Music Spotlight: The Woods

Nashville, Tennessee – The Woods comprised of Raquel Cole, Dan O’Rourke, Leland Rooney are all incredible musicians, songwriters, and singers in their own right – and when they come together the sound is truly magical – think Little Big Town meets Midland. After hearing them play together at the Analog Room in the Hutton Hotel, I wanted to find out how this eclectic and diverse trio discovered each other.

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Music Spotlight: Creed Fisher

Creed Fisher

With over 22 million combined streams on Spotify and over 17 million views on YouTube with past releases like “Life of A Workin’ Man,” “The Way That I Am,” and “Old School” Texas-born and bred southern rock artist Creed Fisher is one of the most streamed and popular artists I have ever featured.

Fisher hails from Odessa, Texas, where his family’s roots trace back to his granddad, who was highly involved in the oil game back in the fifties. He started writing songs/poems at age nine. He states that “it wasn’t very good” but it was the beginning of his fruitful songwriting career.

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James Robert Webb Releases ‘Stealing Home’

Dr. James Robert Webb is a successful radiologist who just happens to be an accomplished country music singer/songwriter. When I interviewed him in April of 2020, he was getting ready to release a self-titled album as the nation was going into lockdown.

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Music Spotlight: Bridget Caldwell

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Singer-songwriter Bridget Caldwell does not come from a musical family. They loved music, but did not play or create music.  Her mother had “exquisite” taste in music and would play anything from Bonnie Raitt and Hank Williams to Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald.

Caldwell said she has always been a loud, boisterous kid and in third grade when she was cast as Snow White in the school play, her love for musical theater began. One day she started singing, her teacher ran down the hall to get her mother who was a special needs teacher, and said, “You have to come to hear this.”

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Music Spotlight: Jasmin Bade – Exclusive First Listen Premiere of ‘X’s & Y’s’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee  –  Jasmin Bade first discovered country music when she was six years old. It was Christmas time and she heard the Australian-country artist Kasey Chambers. Her aunt and uncle were playing her record and “fell in love with it” and wouldn’t stop singing her songs all the way home.

Besides Chambers, her mother would play Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and the (Dixie) Chicks. Bade soon started guitar lessons and would take any chance she could to play. She would play on the streets (called busking in Australia) for pocket money. By ages 7 and 8, young Bade was singing in shopping centers.

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Music Spotlight: Bailey James

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – When I first heard Bailey James’ voice, I wondered how does a 16-year-old know how to sing like that? She is now 18 and her vocals are even more powerful. I was pleased to finally get an interview arranged.

James has been singing for almost as long as she has been speaking. Her first memory of music was while riding in the car with her father. He took her to ballet and played “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Walk The Line.”

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Music Spotlight: Minnie Murphy

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The first time I heard Minnie Murphy sing was when Jamie O’Neal was performing at RomaDrama in Franklin. O’Neal said, “Come on up and join me.” Murphy was holding her one-year-old son, but that didn’t matter. She just belted out her part with ease. Her love of music and singing rang true. I was even more excited to get to interview her.

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Music Spotlight: The Hobbs Sisters

NASHVILLE, Tennessee –  When I first heard The Hobb Sisters, I stopped dead in my tracks. I am all about family harmonies but these two were next level. I guess that’s what happens when you have identical twins who are naturally gifted singers.

Lauren and Hannah Hobbs were encouraged to sing as young children by their grandfather, Pappaw John. He played the guitar and banjo by ear and would sing along with them.

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Music Spotlight: Gracie Carol

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Gracie Carol is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. As an athlete, Carol only remembers hearing her parents play country music as a child.

She recalled, “Every time we played games or practiced, my parents would be in the car just blaring new Kenny Chesney and Alan Jackson and George Strait and all the late 90s and early 2000s songs from country radio.”

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Music Spotlight: Alannah McCready

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  Alannah McCready had two passions growing up: singing and playing hockey. Growing up in Minnesota and getting her first pair of skates at the age of three, it was inevitable that McCready was going to become a hockey star. “It’s called the state of hockey for a reason,” she noted.

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Music Spotlight: Devon Beck

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  When I listened to songs from Devon Beck’s first EP, One Sided Expectations, the first thing I thought was she sounds like an American version of Adele. Not only that, Beck’s songwriting ability is mature beyond her years and is reminiscent of the songs in Adele’s 21 album. I found out that Beck is just 18 years old and has only been performing for a little over two years.

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Music Spotlight: Rhonda Vincent

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  Playing music is as natural to Rhonda Vincent as breathing air. She was born into a musical family from Kirksville, Missouri. The Sally Mountain Show, then later the Bluegrass Festival was hosted by her mom and dad and grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. She picked up the mandolin at eight and the fiddle at twelve and was performing with the family band at festivals on weekends. They also had a TV and radio show that she sang in as a child.

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Music Spotlight: Halle Kearns

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  Halle Kearns is an artist who always knew what she wanted to do. Her family usually had country music playing in her house and she remembers singing along to 90s country in her car seat.

She stated, “I grew up on Dixie Chicks, Martina McBride, Faith Hill (Ladies of the 90s). The very first song I ever got caught singing on video was the Dixie Chicks song, “If I Fall.”

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Music Spotlight: Tyler Kohrs

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  The first time I heard Tyler Kohrs sing was on an Instagram video. He has a beautiful, bright voice and his country covers were spot on. But that wasn’t unusual. What was unusual was that he sounded country and talked with a slight southern accent, but is actually Asian-American. That piqued my interest so much that I contacted him directly.

Those of you who watch The Voice may recognize Tyler Kohrs from his tryout this past March. He didn’t get through, but he still did very well where people remarked about it. The story he shares about his experience is one you will want to hear.

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Music Spotlight: Alex Kline

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  With both of Alex Kline’s parents being attorneys, writing/playing country music wasn’t even on the radar for the teen growing up in California. No one she knew even listened to country music.

Kline’s grandmother was a skillful classical pianist and her father grew up playing piano as well. Her dad would occasionally play classical pieces for the family and her grandmother encouraged her to play as well.

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Music Spotlight: Rhonda Towns

Dawn Records announces a new release from its flagship artist Rhonda Towns, titled “Walking In Your Wonderful Light.” Written by Teddy Hayes and produced by Billy Sherrill in collaboration with Towns, the long-awaited and welcomed single serves as a preview to the Christian, country, and gospel music entertainer’s forthcoming six-track EP anticipated later this year.

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Music Spotlight: Presley and Taylor

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  Even though they are only 23 and 22, the sister duo known as Presley and Taylor have been a part of the music business for over eight years. And even with the pair being reared in the town of Middlefield, Connecticut, they grew up in a household where Tammy Wynette, Alan Jackson, and Randy Travis played on a constant loop, and weekend trips to their grandparents meant family singalongs of Loretta Lynn standards.

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Music Spotlight: Morgan Wade

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  As an avid supporter of female singers/songwriters, I always pay attention to emerging new artists. When I listened to Morgan Wade’s music, I liked her immediately because she was different, and that I found her music refreshing.

There is an edge to Wade’s country/rock/pop vocals that sets her apart. And the lyrics to her songs are not that of some bubble gum pop-country princess, but someone who has been there, done that, struggled, and come out stronger in the long run.

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Music Spotlight: Nashvillains

Nashvillains

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  When I interviewed the Nashvillains I mentioned that they were like a modern country music supergroup. Turns out they agree.  Signed to Fate Entertainment, the newly formed country-rock-infused band is made up of veteran musicians Troy Johnson, Brett Boyett, and Scott Lindsey.

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Exclusive: Dani Taylor Debuts New Single, ‘You Can Thank Me Later’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee  “You Can Thank Me Later” is being exclusively premiered in The Tennessee Star today. The introspective song from Dani Taylor’s self-titled EP  (also released today) is a message reminding her (and the listener) not to continue making poor decisions especially when it comes to dating someone who should be avoided.

The lyrics of the sassy song are reminiscent of a young Taylor Swift but her voice has the sweetness of Alison Krauss mixed in with Emmy Lou Harris’ intentionality.

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Song Suffragettes Celebrate Seventh Anniversary

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Nashville is famous for its writers’ rounds. The Song Suffragettes is the only all-female writers’ round and they have been consistently performing at the Listening Room on Monday nights for seven years.

Todd Cassetty founded Song Suffragettes for the simple reason of giving female singer-songwriters a place to play their music and be heard. Those who follow country music know that it is not an even playing field when it comes to women getting record deals and having their music played on country radio.

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Music Spotlight: Craig Campbell

Craig Campbell

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-  Even though I often interview up-and-coming artists, Craig Campbell has been on my radar for a while and he has an interesting story as well.

The Georgia boy is a self-taught pianist. He recalled, “I was captivated by the piano and every spare minute I was at it. After church on Sunday, I would go and pick out the melodies to the songs we sang in church that day.”

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Music Spotlight: Amanda Cooksey

Like me, Amanda Cooksey was not raised on country music. Cooksey started playing piano at the early age of six and began learning classical music. Later on, she took voice lessons and started singing in church in middle school. However, this “super shy” kid did not want to be in the spotlight.

Even though being in front of people wasn’t easy for her, Cooksey always loved music. As a young girl, she found a piano/vocal instructor, Ron Feldman, who changed her life.

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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: Scooter Brown Band

Scooter (Scott) Brown’s path to the music industry was completely organic and unplanned. Growing up he listened to Waylon, Merle, and the Stones, but he never thought to pursue music as a career because he knew from a young age that he wanted to be a Marine.

He always loved music as a kid, but other than sing in the church choir for a while, he really wasn’t connected to it.

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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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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: 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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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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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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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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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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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: 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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