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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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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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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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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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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Music Spotlight: Jamie O’Neal

Those who have been following country music their whole lives know already who Jamie O’Neal is as an artist. Off her first album, Shiver, released in 2000, she had two number one hits, “There Is No Arizona,” and “When I Think About Angels.” Her next top ten hit came in 2005, “Somebody’s Hero.”

I wanted to find out more about this country star who was born in Australia. Having no Australian accent, O’Neal said, “I was born in Sydney, Australia, where my parents (Jimmy and Julie Murphy) were performers who moved to America when I was two. I always say that I am the opposite of Nicole Kidman who was born in Hawaii and was raised in Australia. It was the opposite for me, I was born there but raised in the U.S.”

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Music Spotlight: We the Kingdom

We The Kingdom is a multigenerational family of musicians, including esteemed producers and songwriters Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, NeedToBreathe, Bethel Music, Crowder), and Scott Cash, who are brothers. Ed’s daughter Franni, his son Martin and close friend Andrew Bergthold are also part of the group. Ed and Scott’s dad played guitar while their mom played piano resulting in a home filled with music. Despite there being an eleven year age gap between them, as both Ed and Scott entered their teens and early 20s, they embarked on similar individual journeys as touring artists.

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Kanye West Files to Appear on Ohio Ballot for 2020 Presidential Election

Kanye West, the popular rapper and social icon, has officially filed to appear on Ohio ballots for the 2020 presidential election, according to Fox 5.

West, who announced he would run for the presidency on July 4, submitted paperwork to the state on August 5.

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The Woodshed Guitar Experience Brings World Renown Artists to Crossville, Tennessee

The Woodshed Guitar Experience (WGE) will be held in Crossville, Tennessee from August 27-30. 

The event will be hosted by master guitarist Andy Wood (rock, bluegrass) and facilitated by renowned guitarists Joe Bonamassa (blues), Brent Mason (country), Andy Timmons (rock), Mark Lettieri (Gospel, R & B), and Greg Koch (blues, funk, jazz).

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Music Spotlight: Lucas Hoge

Lucas Hoge hails from Hubbell, Nebraska, a tiny town with two churches. He grew up singing in a little Methodist church his family attended. While his parents were rehearsing in the choir, the pastor gave Hoge a little electric drum pad to keep him occupied. He started playing along and the pastor cultivated his love for music at a very young age.

In high school, he was introduced to a music teacher who helped him craft his love of music.  “My music teacher was great, Mrs. Riggs. She was amazing,” he said. “She just wanted everyone to explore the love of music that they had in them.”

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Music Spotlight: Derek Jones

Even though Derek Jones’ dad was a drummer and his grandmother played piano, he never played music until later in life.

“We always had music going on at the house at our supper table. If Dad was in charge of the music, we listened to Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Grand Funk Railroad but if Mom was in control [of the music], we listened to Lionel Richie, Jim Croce, stuff like that,” he said.

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Music Spotlight: Tyler Rich

Tyler Rich grew up in Northern California in the small town of Yuba City. He grew up listening to country music with his mom and rock n roll with his dad.

“My Uncle [Tim] always had his guitar at every family function. He was always playing. He didn’t know genres, he just knew good music,” he said. “He would play, Tom Petty, Credence Clearwater, George Strait, Brooks, and Dunn or Garth Brooks. He even played Michael Jackson and the Beatles as long as it was good music.”

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Charlie Daniels Reschedules 2020 Volunteer Jam

Due to coronavirus concerns, Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels announced Friday that he is rescheduling his 2020 Volunteer Jam. The concert, originally set for September 15 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, will now take place Monday, February 22, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

“Volunteer Jam is alive and well and is moving from September 2020 to February 22, 2021,” said Daniels. “The Jam turns 46 years old this year and this could be the best one yet.”

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Author Jake Brown Releases a New Book About What Happens Behind the Scenes in Nashville’s Music Industry

Jake Brown knows more about the music industry than any human I have ever met. Being that he just completed his 50th book, Behind the Boards: Nashville, he writes memoirs and provides a plethora of behind the scenes’ antidotes for all music genres.

Brown said he got interested in what goes behind the scenes when he was a kid. His mother took him and his brother to see the Bon Jovi –Slippery When Wet concert. At the concert, Brown and his family had such terrible seats that they couldn’t see the stage much. However, one thing Brown could see was what was happening behind the stage.

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Brandi Carlile, Brittany Howard Lead Americana Awards

Singer songwriter Brandi Carlile has had a productive year and that’s led her to be the leading nominee at the Americana Honors and Awards for her roles as a solo artist, a member of the group The Highwomen, as a producer and as a songwriter.

In the nominations announced Monday for its September awards show, the Grammy-winning artist has a total of seven nominations, including artist of the year as a solo artist and duo/group of the year with The Highwomen, which includes Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby. Rocker Brittany Howard, who has won Grammys with her band Alabama Shakes, is up for five nominations, including artist of the year and album of the year for her solo album “Jaime.”

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Music Spotlight: Adam Sanders

Nashville, Tennessee –  A native of Lake City, Florida, Adam Sanders knew at an early age that music would be his life.

“My mom likes to say I could sing before I could talk. It was as far back as I could remember. My earliest memories were dressing up like Alan Jackson and singing ‘Chattahoochee’ and ‘Don’t Rock the Jukebox,’” he said.

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Emily Hackett Releases Heartfelt ‘Handle’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – I first interviewed Emily Hackett in October 2018 when she was featured in my Music Spotlight column. There has been a lot of shifts in the music world since then and we were able to talk about how that is affecting her/the industry.

As mentioned in my column, in 2018 Hackett released her EP By the Sun, and in 2019 she released its counterpart By the Moon which landed her as one of CMT Next Women of Country for 2019.

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Music City Dedicates This Year’s Fourth of July Celebration to First Responders

Music City will honor healthcare heroes, first responders and frontline workers with a televised fireworks show from downtown Nashville on July 4th, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp announced today. There will be no public concert or spectators allowed in parks. A short fireworks display will be set to recorded music by Nashville artists, which will air locally on NewsChannel 5.

Country music superstar Brad Paisley, who was previously scheduled to headline this year’s July 4th event, will instead headline in 2021, giving the community something to look forward to and visitors a reason to book a trip to Nashville next year. 

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Music Spotlight: Brian Callihan

Born and raised on a small farm in South Georgia, Brian Callihan was your typical country boy as he hunted and played baseball and football. However, he found his true passion when he started listening to Keith Whitley.

Callihan said when he was around 10 or 11 years old he got a “Keith Whitley’s Greatest Hits for Christmas,” which was his dad’s favorite singer.

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Commentary: America’s Rock-n-Roll Architect Little Richard Has Died

Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as “Little Richard,” died on Saturday at his Nashville home. He was 87. Millennials and such may be unaware of the man and the great American music he pioneered.

As the big-band era of the 1940s began to wane, musicians opted for smaller combos. They pounded out a rollicking sound with a heavy backbeat, honking saxophones, percussive pianos, and simple lyrics that lingered in the mind. When Chuck Berry sang “roll over Beethoven, dig these rhythm and blues,” that was the music he was talking about. By the mid-1950s, rhythm and blues had been rebranded as rock and roll, and Little Richard was the king.

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Music Spotlight: Heidi Newfield

Nashville, Tennessee –  Even though I was familiar with the country/rock band, Trick Pony, the first time I was aware of Heidi Newfield the solo artist was when I heard “Johnny and June” on the radio in 2008. When I learned that Newfield was going to be one of the guests performing at the Her Song fundraiser for Thistle Farms at Third and Lindsley/Backstage Nashville, I got tickets to help a good cause and see some awesome female artists in an intimate setting. Fortunately, I was able to meet and secure an interview with Newfield who has one of the most beautiful, raw, bluesy voices I have ever heard.

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Music Spotlight: James Robert Webb

Nashville, Tennessee-  You may have heard of the story Longwood Symphony Orchestra which is a symphony comprised exclusively of Boston physicians and health-care professionals. The link between music and medicine is well-documented. So when 117 Entertainment Group asked me to interview a traditional country crooner from Tulsa named James Robert Webb who happened also to be a renowned radiologist, I was eager to hear his story.

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Music Spotlight: Andrew Hopson

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Rarely do I agree to write a story on a person based on one single. But when I heard the song “Stronger Than That,” it was a no-brainer for me. I knew I had to interview this up and coming artist. Andrew Hopson is a true country boy from Tazewell, Tennessee (located where West Virginia meets Kentucky), whose music will bring you back to the traditional honky-tonk sounds of Hank, Willie, and Waylon.

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Song Suffragettes Celebrate 6th Anniversary at The Listening Room

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Nashville’s all-female, singer-songwriter collective, Song Suffragettes, celebrated their milestone sixth anniversary on Monday with two rounds featuring nine women singer-songwriters including Grand Ole Opry star Jeannie Seely.

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The Tennessee Star Report: Leahy Music Group’s Frank Leahy Says Music is Created When You Are Free

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcasting live from Music Row on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined on the newsmakers line by Frank Leahy, a member and only brother of the musical group Leahy.

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Stride Left Hand: Michael Patrick Leahy Welcomes Maria Leahy of Leahy Music Group to Talk About Her Family’s Musical Influences

On Wednesday’s the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed new-found distant cousin, Maria Leahy of the Leahy music group, to the newsmakers line.

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Music Spotlight: Jennifer Higdon

Nashville — When I created my Music Spotlight column that would tell an artist’s “where they came from” story, never did I ever imagine interviewing the three-time Grammy-winning and 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Jennifer Higdon. However, Nashville’s Symphony Publicist Dave Felipe advised that I needed to hear her story, and I am thrilled to tell it.

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Music Spotlight: Regie Hamm

I’ve known Regie Hamm for many years and my husband grew up with him. I even know the highlights of his amazing career, but what I didn’t know was his “where I came from” story. So finally after nearly three years of entertainment reporting, I decided it was time to sit down with this remarkable songwriter/artist/blogger.

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Music Spotlight: Mia Morris

When I first heard Mia Morris play and sing with the Song Suffragettes, it was obvious that she was super-talented. What I did not know initially was that this young musician was just 15 years old and that playing for the Song Suffragettes is just a small part of what this talented rock drummer does. I had to find out more about her.

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Music Spotlight: Aubrie Sellers

Even though everyone in her family is from Texas, this daughter of country music royalty was born in Nashville. Aubrie Sellers’ father is artist/songwriter Jason Sellers and her mother is Lee Ann Womack. Her step-father for most of  her life has been Carnival Music owner/producer Frank Liddell.

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Music Spotlight: Heidi Raye

Nashville, TN  It is not surprising at all when a country music singer says they come from a small rural town. What is surprising is when that small rural town is in Canada. Heidi Raye was born and raised on a hobby farm Dawson Creek, British Columbia, a place that she describes as the Texas of Canada. Her dad was a John Deere salesman and a Pro Team Roper while her mom was a Pro Barrel Racer. She began singing in church when she was 3, learned to play guitar when she was 12, and then began exploring songwriting soon thereafter. The only genre of music she was exposed to was Country Music. “We say ‘y’all’. I didn’t know it was only a southern thing until I moved to America.”

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Music Spotlight: Town Mountain

Town Mountain is a bluegrass band featuring guitarist and vocalist Robert Greer, banjoist Jesse Langlais, mandolinist Phil Barker, fiddler Bobby Britt, and Zach Smith on bass – they will be playing at Nashville’s Station Inn December 4th and 5th with surprise A-List guests.

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Music Spotlight: Historic Studio B

RCA Studio B is a historic landmark that initially helped Nashville to earn the name of Music City. Located at 1611 Roy Acuff Place, in Nashville, Tennessee, Studio B was part of the beginning of the renowned Music Row to which musicians still aspire. Between 1957 and 1977 over 18,000 songs were recorded at Studio B, and over 1000 of them became hits.

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Music Spotlight: Levi Hummon

Nashville, TN Levi Hummon is a rarity when it comes to singers and songwriters. He was actually born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, “literally on ‘The Row’” as he explains. His father, Marcus Hummon, was and still is an accomplished songwriter and he wrote songs like the Grammy Award Winning “Bless the Open Road” (Rascal Flatts), “Ready to Run” and “Cowboy Take Me Away” (Dixie Chicks), “Born to Fly” (Sarah Evans) along with songs for many country music artists, including Top 40 singles for Tim McGraw, Wynonna Judd, and Alabama. His mother, Becca Stevens, runs a non-profit, Thistle Farms which helps women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, and addiction get a second chance at life.

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