Thursday, 26 May 2016

INTERVIEW: She's Gone Country Catches up with TEBEY






Our next interview is with CMAO nominee Tebey! He tells She's Gone Country about his eclectic taste in music and songwriting, his weakness for Ketchup chips (we feel ya!) and one of his biggest career achievements to date (HINT: it involves a British boy band, you may have heard of...*cough* it's One Direction *cough*)

She's Gone Country: As a returning performer at the CMAO Awards, what are you most looking forward to this year?


Tebey: I love watching the crowd grow. Each year the theatre is fuller and fuller.

SGC: How does it feel to be part of an event that honours the incredible talent in the Ontario Country Music industry?


T: It's pretty awesome. Being included on the same nominee list as my fellow peers is very cool.
SGC: How important is it to have a conference such as the CMAO Conference to help budding young country musicians? How do they benefit?


T: The CMAO conference is a great educational tool for young up and coming artists. Growing up I don't remember having this kind of outlet to ask questions and gain a better understanding of how the music industry really works.
SGC: As someone who started singing at such a young age, was there a pivotal moment when you knew that you were going to focus on being a musician professionally?


T: Not really. Music has always been my passion as long as I can remember.
SGC: I know you write music for many genres, what was it that made you fall in love with country music and prefer singing it?


T: I grew up listening to all genres of music, but country is where I've always felt at home. That being said, I love where current country music is going. A lot of artists these days are taking more chances and incorporating their influences outside of the genre and bringing country music to a whole new audience. People like Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line and of course, Taylor Swift.
SGC: What influences your songwriting the most? What inspires you?


T: I wish there was one specific thing I could do to trigger inspiration. Some days writing songs can be a struggle. Other days, it comes so easy.
SGC: Do you ever write songs with other artists in mind or have you ever let another artist cut a song that was hard for you to part with?


T: Sometimes I tailor a song to a specific artist, but it almost always never gets recorded by that person. For instance, recently I wrote a song with Rascal Flatts in mind, and Justin Moore ended up recording it.
SGC: It must be fun to have the freedom to express your music across a spectrum of genres and you have written hits for One Direction, Pixie Lott, Big & Rich, among many others. Is there a song of yours that another artist has released that you are particularly proud of as a songwriter?


T: I think having two songs recorded by One Direction is the highlight of my career thus far, simply because of their worldwide success. The album sold over 7 million copies.
SGC: As someone who has been involved in the country music industry in Canada, as well as the United States – do you think the scene differs down south?


T: The Canadian industry is much smaller, so everyone knows everybody. But at the end of the day, both the American and Canadian music businesses are very much the same. They're both dependent on hit songs, and country music fans. So ultimately there's not much difference.
SGC: This is pretty close to a hometown show for you, how does it feel to have such a supportive and thriving country music scene in Ontario/Canada?


T: Ontario has some incredibly passionate fans. I've seen it at the shows and know first hand how much people in this province love country music.

SGC: I read that you currently live in Nashville, when you do get back to Canada is there something you need to do that you can only do/get in Canada?


T: Ketchup chips are my ultimate weakness.
SGC: What advice would you give to musicians considering pursuing a career professionally?


T: Make sure you're in it for the right reasons, and for the long haul. This is a very tough business, and only the strongest, most passionate artists can endure the crazy ups and downs.

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?

T: I reply to as many tweets and messages as possible. If someone takes the time to message me, the least I can do is reply.
SGC: Is there an artist that you would have loved to get a Tweet from when you were a kid?


T: Kenny Chesney.
SGC: What's on your iPod? Who have you been listening to lately that you think people should check out?


T: Lately it's been a little bit of everything. I just picked up the new Cole Swindell and Dierks Bentley albums, and outside the genre, Kendrick Lamar.
SGC: Is there something that you are obsessed with or addicted to right now? (an app? TV Show? Band? Food? Song? Activity?)


T: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
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?


T: Stepping out on stage at Cavendish Beach Music Festival two summers ago to 20,000 country fans.
SGC: What can people expect from you next?


T: The unexpected. I've got some songs coming that really push the envelope of the genre.


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

INTERVIEW: Jason Blaine



Jason Blaine will be performing at the CMAO Awards again this year and She's Gone Country got the chance to hear about his thoughts on the Canadian country music scene, his pivotal career changing moment and we find out the question he has always wanted to be asked!!

She's Gone Country: As a returning performer at the CMAO Awards, what are you most looking forward to this year? 

Jason Blaine: I’m just looking forward to hang and seeing everyone again. It’s like a big family reunion. The CMAO has always put on a first class event and I’m truly honoured to be a part of it with 6 nominations and a chance to perform my new single “Dance With My Daughter” in front of fans as well as industry friends.

SGC: How does it feel to be part of an event that honours the incredible talent in the Ontario Country Music industry?

JB: I think it’s awesome. Other provinces, like SK, AB, & BC have been doing a great job for years, shining a spotlight on their talent. Ontario has a lot to be proud of and it’s taken the collective efforts of a lot of great people behind the scenes to make this organization & awards show what it is today, second to none.

SGC: How important is it to have a conference such as the CMAO Conference to help budding young country musicians? How do they benefit?

JB: I think it’s been a great way for the country music community of Ontario to connect with one another. There wasn’t anything like it when I was coming up and trying to figure out how to get my career started. It’s a really great opportunity for everyone. Studios, musicians, songwriters, & producers can connect and it could lead to working relationships, more gigs, more songs or even the next big star. You never know.

SGC: Was there a pivotal moment when you knew that you were going to focus on being a musician professionally?

JB: Garth Brooks, 1993, Ottawa. I was only 13 years old and had been playing guitar and learning Garth songs, along with many other country songs from that era. It was my first concert ever and it blew my mind. I thought, man, that’s it, I want to do that!

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

JB: The stories, the pictures that the lyrics paint in your mind, the emotional subjects of the songs and how they relate to real life. I also always loved the instrumentation of country music. Hearing real instruments that I could pick out all the parts of what each musician was playing and how it added to the song.

SGC: As someone who has been involved in the country music industry in Canada, as well as the United States – do you think the scene differs down south? 

JB: Yes and no. I find there are subtle little cultural differences between the two but a small town is a small town almost anywhere you go and people are pretty much the same. Everyone lives, loves, hurts, prays, hopes, dreams and likes to have a little too much fun on a Friday night. That’s country music.

SGC: This is pretty close to a home-town show for you, how does it feel to have such a supportive and thriving country music scene in Ontario/Canada?

JB: Country music is huge in Ontario and there is a huge community, but Ontario is also a massive province and everyone is spread out and sometimes many hours and miles apart. The CMAO does a great job of bringing everyone together. This year, I’m also looking forward to having my parents come out to the show again.

SGC: I read that you currently live in Nashville, when you do get back to Canada is there something you need to do that you can only do/get in Canada?

JB: Poutine & Tim Hortons. Oh, and Harvey’s burgers.

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

JB: I have many but one of my favorites was from a couple of years ago. A gentlemen in his mid to late 40s told me that he hadn’t spoken with his father in over 20 years and that it was my song “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore” that brought them back together. It actually made me tear up a bit when he told me that.

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

JB: Find your identity. What do you want to say through your music and what is it that you want to be remembered for should you be lucky enough to get to have hit songs or videos.

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?

JB: It’s become a very big deal. It’s kind of strange. I never expected it from my musical heroes from the 90s, but even old Garth has come around to the fact that it’s just part of the expectation now. And, it can be fun! You always want to be able to let the fans know about cool news or upcoming tours or events.

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

JB: You guessed it, Garth. Yup, that would’ve been pretty cool.

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

JB: Madeline Merlo. She’s a beautiful spirit with an amazing voice and she’s a Canadian girl! And, she recorded one of my songs on her new EP, called “Over and Over”. Check it out you’ll love her.

SGC: Is there something that you are obsessed with or addicted to right now? (an app? TV Show? Band? Food? Song? Activity?)

JB: I just recently became a Netflix’r. Ya, I know, I’m a little slow to the party on that one, but I really don’t watch a ton of TV. I grew up watching Full House so I had to see the re-boot with my family. Not quite as kid-friendly as the original by the way, but fun to see those characters again. They all still look amazing. I’m also into the new comedy series called The Ranch.

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?

JB: Boots & Hearts Music Festival in 2013. I was on stage singing “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore” and some 20,000+ fans took over singing for me. It was a total full circle moment from being that 13 year old kid at a Garth Brooks concert and finally getting to experience my own little Garth moment.

SGC: What can people expect from you next?

JB: We’ve got a great summer of shows lined up including a return to Boots & Hearts with Tim McGraw, an arena show in Halifax with Rascal Flatts and many more! All the dates are on my website www.jasonblaine.ca. I’m also looking forward to hosting my 3rd Annual Celebrity Golf & Concert Fundraiser in my hometown this June 14 & 15th. This year we’ve got Jason McCoy (of the Road Hammers) and Dallas Smith as our special guests!

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!

JB: What do you think about Bro Country and do you prefer old country or today’s country music? 
Glad you asked, haha. I honestly wish there was room for everything. I love the energy & excitement I hear in the more progressive pop or bro-country music, but I’m not always in the mood for that. Sometimes I want to hear those old traditional records full of hurt and heart and emotion. Chris Stapleton has been a very good thing for our industry as well as artists like Brandy Clark or Kacey Musgraves. They just prove that there’s a strong appetite for anything good, no matter what you want to call it. Besides, I also like to write and record whatever I’m feeling like without having to be in some kind of box or feeling like you have to choose between teams.



Tuesday, 24 May 2016

INTERVIEW: Small Town Pistols



On the road to the CMAO Awards and Conference this month, we chatted with Amanda & Tyler Wilkinson of Small Town Pistols! The siblings reveal what they're listening to now, the importance of camaraderie in the Canadian country scene and music being a family affair!

She's Gone Control: As returning attendees at the CMAO Awards, what are you most looking forward to this year? 

Small Town Pistols: It's always an amazing time. A perfect time where we get to celebrate the talent that is here in Ontario. Celebrate one another!

SGC: How does it feel to be part of an event that honours the incredible talent in the Ontario Country Music industry?

STP: We are incredibly proud to be from this province, and it’s amazing to look around the room and see friends who are making such a great impact on country music across Canada and beyond.

SGC: How important is it to have a conference such as the CMAO Conference to help budding young country musicians? How do they benefit?

STP: Before we didn’t really have a platform here in Ontario for young country musicians to get advice, and meet other like-minded musicians who are trying to accomplish the same thing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for networking within the country music industry starting at our doorstep. Absolutely amazing! We wish we had this incredible organization when we were just starting out.

SGC: Considering music has always been a family business for you guys, do you think playing and writing will always be a family affair?

STP:  We have been so blessed over the years to do this together. Going forward into the future, we will always be creating together. It’s in our blood.

SGC: What do you think you learned growing up as professional musicians from such a young age and being able to share the experience with your sibling?

STP: It has built a bond that at this point in our lives is unbreakable.

SGC: After you stopped playing music together with your father, you both pursued solo careers. What brought you back together? 

STP: The strong creative connection that we have always felt. It really started with just songwriting again together.

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

STP: The strong messages and incredible story telling. How it speaks to the “everyday” people of the world.

SGC: As someone who has been involved in the country music industry in Canada, as well as the United States – do you think the scene differs down south? 

STP: There is a much stronger bond amongst musicians here in Canada. There is always competition, which is important. It moves us all forward. But the love and admiration we have for one another, and how we “root for” one another…there is no comparison here!

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

STP: Incredible…something to be proud of for sure!

SGC: Now that you are both adults, with your own families, has your musical inspiration changed? Do you think the family band dynamic will trickle down to the next generation?

STP: Not a whole lot, other than we have a different perspective to write songs from now on the given occasion that we didn’t have before becoming parents, and experiencing all the things that come along with it. As far as our next generation, you never know, they are definitely surrounded by a healthy dose of tunes every day!

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

STP: When we first started out playing, rebranding ourselves as “Small Town Pistols” a lady came up to our road manager and said, “I really love them…but that girl sounds too much like Amanda Wilkinson…she is great, but she should try and sound like herself.” It was really cute.  It’s great to see now that people know our sound and have caught on to the whole concept of Small Town Pistols.

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

STP: We always say do something else! If you can’t, and you are consumed with it everyday then it is what you need to be doing! It’s this passion and drive that will get you through the music business while you are striving to make music! Also play out every opportunity you can…this kind of live performance education you can’t beat.  It’s how you cut your teeth so to speak.

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?

STP:   It is insanely important. There are so many platforms now that keep us connected to our fans. These are tools we didn’t have before when we first started out as The Wilkinsons. Fans also want to feel invested in you, and your everyday life.  It’s an amazing way to share ourselves with our fans, and get instant feedback.

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

STP: Heck yeah! Dolly Parton for me (Amanda) and Brooks and Dunn (Tyler).

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

STP: Kree Harrison's new album isn’t out just yet and we got an advance…I can’t stop playing it.  She is the real deal. As soon as it comes out, you have to get it!

SGC: Is there something that you are obsessed with or addicted to right now? (an app? TV Show? Band? Food? Song? Activity?)

STP: Amanda – Masters of Flip with Kortney and Dave Wilson.  I love them!  I also can’t wait for the second season of Bloodline to come out on Netflix.  Tyler – I’m loving The Magicians TV show.

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?

STP: Winning album of the year at the CMAO’s.  We honestly didn’t expect it, and often times as artists you have insecurities on how people will accept your music.  It’s not a reason to be afraid or amend things, and we definitely have been a “do it our way” kind of band when it comes to every aspect of our career. But to see the support and love from people in our industry was incredible.

SGC: What can people expect from you next?

STP: Summer touring!!!! Can’t wait.


INTERVIEW: Jason McCoy



The CMAO Awards & Conference are only a couple weeks away!! She's Gone Country had the chance to talk to returning host Jason McCoy about the hosting experience, how aspiring musicians can benefit from the knowledge shared at events like the CMAO Conference and life as a solo artist versus a member of the Road Hammers!

She's Gone Country: As a returning host of the CMAO Awards, what are you most looking forward to this year? 

Jason McCoy: I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces, along with so many new acts; Ontario country has never been stronger!

SGC: How does it feel to be part of an event that honours the incredible talent in the Ontario Country Music industry?

JM: It’s an honour to be part of the Ontario Country Music landscape.

SGC: How important is it to have a conference such as this to help budding young country musicians? How do they benefit?

JM: I think celebrating the efforts of your contemporaries in any industry is important, not only for morale, but it helps build the industry out to the masses as well.  The CMAO is also very important in introducing new artists, managers etc., to the industry as a whole.  This business is all about networking, and the CMAO is all about creating an atmosphere to do just that!

SGC: With such a successful career as not only a solo artist but also as a member of the Road Hammers, what would you say is the biggest difference between being in a band versus performing solo?

JM: It’s great being a solo artist, and having the autonomy to make all of the ‘decisions’…. but, it’s the exact opposite what I like about being in a band…the sum is greater than the parts, and it’s amazing to get that feedback from your band mates. I think learning how to make decisions as a team helps you make better decisions on your own as well.

SGC: Was there a pivotal moment when you knew that you were going to focus on being a musician professionally?

JM: At one point I was going to pursue a career in aviation, but music just took off for me (pardon the pun!). As doors started to open, I just followed what felt right. It’s been amazing to have such a long career in this business, I’m truly grateful for it.

SGC: I read that you became enthralled with the cowboy culture after moving to Alberta as a child - what was it that made you fall in love with country music?

JM: I was born in Ontario, but our family moved to just outside of Camrose, AB when I was 3 years old. My first memories are from Alberta.  We always had an AM radio on top of the fridge playing country…it was always on in the truck as well.  It seems as though it’s always been in my blood though, I can’t imagine a world without steel guitar! Perhaps some of it was my early exposure to the Prairies, and some part of it was listening to country from the beginning. When we moved back to Ontario, I recall wondering why the kids at school weren’t wearing cowboy hats and boots. It’s just who I am.

SGC: What influences your songwriting the most? What inspires you?

JM: Sometimes inspiration can be as fleeting as rain. You can have a drought long enough to question yourself, worrying if you’re “dried up,” but inevitably the rain returns. For me, there’s no one source, sometimes a phrase someone uses in a new way, sometimes a feeling from a day, many times it’s hearing new and inspiring music. It’s one of the few things in this life that doesn’t wear out, old melodies seem to continually inspire. I’d also say that the wisdom of my kids Grace, 9, and Caleb, 6, inspires me the most. If you can say it as honest as a child in a song, then you really have something!

SGC: As someone who has been involved in the country music industry in Canada, as well as the United States – do you think the scene differs down south? 

JM: I’ve always said that Canadian country is born of folk music, and American country is born of bluegrass. That’s a broad brush of course, but it makes sense in my head for some reason.  But the stories, emotions and people in country music are universal.  It’s from the heart.

SGC: This is pretty close to a home-town show for you, how does it feel to have such a supportive and thriving country music scene in Ontario/Canada?

JM: It’s so great. When I was starting out, CMT was just beginning, Canadian country and Ontario country specifically were always fighting an uphill battle against bigger machines. Now we’re exporting the artists right from our own backyard, and it’s truly inspiring to see it happening.

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

JM: Be yourself…loud and proud, be who you are, nobody can be you…nobody.

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?

JM: Social media wasn’t around when I started out, and I always felt ‘removed’ from fans in a way. It’s amazing to have immediate feedback, and keep in touch with fans around the world…truly amazing.

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

JM:  Hmmm, George Jones for sure…definitely George.

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

JM: I’m really into all types of music, …like many people, I’m revisiting the music of so many of the greats who’ve recently passed, from Haggard, to Prince….great music, is great music….Check out Haggard ‘the Epic Years’ box set….truly remarkable….

SGC: Is there something that you are obsessed with or addicted to right now? (an app? TV Show? Band? Food? Song? Activity?)

JM: I’m pretty hooked on Snapchat, and Spruce trees…crazy I know, but we’ve been planting trees at the farm lately. I’m loving it. Probably put in 200 little trees. One of the sponsors of the CMAO’s is Spring Tree Farm. You need good folks with good trees, give Elmer and the crew a call…ha, trees….who knew they could be so much fun!?

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?

JM: I don’t know if I’ve ever had “the moment.” I never considered myself a “musician” per se, but in the last few years, I’ve realized that my calling is entertaining. I’m conformable with it, and I truly love it…I feel most at home on stage for sure.

SGC: What can people expect from you next?

JM:  We’re working on a new Road Hammer album, the biggest and best yet! And I have a little side project brewing that we’re working on, lots of writing at the moment. We’re gearing up for a busy summer with the Hammers, which is always a rolling party!

We can't wait to see what Jason has in store for us at the CMAOs this year!!

For more information about the conference and award show, head over to http://www.cmaontario.ca




Sunday, 22 May 2016

James Dupré Releases Poignant New Song



James Dupré has been very busy since his time on NBC’s “The Voice,” and fans can check out what he’s been up to as his poignant new song “Stoned To Death” is now available on all major platforms, including iTunes. James and the new song have already received rave reviews from some of country music’s most respected critics, including Music Row which lauded him as a “superb vocalist” who “exudes charisma with every note,” and the captivating song, written by Nashville hit-makers Jessi Alexander, Jeff Hyde, and Clint Daniels and produced by Jordan Lehning (Caitlin Rose, Andrew Combs, Kacey Musgraves, Kree Harrison), as a minor masterpiece, “stupendously well-written, boasting both perfectly executed turns of phrases and a beautifully swelling melody.”

The release leads into an exciting weekend for the Louisiana native, as he joins his longtime musical hero and now mentor and friend, Randy Travis, in Opelousas at the St. Landry Cinema for his hometown premiere of “The Price," an independent film they co-star in. To celebrate the occasion, Rolling Stone Country is featuring James, one of their “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know,” performing a stirring rendition of the Randy Travis megahit, “Promises.”

To find out the latest information and get to know James Dupre’, visit jamesdupre.com.


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Multi-Platinum Selling Thompson Square Releases New Single “You Make It Look So Good”

Photo credit: Nathan Chapman

The wait is over for new music from multi-platinum selling country duo Thompson Square. The on and off-stage couple released its highly anticipated new single “You Make It Look So Good” across all digital retailers and streaming partners.



Download the song here: http://geni.us/ymilsg
Stream it here: http://smarturl.it/streamymilsg



People.com premiered an exclusive home movie starring four month old Rigney Cooper Thompson. Thompson Square’s new single serves as the soundtrack to the video and was created by Keifer and Shawna Thompson themselves in iMovie. The “You Make It Look So Good” home movie gives fans a glimpse of private, tender moments shared between the new mom and dad with their newborn son.



“It was the scariest thing we have ever experienced during the first three weeks,” Thompson Square tells People.com about first-time parenthood. “We were like ‘I can’t believe that they let us take him home. We have no idea what we’re doing.’ After the sleep-deprived-almost-killing-each-other phase was over and we realized that he was probably going to be okay and it wasn’t an impossible feat, we starting enjoying our new life.”

Watch the People.com exclusive here: http://hyperurl.co/zcqte2

A return to form for the two-time ACM and CMA Award winning duo, “You Make It Look So Good” showcases Keifer and Shawna Thompson’s passionate, soaring vocals over distinctive, melodic guitar licks. For its new music Thompson Square partnered with Nathan Chapman, famed producer for Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and The Band Perry. “You Make It Look So Good” impacts Country Radio on June 13th.


Friday, 20 May 2016

INTERVIEW: ME and MAE - Part Two


British Columbia based country band ME & MAE made a stop in Toronto while on a promotional tour for the release of their new single "Feel Good Feelin'".  After a morning performance on CP24 News, we met up with Shawn Meehan and Colette Trudeau to catch up over breakfast and talk about how the band got together, Shawn's terrible navigational skills, life on the road and ME & MAE's music.




Check out Part Two of our interview below:



If you missed Part One, head on over HERE

Drake White is #LIVINTHEDREAM by Giving the Dream



One of the country’s most energizing performers” (Rolling Stone Country), Drake White is collaborating with Ford Motor Company Fund in five cities across the U.S. to make a positive impact on the community.

No stranger to giving back through his work with Outnumber Hunger and Feeding America through their partnership with Big Machine Label Group, White is taking his community commitment to a new level by teaming up with Ford in key markets to participate in local service projects. Ford dealers will assist by providing transportation in specific markets and engaging the local community for volunteer needs and much more.

"Even before I had a public voice, giving back to the community has always been very important to me,” said White. “Whether I’m helping one family in my hometown in Alabama raise money for their urgent needs or helping a community with cleanup efforts after a storm, now that I have this platform it is more important to me than ever.”

Ford, country music and community service have a long, rich history, dating back to Henry Ford, a big music fan and believer in making the world a better place,” said Yisel Cabrera, community relations manager, Ford Motor Company Fund. “We are excited to join with Drake in fighting hunger, disaster relief, promoting safe driving and building stronger communities.”

White will be making five stops across the country for #LivintheDream By Giving the Dream throughout the summer. Dates are as follows:

May 19, 2016 Hartford, Conn. / Foodshare
June 4. 2016 Los Angeles, Calif. / American Red Cross
July 2, 2016 Detroit, Mich. / Habitat for Humanity
Aug.14, 2016 Dallas, Texas / Ford Driving Skills for Life
Aug. 20, 2016 Boston, Mass. / Greater Boston Food Bank

For more information on this partnership and additional details for each city, visit DrakeWhite.com/GivingtheDream .
White will be in there cities in conjunction with his performances on Zac Brown Band's BLACK OUT THE SUN TOUR. 

Charles Esten, Vince Gill, Scotty McCreery, Bret Michaels, David Nail, Jamie Lynn Spears & More Prepare to Strike Out Cancer

Some of Nashville’s hottest stars are coming out for the 26th Annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game, presented by Staples, a fan favorite event and longstanding tradition of the CMA Music Festival. Playing to strike out cancer on the Grand Ole Opry and iHeartCountry teams will be Charles Esten, Vince Gill, Chris Lane, Scotty McCreery, Bret Michaels, David Nail, RaeLynn and Jamie Lynn Spears. These stars will step up to the plate on Tuesday June 7th at 3 p.m. from the expansive new field at First Tennessee Park in Nashville, Tennessee, along with more names to be announced in the coming weeks.


Support from the Nashville community and its country music artists directly benefit City of Hope’s mission to find cures for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. A highlight of this year’s game will be when 8-year-old Aaron Yniquez a City of Hope patient from Redlands, California, will finally meet his donor Yolanda Nava, a Southwest Airlines® employee from Arlington, Texas. During his treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, Yniquez received a lifesaving donation of genetically matched stem cells from Nava, and the pair will meet for the first time at the 26th Annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game in Nashville.
 
Bone marrow transplants offer a second chance for people with life-threatening blood cancers and other hematologic malignancies. Since 1976, more than 13,000 patients from virtually every state and dozens of countries have undergone bone marrow, cord blood or stem cell transplants at City of Hope.

Each year, the Celebrity Softball Game regularly features some of country music’s biggest and hottest stars, and this year will be honoring music industry veteran Bruce Hinton as the founder of the event and for his significant contributions to the game over its 25-year history. As the game embarks on its next 25 years, it is befitting to honor the man who conceived the event and made it a Nashville tradition. Over the years, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Scotty McCreery, Vince Gill and many more have taken to the field in support of City of Hope’s lifesaving mission.



Tickets for the game can be purchased through Ticketmaster. Those not able to attend the game can still support the cause. A variety of unique merchandise and experiences, including meet-and-greets with the hottest artists, will be available for bid at charitybuzz.com. The proceeds will benefit City of Hope’s mission to eradicate cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

INTERVIEW: She's Gone Country chats with Leah Daniels!




We had the opportunity to interview Canadian country recording artist and CMAO Awards performer Leah Daniels, hot off the release of her newest single, Your Kiss is Killin' Me. Leah tells us about her musical influences, adventures from the road and the last photo she took on her phone! Check it out!

SGC: As someone who has been involved in music from such a young age, what is it about music that really speaks to you? How did you first get into music?

LD: I always remember loving to sing and perform.  At family get-togethers there was always music and people playing instruments.  I remember singing in my first choir and loving the transfer of energy between the audience and the performers. I think that’s what attracted me and kept me coming back.

SGC: Was there a pivotal moment when you knew that you were going to focus on being a musician professionally?

LD: It’s funny, I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. In high school when I formed my first band, I would always be looking for new opportunities and contests to enter.  I remember the moment I quit college to pursue music full time and saying to myself I’m not gonna take any job unless it’s related somehow to music. So I got jobs as a session singer, taught music lessons & ran recording camps for kids.

SGC: With such a diverse musical background, what was it that made you fall in love with country music?

LD: What I love about country music is the lyrics and storytelling. It’s real life.  When I started to get more serious about songwriting I was never writing for a specific genre, I was just writing songs from the heart. I actually didn’t realize it until a friend pointed out that my songs could be country songs. Ha! I guess it was always in me!

SGC: What influences your songwriting the most? What inspires you?

LD: Life, my relationships and the people around me. I write best when the feelings are fresh. The words flow more easily. I always keep a journal of my thoughts and am constantly recording melodies on my phone. When I have a chance to sit down at a piano and write I’ll look back on all my notes and voice memos.

SGC: Your cover of Elvis' “Suspicious Minds” helped get your music noticed, what made you decide to cover that song? How easy is it to take another artists' song and make it your own?

LD: It actually was my producer, Sam Ellis’ idea. We were working on a couple songs and one day he said, “Hey, can I show you something?” He played this amazing arrangement of “Suspicious Minds” that he had put together with me in mind. I loved it, so we recorded it! We ended up showing it to CMT Canada and they came on board to do a video for it and that was the beginning of my professional career!

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

LD: Amazing! Country music is definitely thriving right now in Canada. We are so fortunate to also have so many amazing organizations that support up and coming artists. I have had many showcase opportunities that came as a result of being a member of the CCMA or CMAO.

SGC: We had the chance to see you perform at Boots & Hearts last year and one of our most memorable festival highlights was witnessing you yodel! How did you discover you had yodeling talent?

LD: Awe that is so cool to hear! My Grandpa loved traditional country/ western music and was an amazing yodeler. As a young child he would always try to teach me to yodel and I have to admit, at first I was quite reluctant. It wasn’t until I heard LeAnn Rimes yodel in her song “Blue” that I thought wow, maybe yodeling could be cool! I was hooked after that and so proud to show my Grandpa when I finally mastered it!
 

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

LD: One time we were driving back in the middle of winter from a gig in Sudbury and planning on staying the night at a friends place in Muskoka (they were not home). They have a VERY steep driveway that they don’t use in the winter. We arrived at about 4am, tired and with a van full of gear and to this day I don’t know why but we drove down the hill (bad decision!). That morning we tried to get up the hill with no luck. We all got bundled up and started chipping away at the ice, but nothing worked.  It took two tow trucks and a truckload of sand to get us out. I wasn’t laughing at the time, but I can laugh now!

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

LD: I would say keep working your craft, whether that is songwriting, singing or playing an instrument. The competition is fierce so the number one thing you can do is be the best version of yourself you can be! After that, it all comes down to the music. You have to have a great song, a plan in place and apply to an organization like FACTOR for funding right away!

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?  

LD: It is extremely important! Social media is the number one way I connect and share my music with fans. It gives me the ability to have a conversation with my fans. I can ask them what they want more of, if they like something or not and get to know them better and it’s all instant!

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


LD: Oh yes!! Probably Celine Dion. I was obsessed with her music and voice!

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


LD: I’m really digging the new JT single! I also love Runaway Angels, new single “June” - it has a killer chorus!  Oh and people should check out The Bros. Landreth! I got to do a show with them last year and they blew me away!

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

LD: Ok I just checked! It is a picture of a huge package of hot lips candy!! My new single is called “Your Kiss Is Killing Me” so I bought a bunch of hot lips to create promo packages for the song. Hopefully I don’t eat them all before then!

SGC: Is there something that you are obsessed with or addicted to right now? (An app? TV Show? Band? Food? Song? Activity?)

LD: The Walking Dead. I absolutely love that show. Anything about the post-apocalyptic world I am totally into!

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?

LD: I’ve been fortunate to have a bunch of really amazing moments in the past year. Having my first single “Go Back” reach top 20 at radio was a huge one. I also just got nominated for 5 CMAO awards, which totally blew my mind. But nothing compares to having someone tell you that a song of yours has helped them get through a tough time. That is the best reminder to me that I am on the right path.
 
SGC: What can people expect from you next?

LD: I’ve been working hard preparing for the release of my new video/single - “Your Kiss Is Killing Me” and it’s finally out! I spent a lot of time working on the music video with director, Tim Deegan.  I had a hand in everything from concept, set construction, location hunting to editing. I love being creative visually too! Now I’m getting ready for summer shows and another trip to Nashville to start writing for a new album!

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!

LD: Wow cool question! Hmm…. No one has ever asked me, “How I plan to make the world a better place.” If one day someone were, I would probably respond with... “I want to help encourage and promote being gentler to our environment. Using less plastic, reducing and reusing more. Promote self-love, real human connections and travel so that people realize that the world is so much bigger than our Instagram feed.

Thank you Leah! We're looking forward to seeing your performance at this year's CMAO Awards!!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

INTERVIEW: Tim Hicks


With the CMAO Awards and Conference just around the corner, we will be announcing the winner of our contest for a pair of delegate passes for the conference later today, so stay tuned! 

But before we get to that, we had the chance to speak to returning CMAO performer Tim Hicks to talk about his music, the Canadian country music community and what he is most looking forward to at the CMAO events this year!

SGC: As a returning performer at the CMAO Awards, what are you most looking forward to this year?

Tim Hicks: I’m mostly looking forward to being a part of celebrating country music in Ontario. It’s a great event and I’m extremely honoured to be a part of it. Plus I can’t wait to play!!

SGC: How important is it to have a conference such as the CMAO Conference to help budding young country musicians? How do they benefit?

TH: It’s so important and great for up and comers. It’s a chance to interact with people who are in the industry first hand. I would’ve done anything for that kind of opportunity early on in my career!

SGC: Was there a pivotal moment when you knew that you were going to focus on being a musician professionally?

TH: I can’t remember a specific moment. I just sort of always knew I would do something in music, I just didn’t know what that was. I do however remember a moment in my grade 2 class where my teacher tried to talk me out of it… it didn’t work ha!

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

TH: I love country music because it’s about good songs, good singing and playing real instruments. I love all those things. Even as the genre of “country” modernizes itself, I think those three aspects will remain cornerstones; at least I would hope they will.

SGC: What influences your songwriting the most? What inspires you?

TH: Hard to say. The creative process never ceases to baffle and amaze me. Some days I show up to a session with absolutely no idea what I’m gonna write about, and yet, somehow, a song materializes that didn’t exist a few hours earlier. In my opinion, that’s what makes music and songwriting so cool.

SGC: This is pretty close to a hometown show for you, how does it feel to have such a supportive and thriving country music scene in Ontario/Canada?

TH: I love it, especially because that scene didn’t exist even a few years ago! It’s an exciting time to be a country artist in Canada, and in Ontario. Country music has gotten so big as a genre, it’s been really cool to watch and be a part of.

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

TH: Don’t do it! Ha! Just kidding…sort of. I always say the same thing: put away your webcam. Get out and play in FRONT of people. There’s a huge difference between playing by yourself in your bedroom and performing in public. Don’t be afraid to work on your craft in a public setting, you won’t regret it in the long run. Also, it’s really important for the future of music!

SGC: What can people expect from you next?

TH: Expect some new music VERY soon! We are currently in the mastering stages of my new album, which is very exciting for me. I’ve worked really hard on this next batch of songs and I’m super pumped to let everyone hear them! Also, the boys and I will be hitting the road for summer festival season so watch for us at a festival near you!

Thanks for your time Tim! We look forward to seeing you at the CMAOs this year!