Features News

Taylor Swift Profiled on "60 Minutes" Tonight

Country music sweetheart, Taylor Swift will be profiled on tonight’s episode of “60 Minutes.” The night before her final two sold-out tour dates at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Swift talks to Lesley Stahl about being a role model.

“It would be really easy to say, ‘I’m 21 now. I do what I want. You raise your kids,’ but that’s not the truth of it. The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation. So make your words count,” she says.

Well known for her interaction with fans, (remember that infamous 15-hour autograph signing at CMA Fest last year?), Swift asserts she’s never had a bad incident meeting the fans and it’s certainly not part of a bigger business plan.

Tune into CBS tonight at 7pm ET/PT for the complete special. Be sure to follow me on Twitter tomorrow night for up-to-the-minute details on her show at Madison Square Garden.

Related Links:
Q&A; with Taylor Swift
Hundreds of Fans Camp Out to Meet Taylor Swift
Friday Song Addiction: Country Music Edition
Artist to Watch: Taylor Swift

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


Song of the Week Videos

Song of the Week: "Enchanted"

I haven’t been able to stop playing this song since I bought Taylor Swift’s album back in November. The light acoustic guitar, her soft vocals, the lyrics. Everything comes together to paint a beautiful picture of the moment you meet that special someone for the first time and the rest of the night you’re up late wondering if they’re dating anyone or if they will even remember you in the morning. I think everyone has felt this at some point in their lives and Taylor once again expresses this universal feeling in her music.

Watch Taylor perform “Enchanted” live below and listen as her fans react to her lyrics.

Related Links
Song of the Week: “Mrs. Mistletoe”
Song of the Week: “Christmas All Over Again”
Song of the Week: “Until You”
Song of the Week: “Hello World”

Concert Reviews

Rascal Flatts Debut New Album 'Live on Letterman'

Photo Credit: John Filo of CBS

Rascal Flatts had the Ed Sullivan Theater audience on its feet for the entirety of their 45-minute set Monday night, November 15, for ‘Live on Letterman,’ a concert series run by the ‘The Late Show With David Letterman’ crew. Frequently making jokes with each other and fans, the playful trio’s humorous vibe carried throughout their performance.

In New York promoting the release of ‘Nothing Like This,’ the Flatts took requests and even dedicated a track from their LP to a newly engaged couple in the audience. But most of the banter, whether joking or not, was aimed at reminding fans of their new album’s release. “Make sure you pick up a copy or 12 tomorrow. They make great stocking stuffers,” bassist Jay DeMarcus said of the new disc, which hits stores today (November 16).

With the album being Rascal Flatts’ first release on Big Machine Records, lead singer Gary LeVox joked that label president Scott Borchetta needed permission from Taylor Swift to sign them.”We said, ‘Scott, we’d love to be on Big Machine Records,’ and he said, ‘Hold on a minute, I need to call Taylor Swift and see if she’s OK with that.'”

For my complete review, visit The Boot. Watch Rascal Flatts perform “Life Is a Highway” below.

Related Links:
Q&A with Rascal Flatts
Song of the Week: “Life Is a Highway”
Q&A with Taylor Swift
Brad Paisley Performs ‘Live on Letterman’

NEEDTOBREATHE Join Taylor Swift's 2011 Tour

Last week, I named NEEDTOBREATHE as You Sing I Write’s band of the week. Quite possibly my favorite concert of 2010 so far, NEEDTOBREATHE’s phenomenal live set impressed at Irving Plaza. It comes as no surprise then, that I’m not their only fan.

Earlier this year, Taylor Swift tweeted:  “Trying to find a @needtobreathe concert close to one of our tour dates– dying to see their show!” Turns out, last week she invited the South Carolina natives to join her during her 2011 US and Canadian tour dates and let her fans know via twitter.

“@needtobreathe is my opening act for the Speak Now Tour. It’ll be a nightly challenge to get ready for my show instead of watching theirs”

For complete NEEDTOBREATHE tour dates click here.

Related Links:
Photo of the Week: NEEDTOBREATHE
Song of the Week: “Hurricane”
Band of the Week: NEEDTOBREATHE
Features News

CMT to Air "Artists of the Year" Special December 3

Tomorrow night, CMT will honor Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band as the top artists of the year in a 90-minute special. Hosted by Kevin Costner, CMT’s  “Artists of the Year,” premiers at 8:00 p.m., ET.

Taped in Nashville, “Artists of the Year” will bring the honorees together with their peers for an evening of performances from the country world and beyond. Tune in for surprise guest appearances by Joe Perry, Maroon 5, Adele, Amos Lee and more!

This year’s acts were chosen by ranking the top five artists based on the following criteria: sales, country radio airplay, concert grosses, and activity on The rankings were then compiled to identify the leading performers across the four categories cumulatively.

Watch a preview of tomorrow night’s special below.

Related Links:
Q&A with Lady Antebellum
Q&A with Taylor Swift
Q&A with Zac Brown Band
Q&A with Jason Aldean
Features First Person

You Sing I Write Adventures: Why I Love Taylor Swift, June Recap

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Last month, I posted my first “Day In the Life.” A first person article about my music adventures, I received an overwhelming positive response and my poll of the week informed me that you, the readers, would like to read similar posts on a weekly basis. I’ll try my very best to keep up-to-date!

June has been a whirlwind of CD release parties and concerts. Last week alone, I attended five shows in a row. An exciting first for me, I was introduced to quite a few new bands and genres of music.

Tuesday night I made it to the Studio at Webster Hall just in time to catch New York favorites, Lights Resolve. They debuted a few new tracks from their upcoming release to a packed crowd. Definitely a more aggressive feel than their previous material, between their gritty guitar riffs and unwavering energy, it is sure to be a success. You can download their latest EP for free here.

Wednesday night I covered Dion Roy’s EP Release Party at the Living Room. Earlier that day he debuted at No. 16 on the singer-songwriter iTunes charts and throughout the week he charted to No. 8. Pretty impressive!

Being a Jersey girl, I’ve heard of the infamous Stone Pony in Asbury Park, but surprisingly never made it to a show there. This all changed when I saw Tor Miller Band open for Quincy Mumford Thursday. You may remember Tor Miller Band from my TWLOHA benefit concert back in December. I’m in disbelief that they’re only in high school. Their song, “I’m Alright” is still stuck in my head. (Video below)


Friday and Saturday I covered shows for Hoboken Patch. Good Old War, Yukon Blonde and Audra Mae quickly became new favorites of mine. While waiting for Good Old War to take the stage at their sold-out show at Maxwell’s Friday night, I learned that I was standing beside Circa Survive frontman Anthony Green. Pretty cool, no? You can read my full recap of the show here. Saturday night I witnessed my first heavy rock show when covering Chambers’ record release. I’ve never seen fans jump on vocalists and guitarists before at a concert and it was an experience I will never forget. Read all about it here.

Earlier this month, after writing an article for Lemondrop, I learned it was featured on AOL’s homepage. I received an overwhelming response (nearly 300 comments) and learned that my piece struck a chord with many readers. That’s the main reason I decided to pursue journalism — to make an impact. Unfortunately, my family was less than pleased as they feel I portrayed them in a bad light. Read the article here and let me know what you think. If I at least made a few people smile and realize they’re not alone, then I’m satisfied.

A journalist’s job is not always an easy one, but at least I can live with knowing I was 100% “honest and unmerciful” (cue one of my favorite “Almost Famous” lines). This whole experience really made me curious as to how songwriters do it. Artists like Taylor Swift display their inner most thoughts and feelings for everyone to hear. Not to mention, name their ex-boyfriends! Don’t they ever face resistance and shy away from it? I’ve always loved Taylor, but this month really put things into perspective.

Perhaps, subconsciously this is why one of my favorite questions to ask artists is if they’re ever afraid to reveal too much in their songs. I asked Taylor Swift this very question last year at the CMA Music Festival and this is what she said:

“For me, writing a song, I sit down and the process doesn’t really involve me thinking about the demographic of people I’m trying to hit or who I want to be able to relate to the song or what genre of music it falls under. When I sit down and write a song the only person that I’m thinking about in that room is the person that I’m writing the song about and what I want them to know and what I wish I could tell them to their face, but I’m going to say it in a song instead. So, for me, music is really more about a diary and a confession. I love it. I love getting to say things to people that I wouldn’t say to them if I was standing face to face with them. Music is a way of verbalizing those things that I feel that I can’t say.”

For Taylor’s complete press room conference interview from the 2009 CMA Fest, click here.

Insightful answer, no? In fact, every time I’ve ever asked a singer-songwriter this question, they’ve pretty much said the same thing, adding that when they have held back in songwriting, they’ve regretted it. While I definitely still have a lot to learn, I think I’m on the right track.

Updates from last month’s post:

I FINALLY got to chat with Benny from Gaslight Anthem (photo above) and am working on setting up an interview with the band. You can read my review of their sold-out New York record release show on Venus Zine.

My Hanson interview was posted a few weeks ago on Lemondrop. Check it out here. I’d love to know your thoughts!


Taylor Swift’s New Venture: Greeting Cards

Taylor Swift is an entrepreneur in her own right. Not only has she stormed the charts and amassed numerous awards, (need I mention her eight Grammy nominations?), but she is now taking her creativity to a new outlet — greeting cards.

Yesterday, MTV News reported her deal with American Greetings. While they won’t be in stores for a while, you can take a look at a sample of Swift’s inspiring sayings and humorous designs here.

“We are absolutely thrilled and honored to introduce Taylor Swift as the newest writer and creative contributor to the American Greetings family,” stated Zev Weiss, Chief Executive Officer at American Greetings in a press release. “Her abilities as a storyteller and songwriter make her a natural at writing cards for consumers of all ages. She has the unique ability to connect with her fans through life experiences and greeting cards do the same–cards help people express, connect and celebrate these events with the important people in their lives. We believe it’s a natural fit!”

The press release explained that Swift will be working with American Greetings’ editorial and creative teams to design, develop and create a line of cards and products that reflect and demonstrate not only her personality, but bring her stories and words to life.

“My idea of a great song is a song that says how I feel better than I could. I feel the same way about greeting cards,” Taylor says. “I’ve always been fascinated by feelings and how we express them to each other. Getting to write and design these cards is a wonderful experience.”

What do you think? Will you be buying Swift’s greeting cards? I think I just might.

Related Links:
Q&A; with Taylor Swift
Hundreds of Fans Camp Out to Meet Taylor Swift
CMA 2009: Six Artists To Watch
Artist to Watch: Taylor Swift

Benefit Features News

Musicians & Media Get Involved In Haiti

By now you’ve heard about the devastation in Haiti and the aftermath of the earthquake. Many musicians and media outlets have been doing their part to raise money and I thought I’d fill you in on two music related ventures — Paste Magazine‘s “Songs For Haiti” and MTV’s “Hope For Haiti.”

Paste Magazine is offering those who donate money to the Haiti earthquake relief unreleased songs from diverse artists including Ludacris, Of Montreal, Andrew Bird, Hanson, Low Anthem, Umphrey’s McGee, Switchfoot, Derek Webb and over 200 others. If you’ve already donated you still can still participate (just say where you made your donation) as all will have access to “Songs For Haiti” MP3s. All the money raised through Paste will be spread equally among three charities active in Haiti relief: Doctors Without Borders, The Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.

“We obviously don’t think people would need incentive to donate in this effort, but perhaps the campaign will inspire more music fans to get involved, or to encourage people who have already donated, to donate again,” said Josh Jackson, Paste Magazine Editor-In-Chief. “Music has always been a force that brings people together, and to have so many fantastic artists drop everything to contribute to this effort was very touching,” Jackson added.

I couldn’t agree more. For more information on “Songs For Haiti” and to donate click here.

Friday night, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and 7:00 p.m. CT, MTV along with many other networks will host a night of performances to raise money for Haiti relief. The lineup includes Madonna, Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Wyclef Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Shakira, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Sting, Coldplay, Bono, the Edge, Jay-Z and Rihanna.

Additional appearances include former President Bill Clinton, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson, Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Muhammad Ali, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Jon Stewart, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Nicole Kidman, Samuel L. Jackson and more.

“Hope for Haiti Now” will begin accepting donations at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT on Friday, January 22 via the following methods:

Phone: 877-99-HAITI
Text: Text “GIVE” to 50555
Mail: Hope For Haiti Now Fund, Entertainment Industry Foundation, 1201 West 5th Street, Suite T-700, Los Angeles, CA 90017

All musical performances will be available for purchase for 99 cents per song through iTunes beginning Saturday, January 23. iTunes customers will be able to exclusively pre-order both the “Hope for Haiti Now” full performance album ($7.99) and the full two-hour video telecast ($1.99). Pre-orders will be delivered in the days following the telethon. All proceeds will benefit relief funds managed by Hope for Haiti Now charities.

Concert Reviews Features Q&A

So Long, 2009. Bring on 2010!

Earlier this week I compiled a list of my top five moments of 2009. Well, there were a few more than five in there, but I tried to keep it short. I figured I’d do the same today with my top five concerts and interviews. I’d love to know what you enjoyed reading most this year so I can amp up my coverage in 2010. Happy New Year!

You Sing, I Write’s Top 5 Concerts of 2009

There is nothing I enjoy more than that goosebumps feeling you get when an artist sings a song that particularly strikes you or tells a moving tale about the origin of the song. This year I attended more concerts than any year in my life and while it’s hard to narrow down my single favorite, I compiled five that stand out.

5. Mat Kearney — September 29 at The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza

I interviewed Mat Kearney back in May when he was on tour opening for Keane at Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey. I hopped on his tour bus and talked with him about his latest album, songwriting process and breaking into the University of Oregon to use their piano to write a song. As an opening band, your set is always cut short so I decided to attend his headlining performance a few months later at Irving Plaza and was blown away. Having had his album, City of Black and White, on rotation over the previous months the songs struck me personally and Kearney put on quite the show. Jumping into the audience mid-set he started his own dance party on the floor with fans. You can bet I’ll be seeing him next time he’s around.

To hear Mat talk about the new album, his writing process and stories behind his songs, click here. For his view on writing about personal relationships, being an opening act and advice to aspiring musicians, click here.

4. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band — September 30 at Giants Stadium

He is The Boss. Does much more need to be said? Being a Jersey girl, Bruce Springsteen’s songs are anthems to me. I actually have Mat Kearney to thank of how I came to cover his show at Giants Stadium. The night before Springsteen’s performance I was buying my friend a ticket at will call because Kearney’s show was due to sell out. I recognized a photographer I met earlier that year at Ray LaMontagne’s show and we chatted for a bit. Low and behold, the next day he needed a writer to cover Springsteen’s show for a Web site he shot for and thought of me. Wendy picked up the tickets for me and we headed to Giants Stadium to cover the show for Bumpershine. And, guess who was sitting a few rows in front of me? None other than Mat Kearney himself. A bit serendipitous, don’t you think? For my complete review, click here.

3. Tyrone Wells — October 7 at Highline Ballroom

I recently found Tyrone Wells CD Remain and have been listening non-stop the past few days. Previous album, Hold On is quite striking as well. While compiling my top five list I realized I have witnessed Wells in concert three times this year. I first interviewed him during South By Southwest and caught his showcase with Tori Amos. Later this year, Wells opened for Better Than Ezra where a couple got engaged mid-set before he dedicated and performed “Sea Breeze” for them. I was lucky enough to catch his headlining show at Highline Ballroom in October after interviewing his opening act, Matt Hires. Wells truly blew me away as he mixed his soulful and energetic tracks with his emotion-filled ballads. His onstage banter with the audience and tales behind his songs are always enjoyable and like no artist I have ever witnessed. If you have yet to see Wells live, I highly suggest doing so as I foresee him selling out bigger venues very soon.

2. Coldplay — August 2 at Liberty State Park

I’ve heard only praises about Coldplay’s concerts from friends who have witnessed them firsthand. I really don’t know why I haven’t seen them sooner. Luckily, I caught their phenomenal set at the always memorable All Points West festival this past August at Liberty State Park. The way I described APW to friends was it being Woodstock’s reincarnation if it were around in 2009. Mud wrestling, music and beer gardens was more like it. Sunday’s four-hour rain delay resulted in multiple canceled performances and scaled down sets, but Coldplay managed to save the day.

Always comical, after traipsing through the mud onto a stage in the middle of the field, frontman Chris Martin realized what festivalgoers dealt with the entire weekend. “We have infinite respect for you now that we had to walk through that shit. Wish we had backstage passes for all of you,” he said.

Witnessing Coldplay live and up so close, I have incredible respect for the band. While they played many of their hits, they also performed a moving tribute to Michael Jackson and the Beastie Boys, who had to cancel their performance due to member Adam Yauch’s cancer diagnosis. I couldn’t imagine a better band to close the three-day mudfest.

1. The Gaslight Anthem — October 15 at Terminal 5

I’ve been covering The Gaslight Anthem on You Sing, I Write, since last year when I flipped through Rolling Stone to notice drummer Benny Horowitz, former paginator of my college paper, featured as a breaking band. I did a double take and contacted all the people I knew who used to work for Rutgers’ The Daily Targum. Since then, I’ve been trying to cover a show and set up an interview to no avail. You’d think garnering an interview with a rock star you knew would be easy. Think again. After several failed attempts I d
ecided to purchase tickets to their show at Terminal 5 before it sold out. I’m so glad I did. I feel like I reverted back to my high school days of Warped Tour and crowd surfing. Then again, I think the 30-year-olds in the room did as well.

I have never witnessed such an energetic (and frightening) mosh pit in my life. It was like Warped Tour for 30+. No more emo boys, these are grown men dancing in the pit and creating havoc. I’m not going to lie to you, I did fear for my life, but that was the beauty of the concert. From the looks of frontman Brian Fallon’s face, he was just as surprised. By far the most energetic show I’ve been to all year, there is no doubt in my mind that The Gaslight Anthem will be selling out Madison Square Garden. Hopefully, by then I’ll be able to get an interview!

You Sing, I Write’s Top 5 Interviews of 2009

I’ve been trying to cut down on long top 5 posts, but as evident from my concert list above I’ve been a bit verbose. I’ll try to keep it brief with my interviews and post the Q&A; so you can read it for yourselves and see just why I think they’re my top 5 of 2009.

5. Train

They’ve reached worldwide success and many of their songs garnered top spots on memorable songs of the decade. I spoke with guitarist Jimmy Stafford at the start of Train’s tour where he filled me in on Train’s latest release, embracing the Internet and a younger fan base and the reasons behind their longevity. Read it here.

4. Better Than Ezra

After catching BTE live earlier this year, the three-piece band was back in New York for press in August. Unfortunately, I was extremely sick and losing my voice during the interview but didn’t want to cancel. It was 90 degrees in New York and the interview was at a Starbucks that felt just as warm. You know when you’re nervous and feel like you’re sweating, but it’s probably just in your head? Well, it definitely wasn’t in my head…I was dripping wet. Remarkably, the interview turned out much better than I thought. But, I did learn no matter how important the interview, if you’re sick it might be best to postpone it for a later date. Read my interview here. Note my “hottest Starbucks” reference. Clever, huh?

3. Taylor Swift

There is no denying it, Taylor Swift conquered the music world this year. I was so excited to attend her press conference during the CMA Music Festival in Nashville and incredibly determined to get a question in. Luckily, I did. Note the “your music is like writing in a diary” question. I can honestly say, she is as nice and down to earth in real life as she seems onstage. There is no doubt in my mind that Taylor Swift will be around for decades to come. Read my interview here.

2. Joshua Radin

Joshua Radin has accomplished much as an independent artist. He bought himself out of his major label contract to go on to release one of the best selling folk albums of the year. Not to mention, he performed at Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding, toured the globe and remains so humble. Case and point: When asked how he feels about being called this generation’s Bob Dylan he responded, “That’s absolutely ludicrous. Bob Dylan invented music. I just feel like that’s putting a bull’s eye on the back of my head for everyone to be like, ‘No you’re not. You’re not really as good.’ And I’m like, ‘Of course I’m not as good, I wrote my first song four years ago!’ And I probably never will be as good. But, I bet you I’ll be much better at being Joshua Radin than Bob Dylan is. That’s all I can hope for.” Read more here.

1. Third Eye Blind

Not many know this, but Third Eye Blind is how I got my start writing for Marie Claire. I remember getting dinner with my friend and colleague Diana last year and venting to her how I had a great interview with 3eb frontman Stephan Jenkins, but no music publication seemed to care. I reached out to every music magazine and Web site you could think of and they all felt 3eb was a band of the past. Boy did 2009 prove them all wrong. Diana must have seen my frustration and thought they might be a good fit for the Marie Claire audience, being that much of the reader age group grew up listening to 3eb and Stephan Jenkins was always a heartthrob. 2009 proved to be a great year for the band who released their album independently and saw a surge in their fan base. Read my interview here.

What were some of your favorite interviews of 2009? 2010 will bring many more I’m sure. Happy New Year!