From AJ to ZBB and everything in between, Keith Stegall produces hits

Keith Stegall

Keith Stegall is one of the most versatile and talented folks in Music City, and these days he’s added the title of partner in the hugely successful Bigger Picture Group, LLC, to his long-established track record of hit radio singles and multi-platinum albums as a producer, songwriter, and artist.

“I’m so happy to get to do all these things,” Stegall said recently. “Every little piece of the puzzle makes me happy.”

He’s literally been in the business since the day he was born. Keith’s dad, Bob Stegall, played steel for Johnny Horton, the legendary singer of No. 1 country hits including “The Battle Of New Orleans” and “North To Alaska.” Horton died in a car crash in November of 1960 at age 35.

Keith was raised near Shreveport, Louisiana, home of the famed Louisiana Hayride. He went to his first show there before he even started school. He made his stage debut at age 8, at a regional show in Tyler, Texas, and that was just the beginning.

He soon was playing both guitar and piano, and performing regularly. One day Keith happened to meet Kris Kristofferson and play him a few songs. Stegall recalls,: “Afterwards, Kristofferson shook my hand and said, `You’re pretty good. You really ought to move to Nashville.’ I did.”

Millions of fans and hundreds of country radio programmers have been thrilled he did. So are pop programmers: one of Keith’s early hit pop/R&B compositions was Al Jarreau’s huge hit, “We’re In This Love Together” (1981).

The numbers of country hits Stegall has produced or written are staggering. He has produced records that have sold more than 70 Million copies, racked up four CMAs, 10 ACMs, and six Grammy nominations. Over 45 singles Keith has produced and/or written have reached No. 1.

Perhaps Stegall is best known for his decades of work with Alan Jackson, whose singles and albums Keith has produced since 1989. They co-wrote “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” with Roger Murrah. Then Keith and AJ co-wrote “Dallas,” and both of those songs were early Billboard No. 1s for Jackson.

AJ’s next Billboard No. 1, “Love’s Got A Hold On You,” was penned by Stegall and Carson Chamberlain. By 2011, with Keith as producer, AJ had earned three CMA Entertainer of the Year Awards and racked up more than 70 charted Billboard singles.

In the 1990s, Stegall ran Mercury Nashville’s A&R department for several successful years, then released a solo album called “Passages,” which is still a favorite of many on the Row. He also teamed with two very gifted Canadians, the singer and songwriter Dan Hill and the fine business manager Alan Kates.

Kates has managed Keith for years, and now is also his partner in Bigger Picture.

Hill and Stegall co-wrote the ballad “I Do (Cherish You),” first a country hit for Mark Wills and then a crossover pop smash for 98 Degrees.

The new decade of the 2000s found Keith earning Music Row magazine’s Producer of the Year honors in 2002 and continuing to write and produce huge hits for AJ and others, including George Strait’s No. 1 “I Hate Everything,” which Stegall and Gary Harrison co-wrote.

The Zac Brown Band, the Harters, and Craig Campbell are some of the artists Stegall is producing these days. And in the rapidly changing business models for the music industry, Bigger Picture’s work with the ZBB has proven to be an exciting and platinum collaboration.

Keith produces the ZBB records, which are then distributed and worked to radio by three companies, Bigger Picture, Atlantic Nashville, and Southern Ground. This unique partnership is proof positive that after decades of achievement, the future is also very bright for Keith Stegall.

 

By Phil Sweetland
pianopks@gmail.com