By Aila Boyd
The Ninth Annual Nashville Night in Buchanan was held last Saturday at James River High School. The evening of music and storytelling featured Matthew Ramsey, a Buchanan native and 1996 James River High School graduate, Trevor Rosen, Josh Osborne, Matt Jenkins, Shane McAnally, and Brad Tursi.
“It’s the most amazing thing that we found each other and we get to do what we do,” Ramsey said of his fellow songwriters. “On top of that, we get to give back. Giving back is the spirit of this whole thing, of why we started this foundation. We not only filled the need in this community, but we did it through the arts and entertainment.”
The concert was first organized to raise money for the Buchanan Area Ministerial Association’s Food Pantry. Ramsey explained that he was living in Nashville at the time and received a phone call from his father, who said that they were having a hard time keeping the pantry stocked. “It blew my mind,” Ramsey said of learning how much the community relied on the pantry. “I knew that some people would show up if I came back from Nashville even though I didn’t have any success.” The idea to bring some of his songwriter friends back home to put on a concert to raise money was hatched. As a result, roughly $1,000 was raised. “That was a big deal,” Ramsey said.
“It grew. We just kept doing it. Somehow, while we were doing it, we managed to become some of the top songwriters in the world,” he said. “My friends succeeded in a very large way. They somehow maintained their heads and their hearts.”
After several years of doing Nashville Night, Ramsey received another phone call from his father, who said “We have a lot of food now” and wanted to know if there was anything else he wanted to do. “The answer is yes,” Ramsey said. “There’s a lot that needs to be done.”
Ramsey explained that because there weren’t many opportunities for him to engage in cultural activities growing up, he primarily spent his time painting and playing music in his parents’ basement. Now, because the needs of the food pantry have been met, he has shifted his focus to partnering with organizations that can help provide cultural opportunities to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them.
It was announced last year that My Hometown Fund would be formed and administered through the Foundation of Roanoke Valley.
Having outgrown the first and second venues, the Buchanan Theatre and the auditorium at James River High School, the concert now takes place in the gymnasium at the school. This year marked the first year that the event has taken up the entirety of the gymnasium. Just like the scale of the concert, the level of success that the songwriters have experienced has done nothing but grown since the first-even Nashville Night nine years ago.
Osborne has racked up over 20 No. 1 hits, including “Merry Go ‘Round.” The song was co-written with Kacey Musgraves and Shane McAnally and was awarded the Grammy for Best Country Song of the Year at the 56th Grammy Awards. Additionally, “Body Like a Back Road,” which he cowrote with Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Zach Crowell, broke the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart by staying at No. 1 for 34 weeks. “He’s one of the quickest mouths and minds you’ll ever see,” Ramsey said of Osborne.
Tursi, a guitarist and songwriter, is a member of Old Dominion. He has written songs for Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, and Josh Turner. “He’s an extremely talented guitar player and songwriter,” Ramsey said of Tursi.
McAnally spent a brief time recording as a solo artist before turning to writing songs for other artists. To date, he has written over 40 No. 1 hits. In 2014, he was named Songwriter of the Year by The Academy of Country Music. He won Best Country Album and Best Country Song at the 2014 Grammy Awards for his work on Kacey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer Different Park” album, the AIMP 2019 Song of the Year award with Kasey Musgraves’ “Rainbow,” and the 2019 Grammy for Best Country Song for “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves. He was also presented with the 2019 ACM Songwriter of the Year award. He currently appears on NBC’s “Songland,” a songwriting competition series that features unknown songwriters who are crafting hit songs. “When I first wrote with him, he had a little success. He had one song on the radio,” Ramsey said of McAnally.
Rosen, a multi-instrumentalist, is a member of Old Dominion. He has a dozen No. 1 hits, including songs that have been recorded by Chris Young, Craig Morgan, The Band Perry, Jake Owen, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, and William Michael Morgan. “He’s been by my side pretty much the whole ride,” Ramsey said of Rosen.
Jenkins moved to Nashville in 2002 and signed with Universal South Records the year after. He has opened for Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, and Sugarland. He has written No. 1 songs for Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, Dustin Lynch, Billy Currington, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, and Old Dominion. “He’s one of the kindest people and also one of the best singer-songwriters I’ve ever heard,” Ramsey said of Jenkins.
After each one of the songwriters performed three songs and a raffle, the rest of the members of Old Dominion came on stage and performed several songs.
All of the proceeds from the evening, which was estimated to have been over $50,000, went to the Ramsey Foundation. The foundation was created to provide resources to organizations working in rural communities. Its focus is to help meet daily life needs as well as the enrichment of cultural arts. In addition, it seeks to bring awareness to the disparities of cultural arts resources and opportunities in rural communities.
Since the first Nashville Night nine years ago, roughly $175,000 has been raised. The past two years have contributed to over half of the total sum of money that has been raised.
The James River High School Key Club and football team, Dan Garrison, the Botetourt County Public Schools Maintenance Department, the Buchanan Library, Buchanan Presbyterian Church, Mt. Joy RV Sales and Services, and Old Dominion’s staff and crew were thanked for their contributions to the event.