My New Venture: Crescendo Studios

erica bryan, behind the mic, beaverdamusa.comIt’s an interestingthing- getting married. When you tell people you are getting married, everyone expects that you are going to do something else with your life.They all say, “So after you get married, what’s next?” I never knew that once you got married you had to do something else–but what’s even weirder is that I am about to do something else! I don’t think marriage had anything to do with it though. I think it was more my restless leg syndrome that doesn’t allow me sit still for too long.

Since Taylor Swift and Pharell are the only people making money in the music business, I have been working full time at Starstruck Entertainment during the day (while also teaching voice lessons, writing songs, and performing on nights and weekends).

Starstruck is owned by Reba McEntire and is a recording studio and management company. The artists we manage are Blake Shelton, Reba, and Kelly Clarkson. I do administrative boring things, but the thought of being surrounded by such Country royalty was really exciting in the beginning! It has been a great learning experience to see how the music business works and how decisions are made. But, my restless legs can only sit there for so long, and my passion lies with performing and songwriting, so I knew I needed to transition to a job that would:

1. Allow me to be flexible to work on my music,
2. Still maintain my creative energy, and
3. Serve others.

The answer became perfectly clear: TEACH!

I am so thrilled to be launching the expansion of my voice and acting studio: Crescendo Studios. Crescendo Studios will be located in the Crieve Hall neighborhood of Nashville and will be open to any and all who wish to improve their singing and acting skills. I’ve been spending many a day decorating the new space and think I have achieved its ultimate “vibeness.” I chose the name Crescendo because it is a musical term that refers to music gradually increasing in loudness and intensity. I love the thought of paralleling that with my voice and acting students. Reaching your full potential doesn’t happen overnight. It happens with a gradual increase, as a result of dedication and sound training. And it gives me the greatest delight as a teacher to watch my students have breakthroughs and crescendo into their full potential.

This expansion will also allow me to be musical full time and I think this change will enhance my own songwriting and performing. I can’t wait to get married- but I also can’t wait to get back and jump into this new chapter in my life!

If you are in the Nashville area and know someone who might be interested in lessons, here is the new website,twitter, and Facebook page!


Get to Know Caroline Kole

caroline kole,, 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, 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.

Fairytales are for Disney Movies

erica bryan,, behind the micOnce upon a time, there lived a bright-eyed, redheaded girl. She decided one day she would move to Nashville, TN to become a Country singer.

Full of ambition and optimism, she walked down Music Row just waiting for her “big break” to come. She landed a day job working for Reba McEntire — the same job Faith Hill had before she got big — so she just knew it was only a matter of time before she followed in Faith’s footsteps.

One day, she was sitting at her desk, and a movie director walked into the office and told her she should star in his movie. The redheaded girl thought to herself, “This is it! This is what I’ve been waiting for!”

Sounds like a fairytale…right?!

Months went by, and the movie seemed to be taking longer to get off the ground than she originally thought. She went to meetings, and they kept telling her they would film the next week. Then the next week. Then, almost a year later, all the movie stuff fell off the face of the earth. The once bright-eyed girl still held on to her optimism, but her eyes were a little more used to the light.

At first, my life did seem like a fairytale. However, my story didn’t end like I thought it would. In fact, my story is just beginning.

I’ve had a lot of opportunities “fall in my lap” since the movie that didn’t work out, but I’ve also had a lot of opportunities that did work out. I’ve found that the harder I work, the more opportunities I have.

I used to see big music stars debut their first album and think, “Man, their success just happened overnight!” But, the truth is, there’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes I didn’t see, that I am just now learning.

That’s what this blog is about. It is my behind-the-scenes journey of being a musician. Come join me as I fill you in on the missteps, as well as the small victories. We can leave the fairytales to Disney.

(Note: Check out the story we recently ran on Erica.)

Brandon Maddox Readies For Breakout Year

New Band, National Tour
Await Brandon Maddox in 2014

With an upcoming national tour, a new band and a fresh management team in place, you can’t blame Brandon Maddox for being excited for 2014.

“I see it just going up from here,” the Chattanooga, Tennessee, native told us recently. “Everything is getting better and better. And this new year — if it’s not a groundbreaking year — then I don’t know what you can count on in life.”

Groundbreaking, figuratively speaking; but groundbreaking in a more literal sense, as well. That’s because Brandon was recently named Lucas Oil Monster Truck Nationals Artist of the year. He is currently touring with Monster Nite Out, playing at 11 monster truck rallies mostly in the Midwest.

“(Monster Nite Out) came about through my connection with Reba McEntire’s keyboard player, Doug Sisemore. He was a high school acquaintance of my dad,” Brandon explained, “and my dad contacted him a couple of years ago for me. And Doug listened to some of my songs, and he said, ‘Can I write with you?’ and my jaw was dropping.

“He basically said, ‘there’s this audition going on where you can try to become the Monster Truck Artist. They’ve got this theme song, but the guy who wrote it who is also an artist decided not to do it because of family obligations and things like that.’ So I said, ‘well, cool.’ So I tried out for it and ended up getting it. We’ve been working together, and my first national commercial came out on today.”

Brandon said, “I’m going to be going to Monster Truck shows, playing at the rallies in the big arenas. They’re going to have the music video playing on the JumboTron. Me and my band are going to be playing 30 minutes’ worth of material before the Monster Truck Rally, then after the Monster Truck Rally. They’re spending $100,000 in radio promotion and major market TV promotion. So it’s going to be big,” he said.

Click here for a full schedule.

With the tour only a month out, rehearsals are obviously in full swing. “I’ve got the band rehearsing with me, and we’re getting prepared. It’s going to be great.”

About his set list, he said, “I’ve got a mixture of originals and covers. I’ve got plenty of original songs, it’s just that I’m trying to mix it up where the crowd knows some, and they’re learning some of my own songs. I just want to keep them engaged.”

The notoriety has already made a difference. He said, “I’m already seeing some evidence of that. As far as my artist career, it’s just taking off which will foster the writer side of my career. I have people coming to me more now, just saying they’d like to pitch me a song or they’d like to have me record one of their tunes, or write with me or whatever. Not that I was ever short on co-writers, but people I don’t know are coming now, and it’s kind of crazy. Everything feeds off the other, and everything’s just going to really blossom over the next 8 to 12 months.”

But Brandon is no stranger to success. To date, 18 of his songs have been recorded by artists. And in 2012, his “Honk if You’re Country” made it to the big screen. Brandon said, “I wrote that song back in 2009 with the lead singer of a band named Curtis and Luckey. They recorded the song as an independent duo act, and then the guitar player of the band pitched it to a publishing company in Hollywood. That publishing company then pitched it to film and TV. And it wound up being in the movie “Unconditional” which was released September, 21, 2012. And it’s a really great film.”

He also recalled some of the other artists who’ve cut his songs. “Megan Redmond, a song called ‘Blink’ was the title track of her album. Another guy, CJ Garton, was my first recorded song by an independent act that’s called ‘Big Time Love in a Small Town.’

“’Bebe’s Riding Shotgun’ was recorded by an artist named Mandy York. And ‘Everyday Love’ was cut by Adam James. ‘Flying Solo’ got cut by Grant Reiff. ‘I Can’t Live Without Loving You’ was cut by Ty Bowman.

“’Only God Knows,’ I recorded it with Hunter Monroe, the two-time American Idol finalist. And that’s going on a future record, too,” Brandon said.

Brandon moved to Nashville to pursue writing full time in 2007, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he started honing his artist chops. While he is just beginning to enjoy success, he certainly appreciates some of the perks that come along with it – his new band, especially. “These are guys that I put together basically for the Monster Truck thing. They play with a lot of different acts, but that’s another thing that keeps getting better — the caliber of the musicians. I’m getting in with some circles of people who are better and better as time goes on.”

He said, “When I first had my group, we’d sound okay. We’d sound fair to middle. But as far as our rehearsals now, we’re sounding middle to great; and as far as who I’ve got playing on my team, they’re getting more and more professional.

“I think it’s just something that as a whole, you try to work your way up in the business. You deal with people who aren’t very professional, and then you deal with those people who are more professional. As time goes on, you keep chugging away, and that’s what it’s all about — just not having to put up with some of that stuff that you go through when you’re starting out. It’s a new tier of people.”

Brandon Maddox

KLynch Photography

Brandon said his progress to this point has been “somewhere in the middle” as far as elapsed time. “I mean, sometimes it seems slow, and sometimes I have to look at it like I’ve only been full time in the business giving it my all as far as an artist goes the past 2 years. And so when it comes to that, I’ve been trying as a songwriter 6 and a half years, but I’ve only been trying as an artist the past couple of years.”

Just like everyone else, Brandon has had his detractors. “I think it could’ve gone faster. And I think there were some people who kind of blocked my success for a while because they didn’t like me as a person. Things happened, and I don’t know, there are some creeps out there, some unsavory characters. And they’d go around and they would blacklist me from some stuff, but those people – their voices get less and less influential as time goes on. So that’s the big, bright shiny sun in the sky,” he said.

Our next installment on Brandon will focus on his new single, “Picture Perfect.” And, he will talk about how his management group has helped him, we’ll hear what others are saying about him, and more. Look for publication around New Year’s. Finest Craft Beers from America’s Best Micro Breweries- 728x90 banner