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NEAR TRUTHS: THE DISRUPTIONS OF 2019,
PART 4

GRAND OLE STANDINGS: Randy Goodman’s Sony Nashville, which is home not only to Maren Morris but to country streaming champ and bona fide breakout star Luke Combs and streaming-friendly young acts like Kane Brown, as well as Grammy nominee Miranda Lambert, has seized the lead in country marketshare (21). Mike Dungan-led UMG Nashville (16) boasts a powerhouse roster of stars, including Carrie Underwood, Grammy nominees Eric Church and Little Big Town, Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt, among many others. Scott Borchetta’s BMLG (15) features nominee Thomas Rhett as well as Florida Georgia Line and plenty more—and, of course, Taylor Swift’s catalog. Warner Music Nashville boss Espo (15), meanwhile, has ample reason to cheer the Grammy noms, as his smash crossover duo Dan + Shay, TV star/troubadour Blake Shelton and acclaimed newcomer Ashley McBryde vie for key country honors.

 ANGLE ON THE CENTERFOLD: A great many Nashville insiders have argued the genre nominations ignored some of the year’s most noteworthy work and failed to reflect Music City culture. In particular, the slighting of Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood and Maren Morris—the latter of whose female-empowerment message couldn’t be more timely—has been a sore spot. Why was Morris, who took a CMA trophy for Album of the Year, frozen out in the top-tier categories and only nominated for her duet with Brandi Carlile? The suggestion by some insiders that Morris’ summer Playboy appearance (with interview and photography by women, btw) had somehow disqualified her with the country secret-Committee elite has prompted a chorus of “WTF” across Music Row and the entire biz. This explanation, while seemingly far-fetched, is based on the idea that the Playboy look was trumpeted as a betrayal of feminism by some. But if it isn’t the reason for her exclusion, what is? Where’s the transparency that’s so essential if Secret Committees are voting by secret ballot? Inquiring minds want to know: How could the Nashville chapter allow this to happen?

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