Reba McEntire (center) and her new Universal Music Group Nashville family.

The annual New Faces of Country Music show capped off the final night at this year’s Country Radio Seminar (CRS) on Friday evening, Feb. 21.  This year’s New Faces:

Ingrid Andress

Morgan Evans

Riley Green

Runaway June

Mitchell Tenpenny

Each performer made a point of thanking Country Radio for playing their records, acknowledging that radio is still a driving force in getting music out to fans, even as more 18-34 year-olds get their music from streaming and downloads.

This annual show over the past 50 years has proved a solid stepping-stone in the careers of those who appeared, including Taylor Swift, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, George Strait and many more.  (As a reminder, last years New Faces were: Dylan Scott, Jimmie Allen, Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell and LANCO.)


“I Know Country” Q&A from

QUESTION: “Evolution” was the title of the album certified triple-platinum in 2001 for which female artist?


Every year now, the ‘unofficial’ kickoff to CRS is the MusicRow Meet and Greet and the MusicRow Country Breakout Awards, held at the Listening Room in Nashville.  It was a great opportunity for me to catch up with many of my buds in country radio.

The MusicRow Country Breakout Awards honor the artists and songwriters who have garnered the most spins on secondary-market radio stations that report to MusicRow for the previous year.

The Award winners announced on Wednesday, Feb. 19:

Male Artist of the Year:          Luke Combs

Female Artist of the Year:      Carrie Underwood

Group/Duo of the Year:          Old Dominion

Breakout Artist of the Year:   Riley Green

Indie Artist of the Year:          Smith & Wesley

Songwriter of the Year:          Ashley Gorley (with nine No. 1s on the Music Row Breakout chart in 2019)

Label of the Year:                   Capitol Records Nashville*

*Artists signed to a Capitol Records imprint together had the most spins on reporting radio stations

Reba McEntire has switched labels. She made the surprise announcement at the ‘Team UMG Luncheon’ held in the Ryman Auditorium during Country Radio Seminar.  It’s a return to the label home of her early career. Her first label was MCA, a subsidiary of Universal. After leaving MCA, Reba switched to Valory in 2008 and Nash Icon in 2014 then moved to both imprint’s parent company Big Machine. Reba told the audience of radio and music industry executives at the Ryman, “I’m thrilled to pieces to be back with Universal.”

But Big Machine can’t feel too bad at Reba’s departure: Tim McGraw who departed from Columbia/Sony Music Nashville earlier this year announced during CRS that he is returning to Big Machine Label Group. McGraw’s first album release under the new Big Machine deal will be Here on Earth with a release date to be announced soon. He sets out on his Here on Earth Tour July 10.

There’s a new album on the way from Jason Isbell and his band, The 400 Unit.  Titled Reunions, the album will be released May 15 (via Southeastern Records/Thirty Tigers). but can be pre-ordered now.  Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, the album features 10 new songs written by Isbell including album track, “Be Afraid,” which debuted mid-February. Reunions is Isbell’s seventh full-length studio album from the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician.  In celebration of the release, the band will tour extensively throughout 2020 including stops in Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles Austin, TX, among several others. Pre-order info and tour dates at

The Awards just keep coming for Garth Brooks.   Garth will receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song at a concert March 4 in Washington, DC.  The show’s lineup will include Trisha Yearwood (Missus Garth), Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Keb’ Mo’, Jay Leno and (of course) Garth.  PBS stations will air the show, March 29.

  • Garth will also be a part of the annual Bob Kingsley’s Acoustic Alley at Country Radio Seminar on February 29 along with songwriters including Ashley Gorley, Chase McGill, Eric Pasley and many more, singing acoustic versions of the songs they have written. They’ll perform for members of the Country Radio industry at the annual gathering.
  • Garth Brooks has banked his 36th Country Airplay No. 1 and is the first artist to have posted Top Tens on that chart in FOUR decades: the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s – as “Dive Bar,” his collaboration with Blake Shelton, jumps up to No. 8 this week. (The song also marks Blake Shelton’s 33rd Country Airplay Top Ten.)

Billboard Country Airplay Top 5 this week (last week’s position in parentheses)

  1. (2) “Kinfolks” Sam Hunt (1st week at No. 1)
  2. (1) “The Bones” Maren Morris
  3. (4) “Make Me want To” Jimmie Allen
  4. (3) “Homesick” Kane Brown
  5. (6) “Homemade” Jake Owen


“I Know Country” Q&A ANSWER: Martina McBride.  Evolution included the hit singles “Happy Girl,” “Valentine” and “Broken Wing.”


On this day in Country Music

February 26, 1982       Alabama released Mountain Music, their 6th studio album. It was their best-selling album and won a 1982 Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group.

  • If you own a vinyl copy of the LP, check to see if it plays at the correct speed of 33 1/3 RPM. If it sounds like it is running ‘slow’ you might have a collector’s item. Early pressings were accidentally mastered at a slower speed. The error was corrected on subsequent pressings.

This week’s Country Music Birthdays

February 24                 Sammy Kershaw

February 25                 “Dr” Ralph Stanley (bluegrass artist), 1927 (died June 23, 2016)

Faron Young, 1932 (committed suicide, Dec. 9, 1996)

February 26                 Johnny Cash (died September 12, 2003)

February 28                 Jason Aldean

Preshias Harris is the author of “I Know Country” with 366 daily country music questions and answers. You can buy and instantly download your e-book copy at

Harris is also a music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Visit for more details.   Follow her blog at