Nashville Notes: Warner Music Partners With Uber to Find Talent; Blake Shelton's Next Hosting Gig

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Blake Shelton performs at Warner Music Nashville's "Pickin' On The Patio" Series at Warner Music Nashville on Sept. 23, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

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

Chris Stapleton might have snapped Blake Shelton's five-year run as the Country Music Association's male vocalist of the year, but Shelton already has awards activity on the horizon in 2016. He has been tapped to host Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards in March, and he's on the ballot for CBS' Jan. 6 telecast of the People's Choice Awards. Shelton's among the five finalists for favorite male country artist, while The Voice is up for favorite TV show and favorite competition TV show. Luke Bryan is the only favorite male country nominee who's also in the running for the all-genre favorite male.

Warner Music Nashville is driven to find new talent -- or, at least, hoping worthy talent will be driven to visit the label. The company has partnered with Uber for up-and-coming artists to nab meetings with one of six executives during a three-hour window beginning at 11 a.m. on Nov. 10. The execs include four WMN staff members: CEO John Esposito, executive vp A&R Scott Hendricks, vp A&R Cris Lacy and vp national promotion Kristen Williams. Also participating are Country Music Association senior vp marketing and partnerships Damon Whiteside and senior correspondent Hunter Kelly.

As if the Country Music Association didn't have a big enough task with the 49th annual awards on Nov. 4, the organization also shot the annual CMA Country Christmas special at the Grand Ole Opry House on Nov. 7. Jennifer Nettles hosted with guest appearances by Kelsea BalleriniDarius RuckerCharles KelleyMartina McBride and LeAnn Rimes, among others. The special airs on ABC on Dec. 3.

Jake Owen and Jennifer Nettles are set to appear in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 26 in New York. They'll ride in a procession of floats that also features Mariah Carey, Train, Pat Benatar, Andy Grammer, Questlove, Daughtry and Panic at the Disco.



Republic Nashville hired Lauren Longbine as director of Southwest promotion, replacing Kristen White, who plans to leave the company in December. Longbine was previously an account

Webster Public Relations hired Scott Adkins as vp publicity and Jaime Spinner as publicity manager. Adkins was previously Kaleidoscope Media director of publicity. Spinner comes from ThinkSwell, where she was digital marketing manager. 

Sony Music Nashville director of media Jennifer Vessio left her post after three years on Nov. 6 in a departmental restructuring. She is looking for her next opportunity. 

Emerging country singer Sammy Arriaga signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV

BBR Music Group signed ASCAP songwriter Taylor Davis to the Magic Mustang Music roster.  

Bluegrass label Pinecastle signed Edgar Loudermilk to a recording deal. 

The Country Music Association honored the late Johnny Cash with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, presented Nancy Jones the Joe Talbot Award, and gave The Tennessean's music reporter Cindy Watts the Media Achievement Award. 

Tommy Overstreet died Nov. 2 at his home in Oregon. He fashioned 11 top 10 country singles from 1971-1977, including "Gwen (Congratulations)," "Heaven Is My Woman's Love" and "I'm a Believer."

Charlie Dick, the widower of Patsy Cline, died Nov. 8 in Nashville. A former Starday record promoter, he continued to champion Cline's legacy long after her death in a 1963 plane crash.



West Virginia Radio Corporation hired Bob Visotcky as market manager for its seven-station Charleston, W.Va., cluster, which includes country WKWS. He was most recently BCA Radio/San Diego general sales manager.

Atlanta-based Gray Television will receive a total of $16 million as it divests radio stations it picked up in three markets from Schurz Communications. Mid-West Family Broadcasting is buying the South Bend, Ind., cluster, including country WHFB; Neuhoff Communications picks up Lafayette, Ind., signals, including country WKOA; and HomeSlice nabs Rapid City, S.D., stations, including country KOUT

Mid-West Family transferred WWQM Madison personality Mark Van Allen to its Rockford, Ill., cluster, reported. He'll serve as operations manager for the group, which includes country WRTB

Earl Jones was named iHeartMedia/Louisville (Ky.) market president, according to Since September 2014, he has operated as the chain's Chicago-based senior vp urban operations. The eight-station Louisville cluster includes country WAMZ

Beasley/Las Vegas hired Mike Martin as digital sales director, reported. The market's five stations include country KCYE. Martin was previously Hagadone Digital director of digital services.



Nashville-based blues artist Keb' Mo' and the Frontmen of Country -- Restless Heart lead vocalist Larry Stewart and former Little Texas member Tim Rushlow -- observed Veterans Day with a Nov. 10 benefit at the Rosewall in Music City.

Healing Hands Helping Heroes raises money for the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses and for Reboot Combat Recovery. The agencies represent wounded warriors and the medical specialists who assist them through the surgical process.

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


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