Oh what a difference a year makes! Singer/songwriter, Jimmie Allen, signed a publishing and artist development deal with Wide Open Music in June of 2016. The year was spent writing, rehearsing and recording on Music Row. The result was an album produced by Ash Bowers and Eric Torres that has made Music City sit up and take notice.
“I knew absolutely nothing about Jimmie or his music when I randomly ended up on a writers round with him at Puckett’s in Franklin TN,” Bowers remembers of their first introduction to each other. “The first song he played that night was a song called ‘Back Of Your Mind’ and half way through the first chorus I knew he was a star and someone I wanted to work with.” Wide Open signed Allen to a deal less that one week later, proving timing is everything.
This was welcome news to Allen, who had been in Nashville for several years doing whatever it took to make it, including a stint of living in his car. “I worked at a gym where I could shower and do laundry. I also had a second job cleaning an elementary school,” he says of his never quit attitude. “When I met the folks at Wide Open it was clear they believed in me and shared my vision of my music.” He adds that finding a team that will champion you means the world after struggling for so long.
Fast forward to June 1, 2017, less than a year after signing with Wide Open. Broken Bow/BMG Records enthusiastically offered Allen a record deal. “I can’t imagine Jimmie at a more perfect place for him, “ said Bowers who was once an artist signed to BBR. “From writing to recording I just wanted Jimmie to have the freedom to be himself. That is exactly what you will hear on the record and what the label 100 percent embraced.”
Allen can point to the exact moment, when he was a child, that he knew his destiny. “Years ago, my dad and I were driving to a softball game in his truck,” he vividly remembers. “Aaron Tippin’s song ‘There Ain’t Nothing Wrong with the Radio’ came on and my dad was so happy!”
This was a pivotal moment for Allen who realized, at that young age, that music could be transformative. “I remember thinking, ‘what if I could make people this happy?’ I have spent every moment since then making it happen for myself.” He certainly did just that. Allen is exactly where he wants to be. Signed to a publishing company that completely believes in him and a label full of artists that he has looked up to throughout this journey. “I am so excited to be working with the same people who guided the careers of Jason Aldean and Dustin Lynch. I respect them so much. They have influenced who I am as an artist and a writer.”
Rob Thomas, One Republic and Prince join Keith Urban, Montgomery Gentry and Kenny Chesney as artists that have impacted Allen and the music he creates. “I feel like I have been preparing for this moment my whole life,” Allen said. “I am ready to go!”
Every country singer/songwriter has a unique path that leads them to Nashville. Wide Open Music’s newest signee, Matt Stell, is no different.
Stell was a star basketball player in college but his coach, who has since become a big fan, did not want him playing out and taking his attention away from basketball. As any musician knows, when it is in your blood you do what you must to live the dream. Stell created an alias, Paul Wayne Walker, so that he could do just that….develop his passion on the stage. As his basketball career flourished so did his popularity in country music. In addition to playing over 100 dates a year he began writing songs for the elite artists of Red Dirt music.
Always the multi-tasker, Stell went on to get his masters degree while delivering chart toppers for Red Dirt star Casey Donahew. Artists like Cory Morrow, Bart Crow and the John D Hale Band were also the beneficiaries of Stell’s writing talents “Texas Music has an independence and freedom that is like no other. I feel really comfortable there. About three years ago I decided to come to Nashville with the goal of growing as a writer and learning from the vast wealth of songwriting talent that exists here. ” Enter Wide Open Music’s Ash Bowers and Amy Hendon Scott. They immediately saw the spark that Stell possessed in both songwriting and performing. Wide Open Music signed him to a publishing and artist development deal. “Matt is so talented. When you see how he commands his audiences it is clear his future is extremely promising,” praises Hendon Scott, A&R director for the company. “We knew we wanted to be a part of Matt’s career. It is limitless.”
The Conway, Arkansas native has fit like a glove into the Nashville songwriting circles. “When I write, I love to interact with diverse characters and see the world through unique perspectives,” says the hard to miss 6’7 crooner that goes by the nickname, Stretch. “What I feel leads to really successful co-writes is being able to draw from writers world views and experiences that might be different than mine.” Co-writers often say the same of Stell, who brings insightful point-of-views of his very own to the table when he writes.
“If I had to choose between playing shows and writing songs, I honestly don’t know which way I would go,” said the man that considers himself equal parts songwriter and performer.
This Louisiana-born singer/songwriter started his musical journey at the age of twelve after writing “Take My Hand” (which would be recorded by Grammy winner Wayne Toups and become a regional standard just a few years later). By the following year, Thibodaux’s musical destiny was set as he began performing in bands across the Gulf Coast/Southern Louisiana area.
By his early 30’s, Travis would spend several years in Nashville, Tennessee working as a full-time session vocalist and songwriter.
It was his work and dedication to professionalism in Nashville that caught the attention of legendary rock performer/songwriter Jonathan Cain of Journey. In 2015, Travis was hired to be the newest member of Journey’s touring unit, providing background vocals and auxiliary keyboards on stage with some of the biggest icons in rock history: Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Steve Smith, and Arnel Pineda.
In 2016, Travis released his latest recording “Travis Thibodaux.” This six-song E.P. features brand-new original tracks recorded in Nashville, Tennessee.