Music Spotlight: Spencer Crandall

I remember the first time hearing Spencer Crandall’s song “Made.”

The lyrics Cause soulmates aren’t found they’re made/ Yeah, we choose each other every day/ Even when we bend, we know we won’t break/ We just bounce back better ’cause/ Soulmates aren’t found/ they’re forged in the same fire/ Work at it even when we get tired/ Making ups out of downs/ doing all that it takes/ ‘Cause soulmates aren’t found/ they’re made stopped me in my tracks.

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Music Spotlight: Tigirlily Gold

I first met the sister duo, Tigirlily Gold, back in 2022, when they were part of a fundraiser for one of my favorite charities, Music Will. I knew then that I wanted to feature the effervescent pair.

When I recently heard their megahit “Shoot Tequila” on Sirius XM’s The Highway, I was reminded that it was time to contact them.

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Music Spotlight: Jay Allen

When rising artist Jay Allen debuted the song “No Prayer Like Mama’s,” I knew this was the artist I wanted to feature for Mother’s Day Weekend. To be honest, the lyrics just wreck me, and I suppose that is what a good country song does.

Allen grew up in a little Midwest town in Iowa where his dad owned a restaurant called Joe’s Country Grill. That’s where his dad met his mother when she was a waitress. Because they both worked at the restaurant, Allen spent much of his younger years there.

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Joe and Linda Chambers, Eric Church, and Butch Spyridon Receive Stars on Walk of Fame

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Three more stars last week were added to The Music City Walk of Fame.

May 4th marked the 25th ceremony where Star 98 was awarded to Joe and Linda Chambers, Star 99 was awarded to Eric Church, and Star 100 was given to Butch Spyridon.

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Music Spotlight: Amanda Kate Ferris

When I heard the howling pedal steel-soaked guitar on the song aptly named “Pedal Steel,” a touching song about the Grand Ole Opry, I knew I needed to interview the artist as soon as possible. I was not surprised that Amanda Kate Ferris was from a musical family.

What did surprise me is that Ferris’s mother, Kathy Wright, was one of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers. I was excited to find out more.

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Music Spotlight: Conner Smith

One thing that I have learned by writing this column is that the country music that young people like (who are the biggest consumers of digital music) is not always the same as the music that I like.

But sometimes artists can bridge that gap. Twenty-two-year-old Conner Smith is such an artist. I know exactly why he is so popular with the younger set. But it was his writing ability that impressed me most. He is a gifted songwriter. He has been writing songs since age six. He scored his first publishing deal at age 16. Not only that, I also learned that he was born in the same town in East Tennessee where my children were born, Cleveland.

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Music Spotlight: Colleen Rae

I’ve been Facebook friends with Colleen Rae for more than 12 years. I knew she sang country music but had not heard much from her until recently.

Rae is from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She grew up in a family that loved music, when they celebrated birthdays and the like, they would break out the guitars and start to jam.

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Music Spotlight: Mark Taylor

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Rising Nashville artist and Maryland native Mark Taylor has had a guitar in his hand since he was two years old and has never looked back.

“My dad was/is a huge influence on my music career. He paid his way through college playing cover gigs in bars. By the time I was two years old, I was playing nonsense chords on a little guitar. By the time I was six and seven, I was playing in his band with a bunch of his friends,” he said. 

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Music Spotlight: Kinsey Rose

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- From the first few measures of a twangy guitar, I knew instantly when I heard “Speed of Broken Heart” that Kinsey Rose was going to be an artist I would want to feature. As they say, people who date have a “type”; the same can be said for me regarding country music artists. I have a type and when I hear it, I know it’s going to be gold.

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Ryman Auditorium Adds Charley Pride Statue Its Iconic Walk

Ryman Auditorium unveiled the latest addition to its Icon Walk this morning with a statue honoring American music icon Charley Pride. The detailed bronze likeness was added to the permanent outdoor exhibition on the historic venue’s grounds ensuring the country music trailblazer will forever remain part of the Soul of Nashville.

Created to honor those who have contributed significantly to the historic venue and Music City, Charley Pride’s statue joins likenesses of beloved legends Loretta Lynn, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Bill Monroe, three of the most profound musical innovators in country and bluegrass music.

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Documents: Concert Promoter Giant Live Nation’s Subsidiaries Weren’t Eligible for Millions of Dollars in COVID Grants

Subsidiaries of behemoth concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment received $20 million in federal COVID grants that they were not entitled to, according to a Wisconsin Daily Star review of documents.

Madison-based Frank Productions Concerts, LLC and National Shows 2, LLC of Delaware, each received $10 million from the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venues Operator Grant (SVOG) program — funding that was clearly marked for independent operators, not subsidiaries of publicly traded companies.

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Music Spotlight: Jake Worthington

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Jake Worthington first wowed America in 2014 as a teen from LaPorte, Texas, when he became a finalist on NBC’s The Voice. Fast forward ten years, and the traditionally influenced country artist has put out a lot of music but is just now releasing his debut album.

He recently signed with Big Loud Records and fitted in perfectly with current country heavyweights like Hardy, Morgan Wallen, Larry Fleet, and Lauren Alaina.

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Music Spotlight: Jaye Madison

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Doing what I do, I get sent a lot of artists to check out. A Facebook friend told me to check out the Jaye Madison band. I listened and they could absolutely sing. But normally I deal with PR representatives or managers. In a few days, I got contacted by 37-Media about this amazing new duo, Jaye Madison.  This time I really paid attention. Their song “Down” was unlike anything I had heard in a while. It wasn’t country, but it did have a rock/soul/R&B vibe and it was outstanding.

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Music Spotlight: Aliyah Good

I remember Jamie O’Neal telling me that her 17-year-old daughter accompanied her when she re-released her mega-hit “Somebody’s Hero.”

Now, O’Neal’s daughter, Aliyah Good is 19 and is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Professional Studies at the Frost School of Music in Miami. And while she is first to admit that going to school while pursuing an artist’s career is quite the juggle, she is fortunate enough to attend a university that understands what she is doing. Frost School has programs for people like Good who are college students who want to get an education but also want to pursue their careers.

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Music Spotlight: SACHA

One thing I have learned while writing my blog is that there is a lot more to Canadian country music than Shania Twain. The Canadians love their country music and have given us Tenille Arts and Tenille Towns, Lindsey Ell, Terri Clark, Brett Kissel, Manny Blu, Kimberly Dawn, Tebey, and country rocker, Cory Marks to name a few.

Therefore, When I heard Sacha sing at a writers’ round recently, I was not a bit surprised to find out that she was from Ontario, Canada. Now living in Nashville, I met up with her at CMT’s Next Women of Country and scheduled an interview.

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Kasey Tyndall Releases New Music

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- After seeing Kasey Tyndall at the Listening Room with the Song Suffragettes in 2019, I immediately set up an interview with the energetic songstress and featured her in my Music Spotlight column at the beginning of 2020.

When I ran into Tyndall again at the Next Women of Country event in January of 2023, I knew we were long overdue for a follow-up interview.

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American Idol Alum Taylor Hicks Releases New Single, ‘Porch Swing’

Season 5 American Idol Winner Taylor Hicks debuted his newest single, “Porch Swing” on the Bobby Bones Show on President’s Day.

But before that, we sat down to catch me up on what had been going on since he won American Idol in 2006.

Hicks said he always wanted to be an entertainer.

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Craig Campbell Releases ‘The Lost Files: Exhibit A’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Since the neo-traditional country artist, Craig Campbell launched his Grindstone Recordings label in 2020, he has released music and banking even more cuts over the last few years. Answering the call of his fans, he released The Lost Files: Exhibit A album on February 17.

He stated, “We had a hard time finding some of these songs because the hard drives got misplaced. Then with some, you had the hard drive, but they wouldn’t open. They were literally lost files.”

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Music Industry Spotlight: Crowd Surf Founders Cassie Petrey and Jade Driver

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – One of the things that has most surprised me as an entertainment journalist is how many people it takes for a song or singer to become notable. Besides the artist and the songwriter (who may or may not be the same person) there are backup bands, producers, and…

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Music Spotlight: Hillary Reese

NASHVILLE. Tennessee – Hillary Reese comes from a big sports family in Mississippi full of coaches and teachers. But she and her brother both desired to do music instead. (Her brother, Parker Reese, has a degree in Music Education.)

“We were not coordinated and couldn’t throw a ball to save our lives,” Hillary Reese said.

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Music Spotlight: Siena

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- One of my favorite things is discovering new talent, often ahead of the labels and music industry. PR teams pitch me an artist, and if I like what I hear, I schedule an interview. When Dead Horse Branding sent the song, “Sass” by new country artist Siena (Paglia), I was hooked by the title alone.

It turns out that this real-life Las Vegas cowgirl can sing quite well. With her debut single, she has just enough twang to keep us old-timers interested, but with lyrics that are fresh and relatable to the younger set.

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Kelsea Ballerini to Appear on CMT Storytellers on February 16th

NASHVILLE, Tennessee  –  CMT announced that GRAMMY®-nominated, multi-platinum country superstar and 2023 CMT MUSIC AWARDS co-host Kelsea Ballerini is set to headline the third installment of the famed music series “CMT Storytellers,” premiering Thursday, February 16th at 10p/9c with additional airings on Sunday, February 19th at 11a/10c (CMT) Friday, February 24th at 8p/7c (CMT Music) and Saturday, February 25th at 10a/9c and 6p/5c (CMT Music).

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Music Spotlight: Casi Joy

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Casi Joy has been singing publicly since she was 5 years old. Her first performance was a talent at her hometown’s local talent show near Kansas City, Missouri. Not being from a musical family, her parents were a little confused by her desire to become a singer.

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Chris Janson Releases ‘All I Need Is You’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Before I got the email, I thought it was about time for some new Chris Janson music because it had been a few years since he put new music out. Fueled by Mountain Dew®, Janson’s high-octane show puts this human hummingbird right at the top of my all-time favorite live performers.

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Music Spotlight: Emily Ann Roberts

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – When I think of what country music ought to sound like, a voice like Emily Ann Roberts’ comes to mind. I suppose part of the reason she sings and talks “right” to me is that she was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, not too far from where I was reared.

Naturally, I wanted to learn more about this gifted Tennessee girl.

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Music Spotlight: Colton James

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Colton James hails from a small town near Franklin, Virginia. Both of his grandmothers played piano and organ at church, while his mother had a strong singing voice. James started singing at church at age four and continued making music at church and in plays at his Christian school.

“My mother sang in church but my Granny on my dad’s side was a West Virginia honky tonk granny, and she might have a little drink here and there,” he said.

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Music Spotlight: Wendy Starland

I met Wendy Starland at a party in Nashville celebrating an upcoming original music competition TV show that will air on MTV later this year. When we arrived, everyone was clamoring to get a picture with her. She was so beautiful that I was taken aback. However, I wondered why she was there.

It turns out that Starland is a musical maven. One of the show’s producers told me that she was a brilliant songwriter and that I needed to meet her. After we met, I asked if she wanted to be featured in my Music Spotlight column, and she gave me her phone number.

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New Country Music Label Baste Records Launched for Anti-Woke Artists

A new country music label is recruiting and promoting anti-woke artists, launched by the young founder of The Post-Millennial. Matthew Azrieli, who is also a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, started Baste Records to promote talented country singers who are struggling to survive in the mainstream music business due to their right-leaning political and cultural views. He’s brought on talent like Chris Wallin, also a singer and songwriter who has written music for some of the biggest country stars, including Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, and Trace Adkins. 

Azrieli told The Arizona Sun Times that he started Baste Records because music is a passion. He wanted to “provide a healthy outlet for conservatives, instead of just complaining.” Baste Records intends to appeal to a certain niche, the center right, instead of attempting to have a broad appeal that risks alienating factions. He pointed out Netflix is an example of an entertainment company that is engaging in the latter, angering both conservatives and the transgender community, causing it to lose market share. He said, “Cultural and political identities are driving entertainment media.” 

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Music/Author Spotlight: Aiden Adams

I’ve featured hundreds of artists and even a few authors. But when I got the email about Aiden Adams, I found that he has written six books and several songs. And he is eight years old.

The first book that he wrote is titled “There Are No Sheep In New York City.”  His dad, Neal Adams, is an author and illustrator.

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Brenda Lee and Ray Stevens Receive the Cecil Scaife Visionary Award

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- On a Sunday night that was years in the making, Brenda Lee and Ray Stevens were honored with the Cecil Scaife Visionary Award, which raises money for the Cecil Scaife Endowment at the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University.

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Music Spotlight: Ashley Cooke

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- After hearing her on Sirius XM the Highway and seeing her fun and vibrant social media posts, I was instantly drawn to Ashley Cooke. I was excited to feature her in my column.

After winning the coveted Country Showcase at Belmont College, the communications major was just starting her new career path when the pandemic hit and forced the recent college graduate to temporarily move back home.

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Music Spotlight: Shaylen

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Shaylen grew up in Allen, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. It was there that she first began performing, singing in church, and acting in local children’s theater. She also sang in her school choir and took private vocal, piano, and guitar lessons.

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WhistlePig and Brothers Osborne Release Limited Edition Whiskey

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – WhistlePig Whiskey and Grammy Award-winning country music duo and reigning CMA Duo of the Year Brothers Osborne are celebrating 100 for all, all for 100 this holiday season with the launch of their new whiskey collaboration. The WhistlePig PiggyBack Legends Series: Brothers Osborne Barrel is a single barrel, limited-edition 100% Rye Whiskey, created for and selected by John and TJ Osborne, to celebrate those who give 100% in the name of greatness.

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Project Supergroup to Air on MTV

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Project Supergroup is a first-of-its-kind music competition series that implements a new and innovative “build a band” from scratch concept that showcases exceptionally talented musicians who play, write, and sing.

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