Tuesday, 7 February 2017

INTERVIEW: Amanda Sadler

Amanda Sadler released her new single “Drop The Needle Down” on January 20, 2017. Produced in Nashville, the single is a co-written collaboration between Amanda, Dave “Dwave” Thomson (Lady Antebellum, Autumn Hill) and Patricia Conroy. The single is a perfect example of Amanda’s unique contemporary sound while staying true to the romantic tones of country music. Sadler, classically trained in both piano and vocals, sings about catching a moment in time and revelling in that simple memory. “Drop The Needle Down” is Sadler’s follow-up to her debut EP The Light, released in 2015.

She's Gone Country chatted with Amanda about her musical influences, her love of country music and the sometimes not-so-glamourous places she has had to prep for a show!

She's Gone Country: What is the song writing process like? What inspires you?

Amanda Sadler: Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere, so I’ve learned to keep my mind open to it at all times. Anything from a line in a movie to a conversation with a friend can spark the next great idea. The beauty in the process of song writing is that it’s never the same twice. Some songs end up being written over a number of years, and others seem to write themselves in less than an hour.

SGC: As a multi-instrumentalist, what is your favourite to play during performances? Do you have an instrument of choice for song writing?

AS: Guitar definitely allows for the most flexibility for me as a performer when I’m doing a live show, but I absolutely love when I can do a song or two on the piano live – it adds a whole new dimension to a performance, and can help to create a pretty significant moment in a live show. I like to think of piano as my first musical language since I’ve been playing since I was about 6, so it definitely holds a special place in my heart.

I switch back and forth between piano and guitar in my song writing quite frequently – changing an instrument out can often allow you to approach an idea and a song from an entirely new angle, so being able to switch from one to another has been invaluable in my song writing process.

SGC: What is it about country music that really speaks to you?

AS: I fell in love with the story telling aspect of country music at an early age, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I remember the first time I heard “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, I knew I wanted to write songs that could evoke that much emotion in just a few minutes.

SGC: As someone who began performing as a child, is there a moment you can remember, when you knew that you were going to focus on music professionally?

AS: If you asked 5-year-old Amanda what she wanted to be when she grew up, the answer would be exactly the same 20 years later. I knew what I was passionate about and set about pursuing it from a very young age. The defining moment for me, though, was when I graduated from Queen’s University in 2012, and had to make the official decision that this was what I was going to pursue as a career – easiest decision I’ve ever made.

SGC: How does it feel to have such a supportive and thriving country music scene in Canada?

AS: Being a part of the Canadian country music community is such a privilege, and something that still amazes me on a daily basis. There are so many incredible people that I’ve met and worked with along the way, and it definitely feels more like a family than an industry.

SGC: Having worked on some of your music in Nashville, how do you think the country music scene there differs from back home?

AS: The wonderful thing about Nashville is that it has become such a gathering place for so many incredibly talented people, so there are countless wonderful musicians to work with in just a few miles radius. There are just as equally talented musicians and writers here in Canada, but unfortunately some of them are spread across the country, rather than all packed into one vibrant little city. I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of Skype-writing over the years with some of my favourite writers across Canada to make up for the distance. I do think that the market for and love of country music is just as strong here as it is down South, and I’m so thankful to have had such a wonderful reception to my music here in Canada.

SGC: You just released “Drop the Needle Down.” What has the experience been like so far? How has the reception been?

AS: The process of creating and releasing “Drop The Needle Down” has been something like a dream. I’ve gotten to work with some of the people I look up to and respect most in the industry, and I’m absolutely over the moon with what we’ve created and reception it’s been receiving. The song creates a moment of simplicity where your whole world can revolve around a single person and a song and everything else momentarily fades away, and I think that’s a very universal concept. I’m so incredibly grateful to the team that’s been with me during the creation and release of this single, especially to my two wonderful co-writers, Dave Thomson and Patricia Conroy.

SGC: You funded your EP The Light through Kickstarter. What do you think of crowd funding as a tool, especially for musicians?

AS: I had such a wonderful experience using Kickstarter for my crowd-funding campaign, and I can’t rave enough about the whole concept. It has opened up a whole new opportunity for fans to be involved in the creation process, and makes the experience of supporting musicians and their projects so much more personal. I personally believe that crowd funding has bridged a gap and allowed for a much more collaborative process in the creation of music, and I’m so incredibly grateful to everyone who supported me in that journey.

SGC: What can people look forward to hearing from you next?

AS: I’m absolutely over the moon about the new music I’ve been writing and recording, and I’m eager to keep sharing it! I can promise that there will be a lot more of it coming out very soon that I’m equally as passionate about – stay tuned!

SGC: Do you have any fun stories or fan encounters that you can share from your adventures so far?

AS: One of the most rewarding things as an artist and especially as a songwriter is when someone falls in love with your song on a personal level. I was lucky enough to be a part of a fantastic songwriter’s round in Vancouver at the start of my recent cross-country radio tour, and had a wonderful lady approach me afterward wanting to play my single “Drop The Needle Down” at her daughter’s wedding. That moment right there is exactly why I do what I do.

SGC: What is the best and worst part of being a country performer?

AS: The best: getting to share music that I’m passionate about with so many wonderful people. The worst: that time I had to put on fake eyelashes in an outhouse at one of my shows.

SGC: What advice would you give to musicians who are considering pursuing a career professionally?

AS: Rewards gained come from risks taken. Creating something great and becoming someone that stands out from the crowd can only be achieved by putting it all out on the line.

SGC: You are quite active on social media and regularly reply to fans on Twitter. How important is social media as a tool to connect with your fans?

AS: Social media has become an invaluable tool for me. I’m such a people person, and I’m very passionate about connecting with fans and others in the industry, so I’m grateful that we have such an incredible means to not only stay connected, but also make so many wonderful new connections and discover new music so easily.

SGC: Is there an artist that you would have loved to get a Tweet from when you were a kid?

AS: Shania Twain. Hands down.

SGC: What's on your iPod/phone? Who have you been listening to lately that you think people should check out?

AS: Right now I’m obsessed with anything by Ryan Hurd. “We Do Us” and “Love in a Bar” are two favourites. I’m also big on anything by Maren Morris – huge respect for that girl. Her song “Sugar” has been on repeat for a while on my playlists. I’m also constantly listening to Donovan Woods – one of the best songwriters to ever come out of Canada, in my opinion.

SGC: What was the last picture you took on your phone?

AS: A fancy dinner I made last night! I’m a huge foodie and I love to cook for other people.

SGC: What is the best compliment you have ever received?

AS: Being told that a song I wrote is someone’s favourite and that they’ve had it on repeat for days.

SGC: What would you say has been one of the coolest moments/highlights in your career that really made you realize you had chosen the right path for yourself?

AS: You know the “butterflies” feeling that people talk about having when they were 13 and had a really big crush on someone? I get that every time I hear one of my songs recorded for the first time. Definitely a constant reminder that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.

SGC: And last but not least, is there a question that you have always wanted to be asked, maybe rehearsed your answer in the mirror, and no one has ever asked it? Here's your big chance!

AS: “Why did you want to be a songwriter and an artist?” Shockingly, no one has EVER asked me that, and the answer is very simple. There are certain songs that have changed my life, and I want to write and sing a song that can change someone else’s life. For me, that’s so much more than enough.

For more information on Amanda Sadler, visit: www.amandasadler.com

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Hunter Hayes Kicks off the New Year on Good Morning America

Photo Credit: Robby Klein
Befitting of his own creative odyssey and a fresh start to the year, five-time GRAMMY nominee Hunter Hayes debuted “All For You,” an original song featured in Paramount Pictures’ forthcoming feature film Monster Trucks, on ABC’s “Good Morning America”  on Jan. 5. Hayes penned the upbeat tune with fellow Nashville songsmiths Jon Nite and Emily Weisband and performed the song live for the first time in support of the family-friendly film, which hits theaters nationwide on Friday, Jan. 13.

While in New York, Hayes also performed new music from his highly anticipated third studio album - including his current single, “Yesterday’s Song” – via Billboard’s live stream.

“This past year has been such an incredible journey for me, both personally and creatively, and I can’t wait to share new music with everybody,” said Hayes. “You never know where a song will take you or how it might affect somebody, and while we work on finishing the new album and putting out more songs, it’s really cool to have this one I wrote a while back come to life with a film and be able to share it in its own unique way.”

Saturday, 7 January 2017

William Michael Morgan Performs on NBC's Today Show

(L to R) Hoda Kotb, William Michael Morgan, Jenna Bush Hager
Photo Courtesy Warner Music Nashville

William Michael Morgan kicked off the new year with Hoda and Jenna on NBC’s TODAY, making his national TV debut on January 4 performing his No. 1 hit “I Met A Girl."  The poignant song, along with his newest single, “Missing,” are featured on his recently released critically acclaimed debut album VINYL.

Morgan’s debut effort lands him on many year-end best albums lists, including Rolling Stone, iTunes, Saving Country Music, and top song of the year nods for “I Met A Girl” from Billboard and NPR.  The New York Times declares “…in the emergent field of gentleman country — an antidote to the bros of the last few years — William Michael Morgan stands tall.”  The praise continues, referring to “Vinyl” as a “sturdy, reflective debut album….  a throwback to the temperate wisdom of midcareer George Strait.”

The 23-year-old Vicksburg, MS native will join country music stars Lee Brice and Justin Moore on the “American Made” Tour with dates starting in January.  His breakout mega-hit “I Met A Girl,” which topped Country Radio charts and SiriusXM’s “The Highway” Top 45 Countdown chart, has garnered over half a billion audience impressions, including over 20 million on-demand streams. His critically acclaimed album VINYL debuted in the Top 5 on Billboard’s Country Albums Chart.

For more information and tour dates, please visit www.williammichaelmorgan.com


Photo by Robert Trachtenberg
Joining the star-studded tribute to Randy Travis on February 8, 2017, will be Travis Tritt, Kane Brown, James Dupre, Scotty McCreery, Joe Nichols, Collin Raye, The Bellamy Brothers and Ricky Traywick. 
Tanya Tucker
The event, titled 1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time: A Heroes and Friends Tribute to Randy Travis, will also feature performances from Alabama, Kenny Rogers, Rodney Atkins, Chris Janson, Jamey Johnson, Montgomery Gentry, Michael Ray, Ricky Skaggs, Michael W. Smith, The Randy Travis Band, Tanya Tucker, Josh Turner with more still to be announced. Tickets for the highly anticipated event are on sale now at all Ticketmaster locations and the Bridgestone Arena Box Office.

Alabama: Photo by Alan Messer
In October, Randy Travis was officially inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame. The multi-platinum country giant suffered a massive stroke in 2013 and has made miraculous strides towards recovery since, recently singing “Amazing Grace” at his Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony as well as the tagline to his iconic “Forever and Ever, Amen” at the 2016 CMA Awards in November alongside numerous country legends and stars.

Travis Tritt
A portion of the proceeds will go to the Randy Travis Foundation; a 501(c)3 non-profit that raises money for stroke research and rehabilitation.

Kenny Rogers: Photo by Piper Ferguson

"Nashville is coming together on February 8 for one night in one place and at one time to give back to their friend and musical hero, Randy Travis. It’s amazing to see the support that Randy has received from the music industry since his stroke. We’re thrilled to have all of these artists come out and pay tribute to him," said producer of the event and Travis’ manager, Tony Conway of Conway Entertainment Group.

Scotty McCreery: Photo by Jeremy Ryan

1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time.: A Heroes and Friends Tribute to Randy Travis is produced by Mary Travis along with Tony Conway of Conway Entertainment Group, Mike Smardak of Outback Concerts of Tennessee, Inc. who is also the promoter of the event and Kirt Webster of Webster and Associates.

Friday, 6 January 2017

LOCASH Wraps up 2016 with Billboard & Country Aircheck Milestones

Reviver Records hot country duo LOCASH continues to build momentum for their banner year as Country Aircheck’s No. 1 New Artist for 2016 and one of Billboard’s Top Country Artists. Their smash No. 1 single, “I Know Somebody,” ranked No. 43 in the Top 50 of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs of 2016, No. 21 in the Top 50 of Billboard Country Airplay Songs of 2016 and No. 44 in Country Aircheck’s Songs of 2016. Country Aircheck also ranked LOCASH’s Chris Lucas and Preston Brust as 2016’s Top Radio Performers as Duo/Group (No. 3).

The duo’s chart-topping “I Love This Life” also ranked No. 5 on Country Aircheck’s Songs of 2016.

2016 also marked the duo’s first RIAA Gold-Certified single with “I Love This Life,” one of the 11 tracks on THE FIGHTERS.

Another highlight this year for LOCASH included performing the National Anthem prior to Game Two of the 2016 World Series and appearing on “The Talk,” “Today Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and more.

The nonstop duo continues their North American tour, which includes headlining Live Nation’s ‘Ones To Watch’ Tour with Reviver Records labelmate and hot newcomer Michael Tyler. BMLG Records Ryan Follese will also join LOCASH for select shows.

The duo is also featured in Comcast Built Ford Tough® dealer advertising campaigns across the country. LOCASH’s Chris Lucas and Preston Brust deliver infectious energy in the self-penned promotional song “Tough,” exclusively written and utilized for Ford dealer promotional spots and advertisements.

For more information on LOCASH, visit locashmusic.com

Photo by: Jake Harsh

ICYMI: High Valley appear on CBS This Morning

Atlantic Records / Warner Music Nashville duo HIGH VALLEY appeared on CBS This Morning in a special segment taped at home in middle Tennessee. CBS correspondent Jan Crawford sits down with the sibling duo – brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel – visiting the restored farmhouse where they wrote music for their just-released album Dear Life and sharing the inspiring story of their journey to Nashville and finding success by remaining true to yourself. View the segment at: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/high-valley-brothers-take-their-style-to-nashville/.

The duo continue to catch the attention of critics, being named an “Artist To Watch” by Rolling Stone Country, Taste of Country, CMT, Spotify, and Pandora. High Valley recently joined songstress Martina McBride on her “Love Unleashed Tour” and will take their headlining tour to Europe in 2017. They are also slated to perform their hit single “Make You Mine” on NBC’s Today Show on January 10. The song, named a “Country Song of the Summer” by Billboard, has accumulated more than 12 million streams and can be found on their major label debut album Dear Life, available now at http://smarturl.it/hvdearlife.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Dolly Parton's My People Fund Serves Nearly 900 Families in First Distribution

In a little more than two weeks after the wildfires that spread across Dolly Parton’s home area of Sevier County, Tennessee, Parton and the Dollywood Foundation launched the distribution of assistance from the My People Fund. During the four day cash distribution, 884 families received their initial support payments.

“It’s a blessing during this holiday season that we are able to help as many families as we have so far,” Parton said. “We know there are more families out there who need our help and we encourage them to be in contact with us before our January distribution.”

The Dollywood Foundation My People Fund provides $1,000 each month to Sevier County families whose homes are uninhabitable or were completely destroyed in the recent Smoky Mountain wildfires. Any family who lost their primary residence (renters and homeowners) due to the wildfires in Sevier County will be eligible. A pre-application for those affected is available at dollywoodfoundation.org.

Millions of people watched Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon on Tuesday, December 13 on Great American Country, AXS-TV, RFD-TV and The Heartland Network and during several rebroadcasts throughout the last week. As a result, donations continued to roll in and thanks to generous people from coast to coast and Parton’s friends, the total amount raised has climbed to $9.3 million.

“As, Dolly said, the response has been overwhelming,” David Dotson, Dollywood Foundation President said. “We will distribute all $9.3 million to the families affected. That will insure all of the money raised will go to where Dolly promised it would go.”

The next distribution is January 26 and 27, 2017 at the LeConte Events Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

P.S. One of the She's Gone Country girls made a stop in Sevierville to visit the Dolly statue a couple months ago.. our thoughts and prayers are with everyone effected by the destruction <3