The Warner Music Nashville record label kicked off the 50th anniversary of Country Radio Seminar with its “Warner Wednesday” lunch show featuring the company’s biggest hitmakers. The shiniest spotlight fell on label member Blake Shelton, who received the 2019 Artist Humanitarian Award for his aid to flood and tornado victims in his home state of Oklahoma, along with his other charitable causes. True to form, Shelton also regaled the packed ballroom with clever quips and one-liners and performed a couple of his classic hits, “Austin” and “Ol’ Red.”
Shelton was presented with his award from his friend Dierks Bentley. “This is a way bigger deal than I thought it would be,” Shelton told the attendees. “The cool thing about country artists is that I feel like we all step up any time we get a chance.” Shelton also drew a laugh as he explained the story behind “Austin,” his debut No. 1 hit from 2001. The song was on hold for Clay Walker but Walker never recorded it. “I want to dedicate this song to Clay Walker today,” he said.
The Warner roster was on full display during the luncheon show from the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville. Rising star Morgan Evans rocked the room with “Day Drunk,” followed by Cole Swindell with “Love You Too Late.” Chris Janson showed his versatility and entertainer chops as he played guitar, harmonica and kick drum, all at the same time, on his new single “Good Vibes.” Recent Grammy winners Dan + Shay also performed, along with Devin Dawson, Cody Johnson and Ashley McBryde.
Pure country traditionalist McBryde corralled the loudest cheers, as well as a standing ovation, with her hit “Girl Going Nowhere.” She also shared that she dreamed of a country music career as early as high school, determined to make a go of it after one of her teachers basically discouraged her ambition by telling her to form a backup plan.
Country Radio Seminar, now in its 50th year, is an annual convention centering on the country radio industry, designed to promote the exchange of ideas and business practices. There are also a number of performances during the week. This year’s seminar runs from February 13-15.