UK and US country songwriters join forces

british nashville

Chart-topping UK and Nashville songwriters have come together to create transatlantic cross-country hits.

British songwriters Wayne Hector (One Direction, Little Mix, Nicki Minaj), Starsmith (Paloma Faith, Kylie), Pete Hammerton (James Arthur, Britney Spears) and Jim Eliot (Will Young, Ellie Goulding) joined Nashville hit makers Randy Houser, Eric Paslay, Angaleena Presley and Michael Tyler, for the first ever Nashville-to-London songwriting event.

Burgeoning Irish country star Catherine McGrath also lent her vocals to the camp, alongside British talents Andy Brown and Twinnie.

The event, which took place at Abbey Road Studios, London, yesterday (Sunday), was hosted by PRS for Music and the Country Music Association (CMA).

Hector said: ‘I have been incredibly lucky to work with some of the world’s top artists and having already had the opportunity to work within the country music genre in Nashville, it’s exciting to see what we can achieve in a day in London at Abbey Road Studios.’

Paslay added: ‘Touring in the UK has been a dream of mine for a long time. Getting to visit Abbey Road and write there is almost unbelievable – the magic of that studio is so strong. I’m honoured to be able to get to know and write with songwriters from the UK – what a special opportunity for all of us.’

Simon Aldridge, head of writer relations at PRS for Music, said: ‘The UK has some of the greatest writing talent on earth – and when it comes to country music, so does Nashville.

‘So it just makes sense that we would combine the two in order to create something special, and where better for PRS for Music and the Country Music Association to unite such talent than the hallowed halls of Abbey Road’s Studio 2 where so many exceptional PRS songwriters from The Beatles right through to Ed Sheeran have recorded their songs over the years?’

Over the last five years, country music has gone from strength to strength in the UK.

In 2015, British country act The Shires broke records by becoming the first country act to enter the UK Top 10 Official Chart with their debut album Brave, while a year later Ward Thomas secured the number one spot with their second album, Cartwheels.

Today, sales of country albums account for 2.5 percent of the UK market share, an increase of 20 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Official Charts Compant and the BPI.

According to independent market research body Nepa, a survey of nearly 1,000 people carried out in 2016 found that country music has seen the greatest share (30 percent) of new listeners in the last five years, compared to other popular genres such as R&B (18 percent), pop (15 percent) and rock (11 percent).

Research also found that millennials comprise the overwhelming majority of new listeners (64 percent), followed by generation X’ers (29 percent), and baby boomers (seven percent).

A staggering 39 percent of UK adults listen to country music regularly; among these, 42 percent listen daily.

Read our recent feature, British Nashville, on the growing success of UK country and Americana artists and songwriters.

Top picture, l-r: Jim Eliot, Catherine McGrath, Twinnie, Starsmith, Angaleena Presley, Eric Pasley, Randy Houser, Pete Hammerton, Andy Brown.