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 October Wrap Up

kenny rogers

I’m writing this post from a lovely spot in Nashville, Tennessee, called Edgehill Cafe. Fans of the television show Nashville may recognize this name as being the record label home of Rayna James and they’d be correct. Located on the corner of Edgehill Ave. and Villa Pl, it’s also nearby the famed Music Row where many record labels are stationed as well as some songwriting houses.

This October, You Sing I Write celebrated six years. It’s crazy to think of everything I have accomplished since my very first post. Things came full circle last month when I sat down to interview Gavin DeGraw. The very first concert I ever covered back in college, I told him that his show was what initially sparked me to pursue music journalism. Surprised and humbled, he gave me a high-five and we went on with the interview, where he told me the story behind his monster hit “I Don’t Want To Be,” why he chose to pursue music, and his latest album Make A Move.

My friend Sarah highlighted YSIW last month. For the feature, we met up in Brooklyn and she interviewed me. It was strange to be on the other side of an interview but it also reminded me why I first created YSIW six years ago — to highlight bands I believe in. I’ve been lucky to be able to extend this coverage to the outlets I write for, which is more than I ever expected.

The major highlight of October was interviewing Kenny Rogers. He was such a pleasant interview and told the story behind so many of his older hits, meeting Dolly Parton for the first time, and his versatile career.



Another incredible moment this month included a lunchtime concert by Paul McCartney in Times Square. I’m not quite sure when I’ll get another opportunity to see one of the Beatles perform so I made sure I caught his brief gig. McCartney played a 15-minute set showcasing songs of his latest album, New. Tweeting out a mere half hour before he stepped in a truck on 46th and Broadway to perform, hundreds of fans showed up to catch a glimpse and hear some tunes.

I also interviewed Will Hoge, an incredible Nashville-based singer-songwriter, who also happens to have written one of my favorite country songs, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” Hoge has been in music for 15+ years and is brutally honest about the industry which was incredibly refreshing. On his tour bus, he told me the story behind “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” which went all the way to No. 1 for the Eli Young Band.

After six years, I’m so grateful that I still love what I do. I really don’t know what I would do if I woke up one morning and was tired of music. Luckily, I don’t think that will ever happen.

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”

Eli Young Band

When I really like a song I tend to keep it on repeat. That’s what happened when I first heard Eli Young Band‘s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” last year. The best songs have something that allows the listener connect, and this song definitely had that for me. “Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart,” they sing. Something relatable to me, I likened it to my dream of being a music journalist. There are so many obstacles thrown at you if you decide to really go for that dream and at times it all seems nearly impossible.

For me, this rang all too true as I was struggling last January to make life as a freelancer work. Down to just a month of rent in my savings account, I often wondered why the heck I decided to pursue this field. Hearing this song reaffirmed that dream. If something is truly worth fighting for, there will be obstacles thrown at you. You just have to embrace them and figure out a way to combat them. “You gotta keep believing if you wanna know for sure.”

Upon reaching out to all my contacts, I learned that CBS Local had just started a music department. I applied and a week later had three interviews lined up that led to a job offer. This past weekend, several people asked me how I came to work at CBS when I helped host a music memoir workshop for Girls Write Now. It was a long journey, but the words I kept repeating was that music journalism was all I ever dreamed of doing and if you work hard enough for something it will all work out. At least that’s what happened to me and I’m constantly reminded of this whenever I hear “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” on the radio.


I was lucky enough to interview the songwriter behind this song earlier this month. Sitting down with Will Hoge on his tour bus and him telling me how the song came together was so intriguing. He wrote the song with Eric Paslay, who he described as being fresh in the music scene and still very optimistic. Hoge, on the other hand, has been struggling for 15 years to make his dream work and was slightly more realistic when it came to music. While Paslay came up with part of the chorus, “keep on dreaming,” Hoge added in “even if it breaks your heart.” Listen to Hoge’s version below.

Concert Reviews Features

CMJ 2013: 5 Bands to Watch



Last week, hundreds of bands and music industry professionals ascended onto New York for the annual CMJ Music Marathon. While many acts attended with the goal to be signed by a label or simply get their name out there, artist Will Hoge offered advice during his set Wednesday night at the Bell House. Urging artists not to simply play a festival in hopes to get signed, he said they should instead hit the ground running by buying a van big enough to fit the band and their friends and tour the country themselves.

“If you want to follow your dream, you don’t want to ask permission,” he told the crowd. “It may take a long time. It may take five years, ten years, 15 years. You just don’t know. You could be a long way from home.”

5. Will Hoge

Hoge knows this firsthand as he’s been working in music for 15 years. While he wasn’t exactly on the official CMJ lineup, his performance was during the festival and as a few badge holders trickled into his set, he was a reminder of how hard work, persistence, and a little luck are essential for a career in music. His show acted as a an album release party and tour kickoff and his blend of country and rock reaffirmed just why he’s so highly regarded in the music community.


4. Marc Scibilia

During his set, Marc Scibilia, played many of the songs from his most recent EP, The Shape I’m In, released last month. ”I almost missed two flights today. Fortunately, I only missed one flight. I spent a lot of time in the airport but I’m here now so it’s fine,” he said before he began to play “The Shape I’m In.” It was a fitting introduction, as the song details the many miles he’s traveled in life.



3.Tommy & the High Pilots

Santa Barbara-based band Tommy & the High Pilots performed Friday night as part of my work showcase. The moment they took the stage the energy in the room changed with their radio-friendly pop-rock. Playing songs off their latest album, Only Human, the band urged the crowd to dance along for their last track “Outta My Head.” The band’s upcoming tour with the Plain White T’s and Parachute will likely shine a light on their catchy choruses and strong pop sensibilities.



2. Rocket & the Ghost

Part of why I love attending CMJ is that you can walk into any venue throughout New York and never quite know what you’ll find. On Wednesday, I went to meet my roommate at The Living Room to check out a few bands. As soon as I heard the first notes being played by Rocket & the Ghost I was hooked. It’s hard to believe that the band will be releasing their debut Self-Titled EP in November as they had this distinct professionalism and command of the stage that made them look like lifers.



1. James Bay

Another artist who was part of‘s acoustic set Friday night, from the moment James Bay took the stage I was entranced. His soulful vocals are reminiscent to Ray Lamontagne and once he swapped his acoustic for an electric guitar the comparisons to John Mayer were undeniable. The only difference: Bay seems more sentimental, even singing of having butterflies at the beginning of a relationship. Key line: “I realize you’re all I need. I hope I’m not too late.”