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: 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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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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Music Spotlight: Country Radio Seminar

Country Radio Seminar is one of the most significant events in Nashville, as it brings country radio and music industry professionals together to educate each other, enhance skills, facilitate business, and promote the growth of the industry.

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Music Spotlight: Hippies and Cowboys

Hippies and Cowboys bring a fresh vintage flair in their new single, taking you back to the days of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, CCR, and Aerosmith. Recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, the band’s debut single, “20 to Life” is not to be missed.

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Music City Spotlight: Music City Rollin’ Jamboree

One thing that most native Nashvillians will tell you is to avoid the party buses. They are often full of young, drunk tourists and are to be avoided at all costs.

However, when a publicist/friend told me about the Music City Rollin’ Jamboree, she advised, “It’s different.”

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Music Spotlight: Teddi and Bobby Cyrus

NASHVILLE, Tennesee- Before you ask, yes, Bobby Cyrus is related to Billy Ray Cyrus. Bobby Cyrus is Billy Ray Cyrus’ younger cousin. They both hail from the same region around Louisa, Kentucky where bluegrass music was a prominent part of their heritage. Their grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher and church music was an integral part of their upbringing.

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World-Renowned Producer Fred Mollin Releases ‘It’s Great to be a Kid’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee –  Fred Mollin is an award-winning American and Canadian record producer, musician, film and TV composer, music director, music supervisor, and songwriter whose discography spans 35 years. He has produced records for Jimmy Webb, Johnny Mathis, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lamont Dozier, and America, and has composed music for Beverly Hills, 90210, Friday the 13th (movies and television), Forever Knight, Hard Copy, and many more. Mollin rose to prominence early in his career by co-producing (with Matthew McCauley) Dan Hill’s international hit record, “Sometimes When We Touch”, in 1977.

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Former Nashville Mayoral Candidate Carol Swain, Other Black Panelists, Describe Their Unexpected Path to Conservative Politics at Event in Franklin

FRANKLIN — Quisha King, a former regional engagement coordinator for Black Voices for Trump, said she was once liberal, but the writings of conservative black economists Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams helped steer her on a different path. King said she her community had no prior access to Sowell or Williams.

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Music Spotlight: Gracee Shriver

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Belmont student and former NBC’s The Voice contestant Gracee Shriver hails from Owasso, Oklahoma.

Shriver started singing lessons at age nine to give herself something to do. About a year after starting lessons, she got her first guitar and began writing songs.

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Music Spotlight: Abby Anderson

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – When I saw Abby Anderson open for Radio Romance and Midland in 2017, I immediately knew that I wanted to interview her even though I had recently started writing my column.

Fast forward 4 years when I got an email stating that Anderson was releasing a powerful new anthem, and finally I got the privilege to interview the effervescent songstress.

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Steve Wariner Releases ‘Feels Like Christmas’ Today

Nashville, Tennessee – Multi-Grammy®, CMA, and ACM Award-winning performer Steve Wariner has released a new Christmas album, Feels Like Christmas Time, today, October 15. The album features newly imagined arrangements of Christmas classics including “Silent Night,” “The First Noel” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” as well as six original holiday tunes, all written by Wariner.

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Music Spotlight: The Woods

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

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Music Spotlight: Bridget Caldwell

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

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

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

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

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

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Exclusive Premiere: Jarod Grubb’s Tiki Bar on the Beach

NASHVILLE, Tennessee –  About as far away as you can get from a beach, Jarod Grubb grew up near Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.

Like many young boys, his dream was to be a professional baseball player. And he was good enough to get a scholarship to play baseball in college.

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Music Spotlight: Devon Beck

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

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Music Spotlight: Rhonda Vincent

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

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Music Spotlight: Halle Kearns

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

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

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Music Spotlight: Tyler Kohrs

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

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

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Music Spotlight: Alex Kline

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

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

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Music Spotlight: Nashvillains

Nashvillains

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

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Music Spotlight: Tera Townsend

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Since my “other” job is working with educators, I am keenly aware of bullying and the effects it has on a person.

Tera Townsend is a singer, songwriter, and musician from small-town in Tennessee. She grew up with a speaking disability and ADHD and was mocked and bullied as a child/teen because of her disability.

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Song Suffragettes Celebrate Seventh Anniversary

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

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

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Music Spotlight: Brett Kissel

If there were ever a darling of the Canadian Country Airwaves, it would be Brett Kissel. Not only has the 30-year-old won numerous Canadian Country Music Association Awards, but he also has three number one hits and numerous top-tens on Canadian Radio.

But the main reason I wanted to interview him was because his music really is that good. His songs are all over the spectrum sonically but they resonate with the listeners.

Kissel admits that absolutely no one in his family is musical. “Not a grandpa, not a dad, an uncle, an auntie, nobody ever played music, period.”

The fact that he picked up a guitar, the fact that he can sing, the fact that he can write songs, and the fact that he moved to Nashville and made a go of it, is nothing short of remarkable.

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Music Spotlight: Sam Hatmaker

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

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

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Music Spotlight: 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: 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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