Brett Young gets RIAA GOLD, PLATINUM Awards

Number One single and smash hit album honored 

(L-R) EVP Big Machine Label Group/BMLG Records President Jimmy Harnen, Brett Young, Big Machine Label Group President/CEO Scott Borchetta, Photo Credit: BMLG Records

Brett Young is collecting Gold and Platinum Awards like a seasoned veteran. I have to remind myself that he’s a relative newcomer to Nashville with, essentially, one major label album and an EP to his name.  But don’t let that fool you.  He’s proving to be a hit machine.

CMA New Artist of the Year Nominee Young’s self-titled album has been certified GOLD by the RIAA. The album’s first single, “Sleep Without You,” achieved RIAA PLATINUM status, and another single, “In Case You Didn’t Know,” snapped up a RIAA 2X PLATINUM award.

Bridgestone Arena surprise for Brett

A few days ago, Young was surprised onstage at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, where he was appearing on the last stop of Lady Antebellum’s ‘You Look Good’ world tour. Big Machine Label Group President/CEO Scott Borchetta and EVP Big Machine Label Group/BMLG Records President Jimmy Harnen stepped on to the stage to honor the rising star with his awards in front of a cheering crowd of fans.

Michael Martin, ASCAP

Young is quick to recognize those who have been instrumental in the development of his career.  I was present at his first Number One party, held at the new FGL House, and he made a point of singling out Michael Martin, ASCAP’s Vice President who heads up Nashville Membership office. He said, “Meeting my mentor Michael Martin and his advice and wisdom is what brought me here.”

During the RIAA presentation at Bridgestone Arena, Young said, “I’m just doing what I love, so it’s cool to see this music mean something to other people too,” He added, “I’m so honored and thankful for the support of my fans, my team and Country radio for making all of it possible.”

“In Case You Didn’t Know” instantly soared up the charts, earning the title of the first Country song released in 2017 to hit PLATINUM status. The song thrived in the video format as well, landing a place in Vevo’s Top 10 Videos of 2017 (so far), surpassing 100 million views, joining the rankings with Zayn and Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and DJ Khaled.

Baseball injury leads Brett to Nashville

Brett Young happens to be one of several singers and songwriters I know personally who can attribute their decision to switch career paths from sports to music as a result of a baseball injury. Born in Anaheim, California, he went to Ole Miss on a baseball scholarship after turning down pre-draft selection by both the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Minnesota Twins.  However, his major league pitching hopes were dashed by an elbow injury and he returned to his first love: music.

The phrase “New Artist of the Year” doesn’t tell the full story of Young’s musical journey. After replacing baseball with music, he spent eight years in Los Angeles, performing and recording several albums.  But his decision to move to Nashville proved to be a wise one. He was signed to Big Machine Label Group in 2015 and his six-song self-titled EP was released in February 2016. Young co-wrote the hit single “Sleep Without You” with Justin Ebach and Kelly Archer. “In Case You Didn’t Know” followed in January 2017.  A month later, BMLG released Young’s self-titled album, produced by the legendary Dan Huff.  A third single, “Like I Loved You” was released to country radio in July.

A baseball injury that probably seemed like a career killer at the time proved to be the catalyst to a successful new career, GOLD and PLATINUM awards, a nod from the CMA and millions of fans.

You can find tour dates and music at Brett Young’s official website here and follow him on Facebook here.

Country’s ‘Gentle Giant’ passes

Don Williams, May 27, 1939 – September 8, 2017

The world of country music will miss Don Williams. I know I will.

Don Williams. Photo: don-williams.com

His unique voice, both deep and mellow; his endearing smile and winning personality; even his ‘scrunched-up’ signature hat, so different from the pristine Stetsons worn by many of his contemporaries.

Don truly was the ‘Gentle Giant’ who gave us seventeen Number One country chart toppers, along with many other hits and numerous albums. His style was so distinctive because, in a way, his subtle, laid-back delivery differed from most of the sounds coming out of Music City back in the 70s.

Signed by ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement

Although the Floydada, Texas, native had been singing and playing throughout his childhood and teenage years – allegedly winning an alarm clock in a talent contest at the age of three – his break came when he moved to Nashville and secured a songwriting deal with legendary music publisher and songwriter ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement. Clement later signed Williams to a recording contract and the chart hits began with “The Shelter of Your Eyes.”

His first Number One was 1974’s “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me,” and from that date through 1991, every one of his singles would make the Billboard Country Top 40 chart. He became an international star: he was popular in England at a time when most radio listeners could only name Jim Reeves and Dolly Parton as country artists.  Hits such as “Tulsa Time,” “It Must Be Love” and “She Never Knew Me” established him as a consistent presence on stage and on the radio. However, Williams’ popularity also got him cast on the big screen in “W.W. and The Dixie Dancekings” and “Smokey and the Bandit II.”

“I Believe In You”

His most memorable – and most iconic – song was recorded in 1980: “I Believe in You.”  His eleventh Number One on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, it was also a crossover hit peaking at number 24 in Billboard’s pop charts. To this day, it has remained a well-loved romantic ballad, popular across succeeding generations. The song was written by Roger Cook and Sam Hogin.  Whenever I see Roger performing at Writers’ Nights around Nashville, he only has to sing: “I don’t believe in…” for the crowd to start cheering, whistling and applauding before he even finishes the first line.  (On a sidebar, Roger was a popular recording artist in his own right back in his native England. His voice has matured to become similar to Don’s and I’m guessing Roger sang the demo that Don and his A&R team recognized immediately as hit material for Don.)

Don continued to be a major crowd-pleaser, touring and performing for sell-out crowds, even after radio programmers had decided to no longer put his songs in the ‘add’ column. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.  His final performance was in 2016. He said, “It’s time to hang up my hat and enjoy some quiet time at home.”  Don passed away September 8, 2017 in Mobile, Alabama.

More about Don at his official website.

Rascal Flatts celebrate 17th Number One

“Yours If You Want It” latest chart topper

(L to R) Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney at the Number One party. Photo: Preshias Harris

Rascal Flatts chalked up their seventeenth Number One. Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney were on hand to celebrate at a party hosted by BMI in Nashville, Thursday, August 17.

“Yours If You Want It” made it to the top of Billboard and Country Aircheck/Mediabase Country Airplay charts. Adding to the trio’s kudos, the song marked their second back-to-back chart-topper, following their summer anthem, “I Like The Sound of That.”

‘Bittersweet’ celebration

“Yours If You Want It” was written by Jonathan Singleton and Andrew Dorff.  It was a bittersweet celebration as Dorff sadly passed away at the age of 40 last December.  The song was released to radio the following month and members of Rascal Flatts felt a sense of determination to give Dorff a posthumous Number One.  Dorf had previously co-written hits for Kenny Chesney (“Save It For A Rainy Day”) and Blake Shelton (“Neon Light”) and others.

In an earlier statement, Joe DeMarcus told Rolling Stone, “We’ve been working really hard and we’re very proud of this track and what’s more, the late Andrew Dorff is a writer on it, and we are so honored to be a small part of making sure his legacy lives on. We have a special angel watching over it, for sure.”

At the Number One party, Joe Don Rooney described the song as “Incredible, first and foremost.” He added, “There’s a very powerful story behind the song. Everything that Rascal Flatts is about is in that song.”

Gary Le Vox agreed, adding, “The lyrics and the story are amazing.”

Rascal Flatts also announced that their new single, “Back To Us,” will impact Country radio Monday, August 21. The song, co-written by Cary Barlowe, David Hodges and Josh Thompson, is the title track from the trio’s tenth studio album, BACK TO US.

Las Vegas residency in October

Rascal Flatts are gearing up to headline a limited Las Vegas residency. Titled ‘Night To Shine,’ the show, presented by SiriusXM, will take over the Venetian Theatre at The Venetian, October 6 – 21.  Check ticket availability for the Venetian shows here.

At the Number One party, a smiling Gary LeVox said, “We’re really looking forward to the Venetian residency.” The trio has been touring almost non-stop, racking up more than ten million tickets sold. The Las Vegas residency will give them a well-earned opportunity to stay in one place, if only for a few weeks.

As the best-selling country vocal group of the past decade, Rascal Flatts has sold over 23.4 million albums, over 33.7 million digital downloads worldwide, as well as earning over 40 trophies from the ACA, ACM, AMA, CMA, People’s Choice and more.

Read more at Rascal Flatts’ website.

Triple Number One party for Aldean and songwriters

Celebrating three Number Ones from latest album

It was a songwriters’ night with a difference: each of the featured writers on stage was a co-writer of a Number One hit for Jason Aldean from his album, THEY DON’T KNOW. The event also marked some ‘firsts’ for some of the writers.

First row (L to R): Deric Ruttan, Brian Kelly, Tyler Hubbard, Jason Aldean, Josh Thompson, Michael Knox / Second Row (L to R): Wendell Mobley, Jimmy Robbins, Tony Martin, Brad Martin, Jordan Schmidt, Jerry Flowers, Brett Warren
Photo Credit: Steve Lowry

Two-time and reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Jason Aldean took over Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon August 2nd to celebrate each single off his seventh studio album THEY DON’T KNOW reaching No. One. Marking 19 career chart-toppers, Aldean gathered alongside friends and family to perform “Lights Come On,” “A Little More Summertime” and “Any Ol’ Barstool” with each of the tracks’ songwriters. For the event, fans were invited to Lower Broadway’s famed venue, which is the same place Aldean played the showcase that landed him his record deal with Broken Bow Records.

Lights Come On

Serving as the lead single and No. One hit from THEY DON’T KNOW, Jason Aldean performed the smash hit “Lights Come On,” sharing vocals with songwriters Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley (BMI) and Tyler Hubbard (BMI), as well as Jimmy Robbins (ASCAP), Jordan Schmidt (ASCAP), Brad Warren (BMI) and Brett Warren (BMI). The hit serves as Schmidt’s first No. One as a songwriter as well as the first for Kelley and Hubbard’s Tree Vibez Music publishing company.

A Little More Summertime

Following suit, Aldean was joined on stage by songwriters Jerry Flowers (ASCAP), Tony Martin (BMI) and Wendell Mobley (BMI) to perform a stripped-down version of THEY DON’T KNOW’s second No. One single, “A Little More Summertime.”

Any Ol’ Barstool

To close out the round, Aldean invited Deric Ruttan (ASCAP) and Josh Thompson (BMI) to the stage who serve as the songwriters behind his “Any Ol’ Barstool.” It is the third consecutive chart topper off his seventh studio album. Aldean’s 19th career No. One serves as Thompson’s first No. One as a songwriter.

Aldean’s most recent album, THEY DON’T KNOW, follows each album release earning PLATINUM certification or better, tallying more than 15 million total album sales and 19 No. One hits. The longevity of his career reached new heights as he debuted at the No. One position on Billboard’s all-genre Top 200 Album chart for the third consecutive time. In addition to his THEY DON’T KNOW TOUR, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is showcasing a special exhibit titled  ‘Jason Aldean: Asphalt Cowboy,’ commemorating his wide-open sound that has been one of the defining influences on today’s Country Music. For more information and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.jasonaldean.com.

Information provided by the Green Room, Nashville.

Thomas Rhett’s ‘Craving You’ single tops Airplay charts

Dave Barnes and Julian Bunetta write Rhett’s 8th Number One

Thomas Rhett

Congrats to Thomas Rhett for his single “Craving You” hitting Number One on both the Billboard Country Airplay and Mediabase charts, sky-rocketing to the top in just 15 weeks as the fastest-rising song of his career so far.

And, of course, special congrats to the song’s writers, Dave Barnes and Julian Bunetta!  Dave’s other songwriting credits include tracks recorded by Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton and Billy Currington. He is also a recording artist with nine studio albums to his name. Julian has cuts on artists as varied as Harry Styles, One Direction and Little Big Town.

Julian Bunetta
Dave Barnes

Second Number One this year

“Craving You” (featuring Maren Morris) marks Rhett’s second Number One this year and the eighth of his career. It is the lead single from his upcoming third album due later this year. Rhett is continuing his HOME TEAM TOUR. After drawing capacity crowds overseas last year, he returns with plans to go back to Europe while also making his debut headlining run in Canada in addition to US dates. It’s one more success for Rhett who was named ACM Awards Male Vocalist of the Year.

For more information on new music and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit Rhett’s website. And be sure to check out the really creative music video for “Craving You,” designed to look like a movie trailer.

Brett Young celebrates new Number One

First ‘Number One’ for three co-writers

It’s always a great day for me when I can celebrate songwriters’ success, and nothing says ‘success’ like a Number One party.  When it’s a writer’s first-ever Number One, that’s an even greater thrill.

On Monday, July 17, Nashville’s music community showed up at FGL House at a party co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI to acclaim Brett Young’s second consecutive Number One hit, the Platinum-certified “In Case You Didn’t Know.” Brett was on hand to celebrate with his three co-writers, for whom this song was their first chart-topper.

Kyle Schlienger (ASCAP), Tyler Reeve (BMI) and Trent Tomlinson (BMI) had apparently gotten together ‘south of the border’ to pen the hit with Brett.

Pictured (L-R): Kyle Schlienger, Brett Young, Tyler Reeve, Trent Tomlinson. Photo: ASCAP

“In 2015, I asked these guys to come to Puerto Vallarta with me to write some songs,” explained Brett. “I was lucky enough that they agreed even though they didn’t know me well. But who passes up a free trip to Mexico? We knew we had something special with ‘In Case You Didn’t Know’ from the start, but I’m so thankful for how this song continues to change my life.”

Song’s ‘Making Of’ video shown

At the party, we saw a video that had been recorded during their songwriting retreat, showing how the song developed from the original concept.  For novice songwriters attending the Number One party, it was a fascinating opportunity to watch ‘behind the scenes’ as the four guys collaborated on the song’s creation. If you are a ‘rookie’ songwriter and, even if a hit recording artist isn’t likely to ask you to join him on an expenses-paid trip to the beach, it certainly was an inspiration to see how hard work and persistence can pay off in the long run.

The song ultimately landed at No. 1 across multiple platforms: Mediabase and Billboard Charts, Sirius XM’s The Highway, Vevo Country Chart for six consecutive weeks and No. 1 CMT Hot 20 Chart for two consecutive weeks. With “In Case You Didn’t Know,” Brett is also currently nominated for a Teen Choice Award in the Choice Country Song category and fans can vote here

For additional information and a full list of tour dates, including stops on Lady Antebellum’s YOU LOOK GOOD WORLD TOUR, visit Brett’s website.

Michael Ray celebrates Number One again

Michael Ray, songwriters, honored at Number One party

Once again, Atlantic/WEA’s Michael Ray celebrated another Number One, for ‘Think A Little Less.’ Here is Michael pictured with the writers. Pictured (l-r) are Thomas Rhett, Ray, Jimmy Robbins and Barry Dean. Not pictured was the fourth writer – ASCAP’s Jon Nite. This makes the second number one single from Michael’s debut self-titled album. His summer touring dates are full and he has a new single, ‘Get To You,’ that was released a few days ago. It’s going to be a grrrreat summer for this Eustis Florida native, who now calls Nashville home.

You can find Michael’s tour schedule and catch the official video for ‘Get To You’ here.

Cole Swindell, Blake Shelton celebrate Number Ones

6th Number One for Cole Swindell

Cole Swindell cebrates with co-writers and execs from ASCAP, BMI, label and song publishers. Photo credit: Preshias

Warner Bros Nashville threw a Number One party for one of their ‘Golden Boys.’ Cole Swindell is basking in the glow of his 6th Number One single, “Middle Of A Memory,” written by Swindell, Ashley Gorley and Zach Crowell. Cole thanked the standing room only crowd for all they have done to get him to this stage in his career and making his dreams come true.

…and Blake Shelton’s 23rd

Blake celebrates another Number One. Photo credit: Lindsey Sipes

Another Warner Bros Nashville “Golden Boy,” Blake Shelton, celebrates another Number One “With A Guy With A Girl.” The song was written by Bryan Simpson and Ashley Gorley. This makes Blake’s 23rd Number One, if I counted right. Trivia Note: Blake had 17 consecutive number one records, which went down in the music history books.

LOCASH have plenty to celebrate

A Number One, new tour and an addition to the family for Preston

Reviver Records super duo LOCASH (Chris Lucas and Preston Brust) is keepin’ them coming with a party for their new Number One, ‘I Know Somebody’ from their album THE FIGHTERS. And, unlike most Number One parties, they opened the celebration to the public! It was SO CRAZY & FUN! It was total mayhem at Valentine Saloon on Nashville’s Broadway. David Preston represented BMI and Michael Martin represented ASCAP for hosting duties.

LOCASH Photo credit: Jake Harsh

The songwriters themselves who were helping them celebrate included Rhett Akins (His 26th Number One… but I counted 27), Ross Copperman (I Know Somebody was his 15th Number One song) and Jeremy Stover for whom this was his 4th Number One song. Stover has written for and produced Justin Moore, Emerson Drive, Lonestar and Jack Ingram.

The party didn’t stop there: the dynamic duo are celebrating their upcoming summer tour. When things calm down in September, Preston and his wife Caitlyn will adding another set of footsteps in their house. Busy, busy, busy we are! Chris and Preston are both excited about their upcoming appearance on NBC’s Today Show on March 16th. Good exposure to get them ready for the ACM Awards on April 2nd that will broadcast LIVE from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vega$ at 7pm CST.

ACM nomination for LOCASH

Adding to the kudos were their nominated for the ACM “Vocal Duo or Group of the Year’ ACM Awards®. This is their first industry nominated award for the boys. Preston Burst said, “We have dreamt of this day for so many minutes and so many miles.”

I think this is going to be a fabo year for the boys who are making the noise!

“I Met A Girl” is a Musical Milestone for William Michael Morgan

His first number one song, four years in the making

Congrats to Warner Bros / WMN’s newcomer William Michael Morgan and the co-writers Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally and Trevor Rosen who were feted on January 30th for Morgan’s Number One hit “I Met A Girl.” The Number One party, held at South, was co-hosted by ASCAP and First Tennessee Bank.  The song, produced by Scott Hendricks (Blake Shelton) and Jimmy Ritchey (Mark Chesnutt), is from Morgan’s debut studio album, VINYL (Warner Bros Nashville) which was released on September 30, 2016, following his self-titled EP.

Photo Credit: Preshias Harris
Left to Right: Shane McAnally, William Michael Morgan and Trevor Rosen. Not pictured is Sam Hunt.

“I Met a Girl” is the debut single and first number one record for Morgan and has sold over 300,000 copies since its radio add date of August 24, 2015. It was also included on his debut studio album, “Vinyl,” which was released on September 30, 2016, following his self-titled EP.

During the media interviews prior to the Number One celebration, Shane said that they’d written the song about four years ago. Morgan said, “We hung on to it and hung on to it.” He recalled. “Once it was recorded, we kept listening to it.  We believed it was just a wonderful song all around.”

The lyrics have special meaning for Morgan

The song has a poignant meaning for Morgan. Thinking back to the birth of his daughter and meeting his fiancé brings a whole new meaning to the song for him. “God was moving the chess pieces around,” he said. “We found out the song was Number One on the same day as the album ‘Vinyl’ came out.”

“I Met A Girl” Number One Party

It seems the song has resonated with listeners, too. “I Met A Girl” spent 52 weeks on the charts and has reached an airplay audience of 1.1 billion. The song has also been streamed 25 million times.

The song has received positive reviews from music critics. Taste of Country® awarded “I Met a Girl” with the Taste of Country® Critic’s Pick, saying that the single is “a warm country love song that slows time” adding that “strong songwriting and Morgan’s smooth baritone make the song tough to resist.” So hit replay! More at www.williammichaelmorgan.com.

It takes perseverance

Personal note: Aspiring artists and songwriters should take note of Morgan’s progress along the road to chart success. Around four years elapsed between the time the song was written and the afternoon he stood up to receive his Number One award.  If you expect fame and fortune within months of arriving in Music City, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  It takes perseverance and strength of character to keep improving your musical skills, perfecting your stagecraft, building your network of industry contacts and learning from your co-writers.  When the real opportunity appears, you’ll be ready to grasp it!