If ‘Nashville Cats’ is a song about musicians, Tony Brown is the ultimate ‘Nashville Cat’, who not only went from side-man, to running record labels, but also became one of the most legendary producers ‘in music history’ thanks to Jimmy Bowen and one of the most astute businessmen on The Row. The cool part is… Tony remembers, cherishes and will share with you, every detail of every moment of his career, right back to his humble beginnings playing piano with JD Sumner & The Stamps, The Oak Ridge Boys, Emmylou Harris, The Cherry Bombs and Elvis Presley. And he does it with ‘hunk of burnin’ love’ and a huge sense of humor.
While serving as president of MCA Nashville, for nearly two decades, before departing to co-found Universal South Records, with Tim DuBois, Tony signed a plethora of newcomers to label deals including Alabama, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, Kelly Willis, Todd Snider, Allison Moorer, The Mavericks, Shooter Jennings and more, while his iconic production discography came to include the likes of REBA, George Strait, Wynonna, Vince Gill, Sara Evans, Brooks & Dunn, Lionel Richie, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Rogers, Barbara Streisand, Billy Joe, and Cyndi Lauper.
Tony’s historic achievements and contributions have been honored with 4 CMA Awards for ‘Single of The Year’ and 6 for ‘Album of The Year, 2 ACM ‘Producer of The Year’ Awards, an ACM ‘Vocal Event of The Year, 2 ACM ‘Single of The Year’, 2 ACM ‘Album of The Year’ Awards, 2 TNN Awards for ‘Single of The Year’ and 1for ‘Album of The Year’.
He’s been called the founding father of the Americana Country Movement, he received a Producer/Engineer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Assoc., a Grammy nomination for ‘Producer of The Year, a Grammy for ‘Album of the Year’ for George Strait’s Troubadour and is accredited with producing 9 Grammy Winning Songs.
Over the course of his career, Tony has produced over 100 #1 singles with record level sales, exceeding the $100 million mark… And here are a few more accolades…
∞ 1972 – Best Gospel Instrumentalist – Gospel Music Association
∞ 1995 – Outstanding Creative Achievement – Record Producer – TEC Awards (Technical Excellence & Creativity)
∞ 1995 & 1997 – Outstanding Producer – Nashville Music Awards
∞ 1997 – “Pioneer Award” for “Distinguished Achievement in the Recording Industry: Country Crossover Music” – International Achievement in Arts Awards
∞ 2004 – “Dale Franklin Leadership Award” – Leadership Music
∞ 2009 – The Cecil Scaife Visionary Award
∞ 2013 – Inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame
But the truth is… He’d much rather tell stories than talk trophies. And his most recent are, as one would expect… iconic, to say the least.
After receiving a Grammy Nom for her TO MEMPHIS WITH LOVE blues album and a Tony Award for KINKY BOOTS, ‘Super Star’ Cyndi Lauper came to Nashville in 2015 to record a country album and you guessed it … Tony got the gig. Then, in 2016 Tony also produced Reba’s 16th # 1 album LOVE SOMEBODY, while preparing to launch Velvet Stone Management, with legendary attorney John Mason in partnership with Melissa Core & Rick Caballo, owners of Dead Horse Branding … All of whom, are gearing up currently, for the launch n release of Tony’s newly published coffee-table book ‘Elvis, Strait to Jesus’, a photographic journal of Tony’s illustrious career, accompanied by a documentary memorializing, the making of the book.
I once saw a list of the 100 most important people in ‘the music industry’. Tony Brown was on the list.