Country & Americana Music History
Jill Block’s deep knowledge of Country and Americana Music history was formed by her personal experience. She lives it. As the wife and business partner of the legendary Billy Block, she has been on the forefront of the Nashville music scene for over 25 years. Her late husband, who passed away in 2015, was known as the “Godfather of Americana” and one of the primary architects of the genre. Jill was by his side first as a musician and songwriter, then as a business partner while Billy was creating a new scene in Los Angeles called Western Beat. Western Beat was the original name that Billy chose to promote the singer-songwriters in Los Angeles. When the couple moved to Nashville in 1995, they continued to build a scene in what ultimately became the Americana music format.
Through the 25 years of Jill and Billy working to build a community of songwriters, artists, musicians and fans, they produced 18 years of weekly shows in Nashville playing host to over 5000 bands, and 12 years of Western Beat monthly songwriters showcases. These shows helped launch the careers of hit songwriters and Americana and country music stars. Their dedication to celebrating unique talent and giving that talent a stage to perform, earned the Billy Block Show the reputation of being the “Ellis Island of Nashville.” They worked tirelessly to help singers and songwriters launch careers via live shows, radio, television and print media outlets.
The Billy Block Show created opportunities for Nashville debuts from young talent like Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Chris Janson and Chris Young who all became huge country stars. “At the time, these stars were on the fringe. They were talented but colored outside the lines of what was considered pop country. They needed a stage to be seen by record labels, publishers and other industry executives. They needed someone to take a chance on them. Billy had a keen sense of who was truly talented, and that if given the opportunity to be seen, might have a chance at a career and stardom. He was brilliant. His show was one of the keys to success that helped launch many stars today,” Jill recalls of the years she shared building the show with her husband.
The Billy Block Family archives are overseen by Jill. She has thousands of photos, hours of audio from radio and live shows, video and interview footage of Billy Block’s Western Beat TV on CMT. Performances and interviews are captured on this ground-breaking television show from Emmy Lou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Trisha Yearwood, Joe Ely, Dr. Ralph Stanly, Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Julie Miller, John Randall, Charlie Robison, Bruce Robinson and more.
Many of the songwriters and artists that the Blocks supported throughout their career became successful hit songwriters, record producers and musicians. These relationships have given Jill the opportunity to launch Jill Block Nashville. She curates shows and events uniquely “her” when she calls on her hit songwriter friends to perform. “It’s the chemistry between the songwriters that makes the Nashville experience so unique and fun. I’ve known many of these hitmakers for years now and know how to put together shows that makes the writers as happy to perform as the audience is to enjoy. It’s a fun musical experience for everyone!”