When WXRP New York hit the play button on Randy Houser’s “How Country Feels” on Jan. 21, it marked the return of country music to terrestrial radio in the nation’s largest market after an absence of more than a decade. It was a big deal in terms of its local impact, but just as important is how it benefits country nationally.
Perhaps no one was more shocked than Blake Shelton when he received the entertainer of the year award from presenters Reba McEntire and Tim Allen during the 46th annual Country Music Assn. Awards on Nov. 1. But his turn on NBC's "The Voice" continues a strong tradition of country artists succeeding on television shows.
“Take A Back Road” went center stage on Oct. 30 as the Rodney Atkins hit won the Frances W. Preston Award as BMI’s country song of the year during the performing rights agency’s 60th annual country awards. Luke Laird, one of its co-writers, collected the organization’s country songwriter of the year honor.
Songwriter/artist of the year Brad Paisley and songwriter of the year Ben Hayslip were repeat winners Oct. 29 as ASCAP recognized masters of the three-minute script at its 50th annual Country Music Awards at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel. Sony/ATV/EMI won music publisher of the year and the Jake Owen hit “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” tied Hayslip's “Honey Bee” as performed by Blake Shelton for ASCAP’s song of the year honor.
SESAC kicked off Country Music Week with its annual Nashville Music Awards on Sunday night. The performing-rights organization gave its Songwriter of the Year trophy to Catt Gravitt, a woman who had at least one title on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs every week during the eligibility period. And the Song of the Year honor went to Jon Stone, who co-wrote Lee Brice's hit “A Woman Like You,”
Since its formal inception as “old-time music” in the early 20th century, country has witnessed a stylistic tug of war between pop and traditional forces. Now, country’s big tent is propped up not by just those two poles but three: traditional country, pop-influenced music and a rock-edged sound. As the genre draws younger music fans, whom historically spend more than older consumers on entertainment, it's challenging fans who are reaching the upper end of country radio’s preferred 25-54 demographic.