Date Signed: March 2021
Label: Sony Music Nashville
Type of Music: Country
Manager: Jonnie Forster - The Penthouse
Legal: Christian Barker - Shackelford Law
Publicity: Courtney Beebe - Sony Music Nashville
A&R: Margaret Tomlin - Sony Music Nashville
Willie Jones, described as a “country-trap iconoclast,” released Something to Dance to in June, his reward for a long journey. Jones has been singing and performing since he was a kid at church, though really got rolling doing musical theater in high school.
“It helped me understand so much on how to command a stage and project my voice to everyone in the room,” Jones says. “I still use those techniques today.”
Jones describes his sound as a “mixture of my influences, which weaves and evolves from country, hip-hop, rock, and soul.” It was that mixture that caught the eye of The Penthouse.
“I met Jonnie Forster, owner of The Penthouse, and his team a few years back walking into their studios, in Los Angeles,” Jones said. “He heard my early demos and we vibed for a bit. We literally started making music within a week or so after, and I basically never left. They took me in, treating me as family, helped develop my sound while protecting it from industry folk who wanted me to change. I know they shield me from a lot of bullets, but I’ll take one for them, too. Plus, they’re the ultimate dot connectors.”
One of the biggest of those dots was the deal with Sony Nashville.
“We had a lot of interest from labels outside of Nashville, but thought, if I’m going to do country, let’s find the home that has the muscle and the vision,” Jones says. “Randy Goodman, the Chairman and CEO at Sony Music Nashville, heard about me from the Sony U.K. office when we were touring out there, but true story, what closed the deal was when Randy was vacationing somewhere with his family, one of his kid’s friends was playing my music on a boat. Randy called Jonnie with the Head of A&R at the time, Jim Catino; the next day and it just fast tracked from there. Shout out to Randy’s kid’s friend. I owe ya one!”
With the deal now in place, Jones and his team can focus on rolling out the Something to Dance to album.
“The album has greasy country bangers with that Louisiana sauce,” he says. “These songs are Willie Jones songs, meaning I don’t think other artists could pull them off, nor should they want to. Songs were written mostly in Los Angeles, and some in Nashville. I get inspired by energy and making people move, so get ready: if you’re not on your feet once you hit PLAY, check your ears” – Brett Callwood