Monty Powell Wins Big at SESAC, Preps Jazzy Disc With Wife
Monty Powell is quickly becoming one of the most successful -- and celebrated -- songwriters in Music City. The prolific tunesmith took home three trophies at the SESAC Awards on November 8, for each of his No. 1 hits in the past year with Keith Urban: 'Sweet Thing,' 'Kiss a Girl' and 'Til Summer Comes Around.'
"It's been a really, really good year," Monty tells The Boot. "Keith and I were able to put three songs in the No. 1 spot in the calendar year, which is virtually unheard of, so that's really exciting. It really caps off a great 15-year-plus run he and I have had together."
Happily married to jazz-singing sensation Anna Wilson, Monty is also watching one of the songs they wrote together achieve success very few songwriters in Nashville are able to witness. "Anna and I have a song together ['If I Knew Then'] on the Lady Antebellum 'Need You Now' CD, which is the biggest record in -- forever," he notes. And he's hoping the lucky streak continues.
"I'm writing constantly with the guys from Lady Antebellum. They're gonna make a new record first of the year. Just finished up the Keith Urban cycle. I've got a song on the new record."
In addition to writing, the pair are also devoting much of their time to Anna's solo career, including releasing a new album featuring some of country music's most iconic stars. "The new record that's going to come out on February 1, it's called 'Countrypolitan Duets,'" Monty reveals. "It's a fusion of all the classic country songs done in a jazz and big-band styling. Every song is a duet with a legendary or a superstar artist of the day. So Anna sings these songs as duets with Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Billy Dean, jazz musicians like Lloyd Green, Rick Braun and Larry Carlton, the jazz icon, plays guitar on it. It's all great country songs from the '50s and '60s, that we've done these amazing swing arrangements to."
Anna says the experience of recording the songs with her own musical heroes is one she will never forget. "Connie Smith was there. We did the vocal on the same mic together, old-school," Anna recalls. "Ray Price came in, and when he sang that first note all of us welled up because his voice is so rich and represents so much great history in country music and in our music history. So, it was awesome. Then Keith Urban came and played a guitar solo on his duet as well and sang. Lady Antebellum stepped in on an old Patsy Cline song, 'Walking After Midnight.' We did an anthem version of it. It's real high-energy and they're replicating the Andrews Sisters, where they sang the choruses and it was very singer-oriented. They were great."
The couple, who are also working on a joint venture to release 'Countrypolitan Duets,' with Matthew Knowles, the father and long-time manager of superstar Beyoncé, plan on introducing the new project next week from the most famous stage in country music. "Anna is going to debut on the Grand Ole Opry next week," says Monty.
"I don't think many jazz artists get to stand on the Opry stage," Anna continues."I realize what that means and I'm humbled by the invitation and the opportunity to be able to do that and still pay tribute to country music and also shine a light on jazz."
Monty's song on Keith Urban's upcoming CD, 'Get Closer,' hits November 16 -- the same day Anna will make her Opry debut. She will be joined in the segment by Billy Dean, Connie Smith, Larry Carlton and former 'American Idol' contestant Matt Giraud.