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BILLBOARD COUNTRY UPDATE

BILLBOARD COUNTRY UPDATE FEBRUARY 13, 2017 | PAGE 11 OF 22 NASHVILLE & NATIONAL TOM ROLAND Old Dominion performed at the New England Patriots’ afterparty following the team’s victory at the Super Bowl. From left: band member Brad Tursi, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, band members Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and band member Whit Sellers. RANDY TRAVIS’ INFLUENCE AFFIRMED The Bellamy Brothers’ version of “Diggin’ Up Bones” was a fitting way to start the night when an all-star cast paid tribute to Randy Travis on Feb. 8 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. With Travis’ voice limited in the aftermath of a 2013 stroke, the evening provided a method to raise money for his stroke-related foundation, but also found a bevy of country stars “resurrecting memories” — as the chorus of “Bones” suggests — of a singer who turned the genre on its head when he dared to sing starkly traditional country in the pop-leaning mid-1980s. “There isn’t anybody in country music today or in the last 20 years that doesn’t owe their career to Randy Travis,” said Garth Brooks before he launched into “Forever and Ever, Amen.” Indeed, the cast seemed to prove the point in covering his music. Chris Young employed a whine and a handful of embellishments in his upper register while dipping into guttural tones in judicious moments on “This Is Me.” Daryle Singletary offered bendy phrasing a la Travis while sharing the stage with Mark Chesnutt on “A Few Old Country Boys.” And Jamey Johnson infused the same quiet guitar arpeggios and manly sound as Travis in a stunning replay of “Promises.” Travis’ rich basement tonalities, inspired in part by such predecessors as George Jones and Merle Haggard, became a standard for male singers, even after the genre reverted to more contemporary sounds in the 21st century. Many of the tribute concert’s guests — including Kane Brown, William Michael Morgan, Chris Janson, Joe Nichols, Scotty McCreery and Josh Turner — resonated with at least a tinge of the same reedy sonics that marked Travis’ performances. His sound, as Wynonna Judd noted, could be identified within “the first couple seconds you heard the voice.” Travis bravely led many of the night’s performers in the final songs, “Amazing Grace” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” though the stroke left him — for now, at least — a shadow of his former self. Travis and his wife, Mary, have shown an admirable determination during his recovery and in creating a foundation that would aid others hit with a similar fate. The hallmark of a human is, as Turner sang while covering “Three Wooden Crosses,” “what you leave behind you when you go.” With his strength of character and the artistic influence represented by the tribute, Travis’ legacy is already guaranteed. MOVERS & SHAKERS Jeremy “Otis” Maher joined WUBL Atlanta as music director/afternoon-drive personality. He was previously PD/afternoon voice for top 40 WDJX Louisville, Ky. … KCYE Las Vegas promoted Kris Daniels to PD from assistant PD/music director/morning host. Simultaneously, Emmanuel “Ransom” Garcia joins as music director/afternoon talent after a year on-air at alternative KXTE Las Vegas. Paul Knight is also returning to middays on KCYE following a oneyear hiatus from radio … Katie Neal takes over middays for WNSH New York. She was previously a WNSH weekend air talent and an account executive for hot adult contemporary sister WPLJ … CBS Radio/ Chicago transferred Joe Mackay to director of music sales for the cluster’s four music-formatted stations, including WUSN. He was previously CBS national sales manager for Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Concurrently, Sheila Mulcahey is shifted to WUSN general sales manager from account executive … WHLK Indianapolis music director J.D. Cannon will retire from full-time employment on April 28, The Indianapolis Business Journal reported. He’ll continue to operate as a brand ambassador for the station and occasionally fill in on-air … Cumulus/ Green Bay, Wis., hired Don Pollnow as vp/ market manager, according to InsideRadio.com. The six-station cluster includes country WPCK. Pollnow was LM Communications/Lexington, Ky. national sales manager … Adams Radio/ Salisbury-Ocean City, Md., tapped Paul Burton as vp/GM for the cluster, including country WKHI, InsideRadio.com reported. He was most recently vp sales for iHeartMedia/Salisbury, including country WWFG … Townsquare hired operations managers in two Southern markets — Shreveport-Bossier City, La., and Amarillo, Texas — according to Talkers.com. Dusty Hayes takes the role in Louisiana, where the portfolio includes country KXKS. He was previously hot adult contemporary KFBZ Wichita, Kan., PD. Braden Smith becomes operations manager for Townsquare/Amarillo, where he’ll also serve as country KATP brand manager. Smith had been WLFV Richmond, Va., PD … Trisha Yearwood will perform the national anthem on Feb. 22 to launch the opening ceremonies during the three-day Country Radio Seminar at the Omni Nashville Hotel. ’ROUND THE ROW Tim McGraw and Faith Hill signed solo recording deals with Sony, Billboard has learned. Go here for the full story … Mike Rittberg joined Big Machine Label Group as chief marketing officer on Feb. 13. He was previously Bill Silva Management executive vp/GM in Santa Monica and worked for three labels prior to that. Reach him here … Curb promoted Jessie Lowe to coordinator of promotion from communications coordinator. Reach her here … The Plowboy label established two new divisions, the Plowboy Legacy imprint and Need More Artist Management, installing Ben Ewing as GM. He most recently ran his own company, Ewing Management. Plowboy projects have included works by Bobby Bare, Jim Ed Brown and Eddy Arnold … Warner/Chappell Production bumped Aaron Gant to senior vp production from vp. Reach him here … Black River signed Abby Anderson to a recording and publishing deal … Songwriter Jessie Jo Dillon (“The Breath You Take,” “Girl Next Door”) joined the roster at Big Machine Music … The National Music Publishers’ Association’s S.O.N.G.S. (Supporting Our Next Generations of Songwriters) Foundation established a $50,000 songwriting endowment at Nashville’s Belmont University, which the school matched, and created a $25,000 songwriting endowment at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro … Nashville entrepreneur Kitty Moon Emery died Feb. 8. Active in bringing major-league sports to Music City, she formed one of the town’s first video production companies, Scene Three, which oversaw Garth Brooks’ “The Dance,” plus projects by George Jones, Vince Gill and Toby Keith, among others. A memorial is slated for 11 a.m. on Feb. 15 at Woodmont Christian Church in Nashville … A celebration of life for late singer-songwriter Holly Dunn is set for March 30 at BMI in Nashville. A minimum donation of $25 is required, with all proceeds going to ovarian cancer research. Dunn died Nov. 14. For an invitation, reach her spouse, Missy Taylor, here. New Curb artist Jackson Michelson (right) met with iHeartCountry senior vp programming Rod Phillips as he launches his first radio-promotion tour.

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