“Songwriting is my way of channeling my feelings and my thoughts, not just mine, but the things I see, the people I care about.” – Dolly Parton
Well at the start of this week the much anticipated CMA Songwriters lineup was finally announced. Though there was some buzz on social media the announcement was somewhat overshadowed by the announcement that Little Big Town were returning to the UK in September to tour. It’s great news that these top names are coming to the UK and that they want to keep on coming back but I’m particularly excited that once a year we get a little taste of the real Nashville when the songwriters who wrote the hits for the big names come over and tell us the stories behind the songs. It was always going to be a big ask to top last year’s lineup which saw Lori McKenna, Charlie Worsham, Ashley Monroe and Charles Esten take to the stage alongside their host Shane McAnally. However the organisers have managed to secure an equally good line up this year with Maren Morris, Liz Rose, Mac Mcanally and Drake White taking to the stage along with their host Kristian Bush and today I’m going to give you a little bit more information on each of them.
We all know Maren Morris, or at least if you like Country you should probably know who she is by now! Rising to fame with her massive 2015 hit “My Church” Morris has received multiple CMA and Grammy Nods but she actually started her career a long time before this, releasing three studio albums on a fairly unknown label before self releasing her self titled EP and being picked up by a major label who then re-released this and her album Hero. But Maren Morris has writing credits on multiple songs that appeared in the show Nashville. Furthermore she also wrote Greener Pastures off the Brothers Osborne album Pawn Shop, Second Wind off Kelly Clarkson’s Piece By Piece album and one of her earliest success’ was having a cut on Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town with the song Last Turn Home. So though most of us better know Maren Morris as an artist with that powerful voice, she actually started her career as a songwriter and has more than earned her place in this year’s lineup.
Liz Rose is one of my favourite songwriters of all time! I first saw Liz Rose at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville in 2015 (though I was a fan long before this). She is as funny as she is talented and such a lovely person to chat to. Last year at Tin Pan South Festival in Nashville she invited a few of us up on stage to sing You Belong With Me, a song she co-wrote with and for Taylor Swift (yes you read that right, Taylor Swift!) need I say this was one of the most memorable moments of my life? That aside, Liz Rose is one of the most successful songwriters in Country music, she is one third of the writing trio The Love Junkies which sees her team up with Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey and together they have written such hits as Girl Crush and Sober for Little Big Town just to give a couple of examples and Liz and Lori co-wrote God Made Girls by Raelynn. We could spend all day listing Liz Rose’s achievements but a quick google search and you can see for yourself the extent of her career and you’re bound to find one of your favourite artists on the list of people who have released her songs.
Mac McAnally is a very well respected Songwriter and Musician in the Country music world. Many of the top artists have called upon McAnally to play on their records, from Dolly Parton to George Strait, Brad Paisley to Reba and he’s been named CMA Musician of the year for eight years in a row. Often we talk about an artist’s success and we sometimes measure it by how many albums they sold in their first week or whether a song got to number one or not. Mac McAnally has had a few of them, number one’s, but what Mac McAnally has is something that every writer, artist, musician wants and rarely gets, longevity. He’s had a lengthy career and has had his fingers in many pies, and everything he does is consistently good. The music can do the rest of the talking but he’s not in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame for no reason and I’m sure jaws will drop on Thursday 9th March when Mac starts playing.
Now I will admit that I’m fairly unfamiliar with Drake White, the upcoming singer songwriter signed to Big machine’s Dot Records. From what I can tell though he has quite the following over here with many people buzzing about his planned appearances throughout the C2C weekend. He has co-written with the likes of songwriters Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Tom Douglas to name a few. These are some of the top Nashville Writers so though I have yet to hear his 2016 album, Spark, I am sure it is bound to have some cracking songs on there. I’m really looking forward to checking out Drake White and seeing him at the Songwriters Series.
Host Kristian Bush is best known amongst us Country fans as one half of Grammy award winning duo Sugarland. They are one of my favourite Country artists of all time, in fact that was the main reason I decided to attend this years C2C because Jennifer Nettles was playing. Now I along with many others are hoping for a little Sugarland reunion since Bush was announced to play the Songwriters Series. But before Sugarland, Bush had success with his Folk-Rock band Billy Pilgrim and since he and Jennifer parted ways he has enjoyed a successful solo career. Kristian has also, more recently, ventured into the World of musical theatre, writing songs for Troubadour which is currently being performed at the alliance theatre in Georgia. It begs the question, is there anything Kristian Bush can’t do when it comes to music?
So you see, if you’re not excited about this lineup yet, then, well you’re crazy! If you haven’t got your tickets, go and get them now, this is one night you don’t want to miss!