Nashville via New Jersey singer Kayla Calabrese recently released her new single, “Me Time,” from her 2016 album Glass Stiletto. The anthemic single talks about the importance of making time for oneself, something that the busy Calabrese knows a lot about – she continues to work as an emergency room nurse while pursuing her dreams in Music City. In advance of performing at CMA Fest, Calabrese took some time to talk about the single and how she makes “me time” for herself.
Your new single “Me Time” is a really anthemic song. Did you write it?
I did not write, Frank Myers and Steve Dorff, who are two incredible writers, penned the song. Jimmy Nichols, who produced Glass Stiletto brought me to a room where I was pitched songs and “Me Time” was one of them. When I heard it, I knew I had to record it. I think it’s the perfect summer anthem and I feel super blessed to not only record it, but release it as a single as well.
Since the age of twelve, California native Kylie Hughes has been writing and recording music. Her debut EP, 2014’s Calipopicana, landed Hughes features in Examiner, InStyle.com, Music Connection, and more. Winning fans and critics alike with her contagious, spontaneous energy Hughes has performed alongside the likes of The Beach Boys, John Mayer, Jewel , and Michael W. Smith as well as at SXSW 2017. Comfortable with many genres, Hughes has a sound uniquely her own, one that will be displayed on May 26th when she releases her self-titled, full-length album. In advance of that release, Hughes kindly took the time to talk about her roots, the album, and more!
The new album will be released May 26th, but your music is new to a lot of people. Can you please give a little background as when you started singing and when you knew you wanted to pursue music professionally?
Hey Daily Country! Well, I started writing about boys in school and general angsty teenage observations when I was 13. Then Michele Branch appeared and that was the first time I thought, maybe I can learn to play guitar too? I also was lucky to have really great parents who encouraged my music career. I got my first taste of a recording studio at 14 and still find it to be one of my favorite places. It’s funny that when I first began singing and performing, I frequently got the “you sound country” comment but I didn’t embrace that note until later on. I love story telling and songs that make you feel something a little deeper than surface level, not to say I don’t love the big summer anthem songs too. I just always loved performing and songwriting was something that I thought I could be good at long term, haha.
To me, the album blends a mix of sounds/genres. Are you influenced by a variety of music?
I do listen to a little bit of everything! That’s why it’s hard to put my finger on my sound because it’s a little different from song to song. This album has folk inspiration, pop music influences, a little rock and roll, country and Americana. I wrote/recorded the album in LA and Nashville, so there is definitely a Nashville sound and country influence that seeped in and makes this album unique for me. When I’m starting a song, whether I have a fleshed out idea or not… I always start with an acoustic guitar and then see what genre the song will fall into. My song “Heat” was an attempt to draw inspiration from KT Tunstall, I wanted it to be a head knocking summer anthem with similar bass lines and a catchy guitar riff.
Singer-songwriter David Childers is a well-read poet and painter who practiced law before turning in his license to concentrate on his passions, including music. Childers’ new album, Run Skeleton Run, co-produced with the Avett Brothers bassist Bob Crawford and Ramseur label head Dolph Ramseur, is filled with story songs that captivate with their vivid imagery. Calling from his home in North Carolina, Childers kindly took some time to speak about the album and more.
You have released numerous albums over the years. Did you approach Run Skeleton Run any differently from the others?
I’ve made many records, but the approach to this record was different from anything I have been involved in. There was an intensity with going to one place and staying there to make the entire record. I worked with Don Dixon [REM, the Smithereens] once before and getting to do it again was such a good experience. Having Dixon’s hands on my record is something I felt good about.
In addition to Don Dixon, Bob Crawford had a hand in making the record. How did he come to be a part of the project?
Bob was one person who really encouraged me to keep working on my music when I was at a low point deciding whether or not I wanted to do it anymore. He and I were both a part of the music scene in Charlotte in the 90’s when the Avett Brothers were coming along. In fact, the Avetts opened for my band before they were playing the huge theaters they play now. They really changed the music scene around here and I am just so happy for them.
One thing I am always interested in is why artists choose to title their albums they way they do. So, what is the significance of Run Skeleton Run?
I don’t know, to be honest. For me, these things aren’t analytically derived, they’re viscerally derived - it’s a gut feeling. That song was the track that stood out to me after everything was completed and what sounded the best when we were deciding on a title.
Friends for over a decade actor/musician Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) and indie-troubadour Ben Lee have formed a new indie-pop duo by the name of Radnor & Lee. Combining their shared interest in spirituality and philosophy, the two sat down to write a song together, which subsequently turned into ten, and their musical partnership was born. Their debut single “Be Like The Being” is a dynamically uplifting, spiritual folk-pop tune that instills the feeling of pure joy in the listener’s core via the infectious melody, sweet violin, heavenly harmonies, and foot-stomping chorus. It's enlightening, charming and perfectly delightful. Stream the track HERE then read the interview with Josh and Ben where they talk about their friendship, the single, and more.
One of Music Connection’s Top 100 National Live Acts, Mark Mackay has been captivating audiences with his blend of country and rock and roll for the past few years. On May 1st, the singer-songwriter-guitarist, who has opened for artists such as the Marshall Tucker Band and Richie Sambora, released his latest album, Trials & Tribulations, an eight-track collection that showcases the artist’s dynamic sound. In advance of a busy summer, Mackay took some time to speak about his roots, the album, and more.
Originally, you are trained as a classical pianist. How did you segway from piano to guitar and country music?
Well, my parents forced piano lessons on me when I was a little kid (laughing), threatening to take away baseball if I didn’t play, so I kept playing and after I got the hang of piano, they got me a guitar around nine years old and I just took to that, even making a cassette tape that said 'featuring 9-year-old guitarist Mark Mackay (laughing). I started trying to write songs when I was a teen, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. Then, right around college, I started writing more and it blossomed into something I did all the time.
Was country the music you were always interested in?
I grew up with my folks playing a lot of Rock and Roll in the house, but they had a country cassette tape in the car that I really gravitated to - and the rest is history.
Nashville by way of Buffalo singer-songwriter Eric Van Houten has been writing and performing for almost a decade, winning over audiences with his high energy, emotion filled shows . On April 1st, Van Houten released his new EP, a three-song project which gives fans a taste of his rock infused country sound. Ahead of a busy Summer, Van Houten called to speak about his roots, his new single "Do You Wanna", and more.
Originally you’re from Buffalo, New York which is a ways from Nashville. When did you make the move to Music City?
I had been coming to Nashville since I graduated in 2010, but made the move to live here full-time about a year ago. I opened for Kelsea Ballerini in Buffalo and some of her team encouraged me to move to Nashville, so in about three months later, I did. Things have been moving along quicker than anticipated, but I’m more than thrilled about that. I think anyone who comes to Nashville has to have the right mindset knowing that it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but if you put yourself in the right situations, make opportunities for yourself and perform your ass off, people will begin to notice and things will start happening for you.
Growing up in Buffalo, which has a large country music loving population, did you listen to country?
I grew up with a wide variety of music – my first concert was Poison! Mom listened to the big women of country like Reba and Shania as well as Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, but we also had the music of Bob Seger, Marshall Tucker, The Allman Brothers, James Taylor, and Aerosmith playing in the house.
When I was eighteen, and already playing out, I had a couple come to my show three weeks in a row. They asked me to play a country song and I didn’t know any at the time, so I told them that if they came back the following week I would have a song for them. I learned Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You” and that was it. I realized that was what my style of music had been building to this whole time.
Multi-instrumentalist, frontman, sideman, and producer are a few of the hats worn by Oklahoma native Jared Tyler. The singer-songwriter returns on June 2nd with his first full-length in seven years, Dirt On Your Hands, a collection of self-penned and co-written tunes - as well as a few covers - that convey poignant, personal stories delivered via American Roots melodies and relayed by Tyler’s understated, emotive vocals. In advance of the album’s release Tyler took some time to speak about the project, his friend Malcolm Holcombe, and more.
While you may be new to many, you’ve had a long rich history in music from producing other artists to opening for Merle Haggard to performing or recording with Stoney LaRue and Emmylou Harris.
I started performing at fourteen or fifteen playing different events for friends around town. At sixteen years old, I started taking trips to Nashville with my mentor at the time, singer-songwriter Michael Garrett. The summer before my senior year of high school, we produced a record together there at the Bradley Barn that was a musical tribute to the FFA. That was a fun, wonderful experience that led to so many other things. I had lots of encouragement, amazing influences, and wonderful mentors that helped shape my artistry. I’ve been very blessed.
So far, you’ve released two of your own albums, the last being in 2010. What accounted for the long stretch between that one and Dirt On Your Hands?
During that time, I produced other artists at a studio in Tulsa, played on others’ albums, and toured as a sideman. I also moved back to Nashville for a brief stint in 2011-2013 and focused on songwriting. It was a very busy time and that was certainly an aspect of the distance that came between the two releases for sure.
Was there anything you did differently with this record either as writer or producer?
I would say this one is a lot more personal – a shout out to my roots if you will. This is my story and one that I look at as a tribute to different parts of my life. I wrote or co-wrote nine of the tracks, which are pretty acoustic driven, and the three others are covers: two of Malcolm Holcombe’s and one by my dear friend Dixie Michell who had recently passed when I recorded the record. She always wanted to hear me sing “Waltzing Around With My Shadow”, a song she wrote in 1969, so I wanted to honor her by singing that on here.