Music Spotlight: Sam Hatmaker

The first time I saw Sam Hatmaker was with the Song Suffragettes before COVID. Every songwriter who is part of the Song Suffragettes collective is amazing, but Hatmaker was unique and different. I knew even back then, I wanted to interview her.

It turns out that Hatmaker is from Knoxville, Tennessee. Her mom did theater and her dad was a performer too. It was natural for her to want to be on stage. When she was ten-years-old, she auditioned and was cast in a Christmas show at Dollywood. That ended up with her working at Dollywood for three years.

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Music Spotlight: Emily Brooke

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  No one in Emily Brooke’s family was musical. Young Brooke was a cheerleader, not a singer. But like many preteen girls twelve years ago, Brooke was super into Taylor Swift and Hannah Montana. She wanted to learn to play guitar as they did.

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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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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: 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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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: 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: 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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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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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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Music Spotlight: George Ducas

When I initially heard George Ducas sing at Bluebird café, I didn’t realize he was an accomplished songwriter with quite a few songs under his belt.  What I did immediately perceive was what strong, smooth vocals he had and how was completely at ease he was in the intimate setting. When I interviewed Ducas a few weeks later, I was shocked to find out that he had no previous formal musical training. Here is his story.

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Music Spotlight: Kyle Rife

The night I interviewed Abi Hoffman at the Bluebird Café I met two other songwriters. Greg Friia, who was a mentor to Abi in Nashville and Kyle Rife who is an accomplished guitar player and had recently co-written songs with Darius Rucker, Joel Crouse and Ed Sheeran. I knew right away I wanted to interview him as soon as we could get it arranged.

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Hootie and the Blowfish Rock Sold-out Crowd in Nashville

Twenty-eight years after performing their first Nashville show at the revered rock club Exit/In, Hootie & The Blowfish brought their Group Therapy Tour to the city’s Bridgestone Arena for a sold-out show Saturday night.

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Michael Ray Celebrates 3rd Number One Hit ‘One That Got Away’

The “One That Got Away” is a song written by Jesse Frasure, Josh Osborne, Matthew Ramsey, and Trevor Rosen, and recorded by American country music singer Michael Ray.  Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen are part of the blazing hot country band, Old Dominion, and are among the top songwriters in Nashville and America. They, along with Jesse Frasure and Josh Osborne decided to “let this one go” and not put the song on their own album. Yet somehow, in the back of their heads, they knew they had written a likely hit.  It got tossed in the pile with all the other “later” songs.

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Michael W. Smith’s Star-Studded Tribute Featuring 50 Artists Set for April 30th

Billy Ray Cyrus, Charlie Daniels, Gavin DeGraw, Home Free, The Katinas, Wes King, Nicole C. Mullins, Michael Tait, Matthew Ward and Zach Williams join the star-studded tribute concert ’35 Years Of Friends: Celebrating The Music Of Michael W. Smith’ at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

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George Strait Releases 30th Studio Album, Honky Tonk Time Machine

After collaborating with country music giants such as Bubba Strait, Dean Dillion, Luke Laird, Barry Dean, Lori McKenna and Willie Nelson, iconic entertainer, George Strait, continues his reign as the King of Country Music with the release today of his 30th career studio album ‘Honky Tonk Time Machine.’

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Music Spotlight: Whiskey Myers

Whiskey Myers are currently on the road for their 2019 Die Rockin’ Tour, which kicked off January 24 continues across the U.S. before making stops at Stagecoach and Cotton Fest then heading overseas this spring for 15 European dates.

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The Country Music Hall of Fame Announces it’s First New Exhibit of 2019

American Currents: The Music of 2018 opens Friday, March 8 at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Some of the artists featured include Jason Aldean, Bobby Bones, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, Reba McEntire, Carly Pearce, Pistol Annies, John Prine, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and more.

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Alison Krauss and Other Guests to Join Keith and Kristyn Getty for ‘Sing! An Irish Christmas’ at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on December 21

Modern hymn-writers Keith and Kristyn Getty will bring their seventh annual Sing! An Irish Christmas tour to Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Friday, December 21, at 7:30 p.m. The duo will revisit popular hymns and Christmas carols during a performance that will include appearances by Alison Krauss, Phil Keaggy and Scott Mulvahill.

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2018 CMA Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban Returns for Third Time to Headline Nashville’s New Year’s Eve

Diverse Lineup for “Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight” at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park Includes Peter Frampton, Kelsea Ballerini Judah & the Lion, Caitlyn Smith, Devon Gilfillian and Fisk Jubilee Singers.

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Music Spotlight: Stephanie Owens Talks Family, Faith, and Country Music

Nashville, TN — Stephanie Owens grew up in a musical family. Her dad was a high school choral director and her mom was a classical organist. She knew from a young age that performing was what she born to do. “I had an old turkey-baster for a microphone and ran…

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces Nominees for 2019 Induction

Fans can cast their vote for inductees at Rockhall.com/vote or in person at the museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Commentary: Changing the School Culture

His biggest piece of advice is to “get out of the office, get in the hallways, in the classrooms, in the community. No school in Tennessee has changed its culture more than ‘The Mount’. This school culture is an example of a strategy that other schools and districts can duplicate.

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