Sister Hazel will release their second of four EPs on Friday (Sept. 7). Titled Wind, the seven-track EP is part of the compilation series Elements.
One of the standout songs on the project is a soaring ballad called “In Two.” Written by Sister Hazel guitarist Ryan Newell and Todd Wright, Newell tells the story behind the song that he wrote for his wife on their wedding day.
“‘In Two’ is a very special song for me,” he explains. “I co-wrote it with Todd Wright, who lives up in Virginia where I live. It’s a love song. It was written for my wife. Todd actually played it in my wedding. The song is really dear to me because of that. I never really thought it was going to make a record. I thought it was just gonna be for that moment.”
Newell says as he and the band were picking out songs for their EP, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to feature “In Two” on the project. While his bandmates had forgotten about the song, when he played it for them they all agreed that it should be included on the release.
The delicate three-minute track features Andrew Copeland on vocals with backup harmonies from Wright’s daughter. An obvious choice for a wedding song, “In Two” strikes a chord. “I’ll never let you go / No matter what darkness comes in / I will shelter you / Nothin’s breaking us in two / Hold onto me, I’ll hold onto you,” he sings on the chorus.
“Drew sang it. He sang a beautiful version of it and it came out great,” Newell continues. “It doesn’t have too much production on it. We wanted to keep it as simple as possible. There’s a really cool string arrangement and there’s some baritone acoustic on it. It’s basically a vocal-driven song and it makes my wife very, very happy.”
“In Two” will be available on Sept. 7 as part of Sister Hazel’s new EP, Wind.
While thousands of country music fans descend upon Nashville this week for CMA Fest, many songwriters will also be traveling through Music City. Today, The Workshop owner Austin Evans offers his tips on the five best places to write a song in Nashville.
1. The Workshop
The Workshop is Nashville’s only 24-hour songwriting space. While many other places shut their doors at 5 p.m., this little spot on historic Music Row has songwriters penning hits around the clock. It’s hard to beat the location, which is among industry giants Big Machine, Ole and Liz Rose Music Publishing. Not to mention, it’s just a short walk to Edgehill Cafe for some coffee.
The Workshop has four different writing rooms, each with its own particular vibe. Large enough to comfortably accommodate at least three people, none of the rooms share a wall, which cuts down on distracting outside noise. Two guitars and a full-size keyboard are available if writers aren’t able to bring their own instruments.
The Workshop’s time slots are 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. but if you want to use that 5 o’clock slot or later you’ll have to sign up for a membership. The memberships don’t have a contract, so you can cancel at any time. Writers are also welcome to book a room for a one-time fee of $20. A “first write free” policy is in place so songwriters can come use the location once before they decide if it is for them.
InDo Nashville is one of the premier co-working spaces in the city. While the focus here is more than just songwriters, they still offer a special Songwriting Membership. InDo is located in the heart of downtown Nashville. These writing rooms are comfortable, warm and inviting. Since InDo is primarily a co-working space, it one of the quieter places in town to write.
InDo books its writing session in two 3-hour blocks from Monday-Friday with the first session starting at 10 a.m. and the second starting at 2 p.m. Some of the amenities include a friendly concierge, coffee/tea/water service, high-speed Wi-Fi and community & networking events throughout the year.
Writers coming from out of town can book one-time writes for $20.
Contact: John Richardson – firstname.lastname@example.org Website: indonashville.com Phone: (615) 656-0077
NSAI, or the Nashville Songwriting Association International, is one of the biggest players in the songwriting world. They have chapters all over the world so if you need a place to write outside of Nashville, research to see if there’s a group near you. While NSAI’s main focus is on education and legislation, the headquarters in Nashville has several writing rooms available as well.
The rooms here are cozy and most come with a keyboard for piano players. Also located off Music Row, NSAI sits next to some of the largest publishing and management companies in the industry. While they don’t let non-members reserve rooms, membership here comes with several perks beyond the writing rooms. NSAI holds weekly seminars, pitch-to-publisher meetings, and the opportunity to attend the world-renowned NSAIs Song Camp.
To book a room here, members should call the front desk to reserve a day and time.
Believe it or not, the library has writer rooms available as well. There are four separate spaces here with names like the Eskind Writer’s Room, Schweid/Mills Writer’s Room, Jack Knox Writer’s Room and the Fred Russell & Robert Churchill Sr. Writer’s Room.
Writing rooms at the library are free to use but there is an application process to access them. According to the library’s website:
“Usage of a Writer’s Room is restricted to persons who have a signed publisher’s contract, are underwritten by a third party, have been formerly published (with evidence of previous publication), who have a letter of interest from a publisher, journalists possessing valid press credentials, visiting scholars and academicians (current and retired).”
If you’re brand new in town you might not qualify, but if you fit the requirements this is one of the best options in town. It also comes with complimentary parking just a few blocks down from Lower Broadway and some of the best live music in the world.
Whether you are affiliated with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, each of these has a headquarters in Nashville with writer rooms available. The rooms are stylish and comfortable with plenty of space to stretch out. Like NSAI, booking these writer rooms is completely free for members.
The only trouble you might run into is the sheer number of members these organizations have, so if you have a day that you absolutely need a room, make sure to book it well in advance. Membership to all three is free, although you have to be invited to join SESAC. To join BMI or ASCAP, simply sign up on the company’s website.
Grainne Duffy released her critically acclaimed debut album Out of the Dark in 2007 and the striking project garnered the Irish singer-songwriter sets at festivals like Glastonbury, Blue Balls, Blues du Passion, and Tremblant International Festival. A testament to her songwriting and stage show, the singer continues to impress on her latest album, 2017’s Where I Belong. The 10-track LP highlights her impact as a solo artist with memorable storytelling and bluesy vocals.
Duffy’s music has a throwback feel that at times recalls Janis Joplin and her impressive guitar skills coupled with her standout songwriting and captivating vocals make it easy to envision her playing the stage at Woodstock. With guitar playing and distinct soul that brings to mind B.B. King, Duffy is one artist to keep on your radar. One listen to her performance of “Drivin’ Me Crazy” and it’s easy to see why she’s a respected artist overseas.
Other highlights include her current single, “My Love,” where Duffy proves she is a triple threat with infectious singing, engaging storytelling and memorable guitar shredding. Meanwhile, the title track of her latest album continues her intrigue. Listen to both below.
For more on Grainne Duffy and to check out her tour dates, visit her website.
Kalie Shorr will make her Opry debut on Saturday (March 31). The singer-songwriter learned the exciting news last month and shared a tearful video reveal with her mom.
“Mom, what are you doing March 31?” she asks in a minute-long clip shared on Twitter. She can barely choke the words out before she tears up, and Mom can be heard getting emotional, too.
MOM I’M MAKING MY OPRY DEBUT! So in love with life. So in love with country music. Can’t wait to stand in the circle for the first time on 3/31! @opry (ps I cried typing this too okay bye) pic.twitter.com/JNKtCGfpSE
I’ve covered Shorr several times for Taste of Country, who named the singer a RISER artist in 2017. Shorr has been an outspoken champion for female country artists who are coming up with her. She recently teamed up with more than 20 female singers to release “Time’s Up,” a song and video track she co-wrote which addresses the mistreatment of women in society.
Additionally, Shorr is an original member of Song Suffragettes, a weekly all-female singer-songwriter round at the Listening Room in Nashville. There couldn’t be a better female artist selected to perform on the Opry stage on the final day of Women’s History Month. Listen to two of my favorite songs from Shorr in the videos below.
Cassadee Pope is set to release her new single “Take You Home” on Friday (March 30) and the song marks the singer’s return following a label departure. I chatted with Pope for Billboardand she says “Take You Home” was the perfect reintroduction to her solo career following the success of her 2016 duet “Think of You” with Chris Young.
“I’ve always gravitated towards catchy melodic songs. I love the melody in that song and I love how the first verse dips down and makes you pay attention,” she explains. “Something that I thought about too was, ‘What do I want people to hear first after a few years of being off the grid?’ I had ‘Think of You,’ which I’m so grateful for, but as in my own music I haven’t had anything in a while. This is what I want to reintroduce myself as. It’s confident, it’s sexy. I feel like I am in that place and I feel like that’s what people are going to get from that song.”
The song blends pop and rock elements with hand-clapped rhythms, slick production and soaring guitar parts that support Pope’s memorable vocals. It’s the descriptive lyrics, though, that Pope says feel distinctly country. “Take You Home” was written by Ben Hayslip, Emily Weisband, and Paul DiGiovanni, and Pope knew upon first hearing it that she wanted the song for herself.
“Being single for the first time in eight years, I definitely felt those feelings when you meet somebody for the first time and you’re like, ‘I want to show you where I come from and I want to take you home but not in that fleeting way. I want to take you to my hometown and show you what shaped me,'” she says.
For more of my interview with Pope, visit Billboard. Listen to a snippet of “Take You Home” below.
RaeLynn recently released her new single “Queens Don’t” to country radio. Penned by the singer with Corey Crowder and J Hart, the empowering anthem was inspired by her mother’s hard work to raise five kids as a single mom with no formal education. At a single release event at Nashville’s Suzy Wong’s House of Yum, RaeLynn discussed the evolution of the song and how she hopes to build people up with her music.
“She got promotion on top of promotion because she knew who she was and never apologized for it,” RaeLynn shared of her mother’s climb up the corporate ladder. “I found through watching my mom, you can’t build up and tear down at the same time. You have to choose. I choose to build up and encourage everyone to reach their God given queen and king potential. This song is about everyone living out their God given destiny. I’m so honored to be able to release this song.”
Following RaeLynn’s song introduction, she was joined by three drag queens dressed as some of country music’s biggest stars — Shania Twain, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire — while the final queen played the role of RaeLynn’s twin as she sang her new single to the room of industry professionals.
“Queens don’t hate, queens don’t fight / Queens don’t stay unless their king treats her right / Every jewel on my crown you better believe I earned it / Won’t keep people around that don’t believe I deserve it / No, queens ain’t fake / A queen’s gonna rule just the way she was made,” RaeLynn sings on the chorus.
Watch her music video for “Queens Don’t” below and catch RaeLynn debut the song on the Opry Friday night (March 30).
Ashley McBryde will release her major label debut, Girl Going Nowhere, on Friday and it’s an album that begs to be heard. The singer has already been getting rave reviews from Garth Brooks, Eric Church, and Miranda Lambert. Upon hearing the title track to her album, Brooks called McBryde “a songwriter’s dream” while Church invited McBryde on stage and on tour with him, raving, “she’s a whiskey drinking badass.”
I reviewed the album recently for Sounds Like Nashville and it’s a release that I find myself still listening to after turning in my article, which is always a good sign! Opening track “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” has become an anthem for both the singer and country fans, and it’s easy to see why. Inspired by an algebra teacher who told the Arkansas native she should have a backup plan when she shared her dream of moving to Nashville to write songs, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” is a powerful and heartfelt ballad that has McBryde proving her naysayers wrong.
Throughout McBryde’s Girl Going Nowhere, her honest songwriting strikes a chord and puts the listener in the song on tracks like current single “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” and the unique love song “American Scandal,” where she pleads for someone to “love me like Kennedy and Monroe.”
For more of my review, visit Sounds Like Nashville. Pick up a copy of McBryde’s Girl Going Nowhere, available everywhere on Friday.
Congratulations is in order for Lauren Alaina, who was revealed as an ACM Awards winner today. The singer received a phone call from Reba McEntire, who let Alaina know that she has been named the 2018 New Female Vocalist of the Year.
The career-defining moment had the “Doin’ Fine” singer in tears and speechless. She even got McEntire teary eyed! Watch the sweet moment below.
“This award is for so much more than just me,” Alaina says in a press release. “This award is for all the people who want to give up- Don’t. This award is proof that you can achieve what you want to achieve and get where you want to go. Today, all of my dreams have come true.”
This is Alaina’s first-ever ACM Award. She is also nominated for Vocal Event of the Year for “What Ifs,” a collaboration with Kane Brown. The 53rd Annual ACM Awards air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 15 at 8pm ET on CBS.
The singer released her sophomore album, Road Less Traveled, last year and it became the top-streamed female country release of 2017. Songs like powerful anthem “Road Less Traveled,” which also became her first No. 1 hit, showcase the singer’s memorable vocals and her skills as a songwriter.
Meanwhile, her latest single, “Doin’ Fine,” has Alaina revealing her vulnerabilities to listeners. As a result, the poignant song strikes a chord. Alaina is set to perform on the ACM Awards on April 15, allowing viewers to get to hear the New Female Vocalist of the Year live from Sin City.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Brandy Clark several times over the years and have always appreciated her honesty when talking about songwriting and her career.
“Traditionally, country music is a truth-telling, adult format. I want to be a truth-teller. I always want my music to be truthful and a dark comedy. Happy and sad. High and low,” she told me in 2014.
The first time I sat down with the singer-songwriter, it was following the release of her excellent debut album 12 Stories, which she admits she almost never released.
Clark had already penned hits for The Band Perry (“Better Dig Two)”, Miranda Lambert (“Mama’s Broken Heart”) and Kacey Musgraves (“Follow Your Arrow”), and she was content with her career as a songwriter. But that soon all changed when Emilie Marchbanks from management company Fitzgerald Hartley convinced her otherwise and set the ball in motion. Her debut album 12 Stories went on to be nominated for a 2015 GRAMMY Award for Best Country Album.
“It’s been crazy the response it’s getting,” Clark said with a big smile. “There were times in that process of getting passed on and it not working out with labels where I would think, ‘Maybe I’m in a bubble…maybe we’re the only ones that love this. We’re the only ones that “Hold My Hand” moves like that.’ For it to come out and see what [people] say on Twitter and Facebook, and then when I play shows, it’s just so gratifying. And just a testament to not give up on something that moves you. I really think that if it moves you, it will move other people.”
For more of my interview with Brandy Clark and the stories behind “Follow Your Arrow” and “Stripes,” watch the video below and visit Radio.com.
I first met Lucie Silvas in 2016 when Brothers Osborne were performing at Ryman Auditorium as openers for Tedeschi Trucks Band. Her welcoming presence made me instantly feel like I’ve known her for years and one listen to her music and this same quality translates.
Silvas’ 2015 release Letters to Ghosts strikes a chord with heartfelt songwriting and her mesmerizing vocals. The sweet and sentimental “Unbreakable Us” has Silvas singing of how she is stronger with her man by her side. “Everywhere I go the only thing I know / We can weather whatever comes around,” she sings alongside soaring musical accompaniment.
I caught Silvas’ powerful live show twice in 2017 at two very different events — Nashville’s Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival and Luke Bryan’s Crash My Playa Festival. During her set in Mexico in front of thousands at Bryan’s beachfront festival, she captivated the rowdy audience. In a review of the festival, I wrote how her performance showcased “her ethereal singing style. Songs like the soulful ‘How to Lose It All’ and the funky ‘Two Birds One Stone’ impressed while her Elvis Presley cover of ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’ left a lasting mark with memorable guitar shredding and powerful vocals.”
Silvas can be frequently found sharing the stage and harmonies with husband John Osborne of Brothers Osborne. She’ll be performing as part of 2018 Tin Pan South on April 6 at 9:30 p.m. at The Local in Nashville. With the promise of new music in 2018, Lucie Silvas is one singer to keep on your radar.