NASHVILLE—The Country Music Association visited Charlotte Wednesday, Aug. 7 with Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell, Jordan Reynolds, and Frank Rogers. During the trip, the songwriters met with band students from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as part of U.S. Bank’s Community Possible giving and engagement platform and its Places to Play partnership with the CMA Foundation, followed by a CMA Songwriters Series Presented by U.S. Bank performance at the McGlohon Theater.
Through a financial investment from the CMA Foundation and U.S. Bank, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will uplift 48 elementary music programs with music library needs and small instruments (orff instruments, accessory instruments, rhythm sticks, boomwhackers, hand chimes and more). In addition, the investment will support 100 hours of coaching for instrumental music programs, supplement district wide repair funds, provide summer music camp opportunities, supplement emerging ensemble programs, and give four secondary schools a basic set of instruments including flutes, clarinets, trumpets and violins.
Wednesday afternoon, the group sat down with music students at East Mecklenburg High School’s band camp for a conversation about songwriting and the music industry. Dickerson shared how he found his passion for music while in the drum line growing up, while Rogers discussed his musical journey from musician to songwriter to producer. Both Ell and Reynolds spoke to songwriting culture, explaining how the co-writing process works and how Nashville is attracting other genres, such as pop artists like Camila Cabello coming to Nashville in search of authentic writing. The students asked thoughtful questions about what drew the artists to the Country genre, specific questions about the songwriting process and even questions about copyright issues. Following the Q&A, the high school band performed “Night Watch” for the songwriters, CMA and U.S. Bank staff.
Following the visit to East Mecklenburg High School, the four songwriters took the stage for a fun and lively night of performances at the McGlohon Theater. Both Dickerson and Ell performed brand new, unreleased songs for an excited crowd. Rogers performed what he coined a “medley of mediocrity,” where he quickly sang some of his top hits performed by Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker as well as Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton, joking that he couldn’t remember all of the words to all of the songs he’s penned. Dickerson, who attended Belmont University with Reynolds, joked about still holding a grudge for Reynolds beating him in the school’s Country Showcase a decade ago. Ell wowed the audience throughout the night, shredding guitar solos during all of the songwriters’ performances as well as her own. Wedding songs became an ongoing joke throughout the evening, with Reynolds offering to perform Dan + Shay’s “Speechless” at any audience member’s wedding for a cool $15,000. Dickerson then challenged Reynolds, offering to perform his song “Yours” for just $14,000, followed by Rogers offering Scotty McCreery’s “This Is It” for the low price of $13,000.
The CMA Foundation’s work was a theme discussed by all of the songwriters throughout the night. Dickerson praised his mother, a music teacher who taught him in the fourth grade, while Ell pointed out one of CMA’s Music Teachers of Excellence, Kevin Brawley, asking him to stand to be recognized by the crowd and explaining none of the songwriters would be where they were today without music teachers. Midway through the show, the songwriters welcomed 16-year-old student Aron Stornaiuolo to the stage to perform his original song “I Just Want A Girl To Give My Jacket To,” a sweet and hilarious song about young love. Stornaiuolo had the audience in laughter when halfway through the song, he paused to ask Ell, “Could you do me an honor here and give me one of those Lindsay Ell guitar solos?” Stornaiuolo attended South Mecklenburg High School and will soon be attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
See below for the full setlist.
Jordan Reynolds – “All To Myself” (recorded by Dan + Shay)
Russell Dickerson – “Every Little Thing”
Lindsay Ell – “Good”
Frank Rogers – “This” (recorded by Darius Rucker)
Jordan Reynolds – “What Keeps You Up At Night” (recorded by Dan + Shay)
Russell Dickerson – “Southern Symphony”
Lindsay Ell – “Castle”
Frank Rogers – “I’m Gonna Miss Her” (recorded by Brad Paisley)
Aron Stornaiuolo – “I Just Want A Girl To Give My Jacket To”
Jordan Reynolds – “Speechless” (recorded by Dan + Shay)
Russell Dickerson – “Whiskey On My Breath” (recorded by Love & Theft)
Lindsay Ell – “Not Another Me”
Frank Rogers – Medley of “Who Needs Pictures” (recorded by Brad Paisley), “Me Neither” (recorded by Brad Paisley), “Swing” (recorded by Trace Adkins), “History In The Making" (recorded by Darius Rucker), “Feelin’ It” (recorded by Scotty McCreery), “Backroad Song” (recorded by Granger Smith), “Five More Minutes” (recorded by Scotty McCreery), “BLOW” (recorded by Ed Sheeran with Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton)
Jordan Reynolds – “Castaway” (recorded by Brett Eldredge)
Russell Dickerson – “Yours”
Lindsay Ell – "Go To”
Frank Rogers – “This Is It” (recorded by Scotty McCreery)
Jordan Reynolds – “Tequila” (recorded by Dan + Shay)
Russell Dickerson – “Blue Tacoma”
Lindsay Ell – “Criminal”
Frank Rogers – “Alright” (recorded by Darius Rucker)
About CMA Songwriters Series
Currently in its 15th season, CMA Songwriters Series has presented more than 100 shows in cities including Austin, Belfast, Chicago, Dublin, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Park City (at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café), Phoenix, Toronto and Washington, D.C. at the renowned Library of Congress and John F. Kennedy Center. Artists and songwriters who have participated in the series include Jessi Alexander, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Brandy Clark, Tom Douglas, Brett Eldredge, Miranda Lambert, Hillary Lindsey, Little Big Town, Shane McAnally, Lori McKenna, Kacey Musgraves, Tim Nichols, Liz Rose, Darius Rucker, Carrie Underwood, Craig Wiseman, Chris Young, and more.
About the CMA Foundation
Established in 2011 as the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association (CMA), the CMA Foundation is committed to improving and sustaining high-quality music education programs across the United States, working to ensure every child has the opportunity to participate in music education. Through strategic partnerships, professional development and grant distribution, the CMA Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), has invested more than $25 million across the national public school system, after school programs, summer camps, and community outreach organizations. Guided by the generosity of the Country Music community, proceeds from CMA Fest, the four-day long music festival held annually in Nashville, are used to power the CMA Foundation’s social impact and unique model of giving.
About U.S. Bank
U.S. Bancorp, with 74,000 employees and $461 billion in assets as of June 30, 2018, is the parent company of U.S. Bank, the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States. The Minneapolis-based bank blends its relationship teams, branches and ATM network with mobile and online tools that allow customers to bank how, when and where they prefer. U.S. Bank is committed to serving its millions of retail, business, wealth management, payment, commercial and corporate, and investment services customers across the country and around the world as a trusted financial partner, a commitment recognized by the Ethisphere Institute naming the bank a 2018 World’s Most Ethical Company. Visit U.S. Bank online or follow on social media to stay up to date with company news.
For more information about CMA Songwriters Series, visit CMAsongwritersseries.com