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WALLEN FOR THE WIN
"Dangerous" nudges "SOUR." (11/30a)
CHART FINAL: 2021'S BIGGEST BOW
Big numbers for 30. (11/29a)
IGA UPS MORRIS
good 4 him (11/30a)
ADELE IS HEADING TO LAS VEGAS
Viva, Ms. Adkins (11/30a)
PUTTING THE POP
IN POPCORN
Putting the audio into audio-visual. (11/30a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
Music City
STATE OF THE STATE: UMG NASHVILLE
7/9/21

Pandemic be damned: Mike Dungan and Cindy Mabe achieved a brace of #1s during the last year with both established and new acts, racked up enough awards to crowd multiple shelves and seriously pushed country’s cultural envelope.

The label group’s starry roster drove an array of chart-toppers: Luke Bryan’s “One Margarita” and “Down to One” (his 25th and 26th career #1s, respectively), Sam Hunt’s “Hard to Forget” and “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90’s,” Eric Church’s “Hell of a View” (his 10th #1), Darius Rucker’s “Beers and Sunshine” (his 10th #1), Chris Stapleton’s “Starting Over” and Maddie & Tae’s “Die From a Broken Heart.” Newcomers Parker McCollum and Travis Denning scored their first #1s with “Pretty Heart” and “After a Few,” respectively.

Church was named Entertainer of the Year at the 2020 CMAs; Carrie Underwood tied (with Thomas Rhett) for Entertainer at the 2020 ACMs; Stapleton took Album and Bryan won Entertainer at the 2021 ACMs.

Underwood left jaws on the floor with her songs-of-praise set, My Savior—not only because of her heavenly pipes but also the album’s celestial overperformance. It bowed at #1 on the U.S., U.K. and Canadian country charts as well as the Christian chart, and Top 5 overall. The vocalist’s HBO Christmas special helped spread the good news; her Live From the Ryman virtual concert (which streamed live on Easter Sunday via Facebook) reached a huge global audience and raised $112k for Save the Children; and her “Hallelujah” duet with John Legend has racked up north of 45m video views.

Breakout Mickey Guyton made a powerful impact in a very different way, challenging racism and gender inequality with the songs “Black Like Me” and “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” These were but two of the six songs she co-wrote for  her EP Bridges, a set that marked a true arrival and sparked thunderous acclaim. Guyton became the first Black female artist to perform on the ACMs, and her rendering of “Tell Her” (with fellow co-host Keith Urban on piano) shook the rafters. Next came a Best Country Solo Performance Grammy nomination for “Black Like Me” and a moving Grammy-night performance.

Country icon and Songwriters Hall of Famer Alan Jackson returned with his 16th album and first set of new songs in six years, the widely praised Where Have You Gone, which dropped 30 years to the day after the release of Jackson’s sophomore full-length and debuted at #1 on the country charts in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada.

Rookie Parker McCollum provided further testimony, if any were needed, of the Mike and Cindy show’s A&R chops. The new arrival’s Hollywood Gold became the top-selling debut EP of 2020 and was certified platinum, and McCollum was tapped as an RIAA Class of 2020 artist. A passel of sold-out shows in major markets attested to his precocious drawing power. McCollum is due to drop his Gold Chain Cowboy on 7/30.

Other scheduled UMGN releases include sets from Kacey Musgraves, Guyton, Reba McEntire, Travis Denning, Lauren Alaina and Priscilla Bock.

The Uni team was enhanced by the promotion of Lori Christian to SVP Marketing, Leigh Malleus to VP Media Marketing and Damon Moberly to SVP Promo for Mercury Nashville.

Reflecting on his roster in 2019, Dungan told us, “I know people say, ‘UMG Nashville is glutted with superstars.’ But I always tell them, ‘Here’s a list of our artists who’ve had success for 15 years, who’ve had success for five to eight, who’ve just started to have success and who still haven’t. Pick up the phone and call them. See if they’re happy here.’”