Music Spotlight: Marc Scibilia

Years ago, a friend who was visiting told me about Marc Scibilia. We went to see him at an outdoor concert at Centennial Park. I was told he was recently featured in a Jeep commercial singing “This Land is Your Land.” That was in 2015 at the Super Bowl. To be honest, I hadn’t started blogging yet, so I didn’t pay much attention.

Fast forward six years when a publicist sent a press release about Marc Scibilia releasing a new single, “Rivals” off his Seed of Joy album. I decided to look him up and was truly blown away.

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Music Spotlight: Chris Pierce

Chris Pierce is one of the most accomplished artists I have interviewed. He has opened for legends, like BB King, Al Green, Seal, Aaron Neville, and Colbie Callait. He has a big imprint in the sync world with his music being featured on shows like Brothers and Sisters, In Plain Sight, Eli Stone, What About Brian, and Army Wives to name a few. Most recently, the songwriter gained national attention with “We Can Always Come Back To This”, a song he co-wrote for the #1 NBC primetime series This is Us, peaked at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart.

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Music Spotlight: Taylor Hughes

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  Taylor Hughes was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Although she always loved music and did choirs and shows, her mother was an R & B singer was considered the musical one in the family.

Hughes was an athlete with a scholarship to attend college as a volleyball player when she blew her knee out her junior year of high school and the hope of attending college on a sports scholarship was over.

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Music Spotlight: Andrew Beam

Andrew Beam is from Cashiers, (pronounced Cash-ers) North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountain area. The son of a bluegrass picking preacher, Beam watched his dad at bluegrass festivals, church socials, and front porch get-togethers.

Although he picked up a guitar when he was five, he didn’t get serious about it until age 11.

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Music Spotlight: Becca Bowen

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Becca Bowen is an up-and-coming country artist whose Southern Belle exterior and tomboy personality have earned her the nickname “Country Barbie.” This personal fitness instructor is the single mother of two teenage girls.

Raised in South Carolina, as a child, she participated in pageants and talent shows – but her weekends were spent fishing and enjoying the outdoors with her grandfather. She is a true tomboy with a tiara.

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Comedian Jesse Peyton Talks About His Comedic Stylings and Upcoming Show at the Franklin Marriott February 12

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed comedian Jessie Peyton to the newsmakers line to talk about his comedic style and upcoming show on February 12 at the Franklin Marriott.

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Tiffany Ashton Releases New Music

The last person I interviewed face-to-face before the COVID shutdown was Tiffany Ashton on February 29, 2020. Her plans that day were to finish college at UNC-Charlotte in May then permanently move to Nashville.

Two weeks later, we were in lockdown as a nation and nobody went anywhere. Not only that, Ashton was one of the first people I knew who got the coronavirus and it put her out of commission for a month.

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Music Spotlight: Daniel Borge

Daniel Borge is an up-and-coming country music star. When I heard his single, “There I Was” I could tell this song offered the classical country story with a more modern sound. What I didn’t realize was that Borge is from Norway and English is not his first language.

In many ways, Borge’s journey to country music is one of the most unique stories I have heard. However, his path follows one of the most common themes. He learned to sing in church. His dad is a preacher and even though they live in Norway, they played/sang American gospel music.

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Music Spotlight: Mira Goto

Singer/songwriter Mira Goto grew up in a musical family. Her grandmother played the organ at church for many years and she learned to play the violin as a child. She grew up with access to instruments and a family who loved to sing.

As a teen, she thought the guitar was a much cooler instrument so she put her efforts there. Her favorite artist was Alanis Morrisette. “If I ever have the opportunity to do CMT Crossroads, she will be my first pick,” she mused.

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Music Spotlight: Cody Wolfe

When I saw that Cody Wolfe had over 400,000 Twitter followers and over 60,000 Instagram followers, I wanted to see what was going on with this popular young artist.

Cody Wolfe is a self-made man. The Connecticut native taught himself to play guitar when he was 16 and was advised early on that to “make it in this industry,” he would need to write songs. He went to a John Fogerty concert and asked his guitar player, James Intveld, what he need to do to make it in the music industry. Intveld said, “You’ve got to write music first. You have a better chance of being an artist if you are a songwriter first.”

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Music Spotlight: Lilly Winwood

NASHVILLE, Tennesse-  I am often sent songs to review to see if I want to feature the song(s) and/or artist in my column. When I heard Lilly Winwood’s song “Few More Records” I knew this singer/songwriter was talented. But surely this Nashville girl wasn’t related to the Brit rocker, Steve Winwood.

It turns out, surely, she is. Lilly Winwood is the 25-year-old daughter of famed rock and roller, Steve Winwood.

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Music Spotlight: Ethan Payne

NASHVILLE, Tennesse – Years ago, I vaguely remember Luke Bryan giving his guitar to a 13-year-old kid on stage who he met via the Make-a-Wish Foundation. That night, a fire was lit in young Ethan Payne. He knew then that performing country music was what he was born to do.

Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as a toddler (18-months-old), Payne was faced with an uphill battle early on. However, that didn’t stop him from following his passions and pursuing a career in country music. I wanted to find out more about this American Idol alum.

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Champion Ken Jennings Will Be First Interim ‘Jeopardy!’ Host

“Jeopardy!” record-holder Ken Jennings will be the first in a series of interim hosts replacing Alex Trebek when the show resumes production next Monday.

Producers announced Monday that Jennings, who won 74 games in a row and claimed the show’s “Greatest of All Time” title in a competition last year, will host episodes that air in January.

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Ty Herndon and Kristen Chenoweth Release ‘Orphans of God’

When country crooner, Ty Herndon announced he was releasing a duet with the talented Tony Award Winner, Kristen Chenoweth, I wanted to find out how this came to be.

With Herndon, he grew up singing from a young age and never really had a choice. He comes from a musical family and they traveled the south singing at camp meetings and tent revivals. He even considered being an evangelist at one point. His family listened to the Grand Ole’ Opry and singers like Tammy Wynette.

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Charlie Brown Holiday Specials Temporarily Returning to TV

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Christmas and Thanksgiving will look quite different this year for millions of Americans across the country, but at least one tradition will make the holidays feel like normal again.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) announced this week that the company had reached an agreement with Apple TV+ to allow broadcasts of two Charlie Brown holiday specials to air on TV in November and December. 

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Music Spotlight: Ana Cristina Cash

Naturally, if an entertainment writer from Nashville hears about a singer with the last name of ‘Cash’, they are going to pay attention. When Ana Cristina Cash’s Christmas single, “Mele Kalikimaka” came to across my feed, I listened. What I discovered was that this lady could sing, I mean really sing. The singer-songwriter’s vocals exhibit a broad range, spanning from an expressive contralto to a soaring coloratura soprano.

It turns out that Ana Cristina Cash has been singing since she was a very young child. She grew up in Miami, Florida in a bilingual household with Cuban-American parents. Her parents emigrated from Cuba as teenagers in the 1960s.

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Music Spotlight: Cole Bradley

Country singer and songwriter, Cole Bradley, is a rising star in the North American music scene.

Even though his parents weren’t musical, Bradley’s grandparents were and he started singing at age five. One of his first memories was singing along to Garth Brooks in the back of his Mom’s Toyota.

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Make It Up As We Go Podcast

Before COVID even hit, the multi-talented Scarlett Burke was looking for a way to distribute her music on a new platform. The producer/actress/singer/songwriter was not interested in touring but was interested in sharing her music.

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Music Spotlight: Larry Fleet

I stopped when I first heard “Where I Find God” on the radio. The words to the song were so pure and real that I wanted to hear it again and again. I wasn’t familiar with Larry Fleet but read somewhere that he was from Chattanooga. I had to find out more about this gifted singer/songwriter.

It turns out that Fleet is not from Chattanooga, but currently lives there with his wife of six years and his young son, Waylon. He is from White Bluff in Dickson County just west of Nashville.

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Television Legend Alex Trebek Remembered for Grace and Good Humor that Charmed Viewers for More than a Generation

Alex Trebek never pretended to have all the answers, but the “Jeopardy!” host became an inspiration and solace to Americans who otherwise are at odds with each other.

He looked and sounded the part of a senior statesman, impeccably suited and groomed and with an authoritative voice any politician would crave. He commanded his turf — the quiz show’s stage — but refused to overshadow its brainy contestants.

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Music Spotlight: Wino-Strut and Friends

When I saw/heard David Phillips’ (aka wino-strut) video for his newest single, “Natural Home” I knew this was someone I wanted to interview. The song had an interesting, old school sound that I wasn’t quite sure if it was Americana, Outlaw Country, or Rock’n’roll.

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Seeking Inclusion, Grammys Change Name of a Music Category

The Grammy Awards have changed the name of their best world music album category to the best global music album, an attempt to find “a more relevant, modern and inclusive term.”

The Recording Academy said in a statement that the new name “symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied.”

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Sean Connery, the ‘Original’ James Bond, Dies at 90

Sean Connery, the charismatic Scottish actor who rose to international superstardom as the suave secret agent James Bond and then abandoned the role to carve out an Oscar-winning career in other rugged roles, has died. He was 90.

Connery’s wife and two sons said he “died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family” in the Bahamas, where he lived. Son Jason Connery said his father had been “unwell for some time.”

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Music Spotlight: Church of Roswell

I was intrigued when Candi Carpenter, who has one of the strongest voices in country music, announced that she, along with British rocker, Josh Doyle, were forming a new conceptual collective duet called the Church of Roswell.

I interviewed Carpenter last year right before she performed for Dolly’s 50 Year Opry Celebration. Doyle and his pop/punk band, the Dum Dums, were a recognizable force in the early 2000s when they toured England extensively. They sat down with me recently and helped me connect the dots concerning their newest endeavor.

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‘Brian’s Song,’ ‘Roots,’ ‘Purple Rain’ Screenwriter William Blinn Dies

William Blinn, a screenwriter for the landmark TV projects “Brian’s Song” and “Roots” and the Prince film “Purple Rain,” has died. He was 83.

Blinn died Thursday of natural causes at an assisted living community in Burbank, California, his daughter, Anneliese Johnson, said Saturday.

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Tanya Tucker Releases ‘Live From The Troubadour’

In 2019, Tanya Tucker released her first full-length record with new songs in twenty years. Produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, the album While I’m Livin’, would go on to win a Grammy for Country Album of the Year, and the song, “Bring My Flowers Now,” would win Country Song of the Year in January 2020.

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Shenandoah to Release New Music November 13

 When I heard that Shenandoah was releasing a collaboration album, I thought it would be a greatest hits album. What I didn’t expect was a record with all new songs paired perfectly with a plethora of current country artists.

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Study of Late-Night Comics Finds Few Joe Biden Jokes, But Plenty for President Trump

From the perspective of late-night joke writers, there’s really only one person running for president.

A staggering 97% of the jokes Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon told about the candidates in September targeted President Donald Trump, a study released Monday found.

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Music Spotlight: Drew Parker

One of my favorite type of artists to interview are “Highway Finds” from SiriusXM The Highway. The Highway plays new mostly unheard artists on their weekend show, On the Horizon and if they get enough response from their subscribers, they move the song over to their weekly rotation.

Even though Drew Parker has had a #1 song as a songwriter, Jake Owen’s “Homemade”, he has never been on the radio as a performer until recently when Sirius radio introduced him to the world with his title track to his up and coming EP, While You’re Gone.

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Music Spotlight: Jordan Tice

What happens when you take a person who was raised in a bluegrass family and give him a degree in jazz/classical guitar? Jordan Tice, a musician’s musician, is what you get.

Tice grew up in Annapolis, Maryland where both of his parents played bluegrass. His mother played fiddle and his dad played banjo and they were involved with the local bluegrass scene.

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‘Dune’ Ditches 2020, While AMC Commits to Staying Open

The 2020 theatrical release calendar is getting even slimmer in the wake of the announcement that Regal cinemas are temporarily closing, although AMC, North America’s largest theater chain, says it will remain open.

Warner Bros. said late Monday that its sci-fi pic “Dune” will now open in October 2021, instead of this December. The studio also pushed back “The Batman” to March 2022 and moved up its “Matrix” sequel to Dec. 2021.

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Music Legend Eddie Van Halen Dies of Cancer at 65

Eddie Van Halen, the guitar virtuoso whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band Van Halen into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, fueled the unmistakable fiery solo in Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It” and became elevated to the status of rock god, has died. He was 65.

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REVIEW: ‘Riding the Dragon’ Exposes Biden Family Connections with Corrupt Chinese Communists

A damning new documentary, “Riding the Dragon: The Bidens’ Chinese Secrets,” directed by M.A. Taylor and narrated by bestselling author Peter Schweizer, is shining sunlight on the close ties between Joe Biden’s family and the Chinese elite. Peter Schweizer, head of the Florida-based Government Accountability Institute and narrator of the film said the documentary is based on corporate records, financial documents, legal briefings and court papers.

The film features investigative journalist and author Peter Schweizer and Schweizer’s revelations of Chinese influence over the Biden family found in the 2018 book “Secret Empires” and the more recent “Profiles in Corruption” (both #1 New York Times bestsellers).

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Country Star and Hit Elvis Songwriter Mac Davis Dies at 78

Country star Mac Davis, who launched his career crafting the Elvis hits “A Little Less Conversation” and “In the Ghetto,” and whose own hits include “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me,” has died. He was 78.

His longtime manager Jim Morey said in a press release that Davis died in Nashville on Tuesday after heart surgery and was surrounded by family and friends.

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Music Spotlight: Reyna Roberts

I’m not sure how Reyna Roberts showed up on my Instagram feed. It was probably because Mickey Guyton reviewed a clip of her singing a cover of Carrie Underwood’s “Drinking Alone, Together.” After I picked my jaw off the ground, I immediately put Roberts on my radar because I knew her career was getting ready to take off.

Roberts was born prematurely in 1997 to U.S. military parents in Anchorage, Alaska. She was told that she could have cognitive, physical, visual, and vocal developmental delays. Because of the bleak prognosis, her family kept music as a main influence to help her improve and become successful.

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Music Spotlight: The Wild Feathers

One of my favorite songs in 2018 was “Big Sky” by the Wild Feathers that I first heard on Sirius XM The Highway. This wide-open, simplistic song was an unforgettable anthem that made you want to embrace being alive.

After hearing that song, I didn’t hear from the band again until it came up in my newsfeed that it was releasing a new record called Mediocre Rarities. I knew then I wanted to find out more about the band.

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Music Spotlight: Trannie Anderson

I first saw Trannie Anderson at the Listening Room when I went to see Levi Hummon and his dad, Marcus Hummon. I immediately liked her that night. When I went to see the Song Suffragettes a few weeks later and she sang a song she had written with/for Gabby Barrett, I knew I wanted to learn more about her.

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Pandemic Chases ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ to Christmas

Following the less-than-stellar theatrical debut of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” Warner Bros. is delaying its next big release, “Wonder Woman 1984,” to Christmas.

The postponement Friday of the “Wonder Woman” sequel, which had been scheduled to hit theaters Oct. 2, comes on the heels of Hollywood’s boldest attempt to lure moviegoers back to theaters during the pandemic.

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Music Spotlight: Highway Women

The Highway Women is an all-female country blend (country, rock, pop) music band like no other bringing a musical movement to support other women in country music and beyond. They are comprised of singers Kristen Kae, Drew Haley, Bailey James, and Heather Harper.

The group started in 2016 and has had various members since then, but the current group has been together for about a year. They don’t have a lead singer as they try to equally share the singing responsibilities.

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After a Long Slumber, U.S. Cinemas Awaken on Pivotal Weekend

With the previews about to start, a trickle of masked moviegoers made their way into one of the first U.S. screenings of “Tenet” at the Bow Tie Majestic 6 in downtown Stamford, Connecticut. They took their seats Tuesday night, eyeing the empty seats between each other and a little giddy at being back at the movies for the first time in many months.

Philip Scarante and Andy Flores, both 25, went every Tuesday religiously before theaters closed in March. “It’s just our thing,” Scarante said. Seeing Nolan’s latest mind-bending spectacle later on a smaller screen held no appeal. They sat down in center seats, up close.

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Music Spotlight: Calvin Lee

Regardless of how famous a person may or may not be if the music can’t stand alone, there is no point in an interview. Accompanied by Trick Pony’s Heidi Newfield and Keith Burns, with his debut single, Calvin Lee sings a timeless anthem, My America, that paints a nostalgic story about pulling together through hard times, which is sure to resonate with the listeners.

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Music Spotlight: Cory Marks

As a kid from Canada who played hockey and wanted to become a pilot, Cory Marks might be the last person who you would expect to explode on the Southern Rock/Country Music scene. But after listening to his unapologetic, raw, yet real song, Outlaws and Outsiders, I wanted to find out what he was about.

Marks grew up in North Bay Ontario, Canada, about three hours north of Toronto. North Bay was a big hockey town and also a prominent military city hosting an important Air Force base in North America. Every summer Marks and his family attended the air shows in August which provided the young boy driven desire to become a pilot. Not only that, but he was also on hockey skates at age three. (His brother plays professional hockey.)

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Heidi Newfield Releases the Highly Anticipated Barfly Sessions, Vol. 1

When I interviewed Heidi Newfield in April 2020, I provided the “where she came from” story of this Northern California horsewoman and how she learned the harmonica, became part of the group Trick Pony and wrote the timeless lyrics to Johnny and June.

Now, on August 28, after releasing multiple singles, she has finally released her sophomore solo album and it is well worth the wait.

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Song Suffragettes Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

Because August 2020 is the time we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote, the Listening Room’s Song Suffragettes hosted a month-long special live-stream event with their talented singer/songwriters along with some very special female guests.

The women-led singer-songwriter collective enlisted special guests in August for weekly shows sponsored by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC), a federal organization tasked with curating digital programming to commemorate August as National Women’s Suffrage Month.

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