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31 Days of Women: Abby Anderson
CATEGORIES: Features

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.

March 21, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Lindsay Ell
CATEGORIES: Features

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

A post shared by Lindsay Ell (@lindsayell) on

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!

 

March 20, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Emma White
CATEGORIES: Features

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.

March 19, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Kelleigh Bannen
CATEGORIES: Features

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.

March 18, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: The Reckless Electric
CATEGORIES: Features

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.”

March 17, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Hayley McKay
CATEGORIES: Features

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”.

March 16, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Kelsea Ballerini
CATEGORIES: Features

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.

March 15, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Miranda Lambert
CATEGORIES: Features


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 Radio.com.

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 Radio.com.

March 14, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Caitlyn Smith
CATEGORIES: Features

Caitlyn-Smith

Caitlyn Smith has written hits for numerous artists including Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” Cassadee Pope’s “Wasting All These Tears,” Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “You Can’t Make Old Friends” and Garth Brooks’ “Tacoma,” among others. After years of writing for other acts, Smith released her excellent debut album, Starfire, in January.

I’ve interviewed her several times over the years and Smith’s energy is contagious. Additionally, her star power is evident in the live setting where her voice soars majestically. Take a listen to “Tacoma” below for further proof.

 

 

“I’ve been writing in Nashville for probably 12 years,” she told me back in 2015. “I tell people it’s 90% disappointing. A lot of times you’ll write a song and be like, ‘Yay! This a masterpiece.’ And maybe you’ll show it to somebody, and maybe it’ll get put on hold, and then it won’t get cut. Or, maybe it will get cut, but it won’t make the record. Or, maybe it will make the record but it won’t be a single. There’s a lot of disappointment.”

This disappointment can be heard on her standout track, “This Town is Killing Me,” which you can hear below. Despite the struggles songwriting can often bring, Smith has learned to celebrate every small success.

“I remember that first couple years that I moved to town. Anytime something awesome would happen I would go and buy a bottle of champagne and we would celebrate, because it’s really an exciting journey. Celebrate the little things,” she adds.

 

 

Smith will be celebrating a new album and headlining tour this week at SXSW. If you’re in Austin, be sure to catch one of her showcases.

March 13, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Angaleena Presley
CATEGORIES: Features

Angaleena Presley

Courtesy: Marushka Media

While I’ve already highlighted Ashley Monroe and the Pistol Annies as part of my 31 Days of Women feature, I figured it might be best to showcase each member of the trio individually. Angaleena Presley has remained one of my favorite interviews because of the honesty she shared in our chat nearly four years ago. I sat down with the singer in a cafe in New York City to discuss her debut solo album, American Middle Class, and throughout our lengthy chat there were tears, laughter and many life realizations.

“I got introduced to the world as Holler Annie with these two blondes beside me,” she tells me of her bandmates Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe. “I feel like I had to get in a band, make history and kick down a door so I could walk through it as a solo artist…I’m an older artist and I could sit there and be like, ‘Oh this should have happened.’ No. If it didn’t happen like this, you wouldn’t have had this story to write or this song that so many people connect with. I feel like everything happened the way it was supposed to happen for me.”

Many people resonated with her critically acclaimed debut, where on each of the 12 tracks she gives an honest portrayal of her life covering the moments that others may want to forget. On “Drunk,” she details the hurdles she faced during the “most horrific, tumultuous, part of my marriage” and likens writing the song to therapy.

 

 

Meanwhile, previous single “Ain’t No Man” best describes Presley’s perseverance and perhaps her feminist leanings.

“I just think women are amazing creatures and I’m so glad that I am a woman. I just want to empower women,” she says. “We still have to fight for equality. I think we’re a group of people who have been discriminated against, probably more than any other group on the planet. I just feel like we need to stick together. We need to love our men, but we need to make sure that they don’t take advantage.”

She adds, “Ain’t no man gonna tell me to put a bikini on and wallow around on the hood of a truck. I’m going to sing songs about real things and real problems and real joy and real grief. This is the only thing I know how to do. I can’t fit into the model. I guess I broke the mold and I’m not going away.”

 

 

For more of my interview with Angaleena Presley, visit Radio.com.

March 12, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
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