MusicRow: Exclusive: Maren Morris Explains How “My Church” Catapulted Her Career


Eric T. Parker • July 1, 2016 • 
 
Maren
Maren Morris at the 28th Annual MusicRow Awards. Photo: Moments by Moser

Most listeners discovered Maren Morris this year with her debut single, “My Church,” yet she had been attracting attention in the music industry for several years already.
Since 2013, Morris has been writing for Nashville publishing company Big Yellow Dog Music, which released a digital EP in late 2015. Columbia Nashville took notice, signed the singer and released her full-length debut, Hero, which debuted at No. 1 after its release on June 3.
Calling from the first night as a special guest on Keith Urban’s Ripcord World Tour, she discussed with MusicRow the launch of her career, as well as the story behind “My Church,” which led her to win of the magazine’s 2016 Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year.
Read more about the award in the 2016 MusicRow Awards print issue, available now.
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MusicRow: Describe the path “My Church” took to finally being released.
Maren Morris: I wrote it a little over a year ago, I guess March of 2015. I was out on a writing trip in Los Angeles. [Producer/songwriter] busbee has a house in Nashville but is based out of Los Angeles. The day before I wrote with him, the title “My Church” popped in my head and I went in with him and he totally got the concept I was going for.
It was a quick write, probably because it’s such a clear emotional context that everyone can relate to in some way. I instantly knew that song was really special, and felt a strong need to keep it to myself. If I was going to take a whack at this artist thing—if I had one shot at it—I would want it to be with this song. It’s crazy to think that was a little over a year ago. It really catapulted this whole thing to be set in motion.
As a songwriter and artist, how do you decide which songs to hold or let go?
“My Church” was really the first song I wanted to keep for myself. Narrowing down songs for the record was tough because I have a catalog from the last three years of music that I really love—hundreds of songs and I’m sure there are some I have forgotten about completely.
It’s sort of a sacrifice to narrow it down. There are great songs I adore that I had to leave off the record. But with the 11 songs that are on the record, it was hard to imagine someone else singing them and I think it tells a cohesive story.
Did you always want to be an artist and songwriter?
I felt like I was pretty much done with the performance side when I moved to Nashville. I’m from Arlington, Texas, and I toured there for over a decade—I had a whole other life there, really as a kid from about 10 or 11 years old. I didn’t write songs then but that eventually led to getting my first guitar and wanting to write.
After I moved, I just wanted to be a songwriter in a writing room and be creative—not worried about selling anything. Somewhere along the way I missed that high you get when you walk off stage after a show. That is so hard to match. In a writing room you get a different kind of high when you hear something back that you’ve created out of nothing with your friends, but that gave me the gumption to finish out this record.
Talk about the launch of your career.
Everything was sort of a domino effect after my publisher Carla Wallace introduced me to my manager Janet Weir at Red Light Management. At the time I hadn’t even written “My Church.” Around that time Janet and I met and hit it off. She understood the vision I had for my music and what I wanted to say to the world.
Janet tracked down Copeland Isaacson at Spotify, where one thing led to another and I ended up doing an exclusive EP release with them before I had ever signed a deal. That Spotify exclusive really created a lot of leverage. It really set into motion me signing a record deal with Sony.

Big Yellow Dog’s Carla Wallace (R) surprises her writer Maren Morris (L) with a plaque commemorating a No. 1 country album debut, along with its lead single achieving gold. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography
Big Yellow Dog’s Carla Wallace (R) surprises her writer Maren Morris (L) with a plaque commemorating a No. 1 country album debut, along with its lead single achieving gold. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

How much of your project did you have set before you signed with Columbia?
I didn’t have the track listing down, but I had the bulk of the songs written. There were last-minute additions, because I was still writing. Like “Rich,” I think that was one of the last songs I wrote, and it was too much fun to leave off the album and fit so perfectly with the vibe we created.
Why was Columbia Nashville the right place for you?
When I was rounding out the EP, Sony Nashville didn’t have a president. They were going through a transition. They came on board later in the game once Jim Catino played Randy Goodman a few of my songs.
At the time I wasn’t really thinking whether or not I should sign to a pop or country label, but with the Columbia imprint that I’m on, I felt like I got the best of both worlds—I’ve been lucky to have a partnership with New York and Nashville with my deal. I never felt like I had to choose between the two worlds.
Describe that New York component.
Person for person, the same amount of people that work on my team here in Nashville under Columbia, the same goes for the New York office. So if I’m ever overseas or in New York, I feel like they both have a tight grasp on my direction.
It’s nice because I feel like these genre walls are coming down, bit by bit. I’m seeing the New York labels start to have more conversation with their Nashville counterparts. There’s more symbiosis happening and you don’t have to choose between the two. Randy Goodman and Rob Stringer at Columbia Records in New York really get what I do.

Pictured (L-R): Sherod Robertson, Maren Morris, Carla Wallace, Craig Shelburne. Photo: Moments by Moser
Pictured (L-R): Sherod Robertson, Maren Morris, Carla Wallace, Craig Shelburne. Photo: Moments by Moser

SOUTHERN HALO Fast-Forwards Career With New Single, "Rewind," & Taste Of Country Video Premiere


Cutting-Edge Country Trio SOUTHERN HALO Fast-Forwards Career With New Single, "Rewind," & Taste Of Country Video Premiere
To Kick Off Townsquare Media's KICK 97.9FM 
"Say It With Pepsi" Concert Series July 12
"Talent must run in the family because these three ladies are amazing!"
- Cary Rolfe, The Country Network (TCN)
"Southern Halo ... wow!!!" Mark my word they WILL be a household name soon ...
 the real deal!!"- Bev Moser, Digital Rodeo TV

Nashville, TN (June 29, 2016) - The cutting-edge Country trio SOUTHERN HALO hits "fast-forward" on their career with the release of their new single, "Rewind," and an exclusive video premiere today on Taste of Country. The track, from their self-titled debut CD released last fall, is available for purchase on iTunes, AmazonSpotify and other popular online retailers. 

Entering the MusicRow CountryBreakout™ Chart last week, the single is described by Music News Atlanta's Rick Moore as "One of the feel-good Country singles of 2016 ... (by) the trio of teenage sisters whose remarkable harmonies put them in the company of Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town."
SOUTHERN HALO made their CMA Music Festival performance debut earlier this month with a jam-packed schedule that included an impressive acoustic performance on the CMA's Music City Stage.  The sisters co-hosted WTVF-TV's two-hour-long Morning Show on Nashville's historic Riverfront, taped TCN's (The Country Network's) Live at the Whiskey Bent Saloon and On The Couch, plus filmed an appearance for Young Country TV.  Additionally, the trio performed live for Heartland TV's Coffee, Country & Cody, and signed autographs galore.  They capped off the week with a performance on the Radio Disney Country Stage
Designed to have a feminine "Mark Twain" feel, the playful companion music video was shot on an island in the Mississippi River near Warfield Point Park in Greenville, MS.  Filled with images of the sweet Southern life, the clip contrasts the demands of the girls' professional lives with their natural desire to be normal teenage girls - and have fun.  Produced by Heather Mathews (WHEN COTTON BLOSSOMS, A STONE'S THROW) and co-directed by Heather and James Mathews (SPIDERMAN, SWORDFISH), this is their second outing with the band since the video for "Little White Dress."
Short-listed in Billboard.com's insightful feature on trending all-female bands, SOUTHERN HALO has recently enjoyed media coverage on  Radio Disney Country, WREG-TV (Memphis), Parcbench, AXS.com and WTVF-TV.  
Since landing in the National finals of the 2014 Texaco Country Showdown, these Mississippi Delta natives have worked hard honing their craft.  They've gone from regional to national acclaim and opened for Brantley Gilbert, Eric Paslay, Tyler Farr, Randy Houser, John Michael Montgomery, Parmalee, Old Dominion, Craig Campbell, Julie Roberts, American Young and B.B. King.  They visited radio stations around the country in support of their debut single, "Little White Dress," and continue to perform shows regularly.  On July 12, SOUTHERN HALO will launch Townsquare Media's KICK 97.9 FM "Say It With Pepsi" Concert Series in Quincy, Illinois. 
Stay social:
Twitter: @3halos   https://twitter.com/3halos
Instagram:  officialsouthernhalo
ABOUT SOUTHERN HALO
A soulful sister trio hailing from the small town of Cleveland, Mississippi, SOUTHERN HALO features Natalia, Christina and Hannah Morris. Natalia, 19 years old, is the principal songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist, while 17-year-old Christina plays drums. Younger sister Hannah, who just turned 16, is the group's bassist.  They recorded their first EP with Alabama's Jeff Cook, and their fall 2015 CD, SOUTHERN HALO, with SESAC's 2012 Writer of the Year Catt Gravitt (Kelly Clarkson, Jake Owen) and Gerald O'Brien (writer of hits for Martina McBride, Trace Adkins) at the helm.  Since then, they have headlined Sara Evans' Rock The South Festival in Cullman, Alabama, performed at an elite pre-GRAMMY Awards show on the rooftop terrace of the GRAMMY Museum ® at LA Live in Los Angeles and filmed a series for online distribution. 

MusicRowPics: 28th Annual MusicRow Awards


• June 30, 2016 • 
 
28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Maren Morris and her Big Yellow Dog publisher Carla Wallace pose with their 2016 MusicRow Awards plaques, in addition to a No. 1 MusicRow Challenge Coin for “My Church.” Pictured (L-R): MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson, Maren Morris, Carla Wallace, MusicRow‘s Craig Shelburne. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography
MusicRow held it’s 28th Annual MusicRow Awards at BMI on Wednesday (June 29) in front of a packed house. The 2016 awards honored MusicRow‘s Top 10 Album All-Star Musicians for playing on the most top 10 albums during the awards timeframe in addition to the reader-voted Breakthrough Artist and Songwriter and Producer and Song of the Year.
Sample all the fun with a photo-roundup of the 2016 event below.
Read more about the MusicRow Awards
Read more about the winners
Read more about the MusicRow Awards print issue
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28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
28th Annual MusicRow Awards at BMI. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
MusicRow‘s 2016 Album All-Star Musicians accept plaques. Pictured (L-R): MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson; musicians Stuart Duncan, Ilya Toshinskiy, Jimmie Lee Sloas, Charles Judge; MusicRow‘s Craig Shelburne, Eric T. Parker. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
MusicRow‘s 2016 Ablum All-Star Musicians. Pictured (L-R): Jimmie Lee Sloas, Ilya Toshinskiy, Charles Judge. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
MusicRow Owner/Publisher Sherod Robertson welcomes the MusicRow Awards crowd to BMI. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Dave Cobb accepts his MusicRow Producer of the Year award. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Dave Cobb accepts his MusicRow Producer of the Year award. Pictured (L-R): MusicRow‘s Craig Shelburne, Dave Cobb, MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Maren Morris accepts her 2016 Breakthrough Songwriter award at the 28th Annual MusicRow Awards. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Big Yellow Dog’s Carla Wallace (R) surprises her writer Maren Morris (L) with a plaque commemorating a No. 1 country album debut, along with its lead single achieving gold. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Lori McKenna accepts honors for writing MusicRow‘s 2016 Song of the Year, “Humble and Kind” (recorded by Tim McGraw). Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Lori McKenna and Universal Music Group Publishing’s Kent Earls accept plaques for Song of the Year at MusicRow‘s 28th annual awards. Pictured (L-R) MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson, Lori McKenna, Kent Earls, MusicRow‘s Craig Shelburne. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Lori McKenna performs “Humble and Kind,” MusicRow‘s 2016 Song of the Year. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Kent Earls offers remarks for publishing MusicRow‘s 2016 Song of the Year, “Humble and Kind.” Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Will Hitchcock accepts Old Dominion’s Artist of the Year plaque for winning MusicRow‘s 2016 Breakthrough Artist of the Year, in addition to accepting a MusicRow No. 1 Challenge Coin for “Snapback.” Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

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MusicRow‘s 2016 Producer of the Year Dave Cobb (center) mingles with MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson and Robert K. Oermann. Photo: Molly Hannula

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MusicRow 2016 Song of the Year nominee Corey Crowder with Broken Bow Records recording artist Jordan Rager. Photo: Molly Hannula

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MusicRow 2016 Producer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year winners Dave Cobb (L) and Maren Morris (R). Photo: Molly Hannula

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Rounder Records’ Ashley Moyer with MusicRow‘s Craig Shelburne. Photo: Molly Hannula

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
28th Annual MusicRow Awards were hosted by BMI and sponsored by Anderson Benson. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

28th Annual MusicRow Awards (C) Moments By Moser Photography
Guests snacked on jumbo meatballs, Mexi-sticks, chips, guacamole, salsa and deep-fried peppers. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

MusicRow Magazine: Bobby Karl Works The Room: 28th Annual MusicRow Awards

Bobby Karl • June 30, 2016 • 
Lori McKenna. Photo: Moments By Moser
Lori McKenna. Photo: Moments By Moser

Chapter 537
It is nominally an honors presentation, but the MusicRow Awards ceremony is also one super-duper party.
Staged at BMI on Wednesday (June 29), this year’s 28th annual event attracted a record number of attendees, announced an exceedingly popular slate of awardees and had a fabulously festive vibe. Honorees included Maren Morris as Breakthrough Songwriter, Old Dominion as Breakthrough Artist, Dave Cobb as Producer of the Year and Lori McKenna as the writer of Song of the Year winner “Humble and Kind.” Winners are determined by subscribers to MusicRow and each recipient was greeted with delighted shouts of surprise from the crowd.
BMI’s Jody Williams greeted the 300+ folks in his lobby. He thanked event sponsor Anderson Benson, as “Nashville’s only locally-owned entertainment insurance company.” He then brought on the host, MusicRow’s Sherod Robertson.

Sherod Robertson. Photo: Moments By Moser
Sherod Robertson. Photo: Moments By Moser

“These awards are often predictors of awards to come,” Robertson told the crowd. The magazine has been presenting its accolades since 1989. Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert are among the stars who won their first industry prizes from MusicRow. Songs such as “Girl Crush,” “I Drive Your Truck,” “The House That Built Me” and “Whiskey Lullaby” all picked up trophies from the mag before going on to wider award acclaim.
The first honors presented on Wednesday were to the musicians behind last year’s biggest hits. MusicRow‘s Craig Shelburne and Eric Parker presented these to engineer Justin Niebank (his 12th win), drummer Shannon Forrest (his 11th), guitarist Ilya Toshinsky (his 7th), bassist Jimmie Lee Sloas (his 6th), keyboardist Charles Judge (his 6th), session vocalist Wes Hightower (his 14th) and steel guitarist Paul Franklin (his 16th). There was a tie between fiddlers Stuart Duncan (his 9th win) and Larry Franklin (his 4th).
Pictured (L-R): Stuart Duncan, Ilya Toshinskiy, Jimmie Lee Sloas, Charles Judge. Photo: Moments By Moser
Pictured (L-R): Stuart Duncan, Ilya Toshinskiy, Jimmie Lee Sloas, Charles Judge. Photo: Moments By Moser

“I’m in awe of everybody who plays with me,” said Duncan. “I’ve learned from some of the best players, globally.”
“I’m so proud to be part of this great community of so many great players,” added Toshinsky. “I’m privileged and humbled to be here,” said Sloas. “This town is like a big family, and it’s quite an honor to be included,” commented Judge.
Pictured (L-R): Craig Shelburne, General Manager, MusicRow; Sherod Robertson, Owner/Publisher, MusicRow; Dave Cobb. Photo: Moments By Moser
Pictured (L-R): Craig Shelburne, General Manager, MusicRow; Sherod Robertson, Owner/Publisher, MusicRow; Dave Cobb. Photo: Moments By Moser

Robertson pointed out that this is the first time that Producer winner Cobb had even been nominated. “It’s a real honor to be honored by my peers,” said Cobb. “We live in the best f—ing music city in the world!”
Pictured (L-R): Carla Wallace, Big Yellow Dog Music; Sherod Robertson, MusicRow; Maren Morris. Photo: Moments By Moser
Pictured (L-R): Carla Wallace, Big Yellow Dog Music; Sherod Robertson, MusicRow; Maren Morris. Photo: Moments By Moser

“I’ve never won anything before,” said Morris. “This has been the craziest month, ever. I released my album. I started a tour. And, now, ending it with this. Thank you to Carla Wallace for giving me a job. This means a lot to me.” In addition to her award, Morris was given a MusicRow Challenge Coin for having a No. 1 hit on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Chart with “My Church.”
Pictured (L-R): Sherod Robertson, MusicRow; Maren Morris; Carla Wallace, Big Yellow Dog Music; Craig Shelburne, MusicRow. Photo: Moments By Moser
Pictured (L-R): Sherod Robertson, MusicRow; Maren Morris; Carla Wallace, Big Yellow Dog Music; Craig Shelburne, MusicRow. Photo: Moments By Moser

Big Yellow Dog publisher Wallace said, “This song has affected people’s careers; it has affected people’s lives.” She presented the singer-songwriter with a framed No. 1 honor for the chart-topping album Hero.
Old Dominion was on tour with Kenny Chesney, but sent a thank-you video to the ceremony. The band’s award was accepted by Morris Higham Management’s Will Hitchcock. “Thanks, MusicRow, and the whole Nashville community for making them your band,” he said. Old Dominion also earned a MusicRow No. 1 Challenge Coin for “Snapback.”
Old Dominion, with manager Will Hitchcock
Old Dominion, with manager Will Hitchcock

McKenna and Universal Publishing’s Kent Earls accepted the “Humble and Kind” accolade. This is her third song to have won at MusicRow, the other two being 2007’s “Stealing Kisses” and last year’s “Girl Crush.” She couldn’t make last year’s ceremony, so co-writers Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey accepted and performed on her behalf.
Pictured (L-R): Sherod Robertson, MusicRow; Lori McKenna; Kent Earls, Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville; Craig Shelburne, MusicRow. Photo: Moments By Moser
Pictured (L-R): Sherod Robertson, MusicRow; Lori McKenna; Kent Earls, Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville; Craig Shelburne, MusicRow. Photo: Moments By Moser

“It’s a magical place that you have here,” said Boston resident McKenna. “Thank you for embracing this song.” She also accepted her MusicRow No. 1 Challenge Coin for “Humble and Kind.”
“Thank you, Sherod, and MusicRow and all your team,” added Earls. “We’re very honored to be here.”
Kent Earls. Photo: Moments By Moser
Kent Earls. Photo: Moments By Moser

To McKenna, he added, “The elegance and grace of your writing is only matched by the beautiful person you are.” Earls also gave a shout-out to Travis Gordon, who pitched “Humble and Kind” to Missy Gallimore for Tim McGraw to record. The song has now sold more than 700,000 singles.
The high point of the event was unquestionably Lori McKenna’s yearning, soulful rendition of her song. It hushed the room, which erupted in rapturous applause when she concluded.
As guests schmoozed and winners accepted congratulations, the screen showed Maren Morris’s video of “My Church” and Old Dominion’s video of “Break Up With Him.”
That “record number of attendees” I spoke of included Renee Grant Williams, Ree Guyer Buchanan, Beth Raebeck Hall and Preshus Tomes Harris, as well as Sarah Skates, Sarah Lai, Tom Luteran, Tom Roland, Michael Mason, Mike Sirls, Michael Knox, Becky Harris, Becky Hobbs, Elizabeth Lyons, Dave Pomeroy, David Ross, Ronna Rubin, Luke Laird, Corey Crowder, Macy Martin, Maurice Miner, James Elliott and Jaren Boyer.
Not to mention (although we will) such fabulons as Trent Summar, Tim McFadden, Terry Wakefield, Steve Lassiter, Shane Barrett, Susan Collier, Sherrill Blackmon, Barry Coburn, Bart Herbison, Ashley Moyer, Eric Galvin, Garth Shaw, Jill Block, John Ozier, Ralph Murphy, Don Cusic, Ron Huntsman, Chris Keaton, Ann Wilson, Neal Spielberg, Charlie Monk, Mark Brown, Woody Bomar, Katharine Richardson, Patrick Clifford and Shannon Hatch. Making his first appearance in BKWTR is Jerome Pillow, who was hired two weeks ago by Keaton. So this was his first Music Row partay!
We snacked on jumbo meatballs, Mexi-sticks, chips, guacamole, salsa and deep-fried peppers. It was, in short, a blast of a bash.
Photo: Moments By Moser
Photo: Moments By Moser


MusicRow Magazine: In Pictures: Alabama, Sam Moore Join Music City Walk Of Fame


• May 27, 2016 • 
 
Alabama's Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, BMG's Kos Weaver, and the band's Jeff Cook.

Alabama’s Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, BMG’s Kos Weaver, and the band’s Jeff Cook.
Country Music Hall of Fame members Alabama and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Grammy Hall of Fame member Sam Moore were both honored by Music City with a newly revealed plaque in Nashville’s Walk of Fame Park.
A media gathering and unveiling took place May 26 with attendees Mayor Megan Berry, Bill Cody, Connie Smith, Alabama manager Tony Conway and the BMG Executive VP Kos Weaver. BMG Nashville released Alabama’s newest album, Southern Drawl, in 2015.
Photos: Bev Moser/Moments By Moser

Pictured (L-R): Connie Smith, Sam Moore's wife Joy, Sam Moore.
Pictured (L-R): Connie Smith, Sam Moore’s wife Joy, Sam Moore.

Alabama receiving a plaque on the Music City Walk of Fame.
Alabama receiving a plaque on the Music City Walk of Fame.

Pictured (L-R): Sam Moore with Nashville Mayor Megan Berry.
Pictured (L-R): Sam Moore with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry.

Pictured (L-R): Alabama's Teddy Gentry, the band's manager Tony Conway, Alabama's Randy Owen and Jeff Cook.
Pictured (L-R): Alabama’s Teddy Gentry, the band’s manager Tony Conway, Alabama’s Randy Owen and Jeff Cook.

Country Music Hall of Famer Connie Smith (L) presents Sam Moore with commemorative plaque on stage.
Country Music Hall of Fame member Connie Smith (L) presents Sam Moore with commemorative plaque.

Alabama pictured with family.
Alabama pictured with family.


MusicRow: Exclusive: Keith Urban Presents “Summery, Jubilant, Groovy Music” At Tour Preview


• May 26, 2016 • 
 
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal 5.25.16 (C) 5 Moments By Moser Photography
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

Keith Urban and his band welcomed several dozen fans and industry members to a preview of his Ripcord World Tour 2016 on Wednesday (May 25) at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. For about an hour and a half, Urban’s concert showed off the tour’s sophisticated lighting production and multiple stages.
Urban estimated that nine songs from his eighth studio album, Ripcord will make it into the tour’s set list. Ripcord has already spawned the hits “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” “Break On Me,” and “Wasted Time.”
Urban launched the preview with Ripcord’s album opener, “Gone Tomorrow (Here Today),” the same song he will use to open each show on the tour.
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal 5.25.16 (C) 2 Moments By Moser Photography
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

“There is a huge amount of buoyant, summer songs that are just right for this kind of environment,” he told reporters. “That’s why I’m looking forward to this tour so much and I can’t wait to get these songs out in front of a live audience. We’ve never had this much of a summery, jubilant, groovy music to play before.”
The trek marks Urban’s first full-fledged, album-supporting tour in three years, and he’s anxious to bring fans a mix of previous hits and new material.
“You guys are like the real deal,” Urban told the audience. “This is like a real gig.”
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

Throughout the rehearsal, the superstar singer-songwriter also offered insights into what fans can expect. He offered a rendition of another tune from Ripcord, a much-buzzed about collaboration with Carrie Underwood, “The Fighter.” Urban noted that Underwood has recorded a special video for the tour, though only her vocal track from the album was showcased during his preview.
“It will be better when Carrie is on the screen,” said Urban.
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

Later in the set, Urban and two of his crew members reassembled on a smaller satellite stage for “You Gonna Fly.” The singer noted that tour opener Brett Eldredge will join him for a song on the satellite stage each evening, while fellow tour opener Maren Morris will handle Miranda Lambert’s vocal part on the 2013 collaboration “We Were Us.”
During the rehearsal, songs such as 1999’s “Where the Blacktop Ends” benefited from a grungier, extended guitar solo, while Urban stayed close to the center microphone, and was bathed in white lights during “Everybody,” a track from 2006’s Love, Pain and The Whole Crazy Thing.
Helping to bridge that sonic gap between the experimental, rhythmic fare found on Ripcord, and the grooves of his earlier hits is a custom bit of machinery constructed by Urban’s newest band member, Nathan Barlowe. Called “The Phantom,” the machine duplicates various musical elements from the album, but can also manipulate musical elements in real time, allowing for maximum musical flexibility.
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography

“The middle of last year when I was making Ripcord, even though I was a long way off from finishing, I could tell I was going to need a new guy in the band, but it wasn’t a role I could put a title to. I said to [band leader] Jerry Flowers, ‘We need this other person in the band. It’s not a DJ, it’s not a keyboard player, it’s not a percussionist, it’s not a utility guy, but it’s somehow all of those things wrapped up into one role. It’s not a programmer either, because everything is being done on the fly. Everything can happened in real time.’ He suggested Nathan, who started creating that thing which he calls the Phantom to do all the things we are able to do.”
Urban wrapped the preview with his current single, “Wasted Time.” His Ripcord World Tour 2016 will launch June 2 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography
Keith Urban Ripcord Rehearsal. Photo: Moments By Moser Photography