In 2003, Craig Wiseman says, he was starting to take certain things for granted.
By then, he was among Nashville’s most acclaimed and successful songwriters, penning hits for Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. And somewhere between the No. 1s and the Songwriter of the Year awards, he’d grown a little jaded.
But that started to change when he crossed paths with a then-unproven talent: future country songwriting giant Luke Laird, who was still in search of his first cut.
“He and I wrote a song that Kenny Chesney put on hold,” Wiseman says. “And Luke was just so over the moon, calling me up at midnight freaked out. It reminded me: I was the kid calling people at midnight. I (thought), ‘I want to stay close to that.’ Right there when the dreams come true, when the blessings are fresh.”
He bought a house on 17th Avenue and turned into the offices for his new publishing company, Big Loud Shirt – named for the bright Hawaiian shirts he would wear to work (“There weren’t a whole lot of options back then,” he says.)
Since then, the name has been shortened to just Big Loud, but Wiseman’s company has ballooned. The “Big Loud family” now includes the original publishing company, a management firm and a record label that has produced distinct stars in short order.
On Saturday, Big Loud Records celebrates its 5th birthday. The label is now home to 11 artists, including chart-toppers Morgan Wallen, Chris Lane, MacKenzie Porter and Jake Owen, and even yodeling internet sensation Mason Ramsey. It’s also among several young independent country labels (along with Black River Entertainment, Triple Tigers and others) that are often matching the successes of the majors.
The label’s CEO/partner, Seth England, says that while the empire has expanded, they’ve remained a “song-first company.”