Looking for Monty Powell? You don't have to look far, he is usually hanging around somewhere at the top of the Billboard and R&R charts. He is also easily found on any one of the 50 million plus records floating around containing one of his songs. As a music business veteran for nearly 25 years, Monty Powell has successfully honed his craft and found his niche as a songwriter/producer who often collaborates with such artists as Keith Urban, Chris Cagle, Rascal Flatts, James Otto, Diamond Rio and many more. His recent successes like the multi week #1 singles "Days Go By" and "Tonight I Wanna Cry" for Keith Urban and "Miss me Baby" for Chris Cagle keep him at the forefront of Nashville's tope tunesmiths.
Apart from songwriting, Powell has worked as an independent A&R rep for Tony Brown at MCA records and Mike Dungan at Capitol records. He co-produced Diamond Rio's first three albums, two of which are now platinum and one is gold, as well as cut six sides on Keith Urban's critically acclaimed band The Ranch for Capitol records. In 1994, he won a CMA Album of the Year award for his production work on Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles. In addition, Powell produced Working Man's Blues" by "Jed Zepplin (Steve Wariner, Lee Roy Parnell and Diamond Rio) on the highly acclaimed Mamma's Hungry Eyes: A Tribute to Merle Haggard. In 2003 Powell produced/engineered jazz pop singer/songwriter Anna Wilson's debut record, The Long Way, (Asylum/Curb) and has just finished working on her sophomore effort Time Changes due out in early 2007.
Even more recently, Powell has partnered with New York based artist management firm Levin Nelson Entertainment (Michael Bolton/Luther Vandross) to oversee their work in the Nashville music community. Principal partner Brian Nelson's move to Nashville from New york has cemented their presence on Music Row. Recent management signings include Muzik Mafia member, James Otto (Raybaw/WB), Lyric Street artist Trent Tomlinson and RCA recording artist Chuck Wicks, who Monty will also be co-producing with Dann Huff (Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts, and Keith Urban)
A native of Resaca, Georgia, Monty Powell moved to Nashville in 1980 to attend David Lipscomb College. He studied at Lipscomb for the next three years, maintaining a scholarship as guitarist for the college's recruiting band, Windsong. At the beginning of his senior year, he left school to tour with the contemporary Christian acts Russ Taff and David Meece. Subsequently, he spent three years as a member of Pat Patrick's society band.
During his tenure with Patrick, he also took a job as salesman for J.S. Brock Music, a Nashville jingle production house. This soon led to his writing and producing spots for the company. After two years at Brock, he and a partner started their own jingle company, Powell/Parrish Productions. "We did real well," Powell says. "We created national jingles for Sears, Coors, and McDonald's." One of Powell's spots for Allstate aired during the Super Bowl. "I plugged away at jingles for a couple years," Powell continues, "and in the process I met the late Van Stephenson, who was in the group Blackhawk. He was singing some jingles for us. I told him I'd like to try my hand at being a real songwriter. He listened to some of the stuff I'd been writing on the side, thought it was good and got me an appointment at Warner/ Chappell. I went in with six songs, and they signed me. So my story's a little bit different from most songwriters. I didn't have to look around. All I did was walk in and get a deal. That's all I've done since - be a professional songwriter and producer.
Powell's first cut was "Pete's Music City," on Alabama's 1989 album, Southern Star. The next year, he scored his first Top 5 via Restless Heart with "Dancy's Dream. "About that time," he recalls, "I started getting interested in producing, and I wound up producing some demos for the Restless Heart guys. That's when I met Tim DuBois (then Restless Heart's co-producer.) Not long after, Arista Records came to town with the idea of opening up a country division. When Tim got the job heading the label, he came to me and said, 'We're not going to have a paid A&R staff, but I want you to be in the Arista A&R brain trust." In addition to Powell, the "brain trust" included Scott Hendricks, former President of Capitol Records and Virgin Records-Nashville, and super-producer Barry Beckett. "Tim gave me carte blanche to find an act I wanted to produce," Powell explains, "and said he would find a spot for it at Arista. That act turned out to be Diamond Rio, whose lead signer, Marty Roe, was my roommate at David Lipscomb."
With the members of Diamond Rio, Powell wrote a number of songs that were picked for the group's first album. The act was an instant success. Diamond Rio's first single, "Meet in the Middle," went No. 1, marking the first time in history that a group's debut effort had topped the country charts. Powell continued with Warner/ Chappell for four years, during which time he wrote the No. 1 Diamond Rio hit, "Norma Jean Riley"-which Radio & Records proclaimed it's Country Song of the Year in 1992. Powell also provided Diamond Rio with the Top 5 "Nowhere Bound."
"When Billy Ray Cyrus came along, everything changed, "Powell says. "Achy Breaky Heart," the first single form Cyrus's Some Gave All debut album, became a huge international hit and spurred sales that would ultimately amount to more than 12 million copies. Happily, Cyrus's next single, "Could Have Been Me," was a Powell composition, and leapt straight to Radio & Records No. 1 spot.
After leaving Warner/Chappell, Powell spent three years as a writer for BMG Music. Following that, he negotiated a three-year co-publishing venture with Opryland Music Group and a few years later with Sony/ATV Tree. Monty currently writes for Universal Music Publishing Group and has penned the recent single "Miss Me Baby" for Chris Cagle, as well as his last top 5 hit "What a Beautiful Day". Powell also co-wrote the first international single released by Keith Urban called "Days Go By" which was a four week #1 single in the U.S in 2004. In addition to all this he has songs that will soon be released on upcoming albums for Rascal Flatts, James Otto, Aaron Lines, and Anna Wilson among others.
Monty currently resides in Nashville when he is not chasing fish with a fly rod on the gulf coast of Florida