Interviews Q&A

Interview: Shania Twain


If you were to tell me back in 1999 when I was sitting down with my family watching Shania Twain’s CBS television special (with an appearance from the Backstreet Boys!) that one day I would interview her, I would not believe it. But that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago.

Earlier this month, I chatted with the country singer over the phone right before she announced the news about her final tour. During our chat, she told me it will be a “dynamic, kick-ass show.” As the title of the tour, Rock This Country, suggests, she promises exactly that.

“It really is a rock meets country show. It’s going to have a lot of punch and edge. I just feel like I want to go out there with a bang,” she adds.

She’s also working on new music and while she wouldn’t divulge too much, I did get a little hint as to the direction she’s going in.

“The songs are going great,” she says enthusiastically. “I’ve been putting them together for a really long time now. They’ve been whirling around in my head, so I’ve got a pile of things, way too much for one album.”

While Twain says she’s in the studio and the “record is on its way,” she explains that it’s difficult to vividly describe and categorize the sound of the new material.

“It’s hard for me to put my finger on it; I don’t know how to explain it,” she confesses. “One of the producers involved, we were talking about how to describe it in words and he said, ‘This is soul. This is soul music.’”

Twain wouldn’t reveal the producer she’s working with, but she did agree with his ‘soulful’ explanation.

“It’s not like my music was ever traditional anyway. I don’t think anybody expects that from me. Nothing that I’m doing is traditional,” she says. “Certainly, as I reflect back on listening to this stuff, it reminds me a lot of the influences that I had growing up. There’s influences from my childhood in the music that I’m writing now.”

The country singer says she hears hints of artists like Emmylou Harris, Gladys Knight, Roy Orbison and Glen Campbell in the music she has been writing more recently.

“It is a more soulful approach to my songwriting then I’ve probably ever allowed myself to have before,” she admits. “It’s fun music, too. I like to stay positive. I’ll make sure that I do some things on there that make you feel good and happy as well. I’m having a lot of fun.”

For more of my interview with Shania Twain, visit And for a flashback to the ’90s, watch Shania perform “From This Moment” with the Backstreet Boys.

Interviews Q&A

Top 25 Interviews of 2014: No. 1 Nick Carter

This just happened. My life is complete. Jordan Knight and Nick Carter! #ktbspa #nickandknight #dreamscometrue

A photo posted by Annie Reuter (@yousingiwrite) on


This year, I sat down and interviewed a Backstreet Boy. What a dream come true. You see, I’ve obsessed over the Backstreet Boys since the seventh grade. My childhood bedroom was covered from floor to ceiling in posters of BSB, I attended all their concerts when they came to New Jersey and I was pretty convinced I’d marry one. Unfortunately, that never happened but hey–a girl can dream, right?

Much to the chagrin of my parents, every single year since the seventh grade my birthday or Christmas present request was a Backstreet Boy. Fully aware that this was a nearly impossible task, I continued to ask year after year. Well, it seems that my birthday and Christmas present came early this year when I got a chance to sit down with Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys when he teamed up with Jordan Knight of New Kids On the Block to form the duo Nick & Knight. I’m not sure how I didn’t faint, turn bright red or stutter my words but I guess the professional journalist in me remains despite the greatest odds. I mean, come on I was sitting down and talking to a Backstreet Boy not even five feet away!

Gushing aside, the interview went smoothly and the guys opened up about what it’s like living life in the spotlight and some of their questionable fashion choices over the years. Watch the video from my interview below as well as an excerpt from our chat. I guess now I need to create a new bucket list of interviews for 2015. Any suggestions?

“I never, ever have thought that I actually was very good at style and dressing myself,” Nick Carter admits when he’s given some photos of his earliest looks. “Now more than ever I let my wife help me out a lot. Some things like this, I have no idea what that is. I look like the guy from Puddle of Mudd.”

He’s talking about an outfit he wore to the Festivalbar Music Festival in Turin, Italy back in 2005. During his performance, the Backstreet Boy showed his dark side with a skull woven onto his button-down dress shirt.

“Woah! Beeper,” Jordan exclaims.

He is of course referring to a beeper clipped on an all-leather ensemble he wore back in 1999, when he showed up at a Virgin Megastore in California to promote his debut solo album Jordan Knight.

It had us, and Nick, wondering who was beeping Jordan back then?

“You know,” Jordan smirks, not naming any names. “You know how I roll.”

And by far the favorite of all the photos we found is one of Jordan from 1985. In the promo photo shot in New York, he’s wearing denim overalls sans a shirt.

“This was just terrible. People in my neighborhood wore this for some reason,” he recalls. “If I was on an episode of Cops this is what I’d be wearing. Running from the police.”

He smiles. “We all have those photos. You look back in your yearbook and you go, ‘Oh my God. What was I thinking?’ We take this stuff lightly. It’s pretty funny to look at.”

Read more of my interview with Nick & Knight at

Features First Person

You Sing I Write Celebrates Seven Years

lady a

It’s incredible to me that seven years ago I started You Sing I Write with a dream to cover concerts and interview bands. It was a very lofty goal at the time but one I was so sure of, more than anything else in my life at the time. Getting to where I am today was a long journey, full of highs and lows. I definitely hit rock bottom too. Living in Brooklyn with a dwindling savings account and no steady paycheck, the freelance life was hard. But it’s those difficult times that test you and for me, there was no plan B. Music journalism was it. I refused to settle for a boring corporate job that I dreaded waking up every day for.

Years later, I came to learn that family members and friends often questioned my path and wondered when I’d give up this crazy dream for a “real job.” Today, though they marvel at my persistence and determination to make this career work. I’ve been asked for career and freelance advice a lot recently and it always surprises me that people want to know my story.

For me, music was always a major passion, as was writing. From the first time I covered a concert (Gavin DeGraw at Rutgers University for The Daily Targum), I was hooked. It was as if a light bulb went off. I remember standing in the front row of the show, notebook and pen in one hand and camera in the other and it clicked: if I could do this for the rest of my life, I would. From there it was countless internships at Jane Magazine, MTV News and Rolling Stone. While interning and freelancing for free was definitely not easy, along the way there were signs I was headed in the right direction. An internship turned into paid work, a simple blog post turned into more review requests. And the more people I met in the industry, the more contacts I gained and the opportunities started lining up.


Seven years ago, I never imagined I’d have a byline in Rolling Stone, Billboard, MTV News, AOL or Marie Claire but somehow it happened. And then, after a trip with some friends to Nashville for CMA Fest this boy band loving girl (that’s Hanson above, fyi), turned into a country fan. Who would have thought?

I eventually landed my first full-time gig at CBS Local back in 2012 and things felt like they finally were falling into place. It was a job where I actually got to write every day for a living. While I had always dreamed this was a possibility, I was starting to have my doubts. The gig has allowed me to meet some of my favorite artists and to sit down and have in-depth chats with them about their music, life and songwriting. Truly a dream come true, this little blog helped me get to where I am today.

Darius Rucker

The past seven years came full circle this year when I got to sit down with Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys (my childhood obsession) as well as Darius Rucker, who really made me fall in love with country music. Hearing the stories behind their songs and realizing that they are just regular people is always refreshing. I’m not sure who else this field will bring me into contact with, but I have a feeling the next seven years will bring even more moments to write about. And hey, who knows, maybe all these adventures will make their way into a book one day.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey over the past seven years. Here’s to many more years ahead!

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “One More Time” by Nick & Knight

nick and knight

This week was truly a bucket list moment for me as I sat down and interviewed a Backstreet Boy in person. My 12-year-old self was definitely freaking out on the inside. And, I’d be lying if I said my 29-year-old self wasn’t just as excited. You see, I grew up a hardcore Backstreet Boys fan. I attended all the concerts, knew all the words to every song, tried to learn the dance moves, and my childhood bedroom in Jersey was covered from floor to ceiling in posters of the guys. Yes, I even thought one day I’d marry one. (Brian Littrell was my favorite in case you were wondering.)

A few months ago I learned that BSB’s Nick Carter and New Kids On the Block’s Jordan Knight were teaming up to release an album. Fittingly, they named themselves Nick & Knight. Flash forward to this past Wednesday when they came into my office and I sat down with them for an interview. I can’t deny the nerves I had right before they walked into the studio at CBS. But, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I’m a professional.

As the guys were putting on their mics, I just sat there watching them joke with each other, saying they were releasing their first reggae album in questionable accents, asking what kind of animal fur our boom mic was made out of and clearing their throats extremely loud as they were testing the mics. They even took time to compliment me on my dress, saying how much they loved it. (Yes, I was secretly dying on the inside, but surprisingly didn’t blush at all!)

Once I asked my first question the nerves thankfully vanished and I was impressed with how passionate Nick and Jordan still are about creating music and touring. They told me that they approached their debut album with more of an indie outlook than a big, pop boy band record. They also admitted how they hate the term boy band, but it’s something they’ve had to live with for decades now.

You can get a feel of their musical direction in their single “One More Night” below. Stay tuned for my complete interview which will be posted next week which includes both of the guys talking about their debut duo release, the self-titled Nick & Knight, as well as Nick opening up about his reality show I Heart Nick Carter which premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 10 on VH1.



And for my cousins who are anxiously wondering if I asked Nick to teach me the “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” dance, I didn’t. But that’s not to say that he didn’t do some moves from the video during the interview! Stay tuned for a few fun features I asked the band about too. All in all, sometimes things are well worth the wait and finally sitting down with a Backstreet Boy after all these years really is a dream come true.

Features First Person Q&A

You Sing I Write’s Top 13 Interviews of 2013

kenny rogers

It’s hard to believe 2013 is coming to a close. I’ve been so lucky to interview some incredible artists this year, some that I never would have dreamed of getting the chance and others I’ve been dreaming up meeting since the seventh grade. Here’s my Top 13 interviews of 2013.

1. Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys

Do I need to say more? He filled me in on how difficult life as a boy band can be when your fiance is receiving death threats on a daily basis. That made me throw away my lifelong dream of marrying fellow bandmate Brian Littrell. Yes, I truly grew up in 2013.

2. Willie Nelson

I interviewed Willie on his tour bus and yes, it did smell like pot. I’m not quite sure if I got a contact high, just because I was so high on life after interviewing him. And that’s the truth. A true legend, he opened up about why he can’t live without songwriting and how the first time he heard his voice played back to him he hated it.

3. Kenny Rogers

The Gambler. He had the absolute best stories and a true passion and gratefulness for his long career.



4. Robin Thicke

I interviewed him the week “Blurred Lines” went to No. 1. Also, this was the first time I ever interviewed an artist who kept his sunglasses on throughout the entire interview which was a little awkward at first. And he gave me some great relationship advice.



5. Gavin DeGraw

The first concert I ever covered back in college, this interview was a long time coming. And I finally learned the story behind his hit “I Don’t Want To Be.”



6. Jack Johnson

My roommates throughout college had his music on repeat. I’m  happy to say he’s exactly the man you think he is as perceived in his music.



7. Plain White T’s

The first song I ever learned on guitar was “Hey There Delilah” and Tim and Tom made me blush while I recounted the story of my friend teaching me. In all fairness, they did have some pretty interesting views on relationships.

8. Brett Eldredge

I must confess after interviewing him three times this year, I may have developed a slight crush on this country singer. His album Bring You Back is by far my most listened to release from this year.



9. Deana Carter

After seeing Deana Carter perform at the CMA Songwriters Series, I was excited to talk with her on the phone and learn about her latest album. The conversation geared it’s way into talking about how much we both love the TV show Nashville where she filled me in that she in fact auditioned for the star role.

10. Toby Keith

I came to learn the full story behind the song we all love to hate “Red Solo Cup” and he gave me some exclusives to his album which came out this fall.

11. Jason Derulo

The most thoughtful interview, I was at first startled at how he would stop and really think about answering my every question. After a while, I just let the dead air stay until he told me what he wanted to say and truthfully, I think that’s the best way to conduct an interview. Leave space to let the artist really open up and tell you something they may not have otherwise if you just jump to ask them the next question.



12. Will Hoge

I sat on his tour bus before a performance at The Bell House in Brooklyn as he told me the story behind my favorite country song, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and opened up about country music.

13. A Great Big World

I was so excited to see this band succeed this year as I’d been catching them perform over the years throughout New York. There’s something so refreshing about a band you saw perform at a tiny club in New York to sharing a stage with Christina Aguilera.


You Sing I Write July/August Wrap Up


It’s hard to believe nearly six years ago I started this blog with the hope of creating a writing outlet for myself. Six years later, I’ve gone on to find a full-time job doing what I love — writing about music — and freelancing for several publications I’ve always dreamed of working at. This summer once again proved to me that if you’re persistent and work hard anything can happen. Case in point: interviewing the Backstreet Boys.

While I’m well aware that it’s 2013 and the “it” boy bands are One Direction and The Wanted, the Backstreet Boys will forever hold a special place in my heart. Growing up I was obsessed with them. Like, I honestly thought I would marry a BSB. (Brian Littrell if you were wondering). Upon being home in Jersey for Labor Day, some friends and I revisited our middle school and high school yearbooks and the one inscription that pretty much sums up my middle school days was written by a boy in my 8th grade class: “I’ll see ya next year and then maybe you will stop lovin BSB so much.”

Of course, this never happened because in my senior yearbook my mom sent in photos of me with an extremely clever note. She managed to use all the Backstreet Boys song titles to wish me luck in college. Aptly ending the note, “Drowning In Your Love, Mom, Dad and Katherine.”

So knowing all this, imagine my excitement when learning I would be interviewing a Backstreet Boy for work! Last month, the Backstreet Boys were part of CBS Radio’s Impact campaign where we highlight a band’s upcoming album during release week. Since I was writing the post, I’d be doing a phoner with one of the guys. I found out on a Friday night that the interview would be happening sometime Saturday and I could barely sleep. The next day I’d be chatting with one of the guys on the phone and could ask them whatever questions I wanted. My 13-year-old self was ecstatic. Due to the guys busy schedule traveling abroad the interview didn’t happen until Monday. Literally five minutes before they were supposed to call me I learned I’d be talking with Nick Carter. My palms were sweaty and I had butterflies in my stomach. I could not have dreamed this up in middle school.



Nick was beyond nice and answered all my burning questions (his favorite choreographed dance move was “Everybody  (Backstreet’s Back)” just in case you were wondering…). What really surprised me was how open he was. When I asked him how his fiance and the guys’ wives take their avid female fan base he was very frank. “My fiancé actually gets the brunt of it. There are girls out there that send her death threats and tell her they want to kill her and write her name on Twitter and draw pictures of her. We deal with that on a daily basis.”

When I asked how he deals with the death threats he said he just tries to ignore it as best he can.

“If you live your life in fear then they win. For the most part it’s just haters. I think fans don’t like it because I’m the youngest one, I’m not married yet. I’m engaged but I think they feel like I belong to them in some ways. It’s tough. It’s a tough place to be in.”

In the end, I learned that maybe it’s not the best thing in the world to marry a Backstreet Boy. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to deal with death threats on a daily basis. So, at 28-years-old my goals have changed. No longer do I want to marry a Backstreet Boy. Instead, I want to learn how to write a song. I’ll let you know how that goes in September’s recap.


A Glimpse Into You Sing I Write’s Life For Girls Write Now


Last summer, my friend told me about Girls Write Now, a mentoring program that pairs women in the writing field with high school girls who are looking to pursue a career in writing. It has always been a dream of mine to mentor someone once I was more established in my career, especially since I never had that growing up. Some of my mentors in later life as a freelancer are now my colleagues and I know how important it is to have someone else show you the ropes or just make you feel like you’re not crazy for pursing a career in journalism.

I was accepted as a mentor on the day of my 28th birthday and it has been an experience like no other. My 17-year-old mentor has helped me jump outside my comfort zone and realize my love of writing in first person. She was always so intrigued by my adventures interviewing bands that it hit me that maybe others would want to hear about my experiences as well.

Earlier this month, we had a Chapters reading where mentors and mentees took the stage to read some of our pieces. The first time I’ve ever read my article in front of a crowd, I was a bit intimidated but my mentee Priscilla and I took the stage together and once I got a few laughs from my opening line I calmed down. I thought my blog was a fitting place to post this. Enjoy!


“Annie, you know you’re now closer to 30 than you are 20,” my brother-in-law reminded me on my 28th birthday.

Just the thing every girl wants to be told.

At 17, I dreaded the thought of no longer being a teen and soon entering my twenties. I felt old and decrepit and the thought of college and the dreadful “real world” soon filled me with fear. I did not want to be an adult with responsibilities, with a boring 9 to 5 job. I didn’t want to be miserable.

At 17, that seemed to be my immediate future and it scared me to death!

It’s strange that now, being 28, I feel so young. While I have what seems to be adult responsibilities — rent to pay, a job to go to — most days I still feel like a kid.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a music journalist and the majority of my days are spent writing about Justin Bieber or which boy Taylor Swift’s current single is about. Sometimes I even get to hang out with the bands I hear on the radio. I once interviewed One Direction at their hotel as a swarm of girls were outside screaming and anxiously waiting to meet them. Confession: all five guys gave me a kiss on the cheek.

The truth of the matter is that I have every teenage girl’s dream job and that’s why I feel so young. On a daily basis I’m channeling my inner 17-year-old self, trying to figure out what questions I would have wanted to ask my favorite bands. It also doesn’t hurt that I look about the age of the demographic I write for. But I don’t mind it. To be in your 20s and still get mistaken for someone in their teens is a good thing.

Well, I’ll see how I really feel about that when 30 comes around. Given my day job and my annual request for a Backstreet Boy in my stocking each Christmas much to the chagrin of my parents, I have a feeling my future will still involve listening to boy bands, writing about Justin Bieber and endlessly deciphering Taylor Swift’s song lyrics. Being a grown up isn’t so bad after all.

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “As Long As You Love Me”


Sometimes you just have to go back to where it all started. For me, it was the Backstreet Boys. I was obsessed with them as a kid. And by obsessed, I mean I was convinced I was going to marry a Backstreet Boy (Brian Littrell if you must know). As ridiculous as that sounds, I know my love for their music was one of the reasons I became a music journalist.

Growing up, I always wondered who their songs were about, if they actually wrote them, what really went on backstage and what they really were like as people. These burning questions haven’t changed much over the years and this curiously is what sparked my passion for journalism in the first place.

This week, BSB announced that they’ll be hitting the road in celebration of their 20th anniversary as a band. Additionally, new music is on the way and the guys have written most of the tracks for their upcoming July 30th release In A World Like This.

Confession: I spent an entire day this week revisiting all their old hits and am amazed that I still know all the words to many of their songs. Like this one especially, “As Long As You Love Me.” Say what you will about the Backstreet Boys, but you can’t deny that their songs are incredibly catchy.



Q&A Videos

Boy Band Star Jordan Knight Set To Perform Solo In NYC Saturday

A New Kid is back in New York City.

Currently on tour in the U.S. promoting his latest solo album, Unfinished, Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block fame talked with CBS Local about his life as a solo artist and member of the iconic 90s pop group.

Knight got his start in New Kids On the Block as a teen in the 80s – and nearly three decades later continues to pursue a career in music. On a break from touring with NKOTB and the Backstreet Boys on their world tour, Knight discussed the difference between producing and releasing his record himself vs. the big production behind the New Kids.

“Doing something like an album, promoting your own tour, and doing your own label, that’s what I did with my latest album Unfinished, it’s a lot of work. You definitely have to be dedicated to do it and I was and I am,” he said.

“I think the best thing about it is that it gives you a whole lot of self-satisfaction. Being in the New Kids and doing big arenas and traveling the world, that’s great and that’s hard work too but compared to what I’m doing now it’s very cushy.”

For my complete article and video interview visit CBS.


You Sing I Write's 90's Holiday Playlist

The holidays are officially here! This week, I’ll be featuring an appropriate seasonal track each day. So, it’s only fitting to begin with the 1990s holiday playlist I created for Guitar Shop TV. A product of the 90s, I was a HUGE boy band fan (Backstreet Boys were my favorite in case you’re wondering), so my childhood definitely inspired this list.

Be sure to visit Guitar Shop TV to stream some of the tracks. Enjoy!

1. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” – Mariah Carey
2. “Christmas Time Is Here” – Backstreet Boys
3. “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays” – ’N Sync
4. “This Gift” – 98 Degrees
5. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Christina Aguilera
6. “My Only Wish (This Year)” – Britney Spears
7. “Merry Christmas Baby” – Hanson
8. “Christmas Song” – Dave Matthews Band
9. “The Chanukah Song” – Adam Sandler
10. ”Silent Night” – Boys II Men
11. ”And So This is Christmas” – Celine Dion
12. ”Grown Up Christmas List” – Amy Grant