Updated: Mar 18
By Jac Delnevo
When I think of Nashville I think of the amazing talent around every corner (and gorgeous country boys). With all this talent rushing to music city you have to think about how saturated the market is, how do people stand out and get recognition? Do they end up doing what they set out to do?
There are so many stories around artists who started writing for other people before becoming established artists in there own right. I’ve previously mentioned my love for Dolly Parton and Cole Swindell who started in the same way but it turns out nearly everyone wrote for others before getting a recording contract themselves. One that stands out to me is Chris Stapleton, I heard Kix Brooks talking about him during his American Country Countdown show (8am Sunday @ Chris country radio), Kix was saying how he had been writing with Chris for almost 15 years(!!) and how everyone in Nashville knew what a talent he was it just took the rest of the world a minute to find out. The success Chris Stapleton is now receiving is well overdue and I bet it’s definitely not being taken for granted.
One guy I cant stop listening to right now is HARDY. Over the years he has developed close working relationships with many artists as well as songwriters. It took a few years until he was picked up by Big Loud to start recording his own songs. After successfully co-writing hit songs for Blake Shelton (God’s country), Chris lane (I don’t know about you) and Jameson Rodgers’ debut single “some girls” he went on to record a collaborative mixtape entitled Hixtape, Vol 1. In this he called upon 17 of his friends including Thomas Rhett, Jake Owen, the late Joe Diffie and Dustin Lynch. With such a mix of fantastic voices and amazing storytelling it is by far one of my favourite albums with “Boy from the South” being my most played song currently. His new album “A Rock” is pretty blooming awesome too!
Now, I have talked about songwriters becoming artists because that seems to be the norm in making it successful in Nashville, however some people make a career out of writing the songs. While researching songwriters (and watching Nashville) all the ‘career’ songwriters co-write with others, this is either the artists themselves or other ‘career’ songwriters. There are different ways for a songwriter to get their songs out there:
• Establish a relationship with other writers and collaborate.
• Get a publishing deal
• Get recording artists’ attention
There are plenty of other ways to get songs out in Nashville as well as meeting other writers and start earning some money – maybe we will cover this at another time for those interested.
Some songwriters who have gone on to have successful careers as songwriters are:
Ashley Gorley who is synonymous with Country music, as of September 2020, he had 51 number 1 singles to his name including some of my favourites. As well as songwriting he also publishes and produces music. He has written for/with Carrie Underwood, George Strait, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan and Cole Swindell as well as many many others. Ashley, however has not just managed to have success in country but other genres too. Spotify currently has a ‘written by Ashley Gorley’ playlist which not only lists his number 1 singles but others he has writing credit on. Other artists he has written for include Big Time Rush, Lucy Hale, Bon Jovi and Olly Murs.
Someone who often co-writes with Gorley is Chris De Stefano, he has had successes with Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Luke Bryan, Dan + Shay, Chase Rice and even Bon Jovi. He is a Grammy award winning songwriter and record producer. He also plays multiple instruments including the mandolin, Banjo and Violin, which is really impressive.
Other well-known songwriters in Nashville are Dallas Davidson, Shane McAnally, Chris DuBois and Rhett Akins, to name a few.
I can’t talk about songwriters without mentioning one of my favourites again, Michael Carter. Although he is better known as Luke Bryan’s bandleader and lead guitarist, he has also wrote many songs alongside Cole Swindell and even produces his albums. A multi-talented entertainer who I believe deserves a lot more recognition, I mean seeing him on stage with Luke Bryan, you can’t take your eyes off him playing guitar – but that’s taking me into another passion of mine, guitarists!