Sasha Aaron Being Herself on New Album

beaverdamusa.comThe musical evolution of Sasha Aaron has come quickly.

When she moved to Nashville 6 years ago, Sasha was intimidated to get up on stage. Today, she is working with a high-powered producer and collaborating with hit writers on her first full-length album project.

sasha aaron, beaverdamusa.com“I knew it was going to be a challenge when I got here,” the Miami native told us. “But, I was looking forward to it. When I moved here I had no connections at all, and I worked my way up from being scared to play open mic nights to writing with hit writers. And, it’s just taken a lot time and a lot of networking and just not giving up.”

Sasha hopes to release her new project in November. “We’re trying to decide how we’re going to release it — if we’re going to do singles first then an album, or just drop the album.”

Sasha performs at the Bluebird Cafe (Tyler Miller Photography).

Sasha performs at the Bluebird Cafe (Tyler Miller Photography).

She wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album. “Most of the songs are written with Bill DiLuigi, one of Nashville’s favorites, plus others,” she said. “We got in a groove writing,” she said of her and DiLuigi’s collaboration.

Sasha also released a self-titled EP in 2013.

Nashville music giant Kent Wells is producing the new album. “He’s Dolly Parton’s producer and band leader and right hand man,” Sasha noted. “And, he just loved what I did. Originally were going to do a five- or six-song EP, but he loved the material; and, he was like, ‘let’s do an album,’ and, I was like, ‘okay,’” she said with a laugh.

“I’m so excited. This is without question the best thing I’ve done so far,” she said. “We’re in the mastering process now. And, we’re getting the photos, getting the artwork done. I am really, really proud of it.

“I think this is the first time I was allowed to just be me,” she said. “I mean, I’ve always been a writer-artist instead of an artist-writer. And, there’s so much pressure to be like somebody else that’s already out there. This time I was just going to be me, and I’m hoping I’m putting the best me out there for everybody to hear.”

Sasha’s style is a mix of California rock, country and R&B. “It’s what I grew up on,” she said. “My parents played Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac and all that stuff. (Later) I was also listening to Garth and Trisha and Clint, so it’s what I grew up on. And, it’s what I felt was right musically and that’s just kind of how it grew.”

She said her music has been well received in Music City. “People really love it because it’s something fresh, something different they haven’t heard in a while.”

Her current style is far different from her days of performing while in college. “I grew up in Miami then I went to college at the University of Central Florida in Orlando,” she said. “I was in a band there, and we were doing pretty well. It was more of an indie rock kind of thing. I was a young angsty teenager and that was the music that was coming out at the time,” she laughed.

“When I graduated I knew music was what I wanted to do, and I had to kind of sit down and look and say, ‘Well I’ve got New York. I’ve got LA. And, I’ve got Nashville.’ And, I liked that smaller town community feel, so Nashville is where I landed.”

Sasha’s accolades are just beginning. Recently, she made it to the final four contestants in Clint Black’s Dream Recording Contest. The contest ran in conjunction with the Chideo charity network. Proceeds from the contest benefitted Rett Syndrome research. Watch a clip of Clint working with Sasha.

She has amassed an extensive collection of acoustic covers on YouTube. “All the (cover) songs, I really love and connect with,” she said. “I’ll do things from my favorites, to what’s up and coming on the radio, and stuff that I think people will enjoy hearing me sing.”

Regarding new ways artists are getting exposure, Sasha said, “There are more avenues for us to take our music directly to fans instead of having all the gatekeepers.

“It’s difficult in the sense where — if you’re an artist working with a limited budget — it’s harder to get your stuff out there. But, there are avenues like YouTube where anybody can find you, and things can just kind of blow up from there. It’s great.”

Sasha enjoys the close-knit music community Nashville offers. “It’s such a creative town and, there are so many creative people that it’s easy to get inspired and have plenty of people around you to inspire you,” she said.

On the other hand, “It’s tough to make it, but that’s how it’s always been.”

Given her talent and drive, it is obvious Sasha has a leg up on the competition.

Connect with Sasha:

Official Web Site

Twitter     |     Facebook     |     Reverb Nation

YouTube     |     iTunes     |     Instagram

Danni Ri Isn’t a ‘Cliche’ in Nashville

danni ri, beaverdamusa.comWhen it comes to songwriters, Danni Ri is no cliché.

Sure, she does all the Nashville things to promote her music. But, in her downtime, you can find her working in her garden or tinkering in the woodshop. She and her husband even built the house they live in.

How’s that for being original?

Maybe it was that appreciation for originality that helped her write “Cliché,” the title track off of her first full-length album released in 2014.

danni ri, beaverdamusa.com

Danni Ri and husband/producer Edward Croker.

“I started listening to the radio quite a bit in recent years — more than I used to as far as current radio,” she told us recently. “I grew up on the ‘90s on that kind of country. That’s when Shania was big, and loved it.

“So, I started listening recently. I mean there are still some great artists, great writers, great songs that you hear. But, I didn’t care for some of the trends I was hearing.”

She specifically mentioned, “the overwhelmingly pro-male, pro-bro trend that’s going on right now.”

As a response, she put her songwriting skills to work. “I do probably most of my best writing while I’m doing something else. So, I was actually working out in the garden, and my brain was going. And, I had the radio on, and for about a 2-hour stint all the things I put in that song played on the radio that day — the clichéd lines.

“Multiple times, I would hear four songs that threw the word moonshine in, or six songs that talked about ‘hey baby, get up in my pickup truck,’ and it got hilarious. And, that’s what got the ball rolling, and I think I had the song written that afternoon, and so I went in, picked up the guitar and ‘Cliché’ came out.”

Although she wrote it a year before she ever heard of Maddie and Tae, fans ask her if the duo’s “Girl in a Country Song “ served as inspiration for her single. “I love their song, I absolutely do, but that’s natural for people to assume that, I guess.”

When Danni was 1, her family moved away from Florida. She grew up in various places in Georgia, graduating from high school at a Christian school near Atlanta. She would eventually marry a classmate, Edward Croker, but, it wasn’t exactly a textbook high school relationship.

“We didn’t roll in the same circles,” she said. “Then, mutual friends got us together after high school. They talked me into coming out hearing his band – this garage band out in Alabama — so I drove out with them, and dang if it wasn’t the boy from high school,” she laughed.

danni ri, beaverdamusa.comEdward produced the “Cliché” album. “In every respect,” she said, “my husband has been my partner in this. He encouraged me to go for this, even when I doubted it.” She also credited her family – especially her father-in-law — with giving her encouragement. “The ‘Cliché’ album wouldn’t have happened without either one,” she said.

She also credits her father-in-law for introducing her to carpentry, by virtue of the family’s log cabin manufacturing company in Heflin, Ala., where she and her husband currently live.

“I guess it is this way for a lot of girls — I was always very arts and crafty growing up,” she said. “I love my daddy, but he has this notion that little girls shouldn’t play with power tools because we could get hurt.

“But, as I got older and met my boyfriend who I later married, I came down to Alabama to see them while we were dating, and it was a lot different over here. His dad believes in teaching people how to do for themselves, and he taught me all kinds of skills, carpentry being one of them. So, I really kind of fell in love with it.”

She said, “I enjoy building furniture among other things. We built our own cabin that we live in. I remember my mom called me up one morning and asked me if I have an extra router, and I said, ‘Sure, what size bits do you need?’ And she was like, ‘What in the world?’ I speak a different language now,” Danni said with a laugh.

She routinely makes the 4-hour trek to Nashville, where she co-writes and works with her publisher, Dallas Gregory. She singled out Sheree Spoltore of Global Songwriters Connection as a catalyst in her career so far. Unlike many other budding songwriters, Danni said she is amazed at the pace of her career in the 2 years since she started pursuing it full-time.

“We hit the ground running as soon as I signed with Dallas Gregory,” she said. “And, he’s been working hard for me pitching. And, I have a real strong feeling it’s coming soon. I know you’ve got to pay your dues and I expect to, but just the speed things have been happening, I realize how fortunate I am,” she said.

“Every time I come to a co-write, my co-writers are all extremely talented and have been doing this for years, the first question out of their mouth is, ‘How did you get a publisher?’  I’m just like, he liked what he heard. But, I’ll be perfectly honest, there was some luck involved, and being the right place at the right time.”

Danni called herself a “songwriter-slash-artist,” explaining, “I’m in my early 30s, and I just decided that it might be smarter to try to get my foot in the door as a writer first, and I really love it. I mean it’s honestly probably my favorite part of the music creativity. I (also) enjoy being an artist. And, if that door opens at some point, I’m going to go through it. But even if it never happens, I really love behind the scenes, and actually creating the songs themselves. So I would be happy with either option.”

To learn more about Danni, visit…

Her Website     |     Facebook     |     YouTube

iTunes     |     Amazon

Country Star JT Lewis Answers Our Questions

beaverdamusa.comLast week, we aired Part 1 of our interview with JT Lewis. ICYMI, you can read it here. Today, we offer some tidbits we saved for this week.

It’s almost hunting season. Are you ready or what?  
I’d be happy to go shoot a cardboard box right now. As much as I love being in Nashville and doing music full-time I do get that itch sometimes that I’ve got to go catch a fish or I’ve got to go shoot my bow. Being in the middle of the city hinders me from doing that.

What was the first song you ever learned? 
My uncle gave me my first guitar after having taught myself “The Eye of the Tiger” on his electric guitar. That was pretty cool. That was really the first song I ever learned.

How old were you? 
I picked that up around the age of 12.

Where were some of your first gigs? 
I played everything from little skate parks to YMCA all-ages shows when I was 13 to 15.

Is being a working musician in Nashville harder or easier than you thought it would be? 
It has met my expectations as far as difficulty goes. However, getting gigs as an artist and booking tours was the one thing I didn’t foresee as being as difficult as it has been. Also the time put into booking those gigs, is time that’s kind of difficult to find when you’re writing a lot and trying to make money to make ends meet.

JT LewisWhich of your songs on your new EP “Shoot Straight” are best received?  
It’s interesting to see which songs people like the most. Some people like “You Came True” the best, the rock song. And, some people, their favorite is “Jumping in the Deep End.”

Why do you think fans gravitate toward “Deep End”?
It’s got that real current catchy hooky country melody and people dig it. And everyone, I think, likes the music video.

Talk about the video shoot.
That was a long week but that was fun, shooting that thing. I produced the music video and my little brother was the camera operator and director, so that was a fun time doing that.

The girl in the video looks familiar. Where have we seen her?
She is Becky Andrews. Good friend of mine from south Louisiana. She was also featured in the CMT show “Redneck Island.” Unbelievably beautiful, and just as cool and down to earth as she is pretty. (Read Becky’s bio.)

And, the guy, who is he?
The guy who played the lead male role is Tommy Rothermel, a good buddy of mine all the way from when we went to Catholic High School in Baton Rouge. He called me a little while ago and gave me a couple of updates. He’s been being featured in a new AMC series called “Into The Badlands”. It excites me to see all the awesome stuff going for them!

Watch “Jumping Off the Deep End”

Connect with JT Lewis:
Official Website     |     Twitter
Facebook     |     Instagram
YouTube     |     iTunes

 

‘Love Me Like You Mean It’ Writer Fondly Recalls Taylor’s Tweet

beaverdamusa.comSometimes, a simple tweet can make a huge difference.

That’s what happened in March when Taylor Swift hash-tagged country singer Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It” in a tweet about the artist’s debut EP “The First Time.”

The tweet garnered an avalanche of publicity for the song. And, that’s when Lance Carpenter knew he and his co-writers had a hit on their hands.

lance 3“I guess the first time I really thought ‘holy crap,’ is when Taylor Swift tweeted about it – when she was riding in her car listening to Kelsea’s EP saying, ‘This is like my favorite new song.’ That was kind of the moment when it was above and beyond all of us. Because that was totally unsolicited. Taylor just did that because she loved the song. So, that was a pretty cool moment.”

Lance and Kelsea co-wrote “Love Me Like You Mean It” with Josh Kerr and Kelsea’s producer, Forest Glen Whitehead. We talked with Lance a couple of days ago as a follow-up to our original interview with him, which published on Aug. 12, 2014. You can read it here.

Some 3 months after Taylor’s tweet, “Love Me Like You Mean It” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, making Kelsea only the 11th female artist in country music history to achieve No. 1 status with a debut release.

kelsea

Image via kelseaballerini.com (Black River Entertainment)

In the beginning, though, the writers weren’t sure what the future held for the song, since Kelsea did not have a record deal at the time.

“The night we wrote it,” Lance said, “we finished it was like 12:30 in the morning. And, we all knew it was just catchy, and simple, and we thought it sounded cool. Three weeks later, Forest (recorded Kelsea singing) a demo of it, and I do remember he called me into the studio and he was like, ‘Dude, I’ve never said this about anything that we’ve ever written, but this is a hit song.’

“We didn’t know who in the world was going to record it,” Lance said, “because It doesn’t sound like anything on country radio. So, I guess when we had the demo, that’s when we thought, ‘this thing is cool, it’s catchy, It’s fresh, it sounds different.’ But, at the time we just thought, ‘man, maybe it’ll get cut by someone.’”

Shortly thereafter, though, Black Record Entertainment signed Kelsea as an artist, and she began her recording career. And, one of her first orders of business was to re-record what would be her first hit.

“And, then, when she recorded it and put it out as a single, it went to Sirius XM-The Highway,” Lance said. “And, it did all right there, but it didn’t really fly up their charts or anything. And, then she put it out last September to mainstream radio, and it was a very slow build.”

The No. 1 ranking occurred on June 22.

Lance and Kelsea have communicated several times since then.

“She’s on cloud 9,” Lance said. “We talked the week it went No. 1, and since then we’ve been together a couple of times, at her manager’s house for a little celebration. We all jumped in the pool with our clothes on, which was kind of cool, holding up our number one (fingers), you know.”

He added, “For the writers, it will change our life a little bit; but, for her, to be only the 11th country female artist in history to have her debut go No. 1, she’s breaking a lot of records, and she’s turning a lot of heads. Her life is really changing, and I think her next single “Dibs” is going to be amazing and I think it will fly up the charts.”

Lance has nothing but praise for Kelsea. “No one sounds like her on country radio,” he said. “She’s 21, and she’s got all this spunk and charisma, but she’s also got this grace and this poise. She’s so good to her fans; and, she’s so genuine, and, I love that about her.”

Lance, the Artist

“I’ve got a new EP that’s coming out, probably the first week of August,” he told us. “I just re-signed my publishing deal with Parallel Entertainment, and they’re wanting to put out a press release — kind of get a little bit of this excitement from the No. 1 to hopefully pour over into my artist side.”

He said, “A lot of people even in Nashville don’t know that I’m an artist, and I have a band and we tour the country, you know, in a little white van and a trailer. So this is an opportunity to hopefully shine a little light on me not only as a songwriter, but to let people know the other side of me and my artistry, so I’m blessed (Parallel Entertainment is) willing to do that.

“I’m fixing to be heading up to Boston it’ll be August 7-9,” he said. “We’re playing at a place called Loretta’s which is right across the street from Fenway Park, and we’re basically the after-party for the Zac Brown Band’s 3-day event up there. So as soon as they’re off at Fenway, we go on at Loretta’s, and we’ll keep the party rocking all night long.”

He proudly added, “And, my little sister just had a baby, little Ryan Kennith Mainer, so I’m an uncle again. I’ve got nine nieces and nephews now. So, my family is all wondering when I’m going to settle down and have some kids.”

Given Lance’s recent whirlwind of success, any new adventure may have to wait just a bit.

Shooting Straight with Country Star JT Lewis

beaverdamusa.comThis is the first of a 2-part series on country music star JT Lewis. Look for Part 2 next week.

It took a while, but JT Lewis finally conquered the person who was holding him back from a full-time music career.

Himself.

JT LewisSince committing full time to the business, his career has been a whirlwind – highlighted by a partnership with two of Nashville’s biggest music industry names which led to an EP that has touched his fans and brought him into the spotlight.

Before that, though, the Baton Rouge native had to get the all the voices in his head all on board with the notion.

“When I started college, I knew I wanted to do something in music,” JT said. “But, I had this thing in my head that I needed to do something in business; I needed to have a career. And, I had this negative thing in my head – maybe playing music – maybe I couldn’t make a living at it. I guess that was kind of the enemy getting in me.”

Even with the thought that performing might not be the way to put food on the table, JT continued to dabble with it while a student at Loyola University in New Orleans.

“I still wrote and sang a little bit,” he said. “And, right after college (in 2012), I tried moving to Nashville with this idea in my head I was going to get a job. I came up here with a bunch of buddies who were in a Christian band, and I would play with them.”

After that, it didn’t take long for the music bug to bite JT for good.

“One day I was sitting on my buddy’s bed – because then I didn’t have a bed up here,” he laughed. “I figured that my calling was to be an artist and continue writing and be a better writer. So I called up Mr. Scott Lynch who had been my mentor for a couple of years in college, and I said, ‘Hey, Mr. Scott, man, I want to be a country music artist.’ And, right off the bat he just went with me and said, ‘We’ll make it happen.’”

Lynch, president of Scott Lynch and Company Music Group, is a Nashville music publisher and songwriter.

“So we got to talking,” JT explained. “I started writing with him and my producer Billy Aerts.

“Shoot Straight”

When it came to financing the project, JT’s Cajun independent streak showed up. “When I started making the plan for it, I wanted to be the one to fund It. I didn’t want to have to crowd-fund it. I didn’t want to be pitched to labels. I wanted to own all my management.”

He continued, “So I decided to move home; and, I worked 80 hours a week for 2 years, then I finally moved back here last January. So I’ve been here a year and a half, constantly improving my writing. I’ve been writing somewhere between three and six days a week, one to three writes a day, and starting to tour more. And ever since I’ve gotten here a year and a half ago, it’s been the sky’s the limit.”

The first tangible aspect of his work is his EP, “Shoot Straight,” which was released in April and is available for streaming on iTunes.

Reaction to the record has been “awesome,” JT said. “I get texts and Snapchats, people listening to it, and it just makes my day.”

The EP contains four songs. “I wanted to do something that was short enough to be digestible, and also financially to make sure there was money left over for marketing and touring.”

For the title track and two other cuts, he teamed up with both Lynch and Aerts. He co-wrote “Jumping in the Deep End” with Lynch alone.

“It was really awesome to finally see it manifested,” JT said. “I’ll never forget the first time I heard the mixes. I was at Billy’s, and he had it playing in this studio room where I cut all the vocals; and, just hearing the tracks without my voice was so fulfilling after I had (spent) two years of just working.”

The song closest to his heart is “Shoot Straight,” he explained, “because of a message that my grandfather instilled in me in a conversation we had 2 years ago. And, I live by it: ‘Whatever you do, do it the best you can.’ That’s pretty much what he said.”

Fan reaction has validated the song’s message for JT. “Somebody from Louisiana sent me a Facebook message just the other day saying, ‘Man I listen to that song  every day. Me and my wife listen to it, and it’s changed my life.’ That’s why I do what I do. And, getting messages like that is great, and playing it live, man, people weep instantly. It’s a cool thing that it touches people.”

Connecting with fans is a big part of JT’s brand. “I got a video somebody sent me the other day. This little girl – she can’t be more than 5 years old – made a video of herself singing “Anchor Me in the Sun.” And it was the coolest thing. This little girl, she was super excited. So I grabbed my phone, and I did a little thing for her. I said, ‘Hey girl, I saw your video and I love your voice, and I wanted to make you a video too.’”

A Tale of Two Journeys

JT’s journey to Nashville, however, pales by comparison to his ancestors’ journey to America more than 45 years ago.

“On my grandfather’s side, his family owned a big bottling company in Cuba,” JT said. “And, grandmother’s side, they were big farmers. My great grandfather was a big rancher and had, I think it was, 40,000 head of cattle. Both sides of the family were very well off, and because of that I guess they were somewhat politically influential.”

He continued, “This is kind of how I understand it. When (Fidel) Castro’s revolution was really starting to make headway in Cuba, my great grandfather – in public – made some negative remarks about Castro. So, word of that gets around. He’s got a bounty out on his head.”

This situation forced the family to try and flee the country.

“When they were trying to get out of the airport,” JT said, “They had pretty much packed up everything in suitcases and carry-on bags — and they were going through the airport, and (Castro’s people) knew what my great grandfather looked like, and my family made a pact: if he gets caught they keep going — my grandmother and my great aunt — all the rest of the family keeps going.

“When somebody recognized my great grandfather, and he ended up giving this guy a very substantial bribe to let them get through, so they ended up all making it.”

JT said, “They had nothing at this point. Everything was taken – the ranch, all their companies, and a beach home. So they came over with nothing. But my grandfather always walked his tail off. He started a construction company in Louisiana and it became the family business. They made an awesome life for themselves. But it would not have manifested itself had he not been such a hard worker.”

Giving Back

Music is JT’s passion, but he loves to talk about his enthusiasm for the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. And, he has found a way to combine that with a desire to help others.

“I have a lot of hunting trips planned but not necessarily for me,” he explained. “I’ve been hunting and hanging around with (professional bowhunter and world champion archer) Ms. Joella Bates. She’s been teaching me a thing or two, giving me some lessons. She’s lining up a big youth hunt in November where each youth hunter gets a celebrity mentor. And, I get to be one of those celebrity mentors. And, I’m like, Yeah, whatever kid I get, we’re going to kill the biggest buck,’” he laughed.

“And, then I’ll be pretty busy trying to stay involved with groups like Trinity Disabled Adventures. It’s a Christian-based group that takes disabled kids and adults in the outdoors for hunts and fishing trips. I got into doing that a couple of years ago, and it just changed my outlook on the outdoors because I’ve hunted and fished my whole life.

“I think there was 1 or 2 years where I literally hunted or fished almost every day for a year. And, then I went to this thing and… I asked someone if he had been hunting a lot that year and he said, ‘Yeah.” I said, ‘How many hunts have you been able to go on this year?’ And, he said, “Three.” And I looked real deep into myself. I was like, ‘I’ve been hunting almost every day, and this guy thought three was a lot,’ and that just changed it. It just changed the playing field. I want to do everything I can to help these guys get out there and go, whether it’s playing for a fundraiser or going out and being there.

“It’s easy to take it for granted when you do it all the time.”

JT is working on putting together a tour for later in the year. If you don’t see him on stage, you just might see him in the woods. But regardless of what he’s doing, you can bet he will be putting 100 percent into it.

Watch “Jumping Off the Deep End”

Connect with JT Lewis:
Official Website     |     Twitter
Facebook     |     Instagram
YouTube     |     iTunes

Next week, JT answers our questions.

Family Christian Trio Meadow Lane an ‘Honor’ for Epperson

tunes logoJeremy Epperson isn’t afraid to take a leap of faith when it comes to his music and his ministry.

For 25 years, Jeremy was part of his family’s southern gospel group The Singing Echoes. But, when he saw the pieces falling into place to work with his two teenage children, he couldn’t resist.

The new project is called Meadow Lane, comprised of Jeremy, Anais, 17, and Bryson, 14. They live in Cleveland, Tenn.

“God has really blessed us,” Jeremy said. “I was thinking about it today. God had kind of given me some idea for a couple or three years before all this kind of jelled that he had something different in mind for my ministry. And, I began to pray accordingly and to ask him to kind of reveal to me exactly what it was.”

meadow lane

Meadow Lane is made up of Jeremy, Anais and Bryson Epperson.

The result was somewhat of a surprise. “I would’ve never guessed my two kids would’ve been involved in it,” Jeremy said. “My daughter, maybe; but my son, if you would’ve told me 3 years ago I would be singing with my daughter and my son, I would’ve told you that you are a fool, because I never expected Bryson to come along and be interested in it. But, God had a plan, and as soon as we began singing I thought, ‘This is pretty nice. I really like it.’”

He said parting with The Singing Echoes in Feb., 2014, was difficult, but added, “It became obvious what God was really looking for me to do in my ministry. That, of course, was for me to sing with my two kids. And, I’ve just been enjoying his blessings ever since. You know, you can’t out-give God; and, when you’re in his favor and doing what he wants you to do, the blessings just come and they don’t stop coming. It’s unbelievable. We’ve just really been enjoying It.”

He said Anais is a natural vocalist. “The nurses will swear up and down she was singing while she was in the delivery room,” he said with a laugh. “It’s always been a part of her life. She really makes dad proud. She would rather sing as do anything. There’s not a night she is on stage with me that she doesn’t completely knock my socks off with something new,” he said. “She’ll just absolutely surprise me every time, and, she’ll pull something out of her little bag of tricks vocally and just knock me off my feet.”

Bryson was somewhat of a different story. “He never showed that much interest in singing until a couple of years ago,” Jeremy said, “And, I started working with him a little bit.”

He explained, “I do the music for our middle school program in our church, and my daughter had already been singing with me in that. And, I said, ‘We could use somebody to sing baritone in here,’ and, reluctantly – at first – Bryson started singing a little bit and really liked it. So the three of us began singing.”

In the past 15 months, Meadow Lane has come into their own with their first album set for release Monday (May 11).

“We’re really excited about it,” he said of the album. “We’ve got some of the biggest writers in Southern Gospel music contributing to this album – writers like Jeff Steele, and Gerald Crabb, Kenny Webb, Gerald Sweatman, Michael Wee, Gary White. I’ve been honored to have a couple of songs put on there as well. I’ve written songs for several years, and It’s just nice to be among that gang of fantastic writers. We’ve got some great material on there.”

The album’s first single is called “Praise the Lord” written by veteran singer-songwriter Barry McDonald, also of Cleveland, Tenn.

“Barry is a great guy,” Jeremy said. “And, we had sung that song when I was with The Singing Echoes. But, when Barry pitched that song to them, I can remember the style he pitched it to. He’s a way different style than the Singing Echoes are of course.

“He kind of sings that singer-songwriter style. And, he pitched it to them a whole lot more contemporary than what they are. I always remember that. I loved the song the way (The Singing Echoes) did it too, but I could always remember the way Barry originally pitched it.”

Jeremy explained how “Praise the Lord” ended up on the Meadow Lane album project. “We decided to record this song by happenstance,” he said. “It was about two weeks before we were supposed to go in to do tracking for the album, and we realized we needed another song for Bryson. We said, ‘Let’s find something we’re somewhat familiar with so we can train him real quick.’ We listened to some songs we knew, and we put that one on, and he said, ‘I want to do that.’”

Barry’s song had to beat out a lot of competition to make it as the first single release, Jeremy said. “I believe we’ve got about five or six we can release to radio. They’re that good, and I’m not saying that because I’m partial to them. We just got that good of a cut on five or six songs.”

He explained, “I was having a hard time figuring out which song we were going to release (first). I was really worried about it; and, I got a call from Barry, and he said, ‘I’ve been kicking this around, and if you don’t like this idea it’s no big deal, but I’m starting to promote some of my own songs, and I would love to put this “Praise the Lord” song on the disc if you’d be willing to do that.’”

Then the decision became obvious. “The more I thought, and the more I prayed. And, I said, ‘I can’t pick another one,’” Jeremy said.

The song is already having radio success. “It charted high for a breakout artist, so we’re really excited about that,” Jeremy said – though he is quick to point out that spreading the gospel is more important than accolades and recognition.

“God is doing great things and making waves for us,” he said. “And, I’ll tell you what, we just can’t thank him enough. It’s amazing what God can do when you just let go and let him take the reins, and you sit in the passenger seat for a while.”

But, of course, being a proud parent isn’t such a bad feeling either.

“It’s an honor to stand and sing for the Lord any time you can do that, but I have found the honor and privilege that my dad has known for several years to be able to stand on stage with your son and your daughter and sing,” he said. “There’s a pride in that I can’t explain to you because it’s just a feeling you feel and nothing else can surpass that.

“It’s a great feeling to know that’s exactly what he wants you to do because he’s blessing you. When he starts opening doors you never expected to be opened, and closing doors you never expected to be closed, It’s a great feeling. It is,” Jeremy said.

Judging by Meadow Lane’s energy, those doors are going to stay open for a long time.

(Meadow Lane is performing at the Gospel Music Fan Fair Somerset Ky., May 18-23. Visit www.meadowlaneministries.com for their full schedule. Listen to “Praise the Lord” here.)

Sheree Spoltore: Music’s Most Passionate Mentor

tunes logoCall Sheree Spoltore enthusiastic, and she will reply, “Enthusiasm is the fuel for our machine.”

Ask her why she evolved from musician to mentor, and she will answer, “Instead of just one dream, I could see thousands of dreams.”

Ask her how impacting those dreams affects her, and she will say, “It’s about as close to seeing God on earth as you can get.”

Sheree – along with her unbridled passion and charisma – has been a fixture in the Nashville music business almost from the moment she arrived from Little Rock, Ark., in 1994. She knows virtually everyone on Music Row; and, many if not most have been touched by her contagious enthusiasm.

Since 2013, Sheree has operated Global Songwriters Connection (GSC), a personalized mentoring service for singers and songwriters all over the world. Prior to that, she worked at the executive level for years at the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA“My three words on my website are encourage, equip and empower,” she told us recently. “People have always been great mentors to me, and I’ve always tried to do that for others.”

When Sheree first came to Nashville, she was a touring singer-songwriter under the management of then-CMT head Paul Hostaba. “I came here for my dream, but I’ve always been a ‘teamwork-makes-a-dream-work” kind of person,” she said.

Her desire to help others would soon overtake her desire to perform. “I found having a lot of joy positioning others to succeed. I love to do that, and I am very gifted at that. I enjoy that,” she said. “I never felt a sense of ‘they’re my competition’. And then, what I got to see was, wow, instead of just one dream, I could see thousands of dreams.”

Instantaneously, her voice took on an ethereal quality — as it so often does. “If you can imagine that, just take a moment and imagine how privileged I am to be a part of – and to see – thousands of dreams. I mean for me it’s about as close to seeing God on earth as you can get. It’s just amazing I get to be included and hear the hearts of so many people… probably in the total of my career, I mean tens of thousands, right?”

Then she whispers for emphasis, “Tens of thousands of dreamers.

She said, “I love it and never take it for granted. It’s just so awesome and so powerful. I appreciate it very, very much, people entrusting me. Can you just imagine how it feels to know I’m on the other end (of the telephone) with a stranger? Probably someone who doesn’t know me and they’re going to entrust their songs and their dreams to me? I mean that’s just the ultimate, and I never take that for granted. I appreciate it very, very much.”

Suddenly, though, she snaps back in the moment and laughs, saying matter-of-factly, “All those creative personalities… I’m very challenged, and I love it. I often say the joy of my job is everybody’s completely different. The challenge of my job is, everybody’s completely different.”

That’s Sheree’s way of explaining that the mentors at Global Songwriters Connection encourage their clients, but it’s not all rainbows, puppies and pom-pons.

“We do get real,” she said. “And, that’s one thing that might be a little be challenging. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to discourage you or anything, but we do get real.

“That’s because there’s probably not anything more frustrating for a songwriter than to have a lot of nice meetings with industry professionals, then 5 years later not feeling like they’re any farther along in their progress than they were 5 years before.

“There may be a reason for that, and sometimes the reason may be your songs aren’t just there yet. And, it’s not the publisher’s role to develop you. It’s your role to get developed.”

Sheree founded GSC following her resignation from NSAI in 2013, where she had served 7 years as Assistant Executive Director of Membership. She exited around the same time as several other staffers parted ways with NSAI. The details of the departures were never made public.

“I loved my work at NSAI incredibly,” she told us. “I think if anybody actually knew me, I was just thankful and grateful for that opportunity. But, I felt the need to resign from NSAI, and I didn’t have a job. And I needed to work.

“I often say I’m not good at a lot of things, but I’m an expert at this, and it’s because I love it, and because I study, and because I apply. I may have had natural (musical) talent like a lot of my members. I may have had natural talents and gifts, but I’ve really also had to work at it.”

Being a household name among songwriters obviously helped her new company get off the ground. “I did have a brand for creating success. My name was branded with placing songs. You know, I’ve had over a hundred and I’m getting closer to 200 publishing opportunities. If I can help you, I will help you. I love doing that, and I love helping people move into their place – into their space that is uniquely them.”

She spoke about the challenges of becoming self-employed. “Anytime you’re starting a new company, there’s a lot to get done, and it’s laying the foundation. But, fortunately I had a really good reputation of creating results and creating success, and, man I just dug in. And, honestly I’ve just worked from — as my husband will tell you — I work from 8 o’clock most every day until 9 o’clock at night frequently. It’s what it takes. If you’re going to be a success in this business you have to work really hard to put those parts and pieces together. And that’s what I try to do as a connector is really listen.”

Sheree’s husband is Lou Spoltore, a Vice President at Live On Stage, an entertainment booking agency. She said her business complements his, and vice versa.

“They have at any given time over 700 shows going on across the country,” she said about Live on Stage. “Between the two of us, it’s pretty much a full-circle range of services we can offer. We’re used to working with strictly just artists through his company, so often I’m bringing artists to him because I meet people while I’m out and about that are just artists.”

Of her music-business marriage, she said, “We are a couple working in the industry, and it’s hard to separate those two things because we are constantly trying to help each other’s businesses to do well to bring excellence to the table. If I hear of an artist that’s just amazing, I do what I can to bring them to Lou’s attention and vice versa. If he’s got a band and they just lost their guitar player, I may know some people who can help, that kind of thing.”

Sheree said GSC helps her clients answer the “now what” question. “That question changes in every level of their career as I help them to connect and move forward,” she said. “It means, ‘okay here’s where I am and here’s what I’ve done this far. Now what do I do? Okay, I did that,  and now I just signed my first single song contract, now what do I do?’” She continued, “‘Okay, I just got my first cut, I’ve never had a cut before, now what do I do? All right, I got a cut but I haven’t had another one in 2 years, now what do I do?’

“She explained how her GSC team guides their clients, saying, “They need somebody in their corner to help them. You know, it’s hard to mentor yourself, and so we act as if we are a publisher. We act as if we are your songwriter manager until you find your home. The (GSC) web site says, ‘Everyone longs to belong.’ And I just try to be a place for people to belong while we help them find their real industry home. This is home until we help them find that good fit.”

Though based in Nashville, Sheree’s company serves singer/songwriters in all genres all over the world. “It is called Global Songwriters Connection,” she said, “And that’s because I personally believe music is a one-world language, and we just speak it in different dialects. And we call those dialects country, pop, Americana, those types of things.

And, her organization welcomes artists who don’t write their own material. “As a matter of fact, I love it when somebody is an artist and not a writer. We need them,” she said. “So many times, artists who are truly just artists, come to town and feel pressure to write, and that’s not their gift. Their gift is their vocal interpretation of a song, so I always encourage artists to just stay an artist — remain an artist, you know be the best vocalist you can be. Michael Buble isn’t out there writing, he’s actually making a career off of cover tunes. So if your gift is being an artist, then yes, be the best vocalist you can be.”

Sheree prides herself on GSC’s interactive approach to serving clients. “One of the most frustrating things I’ve heard over the years from people who do not live in Nashville is that music industry people tell them what to do is you need to network. If you don’t live in Nashville or New York or LA that’s really a challenging task for someone. We work through Skype, we work online, everything we do, you connect directly with the industry professional. We also have genre-specific services. Even though it’s a one-world language, there’s a big difference in pop music and country music and how you approach that writing. There is truly no one size fits all.”

She added, “Courage is the root word of encouragement, and it takes a lot of courage to play your songs in front of people, to play your songs for strangers, to put yourself out there to be coached, to receive instruction, direction and perhaps correction from a stranger, so I try not to be a stranger.”

Her voice transcended into that mystic tone again. “Now this is the personal part,” she said. “My goal in my life – when all is said and done – is to encourage, equip and empower all the songwriters I can in my lifetime.

“And we’re all pretty temporary.”

Two Story Road Takes the Spotlight

beaverdamusa.com, two story roadby Erica Bryan

Here at Beaver Dam USA, we are so excited to introduce you all to a band that, if you like country music, you’ve probably already seen before! Two Story Road is a husband-and-wife duo comprised of veteran performers, Brandon and Jamelle Fraley.

Brandon has toured extensively, singing background vocals and/or playing keys for artists such as Gretchen Wilson, Danny Gokey, and Carrie Underwood. Jamelle has also toured extensively, her biggest gig being Carrie Underwood’s background vocalist for five years. Between the two of them, they have appeared on every TV and Awards show imaginable, as well as performed over 1,000 shows (including 100 shows at the Grand Ole Opry!).

beaverdamusa.com, two story roadIt’s no surprise that these two decided to join forces and bring their talents to the spotlight. For their debut album release, they are working with Nashville producer, Mark Bright. Mark Bright has made his mark on your radio waves by producing albums for superstars such as Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, and Sara Evans. With Two Story Road’s considerable experience and the top-notch team surrounding them, there’s no doubt that they will make a big impact in the Country music community.

We were fortunate to get to send over some questions to Brandon and Jamelle. Read their responses below:

Q: First off-we love a good love story- how did you two meet? Was it love at first sight?!

TSR: We met at Belmont University. Love at first sight might sound a little cliche, but there was definitely an immediate attraction. Once we started dating, we both admitted to having an overwhelming sense of “wow” whenever we’d see each other. We knew after just a few weeks of dating that the connection we had with each other was unlike anything either one of us had felt before. 

Q: When you all got married, did you always want to be a duo? Or was it something that happened over time?

TSR: We both moved to Nashville aspiring to be solo artists, that’s for sure. We always loved singing together, but I think the idea of being an actual duo is something that presented itself to us over time. We both agree that singing together is so much more fun than if we were solo artists. Also, being able to share the work load both on and off the stage is a huge perk that we’re thoroughly enjoying. :-)

Q: We’ve heard that you recently went into the studio and recorded your debut release with one of Nashville’s greatest producers, Mark Bright! Tell us about the experience in the studio-was it magical?!

TSR: It’s hard to put into words the excitement we’ve been having while recording with Mark. This is literally what we’ve dreamed about doing since moving to Nashville. You have to understand that after all of the touring and recording we’ve done for other people over the years  there’s now this unbelievable feeling of accomplishment to be doing this AS THE ARTIST! For example, just the other day we were pulling up to Ocean Way Studio on Music Row to record some more vocals. Granted, we’ve both been there many times for other artists. However, when you’re there as a band member, you’re on your own to find parking. There are only 6 parking spots at Ocean Way and they’re all assigned: Studio A Artist & Producer, Studio B Artist & Producer, and Studio C Artist & Producer. We noticed that one of the artist spots was open, and thought about pulling in. We can honestly say that we both hesitated for just a moment & asked ourselves, “you think we can park here & not get towed?” before realizing that we WERE the artist and were supposed to park there! We are beyond blessed to not only be recording with one of Nashville’s greatest producers, but we’re also able to call Mark one of our closest friends. He has been on board, 110%, since day one, and we will never be able to fully thank him for the confidence boost that has given us. We’re so excited for all of our fans to hear this labor of love once it’s finished. We are doing everything we can to make as much of an impact with this first project as possible and we’re optimistic that it will do just that. 

Q: Who are your greatest musical influences?

Jamelle – I grew up listening to a bunch of different music, but there were definitely a few standouts that got a LOT more rotation than the others: Mariah Carey, Martina McBride, Celine Dion, & Whitney Houston. I mean, in my day if you loved to sing and wanted a challenging song to sing, that’s who you listened to! :-)

Brandon – I listened to a wide range of musical genres and was also drawn towards amazing singers. Brian McKnight and Vince Gill were huge influences and always a challenge to sing along with. I feel like I’m constantly borrowing from their vocal prowess whenever I sing a note. 

Q: Jamelle, we know you toured a while with Carrie Underwood. What was the greatest thing you learned from this Superstar? And same question for you, Brandon, about touring with Gretchen Wilson?

Jamelle – The only thing better than being able to sing with her night after night, was having a front row seat to watch Carrie off stage. Let me tell you what, this girl is a hard worker! Her work ethic is just as impressive as her singing voice. It was such an amazing opportunity to see firsthand what it takes to maintain the kind of career she’s having. I feel so much more well prepared for my journey as TSR knowing what I learned from Carrie all those years.

Brandon – One thing that Gretchen did that had a profound impact on me was the attention she gave to her entire crew. Band, lighting, audio, truck drivers, etc… She knew everyone’s name out there and said hello to everyone who walked by. Gretchen worked so hard to making everyone feel appreciated. The few times I’ve toured with Carrie, I’ve seen how close everyone is on that tour as well. Think about this, when Jamelle left Carrie’s band to do TSR, she had been with her for 5 years and she was still the “newest” band member.  It’s simple. When people feel valued, they’ll most likely stick around.

Q: When you’re not recording or touring, what are some things you both like to do for fun?

TSR: Well, we do our best to stay in shape, and luckily we’ve found ways of exercising that don’t feel like exercise. Brandon plays tennis, very competitively I might add, at least 3 times a week & I (Jamelle) go to a hip-hop dance class 3-4 times a week as well. Unfortunately, downtime is becoming harder & harder to find, so we jump at the chance to hang out with our friends whenever we can. We’re actually having a few close friends over tonight to watch a movie and maybe even have a Mario Kart tournament! :-)

Q. What is your favorite movie of all time?

Brandon – I love all the X-Men movies. Jamelle will most likely say “me too!” but since I’m the one who introduced her to them, it gets to be my answer.

Jamelle – Brandon knows that if we’re channel surfing and “A League Of Their Own,” “Dirty Dancing,” “The Princess Bride,” or “That Thing You Do” is on, no matter where it’s at in the movie, we’re watching it.

Q: What was the last song played on your iTunes or Spotify?

Brandon – I finished my drive home from tennis last night with Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity.”  

Jamelle – Alison Krauss, “Maybe.”  Remember that song? It’s so cool!

Q: As veteran performers, is there any advice you would give to young aspiring artists who are trying to follow in your footsteps?

TSR: This may not really be about performing, but here’s some general advice for any job in the music industry. Most likely, you have a vision in your head of where you are and where you want to be. You can try your best to assume the path of how you’ll get from point A to point B. However, be open to the fact that there’s a good chance that you’ll get to point B by a road you never saw coming and maybe, never knew existed. We all know that the interstate is the fastest way to travel from one state to the next. However, there are infinite back roads that will take longer, but can do the same thing. Take it from us, don’t discount the back roads. They’ll give you the time you’ll need to learn about yourself. It’s also where you’ll gain so much experience. In the end, it will make the journey so much more rewarding and when you finally reach the finish line, you’ll be that much more prepared.

Get updates on Two Story Road’s album release and tour by following them on FacebookTwitter, and by visiting their official website.

While you eagerly anticipate the debut album, check out Two Story Road’s latest lyric video of their song, “Fit In.”

Joe Collins Explains the Break-up of The Collins Brothers Band

collins brothers pic

Joe Collins (r) and Cory Collins founded The Collins Brothers Band 15 years ago. On Wednesday, they announced their last show will be March 6.

“I need to step away.”

That is how Joe Collins summed up the impending break-up of The Collins Brothers Band.

The band posted on their Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon that March 6 would be their last public show. The announcement set off a reaction among fans as frenetic as the band’s onstage energy.

“I figured it would take a lot of people by surprise. But I didn’t realize how many people would be upset,” Collins told us the day after the announcement. “I’ve gotten a lot of texts, and people posting on Facebook, and things like that.

“I’ve had some people in the last couple of days trying to give suggestions saying, ‘Why don’t you just dial it back a little bit. The music scene needs you.’ And, I appreciate that. But dialing it back won’t get it done.

“When things like this happen,” Collins said regarding the break-up announcement, “A lot of people who maybe are on the fringe and don’t know us very well just assume there’s something wrong, and there is nothing wrong.

“It has nothing to do with music,” he said. “It has everything to do with my family. I’m getting older and my kids are at that age where they’re into every sport you can think of, and I’ve missed a lot of it.

“When your 13-year-old daughter looks at you and says, ‘Do you have to go play tonight?’, and you say, ‘Yes,’ and she slumps her shoulders and puts her head down…,” he said, with his voice trailing off. “When she does that a couple of times, it makes you think what you’re doing.

“I made a commitment that I wasn’t going to miss any more. It’s not like I’m taking music out of me. It will always be in there, because that’s my passion. But, when you have children, that becomes your passion, and you know, that’s where I want to be.”

Joe Collins and his brother Cory founded The Collins Brothers Band 15 years ago. During that time, they have become arguably the most popular regional act in Southeast Tennessee, playing clubs, big stages and many charity events.

“I’m real proud of our charity work and philanthropy. It was always a goal of mine to give back as much as we took, and I’m proud to say I think we did that.” He added that the American Cancer Society was the band’s No. 1 cause, since it touched the Collins family.

In addition to his daughter, Collins and his wife Holli have an 8-year-old son. The couple will celebrate their 15th anniversary in May.

Collins said he has been talking about the decision with Holli “for probably 2 or 3 years.”

“And, me and Cory talked about it,” he said. “I’m the only one in the band who has small children, but they understand. Cory knew this day would come, and he’s sad too, but they all understand and they know family comes first.”

Collins knew telling the band would not be easy.

“That was a difficult decision on our (his and Cory’s) part of when to tell them,” Collins said. “We didn’t want to call them. We wanted to tell them face-to-face, because we spend so much time together we’re kind of like family.

“So we decided after our last show at Pokey’s, which was Feb. 6, to all meet in the back room. And, that’s when we told them.”

He described the scene as “a sad time.”

“We shut the doors, and there was a lot of tears and a lot of hugging. It was very, very emotional to see six large, grown men just crying and hugging each other. I always knew we had something special, but that confirmed it for me.”

The 48-year-old musician didn’t take the other members’ feelings lightly. “I’ve been down about — not the decision — but I know it’s affecting their lives too. It’s not all about me. There’s a corporate entity out there called The Collins Brothers, so even though I’m the owner and president and all that stuff, it affects a lot of people.

“But they let me know before I left that night that they understood.”

He talked about how important that sentiment was to him. “It was everything,” he said. “It would’ve been so much more difficult if they would’ve had any bitterness, but they didn’t. Just from what they told me, they know what kind of guy I am, and they probably — they could tell I had been struggling with this for a while. But they gave me full support and that made me feel a lot better.”

Collins said Holli will be glad to have “a normal guy” around the house.

“She is 110% ‘Let’s go,’” he said with a laugh. “She has had the brunt of doing everything with the kids — especially on the weekends — for a long, long time. And, she’s been my No. 1 supporter. So without her, there would’ve been no Collins Brothers Band. But, I know she is glad to have me back as a normal guy. We have been married 15 years in May, and I have been doing the music since Day 1 with her, so it’s going to be good for us.”

He added, “It’s going to be a change in my life because I’ve done it for 15 years, but it has to be done, and I actually feel very, very good about it.”

The Collins Brothers Band will take their final bow on the same stage where their run began, Pokey’s in Cleveland, Tenn.

In an understatement, Collins said, “We could’ve done a bigger place or got a bigger venue. But, Pokey’s is sentimental to us because that’s where we started. And, I remember the very first time Pokey let us play there, and there were a lot of people who wouldn’t let us play. But he did, and we thought it was appropriate that we end there, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Steve “Pokey” Clark believed in Collins and his band from the beginning. But that wasn’t the case with everyone. “There’s a lot of people who helped us, and there’s a lot of people who didn’t,” Collins said. “I try not to dwell on the negative.”

Collins thanked “all those people who gave us a chance in the beginning. They know who they are. It was very hard for us the beginning,” he said. “And, there are several – not just club owners – but individuals who gave us a hand, gave us a chance, and we owe a lot of people a lot thanks.”

He shared a long list of memorable moments, such as releasing their first album, hearing his music on radio, opening for the likes of Montgomery-Gentry and Gene Watson, and playing at the legendary Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville.

With each success, Collins said he thought, “Wow, how did we get this?”

He said, “These are things I had hoped for, but I didn’t have enough pride to think they would ever happen.”

Collins added, “Things like opening up for all these big acts we did, I never dreamed of doing that when we first started. Having a song I had written being played on the radio? I never dreamed that would happen when we started. Or, to have a song of mine taken by NASCAR and used on their television special was never part of my dream.”

Instead, Collins’ dream was simple.

“I just wanted to get up and sing in front of people and try to get better, and better, and better. And, I think – I know that’s what we did. And I wanted me and the band to be the best at what we do. And, I think that we have done that. And, I think there are a lot of people who have let us know that.

“I’ve been asked — I can’t tell you how many times — ‘How do you measure success? And, how will you know you’ve made it? And, of course you can give all kinds of answers,” he said. “You know, one of my goals was to play the Grand Ole Opry and I never got to do that. But, that doesn’t mean I won’t get to.”

“So, yeah, it’s been a success, because I never thought it would be like this,” he said. “I never thought people would care when we went away, and that’s probably the biggest thing. People care about The Collins Brothers, and I can’t believe it. I can’t believe what a disruption it caused on Facebook. That let me know we touched a lot of people.”

 

Get to Know Caroline Kole

caroline kole, beaverdamusa.com, erica bryanBy Erica Bryan

Meet Caroline Kole. Caroline might look like your typical teenager when she’s in her High School uniform, but after school, it’s not unusual for her to be laying down vocals in the recording studio or rehearsing for her upcoming show, opening for Reba McEntire.

Needless to say, Caroline has accomplished a lot in her young age. She began writing songs when she was 8 years old (and if you follow her on Instagram, you can see a precious picture of young Caroline performing songs at her own birthday party!). Her songwriting grabbed the attention of Narvel Blackstock (Reba McEntire’s husband and manager) which led to her move to Nashville, along with a publishing and artist development deal with Sony ATV.

Besides Reba McEntire, Caroline has also opened for great Country stars such as Blake Shelton, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, and Charlie Daniels, and is not slowing down anytime soon. In 2014, she released her self-titled EP and has released two music videos on CMT. 

caroline kole, beaverdamusa.comHere at BeaverDamUSA.com, we had the privilege of sending some questions over to Caroline. You can read her answers below:

Q: We know that you’ve been performing around the country opening for Country Superstar Reba McEntire, that must be so exciting! When you get out on the big arena stage and start singing your songs, what is going through your mind? Do you focus on the audience, or the message of the song-what things are you thinking?
CK: Little bit of everything, honestly! I don’t wanna forget the words, I wanna look for familiar faces in the audience, but I really like to focus on enjoying that moment. I love when the lights come on in front of a sold out crowd and we’re on stage just doin what we love to do most. It’s such a blast :)

Q: Playing so many shows each year must be so fun, but exhausting too! Is there anything you do to keep the energy up after a long day of traveling?
CK: Hahaha I’ve become an avid coffee drinker and an excellent sleeper! I used to not be able to sleep on the plane or in the car…but that’s all pretty much changed. When I’m not writing a research paper, I’m most likely passed out in the backseat.

Q: I know we’re all wondering—has anything gone wrong during a performance- or has anything embarrassing ever happened? If so, what did you do?
CK: Well I’ve forgotten plenty of words, and tripped a good number of times while performing (LOL!!) but I would say that my  most embarrassing moment was when I came off the stage after Soundcheck and noticed my guitar was making a sound that it really shouldn’t be making. It sounded like something inside the guitar was broken!! I was kinda freaking out until i flipped it over…and found it was stuffed with a hundred sugar packets. Cool guys. Cool. 

Q: Do you have any hobbies or interests you like to do while at home, outside of music? If so, what are they?
CK: I loooove to read and hang out with my friends and family. Cuddling with my cat is always a good time too haha!

Q: What is your ideal way to spend a Friday Night when you’re not on the road?
CK: At one of my friend’s houses after a football game jamming out to our favorite songs. 

Q: Can you recommend any good TV shows you’ve gotten into recently? What should we be watching?!
CK: Oh gosh, I’m so bad. I just got Netflix because I don’t have any time to watch TV!! I get the morning news so I know what the weather’s gonna be and then I’m out the door! Sad and true. You tell me what I should be watching!!! 

Q: What was the last song played on your ipod/iphone?
CK: ‘All Fired Up’ by Pat Benetar

Q: What is the last movie you watched? Think we should watch it.
CK: Frozen haha. If you haven’t seen it, YES GO SEE IT NOW AND FALL IN LOVE WITH THE SOUNDTRACK. 

Q: As displayed on your latest self-titled EP, we know you’re a talented songwriter- how do you get inspiration for your songwriting?
CK: Everywhere :) I love sitting down with my guitar and getting a groove going and then putting words to it.

Q: How does if feel to have someone, like Reba McEntire, believe in you?
CK: I would not be the artist I am today without Reba(: She inspires me, and I want to make her proud. The fact that she believes in me does more for me than I can ever say.

Q: Is there any advice you would give young aspiring artists who are trying to do what you are doing?
CK: It’s not easy, that’s for sure! And you’ve gotta become a morning person to do those 4 AM hair and makeup sessions haha! But when you’re in front of a sold out crowd having the time of your life… the rewards are so worth it!

Check out Caroline’s latest video of her song, “If He’d Ever Look Up,” which is the second installment of a two-part music video series–the first one being the video to her song “Money to Me.”

Also, peruse her twitterfacebook, and Caroline’s official website to get updates about where you can see her perform. Enjoy!

Check out Erica Bryan’s “Behind the Mic” blog,
which publishes each Thursday.

http://youtu.be/slARGhs5aFk

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