Since the debut of his first album in 2007, Luke Bryan has placed 18 singles in the No. 1 spot, sold 10 million albums, 40 million tracks and accrued back-to-back double-platinum albums, earning the title of Top Country Artist at the Billboard Music Awards two years in a row. His now Platinum selling album Kill the Lights debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and top Country Albums Charts, going on to become the best-selling country album of 2015. Luke later made Billboard chart history as Kill The Lights became the first album in 27 years to place six singles at No. 1.
Tim McGraw has sold more than 50 million records and dominated the charts with 43 worldwide #1 singles. He’s won 3 Grammy Awards, 16 Academy of Country Music Awards, 14 Country Music Association Awards, 11 American Music Awards, 3 People’s Choice Awards and numerous other honors. His iconic career achievements include being named the BDS Radio’s Most Played Artist of the Decade for all music genres and having the Most Played Song of the Decade for all music genres. He is the most played country artist since his debut in 1992, with two singles spending over 10 weeks at #1. His career-long tour successes include the record-setting Soul2Soul The World Tour 2017 with his wife, Faith Hill. McGraw starred in and narrated the hit movie, The Shack, as well as played leading roles in Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side. McGraw recently released two news songs ‘NEON CHURCH’ and ‘Thought About You’, his first new solo music in two years.
The newly crowned 2018 CMA Entertainer of the Year and four-time GRAMMY Award winner Keith Urban released Graffiti U earlier this year in conjunction with his “GRAFFITI U WORLD TOUR 2018,” which played over 60 dates in the U.S. and Canada. The tour’s Australia leg kicks off in January 2019 and will be followed by his first European tour in nearly a decade.
Graffiti U, which upon its debut on April 27th hit #1 on charts in the United States, Canada and Australia, is Urban’s ninth studio recording and follows one of the most successful releases of his career, 2016’s RIPCORD. Graffiti U’s latest single “Never Comin Down,” follows his 24th #1 “Coming Home (featuring Julia Michaels), which marked the first time that a country artist has used a sample of a country song (Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”).
Urban’s 2018 CMA nominated Album of the Year follows RIPCORD’s five #1’s, including “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” which won Best Single at the 2017 CMA Awards and Favorite Country Song at the American Music Awards, where he also collected trophies for Favorite Country Album and Favorite Male Country Artist.
He’s had an album simultaneously atop the all-genre charts in the U.S., Canada and Australia twice and is the only male Country artist to have achieved the mark even once. He now stands at #8 on Billboard’s All-Time Country Airplay Chart as the artist with the most consecutive top 10 songs on Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart (38) – a streak that started in August of 2000.
In 2001, the Country Music Association honored Urban with its Horizon Award; he was the first Horizon Award winner in history to go on to win the CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year, a title he’s captured three times, and the coveted Entertainer of the Year. The 2015 CMA Awards brought Urban his third win for Vocal Event of the Year for “Raise ‘Em Up” featuring Eric Church. It marked the first time in history that an artist has received the award in three consecutive years.
Besides four Grammy Awards, Urban has won thirteen Country Music Association Awards, eleven Academy of Country Music Awards, four People’s Choice Awards and four American Music Awards. He is also a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Urban’s reputation as a premier songwriter, vocalist, musician and virtuoso guitarist has afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with the likes of The Rolling Stones, John Mayer, Steven Tyler, Miranda Lambert, John Mellencamp, Alicia Keys, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift, Vince Gill and Eric Church.
He’s long supported numerous charities. His “All For The Hall” benefit concerts for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum© have raised over $3.4 million. He is the first Ambassador of the CMA Foundation, is an advisory board member at the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and is a longtime supporter of The Mr. Holland’s Opus Fund and The Grammy Foundation. In 2013, he introduced his new URBANTM Guitar Collection via HSN, proceeds of which benefit both the Grammy Foundation and Mr. Holland’s Opus Fund.
Little Big Town
GRAMMY, ACM, CMA, and AMA Award-winning group, Little Big Town — consisting of members Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman, and Jimi Westbrook — first entered the music scene over 19 years ago with hit songs “Boondocks,” “Bring It On Home,” “Good As Gone” and the GRAMMY-nominated “Little White Church.” Their breakthrough albums Tornado and Pain Killer produced multiple #1 singles, including “Pontoon,” “Tornado,” and “Day Drinking,” as well as the history-making, best-selling country single of the year (2015) “Girl Crush.” Released February 24, 2017, Little Big Town’s latest studio album, The Breaker, debuted #1 on the Billboard Country Charts and Top 10 (No.4) on the Billboard 200 to critical acclaim, marking the group’s fourth Top 10 debut on the Billboard 200 chart. The album features their GRAMMY-winning, multi-week #1 single, “Better Man,” as well as “When Someone Stops Loving You.”
Little Big Town has earned more than 40 award show nominations and in the past five years has taken home nearly 20 awards, including multiple GRAMMY, AMA, People’s Choice, CMA, ACM awards, and an Emmy award. Currently the reigning CMA and ACM Vocal Group of the Year, the Country Music Hall of Fame inductees (2014) went onto receive their star on the Nashville Walk of Fame in 2017. Also in 2017, Little Big Town hosted a sold-out, year-long artist residency at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville — marking the venue’s first-ever, year-long residency in its 125-year history. The band also recently launched 4 Cellars wine, their first non-musical project as a band, with Browne Family Vineyards. For more information on Little Big Town visit LittleBigTown.com or follow them @littlebigtown.
Brett Young’s sophomore album TICKET TO L.A. hit #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart upon its December 2018 release. The album follows his colossal 2017 self-titled debut, which dominated the Top 20 on the Country Albums chart for 37 weeks and quickly reached RIAA PLATINUM certification. Delivering four consecutive No. 1 PLATINUM-certified hits, Young was recently named ASCAP’s 2018 Country Songwriter-Artist of the Year for his “melodic craftsmanship” (Billboard), and his 3X PLATINUM smash hit “In Case You Didn’t Know” was bestowed with the top honor at the BMI Country Awards as their Song of the Year. Young has also garnered nominations from ACM, Billboard, Teen Choice, CMT and CMA Awards as he continues to rack up nonstop hits as “one of country music’s most reliable new hitmakers” (Tennessean). Along with the industry successes, his relationship with fans found Young selling out every stop on his debut headlining CALIVILLE TOUR and earning new followers on the road with Thomas Rhett’s LIFE CHANGES TOUR. Young is set to join Kelsea Ballerini in 2019 on the MISS ME MORE TOUR.
Dwight Yoakam has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, and he is a 21-time nominated, multiple GRAMMY Award winner. He has 12 gold albums and 9 platinum or multi-platinum albums, with five of those albums topping Billboard’s Country Albums chart and another 14 landing in the Top 10. Nearly 40 of Yoakam’s singles have charted on Billboard, with 14 peaking in the Top 10. He is also the recipient of the Artist of the Year award from the Americana Music Association, the most prestigious award offered by the organization. Set for the summer of 2018, the LSD Tour, featuring Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Dwight with support from Los Angeles rock outlier King Leg, unites three of music’s most celebrated and iconic voices on one epic cross-country package for the very first time. Yoakam’s self-curated SiriusXM channel, titled Dwight Yoakam and The Bakersfield Beat ‘Where Country Went Mod’, will launch in late April. The channel celebrates the Bakersfield sound and those whom it has inspired. In 2016, Yoakam released his bluegrass album Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars… on Sugar Hill Records. Featuring a band of bluegrass luminaries, this album boasts a collection of reinterpreted favorites from his catalogue, as well as a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain”. Produced by nine-time GRAMMY winner Gary Paczosa (Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton), Jon Randall (songwriter of “Whiskey Lullaby”), and Yoakam himself, and mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, this album reflects the love for bluegrass music that Yoakam developed at an early age in Kentucky and that has inspired him for many years thereafter. In addition to his musical career, Yoakam is a formidable film and television actor who has appeared in over 40 feature films including Sling Blade and Panic Room. In 2016, he recurred in David E. Kelley’s Amazon series Goliath. Recently, he appeared in director Steven Soderbergh’s film Logan Lucky with Channing Tatum and Daniel Craig. Yoakam is capable of seamlessly melting into his roles and impressively standing toe-to-toe with some of the world’s top thespians over the course of his storied and successful acting career, including Jodie Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker, and Matthew McConaughey.
Multiple chart-topping singer/songwriter Jake Owen’s new single “Down To The Honkytonk” is rapidly climbing the Billboard Country Airplay charts. With seven #1 songs to his name, “Down To The Honkytonk” follows Owen’s fastest-rising career #1 single, “I Was Jack (You Were Diane).” Owen’s songs have resonated with listeners and audiences everywhere with 2X PLATINUM anthem “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” PLATINUM-certified hits “Beachin,’” “Anywhere With You,” “Alone With You,” “The One That Got Away,” and GOLD-certified “American Country Love Song.” Owen’s fifth studio album, AMERICAN LOVE, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and No. 4 on the Billboard 200 all-genre chart. Signed to Big Loud Records, Owen is reuniting with award-winning Joey Moi, who helped produce his breakout Barefoot Blue Jean Night album, which landed at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and garnered four consecutive #1 hits. Owen is gearing up to join Shania Twain as a celebrity panelist on USA Network’s Real Country, singing competition, premiering on Nov. 13th.
Towering baritone Trace Adkins has sold more than 11 million albums and charted more than 20 singles in his 25 years in Nashville, a remarkable run for one of country music’s most easily identifiable stars. The Louisiana native recently released his 12th studio album, Something’s Going On, on BBR Music Group / Wheelhouse Records. A three-time GRAMMY Award nominee, Adkins has won three Academy of Country Music Awards, including the 2009 Single of the Year Award for “You’re Gonna Miss This” and Vocal Event of the Year with Blake Shelton for “Hillbilly Bone” in 2010. The Grand Ole Opry member is also an author and spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Project and The American Red Cross, for whom he raised more than $1.5 million dollars as winner of NBC’s All-Star Celebrity Apprentice. In recent years, Adkins has performed for our service members across 12 USO Tours. In his 2007 autobiography, A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck, Adkins recounted his rise to fame, brushes with death, and battles with personal demons. Adkins has also acted in multiple films and television shows, playing a tough-as-nails biker in The Lincoln Lawyer (starring Matthew McConaughey), a desperate father in Deepwater Horizon (starring Mark Wahlberg) and a wise oracle of a tattoo artist in the family-friendly film Moms’ Night Out (starring Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin, Sarah Drew). His most recent role was that of MercyMe’s real-life manager, Brickell, in the box office smash “I Can Only Imagine.” The film was the third biggest selling movie on its opening weekend in America.
As a rock star, reality star, spokesperson, businessman, and philanthropist, Bret Michaels does more jobs in a single day than most people do in an entire lifetime. Depending on the hour of the day he’s a cultural icon, a rock god, an entrepreneur, a TV star, a father, the face of the American Diabetes Association, a supercross enthusiast, solo artist, Poison frontman, and a generous donor to a myriad of charitable causes.
Michaels first rose to fame as the frontman of Poison. As one of rock’s most iconic and enduring bands, Poison defined the fast, gritty, and glamorous rock ‘n’ roll scene. Since the band’s beginning, Poison has achieved massive success- releasing eight studio albums, four live albums, and selling over 30 million records worldwide and 16.5 million records in the U.S. alone.
The band has charted 10 singles in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 including the number-one single, “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” Twenty-five years after their debut, Poison is still recording music and performing together.
Bret Michaels’ solo career has been equally successful: his most recent solo album, “Custom Built,” released in July of 2010, topped the charts, reaching #1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock list. His current solo tour, “Get Your Rock On” is selling out arenas across the country and his forthcoming solo album of the same name will be released this summer.
Michaels has achieved stunning success in the realm of reality TV as well. His “Rock of Love” television series is one of the most successful in VH1’s history. VH1 and Bret Michaels teamed up again for his family-oriented 2010 docu-series “Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It.” He went head to head with some of the brightest minds in business on Donald Trump’s NBC hit, “Celebrity Apprentice” and went on to “Trump” the competition with his Trop-A-Rocka Snapple drink.
Michaels’ Trop-a-Rocka Diet Snapple proved to be a fan-favorite- so much so that fans rallied to continue its distribution. He is thrilled to be continuing his partnership with Snapple, remarking, “When I created my Diet Snapple Trop-A-Rocka Tea, I made it my mission to design the best-tasting diet drink on earth – made from the best stuff on earth. Creating Diet Snapple Trop-A-Rocka Tea and donating $250,000 to Diabetes research was just the beginning. I’m thrilled that Snapple will be making Trop-A-Rocka a part of its permanent offering.”
Philanthropy remains an important facet of Michaels’ career. A lifelong diabetic, he partnered with the American Diabetes Association in 2010, acting as a spokesperson and sponsor. Beyond his role as spokesperson Michaels has gone on to help Ford raise an additional $400,000 for diabetes research at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction this past February as well as donating numerous items for auction for Diabetes related events.
Michaels’ charitable outreach extends far beyond diabetes, however. Rocking out and giving back go hand in hand for Michaels, who supports a diverse array of charities and causes. In March 2011, he performed at Muhammad Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night in support of the Muhammad Ali Foundation, which gives to those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Michaels was so touched by the event and the cause that he donated $20,000 of his own money to the Muhammad Ali Foundation to help heal those afflicted by Parkinson’s. Michaels took on the role of fundraiser as well, raising more than $200,000 for the Barrow Brain Tumor Foundation, with a star-studded dinner in his own home. He is also a supporter of the Camelot Therapeutic ranch and sponsors a horse with his family. The ranch provides services at no charge to adults and children with disabilities.
Michaels continues to stretch himself and challenge himself to take on new projects in music, business, and beyond. He recently partnered with legendary guitar company, Dean Guitars, to design his first ever signature Bret Michaels series. Michaels calls Dean Guitars “the only guitars that can keep up with me, holding up tour after tour.” He is also actively involved in the world of extreme sports. He created and awarded the first annual Bret Michaels Rock Hard, Ride Hard Award for supercross – a cash prize for the toughest and most tenacious supercross rider of the season – on May 7, 2011. The award will be given out again in 2012.
Michaels has teamed with PetSmart for the “Pet’s Rock” collection, which will debut in 2012. “As a dedicated pet owners myself, this is a natural partnership for me, and I can’t wait to unveil the collection,” Michaels said. “I know my own pets rock, and I wanted to design a line of pet products every bit as fun and cool as they are.”
Also in 2012, Michaels is teaming up with Reader’s Digest for their We Hear You America campaign – the popular national, grassroots initiative that serves as a catalyst to empower Americans to help their local communities by casting votes at ReadersDigest.com on behalf of their hometowns. Bret Michaels is the perfect partner for this campaign because he brings his experiences as a survivor, a rocker, a father, a philanthropist, and an American who has traveled this great land by tour bus from coast-to-coast. “As a musician and an artist, I wanted to get involved in the We Hear You America campaign because it’s not only about inspiring people to improve their lives and their communities, but about giving everyone a voice,” says Michaels. “It starts with all of you. Go to ReadersDigest.com every day to vote for your hometown. Your votes, joined with others in your community, could get your hometown funds and promotional support from the We Hear You America campaign.”
Bret Michaels may have been in spotlight for decades, but he is certainly showing no signs of slowing down.
Georgia native Lauren Alaina captured America’s hearts when she competed on Season 10 of American Idol. In 2017, Lauren followed up her No. 1 debuting first album, Wildflower, with the release of the critically-acclaimed Road Less Traveled. The album landed on multiple end-of-year “Best Of” lists including Billboard, Rolling Stone and Amazon, and it became the top-streamed female country album release of the year. Praised as “full of life lessons and uplift” (PEOPLE), the collection of 12 songs all written by the young star includes Lauren’s first No. 1 hit, title track “Road Less Traveled.”The “sassy Southerner with killer pipes” (PARADE) has shared the stage with superstars including Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan and Martina McBride. Lauren recently joined Cole Swindell on the Reason to Drink Tour and is currently on tour with Jason Aldean for this summer’s High Noon Neon Tour. Lauren is this year’s ACM New Female Vocalist of the Year and performed on the Apr. 15 broadcast live from Las Vegas. She was also nominated for ACM Vocal Event of the Year for “What Ifs,” the double-platinum-selling No. 1 collaboration with her childhood friend, Kane Brown. Lauren is one of CMT’s Next Women of Country and she received her first CMT Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year with her No. 1 smash “Road Less Traveled,” This year she received her second CMT Music Award for Collaborative Video of the Year, with Kane Brown. In addition to performing on the 51st Annual CMA Awards, 2017 saw Lauren earning nominations for CMA New Artist of the Year, several Teen Choice Awards and Radio Disney Music Awards.
Creating a sound that fuses modern Country and classic heartland rock with an edgy vocal blend, Wheelhouse Records’ LOCASH is the Country music duo made up of singer-songwriters Chris Lucas and Preston Brust; natives of Baltimore, Maryland, and Kokomo, Indiana, respectively. With two albums and eight charting singles to their credit, LOCASH broke out in 2015 with their gracious GOLD-certified hit, “I Love This Life,” followed by the flirtatious GOLD-certified #1 smash, “I Know Somebody” – their first trip to the top of the Country radio airplay charts – and 2017’s fun-loving romantic anthem “Ring on Every Finger.” All three singles were part of their album, THE FIGHTERS, which was released in the summer of 2016 to Top 15 success. In 2017, they earned their first round of awards show recognition, nominated at the ACM Awards for New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year, the CMT Music Awards for Duo Video of the Year (“I Know Somebody”), and the CMA Awards for Vocal Duo of the Year. Their latest single, the Top 30 “Feels Like A Party,” is the pair’s first release with their new label, BBR Music Group/BMG.
Country- blues-rocker Frankie Ballard released his latest album El Rio (Warner Nashville) to critical acclaim and was selected by Rolling Stone as one of the 25 Best Country and Americana albums of 2016 and The Tennessean as one of the best 16 Nashville albums of 2016. The singer songwriter has had three #1 country hits to date and boasts Spotify streams in excess of 2.2 million. With a combined album sales of over 450,000 to date with over 150 million total streams across all streaming platforms, Ballard continues to lead the lead country music mixing an American heartland rock sound with traditional country and blues.
Frankie Ballard’s previous album, Sunshine & Whiskey, produced three consecutive no. 1 singles – the platinum-certified “Sunshine & Whiskey,” the gold-certified “Helluva Life,” and one of the Top 3 Billboard Country Airplay songs of 2015, “Young & Crazy.” He has performed on national television including Today, Live with Kelly and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Ballard has performed and toured with Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Bob Seger, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Big and Rich as well as at festivals such as Summerfest, Tortuga Music Festival, CMA Fest and many more.
El Rio was recorded at the famed Sonic Ranch, just south of El Paso in Tornillo, Texas, Ballard, band, and producer Marshall Altman left the comfort of Nashville in exchange for the opportunity to immerse themselves 24/7 creating this unique and fresh album. Rolling Stone describes the album as, “a different kind of album for the Michigan-born, Nashville-based songwriter, filled with country-rock anthems that have more in common with the heartland heroes of Ballard’s youth — especially Bob Seger and John Mellencamp — than the outlaws and highwaymen whose names are so often cited by country music’s younger class.” Ballard explains in the same article, “It’s just my own brand of American music. There’s rock & roll. There’s country stories and country lyrics and country songs. And there’s a lot of blues swagger and blues guitar playing. It’s all those things together.”
The Cadillac Three
It may be a ballsy move for The Cadillac Three to name their new album LEGACY, but if any country band has the shared history to lay claim to such a weighty title, it’s the longhaired trio of Nashville natives. Singer-guitarist Jaren Johnston, drummer Neil Mason and lap-steel player Kelby Ray have known one another since they were teens and have been sharing stages together for nearly 15 years. This summer, they’ll headline their hometown’s most famous venue, the Ryman Auditorium, just a few blocks from where Johnston and Ray sat in high-school math class daydreaming about one day playing the legendary hall. Johnston’s connection to the Ryman goes back even further: his father has been a drummer at the Grand Ole Opry since Jaren was a child. And now he has a son of his own, who, like his old man, will be well-versed in all the sounds that make up both Music City and The Cadillac Three, from country and blues to rock & roll.
So, yeah, “legacy” looks good on this band.
“We’re trying to build something and do it our way, which is always harder,” says Johnston. “If you’re going to leave something that people are actually going to remember, you can’t take the easy way. So we took all of our history, mixed it with the energy of The Cadillac Three and put it into a record that makes sense of where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
After nearly a full year on the road in support of 2016’s BURY ME IN MY BOOTS, their first full-length album recorded for Big Machine Records, the group returns with a more mature perspective. Johnston, Mason and Ray have experienced a lot on tour, whether opening arenas across the country on Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots Tour or headlining their own consistently sold-out string of sweaty club and theater shows in the U.K. and Europe. As they prepare to head back in November for another big run, for The Cadillac Three, the old saying
really is true: this band is huge overseas.
“Europe showed us that we should bet on ourselves. It was a big gamble the first time we went over there,” says Mason, “but the shows and the fans have continued to grow.”
“And going overseas reinforced that we wanted to get more music out more quickly,” adds Ray. “They go through singles really quickly over there. They want more, more, more and that encouraged us to go into the studio, knock this album out and keep going.”
All that travel, from city to state, country to continent, could decimate a lesser band, but it only served to creatively inspire the mighty TC3. They wrote many of the 11 songs that make up LEGACY on the road, cut the tracks on rare days off in Nashville and then recorded all of Johnston’s vocals – one of the most “country” voices in the genre – in the back lounge of their bus in between shows, adding a crackling sense of vitality to LEGACY. They also produced the album themselves.
“We knew what we wanted to do with this record. Instead of putting it together in bits and pieces, we started with a batch of songs and then picked a single,” Johnston says. “That’s how this shit should be done.”
That back-to-basics approach to making music yielded the band’s most infectious single to date: the woozy sing-along “Dang If We Didn’t.” Written, as is most of the album, by Johnston and Mason (here, with Jonathan Singleton; other times with songwriters like Laura Veltz and Angelo Petraglia), “Dang If We Didn’t” teases fans with its ambiguous title, before revealing what the guys actually did in the chorus: get drunk last night.
“When you’re a songwriter, you can be critical of song titles,” says Johnston. “But with ‘Dang If We Didn’t,’ I thought it was a little bit mysterious. It makes you wonder, ‘Dang if we didn’t do what?'”
“Eat pizza last night,” quips Mason. “It could be anything.”
“American Slang” rivals “Dang If We Didn’t” in its grandeur. It’s a huge song, akin to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” or The Cadillac Three’s own “Graffiti,” off BURY ME IN MY BOOTS. Lori McKenna (Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush”) began writing the tune with the intention of having The Cadillac Three finish it. “We are vampires on Hollywood Boulevard / angels and sinners of our hometown streets,” go the lyrics, painting a picture of life’s rebels, before a massive country-radio chorus kicks in: “We are the back roads, dirty water shore banks…we are born and raised on American slang.”
The constant throughout LEGACY, however, lies in the players: as on all three of The Cadillac Three’s albums, only Johnston, Mason and Ray are the musicians. There’s no guest keyboard player, no second percussionist and certainly no bassist. Ray holds down the low end on his lap steel.
Especially on the standout LEGACY track “Take Me to the Bottom,” which features Johnston reaching high for a breathtaking falsetto. “‘Take Me to the Bottom’ has the best bass sound of anything I’ve ever done,” says Ray, who also keeps things greasy on the intense “Tennessee.” A thrashing love song, it evokes the stomp of ZZ Top – a favorite of TC3 – and features a lyrical shout-out to progressive country hero Sturgill Simpson, a kindred spirit of the band.
No matter the influence, though, the trio stays faithful to their own unique sound throughout LEGACY. “Hank & Jesus” glides along with Tennessee twang; “Demolition Man” is distinguished by the space between the notes; and the swaggering “Cadillacin'” is a band anthem. “We don’t put anything on our albums that we can’t re-create live,” says Mason. “If there is a TC3 rule, it’s that: keep it honest.”
Honesty, or authenticity, is a favorite buzzword around Nashville. But few artists come to it as naturally as The Cadillac Three. These guys couldn’t fake it if they tried. In the album’s title track, they offer a heart-on-the-sleeve testimony to what’s really important at the end of one’s days: love and a family tree.
When Mason and Ray heard “Legacy,” co-written by Johnston, they flipped, and pushed for it to be the title of the record. “We’re far enough along in our careers where doing an album called LEGACY doesn’t feel presumptuous to me,” says Mason.
Not when you run through The Cadillac Three’s milestones. It’s all there, from boundary-pushing albums, Grammy-nominated No. 1 songwriting across genres and fan-favorite singles to sold-out club shows and massive festival gigs alongside Aerosmith.
“With this album, we’re continuing to build this thing we’ve created. We’re touring nonstop, headlining shows in the U.K., playing the Ryman, and putting out a new record,” says Johnston. “Shit, that’s a pretty good legacy so far.”
Drake WhiteAnd The Big Fire
Named one of No Depression’s 7 Male Artists to Breakout in 2018, Drake White is going to put together the PIECES. His PIECES EP is available now and features 5 new tracks, 2 of which he co-wrote. This follows his debut album SPARK which has earned praise both commercially and across his loyal fan following. The 2016 Taste of Country Fan Choice Awards Album of the Year is a 12-track labor of love that showcases his exemplary songwriting with a rock-infused, organic Country sound and signature foot-stomp. The sultry song “Makin’ Me Look Good Again,” hit the top spot on SiriusXM’s The Highway with its deeply personal lyrics and pulsating groove. It also earned Drake the honor of International Song of the Year at the British CMA Awards. Fans from all genres voted Drake as CBS.com’s GRAMMY “Artist of Tomorrow” as he continues to stun crowds with his incredible live show and soulful voice. Drake, along with his band The Big Fire, has previously toured with Superstars including Willie Nelson, Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Toby Keith and more. It is no wonder that the Alabama native was featured in Entertainment Weekly’s New Artists Who Will Rule 2017, Rolling Stone’s 10 Country Artists You Need To Know and Billboard’s Hot New Country Artists to Watch. Major corporations have also taken notice with Geico showcasing his song “Heartbeat” in their national television campaign. Drake recently wrapped a second leg on Kip Moore’s PLEAD THE FIFTH TOUR and is currently on the road for additional headline dates.
For breakthrough country artist Jimmie Allen, a simple phrase sums up his view on life and music: Never give up.
A native of Southern Delaware – the region he describes as the “slower, lower” part of the state, and locale of Mercury Lane (the namesake of his debut album) – Allen has carried that mantra with him through good times and bad, whether than meant living in his car or rocking amphitheaters on Toby Keith’s Interstates & Tailgates Tour.
“I didn’t quit, I never will,” he says. “Stuff ain’t easy, and you shouldn’t quit either. There’s a big difference between busting your ass, and sitting on it.”
For Allen, musical dreams and a love of true-to-themselves artists like Alan Jackson, Aaron Tippin, Montgomery Gentry, and Jason Aldean brought him all the way to Nashville – and eventually around the world for an Armed Forces Entertainment tour of Japan.
But it was actually a nightmare which turned this promising singer into the artist he is today. After a series of bad breaks Allen was forced to live in his car, too proud to ask for a bail out. For months he worked multiple jobs and finally saved enough for an apartment but hit then another snag – Country music wasn’t ready for him.
“People were just trying to help,” he says now. “But they wanted me to change my sound and told me I had to lose my boots. The turning point came when I stopped listening, and finally let my music be a natural reflection of who I am.”
Since then Allen has been following his own compass, and it has lead him somewhere special. Now signed to BBR Music Group/BMG, his diligence is paying off. Kicking off 2018 being recognized on nearly every “Ones to Watch” list, this year has proved to be a turning point in the singer’s career as he raced through milestones that most only dream of—earning a standing ovation while making his Grand Ole Opry debut, cracking the Top 20 with his first-ever single and checking off many major bucket list items in between.
“I don’t regret the hard times,” he explains about his trials. “I think each thing you go through adds a layer, whether it’s a layer of toughness, perseverance, motivation, or just a layer of wisdom. At the end of the day you come back to what you know, and what’s embedded in you.”
What’s embedded in Allen is a powerful, soulful sense of groove – “If my body don’t move in the first four seconds, it ain’t for me,” he says – a love of deep messages and a knack for razor-sharp hooks.
Those driving forces formed the bedrock Allen’s debut self-titled EP, a cutting-edge mix of country, rock, R&B, and pop which digital streaming fans across all genres instantly latched onto when it dropped in October 2017.
“The response to my EP was incredible, I remember being onstage one night last November and nearly fell speechless as the entire crowd sang ‘Underdogs’ back to me for the first time—I’ll never forget it, it was a true ‘pinch me’ moment, especially because that song has become somewhat of the anthem for me and my journey.”
Mercury Lane, Allen’s first full-length album, delivers upon the same infectious groove that struck fans in his EP. Kicking off with dance-worthy tunes like “American Heartbreaker” and “Make Me Want To,” listeners will get an immediate helping of Jimmie’s signature playful sound. Rounded out by more introspective songs like “Wait for It” and “High Life,” as well as tracks like “Boy Gets a Truck” and “Love Me Like You Do” that allow his buttery smooth vocals to soar, Mercury Lane showcases the many sides of Jimmie Allen.
Family, as suggested in the heartfelt ballad “Warrior,” is a concept clearly central to the story of Jimmie Allen. Carrying a piece of them, wherever he goes, Mercury Lane takes its name from the street he grew up on as an homage to the origin of his story and the people that molded him.
“Mercury Lane is where my journey began. All of the fundamental life lessons that shaped my values, I was taught on that street—its where I learned about love, life, how to believe in myself, the concept of never giving up, following your dreams and being a good person. I credit my time spent there with my family for shaping me into the man I am today.”
Allen’s hard-won dreams are finally reality, but he knows he can’t rest now. Often found in his back pocket is a scarf from his late grandma which he carries to stay motivated.
“To me it serves as a constant reminder of where I came from, what it took to get me here, and my drive to keep pushing forward,” he says.
With that attitude, it seems like this is just the beginning for Allen.
For rising star Lindsay Ell, her debut album on Stoney Creek Records has been a long time coming … but you can’t rush personal discovery. Sent on a mission to unleash the vibrant, soul-bearing country artist long predicted by fans and critics alike, Ell’s journey is now complete – and she calls the result simply, The Project.
Comprised of 12 gripping, heart-on-her-sleeve tracks and produced by Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, The Project is the musical calling card Ell’s been working toward her whole life – from her childhood in Calgary, Alberta; through her time opening shows for blues legend Buddy Guy; and even with attention-grabbing country singles “Trippin’ On Us” and “By the Way.”
“I feel like I’ve finally found myself,” Ell beams about The Project. “I’m a better guitar player, I’m a better singer, I’m a better songwriter. I’m just a different artist, and I’ve never felt about music the way I do now.”
Grooving, diverse, and emotionally charged, it’s easy to hear what Ell means. The Project reveals every aspect of her abundant talent – from her fiery guitar prowess to her crisp, inviting vocals … and even her new knack for vulnerable song craft.
It’s funky, bluesy, and full of pop-country sweetness, but also delicate and – at times – brutally honest, as Ell’s heart is placed front and center on each track. She embraces the anything-goes fun of country’s future but also holds fast to its traditions, focusing on real instruments and co-writing nine of The Project’s songs to create something both unique and self-assured.
For the first time, Ell’s music feels 100 percent “Lindsay,” and part of the reason for that is the growing up she’s done over the past few years.
The young star has traveled the world with The Band Perry and Luke Bryan, showcased her multi-instrumental dexterity as one of CMT’s Next Women of Country, and is currently trading guitar solos with Brad Paisley on his 2017 Weekend Warrior World Tour. Plus, she and country radio personality Bobby Bones went public about falling for each other, leading to an outpouring of support and inspiring her to open up like never before on her critically-acclaimed 2017 EP, Worth the Wait.
“The album has helped me dig even deeper into that identity,” she explains. “With Worth the Wait I had something to say, writing real songs with real lyrics. But now I’ve kicked it up a notch. I still have really important lyrics, but The Project has groove and lots of guitar solos – I let my musical brain free.”
Crediting Bush with making her ask what kind of artist she really wanted to be, Ell says “You can tell when it clicks into gear.” Bush gave her a deceptively simple task before getting to work on The Project – recording her own version of her all-time favorite record, note for note and completely alone. For Ell, that record is John Mayer’s Continuum, and after locking herself in a studio for two weeks straight, she had a musical epiphany.
“It made me realize that I love music when it’s great, and simple,” she says. “When it’s great, it can stay simple – it doesn’t need to be that complicated.”
Well aware of Ell’s reputation as one of country’s most electrifying entertainers, Bush also sought to keep things simple. He recorded her with a live band as much as possible, letting her do what she does best.
“The funk aspects, the blues and the rock aspects are really where my influences lie,” she says. “When I pick up a guitar, that’s what makes my heart smile. But I’ve also gotten to a point in my life – professionally and personally – where I’m just more open, and I’m not afraid to talk about it in songwriting.”
The Project’s first single, “Waiting on You,” is the perfect combination of those traits, basking in slippery guitar grooves and real-life romantic optimism. Longtime fan favorite “Criminal” follows suit, swaying under the invincible armor of fresh love, while the wounded “Worth the Wait” holds out hope that some things really are meant to be.
“Champagne” shows off Ell’s personal swagger – complete with a strutting horn section and a message about the proper way to treat a woman. “Mint” features a refreshing, carefree beat, and the sugary pop of “Good” reveals Ell’s cautious joy as her dreams come true. “It’s so scary for things to work out,” she says with a nervous laugh.
Meanwhile, “Wildfire” burns with the same passionate intensity Ell displays onstage, “Space” takes a vocally-stunning look at long-distance relationships – whether physical or emotional – and “White Noise” explores the glazed over, hallow feeling of a bad breakup. That powerful track was written by hit makers Kelsea Ballerini, Ross Copperman, and Josh Kear.
“There’s a rawness in a slow groove like that,” says Ell. “The vocal is gritty and you’re talking about a heart being broken, trying to think of anything but that, and everything else in life seems like white noise. I feel like that’s something we can all connect to.”
Another track many will relate to – and one which speaks directly to The Project’s theme of self-discovery – is “Just Another Girl.” Ell wrote the tune with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, but even with a bouncy country beat and sunny steel guitar, its lyrics are deeply meaningful. It’s all about making sure your true calling doesn’t slip away.
“I really believe everybody has their own story and their own path of brilliance ahead of them,” Ell explains, hinting at the her own winding journey. “It’s a song of not settling for things, careers, or even emotions that you’re having, just because they happen to you all the time. It’s about knowing you’re meant for something more special than that.”
With her long-awaited album debut, Lindsay Ell has discovered what she was meant for, and who she really is. Her next “project” will be to pass that message on.
The Wild Feathers
All signs point to The Wild Feathers becoming the next great American rock ‘n’ roll band. The Nashville-based group—Ricky Young [guitar, vocals], Taylor Burns [guitar, vocals], Joel King [bass, vocals] and Ben Dumas [drums]—spent more than two years on the road supporting their 2013 self-titled full-length album alongside everybody from Bob Dylan to Gary Clark Jr. The record hit #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, and they received invites to appear on Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O Brien, Seth Meyers, Craig Ferguson, ABC’s Nashville, and more. Unanimous critical praise arrived courtesy of Rolling Stone, New York Times, Huffington Post, USA Today, and countless others. Along the way, evolution stayed on their minds as they started writing songs for what will become their 2016 sophomore effort, Lonely Is A Lifetime [Warner Bros. Records].
Lonely Is a Lifetime reflects a richer confluence of influences, while maintaining their signature soul and spirit and a nod to all that time on the road together. They’ve grown as men and musicians, and they’re
ready to claim their spot in the canon of American rock music.
The Steel Woods
“Well, I ain’t afraid of dying ‘cause I know where I’ll go/There I’ll live forever on the streets made of gold” “Rock That Says My Name”
The Steel Woods’ sophomore Thirty Tigers album, Old News, represents a creative leap for the southern roots rock songwriting team of Alabama native Wes Bayliss and his North Carolina partner Jason “Rowdy” Cope, who completed their first recordings barely months after they first met.
Recorded in Asheville, NC at Echo Mountain Studios, the site of an old church during a six-day break in a hectic touring schedule, the new double-vinyl disc (the follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimed Straw in the Wind) features more original songs and, for the first time, the whole band participated – including the rhythm section of bassist Johnny Stanton and drummer Jay Tooke – playing in a single room, cutting the tracks virtually live.
“We really hone in on what we do, our strengths as a band, establishing a musical identity,” explains Wes about their latest effort. “The first album, we were still figuring out our sound, so what came out, came out. This time, we had a premeditated blueprint, a real plan.”
The songwriting partnership between Bayliss and Cope continues to grow, mature and blossom. “Over time, you find out a person’s strengths and weaknesses, and it just happened to turn out his strengths are my weaknesses, and vice versa.”
Part Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, dual-guitar southern blues-rock with elements of R&B, country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, folk and metal, the descriptively named, Nashville-based band deepens its resolve on a theme-driven album that joins the mystery train of the past with the full-speed loco-motion of the present, seeking to bring people together with the universality of music.
Conceptually and musically, Old News delivers a set of songs at once eternal with lyrics wrenched from today’s headlines, featuring mythic reverberations and social critiques to boot. The album mourns an idealized past but isn’t afraid to point the way to a better future that enlists the best of both worlds.
Like The Steel Woods’ previous release, death and mortality make their chilling presence felt, whether it’s in the collection’s cemetery-placed set piece, “Rock That Says My Name,” whose theme is classic Shelley – “Ozymandias, look upon ye works and despair” – or the vintage bluegrass country of “Anna Lee,” the culmination of a murder trilogy begun with “Della Jane’s Heart” on the last album and ending with the Neil Young/Crazy Horse-ish instrumental, “Red River (The Fall of Jimmy Sutherland).” That preoccupation spills over into an idiosyncratic cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “The Catfish Song,” and a special four-song epilogue that includes faithful tributes to artists who have passed away – Tom Petty (“Southern Accent”), Merle Haggard (the prescient “Are The Good Times Really Over”), Gregg Allman (“Whipping Post” as funeral dirge) and Alabama singer/songwriter Wayne Mills (the meditation on mortality, “One of These Days”). Just as on Straw in the Wind, there’s a Black Sabbath cover, this time a take on “Changes” that transforms the song into a smooth Memphis-style Al Green soul croon, a nod to the cover by the late Charles Bradley.
“Death is a part of life that gets looked over,” says Wes. “It can be a positive or a negative, consequence or reward… It just finds its way into a lot of our writing.”
The album’s title track – which inspired the mock old-fashioned newspaper album cover representing each of the songs with a tintype illustration – is an example of the timeliness and timelessness of Old News, a song of hope that focuses on what connects us. “And pray for Miss Liberty,” sings Wes. “And the crack in Her bell/There’s a tear in Her eye/But Her arm hasn’t fell.”
“We wanted to write a song of hope,” says Bayliss, who notes his wife gave him a hard time about the grammatically incorrect use of “fell.” “Forget about those small things which divide us. This is about the things we all have in common. We’re all here living and working, trying to get by, raising families. We all just want to live and die free.”
In a world torn apart by differences, Old News invites us to partake of music as a common language, reinvigorating classic tropes with up-do-date relevance. The rowdy guitar blues of “Blind Lover” envisions a world where we trust our hearts without judgement, while “Compared to a Soul” offers another of The Steel Woods’ penchant for moral fables, this one a pair of Faustian bargains with the devil, one a man who shoots a friend for cheating at cards, the other a Jezebel stepping out on her Marine lover.
The opener, “All of These Years,” offers a ZZ Top-like guitar riff from an unrecorded song, “Shooting Scar,” while “Without You” offers tough love to a friend “in a bad place,” but in a last-minute narrative twist, turns out to be confronting his own reflection in a shattered mirror.
“This wasn’t an easy record to make,” acknowledges Bayliss about the blood on some of these Old News tracks.
“Rock That Says My Name” is arguably the album’s raison d’etre, a sprawling multi-part epic that recalls such forebears as Buffalo Springfield’s Jack Nitzsche-produced “Expecting to Fly,” confronting our own lives in the rear-view mirror. The song ends with Wes’ grandfather solemnly intoning the words of Matthew 6:19-21 from the King James Bible, a benediction that leads into the four-song “Obituaries” tribute that ends the album. The song was inspired by Wes reading an article about someone purchasing a tombstone in advance.
“What better way to drive yourself to live well than looking at your legacy, what you leave behind when you’re gone,” says Wes. “Just a rock with your name, when you were born and the day you died.”
“We’re going to tour this record and do everything in our power to do it justice and get it out to our fans,” says Bayliss. With Old News, The Steel Woods continue to build on the independent-minded approach to recording, touring and connecting to fans which has defined their career from the start.
CLARE DUNN BIOGRAPHY
A tractor cab might not seem like the ideal place for an aspiring artist to nurture her musical dreams, but it sure did the trick for Clare Dunn. Growing up in tiny Two Buttes, Colorado (population: 43), she spent days at a time helping plow and plant the family farm, sharpening her ears with uninterrupted music-listening in the driver’s seat, even as she strengthened her work ethic. “That’s where a lot of my creativity came from and where a lot of my vision was forged, was just having nothing else to do other than listen to music and dream all day long in the vast wide open of those plains,” she reflects.
By the time the genial, grounded Great Plains native got the chance to record for MCA Nashville, she had fine-tuned her creative vision and was ready to do what it would take to make it a reality, which landed her in a truly unique position: she is the only female country artist in recent memory to have a hand in all of the writing, arranging and producing for her debut release, the Clare Dunn EP.
“I remember feeling like, ‘I know that I’m asking my label to take this tremendous leap of faith on me. I will be in the studio day and night. I will go until it’s right,’” says the guitar-slinging singer and songwriter. “I feel so grateful that I’ve had a team around me that’s allowed me to do that and supported me every step of the way.”
True to her word, Dunn spent virtually every waking moment holed up in The Cave at Nashville’s House of Blues studios, crafting her standout sound beneath the watchful eye of a Chuck Berry portrait with such A-list collaborators as Terry McBride, Jesse Frasure and Ben West. And it definitely paid off. The hooks have irresistible pop-rock punch, the sentiments are shot through with heartland rock grit, the vocals show R&B-schooled rhythmic daring and the arrangements are both towering and dynamic.
Every lick of guitar on there, from agile melodic figures to aggressive shredding, is hers. “I think there’s, like, one song where I didn’t play a mandolin part or something like that,” she says. “But other than that, every lead part is my playing—acoustic, electric, everything.”
That goes for all of the vocal parts, too—except for a solitary Eric Paslay guest harmony. Dunn doesn’t sound quite like any other singer in any genre, but her sumptuous lower range and the attitude and lustiness she summons whenever it suits the song recalls such world-class pop performers as Pink or Annie Lennox. In her teens, Dunn geeked out over a VH1 “Behind the Music” documentary that showed Fleetwood Mac working out their meticulous vocal arrangements, and in the studio she might devote as many as a dozen tracks to doubling the melody in a different octave or layering precision harmonies, which adds to the sheer size of her sound.
Dunn began paying her dues back in southeast Colorado, where she grew up the second of two daughters born into a long line of farmers and ranchers. “We didn’t have any brothers,” she says. “We did basically everything that boys would normally do, driving 18-wheelers, combines, tractors. I was very grateful that my parents raised us with the mentality that we didn’t even think about it; it was just normal for us to do all that stuff. We were a small family operation, and it’s all hands on deck, all the time.”
In her early years, Dunn soaked up her parents’ favorite classic rock and country records—lots of Bob Seger titles among them—and stocked up on Top 40 singles when the family made the trek to a store in a neighboring town that actually had a record bin. She also absorbed all manner of rhythmic pop and R&B during marathon dance classes, so devoted to her hip-hop dance team that she won a scholarship to study with Janet Jackson’s backup dancers in California.
Says Dunn, “My mom wore out an engine in a Suburban hauling me back and forth to dance. I couldn’t go every day like the other kids, because I lived an hour away. So I would do makeup days, and spend all day from 10 in the morning to 10 o’clock at night just learning dances so that I could be in the recitals and competitions. Dance, for me, is such a form of expression. When I’m making music, I’m thinking about it from a dance perspective—beats and musicality and phrasing.”
For all of her sonic smarts, the aspiring musician lived in a town with zero places to play live shows, and she had no clue how to pursue her dream after high school until she heard about the music business program at Nashville’s Belmont University. The private school was out of her family’s price range, but she didn’t let that stop her, raising a big chunk of her tuition by driving a silage truck. “Anytime that there wasn’t school going on,” she recalls, “I was on that truck. Spring break, summer break, fall break. If you could’ve grown silage in December, I would’ve been on it over Christmas break. Whenever I couldn’t be home to drive the truck, my family kept the wheels rolling. My mom, dad and sister all drove it for me when I couldn’t be there due to classes or internships.”
It wasn’t until Dunn got to college that she learned how to play guitar. Unlike a lot of dorm room dabblers, she wasn’t content to just reach the point where she could accompany herself by strumming basic chords. “Whenever I’d try to talk to a guitar player and explain how I heard things, I could never explain it,” she says. “So I thought, ‘If I can’t explain it to them, I’d better see if I can learn how to do it myself, so I can get it the way that I hear it in my head.’ Lead guitar, for me, was where it was at. I had no interest in learning G, C and D and stopping. I wanted to be able to sing on guitar.”
After college, Dunn signed a deal that went sour and turned her attention to building a grassroots following through decidedly unglamorous touring. “I loaded up me and three guys in a four-door F-150 pickup and a trailer and we took off,” she laughs. “We put 100,000 miles on it in just a little over a year. We played bars—teeny, tiny bars—and honky-tonks and festivals. It was very bleak to start out with, pinching pennies, trying to magically make a dollar turn into three dollars, trying to keep morale up. Like, ‘I know we played for two people tonight, guys, but it’s fine. We’re gonna get beyond it!’ My family helped me then too. They believed in me so much that they were willing to sacrifice in order to help me build that following to get a record deal.”
The audience quickly multiplied when SiriusXM’s The Highway channel put Dunn’s flirtatious number “Cowboy Side of You” in rotation, and the fans who came out to the shows found a vital, confident band leader stomping around, swapping fearsome solos and singing like she meant it. Universal Music Group Nashville soon snatched her up, and she attracted in-demand co-writers like Paslay, West, Frasure, McBride, Tom Douglas, Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges, Chris Lindsey, Brett James and Ryan Beaver, and hit the road with many of her musical heroes including Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Seger, who hand-picked Dunn as direct support on his Ride Out Tour.
Now, that her with-it, down-home vision is captured on record and her sensuous single “Tuxedo” is impacting the country radio, Dunn is in the position to bring her music back to the people and places that taught her what determination was in the first place.
“I can confidently say I would not be in this chair had it not been for that work ethic my parents and community instilled in me,” says the forward-thinking, farm-bred artist. “It’s been a tough road getting here and it’s taken longer than I would’ve liked, but I’ve always felt confident in setting and pursuing my goals. That work ethic is what drove me to learn how to play, and to go back out and play another show for ten people. Where I’m from, that’s just what you do—you work.”
Mason Ramsey is a 12 year old country artist signed to Big Loud and Atlantic Records. He was discovered in April of 2018 when a video of him singing Hank William’s “Love Sick Blues” went viral.
Raised by his Grandparents, Mason is from Golconda, IL, which is a small town with a population of 700 people. Growing up without Internet, a cellphone or computers meant that a majority of his time was spent with his Grandpa Ernie learning about the history of Country music. With his guidance he learned to play guitar and start singing at the age of 4.
Over the years Mason would travel and play wherever he could catch a crowd. Being from a town of 700, the best places to find them were nearby truck stops, church and the Walmart 45 minutes from their home. He eventually developed the nickname “The Singing Walmart Boy” around town.
After a video of Mason yodeling went viral in April 2018, he has since then become one of the most viral and influential Country stars on social media today. He’s amassed 2.1 million followers on Instagram in a matter of 6 months which is more than some of the biggest Country stars today. His lead single ‘Famous’ has over 60 million total plays and is approaching to become a gold record. He made his Grand Ole Opry debut and has performed there 3 times. He has played at major festivals including Coachella, and Stagecoach. He has been invited and performed on numerous televisions shows such as Ellen, Good Morning America, and Today’s Show. Mason was apart of the legendary CMA Awards with hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. He is currently touring with country star Chris Lane and has a Las Vegas residency with Florida Georgia Line at the Planet Hollywood in December 2018.
Mason finishes off the year as the biggest stars of 2018. Making friends with the the likes of Shawn Mendes, Millie Bobby Brown, and other massive pop stars; Mason is definitely on his way to bringing the Country to the mainstream. Masons videos continue to go viral and sometimes approach 10-100 million views per video. The Internet has fallen in love with him as he has had one of the most breakout years of any entertainer in 2018.
Mason recently moved just outside of Nashville. He spends most of his time playing shows, playing basketball, and writing with other Nashville writers. He is surrounded by an incredible family that supports him as he continues to develop as an artist and chase his dream of becoming … as he would put it… “the Steph Curry of Country Music”
Gabby Barrett came into prominence when the 18 year old vocal powerhouse hit the national stage as a finalist on Season 16 of American Idol. Gabby is one of eight children from Munhall, PA (near Pittsburgh).
She began singing live in gospel choirs at the age of nine and, in 2014, she won Kean Quest Talent Search. Prior to Idol she performed over 100 shows and helped raise money for a host of regional charities including the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh and the Ronald McDonald House. She was even regarded as “A voice you must hear” by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
During Idol, Gabby collaborated on performances with superstars Bebe Rexha, Carrie Underwood, Sugarland and Luke Bryan, and toured on the American Idol Live! 2018 tour.
Gabby is currently touring with Chris Lane on the Laps Around The Sun Tour through the end of 2018. She is writing and recording new music to release soon.
Noah rose to fame covering chart-topping hits on YouTube. He received national attention with his blues-filled version of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” which to date has received over 26-million views, with his YouTube channel, only1noah, racking up over 78 million total views.
Noah released his first independent, original album, Among The Wildest Things, in 2013. His new album, The Valley, has established him as an artist on the rise in the world of Americana/Country music. His songwriting and soulful vocal delivery are truly unique.
His growing presence on YouTube eventually led to his being cast as Roderick Meeks, a pivotal character on FOX’s hit TV show Glee, on it’s sixth and final season. Noah was featured in several songs on the popular, music oriented TV show.
After the show ended, Noah dove head first back into songwriting and touring. His second original album, The Valley, solidifies Noah as one of the freshest new voices in Americana music. He is often compared to artists, such as, Ray Lamontagne and Jason Isbell. The Valley is getting major play on streaming services, such as Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music. Noah currently has over 600,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone.
Most recently, Noah was a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent Season 13.
The South Carolina native grew up in a home filled with music. Always singing around the house, Guthrie credits his father for teaching him to learn his true voice and hone his gift. His richly textured voice is capable of conveying the true emotion of a lyric. Guthrie has opened concerts for Ed Sheeran, Sister Hazel, Neon Trees, Ben Rector, Corey Smith, Matisyahu, Matt Nathanson, and Selena Gomez, and has performed on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars as well as NBC’s Today Show and The Tonight Show. Noah, and his band, were recently featured performers on Rock Boat XVIII, the biggest music festival at sea, along with Sister Hazel, Barenaked Ladies, needtobreathe, Drew Holcomb and others.
He will be appearing on the upcoming season of America’s Got Talent after being invited directly onto the show without an audition.
Kassi Ashton brought a whole new attitude of her own to country music upon arrival in 2017. The California, Missouri singer and songwriter initially touched down with a string of critically acclaimed tracks. Released by UMG Nashville in conjunction with Interscope, her introductory release “California, Missouri” stirred up widespread critical acclaim from Taste of Country, CMT, The Boot, and many more. As her profile grew, she lent her voice to the standout “Drop Top” on Keith Urban’s chart-topping 2018 album, Graffiti U. He went on to describe her as “such a unique, original creature.” Expanding on her confessional and catchy storytelling, she maintained momentum on the summer solo song “Taxidermy.” Named “Who to Watch” by Huffington Post and The Tennessean, radio personality Bobby Bones included her among his Class of 2018. Rolling Stone lauded her as “a devilish songwriter who isn’t afraid to flip convention on its head,” and Refinery29 also claimed, “she blends pop aesthetics with a presence doused in no-fucks-left-to-give authenticity.” She continues to defy convention and define a signature style on the 2019 single “Violins”—and a whole lot more to come.
Critics and fans from across the musical spectrum found much to fall in love with this past fall when Dillon Carmichael unleashed his brilliant debut, ‘Hell OnAn Angel.’ Produced by Dave Cobb—the studio guru behind country radio powerhouses like Chris Stapleton and Zac Brown Band—the album merged a sonically progressive palette with a tasteful reverence for the past and wrapped it all up with a director’s eye for detail, creating a stunning collection that was at once old-school and modern, traditional and contemporary, timeless and timely. The New York Times compared Carmichael to Randy Travis and said his rich baritone voice “moves with the heft and certainty of a tractor-trailer,” while NPR praised his “deep holler,” and Parade raved that “Carmichael defines pure country.” He landed on Artist To Watch lists from Billboard, Rolling Stone, Taste of Country, Pandora, and more, reached #2 at Country radio’s Most Added chart with his debut radio single,“DancingAway With My Heart,” electrified festival crowds from CMA Fest to Dierks Bentley’s Seven Peaks, and earned tour dates with Aaron Lewis, Dwight Yoakam, Trace Adkins, The Cadillac Three, and A Thousand Horses among others.
“At an after party one night we watched a video of The Band’s “The Last Waltz” over a bottle of Knob Creek. It sounded like the dirt I grew up from. That moment musically changed my life.” ~ Brent Rupard of Everette
Like the great American bands that came before them – new Broken Bow Records duo Everette doesn’t follow trends. Instead, the guys of Everette write what they live, weaving gritty tales of struggle and heartbreak alongside fun-loving stories of escapism and mischief. Often their songs are written while touring – sometimes during sleepless nights as an odometer tracks the miles or on a day off in a dingy motel room off the beaten path – but always organically and always from the heart.
Hailing from humble beginnings, Brent Rupard and Anthony Olympia unknowingly went to high school a mere eight miles apart in rural Bullitt County, Kentucky. Brent spent much of his youth on his family’s horse farm and even dabbled in barrel racing. Anthony’s grandpa was a hall of fame quarter horse trainer and, although their families were friends, the two musicians wouldn’t meet until the age of 21 when Brent took a guitar lesson from the classically-trained Anthony.
Their friendship and musical chemistry was immediate and the pair soon moved to Bowling Green, KY, where the duo cut its teeth playing originals and covers four nights each week while finishing their degrees at Western Kentucky University. It was the burgeoning Bowling Green music scene that Brent and Anthony credit for shaping them into the songwriters and artists they are today, particularly at a venue called WHA bah.
“Once we started playing music at WHA bah the crowd wasn’t just college kids anymore – it was people of all ages and all walks of life. They taught us to how to have a good time and not worry about proving ourselves to anyone. They taught us to be true to ourselves,” says Anthony.
The two friends moved to Nashville after graduation to “chase the dream” together. Brent started a solo career. Anthony began working as a musician for hire to pay the bills while still playing in Brent’s band. Throughout this time the roommates continued to write and record demos together until the day the two collaborators decided to form the duo Everette during a writing session – and an American band was born.
Named for George Clooney’s character in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” the duo of Everette is a bonafide triple threat. Brent and Anthony co-write almost all of their songs as well as play many of the instruments on Everette’s studio recordings. The two young artists are also co-producing their debut project, an experience Brent calls “spiritual” and one that is critical to the authenticity of Everette’s brand of Country music.
“We have a certain type of rhythm and we get into a symbiotic zone together in the studio that makes the song work,” explains Anthony. “We have a mutual respect for each other’s talent and each other’s feedback when we disagree. Trying to redo a song in someone else’s studio – it just isn’t the same.”
Everette’s brand of country music is filled with swampy harmonicas and bluesy guitar licks mixed with a knack for melodic hooks not unfamiliar to fans of the 80s and 90s. Citing diverse influences ranging from Tom Petty, The Eagles and Randy Travis to Ray Charles, Michael Jackson and John Mayer, Everette’s honest and relatable music exudes a crossover appeal that would have fans singing along at Bonnaroo as well as at CMA Music Fest.
Everette’s “Slow Roll” is a rollicking, carefree number inviting the listener to escape from the trappings of city life into an afternoon of leisurely possibility. With a dance-friendly beat and an infectious chorus, “Slow Roll” showcases the duo’s clever songwriting abilities, including a nod to pop culture classic “Dazed and Confused.”
Hips will immediately begin swaying to Everette’s intoxicating “Mugshots.” At once dangerous and fun-loving, the duo utilized a steel resonator to add a “Tarantino soundtrack vibe” to the song. That unique element, paired with the song’s arena rock chorus, is sure to make “Mugshots” the universal anthem of wild summer nights.
The duo switches gears with the dark and gritty “Relapse” which showcases an intensity and depth to the young artists’ songwriting abilities. Everette credits the “magic” of the heart-wrenching lament to writing it while on the road without time limitations or constraints.
Everette often describes its brand as “bonfire music” because of its communal nature, which relates directly to the Country music genre. “It’s the same thing we love about Country music and Country radio,” says Brent.
“Just like everyone’s involved at a bonfire jam,” says Anthony. “When we’re on stage we don’t want any separation between us and the audience. We want our shows to be an experience. We write songs about us, but they’re really about everyone.”
Don’t let the age fool you. In her few short years, Big Machine Recording artist Lauren Jenkins’ life has spun like a gritty country vinyl, chock-full of smoke-filled bars, fake IDs and miles on the road. That life could get lonely, but for this Texas born, Carolina raised singer/songwriter; Music has always been her constant road companion. By 15, she was hitting the clubs up and down the East Coast, playing each night for just one new fan. By 17, she was making regular trips to New York City, before making the move official. While there studying acting, music was never an afterthought, but the goal. Burning the late night oil, Jenkins would showcase her new music at the legendary New York clubs, The Bitter End, The Living Room and anywhere that gave her a mic to sing. During this time, some of her songs made their way into the hands of Scott Borchetta and his Big Machine Label Group (Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Tim McGraw). With a call, a flight and dinner, Big Machine knew they wanted to be to be a rider on her musical voyage and offered her a record deal on Big Machine.
Released in late 2016, “Jenkins’s new EP” the Nashville Sessions “is a testament to the ability to further break down those genre barriers in cool, exciting new ways.” “Penning four of the six tracks, Lauren showcases unfiltered lyrics through alluring vocals, creating a fusion of soulful vibrancy. The glamorous songstress blends her traditional Country roots with Americana influences to seamlessly transition between cheerful melodies one moment and expressions of raw emotion the next.”
With a 2018 Big Machine debut album to be released, Jenkins will be found where she is comfortable, on the road and on a stage.
The Sisterhood Band
The Sisterhood are an organic blend of the open melodies of classic West Coast folk & and the magnetic swagger of timeless rock n’ roll, powered by Alyssa and Ruby’s soaring richly textured harmonies and effortless chemistry. Both ladies have strong musical DNA. Alyssa is the daughter of Kathie Baillie & Michael Bonagura (the core of country band Baillie & The Boys) and Ruby’s father is rock icon Rod Stewart.
The pair met through a group of musical friends while both working on their solo careers. Immediately bonding over growing up in the music business and sharing a mutual love and idolization of folk goddess Joni Mitchell, it wasn’t obvious to them that their friendship should turn professional until they were jamming on some Joni songs backstage after seeing a Rod Stewart gig together. He listened to their glistening harmonies of a song or two and told them “You two should start a band.”
After only a year of knowing each other, the duo are capturing attention immediately all over the globe, and recently signed their first record deal with Sony Music Nashville on stage at their 3rd & Lindsley show. They’ve written and recorded their first EP which features the theme song “Tenderize My Heart” for the Stewarts & Hamilton’s show on E!, performed at Fashion Weeks in Milan and Miami, landed a slot on the main stage at CMC music festival in Australia, opened for Gary Clark Jr. & Steven Tyler, made guest appearances at Rod Stewart’s Vegas show at Caesar’s palace and were the opening act on Sir Rod’s summer and winter stadium tour, while headlining their first club tour in the U.K. After making their Grand Ole Opry Debut on the eve of the historic solar eclipse, the girls are currently recording and producing their debut album in Nashville, TN.
Their meeting was happenstance, but the music they create together can only mean that nothing is ever truly coincidence. Voices of sirens, lyrics of poets; these two musical heirs are soul sisters are messengers of the music in their hearts. Two very different worlds colliding with one common thread makes the music they create one of a kind. Fresh sounds, haunting melodies, and signature voices and harmonies are what set The Sisterhood apart from any other female group in today’s popular music.
Born and raised in Lockhart, TX, East began crafting his signature style while playing in his family band. Determined to make it in the music business, East and his family relocated to Nashville in 2006.
It wasn’t until East lost his Dad to cancer that he began his journey into songwriting. His songs soon caught the attention of legendary, Grammy award-winning songwriter Harley Allen (“The Baby,” “My Last Name,” “Tough Little Boys”). Allen saw something special in young East and signed him to his first publishing deal.
East found a true passion in songwriting and it has garnered him cuts with artists like Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Dailey and Vincent, Chuck Wicks, Joe Diffie and many others.
It isn’t just his songwriting that has gained the attention of some of Nashville’s most powerful decision-makers. In May 2015, John Marks, the Global Head of Country Music for Spotify, heard East perform at a music festival and immediately reached out about adding his material to the Spotify playlists. In August of 2017, East released his first single “Still Crazy” on Spotify, and within 4 months, it gained over 1.5 million streams. The track also peaked at #12 on the US Viral Chart and #15 on the Global Viral Chart. His follow up single, “Time Is Cold”, is available everywhere now.
Away from the music scene, East is very passionate about issues concerning mental illness. He hopes to change the public stigma that prevents people who deal with these diseases from engaging in needed mental health care.
As Rolling Stone so cleverly put it, Hannah Ellis is an artist for fans of “spontaneous declarations of love.” This Kentucky native is creating forward-thinking pop country music with a lyric that pulls from real life experiences. This approach has garnered Hannah a great deal of attention in the last year as she was named to CMT’s Next Women of Country, as well as one of Rolling Stone’s “Artists to Watch.” Her single, “Home and a Hometown”, premiered on CMT last summer and has since been featured on Sirius XM’s “On the Horizon,” and even charted in the Top 100 on Medibase Country, despite being an independent release. Growing up in her small hometown of Campbellsville, Kentucky, Hannah sang in every local competition she could, eventually leading her to compete in Season 8 of The Voice. Once returning home to Nashville, she signed a publishing deal with Curb|Word Entertainment. Hannah has since had songs recorded by artists like Russell Dickerson, Danielle Bradbery, and most recently, the current Cassadee Pope single. While writing full time, Hannah has continued traveling and playing shows. She signed with Creative Artists Agency at the end of 2017, and has since toured as the opener for artists such as Dwight Yoakam, Montgomery Gentry, and Devin Dawson. You can see Hannah out on the road this spring on the CMT Next Women of Country Tour with Cassadee Pope and Clare Dunn, and be on the lookout for some new music coming soon.
J. D. Shelburne
In releasing his latest album, Two Lane Town, JD Shelburne feels he has recorded the album that could take him to a whole new level. “I’ve been working really hard on it. I think it is my best collection of songs that I’ve released thus far,” he says of his fourth project. He says that he’s definitely learned a lot since he released his first disc that was self-titled, back in 2012.
“It’s all about finding and recording great songs,” he says. “It all boils down to just a great lyric. I try to write/choose songs that I can relate to, ones that are catchy and have a great melody.”
Of the tracks from the new album, JD says there’s one in particular that has a special place in his heart. “I co-wrote a song on the record called ‘Born For This.’ It’s the first song on the record, and it talks about picking up guitar and adapting to a new venture in life and just running with it – I was nineteen, when my grandmother passed away. My life turned around in an instant when I found that guitar. I didn’t realize until early in college that music was my true passion in life. I had played three different sports growing up, and just led the simple small-town life. I picked up the guitar, and my life hasn’t been the same since. It’s kind of the title track of my life. When I was about to finish college, there was a point where I realized I was about to be an adult and wondered what I was going to do with my life. Where I was going to go? I honestly felt like I was born to play music and entertain people. It was just something that I gravitated towards naturally. Nashville, Tennessee was my next destination and I haven’t looked back since.”
J.D. began that gravitation while growing up on a tobacco farm in Taylorsville, KY, a tiny town southeast of the Ohio River near Louisville KY. At age 19, he found a guitar after the death of his grandmother and began learning to play and sing on his own. By his sophomore year of college, he had found a few gigs at some local bars in the Louisville/Lexington, KY area and developed a fan-base that eventually landed him on some of the biggest stages in the business, opening for some of the nation’s hottest stars. Eventually, Shelburne was adding original songs into the set mix, in addition to producing songs of his own material.
In 2002, Kentucky fell in love at first sight with Shelburne, then college student and small-town kid with a wide smile, natural singing voice and a love of faith, family and his hometown of Taylorsville, KY. But that small-town image is merely a fond memory now that he has moved on to Nashville down the path to music stardom.
Now find him soaking up the music scene, touring cities, building a fan-base and celebrating a decade of success playing venues all across the southeast trying to get his big break. Today he’s among the most hard working and relevant country singers in the business. They say Nashville doesn’t work that way anymore – that talented musicians with very few connections don’t stand a chance. But Shelburne proved that Music City’s engine still runs off of talent and persistent driven antics. Critics find him credible. Fans pack his shows. Venues strive to book him. There are very few new artists recording songs today about whom that can be said.
During his whirlwind career explosion, he has performed with over 50 national acts ranging from stars such as Montgomery Gentry, Craig Morgan, Jamey Johnson, Kellie Pickler, Steve Wariner to Clay Walker and Johnny Lee, performed at some of the region’s most famous venues such as the Historic Ryman Auditorium, Rupp Arena, Murphy Center, KFC Yum Center, Freedom Hall, Churchill Downs and Old Cardinal Stadium which recently drew the Kentucky State Fair’s largest crowd of the concert series. Shelburne performed “God Bless America” prior to the 2016 Quaker State 400 NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway to over 100,000 attendees. He has also been featured in Country Weekly Magazine, Kentucky Alumni Magazine, Kentucky Monthly Magazine amongst many other national publications including the Huffington Post. His debut music video “Farmboy” gained him thousands of new fans by airing on the TNN Top Ten Countdown nationwide on Heartland TV network and ZUUS Country Network. In 2015, he made his Nationwide debut on GAC – Great American Country Network and also CMT.com in October with his second music video entitled “Hometown” written about the demise of his small town. On October 21, 2015, Shelburne debuted as #1 trending artist on CMT.com edging out Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean! Shelburne has performed over 1000 concerts all over the southeast as well as over 300 festivals. Shelburne’s outfit has been featured on display at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Historic Churchill Downs from his appearance at the 2015/2016 Kentucky Derby. In 2016, Shelburne was invited to perform in the Kentucky State Capitol for the State Senate as well as the House of Representatives where he performed his own rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” for both parties. JD was named an Honorable Kentucky Colonel and was also presented honor of “Admiral” by the Commonwealth of Kentucky recently. Also, in 2016, the University of Kentucky’s College of Communication and Information named JD Shelburne their 2016 Most Outstanding Alumnus!
In June 2017, Shelburne launched his world premiere official music video for “Better Man” that was filmed in Midway/ Millville, KY. The music video made it’s Network Television Debut on Great American Country (GAC) on June 23, 2017 and is currently in Nationwide rotation. At the 2017 Kentucky Derby, Shelburne was a guest chef of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host Guy Fieri at his restaurant alongside Guy, Travis Tritt and NFL Legend Jerry Rice! In September 2017, Shelburne made his NBC Network Television Debut performing the National Anthem at the NASCAR XS Myrtle Beach 300 at Kentucky Speedway!
Shelburne also has performed at several prestigious nationwide events: 2 NBA Basketball Games, Guaranteed Rate Field for the Chicago White Sox, Suntrust Park for the Atlanta Braves, The Kentucky Derby, Unbridled Eve Derby Gala, Barnstable Brown Derby Gala, events for Jim Beam Brands and Four Roses Bourbon, NCAA Division I College Football/Basketball Games, The National FFA Organization National Convention, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Hotel Brands, NASCAR Racing Events, Minor League Baseball Games, Dollar General NASCAR Racing Team Event, CMA Music Festival, the NCAA Women’s Final Four, SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament and more! As you can imagine, the road is a place where he loves to be.
“I rarely take days off. I did 236 dates last year, and in 2016, I did 246. I have always taken nearly every opportunity given to me that was within reasonable distance. I have a relative in the family that was a Country artist back in the 1970s, and his name was Guy Shannon. He had a couple of charted singles, and played the Opry several times. He told me before I moved to Nashville ‘You’ll never get discovered in a basement. Anytime you can get a gig somewhere, take it and run with it. I have taken that advice and used it tremendously. I play shows everywhere. I’ve been in the business ten years, and I’m still hungry,” he says eagerly
J.D. has high hopes and expectations for the new music. “One of my goals is to play the Grand Ole Opry. I’ve been on the verge couple of times, but have never been asked to play. I am also looking for national success. I would love to guest on a national TV show like Today, where I can introduce my music to a national audience overnight. I want to try to get on a national tour and spread my music and my name to places I’ve never played. I think I’ve got some great songs on this record, and I think so many fans will relate and be drawn to this new album. I still have a lot of ground to cover and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon”
Raelyn Nelson band
As an emerging female country artist in Nashville, history suggests that the quickest path to success is somehow aligning oneself with one of the major publishers, producers, songwriters, labels, or managers that are the heart of Music Row. So what do you do if you are an emerging female country artist in Nashville, and also happen to be the granddaughter of musical icon, Willie Nelson?
You hook up with an independent producer and veteran of the rock/punk scene, write some songs that are part Loretta Lynn, part Cheap Trick, and form the Raelyn Nelson Band.
Raelyn Nelson has been singing since she can remember. Having been raised on a steady diet of traditional country and gospel music, a gift from her grandpa in the form of a guitar during her teenage years was the inspiration she needed to begin writing her own country and folk songs.
Looking for a place to record these songs, a mutual friend suggested
JB (Jonathan Bright), a veteran of the underground rock scene and independent producer. After recording some of these early songs, they decided to try to write some things together and see what happened.
The result? A completely fresh and original sound, a true hybrid referred to by some critics as “Country/Garage Rock.”
When they aren’t recording their songs or making music videos, they are on the road taking their high energy live show to the people. Having shared the stage with such diverse musical acts as country superstar Tim McGraw, indie rock icons Drivin’ n Cryin’, and jam band supergroup Hard Working Americans, the RNB is proving that you don’t have to fit neatly into any particular “genre” to find success.
“I don’t really have any desire to be a ‘solo-artist’. Everyone in my family who plays music has always placed a lot of importance on band chemistry, on stage, off stage and in the studio. Our band can almost read each other’s minds. Why would I mess with that? We try to keep it simple: Write songs we like, record them, make a video, then go out and play them for people.”- Raelyn Nelson
“It’s a song about taking the risk to do what you love,” Alice Wallace says of the soaring track, “The Blue,” which yields a lyric entitling her spellbinding new album. With Into the Blue, the California-country singer-songwriter conjures the atmospheric sound of the Golden State’s canyons and deserts, mountains and crashing waves, its crowning beauty and its tragic losses. At the same time, the supple-voiced Wallace tells her own and others’ stories, weaving tales that resonate as we grapple with so many disturbing national issues.
Into the Blue is Wallace’s fourth album but marks her debut on the brand-new Rebelle Road label, an imprint founded by a trio of women dedicated to strengthening the California Country music community and expanding visibility for female artists in the Americana/roots genre. “They care so deeply about giving women a stronger voice in the music industry,” Wallace attests. Having spent the past six years writing songs and touring the nation – from AMERICANAFEST® to county fairs, barrooms to coffeehouses – Alice Wallace is ready to break out. “It takes bravery to ‘sail away into the blue’ and grab it,” she says. “It took me until about six years ago to finally take the plunge, quit my job and go for it. I haven’t looked back since.”
It was after Wallace’s return to her birth state of California that she fully embraced her calling as a singer-songwriter. Her musical family had relocated to rural St. Cloud, Florida, when she was a child. She grew up around the sounds of her parents playing guitars and singing, with “Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, their favorite,” she recalls. She also absorbed the country rock of ‘70s-era Linda Ronstadt on the turntable. “I really taught myself to sing by mimicking their styles,” she says. “The powerful belt that Linda has. The emotive lilt to Emmylou’s voice. Trying to navigate those different elements helped me find my own voice nestled in between all that.” She first picked up guitar at age 10, with her dad teaching her to finger-pick at 15, and by senior year in high school, Wallace was performing original compositions at the local Borders bookstore. It was in college that she discovered yet another calling: yodeling, that haunting vocal style that blends blues, country, and western. Wallace’s own “A Little Yodel” added her to the ranks of legends Patsy Montana and Carolina Cotton.
In 2008, when the Wallace family relocated back to Southern California, she joined them. There, she began focusing on writing, performing, and touring, both solo and with a band. Since 2013, she performs some 200 dates a year. One of those with whom she’s shared stages is singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, who says she and her “stunning” songcraft have that “Steve McQueen ‘Cincinnati Kid’ cool.” Pundits agree: she won the 2017 Female Vocalist of the Year at the California Country Awards and the previous year’s Best Country/Americana Artist at the L.A. Music Critic Awards. She was recently singled out by the Los Angeles Daily News and Pollstar for her “dead-on lovely version” of Ronstadt’s “throbbing” “Long Long Time” at the “Palomino Rides Again” event celebrating the legendary California honky-tonk.
Into the Blue represents Wallace’s evolution as a recording artist, showcasing her growth as a songwriter as she embraces a fuller sound, backed by some of Americana’s most distinctive players. Co-produced by Steve Berns and Rebelle Road’s studio veteran, songwriter and musician KP Hawthorn (who’ve made a name for themselves working with artists in the West coast Americana scene), the album is brimming with soul. The formidable rhythm section, including drummer Jay Bellerose (Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Aimee Mann) and bassist Jennifer Condos (Jackson Browne, Graham Nash), underpins instrumentation ranging from Tom Bremer’s crunchy electric guitar to Kaitlin Wolfberg’s lush string arrangements to keys and pedal steel from Jeremy Long (Sam Outlaw).
Wallace uses an intoxicating array of vocal styles to bring her songs to life: a dusky alto on “The Lonely Talking” (co-written with KP Hawthorn); gospel-tinged belting on “When She Cries” (inspired by the end of a six-year drought in California), and a soaring soprano on “Santa Ana Winds.” The latter, a country-rock chronicle of California’s devastating wildfires, is a co-write with Dallas artist Andrew Delaney, a frequent collaborator whom she calls “the most brilliant lyricist I’ve ever met.” Wallace inhabits his stirring “Elephants,” giving voice to women who refuse to be “quiet as a mouse in a room full of elephants.” The Wallace-Delaney-penned “Echo Canyon” is, she says, “a southwestern cowboy ballad that’s a modern take on a yodel song.” Wallace’s heart-wrenching “Desert Rose” tells of a young mother’s struggle to give her baby a better life across the border.
Lyrically, the heart of the album is the luminous anthem, “The Blue,” says Wallace. It describes her own journey to “get over my fears and go for the thing I love the most.” She knew that being a traveling troubadour and committing herself fully to music could be a dangerous choice. “In some ways, I wish I had done it sooner,” she says. “But I’m also glad I have the life experience to help fuel my songwriting and survive life on the road.” The highly charged emotional feel of “The Blue” derives in part from its exquisite layered harmonies – Wallace’s vocals joined by those of her father, mother, and brother. Known as “blood harmony,” when kinfolk sing together, it conveys a rapturous kind of purity and strength. That buoyancy radiates throughout Alice Wallace’s Into the Blue, lifting her listeners up, transporting them into the world of a seasoned troubadour looking back from a dream realized and dues paid without regret.
Known mononymously as IMAJ, the artist fans everywhere call their “Country Darling” is a multi-talented Country singer-songwriter, visual artist, novelist, actress and humanitarian. Born in Miami Beach, FL to a model mother and actor father, 80’s TV icon Philip Michael Thomas (Tubbs of Miami Vice), IMAJ grew up in a “utopian environment where creativity was encouraged.” IMAJ has been a special guest performer/toured with multi-platinum and major Country artists such as Collin Raye, Kip Moore, Gretchen Wilson, Billy Dean, Neal McCoy, Hunter Hayes and LeAnn Rimes. IMAJ has also been a special guest performer for renowned brands such as PepsiCo, Frito-Lay, an honored singer/songwriter at Nashville’s famous Bluebird Cafe and a headliner for the State Fair of Texas, the “I Am Ali” Festival and Awards ceremony for the Muhammad Ali Center, Nancy Lieberman’s Dream Ball Gala with Ice Cube and Julius Irving, the Festival of Faiths, WE Day, for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s Toys for Kids charity event, Forbes Magazine’s listed PNC Conference and Dallas’ MLK Parade, just to name a few.
IMAJ is an Amazon Top 10 Bestselling Country artist and has been featured in People Magazine, Huffington Post, NowThis Entertainment, Distractify and more. CMA (Country Music Association) CloseUp Magazine labeled IMAJ “The One To Watch.” She was also labeled “The New Face of Country Music” by QueenLatifah.com. Her debut single “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” from her self-titled debut album charted on Music Row and reached New and Active on the Billboard Country Charts. IMAJ says the song is “…all about being yourself in a world where everyone else is trying to be everyone else. It’s all about Peace, Love and Country music.”
“Colorblind”, IMAJ’s latest world peace country music video, reached over 3.3 million views worldwide on Facebook and is from her sophomore album “America’s Sweetheart”. She performed her hit at the Cam Busch Endowed Arts for Health Lecture Series for the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, TN where she was the keynote speaker. IMAJ will be receiving the 2019 Trailblazer Award at the Equanimity Awards in Dallas, TX. She was an Avanti Award winner and a nominated for the prestigious RoundGlass Music Awards for her single “His Story, Her Story.” This song that she wrote sheds light on the sacrifices of our military men and women. Just like her other releases, this single, too, is generating listeners, views and buzz worldwide. Through it all, IMAJ’s main goal is to help foster world peace with her music.