[dcs_heading size=”2″ align=”left” mbottom=”0″]Kerry Kurt Phillips[/dcs_heading]
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After growing up in Western Kentucky and Southern Indiana, Kerry Kurt Phillips moved to Nashville in 1988. Two weeks later he was signed as a staff writer for the Larry Gatlin-owned publishing company, Texas Wedge Music. His very first cut came two and a half years later when George Jones recorded the classic, “Where the Tall Grass Grows”. The song was later recorded by Vern Gosdin, Ricky Van Shelton, Tom Wopat and others.
Since that time, Kerry Kurt’s catalogue of over 1000 songs has garnered five #1 singles as surveyed by Billboard, and Radio & Records and have been recorded by country music’s biggest stars. He has been awarded 39 gold records and 20 platinum albums accounting for certified sales of over 30 million records. One of his biggest achievements was winning the TNN/Music City News Song Of The Year Award for Billy Ray Cyrus’, “It’s All The Same To Me.”
ASCAP (The American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers) has recognized 14 (13 country and 1 pop) of Kerry Kurt’s works as being the most performed songs in the nation in each of their respective years. In addition, his peers in the NSAI (Nashville Songwriter’s Association International) have awarded three of his compositions with their certificate of achievement, as has the Songwriter’s Guild of America. Kerry Kurt’s songs have also been featured in the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA, on numerous network television shows and motion pictures and have been used in Hallmark Greeting cards and national ad campaigns by Ford Trucks, General Motors, Pepsi Corporation, Applebee’s the PGA and the NFL.
In the past Kerry Kurt has had songs nominated for both the CMA (Country Music Association), and the ACM (Academy of Country Music) awards, and the Grammy’s. Troubadour, the Grammy winning album of the year by George Strait, featured the Kerry Kurt composition “When You’re In love”. Six of Phillips’ songs have received the prestigious Million-Air honor, which recognizes over one million airplays for a given song.
Kerry Kurt’s biggest hits include the George Jones Smash, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair”, Joe Diffie’s, “Is It Cold In Here”, “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox”, “In My Own Backyard” and “Pickup Man” which spent a record 5 weeks at number 1. Tim McGraw’s “Down On the Farm” and “Maybe We Should Just Sleep On It”, are both products of Kerry Kurt’s pen.
Some of his most memorable hits include “That’s Just Jessie” sung by Kevin Denney, Tammy Cochran’s “Life Happened”, Craig Morgan’s “Almost Home” (winner of the 2003 Music Row Magazine Song Of The Year), Dusty Drake’s first two singles “One Last Time” and “Smaller Pieces”, the Tracy Byrd smash “Drinkin’ Bone” and Tim McGraws’s, “Do You Want Fries With That”.
George Strait’s “She Let Herself Go” was KK’s latest number 1 song and the new Craig Morgan single “This Ain’t Nothin'”, was just recognized as the inspirational song of the year.
Other artists recording Kerry Kurt’s compositions include Kenny Chesney, John Michael Montgomery, Mark Chestnut, Aaron Tipin, Tanya Tucker, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Doug Stone, Eddie Raven, Michael Peterson, Phil Vasser, Joe Stampley, Ken Mellons, Ricochet, Doug Supernaw, Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel), John & Audrey Wiggins, Billy Yates, , George Canyon, Blaine Larsen and many more.
Before dedicating all his time to song writing, Phillips served double duty as tour manager and acoustic guitar player for Sony/Epic artist Joe Diffie. He has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, in numerous music videos, and has been featured in several nationally syndicated television interviews on TNN and other networks. He has also been a featured guest on nationally syndicated radio shows, The Song Remembers When, and Country Songwriters Hit Showcase. KKP occasionally performs as a featured guest at songwriter venues such as Douglas Corner, Puckett’s Grocery, The Swallow At The Hollow and the world-famous Blue Bird Cafe and often gives lectures and sits on panel discussions on the music industry. He is a featured pro writer at the annual Tin Pan South and songwriter’s symposium. KKP is a member of the CMA, the ACM and holds a seat on the finance and pro steering committees of the NSAI.
Phillips has his own production company, Kerry Kurt Productions and has produced projects on John Berry, Sonny Burgess, Jennifer Day, Burns & Poe, Joe Diffie and others. Kerry Kurt has song catalogues represented by Affiliated Publishers, Zomba Music, EMI, BMG, Universal Music and Dreamworks. Official Website
[dcs_heading size=”2″ align=”left” mbottom=”0″]Wynn Varble[/dcs_heading]
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Wynn Varble admits he must have been destined for a career in country music. Wynn was raised in the small town of Ellenwood, Georgia, where music was a central part of his life. He recalls his father’s collection of country LP’s and the hours he spent listening to the legends: Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Bob Wills, and Jimmie Rodgers, whom Wynn credits as being his primary musical influences. He says he did just about anything to hear the newest country record – even if it meant trading in his big brother’s rock albums and catching trouble for it afterwards!
Wynn picked up a guitar for the first time when he was 15 and taught himself to play. He remembers picking out his first original melodies soon after he mastered basic chord progressions. The creative sparks started flying, and Wynn formed a bluegrass band when he turned 16. After graduating high school, Wynn started on the path to musical success playing the club circuit. His talent playing bluegrass landed him gigs from Austin to Ft. Lauderdale; during this time he was perfecting his style, not only as a country artist but also as a songwriter.
In 1982, Wynn visited some friends in Nashville. He spent several months writing with an up-and-coming singer/songwriter named Dave Gibson. It was this collaboration that proved to be Wynn’s ticket out of the club scene and into the Nashville music community.
Varble completely relocated to Nashville in 1992. Gibson introduced him to Cliff Williamson, then-director of Starstruck Writers Group, and Wynn was signed to the publisher in 1994. After Starstruck was sold to Warner/Chappell Music, Wynn joined the Warner/Chappell writing staff.
Wynn had his first #1 song “Have You Forgotten” with Darryl Worley in 2003. The song was nominated for SONG OF THE YEAR by the CMA. In 2008, Waitin’ on a Woman, which Wynn co-wrote with Don Sampson was nominated by the CMA for SONG OF THE YEAR. His most recent #1, I’m a Little More Country recorded by Easton Corbin, was also nominated by the ACM for SONG OF THE YEAR.
Wynn’s songs have been cut by a range of great artists, including Easton Corbin, Garth Brooks, Lee Ann Womack, Brad Paisley, Darryl Worley, Kellie Pickler, Montgomery Gentry, Jason Sellers, Gary Allan, Trace Adkins, Clint Daniels, Kevin Denney, Tracy Byrd, The Kinleys, Chris LeDoux, Danni Leigh, Mark Chesnutt and Sammy Kershaw.
[dcs_heading size=”2″ align=”left” mbottom=”0″]Jason Matthews[/dcs_heading]
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The life of a Nashville songwriter can be a bittersweet journey, even in the best of times. The process of having your songs recorded and turned into hits by someone else can be validating, even empowering, but the urge to step out from behind the pen and paper and feel the heat of the stage lights for yourself is undeniable. Jason Matthews has arrived on stage, front and center.
The man that co-wrote Billy Currington’s #1 smash hit ‘Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right’ knows that nagging feeling. “Don’t get me wrong, I love it when other people record my music,” Matthews says, “but the opportunity to try it in front of people with nobody in between is pretty awesome. For me, it’s really a continuation of the creative process. I just want the opportunity to be heard myself.”
Even before the #1 single that earned him Music Row’s 2006 Breakthrough Writer of the Year, Matthews was building an impressive catalog of hits, including cuts for Luke Bryan (‘Country Man’), Julie Roberts and Trace Adkins (‘Break Down Here’), Kevin Denney (‘That’s Just Jesse), Tammy Cochran (‘Life Happened’) and James Otto (‘The Ball’), among others.
But Matthews’ reputation as just a songwriter is set to change with the recent release of his debut album, Hicotine. “The idea and concept behind Hicotine actually came before the song did,” he says. “My wife, Debbie, and I came up with the idea of the cigarette box, and it just hit me – we’re not selling nicotine, we’re selling Hicotine!” he laughs.
“This really is an album for all country music fans,” Debbie says simply. Matthews agrees. “Unfortunately, we’ve pretty much run off all the guys in country music – they’re all listening to talk radio and classic rock these days. I want to bring guys back to this format!”
If the response to the first single, “That’s What Mamas Do,” is any indication however, the message in Matthews’ music appears to be universal. “That’s the most special song I’ve ever written,” he says slowly. “I know a lot of times music gets boiled down to money and chart position, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about making music that touches the person listening to the music. The response we’ve gotten from this song just means the world to me, knowing that I’m making music that matters,” he says. “It’s more important and gratifying than any sales position.”
Aside from his proven skill as a songwriter, the other quality that separates Matthews from many of his peers is his voice. A genuine soul singer by definition, Matthews has just enough twang and attitude to disguise the fact that Motown and the British Invasion had just as much influence on his musical upbringing as Music City did. The common denominator has always been the ability of the artist to reach out and touch the listener, he says.
“My heroes have always been people that sing from deep down in their soul and get you to believe their song. People like Conway Twitty, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Merle Haggard, Jackson Browne,” he says passionately. “Great singers are believable, and I want to be believable when I sing my songs. I’m trying to communicate something to people.” Official Website
[dcs_heading size=”2″ align=”left” mbottom=”0″]Phil O’Donnell[/dcs_heading]
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Phil O’Donnell, a Canada native, made his first trip to Nashville in 1983 and began developing his skills as a songwriter.
Officially making the move in 1994, O’Donnell has also worked as a musician, playing guitar with many artists including Craig Morgan, Jeff Carson, Kevin Denney, Johnny Lee, and Sherrie Austin.
O’Donnell’s songwriting credits include the #1 single, “Back When I Knew It All” recorded by Montgomery Gentry, “Love Remembers” and “I Got You” (Craig Morgan), “Tougher Than Nails” (Joe Diffie), “Fore She Was Mama , She Won’t Be Lonely Long(Clay Walker) Darryl Worley, “Sounds Like Life to Me. Also had songs cut by Rodney Atkins, Darius Rucker, Josh Thompson, Justin Moore, Scotty McCreery, Brad Paisley, Trace Atkins, Matt Mason, Mark Chestnut, Tracy Byrd, Billy Ray Cyrus, Travis Tritt, Gretchen Wilson, Randy Travis, James Wesley, Ash Bowers, Joey & Rory, High Valley, Guy Pinrod, Lila McCan, Kevin Denny, Trent Willman, Andy Griggs, Neal M’Coy, Tracy Lawerence, Sammy Kershaw, Cole Degges And The Lonesome, Chalee Tennison, John Conley, Ed Bruce, and Jill King.
In addition to having a successful career as a songwriter, O’Donnell also serves as producer for artists such as Craig Morgan, Josh Thompson, Matt Mason, Justin McBride, Chris Janson, Mark Wills,Tara Oram, Jason Blaine, High Valley, Steve Richard, Chancie Neal, and Davisson Bros. Band. Among his many production credits is the six-week #1 country hit, “That’s What I Love About Sunday” (Craig Morgan), which was the most played country song of 2005.