Billboard‘s 2023 Country Power Players were feted on Tuesday evening (June 6), during an awards ceremony held at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works.

Billboard cover star Jelly Roll was honored with the Breakthrough Award, which was presented by his fellow singer-songwriter Ernest. HARDY honored newcomer Bailey Zimmerman with the Billboard country Rookie of the Year honor, while Terri Clark awarded Ashley McBryde with the Groundbreaker Award.

“There’s a story that my daddy used to tell, ‘You can work harder than everybody, you can put in more hours than everybody, you can be more talented than everybody, you can be nicer than everybody, you can care more than everybody, but if a little luck don’t show up with you, you are screwed in this world.’ I can tell you that God blessed me to be lucky to have friends like ERNEST and HARDY, and Ashley [McBryde] and these people that have came through and helped me put out my first debut country album,” Jelly Roll said during the event.

“It means a lot to receive this, because it means betting on yourself is the right move,” McBryde said in accepting her Groundbreaker accolade.

Meanwhile, Sony Music Publishing Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston was honored with the Executive of the Year award by Melinda Newman, Executive Editor of Billboard, West Coast and Nashville.

“I love this community and what I love most about country music is that we are a community. We are a group of friends that get to work together to help each other succeed,” Gaston said in accepting his award.

The private event was followed by a concert headlined by Jelly Roll and featuring opener Nate Smith.

Michael Calcagno
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