Michael Blanton and business partner Dan Harrell built a creative house that would grow beyond their dreams. It would not only have a major impact on the music business, but on the entertainment business in general. Twenty-nine years later, with over 70 million sales resulting in multiple platinum and gold records, network television shows, film projects, books published, and more, time can only attest to the vision they started together.
For Blanton it began in West Texas, where Michael was born and raised in Amarillo, the oldest son of a dentist. Blanton attended Abilene Christian University graduating in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. After a stint of several growing-up jobs, Word Records, then located in Waco, Texas, hired Michael in 1977 to start as a young A&R representative. A year and half later, Michael convinced Word to relocate he and his wife Paula to Nashville to open the Word Records office on Music Row.
In 1980, Blanton/Harrell Production and Management launched and with Amy Grant as their first client, they were off to the races. Amy was signed at that time to Word Records and would remain there for the next 25 years. In 1981, they launched Reunion Records and Reunion Publishing and with those new company branches, their roster would eventually grow to include Michael W. Smith, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Billy Sprague, Rich Mullins, Kathy Troccoli, Gary Chapman, Juice Newton, Brown Bannister, Kim Hill, Michael Omartian, Wes King, Ashley Cleveland, Kim Ritchie and many others. It was also in these years that Blanton and Harrell executive produced and launched some of the biggest albums for Amy Grant including, “Heart In Motion,” “Lead Me On,” “Unguarded” and her many Christmas LP’s and Michael W. Smith including, “Big Picture,” “Eye to Eye” and “Place In This World”. Additionally, he executive produced hit songs such as “El Shaddai,” “Baby Baby,” “Every Heartbeat” for Amy, “Friends” for Michael W. and “Awesome God” from Rich Mullins. During these years, Blanton/Harrell also signed Frank Peretti to a development deal as an author, helping release his first multi-million seller, “This Present Darkness” followed by “Piercing the Darkness” and diversifying their management portfolio.
In 1997, Blanton/Harrell began serving as co-presidents of Gaylord’s Idea Entertainment. Then after separating from Gaylord, in 2000, Blanton/Harrell once again re-launched in 2001 as Blanton Harrell Cooke & Corzine (BHCC). Michael and Dan incorporated fellow managers Chaz Corzine and Jennifer Cooke to provide exclusive management of Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Frank Peretti. Over the next seven years, BHCC also signed several more acclaimed Christian artists such as Point of Grace, Bebo Norman, Aaron Shust, and Travis Cottrell. After a decade of great success, BHCC became home to American Idol finalists Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey and Chris Sligh. This great management house closed its doors on April 1st, 2009.
In 2011, Blanton, along with his daughter Chelsea Drimmel, joined former Gaylord executives Terry London and Carl Kornmeyer to launch a new music venture called BeMusic and Entertainment. A subsidiary of the then developing Texas broadcast network known as London Broadcasting, Be Music and Entertainment grew with the acquisition of Dryve Management, adding managers David McCollum, James Hodgin, Chris DeTray and Jami Crockett. Additionally, Marty Wheeler, formally of Brentwood Benson Publishing, was brought on to head up publishing. Blanton continued his love for developing and managing artists working with Zane Williams, Kylie Rae Harris, Susan Ashton, Ryan Edgar, Marc Martel, Andrew Ripp, Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, All Sons and Daughters, Tim Timmons, Chris August, Jackopierce, Sandra McCracken, Shawn McDonald, Guy Penrod, JoDee Messina and Ginny Owens. Be Music also signed new acts Ivory Layne, currently signed to Justin Timberlake’s new label Villa 40, and Jasmine Murray, a new CCM artist with Fair Trade Services. Be Music began stretching its legs with boutique events including Rendezvous Music Festival featuring acts such as Chris Stapleton, Jason Isobel, Patty Griffin, Dawes, John Oates, The Indigo Girls, Johnnyswim and more over its 3 years in Beaver Creek, CO.
Finally in 2016 Blanton joined the Be Music family with Robert Lackey of Hickory, NC to develop a bigger creative house, Imagine One Networks. Blanton officially launched an event division, Imagine One Events, acquiring Donahue Entertainment with industry veteran Don Donahue. Most recently Be Music has added management clients Michael Martin Murphey, famous for the hit songs “Wildfire” and “Carolina in the Pines,” and emerging Americana artist, Scott Mulvahill. Blanton continues to stretch his creative arms through consulting on new projects with Stephen Mansfield, author of “God and Guinness,” and Terry Benedict, producer of “Hacksaw Ridge,” which was recently nominated for five Oscars in 2017.
Blanton has previously served on several boards, including Brentwood Academy, the Nashville Adventure Science Center (formally known as Cumberland Science Center), the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), and the Nashville Institute of the Arts, and currently is serving on the board for Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment and Arts.
He is a member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Gospel Music Association, the Country Music Association, and the Americana Music Association.
Blanton has been married to his wife Paula for almost 40 years. They have three grown children and three grandchildren; Boothe and Conor Farley, with children, Sellers, Lulu, and Gresham; Chelsea and Heath Drimmel; Carter and Molly Blanton. He currently resides in Brentwood, TN.