Taylor Swift Tips Her Hat to Radio at Hall of Fame Banquet

CMT News

Taylor Swift Tips Her Hat to Radio at Hall of Fame Banquet
Brooks & Dunn Honored with Career Achievement Award
Mike Hammond (left), Taylor Swift, Kix Brooks <br>Dierks Bentley and Ronnie Dunn
Mike Hammond (left), Taylor Swift, Kix Brooks
Dierks Bentley and Ronnie Dunn
Photo Credit: Bev Moser
Taylor Swift made a surprise appearance Tuesday night (Feb. 23) at the Country Music DJ and Radio Hall of Fame banquet in Nashville.

In addition to spotlighting six radio personalities and executives, the event also honored Brooks & Dunn for their career achievements. The duo will retire as an act at the end of this year's tour.

Swift came to introduce Mike Hammond, director of operations for Citadel Broadcasting in Knoxville, Tenn., who was being inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. Hammond was one of Swift's earliest radio supporters.

"I just got back from Japan," Swift told the gathering. "I've been overseas for about a month. Arigatou gozaimasu [thank you very much]. That's Japanese."

Swift said she got her first impression of what country radio was like in 2005 when she visited Hammond's station, WIVK, in Knoxville. She was 15 at the time.

Hammond was so impressed by the young singer that he invited her to sing on air. Later, he posed for a photo in front of the station with Swift and her record label president, Scott Borchetta.

After describing that encounter, Swift unveiled a huge poster of the photo.

"I was talking to Kenny Chesney the other day," she continued and then added parenthetically, "Mike, I name-drop because I care." She went on to explain that Chesney, who's from the Knoxville area, had remarked to her about Hammond's importance to his career.

Swift wasn't the only celebrity presenter. Earlier Alabama's lead singer, Randy Owen, welcomed Rudy Fernandez, from KEAN/Abilene, Texas, into the Country DJ Hall of Fame.

Among the country stars in the audience were Gretchen Wilson, Joe Nichols and Radney Foster.

The evening's other inductees were the late multiple radio station owner Cy Blumenthal, (a pioneer in programming country music), Dan Halyburton (president of Dallas-based RadioTime, a new media and technology company), Bill Bailey (a former DJ at KIKK and KENR/Houston and the man who, in 1969, sent the first recordings of country music to the moon via the spaceship Apollo XII) and Laurie DeYoung (veteran DJ for WPOC/Baltimore.

Charlie Cook, a longtime activist with Country Radio Broadcasters, the sponsor of Country Radio Seminar, was given the CRB's president's award. Cook is now an executive with McVay Media in Los Angeles.

Dierks Bentley paid tribute to Brooks & Dunn by singing the duo's 2003 hit, "Red Dirt Road." Backing him were the Travelin' McCourys, a bluegrass group made up of Ronnie and Robbie McCoury, Jason Carter and Alan Bartram.

"Brooks & Dunn was a big reason I moved to Nashville," Bentley told the crowd, noting he had first seen them perform in his hometown of Phoenix.

"I think these guys have been to every radio station in America," said Brooks & Dunn's label chief, Joe Galante, before bringing the duo out on stage to a standing ovation.

"I value everybody's kindness [in radio]," Kix Brooks said. "Randy Owen told us at about the time we got started, 'I don't mean to talk down to you, but if there's anything I've learned in this business, you'd better take care of radio, pal.'"

Brooks brushed aside the importance of Twitter, MySpace and other online innovations as artist development tools, saying, "Radio is -- and, I think, always will be -- the biggest gorilla in our business."

"Here's my speech," said the more jocular Ronnie Dunn. "I love radio. I love DJs. I love program directors. Do you still have program directors? I love the guys who own radio -- all three of them. I love that big house you bought me and that nice big car I drove up here in."

"Our motto," Brooks concluded, "is, 'We're splittin', but we're not quittin'."

View photos from the ceremony.

INTERVIEW: Elizabeth Montgomery "Somebody's Praying For You"

Elizabeth Montgomery was born to sing. However early on in her life it did not appear that would happen. From birth to age fourteen, Elizabeth would have many bouts with an extremely serious lung illness, spending much of her childhood in hospitals. These illnesses took so much of her breath away that she could not even blow up a balloon...her doctors did not expect her to live.

Through fervent prayers of her family and people in ministry, she experienced a miracle.

In her teenage years, she recorded her first album of Gospel music and since then she has released seven albums of Christian music. Her last album, "Somebody's Praying for You," was produced by Chuck Butler (Backstreet Boys, Kimberley Locke) and Elizabeth. This song is connecting with people everywhere as it encourages those who are in need that someone cares and is lifting you up in prayer.

Elizabeth and I shared an afternoon of visiting and engaged in some interesting conversation about her past and the early prognosis of her medical condition as well as her current path in life and where she hopes it leads her.
BEV: Tell me a little about your history - how you started, where you came from & how you got in the music business & we’ll go from there…
ELIZABETH: I grew up in a very small town in Oklahoma called Vinita. It’s about 60 miles northeast of Tulsa – a town of about 6,000 people. I grew up in a wonderful home. I have an older brother and a sister. I grew up in church as my mother was very instrumental in seeing that my family was in church every Sunday. So, I learned about God at a young age. I became a Christian when I was about 9 years old. But before that there was a pretty significant event in my life. From the time I was a baby until I was 14 years old, I suffered from a severe lung problem. The doctors didn’t think I would even live to be a teenager. So I was in/out of hospitals throughout my childhood. I was frail and had poor lung capacity. Then my life changed. When I was 14 years old, some people in ministry prayed for me and I experienced a miracle.
I first began singing in church, but the first time I really ever sang in front of a public crowd was at the Tulsa State Fair. I kept seeing ads on TV for a contest & my mother didn’t even really know I could sing. I kept telling her I wanted to enter this competition. My sister played the piano and she was supposed to play “Over the Rainbow” for me. So, I got ready to go to the fair and my sister chickened out before we were to drive to Tulsa so I was left without an accompanist. I kept going up and down the halls, until I found somebody to play for me. I quickly went over the music in the hall with this person I had never even met. I got out there on the stage and my mom didn’t even know I could really sing. So I belted out, “Over the Rainbow.”
I got out there and sang, but I didn’t win. That was the start and she knew I had the desire to sing. So I started singing in church and one thing lead to another and since that time, I’ve probably performed in more than 2,000 venues. I do all my own bookings and really enjoy that part of it myself because I get to talk with the music ministers and pastors. I’ve made some great friendships along the way. So, that was how it all started. I was finally getting my health back. At that point, I really started singing anywhere and everywhere someone would ask me.
BEV: Was it difficult for you to sing at the State Fair…health wise; was it painful? Because you said you hadn’t healed or the miracle itself hadn’t happened yet.
ELIZABETH: I started singing when I was 12 years old and the miracle happened when I was 14. I experienced about 20 bouts of pneumonia during the course of those 14 years. As far as singing, I wouldn’t say it was painful, but my lung capacity still was not great. I got through it and I enjoyed singing so much. I noticed it took several years to really get to where I could hold long phrases since my breathing had been affected.
BEV: Do you have any after-effects or continue to have any problems from the issues with your lungs?
ELIZABETH: No, I’ve been fine. I have allergies and just typical stuff like that. A little bit of mild asthma occasionally. But no, I’m well. I try to stay active and exercise a lot to keep my lungs healthy.
BEV: From that point on, how did you actually get into being a recording artist…because that’s a big step, from just singing in church to deciding to be a recording artist…what was your first project like or how you did go about it?
ELIZABETH: I did my first recording when I was 12 years old. People would ask me if I had any recordings. Back then it was the cassette tapes and big vinyl LP’s. So my mom took me to a recording studio in Tulsa and I got acquainted with a woman named Stephanie Boosahda, who later became a pretty well-known Christian artist. She worked a lot with CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) and Pat Robertson. She was from Oral Roberts University. She played piano for me and I got a full band at that studio. Her husband, Wayne Boosahda, produced the record and I recorded a number of songs that were written by other writers so it was all fresh new material. The title of the album was Elizabeth Dietsche. In the cover shot I had braces on my teeth and a big smile on my face! That was the first project…then I made another one not long after that.
BEV: How many did you sell…do you remember, do you have any record of it?
ELIZABETH: No. I may have written down some names of those who purchased the recordings but I can’t remember exactly.
BEV: Do you still have any of the sales receipts or information on who was purchasing the first albums?
ELIZABETH: I do have a list of all the churches I went to perform at when I was a kid, but not the list of the people who bought my albums.
BEV: It would be interesting to go back to see who the first fan was.
ELIZABETH: That would be interesting to know if my first fans were still buying my albums. The next CD or ‘vinyl’ project I did was when I was 17. It was a project called All the Way My Savior Leads Me. By that time, I was singing all over Oklahoma, especially at churches and school events.
BEV: Were you still in school or had you graduated?
ELIZABETH: I was singing in junior high and high school. Then I went to Oklahoma City University to study music and business. Since I was in another part of the state (Oklahoma City), I starting to build my church base up in that direction. Next, I attended the University of Denver and received my Masters degree in Music where I studied opera.
BEV: That is really something from having the lung issues you had to doing opera…that is proof of believing in yourself and overcoming obstacles.
ELIZABETH: It was interesting and that’s where I really learned great technique and how to have endurance in singing. Sometimes I was doing three to four performances in a weekend. I had to learn how to protect my voice, how to use it properly, so I feel those years I was learning these things were priceless to my career.
BEV: Do you primarily book Church performances or do you look for symphony halls or similar venues that incorporate your opera background and your training.
ELIZABETH: I have done some musical theatre shows in Denver. I worked with Opera Colorado and had principal roles in operas at the University of Denver. I actually did opera for children. Opera Colorado created a show called La Boham that was adapted for children. There was a puppet show format that introduced opera to small school children and that was fun. I also did a Gershwin Review with a touring group out of Denver called the Tabor Opera Company. Gospel music is my first love, but I do enjoy singing other styles of music.
BEV: Well it’s a good marriage to be able to combine both genres.
ELIZABETH: Absolutely and I got to travel a lot. My base branched out to Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Colorado. Colorado became a productive place for my career, so after I received my degree I stayed for another four years. I have been all over that state; from the smallest to the bigger cities.
BEV: Of all the experiences that you’ve had, what‘s been the most memorable that you can think of, maybe after your performance, someone came up to you and a certain song touched them in a certain way?
ELIZABETH: I began writing songs several years back and it is so rewarding when people come up and tell me that a song ministered to them, or maybe they have tears, or that it reminds them of an experience or a memory in their childhood or their family. Those kinds of things really make an impact. I think this latest recording project I’ve done, Somebody’s Praying For You, has had the most meaning. I’ve started a prayer ministry. In every church I have provided a sheet for people to sign up – and list any prayer requests they have for themselves, or friends or family. Once a week I get out these hundreds of requests and I pray over them. I’ve got prayer partners and people to help me pray for them. Since the song “Somebody’s Praying For You” was released it seems to have connected with so many people. I am approached about how the song touched them and that it is comforting to know that someone is out there praying for them. Best of all, Jesus Himself is interceding before the Heavenly Father on my behalf, so somebody is always praying for them. I believe this is a new direction God is taking my ministry. Another reason that makes this song special is that my father was a co-writer on that song, along with Stephanie Boosahda, who now lives in Nashville. He gave me the idea for the song, we collaborated and then I brought it back to Nashville where Stephanie finished it. It’s probably been the single most meaningful song I’ve ever written.
BEV: The CD was released just before the end of the year correct?
ELIZABETH: Yes, it was just released this month. I have a music video with it for the title and lead single “Somebody’s Praying For You”. A lot of times, I’ll send the video in advance of my performances to introduce my music to the congregation and encourage people to come to the concert. So I have the video & the recording. I get prayer requests by email on my web site, so this has really become a big commitment in my life. There are a lot of requests. I feel that it wouldn’t be right to just say, “Bless all the people on the list.” I feel that since each person took the time to come up and ask for prayer, I need to go through those names and needs individually.
BEV: I assume there is a confidentiality of some sort and that you do not place the requests themselves online for the world to see?
ELIZABETH: No, it’s my own personal ministry and the needs are confidential. On occasion I’ve even given my cell phone number to individuals to call. I’ve prayed with them over the phone. I try to be available because I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do.
BEV: Do you feel like your music, is going to lead you in the direction even further with this…that you may go into a ministry or something on a more formal basis?
ELIZABETH: That’s a possibility. I don’t know really where it’s going to go just yet. So far I have four or five prayer partners that have agreed to help me and I send them lists. I’d like to get a little more savvy with it digitally, where I could keep better records of people’s needs and praise reports.
BEV: That is why I asked if you did anything in writing - because then you would have a digital or email list to could go back and keep track, but at the same time I wouldn’t want my name out there for the whole world to see, maybe, maybe not, depends on what we’re praying for.
ELIZABETH: Sometimes after the services, I will pray with people that come forward. I’ve had folks come up that have very, very big needs such as cancer and other illnesses. It is not too difficult for God to do. We don’t’ know how God will answer the prayer. Really it’s not up to me to worry about that part of it. God will answer the prayer the way he feels best. He has to have a vessel to work through, so that’s where I feel like God is leading me on this specific path. It’s been exciting. It’s been one of the greatest things in my life and I’ve been doing it for about two years with the prayer list and it’s growing more and more each month. I have to set aside time - sometimes over two days to go through all of them.
BEV: Have you ever had a moment where something just hit you, where something has been answered and you knew you were a part of that?
ELIZABETH: yes I have…
Guest: I can share my own personal experience about that: I’d been praying for my mom who is dealing with cancer and since I’ve known Elizabeth, she’s been so supportive and a welcomed source of comfort with added prayer in the situation. My mom had surgery not long ago and Elizabeth was so kind to add her to her personal prayer list and prayed for her before the surgery, Yes, it helps! I believe that the more people praying for someone, the better. There’s such power in prayer. My mom got through the surgery well and doing much better. Elizabeth adding her to her prayer list was personally comforting for me because I knew there were others praying for her as well.
ELIZABETH: I find people feel comfortable enough where they will say will you pray for me? Because, like you said earlier, sometimes it’s difficult.
BEV: I personally am associated with people who I know are very uncomfortable in that situation; they may say they are a Christian, but to have someone in public pray for them in front of friends and family, they’re not comfortable with that at all and it is very unnerving for them.
ELIZABETH: At times people will say their need is unspoken and that’s okay because God knows what the need is and He will answer the prayer.
BEV: That’s interesting; it makes you wonder, what’s so terrible that you can’t tell me what I need to help you with…but everybody’s different
ELIZABETH: It’s just the level of comfort.
BEV: Going back to the music, let’s talk about the kids, the lullaby, and the playtime songs; how did you get into those, because even though it’s still tied in ways, it’s different than this whole concept we’ve been talking about.
ELIZABETH: I recorded the children’s project a few years ago. It started out with melodies popping into my head. Then I sang little ditties for my dog that is now 18 years old. Those tunes led to songs for children. It was one of the most prolific times in my writing career. Some of the playtime songs include the “Books of the Bible,” and “The Noah Song.” They are fun, educational songs and the lullabies will hopefully help the kids go to sleep.
BEV: Is it safe to say that since many of your concerts are in churches, that the whole family attends the performance?
ELIZABETH: I get a mix of people at my concerts. I would say that my music is more inspirational, with more of an emphasis on an audience of 40 and up. My recordings have been diverse with everything from very traditional hymns and spirituals to contemporary. My desire is for many people to hear my music and be blessed by the message.
BEV: What has been the one most exciting thing about the whole music process when you look at the big picture and reflect on all the different aspects of what you have done?
ELIZABETH: I have to say I still love performing the most. The songwriting has used a different element of my creativity that I never had before. I have more than 60 songs in my catalog. If you asked me 10 years ago if I would write any music, I wouldn’t have believed that was possible. It has evolved over the years and I owe a lot to Thomas Cain over at BMI. He was instrumental in setting me up writing appointments with some great songwriters. I met with him and shared some of my music and he played it right there in the meeting and made recommendations as to who might be good writing partners. He opened several doors for me to write with Robert White Johnson and Twila LaBar. I began to expand my horizons and hone my songwriting skills. To this point I’d written a lot myself, but not with other people, so that experience was unique. I tried to be prepared when I went into a writing session. I knew that these people were so talented and I wanted to put forth a good impression! If they didn’t like one melody, maybe they would like another. I made sure to come with several different ideas.
BEV: Have you broadened it to do Country Christian?
ELIZABETH: I haven’t specifically sat down intending to write Country Christian music, but I wouldn’t be opposed to try it. It’s just that Christian music is my first love. However, as long as the song has good lyrics and message, that’s what counts. There is a whole category of positive country that appeals to me.
BEV: It is a very close marriage between the two genres.
ELIZABETH: Yes, it is…I wrote a bluegrass song a few years ago. I guess it had a little bit of a Country, Southern Gospel feel. That’s the closest song to country I have written.
BEV: Do you consider your music more Gospel or more Christian, because there is a difference?
ELIZABETH: I would say my music is more Inspirational Christian music. I do Gospel songs in every concert and usually I close my shows with the great old hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” and that has been one of people’s favorites so, I’ve adopted that as one of my last songs of the evening. Most of my performances are original material.
BEV: Where do you go from here, what’s your next step?
ELIZABETH: I’m encouraging people to participate in the prayer ministry. In terms of singing, I’m probably doing more than 65 dates a year and getting ready to work on a Christmas album for next year. Robert White Johnson is going to produce this recording.
BEV: Will you be recording original songs or remakes?
ELIZABETH: The Christmas album will contain a lot of remakes, but I actually wrote one with Robert White Johnson this week. I’m going to be using Stephanie Boosahda’s song, “Somewhere It’s Snowing.” It’ll be a good mix of the older, traditional Christmas songs with brand new fresh ones.
BEV: Do you find it difficult to come up with a new Christmas song that is fresh?
ELIZABETH: Christmas songs have been done so many ways - how many ways can you do Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer? It is so exciting to work with Robert White Johnson. He co-wrote Celine Dion’s first big hit, “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” and he’s worked with Lynyrd Skynrd, just countless artists…he’s a great producer.
BEV: Do you do sing duets or only sing as a solo artist?
ELIZABETH: I have done some duets, but it doesn’t seem like that opportunity presents itself as much, I would love to do more duets. I’ve done duets on the “The Prayer” in churches and at a lot of weddings.
BEV: Who are your dream duet/duo partners?
ELIZABETH: No doubt about that one…Josh Groban. What an amazing singer! I just love Josh Groban’s voice. He is a pop singer, but you can hear his great Classical training. He is such a versatile singer.
Guest: Elizabeth is getting ready to sing the national anthem at the Oklahoma Thunder NBA game in 2010. She has also sung the national anthem at several Denver Bronco’s and Nuggets’ games.
ELIZABETH: I’m very honored to be singing the national anthem at one of the Oklahoma Thunder NBA games this year. When I initially wanted to sing the anthem at a Denver Bronco’s game I was so excited to audition to sing. It was a special experience to sing for that crowd…75,000 people. It was great! I didn’t really get nervous, until a couple of days before. It’s one of those songs everyone in America knows, but my worst fear was forgetting the words…now that would be horrible.
BEV: What has been the worst thing or most embarrassing that has happened to you during a performance?
ELIZABETH: I’ve had one experience where I was so hoarse that I couldn’t speak, but I had to get up and sing about eight songs for a concert. Luckily my voice held out…it was weird because I couldn’t speak but I could sing and was pushing it as hard as I could push it. I made it through it. There might’ve been tiny cracks, but I hope nobody noticed. That was one of the scariest experiences.
BEV: Where was that at?
ELIZABETH: That was in Denver, Colorado at a Baptist church and I literally thought I was going to have to cancel my concert. Looking back on it, I probably should have canceled because I know it isn’t good to push my vocals when I’m hoarse. I had another thing happen that had to be one the most embarrassing moments. I was wearing a flapper style dress and it had a bow that set low on the waist. I didn’t have it pulled through the belt loops so with every song it dropped a little lower and I just knew that it was going to fall off. Finally it fell to the floor in a circle around my feet. Everybody in the church started laughing. I didn’t have time to say anything before the next song started so I just stepped out of it and threw it back on the pew and continued singing. When those things happen you just handle them with grace. At least I try to because I realize we’re human and things are not always going to go perfectly all the time. Most of the time people are supportive - even if you forget words.
Guest: Elizabeth recently did an interview with the Tulsa World newspaper about pet health care and we are currently talking with Tulsa Pets and Modern Dog magazines about features for upcoming issues in 2010. Elizabeth has a “miracle dog” named Allie that is amazing. Her dog is 18 years old and her vet says she has the heath of a 2 year old. What a story – you should share it Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH: Allie is part Cocker Spaniel and Labrador Retriever. She weighs 42 lbs. She’s black, very beautiful, and has a docile personality. A few years ago she had a number of health issues that were pretty scary: tick fever and a mast cell cancer. Three years ago she got diagnosed with a tumor in her abdomen and they said it was as big as a baseball. I was fearful it might be cancer. I read about a famous vet in New York, named Dr. Martin Goldstein. He has been on Oprah and has written a book called the Nature of Animal Healing. I read it a number of years ago and it’s all about alternative therapies and conventional ways to treat disease in cats and dogs. I read that book and I decided to call the clinic in New York. You can actually consult with one of his associates. My local vet sent Allie’s blood work up to New York and Dr. Goldstein analyzes those levels. With that information he designed a health powder custom made for her needs. Dr. Goldstein thinks that the blood work tells the story of the animal. If there are inconsistencies you have to balance that out in the health powder or the supplements. You must take the whole picture into consideration. They put her on an all-natural diet, and the vet told me I had to start cooking for my dog. I made her chicken breast, rice, potatoes, raw carrots, Brussels’ sprouts, and broccoli. So along with the supplements and the nutritional supplements, Allie is a new dog. The tumor turned out to be benign and has remained stable since her new therapies. It actually got a little smaller a few months after I started her on this regimen. She runs, plays - you would never know she is the age she is. So, when I’m on the road, my mom and dad take care of her. I take her up to their home, it’s about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Tulsa. My mom has to do all the supplements, too. She’s a retired nurse and she probably does it more even better than I do.
BEV: This is normal food that you can eat too so as your cooking you can both have the same food, as in; here’s your plate here’s mine?
ELIZABETH: Yes, it is food that a human can eat, too! Allie is great. She’s just an inspiration. I didn’t realize a dog could live to that age. She is a medium sized dog and most of the dogs that live to be a ripe old age are the little dogs. I brought her to Nashville a few months ago…we drove 10 hours. I took her to all my writing appointments. Allie brings a sense of calm wherever she is. I call her my miracle dog. The Tulsa World is doing an article on pet longevity and Allie got a feature article!
BEV: Elizabeth, I suppose we should wrap this up; where can people find you and how can they get in touch with you
ELIZABETH: People can go to my website www.elizabethmusic.com . My latest CD Somebody’s Praying For You is sold on CD baby. You can also get it on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon and Tunecore.com handles all these digital stores. You can purchase most of my projects on those digital store sites. I also sell the product following my concert performances. My tour schedule is listed on my website and I’m on Facebook, too.
BEV: Thank you so much, what an enjoyable time I have had visiting with you and getting to know you. I look forward to hearing more music from you and coming to see you perform.

INTERVIEW: Travis Rush "Feel"

Travis Rush hails from the beautiful state of Oregon, but recently, Rush has been in Nashville working on his sophomore project, set for release in 2009 on Mason Records. A blend of his self-penned tunes as well as songs from some of Music City’s most notable writers, the project reverberates with the honest emotion and lyrical depth fans have come to expect from the young singer/songwriter.

I met with him to dig a little deeper into what makes this country artist who he is and what he is busy working on as he shares his time between his home in Oregon and his time in Nashville.

Bev: You have a new CD called “Feel” which will be out soon, and your new singles is called “You Will Find Your Way”, tell me about the current song and how it was written.

TRAVIS: I didn’t actually have anything to do with writing this song. As we were preparing to do this album, I don’t know if you know, but I had another album, it was more of a learning experience I like to call it. I learned all the things not to do. So this album we got songs from writers and got our songs from Nashville Publishing Company, I was floored at all the music they have available here. I was like how are there this many great songs that nobody has recorded!? I’d hear a song and think somebody has to have done this. I was looking around on the web trying to find it. By the time we got done going through songs I said to my manager I don’t know, I don’t need the ego boost of putting my own stuff on here, this stuff is better! We went through and picked all the songs for the album without ever finding out who the writers were. We didn’t want to know. It’s all about the song, the quality of the song and the lyrics and that was totally the decision. When that was all done, we asked for the writers and all the paperwork and everything and as it turns out; four of the songs were written by the same two guys. Neil Cody
and John Henderson. I really want to connect with those guys and write together; obviously we have the same taste.

Bev: Were you looking for a theme for the album?

TRAVIS: If you call a variety of topics a theme, then yes [laughs].

Bev: It wasn’t all love songs or all dance songs or anything…

TRAVIS: Nope it was a variety of topics. We had a couple of rules, well I had a couple of rules; One I’m a family guy, I don’t sell those party songs. My manager brought me one at one point and said this is going to be a hit, I like it but it’s going to have to be a hit for somebody else because I don’t relate to that song, it’s not me. The two requirements I had were I had to either have been through whatever the song was talking about myself or I had to know someone very close that had and every song had to be about a different topic.

Bev: Is your goal to always have songs that can be matched to people?

TRAVIS: Yes, hence the name of the album, “Feel”. I just like the word and said this really encompasses what I’m trying to say. People feel stuff, whatever it is. Let it in, it’s good.

Bev: What did you learn between this album and the last album? What was one of the most important lessons that you’ve learned.

TRAVIS: Expectations and probably the team. I learned how important they are. Nobody can do this by themselves, so finding those right people you can count on, knowing they’re in it for the long haul. I have no desire to go sky-rocketing but a slow, steady, solid foundation.

Bev: So far, what kind of things has your team put together?

TRAVIS: My manager is the best at pulling the reins back on me, because I’m a very fast paced, ‘what are we going to do next!?, what’s next, what’s next!?’, he’ll say ‘hold on, let this sink in. Lets let that do what its supposed to do then we will move on to the next step.’ We haven’t even spoken to any one, booking agents, tour managers, he doesn’t want to until we are absolutely ready to hit the road full-time, then we will go talk to somebody. We don’t want to prematurely get somebody when we might get somebody better. I think there is a formula, but it’s not the same formula its always been, there’s change, even from when I did my first album, the doors are more open now. I’m from the Northwest, I’m not from the city, I don’t have the connections, but the business is starting to accept that a little more.

Bev: Talk about the fans, what are some of their reactions to the single?

TRAVIS: We actually weren’t going to release that one first. We were going to release a different song. We had a couple we were looking at so we took the first five songs on the album, and put them up on my website for the fans and listeners to vote on. They had to put in their email and it would allow them to listen; but in order to vote they had to listen to the entire song the whole way through. Then a survey would pop up and ask them to rate it and put in any comments they wanted. I got some amazing feedback! You want fans to say what they want to say, the door is open, it’s amazing they will tell you what they think.

Bev: Was it open to fans who have already been to your website or available to anyone online?

TRAVIS: It was a free-for-all. In the end I had about 4,000 votes. The input went from things like ‘what a great song to others that were very specific about the technical side of it. This one guy was like ‘I really like the guitar riff on this one part, I think it could have gotten a little bit bigger when it got to the bridge,’ and I’m like who are these people!? This is great!

Bev: How did you come up with the idea and software to accomplish that?

TRAVIS: My background is computers. I built websites and I hosted websites. My brother and I did it, and this little mechanism for the voting, my brother and I came up with that. We both come from different computer technology backgrounds. We built this thing and put the first five songs up, got through them, then about a month later we put the next five up. Then after that we did one more round of the top two from each round and at the end “You’ll Find Your Way” hands down was the one. I think part of it is the timely-ness of the song and its not a negative twist on the economy like a lot of the songs are right now. It’s meant to be more uplifting, more understanding, we’re all going through this together so just hang in there. That is what I think did it, all the verses are hitting on a different demographic and a different life issue. Everyone knows at least someone in one of those situations.

Bev: With your insight into the creative side of the internet, what other ideas have you incorporated into promotions?

TRAVIS: We started pre-ordering for the album and my brother and I came up with this idea to connect with the fans better than simply sending out emails to confirm the purchase. I wanted to build something to communicate with them directly with my voice. Now, when anybody buys the album on my website, versus through iTunes or retail, I get a text message on my phone saying someone just bought it and it tells you their name and where they live, and their email address. We built a little app where I go in and I actually record myself thanking them for buying the album and then I send it to them. So they get this email from me that is thanking them for buying the album, and I think it’s kind of cool.

Bev: It is very cool and personal for the fan, because its coming from the artist it makes the fans feel they are special.

TRAVIS: They comment on Twitter, the ones that have gotten it. They get on there and say I got the message. Thanks that was so cool!

Bev: Talk a little about your background and how you got started singing and how you got to where you are now.

TRAVIS: My father plays guitar and my mom plays piano. When I was about 8 years old, I started playing, and the age of 15 I had written my first song. I started mixing with a little jerry-rigged thing at home and recorded some music. I had two tape decks next to each other that I would record from one, and then I would play something and record through the mixer. I would record and add to it and play that back and by the time I got to the last part it was so distorted and screwed up. It was the only way I knew how to put tracks together. I lived in a little town and we didn’t have access to much. The population was about 1500 people in the town I grew up in. We had a radio shack and that was about the end of it.
That was the beginning. We had a little family band, we played at home. We never went out anywhere. My brother played drums, I played piano, my sister sang and played tambourine and my dad played guitar. We would finish dinner and mom would sit on the couch and we would play some songs. My dad had these binders he had printed up with Diamond Rio, John Denver, Glen Campbell and all these guys in it. We would sit down and play all their music. It was fun, people would come over we’d play for them whether they wanted us to or not.

Bev: Did either your brother or sister ever venture into the music?

TRAVIS: My sister is an optometrist and so is my dad, eye doctors. My brother is in the acting and directing world. He’s the only one that’s in the entertainment side of things.

Bev: You’re splitting your time traveling between Oregon and Nashville? Are you going to move to Nashville eventually?

TRAVIS: I don’t think so. I think I would like to have a second home here. I have a home, my family’s there; I have a ton of relatives in Portland, Seattle, Washington and Oregon area. It’s funny how both are very similar cities. The climates, everything! When we hear its going to snow we shut down all the schools, even before it snows.

Bev: At the moment your focus is not performing, but you plan on it soon?

TRAVIS: I am. My manager is saying not yet, but I’m definitely chompin’ at the bit. That is my favorite part. When I was a kid the day that I realized this is what I wanted for my life, it was a very definitive moment. I was performing, playing the piano, at a variety show in high school and I was playing a Lionel Richie song. “Say You Say Me”, I look up and there is a lady in the front row and she’s crying. I remember sitting there and just thinking, wow how cool to be able to tap into someone’s emotions doing this, not that I want to make people cry, but it can have that effect on people.

Bev: Will you be attending CRS and CMA Fest in Nashville this year?

TRAVIS: I’ll be back here for CRS, yes. Radio touring this next week, a TV show down in Georgia and we will be doing a CD release concert. I will actually be doing it back in Portland, on the 17th of March.

Bev: When is the actual release date for the CD?

TRAVIS: March 16th. The single is on iTunes right now.

Bev: With your computer background is there anything else exciting that is going to happen?

TRAVIS: Oh yeah. You’re going to hear about all kinds of stuff. One of the things we are going to do is music videos for everything, for every song on the album, partly because of my brother’s background. He helped out with the video that is out now. I want to do a lot of video, a lot of live video, video streaming to fans of different events, not after the fact, but while its happening. I think that will be pretty fun and its unique. I know a few people that kind of started doing it for little events here and there but I want to incorporate it into everything.

Bev: Are you twittering?

TRAVIS: Oh yeah!

Bev: And you do it yourself?

TRAVIS: Yes, I do. I won’t ever let anyone do it. I do it for my fans. It’s fun doing things while it’s happening. I think one of the things I want fans to know is my music will always be from my heart. I won’t ever sing a song because it’s a hit, I will sing a song because a neat song. They can count if it’s on an album or in a concert, you can count on it being emotional. Sometimes I probably get a little overboard while I’m singing, getting into the emotion of the song.

Bev: With the fans and the connecting, what has been one the most emotional stories that has gotten back to you after hearing one of your songs?

TRAVIS: It was actually on my previous album. I have a song on there called “Just For Tonight” and it’s a song about being with someone who is an alcoholic and then being verbally abusive when they are drinking, which unfortunately is an experience that I went through. I remember a gal that had contacted me a lot, through Myspace, she started talking to me like once a week about her relationship with her husband who was coming home drunk and verbally mean to her all the time and she was trying to figure out how to get out. It was the song that started it, she knew that I had been around that, and she wanted to know how I got out. It got almost a little uncomfortable for me because I thought wait a minute, she needs to talk to a professional, and I shouldn’t be giving advice. At the same time it was so cool that she said she listened to the song all the time. And it really helped her to deal with what was happening. That’s what I want for all of the songs.

Bev: Travis, what a pleasure talking to you and getting to spend time with you, I look forward to seeing you on stage soon.

Travis: Same to you, I enjoyed this very much and hope to see you at a show soon.

For more information on Travis Rush visit http://www.travisrush.com/

Transcribed by Jennifer Kardell

INTERVIEW: Matt Kennon "The Call"

Matt Kennon is a songwriter whose lyrics tell not only his story; but the stories of countless others who have been challenged by life and have overcome the odds to achieve success. As a singer, the passion behind his life experience is in every note. “I don’t want to sing about anything that I haven’t been through,” he says. “It’s honest and it’s real.”

In an excerpt from his bio, it states the whiskey-voiced Georgian has a story to tell and songs to sing. “I put my life story all over my body,” the heavily tattooed Kennon says. “You can just look at me and know I’ve lived a pretty wild life. God’s going to use that as a testimony.”

Matt and I chatted recently about his breakthrough single hitting the airwaves, the struggles and the bright future ahead of him.

Bev: Matt I am so excited to get to know you better. I love the new single, “The Call”. Let’s talk about the new project; I know you co-wrote it, tell me a little bit about that.

Matt: About six years ago, I moved to town to be a singer, I hadn’t really been involved in the songwriting side. I’ve met a few people along the way and they told me that if I were going to make it in this day and time, I really needed to be writing the songs. I was fortunate to meet people like Kim Williams as well as other big hit writers when I was just looking for songs and they asked me if I wanted to write. We took a stab at it with Kim and we ended up with quite a song. I felt like I might have some talent there; so I really tried to hone that. I kept writing, more for me as a therapeutic outlet as I put my thoughts and feelings down on paper. I guess as far as this single, just seeing a lot of loss in life; friends and cousins to suicide; going through a lot of hurt, financial struggles and job losses, things like that inspired me.
Bev: What has been one of the most memorable moments that you have had after people have heard the song or maybe something someone has sent you in a message?
Matt: I had a guy in Knoxville about three weeks ago who came up to me; him and his wife, and he told me if it weren’t for this song, he would not be here right now. That was like “Wow”. He said he had just hit some tough times and he was there at that place. I got a message about a month ago from a girl in Indiana who said she actually had a 9mm to her head in her car and was ready to end her life and “The Call” came on the radio. We could go on and on and on about the people saying “this song has really made me think of my Dad or my Uncle” and tell me “wish I had called them”. It is a life lesson, to where I call everybody when I think of them. I think the most important thing is this song is not so much about a phone call, but about making the call, like a referee, making a decision. Life is not so much about the mistakes you make; it is more about what you do after that. I know God doesn’t make mistakes, I’m here. I know there is a God out there and He has had His hand on me and my family and I have seen Him work in amazing ways. I have seen a lot of miracles with my own eyes.
Bev: I know in your bio, you bring up God a lot, the fact that you were adopted and how your mother almost had an abortion. Do you feel that you are being pulled in a certain direction in some ways as an advocate for some of these things?
Matt: I can only hope that I can use my life as an inspirational story, but under no circumstances am I trying to say I had it so bad because it wasn’t my life story that was bad at all. It is what it could have been if I had not had the right intervention. I had to hear some painful things when I met my biological folks. I guess curiosity was the only thing, not knowing and being told I would never know is what really made me want to find out; what I found out was just a bunch of lies, I still don’t know the truth. My biological mother has passed on and there are things I won’t ever know. I went through all that pain and hard work and suffering and a lot of people were hurt, I was digging and digging and fifteen years later, here I sit. I don’t know much more now than I knew before other than having a visual. It was almost like an inconvenience that I showed up in their lives, the embarrassment and guilt, you wouldn’t believe the amount of stories.
Bev: I adopted a little boy four years ago and I am still in touch with both his biological mother and father. Through Facebook and MySpace, extended family members like his Grandfather and Grandmother have found me, which has opened up my life entirely in different directions and it has brought a bigger circle of people into my life because they are related to him. I am in favor of open adoption, knowing all the answers up front, I never want to hide anything from him. I am his Mother, but he still has biological parents out there and you can’t take that away from someone.
Matt: That brings me to another key point; what really inspired my writings. When I sat down with Kim Williams I was basically just telling him the story. After I told him, the song was complete, word for word, about finding my biological family and what I really wanted to say to my true family that raised me and we came up with a song “Love’s Thicker Than Blood”. We really believe there is a place for that song, maybe on the next album. What the song talks about is anyone can have a child biologically, but it takes love to raise a child. Love outweighs any type of DNA or genetics or anything like that. I use to tell people when I grew up that I looked at the positive side. I told all my friends that my parents chose me; your parents had to deal with what they had.
Bev: I know you started out very young and more as a drummer and musician. Do you still play the instruments or have you leaned more towards being a singer?
Matt: I hear so much music in my head all the time, it never stops. I am really trying to transpose what I hear in my head to the guitar and create this music. I have been blessed all this time to have so many creative people around me to help me with that. That is what I really want to do is be an all around musician. I have done some co-production on this first album. James Stroud and my record label just let me be myself. I don’t play the drums so much anymore, just when I get a chance. I have evolved. In my later teen years, I began singing more; in chorus and in church. I was able to embrace that and realize it was an instrument within me, pretty or not, it was there. I feel like I have been able to write songs that work for me, because I am so passionate about it. To translate something I am hearing and put it on tape is real honesty. I try not to preach to people and most of the time I use myself as an example.
Back to your question, I am always trying to better myself as a guitar player. Who knows what is down the road, I may try to play the Mandolin or Banjo or something. Right now though, I am trying to become a great guitar player to be able to play on stage. It gives me something to do versus just standing there.
Bev: What type of audience is drawn to you? You tend to write songs that are touching and have true meaning.
Matt: I find people a lot like myself; just average people. Back in my wild and wooly days, I was rebellious. I had a void in my life and I hung out with friends a lot. We were all good kids who were raised in church, but we did throw rocks and spin our cars in the neighbor’s yards and got into a few scuffles. When I got older, I started selling motorcycles and that was about the same time I found my biological family. I was so hurt and that is when the tattoos came into play. I became addicted to the pain. I never got into drugs heavily or anything like that. I’ve never done anything that I can’t live with. I hurt myself and a lot of people along the way and now I want to use the rest of my life to touch people and hopefully people can see that I have seen the fire and I want to live the rest of my days on the right path helping people. I believe that’s why I am here. With the motorcycles and tattoos, the bar scenes and playing in the Honky Tonks, I got to see many sides of life. I realized not everyone was raised the way I was raised. It hurts me. I was always that guy that if I saw someone getting picked on, my heart always rooted for the underdog or I’d step in. I don’t want to see anyone else hurt. I like to protect my family and the people I care about. Now, being in this position as a musician and artist, I care about everybody out there that I meet. My story is just my story. Everyone has one. My story is no better or worse than anyone else, it is just that I am willing to use my story as what makes me who I am and let me hear your story because I want to know who you are.
Bev: What do your parents think of you now that you are pursuing the music career? Do they support you?
Matt: My adoptive parents have been God sent. From them almost not getting me and telling the doctor they wanted me sight unseen, it truly was a miracle. They have always been supportive. Whether sports or music, whatever I was into, they were 100% behind me. They did their best to raise me the right way and I believe their raising and support has helped me get to where I am and be the person I am. I never got too far down the road because of the way I was raised. I would feel guilty before I ever drank a beer under age or anything like that. Parents always have a way of finding things out. I have never been arrested, in jail or anything so I owe them for showering me with that abundance of love. Even when pain and disappointments showed up, I was always able to pull through. It was because of their love and God’s love. I owe them for both of those.
Bev: What kind of promotional ideas are you working on to get the music heard?
Matt: Anything I can. We want to reach out to the military. A lot of people go overseas in the military to the battle zones and that is great, but there are a lot of those soldiers coming home that feel alone. Maybe we can fill that slot and say “welcome home”. They may have lost a husband or wife or job, but we’re here to let them know we appreciate them and hopefully we can give them the support they need to get back on their feet, get things going again and get back to life. Those people see a lot over there. I am willing to talk to any adoptees or anybody that’s going through a tough time. I don’t want to be a counselor, but hopefully people will be able to listen to my music and take something away from that.
Bev: Are you going to be participating in CRS this year? CMA Fest?
Matt: Yes and we have a lot of TV things coming up between now and CRS. I think we are going to be on the Morning Show here with Kelly Sutton. We have Chicago WGN coming up and we will be here all week with CRS. We are going out and doing Future Farmers of America (FFA) shows, we are working on some shows for Habitat for Humanity, really just anything we can to lend a helping hand and reach people. There are more songs like “The Call” that are going to follow on different subject matters. We are staying pretty busy.
Bev: Do you use Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and similar media?
Matt: We are tweeting a little bit and doing Facebook and MySpace. We have a new website which is www.MattKennon.com that we are launching this week. That gives more ways for the fans to interact with what we are doing and keep up with where we are at, tour dates and YouTube videos and things like that.
Bev: The single is available now, but the full CD will be available in the next month or so, is that correct?
Matt: I have heard March for the CD, but I don’t think there has been any final decision made on the release date yet. I think that because the music business and record business is changing, they may be looking at different ways to market some of these songs. It might be a six song EP or a full length album; we have 12 songs ready to go with. It could be six now and six at the end of the year maybe. We will know a little more in the next few weeks.
Bev: Matt it has been such a pleasure getting to know you, is there anything else you would like to make sure the people know?
Matt: I just want to make sure everyone knows how much I appreciate everyone along the way. This has been quite a journey and I have learned it is not so much about the money but it is about the memories that you make. We certainly are making a lot of them. I don’t want this to be a flash where I can’t remember. I have tried to take a lot of pictures and document a lot of things, keep journals and things like that because it is quite an experience. I wish my biological Mother would have seen me, but she gave up. I think she would be proud seeing that I am out there doing the best I can do. My Mother and Father always wanted me to be a preacher and I think they are certainly happy with how things have turned out and the influence I am making over people. I think this is a win win for everyone.
For more information on Matt Kennon visit http://www.mattkennon.com/
Transcribed by Pam Stadel

Nashville Music Industry Gathers For Katie Armiger Show at The Rutledge

Cold River recording artist Katie Armiger gave a special performance at The Rutledge in downtown Nashville last night.  Local industry personnel were treated to an entertaining set of songs from Armiger’s forthcoming third album, including her current single, “Kiss Me Now.”
Pictured L to R are Pete O’Heeron (Cold River Records), Armiger,  Larry Pareigis

(Nine North), Hank Adam Locklin
(CMA) and Kevin Neal
(Buddy Lee Attractions).
Photo Credit: Bev Moser (Moments By Moser)
Katie Armiger 2010

INTERVIEW: Lee Roy Parnell

As with many of the hit song artists, they eventually end up running a business on Music Row and we do not see them performing as much. Lee Roy Parnell has managed to do both. Parnell made the segue into the music publishing world by co-partnering in Dean Parnell Music; in addition to being a music publisher, he is currently producing and writing with some of the most influential songwriters and recording artists nationwide. In the last few months, he has put together a show called “Lee Roy Parnell and Friends”, bringing some of the music industry’s most talented and accredited artists and top notch musicians on stage with him.

Lee Roy Parnell recorded eight studio albums, and has charted more than twenty singles on the Billboard charts. His highest-charting hits are "What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am" (1992), "Tender Moment" (1993), and "A Little Bit of You" (1995), all of which peaked at #2. He co-wrote two Top 40 country hits for other artists: "Too Much" by Pirates of the Mississippi and "That's My Story" by Collin Raye; collaborated with Steve Wariner along with Diamond Rio on a cover of Merle Haggard's "Workin' Man's Blues and the talented Parnell played slide guitar on Mary Chapin Carpenter's late-1994 Number One hit "Shut Up and Kiss Me".

I recently visited with Lee Roy after one of his shows. I had an opportunity to catch up with him and find out more about what he has been up too and what more we can expect from him.

Bev: Your show at The Basement was amazing, I could feel the adrenalin rush from my seat and see it in your eyes. Tell me how these shows feel compared to bigger venues.

Lee Roy: It is surprising that it has done what it has. I have learned some very valuable lessons from this. Once again, if you take “self” out of it and just serve, you will be surprised what people will do. People are used to someone doing something for personal gain all the time and that is not the case here. I didn’t realize it would be what it has turned into now. I just thought it would be a way for us to stretch out a little, especially when we are in non-touring months.

I was looking for a way to have some fellowship, even if it was just me and God and the guys, but people began to show up. From the very beginning, I said let’s not do this like a regular gig; because it is not. I wanted to pull in people that we have a lot of respect for, famous or not famous, whatever. I always tell them don’t they don’t have to play their hits. If it is an Allman Brothers song, or a Merle Haggard song or a band song it’s ok. This has kind of taken on a life of its own and I have been amazed. I am glad I had the foresight to video and record every show so far. I don’t take a paycheck, never have. The feature entertainers don’t take a paycheck. They come in because it is something that they can do with no pressure. I see it as a chance for them to have fun, they love to play and the response has been crazy! I have had guests who are songwriters that I have known forever, some that I have just met, and people like Keith Urban. He stopped by the rehearsal one day.

Bev: Speaking of rehearsal, how do you rehearse for such an impromptu show?

Lee Roy: The band and I rehearse so we are prepared for the songs the guests choose; so that whatever they choose to do we will back them up well. I am a band leader more than anything else. I have never felt like I was a star, I never got caught in that stuff, I don’t find it interesting, it bores me to death. Leading a band is very interesting to me.

Bev: How many of these LRP and Friends shows have you done now?

Lee Roy: We started in September, 2009. It has been surprising what has transpired out of all this, it has been great. I have noticed that there are four or five other shows going on around town similar to ours. When you do something good, others are going to start picking up on it.

Bev: What do you enjoy most about doing the shows in a small venue with your friends? What has been the most enjoyable thing so far?

Lee Roy: Working with people that I respect, care about and love. It has been great. I am going to cap it though, just have not decided what month. We have gotten to the point that we have outgrown it, which is good. You are pulling in more people than you can fit through the doors.

Bev: Are you going to move it to a larger venue? The last few times it has been to capacity.

Lee Roy: People are experiencing something that they may never see again. They are getting to see a lot of top notch entertainment in an intimate setting. That sums it up.

Bev: Are you still working with your publishing company too?

Lee Roy: Yes, I still have my publishing company because I figured that when I turned 50 I needed to get a real job. It has been an interesting addition to my life. I will stick with it because it is important to control your own songs.

Bev: The transition from an artist who is on the road all the time to a desk job is not always an easy one, what has been the most rewarding thing to come of this?

Lee Roy: What I found is a lot of labels started sending younger writers to me. Sometimes they need help and I am good at getting in their head and getting the thoughts and ideas out.

Bev: Are you working with anyone that has anything out right now?

Lee Roy: No, but we are about to have something. Dave Pahanish has been working with me. I have been producing songs that he and I write together. A lot of times you do that and you do it for a label and they will say “Yeah, that’s great; we love it and now let’s change it”. It has been fun and I have learned a lot. Once again, there is seasoning involved. When I first came to town, I had a lot of people that taught me. You learn there is more to it than what you think.

Bev: Will we see anything new from you, maybe another new album?

Lee Roy: Yes, definitely. That is the one thing that I will do. I thought I was done as far as that was concerned, but I wasn’t, I was just tired and needed a break. You never lose that fire if you are doing it for the right reasons. As you go along, you figure things out for yourself.

Bev: Looking back on everything, what is the one thing you are most proud of that you have accomplished to this point in your life and career?

Lee Roy: My granddaughter; my son, my daughter and my granddaughter.

Bev: Are any of your kids following your footsteps in the music industry?

Lee Roy: No, absolutely not.

Bev: Is that because Dad said they couldn’t or don’t they have any interest in it?

Lee Roy: I just told them what I tell everyone. If you don’t have to do it .. don’t. It takes so much if you are really doing it right. I could just about kill you.

Bev: Looking back, what would you do different if you were starting out today?

Lee Roy: Nothing. It wouldn’t be the same. Maybe I wouldn’t have moved to New York right off the ranch in West Texas when I was 18. I figured that was the most radical thing I could do. I got a job the first week I was there playing at the Lone Star CafĂ© in 1975 or 1976. On Sunday nights, there were usually people there that had played Friday and Saturday nights in New York City that hung over for another day and needed to play. I never really thought of it until now, but it is really a lot like what we are doing at The Basement.

Bev: Who were or are some of your influences and artists you look up too?

Lee Roy: There are people that I am just ravenously in love with. I am a big Merle Haggard fan; if you dig into Haggard at all, you will realize he’s the best poet that we have. There are a lot of jazz elements and blues elements; and we share that commonality that Bob Wills had. I loved Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Sr. and I love Hank Jr., but Hank Sr. was really an architect of Rock and Roll. He was so superior to all the rest of his people that were around him as far as a lyricist-nobody could touch him.

Bev: What is the one piece of advice you would give to the up and coming artists?

Lee Roy: It may sound like a pat answer, but people need to have something unique about them. They need to check themselves out and make sure they are not doing it because they want to be a star. I would tell them to not let anyone get in there and tell them who they are and who they’re not. They need to know who they are and stick to their guns. Unfortunately, very few do. It is just so important to stick with who you are.

Bev: Lee Roy, you always have been and always will be on the list of my favorites and I look forward to seeing you again soon. Thank you so much for the visit.

Lee Roy: Thank you and I will see you again soon. Thanks for doing this.

For more information on Lee Roy Parnell visit www.leeroyparnell.com or www.myspace.com/leeroyparnell

For more photos of the most recent Lee Roy Parnell and Friends show visit www.digitalrodeo.com/DRPhotos/photos/album/LeeRoyParnellandFriendsatTHEBASEMENTJan18th.

Transcribed by Pam Stadel

INTERVIEW: Josh Turner "Haywire"

Josh Turner has a sound that is recognizable in a few short notes; combine this with his smooth voice and lyrics that people can relate and you will find what has kept him in the spotlight and on the charts since his debut in 2001.

With his new CD “Haywire” set to hit the store shelves on Feb 9th, Josh is busy with the promotional side of the music business. I managed to get him to slow down for a visit to talk about the new project and what we might expect in the future.

BEV: Thank you so much for taking some time to visit with me about the new CD “Haywire” and all you have going on with it. It is set for release soon, are you ready?

JOSH: The album is ready to come out on February 9th just in time for Valentines Day. We’re doing a lot of work promoting the new album, promoting the song, trying to get the song up the charts. It looks like we’re shaping up to have a great release. So, that is what has been consuming most of time right now. We’ve had a lot of pre-sales which is encouraging.

BEV: As far as the feelings you had making this album in comparison to your other albums, what is different?

JOSH: It was a faster pace, it wasn’t rushed, but we didn’t waste any time putting the record together; and it came together well. There is always a fear that when you speed up the process, that the album will lack the quality it needs, but I feel like we got in a groove, in the zone and the quality went up, stayed up and maybe even surpassed the last three records I have done. That is a lot for me to say, because my 1st three records had a lot of energy themselves. I feel like this record is diverse, there are a lot of different songs on this one and I pushed my self vocally as well. I feel there is a lot more energy on this record and I think that the fans will be able to hear that.

BEV: What was the most exciting thing for you personally in the creation of this project?

JOSH: Making it. That part of my job is one of the most fun aspects; simply making the record. It allows me to write songs, go into the studio and bring the songs to life. The whole process is intriguing and exciting. Every detail to me is important, and I pay attention to those details and I have my hand in the decision making process regarding them.

BEV: Is there anything during that process that is stressful to you?

JOSH: I am my own worst enemy, especially if you are a perfectionist like I am. I like taking my time making a record. I like making sure we have the right songs, but the time in between the sessions drives me crazy; just sitting around waiting to go back into the studio again. It is a Catch 22, because I want to have the right songs and don’t want to rush, but at the same time I hate waiting around to find that next great song or write that next song. If there were only a way to solve that by all of these great songs coming to me at once!

BEV: Since you have become a household name, what changes have you gone through as a person and as an artist as all of this is transpiring? What changes have you noticed?

JOSH: This is kind of crazy. It is demanding and it is tiring, but it is fun too. This is what I have been dreaming of my whole life. I always wanted people to come up and ask me for my autograph even though it seems to always happen when I least expect it. If I didn’t love it, I definitely wouldn’t be in this business. It can be very grueling and I have learned a lot about myself. What I can handle, what I can’t; a lot about how to treat people. So much of that comes from your upbringing, but we get approached by a lot of people you have never met before and you have to learn how to treat people with respect and integrity. You come to realize that bad news travels faster than good news. Doesn’t matter what mood you are in, if somebody comes up to you; you have to treat them as if they were your best friend. I have learned that you have to put a good team around you to really help you that shares the same values, ideas, and goals so they can make a decision if need be and know that I am going to be ok with it.

BEV: When you look at the songs on the “Haywire” CD, which is the most personal to you?

JOSH: Good question. Probably “The Answer” is the most personal song on this record. I wrote with my friend Mark Narramore. We are both Christians; we sat down that day looking through ideas and one of the ideas I had written down was Jesus is the answer. I thought it was a title that we could write a lot about and the title alone was powerful. We started writing about the people in the world who are looking for answers to their questions, looking for direction. It was about this is what we believe; we believe that Jesus is the answer to these problems that you’re having. It started out feeling like a sad Vern Gosdin song musically, but as the process went along and we added on it, it turned out to be a full blown gospel song. I put a lot of heart and soul into recording this song. Even when I got into the studio to do my vocals, I felt like this song just wanted to break lose. It was the last song I sang for the record and I had nothing to lose, no shame; so I went in and allowed my voice to go where it wanted to go. Singing up in my higher range is not something that I do everyday, because people know me for my low range. But I felt like this song really called for my upper range and I allowed myself to go there. It was challenging, but I believe that was what the song needed.

BEV: Did you write all of the songs on this CD project?

JOSH: No. I wrote 5 out of the 11. I wrote “I Can Be”, “The Answer”, “Friday Paycheck”, “As Fast As I Could”, and “Haywire”.

BEV: Do you prefer to sing songs that you have written because of the emotional attachment or do you not mind either way?

JOSH: It depends on the song. There are songs that I didn’t write that I enjoy singing. As far as songs of mine, there has to be a certain level of quality whether I wrote them or not. It all varies form song to song.

BEV: Do you have any songs out there you’ve written, but that haven’t found a home yet?

JOSH: Yeah, I try to write as often as I can and obviously I can’t get all of the songs I write onto the records. It depends on the record really. Lately most of the songs that I am writing end up on the record that I am working on at that moment. Like the title track of my last record, I wrote it leading up to recording that record. Most of the songs on that record I had written just leading up to that recording. It was just something I was in the moment for. What didn’t make it on the records either didn’t feel right or wasn’t supposed to be on that particular project.

BEV: As far as expectations you place on yourself; do you have a lot of expectations you put on yourself everyday and do you have a certain schedule or a routine that you do?

JOSH: One thing my life has never had since I signed a record deal is a routine. You just never know what each day is going to bring. That is one thing that my family and friends have noticed. One of my best friends told me “I don’t know how you do it”. I never know what news I am going to get and I think I prefer it that way. I hate monotony. I used to work for Nabisco as a retail representative during my 1st two years of college. I would go to stores and check the shelves and make sure the products looked good. It was the same stores every day, doing the same thing day after day. I almost pulled my hair out! This job as a singer and artist; there is no monotony. There is always something new going on, always a new challenge. It keeps my spirit alive.

BEV: What’s next for you in regards to this CD?

JOSH: Right now we are getting ready to rehearse for this years show. We will be playing a lot of new material this year. If we go back to a market we have already played, the fans will not be seeing the same show. That right now is top priority. Once it comes out, we are heading out west for about three weeks and playing quite a few dates. I will be home for Country Radio Seminar and preparing for a lot of press during that time. We are gearing up to have a good year.

BEV: Long term, where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

JOSH: In the next 10 years I would love to look back and say I had another handful of hits and made several more great records and gained more fans. Hopefully maybe get to the place where I didn’t have to work as much as I do now. Spend more time with my family and do some things that I really want to do. Wake up every morning and sing country music.

BEV: What is the best piece of advice you have gotten that you would pass on to new aspiring artists?

JOSH: A lot of times the old timers talk about saving money and learning to be smart with your money. I have always tried to do that. Also, Eddy Arnold told me one time to record love songs. He always encouraged me to record love songs if they were ‘right’ for Josh Turner. I took that advice to heart, especially on this record. So we’re about to find out if Eddy’s advice is going to pay off.

BEV: Is there anything routine that you do before going on stage? Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

JOSH: Normally I try to start getting ready about an hour before the meet and greet time, I like to do the meet & greet before the show. I get ready in the back of the bus listening to the current R&B station on XM Radio. It is what I warm up to vocally to go out an sing traditional country music. That is my ritual, in addition to getting the band together before going on stage and we say a prayer, and then go out there and have a good time.

BEV: Josh, I love your music and have enjoyed the time we got to spend visiting. I look forward to seeing you very soon and wish you the best of everything with this CD.

JOSH: Thank you very much, and I appreciate the interest and all you do as well. I hope to see you soon.

For more information on Josh Turner visit www.joshturner.com and to purchase the CD from ITUNES visit http://awe.sm/43SD4

INTERVIEW: Brad Cotter "Just In Time"

You most likely recognize Brad Cotter from his National thrust into stardom after winning the 2004 Nashville Star competition; and with so many reality television shows and similar contests we have not been able to keep up with where the winners are now.

If you are like a lot of people, you have asked yourself “whatever happened to Brad Cotter?” He has the answers for you; he is still right here in Music City putting out new songs, recently released a new CD project and is in the process of writing a book about his journey through life and the struggles he has faced in the music industry from a very young age.

Recently I had an opportunity to sit down with Brad and take a peek at his life, his music and the very honest, very open and very interesting book which he is writing.

Q. Brad, I know you have been very busy with promotions for the new CD and currently have a contest which incorporates YouTube and your fans. Can you tell me more about this?
A. The contest is a really neat thing. We got the idea from people who submit videos to YouTube. A friend of mine suggested I watch one of the cutest little girl on YouTube singing one of my songs. We thought it was so neat; we decided to see if there were any other people out there who would like to participate. My management came up with the idea of a guitar as a prize; to encourage youngsters to learn and develop their craft, rather than an autographed CD or something similar to that. We were hoping that the contest would be about young people who wanted to write songs or sing, to give them a place to showcase their talent and also to drive more traffic to our sites. Instead, there are all kinds of video being submitted; like little boys playing air guitar, jumping around dancing, then we have some that are serious about it that are really trying to sing the songs. It has really been fun to see all the different styles being submitted. Anyone can submit anything they want as long as it is clean. As far as age goes, there are no limitations. I’m really glad we did that because it is really entertaining to see; as opposed to a contest to see who performs Brad’s songs the best.
Q: Have you had any where the words have been changed?
A: Like the Cletus or parody thing? Not yet. The first video that was submitted was two little boys jumping around playing the air guitar to one of my songs and I thought “Man that will be so cool when they are sixteen and mom pulls that out for the girlfriend.
Q. Do you find it challenging to continue to find new ways to draw attention to your music and your websites? Things have changed so much over the last few years with the impact of the social networks.
A. I am really new to the whole social networking thing. I know I’m telling my age when I say that. It is amazing to me how difficult it is with the vast number of people out there trying to get your attention. It is hard to get someone to spend five minutes on a website; and yet it is important that we let people know what we are doing these days. Without a big number one hit single, my team and I were trying to come up with ideas on how we could get our fans and new listeners to say “I wonder what Brad is doing?” So I hope people are wondering and will check our website out.
Q: Are you doing the social network things like Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace?
A: I am doing it. I am supposed to say yes I love it, but I don’t get it. It is a lot of work and I don’t think that people are that interested in my mundane moves. ---I’m going to the bank now, I just wrote a song--But I guess they are. I can’t say it comes natural to me to tell everybody my business. But for the record, I am social networking my tail off!
Q. You recently released a new CD project called “Right On Time”; did you set out with a grand scheme in place as you prepared to do this?
A. I am real proud of the new record. It was finished up last summer and we have been trying to get some dates on the books tour-wise to go out and support the new record. Everything is slowly but surely heading in the right direction. We didn’t really have a big marketing plan or any preconceived ideas promotion wise. We just went in and cut a bunch of songs we really liked and thought we would just let the music dictate the direction we would go.
Q: How many of the songs on this CD did you have a hand in writing?
A: I wrote or co-wrote three. But it really wasn’t about who wrote the songs as much as just trying to find songs I could relate too and that felt right to me. I really wanted to record a record something I would like to sit and listen to myself.
Q: Does it have any kind of a theme?
A: It did! I have a lot of people close to me who tell me what they like or don’t like. It seems to have a lot of religious overtones to it. Not necessarily preaching to people how they should or should not live, but spiritual, like searching for things; life questions such as what does this really mean? Why are we here? There is a lot of depth in the lyrics. There is also a couple of fun songs that you don’t really have to think too much about; Just go down the road, roll down the windows and listen to it. For the most part, the overall theme is about making choices. Good choices, bad choices and the outcome. There seems to be a little spirituality involved in that because of my gospel background, my dad being a preacher and all.
Q: How is this one different from the others you have done?
A: The first one was Nashville Star oriented; to get the product out on the shelves as fast as possible before the people forget the television show. It was done at a breakneck pace. I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish in the little time we had. The second record was intended to be similar to the first, I wanted to go in and record some songs that were close to my heart. I actually had more songs on it that I had written. The label I was involved with at the time ran out of funding before we were even able to get it off the ground. So by the time I had perfected it, it was too late. My dad, a couple of my friends and me are the only people who ever heard it.
Q: Any chance any of the songs on that record will ever be resurrected?
A: I have a song or two that I have pitched around town and have had some interest shown by other artists, but I have never had anyone cut one. There is a possibility that some of the songs will find their way, but as far as me recording one of them I just don’t see that happening. I never rule anything out anymore. This business has changed so much in the last couple of years much less the last ten that who knows? Someone might hear that and want to put that out.
Q: When you perform in concert or for events, do you ever sing any of those song during your show?
A: Yes, there are a couple of them on the previous project on my live show; but my live shows are always changing. I do so many different types of shows and events; everything from solo acoustics to trios to acoustic gigs to the full band with the whole extravaganza and the songs are constantly changing depending on what we’re doing.
Q: Are you currently doing any shows or scheduled to perform?
A: Since the first of the year I have done a few corporate events and conferences and a lot of private functions. We are going overseas towards the end of February or the first of March to do a USO tour for the troops. It will be a 7-10 day trip. I know we are going to be in Kuwait for the first stop, but I really do not know where else we will be going. We are hoping for the months April, May and June hopefully to fill up fast.
Q: Are you trying to package yourself on a tour with anyone or are you going solo?
A: It is sort of hit and miss, although I have done a lot of shows with Buddy Jewel because of the Nashville Star connection. I really have not been grouped with anyone in particular. The last time I was on a package tour was in 2007. I was out with Restless Heart for their reunion tour.
Q: Are you doing any traditional videos for any of the songs on the “Just In Time” project?
A: We have not really discussed any. If there were a glorified single that we were trying to gain radio support we would need a video to go along with it, but I guess we are taking it one step at a time. We are not ruling it out but at this time there are no plans for one.
Q: What plans are in place as far as starting over so to speak and reconnecting with your fans and trying to gain new ones?
A: For one, we are doing some charity events in collaboration with country radio seminar. When you kind of disappear like it seems like I did for four or five years, which was not intentional, it takes a lot of money to stay in the public eye. It takes a little bit of starting over. I am kind of climbing back up to the top of the hill if you will. We are just taking baby steps, trying to get people interested in coming back around. It seems to be working pretty good so far. It just takes having to remind people “hey, we’re still over here, we’re still making music”.
Q: When you look back with your experience with Nashville Star, if you could give any advice to someone, what would that be?
A: Depending on their age; if they were young, stay in school, be sure you have a back up plan, you could win all the TV shows in the world, have all the record deals in the world, it doesn’t guarantee success and none of that guarantees happiness if you are successful. My advice is to be careful and make good choices. Don’t take it too seriously. I’ve seen some great success stories through reality television and I have seen some hit and misses.
Q: Do you think there should be age limits set on those who can enter such competitions?
A: Yes, I think so. I think it is tough on anyone younger than sixteen to have all the pressure, expectations and not being mature enough to handle it yet. There are people out there who can and who have and have done a great job of it. But I agree with the age limit. I just do not think that fourteen or fifteen year old kids should be thrust into the machine of this industry.
Q: I am very interested in more information about the book you are writing, what can you share about it so far?
A: About a year or year and a half ago I noticed that Wikipedia has nothing but false information about me and there are several other websites out there that have misinformation about me. The only way I can clear this up and correct it is to tell my story. That is the best way I know to do it. My thought was that if there were some kid out there wanting to be on American Idol, Nashville Star or other reality TV shows; and if someone had told me the truth about how this business works when I was nineteen years old and making a decision not to go to college, to pursue this crazy dream. I don’t know if it would have done any good for anybody to tell me, but I would like to think it would have. So I think I am in a very unique position that I did have a number four record in Country Music and I have the ability to say, “Hey, I’ve been there. I know what it takes to get there. And it is not at all what I thought it was. Not at all what you think it is”. I am going to just tell the truth, warts and all, the good, the bad, and the ugly; the dumb stuff I did, the good stuff I did. I just want to let that reader see “Wow! This business isn’t what I thought it was! Maybe I do need to listen to mom and dad! Maybe I do need an education. Maybe I do need to think twice about a back up plan. “
Q: I know the book is still in progress, any idea on when it will be available?
A: We are just beginning really, so it is still in the process of being written. We are probably about 40% there. We still have a long way to go as far as the telling of it. We have an outline, what we want to say. It is just that I have to get in there and get the work done.
Q: Are you recording your thoughts and then having a writer translate and write it?
A: It is a combination of that and a narrative from Steve Bogart’s view; my words will be italicized. It will be narrated and there will also be personal stories. It won’t be in chronological order. It is not going to be an autobiography. It is going to be different moments in time throughout this career and different things that I have gone through that triggered things, memories etc. Hopefully it will be compelling because of the different behind the scenes of the music industry and the behind the scenes of the reality TV shows. Also I want to make sure that the truth is told so the message gets out to the upcoming hopefuls.
Q: Do you think that the 3-4 years off when you were not active that that helped to put you in that frame of mind to say, “Hey I need to get the truth out”?
A: Definitely. There is no way I could have written this book without having an agenda or my emotions being too involved. Whether they be good, bad or indifferent. I had a chip on my shoulder. I felt like the industry maybe owed me something because I had to go through the reality TV show to get a record deal. I couldn’t get A & R to listen to me. I couldn’t get any label to give me a shot. So I had to go through this crazy ordeal just to get a record done. I had a little bit of bitterness and anger going on that would have definitely been a tone throughout the book that I didn’t want. It is nothing I intended or planned; it is just the way the good Lord worked everything out. It has been enough time that there has been some healing. Things do make more sense now than they did 4 years ago. I can write about it without it being tainted.
Q: I know you mentioned earlier the CRS Charity involvement and an upcoming USO tour, what other charity work are you doing?
A: We are involved with Compassion International, with the Country Radio Seminar event, with Haiti relief fund, the Red Cross, some public service announcements for them and like I mentioned before, the USO tour. We are also in the process of doing a video of a jam with a friend of mine from my home town who happens to have a hunting and fishing television show that comes on Fox. I have been on his show before as a special guest, and we went down to do another, but the weather did not cooperate. We ended up sitting around and doing an impromptu jam which the TV crew filmed and one thing led to another; before you knew it we had ten or twelve songs in the can. He is going to promote that on his show. A portion of the proceeds from that will be donated to charity. It was very unplanned. I am excited about that.
Brad, as always, wonderful to see you and spend some time with you, I am excited to read more of the book and hear more great music from you.
Bev, thank you and good to see you as well. Look forward to seeing you again soon and appreciate all you do.
For more information on Brad Cotter visit www.bradcotter.com/