassed in the American Roots Music field including Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk or regional roots. Award to the artist(s).)

• And Am I Born To Die
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn

• Born To Play Guitar
Buddy Guy

• City Of Our Lady
The Milk Carton Kids

• Julep
Punch Brothers

• See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
Mavis Staples

Best American Roots Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. Includes Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk or regional roots songs. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

• All Night Long
The Mavericks
Raul Malo, songwriter (The Mavericks)

• The Cost Of Living
Don Henley & Merle Haggard
Don Henley & Stan Lynch, songwriters (Don Henley & Merle Haggard)

• Julep
Punch Brothers
Chris Eldridge, Paul Kowert, Noam Pikelny, Chris Thile & Gabe Witcher, songwriters (Punch Brothers)

• The Traveling Kind
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Cory Chisel, Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris, songwriters (Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell)

• 24 Frames
Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell, songwriter (Jason Isbell)

 Best Americana Album
• The Firewatcher’s Daughter
Brandi Carlile

• The Traveling Kind
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

• Something More Than Free
Jason Isbell

• Mono
The Mavericks

• The Phosphorescent Blues
Punch Brothers

Best Bluegrass Album
• Pocket Full Of Keys
Dale Ann Bradley

• Before The Sun Goes Down
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

• In Session
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

• Man Of Constant Sorrow
Ralph Stanley & Friends

• The Muscle Shoals Recordings
The Steeldrivers Continue reading

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Nashville is Songwriter City

I’ve been in the music industry for over 25 years and have seen every type of show and performance. From my time working at record labels traveling around the country, I’ve witnessed the biggest artists in country music, the newest emerging acts, and everything in between. There are so many incredible performances that come to mind and each stand out for different reasons, but on a whole there is nothing that compares to the experience of a well executed songwriter round. Web site capture 2

If you’ve been to songwriter rounds, occasionally called “guitar pulls,” you are likely nodding your head in agreement. For those of you unfamiliar with these special songwriter events, they are typically a group of 2 to 5 songwriters who gather together to swap stories, tell jokes, describe how their songs came to life, and then perform those songs acoustically. It’s an intimate look behind the music.

It’s common to think that singles heard on the radio from top artists were written by them personally, and while some recording artists are also songwriters, many do not solely write their own material (and some not at all). They seek out songs from the amazing pool of songwriting talent that makes up Music City, which is not only the home of many genres of music, but is essentially the songwriting capital of the world. This fact has been nicely portrayed on ABC’s television series Nashville, as well as in many articles, features, and videos over the years.

You would be hard pressed to find a more engaging and honest form of entertainment than songwriter rounds. It’s true not every songwriter is wired for the stage, but when you combine extraordinarily talented writers who love telling stories and entertaining a crowd, the environment is nothing short of magical. You’ll laugh, you may cry, and you’ll be thoroughly entertained by Nashville’s brightest behind the music stars.

You hear it so many times, but it all really does start with the song and songwriters are the core creative force behind everything you hear. 

If you’re ever planning a visit to Nashville and looking for the best places to locate a songwriter night, start at the Bluebird Cafe and also see what’s happening at The ListeningRoom, 3rd & Lindsley, Puckett’s, The Commodore Lounge, and Douglas Corner

If you happen to be searching for the best songwriter entertainment for a corporate, seminar, convention, or other private event, you should check out something I’m involved with – Songwriter City. We partner with the very best songwriters and customize round-type shows to meet specific needs and budgets. It’s the ultimate authentic music experience from Music City’s biggest hit makers.

No matter where you are, make it a point to support and encourage your local songwriters. They are the heartbeat of musical life, not only in Nashville, but around the world.

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2015 CMA Award Winners

Here’s a quick recap of the winners from the 49th annual Country Music Association Awards held in Nashville:

Entertainer of the Year
WINNER: Luke Bryan
Garth Brooks
Kenny Chesney
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert

Single of the Year
WINNER: Girl Crush, Little Big Town
American Kids, Kenny Chesney
I Don’t Dance, Lee Brice
Take Your Time, Sam Hunt
Talladega, Eric Church

Song of the Year (award goes to songwriters)
WINNER: Girl Crush (Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey)
American Kids (Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird and Shane McAnally)
Like a Cowboy (Randy Houser and Brice Long)
Like a Wrecking Ball (Eric Church and Casey Beathard)
Take Your Time (Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne)

Male Vocalist of the Year  
WINNER: Chris Stapleton
Dierks Bentley
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton

Female Vocalist of the Year 
WINNER: Miranda Lambert
Kelsea Ballerini
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood
Lee Ann Womack

Vocal Group of the Year  
WINNER: Little Big Town
Lady Antebellum
Rascal Flatts
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Duo of the Year 
WINNER: Florida Georgia Line
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Maddie & Tae
Thompson Square

New Artist of the Year
WINNER: Chris Stapleton
Kelsea Ballerini
Sam Hunt
Maddie & Tae
Thomas Rhett

Album of the Year
WINNER: Traveller, Chris Stapleton
Old Boots, New Dirt, Jason Aldean
Pageant Material, Kacey Musgraves
Pain Killer, Little Big Town
The Big Revival, Kenny Chesney

Musical Event of the Year 
WINNER: Raise ‘Em Up, Keith Urban featuring Eric Church
Django and Jimmie, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
Lonely Tonight, Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe
Smokin’ and Drinkin’, Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
Wild Child, Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter

Musician of the Year
WINNER: Mac McAnally, guitar
Sam Bush, mandolin
Jerry Douglas, Dobro
Paul Franklin, steel guitar
Dann Huff, guitar

Music Video of the Year
WINNER: Girl in a Country Song, Maddie & Tae
Biscuits, Kacey Musgraves
Girl Crush, Little Big Town
Little Red Wagon, Miranda Lambert
Something in the Water, Carrie Underwood

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BMI Country Music Awards 2015 Winners


Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) held their Country Music Awards last night on Music Row. Taking top songwriter and publisher honors were:

Songwriter of the Year: Rodney Clawson

Song of the Year: “Beat of the Music,” written by Brett Eldredge, Ross Copperman, and Heather Morgan

Publisher of the Year: Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville

Champion Award: Lee Thomas Miller

BMI Icon: Mac Davis

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2015 ASCAP Country Music Award Winners


As CMA week continues in Nashville, ASCAP hosted their 2015 awards at the downtown Omni Hotel. This year’s top winners were:

Songwriter of the Year: Ashley Gorley

Songwriter-Artist of the Year: Sam Hunt

Song of the Year:  “Leave the Night On,” written by Sam Hunt and Josh Osborne, performed by Sam Hunt

Publisher of the Year: Warner/Chappell Music

ASCAP’s Voice of Music Award: Trisha Yearwood, 

See the complete and extensive list of winners HERE.

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SESAC Award Winners – CMA Week 2015

Congratulations to all the winners from last evening’s SESAC Awards held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.

Songwriter of the Year:
Cary Barlowe

Song of the Year:  “Homegrown”

Written by Zac Brown, Niko Moon, Wyatt Durrette.   Recorded by Zac Brown Band

Publisher of the Year:  Magic Mustang Music


Country Performance Activity Awards: 


Written by Zac Brown, Niko Moon, Wyatt Durrette.  Published by Day for the Dead Publishing Southern Ground. Recorded by Zac Brown Band

“Loving You Easy”

Written by Zac Brown, Niko Moon.  Published by Day for the Dead Publishing
Southern Ground.

“Make Me Wanna”

Written by Larry McCoy.  Published by Hondo Creek Music.  Recorded by Thomas Rhett

“Like A Cowboy”

Written by Brice Long.  Published by SingaBLongSong, Tunes of Parallel.  Recorded by Randy Houser.

 “Sun Daze”

Written by Cary Barlowe.  Published by We Be Pawtying, Castle Bound Music.  Recorded by Florida Georgia Line.

“Where It’s At (Yep, Yep)”

Written by Cary Barlowe.  Published by We Be Pawtying, Castle Bound Music.  Recorded by Dustin Lynch

“Ain’t Worth The Whiskey”

Written by Josh Martin.  Published by Josh Martin Music.  Recorded by Cole Swindell

“Kiss You In The Morning”

Written by Justin Wilson.  Published by Legends of Magic Mustang Music.  Recorded by Michael Ray

 “Hell Of A Night”

Written by Jaron Boyer.  Published by Jaron Boyer Music peertunes.  Recorded by Dustin Lynch.


Written by Jaron Boyer.  Published by Jaron Boyer Music peertunes ltd.  Recorded by Rascal Flatts.


Written by Hillary Scott.  Published by Hobbs Hill Publishing.  Recorded by Lady Antebellum

“Long Stretch Of Love”

Written by Hillary Scott.  Published by Hobbs Hill Publishing. Recorded by Lady Antebellum.


Written by Hillary Scott.  Published by Hobbs Hill Publishing.  Recorded by Lady Antebellum.

“Hard To Be Cool”

Written by Rob Hatch.  Published by Way Down The Hatch Music Publishing.  Legends of Magic Mustang Music.  Recorded by Joe Nichols

“I Don’t Dance”

Written by Rob Hatch.  Published by Way Down The Hatch Music Publishing Legends of Magic Mustang Music.  Recorded by Lee Brice

“Goodnight Kiss”

Written by Rob Hatch.  Published by Way Down The Hatch Music Publishing Legends of Magic Mustang Music.

“Drink To That All Night”

Written by Lance Miller.  Published by Spirit Nashville Three, Melvins Pistol Music, Melvins Bullets Music.  Recorded by Jerrod Niemann.

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Critical Listening

In a recent conversation I had with some friends, we were discussing how there isn’t as much critical thinking among our culture as there once was. Some people would say there isn’t any at all. In either case, we all agreed that there are a number of reasons for this such as the lack of reading books, filtered news bordering on propaganda, and being distracted by too many entertainment options to fill our reflective time. In addition, we have become accustomed to getting ideas, information, and news pushed to us and not seeking wisdom and depth for ourselves. We’re told how to think and how to react.

Music has suffered similarly. We have had songs Headphonesvetted, tested, researched, and pushed to us so radio will know what won’t polarize the audience and keep us from changing the station. In other words, passionless.

This highlights a more concentrated problem of country music losing it’s lyrical weight. Once upon a time many songs were about stories and deep subject matters that people could relate with and/or have an emotional response to. More recently, those real life songs are few and far between. Listeners have grown accustomed to hearing light-weight songs about partying, drinking, and trivial moments that ring hollow. Bringing depth (life) back into the equation is critical, but that means listeners will have to LISTEN again and not be pacified by non-offending, lowest common denominator testing wallpaper.

Remember listening? Letting well crafted words, story, and melody take you away or hit you directly in the heart. Having to think about what you are hearing rather than passively paying attention. Getting lost in the song. Powerful.

I’m all for happy good time music to help us celebrate or forget about life for a while. We want those songs, but we NEED songs which actually relate to our lives and tell stories that are interesting, intriguing, and moving. The songwriters and artists are out there, but labels and radio will have to make a move back toward country music’s soul, or music fans will continue to seek those songs on their own in other ways.

Regardless of where we find our music, we should all be getting back to truly listening to songs and not just be passionless consumers. Maybe then we’ll get rewarded for our active participation with higher quality music, rather than taken advantage of because we are allowing music to be dictated to us.


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Favorite Music of 2014

 2014 Album Covers

Best Musical Groups of 2014:

U2, Little Big Town, NEEDTOBREATHE , Foo Fighters, Paramore, Steve Taylor & the Perfect Foil, Lady Antebellum, The Black Keys

Best Female Musical Artists of 2014:

Miranda Lambert, Lily Meola, Holly Williams, Brandy Clark, Jill Phillips, Alison Porter, Lee Ann Womack, Taylor Swift, Lori McKenna, Lauren Daigle

Best Male Musical Artists of 2014:

Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr., Will Hoge, Sturgill Simpson, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Wade Bowen, Doug Seegers, Cody Johnson, Joe Bonamassa

Best Albums of 2014:

  • U2 “Songs Of Innocence”
  • Miranda Lambert “Platinum”
  • NEEDTOBREATHE “Rivers In The Wasteland”
  • Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil “Goliath”
  • Little Big Town “Pain Killer”
  • Jill Phillips “Mortar & Stone”
  • Lee Ann Womack “The Way I’m Livin”
  • Dierks Bentley “Riser”
  • Charlie Peacock “Lemonade”
  • Doug Seegers “Going Down To The River”
  • Eric Church “The Outsiders”
  • Taylor Swift “1989”
  • Lori McKenna “Numbered Doors”
  • Joe Bonamassa “Different Shades Of Blue”
  • Thousand Foot Krutch “Oxygen:Inhale”
  • Lauren Daigle “How Can It Be”

Best Singles of 2014:

  • “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
  • “I Hold On” – Dierks Bentley
  • “Wasteland” – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • “Middle Of America” – Will Hoge
  • “Goliath” – Steve Taylor & The Pefect Foil
  • “Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
  • “Deep As It Is Wide” – Eric Paslay
  • “Like A Machine” – Thousand Foot Krutch
  • “LaZaretto” – Jack White
  • “Going Down To The River” – Doug Seegers
  • “Something In The Water” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
  • “Say You Love Me” – Jessie Ware
  • “Numbered Doors” – Lori McKenna
  • “Give Me Back My Hometown” – Eric Church
  • “Everybody Else Can Kiss My Ass” – Sunny Sweeney
  • “Greater” – MercyMe
  • “Lips Are Movin” – Meghan Trainor


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Reba Headlines “Dawn Sears & Friends” Benefit Show For Lung Cancer Research


Nash Icon artist Reba McEntire will headline a benefit concert at Depot Square in Gallatin, TN on Sunday, November 30th at 6:30 p.m., to fund lung cancer research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Organized by singer and lung-cancer patient Dawn Sears, the show will also feature performances by The Time Jumpers (of which Sears is a member) and Riders In The Sky.

Gold-winning Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton, a cancer survivor himself, will emcee the event.

Vanderbilt physicians Leora Horn and Pierre Massion will speak briefly on goals and advances in cancer research.

“I am on a mission to help fund lung cancer research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center,” states Sears. “A benefit concert is the best way I know how to do that. It is my mission to bring more hope to those of us with lung cancer. I was diagnosed with lung cancer over a year ago and I now have a greater understanding of the daily battle and challenges that people with cancer of any kind face.”

Reba McEntire has excelled (and been awarded for) every art form she sets her hand to: live performances, recording, movies, the Broadway stage and series television.

The Time Jumpers is a four-time Grammy-nominated band, made up of professional touring and studio musicians. Its specialty is classic country and Western swing. The band’s regular Monday night performances at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville remain one of the hottest tickets in town and routinely attract some of the biggest names in entertainment.

Riders In The Sky, with their mixture of classic cowboy music and comedy skits, have won two Grammys for best musical album for children, had their own public radio show and provided music for the hit movie Toy Story 2. They have recorded more than 30 albums.

Dawn Sears, a former recording artist for Warner Brothers Records and Decca Records and a longtime harmony singer in Vince Gill’s band, was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2013 and continues in treatment.

Ticket information and donor opportunities are available via

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Ridiculously Talented – Chris Stapleton

I’ve been meaning to post this one for a while, but my blogging has suffered as of late. However, I couldn’t go on any longer without featuring singer/songwriter Chris Stapleton. Because he’s Ridiculously Talented.

As a songwriter Stapleton has penned big hits for George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw and many other top artists. More often than not he makes them sound better and come alive when he’s the one actually singing them.

As a vocalist, Chris was the lead singer for the ultra-talented bluegrass band The Steeldrivers for a few years and then went on to front a rock band. Now he’s where he belongs, as a country music solo artist, and recently released his first single “What Are You Listening To.”

It really doesn’t matter what genre he writes, performs, and sings – it’s phenomenal. If country radio knows what’s good for them and their listeners, they’ll take ownership of Stapleton and allow the masses to hear his music. There’s a huge void that he can help fill to bring back more passion and authenticity to the format.

Here’s a taste of music, but don’t let this be the only Chris Stapleton music you listen to. Go deeper. Trust me.

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Before Social Media And Branding Were In Style

Over the last five years, I’ve enjoyed being more involved with social media marketing and branding. The more directly engaged I get with each proficiency, the more I realize I’ve been doing both of those responsibilities, and most of what goes with them, a lot longer than that; before there was such a thing as social media and branding.

Allow me to explain this recent revelation.

Finding my career in radio and the music industry were the only things I wanted to do coming out of high school and into college. My first on air gig was at the college rock station in Claremore, OK and eventually I joined the big country station in Tulsa, KWEN (K95FM). I was a DJ and a promotions assistant. When I eventually moved to Nashville, it was my goal to work for a major label behind the scenes and help artists achieve their dreams. That happened at MCA Nashville and several record labels to follow, where I was fortunate to do promotion and marketing for some of the biggest artists in country music.

Ironically, as much as I purposed working behind the scenes, I’ve actually been on the front lines at each and every job I’ve ever had. At the radio stations I may have been unseen in the studio, but I was also a direct representative of the station. Developing relationships one by one, taking listener phone calls, and meeting them at concerts, events, and remotes. The original social media and brand management!

At the record labels, it was mostly behind the scenes promoting the artists, but in essence I was on the forefront of each label as well. In the thick of it as a representative and face of the label. Developing and maintaining relationships with radio, fans, and listeners alike and networking with all of them to enhance the brand of our artists and of the label. I was a promotion guy, but I was also a brand manager, image builder, and social marketing guy. It came with the territory and was part of the job I really loved.

The same has held true for my non-radio/label work with All Access, Compassion International, and World Vision.

I think this applies to many people who have done the work of social marketing, branding, and imaging, but didn’t have a title or the responsibility in their job description. It was just part of the gig.

The modern social media and branding I do today isn’t much different than what I’ve done my entire career. Obviously there is more technology, strategy, and analytics in the mix, but the basic principle remains. Engage people one by one, develop relationships, give them quality content, and invite them to come along for the ride. It’s a recipe for success in the radio and music industries, and it always will be if we don’t forget what the point is – connecting to fans, listeners, and clients.


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Favorite Music Of 2013

Recently Updated

Best Musical Groups of 2013:

Imagine Dragons, Mumford & Sons, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Paramore, Little Big Town, The Lumineers, Daft Punk, Dawes, The Mavericks, Fall Out Boy, Zac Brown Band, Skillet

Best Female Musical Artists of 2013:

Holly Williams, Brandy Clark, Plumb, Lorde, Kacey Musgraves, Pink, Lissie, Ashley Monroe, Ella Mae Bowen

Best Male Musical Artists of 2013:

Bruno Mars, Will Hoge, Marc Scibilia, Justin Timberlake, Wade Bowen, Gregory Porter, Jason Isbell

Best Albums of 2013:

  • Holly Williams “The Highway”
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band “Made Up Mind”
  • Daft Punk “Random Access Memories”
  • Imagine Dragons “Night Visions (Deluxe)”
  • Will Hoge “Never Give In”
  • Brandy Clark “12 Stories”
  • Hillsong “Zion”
  • Vince Gill & Paul Franklin “Bakersfield”
  • Lorde “Pure Heroin”
  • Justin Timberlake “20/20 Experience”
  • Dawes “Stories Don’t End”
  • Plumb “Need You Now”
  • Marc Scibilia “The Shape I’m In” (EP)
  • Alan Jackson “The Bluegrass Album”
  • Ashley Monroe “Like A Rose”
  • The Mavericks “In Time”
  • Thousand Foot Krutch “Megamorphosiz”

Best Singles of 2013:

  • “Drinkin” – Holly Williams
  • “Oceans (Where Feet May Fall)” – Hillsong
  • “Strong”- Will Hoge
  • “Kings & Queens” – Audio Adrenaline
  • “Merry Go Round” – Kacey Musgraves
  • “Locked Out Of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
  • “Need You Now” – Plumb
  •  “Most People” – Dawes
  • “What Have I Done” – Leann Rimes
  • “Demons” – Imagine Dragons
  • “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk
  • “Brave” – Sara Bareilles
  • “Counting Stars” – One Republic
  • “Light Em Up” – Fall Out Boy
  • “Roar” – Katy Perry
  • “Alone Together” – Fall Out Boy
  • “Mirrors” – Justin Timberlake
  • “Royal” – Lorde
  • “Team” – Lorde
  • “Safe & Sound” – Capital Cities
  • “Hold My Hand” – Brandy Clark
  • “Pray To Jesus” – Brandy Clark
  • “The Highway” – Holly Williams
  • “Waiting On June” – Holly Williams
  • “Just Give Me A Reason” – Pink w/ Nate Ruess
  • “Sick Of It” – Skillet
  • “Berzerk” – Eminem



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Ridiculously Talented: Holly Williams

She’s been making waves for the last 10 years since the release of her debut EP in 2003. From there, Holly Williams has been developing a loyal following in the U.S. and Europe from her honest music, heavy touring schedule and critical acclaim for her 2004 and 2009 album releases.

If you’re not familiar with her story, Holly is the granddaughter of Hank Williams, Sr., the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr., and half-sister of country singer Hank Williams III. It’s an important family history and pedigree to be sure, but Holly has been blazing her own significant musical trail. Her most recent album release, “The Highway”, has proven once again that she stands on her own as a Ridiculously Talented singer and songwriter.

With rootsy authentic lyrics and music deeply planted, something that is sadly lacking in today’s contemporary country music, “The Highway” is one of the best albums of the year. There are too many outstanding songs to highlight, but following are a couple of them to enjoy. If you haven’t yet, please do yourself a favor and check out the rest.


“Waiting On June” From Songfacts: The song is about Holly’s grandparents, but not her famous one, Hank Williams Sr. Rather, this song is about her grandparents on her mother’s side, telling the story from the perspective of her grandfather. Holly’s grandmother, June Bacon White, died in 2009, and the song’s lyrics are an accurate portrayal of her life. “Even the order of the children work out in the lyric,” says Holly. “The cook, everything. So that’s the song that is really hard for me to get through when I sing it live. Usually people come up to me crying. It wrecks the family emotionally. But it’s such a sweet memory to me of my childhood and what my grandparents left. So that’s definitely my most proud songwriting moment, I think probably ever.”
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Blues Power

Blues Power, originally uploaded by Mike Severson.

New Orleans blues man doing his thing.

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World Vision Continues to Expand Presence, Sends Country Music Songwriters to Dominican Republic


(Nashville, Tenn. – July 9, 2013) Global humanitarian organization World Vision continues to follow its mission of giving back to children, families and their communities worldwide. This past month, World Vision sent a group of artists and songwriters to the Dominican Republic to give back and meet with families in need.

Participating artists and songwriters included Ella Mae Bowen, Russell Dickerson, Elenowen (The Voice), Melissa Fuller, Natalie Hemby (“White Liar,” “Only Prettier,” “Pontoon”, “Tornado”), Molly Hunt, Luke Laird (“Downtown,” “Beat This Summer,” “Pontoon”, “One Of Those Nights”) and Matt Wertz. Other artists who have previously worked with World Vision include Sarah McLachlan, LoCash Cowboys, Scotty McCreery (American Idol), Carter’s Chord, Gwen Sebastian (The Voice), Kris Allen (American Idol) and Patty Griffin.

The songwriters also had the chance to meet with the families in which their efforts would be helping. While in the Dominican Republic, the group traveled to a school in Santo Domingo where both the songwriters and the children performed music for each other. Each songwriter got to experience firsthand the work of World Vision and their impact on foreign communities.

“This special group of songwriters are not only incredibly talented artists, but people of strong character who want to do something beyond themselves,” said World Vision’s Mike Severson. “We were honored to have them journey with World Vision and look forward to collaborating with each of them in some way.”

The World Vision experience not only helps communities in need, but it also leaves songwriters with a sense of fulfillment from their journey.

“By taking this journey, World Vision has opened my eyes not only to the adversity, but also to the advocates,” said Country music songwriter Natalie Hemby. “World Vision is reaching through the cracks of humanity and planting hope throughout the World… One child, one family, one community, one country at a time.”

World Vision launched the annual event for Country music artists and songwriters to network with each other while helping a community in need. Plans are already underway for next year to return to the Dominican Republic.

 About World Vision: World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization that helps children, their families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information, visit

Photo L to R: World Vision’s Michael Bianchi, CAA’s Megan Sykes, Molly Hunt, Luke Laird, Natalie Hemby, Nicole Johnson (Elenowen), Josh Johnson (Elenowen), Russell Dickerson, World Vision’s Claudia Martinez, Matt Wertz, Melissa Fuller, Ella Mae Bowen, and World Vision’s Mike Severson


Jeff Walker – AristoMedia – (615) 269-7071 – jwalker @

Mike Severson – World Vision – (615) 496-6023 – mike @

Charles Dorris – World Vision – (615) 236-1684 – charlesdorris @

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Guest Post: Ella Mae Bowen – World Vision Songwriters Trip to The Dominican Republic

The following is a guest post from singer/songwriter Ella Mae Bowen, who was one of the incredible artists on the recent World Vision trip. Her own blog site, including this original post, can be found here.

Hello, friends!

I feel as though I have finally processed enough to share with you about a recent trip I was blessed to be a part of. This blog will come in two parts: this musing/ summary, and then another tumblr post of just pictures (my favorite. 🙂

Let me first give you all a little explanation for this trip. Why would 9 singer-songwriters, two charity executives, two film crew and one Dominican donor liaison be riding around a Caribbean island on a commercial bus? Well… .his wasn’t just a mission trip. This was a trip geared towards music and songwriting- The goal being both to grow the light shining on World Vision and to give a greater purpose to a part of our creativity by what we got to learn and experience. What made the potential impact sink in for me, was hearing this while on the trip:

3,000,000 children are sponsored by World Vision world-wide.

1,000,000 of those children were sponsored through what is called “The Artist Program” meaning, touring musicians are representing World Vision from the road and, through their music, getting children sponsored. World Vision is important to music, and music is important to World Vision. How cool is that?

So, here’s your cast of characters:

Luke Laird: songwriter extraordinaire, you actually just need to look up what he’s written. If you like Country music, you will die. (Not really die, but you know…) One of the best people I know in Nashville. His heart and his art are the real thing.

Natalie Hemby: Well, also, just look her up. One of my songwriting heroes and favorite people and artists. Big sister to all the ladies and a professional at loving on all the babies we came across. Her heart is as bigger than I could say.

Melissa Fuller: AMAZING Alternative artist, writer of anything, one of the most talented & genuine people you’ll ever meet, and my friend. She’s the artist most responsible for this trip happening and has been involved with World Vision for a long time. Love this girl (and the way she inspires me) so.

Molly Hunt: Pop artist who’s voice and melodies will make you weep, a legitimate angel on earth, and my best friend of 3 years. Stunning inside and out. You need to watch for this girl. I don’t know where we would’ve been on this trip without Molly.

Russel Dickerson: Phenomenal Country Singer, Songwriter and Performer you will be hearing much more from! Such a sweet dude and so real. And he found my purse when I lost it. Good people. 🙂

Elenowen: The married folksy duo that is Josh and Nicolle Johnson. The children just flocked to them and they held us together like glue. You must hear their harmonies and haunting lyrics. And just go look at them, too. They are straight out of an Anthropologie catalog. Legit, awesome folks.

Matt Wertz: You may know and love his records… Let me tell you, he is just as lovable. The life of the party, our alpha-male and a singer-songwriter I really admire.

Michael Bianchi & Mike Severson: World Vision Reps. Michael heads up the artist program, and Mike is a Country music rep for the artist program who really worked to make this trip a reality. They both work here in Nashville. Amazing what these guys do everyday and amazing that they made this trip happen.

David & April: Photography and film gurus that work with World Vision… and our personal comedians. I definitely felt like they could each be your dream fun aunt or uncle. Awesome. And really really good at their job.

Claudia: Our Dominican Donor Liaison, Translator, & Lifeline. She’s now one of my heroes. Passionate about people, speaker of 5 languages, giver of the best hugs. One cool woman.

So… we were all in a bus-you-take across-the-city-to-work bus. I felt like setting the scene was important. Onward now. 🙂

The first day, we flew into Santo Domingo and drove 3.5 hours down the coast to Barahona where we stayed the first two nights. While here, we visited World Vision Area Development Programs all between Barahona and the Haitian border, which was about an hour away. This area was extremely rural.

We experienced lively & beautiful, but emotionally full days, and then came back to our seaside motel and shared traditional family style dinners in a little cabana by the big ole’ blue sea. I never wanted to leave.

I could tell so many stories about what we experienced while there. The Dominican island is very poor in the western region. The Caribbean resorts you hear about are on the eastern coast. A large portion of the people we were meeting while staying in Barahona and driving out to small villages were Haitian immigrants or the children of.

The highlight of this portion of the trip, for me, was meeting a young woman named Francia. She was a Haitian girl, born to her mother in the Dominican. Her father had passed away. When she was fourteen, she was told she couldn’t attend school past the 8th grade because she did not have a birth certificate (a problem many Haitian immigrants face and have to leave school because of.) Over the course of some months, through hard work and the help of a relative, she got her birth certificate. Once she saw that process, she knew she could help other young people who needed to locate or receive their birth certificate. She helped at least 178 other children within the course of a year. In her words, she never expected anything in return.

However, word got around to World Vision who is developing her village, and Francia was nominated for a prestigious youth humanitarian award at age 16. She won! She got to travel to Holland to receive 100,000 Euros for her small, impoverished village and to deliver a speech. Let that sink in for a moment…

100,000 Euros is about $130,000 US dollars. But it is equivalent to a whopping 5,409,414 Dominican Pesos (where there is also frequently less to no tax.)

She helped develop her village in many ways. 13 homes were built. World Vision also has added a computer lab and small station to buy groceries.

Francia is now 18 and lives with her mother and her daughter Esperanza, who’s name means “hope.” She lives humbly, but she dreams of becoming a lawyer and standing up for children’s rights. It is most important for her to see her daughter grow up healthy and happy and receive an education.

Not only was she a hero in her village, but now she is a hero to all of us. I told her, as Claudia translated, that I couldn’t believe we were the same age and that I only wish I could be half of the young woman she already is. By then I was crying. We we all were. Sweet Natalie Hemby prayed over Francia and Esperanza while Claudia translated her prayer. It was something I will never forget. Natalie and Melissa stayed up all hours, I believe, that night in Barahona working on a song for sweet Francia. It is beautiful and I hope you all hear it soon!

On to the second half of the trip, which we spent in the city of Santo Domingo. As Claudia put it, the poverty there is more hidden, but no less real.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel that felt just like America. It looked mostly like a mini-Miami, but with parts of the city dating back to Columbus’ settlement. However, there are many hidden crevices in the city slums that are indeed very poor, dangerous and dirty. People who live very well and people who live with nothing are crammed all together in rows of shops and houses as motorcycles zip by and street salesmen shout. Many homes are above stores on dirty, busy (sometimes violent) streets. This is not really the kind of poverty you would see on a commercial asking you for money, but it is real, nonetheless and just as worth witnessing.

Because I am so long-winded, I will get to the highlight of this half of the trip. Namely, meeting the child and I am beginning to sponsor, Anny Leydi.Ella Mae Bowen & Leydi

I met she and her older sister at a World Vision Area Development office. I think we were both nervous but excited. She is so beautiful with a deep knowingness in her eyes. She will be 11 in October. She sparkles. That hug was one of my favorite hugs I have ever and will ever receive. I cannot wait to get to know her better and grow with her.

While I am here, let me say this… If child sponsorship is something you have considered, I am 100% confident that World Vision is the best route to take. I say that, not because of new friendships, but because I experienced it firsthand. There is no idea of “this money will buy shoes and pay for school and it will be good for the child as long as it keeps coming.” That approach means that an element of the child’s success is highly dependent on you and your decision to continue. Though that may be true to some extent, that is not how World Vision chooses to see or approach it. What you are sending will intricately help the child, their family and the area that they call home. I wish I was more eloquent in this explanation, but in the words of Michael Bianchi, “World Vision wants to go into an area and work to put ourselves out of a job.” Meaning, the people are being empowered. Money may buy things that will make money for a family, for example, rather than a charity acting as a powerful source that gives them a check. The people are truly being given a hand up, not a hand out.

In light of that, and in closing, the thing I will remember most is the people. Their smiles, their unwavering desire to help themselves and empower others… Their joy in hard work… Their prayers for each other…. Their prayers for us- Matchless beauty and strength.


Stay tuned for pictures 🙂 Love always and God bless!


Here is the link to World Vision’s main website and the twitter handles of all the artists on the trip: (there is a specific page for every country, including the DR)







Natalie Hemby

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