Nashville Music Line: Hal Ketchum Dies, Vince Gill and Amy Grant

Chris Stapleton’s new album, Starting Over, debuted last week at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and #3 on the all-genre Billboard 200 with over 102,733 units. The album also tops Billboard’s Americana/Folk Albums and Digital Albums charts and is No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart.

Out now on Mercury Records Nashville, Starting Over features fourteen tracks that examine life’s simplest joys and most serious struggles. Once again, Stapleton worked with Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb.

Starting Over finds Stapleton back in his second home, Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A (with additional work done at Muscle Shoals Sound and Compass Sound Studio), with his wife Morgane and trusted collaborators as well as some new faces. Stream/purchase the album at

  • Mercury Records didn’t break the budget with the album cover that looks like an old Ampex tape box with the album’s title and Chris Stapleton’s name, in pencil, in the top left-hand corner. It sure worked for the Beatles’ White Album.


“I Know Country” Q&A from the book “I Know Country” by Preshias Harris, available in print or e-book editions at

QUESTION: He was the first winner on the TV Show Nashville Star, and co-owned a bakery named “Peace, Love & Little Donuts.” Who is this singer/songwriter?


Vince Gill and Amy Grant are postponing their “Christmas at the Ryman” show until December 2021. But they do have good news: Amy’s health. Late last year, Vince had some heart health tests that showed his heart was just fine. The cardiologist suggested Amy get checked out too.  She told The Tennessean that she was surprised to hear that the tests revealed a birth defect in her heart that could have been fatal in two or three years.  Amy underwent open-heart surgery in June and has made a full recovery.

With plans for “Christmas at the Ryman” on hold, Amy has been focusing on building a hilltop pavilion at their farm. She hopes it will be used as a shelter for rainy-day activities for kids attending her annual Christian “Barefoot at the Farm” camp.

Meanwhile, tickets for “Christmas at the Ryman” are now available at The shows are scheduled for dates between December 13 and December 22, 2021.

Collin Raye has a new album – and it’s NOT a Christmas album!  It’s been ten years since Collin Raye released an album of new music, and the new project, titled Scars, was released last week.

This album finds Raye wearing his ‘songwriter hat.’ He told the Tennessean that he has always regarded himself as primarily as songwriter who can sing – rather than a singer who can write songs.  But his early hits such as “Love Me,” “In This Life” and “I Can Still Feel You” were written by other songwriters.

With Scars, Raye wrote or co-wrote all fourteen tracks with collaborators that include his brother Scott Wray and Pat McLaughlin (who frequently wrote with the late John Prine).

Featured artists on the album include Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Find the new album via

Dennis Quaid released “Friends,” (Audio Up Records), Nov. 27, a song meant to unify and celebrate individuality, ethnicity and heritage as this tumultuous year comes to an end.

“I wrote ‘Friends’ in early June 2020. It was one of those songs that just came flowing out of my heart, and although I tinkered with it over the next month, I basically wrote it in 20 minutes. The song comes from the heartbreak the division our country is going through,” Quaid shared.

Quaid recently became a podcast pioneer by co-founding a podcast content studio, network, and production company, Audio Up, while launching his own podcast, The Dennissance. Quaid is an actor, musician, songwriter and writer; he is also a jet pilot, amateur astronomer, fly-fisherman, philosopher, low handicap golfer, medical safety advocate and armchair historian.

More about Dennis Quaid and the song “Friends” at

For 2020, the 28th annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival presented by Regions Bank was a ‘virtual’ event, thanks to Covid-related restrictions. Now, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) has announced plans to return the beloved five-day event to an in-person experience back at live, in-person venues across Music City on November 16-20, 2021.

Regions Bank will once again return to present the 29th annual festival, continuing their unwavering support of the songwriting community and Tin Pan South.

“While the 2021 festival will once again take place in the fall instead of the usual March/April timeframe, we are very excited about the prospect of being back in the local venues next year,” said Jennifer Turnbow, Festival Director.  “We hope that in 2022, we can regain complete normalcy and hold our 30th-anniversary festival in the Spring.”

For updates, follow @TINPANSOUTH on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and

So when did Bluegrass music begin? A hundred years ago? Two hundred?  Well – officially – Bluegrass will celebrate its 75th anniversary on December 8, according to Billboard’s Tom Roland. The music genre took its name from Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys when Earl Scruggs made his first appearance with the band at the Ryman Auditorium for a Grand Ole Opry show in 1945.

The Grand Ole Opry will celebrate a few days early, December 5, with a special show featuring Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury and International Bluegrass Music Association entertainers of the year Sister Sadie. Carly Pearce is also on the Opry’s Dec 5 show.

The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards will take place January 31, 2021. Here are the nominees in the ‘Country’ categories:

Best Country Solo Performance

For new vocal or instrumental solo country recordings.

  • WHO YOU THOUGHT I WAS – Brandy Clark
  • WHEN MY AMY PRAYS – Vince Gill
  • BLACK LIKE ME – Mickey Guyton
  • BLUEBIRD – Miranda Lambert

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

For new vocal or instrumental duo/group or collaborative country recordings.

  • ALL NIGHT – Brothers Osborne
  • 10,000 HOURS – Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber
  • OCEAN – Lady A
  • SUGAR COAT – Little Big Town
  • SOME PEOPLE DO – Old Dominion

Best Country Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

  • BLUEBIRD – Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby & Miranda Lambert, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
  • THE BONES – Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins & Laura Veltz, songwriters (Maren Morris)
  • CROWDED TABLE – Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby & Lori McKenna, songwriters (The Highwomen)
  • MORE HEARTS THAN MINE – Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis & Derrick Southerland, songwriters (Ingrid Andress)
  • SOME PEOPLE DO – Jesse Frasure, Shane McAnally, Matthew Ramsey & Thomas Rhett, songwriters (Old Dominion)

Best Country Album

For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new country recordings.

  • LADY LIKE – Ingrid Andress
  • YOUR LIFE IS A RECORD – Brandy Clark
  • WILDCARD – Miranda Lambert
  • NIGHTFALL – Little Big Town
  • NEVER WILL – Ashley McBryde

On other Grammy nomination news, John Prine’s last recorded song and first #1 single, “I Remember Everything,” is nominated in two categories at the 63rd Grammy Awards: Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song.


“I Know Country” Q&A Answer: Buddy Jewell. His hit songs include “Help Pour Out the Rain” and “Sweet Southern Comfort.”


This Week In Country Music

Nov 29, 1959  The Grammy Award Show was televised for the first time, although this was actually the 2nd annual Grammy Awards; the first ceremony, in 1958, was not televised.

Nov 30, 1990  Garth Brooks his first multi-Platinum certification from the RIAA for No Fences.

Dec 2, 1957     Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” was No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Singles chart – despite Elvis having got a, er, ‘cool’ reception from country fans during his first and only appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in 1954.

Dec 4, 1956     A newspaper photographer (alerted by Sam Phillips) photographed Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley at a piano in Sun Studios, naming them the legendary “Million Dollar Quartet”.

Dec 5, 1978     Charlie Daniels recorded “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” in Nashville’s Woodland Sound Studios.

This Week’s Country Music Birthdays

November 29  Merle Travis (“Sixteen Tons”), 1917 (died October 20, 1983)

December 3    Ferlin Husky (“Wings of a Dove”), 1925 (died March 17, 2011)*

December 5    Gary Allan (“Man to Man”), 1967

  • * Ferlin Husky initially recorded under the name ‘Terry Preston’ because Smiley Burnette told him that his real name would never work on a marquee. It was only after he reverted to his real name that he began to score hits such as “Wings of a Dove” and “Gone.”

This Week’s Billboard Country Airplay Top 5

Compiled by Nielsen Media / MRC Data for Dec 5, 2020

  1. (3) “One Beer” HARDY ft. Lauren Alaina & Devin Dawson
  2. (4) “Happy Anywhere Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani
  3. (2) “Love You Like I Used To” Russell Dickerson
  4. (5) “Big, Big Plans” Chris Lane
  5. (1) “More Than My Hometown” Morgan Wallen
  • “One Beer” is the first No. 1 for HARDY as an artist – although as a songwriter this is his seventh chart-topper. Notably, “One Beer” knocked Morgan Wallen’s “Hometown” from the top spot, and HARDY co-wrote that song too.
  • “One Beer” marks the first time that Devin Dawson has been featured on a song that reached the No. 1 spot.
  • HARDY co-wrote “One Beer” with Hillary Lindsey and Jake Mitchell.
  • Don’t feel bad for Morgan Wallen: He has three songs in the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart Top Ten that combines radio airplay, sales and streaming: No. 2 “More Than My Hometown”; No. 3 “Somebody’s Problem” and No. 8 “ Still Goin’ Down”. Not enough? Wallen also songs at Nos. 15, 19 and 22 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
  • He is the first artist to have two songs to debut simultaneously in that chart’s Top Ten. Both “Somebody’s Problem” and “Still Goin’ Down” are from Wallen’s upcoming album, Dangerous, set for release in January 2021.

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

Harris is also 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