Little Big Town Awarded Artist Of The Year At Music Biz Conference

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• May 18, 2016
Pictured (L-R): Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, James Donio, Philip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman. Photo: Music Biz

Pictured (L-R): Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, James Donio, Philip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman. Photo: Music Biz

Little Big Town accepted the Artist of the Year award from the Music Business Association at the annual Music Biz conference in downtown Nashville on Wednesday afternoon (May 18).

They received the all-genre award from Music Biz President James Donio. Although they did not perform, each member of the band had kind words to share for their business team.

“Thank you to Jim and Music Business Association. We’re so appreciative of this honor,” said Jimi Westbrook. “If there’s anything we know after our long journey as a band is how important it is to have an amazing team of people around you that share your passion and believe in you and work endlessly. And we are so blessed to have that. In the whole gamut of our world, we are surrounded by amazing people and we love you guys so much. That means so much to us.”

Little Big Town backstage at Music Biz. Photo: Music Biz

Little Big Town backstage at Music Biz. Photo: Music Biz

“Absolutely. Our quarterback on our team is Sandbox Management,” noted Kimberly Schlapman. “We have the best management company in town, pretty much. They changed our lives. Jason Owen, Bobby Simmons and Leslie Cohea are here, and Kelly Russell, and everybody at that office does everything for us. We’re so grateful. And O’Neil Hagaman—our business managers who pay our taxes, and then tell us we need to stop buying new shoes!”

“They’ve been around longer than anybody. They were with us many years and didn’t make a dime,” Westbrook interjected.

Pictured (L-R): Sam Hunt's manager Brad Belanger, James Donio. Photo: MusicBiz

Pictured (L-R): Sam Hunt’s manager Brad Belanger, James Donio. Photo: Music Biz

“Yes, thanks for being around,” added Phillip Sweet. “And nothing would be what this is without our road life and touring and Creative Artists Agency—Darin Murphy and our team. The amazing work that’s done arranging and figuring out schedules, and where to put us and what towns for us to play in … it’s mind-numbing to do the work you guys do, so thank you for working endless hours to make that possible. We just love playing live. It’s the connection that makes all this worthwhile. It’s incredible, so thank you.”

“Our label over here – Mike Dungan, Cindy Mabe, everyone at UMG. I don’t know what year this is together, that we’ve been putting music out. A long time. And thank you for letting us follow our every whim, and you always do. We just appreciate the team the hard work there. So thank you very much,” said Karen Fairchild.

“Nashville, you’ve been so good to us, and the writers here. We’re blessed to live in such a creative community,” she added. “Thank you for the gift of these wonderful songs and for collaborating with us. We love you very much and thank you for this great honor.”

Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Halsey, Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander. Photo: Music Biz

Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Halsey, Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander. Photo: Music Biz

Breakthrough Artist awards were given to alternative pop star Halsey and MCA Nashville artist Sam Hunt, who was unable to attend due to illness; his award was accepted by manager Brad Belanger.

The Chairman’s Award for Sustained Creative Achievement went to Big Machine Records artist Cheap Trick. During brief remarks at the podium, they thanked Scott Borchetta and Vector Management founder Ken Levitan for giving them a platform to continue working. Cheap Trick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year and released a new album, Bang, Zoom, Crazy … Hello on April 1.

The Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award was presented to the T.J. Martell Foundation, accepted by CEO Laura Heatherly. The latter award was presented by Chapin’s widow, Sandy Chapin. A video speech from Tony Martell, who founded the organization in memory of his son, was screened as well.

TJ Martell

Pictured (L-R): Sandy Chapin, James Donio, Laura Heatherly. Photo: Music Biz

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Craig Shelburne is the General Manager at MusicRow.

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