Red Bluff man wins Vocalist of the Year at JMAs

Jessica Skropanic Redding Record SearchlightPublished 8:00 AM EDT Sep 17, 2020Country singer-songwriter Chad B

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Country singer-songwriter Chad Bushnell was so sure he wouldn't hear his name at the Josie Music Awards, he almost missed it when it was called. 

Luckily his mother was there.

Red Bluff native Bushnell won Vocalist of the Year in Contemporary Country at the sixth annual JMAs, an award show for independent artists.

It was a wonderful highlight during what has been a difficult year for Bushnell, 29, and other music artists, he said.

When Chad Bushnell attended the JMAs — held on Sept. 5 at the Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee — his mother, Donna Bushnell was sitting next to him.

She was a little discouraged when she found out 14 other musicians were also nominated in the same category, she said.

“I was like, ‘Oh, wow, Chad. It’s nice to be nominated,’” she said, laughing.

He stood during the reading of the nominees. When announcers said his name, "he just sat down again," Donna Bushnell said. "I said, ‘Chad, they announced your name!’ He got up again.”

Winning was so unexpected, Chad Bushnell said, "I had to really quickly think of a speech to give” while going up to the podium.

The JMAs came nine months after his hit song, “What Would Jesus Do,” topped Christian Music Weekly’s country music chart.

“It was Christmas morning when I found out,” he said in an interview with the Record Searchlight in January. At number one for a week, the song stayed in the top 20 for two months.

Winning at the JMAs is a beacon during a dark year for Bushnell.

He planned to spend much of 2020 touring, but like so many artists, the coronavirus pandemic canceled his concert schedule, he said. The latest cancelation was a concert planned for Sept. 24 at the State Theatre in Red Bluff. Bushnell was going to open for country gospel singer Josh Turner.

So instead of doing concerts, Bushnell returned to the studio to record a new Christian country single, “That Ain’t my Church.” He plans to release it this fall.

While in-person concerts are on hold, Bushnell performs a free country gospel hour at 10 a.m. on Sundays on his Facebook page. Go to to hear his work.

Jessica Skropanic is features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts and social issues entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.
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