JD Souther (Artist/Songwriter)
Taylor Momsen (Artist/Songwriter)
John McBride (Owner of Blackbird Studio)
John McBride started everything out of a garage in 1979, founding MD Systems Sounds from his hometown of Wichita, KS, before selling the company in 1997. By 2002, McBride, along with wife Martina, lived out a dream to start Blackbird Studio, one of the most prominent studios in Nashville. Today, Blackbird features nine studios and houses The Blackbird Academy, an audio engineering school, where McBride also serves as Institutional Director. To date, everyone from Adele, Faith Hill, Green Day, Evanescence, Pearl Jam, Willie Nelson, and hundreds of artists across all genres have passed through Blackbird at some point. McBride first started working on Garth Brooks’ sound crew, helping to get Martina a gig on tour with the artist. Now one of the most celebrated sound engineers in Nashville, McBride has worked with Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, The White Stripes, Styx, Alabama, and more.
Steve Robertson (VP of A&R at Atlantic Records)
While working as a Program Director at Orlando Alternative Rock radio station 101.1 WJRR in the mid-’90s, Stevo was responsible for breaking these unsigned acts and hit songs: “Shine” by Collective Soul, “Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three, “3 AM” by Tabitha’s Secret (Matchbox 20). After breaking a string of unsigned bands at WJRR, Atlantic Records hired Stevo in 1997 as an A&R guy to find and develop bands for them full-time. His signings include platinum rockers Shinedown, Paramore, A Day To Remember and the currently exploding Sara Kays.
Martina McBride (Artist/Songwriter)
Now one of the most successful female country singers of all time, by the age of 8 Martina McBride got her start performing on stage with her father’s band The Schiffters then moved on to playing in local bands throughout the 1980s. First selling T-Shirts at Garth Brooks concerts, McBride soon found herself opening for the artist on his tour in 1990s. Her husband John Mcbride was also serving as Brooks’ production manager on tour at the time. McBride was signed to RCA by 1991 and released her debut The Time Has Come in 1992 and follow up hit album The Way That I Am a year later, earning the award for female vocalist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards in 1999, 2002, and 2003. Throughout the past three decades McBride has continued to top the country charts, becoming one of the top singer-songwriters and producers in the business. McBride released her 13th studio album Reckless in 2016, also added author to her resume, penning two cookbooks and her 2006 novel “In My Daughter’s Eyes.”
Colton Dixon (Artist/Songwriter)
Colton Dixon quickly became a household name in 2012 when he was voted a fan favorite and made it to the top seven on Season 11 of Fox’s hit show American Idol. His career has been on the fast track ever since, boasting well over 100 million streams across all platforms. Dixon’s 2013 debut, A Messenger, set the record for biggest first-week sales by a new solo Christian act, becoming the No. 1 selling album by a new Christian artist. Dixon is also a Steinway & Sons artist, following in the footsteps of legendary artists such as Harry Connick, Jr. and Billy Joel. Dixon’s sophomore effort Anchor included the most played Hot AC single of 2014, “More Of You,” which spent three weeks at No. 1, as well as “Through All of It,” his fourth consecutive No. 1 at Hot AC Radio. In 2013, Dixon won a Dove Award for Best Rock/Contemporary Album Of The Year, along with two additional nominations. In 2015, Anchor was honored with the Dove Award for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year. Dixon received back-to-back K-LOVE Fan Award nominations for Male Artist of the Year in 2014 and 2015, followed by the release of his third studio album Identity, which included the top 5 single “All That Matters,” whose video was premiered by PEOPLE magazine. His latest, critically-acclaimed, self-titled EP, boasted the No. 1 hit single “Miracles,” and his latest single, “Made to Fly,” is available now.
Patch Culbertson (VP of A&R at Big Loud Records)
Patch Culbertson currently serves as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Big Loud Records in Nashville, TN. He oversees both the creative development and consumption strategies for a roster that boasts household-name hitmakers Morgan Wallen, Jake Owen, Chris Lane, HARDY, Mackenzie Porter, along with rising stars Larry Fleet, Lily Rose, Sean Stemaly, and Hailey Whitters, among a slew of other talents. Prior to his role at Big Loud, Culbertson spent eight years at Republic Records, most recently serving as Director of A&R in their New York headquarters. His extensive track record includes the signing and development of several multi-platinum artists, including Aminé, Florida Georgia Line (via Republic Nashville), SoMo, and The Naked & Famous. Culbertson has also overseen releases from Colbie Caillat, Mat Kearney, and The Lonely Island, among others, as well as a number of soundtrack projects such as Ted and Snow White & the Huntsman. In addition to his role in A&R, he has also developed coveted research strategies in talent sourcing and hit determination in the digital era.
Kat Cunning (Artist/Songwriter)
With a traffic-stopping voice and powerful presence, Kat Cunning adds soulful grace to anthemic alternative pop. An accomplished screen and stage talent, they appeared on Broadway as Emile in Les Liaison Dangereuses and in Cirque du Soleil in addition to acting alongside James Franco in HBO’s hit The Deuce and also starring in Netflix’s Emmy award winning show Trinkets. After releasing a couple of tracks independently, Kat signed to LAVA Records in 2020 and released “Supernova (tigers blud)” which garnered praise from the likes of Variety, Alternative Press, American Songwriter, and others while amassing over 6 million streams. Their anthemic most recent track, “Could Be Good” arrived early in April with a video – watch it HERE.
Kyle Lee (Head of Hip-Hop and R&B Artist Relations)
Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Kyle Lee is a music industry executive who has held senior A&R roles at both Disruptor Records (Sony Music Entertainment) and Roc Nation. While completing his B.A. degree from California State University Northridge, with a focus in Urban Studies & Planning, he also worked at a variety of labels and publishers, including Interscope Records, Island Records, and BMG. Throughout his career, Kyle has signed, developed and worked closely with a wide range of award-winning artists and songwriters including The Chainsmokers, Jesse Frasure, Joelle James, Aleicia Nicole, B00TS, Prida Beats, Kasai and more. Currently, he is leading the Hip Hop and R&B artist relations efforts for Fender, as they continue to expand their reach into more diverse artist communities. As a musician and songwriter himself, he has dedicated himself to furthering the careers of artists and songwriters, while never losing focus on the most part of the music business, the music.
Josh Kelley (Artist/Songwriter)
Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kelley released his solo debut, Changing Faces in 2001, while attending the University of Mississippi. Kelley signed a record deal with Hollywood Records and his mainstream debut, For the Ride Home, found a top five single with “Amazing”. His second album Almost Honest, included the top ten single “Only You.” Kelley later released four independent albums, between 2006 and 2008; Georgia Clay was released in 2011 with MCA Nashville, and 2015’s New Lane Road with Sugar Hill Records. In 2017 he independently released an album of covers, titled Under the Covers, Vol. 1, and a holiday album, Christmas Traditions. In November 2020, he released My Baby & The Band. His latest acoustic album, Unplugged from Upstream Studios, debuted on April 23 and features 11 deeply personal and reimagined songs from his overall body of work. Kelley produced each track on the album himself, including each instrument, while quarantined at his home “Upstream Studios” during the pandemic. This fall, Kelley will embark on a 14-date acoustic tour across the United States, kicking off in Nashville and ending in Seattle. Kelley has appeared on “TODAY,” “Good Morning America,” “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Live with Regis & Kelly,” “Rachael Ray” and “Last Call with Carson Daly”. His songs have been featured on such shows as “Smallville,” “Scrubs,” “Brothers and Sisters” and MTV’s “The Hills.” Kelley also wrote and performed the theme song for the TV sitcom “Mike and Molly,” scored the feature film “Home Sweet Hell,” and created the theme song for TV’s Golf Channel. He currently resides in Utah with his wife, actress Katherine Heigl, and their three kids.
Yola released her critically acclaimed debut album Walk Through Fire in February 2019. Nine months later, she achieved breakout success, landing four GRAMMY® nominations including Best New Artist, critical acclaim and fans from Elton John to Mavis Staples. Her anthemic new album Stand for Myself will be released July 30, produced by Dan Auerbach, it is a sonic mix of symphonic soul and classic pop tracing a musical thread to Yola’s most eclectic musical inspirations. It declares that it is only when we stand for ourselves, and acknowledge our complexity, that we can be truly alive. Yola’s rapid rise in the USA saw her perform with Kasey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile and Dolly Parton and appear everywhere from The Tonight Show to The Hollywood Bowl. Yola will now become one of few artists to have performed at both Newport Folk and Newport Jazz in the same year, when she joins the lineup of both events this summer. She will also be performing dates with Chris Stapleton on his rescheduled tour in 2021 and will headline The Ryman Auditorium in 2022. Yola will play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama “Elvis,” played by Austin Butler, alongside Tom Hanks, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Alton Mason.
Tim Montana (Artist/Songwriter)
Chiefly considered a Country rocker, Tim Montana is a true Renaissance man, moonlighting as a TV personality, marksman, father, husband, foodie, hot sauce connoisseur, hell-raiser and businessman. His sound, befitting of the off-the-grid thrill-seeker who grew up without electricity (in where else but Montana), draws influence from the rural lifestyle with a hint of adrenaline. Tim recently released Long Shots, a 12-song collection that blends Country with rock electric guitar and influences from the West and embraces hard and fast living, the American experience and the blue-collar way. It is an ode to the underdog and screams “hard work pays off.” His music has been selected as the theme song for World Series Championship runs, PBR, NHL games, NASCAR telecasts and action movies and has earned him spots opening for Kid Rock and performing alongside the Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl—in addition to starring in his own show, “Tim Montana’s Wild Side” on Velocity Outdoor Channel.
Maggie Rose (Artist/Songwriter)
The third album from Maggie Rose, Have a Seat, is the work of a phenomenally gifted artist showing the full extent of her power. After years of honing her chops and making her name as a force-of-nature vocalist, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter has dreamed up her own unbridled collision of rock-and-roll, soul, folk, funk, and R&B: a fittingly eclectic sound for a musician whose live experience includes opening for Heart and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, touring as direct support for Kelly Clarkson, and sharing the Cayamo Cruise bill with Emmylou Harris and Jason Isbell—all in 2019 alone. Centered on the stunning vocal command she’s revealed in taking the stage at The Grand Ole Opry over 80 times, Have a Seat finds Rose approaching her music with more confidence and clarity of vision than ever, ultimately sharing a selection of songs both timeless and urgent.
Tracy Gershon (President, Northern Lights Music Publishing)
Tracy Gershon is co-owner and President of Northern Lights Music Publishing, a joint venture with Brandi Carlile and Universal Music. Group. She is also head of Shero Consulting, which specializes in publishing, marketing and A&R services. Gershon is co-founder of Change the Conversation and Nashville Music Equality, which promote gender and racial equality in the music industry. Throughout her multifaceted career in Los Angeles and Nashville, Tracy Gershon has developed a proven track record for discovering and developing fresh new talent such as Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert. She has held executive A&R positions at record labels – including Sony, Warner Brothers and Rounder Records – as well as at music publishers EMI, Sony Music and Warner Chappell.
Meegan Voss & Steve Jordan (Owners of Jay-Vee Records)
Meegan Voss & Steve Jordan (Grammy/Emmy Award-winner) are co-founders of The Verbs. Meegan is the primary singer/songwriter/guitarist. Steve is the primary producer and multi-instrumentalist. Together they own Jay-Vee Records and are Co-Artistic Directors of The Jazz Foundation Of America. They are currently working on their next album, Garage Sale. Jordan’s songs have been recorded by The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, Solomon Burke and Boyz II Men, among others. Artists he’s worked with in production or drumming capacities include the aforementioned artists, as well luminaries like Eric Clapton, Sting, Jon Batiste, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Josh Groban, John Mellencamp, Aretha Franklin, Bruno Mars, Rod Stewart, Beyonce, James Taylor, Alicia Keys and Bob Dylan.
Michael Franti (Artist/Songwriter)
Throughout his multi-decade career, Franti has earned Billboard No. 1’s with triumphantly hopeful hits “Sound of Sunshine” and “Say Hey (I Love You),” and his current single, “I Got You”, is sitting Top 5 at AAA with hopes of taking home another #1 this summer. The song was recently featured on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna in support of his new album Work Hard & Be Nice (Thirty Tigers), available now. Work Hard & Be Nice, Michael’s 11th studio album, came out in June 2020 topping the charts with hit songs like ”I Got You,” “I’m On Your Side,” “How We Living,” and “Start Small Think Big.” During the crisis of COVID-19, in an effort to continue to bring music and positivity to his fans, Michael has begun hosting monthly paid interactive livestream events which have brought together thousands of dancing fans for unforgettable nights of music. In January 2019, Franti released his self-directed documentary “Stay Human,” which won an array of awards at film festivals worldwide and influenced his writing for the album Stay Human Vol. II (Thirty Tigers), which debuted at No. 1 on both the Americana and Independent Album charts and received critical acclaim from USA Today, Billboard, Associated Press and Paste. Michael Franti continues to foster the community both on and off stage with a wish granting non-profit, Do It For The Love, founded by Franti and his wife, Sara. Do It For The Love brings those with life threatening illnesses, veterans, and children with severe challenges to concerts worldwide, fulfilling over 3,300 wishes and touching the lives of over 12,000 people to date. MichaelFranti.com
Kameron Corvet (Artist/Songwriter)
When hitmaking songwriter, singer, guitarist, and actor, Kameron Corvet (pronounced “Cor-vay”) started strumming the melody for “Don’t Make Me Wait,” on his acoustic guitar, he never imagined the song would bring Sting and Shaggy, together to record their award-winning collaborative album, 44/876. The album received a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album (2018) and the single charted at #1 in over 14 countries. Although pivotal to his career, it wouldn’t be his first time entering the charts. Corvet has also composed hit songs for an impressive list of icons including Toni Braxton, Case, Freddie Jackson, Angie Stone, and more! A 4th generation singer/songwriter from Cincinnati, and Baton Rouge, Kameron currently calls Atlanta home. After earning a degree in French from Morehouse College, he began teaching middle school French by day while pursuing his musical aspirations at night. Stuck in isolation during Covid-19, the talented singer/songwriter has introduced the world to other sides of his personality. You can find Kameron consistently live streaming on Instagram, hosting, touring, and collaborating with major recording artists in addition to creating new music. He occasionally hosts two virtual shows, “Acoustically Yours: The Live Stream” a series of acoustic performances that often feature a surprise guest stopping through to jam and “Kandid” conversations where you get to know Kameron’s celebrity friends intimately. In 2020, Kameron, released an EP, Kathy’s Basement, and made his acting debut portraying Aretha Franklin’s guitarist, Cornell Luther Dupree, in Nat Geo’s production of Genius: Aretha!
Carolyn Dawn Johnson (Artist/Songwriter)
The life and career of hit singer/songwriter Carolyn Dawn Johnson has been a steady climb to the top, as she remains a staple in the country music industry nearly 20 years after setting out to pursue her dreams in Nashville. Just four short years after arriving in Music City U.S.A., Johnson scored her first chart-topping hit as a songwriter when Chely Wright took “Single White Female” all the way to No. 1. The success led to publishing deals and cuts with several other artists like Patty Loveless, Mindy McCready, Kathy Mattea, Pam Tillis, SheDaisy Lila McCann, Suzy Bogguss, Linda Davis, Jo Dee Messina & more. After inking a record deal with Sony’s Arista Nashville in 2000, Johnson produced music of her own with the release of her debut album titled Room With a View. The critically acclaimed project spawned the Top 5 smash “Complicated,” as well as other hit singles such as “Georgia” and the top 10 “I Don’t Want You to Go.” Her albums to follow include Dress Rehearsal in 2004, and her independently released Love & Negotiation in 2006 and Love Rules in 2010. Johnson has also garnered such elite titles as the Canadian Country Music Awards’ Producer of the Year in 2004 and 2009 for her hand in producing one of many Canadian-based projects in recent years. For the last 2 years, she has been writing, recording & touring with the New York based band JD & the Straight Shot. To date, Johnson has racked up 17 CCMA’s, including the title for reigning Female Vocalist of the Year, as well as being crowned the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist in 2002.
Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass (Artist/Songwriter)
For two decades now, Greensky Bluegrass have been building an empire, brick by brick. They are widely known for their dazzling live performances and relentless touring schedule, but that is only the tip of the complex tale of the five musicians that make up Greensky Bluegrass: Anders Beck [dobro], Michael Arlen Bont [banjo], Dave Bruzza [guitar], Mike Devol [upright bass], and Paul Hoffman [Mandolin]. The five are connected through a deep bond, just as they are seasoned road warriors, they’re a band of brothers who have seen each other through decades of ups and downs, personal and collective highlights, and the moments when life turns it all upside down. These are real people having real experiences. As with traditional bluegrass, they write about their own contemporary day-to-day happenings, emotions, and experiences in the modern world.
Ronnie Baker Brooks (Artist/Songwriter)
Ronnie Baker Brooks is the son of blues great Lonnie Brooks and came of age as an eyewitness to the Chicago blues scene in all its glory and struggle. Ronnie is an award winning songwriter, guitarist and producer as well as an exciting live performer. In the Olympic tradition, when the torch is passed, the flame transfers from one sure hand to the next – keeping it burning, while at the same time moving forward. It’s a fitting image for the career of Ronnie Baker Brooks, today’s premier torchbearer of the urban blues tradition.
Craig Havighurst (Host, The String Podcast)
Craig Havighurst is a veteran music journalist, author and broadcaster who hosts The String, the music interview show and podcast from WMOT Roots Radio in Nashville. He’s also co-host and producer of Music City Roots, which returns to live broadcasting in 2022. He’s covered American music since 1998 through stints with the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Acoustic Guitar and The Tennessean among others. He’s the author of Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City.
Rob Lindquist (Cofounder of Songfinch)
Rob was fortunate enough to discover his passion for music at an early age. He gravitated towards the power and emotions that music can bring about when listening. This passion led him into the world of music licensing as the third employee of a music licensing start up where he developed his “get it done” working style. Among multiple hats worn at an early start-up, his main objective was focusing on building an artist community that appeals to some of the world’s largest brands and networks. During the 8+ years at that licensing agency, Rob continuously used the power of independent artists to amplify global and national campaigns for Coca-Cola, Hasbro, Fanta, Airbnb, Dasani & more. This not only proved his ability to connect the dots between artists and brands but it strengthened the love for what music can do emotionally to consumers. Seeing first-hand the power brands have on millions of people with one song and campaign helped lead to the creation of Songfinch. Rob helps independent artists get paid doing what they love while giving the average person the ability to experience the emotions music gives on a more intimate, one-on-one level. Rob continues to dedicate his life to building connections through music while always having the musician’s best interests in mind.
Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon (Artist/Songwriter)
Singer, songwriter, song finder, entertainer, and all-around music freak Vince Herman loves a good crowd and a good song to sing. As the co-founder of jam grass architects Leftover Salmon, he plays an assortment of string instruments but is usually seen behind an acoustic guitar with a big grin. The band recently celebrated their 30-year anniversary and has a 2021 album, Brand New Good Old Days, out on Compass Records.
Sarah Ross (Artist/Songwriter)
Genre-bending artist, Sarah Ross, was discovered after appearing as a contestant on American Idol. A talented songwriter and vocalist, the New Jersey native signed to Nashville-based Average Joes Entertainment and was quickly embraced by The Highway on SiriusXM, iHeart Radio, CMT, and other tastemakers. Ross has released several albums, multiple singles, and has been featured on numerous platinum-selling compilation projects with labelmates Colt Ford and Montgomery Gentry.
Sara Knabe (VP of A&R, BBR Music Group)
Sara Knabe plays an important hand in the development of the company’s successful roster. Her responsibilities at the label group include scouting, signing, and developing new talent for the BBR Music Group roster which includes Jason Aldean, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dustin Lynch, Chase Rice, Blanco Brown, Jimmie Allen, Lainey Wilson and many more. Previous to BBR Music Group, Knabe worked at BMG (before the merger of BBRMG and BMG), where she started as Sr. Director, Creative and was elevated to VP, Creative.
Blain Rhodes (GM/VP of A&R, Tape Room Music)
Blain Rhodes is the General Manager of Tape Room Music. Rhodes manages the writing career of company founder and hit songwriter Ashley Gorley as well as the prolific roster of songwriters and artists that call Tape Room home. In a short time, Tape Room writers have accounted for 25 #1 songs and hundreds of millions of streams. Prior to his current role, Rhodes served as the Director of A&R at UMG Nashville after several years at Warner/Chappell Nashville.
Lee Dannay (VP of A&R at Thirty Tigers)
Lee Dannay is an A&R and artist development executive who has held senior management roles at Sony Music (both Epic and Columbia Records) and Warner/Chappell Music Publishing. She has signed, developed and worked with a broad range of artists and songwriters including John Mayer, Brandi Carlile, Glen Hansard, Iron and Wine, The Jayhawks and Bruce Hornsby. Currently, Lee is head of A&R for Thirty Tigers, a Nashville based entertainment company that provides label services to a diverse roster of artists, helping them forge unique and successful pathways to career longevity in the modern music industry. Her commitment to advocacy, education and service has been consistent throughout her career. She sits on the Board of Governors for the NY Chapter of The Recording Academy and volunteers as a mentor for the Recording Academy’s Grammy U Program. She is a member of numerous music industry organizations including A2IM (The American Association of Independent Music), AIMP (Association of Independent Music Publishers), Women In Music and The Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a voting member of the Recording Academy, The Academy of Country Music, The Country Music Association and The Americana Music Association. In addition to her work in the music industry, Lee is also an adjunct professor at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music and Hofstra University, is on the Advisory Board for Little Kids Rock, and volunteers as a guide for Musicians On Call. A graduate of Cornell University, Lee earned a BA in English Literature, and currently serves as an Alumni Admissions Ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Jonathan Stone (CEO Radar Music/Co-Founder Rocket Songs)
Jonathan is the Co-Founder and CCO of Rocket Songs, an online marketplace where writers, publishers and artists can connect to find great original songs for recording projects. Jonathan has worked for Sony/ATV, Universal Music, Quincy Jones Productions and finally as President of Windswept Pacific Entertainment signing and working with iconic artists such as Bruno Mars, The Spice Girls, Beyonce, Kings Of Leon, Corrine Bailey Rae, Pete Townshend, Snow Patrol and many more.
David Schulhof (CDO at LiveXLive)
David Schulhof is an American music executive and entrepreneur. He is currently Chief Development Officer (CDO) at LiveXLive Media, a global platform for livestream and on-demand audio, video, and podcast content. Previously, he was the co-founder and President of IM Global Music. Schulhof co-founded, owned and managed the music publishing company Evergreen Copyrights, now a division of BMG Rights Management. He worked as music supervisor or executive producer on several films and television shows.