You Sing I Write’s June Wrap-Up


Photo Credit: Jeffrey Staab


While being a music journalist certainly sounds like a glamorous job to many, it’s also a lot of work. Many times bands are scheduled for numerous interviews and performances in one day and with that, undoubtedly asked the same questions. My goal as an interviewer has always been to ask the artist a question they’ve never been asked before.


I still remember stumping Lady Antebellum during an interview in 2010. Their nearly minute of silence was instant success to me. To be able to ask the country trio a question they were never asked before during the height of their “Need You Now” popularity put a big smile on my face. It meant that I did my job and accomplished my goal after hours of research.


When I first started my job at CBS I was still new at video interviews. To have a crew of video staff and publicists watching your interview as it happened is intimidating and having an artist connect with you in a room full of people is not an easy task.


One of the video producers saw my nerves and offered some advice: just make it a conversation. For some reason I let my nerves get the best of me and forgot that eased conversations often make the best interviews. I told my boss that my goal for myself at the company was to have great interviews that make the artist want to come back and chat with us again.



My first interview this month was with Colbie Caillat. An artist I’ve already interviewed twice, she was the first interview in a long time that I wasn’t nervous about. The beach beauty felt like an old friend and she filled me in on surviving a bug attack onstage, how she makes touring feel like home and her friendship with Gavin DeGraw.


Last week, I found out that I’d be interviewing Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine. After joking with my co-workers about trying to recall the last time we used a payphone when listening to their hit single “Payphone,” I knew I had to ask him the same question.


Still trying to implement the idea of making my interviews more like a conversation with a friend, I was a bit nervous but determined to make it work. Having seen Maroon 5 perform the night before I at least had a few good conversation starters. As the interview went on I found my questions fitting seamlessly into the interview with no internal dialogue of “what am I going to ask next?”



By far my favorite interview to date, James Valentine took me behind-the-scenes of his writing process with Adam Levine, how he came to join the band, and of course the last time he used a payphone. This was the first interview I’ve had in a long time that really felt like a conversation with distinct connection.


The next day I chatted with singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman whose new album Cedar and Gold drops in September. Formerly engaged to fellow singer Jason Mraz, the album was deemed a breakup album. Reading over all the press material, I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d bring up the elephant in the room, but everything was stated pretty clearly in the press release so I wouldn’t be a good journalist if I didn’t.


I spent the commute to work and my entire morning listening to the album and was struck by Tristan’s honesty. The record was so incredibly emotional and the heartbreak so real that it instantly brought to mind Adele’s ever popular 21.



The more we talked about the album and her relationship, the closer I came to having to bring up his name. So, I asked if she was nervous to have Jason listen to the album and she revealed that she sent him a few tracks and he responded, remarking at the fact that she didn’t hold anything back.


As Tristan continued to talk about the songs and her relationship she started to tear up and while I wasn’t quite sure whether to keep asking questions, I figured if she felt that uncomfortable she’d let me know. We continued the interview and I was so grateful for her honesty. Writing songs is often like writing in one’s diary and she shared so much of her process and the stories behind her songs with me. After our interview, I have no doubt her upcoming release will help a lot of people deal with their own heartbreaks. And that in itself is often the goal for a songwriter.


As far as my future interview goals, while I definitely don’t strive to make anyone cry from the questions I ask them, I hope I do allow them to feel comfortable enough to let their guard down for a moment. I know it’s not always the best idea to be friends with rock stars, but building a 30 minute friendship during our interview can’t hurt, can it?

Features Q&A

Darius Rucker On Lionel Richie: “He’s More Than An Idol, He’s Part Of My DNA”


Currently on tour with Lady Antebellum, I interviewed Darius Rucker for CBS Local while in New York to discuss life on the road and his recent collaboration with Lionel Richie. While he’s busy working on a new album, Darius explained what it was like working with Lionel Richie on his recent release Tuskegee. One of his idols, he revealed how it all came about.


“I’m sitting in my house and my cell phone rings and I answer it and the guy goes, ‘Darius, this is Lionel Richie.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah right.’”



Having been the target of practical jokes before, he was skeptical.


“It was just wild for Lionel Richie to be calling me and asking me to sing on his record,” he said. “I mean, this is Lionel Richie. I say to people all the time, ‘He’s more than an idol. He’s part of my DNA.’”


For the complete article and video interview, visit CBS.

Concert Reviews

Mary Bragg, Adam Levy Impress at the Living Room

I first met Mary Bragg in December at Galuminum Foil Studios while she was recording on the A Holiday Benefit, vol 5 album. As she sang her part on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” the whole studio went silent in awe of her beautiful vocals.

The Georgia native moved to New York eight years ago to pursue music and in an interview with her I learned about her songwriting start with famous friend Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum and her recording process. This year, Bragg has a monthly residency at the Living Room where for two hours she showcases her own material and invites a collaborator to share the stage.

Last Tuesday her guest was Adam Levy. Known for his collaborations with Norah Jones, Amber Rubarth and Amos Lee among others, Levy admitted that his first show as a singer was at the Living Room.

Shortly after 7 p.m., Bragg took the stage. Having just spent the weekend in Georgia, she began the evening with a song about where she is from. Alone onstage with acoustic guitar her beautiful vocals stood out. “Orange” followed suit as her whispered singing style captivated.

Soon after, her guitarist and bassist joined the stage for the soulful and bluesy “Leave Tonight” before Levy joined her for the darker “Circle the Night.” With a distinct twang and bluesy guitar interludes from Levy, the track stood out. Bragg left the stage while Levy remained performing five songs of his own. The comical “You’re Not My Baby” had the room laughing along with deep vocals and lighthearted lyrics.

“I love singing here at the Living Room because it’s the first place I ever sang,” Levy admitted. “I used to stand in the shadows and play guitar.” Levy then performed a “love song to my home state” of California before Bragg rejoined him onstage and sang the song they first wrote together. With reverberating vocals and a wavering electric guitar interlude by Levy, the track was memorable. Slower ballad “Wildflower” followed while the poignant “Tattoos and Bruises” struck a chord.

Afterward, Bragg confessed she never intended to be a country singer. “For a long time I didn’t think I was going to be a country singer and that was a mistake,” she admitted. “I didn’t start writing until I was 22. My second record got more folky and poppy. Having that fore into folk and pop music allowed me to be honest with who I am and where I’m from and I stopped being afraid to write country songs.”

Next track, “When Your Heart Belongs To Another,” was “a shore-fire example of me embracing my country roots,” Bragg said as the twangy number impressed and hushed the crowd.

The remainder of her two hour set had the entire room entranced with her soaring vocals and quirky anecdotes. For more on Mary Bragg, visit her Website and catch her live at the Living Room March 20.

Related Links:
Mary Bragg Credits Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood For Songwriting Chops
Mary Bragg Performs at Rockwood Music Hall
Night in the Studio at Brooklyn’s Galuminum Foil Studios
Lady Antebellum Talk Dating, Drunk Dialing and Dylan
Features News

You Sing I Write's Weekly Wrap Up

The music world faced a major loss over a week ago when Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel room. Just a day before the Grammys, rumors of several award show tributes abounded. While Adele‘s comeback performance was definitely one show highlight, Jennifer Hudson’s poignant cover of Houston’s infamous hit, “I Will Always Love You” was breathtaking.

On Monday, I started a new job at CBS Radio. Given the previous day’s events, my week had no shortage of news stories to be written. Whether it was NBA darling Jeremy Lin sharing his music taste with Fuse, or the rumors of a Chris Brown and Rihanna collaboration, I wrote about it. Since I’m still getting used to the rhythm of a full-time job my posts here might slow, but I’ll be sure to fill you in on all of my adventures on Twitter.

I was beyond excited to hear a preview of John Mayer’s new album when he posted a stream of one of the tracks Thursday. With wavering pedal steel, his familiar vocals and heartfelt lyrics, I’m anxiously awaiting his upcoming LP due out later in 2012. With so much new music due for release this year, I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date. In the meantime, here are a few shows I’ll be catching this week and artists to have on your radar.

Mary Bragg – Tuesday 7pm @ The Living Room

This Americana songstress has a year-long residency at the Living Room titled “Mary Bragg With…” Each month, she performs two hours with a friend, showcasing new and old material as well as a collaboration with a new guest. I interviewed Bragg last year for CBS and Billboard where she filled me in on her songwriting and recording process as well as the evolution of her writing, which was originally inspired by her friend Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum.

When Your Heart Belongs to Another from Mary Bragg on Vimeo.

Nic Cowan – Tuesday 9:30pm @ Rockwood Music Hall

This Southern rocker has major support from some of country and rock’s biggest names including Zac Brown, who produced his latest release, and Kid Rock. Cowan has songwriting credits on each of Hardheaded‘s 13 tracks, two of which feature Brown and Kid Rock.

Tragedy – Friday 11:30pm @ Brooklyn Bowl

Words can’t even begin to explain what one can expect at this band’s show. Glitter, spandex and cover songs abound. Not to mention, scantily clad personal trainers jump around onstage while other members of the entourage blow glitter into the crowd. Finally, fans are brought onstage for an impromptu dance party. These are just a few of the elements that make for a truly unique show. Did I mention they’re an all metal tribute band to the Bee Gees?

What albums are you most excited to hear this year? Which bands are on your radar to see live? Let me know!


A Day in the Life with Josh Kelley

A few weeks ago, I spent the day with Josh Kelley while he was in New York promoting his debut country release, Georgia Clay. Throughout the day, the Georgia native filled me in on his songwriting process, his early years writing and performing with his younger brother, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, and some defining moments in his career and personal life. You can watch the video below and for my complete writeup and interview, visit The Boot.

Concert Reviews

Adele Performs Tracks Off New Album “Live On Letterman”

Photo Credit: John Filo of CBS

On the eve of her record release, UK sensation Adele performed  for lucky audience members at Ed Sullivan Theater Monday night. Part of the “Live on Letterman” broadcast, the show aired live on A comedian in her own right, Adele walked to the stage shortly after 9PM, surprised she made it without a fall.

“I was convinced I was going to drop on my face then. I’m trying to learn how to wear high heels. This was a steep floor,” she said. “Thank you very much for coming and braving the cold,” she continued before she performed her first track of the evening.

Clad in black from head to toe, Adele sat on her stool most of the night. With impassioned vocals and soaring piano and guitar accompaniment, she captivated the theater. “I hope you don’t mind me sitting down, it’s just that I knew you’d be sitting down and like I said, I’m practicing. I look better sitting in heels than I do standing in them,” she said.

An impressive mix of old and new songs along with two powerful covers — a stripped down performance of The Cure’s “Love Song” followed by Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” — Adele’s soulful vocals and comedic onstage banter impressed.

The soulful Brit showcased her versatility throughout the night. In fact, the country-infused “Don’t You Remember,” off 21, was inspired by Lady Antebellum’s latest release, Need You Now.

“That was the last song I wrote for the new record. I was in Malibu and Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now was everywhere.  I love Need You Now and then I got into early Dolly Parton stuff. She was a bit goth back in the day, wasn’t she? Yeah, a bit dark. It’s got quite an Americana sound to it and it’s one of my favorites.”

The remainder of her set included old fan favorites like hit single, “Chasing Pavements” as well as her first UK No. 1 single, the emotional “Someone Like You.” Soft piano helped accentuate the track and Adele even got choked up while she sang.

“I almost stopped singing at the wrong place, could you tell?” she asked the audience. “My heart was in my throat.”

Before she played the energetic set closer “Rolling In the Deep,” she told the crowd she was going to switch things up. “I’m going to play you an upbeat song. I don’t have many, but I come alive when I do. I’m going to stand up – ah!”

The song demonstrated her soulful side as the audience and band clapped along while Adele and her backup singers worked their vocal magic to finished the set. An adequate preview to her upcoming release, the 45-minute performance further convinced concertgoers of the UK singer’s talent and no doubt resulted in a purchase of her sophomore release the next day.

To watch the complete performance, visit or see the video below.


53rd Annual Grammy Awards Tonight on CBS

The Grammy Awards air tonight on CBS at 8PM ET/PT and will feature live performances by Christina Aguilera,  Jennifer Hudson,  Bob Dylan, Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga,  Miranda Lambert, Katy Perry, Arcade Fire, B.o.B, Bruno Mars, Drake, Rihanna and many more.

For complete coverage, be sure to follow me on Twitter as I’ll be live tweeting the show. Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to interview numerous Grammy winners, so be sure to click on my Q&As with past winners below and stay tuned for new interviews in the upcoming weeks!

Colbie Caillat

Lady Antebellum

Martina McBride

Pat Benatar

Taylor Swift


Concert Reviews Features Q&A Videos

You Sing I Write's Top 10 of 2010

Photo/Video Credit: Wendy Hu

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have interviewed some of my all-time favorite bands this year. As 2010 comes to a close, I can only imagine what 2011 will bring… (perhaps an interview with John Mayer?!). Instead of compiling my top 10 albums, songs, etc. of the year I decided to break up my Top 10 list with my five most memorable interviews and concerts of 2010. Be sure to let me know some of your favorites in the comments!

You Sing I Write’s Top 5 Interviews of 2010

5. Hanson

My younger self is still in disbelief. HANSON. I remember the years my best friend in middle school was CONVINCED she would marry Taylor Hanson. Little did I know I’d interview him a decade later. Extremely detailed, Taylor Hanson went on to thoroughly and thoughtfully answer every question I asked. Sorry Jacqueline, he’s married. Read my complete interview on Lemondrop here.

4. Colbie Caillat

Though I interviewed Colbie Caillat back in 2008 for my blog, I had yet to meet her in person and was thrilled to catch her in Hoboken and film my interview with her for VH1 Save the Music. You can read the complete interview on Hoboken Patch and watch a video excerpt below.

3. Pat Benatar

I still can’t believe I chatted with Pat Benatar on the phone this year! We bonded over living in Brooklyn and she gave me so much great advice that I shared with Lemondrop readers. And, your No. 1 question was answered. Yes, Pat Benatar still believes love is a battlefield. Read my complete Q&A on Lemondrop here.

2. Lady Antebellum

I still remember the first time I saw Lady Antebellum perform on an awards show and thought to myself, “I REALLY want to interview this band!” I had a hunch they’d explode and in 2010 they sure did. Out of all my interviews this year, I was most nervous for my in-person with them as I listened to Need You Now continuously, it easily being my most played album of the year. Nerves aside, the interview went well and I even stumped Lady A on a few questions. Read my interview with Lady Antebellum on The Boot.

1. Keith Urban

Never in a million years would I have dreamed I’d spend the day with Keith Urban! I remember the first time I heard a Keith Urban song. It was “Somebody Like You” back in high school in the movie, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and I downloaded it and played it obsessively for months. He was the first country artist I really listened to and I was happy to discover my college roommate Celine liked him as well. We’d play his album on repeat and admire his gorgeous locks, often wondering how they’re kept so perfect. I came to learn it’s thanks to his personal hair stylist as she was fixing his hair before my chat with him.

Happy to report my interview went swimmingly (see the video below) and Keith was one of the nicest artists I’ve ever met. For the complete writeup, visit The Boot.

You Sing I Write’s Top 5 Concerts of 2010

5. Pat Benatar, Nokia Theater

I was more than excited to get a pair of tickets to Pat Benatar’s show a week after my phoner with her. Many life realizations came to mind while I was standing near the stage during the entirety of her set. As Benatar’s husband Neil Geraldo provided climatic guitar riffs to accompany her soaring vocals, I couldn’t help but smile at the chorus of “Shadows of the Night.”

We’re running with the Shadows of the Night

So baby take my hand, you’ll be all right

Surrender all you dreams to me tonight

They’ll come true in the end

In 2010, so many of my dreams have come true. Some that I never even realized were possible a few years ago. Read more on Busted Halo.

4. CMT on Tour with Miranda Lambert and Eric Church, Terminal 5

For those who doubt country fans exist in New York, you obviously weren’t at Terminal 5 for the CMT on Tour kickoff. I have never witnessed a crowd so energized. Raising their beer cups and cowboy hats high in the air throughout Eric and Miranda’s sets, watching the crowd was just as captivating as the artists onstage. Read my review on The Boot.

3. The Gaslight Anthem, The Stone Pony

Seeing my favorite Jersey boys on their home turf was a concert experience like none other. My friends and I scrambled to find tickets to their sold-out show at the last minute. And, boy we’re glad we did! The outside stage setup within walking distance of the Jersey Shore and all their friends, family and Gaslight Anthem diehards in the crowd made for a unique evening. I had so much fun, a friend and I even crowd surfed up to the stage where we enjoyed most of the show from the front row.

2. Taylor Swift, Prudential Center

For being 21 and on her first headlining tour, Taylor Swift’s live show is impressive. Every moment of her set is thought out with precise detail and perfected on a nightly basis. Whether she was walking through the first level at the Prudential Center giving hugs to everyone who stopped her, or the arena erupting in heart shaped confetti at the show’s end, Taylor Swift is living proof that fairy tales do come true. Witnessing her live just proved this point even more.

1. NEEDTOBREATHE, Irving Plaza

I heard their show was good, but I never expected to be blown away the way I was. There is definitely a reason Taylor Swift tapped the band as her tour opener next year. From the moment NEEDTOBREATHE took the stage at Irving Plaza it was evident that this wasn’t just any concert. The South Carolina natives have been honing their live show for the past 10 years and the audience could tell. Their impressive instrumental interludes combined with frontman Bear Rinehart’s energy captivated. One can only imagine what 2011 will bring for NEEDTOBREATHE. Read my complete show review here and watch the band perform “Valley of Tomorrow” acoustic below.

Artist of the Week Band of the Week

Band of the Week: Deep River

Virginia-based trio Deep River booked their CD release show before they wrote their first song together. Though they formed just six months ago, you’d never be able to tell as all three members have performed in various solo and full band projects over the years. The band consists of Rachel Beauregard’s angelic vocals combined with Luke Brindley’s impressive guitar and songwriting skills and Bryan Dawley’s perfected harmonies and multi-instrumentalist virtuosity.

Their 11-track debut release, Ten Mornings, is an adequate introduction to their talent. A solid mix of blues, Americana and country the LP demonstrates Deep River’s soul and passion for music. Southern flavored tracks like “See You Shine” and “New Set of Wings” impress with powerful vocals and a foot stomp that begs listeners to join in. With alternating vocals and spot on harmonies between Beauregard and Dawley, the band brings to mind popular country trio Lady Antebellum.

“Feel like a poor man in a rich man’s town/Not a dime to my name, it won’t get me down/We dream about tomorrow/Today suits us just fine/Got all we need right here/And it’s all mine,” Deep River sing on “See You Shine.”

The band’s November release show at Virginia’s famed Jammin’ Java saw over 500 people in attendance and their first New York showcase earlier this month at The Living Room greeted the band to another packed room. Throughout their nearly hour set, Beauregard commanded the stage and held the audience in the palm of her hand, frequently having them stomp and clap along during Deep River’s performance.

“We’re really big into doing house concerts,” Beauregard told the standing room only crowd. “The good thing is I can see all of you and call you out if you’re not doing it,” she joked.

Having seen Luke Brindley in concert before, many tracks sounded familiar as his solo work was performed by Deep River. Songs like “Hold On To the Mystery” impressed with Beauregard’s soaring vocals and light guitar and percussion accompaniment. Additionally, Brindley’s ballad “On Your Side” struck a chord with light keyboard features and soft finger-picked guitar.

Deep River left their mark on “Virginia,” the band’s tribute to their state as well as “Let Me Down Easy,” a song about the end of a relationship with emotion filled vocals from Beuregard and fitting harmonies by Dawley.

For more on Deep River, visit their Website and be sure to watch footage of them performing “New Set of Wings” at their CD release show below.

Related Links:
Artist of the Week: Brooke Fraser
Band of the Week: NEEDTOBREATHE
Band of the Week: Vanaprasta
Band of the Week: MayOrWest
Interviews News Q&A

Amos Lee

Singer/songwriter Amos Lee has toured with everyone from Merle Haggard and Bob Dylan to Paul Simon and Elvis Costello. So it comes as no surprise that many country artists respect the Americana/folk artist.

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott is one of Amos’ many country admirers, along with Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams, who lend their voices on his upcoming album, ‘Mission Bell.’

“Great songwriters don’t come around that often. Amos is an exceptional artist, a true story teller, unique to his generation,” says Willie.

While ‘Mission Bell’ isn’t due for release until January 25 of next year, Amos filled me in on the recording process, his Farm Aid performance and just how he recruited Willie to join him in the studio. For the complete Q&A visit The Boot and be sure to watch his performance tonight on CMT’s “Artists of the Year.”

Related Links:
Lady Antebellum, Amos Lee Dazzle for Musicians On Call
CMT to Air “Artists of the Year” Special December 3
Lady Antebellum Talk Dating, Drunk Dialing and Dylan
Q&A with Lady Antebellum