Inside Track on Music Row | February 2021


Parker Millsap’s musical influences run the gamut from blues, rock and folk to Americana and of course country. He garnered national attention with his 2014 song, “Truck Stop Gospel.”  On January 14, Millsap released the single, “The Real Thing,” as a teaser for his upcoming album. Titled Be Here Instead, the album will drop via his own Okrahoma Records and Thirty Tigers on Friday, April 9. Produced by the legendary John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, Waxahatchee), The new single, “The Real Thing,” is available now at all DSPs and streaming services. The song – which features guest vocals from Nashville singer Erin Rae – is joined by an official companion video, streaming now at YouTube. “It’s a song whose meaning has revealed new layers to me over time,” Millsap says. “At first it was about being on the road and missing my wife, then it was about my general distaste for internet communication, and then the pandemic hit, and it became about having to depend on that type of communication and being starved for physical closeness. The 12-song album – Millsap’s fifth – is available for pre-order now via  


Emerging artist Ashlyn Grayce’s new single, “Who’s to Say,” conveys a powerful message of the freedom of self-determination. It was written to inspire others to follow their hearts and dreams and to avoid getting caught up in what others think or say. (“So many think they know, just what you should do, but they’re not walkin’ in your shoes.”) “Who’s to Say” is now available through all streaming platforms and digital retailers.

The track was co-written with Music Row veterans Troy Castellano and Brett Mandel and was also produced by Castellano at his My Blue Heaven Studio. “Who’s to Say” charted on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart with good company, tucked in between a few of Grayce’s favorites – John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, and James Taylor. The new single was featured on Radio SoBro, the all-streaming radio platform enabling listeners to enjoy Nashville’s top singer/songwriters worldwide. Her previous project, the EP Somethin’ ‘Bout A Song, debuted at #4 on iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart and their Bestseller list upon release. Music, info and more at  


Tin Pan South will once again be ‘live’ for 2021. Following a unique and successful virtual edition of the 28th annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival presented by Regions Bank, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) announced plans to return the beloved five-day event to an in-person experience back at your favorite venues across Music City on November 16-20, 2021.

“With the support and encouragement from Regions Bank, our other incredible partners, and the songwriters and organizations that participated, we were thrilled to keep the spirit of Tin Pan South alive in a virtual format. While the 2021 festival will once again take place in the fall instead of the usual March/April timeframe, we are very excited about the prospect of being back in the local venues next year!  We hope that in 2022, we can regain complete normalcy and hold our 30th-anniversary festival in the Spring,” said Jennifer Turnbow, Festival Director.  More news will be released soon. so be sure Follow @TINPANSOUTH on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and check out  


Chris Janson topped of the charts last year with his latest single “Done,” because of the pandemic he recently celebrated with the songwriters.

According to Janson, the song was inspired by his wife, Kelly Lynn. Mitch Oglesby, one of the song’s writers, presented Janson with the song’s concept during a songwriting session after noting that Janson had a tendency to say “done” whenever he was “serious about something”. According to Janson, he also said this phrase when he met Kelly Lynn for the first time at a bar.

This is the fourth career #1 single for Chris. “Buy Me A Boat” and “Fix A Drink” and “Good Vibes” were his previous chart toppers. “Done” is from the album ‘Real Friends’. 


Country music trio Lady A was invited (by Darius Rucker) to be the newest member of the grand Ole Opry. This is just icing on their 2021 cake.   Lady A has topped both the Mediabase/Country Aircheck Singles chart and the Billboard Country Airplay chart – as well as MusicRow’s chart – with “Champagne Night” (BMLG Records) making it their 11th career chart-topping hit. The multi-week No. 1 is the first song from NBC’s primetime series Songland to become a radio single and can now be found on the recent expansion of Lady A’s No. 1 album, The Ocean Deluxe Edition available at  

“I can’t believe we get to start 2021 off with a multi-week No. 1…. it almost feels unreal,” said Lady A’s Hillary Scott. After serving as the guest artist for the season two premiere of Songland, they chose the winning song, “Champagne Night,” penned by the show’s mentor Shane McAnally, alongside aspiring songwriter Madeline Merlo and the trio. The song began life as “I’ll Drink to That.” Lady A and McAnally reworked the track into “Champagne Night.” More info at  


Veteran country music entertainer and decorated songwriter, Jamie Richards (Okie Ranch Music) has released his latest recording project titled The Real Deal.  This 12-song CD, and Richards’ seventh studio recording, is available now via all digital retail and streaming outlets.  

The lyrically driven songbook, as characteristic of the Oklahoma native’s signature, features original tunes and co-writes that carry the torch for legendary song crafters (Merle Haggard/Willie Nelson/Waylon Jennings) and vocal stylists (George Strait/Mark Chesnutt). Boasting traditional country ballads, two-steps, shuffles, and toe-tappers, The Real Deal features with western vintage acoustic and electric guitar, pedal steel and fiddle spotlighting instrumental performances by his touring band, and a special appearance by the multi-talented, Milo Deering (Garth Brooks/The Eagles/LeAnn Rimes), who plays acoustic, pedal steel and fiddle throughout.

“I love lyrics and I take pride in writing songs with a storyline that seems like a movie screenplay; listeners can almost see it,” said Jamie Richards. “We didn’t stray from tradition or my style; the project is straight-forward country. I guess that’s why the title (The Real Deal) is so fitting.”  More at  


Alex Kline, one of Nashville’s prominent producers, songwriters, and multi-instrumentalists, made history in January as the first solo female producer to have a Top 15 Country Radio hit by a female artist. The single “Somebody Like That,” was co-written with CCMA award-winner Tenille Arts for her critically acclaimed album, Love, Heartbreak & Everything in Between. A streaming phenomenon, “Somebody Like That” has reached 65 million streams, further establishing Kline as a game-changing producer and songwriter that is shaping the future of country music. The single debuted at No. 2 of the iTunes Country chart and No. 10 on the iTunes all-genre chart. It spent three-weeks at No. 1 at Radio Disney Country; went No. 1 on Billboard’s all-genre Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart and debuted at No. 97 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. On Spotify, the song peaked at No. 11 on the United States Viral 50 chart as well. Kline’s production credits include collections by Terri Clark, Tara Thompson, Adam Brand, Erin Enderlin, John King, Logan Murrell, Jordan Rager, Maggie Rose and Jillian Cardarelli among others.  More about Alex Kline at  


Matt Wynn has signed a publishing and management deal with Given Entertainment, according to Given Founding Partner Cindy Owen. Wynn has been working with producer Cliff Downs, Given Entertainment’s Sr VP of Publishing and Artist Development and signed to Given since early 2020.  Wynn honed his talents during his teens while touring throughout the Midwest. He performed more than 200 shows in 2019, opening for artists including Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne, Sam Hunt, Brantley Gilbert, Brett Young, Chris Janson, Vince Gill, Rodney Atkins, Russell Dickerson, Jay Leno and more. His sultry soulful voice is reminiscent of power-house vocalists like Ronnie Dunn, Chris Stapleton and Travis Tritt. Listen to five newly released tracks, all co-written by Wynn:   


Multi-platinum performer Brett Young will “Catch” an unforgettable flight to Florida as Spirit Airlines and Mastercard announced plans to celebrate the launch of the all-new Free Spirit® loyalty program and Free Spirit Mastercard with Brett Young: Live from the Runway. Young’s performance will be the first-ever concert streamed worldwide from the runway of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport—with planes speeding past. Brett Young: Live from the Runway is set for Thursday, Feb. 4, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. EST and is free. See full details at  

Young said, “Thanks to everyone who has continued to be a part of our virtual shows over the past year… I’m so excited to kick off 2021 with fun ways to stay connected until we can all be together again. See y’all on the runway!”  Spirit will be donating 100,000 points to one of the charities closest to Young’s heart — myLIFEspeaks — which is focused on family empowerment, education, public health, and special needs advocacy in Haiti. More about Brett Young at   


Buck Owens fans have an opportunity to listen to all of Buck’s Capitol singles.  Omnivore Recordings, in conjunction with the Buck Owens Estate, will release Buck Owens and the Buckaroos’ The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957–1976, including all three of Omnivore’s previously released acclaimed two-CD sets: The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957–1966, The Complete Capitol Singles: 1967–1970, and The Complete Capitol Singles: 1971–1975. Gathered together in a slipcase, and at available at a new low price, the compilation will be available March 12, 2021.  The recordings are taken from the original mono master tapes.  Packaging features liner notes from Buck’s autobiography (written with author/historian Randy Poe), plus an introduction by Dwight Yoakam. These are the records that made Buck Owens a legend and defined the Bakersfield Sound. It’s history. It’s The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957–1975. For full info on the 6-CD set or to pre-order, visit  


After the success of her latest mental-health awareness single, “World You’re Livin’ In”, soulful teen sensation Bailey James kicked off 2021 by continuing to release new music for her fans while touching hearts and reminiscing on a lost love with her latest release “Swore I Was Over It” produced by Leland Grant (Chris Young), The song is available on all digital streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and more. You can also watch the official music video at YouTube. This candid song, which was written solely by Bailey, describes the feelings you may still have for someone after you swore you were over them and done with the relationship. “I watched someone I really fell for get into a new relationship after we had been apart for all this time,” says Bailey. “As soon as that happened, all those old feelings came rushing back. It’s a song of uncertainty when you see your ex dating someone else and you suddenly wonder how they got away.” More at  and on social media. 


Darryl Worley takes center stage as part of the Country Rewind tour. Hit-making Bryan White and Wade Hayes are also part of the lineup. The tour is being presented by Center Stage Magazine in association with 180 Talent Group and launched in Fernandina Beach, FL in January. Additional stops will include Austin, TX; Kansas City, MO; Lincoln, NE; Knoxville, TN; Louisville, KY; Indianapolis, IN; and Macon, GA. “Everyone needs to work and pay the bills so, for me, this is another prayer answered,” said Worley. “I’m so thankful to be going out and making some music with my friends and for my friends. I hope we can make everybody forget about all the difficult times we are experiencing, relax for a while and enjoy an evening together.” “The Country Rewind tour was birthed from a desire to create a fun, positive music experience for fans and artists alike,” explains Missy Wolf, co-founder of Center Stage Magazine. “We ultimately wanted to help artists we know and love come together in a stress-free environment to give fans something positive to look forward to.” Details and tickets at  


Thomas Rhett is a huge music fan and could often be spotted at concerts before the pandemic hit.  So, when he thinks about who he would love to see in concert right about now, he says, “Oh my goodness, at this point I would go see anybody!  But if you’ve never seen Bruno [Mars], it really is an incredible show.” There are plenty of great country artists Thomas would love to see in concert, including Luke Combs.  “I got to sing with Luke Combs when he played at Bridgestone,” says Thomas.  “Luke Combs’ concert is absolutely mind blowing.  I’ve never seen people sing album cuts louder than the singles in my entire life, except for a Luke Combs concert.  So, I would definitely encourage everybody to go watch him on the road.” Rhett has rescheduled his canceled 2020 tour now set to kick off June 3rd. Check tour updates and tickets at  


Loretta Lynn covid vaccine Credit: Loretta Lynn/Instagram Willie Nelson covid vaccine Credit: Family Hospital Systems/Facebook

Loretta Lynn is “Ready to put Covid in the rear-view mirror.”  In January, Loretta, who is 88, and daughter Peggy Jean ventured out of their ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., for Loretta to get her first shot of the vaccine, as she is considered to be a candidate because of her age in the “75 and over” group. Loretta has had several health concerns in recent years, including pneumonia.  On social media, she said she was “sure glad to get it” and “I enjoyed the mom-daughter time too!” Another ‘Country senior Citizen’ rolling up his sleeve: Willie Nelson, 87, who took advantage of a drive-up service at Family Hospital Systems in Texas, also got his vaccine in January. 


Show Dog Nashville artist Clay Walker is riding rising waves of accolades into the new year for his latest single, “Need A Bar Sometimes.” On Jan. 29 added the song’s video on its Music Video Page, with CMT Music (their 24/7 video channel) airing it this month as well. The pool tables, hazy light and neon-bathed barstools perfectly mirror the lyric’s call to “lean back with a longneck” or “turn the jukebox up, light one up and just get lost in the smoke.” “Need A Bar Sometimes” debuted as the third most added single on country radio and continues to gain airplay at stations across the country with recent strides in key markets including Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, and Seattle. The single has also garnered more than 9.5 million on-demand streams. Clay’s achievements include 11 No. 1 songs at country radio, 31 Billboard-charting singles, four RIAA PLATINUM albums, two additional GOLD-certified albums and countless concert performances. His 12th album, produced by Michael Knox and Jaron Boyer, will be released later this year, with “Need A Bar Sometimes” among its tracks. See the video via  


Songwriter Ed Bruce has passed away, aged 81, on January 8.  He is best-known for co-writing “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” that became a hit for Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson after they included it on their 1978 album Waylon & Willie. Bruce had earlier recorded the song himself (co-written with then-wife Patsy Bruce) and scored a Top 20 Country hit with it in 1975. As an artist, in the 1980s, he scored a number of country hits with songs such as “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had,” “Ever, Never Lovin’ You,” “After All” and “You Turn Me On (Like a Radio).”  He looked like a cowboy and appeared in several western movies, including “The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James” and TV westerns such as “Bret Maverick.”

On January 7, we also lost Jamie O’Hara, aged 70, a songwriter whose hits included “Grandpa, tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days” recorded by The Judds, which earned him a Grammy. 

His other hits as a writer included “Older Women” and “Wandering Eyes” recorded by Ronnie McDowell. He also had a successful recording career, both solo and with Kieran Kane as The O’Kanes that charted seven singles on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles charts.

Another sad loss: Misty Morgan passed away January 1, 2021, aged 75. With Jack Blanchard she debuted on the country charts in 1969 with “Big Black Bird (Spirit of Our Love)” and scored a country No. 1 in 1970 with “Tennessee Bird Walk.”

That song was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (they lost to Johnny Cash & June Carter). With “Tennessee Bird Walk” Misty became the first female to be listed as Producer on a hit country song. The duo placed 15 titles on the country charts in 1969-1976, according to an article in MusicRow by Robert K. Oermann. 



Abby Anderson, Lindsay Ell, Chris Lane, Alan Jackson and Chris Young. 

Preshias Harris is a freelance music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, ‘The College of Songology: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need to Know Reference Handbook’ is available at Follow her blog at 

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