You Sing, I Write: May 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

You Sing I Write Adventures: A Day In the Life with Annie Reuter


Photo Credit: Emily Tan

I was talking with my friend and colleague, Monica (photo above), about the blog this past week and she said she wants to read more about my adventures. In her words, "I find you more interesting than some of the bands out there." She suggested I start a column with a behind-the-scenes look at a day in my life. I figured I'd give it a whirl this week since the past month has been surreal. Love to know your thoughts and feedback!

INTERVIEWING HANSON
 
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Hanson's publiscist about setting up an interview. Since I've been writing for a few publications, I wasn't sure if he found me through another outlet or my blog, so I asked him. Turns out he found my blog and reached out to me directly.

HANSON.

"MMMBOP."

The band my friends had huge crushes on in middle school.

My seventh grade self was in disbelief. When I got word I'd be interviewing heartthrob Taylor Hanson, I had to message one of my best friends from middle school to tell her the news.

The interview went really well and Taylor proved to be extremely considerate and detailed with every answer. I was a little worried when he took nearly six minutes to answer my first question, but luckily I was able to ask everything I needed within our nearly half hour chat. This totally made up for my awkward days in middle school.

And guess what, he says he isn't tired of performing "MmmBop" after all these years. I find that hard to believe. Check out their latest video below for single "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'" based on film, The Blues Brothers. Stay tuned for my complete interview in the upcoming weeks.



MEETING GASLIGHT ANTHEM IN BROOKLYN

Last Friday, Monica, Wendy and I headed into Brooklyn to celebrate friend and fellow music journalist Emily's birthday. After an artery clogging meal at Chip Shop, frozen hot chocolate to die for, an impromptu stop at Southpaw and a few packed vintage stores later, we headed back to the car. Coming out of a restaurant with takeout bags in their hands were two guys that HAD to be in a band. After getting a closer look I realized they were from Gaslight Anthem, Jersey's very own up-and-coming rock stars, and a group I've been trying to interview for nearly two years now.

I wish I could say I didn't act like a stalker and casually continued to the car, but I HAD to say hi! I approached the guys and asked rather eagerly if they were Gaslight Anthem to which they said yes and we chatted for a few minutes.

Monica and I told lead singer Brian Fallon that we used to work with drummer Benny Horowitz in college at Rutgers' newspaper, The Daily Targum. He told us about moving to Brooklyn, missing Jersey and their current tour schedule. Meanwhile, I tried to maintain my composure without sounding like a crazy fan because they're all I listen to at full blast while driving around Jersey. Apparently, I'm the first person that's recognized them on the street, although bassist Alex Levine told me they've been mistaken for Depeche Mode.

As we were saying our goodbyes, they told me to reach out to their publicist about setting up an interview. Hopefully, this time around it'll actually happen. I'll keep you posted!


VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH COLBIE CAILLAT

Last weekend was jam-packed with Brooklyn festivities, my friend Sarah's bridal shower and bachelorette party and an interview with Colbie Caillat. I've interviewed Colbie on the phone before, so I was excited to chat in person. I've been listening to her for the past three years, ever since my cousin from California tuned me onto her music, so I was especially looking forward to finally meet her.

Colbie turned out to be so incredibly sweet and such a great interview. She told me of her stage fright and how she still gets nervous before every performance. This put me at ease, because I also get nervous before each interview. Up until the moment I sit down and ask my first question I'm freaking out inside, regardless the artist or if it's a phoner or in-person interview. It's always a relief to know I'm not the only one!



BACKSTREET'S BACK

Monday, I relived my childhood when catching Backstreet Boys perform a free show in New York. Wendy and I showed up a little after 8 a.m. and right away got a wave from Brian Littrell (Gasp! He was my childhood crush). If you knew me back in middle and high school, I was a BSB fanatic. Posters covering every inch of my room, concert tickets to each tour, and knowing every obscure bit of trivia about each member in the band. Heck, I was seriously convinced I would marry a Backstreet Boy one day. (I'm not even joking...)

Crazy, I know. But, this music obsession is what led me to who I am today. So, I guess I have BSB to thank for becoming a music journalist.

After their on-camera interview and performance, Brian came to the back of the stage and told Wendy, "See, I told you I'd come say hi," before shaking both our hands. (!!!!!)

While we're no longer 13-years-old and convinced we'll date a BSB, it was still a gesture I'll remember in the years to come. Let's just hope I interview them sometime too.

If I learned anything this past week it's that sometimes life isn't always what you've imagined it would be, it's even better. If you wait long enough and chase your dreams (no matter how crazy people think you are), at the end of the day, it will be worth every second. KTBSPA.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Afrobeat, Indie and Rock Unite at Maxwell’s


Photo Credit: Jose Podesta

A recent Thursday at Maxwell's brought music fans together for a diverse night of music. Whether you're interested in folk, indie, or Afrobeat, there was something for everyone. For a little more than three hours, concertgoers walked into the venue, not entirely sure what to expect and left being a fan of at least one new band.

From the moment Gold Motel took the stage, the audience was captivated. The band features Greta Morgan of The Hush Sound as lead vocalist and members of This Is Me Smiling. Playing solid rock & roll, Gold Motel's energy and music recall that of The Kinks and Beach Boys. With their killer guitar sound combined with fitting harmonies and airy lead vocals, the band quickly livened up the venue and drew fans close to the stage.

For my complete review on Givers, Gold Motel and Family of the Year's set on Hoboken Patch, click here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Joseph Arthur Paints And Sings His Way into Fans’ Hearts

As he took the stage shortly after 10:30 p.m., Joseph Arthur searched for sharpened pencils and clean paintbrushes to begin his set.

"Where's my broom?" he asked.

"Just use your sock!" a fan close to the stage shouted. To which Arthur replied, "I don't want to use my sock. Come on! This is a professional show. What should we play?"

I covered Joseph Arthur's set a few weeks ago for Hoboken Patch and was truly impressed. You can read my complete review here for more on the singer-songwriter-artist and his stripped-down set.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Girls Who Rock: Meet Kat DeLuna


Pop sensation Kat DeLuna has been making waves since first single, "Whine Up" was released in 2007. The track made its way onto the Billboard Hot 100 and the Pop 100, an impressive debut for any singer. Additionally, the versatile artist has collaborated with notable acts including everyone from Busta Rhymes to Lil Wayne and Elephant Man.

Three years later, DeLuna is back with current club jam, "Push Push." Featuring Akon, the track is sure to be another summer hit. Gearing up for the release of her sophomore album, Inside Out, in the upcoming months, DeLuna will be making a stop at Santos Party House June 10th in New York for Girls Who Rock, a benefit concert for She's the First.

To find out more on DeLuna and why she decided to get involved with Girls Who Rock, read below. To purchase tickets to Girls Who Rock, click here.

What first sparked your decision to pursue a career in music?
I've been singing ever since I was a little girl. When I was three years old, I took a microphone for the first time and sang in front of hundreds of people. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted a career in the music industry.

What inspires you?
Everything around me serves as inspiration for me. Whether it's the people that surround me or the environment that I am in, it is all capable of inspiring me.

What are some of the obstacles you've faced?
I have faced quite a few obstacles in my life including poverty and not having enough positive role models, other than my mother. People say that obstacles are suppose to limit what you can do in life, but I've always been about trying to prove people wrong, to go further than their expectations. This drive has given me the strength to overcome.

What's your songwriting process?
I don't really have a songwriting process. When I begin to write a song, I look and reflect on my inspirations from that day and just begin. It is really a freeing, stream of consciousness type of thing.

What was your favorite subject to learn in school, besides music?
Besides music, my favorite subject in school was literature. This class quickly became my favorite because not only would we read plays out loud but we would also act them out. It was a chance to perform, and I gained a lot of my confidence from this class.

What were you the first to do or what will you be the first to do?
I want to be the first ever international, crossover Pop star of Dominican descent to make it big in the music scene.

What's the next big thing happening in your career?
I just finished shooting the music video for my new single "Push Push" in Atlanta with Akon. "Push Push" is the lead single off my upcoming album, Inside Out, which is due out later this year on GBM/Universal Motown.

What's your favorite 'girl power' song?
"I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan. Oh, and "Unstoppable" by me.

Why did you decide to get involved with She's the First?
I decided to get involved with She's the First because I'm a strong woman who had to go through many obstacles to get to where I am today. As a survivor of poverty, I consider myself to be a fighter and I have been put into many positions in my life that I feel I wouldn't have able to survive if I wasn't one! I want to show women all around the world that anything is possible as long as you stay strong and persevere. You can be any woman you want to be, just do it and don't be afraid to go against whatever stands in your way! Try and loose your sensitivity so no one and nothing can hurt you, and go hard!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Q&A with Colbie Caillat


Photo and video credit: Wendy Hu

I sat down with Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat this past Sunday before her performance for VH1 Save the Music at W Hotel in Hoboken. Caillat filled me in on co-writing, dealing with stage fright and her two Grammy wins. For the complete article, visit Hoboken Patch.

Watch the video below.



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Artist of the Week: Frank Sinatra

After reading an article on Frank Sinatra today, I opted to make it Hoboken Week on the blog. Born in Hoboken in 1915, Sinatra began singing in public during the 1930s and continued performing until 1995.

Currently, Martin Scorsese has plans to film a biopic about ol' blue eyes. While the film is still in talks, Scorsese's first choice to play Sinatra is Al Pacino. Sinatra's daughter, Tina, said she favors George Clooney in the lead while Leonardo DiCaprio's name also came up. What are your thoughts? Who would you want to play Sinatra? For the complete Guardian article, click here.

Rather than provide a complete biography, I'll post some Sinatra classics below. Which song is your favorite?

"Fly Me to the Moon"



"New York, New York"



"My Way"



Related Links:
Artist of the Week: Billy Currington
Band of the Week: The Spring Standards
Band of the Week: 6th Street
Artist of the Week: Ari Hest

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Poll of the Week: Do You Like Themed Weeks on You Sing I Write?


Over the past two weeks I've tried something new: themed weeks on You Sing I Write. Since last year's CMA Music Festival sparked my love of country music, two weeks ago I thought I'd share with you some up-and-coming artits you might enjoy as well as reviews from Lady Antebellum and Laura Bell Bundy's New York concerts.

Last week, was Q&A week on the blog where I provided past and present interviews with notable artists in the music scene. This week, I've decided to set aside as New York week on You Sing I Write where I'll post interviews and features on popular NYC-based bands and venues. This brings me to this week's poll:

Do You Like Themed Weeks on You Sing I Write?

Yes
No
Sometimes
Never

I'd love to know your thoughts. Also, if you have additional ideas for featured weeks on YSIW, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Blast From the Past: Q&A with Colbie Caillat

Tomorrow I will interview Colbie Caillat in Hoboken when she performs at a special event for VH1 Save the Music. The California-based singer-songwriter is an ambassador for VH1 Save the Music and has collaborated and won two Grammy's for her songs with Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz. Her sophomore album, Breakthrough has received rave reviews and was also nominated for a Grammy.

I chatted with Caillat just about two years ago before her US summer tour began with John Mayer. To listen to Colbie talk about how her life has changed, writing songs in the bathroom and advice from John Mayer click here. For advice from Colbie to aspiring musicians, MySpace and why she thinks "Bubbly" is such a hit, click here. Feel free to read the full interview below and check out her MySpace to catch her on tour this summer. Stay tuned for my interview tomorrow in the upcoming week!

It’s been just about a year since your debut album came out. How has life changed for you?
So much. A year and a half ago I was just working at a tanning salon and I was recording my album. Now, I’ve been to . . . I can’t even count how many different countries playing my music all over the word, living on a tour bus. It’s a lot different, but it’s fun.

Did you ever imagine MySpace would have had such a huge impact on your career?
Not at all. No, I had no idea. I didn’t even know what MySpace really was or could do. My friend made the page for me and told me about it and he helped me upload my songs and everything so I had no idea.

How did the whole process on getting your record deal come about?
Well, because I was on MySpace and was eventually on the top of the unsigned artist chart. I was No.1 and I was easily noticed by people and the record labels would notice me easily and that’s how they found me and then offered me a record deal.

You pretty much had your songs written before the record deal happened, right? Did you have a certain concept for the album?
Oh yeah, the whole thing was written. The label came into it a month and a half after we were already into recording the album. I wrote these songs and every time we’d go into the studio we’d add instruments up until when we felt like they were complete. I just wanted the music to sound good, laid-back and really pretty and uplifting and sunny and that was the concept I guess.

I read that you write songs in your bathroom.
Yeah. I do. [Laughs]. It sounds good in there. Usually when I was at home in my bathroom, I felt like no one could hear me because I was in my own little world. It echoes in there so it makes your voice sound pretty and your guitar has some reverb on it. And now, on tour, being in my hotel room I go into the bathroom and close the door because if I sing really loud, people can hear me down the hall. It’s my comfort zone.

Do you remember the first time you heard “Bubbly” on the radio?
Yeah. Well, the first time I heard it I didn’t really count it because we were on our way to that radio station. But the first time I heard it randomly, I was back home on a little break from tour and my family and I, we went out to lunch at this restaurant we always go to. Halfway through lunch, we were outside and “Bubbly” came on and my family of course started freaking out. My mom got up and started dancing. It was really exciting.

Are you tired of playing “Bubbly” yet?
There are times when I am. Usually it’s for TV performances because I get so, so nervous on TV that I always mess up the song and then I just dread singing it the next time. Lately, we just went back on tour a week ago, so now I’m actually excited to sing it again. I just need little breaks from it.

You're starting up a summer tour with John Mayer, you must be so excited!
Yeah. I’m kind of freaking out. [Laughs].

Has he given you any words of wisdom about the music industry?
Yeah, he has. I met him six months ago and we were talking. I told him I have stage fright and lots of fears. So he just told me to have fun up onstage and not worry because anything you do up there, people laugh at. Even if you mess up they kind of appreciate it more. As far as making decisions, like business decisions, he just said to do what you feel and go with your gut so I do that and it works.

Has your stage fright gotten better over the past year?
It has gotten a little better, but it’s honestly different depending on the situation. If it’s not as big of a deal TV show I’m fine. If it’s Leno or The Today Show I freak out completely where I cry right before I go on. I do vocal warm-ups with my band before and breathing techniques and I have to remember to smile. Sometimes, depending what time of day it is, I will have a cocktail before I go onstage just to calm me down a little bit.

Your debut album, Coco, is approaching it's year mark later this month. Are you working on another album?
Well, the third single comes out in August for “The Little Things.” We just shot the music video for that in Hawaii a couple weeks ago. But yeah, I’m working on the next album. I’ve been writing for the past year and we’ve already recorded some of the songs. We’re not recording the full album until January and it won’t come out until next summer so we have a while to work on it still.

I know you worked with Jason Mraz on his most recent album. Are you hoping to collaborate with anyone on your next album?
I’m not sure. We haven’t talked about it for my album. I’ve done a song on Taylor Swift’s new album and Jason’s album and then a couple artists from different countries. I’m not sure about doing any on mine yet, but I would like to for sure.

Your fans have been included a lot on your MySpace, often picking the next single you release. Are you planning on continuing this for the new album?
That’s what I’m trying to figure out how to happen. I definitely want that, but I’m not allowed to put the songs up on MySpace. So now I’m trying to see, maybe having my band learn all the songs first and then we’ll start playing them randomly at shows, but that’s still not the best way to do it so I’m trying to figure out a way to do that.

Your songs were taken off of MySpace for a while.
There was some disagreement with MySpace and Universal. So everyone from Universal had to take either their songs off or put shorter clips. I was trying to fight that because as much as I want to respect my label, MySpace was what got me started and my fans, I felt like that was being disrespectful to them. There was a lot of negotiation, so I was able to put my original demos up for the meantime until the lawsuit passed.

What is your advice to aspiring musicians and singer-songwriters?
I would definitely recommend learning your craft, whatever it is. Take vocal lessons if you sing or piano lessons or guitar lessons, whatever instrument you want to play. Practice all the time because I didn’t and I wish I would have more now. I can play guitar and I can play up onstage, but I’m not a great guitar player so it kind of makes me nervous. So if you just practice your craft well so that you just have it in the bag. Write your own songs that mean something to you and just be in control of your career. As far as MySpace, make your page look all cute and post bulletins, keeping people involved in what you’re doing. That’s mainly the best thing, to keep them involved.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?
My favorite is “One Fine Wire.” Every time I hear that one come on I just like the melody and the music behind it, it’s just very uplifting. I wrote that song about my stage fright and how to overcome it, so that song just means a lot to me.

With MySpace, do you feel it’s more important to get fans that way rather than TV show appearances?
Well, it’s just different. My MySpace fans are the original ones that know everything about me. They know when I had all my original pictures up of me playing guitar in the bathroom, they were the ones from the beginning that heard all the demos. They’re different kind of fans than the ones that see me on TV. They [TV fans] become more of, I guess the screaming fans and the MySpace fans are the ones that are like, “I want to say that I’ve been listening to you forever.” They’re both different, but they’re both appreciated.

Why do you feel "Bubbly" has had so much success?
I think it’s because the song is about love. Well, it’s about having a crush on someone and all the things that I wrote about in that song, everyone has either experienced before, they’re feeling it right now or they’re dying to fall in love or have a relationship. I think by people being able to relate to a song, I think that’s what does it.

What would you be doing right now if it wasn’t for the music?
I was really into photography, so I would have tried something for that or I would have gone to school for interior design. I had fun with that, I was going to school for that a couple years ago. Otherwise, I’d still be singing and writing songs, maybe for other people.

If you haven't yet, to listen my interviews with Colbie click here for part one and here for the second half of the interview. Check out Colbie's MySpace for more info. on upcoming tour dates and music!

Friday, May 21, 2010

GIRLS WHO ROCK: June 10 Benefit Concert for She's the First


Over the past few weeks, I've been featuring interviews with many of the performers who will be showcased June 10th in New York at Santos Party House for GIRLS WHO ROCK, a benefit concert hosted by She's the First. Artists include Kat DeLuna, Lenka, MoZella, Shontelle, Cara Salimando, Kelli Pyle and some surprise guests yet to be announced.

Shesthefirst.org leverages young women’s powerful platforms and social media networks to promote the idea that education gives every girl a chance to break barriers and become “the first” to achieve something. Proceeds of the concert will go toward sponsoring a girl in Tanzania via AfricAid.

For those of you not in New York June 10th, we'll be broadcasting the concert live on You Sing I Write thanks to Livestream, so be sure to check back for more details. To purchase tickets click here and to learn more about GIRLS WHO ROCK, visit the Web site. You can read my interviews with MoZella, Shontelle, Cara Salimando and Kelli Pyle below and look for interviews with Kat DeLuna and Lenka in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Girls Who Rock: Meet MoZella


Detroit-bred singer-songwriter MoZella has been making waves in the music scene over the past few years. Her tale is one of hard work and determination. Moving to the West Coast after graduating high school to pursue music, when things didn’t develop as quickly as she hoped, MoZella found herself decorating cakes by day and performing in coffee shops at night. All her hard work eventually paid off, as she was signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records in 2004.

Since then, MoZella toured with notable acts including Dave Matthews Band, Lifehouse, Michelle Branch and Colbie Caillat and has had songs featured in numerous television series and commercials. Her most recent release, Belle Isle has received much praise for it's infectious vocals and catchy beats. Additionally, MoZella combines her love of older classics with a blend of pop, soul, and jazz for a truly unique sound.

To find out what inspires MoZella as well as her songwriting process, read below. Be sure to catch her June 10th at Santos Party House for Girls Who Rock, a benefit concert for She's the First.

What first sparked your decision to pursue a career in music?
I think my love of music is hereditary. My mom loved music. My grandfather (her father) was a great singer and would play me Stevie Wonder, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Roberta Flack records when I was little. I was obsessed with music at a really young age. I had a pretty mature CD collection by the 5th grade filled with Nirvana, Snoop & Dr. Dre, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Metallica, and Sheryl Crow.

By the time I was 13 I was going to shows regularly. I breathed music. Then I started playing the guitar in high school and playing at local coffeehouses once a week. After writing a few songs and playing them for an audience, I knew that is what I was meant to do. So, I guess it was a series of tiny sparks that created this burning desire to make music the rest of my life.

What inspires you?
In life, my mom inspires me. She just got her masters online while working a full time job in traveling medical sales. What woman in her 50's has the courage or the desire to even do something like that? (She put herself through nursing school then anesthesia school as a single mom when I was a kid as well)! She's always looking for ways to better herself. I really admire her. If she can do all that, then I can also ride the waves of my career with courage and optimism.

Creatively, I'm inspired by everything I come into contact with on a daily basis. Movies, books, children who make me laugh, photographs, art in a gallery, sunshine, good food, my friends funny stories, etc. They all fuel my songwriting process in different ways.

What are some of the obstacles you've faced? How did you overcome them?
I've faced quite a few obstacles (being dropped from my first label was one of the hardest) but I try to be thankful for those lessons every day. They've made me a more compassionate person and a more heartfelt songwriter. After moving to LA at age 18, I was alone and scared. I prayed for courage and kept moving forward. This is what I do every day. At times when things don't go my way, I tell myself to never quit and stay determined to have a victory. I turn the poison of mean people, harsh critics, and self doubt into medicine that helps me grow.

What's your songwriting process?
Every song is different. Sometimes I hum a melody and then grab the guitar. Sometimes it's the other way around. Sometimes a title comes to me and I have to save it in my notebook. Sometimes I get with a fellow songwriter and we just start playing the piano and singing and 30 minutes later a song is born.

What was your favorite class, besides music?
I loved physics. I had a great teacher my senior year who let me teach the class an entire lesson on how objects fall at the same rate. I'll never forget that. He really believed in my knowledge and ability to explain things. It gave me a big boost of confidence.

I also loved Spanish class. I'm bilingual now thanks to taking four years of Spanish in high school! I feel bad that I gave my teacher such a hard time. Sorry Mrs. Powlakowski!!!

What were you the first to do or what will you be the first to do?
I think I might be one of the first Buddhist female pop singers.

What's the next big thing happening in your career?
I'm writing for a new record, writing for other artists, and playing lots of shows including my first show in Paris in June.

What's your favorite 'girl power' song?
"Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett.

Why did you decide to get involved with She's The First?
It's the right thing to do. I'm the woman I am because people believed in me, gave me a chance, and encouraged me to follow my dreams. It's only right to pass that on to other girls.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Q&A with Dave Barnes

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Well known in the Nashville scene, singer-songwriter Dave Barnes is often referred to as Nashville’s favorite non-country artist. He'll be playing Dierks Bentley’s benefit this Sunday, opened for Lady Antebellum in New York last Monday and just wrote a song for Billy Currington. Not to mention, Amy Grant and Vince Gill call themselves fans.

During his opening set at Nokia Theatre last week, Barnes joked with the crowd, had them cheer on cue and even brought out Lady A's Hillary Scott to share the stage. "Dave Barnes is one of the sweetest and most talented guys I know," Scott told the sold-out audience.

With his recent release, What We Want, What We Get, topping the iTunes charts, singles "God Gave Me You" and "Little Lies" receiving radio airplay and a tour with Brandi Carlile in the works, you can expect to hear much more from Dave Barnes in the near future. To learn about his latest album, songwriting process and the Nashville music scene, read below.



I caught your set opening for Lady Antebellum and the crowd loved you. Do you prepare any differently as an opening act than a headlining show?
Yeah. I really want to respect them and make sure they don’t feel like I’m trying to do my own thing too much. The deal with the opener is you’re trying to set up the closure to win. But it was fun, it was really fun.

Was the recording process any different on What We Want, What We Get from previous albums?
No. It was the same producer, Ed Cash. He’s done the last few records. The only thing that was different was that we rehearsed the songs before, which I’ve never done. I think it helped once we got in the studio, because we knew the songs and were a little more rehearsed. We took time off to record, so we had a chance to get them under our fingers so we weren’t walking straight in and didn’t have to figure them out on the spot.

I love “Little Lies.” What was your inspiration for writing it?
It’s as much to myself as it is to my wife. It’s a reminder to me that, “Hey it’s okay. Everything’s going to be alright." And at the same time, it’s beating myself up about not being the man I want to be or the husband I want to be. I like the music because it’s still up. I really, really like it because it’s up and happy and it’s not too sad or distraught.

What’s your typical songwriting process like? Do you always carry a notebook around?
The beauty of the iPhone is that I can record so many ideas, both lyrically and melodically in there. It makes it a lot easier. I’m not having to struggle along and try to sing a melody 15 times so I remember it. I’m able to file stuff away which is so convenient. I’ve heard of guys calling their answering machines back in the day and all these different ways for remembering stuff, but now it’s just so much easier.

You wrote your current single, “God Gave Me You” about your wife. Do you feel it’s easier to write about real relationships or do your write about fantasy as well? (video below)
I try to keep it as real to life as I can. For me, I think I sing it with more conviction. And, it’s hard for me to write from a place that’s not true. It feels a little concocted.

Is there a song on the album that means more to you than the rest?
Lyrically, I really love “Amen.” I love what it has to say. But all of them, thank goodness, really resonate. It’s like children, it’s not that you like one more than the other, but they all mean something different.

You co-wrote two songs with Nashville artists, Trent Dabbs and Gabe Dixon. How is co-writing different then when you write by yourself?
By myself it is more work, which I really enjoy. I enjoy the work, not everybody does. It’s more of a challenge, but you also have more freedom whereas co-writing with someone is a lot quicker. The flow of ideas is faster paced. It can be so fun because sometimes by yourself it just gets so frustrating and laborious and it just feels like it’s taking forever. When you write with someone else, if you can’t find the groove they may be able to so it’s helpful.

What is it about the Nashville scene that’s so different from the rest of the country?
I really love the community of it. It’s such a healthy, vibrant place. So many people are rooting for each other. You’re not having contention and in competition with other people. Everyone gets to root for each other and cheer for each other and write for each other.

I’ve been reading so much about the floods. How can people get involved and help out?
There’s a lot of great stuff online. I’ve been following this one Twitter feed that is Nashvillest. They have tons of great ways to get engaged. I’m excited about getting home because I want to see what I can still do. Being gone the whole time has been really hard to watch from afar.

You went to Africa last year. How did you get involved with Mocha Club?
I got involved because my best friend runs it and he came to me about four or five years ago right when it started. He told me about it and then he took me on a trip to show me what they’re doing. I was in, I thought it was awesome. It was a pretty easy sell. It wasn’t something I was very skeptical of. It’s been awesome to see the amount of people that have joined with us as we do it. I think we may be going back this summer.

What are you thinking about while you’re performing?
It depends what show, what night, if I’ve eaten before. The Lady A show was a lot of trying to read the crowd and make sure everybody was into it and feeling it. ‘Cause you’re opening, you want to make sure everybody is interacting with you. Is there anything you could be doing to make them interact more with you? I’m just trying to make sure everyone’s with me and at the same time, trying to make sure I feel comfortable and I’m enjoying it and I’m always in it too.

When you told the crowd it was your birthday and you wanted them all to scream, were you afraid that they wouldn’t?
Oh yeah. I’m always like, “Man, this is a risk. We’ll see if this goes well.”

The music industry isn't the easiest to break into. What has kept you motivated?

A lot of it was, it’s just such a muse. It sounds redundant because it’s in the name, but it really is. There are so many things I want to say, so many ways I want to say it. There is still so much to be conquered and explored.




Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Q&A with Reba McEntire

Singer-producer-actress Reba McEntire is one of the most beloved acts in country. Her fans have been with her throughout 30+ years in the industry and continue their devotion. Whether it's traveling hundreds of miles to witness her live or sleeping outside overnight before an autograph signing, they demonstrate their loyalty. At 2009's CMA Music Festival press conference, McEntire explained what makes the festival so special, her admiration for Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson and her constant amazement of fans. Read below to find out more.

Your fans are very devoted. What are some of the fun things they've done for you over the years?
Oh my gosh, there are so many. When we were doing our backstage fan club program we would play fairs and have to empty the grandstands and then bring the fans back in. I had to hold the microphone and we would take questions. We didn't do a meet and greet, per say as far as take pictures and sign autographs. We would just visit. That was the thing I loved most of all about the backstage program. They are very loyal, very sweet and some of them have been with me for over 30 years.

You were in the autograph booth for the first time in 13 years. How long were you autographing? What are some of your experiences, anything particularly moving?
Two hours, we went from 3-5 o' clock. A cute little boy, his name was Riley and he was six-years-old. I got in a picture with him. I got down on my knees, and when we were saying goodbye he said, "Ms. Reba, can I come see your house?" I said yes. What else you gonna say? He was just a doll. There was one lady who told me she was reading my book, Comfort From a Country Quilt, when her mother was passing away. At the end of the book there is a title of a song and she said, "I didn't know much about your music until this book and that was the last thing I was reading when my mom passed away. Would you sign this page?" It got us all very emotional.

A lot of those fans came down last night and slept outside to see you. What are your thoughts on their dedication?
It never ceases to amaze me, the dedication of the country music fan. They always come up with something new for me to go, "Wow. Now why would you do that?" But they were there, they've always been there.

Can you talk about your new album?
Sure. It's called Keep On Loving You. It's an eclectic group of songs. It's got a story song in it. It has a western swing, bluegrass song, feel good time songs, sassy songs. It's got songs for all age groups.

I read that you credited Kelly Clarkson with inspiring the new feel of the album. Can you talk about her influence on your sound?
Kelly Clarkson and I toured last year in the spring and fall and we stayed onstage the whole time together. So, she was singing harmony to my songs and I was singing backup harmony to her songs. When you're singing to "Miss Independent" four nights a week, you're having a big time getting that attitude going. So, when I started listening to songs, that's what I was looking for. Attitude, sassy, women's songs. It really made a huge difference.

Does anything make you nervous?
The thing that makes me the most nervous is a new outfit or new shoes. That's why I've worn these boots since 2001. I've had them resoled probably 10 times. I'm getting to the point in my life where I like to be comfortable and I like security. That's what really makes me very, very nervous. My advice to young entertainers is never wear new shoes. If you're going to wear a pair of shoes to the awards show, wear them two weeks before. Break them in.

What makes CMA Music Festival special compared to other festivals?
Well, this festival is different because it's for the fans. Everybody is here, but we all know it's Fan Fair. It's for the fans. That's what makes it special. It's our thank you to them.

13 years ago you probably signed autographs in Sheep Barn. Can you describe other ways that process has changed over the years?
Air conditioning is the main thing. To not sweat. They had told me that they cranked the air conditioning down, so be prepared. So I wore long sleeves and a t-shirt underneath just in case and I was just perfect. That's the biggest difference that I can find.

Well, 13 years ago Taylor Swift was about this tall. What's it like to be a veteran in the industry and to watch her grow as a woman and as an artist?
I’m thrilled to be in the same business as she’s in because I’ve learned from Taylor. She’s a very smart, old soul and she’s very in tune with what’s supposed to be going on. She knows how to think. She has a very great business sense so I like to eavesdrop in on what Taylor’s doing. I always learn something.

Everybody talks about you as an influence. Do you see your influence as a businesswoman in country music, or as a vocalist? Which do you see being imitated more?
I think I've always considered myself a stylist more than a vocalist. Businesswoman, absolutely. In the 80s I was saying to my manager and booking agents, "I want one agent to deal with my career. Not 10 different agents, we are getting all mixed signals here." Back when I didn't need to be playing arenas, they were booking me in arenas and it looked like sound check.  I said, "This has got to stop." And they said, "No, well we don't do it like that." So after I let my manager go, divorced my husband and made my tour manager my manager, Narvel Blackstock and I started Starstruck Entertainment and we got a promoter and a booking agent that only dealt with me. That's what I know worked real well because I wanted that personal, individual attention. I didn't want to be divided with 15 other artists. I had to have the individual attention. Being a businesswoman is very important in this way of life. Look at Dolly Parton. I learned a lot from her. And now I'm learning from Taylor also.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Q&A with Zac Brown Band

Of all the bands that performed at 2009's CMA Music Festival, I was most impressed with Zac Brown Band. Their stage show is dynamic and their musical interludes bring reference to both classic jam bands and rock & roll groups. While they're most often placed in the country genre, don't let that fool you — Zac Brown Band know how to rock more than most groups out there today.

I sat in on their interview at last year's CMA press conference and was amazed at the band's humility and dedication to fans. Read below to find out about the band's hit single, "Chicken Fried," and why CMA Music Festival is so important to them. Be sure to catch Zac Brown Band live tonight on "Late Show With David Letterman."

You were at Bonnaroo and are now at CMA Music Fest. With two big events in Tennessee, can you tell us what has gone on at each?
Last night [at Bonnaroo] was amazing. Just an amazing night and amazing fans. We were able to pull out all of our other styles that we do and played 100 minutes. Tonight's going to be amazing as well. There's 70,000 people out there and a lot of these folks we've never played in front of before, so we have the chance to blow them away.

You recorded a song at Kid Rock's studio. How was that?
We had an amazing day in Detroit. We played Hoedown for between 300,000 and 400,000 people there. Kid Rock came and sat in with us during our show and we ended up hanging out with Willie Nelson on his bus for a while after that. Sat in with Willie Nelson that night. Then, at midnight, went back to his house at his studio. We actually woke up a couple of the guys from sleeping and recorded this new song that we're working on and it's called "Colder Weather." It's actually my favorite song that we have ever written.

Did you ever imagine "Chicken Fried" would do so well?
We all had a feeling because we used to play around a lot. We played for five years together as a band, just playing in bars and small clubs and the amount of people that kept showing up and requesting that song. A lot of the songs we played were originals that they liked. But, especially with "Chicken Fried," it was a show stopper. People went crazy. We had a little bit of an idea, but when you see it all come about and the rest of the country realize how much they love the song, it was pretty surprising as well.

I heard Alan Jackson was pitched "Chicken Fried" first. How do you think things would have gone if he cut it instead of you? What single would you have put out first instead? (video below)
I was excited to find that he found the song and wanted to do it. We share the same producer. I was honored. Anything he wants to cut of mine, he's welcome to cut. He's a legend. I think career wise, it was a little bit challenging at first when we put "Chicken Fried" out because the only thing people knew about us was that song so we were the chicken band. So now, I'm glad we have other singles coming out now. We're not so much the chicken band, people are realizing we have more than just that song.

You said in an article that you'd love to put out two albums a year. Do you have other ways to get all that creativity out there before they accumulate so much?
We're doing a live DVD and double CD in October. We're going to be recording in Fox Theatre in Atlanta and that's going to have a bunch of the new songs on it. Our creative outlet is that we write at a much faster pace than we could even arrange the stuff as a band, much less release it for the fans. We're going to be on track to do one studio record and one or two live CD's a year so we can have an outlet to do these kinds of things. We have so many songs and we're always writing along the road so we're going to figure it out. Even Brad Paisley, having four number ones in a year is an amazing pace to be able to continue and have four songs released and recorded out there and be able to do it, it's definitely a challenge. But as more as the singles are getting out there, the awareness of the record itself has been there and there are people in towns that we don't even know that know words to all our other songs so we're very blessed.

What makes CMA Festival special to you guys compared to other festivals?
It's our way to give back to the fans because we realize that we wouldn't have our life in music if they didn't buy our music and buy a ticket to come see us play. We try and have as many meet and greets and signings as we can on the road. Essentially [CMA Fest] is one giant meet and greet. A chance to give back to those people and make new acquaintances with them and to let them know that they're really our bosses and our fan base that allows us to have our lives the way they are. We're very blessed to do what we love to do and to make a living doing that. All the fans are responsible for that.



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Q&A with Jason Aldean

Country rocker Jason Aldean is known for his energetic stage show and unapologetic southern rock. He's toured with everyone from Keith Urban to Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw. Many of his singles have topped the country charts and he is currently leading nominations for the upcoming CMT Music Awards. Read below to learn about Aldean's live show, his thoughts on rap music, Kid Rock and more from last year's CMA Music Festival press conference.

You are moving up to that next level. From the inside looking out, are you able to feel that?
I think you can feel a little bit of a momentum. When "She's Country" was out and peaking and doing it's thing, I knew it was different than any other song I had. It's not rocket science, I could tell that. When you play a show and you start seeing more people coming to your shows. One thing I noticed was that they were a lot more rabid than they were before. A lot more stage jumpers and things like that. I think you feel a little bit of it. It's not an overnight sort of deal, but gradually you can feel a little bit of a momentum there.

Is there anything that's happened in your career that you didn't expect?
I don't know. I think there are a lot of things like that. I remember the first time I played an awards show I remember thinking that it was going to be so crazy. But, all of a sudden you play and it was two minutes and you're done and I thought, "What the hell happened? That was so quick I didn't even have time to enjoy it." It's like anything, you always have things set in your mind the way you think things are going to go. A lot of times they exceed your expectations and a lot of times they fall a little short, but it's fun nevertheless.

What is it like performing live? How do you sustain your energy?
I grew up playing in clubs. I came up playing in bars in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. It was my job to go out and play. I used to have to play four hours a night so to have to go out now and only play for an hour in a half, that's nothing. It's fun. I love getting onstage and playing my show. It gets me excited when people show up and you walk out and you see all those people that are there to see you play. They spent their money to come watch you play, especially nowadays. It's up to me to give them a show and make it worth their while. You want them to come back and you want to make it fun and interesting and exciting so the next time we come to town this is one of the things they want to see. It's all about creating a fun atmosphere. Some of my best friends are the guys onstage with me every night, so that helps. We've got a great job so we have fun with it.

How is it sharing the stage with Kid Rock?
You know what, I'm a big fan of his. I love Kid Rock. I've had the chance to hang out with him a few times. Talk about things that weren't what you expected, he's a prime example. I expected him to be this wild head case, but he's not. He's really cool. Really down to earth, fun dude and I'm a huge fan.

You were really looking forward to touring with Keith Urban and did more dates than you originally expected. You've opened for Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw also.
I'll say this. His show is the best show I've seen in a long time by far. I love the Flatts guys, they're great friends of mine and they put on a great show. McGraw and those guys do as well. But, Keith Urban's show is good. I don't throw out compliments on people's shows very often. His is really good. It's one of those things, if you're going to spend money to see a show this year, whether or not  we're the opening act on it, I would check his show out 'cause it's amazing.

Your song "She's Country" has more of a rock vibe to it. How much do other genres of music influence your style? (video below)
I'm influenced by a lot of different genres. I grew up in Georgia. My dad always had traditional country music in our house. His favorite singer was a guy named Johnny Rodriguez. So, I used to listen to that stuff. Hank Jr., Merle Haggard. When I got a little older, I started to get into the 80s rock stuff. Guns N' Roses, Poison, all the really bad hair bands. Then a little later I got into the southern rock stuff. The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I've listened to everything. Rap has been the only thing I'm a little dicey on. It's either hit or miss. There's maybe a song I like every couple of years. I think most of that is probably because I don't understand half of what they're saying. For the most part, I think music is music and if it's great, I listen to it.




Saturday, May 15, 2010

Q&A with Luke Bryan


Awarded Top New Solo Vocalist and Top New Artist at the Academy of Country Music Awards last month, singer-songwriter Luke Bryan is making a name for himself in the country music scene. While hit ballad, "Do I" topped the charts, current single "Rain Is a Good Thing" is following suit as 2010 gears up to be a promising one for Bryan. Most recently, he was nominated for CMT's Breakthrough Video of the Year for "Do I."

Last year, I attended CMA Music Festival's nightly press conference and asked Bryan a few questions. To find out more on his hit song co-written with Lady Antebellum, his thoughts on headlining and plans for this year's CMA Music Fest read below. Stay tuned for more interviews from 2009's CMA Fest next week.

How has your experience been so far this week at CMA Fest?
It was good! We did our fan club party yesterday and I realized that…I guess we had two hours and I was like, “We gotta do four next year.” I really wanted to sit down and talk. My drummer does a mean Aaron Neville and we let him come around and sing a little Aaron Neville. I actually wanted to do more [of that] because that’s stuff we do on the bus. Whatever gets you through the monotony of riding down the road. I wanted to do stuff like that with every musician in my band but we were running out of time. I wasn’t doing any songs and I think they probably wanted to hear a few of those. It’s been great watching the fan club grow. Next year we’re thinking about having two fan club parties or a bigger event.

What do you want to do when you have the headlining stage?
You dream your whole life to headline and I’m using this time now to work out kinks and get smarter and get bigger. I’ve got it all in my head, but it’s just the time to get there. I love when people say, “We feel like you already are a headliner.” But, I know I’m a long way from it. The beauty of last year getting to tour with Kenny [Chesney], you see headlining at the largest scale possible and what’s involved. I remember that whole tour I just sat back and watched it all and took it in and saw the things he did. Even when I was out front watching Keith Urban on a lot of those dates, I’m always memorized by the headliners. Just how they take over you. That’s what you work at and work hard for. The best answer is, I’m constantly dreaming of it and being prepared for that moment when you feel that momentum to where you're fixing to start selling out 5,000 seaters. That’s what I pray for every night to get to that point. But, not to say I’m going to join that right now either.

What about the 60,000 outside at LP Field tonight?
Well, talking about Kenny, that was the beauty of that tour. It gets me comfortable in that environment. It’s been a year, but I walked out there [tonight] and I felt like I knew how to point at them way over there because I got a chance to do it last year with Kenny. It feels good to walk out there and have that many people looking at you. It’s what it’s all about. If you’re not prepared…you gotta go do that, so you have to be ready for it. It's fun be comfortable up there.

You have a trio of friends that helped you out on your new single.
Charles [Kelley] and Dave [Haywood] of Lady A helped me write my current single, “Do I.” I wouldn’t say helped. We all wrote it together. They drove up to the house, we sat on the porch and drank a couple beers and now I have a single out. When we demoed it Hillary [Scott] heard it and flipped out over it and said, “Luke you have to cut it!” When we recorded it, there was no other background singer I could use other than Hillary. Lady A is all over that song. It’s been fun. I was on their bus earlier and showed them the video. We just got done with the video for it. To see their excitement…they’re there winning all the group awards and to watch them get excited about having a Luke Bryan song out there is a pretty special thing.

What are you thinking about while you’re onstage performing?
I really don’t know. I went through a point when I was out with Trace [Adkins] and I started thinking about what was going through my mind and the only thing that would happen was I would forget the words to my song. You try not to get too heady with it. Back to the headlining thing, there will be a day where I’ll have to be in one spot. Right now, that’s the fun part. My guitar player and I have been playing together for 13 years and we can just look at each other and make a move that hopefully looks somewhat planned and not stupid. I think the spontaneity and the non-structure of it makes it more comfortable. When you see someone walk to that spot and do their run of the mill poses, I’ve never been a fan of that. I’m crazy when we’re out there doing 140 shows a year. When we get 10 in a row where they’re the same that’s when I start losing momentum and talk to the band and say, “Guys I’m going to start calling out crazy stuff” just to break the monotony of it.

On September 26th, you’re the honoree spokesperson for National Hunting and Fishing Day. How is it to share something you already love and are passionate about?
It’s funny, when I heard I was doing that you don’t know exactly how big of a deal it is. About two months in, after several PSA’s and doing all that, I remembered the time with my dad we spent outdoors and just how important that is for children. You’re fishing and you’re hunting and that’s not the real deal that’s going on. You’re spending time with your family. I remember all the lessons. Me and my dad would fish every weekend it seemed. It’s been an honor to share some stories of mine and hopefully build more awareness. More and more of the outdoors are getting smaller. I just hope I bring awareness to it and get some people out there enjoying the outdoors.

Your single "Do I" has really allowed you to spread your wings both creatively and vocally. Was there any anxiety about new single because it is a departure for you?
Yeah. My first departure with “We Rode in Trucks,” my second single, didn’t go as well as I had planned. With “All My Friends Say” I think everybody wanted to keep hearing up-tempo, fun, party stuff. Everyone wanted a big summer hit and to come out with a ballad, we thought about it for a second, but we had so much excitement about the song. When you hear this song recorded you feel like it’s great. I feel like it’s really a great shot and my chance to show a different side of me where I sing some. To branch out and have a shot at hopefully a big top 5 or even a number one and have everyone so excited about it was fun too.

Watch Luke Bryan perform "Do I" below, for the official music video click here. For more, visit his Web site.




Friday, May 14, 2010

Girls Who Rock: Meet Shontelle


With her soulful voice and catchy beats, Bajan singer-songwriter Shontelle is making a name for herself in the music scene. The 23-year-old has toured with big name artists including Beyonce and New Kids on the Block. Additionally, she recorded "Stuck With Each Other" with Akon while Rihanna, Alison Hinds and J-Status have performed Shontelle's song, "Roll."

Gearing up for her second album release later this summer and a performance at June 10th's Girls Who Rock benefit concert for She's the First, Shontelle shows no signs of slowing down. To find out more on Shontelle, read below and visit her Web site.

What first sparked your decision to pursue a career in music?
I always wanted to make music. It was the only thing I never got bored of. Still is. I made the final decision to pursue mainstream music professionally when SRP Records contacted me and offered me an opportunity to sign a production deal with them. I couldn't turn it down.

What inspires you?
Life in general for the most part. I'm obsessed with life.

What are some of the obstacles you've faced? How did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle I've faced in music is proving that I have something beautiful and enjoyable to offer. In the beginning I felt a crippling resistance. I wasn't sure why. But it felt like climbing the steepest, tallest mountain, with no tools, forever. Like struggling to breathe every day. It's not easy trying to get complete strangers to believe in you. I still have a lot to overcome but I feel like I have come really far. I just try to stay focused on my goals and aspirations. When I look back on my life, I think to myself, "Why on Earth would I start walking backwards now?" So I guess I'm simply determined.

What's your songwriting process?
It's random actually. There really is no specific procedure I have. It varies. I just write when something comes to me.

What was your favorite subject to learn in school, besides music?
I love Spanish, Geography, Art and Biology. Hated Math. Still do! Numbers....not my thing. I'm logical yes, so I'm good with Semantics. I guess that's why I also enjoyed studying Philosophy, but figures and numerals and formulas just make me short circuit!

What were you the first to do?
I was the first person in my family to be enrolled in the highest ranking high school in Barbados. I was pretty proud of that. I was even prouder when all two of my younger sisters also followed me to be accepted there. My parents are pretty proud too. I don't really want to tell anyone what I want to be the first to do just yet. I've found lately, that whenever I share my ideas, they end up getting stolen...or at least so it seems. Remember, the animals told Cinderella to keep her dreams a secret. Do not tell...just do...

What's the next big thing happening in your career?
Who knows? I just want to keep moving forward. I'm really looking forward to the release of my second album, No Gravity this summer.

What's your favorite 'girl power' song?
I'm going to be biased and say, "Roll," a song I wrote, performed first by Alison Hinds and later by myself, J-Status and Rihanna. I'm all about girl power. My song "Superwoman," produced by Stargate on my first album, Shontelligence, is also a huge "women anthem." But if you really want a song that's not mine, then I'd have to say, "I'm Every Woman" naturally.

Why did you decide to get involved with She's The First?
I'm always so excited to be a part of anything that supports, celebrates and uplifts females. After all, I'm one!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Laura Bell Bundy Energizes Packed Highline Ballroom


Photo Credit: Scott Gries

In celebration of of the 2010 CMT Award Nominations, CMT and Universal Music Group hosted an event Tuesday at Highline Ballroom showcasing one of country's most promising new artists — Laura Bell Bundy.

Shortly after 8pm, Laura Bell Bundy kicked off the night with the energetic "I'm No Good (For Ya Baby)." A full band complete with backup singers and dancers accompanied Bundy's set and the former Broadway star proved she knows how to put on a show. Throughout the night, she could be seen dancing, twirling in circles and giving the packed crowd all she had.

Often out of breath, when she introduced the next track, "Boyfriend?" Bundy joked, "Sometimes I wonder why I write songs that are so fast." Another lively number from the Skakin' part of her recent release, Achin' and Shakin', the night consisted of a satisfying mix of her soulful ballads and fast-paced tracks, many of which had the crowd dancing along.

"If you're in the mood to meditate with your sorrow then this is the song for you," Bundy said before she performed the soulful "Drop On By." "The other two were to dance, work out, or get a speeding ticket to," she said.

Current single, "Giddy On Up," was a crowd favorite (see video below). "The reason we're here tonight is because of this song," Bundy told the audience. "It was nominated today for a CMT Award and I expect you to vote for it when you get home and you're sober."





Soulful country gospel number, "If You Want My Love," showcased Bundy's versatility while "When It All Goes South" portrayed her ability to slow down the set and keep all captivated with her soft, emotional vocals. Not to mention, she surprised the crowd when she stated, "I know you guys are wondering if I'm wearing shorts underneath my dress," as she lifted her dress to prove she was.

An important topic of discussion for many country artists is the flooding in Nashville, Bundy being no exception. "This song has a whole new meaning for me now," she said. "The people in Nashville have all pulled together and had so much hope and faith and it's been amazing. This is for them," she said before she began "Everybody."

"When your luck is running out and the rain is pouring down/And there’s another cloud sneakin' up behind you/When hopeless feels like home, you think you’re all alone/And all you know is that you just don’t know what to do...Everybody needs somebody/Everybody needs someone they can love/When the livin' get’s too heavy/There’s somebody, somebody they can count on," she sang.

With pedal steel, fiddle, banjo and horn accompaniment combined with Bundy's unwavering energy, the song struck a chord. As she danced and spun around the stage, the band segued into last song of the evening, an impressive and energetic cover of "Proud Mary." Extremely soulful and animated, Bundy captivated the crowd and had all in awe as her set ended.

For more on Laura Bell Bundy, be sure to visit her on MySpace. To vote for her at the CMT Awards, click here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lady Antebellum Bring Nashville to New York at Sold-Out Show

Lady Antebellum have had quite a year. They won their first Grammy for Best Country Performance by Duo or Group for "I Run to You" in January while just last month they swept the Academy of Country Music Awards with three wins; Top Vocal Group of the Year, Single Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Need You Now."

While "Need You Now" continues to heat up the country and pop charts, current single "American Honey" shows much promise for the Nashville-based trio as New York concertgoers sang along word for word Monday night at Nokia Theatre. Playing just over an hour, Lady A demonstrated their impeccable harmonies and energetic stage show.

An appropriate start, the band kicked off the night with "Stars Tonight." With edgy electric guitar and percussion before Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott entered on vocals, the music captivated the crowd.

"Girls in their heels and a skinny pair of blue jeans/Boys in black pearl buttons looking just like Springsteen/Mama says why you wanna play in a silly rock 'n' roll band/Well if you stood here mama, I know you'd understand/It's the lights, it's the high/It's the roar of a crowd on a Monday night," Kelley and Scott sang as the crowd danced along.

The energy never wavered as the band continued right into "Love Don't Live Here," the first track from their debut album. "Perfect Day," off recent release Need You Now, showcased the band's country roots while beautiful ballad, "When You Got A Good Thing" switched gears and slowed down the night. On each song, Kelley and Scott alternated vocals and harmonized throughout the chorus.

A few months ago, Lady Antebellum played two nights at Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium and performed Hank Williams' "Lost Highway." With Dave Haywood on guitar and Kelley and Scott singing close to the edge of the stage, the band showcased the song unplugged to a hushed crowd.

"There's nothing like the energy in this city and in this room right now," Scott said after the song.

As their backup band left the stage, Haywood, Kelley and Scott told the crowd, "All We'd Ever Need" was the first song they wrote together. Lady Antebellum proved they can rock the sold-out venue with their stripped down acoustic ballads just as well as the more energetic numbers as they showcased their songwriting and harmonizing on the track.

The trio remained onstage alone to perform Luke Bryan's "Do I," a song they co-wrote, before the full band rejoined for current single, "American Honey." Haywood began the song alone with a killer guitar solo before Scott and Kelley joined on vocals.

"Lookin' For a Good Time," "Need You Now," and "I Run To You" closed the set before the band's encore.

"I've been on the verge of tears all night long because you're being so sweet to us," Scott said as she walked back on stage.

"This next song is off our brand new record. We didn't write it. Tom Douglas, Tony Lane and David Lee wrote it for us. We want to dedicate it to everyone in Nashville affected by the floods," Kelley said before they began "Hello World."

An energetic end to their set, Lady Antebellum closed with a cover of the Beatles' "Hey Jude." As the entire room erupted into "Na na na na's" the band called out opening act and fellow Nashville singer-songwriter Dave Barnes to help finish the night.

"We'll see ya next time New York City," Kelley said as Lady A exited the stage. With their growing success and current tour with Tim McGraw, lucky fans won't have to wait too long.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Help Nashville Flood Victims


Nashville saw much devastation and flooding the first week of May. As neighbors continue to band together to help rebuild what was lost, the national media is doing little to broadcast damages. It has been reported that this is the single largest disaster to hit Tennessee since the Civil War.

As I'm celebrating country music on You Sing I Write this week, I thought I'd bring to your attention just how bad things are in Nashville via a video I found on YouTube. After watching it, I've listed ways to get involved below.

Slideshow of photos of the devastation Nashville is facing.



A recent press release announced that Taylor Swift donated $500,000 to flood relief. Currently, cleanup and repair is expected to cost more than $1 billion.

"Thousands of homes were damaged, along with some of Music City's most important landmarks. Pleas to donate to relief organizations started early, and Nashville's musical talent — from local bands and clubs to the biggest stars — are giving their time and money to the effort," the press release stated.

GAC will air a telethon May 16 that will include Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Rodney Atkins and other stars live from the Ryman Auditorium.

On June 22, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw will host "Nashville Rising," a benefit concert at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. The lineup includes Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Carrie Underwood, Lynyrd Skynrd, Brooks & Dunn, LeAnn Rimes, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Jason Aldean, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Luke Bryan.

If you would like to help, there are three ways to make a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund:

1. Visit redcross.org to donate online

2. Call 1-800-REDCROSS

3. Make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999

Monday, May 10, 2010

Artist of the Week: Billy Currington

Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Billy Currington burst onto the country scene in 2003 with his critically acclaimed self-titled release. Two albums later and many concerts later, Currington continues to make a name for himself with hit songs and festival anthems.

CMT recently reviewed California's Stagecoach festival and wrote praises of his performance:

Billy Currington proved to be a wise choice to join the Stagecoach lineup. So many of his songs could have been the event's official anthem -- "People Are Crazy" (painted on numerous T-shirts and tailgates), "Swimming in Summertime" (lots of bathing suits but no pool in sight) and "Don't" (as in, "Honey, should I keep doing drunken handstands even though that guy behind me is trying to watch the show?"). Currington's new single fits the bill, too -- an easygoing tune called "Pretty Good at Drinking Beer."

Recently nominated for the 2010 CMT Music Awards for Male Video of the Year for hit single, "People Are Crazy," 2010 is a promising one for Currington. Additionally, he was just added to Carrie Underwood's upcoming fall tour.

With his relatable, reflective lyrics and soothing vocals, Currington proves to be a force to watch in the country music scene. Songs like passionate ballad "Must Be Doin' Something Right" and the fun, life-affirming "People Are Crazy" in which he sings, "God is great/Beer is good/And people are crazy" leave an impact on the listener.

For more on Currington, visit his Web site and watch some videos below.

"People Are Crazy"



"Party For Two" with Shania Twain



"Must Be Doin' Something Right"



Related Links:
Band of the Week: The Spring Standards
Band of the Week: 6th Street
Artist of the Week: Ari Hest
Band of the Week: Hot Chelle Rae

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