The majestic estate at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens was lit a red hue, a perfect backdrop. Blankets were laid across the grounds as the stars shined bright overhead. That was the setting for Songwriters Under the Stars, the first outdoor full-length concert event performed by three members of the Music City Hitmakers. Created and produced by Charles Dixon in 2010, cousin of Brett James and lead violinist of the Nashville Studio Symphony, the MCH performers consisted of Brett James, Jessi Alexander, and Kyle Jacobs. All hold a wealth of #1 singles and top 40 hits on their resumes and the crowd was basking in the music spectacle before them as the Symphony provided accompaniment.
The charismatic Brett James, who is closing in on 20 #1 singles, performed several staples in his repertoire including “Jesus Take the Wheel” (Carrie Underwood), “Out Last Night” (Kenny Chesney, in which James told the story of a trip to a tropical island with Chesney, resulting in that song and “Reality“. James paid tribute to Chesney for writing two #1’s that day), and Underwood’s new single “Something in the Water“. Jessi Alexander sat in between James and Jacobs while performing her hits “The Climb” (Miley Cyrus), “Mine Would Be You” (Blake Shelton) and “I Drive Your Truck” (Lee Brice). “Lee sang this song as if he wrote it,” Alexander commented while introducing the #1 hit, “and as a songwriter that’s what you hope for”.
Attendees were treated to a touching surprise that night when Black River Entertainment artist Kellie Pickler joined husband Kyle Jacobs on stage to perform “The Woman I Am“, which they co-wrote together. “She is the light of my life” says Jacobs about Pickler. “As a songwriter you look for inspiration and for me, she’s it”. Jacobs would also perform his hits “Dust” (Eli Young Band, and which he also wrote about Pickler) and “Hard to Love” (Lee Brice).
The night closed with all three performers joining in on James’ 2004 hit “When The Sun Goes Down” (Kenny Chesney, Uncle Kracker). The crowd was on their feet, a sea of winter coats and hats swaying and grooving to the tropical hit. The event in entirety was flawless, a perfect introduction to hopefully a new concert series. Make sure to check out Music City Hitmakers for information on this amazing ensemble of songwriters/performers and follow them on twitter to catch a show near you soon.