Lily Nelsen Steps in the Spotlight

Lily Nelsen Uses Adversity
to Her Advantage

lily nelsen, beaverdamusa.comAdversity can push a person in one of two directions. Either they cower and hope it passes, or they fight back.

Meet Lily Nelsen, fighter.

At only 17, the aspiring country music singer has already seen more than her fair share of adversity. As a young child she was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease, which is the leading cause of heart disease in children. “I’m blessed to be here today,” she said.

Then at age 12, she found out she had Type 1 diabetes.

How did she handle it?

“Of course, it’s a shock when you get diagnosed with something like that, so (music) was pretty much my way of getting my emotions out. I started songwriting after I got diagnosed,” she recently told us. “It was my way of coping with the entire situation. And I decided that I wanted to start really pursuing my career after I got into songwriting.”

One of the first songs she penned, “Better Me,” was an upshot from the diagnosis. “I think it kind of came from that place of being upset about having diabetes — because I felt like a lot of people didn’t understand a lot about the disease.” She explained, “I felt different from my friends, and stuff like that, so it really, really helped me to deal with the situation.”

Since then, Lily has put her musical talents to good use from a philanthropic standpoint. She has performed to help various organizations, including Make-A-Wish and the Wounded Warrior Project.

lily nelsen, hard rock cafe,

Lily performs at Nashville’s Hard Rock Cafe

“I also contacted the Kawasaki Disease Foundation,” she explained, “and we decided to put together a compilation CD with a bunch of different songs from different artists. It should be released soon. It’s a cause that I’m really passionate about.”

Lily was bitten by the country music bug at a young age. “My mom (Jayne Nelsen) used to be a singer-songwriter. She had a CD out, and she was doing the recording thing, too. And she decided that she didn’t like being away from my sister and me,” she said. “Actually before she decided she wanted to stop doing it, we moved to Nashville, and we just fell in love with the whole music scene in Nashville. Mom stuck with the songwriting side of everything.  And she’s really a great songwriter.  I’ve learned a lot from her. She was probably my first influence when it came to music.

“My parents encouraged me to take guitar lessons from a young age. I started taking guitar lessons when I was 7, and I also took some drum lessons,” Lily said. “I was into acting and I was the lead in two musicals in middle school, which was really fun. So I just fell in love with being on stage and being in front of people.”

Lily started home schooling this year to make time for her career. “I was so busy with writing appointments and performing out, I decided it would be the best route for me to take at that point,” she said. “I do about one to three co-writes a week. I love the songwriting side of everything, and I love performing on stage.”

Lily said she has co-written seven songs with Amanda Williams. “She’s kind of mentored me. Amanda is an amazing person to have on my team in the business.”

Four tunes Lily has co-written are featured on her Web site. She wrote “The Life I Left Behind” with 14-year-old Dallas Remington. Sal Oliveri produced the songs, she noted.

“And also I just did a video with Carl Diebold and that should be coming out pretty soon. It’s for my song ‘Growing Up’ which I haven’t released yet.”

Lily has spent much of 2014 writing. “I’ve been writing every week if possible, and that’s been great. I’ve found a lot of new co-writers recently, and I’m excited about working with them in the future. I just want to play out as often as possible and keep honing the songwriting craft.”

When she isn’t writing, Lily is performing somewhere. About her show, she said, “It’s very acoustic. It’s just me and my guitar usually. Sometimes I’ll bring on a Cajon player.” Lily has played most of Nashville’s notable venues, including the Bluebird Café, Hard Rock Café and BB King’s.

With good reason, Lily is excited to see what the future holds for her. “Five years from now I want to have one, or two or three albums out. I would love to have an album out by the end of this year; that would be amazing,” she said. “And I just want to keep working with the people I’m working with. I’ve built an awesome team around me; they’re so awesome and encouraging. And I just want to leave it up to God to where it goes from here.”

Keep up with Lily:
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Justine Blazer, ‘Gasoline’ Catch Fire

Part 2 of Our Interview

Just a few years ago, Justine Blazer found herself having to describe her transformation to country music. “I always felt like I had to explain, ‘Oh, yeah I’m from Detroit.’ And it was always like the ‘Oh, they have country music?’”

justine newShe doesn’t have to explain herself anymore. Armed with a successful country album, a single climbing the charts in Europe and a bus full of road-ready musicians, Justine is quickly gaining traction and respect.

Justine either wrote or co-wrote each of the 11 tunes on Gasoline, which she released in March, 2013. “It’s actually been my best received album yet,” she said. “I think that’s because it’s the first album I did here in Nashville. I really found myself with my writing and representing my style and my sound, versus the previous album (“Welcome to My World,” 2010). I felt Gasoline was more of a benchmark to lead me to where I’m at right now.”

Connect with Justine:
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The first video from Justine’s record is for the party anthem “Amen for the Weekend.” The video has aired on TNN, GAC and Zuus Country.

“We’ve had a few different songs off the album go to radio which was validating, because they all hit at least Top 100 somewhere on the charts,” Justine said. “I just had a new single, ‘On the Edge With You’ go to radio in Europe. I signed a European deal last month so that’s circulating out there and I’m getting more exposure now on a worldwide level, so that’s exciting.”

justine blazer beaverdamusa.comWhile being a 5-foot-10 former model makes for eye-catching album art, it’s obviously Justine’s talent behind the microphone is what resonates with her fans. She has been described as a female Jason Aldean. But she says her fans aren’t confined to one demographic.

“It really is a huge market because I’ve had everybody from younger kids, to older college age, to everywhere in between,” she said. “I think there’s a song on the album that can relate to everybody in some sense, so it really is like this wide range of people who like the album and have bought it.

“A song speaks to somebody so maybe that’s the essence of the album. It has a pretty wide range of subjects to talk about.”

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Justine has taken on 2014 with a vengeance. “We are very busy,” she said. “Some of my goals this year are to get over to Europe, start getting my music circulated (there).

Beyond that, “We work with (Dodge) Ram trucks and have been working with them since 2011,” Justine added. “I just got back from the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and we did two weeks out there. We performed for the rodeo before and after it with Ram trucks. That’s kind of neat. And I’m working on getting a music video done for one of my songs “Not Over You” which is on the Gasoline album; and we’re looking forward to possibly doing CMAs this summer.”

To supplement performing, Justine is eager to pitch her songs on Music Row. “I have my own publishing right now, but I would like to branch out a little bit more and perhaps be a part of that community, that scene. I’ve been so busy doing my promotion on my own stuff, and that’s going to continue. But parallel to that I want to get more of my songs as a songwriter out there as well, because that’s just as lucrative as doing the live show thing,” she said.

And, she’s glad to pick up her pen again. “I’ve been actually writing a ton lately. I’ve written (and co-written) several new songs in the past few weeks… That’s been really fun, just getting back to the drawing board and creating. I didn’t do any writing at all in 2013,” she said, “because I was so busy promoting the current stuff, recording it, doing the radio tour and all that stuff you’ve got to do to get it promoted, which is fun. But that’s a whole other element. So it’s kind of going back to the drawing board and creating more songs and stuff like that.”

Look for Justine on the road this summer. “We already have a lot of dates booked this year and this summer and just growing that as well,” she said. “I take my full band everywhere. They’re really dedicated to my project, and I’ve got a great group of guys who represent my sound and my show.”

Like lots of artists these days, Justine works independent of a record label. “I’ve actually had a couple of different contracts come my way between management and labels, but I just felt like it wasn’t in my best interest, because it wasn’t anything I wasn’t already doing myself,” she said.

“I would love to sign on eventually or maybe get a distribution deal with one of the majors,” she explained, “just because they have the resources and the advancement, like the money to expedite the process. It’s something that if it’s presented to me, and if it’s something that feels right at the time, then I would definitely consider that, but right now I’m just kind of doing the indie thing.

“I’m just over here trying to play some gigs and write some songs, and I don’t want it to turn into something not fun anymore.”

Read Part 1 of our interview here.

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