Behind the Scenes
In August of 2022, singer-songwriter Rick Brantley arrived to a room of familiar faces and long-time collaborators at SIR Studios in Nashville to rehearse for the world premiere of Schirmer Theatrical and Greenberg Artists’ newest symphonic experience – Country Hits: Songs from Nashville. After hand-picking a drummer, guitarists, and his co-star from amongst Nashville’s best musicians, Brantley worked closely with Grammy® Award-winning arranger Jeff Tyzik and Creative Producer Robert Thompson to curate a program that paints a picture of country music in America, one that transports audiences to a honky tonk bar on Lower Broadway in Nashville.
On creating the setlist for Country Hits: Songs from Nashville, Brantley explained that “On the whole, all of these songs are fun to perform. That’s a big part of why we chose them. Music, a live show, is supposed to be FUN, more than anything and this is going to be quite the show.” Starting with the Carter Family’s rendition of the popular hymn “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” Country Hits will take you on the transformative journey through the expansive genre as the torch is passed from legendary performers to the artists of today.
Brantley hopes that audiences leave the show feeling the same way he felt while creating it: “With a smile on their face and with a greater appreciation for this incredible music and art form. [He] certainly learned a lot through [the concert development] process about the magic of earnestness, the complexity of honest storytelling, and that country music is, at its best, a hell of a lot of fun.”
- Will the Circle Be Unbroken
written by Charles H. Gabriel and Ada R. Habershon, recorded by The Carter Family
- Callin’ Baton Rouge
written by Dennis Linde, recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys
written by Stephen Earl and Miranda Lambert, recorded by Miranda Lambert
written by Willie Nelson, recorded by Patsy Cline
- All My Ex’s Live in Texas
written by Lyndia Jean Shafer and Sanger D. Shafer, recorded by George Strait
- Good Hearted Woman
written and recorded by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
written by Bobbie Gentry, recorded by Reba McEntire
- Independence Day
written by Gretchen Peters, recorded by Martina McBride
written by Natalie Nicole Hemby, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Lee Musgraves, recorded by Kacey Musgraves
- Devil Went Down To Georgia
written by Charlie Daniels, Tom Crain, “Taz” DiGregorio, Fred Edwards, Charles Hayward, and James W. Marshall, recorded by The Charlie Daniels Band
- Always on My Mind
written by Johnny Christopher, Wayne Carson Thompson, and Mark James, recorded by Willie Nelson
- Wide Open Spaces
written by Susan Lauralee Gibson, recorded by The Chicks
- Brand New Man
written by Leon Brooks, Don Kirby Cook, and Ronnie Dunn, recorded by Brooks & Dunn
- When You Say Nothing At All
written by Paul Overstreet and Donald Alan Schlitz, recorded by Alison Krauss & Union Station
written by Alan Eugene Jackson and Jimmy Ray McBride, recorded by Alan Jackson
- Wichita Lineman
written by Jimmy Webb, recorded by Glen Campbell
written and recorded by Dolly Parton
- I Will Always Love You
written and recorded by Dolly Parton
- 9 to 5
written and recorded by Dolly Parton
- I Hope You Dance
written by Mark Daniel Saunders and Tia Sillers, recorded by Lee Ann Womack
written by Jerry Lieber and Billy Edd Wheeler, recorded by Johnny Cash and June Carter
ALL ARRANGEMENTS LICENSED BY SCHIRMER THEATRICAL, LLC
Country Hits: Songs from Nashville is a co-production of Schirmer Theatrical and Greenberg Artists, part of their joint Symphonic Experience catalogue. Set list subject to changes.
When Rick Brantley made the move to Nashville, he established himself as one of the most in-demand young writers on Music Row with cuts ranging from Meat Loaf to David Nail. An artist and dynamic performer as well as a songwriter, Brantley has toured nonstop all over the world, opening for everyone from John Hiatt to Kiefer Sutherland, Zac Brown, and Brandy Clark, as well as headlining his own solo shows.
Brantley continues to add to his impressive portfolio, producing acclaimed records with artists like Rob Baird and Justin Halpin, and directing music videos in his down time.
Grace Leer, a Northern California native, started singing at age six. She knew there was nothing else she would love more than being on stage with a microphone in her hand, making people feel something through her voice. Throughout her younger years, Grace sang anywhere and everywhere she could throughout the Bay Area as well as playing competitive soccer and excelling in her work. She earned a soccer scholarship to the University of California Berkeley to play Division 1 soccer where she not only was voted “Captain” her senior year, but led the Bears to the NCAA tournament each of her four years.
After graduating from Berkeley, Grace headed to Nashville to pursue her dream of becoming a country music singer/songwriter. Holding down a full-time sales position and performing and writing songs for four years, Grace auditioned for Season 18 of American Idol. Moving through the competition quickly, it was Katy Perry’s reaction to her performance of “Natural Woman” during Idol’s Top 40 Showcase that landed Grace in the Top 20 but then onto the Top 10!
“She literally came out here and made everyone else look like they were on a talent show” – Katy Perry
As American Idol came to an end, Grace headed back to Nashville with a massive fan base and proceeded to sign her first Record and Publishing deal with 19 Entertainment/Industrial Media, and a management deal with Red Light Management, Empire Publishing and UTA. She also made her Ryman Auditorium debut in November of 2020. Grace hit the songwriting room hard, getting in rooms with Nashville’s best songwriters to find what truly makes her “Grace.” After a year, she has found her voice and her sound that incorporates her California roots and her favorite things about 90’s country. She released her debut EP with producers Dan Fernandez and Jared Hampton in 2021. Grace continues to hit the stage performing and writing.
In addition to her love of song writing and performing, Grace has always had a love of acting and filmmaking. She made her Acting Debut in a Supporting Actress role of Riley in the Hallmark film, Time for Her to Come Home for Christmas, which debuted in November, 2023 and aired throughout the holiday season. She also wrote, recorded and released “Star On Top Of The Tree,” a song featured in her Hallmark film, as well as several holiday playlists!
A multi-talented singer, songwriter, actress, model and athlete, Grace heads into 2024 with more music to release. She has an EP in the works and perhaps more filmmaking. Stay tuned.
Dean Berner is a musician, photographer, and educator. He lives in Nashville, TN with his partner Rachel Beauregard, their two daughters and dog Sharkey.
Dean is an in-demand session player and is currently touring with MCA Recording artist Catie Offerman. Over the last few years, he’s worked with Andrew Ripp, Mackenzie Porter, Maggie Rose, Lucie Silvas, Jana Kramer, Clare Dunn, Rick Brantley, Paul McDonald and others. From 2003-2013, Dean was a member of country/bluegrass trio Edens Edge (Big Machine Records) and toured with Brad Paisley, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, and Lady A.
Also an avid photographer, Dean holds a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Hartford and teaches at Nashville State Community College.
Native Virginian and Nashville transplant Bryan Dawley has been making music professionally for the past 15 years. His journey began at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV, where he not only double majored in Classical Bass Performance and Jazz Studies but began to experiment with traditional Appalachian instruments.
Fusing the two, Dawley began playing professionally in the DC area and eventually started his band of 10 years, Native Run, with friend and fellow collaborator Rachel Beauregard. After a move to Music City, the two enjoyed great success, signing to Showdog Universal Records and Creative Nation/Combustion Publishing, and touring the world with various artists spanning from Lady A to John Hiatt to Carrie Underwood.
In recent years, Dawley has toured with singer/songwriter Ruston Kelly, and began a music production career in 2019. Bryan lives in East Nashville with his wife Karrie and two kids, Clara and Levi.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jon Epcar is a drummer and composer. Epcar has worked with many artists including Bono, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Rihanna, Natasha Bedingfield, Carly Rae Jepsen, The 8G Band on Seth Meyers, Klangkarussell, Cristian Castro, Matt Morris, Katie Melua, Evan Rachel Wood, SYML, Jesse James, Joan Osborne, John Cameron Mitchell, Taryn Manning, Madison Beer, and Danielia Cotton, among others.
Epcar was a founding member of Interscope recording group, Carney. On Broadway, he originated the drum chairs for Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, Amelie, and Tina Fey’s Mean Girls. Epcar’s debut album as a songwriter, bandleader, and producer, MORNING DRONE, was released in 2017, and his sophomore release SOLO DUO TOOT was released 2021. Jon appreciates the great people at Paiste Cymbals, Craviotto Drums, Vic Firth Drumsticks, Reflexx Drumpads, and Aquarian Drumheads for their support and incredible craftsmanship.
Andrew Sovine is a multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and composer originally from Nashville. He has collaborated with such artists as Big Kenny (Big & Rich), Wynonna, Chase Rice, Don Gallardo, Cale Tyson, Kelsey Waldon, Kink Ador, Janelle and the Gentleman, Kaylyn Scardefield, Bobby McGrath, Harold Allen, Birdcloud, Maureen Murphy, Meghan Linsey, and most notably Ashley McBryde.
Sovine’s work has garnered multiple GRAMMY® Award nominations and has a style that embraces his love of noise, fuzz, delay, open tunings, and general mischief. In addition to his touring and recording work he also owns and operates The Back Room Record Studio in Savannah, GA.
Producer & Arranger
Producer & Booking Agent
Schirmer Theatrical is a concert production company specializing in the creation of symphonic experiences, film with live orchestra concerts, and theatrical productions.
Greenberg Artists is an artist management and concert production company striving to bring the highest level of talent and musical integrity to audiences around the world.