Who are your CMA Songwriters 2018?

Hello

Since the CMA Songwriters announcement earlier today social media has been buzzing with people discussing who they’re excited about on the line up. I haven’t seen any moans and groans at this line up yet which is great and no wonder as every one of the five acts appearing in the round deserves their spot. However for those of you who don’t know who everyone is we’ve put together a handy little piece on each songwriter with an overview of their careers so far.

Lets start with our host for the evening Brett James. One word… Legend. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Brett perform in writers rounds in Nashville and each song he played was another hit. Back in 2015 when I saw him perform as part of Tin Pan South the number of number 1 hits he’d had was into double figures, well nearly three years later, I think this figure has increased quite a bit since then. He started off at medical school before moving to Nashville to try to make it as a songwriter but after nine months of waiting tables and playing open mics he was ready to give up (even the hit makers have had their ups and downs in this industry). But two decades later after almost walking away from the industry he is one of Country music’s most prolific songwriters and has written such hits as Jesus Take The Wheel and Cowboy Casanova for Carrie Underwood, multiple cuts for Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney and has crossed over into pop with the likes of Mr Know It All for Kelly Clarkson. He won the grammy for best country song with Jesus Take The Wheel. Brett has won Ascap’s songwriter of the year twice and has been credited as a songwriter on over 400 songs recorded by other artists. He is more than a worthy host for this stellar line up and I think many people’s jaws will drop after hearing this guy!

I am a huge Natalie Hemby fan! Again this is someone I have had the pleasure of seeing twice at Tin pan South in Nashville and she is just something else. Signed to Publishing company Creative Nation (home to such hitmakers as Lori McKenna, Barry Dean and Luke Laird) Natalie Hemby is another name with a string of top ten hits for various artists and not just in the country genre. One of Hemby’s most notable hits charted at number 7 on the UK singles charts and that song is Jealous by Labrinth. In the Country genre Hemby has written songs for Little big Town including Tornado and chart topper Pontoon, cuts for Miranda Lambert include Automatic, White Liar and Only Prettier and Downtown by Lady Antebellum. Last year Hemby released her first solo album Puxico which is a fantastic collection of songs and my favourite, which I hope she plays, fingers crossed, is This Town Still Talks About You. Not only is she a fantastic songwriter but Natalie has a beautiful voice so you’re really in for a treat with this lady, I can’t wait!

I won’t go into too much detail about Kip Moore as I have written a piece on him under the C2C artists section but one thing I will say is Kip is rather underrated within the Country genre. Not only has he written the majority of songs on his own records he has co-writing credits on two tracks of Thompson Square’s debut album, co-wrote James Wesley’s single Walking Contradiction and Frankie Ballard’s 2016 single Cigarette. It was Brett James who helped Kip to sign his first publishing deal so having the pair on stage together is quite fitting. You can read more about Kip Moore’s career on my article about the main stage artists on the C2C news section of the website.

Belmont University alumni Nicolle Galyon appeared on the voice a number of years ago but realised she was chasing something she didn’t really want. Galyon is now an acclaimed songwriter and has enjoyed success winning Song of the Year at the ACM’s and Single of the Year at the CMA’s with Miranda Lambert’s Automatic. The past couple of years has seen Nicolle have hits and cuts on records by Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini, Keith Urban, Dan and Shay, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice and Rae Lynn. She also has a co-writing credit on the song Halloween off Walker Hayes new album who is also performing a number of times throughout the weekend. As I’m writing this, more artists have been announced throughout the weekend and one of those is Danielle Bradbery. Her new record I Don’t Believe We’ve Met features a song co-written by Nicolle, Red Wine + White Couch. She is a great addition to the line up, having cuts for all the current, biggest acts, she’s bound to play some fan favourites.

Last but not least is Luke Combs, once again I won’t go into too much detail as I have already wrote about him under the main stage acts. Many of us have only just begun to hear of Luke Combs in the past year but in actual fact he’s been writing songs and releasing records for quite a while now. He released three EP’s before releasing his debut album on Columbia Nashville entitled This One’s For You last June and it went to number 1. He co-wrote every track on that record which saw his single Hurricane go to number 1 on the country Airplay chart and When It Rains it Pours go to number 1 on both the Hot Country songs chart and the Airplay charts. Again you can read more about Luke on the main stage artists article.

All in all it is bound to be a fantastic night of Country music and storytelling from some of the greatest writers of the genre. It may be one of the best CMA Songwriters Series yet!

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All you need to know about the artists at C2C 2018!

Since the line up for C2C 2018 has been announced there has been a big discussion on social media, some who love the line up, some who don’t and a few who have said… “who?” I personally am delighted with the line up, Kacey Musgraves is one of my favourite artists, Little Big Town recently brought the house down when I went to see them in Manchester and well Tim and Faith, who wouldn’t want to see a couple of legends like them? But there are a few surprising names on the line up and some which required research! And now with the day splits and more artists announced recently, I’m going to take you through a day by day guide of the artists and recommend a song to start your research into each.

Friday

So it’s all going to kick off with Old Dominion who first made their way across the pond 2 years ago for the C2C after parties. Needless to say they went down a storm with the crowd here so there seems to be a few smiles on the faces of the C2C regulars. They have two albums out now, Meat and Candy and Happy Endings the latter of which made it to number 1 on the US Country Albums charts and the first single off that record “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart” recently clinched the number 1 spot on the Country Airplay charts. The band are very good songwriters too, Matthew Ramsay co-wrote The Band Perry’s Chainsaw with Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally before Old Dominion became a household name and has since had cuts on the likes of Sam Hunt’s record and Trevor Rosen has written for Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban to name a few. Recommended song? Song For Another Time.

Then one of my favourite acts will take to the stage Kelsea Ballerini. Kelsea has two albums out and lets look at her figures for a second here because she may not be headline worthy at the minute but if she continues like she has been doing, it wont be long until she is playing top of the bill. Love Me Like You Mean It her debut single, reached number one on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, making her the first solo female country music artist to score a number one hit with her debut single since Carrie Underwood did with “Jesus, Take the Wheel” in 2006, and only the eleventh in history. Her second single Dibs also reached the number 1 spot making her the fifth solo female to achieve back to back number ones. But it’s not over yet, her third single Peter Pan reached number 1 on the Airplay and Hot Country charts making Ballerini the first solo female country music artist to top both country music charts simultaneously. So you can see why she is so far up the bill and opening for legends like Tim and Faith because it wont be long until she becomes a legend in Country music if she carries on like this.

Then for the talk of the festival at the moment Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, the pair who have been married since 1996, have had successful solo careers as well as having success together on their most recent Soul II Soul tour. Tim has released 14 studio albums, 10 of which have made it to number 1. 65 singles have come from these albums and 25 of those have made it to number 1. He has 3 Grammy’s, 14 ACMs and 11 CMAs to name a few. Need I go on? He really has dominated Country music for over 2 decades. And his wife hasn’t done too bad either! Very rarely does a Country artist make it into the UK charts in our generation but Faith Hill took the song There You’ll Be from the soundtrack of Pearl Harbour to number 3 in our charts and in fact it charted in 19 different countries. She’s released 7 studio albums, soon to be 8 with this new one she’s doing with Tim! She has sold over 40 million records worldwide making her one of the most successful Country artists of all time. So recommended songs from each? Tim McGraw – Diamond Rings and Old Barstools written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird and Jonathan Singleton is my favourite track though it didn’t perform as well as other Tim McGraw songs have done on the Hot Country Charts. Faith Hill – This Kiss, it’s one of Hill’s most famous songs but it’s just so good!

Spotlight Stage

Brett Young is kind of a new name around here however he has been pursuing music and releasing albums independently for some time before Big Machine signed him back in 2015. He has since released an EP and an album on the label and his single In Case You Didn’t Know went to number 1 on the country airplay charts.

Morgan Evans did a fantastic job at Buckle and Boots last year and it was great chatting with him. Recently married to Kelsea Ballerini the young Australian is a fantastic writer and performer who often uses a loop pedal to great effect. In the past year he signed a record deal with Warner Nashville and has released the single Kiss Somebody which performed reasonably well in the charts. It should be a great set from him especially if he uses his loop pedal.

Saturday

Ashley Campbell daughter of the late legend Glen Campbell is going to open the show on Saturday. I love this girl, you should check out the interview we did with her at The Sage earlier this year here. She’s apparently doing a tribute to her dad which I know will be beautiful but emotional for her and the audience but I hope to hear some of her music too, she is an outstanding Banjo player and I hope she gets the chance to show off those skills. Her career started by playing Banjo in her Dad’s band so it’s only right she plays some of his wonderful music! So lets talk about Glen first of all, 45 million records sold worldwide, 70 released in his 50 years in the industry, 12 gold, 4 platinum and 1 double platinum. Yes it can’t be disputed that Glen Campbell is a legend but when I spoke to Ashley and saw her perform in Gateshead earlier this year I was blown away by her talent, her songwriting, her playing skills, she is going to do a beautiful tribute to her father and I really think this may be the highlight of this years event!

Luke Combs is second on the bill on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to seeing him, his current single When It Rains It Pours co-written by one half of Walker McGuire who played at the launch, is proving to be rather successful in the US charts and in Canada where it went to number 1. His first single Hurricane went to number 1 on the Country Airplay charts as well. But it’s not just a couple of songs that are good, no he has a whole album of great songs. When It Rains It Pours is a funny song but he’s versatile, One Number Away is a fantastic track about almost calling an ex. It’s written by Combs, Sammy Mitchell, Steven Andre Battey, Carlos Battey and Robert Williford so not all big names on that list of writers and in fact the whole record is written by many unknown writers yet it’s competing with the best of them which is a great sign, showing that there’s lots of new writers coming through in the genre. So the recommended song from me is either the latest single or One Number Away.

The penultimate act of the night is Kip Moore who’s not long since released his third studio album, Slowheart. His style is a little more country rock than some acts, particularly this latest album which shows his edgier side. He’s only had one number 1 song in the States and that was Somethin Bout A Truck from his first record, Beer Money made it to number 1 in Canada but none of his albums have made it to the top spot. However this doesn’t account for everything, Kip is very popular in the UK, he treats his fans well when he comes over here and goes out of his way to meet people. His music is his own, he doesn’t conform to what the labels and commercial market want he just writes what he feels and believes and sets that to his own Country Rock sound! Moore takes his music so seriously that after a couple of tracks underperformed he completely re-wrote his second album which became Wild Ones. So a recommended song, well my favourite is Something Bout A Truck but I also like Plead The Fifth, the opening track off his latest album Slowheart.

Sugarland are the most recent editions to the lineup and they are one of my favourite bands, in fact, after Taylor Swift they were the first Country act I heard. I thought Jennifer Nettles was outstanding last year and it was a pleasure to meet her and ask her the first question in her press conference. The news that the duo were back together was music to my ears and a lot of other fans too (quite literally). The group have released 5 studio albums and 16 singles. Their 2008 album Love On The Inside was their first album to hit the number one spot and produced three consecutive number one singles, All I Want To Do, Already Gone and It Happens and that is one of my favourite albums of all time from any artist and any genre. The duo have received 69 award nominations and won 18 of those including two Grammy’s, five ACM’s and six CMA’s. Whilst on their hiatus both Jennifer and Kristian have had successful solo careers. In terms of recommended songs I’d suggest Still The Same as that’s their most recent and shows the new direction in which the band is heading however I love every song on the Love On The Inside record especially Keep You.

And our headliner on Saturday is my favourite act on the bill, Kacey Musgraves. Yes, whilst Kacey was planning her recent wedding she was also planning this trip across the pond it seems and though she has played the festival before, this is her first time as a headliner. With two studio albums under her belt and a cracking Christmas album it is rumoured we might hear more new music from Musgraves before March. Both her studio albums clenched the number 1 spot on the US Country albums chart, unfortunately her singles haven’t performed as well on the Hot Country Songs Chart or the Country Airplay Chart however this may have something to do with the sometimes “controversial” nature of her song lyrics. I say this loosely, in this day and age should singing the line “kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into” be controversial? Well in Country I guess it is. She has been described as Outlaw Country in the past and to an extent I would agree, she sings about what she believes, what she wants to talk about even if it doesn’t put her in the number 1 spot. However, charts aside the songs we are talking about have won Grammy’s for Kacey and her fellow writers, CMA’s and ACM’s. And Kacey is very popular here in the UK and her international success is reflected in the recent award she won at last years CMAs for International Achievement. So a recommended song, well obviously Follow Your Arrow is a popular choice but if you haven’t already heard that you’ve probably been living under a rock so the song I’m going to recommend is actually the one that won a Grammy and that’s Merry Go Round.

Spotlight Stage

Lukas Nelson is the son of Country music legend Willie Nelson. Again just like at Summertyne Festival this year there seems to be a thing with legends children coming over at the same time to play our festivals, which is great of course. Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real have released a number of studio albums independently as well though their last record was released on Fantasy Records. This self-titled album was their most successful reaching the number 1 spot on the Americana Radio Charts in November 2017. They have collaborated with Neil Young and Lukas sang on 10 out of 14 of the tracks on his father’s Heroes record back in 2012.

Jillian Jaqueline was a name I was unfamiliar with prior to her being announced as one of the acts playing C2C. However, like many of the satellite stage artists, she has been plugging away in the industry for some time. Her music is true and features honest, heartfelt lyrics set to a pop-country backing. My favourite song is God Bless This Mess off her latest record.

I’m slightly sad this next artist is only on the satellite stage and so wont do a very long set. Ashley McBryde is fast becoming one of my favourite artists, I just love her lyrics and storytelling within her songs. Reminds me a little of Brandy Clark and everyone who knows me, knows she is my favourite artist/songwriter. My favourite tracks of Ashley’s are A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega (which was named one of the best songs of 2017 by the New York Times), Girl Goin Nowhere and Bible and a .44.

Sunday

Sunday begins with a band that has been talked about a lot in the last couple of months and not always in a good way, but hey, all publicity is good publicity right? Many people have been questioning Midlands back story and authenticity but whatever side you sit on lets just focus on their music shall we? Signed to Big Machine their debut single Drinkin Problem climbed its way up the charts where it came to a comfortable stop at number 1 on the Canada Country charts, number 3 on the airplay charts and number 4 on the hot Country songs chart. The band, which have a lot to do with Shane McAnally (who doesn’t work with that guy in Country music, he’s the man!) have landed themselves some big support slots on Tim and Faith’s tour, Little Big Town and Thomas Rhett and their album features songs co-written by the three members and all the big named writers out there today including Shane, Josh Osborne and Luke Laird. Needless to say it debuted at number 1 in the country albums chart. Sonically they keep getting compared to Dwight Yoakam and Alabama. Recommended song – Make A Little.

Well Sunday continues with Margo Price. I’ve heard a lot about Margo but not heard a lot of her music before. She has had a lot of success in the Americana genre having won Americana Honors and Awards for Breakthrough act of the year in 2016 and also winning International Song of the year at the UK Americana Awards proving she is quite a hit over here! Her debut album reached number 1 in the UK Country charts and she has paid a visit across the pond on a number of occasions even playing Glastonbury Festival. Again she’s described as many things, Americana, Country-Soul and Country-Outlaw, her music is quite different from other acts we’ve seen at C2C in the past. She cites Emmylou Harris as an inspiration so it’s great to see her on the line up alongside her idol. Recommended Song – This Town Gets Around.

Does this lady need any introduction? Well apparently yes, some on social media when Emmylou was announced said… “who?” Well you don’t have to look very far to discover who she is, she’s a legend in the genre! She has been inducted into the Country music hall of fame and has won 13 Grammy’s, impressive right? The list of awards she’s been nominated for is a long one as is the list of artists Emmylou has collaborated with. She has released 26 studio albums, 3 live albums, 11 compilation albums and 70 singles. Having such a catalogue of songs makes it very hard to choose just one to recommend so I’m going to talk to you about two songs instead. One artist Emmylou collaborated with a lot was Gram Parsons and I have always loved their duet of Love Hurts off the record Grievous Angel which was released posthumously after Parsons died of an accidental overdose. The second song which I love is Emmylou Harris’ version of Beneath Still Waters released in 1981.

Little Big Town completes the line up. Now Little Big Town are one of my favourite bands and they have played C2C twice before but they have never headlined. This band has released 8 studio albums and 26 singles, 3 albums went to number 1 and 3 are certified Platinum in the States. A number of singles have gone Gold and Platinum and their 2012 hit Pontoon is certified 2x Platinum and 2014 hit Girl Crush is 3x Platinum! The group founded in 1998 are known for their beautiful four part harmonies which is probably why they’ve won Vocal group of the year four times at the ACMs and six times at the CMAs. They have also won two Grammy’s. So recommended songs? Well Girl Crush is obviously a favourite, I believe that’s the kind of song that goes down in history but one of my favourites at the moment is When Someone Stops Loving You written by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Chase McGill.

Satellite Stage

Walker Hayes definitely has a unique sound. After a couple of unsuccessful record deals with major labels Hayes signed a publishing and production contract with Shane McAnally and SMACK/RareSpark. His debut album Boom was released by Monument and was produced by McAnally who also co-wrote a couple of tracks on the record. As an outsider looking in, I think McAnally was the difference here, Walker hayes has talent but McAnally saw it where others in the industry didn’t or didn’t know what to do with it. I’m looking forward to his set, it’s different to what I usually like but I’m excited nonetheless.

Russell Dickerson has seen chart success this year with his song Yours still sat in the top ten of the hot Country charts and Country Airplay charts. He is an alumni of Belmont University where many great Country acts have graduated from. He made his Grand Ole Opry debut back in June 2016 before he signed to Triple Tigers Records, a collaboration between Sony music, Thirty Tigers and Triple 8 Management.

I first saw Lindsay Ell supporting The Band Perry back in 2013, the first thing I thought was wow this girl can play that guitar! She was excellent and over time she has gone from strength to strength especially with the support of Producer Sugarland’s Kristian Bush. On her latest record she has written with a lot of different writers, all big names within country music songwriting like Travis Meadows, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Kelsea Ballerini and Ross Copperman. She’s sure to wow the audience with those guitar skills alone but her songs are strong and bring something different to the satellite stage line up.

We’ll keep you updated with all the latest C2C news right here, so keep your eyes peeled!

Interview with Morgan Evans!

Hello!
Morgan Evans is fast becoming an international star, winning the CMA International Artist of the year back in 2016. The Australian born singer-songwriter now resides in Nashville with fiancé Kelsea Ballerini and has wowed fans both in Australia and the US. Back in June he played his first ever UK show at Buckle and Boots and the crowd loved him, he was one of the most talked about acts of the weekend and he was a lovely guy who had time to talk to his new found fans. Luckily he also had time to chat to us and you can have a listen above. His single Kiss Somebody, which you can hear in the background of the video is out now and available on iTunes at the following link. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/kiss-somebody-single/id1255120560
Thank You
Zoe

Interview with Songwriter Victoria Banks!

Hello

Many of you may have seen the petition doing the rounds on Facebook recently titled “Apple Music: Please Add Song Credits To Your Platform.” I know some of my wonderful readers have already signed it and to date it has over 83,000 signatures! When it first popped up on my feed I signed straight away and was eager to find out more about it and to see the outcome. On further investigation I discovered that the writer behind the petition was none other than Victoria Banks who has co-written Daddy’s Little Girl for The Shires, Saints and Angels for Sara Evans and Come On Over by Jessica Simpson as well as having her own successful artist career. I was eager to catch up with her and find out more about her songwriting career and how the petition came about.

Firstly, you are a prolific songwriter, writing hits for some big names, but you actually studied zoology at university? So how did you first get into writing songs?

I come from a musical family – many of my family members work as classical musicians – and my Dad is a collector of antique phonograph machines and cylinder records. So the only thing newer than the classical music I was exposed to was the old turn-of-the-century folk music Dad played on those cylinders, and Stephen Foster’s music in particular made an impression on me. My other love was science, because the area of Canada where I grew up was quite remote and I spent a lot of time outside observing nature. So when it came time to study something in university, I decided to pursue Zoology, because I thought I was more likely to end up gainfully employed that way. I explored songwriting in my spare time, often writing song lyrics in the margins of my calculus notes at school! I spent my summers working for the Fisheries Unit of the government in my hometown, and was hoping to work there full-time after graduation, but as fate would have it the unit was closed down during the spring of my final year and suddenly there was a scarcity of jobs in my field! In that blank-slate moment, I decided “why not just follow my heart, then?” I decided to move to Nashville, the mecca for the kind of songwriting I loved, and take a shot at trying to become a professional songwriter.

You’ve had your own artist career as well, so is songwriting your favourite aspect of the business or do you enjoy recording and performing just as much?

If I had to spend my time doing only one thing, it would be songwriting. Luckily, though, my career has given me the opportunity to also record, tour and perform. The process of writing songs is like the greatest magic-driven jigsaw-puzzle solving experiment, and being a staff songwriter for a publisher in Nashville allows me to spend my days in an office doing it daily. But part of that job is also taking the songs into the studio and recording them, producing them to make them sound like the records they’re capable of being before they are pitched to other artists. And when the songs that seem the most magical or personal to me don’t find homes with other artists, I’m able to give them a voice by recording and releasing them myself. I made my first CD to sell at little tiny songwriter shows I would play in a little venue in Nashville called the Bluebird Café, but it found its way to the ears of a Canadian record label that offered me the opportunity to sign a record deal with them, release the songs to radio and go on tour. So I kind of fell into that part of it by accident, but it has become something that feeds my soul as much as the songwriting does. After 20 years of writing songs in an empty room, even if hundreds of them are recorded by artists, there are thousands more that are unheard, and it’s good for the soul to be able to share those songs and the stories behind them as a performer too.

Growing up, what did your parents make you listen to and what are you listening to now?

We were an all-classical-music family (except for the cylinder records Dad played which were from the early 1900s), and we studied piano and voice. We only got one TV channel and there wasn’t much radio to speak of where I grew up, so my Mom, Dad, sister and I would sing Bach in 4-part harmony around the dinner table to entertain ourselves. When I need to give my songwriting brain a break I still listen to classical music, but these days I listen to everything from Top 40 to Country, Hip Hop to Folk, just about everything except Jazz which I don’t know much about. All other genres influence the Country music genre, so it’s good to listen to a bunch of different styles of music. Some of my favorites right now are Charlie Puth, David Mead, Shawn Colvin and the work of great songwriters like Matraca Berg and Steve Earle.

Is the songwriting process the same for you each time, do you like to start with the lyrics first for example or is it different with each song and does it depend on who you are collaborating with?

It totally depends on the day. I keep my antennae tuned for song ideas all the time, and I collect them in my phone. Sometimes the idea will be a title, sometimes a couple phrases of lyric, sometimes a melody I hum, or an entire chorus that just comes into my brain with music and lyrics simultaneously. Once I’ve got a piece of something, I usually hold onto it and bring it into my co-writing sessions, since ideas are in high demand when you’re writing daily (often with artists or songwriters you’ve never met before). We’ll toss some ideas out into the room and decide which one to run with, and from there the rest of the song kind of reveals itself, sometimes with chunks of words first, sometimes chunks of melody first, but often all at the same time, and usually in pieces (usually the chorus first, then the first verse, second verse, and bridge). I compare it to uncovering a dinosaur skeleton in the ground, you just dig at the little piece you’ve discovered and see what else it’s attached to. But I also write with track builders who will orchestrate and record an entire song before you get there, and you’re just adding the lyric and melody on top of the track. The whole thing is just about brainstorming and spitting out whatever your subconscious whispers in your ear so you and your collaborators can explore it.

Do you have favourite songwriters who you like to co-write with?

Yes! It takes a lot of exploring to find them, but every so often you work with someone and it’s just EASY…like you can barely keep up with how fast the song reveals itself. That’s what it’s like when I write with Phil Barton and Emily Shackelton, so we’ve written often as a team and we like to go on retreats together where we stay somewhere isolated and spend 2 or 3 days writing, coming home with 7 or 8 songs. Collaboration is about musical compatibility, each bringing something different to the table but fitting together in a way that allows the whole to be greater than the parts, so each writer is made better by the other’s contributions. Some of my other favorite “regulars” have been Tia Sillers, Rachel Proctor, Erik Dylan.

The petition you’ve started which already has over 61,000 signatures now, is incredibly important to songwriters, musicians and producers who work incredibly hard on these records and don’t get credited on platforms like Apple music, can you tell me about when you first realised the problem and how the petition came about because you did approach apple to start with and asked them to display who had written the songs and played on the record didn’t you before you started the petition?

Frankly, the petition came more from my experience as a music consumer than as a creator of it. When I find a song I love, I want to know who the songwriter is. I want to know who played that incredible bass riff, who produced this amazing sounding track, and where everything was recorded, so I can use that information to explore and find more songs I love. And like most consumers, since brick and mortar record stores are so few and far between, I like to explore music via streaming. But when I’m listening to Apple Music, the only way I can find that information is to leave the app, open my web browser and do a Google search. It seems to me that streaming services are really missing an opportunity here. I talked to my cowriter Mark Bright about it, who is one of the Board of Governors of the Recording Academy (previously known as NARAS). He informed me that NARAS is building a database to store standardize album credits, which could be accessed by streaming services. However, the trick is going to be to convince music streaming service providers that their clients WANT this information, because they are under the impression that we don’t. So that’s when I decided to start a petition to show that there IS a public desire for album credits. I aimed it specifically at Apple, partly because that’s the service I use personally, but also because they seem to be interested in leading technological trends and listening to user feedback. And we had to start somewhere…so that’s where I chose to start. Plus I think it’s maddening that even when album credit information or digital booklets are available on a song in iTunes song, there’s no way of accessing that information if you stream that same song streamed on Apple Music.

As songwriters we understand how important this is, but the writers, musicians, engineers and producers still get paid for their work so can you explain to the general public why this is so important that they are also listed and credited and why that should be displayed on these platforms as it is when you buy a physical copy?

I believe credit should be given where it is due. Sure, the songwriter creates the first incarnation of a song, but it also takes the creative interpretations of the musicians and producers, the equipment of the studio and the mixing ears of the engineers to create the final musical experience that the song becomes. Whether they are paid or not, each person that contributes to that final product should be credited. Books come with author names, publisher names, often with acknowledgements listed inside. Why shouldn’t music? But in the end, I honestly don’t think this is an industry issue. I think it’s a public issue, and it affects everyone’s experience as a music consumer. It’s gratifying to see so many people signing the petition and I really hope they’ll continue to help it grow so we can demonstrate the need for a solution.

This is hopefully going to make history and change the music industry and how it treats the creators of the music we love, who else is behind you, are fellow co-writers, artists, publishers and organisations such as NSAI standing with you and helping it gain traction?

This was something that started out very small. I created the petition online and shared it within my community on Facebook, which includes co-writers, fellow NSAI members, musicians and publishers. They shared it…and their friends shared it…and then within a few days, it went from a couple thousand signatures to 70,000. I think that many music industry insiders didn’t really know for sure whether the public cared about this or not. Hopefully the sheer number of music consumers signing it will help to continue its momentum, and with sites like yours helping to spread the word, real change can happen.

Besides signing the petition what can people do to help change the current situation

If you’re a streaming music listener, reach out to your streaming service provider. Contact them through the Help option, find where you can give customer feedback, and let them know that you want them to provide songwriter, musician, producer, engineer and studio credits within their platform. Tell them how it would make your experience as a consumer better. If they see the desire is there, they’ll see the opportunity in it.

And what’s next for you, what projects have you got in the pipeline and do you have any plans to come over to the UK?

I’m still going to the songwriting office daily and writing with and for other artists for their records, so I’ve got a lot of songs in the pipeline that way that I can’t really talk about until they’re released! But I’m also maintaining an email newsletter that I like to describe as “songwriter oversharing”. I share emails with behind-the-scenes stories, unreleased songs, and sometimes even the evolution of a song from the initial 3am voice recording of the idea to the guitar/vocal worktape to the demo to the final record. (You can subscribe at victoriabanks.net/signup.) And as always, I’m slowly but surely saving up favourite songs towards my next project, which I’m sure will be in the works soon. I think a UK trip will likely come about within the next year – I want to get over there to perform and also to see The Shires play our song “Daddy’s Little Girl”! And do some songwriting too, of course.

So this petition is important for both the creators of the music but also for music consumers, that’s everyone basically. You can find it here!

https://www.change.org/p/apple-music-please-add-song-credits-to-your-platform/fbog/629246375?recruiter=629246375&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=signature_receipt

Thanks!

Zoe

Interview With Angaleena Presley!

Hello!

One of the most interesting and outspoken singer-songwriters in Country music today is Angaleena Presley. That is what I love about her, her songs are filled with witty lyrics and subtle little digs at the music industry which could in the hands of the wrong writer come across as whining however the way Angaleena carefully crafts each lyric and how she tells the stories behind the songs live on stage has the audience in uproar! The fact is, she’s right! At the sage she spoke of imagining growing up without Dolly Parton, Martina McBride and Reba McEntire, imagine a world without those strong independent females she said, that’s what today’s generation are missing out on. And a big factor in why they are missing out on those women’s voices is because Country radio won’t play them and this is a big theme in Angaleena’s latest record. So I was eager to catch up with her and delve deeper into the mind of a successful songwriter who isn’t afraid to speak out and try to change the industry for the better.

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You’ve had a successful career so far as a solo artist, as a member of the Pistol Annie’s and as a songwriter writing for other artists too but how did you first get into Country music and what made you decide to be an artist?

It wasn’t a choice for me. My first love was music, I had a record player and a box of 45s instead of dolls. I took them everywhere. Also, very early on, teachers began to notice that my writing stood out and that continued through college where, on more than one occasion, professors used my papers as an example for the rest of the class to go by. I wasn’t a phenomenal singer but I think not having a powerhouse voice lent itself to becoming a better writer. I knew I had to hit the audience with lyrics if I couldn’t hit them with high notes. It was all a very natural progression and I truly believe I was born to do it.

What is your favourite aspect of your career – writing, recording or performing?

It’s hard to choose because they all have pros and cons. Writing is very fulfilling when the muse is kind. There are songs that I labor over and songs that spill out as though I am the medium for something other worldly. The hours after the effortless songs come are complete bliss. I feel like I’ve served my purpose on this earth. When the muse is fickle, I feel like my livelihood is at the mercy of something I can’t control. It’s really scary. Recording is amazing and inspiring on a different level. I learn so much from the musicians, producers and engineers and it’s a blessing to watch them make art that compliments the songs I’ve written. Unfortunately, I only get to do it once every couple years so I can’t really rely on that as the motivating factor. It’s definitely something that lingers in my mind as I’m writing and also something I look forward to. Performing makes the process complete. Delivering the songs to the people who might hear something that moves them or helps them or encourages them to grow is surreal. Music exists to create an emotional shift. Feedback from fans is the validation that I need to keep doing this job. Because, it is a job. Touring is exhausting work that takes me away from my family and friends. When someone comes up and says something like “I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through my divorce without your record,” I feel like I can keep clocking in to this crazy life. One part cannot exist without the other.

What did your parents make you listen to growing up and what are you listening to now?

My mom loved Janis Joplin, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Carole King and The Carpenters. My dad loved Dr. Ralph Stanley, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. I had a very influential uncle, Bobby, who introduced me to The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. They never had to make me listen to anything because my musical tastes have been all over the map right from the beginning.

Where do you draw inspiration from lyrically?

I think I could write a song about watching grass grow if it struck me to do so. There’s inspiration everywhere. The key is keeping an open heart and mind. I’m ever a slave to the muse.

Describe your writing process, what comes first or is it different every time?

It’s very random. It’s kind of like fishing. Sometimes I’ll catch a melody and sometimes I’ll catch a line or idea. I keep a notebook with me at all times and I write things down as they come. When I get time, I sit down and put things together. I never know which piece of the puzzle is going to come first.

You’re new album is fantastic, we love every song but do you have a favourite song off it and can you tell us the story behind it?

It’s really hard to pick one song. It’s like asking a parent to pick which kid they love the most. They’re all a part of a whole and they’re important to me for different reasons.

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A few silly questions now; what is the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?

My ex husband.

When you’re on stage are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander – what are your mid-gig thoughts?

My mind goes every freakin’ where. I have ADHD and it’s nearly impossible to get through a show without forgetting a lyric or losing my place in a song. There’s so much going on, lights, camera flashes, people singing along, sometimes people talking, glasses clinking… it’s a constant strugggle because my brain is wired to observe every little noise and movement. I’m pretty sure I have some undiagnosed sensory disorders as well because I have superpower senses. If someone’s having a BBQ in Texas, I can smell it from London. Not kidding. It’s hard to find fabrics that my skin can tolerate, I don’t eat fish because the textures and smells are too overwhelming. While all of this creates a perfect storm for soaking life in and making a song that can put the listener in a moment, it’s a natural disaster on stage. My mind is like a cat. There’s no use in trying to tame it. I learned to accept it and make it a part of my act. I’m a big advocate of imperfection and that comes across in my show as fans get the chance to watch me look up in the middle of a song and admit that I lost my place because my brain decided it was the perfect time to make a mental grocery list.

What’s next for you?

Not falling off the tight rope is always the next thing because there’s no safety net in this job. Being an artist is a crazy life of not only trying to balance joys and pains but also making good use of them.

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If you haven’t already got Angaleena’s record Wrangled, then don’t hesitate, it is well worth a listen! And unconfirmed reports are that the Pistol Annie’s will be releasing new music next year which is fantastic news and we’ll try and bring you updates on that as and when we hear them! Don’t forget Angaleena is returning to the UK as part of the CMA Songwriters Series in October so grab your tickets now whilst you still can!

Thanks,

Zoe

Interview with Ashley Campbell!

“Bone for bone we are the same, Bones get tired and they can’t carry all the weight” – Ashley Campbell – Remembering

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Hello!

This past weekend I’ve been at FSA Fest where some fantastic UK Country acts were taking to the stage. However today I want to share with you one of my favourite interviews I’ve ever done which took place last weekend at the Summertyne Americana Festival in Gateshead. There was a fantastic lineup across the three days but the person I was most excited to see was Ashley Campbell daughter of Country music legend Glen Campbell. Now my Gran and Grandad were big fans of his music and as I grew up my Gran introduced me to some of his records so when I first heard that his daughter was a musician and that she was coming over to the UK to play I had to see her, that was back at C2C 2016 on the Town Square Stage and her banjo skills were so good it inspired me to take up the banjo too (I am terrible though!) But I was excited to see Ashley over a year later and eager to talk to her about her music and when her album would be coming out. Read on to find out what she had to say.

Growing up your dad must have been a huge influence in you life and in getting you into music, but at what point did you decide you wanted to be an artist yourself?

So growing up music was in the family, it was all around the house, we’d go to my Dad’s shows as little kids and my parents started me and my brother on piano when we were very young. So we’ve always been playing music but it wasn’t until I was in college that I started playing Banjo and that’s when I turned to more of a professional route. I fell in love with the banjo, something clicked inside of me, it turned me on to my creative side as far as music goes.

So of course your dad’s music has influenced you, but who are you listening to at the moment, who are your favourite artists?

Right now I’m actually getting into Father John Misty, Dirty Projectors, and I love Punch Brothers because I love the musicianship and that’s what was really inspiring to me as I started playing Banjo, hearing that kind of amazing sound quality and melody. I listen to a very wide variety of music.

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When it comes to Songwriting where do you draw inspiration from there?

I look back towards the classic country, I draw inspiration from Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, even my dad and Jimmy Webb because I love that classic songwriting style and the format and how simple it is but I like to add a modern edge to the lyrics, a modern experience.

So lyrically you draw inspiration from your own life experiences?

Yeah it’s usually very personal or at least funny experiences.

So a few silly questions now, what is the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?

Oh! Lets see, I wrote a song, it’s funny I was just telling Eli my fiddle player about it, I wrote a song about a girl named cauliflower, its a love song to her from the perspective of a man in love with cauliflower. And then I also wrote a murder ballad, it was an old American murder ballad about a guy who kills the girl he loves because he couldn’t marry her and then he gets eaten by a bear. Bear Karma!

And when you’re on stage are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander, what are your mid-gig thoughts?

I try to be completely focused or I try and let the song and the music overtake me that’s when I really feel my best when you let it take you on a journey but there have definitely been times, and I’m sure every musician or artist will say this, where you wonder if there’s any good Indian food tonight, but I hope that doesn’t happen, I try not to let it happen!

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Now I heard you studied Theatre at college, do you still pursue that?

I still love it for sure, my brother and I were warming up for today with a song from music man and I would love to do some acting again some day but for now I’m just focussed on music.

Do you take any influence from that when it comes to songwriting?

Absolutely, when I was in college I was driving to hollywood to improv classes, I wanted to do sketch comedy so I was taking writing classes as well and that was before I was writing songs so I took that philosophy and carried it into songwriting, which is telling a story, you’ve got to know where to forward a story, where to advance and where to put feeling into it so I took those notes and applied it to songwriting.

I was going to ask you about improv comedy, how did you first get into that?

I think I just loved Saturday Night Live so much and I auditioned for the improv troupe at my university in my freshman year and I didn’t get in and I thought that was so much fun, I want to do that and I’m not going to let this stop me so I signed up for a place called The Groundlings in Los Angeles and that’s where a lot of people from Saturday Night Live started so I was happy to be there and I fell in love with it.

Going back to your music and performing and touring, do you notice any differences between the crowds over here and the crowds back home in the States?

I don’t want to knock American crowds at all but it definitely seems like they’re more easily distracted like sometimes you’re playing and you’re like, are they definitely listening? I like though that on BBC Radio they play album cuts or entire albums and not just the singles because usually my favourite songs on other peoples albums aren’t the singles so I appreciate that.

What’s next for you?

Well I have a cover of Jimmy Webb’s Highway Man coming out on July 27th on Amazon Music so I’m really excited about that, I love that version, I think it’s about time a woman sang that song. And I’ve been working on a new album, it’s mixed and everything so we’re going to put that out as soon as possible, it’s my first album!

Can you tell us about any of the songs on that album?

Well some of the songs are from years ago and some I’ve written in the last year so it’s a really cool journey of my songwriting really from when I started right up to now and all the things I’ve learnt so I’m excited about it and there’s a banjo instrumental on it as well.

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So there we are, we eagerly await her debut album and we will keep you updated with release dates for that! In the meantime check out Ashley’s beautiful song Remembering which she wrote for her father when she found out about his illness. And we continue to keep Glen, Ashley and the rest of her family in our thoughts.

Thanks!

Zoe

Aye Aye Captain: SummerTyne Americana Festival Day 2!

Hello!

I thought I’d bring you another quick update from the Americana Festival at The Sage Gateshead. I’ve just snuck out as Jim Lauderdale is finishing his set at Sage 2. What a magnificent Songwriter he is and he commands the room perfectly. He’s going to be hosting a writers round at 10.45pm. My day started off on a boat… Yes, it was a really unique experience which saw us set sail at 10.30am down the Tyne whilst Ashley Campbell and her band entertained us for the first half an hour followed by Massy Ferguson for half an hour, we then had around a half hour break as we reached the mouth of the river and turned around before Ashley began a second set and then Massy brought the cruise to a close. There were a few technical hitches to begin with but the team from The Sage along with crew on the boat were quick to solve the problem.

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For anyone who saw Ashley last night her set was fairly similar, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and there’s a number of songs that are fast becoming my favourites. For example I’ve always thought Remembering was a beautiful song and it will always be one of my favourites but Good For You has become my favourite after this weekend. Lyrically the song is so well written, it definitely has that Nashville style of writing where everything leads up to that pay off line. Her version of The Highwayman which is being released on Thursday is great too and I really look forward to hearing the studio version next week. Ashley and her band found themselves taking it in turns to steer the boat as we reached the mouth of the river and her brother Shannon turned the boat around. Not just talented musicians it seems! I heard many people say how they could have listened to Massy Ferguson all day as well and I would agree. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience!

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I made a quick dash from where the boat had docked up to the Sage where Danni Nicholls followed by Angaleena Presley were soon to take to the stage. I’d not heard of Danni before but she was good, had some good lyrics in her songs and nice clean vocals, there was almost a soulful edge to it. She engaged with the audience and had them singing along and had them laughing which actually there’s been a lot of humour this weekend from the artists but that was nothing compared to the fits of laughter Angaleena Presley had us in throughout her set. Of course she’s known for her witty lyrics, she’s often very outspoken about the music industry, particularly Country radio and the lack of female artists in rotation but I found her set refreshing and inspiring. She was completely herself, honest and funny and when she talked about her songs and the stories behind them there was a real mix of emotions and I find the whole “women in country music and country radio” topic fascinating and infuriating at the same time. If you know me, you’ll know that I wrote my dissertation for Uni on Controversy in Country music and this was a topic I discussed within that and to hear Angaleena’s comments a year on from me writing that was very interesting to me and like I said it’s inspiring that we have people like Angaleena in Country music who aren’t afraid to speak out and do it in the best way possible… through their music!

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Getting back on topic! Her set was filled with songs of her own, some off her new record like Wrangled and Dreams Don’t Come True which is one of my favourites along with Bless My Heart, and some Pistol Annies numbers like Lemon Drop which she sung to close the show. She spent quite a long time after her set talking to fans, taking photos and signing their merchandise. She’ll be back at the sage in October for the CMA Songwriters Series which is going to be a fantastic evening especially in this venue, the acoustic’s are amazing! Anyway only one more day left of this fantastic festival!

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Thanks

Zoe