Doing The Prep Work

Brown and Brown Insurance 3-4-16

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?”


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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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