Skip to main content

Nashville Notes: Alan Jackson Teams With Habitat for Humanity; Moves at UMG Nashville, Black River

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


Alan Jackson will be on hand June 10 in suburban LaVergne, Tenn., to help dedicate a Habitat for Humanity home on the pleasantly named Quiet Lane. It’s one of 250 homes that will be built across the country from June 6-10, and Jackson’s appearance takes place with tens of thousands of fans in Nashville for the CMA Music Festival. Rodney Atkins is returning that same week with his sixth annual Music City Gives Back concert downtown on June 7, joined by Dustin Lynch, Craig Campbell, Canaan Smith and LANco. Hillary Scott, Martina McBride, Charles Kelley, Sara Evans, Kellie Pickler and Thompson Square are among a huge number of acts who have committed to appear at the festival’s Fan Fair X exhibits at the Music City Center June 9-12. And the adjunct CMT Music Awards unveiled a talent lineup for June 8 that includes Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean.

Billboard is altering the Folk Albums chart, renaming it Americana/Folk Albums to reflect the growth of the Americana format. The 25-title chart, based on weekly sales, will spotlight music that bridges the gap between country and rock, beginning with the chart dated June 4, released this week. Chris Stapleton‘s Traveller crowns the initial list (20,000 sold, according to Nielsen Music), followed by Sawyer FredericksA Good Storm and The LumineersCleopatra.


A bundle of newly announced albums are on the way in June and July. The latest round of music includes John Berry‘s What I Love the Most (June 3, Mansion Entertainment/Sony RED), Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen‘s Watch This (June 3, Lil’ Buddy Toons), Van Zant‘s Red, White & Blue (Live) (July 1, Loud & Proud), Mark Chesnutt‘s Tradition Lives (July 8, Row Entertainment), David Nail‘s Fighter (July 15, MCA) and Jake Owen‘s American Love (July 29, RCA).


Universal Music Group Nashville promoted Bobby Young to Capitol Nashville vp promotion from director of Southeast regional promotion … Black River upped Emily Hungate to vp business operations from senior director finance and business affairs.  … Jackie Marushka has formed Marushka Media, a PR company that also offers branding and media coaching. She was most recently Shore Fire Nashville GM, with a client list that included Lee Brice and the Americana Music Association.  … Entertainment veteran Matt Davenport opened a boutique booking agency, Live Arts and Attractions, with Mandy Barnett and The Willis Clan among its initial clientele. Davenport serves as president/CEO, joined on staff by vp operations Lou Spoltore and GM Dan Mann … North Carolina bluegrass band ClayBank signed a recording deal with Rural Rhythm … Singer-songwriter Risa Binder joined the booking roster at Buddy Lee Attractions … Leah Nobel inked a songwriting agreement with Big Yellow Dog … John Prine‘s Oh Boy label tapped Thirty Tigers to handle distribution … The Source Hall of Fame will recognize the impact of six women on Nashville’s music business in its Aug. 23 induction: Sony Music Nashville vp A&R administration Alison Booth, former Sony/ATV executive Tammy Brown, John Conlee Enterprises office manager Diane Cash, George Jones Museum founder Nancy Jones, Nashville creator/executive producer Callie Khouri and late Monument exec Gail Pollock … The Nashville Business Journal recognized Music Health Alliance founder Tatum Allsep as a Health Care Hero … RFD-TV renewed The Joey Canyon Show for a second season and extended episodes from 30 minutes to a full hour … Influential singer-songwriter Guy Clark died May 17 following a lengthy battle with cancer. The Grammy-winning artist penned such country hits as Ricky Skaggs‘ “Heartbroke,” Rodney Crowell‘s “She’s Crazy for Leaving” and Vince Gill‘s “Oklahoma Borderline” … Tejano singer Emilio Navaira died May 16. He charted six titles on Hot Country Songs in the mid-1990s while signed to Capitol. Son Diego Navaira plays bass with The Last Bandoleros; drummer Emilio Navaira Jr. augments the group … Bluegrass singer-songwriter James King died May 19. The International Bluegrass Music Award winner spent nearly 25 years with Rounder, releasing his final album, Three Chords & the Truth, in 2013.


Heather Davis has taken the midday shift at WKDF Nashville. She arrives from WQDR Raleigh, N.C., where she had a part-time role … Sean “Mac” McNally joined WIVK Knoxville, Tenn., as the local night personality, enhancing Nash Nights Live, which airs in that time slot. McNally was most recently PD/morning host at WPLZ Chattanooga, Tenn., before that station switched from country to classic hits in December … T. Clark Miller stepped down as Crook & Chase Countdown producer to focus on real estate.  … Heather Boethin transferred to Cox Media subsidiary Gamut as the Dallas-based director of sales South. She was previously manager of digital sales for Cox/Tulsa, Okla., where the multiplatform market includes country KWEN … Delmarva promoted Brad Austin to corporate vp, RadioInfo.com reported. He’ll oversee all nine of the company’s stations, including country WXCY Wilmington, Del., where he’ll continue to serve as operations manager … Shawn Reed joined KHLR Little Rock, Ark., as afternoon personality, according to RadioInfo.com. He was most recently PD at top 40 WKSZ Green Bay-Appleton, Wis. …  iHeartMedia/Tampa, Fla., added Brian “Munchie” Donovan as director of digital, InsideRadio.com reported. The cluster includes country WFUS. He transfers from iHeartMedia/Hartford, Ct., where he held the same position … Zimmer Radio/Joplin, Mo., promoted Chad Elliot to market manager, according to InsideRadio.com. A 22-year market veteran, Elliot was previously news/talk KZRG operations manager. His new duties include oversight of country KIXQ … Services were held May 23 in Stoughton, Wis., for WSM-AM veteran Kevin Anderson, who died May 16. Prior to his tenure at WSM, where he was a producer/on-air talent, he played in road bands for Sonny James and fiddler Jana Jae … Former KHKX Midland-Odessa, Texas, morning host Mike Schuff died May 21 in New Mexico, The Midland Reporter-Telegram reported. Schuff, who spent more than 25 years on-air, had retired in December 2014 along with wife/co-host Dana Schuff. The couple will be inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame on June 22.

This article first appeared in Billboard’s Country Update — sign up here.