Wednesday 26 August 2015

Aristo Media Group CEO Jeff Walker has died

Country Music Mourns Passing Of Aristo Media Group CEO Jeff Walker

Deepest sympathies to family and friends of Aristo Media Group CEO JEFF WALKER, who died unexpectedly Monday night (Aug 24, 2015).
He was believed to have been 65. Walker suffered from a heart attack at Nashville International Airport. He died later that night in an area hospital.
Mr.Jeff Walker 
(Aristo press photo)
Click to ENLARGE

Aristo, the company, which worked with both country and Christian music acts, marked its 35th anniversary in April.
The AristoMedia Group is comprised specifically of the following branded divisions and services: Aristo PR (publicity), AristoVision (Christian video promotion), AristoVideo (Country video promotion), AristoWorks (new media services), The Goodland Group (video reel distribution), Jeff Walker & Associates (international and domestic entertainment consultation), Marco Music Group (secondary radio promotion), Marco Club Connection (dance club venue marketing)

For over 30 years, Walker had —with great gusto and sizeable strategic smarts— bolstered the careers of such country music giants as Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, Charlie Daniels and Jo Dee Messina.

Mr. Walker hailed originally from Australia. He came to the fabled American country town (Nashville) in 1974, primarily to visit his father—noted legendary musical director/producer Bill Walker who had already become well known as music director of The Johnny Cash Show (that ran from June 7, 1969 to March 31, 1971).

  • After graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics degree, and a major in accounting and law, Walker visited Nashville, and decided to take a job at a downtown CPA firm.
  • In 1977, Mr. Walker began working at his dad’s label, Con Brio Records. And he met his wife Terri, who was a singer on the label. She toured England five times. She did the Wembley Festival and co-hosted five shows on BBC-TV with Ronnie Prophet.
  • Jeff oversaw the books part-time for Con Brio Records and Publishing, and after only a few months, he quit his CPA job to become VP of operations for Con Brio.
  • During his three-year tenure there, Con Brio racked up 47 nationally charted singles for such artists as Don King, Dale McBride and Terri Hollowell (who became Mrs. Jeff Walker). Con Brio was named Billboard's Best New Country Label of the Year in 1977.
  • In 1980, Walker formed The AristoMedia Group. Its early success as an independent publicity firm (since rebranded as the Aristo P.R. division) prompted Walker to expand his business into video promotion in 1983.
  • Through its ground-breaking video promotion, The AristoMedia Group played a pivotal role in the growth of music videos in country music. The company also played an integral role in establishing the careers of such acts as Shania Twain, Keith Urban, Alan Jackson and Sugarland.
Jeff Walker shared in interview "We worked with Shania through all of her albums. We worked every video that she put out. We worked with and promoted her and had just a great time with those. Boy, you talk about a great machine over there at Universal under (chairman and CEO) Luke Lewis; how they orchestrated and set up those releases. It was a fantastic thing to watch and be part of.
Of Note: AristoVideo was proud to be part of the team marketing and promoting NINE of the 2012 CMT Music Awards nominations – a quarter of the entire panel!  One of those was Lionel Richie With Shania Twain — >> “Endless Love” (nominated for Collaborative Video of the Year)

In 2004, realizing that there was a need for dance club promotion for country artists, Walker created the Marco Club Connection. Walker realized that there was a virtually untapped market for dance club promotion, to increase exposure for clients with dance-oriented material. The company had already seen previous success with their involvement in videos like “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” so the transition was a logical move.

In 2006, The AristoMedia Group launched AristoWorks to develop new media opportunities for clients, and the company branded its Christian video services division as AristoVision.

Jeff was a friend and strong supporter of International country music and artists. Jeff will be missed by many. In addition to running ARISTO, Walker had also served on the Country Radio Seminar board of Directors for the past 35 years and was a longtime member of the Country Music Association Board as well.

He was presented with the CRS President's Award (Photo) during the Country Radio Hall Of Fame induction ceremony on June 2015 and had recently been re-elected as CRS Treasurer.

Walker was also involved in Country music's international efforts, serving board positions on the Canadian Country Music Association and the Contemporary Country Music. Coalition in AUSTRALIA. He was honored last September with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Australian Country Music Association.

(Left) Pictured in this flashback photo taken during the CMA’s 1996 delegation trip to Australia are (l-r); then CMA Executive Director Ed Benson, then CMA International Manager Jeff Green, Aussie Broadcasters Nick Erby and John Laws, the great Slim Dusty and CMA Board member Jeff Walker (Laws was receiving a CMA International broadcaster award at that event)

(NASHVILLE, Tenn. – June 10, 2013) Nashville and Tamworth, Australia joined as Sister Cities at a Signing Ceremony
Mr Walker was joined by Mayor Karl Dean, Mayor Col Murray of Tamworth, Australia during CMA Music Fest week in signing a treaty that officially joined Nashville and Tamworth as sister cities. Tamworth is the seventh sister city to Nashville. Clare Bowen, the Australian actress/artist who portrays Scarlett O’Connor in the television show “Nashville,” also attended the ceremony along with Australian duo Mark and Jay O’Shea and singer Morgan Evans.

ABOVE: Bob Saporiti, AristoMedia CEO Jeff Walker, Country Music Hall of Fame Museum Director Kyle Young, Tamworth Mayor Col Murray, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Entertainment Edge CEO Rob Potts with Australian performers Mark O’Shea, Clare Bowen, Jay O’Shea and Morgan Evans at a signing ceremony. Photo credit: Denise Fussell

Since 2005, Walker had hosted, and co-ordinated the annual Global Events of the Country Music Association Festival.
This is a series of showcases--sponsored by The AristoMedia Group, and the CMA—that brings the best international talent together. For many of them, including UK artists, it was the first time they’ve been in Nashville.

Glasgows Raintown (Paul Bain and Claire McArthur) made history when they became the first Scottish act to represent the UK at the prestigious CMA Global Artist Party, performing at the famous ‘Stage’ venue on Broadway in Nashville. The event heralded the start of CMA Fest, the largest Country Music Festival in the world. "After seeing Raintown on the 2011 Global Artist Party I am convinced that they have a big future ahead of them. They have the talent, skills, and musicianship to succeed in the very competitive music industry and I believe that they have the ability to tackle the world scene in a very positive manner" said Mr Walker (CEO/President AristoMedia/Marco Promotions - Nashville)

On November 20,  2002 David Allan received the Country Music Association’s prestigious 2002 International Broadcaster Award. Now a columisit for Country Music People, the veteran country music presenter, BBC Radio 2 (Country Club) and TV personality was the anchorman for all 22 years of BBC 2 Television's coverage of Wembley’s annual International Festival of Country Music. "David Allan, Marcel Bach and the Bellamy Brothers have been leaders in the campaign to spread Country Music around the world for many years," said Jeff Walker paying tribute, head of CMA's Global Task Force Committee, who was in London for the Allan presentation.

On March 28, 2010 Mr. Walker was live in the BBC Radio Sheffield studio for the Your Country Show talking with Allan Watkiss (CMA International Broadcaster of the Year 2010 photo & CEO

5 mins into the interview Jeff said: “ We do a Global Artist show every year and over the years were had some great artists from Britain on the show, a girl called Lucie Diamond who is very very talented as a songer songwriter , Rachel Warwick whose really the same way a very very talented gal who had a Country Americana
Allan spoke with Mr.Walker about the then British Entertainer of the Year Tim McKay and his prospects, the frustrations of trying to promote country music in the UK  and as a treat even played Terri Hollowell's (Walkers wife) cut of The Beatles "Strawberry Fields For Ever" [The first female country artist to chart a Beatle's record on the country music charts in the US in the late 70s)
Listen to this very interesting and enlightening FULL interview

In June 2012 Singer/songwriter Mark Wayne Glasmire received a world class honor during the week's CMA Music Festival. The musician accepted a plaque at the Aristo Global show to commemorate the chart success of his song "I Like You," which spent a record-tying nine weeks at #1 in the European/ International Hotdisc chart. Jeff Walker and Lee Williams of CMR Nashville were on hand at The Second Fiddle in downtown Nashville to make the presentation on Stuart Cameron's (CEO Hotdisc based in Galashiels Scotland) behalf at the Aristo show.

(L-R) Jeff Walker of AristoMedia Group, Mark Wayne Glasmire, Martha Moore of so much MOORE media and Lee Williams of CMR Nashville (Dan Harr)

Artists and industry gather at the CMA Global Artist Party, held Monday, June 4, 2012 at The Stage on Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn. 

Standing L to R: AristoMedia President/CEO Jeff Walker, Chevrolet National Promotions Manager Phil Caruso, artists Curtis and Brad Rempel (High Valley), artists Jay and Mark O'Shea, artist Vickie Evans, artist Morgan Evans, artist Gene Watson, artist Craig Morrison, artist Bob Corbett, artist Jess Moskaluke, CMA CEO Steve Moore. Kneeling L to R: artist Gary Quinn (IRE), artist Bryan Rempel (High Valley), artist Joe Robinson (Photo: Bev Moser)

Artists and industry executives gather at the Aristo Global Show on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at The Stage on Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn. 

ABOVE: Pictured standing, L to R: AristoMedia Director of Operations Matt Watkins, CMA International Director Bobbi Boyce, Global Events Music Director and record producer Mark Moffatt, artists Kelly Lee and Talia Smith (Travellin Rose), artist Pete Kennedy, artist Barb Baillie (Baylou) artist Adam Gregory, artist Victoria Baillie (Baylou), Paul Bain and Claire McArthur (Raintown), artist Jessica Ridley, artist Adam Harvey, AristoMedia President/CEO Jeff Walker. Kneeling, L to R: artist Colm Kirwan, artist Josh Macumber. Photo: (Bev Moser)

ABOVE: Artists and industry executives gather at the Aristo Media Party (2012)
(L-R) Lee Williams (CEO CMR Nashville/Django Promotions), Pete Kennedy (IRE), Talia Smith (Simone) and Kelly Lee (Travellin Rose duo), Steve Moore (CMA; centre) and Jeff Walker far right)

At the 2013 CMA International Awards:
Taylor Swift, Jeff Walker and BBC Radio 2 presenter Bob Harris were recognized at 2013 CMA International Awards Reception. International and domestic industry professionals alike gathered at the Country Music Hall of Fame for the annual CMA International Media Reception and the presentation of the 2013 CMA International Awards.
Mr. Walker was the recipient of the Jo Walker-Meador Award which recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual or company in advocating and supporting Country Music’s marketing development in territories outside the United States.

Pictured (L-R): President Elect of the CMA Board of Directors Frank Bumstead, Jo Walker-Meador, and Jeff Walker.

The UKs Pauper Kings, The Shires & Ward Thomas all perfomed at 2015 CMA Music Festival in Nashvill at CMA World GlobaLive!, a free, international Country Music showcase on Monday, June 8th 2015 in downtown Nashville. In 2015, GlobaLive! was held on an outdoor stage in Walk of Fame Park, with international food and beverage vendors. 
The free concert featured performances by Country artists from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the U.K.
GlobaLive! 2015 Jeff Walker (bottom L), UKs Ward Thomas 2nd row Middle

"We are excited about this year’s lineup and the burgeoning popularity of Country Music 
overseas,” said Mr. Jeff Walker, CMA Board member and the executive producer of CMA World GlobaLive! along with associate producer Matt Watkins and music coordinator Mark Moffatt.
Read more and see photos about GlobaLive! in The AristoMedia International Report [PDF File]

At the British Country Music Awards 2014 (BCMAwards) which took place on Sunday 23rd Nov 2014 Jeff Walker was the recipient of the International Services Award

Mr. Walker was presented with his Award in advance at a special CMA International Event held during the CMA Awards week in Nashville. Walker noted, "I am very appreciative to receive this prestigious Award from the British CMA. As a long-time fan and supporter of the International Country music scene, it has been very fulfilling to see the growth in these markets and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of that growth."
Pictured above L to R: BCMA President, Lee Williams, CMA Director of International Relations, Bobbi Boyce, AristoMedia Group CEO, Jeff Walker, and CMA CEO, Sarah Trahern.
Lee Williams CEO of CMR Nashville and the President of the BCMAwards has shared a video as a reminder of the late Jeff Walker being awarded the International Services Award from the BCMA 2014 in Nashville – Facebook Video

Jim Duncan who is on the BCMAwards panel, the Wolvestock Festival organiser and country presenter spoke on WCR FM 101.8 (Wolverhampton Community Radio) paid tribute to Jeff on his Aug 27, 2015 show. Listen here:

The Phil Mack International Country show Sky 191 & Freesat TV Channel 400 show videos of American country stars and upcoming artists promoted by some of the US major labels (such as Big Machine) and worked with The AristoMedia Group (Tom Campbell; PR, New Media, Radio, Video and Club Promotion) in bringing to the attention of UK & Irish viewers and country fans some of the new video releases from across America. 
The Keep It Country Show’s aim according to Phil Mack: "We will be bringing you the Best country Artists in the world EVERY WEEK so let us know who your favourites are Old & New. We are pleased to have the support of some of the Major Record Companies on the Planet

(L-R) Karen Stump, CMA Senior Director of Market Research;
Mark Ramsey; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Jeff Walker,
CMA Board member and President of AristoMedia Group.
Photos: Christian Bottorff / CMA

"Jeff was instrumental in so many CMA efforts over the years, but chief among them was our international outreach and initiatives," stated Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "He was incredibly passionate about supporting U.S. country artists going overseas, but he was just as dedicated to providing opportunities for international country artists to perform here. For 12 years he spearheaded the CMA global artists showcase during CMA Music Fest - providing an important platform for country artists from around the globe to play in Nashville. His tireless energy on behalf of our organization, our artists, and our fans will be sorely missed." (Source: The Tennessean)

In a biography on the AristoMedia website, Mr. Walker described his approach to marketing, publicity and content distribution.
Necessity is the mother of invention,” Mr. Walker said.  “As long as we remember that content is king and continue to provide professional niche market media services, the future looks bright.”

In his limited spare time, Walker enjoyed listening to music, watching movies, traveling, photography, and cheered for the hometown Tennessee Titans. Mr. Walker’s favourite song was “My Wish,” (>> YouTube Lyric video) written by Jeffrey Steele and Steve Robson and performed by Rascal Flatts from their album ME AND MY GANG (released Aug 28, 2006). Jeff said he always thought of his family when listening to the lyrics.
Mr. Walker was excited to continue both his personal and professional endeavors in Nashville, during a period of such profound growth for Music City. Aristo Media - Profle - Jeff Walker

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you wanna go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile.
But more than anything, more than anything

Listen to "My Wish" and remember Mr. Jeff Walker 


Aristo Press Release (Nashville, Tenn. – Aug. 27, 2015) – We are deeply saddened by the sudden and heartbreaking loss of our founder, President, CEO, friend and fearless leader Jeff Walker. He was an inspiration to us all and left a tremendous impact on
everyone he met with his sharp business sense and quick wit. Jeff was a “glass half-full kind of guy,” and was well known and beloved in the Nashville music industry for his humor, his boundless energy and his tireless devotion to expanding the reach of Country Music. He was a servant-leader, and pushed everyone he worked with to constantly question the status quo and to bring new ideas to the table to remain competitive in this incredibly volatile industry. A long-time CMA and CRS board member, Jeff made a profound impact not only on all of us here at Aristo, but on the entire Country Music industry. To say he will be missed would be a tremendous understatement, and we will work to continue his legacy and strive to maintain the level of excellence he expected.....

Mr. Walker is survived by his father and step mother, Bill and Jeanine Walker, his wife, Terri, his son Jonathan and his wife Tessa, and his daughter Christy Walker-Watkins and her husband Matt Watkins. He had two grand-daughters, Elle and Lucy

FUNERAL SERVICES will take place on Friday, August 28th at First Baptist Church Of Nashville, 108 7th Avenue South, NASHVILLE, TN 37203. Visitation will begin at 12p (CT) with services at 2p (CT). A private interment will follow. A celebration of life is also being planned, and details will be shared as they are completed and released.

ABOVE: Jeff Walker and family on May 30, 2015, celebrating the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum program Nashville Cats: A Salute to Bill Walker. (L-R): back row: Jeff Walker, Terri Walker, Christy Walker Watkins, Matt Watkins, Tessa Walker, Jon Walker. Seated: Jeanine Walker and Bill Walker.

(Nashville, Tenn. – Aug. 28, 2015)
Friends, family, and business associates gathered Friday afternoon (Aug 28th) at Nashville’s First Baptist Church for a final farewell.  Everyone who spoke had a different anecdote, recalling Walker’s ability to conjure up a groan-worthy but hilarious pun at a moment’s notice. Former Music Row Publisher David Ross remembered the two walking in Toronto, Canada when both saw a “No Jaywalking” sign. Ross recalled Walker reassuring him that, if a police officer stopped them, he’d show his license, saying, “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve been a J. WALKER my entire life.”
Longtime friend Dave Woodward said even Walker would’ve seen the irony in this afternoon’s event, imagining Walker commenting, “This is a grave situation.” MUSIC ROW’s unofficial Mayor, Charlie Monk, capped off a humorous talk with a serious, heartwarming final comment saying, “I have loved Jeff Walker for 40 years – and so has everyone here today.”

Mr.Walker’s children, Jonathan and Christy, each spoke warmly of their dad, both quoting lyrics from the song “My Wish,” which he often quoted to them for inspiration. Christy Walker recalled referring to her dad as being  "Punny," telling the audience her dad had just wrapped up a very happy time spent on vacation with the entire family, which included his beloved grandchildren. She reassured mourners Walker was in a stress-free, happy place and the family was also at peace. A private interment followed the ceremony; a celebration of life is also being planned, and details will be shared as they are completed and released.


Blair Garner (America's Morning Show for Nash FM) - This is a real loss for Country music. Jeff was a great, great guy. Always there to greet you with a smile and to accentuate the positive. God Bless you Jeff. Thanks for your friendship. Blair Garner

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean lauded Mr. Walker for both spreading local artists overseas and providing a pipeline for international country artists to come to Nashville. “His zeal for growing country music’s appeal around the globe made him an integral part of our Sister Cities program," Dean said. 'In particular, Jeff helped develop our partnership with Tamworth, the Country Music Capital of Australia, and nurture our relationship with Edmonton, which also has strong music ties to Nashville. I know our friends from Edmonton were looking forward to seeing Jeff this weekend during their visit, and his absence will be deeply felt”.

Rick Kelly, VP Radio Marketing for Marco Music Group, said, “Jeff was well known and beloved in the Nashville music industry for his humor, his boundless energy, and his tireless devotion to expanding the reach of country music.”
MusicRow magazine founder David M. Ross:Jeff Walker was one of my very best friends for over 30 years,” said. “We had a special bond which I will always treasure. He loved to make jokes and flash a warm smile, but he was also so serious in how he loved and supported his family, friends, the Music Row industry and country’s international community. He’s left us way too soon, way too soon.”

"Jeff Walker made Music Row a better place with his tireless hard work, dedication and championing of not only artists, but of the next generation of country music executives," said Natalie Kilgore, vice president of publicity for BBR Music Group. "For some reason I still can't figure out why, Jeff was so sweet and supportive of me. He always had a minute and always had a solution. I can't imagine CRS, CMA Fest, the awards shows or any music event without Jeff's infectious smile and jovial laugh. Everything Jeff did was for the right reasons. We've lost one of the few, true good guys."

Artist Tributes:
Reba McEntire on Facebook: What a great guy! We will miss him a bunch. RIP love you.
Travis Tritt tweeted @Travistritt I am shocked and speechless at the news that my friend and publicist Jeff Walker has passed away unexpectedly
The Oak Ridge Boys @oakridgeboys RIP Jeff Walker
Kathie Baillie (Lead Singer/Guitarist at Baillie And The Boys) Awfully sad news. Jeff had such a passion for his work and all of us artists in Country Music. He had a smile and personality like no other. My heart goes out to his family.
Jamie O'Neal tweeted @JamieONeal So saddened by the loss of this man, our sweet sweet friend Jeff Walker. RIP Jeff, you are loved and missed already
Adam Gregory tweeted Tonight I am sending my condolences to the Walker family. I had the pleasure of getting to know Jeff Walker back in the day when he took me under his wing at Aristo Media. I was shocked to read the news tonight about his passing and I am sending my love and prayers for peace to his wonderful family.
Jaida Dreyer tweeted @jaidadreyer Broken hearted over the passing of my friend and champion, Jeff Walker. One of the greatest.
Elaine Roy (The Roys bluegrass duo) I could not believe when I saw this post!! WOW. We worked with Jeff early in our career and he was always so nice to us. My heart goes out to his family and friends. Praying that God comfort all in this terrible time. He will be missed.
Paul Bain (Singer/Songwriter Country Music at Raintown) Really sad news - a great man. We appreciated his time and advice always. Paul/Claire - RAINTOWN

Media Tributes:
CMT tweeted @CMT We are so sad to hear of the passing of our friend, Jeff Walker. More on his life and career in the music industry:
CRS tweeted @CRSOfficial Our long time board member and friend, Jeff Walker. You will be missed, but never forgotten.
NashvilleGab @nashvillegab NashvilleGab retweeted #Nashville was a better place b/c of the presence of Jeff Walker
Cameron Tilbury (MapleStar Music & Media) One of the good guys. It was always great seeing Jeff at events here in town. As everyone has said, he will be missed.
Read more and leave your tribute at Music

Jimmy Carter @askjimmycarter Music Row good guy Aristo Media's Jeff Walker died unexpectedly last pm...His smiling face is what I will remember! tweeted @Roughstock RIP to one of country music's all time best people in Jeff Walker. God bless to his family.

SOURCES/ Obituaries: (by Sherod Robertson) Industry Executive Jeff Walker Passes
The Tennessean (by Nate Rau) Music Row leader Jeff Walker dies at 65
CMT (by Edward Morris) Music Row Leader Jeff Walker Dies in Nashville, Brought Enthusiasm and Humor to the Business
Celebrity (Interview by Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)

Friday 21 August 2015

Kelsea Ballerini Turns GOLD and “Dibs” is on the Up


Kelsea Ballerini - Album Art
(C) Black River Entertainment
CLICK to Enlarge

New Single “Dibs” Soars At Country Radio, Landing Top 30 & Climbing.
NASHVILLE, TN (August 20, 2015) – “Country’s Next Queen” (BILLBOARDKelsea Ballerini is shining bright with her first GOLD record for the #1 debut smash “Love Me Like You Mean It,” which has been certified GOLD by the RIAA for exceeding 500,000 sales and streams in the U.S. alone.
Basking in the precious milestone, Ballerini recently opened up to ROLLING STONE about the rise of her record-breaking chart-topper.

Poised to follow in the success of Love Me Like You Mean It,” her current single – the catchy and sassy “Dibs (Kelsea Ballerini, Josh Kerr, Ryan Griffin, Jason Duke) – is already Top 30 and soaring at Country radio and has sold more than 66,000 units.

 Stream on SPOTIFY (17.5 million Streams!)

The singer/songwriter is hitting the road this summer playing major festivals, headline club dates and select shows with Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and will join Dan + Shay’s JUST THE RIGHT KIND OF CRAZY TOUR this fall.

Praised by ROLLING STONE as one of the “10 Artists You Need To Know” from all genres and CMT’s Next Women of Country, Ballerini launched to stardom with the release of her #1, breakout debut "Love Me Like You Mean It." Abuzz with shout-outs from superstars Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Little Big Town, she is the first solo female artist in nine years to hit #1 with her debut country single and one of only 11 women to have ever hit the top of the charts with a debut. Both “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Dibs” are featured on her debut album THE FIRST TIME (Black River Entertainment), co-produced by Forest Glen Whitehead and Jason Massey, which landed Top 5 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart.
Source: Press Release

Available for Purchase:
(26 May 2015) Kelsea Ballerini – The First Time (Black River Entertainment)
12 Tracks/ Time: 40:18 (Country Music People Dec 2014; Rating 2.1/2 Stars)
CD - MP3 - UK iTunes - Smart Choice Music (UPC 851491003120)
>> Test Drive on SPOTIFY 

About: Kelsea Ballerini
Genre: Country/Pop
Home Town: Knoxville, TN

Kelsea Ballerini (born September 12, 1993 (age 21) started writing songs as a pre-teen living on a farm in East Tennessee, but she had no idea where those songs might fit. The lyrics and melody didn't sound like the pop music she listened to with her friends.
The Tennessee native actually found her songwriting voice while mourning the end of her parents' marriage. She started writing lyrics at 12-years-old, as a means of escape.
Kelsea told ABC Radio, "What I was writing came out country just 'cause that's who I am, but I did not listen to country music."
That all changed when Kelsea heard Keith Urban's hit single "Stupid Boy."
"I was like, 'What is this?'" Kelsea said. "So, I went and got his record, Dixie Chicks and Sugarland and Taylor Swift. Those four records were my introduction to country music."
Songwriting propelled Kelsea forward. At 15, she moved to Nashville with her mother to pursue music. Her fresh sound builds on her East Tennessee upbringing and musical influences ranging from Britney Spears to Kelly Clarkson to Frank Sinatra.

Black River Publishing VP Celia Froehlig signed the burgeoning artist to a publishing deal in 2013. That December, at the company Christmas party, Black River Entertainment CEO Gordon Kerr offered Kelsea a record deal in the form of a wrapped present.
Kelsea made her Grand Ole Opry debut on Valentine's Day 2015. 
Photo credit: Brad Lovell 
Courtesy of Iconic Entertainment
Following the performance of her top 30 single "Love Me Like You Mean It," the Knoxville native choked up before performing her solo write, The First Time, announcing it is also the title track of her debut album due May 19, 2015. "I wrote this song a long time ago about learning the lesson that sometimes the past should stay in the past,” said Kelsea.
On the Bilboard Country chart  dated March 28, 2015 Kelsea’s Self titled EP sold 1,100 copies to debut at #40 Country
Kelsea Ballerini's breakout hit, "Love Me Like You Mean It," is just a taste of the country-pop sound in her imaginative catalog. The Knoxville, Tennessee native has dedicated the better part of the last decade to creating inspiring music, based on her life, to motivate others to live without fear of their emotions.

Her full-length debut, THE FIRST TIME, has Kelsea's credit behind every song. The album radiates positivity while exploring all facets of the human experience. She is a true poet, and The First Time reflects that.
On the Billboard charts dated June 6, 2015 THE FIRST TIME sold 13,465 copies to debut at #31 on the Billboard 200,  #22 Top Albums Sales and #4 Billboard Country albums. As of July 1st it has sold 33,100 copies
Kelsea Ballerini landed a #1 on both the Billboard Country Airplay and Mediabase Charts.
"Love Me Like You Mean It" (writers Kelsea Ballerini, Josh Kerr, Forest Glen Whitehead, Lance Carpenter) was her debut single on the label (>> Video 7.8 million Views). She thus became the first Country female solo debut #1 since Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take The Wheel" in January 2006!. Ballerini’s #1 marked the first time a solo female has landed at #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart in nearly three years since Carrie Underwood’s "Blown Away" on Nov. 3, 2012!


 “It's a very exciting time for all of us at Black River,” said Vice President of Promotion Mike Wilson. “It’s an honor to lead this promotion team in taking Kelsea to country radio. Her music is great and radio has really embraced her. I’m so proud of our team and all of their efforts. This is a huge accomplishment!”

On July 20, 2015 the Black River promo team landed 51 ADDS for Kelsea’s latest single “Dibs” (Black River Entertainment) topping the week’s "Most Added" board on Mediabase.

On Billboard Country Airplay it made a debut at No.59. On the Chart issue week of August 8, 2015 Kelsea had the fastest climbing song of the week as “Dibs” made a nine point jump to #39.  The following week (Chart issue week of August 15, 2015) it bagged Most Added honours at No.31 (35 ADDS). No.42 on Country Digital charts it had scanned
66k copies to date.

The Story Behind "Dibs"

CONNECT with Kelsea Ballerini:
 photo Homepage_zpsed80f180.png photo facebook_zpsc6fe26ab.png photo twitter_zps621beec6.png photo instagram_zps11345153.png

Carrie Underwood – New single "Smoke Break" & new album STORYTELLER due

Updated Aug 27, 2015: STORYTELLER cover art revealed, chart update, audio segments, new video, Billboard article and chart debuts, Smoke Break smashes the one week Radio ADD total!
  • Carrie Underwood drops new single, "Smoke Break"
  • Sexy Cover for the single sees her striking a sexy pose while sitting in a corset and short skirt.
  • Reveals Album Has Song for Baby Son
Carrie Underwood - Single Artwork "Smoke Break"
(19 Recordings Limited / Arista Nashville) 

There’s another baby on the way for Carrie Underwood this time in the form of a brand new music project that will drop Oct 23rd!
This Autumn, Carrie Underwood will release STORYTELLER, which will hit stores and digital retailers on Oct 23, 2015
It''s her fifth studio album and her first in almost three-and-a-half years.

On the Billboard chart dated Dec 27, 2014 Carrie scored her fifth consecutive top five album, as her GREATEST HITS: Decade #1 (19/Arista Nashville/SMN), which made a bow at No.4 on the Billboard 200 with 103,000 units (93,714 were pure album sales) and entered the Billboard Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Garth Brooks's Man Against Machine.
It was the first Greatest hits album to top the country chart since Brooks & Dunn's #1s…and Then Some in September 2009 and marked the first by a female artist to do this since Shania Twain's Greatest Hits had 11 weeks on top from November 2004 to January 2005.
Carrie previously logged four albums that reached the top two on the Billboard 200: her “Some Hearts” debut (Released Nov 15, 2005; No.2 on Billboard 200; 315,000 debut sales), followed by three No.1s: “Carnival Ride” (Released Oct 23, 2007; 527,101 first week sales), “Play On” (Released Nov 2, 2009; 317,695 first week sales) and “Blown Away” (Released May 1, 2012, debut sales 267,338 copies).

Carrie is BACK!
Titled STORYTELLER, and set for release on October 23, the album includes tracks produced by Jay Joyce, Mark Bright, and Zach Crowell
Mark Bright has been with her Carrie since her time on American Idol ended and is as responsible for her success as anyone aside from the singer herself
Jay Joyce is the producer on the first single and is best known for his work with Eric Church and Little Big Town.

Storyteller launched with the single “Smoke Break,” which was delivered digitally to country radio Aug 20, 2015 for an official airplay impact date of August 24
Produced by Jay Joyce, “Smoke Break” was written by Underwood, Hillary Lindsey, and Chris DeStefano, with whom Underwood wrote her most recent #1 Mediabase Aircheck chart smash, “Little Toy Guns.”

Underwood made the announcement during a Facebook chat with fans on Thursday (Aug. 20, 2015).
But during the Facebook Q&A Carrie admitted she feels her new record is more country than her previous releases.

"I feel like a lot of the songs that I wrote and gravitated to ended up being more traditional and 'twangy' than anything I have ever done before,' she told one fan.

Carrie is back on the music scene after having a break following the birth of son Isaiah in February.
And while her new status as mother has undoubtedly influenced her music, Carrie insists she tried not to include any 'mommy songs' on Storyteller.
Underwood and hubby Mike Fisher, 35, welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Isaiah Michael Fisher on Feb 27, 2015.
Underwood said in the Facebook Q&A that one song on her new album is dedicated to him. "I tried to avoid the 'mommy' songs, but one managed to find its way in there!" she said. "I'm glad it did, because he'll always have that!"

The 32-year-old Oklahoma native revealed her new single. “Smoke Break” which was made available beginning 11 PM CT August 20 (midnight ET) for streaming and digital download.

On Friday Aug 21st “Smoke Break” was #1 on US iTunes Country and #2 iTunes overall (all genres) In the UK it was #1 on UK iTunes Country chart and placed #120 Overall UK iTunes.

Listen to 
a) Carrie’s Special Announcement b) Carrie explaining the storyline c) Carrie introducing Smoke Break d) The “Smoke Break” (Hook) e) “Smoke Break” Low-Fi Stream (128 Kbps)

Listen on Spotify
(P) 2015 19 Recordings Limited / Arista Nashville
Total Time: 4:36

She’s a small town hard working woman just trying to make a living
Working three jobs, feeding four little mouths in a run down kitchen
When you’re never taking nothing and doing nothing but giving
It’s hard to be a good wife and a good mom and a good Christian

I don’t drink, but sometimes I need a stiff drink   -- Super awkward?
Sipping from a highball glass, let the world fade away
She said I don’t smoke, but sometimes I need a long drag
Yeah I know it might sound bad, but sometimes I need a smoke break

He’s a big city hard working man just trying to climb the ladder
First generation to go to college instead of driving a tractor
Never had nothing handed to him on a silver platter
It’s hard to be a good man, good son, do something good that matters

He said I don’t drink, but sometimes I wanna pop that top
Take a swig and make the world stop and watch it fade away
He said I don’t smoke, but sometimes I wanna light it up
Yeah when things get tough, sometimes I need a smoke break

So here’s to you and here’s to when the day gets long Go ahead,
I understand if you wanna take a load off

I don’t drink, but sometimes I need a stiff drink
Sipping from a highball glass, let the world fade away
Yeah and I don’t smoke, but sometimes I need a long drag
Yeah I know it might sound bad, but sometimes I need a, sometimes I need a

When the day gets long, when the work’s all done
When the sun sets, when you need to forget
Grab that cup, fill it up
Sip it slow, and let it all go

©2015 Carrie-Okie Music (BMI). ©2015 EMI April Music Inc. (ASCAP). All rights obo EMI April Music Inc. adm by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 424 Church Street, Suite 1200, Nashville, TN 37219. ©2015 HillarodyRathbone Music (ASCAP) adm by BMG Rights Management (US) LLC. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

About the new single, Underwood says that the title isn’t necessarily meant to be literal, as she shares,
It’s basically an anthem for every hard-working person.  We all wear many hats and are spread thin, so we can all relate to being tired and needing a break.  This song is about having that moment to be able to escape from whatever it is that’s stressing you out and have some time for yourself.”

While she isn't a smoker herself, she based the title around the idea of taking a break during a hard task.
'We were writing and kept taking breaks to go outside because we were getting a little stuck on a song we were already working on,' she said. 'It was so beautiful outside, that we had a hard time focusing so we decided to write a song about taking breaks! Smoke Break seemed like a great title, so we ran with it!"

Carrie tweeted on Aug 20th

Underwood sings of needing a break from life’s grind, something she’s no doubt experiencing in new ways since having a baby in February.
The first verse is dedicated to moms, especially those doing it on their own.
She’s a small town hardworking woman just trying to make a living / Working three jobs, feeding four little mouths in a run down kitchen / When you’re never doing nothing and doing nothing but giving / It’s hard to be a good wife and good mom and a good Christian,” Underwood sings to begin “Smoke Break.”
Producer Jay Joyce replaces longtime board-man Mark Bright for Underwood’s next chapter.

Taste Of Country website write:

The sound isn’t edgy or overly progressive like albums from Eric Church or Little Big Town.
It’s a familiar voice delivered in a familiar way. She starts soft before soaring into the chorus:
Key Lyrics: “She said I don’t drink / But sometimes I need a stiff drink / Sipping from the highball glass / Let the world fade away / She said I don’t smoke / But sometimes I need a need a long drag / I know it might sound bad / But sometimes I need a smoke break.”
Why Fans Will Love It:
“Smoke Break” hits like the first sip of good whiskey. It’s a song everyone can relate to.

Whist most of the Facebook comments was positive one fan said “This is so dumb to sing about smoking as Carrie does not smoke ,,, Carrie should sing about something she knows and smoking is disgusting,, = I am not going to buy a song that promotes smoking = what was Carrie thinking?

A forum comment suggested: Bro-Country portrays life as a drunk and fun party. Carrie Underwood's "Smoke Room" portrays it as it really is - stressful, and something that we need a break from at times. It's fantastic to see an A-lister take charge. Screw the lettuce, I'm fancying a tomato.
Carrie Underwood-Promo Shot
Smoke Break
Click to ENLARGE!

In review Saving Country Music wrote: 

It’s also only fair to measure “Smoke Break” within the context of Carrie’s most recent output. The blockbuster Gospel-esque “Something in the Water” played very much to Carrie Underwood’s pristine Christian side. Then the next single “Little Toy Guns” unabashedly faced the social issue of domestic violence and parental fighting. 

So we can’t be too shocked Carrie revealed something a bit more light, especially for a lead single for an upcoming album, which pretty consistently these days in the mainstream is an album’s #1 bullet and blockbuster, with the rest of the material filing behind it to deliver greater measures of substance.
Graded beside its peers, there’s nothing especially wrong with “Smoke Break” and it really can’t be accused of chasing trends like so many of 2015’s singles. But it’s fluff. Like a smoke or a nip, it’s there to make you forget your worries for a minute, and there’s nothing especially wrong with that. But there’s nothing especially right about it either. 1 of 2 Guns Up.

Nashvillegab (Review)…..While the title of the song seems to suggest the encouragement of partaking in something unhealthy for those listening, the actual message is quite the
The brilliant writing of Carrie, Hillary, and Chris, rather, inspires people to find time for themselves and focus on their own needs in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and mentality. As is quite typical from Carrie Underwood, her vocals on this record are strong, believable, and intensely moving, further influencing those of us who fail to see the importance of “me” time to remember that we deserve to take a breather. Sure to be the next of Carrie’s (and Hillary’s and Chris’s) Number 1 songs

For The Country Record (by Vickye Fisher) …As for the sound, well there are certainly elements of country and rock, making for something of a polished up, southern rock sound that is radio-friendly but sets her apart. From the beginning, although the texture seems
sparse, there are contributions from a strong drum beat, acoustic guitar, mandolin and even synths, which is indicative of the way songwriters in Nashville are writing these days – to electronic backing on a laptop that later gets adapted for more “authentic” sound. ...even though I’m liking the vibe that ‘Smoke Break’ gives, I’m a little concerned that synths are still making their way into the final mix. Sure, they’re subtle, and I had to listen a few times to confirm they were there, but it’s still sad given the fact that the songs would still sound just as good without them.....this sound suits Carrie. Sporting a big chorus that isn’t too bellowed, with crashing guitars and drums, the verses drop down and feature a twangy, bluesy melody while the outro has a rousing extension of the final chorus with gospel and southern rock inflections. ...a commercial orientation that’ll guarantee her plenty of radio play, this seems like the perfect balance for Carrie, especially since she has always had a rock edge to her music. As long as the country is just as prevalent as the rock, this could turn out to be a stellar album from her, and ‘Smoke Break’ already holds a lot of promise…

Hartford, Conn. Native, "Beauty Queen April Kry whose influences include Taylor Swift, Colbie Caillat and Billie Holiday writes: How great is this new Carrie Underwood song? Hope y'all enjoy the cover :)
Watch her belt out an OTT cover of >> “Smoke Breakbefore Carrie’s iTunes track even had a chance to dry!

Stay Tuned!

Smoke Break – The Video!
Entertainment Tonight exclusively debuted the full-length 'Smoke Break' music video on Monday August 24th!.
EXCLUSIVE: Watch Carrie Underwood's Brand New 'Smoke Break' Video

Watch Entertainment Tonight’s video:

Update (Aug 27, 2015) Watch Carrie Underwood’s video ‘Smoke Break
Watch the Music video by Carrie Underwood performing ‘Smoke Break’. (C) 2015 19 Recordings Limited
It’s now also available on >> YouTube (published Aug 25, 2015; 452K views to date)

Directed by Randee St.Nicholas / Producers: Jay Joyce, Randy Supple, Michelle Faucheux
Randee St.Nicholas music video credits include Underwood’s award-winning video for “Blown Away”, Miranda Lambert "More Like her", Alan Jackson "Like Red on a Rose", Deana Carter "There's No Limit", Tim McGraw "Please Remember Me" and Shelby Lynne "Gotta Get Back". Also have the editorial credit for Carrie's PLAYS ON Billboard Magazine cover (April 21, 2012) and credited for Miranda Lambert's Platinum album photoshoot.

Carrie Underwood is a sexy cowgirl while filming a new music video in the desert on Sunday (August 2) in Mojave Desert, Calif. 

The 32-year-old country singer is seen wearin’ a sexy pair of Daisy Dukes and knee-high leather boots.… Read More Here

Smoke Break gets a BIG ‘BREAK’!

Billboard Country Airplay: Carrie’s new single “Smoke Break” (19/Arista Nashville) soared in at No.24 with 14.423 million audience impressions and 2039 spins thanks to 105 new radio commitments (ADDS) based on monitored airplay of
150 stations. This followed its Aug. 20 arrival, aided by hourly plays that afternoon and the following day on participating iHeartMedia stations.

Billboard Hot Country Songs: It opened at No.36 on; following its retail launch Aug. 21 and has already logged 323K Spotify Streams.

Carrie and ARISTA Promotion Team
celebrate a record ADDS week! Click to ENLARGE

Mediabase Country Aircheck: Smoke Break blew in with a bow at No.31 bagging a 12.931 million audience, receiving 1,799 radio plays with 6171 Total points thanks to 145 first week ADDS from 154 tracking stations for the tracking week August 16 to August 22, 2015 and published chart August 24th.
Click to Enlarge

Huge kudos to the Arista team including Lesly Simon, Andy Elliott, John Sigler and Sony’s Steve Hodges on smashing the one week Add total with 145 for Carrie Underwood’s “Smoke Break.”
The achievement surpassed Florida Georgia Line’s 127 for “Dirt” registered by on July 14, 2014.

Smoke is rising
As of August 27th it stood at No.25 having received 2,725 radio spins with a 19.330 million audience
For the very latest up to the minute
Mediabase Chart (Past 7 Days) 
go here -

Billboard Article (Aug 24, 2015): Carrie Underwood’s Songwriting ‘Break’ Goes Up In ‘Smoke’. CLICK to ENLARGE HERE

Carrie Underwood revealed the STORYTELLER album cover on Aug 25th.
It shows the Blown Away singer with tousled hair and sporting a relaxed, confident smile with an almost bohemian look, yet rocks totally sleek and stylish. We think it’s her best album cover yet with a more natural look than was depicted with the edgy dramatic cover for BLOWN AWAY. Time will time if it perhaps reflects the mood of the slated 13 songs to come.
Album Cover artwork
(Credit: Randee St. Nicholas)
Click to ENLARGE

Randee St. Nicholas took the photo for Underwood’s fifth studio album on Arista Nashville. She also directed Underwood’s new music video for “Smoke Break.”

Hollywood Life  suggested to copy Carrie’s smokey eye, we know the singer, who is also an Almay spokesmodel, is a big fan of the brand’s Intense i-Color Palettes. For her gray-blue hue, try the palette in Evening Smoky (Product Detail), using the lighter shades along the inner corner of the eyes and across the lids, and the darker shades towards the outer corner and along the lower lashline. Finish with a few coats of mascara and a nude lip like Almay Smart Shade Butter Kiss Lipstick (Product), which comes in three custom nude tones depending on your skintone
Fans can pre-order a physical copy of Storyteller at

For more information on Carrie Underwood & her Socials, follow her:
 photo Homepage_zpsed80f180.png