Nashville Notes: Keith Urban a Pioneer in Quebec; 'Girl Crush' Makes Pop Compilation

Matthew Welch
Little Big Town photographed in 2014.

Here is your weekly roundup of goings on -- staffing moves, good news and more -- in the wide world of country music.


- Josh Turner is on tap to sing "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch tonight, July 14 at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park as Major League Baseball presents the 86th annual All-Star Game. Cole Swindell and Justin Moore already took part in a July 12 All-Star-related celebrity softball game that included Snoop Dogg, Nick Lachey and Cincy athletes Andy Dalton, Eric Davis and Paul O'Neill. Also hitting the diamond this month are Maddie & Tae, who will deliver a pre-game concert at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field when the White Sox present Country Music Night. The pair will turn the event into an Opry Circle Throwdown moment as the Grand Ole Opry celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.

Willie Nelson will be honored by the Library of Congress in November with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, recognizing his cultural impact as a musician. Previous honorees have included Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Carole King and the Burt Bacharach/Hal David songwriting team. Past Gershwin events have featured a performance at the White House shot for a PBS special.

- Country music has made a mark on Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. Now it has been introduced in Canada at the Festival de Quebec. Keith Urban performed July 10 on the main stage, becoming the genre's first artist to play the event in its four-decade history. Organizers estimate the set drew 70,000 people.

Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" is being added to the pop compilation NOW That's What I Call Music! Vol. 55. The track accompanies 15 other established hits by the likes of Nick Jonas, Andy Grammer, Pitbull and former country artist Taylor Swift, who's represented with "Style." Other albums that have new release dates include Michael Ray's self-titled debut, due Aug. 7; and Thomas Rhett's sophomore project, Tangled Up, ready Sept. 25.

Jason Aldean, Lee Brice, Brad Paisley, Sam Hunt, Cole Swindell and Carrie Underwood are among the 23 artists who have performances on this year's edition of CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock. The annual ABC special, hosted by Little Big Town, airs Aug. 4.


Buddy Lee Attractions promoted Mike Meade to vp. An agent and head of the BLA professional speaker and guest appearances division, Meade has been responsible for bringing the company such clients as Naomi Judd, Darryl Worley and Pete Rose.

ONErpm, a network that has 1,300 YouTube channels, is opening a Nashville office. Founder/CEO Emmanuel Zunz and vp strategy and development Jarrod Cooper will be based at the 632 Fogg St. office, which follows existing offices in New York, Brazil and Mexico.

Songwriter Erin Enderlin ("Last Call") and Alex Kline, formerly of The Lunabelles, have founded Cotton Gin Productions to develop new talent. The company's first signee is singer-songwriter Scott Stevens, who has a self-titled EP that will arrive July 21.

Songwriter Michael Masser died July 9 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Best known for co-writing "The Greatest Love of All," he also authored a pair of Crystal Gayle country hits, "Nobody Wants to Be Alone" and "A Long and Lasting Love"; and Diana Ross' "Last Time I Saw Him," which Dottie West covered as a country single.

Songwriter Roy C. Bennett died July 2 in Queens, N.Y. A co-writer of more than 40 Elvis Presley movie titles, he also penned Jim Reeves' "Young Hearts," Marty Robbins' "Stairway of Love" and Johnny Bond's "Love Song in 32 Bars."


Carter Brokaw has joined iHeartMedia as president of digital revenue strategy. He was previously Guardian News and Media executive vp.

Entercom hired Jeff Miller as vp/GM of SmartReach Digital, the company's new-media wing. Among the chain's country stations are KWJJ Portland, Ore.; KKWF Seattle; and WBEE Rochester, N.Y.

WFRE Frederick, Md., brought Holly McCall back to work middays at the station following a two-year stint at WGTY York, Pa.

Delmarva Broadcasting president/CEO Pete Booker retired, effective July 13, following 22 years at the helm, The Wilmington News Journal reported. Delmarva's country stations include WXCY Havre de Grace, Md.; and WKTT Salisbury, Md.

WRNS Greenville-New Bern, N.C., appointed assistant PD Carletta Blake as interim PD, according to, in the wake of PD Tommy Garrett's resignation. Morning co-host Crystal Legends rises to music director.

Also from Results Radio/Colusa-Sutter-Yuba, Calif., hired Eric White as the operations manager for the three-station cluster. The role includes PD duties at country KKCY.

iHeartMedia/Charlotte (N.C.) added Jodi Phillips as digital PD for the six-station cluster, including country WKKT, reported. Phillips was most recently the digital marketing manager for Charlotte-based app company Zyndigo.

Services were held July 9 in Nashville for former WSM-AM Nashville PD Al Wyntor. A 21-year host of the syndicated Online to Music Row, he also worked for the Nashville Network, WHK Cleveland and WDAF Kansas City.


The Society of Leaders in Development hosted its 13th annual Music Row yard sale and auction in June, raising $6,800 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and music-education organization Notes for Notes.

The fundraiser took place at the George Jones Museum, with meet-and-greets for Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton drawing a total of $12,700. SOLID, a nonprofit agency that provides a growth platform for young music professionals, uses the bulk of the yard sale to pay its expenses for the year.

SOLID's auction continues online with items from Martina McBride, George Strait and Dierks Bentley up for grabs here.

This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.