Remembering Country Singer Daryle Singletary (1971-2018)

This month saw the Country Music world robbed of a singular talent.  Singer Daryle Singletary passed at home in Tennessee at the age of 46.

Singeltary’s career boasts over a dozen songs in the country music charts, including “Too Much Fun,” “I Let Her Lie” and “I’m Living Up to Her Low Expectations,” produced by Randy Travis.

The son of a postmaster and hairdresser, Daryle Bruce Singletary grew up with music a part of his every day.  Born in Cairo, GA, Daryle sang gospel songs regularly with his brother and cousins, and enjoyed family trips every summer to Music City.  Speaking with the Tennessean, in 1998, Singletary had shared, “It was the biggest deal for me to go to Opryland to the Barbara Mandrell record-your-own-voice studio there. I recorded (the Hank Williams classic) Your Cheatin’ Heart. … I think I was 12 or 13.”

Singletary made his home in Music City in 1990, playing clubs regularly, and eventually releasing his self-titled debut on Giant in 1995.  Last summer saw the release of classic country duets, American Grandstand, with Rhonda Vincent. It befits Singletary’s legacy, whose body of work served as an homage to the classic sound. Singletary was quoted, “I’ve been fortunate to be able to always keep it real and not have to compromise.” Vincent heard the news while in the studio with Dolly Parton and Mavis Staples. Taking to Facebook live, she shared “He’s a dear friend. I am stunned. … Our prayers go out to Daryle’s wife and his children.”   Vincent joins a list of collaborators including George Jones and Johnny Paycheck, Dwight Yoakum, Merle Haggard, Ricky Skaggs, John Anderson and Vince Gill.

True to his traditional country sound, Singletary released There’s Still a Little Country Left in 2015.  The album included “Get Out of My Country” in which Daryle sang “If you want to do it right, do it like old George Jones. … If you came to twang town just for the money, then pack it up, son, get out of my country.”  Found on his official website, Singeltary’s own words: “There are still people out there who want to hear traditional country music.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to always keep it real and not have to compromise.”  Upon its release, Daryle recalled “When I moved to Nashville in 1990, I left Georgia telling my daddy, ‘I want to make my living in country music. I didn’t tell him I wanted to be played on the radio every day or be on a video channel every day. I said, ‘I want to make a living playing for the people who enjoy my kind of music.’ Fortunately, and thankfully, I have been able to do that since 1995.”

Chuck Rhodes, president of On the Rhodes Entertainment, was kind enough to take some time to speak with us from Nashville during a very difficult week.  We asked Chuck how long ago he first connected with Daryle.

“I was kind of looking back. I kind of miscalculated. I originally told someone 21 years, but it’s now been 25 years. His first record came out on Giant records, the self-titled record “Daryle Singletary” on Giant in ’95 and I had come in as Nashville promotion director at Giant in about 1994, when the label was just getting kind of off the ground for a couple years. I had met Daryle there.  I worked for Nick Hunter and he was the head of promotion for Giant and VP of promotion, and he had worked at Warner Bros for years, with Randy Travis, so Randy called Nick and James Stroud, who was president of the label at the time, and said, “I want you to hear this young man,” Randy and at the time his ex-wife, Lib Hatcher had managed him, managed Randy, and said “We found a young man we want you to hear,” and we brought some stuff over to play, and I’ve never heard a voice like that before in my life.”

Chuck continued, “So, James and Nick put a deal together very quickly, we signed him, and we put his first record out in 1995, which harbored several hits, but the biggest couple of ones were ‘I Let Her Lie’ and ‘Too Much Fun’, off the first album.  We kept moving along through the years, after Giant Records. Nick and I went on to form a label called Audium Records, and that was distributed by Koch, which was, at the time, one of the largest independent record labels in America.”

Chuck spoke with reverence, remembering Singletary’s many collaborations, including those on That’s Why I Sing This Way.  “We had several guest artists singing on it, which were his heroes. George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Dwight Yoakum.”   Daryle sang a song of Johnny Paycheck’s called ‘Old Violin.’”

“That record Johnny Paycheck wrote, had a hit back in the 80s, but one of the things we did there, which was a little different is, Daryl sung the record and then Johnny was in the last few months of his life in a nursing home and we went over and he did a recitation at the end of the record. And if you listen to it, you go online and listen to it, there was a very poignant recitation that Johnny did on his original record and we asked him to kind of recreate it. And he did do it at the end of the record and it was actually Johnny Paycheck at the end of the record speaking this little recitation. That was one of the last things that we did before John passed away.  And just a very poignant moment.   For everybody. We went back after we finished the record and had it all mixed out. I remember us going back at that time with Nick Hunter and with Daryle and me and then at the time and through the years, Johnny Paycheck’s manager was a gentleman by the name of Marty Martel and he went with us. John was just so excited to hear it and we played it for him. Man, I tell ya, there just wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

It’s clear that Chuck has countless stories of his time Daryle, whom he calls “our best country singer that we had in what we call the modern era of country music, through the last twenty years.” Chuck spoke of Singletary’s commitment to the traditional country sound, and its fans, continuing to “fulfill that fan base that was out there that was starving for traditional country music… You know those folks are out there. They love traditional country music. They’re Daryle Singletary fans and they still love traditional country music.  That’s one thing that Daryle was so blessed with, is that we really hadn’t had in the past fourteen years. We really hadn’t had a big record on the radio. But, he still maintained an incredible fan base and he still worked over a hundred days a year. And so, we were just so blessed.”

Beyond, though, his mark on country music is Singletary’s love for and dedication to his family.  Rhodes shared, “He is first and foremost a family man, and I told several people that this week.  He loved his family more than anything else in this world. He and his wife, Holly, been married 14 years. They wanted to start a family early. It took a while to get that going, but now have four beautiful children.  He loved his family so much. I’d been there almost 26 years with him now where we would, maybe back in the day we’d be out riding the bus, playing shows and we might take a few minutes to sit around after a show and continue to play with the boys on the bus and sing some country western songs and have a good time, where in the past … I guess the oldest, the twins are seven now, so in the past six, seven years, the priority was to get on the bus and go home.  I can say unequivocally, Daryle Singletary was a family man. As he transitioned into this new phase of his life, he was a Christian man. He loved the Lord and he loved his family. And that was his priority to get back and be with them. He knew he had to go out on the road. He knew he had to go out and work. And he loved his fans, but as he transitioned into father, husband … that role, that became his most important role.”

Donations may be made to The Daryle Singletary Foundation Keepin’ It Country fund, benefiting Daryle Singletary’s family, via:

The Daryle Singletary Foundation Keepin’ It Country
c/o Franklin Synergy Bank
Attn: Ellen May
Senior Vice President
Sports, Music and Entertainment Group
33 Music Square West Unit 110B
Nashville, TN 37203
Cell: 615-351-0086

Mourners have taken to social media in tribute:

Hip Hop and Faith

What a pleasure to talk to Kevin Felder, and his alter-ego Big Redd.   While he lays claim to an alter-ego, an ego appears nowhere to be found.   A renaissance man to the core, Kevin has devoted and dispersed his talents as an artist and entrepreneur across radio, records, advertising, social media, and, perhaps most notably, as a mentor to those seeking his kind of success with the very same.

There’s the entrepreneur Kevin Felder, the founder of The Euniek Group, which helps small and medium-sized business navigate through radio, tv, and advertising.  And, there’s the artist.  And that artist is currently making big waves.  Marrying hip hop and gospel, Big Redd is resonating across the charts with a song that is as honest as it is infectious. A collaboration with gospel giant Fred Hammond, “Running Back to You” is what Big Redd describes as an “introspective look into times in our lives when we possibly encounter God and provides hope that no matter how far we get from God we can always run back to Him.”

Big Redd was kind enough to take the time to speak to us about his remarkable path as an artist an entrepreneur, and the opportunity he’s forged to spread the good word. And the path he forged wasn’t always as deliberate. “I had no idea that I would be in music, in the radio industry, entertainment, at all. It never was a desire of mine. I actually was on the medical track… I was even pre-med going into college. I graduated from Wake Forest University. But that was it. I knew I was going to be a doctor, but once I got to Wake and started taking classes, and really started kind of having a heart search, I really got convicted about my motives for wanting to be a doctor. I really just wanted six-figures, and to be able to play golf and drive a nice car, and, specifically I wanted to be an anesthesiologist, and I was like ‘I can work Monday through Friday, have my weekends to myself, travel,’ and really all of those things had nothing to do with serving people. So, I was like ‘Okay, what do I really want to do?’  And so, I settled … Well I shouldn’t say settled, but aligned with my true life purpose, which is communication.”

Kevin continued, touching on the role of his faith early on in that path. “Specifically, for me, as a Christian, and becoming a Christian while I was in college, I just became so aware of my life calling. Which will be to communicate God’s love to people all over the world. And I didn’t know what that would look like then, but I knew once I started as a communication major, that I was gaining the skills that I would use in some future platform. But even then, I had no idea that it would be in music and in the radio industry. So, it’s just beautiful how God can kind of set you up, and give you all the skills you need and a life experience, and then sit you on this platform and it’s like that’s what all the other things were for. So …here I am.”

It was perhaps by chance that Big Redd combined his talents, encouraged to do so by his peers. “They blessed me, they pushed me forward to go pursue it. And that’s when I began my solo rap career as Big Redd. This retreat that I went to, I believe it was my junior year of college, and some guys introduced me to Christian rap. And I had never heard of Christian rap before. I had been rapping since I was in middle school. But it was always a hobby, and I would rap in different talent shows, and I was the guy. People were like ‘Oh, Kevin knows how to rap, so get him to do it.’ I was that guy. And, never really thought much of doing it again. Once I gave my life to Christ, I was like “Okay, hip hop and Jesus, they probably don’t go together.’ So, nobody forced me, but I was just like “These two probably aren’t going to go together well,” so I just had kind of put rapping down.

Big Redd’s career arc has shown him the ropes from the perspective of artist and industry insider.

Kevin manages the radio group Millennial FM, 95.9 in Columbia, South Carolina. “The cool thing about Millennial FM is that it’s the genre of music that I’m in as an artist. So being on a path where for six, going on seven years, of being an independent artist, pushing, trying to get radio airplay, trying to make the case for this genre of music to gospel, to hip hop. Like, our music is either too gospel for hip hop and it’s too hip hop for gospel to play it, traditionally speaking. So, there’s really no home for you in terms consistent national or even local, regional radio airplay. So, being part of Millennial is special to me because we’re creating the outlet that somebody like me would be looking for six, seven years ago. So, it means a lot to me to be a part of offering a platform to emerging artists. And for us to do it well so that we can replicate this across the country.”

A man of focus, Kevin continues, speaking openly about this day to day, balancing it all. “It’s also still a huge passion of mine to create my own music. So, it inspires me to see other up and coming artists on their grind and doing their thing. And it’s like, ‘Okay well you’re not a dinosaur, you gotta stay in the game, keep doing your own music as well.’ The majority of my day is focusing on Millennial FM. Then I’m a husband, I have a six-year-old and a three-year-old so I’m a husband and daddy. Really husband and dad first. God first, family second, business is third…I kind of start Big Red after the kids are asleep. That’s when I’m writing. That’s when I go to a coffee shop and write or go to the studio, things of that nature. So, it’s a delicate balance and I have a great support system in my wife who just believes in the dream as well and who just allows me the opportunity to spread my hands out in so many different places.”

I can’t help but note how grounded Kevin clearly is, suggesting he could lead motivational seminars …which of course, he already does. “Because of some of the successes that God has granted to me, it’s an honor for people to ask you questions about their careers and the paths they should take. I actually launched a seminar series in my city in partnership with the city of Columbia called the Indie Ground. And it’s, at the time, and still free, as of right now, thanks to our sponsorships. It’s a free feature for emerging music artists to learn the business side of the music industry.  We’ve done sessions, anything from copyrights, contracts, and I’ve brought an entertainment lawyer in to talk about things like that. I brought in some friends in television to talk about how to land a TV interview and how to conduct yourself in a TV interview. How to get free press. Did a seminar called “Can I Get Some Love on the Radio?” And, so I had a program director come in, as well as a studio engineer, to talk about both the technical side as well as the presentation and communication with the program director. How do you get that first radio airplay? How do you keep a song in regular rotation? And be persistent without being a pest. So, this is the type of seminars that I would like to continue and do on a larger scale across the, branching out into my region and then, you know, possibly across the country.”

Alongside those goals, Big Redd shares what’s ahead for him musically. “I’m working on a full album now. I’ve done an EP and I’ve had features on other people’s songs, features on other people’s albums. I’ve put out singles. I’ve never done a full album yet. So, I just feel like I have to tell an entire story at once, in one sitting. So, I want to create this audible piece of art that I leave behind. And that’s very important to me, as an artist, as a creative, to tell this story over 10-12 songs. Not that that’s the music industry format anymore. I don’t know. It’s just important to me to complete that full project.”

Play MPE is thrilled to be a part of that journey. Big Redd continues, gracious in returning the praise.  “A quest for more. That’s why I became a client of Play MPE, because I believed you all could help me get more, to maximize my resources, to be able to reach more people with music that I believe was created to impact the world, literally, and it has done that. So, I’ve told several of my friends and now it’s a part of my regular conversation. Hey, if you haven’t heard of Play MPE, you need to check them out because it’s been positive for me all around.”

Well, ditto, Sir!

Having a Cannonball

Cash Campbell has arrived on the country scene like a cannonball. With his single of the same name, he’s quickly established himself, exemplifying the format’s present and future.  Recently chosen for their Artist Discovery initiative, Campbell has been called by CMT a “true representation of current country for the next generation.”

With over 500,000 views across YouTube and Facebook, Campbell is clearly just getting started.

We had the chance to speak to the Dallas-based singer-songwriter between takes, connecting first about a mutual connection with Guster, whose influence can be heard in Campbell’s ethereal production.  “To me they were going to be Coldplay. They were a huge influence on me when I was a kid.” A high school talent show became a pivotal turning point.

“Two of my buddies that were older than me, in front of our entire high school, played a Guster song. It was like tunnel vision. I remember sitting out in the crowd with 15 hundred other kids in our school and just was enamored. It was a song called “Demons” by Guster.  That was it. It was like this turning point were all of a sudden football and basketball practice just meant a lot less. I just really wanted to get home. I pulled my dad’s old Takamine out of the closet and that was it. I would get home from sports or whatever and would hole myself up in my room for hours and hours, just write these terrible songs. They were so bad.”

Au contraire, one expects, for a young man who had signed a record deal at 19.  Along with his dad’s Takamine, Campbell’s parents shared their musical talents. “My dad was in music. Music was just always part of our life and our house. My mom played piano. My dad sang and directed orchestras and choirs. My sister sang. My grandparents sang. So, naturally all I wanted to do was play basketball. I wanted to play point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. That was my big goal when I was little. To be the point guard for the Mavs.”

Fate had other ideas, affording the young talent experience playing around the globe. “I lived in Stockholm and I got to live in London. We got to play hundreds and hundreds of shows It was amazing. I grew up around country music, obviously being in Texas, but I didn’t understand a lot of the inner workings that went on with the songwriters.  When I got a chance to dive in to country music, which I was thrilled about, I thought I was just going to write songs for other people. That was kind of my big dream, big goal. Oh my gosh, I have this publishing deal and I’m going to get to write for Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood.”

Turns out though, Cash Campbell is the complete package– songwriter, and performer. “Cannonball” has captivated fans of everything from Imagine Dragons to Florida Georgia Line.  The infectious single is the product of a collaboration with Chris LaCorte and Swedish composer Peer Astrom, whose masthead includes Glee’s soundtrack.  With influences ranging from Guster, to Dave Matthews, to Johnny Cash, to Toby Keith, Campbell is well on his way to blazing a new trail for today’s country music.

Those influences are as inspiring to him now as in the days gigging in high school. “We were kids. We were getting a stack of cash and all we could think of was ‘We just played a show for an hour and they paid us 1500 dollars.’ We all had jobs and that just felt good…If your shows and your songs are good enough, people will tell their friends and they’ll come back to the show and back to the show. That was how Guster built it. That was how Dave built it. Honestly, back then I didn’t even care about the songs. It was about the live show. We wanted to put on these amazing shows. I was still really young. Now, I love crafting the songs. I’ve been in seven studios this week. Or six studios. I can’t even remember…. I left here at midnight. I love crafting the songs I just love releasing them out into the world. I also get so pumped to get to go play shows. It’s always that push pull. Obviously, they tell your story and the art that you’re looking to communicate, but I get equally excited with the live shows side.”

That art has come recently in the form of a 6 song EP, with legs. “What we did was, we took all six of those songs and I also created an acoustic version of all of those songs. So, we turned six songs into 12 songs. Then I did a remix, like a dance EDM remix with some buddies. We actually turned six songs into 18 songs.  We are making videos for all of those songs. Rather than just put it all out in one fell swoop with one or two videos, I was like ‘Man, what if we roll this content out over the next year and a half or until we are ready to do the record?’ We had six songs. Now I feel like we have 40 or 50 songs. Of those 40 or 50 we probably … seven or eight of them. That’s how it always goes, right?”

Campbell is gracious and humble speaking about his rise career arc, including the break after touring as a signed artist. “I got a chance to come back onto the country side and I was–I don’t know how to describe it–except I never really tried to do what I’m doing now. I had never really tried to do what I’m doing now. The moment I started doing it in the studio, it just felt so comfortable.  Like it was kinda a fictional moment where I was like, “Oh, I was doing the wrong thing for like 13 years. I had signed a publishing deal when I was very young, and I did not know … Like take Garth Brooks, I just assumed that Garth Brooks wrote all those songs…every song, he wrote some of them, of course but. With encouragement from a high school friend who worked at Warner Bros., Campbell began in 2016 the songwriting path that has led to “Cannonball.”  “I think I thought we were going to find somebody that was 16 or 17 that had slightly more spry than I am. Although, I feel spry most mornings, my intention was not to be the original artist.  We ended up keeping the song, which I’m so thrilled about. We put it out or I put it out … I say we because it’s such a great team and I was in bands for 12 years, so I just like being a part of the team.”

While it may not have been his intention, Cash Campbell is making a name for himself as a songwriter and performer not to be missed.  Click here to hear “Cannonball” and more on your trusted Play MPE Player.

Faces of Play MPE: Says Grace

Play MPE can pick ‘em. And the ‘em in this case is employees, colleagues, team members…the proverbial what have you.  A shining example is newest member of the team, Grace Chao.  Apparent upon any conversation with Grace, she possesses both a worldview and disarming poise striking in a 22-year-old.

The young and hard-working accountant gave us a little of the scoop on her path to Play MPE.

A music fan herself (Coldplay is a fave), Grace’s job-hunting researching led her to Play MPE.

“I just graduated in the summer from university and I was just looking for accounting jobs. I actually did a couple internships in accounting firms before. I thought I would go over and try out the corporate side of things. I looked up and I saw this job ad and I thought I would apply and see how I like it and so far, it’s going very well.”  Indeed, it is!

Music is just one of Grace’s passions.  Fitting for her role as an accountant, she’s a numbers fan as well.  “I’m actually very passionate about multiple things. I like numbers. I also like words. Something that I really like to do is I love to write. It’s one of my hobbies.  One of my dreams actually when I retire is I wish to be an author.”

With a gift for both left and right -brained approaches, Grace nurtures the right brained side and knack for fiction writing as often as possible.  It’s a passion dating all the way back to high school. (a more distant memory for many of us!)

“Currently, I’m writing a fantasy… I’ve actually been working on that since high school and I’m hoping to edit it and maybe publish it one day.”   With a gift for numbers that has already impressed colleagues across the globe, Grace is on target to collect those publishing royalties in retirement.   Prior to her arrival at Play MPE, Grace attended McGill University, after which internships took her beyond her native British Columbia. “At my previous internships I worked in Taiwan and it was very different. Everything was very fast paced and it was a lot of pressure.”   Taiwan also was a treat for Grace’s foodie side, which she explores locally at events like Dine Out Vancouver.

Speaking about her goals, it’s clear that focus has long been an attribute, and one both modeled and encouraged by Grace’s parents. “My parents were pretty strict while I was growing up but they let me do what I want. They try to motivate me. I thought that’s pretty nice of them.”  An only child, Grace devoted downtime to her many interests, including piano, clarinet, and violin.  I really like playing the piano during the times when I’m free. When I’m upset I play and play out my emotions… I think people who grew up alone find ways to be creative so that we’re not so isolated by ourselves.”

Grace is a natural spokesperson for two books that come up during our conversation.  “A book I really liked was called Good to Great… Do you know the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? I like that book because it really inspired me to become a better person and how I view life and the things around me.”

As for the things around her at Play MPE?  Those are great. “Everyone is very nice. Everyone is helpful. I’m learning a lot.  I really enjoy most of what I do here. Just interacting with different people. I’m an accountant. So, I sometimes talk to Alen. I talk with Katja to coordinate releases and stuff. I’ve also done some release approvals to help Alen when he was away, during certain days. And I really enjoy working with my manager. She’s also new. The two of us, we work together. We figure things out. If we make mistakes, we try to come up with solutions together and that’s a nice challenge for both.”

Welcome aboard, Grace!

Credit Score

Pick you metaphor– what once was old is new again; what goes around comes around.  Both could be at the core of technology’s latest nod to analog as Spotify has announced its recent decision to add songwriter and producer credits to the behemoth service.

In a world of ones and zeros, liner notes have become as quaint as a doorstep adorned with the morning paper. But not so fast.  Like most things that go by the way side, eventually, they are afforded the opportunity to shine anew to a fresh and previously uninitiated audience. While I quite enjoyed the recent storage unit discovery of a treasure trove of CD long boxes, my teenage nephews would not know of the purpose these cardboard beauties served.

Buying a record used to mean something to hear, yes, but it was also something to open, to pore over, to dissect the liner notes. Who wrote what. What does the band want us to know about these new songs? Who took the publicity photos? Who played triangle?

With Spotify’s “Show Credits” right click option, some of that glory returns.  “Songwriters are an integral force behind the music we love,” said Tiffany Kumar, Global Head of Songwriter Relations, Spotify. “With the newly launched credits feature, we aim to increase songwriter and producer visibility and, in turn, foster discovery among new collaborators, industry partners, and fans.”

“The more we share information, the more opportunities we can help create for songwriters,” added Annika Goldman, ‎Director of Music Publishing Operations, Spotify. “This is just the beginning of making songwriter and producer credits more easily available to Spotify listeners, and we look forward to continually improving that information, in close collaboration with our music industry partners.”

Songwriter Ali Tamposi, whose credits include songs for Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson, and others, shared “We’re all artists in our own right, and every artist appreciates being recognized for their hard work. I’m excited and grateful to see this new feature on Spotify.”   Frank Dukes, whose credit include Lorde and Camila Cabello echoed the sentiments. ““It’s amazing to see Spotify give the unsung heroes of music some recognition on their platform. Definitely a step in the right direction.”

It wasn’t so long ago the Don Was (Was Not Was) opined of “the death of liner notes” to HuffPo.  “The first time I heard of Charles Ives, Willie Dixon, Captain Beefheart, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Eric Dolphy was when I read that list of 150 random notables (titled “People Who Have Contributed Materially in Many Ways to Make Our Music What It Is – Please Do Not Hold It Against Them”).  My friend, Michael Loceff, and I took a trip to LA later that summer just to check out all the locations that Frank listed as Freak Out! hot spots. When we finally reached the hallowed portals of Ben Franks restaurant on Sunset, we felt like we’d become part of a movement — even if it was 10 a.m., and there wasn’t a freak in sight! Years later, I got to hang out with the Mother’s drummer, Jimmy Carl Black. I was tongue-tied and awestruck to be in the presence of this cat whose mystique, for me, was based solely on his portrayal on the inside of album covers. Frank Zappa schooled us in counter-culture history, gave lost teenagers an identity along with a mythology and provided four sides of groundbreaking rock ‘n’ roll for five bucks! Some 44 years later, I’m still a fan — that’s what the music business is about.”

Perhaps now, we’ll start getting schooled again.

CRS 2018

In the words of Country Radio Broadcasters President and Senior VP of Townsquare Media, “There’s nothing like CRS. The educational aspect of the event is phenomenal. Gathering a huge number of radio and music business professionals to celebrate this great musical form is fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?”

Happening February 5th- 7th, this year’s event promises to be consistent with Johnson’s praise. The Omni Nashville Hotel once again plays host to Country radio professionals for a three-day event of “educational programming, panels of key business leaders in various fields, presentations on new technology, business practices, and personal career development topics, new music showcases and, of course, more.”

And when they say educational programming, they’re not just talking Selector 101 brush-ups. They’re talking motivational, inspirational reminders like what can be expected from Miles Adcox, who’ll share his thoughts on Intentional Living (How to Get Control of Your Life Back). Adcox is CEO and Owner of Nashville-based Onsite, which offers short and long-term experiential therapy workshops designed to help individuals and couples experience a breakthrough and discover a better future.  Adcox and his messages of personal growth have been featured on many national radio shows alongside appearances on TV’s The Doctors and Dr. Phil.

Such a presentation is consistent with CRS’s commitment to a long-standing motto: “Growth through sharing.” The organization boast a best and brightest Board, whose members hail from industry giants UMG Nashville, Curb Records, Townsquare Media, Warner Music Nashville, Cumulus Media and more.

Music fans all, they’ve joined radio professionals across the format in voting for this year’s New Faces of Country Music Show® sponsored by Academy of Country Music and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Nominees are: Midland, Dylan Scott, Luke Combs, Runaway June, Lauren Alaina, Russell Dickerson, Walker Hayes, Devin Dawson, Craig Campbell, Michael Ray, LOCASH, Aaron Watson, LANCO, Carly Pearce, Chris Lane, and High Valley.

In addition to the to-be-announced winning performances, attendees will be on hand for recognition of this year’s Rusty Walker Scholarship Recipients.  Jennifer “Jenn Parker” Hays, MD at KCTR in Billings MT, and Mark “Haystack” Wells (PD at KCYT in Fayetteville, AR join Jamie Jackson Promo Director at KRTY in San Jose in receiving the honor.  The Rusty Walker Scholarship program was named in honor of Country Radio Hall of Fame member Rusty Walker, who passed away 2012 at 59. CRS created the scholarship program in his name, enabling young members of the business who may not otherwise have the chance, to attend CRS. Another marker of an all-around swell org.

Additional honorees will include the recipient of the Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award, presented in honor of former CRB board member Tom Rivers. The award recognizes “an individual in the country radio industry who has displayed a magnanimous spirit of caring and generosity in service to his or her community.  Known for his work at WQYK – Tampa/St. Petersburg and WUSN-Chicago, Rivers was highly regarded for his exemplary public service.  This is not an annual award, but given when the board feels an individual, through outstanding service, warrants the recognition.” This just scratches the surface of the award ceremonies honoring Country Radio Broadcasting’s living legends.  Amidst the live music, self-care and exploration, though, appropriately enough, CRS festivities will of course include visits to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

Cumulus’ Greg Frey, Chair of the Agenda Committee, neatly offered a few nuggets about what to expect. “Highlights include two research studies, presented by CMA and Edison Research, and a ground-breaking talk from Cumulus Media’s CEO, Mary Berner.”  Attendees can even expect things to get…topical. “We have an obligation to our industry to speak on the areas of personal responsibility, sexual harassment, and treating others with dignity and respect. This hot topic discussion … will be addressed in this year’s agenda.” Frey shared.  Not one to be missed!

For deets and to register, head to

2017: The Year That Was

And just like that, 2017 comes to a close. A year marked by tumult and loss, it’s been another solidifying reminder of music’s power to connect and heal.

As with any Oscars annual tribute montage, reflection on the losses can be jolting. We saw the departure of greats in the music world this year:  Tom Petty, Fats Domino, Chris Cornell, David Cassidy, Greg Allman, Butch Trucks, Walter Beck, Glen Campbell…too touch on just a few.  Artist turned record exec Tommy Page was just 46 when he was taken from us this year. Having recorded a number hit with “I’ll Be Your Everything,” Page pursued an equally successful career behind the scenes.  A&R Exec and VP of Promotion for Warner Bros., Page helped shape the careers of Green Day, Alanis Morrissette, Josh Groban, later joining Billboard as publisher. Billboard Entertainment Group President John Amato shared “We are all mourning the loss of our friend and colleague Tommy Page. He was a magnetic soul and a true entertainer.”

We continue to absorb and process the tremendous losses of The Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, our view of outdoor concerts now inevitably tied to the tragedy. Jason Aldean performed recently in Nashville at the Country Rising Benefit Concert, which raised more than $4 million for victims of the shooting and those affected by recent hurricanes.

“It’s been a rough couple months for us up here, and it’s a lot of fun to get back out and play for the people who matter which is you guys,” Aldean shared from the stage. “I love getting up every day and playing music, and I’ll be damned if anybody out there will ever stop me from doing that.”

Aldean later opened up on Today.  “I just hope that everybody can start to heal. Some of that stuff you can never get over, but I hope it gets better for everybody as time goes on.”  Alongside 2017’s tapestry of tragedy is a soundtrack of unmatched gems. Adele brought us “Hello.” David Bowie gifted us a farewell Black Star.  Randy Newman, meanwhile, returned after 9 years with Dark Matter.  Continuing with the theme, Danzig returned after five years with Black Laden Crown.  Living Colour also re-emerged following an extensive hiatus.  And 2017 saw U2 return with Songs of Experience, which is heading for a number one.

After a five-year break, Pink returned with her 7th album, Beautiful Trauma, topping the charts immediately, and in doing so enjoying the biggest opening for a female artist since Beyoncé gave us Lemonade last year. To the delight of romantics and wedding DJ’s everywhere, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill released their first collaborative album, The Rest of Our Life.

It was a year that, like any other, saw reconciliations, reformations, and disbandings.  A Tribe Called Quest reformed and toured, following the death of Phife Dawg last year. Similarly bittersweet, Audioslave and the Eagles also reconnected.

Others chose 2017 to hit pause for a bit:  One Direction, fun., Twenty One Pilots, Slipknot, Dave Matthews Band.

The big sellers this year are of course dominated by known giants.  Taylor Swift takes the prize with Reputation being the top seller, unseating Ed Sheeran’s Divide. They join fellow behemoths Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, and Drake.

As for the business itself, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recently released the 2017 Music Consumer Insight Report, brimming with encouraging tidbits, not least of which the notion that 87% of all internet users consume music via traditional radio concurrently.  Cheers to that and to 2018.

Gram Slams: A Preview of the 2018 GRAMMYS

Well, strap in folks- the Grammys awards ceremony is right around the corner, January 28th. (Weren’t we just watching Adele absolutely kill “Fast Love”?)

Well, no matter…time flies when you’re hearing hits. The leader of the pack for the 60th annual soiree is JAY-Z, with 8 nods  (including the big guns of course, album, record, song, and specifically best rap album).  Following closely behind, Kendrick Lamar boasts 7 nominations, just ahead of Bruno Mars’ 6.

Mr. Mars is currently busy on the road, with earnings topping… ya ready? $129 million. He’s off to Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica this month before returning home.

The media has noted the prevalence of people of color among this year’s nominees. Speaking with Billboard,  producer No I.D. shared  “Urban culture is now pop culture. Sometimes the weather changes, the season changes. We’re just in a season where the world loves this culture of music. Now everybody’s doing it, and some people have been doing it longer…And so they’re just better.”

It’s been noted specifically too that “the big four” includes no rock artists. (Not even the Foos, whose ninth studio album Concrete and Gold has been overlooked, though they get a shout out for Best Rock Performance for “Run.”) A reminder of legends we’ve lost, Leonard Cohen’s “You Want it Darker” and Chris Cornell’s “The Promise” are nominated alongside the Foo Fighters.

As the lines between alt and pop inevitably blur, with pop categories hosting Portugal. The Man, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, and Lana Del Rey alongside Ed Sheeran.

Up for Best New Artist this year: Khalid, Alessia Cara, Lil Uzi Vert, SZA, and Julia Michaels. Michaels opened up about the experience, sharing “ “Every artist dreams of being nominated for a Grammy. I was really nervous. I’m such a pessimist, I was like it’s not going to happen, I want it to happen but it’s not gonna happen, and I just decided last night I was gonna wake up like it’s Christmas morning and I was either going to get the bike that I wanted or the pair of socks and I was just going to have to accept the outcome. And I was woken up early to the news and I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it, I’m still in shock.”

And with perhaps the ultimate line on such accolades, SZA declared “This entire thing puts my wildest dreams to shame.”

List of nominees below:

Record Of The Year:
“Redbone” — Childish Gambino
“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“The Story Of O.J.” — Jay-Z
“HUMBLE.” — Kendrick Lamar
“24K Magic” — Bruno Mars

Album Of The Year:
“Awaken, My Love!” — Childish Gambino
4:44 — Jay-Z
DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
Melodrama — Lorde
24K Magic — Bruno Mars

Song Of The Year:
“Despacito” — Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber)
“4:44” — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)
“Issues” — Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels & Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters (Julia Michaels)
“1-800-273-8255” — Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury & Khalid Robinson, songwriters (Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid)
“That’s What I Like” — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best New Artist:
Alessia Cara
Lil Uzi Vert
Julia Michaels


Best Pop Solo Performance:
“Love So Soft” — Kelly Clarkson
“Praying” — Kesha
“Million Reasons” — Lady Gaga
“What About Us” — P!nk
“Shape Of You” — Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
“Something Just Like This” — The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“Thunder” — Imagine Dragons
“Feel It Still” — Portugal. The Man
“Stay” — Zedd & Alessia Cara

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album:
Nobody But Me (Deluxe Version) — Michael Bublé
Triplicate — Bob Dylan
In Full Swing — Seth MacFarlane
Wonderland — Sarah McLachlan
Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 — (Various Artists) Dae Bennett, Producer

Best Pop Vocal Album:
Kaleidoscope EP — Coldplay
Lust For Life — Lana Del Rey
Evolve — Imagine Dragons
Rainbow — Kesha
Joanne — Lady Gaga
÷ (Divide) — Ed Sheeran


Best Dance Recording:
“Bambro Koyo Ganda” — Bonobo Featuring Innov Gnawa
“Cola” — Camelphat & Elderbrook
“Andromeda” — Gorillaz Featuring DRAM
“Tonite” — LCD Soundsystem
“Line Of Sight” — Odesza Featuring WYNNE & Mansionair

Best Dance/Electronic Album:
Migration — Bonobo
3-D The Catalogue — Kraftwerk
Mura Masa — Mura Masa
A Moment Apart — Odesza
What Now — Sylvan Esso


Best Contemporary Instrumental Album:
What If — The Jerry Douglas Band
Spirit — Alex Han
Mount Royal — Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge
Prototype — Jeff Lorber Fusion
Bad Hombre — Antonio Sanchez


Best Rock Performance:
“You Want It Darker” — Leonard Cohen
“The Promise” — Chris Cornell
“Run” — Foo Fighters
“No Good” — Kaleo
“Go To War” — Nothing More

Best Metal Performance:
“Invisible Enemy” — August Burns Red
“Black Hoodie” — Body Count
“Forever” — Code Orange
“Sultan’s Curse” — Mastodon
“Clockworks” — Meshuggah

Best Rock Song:
“Atlas, Rise!” — James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich, songwriters (Metallica)
“Blood In The Cut” — JT Daly & Kristine Flaherty, songwriters (K.Flay)
“Go To War” — Ben Anderson, Jonny Hawkins, Will Hoffman, Daniel Oliver, David Pramik & Mark Vollelunga, songwriters (Nothing More)
“Run” — Foo Fighters, songwriters (Foo Fighters)
“The Stage” — Zachary Baker, Brian Haner, Matthew Sanders, Jonathan Seward & Brooks Wackerman, songwriters (Avenged Sevenfold)

Best Rock Album:
Emperor Of Sand — Mastodon
Hardwired…To Self-Destruct — Metallica
The Stories We Tell Ourselves — Nothing More
Villains — Queens Of The Stone Age
A Deeper Understanding — The War On Drugs


Best Alternative Music Album:
Everything Now — Arcade Fire
Humanz — Gorillaz
American Dream — LCD Soundsystem
Pure Comedy — Father John Misty
Sleep Well Beast — The National


Best R&B Performance:
“Get You” — Daniel Caesar Featuring Kali Uchis
“Distraction” — Kehlani
“High” — Ledisi
“That’s What I Like” — Bruno Mars
“The Weekend” — SZA

Best Traditional R&B Performance:
“Laugh And Move On” — The Baylor Project
“Redbone” — Childish Gambino
“What I’m Feelin’” — Anthony Hamilton Featuring The Hamiltones|
“All The Way” — Ledisi
“Still” — Mali Music

Best R&B Song:
“First Began” — PJ Morton, songwriter (PJ Morton)
“Location” — Alfredo Gonzalez, Olatunji Ige, Samuel David Jiminez, Christopher McClenney, Khalid Robinson & Joshua Scruggs, songwriters (Khalid)
“Redbone” — Donald Glover & Ludwig Goransson, songwriters (Childish Gambino)
“Supermodel” — Tyran Donaldson, Terrence Henderson, Greg Landfair Jr., Solana Rowe & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (SZA)
“That’s What I Like” — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best Urban Contemporary Album:
Free 6LACK — 6LACK
Awaken, My Love! — Childish Gambino
American Teen — Khalid
Ctrl — SZA
Starboy — The Weeknd

Best R&B Album:
Freudian — Daniel Caesar
Let Love Rule — Ledisi
24K Magic — Bruno Mars
Gumbo — PJ Morton
Feel The Real –Musiq Soulchild


Best Rap Performance:
“Bounce Back” — Big Sean
“Bodak Yellow” — Cardi B
“4:44” — Jay-Z
“HUMBLE.” — Kendrick Lamar
“Bad And Boujee” — Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert

Best Rap/Sung Performance:
“Crew” — Goldlink Featuring Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy
“Family Feud” — Jay-Z Featuring Beyoncé
“LOYALTY.” — Kendrick Lamar Featuring Rihanna
“Love Galore” — SZA Featuring Travis Scott

Best Rap Song:
“Bodak Yellow” — Dieuson Octave, Klenord Raphael, Shaftizm, Jordan Thorpe, Washpoppin & J White, songwriters (Cardi B)
“Chase Me” — Judah Bauer, Brian Burton, Hector Delgado, Jaime Meline, Antwan Patton, Michael Render, Russell Simins & Jon Spencer, songwriters (Danger Mouse Featuring Run The Jewels & Big Boi)
“HUMBLE.” — Duckworth, Asheton Hogan & M. Williams II, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
“Sassy” — Gabouer & M. Evans, songwriters (Rapsody)
“The Story Of O.J.” — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)

Best Rap Album:
4:44 — Jay-Z
DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
Culture — Migos
Laila’s Wisdom — Rapsody
Flower Boy — Tyler, The Creator


Best Country Solo Performance:
“Body Like A Back Road” — Sam Hunt
“Losing You: –Alison Krauss
“Tin Man” — Miranda Lambert
“I Could Use A Love Song” — Maren Morris
“Either Way” — Chris Stapleton

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
“It Ain’t My Fault” — Brothers Osborne
“My Old Man” — Zac Brown Band
“You Look Good” — Lady Antebellum
“Better Man” — Little Big Town
“Drinkin’ Problem” — Midland

Best Country Song:
“Better Man” — Taylor Swift, songwriter (Little Big Town)
“Body Like A Back Road” — Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Sam Hunt)
“Broken Halos” — Mike Henderson & Chris Stapleton, songwriters (Chris Stapleton)
“Drinkin’ Problem” — Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne & Mark Wystrach, songwriters (Midland)
“Tin Man” — Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert & Jon Randall, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

Best Country Album:
Cosmic Hallelujah — Kenny Chesney
Heart Break — Lady Antebellum
The Breaker — Little Big Town
Life Changes — Thomas Rhett
From A Room: Volume 1 — Chris Stapleton


Best New Age Album:
Reflection — Brian Eno
SongVersation: Medicine — India.Arie
Dancing On Water — Peter Kater
Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai, Volume 5 — Kitaro
Spiral Revelation — Steve Roach


Best Improvised Jazz Solo:
“Can’t Remember Why” — Sara Caswell, soloist
“Dance Of Shiva” — Billy Childs, soloist
“Whisper Not” — Fred Hersch, soloist
“Miles Beyond” — John McLaughlin, soloist
“Ilimba” — Chris Potter, soloist

Best Jazz Vocal Album:
The Journey — The Baylor Project
A Social Call — Jazzmeia Horn
Bad Ass And Blind — Raul Midón
Porter Plays Porter — Randy Porter Trio With Nancy King
Dreams And Daggers — Cécile McLorin Salvant

Best Jazz Instrumental Album:
Uptown, Downtown — Bill Charlap Trio
Rebirth — Billy Childs
Project Freedom –Joey DeFrancesco & The People
Open Book — Fred Hersch
The Dreamer Is The Dream — Chris Potter

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album:
MONK’estra Vol. 2 — John Beasley
Jigsaw — Alan Ferber Big Band
Bringin’ It — Christian McBride Big Band
Homecoming — Vince Mendoza & WDR Big Band Cologne
Whispers On The Wind — Chuck Owen And The Jazz Surge

Best Latin Jazz Album:
Hybrido – From Rio To Wayne Shorter — Antonio Adolfo
Oddara — Jane Bunnett & Maqueque
Outra Coisa – The Music Of Moacir Santos — Anat Cohen & Marcello Gonçalves
Típico — Miguel Zenón
Jazz Tango — Pablo Ziegler Trio


Best Gospel Performance/Song:
“Too Hard Not To” — Tina Campbell
“You Deserve It” — JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise Featuring Bishop Cortez Vaughn
“Better Days” — Le’Andria
“My Life” — The Walls Group
“Never Have To Be Alone” — CeCe Winans

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song:
“Oh My Soul” — Casting Crowns
“Clean” — Natalie Grant
“What A Beautiful Name” — Hillsong Worship
“Even If” — MercyMe
“Hills And Valleys” — Tauren Wells

Best Gospel Album:
Crossover: Live From Music City — Travis Greene
Bigger Than Me — Le’Andria
Close — Marvin Sapp
Sunday Song — Anita Wilson
Let Them Fall In Love — CeCe Winans

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album:
Rise — Danny Gokey
Echoes (Deluxe Edition) — Matt Maher
Lifer — MercyMe
Hills And Valleys — Tauren Wells
Chain Breaker — Zach Williams

Best Roots Gospel Album:
The Best Of The Collingsworth Family – Volume 1 — The Collingsworth Family
Give Me Jesus — Larry Cordle
Resurrection — Joseph Habedank
Sing It Now: Songs Of Faith & Hope — Reba McEntire
Hope For All Nations — Karen Peck & New River


Best Latin Pop Album:
Lo Único Constante — Alex Cuba
Mis Planes Son Amarte — Juanes
Amar Y Vivir En Vivo Desde La Ciudad De México, 2017 — La Santa Cecilia
Musas (Un Homenaje Al Folclore Latinoamericano En Manos De Los Macorinos) — Natalia Lafourcade
El Dorado — Shakira

Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album:
Ayo — Bomba Estéreo
Pa’ Fuera — C4 Trío & Desorden Público
Salvavidas De Hielo — Jorge Drexler
El Paradise — Los Amigos Invisibles
Residente — Residente

Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano):
Ni Diablo Ni Santo — Julión Álvarez Y Su Norteño Banda
Ayer Y Hoy — Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizárraga
Momentos — Alex Campos
Arriero Somos Versiones Acústicas — Aida Cuevas
Zapateando En El Norte — Humberto Novoa, producer (Various Artists)

Best Tropical Latin Album:
Albita — Albita
Art Of The Arrangement — Doug Beavers
Salsa Big Band — Rubén Blades Con Roberto Delgado & Orquesta
Gente Valiente — Silvestre Dangond
Indestructible — Diego El Cigala


Best American Roots Performance:
Killer Diller Blues — Alabama Shakes
Let My Mother Live — Blind Boys Of Alabama
Arkansas Farmboy — Glen Campbell
Steer Your Way — Leonard Cohen
I Never Cared For You — Alison Krauss

Best American Roots Song:
“Cumberland Gap” — David Rawlings
“I Wish You Well” — The Mavericks
“If We Were Vampires” — Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
“It Ain’t Over Yet” — Rodney Crowell Featuring Rosanne Cash & John Paul White
“My Only True Friend” –Gregg Allman

Best Americana Album:
Southern Blood — Gregg Allman
Shine On Rainy Day — Brent Cobb
Beast Epic — Iron & Wine
The Nashville Sound — Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
Brand New Day — The Mavericks

Best Bluegrass Album:
Fiddler’s Dream — Michael Cleveland
Laws Of Gravity — The Infamous Stringdusters
Original — Bobby Osborne
Universal Favorite — Noam Pikelny
All The Rage – In Concert Volume One [Live] — Rhonda Vincent And The Rage

Best Traditional Blues Album:
Migration Blues — Eric Bibb
Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio — Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio
Roll And Tumble — R.L. Boyce
Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train — Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi
Blue & Lonesome — The Rolling Stones

Best Contemporary Blues Album:
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm — Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Recorded Live In Lafayette — Sonny Landreth
TajMo — Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’
Got Soul — Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Live From The Fox Oakland — Tedeschi Trucks Band

Best Folk Album:
Mental Illness — Aimee Mann
Semper Femina — Laura Marling
The Queen Of Hearts — Offa Rex
You Don’t Own Me Anymore — The Secret Sisters
The Laughing Apple — Yusuf / Cat Stevens

Best Regional Roots Music Album:
Top Of The Mountain — Dwayne Dopsie And The Zydeco Hellraisers
Ho’okena 3.0 — Ho’okena
Kalenda — Lost Bayou Ramblers
Miyo Kekisepa, Make A Stand [Live] — Northern Cree
Pua Kiele — Josh Tatofi


Best Reggae Album:
Chronology — Chronixx
Lost In Paradise — Common Kings
Wash House Ting — J Boog
Stony Hill — Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
Avrakedabra — Morgan Heritage


Best World Music Album:
Memoria De Los Sentidos — Vicente Amigo
Para Mi — Buika
Rosa Dos Ventos — Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro
Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration — Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Elwan — Tinariwen


Best Children’s Album:
Brighter Side — Gustafer Yellowgold
Feel What U Feel — Lisa Loeb
Lemonade — Justin Roberts
Rise Shine #Woke — Alphabet Rockers
Songs Of Peace & Love For Kids & Parents Around The World — Ladysmith Black Mambazo


Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling):
Astrophysics For People In A Hurry — Neil Degrasse Tyson
Born To Run — Bruce Springsteen
Confessions Of A Serial Songwriter — Shelly Peiken
Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Bernie Sanders) — Bernie Sanders And Mark Ruffalo
The Princess Diarist — Carrie Fisher


Best Comedy Album:
The Age Of Spin & Deep In The Heart Of Texas — Dave Chappelle
Cinco — Jim Gaffigan
Jerry Before Seinfeld — Jerry Seinfeld
A Speck Of Dust — Sarah Silverman
What Now? — Kevin Hart


Best Musical Theater Album:
Come From Away — Ian Eisendrath, August Eriksmoen, David Hein, David Lai & Irene Sankoff, producers; David Hein & Irene Sankoff, composers/lyricists (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Dear Evan Hansen — Ben Platt, principal soloist; Alex Lacamoire, Stacey Mindich, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, producers; Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, composers/lyricists (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Hello, Dolly! — Bette Midler, principal soloist; Steven Epstein, producer (Jerry Herman, composer & lyricist) (New Broadway Cast Recording)


Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media:
Baby Driver — (Various Artists)
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 — (Various Artists)
Hidden Figures: The Album — (Various Artists)
La La Land — (Various Artists)
Moana: The Songs — (Various Artists)

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media:
Arrival — Jóhann Jóhannsson, composer
Dunkirk — Hans Zimmer, composer
Game Of Thrones: Season 7 — Ramin Djawadi, composer
Hidden Figures — Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams & Hans Zimmer, composers
La La Land — Justin Hurwitz, composer

Best Song Written For Visual Media:
“City Of Stars” — Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, songwriters (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone)
“How Far I’ll Go” — Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter (Auli’i Cravalho)
“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (‘Fifty Shades Darker’)” — Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Zayn & Taylor Swift)
“Never Give Up” — Sia Furler & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Sia)
“Stand Up For Something” — Common & Diane Warren, songwriters (Andra Day Featuring Common)


Best Instrumental Composition:
“Alkaline” — Pascal Le Boeuf, composer (Le Boeuf Brothers & JACK Quartet)
“Choros #3” — Vince Mendoza, composer (Vince Mendoza & WDR Big Band Cologne)
“Home Free (For Peter Joe)” — Nate Smith, composer (Nate Smith)
“Three Revolutions” — Arturo O’Farrill, composer (Arturo O’Farrill & Chucho Valdés)
“Warped Cowboy” — Chuck Owen, composer (Chuck Owen And The Jazz Surge)

Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella:
“All Hat, No Saddle” — Chuck Owen, arranger (Chuck Owen And The Jazz Surge)
“Escapades For Alto Saxophone And Orchestra From Catch Me If You Can” — John Williams, arranger (John Williams)
“Home Free (For Peter Joe)” — Nate Smith, arranger (Nate Smith)
“Ugly Beauty/Pannonica” — John Beasley, arranger (John Beasley)
“White Christmas” — Chris Walden, arranger (Herb Alpert)

Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals:
“Another Day Of Sun” — Justin Hurwitz, arranger (La La Land Cast)
“Every Time We Say Goodbye” — Jorge Calandrelli, arranger (Clint Holmes Featuring Jane Monheit)
“I Like Myself” — Joel McNeely, arranger (Seth MacFarlane)
“I Loves You Porgy/There’s A Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon For New York” — Shelly Berg, Gregg Field, Gordon Goodwin & Clint Holmes, arrangers (Clint Holmes Featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater And The Count Basie Orchestra)
“Putin” — Randy Newman, arranger (Randy Newman)


Best Recording Package:
El Orisha De La Rosa — Claudio Roncoli & Cactus Taller, art directors (Magín Díaz)
Mura Masa — Alex Crossan & Matt De Jong, art directors (Mura Masa)
Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition) — Sasha Barr, Ed Steed & Josh Tillman, art directors (Father John Misty)
Sleep Well Beast — Elyanna Blaser-Gould, Luke Hayman & Andrea Trabucco-Campos, art directors (The National)
Solid State — Gail Marowitz, art director (Jonathan Coulton)

Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package:
Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque In Upper Volta — Tim Breen, art director (Various Artists)
Lovely Creatures: The Best Of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds (1984 – 2014) — Tom Hingston, art director (Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds)
May 1977: Get Shown The Light — Masaki Koike, art director (Grateful Dead)
The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition — Lawrence Azerrad, Timothy Daly & David Pescovitz, art directors (Various Artists)
Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares — Tim Breen, Benjamin Marra & Ken Shipley, art directors (Various Artists)


Best Album Notes:
Arthur Q. Smith: The Trouble With The Truth — Wayne Bledsoe & Bradley Reeves, album notes writers (Various Artists)
Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition — Ted Olson, album notes writer (Various Artists)
The Complete Piano Works Of Scott Joplin — Bryan S. Wright, album notes writer (Richard Dowling)
Edouard-Léon Scott De Martinville, Inventor Of Sound Recording: A Bicentennial Tribute — David Giovannoni, album notes writer (Various Artists)
Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings — Lynell George, album notes writer (Otis Redding)
Washington Phillips And His Manzarene Dreams — Michael Corcoran, album notes writer (Washington Phillips)


Best Historical Album:
Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque In Upper Volta — Jon Kirby, Florent Mazzoleni, Rob Sevier & Ken Shipley, compilation producers; Jeff Lipton & Maria Rice, mastering engineers (Various Artists)
The Goldberg Variations – The Complete Unreleased Recording Sessions June 1955 — Robert Russ, compilation producer; Matthias Erb, Martin Kistner & Andreas K. Meyer, mastering engineers (Glenn Gould)
Leonard Bernstein – The Composer — Robert Russ, compilation producer; Martin Kistner & Andreas K. Meyer, mastering engineers (Leonard Bernstein)
Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes From The Horn Of Africa — Nicolas Sheikholeslami & Vik Sohonie, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer (Various Artists)
Washington Phillips And His Manzarene Dreams — Michael Corcoran, April G. Ledbetter & Steven Lance Ledbetter, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer (Washington Phillips)


Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical:
Every Where Is Some Where — Brent Arrowood, Miles Comaskey, JT Daly, Tommy English, Kristine Flaherty, Adam Hawkins, Chad Howat & Tony Maserati, engineers; Joe LaPorta, mastering engineer (K.Flay)
Is This The Life We Really Want? — Nigel Godrich, Sam Petts-Davies & Darrell Thorp, engineers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer (Roger Waters)
Natural Conclusion — Ryan Freeland, engineer; Joao Carvalho, mastering engineer (Rose Cousins)
No Shape — Shawn Everett & Joseph Lorge, engineers; Patricia Sullivan, mastering engineer (Perfume Genius)
24K Magic — Serban Ghenea, John Hanes & Charles Moniz, engineers; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer (Bruno Mars)

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical:
Calvin Harris
Greg Kurstin
Blake Mills
No I.D.
The Stereotypes

Best Remixed Recording:
“Can’t Let You Go (Louie Vega Roots Mix)” — Louie Vega, remixer (Loleatta Holloway)
“Funk O’ De Funk (SMLE Remix)” — SMLE, remixers (Bobby Rush)
“Undercover (Adventure Club Remix)” — Leighton James & Christian Srigley, remixers (Kehlani)
“A Violent Noise (Four Tet Remix)” — Four Tet, remixer (The xx)
“You Move (Latroit Remix)” — Dennis White, remixer (Depeche Mode)


Best Surround Sound Album:
Early Americans — Jim Anderson, surround mix engineer; Darcy Proper, surround mastering engineer; Jim Anderson & Jane Ira Bloom, surround producers (Jane Ira Bloom)
Kleiberg: Mass For Modern Man — Morten Lindberg, surround mix engineer; Morten Lindberg, surround mastering engineer; Morten Lindberg, surround producer (Eivind Gullberg Jensen & Trondheim Symphony Orchestra And Choir)
So Is My Love — Morten Lindberg, surround mix engineer; Morten Lindberg, surround mastering engineer; Morten Lindberg, surround producer (Nina T. Karlsen & Ensemble 96)
3-D The Catalogue — Fritz Hilpert, surround mix engineer; Tom Ammermann, surround mastering engineer; Fritz Hilpert, surround producer (Kraftwerk)
Tyberg: Masses — Jesse Brayman, surround mix engineer; Jesse Brayman, surround mastering engineer; Blanton Alspaugh, surround producer (Brian A. Schmidt, Christopher Jacobson & South Dakota Chorale)


Best Engineered Album, Classical:
Danielpour: Songs Of Solitude & War Songs — Gary Call, engineer (Thomas Hampson, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
Kleiberg: Mass For Modern Man — Morten Lindberg, engineer (Eivind Gullberg Jensen, Trondheim Vokalensemble & Trondheim Symphony Orchestra)
Schoenberg, Adam: American Symphony; Finding Rothko; Picture Studies — Keith O. Johnson & Sean Royce Martin, engineers (Michael Stern & Kansas City Symphony)
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio — Mark Donahue, engineer (Manfred Honeck & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
Tyberg: Masses — John Newton, engineer; Jesse Brayman, mastering engineer (Brian A. Schmidt, Christopher Jacobson & South Dakota Chorale)

Producer Of The Year, Classical:
Blanton Alspaugh
Manfred Eicher
David Frost
Morten Lindberg
Judith Sherman


Best Orchestral Performance:
Concertos For Orchestra — Louis Langrée, conductor (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)
Copland: Symphony No. 3; Three Latin American Sketches — Leonard Slatkin, conductor (Detroit Symphony Orchestra)
Debussy: Images; Jeux & La Plus Que Lente — Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)
Mahler: Symphony No. 5 — Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra)
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio — Manfred Honeck, conductor (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)

Best Opera Recording:
Berg: Lulu — Lothar Koenigs, conductor; Daniel Brenna, Marlis Petersen & Johan Reuter; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra)
Berg: Wozzeck — Hans Graf, conductor; Anne Schwanewilms & Roman Trekel; Hans Graf, producer (Houston Symphony; Chorus Of Students And Alumni, Shepherd School Of Music, Rice University & Houston Grand Opera Children’s Chorus)
Bizet: Les Pêcheurs De Perles — Gianandrea Noseda, conductor; Diana Damrau, Mariusz Kwiecień, Matthew Polenzani & Nicolas Testé; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
Handel: Ottone — George Petrou, conductor; Max Emanuel Cencic & Lauren Snouffer; Jacob Händel, producer (Il Pomo D’Oro)
Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel — Valery Gergiev, conductor; Vladimir Feliauer, Aida Garifullina & Kira Loginova; Ilya Petrov, producer (Mariinsky Orchestra; Mariinsky Chorus)

Best Choral Performance:
Bryars: The Fifth Century — Donald Nally, conductor (PRISM Quartet; The Crossing)
Handel: Messiah — Andrew Davis, conductor; Noel Edison, chorus master (Elizabeth DeShong, John Relyea, Andrew Staples & Erin Wall; Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir)
Mansurian: Requiem — Alexander Liebreich, conductor; Florian Helgath, chorus master (Anja Petersen & Andrew Redmond; Münchener Kammerorchester; RIAS Kammerchor)
Music Of The Spheres — Nigel Short, conductor (Tenebrae)
Tyberg: Masses — Brian A. Schmidt, conductor (Christopher Jacobson; South Dakota Chorale)

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance:
Buxtehude: Trio Sonatas, Op. 1 — Arcangelo
Death & The Maiden — Patricia Kopatchinskaja & The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Divine Theatre – Sacred Motets By Giaches De Wert — Stile Antico
Franck, Kurtág, Previn & Schumann — Joyce Yang & Augustin Hadelich
Martha Argerich & Friends – Live From Lugano 2016 — Martha Argerich & Various Artists

Best Classical Instrumental Solo:
Bach: The French Suites — Murray Perahia
Haydn: Cello Concertos — Steven Isserlis; Florian Donderer, conductor (The Deutsch Kammerphilharmonie Bremen)
Levina: The Piano Concertos — Maria Lettberg; Ariane Matiakh, conductor (Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin)
Shostakovich: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 — Frank Peter Zimmermann; Alan Gilbert, conductor (NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester)
Transcendental — Daniil Trifonov

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album:
Bach & Telemann: Sacred Cantatas — Philippe Jaroussky; Petra Müllejans, conductor (Ann-Kathrin Brüggemann & Juan de la Rubia; Freiburger Barockorchester)
Crazy Girl Crazy – Music By Gershwin, Berg & Berio — Barbara Hannigan (Orchestra Ludwig)
Gods & Monsters — Nicholas Phan; Myra Huang, accompanist
In War & Peace – Harmony Through Music — Joyce DiDonato; Maxim Emelyanychev, conductor (Il Pomo D’Oro)
Sviridov: Russia Cast Adrift — Dmitri Hvorostovsky; Constantine Orbelian, conductor (St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra & Style Of Five Ensemble)

Best Classical Compendium:
Barbara — Alexandre Tharaud; Cécile Lenoir, producer
Higdon: All Things Majestic, Viola Concerto & Oboe Concerto — Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer
Kurtág: Complete Works For Ensemble & Choir — Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor; Guido Tichelman, producer
Les Routes De L’Esclavage — Jordi Savall, conductor; Benjamin Bleton, producer
Mademoiselle: Première Audience – Unknown Music Of Nadia Boulanger — Lucy Mauro; Lucy Mauro, producer

Best Contemporary Classical Composition:
Danielpour: Songs Of Solitude — Richard Danielpour, composer (Thomas Hampson, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
Higdon: Viola Concerto — Jennifer Higdon, composer (Roberto Díaz, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
Mansurian: Requiem — Tigran Mansurian, composer (Alexander Liebreich, Florian Helgath, RIAS Kammerchor & Münchener Kammerorchester)
Schoenberg, Adam: Picture Studies — Adam Schoenberg, composer (Michael Stern & Kansas City Symphony)
Zhou Tian: Concerto For Orchestra — Zhou Tian, composer (Louis Langrée & Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)


Best Music Video:
“Up All Night” — Beck
“Makeba” — Jain
“The Story Of O.J.” — Jay-Z
“Humble.” — Kendrick Lamar
“1-800-273-8255” — Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid

Best Music Film:
“One More Time With Feeling” — Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
“Long Strange Trip” — (The Grateful Dead)
“The Defiant Ones” — (Various Artists)
“Soundbreaking” — (Various Artists)
“Two Trains Runnin’” — (Various Artists)

It Would Be So Nice: Holiday Nuggets

The holidays are upon us…a time for all of us to take a breath, reflect, and enjoy our loved ones.  And a time for radio programmers to panic about filling 24 festive hours, seven days a week.  Well fret not, Selector slaves.  Play MPE has your title and artist conflicts all worked out for the season. Oodles of artists have come to the rescue this season, blessing us with all manner of delightful December goodies.

Take REO Speedwagon. Just in time for Santa Claus, their definitive Christmas With REO Speedwagon boasts a new version of “I Believe in Santa Claus” as well as classics we count on. The remastered collection includes versions of “Sleigh Ride,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “We Three Kings.”  Definitive is right. They don’t stop there. Out this week on vinyl, the collection also includes “Little Drummer Boy,” “Deck the Halls,” “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” and “Silent Night.”  Having already sold over 40 million albums worldwide, the band is sure to put a number of these under trees this year.

Joining in the spirit of the season, Bret Michaels has just released “Jingle Bells,” coinciding with Michaels’ Life Rocks Foundation fundraiser in LA. It marks the first holiday release for Michaels, with proceeds benefiting St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The Life Rocks Foundation channels its funds to causes including Hurricane Harvey Relief, The American Red Cross, JDRF, Military Charities and others.

Luke Bryan brings us a soulful version of the standard “O Holy Night.” Call it a holiday tiding to tide fans over ‘till Bryan’s 6th studio album What Makes You Country, out December 8th.  The aptly titled A Very Nashville Christmas includes contributions from Ali Morgan, Brandon Chase, Crystal Yates, The Young Fables, and more.

Bad Religion joins the party with some good music. Christmas Songs features “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “White Christmas”, a nice cover of The Kinks’ “Father Christmas” and “What Child is This?”

Concord Music has a bevy of releases under their umbrella collection “Concord Music – Holiday Music 2017.”  This keeper includes contributions from Steve Martin, Nathaniel Rateliff, Paul Simon, Jewel, fun., Isaac Hayes, Andrew Bird, Indigo Girls and more.

The Minus 5 treat us to original music with Dear December.  Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck are joined by a stellar group of guests, including  M. Ward, Benjamin Gibbard, Mike Mills, Colin Meloy, Chuck Prophet, Tammy Ealom, The Posies, Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor.

Just by logging in to the player, Play MPE users can delight to more sounds of the season, including nuggets from Blake Shelton,  John Prine, Alabama, Delta Rae, Robert Earl Keen, and The Mavericks.

Guitar Hero

New Year, new leaf. As resolution time is upon us, we get to thinking about the promises we make to ourselves— to turn our downtime into something enriching, productive, healthy.  Or to make more time for enriching, productive, healthy things.

Music fans all of us, many probably took lessons as young kids…on the recorder perhaps, clarinet… piano. And then, over time, and without practice- like sands through the hourglass, so went our ability to read and play music.

Dr Anita Collins, award-winning educator and researcher in music education, produced a Ted talk on the impact that playing music has on one’s brain: “Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout…… Playing an instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once — especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. And, as in any other workout, disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities…Playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum — the bridge between the two hemispheres — allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively, in both academic and social settings.”

As They Might Be Giants once sang “You’re older than you’ve ever been. And now you’re even older.  And now you’re even older. And now you’re even older.” So what better time to turn over a new leaf and learn or re-learn a new instrument?  The perfectly named Sally Keys has made it easy for us. Straightforward and engaging, “How to Play Guitar: The Fool’s Gold Method” is Keys’ step-by-step take on the process.  She reminds us “You need to develop the proper muscle memory to get your fingers to fly, and this takes time. Just like learning how to type requires you to start with hunting and pecking until you can build up speed, playing guitar requires you to move slowly at first until your brain can figure things out and wire the neural pathways needed.”

It’s an ideal go-to for those looking to dip their toes back in (and those ready to add callouses to their fingers). Keys’ overview serves as an inspiring reminder of how easy it can be to re-engage in a lost hobby…even if along the way, we exclaim, Helter Skelter style, “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”

Check it out at

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