Jason Aldean Mixes It Up

Jason Aldean is one of the most prominent voices in modern country music, but good luck trying to put the guy in a stylistic box. One of his biggest hits is named after country icon Johnny Cash, and you can’t get much more country than the farm-centered lyrics in “Amarillo Sky” or “Big Green Tractor.” On the other hand, the guitar chords on “She’s Country” sound more like AC/DC than Merle Haggard; his current single, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” teams Jason with pop singer Kelly Clarkson; and he even has a rap section on “Dirt Road Anthem,” one of the key tracks on his current album My Kinda Party. Jason grew up on the outskirts of Macon, Ga., and his background brought all of those different musical threads together. Read More

Taylor Swift Wins Big at BMI Songwriter Awards

Through songs such as “Mine,” “White Horse” and “Fifteen,” Taylor Swift has shown a real appreciation for great drama and complex character development. This week, she’s experienced drama firsthand. On Tuesday, she won BMI’s Country Songwriter of the Year award, becoming the youngest person ever to claim it. And she and co-writer Liz Rose shared Country Song of the Year for “You Belong With Me,” recognized as the most-played country title over a full year, according to the performing rights organization. Just a day earlier, Taylor sang at a funeral for a friend. Read More

Taylor Swift Leads Songwriter Honors

Taylor Swift couldn’t ask for much better timing. As she heads into the last week of promotion for her new album, Speak Now, she was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year Sunday night during the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s annual songwriter awards at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin took Song of the Year for penning the emotional Miranda Lambert hit “The House That Built Me,” and Chris DuBois earned Songwriter of the Year for his work as an author of Craig Morgan’s “This Ain’t Nothin’” and the Brad Paisley singles “Then” and “Welcome To The Future.” The awards were part of a formal evening that saw four new members added to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and had 11 titles recognized by the songwriting community as the cream of the crop: Songs I Wish I’d Written. That list included “Need You Now,” “White Liar,” “Big Green Tractor” and Taylor’s “You Belong With Me.” Read More

Jason Aldean Ready To “Party”

Jason Aldean’s Wide Open album brought him to a new level as two of the singles — “She’s Country” and “Big Green Tractor” — became monster records within country music. Now he’s looking to pack even more forward-moving energy into his career with the next album, My Kinda Party. Named after his current Top 25 single, it may not be much of a departure for Jason in the way he approached it. But it still represents a change in his career. Since he doesn’t write many of his own songs, he relies on the material that Nashville’s songwriters send his way. And after his last album sold so well, writers made sure that he got a crack at their best material. And early listens to a few of the tracks suggest that he may well have upped the ante creatively. Read More

Dierks Bentley, “Need You Now” Earn Songwriting Honors

Dierks Bentley won Songwriter/Artist of the Year, Josh Kear took Song of the Year for co-writing “Need You Now” with Lady Antebellum, and Brett James walked off with Songwriter of the Year during the star-studded ASCAP Country Music Awards for songwriters Tuesday at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. Dierks picked up the Songwriter/Artist trophy after two of his songs — “Sideways” and “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes” — were recognized among the performing rights agency’s most performed songs of the year. Dierks played a bluegrass version of “Sideways” during the two-hour presentation in which each of ASCAP’s Top 5 songs was rendered live. Chris Young sang “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” songwriter David Lee Murphy played “Big Green Tractor,” Darius Rucker offered “Alright” and Josh Kear teamed with Lady A for a dramatic acoustic version of “Need You Now.” Josh was cheered heavily by the songwriting community when he sang some of the lines that Charles Kelley usually sings — Josh proved he was an admirable singer in addition to being an ace songwriter. Read More