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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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: 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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White Singing Group Formerly Known as Lady Antebellum Seeks Legal Ruling to Confirm Appropriation of Name ‘Lady A’ from Black Singer

The white country band formerly known as Lady Antebellum has chosen to show racial “sensitivity” by suing to appropriate the name “Lady A” from Anita White, a black singer who has used the moniker for decades.

Lady Antebellum on June 11 said they would start going by the name Lady A since “antebellum” carried racial connotations, Billboard said. The suit was filed July 8 in Nashville’s U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

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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 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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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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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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Free Admission to the Country Music Hall of Fame December 15

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is pleased to partner with the Ford Motor Company Fund for the museum’s 11th Ford Community Day, on Sunday, December 15. Museum admission will be FREE from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Sunday, as a way to say “thank you” to the Middle Tennessee community and to reward lucky out-of-town visitors. Tours of Hatch Show Print and Historic RCA Studio B will also be free and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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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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Music Spotlight: Candi Carpenter

Long before Dolly Parton tweeted her praises on October 9, 2019, Candi Carpenter was on my radar.  I had heard about her via Kalie Shorr and the Song Suffragettes and had been following her for over a year. I finally got the chance to meet up with her. Carpenter’s ‘Where I Came From” story is like none other.

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Kalie Shorr Releases First-Ever Full Link Album, ‘Open Book’

After her album release party on September 26, Music Spotlight artist, Kalie Shorr’s long-anticipated, brutally honest first-ever full-length album, Open Book, is finally available.  She had already released “Too Much To Say” which is an introduction to Shorr’s new sonic direction where she daringly plunges into an abyss of vulnerability. Tapering the rock n’ roll sound to a more sustained acoustic vibe, her second song “Escape,” is an emotionally raw but hopeful piece that has proven to be a fan favorite at Shorr’s live shows. Recently Shorr released a music video for one of my personal favorite’s “Lullaby.” Hurt and anger become exposed with this pop-rock inspired fragile anthem for the wounded.

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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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8th Annual ‘Music City Gives Back’ Free Concert at Ascend Park June 4th

Music City Gives Back

Hear Big and Rich, Rodney Atkins, Ashley McBride, Travis Denning and Drew Baldridge in a free concert at Ascend Park to mark the opening of the CMAFest on June 4th in an All-Star Concert benefitting W.O. Smith Music School.

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