31 Days of Women: Danielle Bradbery

DB Press Image 1_Credit-Cameron Powell

Credit: Cameron Powell

One of my favorite albums released in 2017 was Danielle Bradbery’s I Don’t Believe We’ve Met. The singer penned seven of the project’s 10 tracks for a vulnerable and honest release.

I chatted with Bradbery for Billboard last November and she filled me in on overcoming her shyness in the writing room and shared some of the stories behind the songs on the album. One of the LP’s standout tracks is “Worth It,” which Bradbery said reflected her insecurities about her career within the music industry. She co-wrote the song with Jeff Pardo and Molly Reed and during their writing session she was venting to them.

“I wasn’t playing many shows and I was just in Nashville writing. I would get anxious in those moments because you’re so used to being on a tour and in a routine,” she explains. “I would get frustrated and I’d feel like that’s a natural feeling when you’re not sure how the next album is going to be or if it’s going to go smoothly. I was like, ‘It’s been so long. I’m afraid of the fans not holding on long enough.’ Or, ‘I’m going to put out something and it’s not going to do well.’ There was a lot going on in my head and sometimes I didn’t feel worth it and that’s where it led to. They said, ‘Let’s put a little bit in this and make it sound like a relationship, make it sound like it could be anything.'”



Another striking song is “Potential,” which Bradbery said helped her shape the album. A raw and emotional track showcasing real feelings, she shares that she wanted the remaining nine tracks to paint a similar picture of vulnerability as heard throughout “Potential.” The idea for the song came from co-writer Emily Weisband, who threw out the concept of being in love with somebody’s potential. As Johan Lindbrandt started playing the piano, the song quickly formed.



Learn more about the concept behind Danielle Bradbery’s latest album on Billboard.


31 Days of Women: Maggie Rose


I’ve witnessed Maggie Rose live several times since moving to Nashville in 2015 and her set never disappoints. Her smoky and soulful vocals strike a chord while her honest and memorable songwriting always has me going home and researching more of her music.

In September, I caught two of Rose’s performances at Island Hopper Fest in Florida. During one set, she shared her struggles and successes in the music industry. Prefacing her soulful song “Too Many Love Songs” off her latest EP Dreams > Dollars, Rose admitted to writing the song from a place where she was brokenhearted. “I figured, even the love songs are daggers to the heart. They’re supposed to be happy but from a perspective it can be a bummer to hear a love song so I wrote this,” she told the audience at a rooftop restaurant.



Another song of Rose’s I can’t stop listening to lately is her bluesy “Pull You Through,” released in October along with the vulnerable “Just Getting By.” Take a listen to both below and visit her website for additional tour dates.




31 Days of Women: Abby Anderson

I had the pleasure of hearing new music from Abby Anderson a few weeks ago in Nashville and she is an artist to keep on your radar. With a personality that lights up a room, Anderson’s positive energy is contagious. After talking with her for just five minutes, she makes a person feel like they’ve known her their entire lifetime.

A singer-songwriter, 21-year-old Anderson was recently signed to Black River Entertainment with the release of her debut single expected in the coming months. Her short set over a breakfast for Nashville media included a poignant song called “Make Him Wait” that didn’t leave a dry eye in the room. Telling the room about the confidence and self respect she learned as a young girl thanks to the support of her father, Anderson’s powerful storytelling was showcased throughout her emotional lyrics.

Another song called “Naked Truth” was inspired in part by her mother, who the Texas native describes as a “spitfire.” Country fans will get to know Anderson soon as the singer recently began a whirlwind radio tour that has her traveling to Los Angeles and New York, among other cities, to introduce herself to the country community.

Listen to her latest song, “This Feeling,” which showcases her smoky and soulful vocals below. Follow Anderson on social media including Twitter and Instagram to get familiar with the up-and-coming singer. You can catch her performing at CMA Fest in Nashville this June.


31 Days of Women: Lindsay Ell

This is how I feel after playing @theo2arena.. 📷: @catherinepowell

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Lindsay Ell recently spent some time in the UK for the Country to Country Festival where she captivated audiences abroad with her impressive guitar shredding. One publication, The Digital Fix, described her performance as having a “mind bendingly brilliant guitar-led sound.”

When witnessing Ell in the live setting her guitar prowess is evident. She can hold her own with the boys, as is showcased throughout Brad Paisley’s 2017 and 2018 Weekend Warrior World Tour. Each night, Ell joins Paisley on the main stage to trade guitar licks and the girl can shred! While in Chicago in November for the third annual Stars and Strings concert, Ell raved about touring with the singer.



Ell’s excellent album, The Project, was released last year and blends her masterful guitar skills with her unique songwriting for a versatile listen. Her current single, “Criminal,” is just a hint of her ability to blend show-stopping guitar parts with her memorable soulful vocals.



I attended Ell’s EP listening party last year and was blown away when she covered John Mayer’s “Stop This Train” live. A huge fan of Mayer herself, Ell has previously hinted at releasing a project of Mayer songs. Here’s to hoping a future Mayer and Ell collaboration is also in the works!



31 Days of Women: Emma White

I met Emma White not too long after I moved to Nashville and sat down with the singer/songwriter to chat over coffee where she filled me in on her journey to Music City. With a radio friendly voice and captivating stage presence, she recently played several showcases at SXSW where she surely won over many new fans. Below is part of our chat previously posted to You Sing I Write, as well as her video for standout track “Overthink It.”

Emma White was born into a musical family as both her mother and grandmother were singers and songwriters. In fact, Emma was named after Emmylou Harris while her siblings are named after a James Taylor reference. So, it’s safe to say that music has been woven into her life from an early age.

“We would have hootenannies all the time. My family got together and played and sang,” she says with a smile. “I was into pop music at the time. My family was always singing John Prine and Patty Griffin. They exposed me to something I might not have chosen on my own but it was always a part of me.”

White loved pop and R&B music while her family preferred country. Her music blends all three genres and she credits her time studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston for helping her evolve as a songwriter.

“I think co-writing has really expanded my sound and songwriting,” she admits. “You always learn from other people in the room. We can do so much more when we’re working together.”

She adds that she’s constantly trying to find a balance between success as a songwriter and simply doing it because she loves to write.

“You never want to have to compromise certain things. I think the biggest thing is staying true to what you think is good,” she says. “Being a songwriter is often a struggle but it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Performing, singing and music is woven into who I am. It’s always felt like it’s what I was meant to do. It chose me, I didn’t choose it.”



For more of my chat with Emma White, click here.


31 Days of Women: Kelleigh Bannen


I chatted with Kelleigh Bannen just over a year ago about her fantastic single “Church Clothes” and it remains one of my most honest interviews to date. One of the most vulnerable country songs I’ve ever heard, Bannen first stumbled across “Church Clothes” in 2013 while working on a demo session with songwriter Nicolle Galyon, who wrote the track with Liz Rose. Bannen shared the song with her manager and says they “were losing our minds.”

“Church Clothes” paints a vivid picture of a struggling marriage where both sides want out. All the while, the couple keep up appearances while their problems remain hidden from those around them. It was a theme that struck a chord for Bannen as her parents had separated after 40 years of marriage and later divorced.

“It was so exactly what I was going through with my own family at the time when I first heard it. It was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is my world,’ at the time we recorded this because I was on the road a lot and was trying to figure out how to make my marriage work in that setting too,” she confesses. “We started to share it out and play it out [and] so many people can connect with it. Whether it’s a family that went through a divorce – even if they’re not churchgoing – but if they feel that pressure to clean up for the world or to put on the smiling face or to not be real about the stuff that’s going on in their lives.”



Bannen told me that she hopes the song’s vulnerability gives people permission to not be perfect. Instead of looking at the world through social media’s glossy filters of each other, she urges people to own their “messy glory.”

“People have to see your mess. You have to see theirs to really see each other and be with each other,” she advises. “The invitation of ‘Church Clothes’ is to let people see the real you and to trust that in doing that, you may actually have more love or you may be more accepted. You open yourself up to connection in a totally different way instead of covering it up and hiding and all those things that we do so that nobody knows who we really are and what we’re really going through.”

For the rest of my interview with Kelleigh Bannen, visit Sounds Like Nashville.


31 Days of Women: The Reckless Electric

Reckless Electric

Credit: Kyle Dean Reinford

The Reckless Electric dropped their debut album, Comeback, earlier this month and they’ll celebrate today in Nashville with a release party at 6 p.m. at the 5 Spot. Made up of Mary Bragg and Becky Warren, the duo have already received rave reviews from Rolling Stone and The Bluegrass Situation.

Both solo artists and songwriters, the two friends joined forces for a fun release that showcases their standout songwriting and plenty of electric guitar features.

“With their new joint project, they wanted to get a little less serious and have a plain old good time – all while proving that they’re a force to be reckoned with,” Rolling Stone writes.

This fun side can be heard on the infectious “Ice Cream and Liquor.” As Bragg tells The Bluegrass Situation, the song came from a comment Warren made during a co-write.

“We wrote this song just after we declared ourselves a band whose motto would be to do fun things and nothing else,” Bragg tells the publication. “After finishing a different, much less fun song we’d been working on for weeks, Becky said, ‘Didn’t you say you had some ice cream?’ ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘and liquor to go with it.’ She said we should write that song; I thought she was kidding. This was the start to a new way of us writing together — fast, hilarious, at times ridiculous.”



Other songs, like the title track, highlight Bragg’s breathy vocals and some rollicking guitar parts while the gritty “Straight A Girls” puts an edgy and unique spin on being a good girl. I’ve interviewed Bragg several times over the years and during a chat for Nash Country Daily, she told me the importance of honesty in songwriting.

“When I first came to Nashville, I just wanted to write great songs,” she told me. “In pinpointing sadness, which can often feel isolating, we’re telling that listener out there, ‘Hey, you’re not alone. You’re not the only person who’s felt invisible in a sea of 8 million people in New York City. You’re not the only person who’s lost a parent.’ That’s the beauty of music—that people can feel comforted by hearing someone else’s pain, which might be much like their own. Every now and then, somebody’s listening close enough where they’re like, ‘Oh, man. That really got me just then,’ and that’s the moment that I’m always looking for.”


31 Days of Women: Hayley McKay

Hayley McKay

Credit: Wendy Carrig

Being a freelance music journalist, I receive numerous pitches on new artists each day. While I try my best to listen to each act’s music, it’s sometimes easier said than done. Today I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on a link to Hayley McKay’s music video for her latest single, “Chance to Change.” The UK artist’s striking vocals and honest lyrics instantly drew me in and I couldn’t help but become entranced in the storyline within the video and the song itself.

“Chance to Change” has a women realizing that the end is near with her boyfriend. As the video plays out, it seems McKay is being ignored by her beau. While she gives him another chance at the bar, the scene becomes increasingly uncomfortable as he chooses to sit in silence on his phone instead of pay attention to her.

“I think you know you’ve gone too far / And now we’re here, here alone in silence / Cursed with the feeling that we’re through / Nowhere to run / So maybe all that I ever gave you was a chance to change,” she sings.

Penned by Irish writers Aoibheann Carey Philpott and Joe Carey Jnr, “Chance to Change” showcases haunting vocals from McKay. The song is one of 10 tracks that will be featured on her self-titled debut album, due out in April.

“Every song shows off a different element of my voice and my producer, Matt Parisi, has really delivered an amazing sound with Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road adding his own special magic,” McKay says in a press release. “I’m so proud of this album and I really hope everyone will love it as much as I do”.


31 Days of Women: Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini

Courtesy: Sweet Talk Publicity

Kelsea Ballerini took the country world by storm in 2014 when she released her first single, “Love Me Like You Mean It.” The song would spark a series of No. 1 hits for Ballerini with the success of “Dibs” and “Peter Pan,” eventually making her the only female artist in country music history, including female duos and groups, to go No. 1 with her first three consecutive singles from a debut album.



While Ballerini continues that chart success with “Legends,” the lead single off her sophomore album Unapologetically, she told me in an interview last year that what’s most important is creating a support system for the women in the industry. As a result, Ballerini frequently hosts girls’ nights with several of country music’s female artists.

“There’s a lot of emotions that you go through when you’re putting your first single out to radio, especially going on radio tour and making your first record. There’s pressure and there’s insecurities,” she says, speaking softly. “It’s definitely exciting and it’s definitely a beautiful time, but you get lonely sometimes. You get stressed and no one really tells you that. I wanted to have this bonding moment with everyone that’s walking through the same thing and be like, ‘Let’s celebrate together, because we have a lot to celebrate. But let’s also be there for each other when we’re lonely, or when we’re tired, or when we’re confused. Let’s be able to talk about that.’”

While Ballerini hopes to leave a legacy with her music, she says she wants to be remembered most for being a nice person. “I just want people to walk away and be like, ‘Aw, she’s nice.’ That’s what matters most to me,” she confesses. “Having a song on the radio, being in a tour bus and playing shows whether I’m opening or not, that’s success. That to me is everything I’ve ever wanted to do.”



For more on my interview with Kelsea Ballerini, visit Sounds Like Nashville.


31 Days of Women: Miranda Lambert

I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing Miranda Lambert once, years ago while living in New York City. We chatted a few days before her album Platinum was released in 2014 and although our interview was barely 10 minutes long, she revealed a lot about herself, her songwriting, aging gracefully and the importance of female artists to uplift each other. You can view the interview above and read my article on

Watching the interview back nearly four years later, the part that struck me most was when she mentioned her duet “Somethin’ Bad” with Carrie Underwood and how it’s important for females in country to collaborate.

“When I heard ‘Somethin’ Bad’ the song just popped,” she told me. “It really struck a chord. I wanted to collaborate with Carrie because we need to and there’s not that many females in country that do collaborate. We’ve known each other for a really long time but I needed it to be the right song. I thought that one could be cool. It was a female-male duet so we asked the writers to re-write it for two girls and make it sort of Thelma & Louise themed and they did and it’s so perfect for us.”

Lambert went on to rave about Underwood, saying that she pushes her to be a better vocalist.

“It’s really cool to collaborate with her. She’s such a great vocalist and artist and really pushes me as a singer to be better,” she added.

For more from my interview, visit