Music Spotlight: Chase Wright

NASHVILLE, Tennessee –In the past few years, a name that kept showing up in my feed was Chase Wright. (Not to be confused with another country singer/songwriter, Chase Rice.) Recently, as I was driving to work, I heard SiriusXM The Highway’s Storme Warren talking to Chase Wright. He invited him to become SXM The Highway’s next “Highway Find,” a platform that has launched many artists’ careers from Florida-Georgia Line to Carly Pearce.

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Little Kids Rock Rebrands as ‘Music Will’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- As part of a five-city tour to promote their new branded non-profit Music Will (formerly known as Little Kids Rock) founder Dave Wish spoke to me about their latest adaptation.

The former first-grade teacher started Little Kids Rock because his students didn’t like their current music program. He asked them what they wanted to play and at the time, they said, “Ricky Martin” and “Selena.” He began to teach the kids to play the music they wanted to hear and eventually it led to teaching other teachers to do the same.

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Opry Member Gene Watson Releases ‘Outside the Box’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Known among country fans and fellow artists as the “singer’s singer,” Gene Watson is celebrating 60 years in the music business – and shows no signs of slowing down.

Watson has more than 75 charted titles, 23 Top 10 hits, six Number 1 country singles, and five Number 1 gospel hits. I asked the Opry legend why, at age 78, he felt the need to make another record.

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Music Spotlight Artist Devon Beck Releases ‘Homewrecker’

I first featured Devon Beck in April of 2021, after being immediately drawn to her developed sense of songwriting. At the time, she was 18 years old and had only been performing publically since she was 16. But to hear her songs, it was like she was born to be a singer/songwriter from the get-go.

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Ernie Haase and Signature Sound Release ‘Decades of Love’ Record

Those acquainted with gospel music are sure to be familiar with the celebrated music of the Ernie Haase and Signature Sound quartet. After a young Haase completed his debut with the popular Cathedrals in the 1990s, he formed his own gospel quartet in 2003 whose familiar heartfelt sound is well known by the Gaither set and Christians worldwide.

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Music Spotlight: Donny Van Slee

Donny Van Slee is a Florida boy from the rural town of Weeki Wachee Springs, home of the famous live mermaids. Growing up, Van Slee was shy and his dad bought him a guitar to help him. Later, influenced by the bands he loved – Led Zeppelin and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – he took lessons, but his main focus in school was soccer.

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Music Spotlight: Grace Leer

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Grace Leer is a country music singer from Danville, California. She is an American Idol alumnus who started singing at the young age of six. She recalls entering a talent show and singing Selena’s “Dreaming of You.” That was when she fell in love with being on stage.

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Music Spotlight: Charly Reynolds

NASHVILLE, Tennessee -When I discovered Charly Reynolds on Instagram nearly two years ago via live stream, she had an infectious energy that made me want to learn more about her.

Now on the cusp of her newest release, “Rodeo,” I was able to learn more about this charismatic country artist.

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Music/Author Spotlight: Alisa Childers

Earlier this year, my brother told me about Alisa Childers, who recently wrote a book about Christian apologetics. Not only that, she was a former member of the contemporary Christian music group ZOEgirl back in the early 2000s and she was married to someone with whom we attended college.

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Randy Houser Announces Sixth Studio Album, ‘Note to Self’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Randy Houser has earned four Number One singles, including three consecutive hits: “How Country Feels,” “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight,” and “Goodnight Kiss.” “We Went” marked his fourth number one song. He has also had two Top 5 hits: “Boots On” and “Like A Cowboy.”

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Music Spotlight: Katrina Burgoyne

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- When I first heard Katrina Burgoyne’s song, “I Wanna Get Away With You,” there was something infectious about the spirited song that made me want to learn more about the artist.

Australian-born Katrina Burgoyne is from a musical family. Both of her grandfathers were performing musicians.

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Train Strikes Pure ‘AM Gold’ in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – June 21 marked the summer solstice, hence the first official day of summer. For the many who braved the extreme heat and high humidity at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Summer began precisely at 7:00 p.m. central time. That is the moment John Popper and Blues Traveler took the stage and ignited an amazing night of music, with John Popper and company bringing the groove to the party.

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Music Spotlight: Sweet Tea Trio

When I interviewed Sweet Tea Trio earlier this year, I knew they had a new EP in the works, but they were unsure of the release date. So I waited until Sugar Rush was released to share their story.

Alabama natives Victoria Camp, Kate Falcon, and Charity Bowden make up an all-female harmony group called Sweet Tea Trio. They met through a mutual vocal coach in Alabama.

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Music Spotlight: Michael Shaw

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- After interviewing nearly 200 artists, you think I would learn not to be surprised when I delve into someone’s “How they got to Nashville” story, but hearing country-western singer/songwriter Michael Shaw’s story even stunned me.

Michael Shaw was born in Indiana but remembers growing up in Kentucky and Michigan, and later, Ohio.

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Music Spotlight: Scott Stevens

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Once my friend told me about a tribute that Scott Stevens had written about his grandfather and uncle, I knew I had found the perfect song to share on Memorial Day.

Scott Stevens is a country music singer/songwriter from East Tennessee who recently released the single “Missin’ You” to country radio off his debut country record Every Hat Is A Cowboy Hat. He is also a Civil Rights attorney and lawyer.

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Music Spotlight: Alyssa Jacey

I keep writing my Music Spotlight column because of the stories. And while we all appreciate the music that these singer/songwriters bring to us, it is the stories of these tireless individuals that keep me coming back to my computer to share what I have learned with my readers.

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Music Spotlight: Sammy Arriaga

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – A lot of people, myself included, are trying to wrap their heads around Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and exactly how they work. When I got asked to interview a country artist, Sammy Arriaga, who was successfully using NFTs in promoting his music, I was interested.

Sammy Arriaga is a Miami-born Cuban American. While his father occasionally sang and played guitar, he discovered his love for music on his own. He has been writing lyrics and downloading instrumentals from the internet since his early teens. He taught himself how to play guitar by watching YouTube videos.

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Exclusive: Adam Warner Releases ‘Reason to Redneck’ Lyric Video

Adam Warner hails from the farm country of southern Illinois, quite near to where my mother and her family lived. This area is so consumed by farming, specifically corn and soybeans, that you really do feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere.

Just like my mother and aunts, both of Warner’s grandmothers played piano and sang at church. His mother was involved in theater and singing as well. He was certainly not the only one in the family who did music but would be the only one who chose it as a career path.

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Music Spotlight: Restless Road

When I heard “Growing Old With You” by Restless Road on the radio, I was not familiar with the group, but their song really resonated with me. When I was given the chance to feature them in my column, I jumped at it.

Restless Road is comprised of Zach Beeken, Garrett Nichols, and Colton Pack who did not grow up together and are actually from three different states. Beeken is from Iowa, Nichols is from Alabama and Pack is from West Virginia. Almost nine years ago, Pack and Beeken were on a show called The X Factor. (The third member, Andrew Scholz, would eventually be replaced with Nichols.) They started the band on that TV show. They met Kane Brown on that show as well.

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Flags Unfurled: Presley O’Bannon – Tripoli Hero to Marine Corps Legend

Growing up with the name O’Bannon I was vaguely aware that there was a famous person named Presley O’Bannon who was important in American History. When I got married 37 years ago to a Marine Corp veteran who has a degree in history, I was informed that not only was Presley O’Bannon an important figure in history, he was especially important to the Marines. The United States Marine Corps hymn opens with “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles on the land and on the sea.” Presley O’Bannon was the man who led battles on the shores of Tripoli from whence the song lyrics came.

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Music Spotlight: Ainsley Costello

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Ainsley Costello comes from a musical background. When her dad, James Costello, was young, he moved to Los Angeles to “do the whole music thing” in much the same way that Costello has moved to Nashville. At one point he was in a touring band and toured the world. And even though he now has a day job, he was always in revolving bands, playing shows and playing music in the house.

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Brett Kissel and 98° Team Up for New Single, ‘Ain’t the Same’

When I heard that the Canadian Country Music multi-award winner, Brett Kissel was releasing a song with 98°, I was excited and curious at the same time. The group’s song, “Ain’t the Same” isn’t exactly country, pop, or R & B, but it is fantastic. Once I heard it, it went straight to my Beach playlist.

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Music Spotlight: Dustin Collins

Dustin Collins had been around music his whole life. His dad and uncle were musicians. They were in and out of the recording studios in Kentucky and Nashville when Collins was a child.

He recalls, “I just kind of grew up around it and learned how to sing and play guitar when I was, 10 and 11 years old. It’s always been something that I love to do. I kind of fell into this job when I started writing songs and I met some other songwriters in Nashville.”

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Fifth Annual Tennessee Motorcycles and Music Revival Returns to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch

The Tennessee Motorcycles and Music Revival (TMMR) is a unique, four-day event held in central Tennessee that’s all about motorcycles, music, comradery, and the outdoors. It will be held at the majestic 3,500-acre Loretta Lynn’s ranch and campground just an hour west of Nashville on held May 19 – 22 and will be the first big event to take place at Loretta Lynn’s ranch since the catastrophic floods from last August. TMMR is presented by Harley-Davidson® and produced in partnership by the Loretta Lynn family and R&R Promotions, a specialty agency with decades of motorcycle event promotions and deep ties in the national motorcycle family.

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Music Spotlight: Dakota Poorman

From Maple Valley, Washington, 29-year-old singer/songwriter Dakota Poorman is a breath of fresh air in the stale pop-country atmosphere.

As a child he recalls, “I really loved music. I was bathed in a very eclectic taste in music. I listened to Bob Seger, John Fogerty, Pink Floyd, The Doors, the Eagles, and even Patsy Cline and Muddy Waters. I was exposed to a ton of great music back when music was music and had meaning.”

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Music Spotlight: Michael Rix

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The first time I recall seeing Michael Rix was when he played banjo in the Bank of America marketing campaign commercial for Ken Burns’ PBS documentary Country Music. Even though the banjo originated in Africa, seeing a black, banjo-playing country musician in the 21st century is/was not very common.

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Music Spotlight: Karissa Ella

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Even though I am not much of a whiskey drinker, I am always drawn to a good whiskey song. Something about the solace of sipping the stuff leads to a deeper examination of one’s true self.

Karissa Ella’s newest single “Whiskey Whispers Your Name” is all that and more. They led me to further delve into this rising singer/songwriter and find out what drives her.

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Dierks Bentley, Keb’ Mo’, Bobby Bare, and Connie Smith Receive Their Stars on the Walk of Fame

Music City Walk of Fame inductees Dierks Bentley, Keb’ Mo’, Bobby Bare, and Connie Smith represent the diversity of Music City in the first ceremony since the pandemic.

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Music Spotlight: Ian Flanigan

Ian Flanigan hails from Hudson Valley’s Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, not far from the site of the famed Woodstock festival.

But where you might remember him is from Season 19 of NBC’s The Voice.

I wanted to find out how he got from there to The Voice and now living just outside of Nashville.

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Michael Ray Releases Video for ‘Holy Water’

Michael Ray grew up in a family compound off a dirt road in the small town of Eustis, Florida, just a few miles from a tiny old country church where Sunday service would be held, where communion often carried over to tall tales of his grandparents’ days running moonshine up the East Coast.

And even though he did not write the song, when he first heard “Holy Water” it took him right back to being a boy in that church, sitting in a wooden pew listening to some of the greatest truths that he holds onto to this day.

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Music Spotlight: Alyssa Bonagura

NASHVILLE, Tennessee -The first time I heard of Alyssa Bonagura was when she played with Ruby Stewart as part of The Sisterhood band when Ruby’s dad, Rod Stewart, played Bridgestone Arena in August of 2018. The two performed their tune “Half Way” with Stewart’s band before dad returned to sing “Forever Young” with them. They also sang with Cyndi Lauper on her iconic hit “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”

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