Chris Stapleton Gives Songwriter Kevin Welch Big Boost via “Millionaire”

(photos: Rodney Bursiel / Becky Fluke)

In mid October of 2018, local Nashville publication Music Row Magazine decided to launch a new chart as a way to keep up with the success and influence of specific songwriters. Instead of charting the success of specific songs, albums, or the artists performing on them, this new chart tracks songwriters who may have multiple songs charting at a given time using algorithms based upon song activity according to airplay, digital downloaded track sales, and streams.

As you can imagine, big time Music Row songwriters such as Shane McAnally, Chase McGill, and Josh Osborne are big players on the chart. But for the last 7 weeks, it hasn’t been these big Music Row names who have multiple credits on big radio singles dominating the chart, it has been Texas/Oklahoma songwriter and performer Kevin Welch, thanks to Kevin being the sole songwriter on Chris Stapleton’s current single, “Millionaire.”

Starting on November 4th, Kevin Welch has been #1 on the Music Row Songwriter Chart, and will likely be at or near the top of the chart for a while as “Millionaire” continues to climb. And that’s not the only accolade for the tune. The song is up for Best Country Solo Performance at the Grammy Awards coming up in February.

Originally written and recorded as the title track to Kevin Welch’s 2002 solo release, the single comes from Chris Stapleton’s From ‘A’ Room: Vol. 2 album released on December 1st, 2017. It was released as a single on April 23rd, 2018, and has been slowly climbing the charts ever since. It currently sits at #12 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. The song was also covered by Chris LeDoux on his 2002 record After the Storm, and soul legend Solomon Burke on his country music tribute record entitled Nashville from 2006.

Originally from Oklahoma and revered throughout the Texas and Red Dirt music scene, Kevin Welch is no stranger to having songs enter the mainstream country music charts. He first moved to Nashville in 1978, and his songs have been recorded by the likes of Don Williams, Ricky Skaggs, Moe Bandy, Waylon Jennings, Patty Loveless, Garth Brooks, and others. However like so many career songwriters of the previous era, Kevin Welch’s songwriting credits have virtually disappeared from the mainstream as the same usual suspects of a very small crop of professional songwriters get most of the cuts on radio singles.

The renewed interest could also not come at a better time. On November 2nd, 2016, Kevin Welch’s daughter Savannah Welch was hit by a car at a farmers market in Wimberley, TX—a community just outside of Austin. Savannah Welch is also a musician, playing her own music and with the supergroup The Trishas. It resulted in Savannah needing to have her leg amputated. This forced Kevin Welch to curtail his touring schedule to help take care of his daughter. The mailbox money from “Millionaire” is welcome relief for Kevin, who also just released his latest record Dust Devil in October 2018.

Similar to what Chris Stapleton did with the country classic “Tennessee Whiskey” written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove, “Millionaire” has put a worthy songwriter back in the spotlight after years of absence.