Nashville Hitmakers Share Songs for a Cause

Music + Hope 4 Haiti Brings Out Country's Best

Natalie Hemby started the Chicago show on Wednesday (Nov. 1) with a story about her drunk next door neighbor and her good friend Melinda Lambert.

“My husband co-produced Miranda’s first few albums, and I sang back up on them. And one day, our next door neighbor, who was usually drunk, called out to my husband when he was out there grilling and said, ‘I seen your girl Melinda Lambert on the TV last night. She’s good,'” Hemby said. “So now that’s what we call her: Melinda Lambert.”

Hemby was one of four songwriters who performed their long list of hit country songs at a Music + Hope 4 Haiti show at Joe’s Live to raise money for Music Heals International. MHI has made it their mission to bring music and musicians to the children of Haiti and other parts of the world to inspire achievement, resiliency and creativity.

“Music is so much a part of our souls,” Hemby added, saying she was grateful to be able to share her talents for such a worthy cause and to be able to bring hope to the children of Haiti through music.

Together with Luke Laird, Lori McKenna and Barry Dean, the four performed an intimate acoustic show in the round, taking turns on all the songs they’ve written for the stars — and some they’ve kept for themselves — and they each shared the stories behind those songs.

Like how McKenna emailed her statement song “Humble and Kind” to Tim McGraw, and he never replied. “We call that the Nashville No,” McKenna said. Three months after that Nashville No, though, she ran into McGraw, and he casually told her, “I’m gonna cut that song you sent me.”

Or how Luke Laird admitted that when you come to Nashville to be a songwriter, the big dream is to hear your song on the radio. But until that happens, you think it’s never going to. “I’ll never forget the first time it happened to me with this song,” he said of his “So Small,” which Carrie Underwood recorded for 2007’s Carnival Ride.

A sampling of the songs from the show:

Natalie Hemby
Miranda Lambert’s “Baggage Claim”
Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic”
Little Big Town’s “Pontoon”

Luke Laird
Eric Church’s “Drink in my Hand”
Jon Pardi’s “Head Over Boots”
Carrie Underwood’s “So Small”

Lori McKenna
Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind”
Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush”

Barry Dean
Tim McGraw’s “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”
Little Big Town’s “Day Drinking”
Steve Moakler’s “Suitcase”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.