‘I’m helping to bring Nashville to Birmingham as Country Music surges in popularity with Beyoncé and more’

Birmingham is seeing a surge in popularity of Country Music with live events taking over key venues as world famous artists like Beyoncé join the trend
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Country music has become the fastest growing genre in the UK, according to recent figures. Between 2020 and 2022, streaming of country stars rose by almost 50% in the UK, according to data released by the Country Music Association, and its rise in popularity has continued ever since.

Its upward trajectory is echoed by some of the UK’s biggest artists venturing into the genre, including Ed Sheeran, who released the track Life Goes On with country star Luke Combs last year, and Lana Del Rey, who recently announced a new country-inspired album Lasso. Last year, the country singer Morgan Wallen was Apple Music’s top artist globally.

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Now Beyoncé is taking on the genre, following the announcement of her upcoming album Cowboy Carter, which will be released on 29 March. And the trend is repeated in Birmingham where a host of live Country Music events are taking over key venues.

B:Music, the music charity responsible for Birmingham venues Town Hall and Symphony Hall has been hosting country music events and concerts for many years now, but the number and popularity of these has recently ramped up.

Part of this reputation is down to B:Music’s Contemporary Programme Producer Sally Rea Morris; herself a force to be reckoned with in the UK’s country music scene. Along with her partner Stephen Marks, she fronts the high-energy, multi award-winning country rock band Gasoline and Matches. 

They are resident hosts of Nashville Sounds in the Round at Symphony Hall, Birmingham’s premier country songwriter event, which is now in its seventh year. Here, artists are invited to tell the stories behind their songs in a Bluebird Café style ‘In the Round’ session, stripping the songs back to their origins and transporting the audience right back to the writing rooms.

Sally Rea Morris and Stephen Marks from Gasoline and MatchesSally Rea Morris and Stephen Marks from Gasoline and Matches
Sally Rea Morris and Stephen Marks from Gasoline and Matches
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Gasoline and Matches’ contribution to and influence on country and Americana music in the Midlands has been nothing short of profound. They were awarded ‘Duo of the Year’ for the third time at the 2023 British Country Music Association Awards and were on the line-up for the Country 2 Country Festival at London’s O2 Arena on 8 March 2024, alongside some of the biggest country artists in the world. 

‘I couldn’t be more proud of supporting the rise of Country Music in Birmingham’

Sally Rea Morris commented, “I couldn’t be more proud of what Nashville Sounds in the Round has achieved over the seven years it has been running, and the growth since we formed our partnership with B:Music. It is my absolute pleasure to champion artists from the UK and around the world at this very special event, which takes place in the Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space at Symphony Hall several times a year. 

“The success of the country music genre in the UK can be seen in the growing popularity of country music events here, and the concerts we host at Town Hall and Symphony Hall are no exception. From our intimate Nashville Sounds in the Round events to bigger concerts showcasing international stars, I am thrilled that here at B:Music we can provide stages in Birmingham which are right up there with the best in the world for these country music artists to perform on.”

What Country Music events can I look forward to seeing in Birmingham?

Coming up this Spring across the B:Music venues is another Nashville Sounds in the Round event on Saturday 20 April at 11.30am. Gasoline and Matches will be joined by Emilia Quinn, who is a vibrant force in the realm of Americana music; Cheshire-based singer-songwriter Chloe Chadwick; American country music singer Jimmy Stanley; and prolific writer and unmatched performer Ryan Nelson. All tickets cost £15.  

Country Music star Charles Esten is coming to BirminghamCountry Music star Charles Esten is coming to Birmingham
Country Music star Charles Esten is coming to Birmingham
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On Tuesday 30 April at 7.30pm, the Town Hall stage plays host to global entertainer Charles Esten. Known for his roles as Ward Cameron on the Netflix hit show Outer Banks and Deacon Claybourne in Nashville, the artist-songwriter released his independent debut album, Love Ain’t Pretty, on 26 January 2024. Already totalling over 14 million streams for his music to date, Esten is a 2018 Guinness World Records title holder for the “Most consecutive weeks to release an original digital single by a music act”, after delivering 54 original songs once a week for 54 straight weeks. He has made over 160 appearances at Nashville’s iconic Grand Ole Opry and performed multiple headline tours in the US, Germany, and Amsterdam, as well as the UK. On Thursday 16 May at 7.30pm, The Shires will be the next Country music performers to take to the Town Hall stage. The Shires’ achievements speak for themselves: They have had three consecutive UK Top 3 albums, four number 1 UK Country albums, 100 million+ streams, two Gold-certified records, and countless sold-out headline shows. Their authenticity saw them embraced by the Nashville scene immediately, leading to two Country Music Association Awards.

Country Music stars Little Big Town are coming to BirminghamCountry Music stars Little Big Town are coming to Birmingham
Country Music stars Little Big Town are coming to Birmingham

Looking further ahead to the autumn, country vocal quartet Little Big Town grace the Symphony Hall stage (17 September). After forming in the late 1990s, first as a duo, then as a trio, and finally as a quartet, the country music band honed their craft for years by performing, recording, and writing. Their dedication and perseverance paid off when their 2005 album, The Road to Here, was certified platinum. That year, they received the first of four consecutive (and counting) nominations for the Country Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year.

Town Hall hosts Country Roads on 23 November, a night of the very best country classics. Celebrating the kings and queens of country music, this special evening will feature the very biggest country songs of all time, including 9 to 5, The Gambler, Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, King of the Road, Crazy, Rhinestone Cowboy, Jolene, Dance the Night Away, Walkin’ after Midnight and many, many more.

Tickets for country music concerts at B:Music venues are available from B:Music

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