“Uh, Tim, I missed you!” deadpanned a beaming Scott Borchetta, Big Machine’s founder, president and CEO, as McGraw emerged from behind a curtain.
“I missed you too!” retorted McGraw. “Obviously!”
“We had such a great run together, and I’m so proud we get to go back after this again,” Borchetta told the 1,000-plus crowd of radio programmers and personalities (see video, below). “The energy has just been amazing. The new music is incredible. My team loves your team. I can’t tell you. This look — this is real,” he said, posting with his fists in the air. “I’m so proud to have you back in the family, man.”
“Well, thank you, man,” said McGraw. “I mean, Scott and I go back a long way. We go back 25 years in this business. His dad signed me to Curb Records a long time ago, so I have a special place in my heart for the Borchetta family. So it’s good to be back with Scott. I know we’ve got a lot of work to do, and we can do that work.”
It seems to be old-home week in Nashville. Thursday, Reba McEntire announced she was leaving Big Machine to go back to her previous label, MCA Nashville, at a Universal Music Group Nashville showcase.
McGraw had most recently taken a detour to Sony Music for several years in a deal that saw him release a duets project with Faith Hill but no solo albums of his own. McGraw had sold a coming album as a bundle with tickets for his upcoming tour, so it seemed likely he had an album nearly finished, if not in the can, when news broke that the country superstar was breaking with Sony.
McGraw signed with Big Machine in 2012 after a long and successful but very tumultuous career with Curb Records. The partnership resulted in four No. 1 singles, most recently 2016’s “Humble and Kind.” In 2017, he and his wife, Hill, announced a new joint deal with Sony Music Nashville. But besides the duets album, the contract never resulted in any solo music from McGraw except for two modestly performing singles. It’s not known whether those two songs will be on his first album back as a Big Machine artist. No release date for the McGraw/Big Machine resumption has been announced.