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News: CMA Songwriters Series Announces Second Annual U.K Tour

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If you have been to any CMA Songwriter Series show, you will know that it is such a special evening with standout moments from some of Nashville’s most talented songwriters. For me, one of those highlights was Lori McKenna back in 2016. Last year was the first time the CMA Songwriters Series toured as part of the inaugural Country Music Week, and luckily for us thanks to it’s success that tour is set to take place for the second year running.

Hosted by Chris DeStefano and featuring Kassi Ashton, Ashley Campbell and Tenille Townes, the show is an evening of storytelling, allowing fans to get to know the unsung heroes behind some of their favourite songs and an opportunity to hear the stories behind the song from the writers themselves. The two-hour seated show is an intimate in the round kind of show, with each artist taking turns to perform acoustically and for Chris DeStefano, Kassi Ashton and Tenille Townes it will be their first time performing in the UK.

“Presenting this very Nashville experience in an international setting not only makes for a magical evening, but it truly forges a deeper connection to the music for new audiences,” said Milly Olykan, CMA Vice President, International Relations and Development. “The artists on this tour represent a true cross section of Country Music and we’re honored to be part of their journey as they build their international base.”

The tour dates continue to further CMA’s global expansion initiatives. In the U.K. alone, Country Music streaming is up more than 50 percent this year compared to 2017, where 78 percent of Country fans listen to a greater and more varied number of Country artists compared to last year, while 80 percent of Country fans are interested in and seek out more live Country Music shows and events. Earlier this spring, CMA visited both the U.K. during C2C: Country to Country festival—where CMA Songwriters Series held a sold-out show at London’s indigo at The O2—as well as Australia during CMC Rocks QLD festival.

Tickets are on sale this Friday, August 3rd 2018 at CMASongwritersSeries.com.

October 16th // Glasgow, St. Luke’s

October 17th // Liverpool, St. George’s Hall

October 18th // Gateshead, Sage Two

October 20th // Manchester, RNCM

October 22nd // London, O2 Shepherd’s Bush (Part of Country Music Week 2018)

 

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GigsNews

News: Clare Bowen To Headline First UK Tour & Release Debut Record

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Hit TV show “Nashville” may be soon leaving our TV screens but fear not as the cast aren’t going anywhere. In fact, ahead of the finale airing in the US, Clare Bowen – better known as Scarlett O’Connor has announced the release of her debut album just in time for her first ever headline UK tour.

Released via BMG, you will be able to hear the album in full on August 31st – if you haven’t already heard it, make sure you check out Clare’s single “Let it Rain” for a sneak peek of what’s in store. “Let it Rain” was debuted on Bob Harris’ Radio 2 show and has already received a great reaction.

As previously mentioned Clare will be headlining her first UK tour after numerous visits with her “Nashville” cast-mates where they sold our shows at the 02 Arena as well as three nights at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall. The tour kicks off in Birmingham on September 2nd before concluding in Brighton on September 13th with numerous stops in between.

Growing up in rural Australia, Clare was influenced by her parents’ music collection where she explains “Music was my connection to the rest of the world, I was brought up on my parents’ vinyl collection – everything from Vivaldi, to Elvis, to Dolly, to Springsteen, Edith Piaf and Etta James.” With those influences her album which has been years in the making will sure to be a treat.

 

CLARE BOWEN |  2018 UK TOUR DATES
(With Special Guests Striking Matches)

Sep 2 | Birmingham, UK | Symphony Hall

Sep 4 | Gateshead, UK | Sage Gateshead

Sep 5 | York, UK | York Barbican

Sep 6 | Manchester, UK | Bridgewater Hall

Sep 8 | Glasgow, UK | Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Sep 9 | Cambridge, UK | Cambridge Corn Exchange

Sep 10 | Guildford, UK | G Live

Sep 12 | London, UK | Royal Festival Hall

Sep 13 | Brighton, UK | Brighton Dome

Tickets and VIP upgrades for the UK tour are available at clarebowenofficial.com

Follow Clare Bowen on: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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EPsReviews

Review: LeAnn Rimes “Re-Imagined”

LRReimagined

Think back to when you were eleven years old. What were you doing?

LeAnn Rimes was signing her first record deal with Curb Records and embarking on a career that has so far spanned two decades, eleven album releases, over 37 million album sales worldwide to date and not to mention the award nominations and wins.

If you think back to the 90’s/00’s and consider songs that would be on the soundtrack of those years, LeAnn Rimes’ music would be high on those lists. Some of my favourite LeAnn songs were recorded when she was just a teen, and most of those were about love and heartbreak yet at the time she was still so young and probably hadn’t lived through what she was singing about, but her deliverance of the lyrics was always convincing.

“One Way Ticket” is a song that I’ve always loved, however the lyrics never seemed to fit the original melody for me and is something I thought would benefit from having a more subtle, mellow arrangement. Fast forward to 2017, and that’s exactly what I heard when LeAnn performed a more stripped back version during her UK tour. It felt as though LeAnn connected with the lyrics on a more personal level, because since it’s releasing it back in 1996, LeAnn has experienced love, loss, heartbreak and life in general. From that night, I hoped it would be released in some capacity and thankfully it has been along with other hits in the form of “Re-Imagined”.

“How Do I Live” was a huge hit and is one of the first songs I remember hearing during my childhood. There are certain songs that shouldn’t be touched or tweaked in anyway, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I have always had that attitude about this song but having said that it feels as though over the last few years LeAnn has made a lot of changes both personally and professionally that changed the way she performs, how she interprets music and delivers a lyric which is very evident in the new version.

I felt the original was about someone who was so in love with another person that their whole being is about them, they love the other so much that they can’t imagine life without them but the “Reimagined” version is more of a love letter. It’s stripped back, still vulnerable but has a warm, content feel and is a new and improved version that I never knew I wanted in life.

“Can’t Fight the Moonlight” originated from the movie “Coyote Ugly”, where LeAnn provided the vocals for Piper Perabo’s character Violet Sanford. This version is the first of two live tracks on the EP and has more of a bluesy vibe and is more up-tempo. It’s a good filler in between the ballads but for me, it’s the only one on the EP that I feel doesn’t work quite as well as a recording as it does at a show with the crowd atmosphere.

“Blue” was the track that made people make the comparison between LeAnn and the late, great Patsy Cline. The second of two live tracks, it keeps much of what made the original recording so special but of course over the years LeAnn’s voice has gotten stronger and more mature making it quite a nostalgic revisit to what kickstarted her career.

LeAnn Rimes and Stevie Nicks is a duet I never thought would work. Their voices and musical style feel worlds apart, and when I saw the duet was “Borrowed”, I didn’t know what to expect but everything came together and worked. “Spitfire” is one of LeAnn’s most personal albums, with “Borrowed” being a brutally honest song from a tough period in her personal life and Stevie’s vocal harmony adds an at times sombre feel to a very vulnerable song.

If you are a fan of LeAnn Rimes or are a radio listener, you will have heard these songs in their original form and what has stood out with the “Re-Imagined” EP is that they are a group of timeless tracks that were great the first time round, but for me I was a kid during that time and as much as I loved the songs I didn’t connect emotionally because I couldn’t but now as a twenty something, they take on a whole different meaning and that’s something I adore about music.

Over the last few years, LeAnn has produced some of her best and most authentic work. When the new version of “One Way Ticket” was released, I thought it was because of fans requesting it after hearing it at the live shows, never did I think this project would follow but it was a very pleasant surprise and it makes me excited to hear what’s next.

Track Listing;

  1. How Do I Live
  2. One Way Ticket
  3. Can’t Fight the Moonlight
  4. Blue

You can learn more about Cam by visiting her official website or by following her on her social media pages;

You can listen to “Re-Imagined” on any of the listed platforms here.

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Artist Features

Speaking With: Cam

CamInterview

Cam burst on the scene at a time when the airwaves were overcome with bro-country, females were in a difficult spot within the genre and despite their best efforts weren’t getting played as much as their male counterparts, if at all. For an established artist, that would be tough but for an up and coming artist trying to break through? Near impossible. Throw in a ballad as a single and that could have been a recipe for disaster. Luckily for us, Cam broke through the barriers with “Burning House” from her debut album “Untamed”, which went to number two in the United States and became a platinum selling single.

Almost three years have past since “Untamed” was released, and Cam is gearing up for a new album cycle, starting with the smash single “Diane”.

Following her solo show and appearances with Sam Smith during his “The Thrill of it All World Tour” in London, we got to chat with Cam about what we can expect from the follow up to “Untamed”, her writing process and her very honest and open views on women and their positions in the music business.

CC: First off, I want to say congratulations on the success of “Diane” so far, it was lovely to see it sitting in the Top 40 all genre charts on iTunes in the UK last week, it’s currently 47 and is sitting at the top of the UK Country charts.

Cam: Yeah, it’s been really cool!

CC: You wrote “Palace” which appeared on Sam Smith’s latest album and have recently released your own version. As a songwriter, are there any tracks that you’ve written with the intention of releasing yourself that have gone to other artists or do you write with the intention of pitching them to others?

Cam: Usually I write with them in mind but honestly every time it’s happened I’ve been invited to go and write, then the artist will be present. So it’s been very obvious that it’s going to Miley or Sam. There’s been times where I’ve tried to write things for other people and it hasn’t worked out that they’ve sung it, it doesn’t happen very often and it’s something I did early on in my career more but as I started getting into being an artist myself, I didn’t have as much time or I didn’t want to let go of anything I loved so I just kept it for myself.

With Sam Smith and Miley Cyrus, when you get invited to go and spend time with an artist like that it’s so much fun because they know what you do. Sam was excited to write with me and we just kinda had the same idea of how the song should go and it sounds so beautiful with him singing it. I didn’t plan on doing it myself but it’s so fun that whenever I sing it live, people get excited about it. So I made a video of a live recording of it and Sam was like “oh it’s so beautiful, you have to share this with people”. It’s not like I’m putting it out on CD or anything but it’s fun to have it out so more people can hear the beautiful song that we did.

CC: You recently visited the UK and made appearances during Sam Smith’s shows at The 02 to perform “Palace” with him and then did your own headline show. What was it like to perform with Sam?

Cam: Oh, so cool! I knew I was coming over there because we were gonna launch “Diane” so I had a show and some press planned. I looked on the calendar and usually maybe if Sam’s free we can write or something and he had those shows at The 02 so I said “oh my gosh, you’re playing! I have to come see you” and he said “if you’re in town, why don’t you come sing “Palace” with me?” I was like of course!

I went out to the shows and remember at rehearsal, they do it that first day and he said “ok you’re going to stand over on this lift over here, it’ll take you four feet up in the air”. Which is a little bit terrifying because I was wearing heels and there’s no handle or anything then he goes, “I’d love to stand next to you but we have this golden, spiral staircase and it’ll be a shame not to use it.”

He goes up on the staircase then I sing from the little lift out on the front part of the stage and sing up to him and it was a really beautiful, modern Romeo and Juliet moment. Every night it was the beginning of the encore, so it’s just a cool moment where everyone’s so excited that you’ve come back out on stage and Sam would introduce me and explain where the song came from, how he spent time in Nashville and it was such a welcoming crowd. It was obviously so special for him, he’s doing this tour all over the world and gets to be home for these few shows and the way the crowd responded. He’s just such a great performer and I felt like when we were singing, especially with a soft song like “Palace” is, you could hear the audience, they were all so quiet and softly singing with us. It was so beautiful and a magical experience.

CC: I think it’s great that instead of having you just watch the show, knowing you were there that he invited you to perform because that could be such a huge platform for you in the UK outside of the usual Country crowd, and it potentially already is with “Diane” being in the Top 40 on iTunes.

Cam: Yeah, exactly! He’s such a big hearted, genuine individual. I haven’t seen anything that feels like typical diva, popstar type behaviour. He’s just a sweet person and is so giving. It seems totally natural to him to check in and be like “is everything ok? How are you feeling?” and I’m just like it’s your show, I’m just here! It was really cool.

CC: UK audiences are known for being a very loud and enthusiastic crowd and thinking back to your debut show here back in 2015 at the iTunes festival, I remember that audience singing “Burning House” back to you but fast forward to your headlining show last month and the video you posted of the “Diane” encore – it seemed to be other level.

Cam: Oh my gosh, I got goose bumps just thinking about it. I’ve come back a few times now, so I’ve developed this kind of relationship with the fans there – I even actually brought two fans to the Sam Smith show and it was so cool. The fans there, you guys know the words to everything! Something off a live session from 2000 whatever, everyone knows all the words! Especially with “Diane” everywhere I’ve gone and, in the US too there’s been such a huge reaction to that song.

At that show, my mic cable fell out of the microphone and I plugged it back in, but I had this moment where I couldn’t sing anything so just told the crowd to sing and they were so loud! That’s what you live for as a songwriter, to know that so many people connect with what it is you’re talking about and want to scream it at the top of their lungs – that’s a really big deal.

CC: So far you’ve done a couple of headlining shows in London but haven’t had a full tour yet, is that something we can look forward to?

Cam: Yes! That’s what I’m working on planning right now, especially with how people have been reacting to “Diane” and it getting played on the main playlist there. It’s confirmed I need to make sure this tour happens soon, so I’m working on it.

CC: Your debut album “Untamed” came out at a time where being a female in Country music was difficult, but being a new female artist seemed impossible! I think the likes of yourself and Kelsea Ballerini really paved the way for your generation of female artists to push through those barriers and succeed. What was that time like, and now you’re releasing new music does it feel any different now?

Cam: I’d say in the beginning I remember thinking, “oh there’s no women, what a great opportunity! They must need me.” I didn’t understand what quite contributed to that climate and so somewhat naively and maybe for the better I just pushed forward thinking of course, they need more women so now’s a great time to come into this. I was really lucky having “Burning House” hit the way it did and the way people reacted, having it get played on radio then have it get the sale numbers and those numbers that everyone feels now we’ll acknowledge that your music is good.

I remember watching what Kelsea was doing then after with Maren Morris, Carly Pearce, Raelynn, Lauren Alaina – there’s a whole long list, well not long list it’s quite a short list but more and more are showing up.

I would say right now is just as bad to be honest with you. The numbers say it’s worse, in the past couple of years it’s actually gotten worse when you look at how many women are being played on American radio; I’m not as well versed on it but it doesn’t seem like the UK has the same issues. In the US, people say oh that’s just radio, so many people are listening to streaming platforms now. I think with that they think that’s another step forward but just because technology is changing, doesn’t mean the values change and a lot of the same people who are a part of programming radio are getting hired into streaming platforms.

I reposted somebody the other day who had looked through all of the Country Spotify Playlists in the US and the most women you’d find on any playlist was three. Even in the main Pop Country, New Country, the main discovery tool to find music but women aren’t there and that’s something I think people can make a lot of excuses for why and they like to come up with these ideas and myths like women don’t sell and that’s just not true. Women sell a lot and can sell more than men, then there’s women don’t listen to women – which again, not true. If you go to my concert, Kelsea’s concert, Maren’s concert, it’s majority women.

They come up with all these stories, “you know people turn off the radio when a woman comes on.” The whole thing is ridiculous because what it comes down to is that there’s still a bunch of older men in power positions, women aren’t at the top positions at labels, radio or a lot of these companies and they’re not asking women what they think; they’re telling women either things that they think they can control the narrative of what women do or don’t like, how to launch women and it’s just totally foreign to them.

What it comes down to is this lingering belief that women aren’t as valuable as men. It comes out in all kinds of ways and it’s something that awareness wise, I think a lot of us think “oh we’re doing fine, women can have jobs and what rights do we have, we’re doing pretty good” but I think you can hold two things in your mind at once. You can say yes, we are better than we’ve ever been and we’ve progressed as far as we’ve ever come in this moment and at the same time you can acknowledge that we’re not there yet.

I’m not here to complain because I’m comfortable, I’m part of this now right? I’ve made the money and I’m doing alright- not to go on a whole tangent with you -but I’m a part of the Grammy Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion where they’re addressing the recording academy and the Grammy’s about how the last Grammy’s went and how women were underrepresented.

The Annenburg Study that they just did, it looks really bad when you see the number of women even nominated, then when you pull out the even bigger picture and look at how many of the music community is actually women? It’s only around 22%. Women are not involved in this, it is a boys club and the reason that keeps women from being a part of it or that keeps them from even seeing themselves in it is probably that they don’t even think it’s possible because you don’t see women doing it.

Producers are only 2% women, songwriters only 12% women. So there is a huge gap that exists that nobody really wanted to acknowledge for a long time because we all wanted to think everything was cool and fine but the truth is, we still have a ways to go. First we have to make sure everyone understands the issue and then we need to start changing attitudes about why and how, then realise that there’s no excuse for being sexist or racist then start changing behaviour.

It’s really important to talk about and I appreciate that at least when you get outside of this eco-system to the UK, you don’t seem to run into the same hurdles, so it allows a lot of women to prove themselves – like me, outside of this culture which is really valuable.

CC: Speaking of your debut, there are songs on there about love and loss with lyrics that rip your heart out but the melody and production is such a different vibe and at times upbeat when stereotypically a heartbreak song tends to be a slow ballad and it works so well. Is this something that is purposely done?

Cam: Yeah, I think some of the saddest and most well written country songs you can dance to but they’re extremely sad; like “She Thinks I Still Care” by George Jones, you’re two-stepping and thinking oh what a cute song, the melody is wrapped up nicely then you’re thinking oh my god, what did he just say?

Sometimes you want to listen to a really sad song on repeat for sure, but sometimes you wanna be dancing around and it’s kinda like a little sugar with the medicine to help get it understood, something that’s a little bit tough. Especially with “Diane” – a woman talking to another woman about a really difficult situation they both didn’t choose to be in but they’re both hurting from it, that’s a heavy thing to talk about and people seem to have trouble processing that even at an up-tempo.

It’s fun to do it that way, it throws people for a loop and it’s fun to make it anthemic and make it something people want to scream and yell and you’re hearing people scream and yell something that’s important to say out loud.

CC: “Diane” is your current single and is your take on the other woman in “Jolene” in effect. Dolly herself has said she loves the song, that must be an amazing feeling to have recognition from such a big influence?

Cam: Oh my gosh, I was on national TV in America at “Good Morning America” and they played a video clip of her talking to me, which it’s honestly terrifying to sing after being surprised on live television. I admire Dolly so much! There’s so many songs where women are pitted against each other and women are competitive or slut shaming or whatever. The inspiration behind “Diane” is from real life stories of people that I really love but also, the tone of it comes from Dolly and “Jolene” because that’s the last time I remember people be honest and human about it – to say please in that sort of tone when you’re confronting another woman? That is next level humanity. For her to compliment my work was a really, really big moment.

CC: I know I’m not alone when I say I’m chomping at the bit for new music, so what can you tell us about your next album?

Cam: I’m so excited about it! I’m definitely someone who grew up loving soundtracks so whenever I make an album I colour code all the songs and I want to make sure there’s not too much of one colour. I don’t try to make an album that sounds the same, it’s definitely mixed – which I think you can hear on “Untamed” too – the stories are all great stories, they’re real. I think my voice has gotten much stronger, the production is so much more developed, so everything has gotten better but there’s still this tie that every song has to move me.

I’m really lucky that I get to have my first big hit be so different, I think it gave me a lot of freedom and a lot of courage to make this next album exactly how I wanted to make it and I did that.

CC: You did a Facebook Live a while back and performed some music and one of the songs you played was “Forgetting You When I’m Alone”. That song is a killer! That needs to be on the album.

Cam: That song is on there, don’t you worry. It was actually the one that my producer and co-writer played for Sam Smith and that’s why he wanted to write with me. I also played that song for Harry Styles and that’s why I got to open for him. That song is my little good luck charm and I’m glad you like it too.

CC: You are very much a storyteller and your songs are put together in a way where for me anyway, I can imagine what it looks like– there’s a part in Burning House where I imagine the old couple in the bed in Titanic as the ship is going down, which I know is very random!

Cam: People have actually said that to me!

CC: Where do you draw inspiration from as a writer because your music is very visual.

Cam: I love having it be visual and it’s important to me. When I meditate, I have to have it be visual meditation – I’m very imaginative and everything in my imagination is visual too. With “Burning House” I literally did have that dream, so I could reference those visuals from my dream while I was writing that.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, somebody can say something. If it’s my story or someone else’s story it has to hit me in my gut because I know there’s so much work involved to writing it correctly, to producing it correctly to then taking it around and playing it to everybody for probably the rest of my career that I have to feel very invested in it. So if it’s something that will make me want to laugh out loud or want to cry, I know it’s something that’s worth spending the time on.

CC: What would fans be surprised to know about you?

Cam: I’m obsessed with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. One of my biggest fans who runs @camcountrytour on Instagram and twitter, she came to a show and she gave me the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series, but in book form so I’m currently reading those. I’ve seen every single episode and now I’m reading the books. So that might be a fun fact.

CC: One thing we love to know here at Completely Country is if you could go back and give yourself advice when you were starting out in the business, knowing what you know now – what would you say?

Cam: That’s good…it’s tough because you’re only here because of all the things that you’ve done, you know? The good and the bad. I’d probably just remind myself and just really drive home that no one knows the answer. It’s just you and whatever you want to do, and especially in the music business – people act like they can help you but the only people that are really there to help you are the ones that will tell you that only you have the answer. They’ll say let us help you find it or let us help you amplify it or let me support you while you’re working on it. Anyone else who say they have the answer for you, it’s not really going to help you. Which is both freeing and terrifying at the same time.

Since our interview, the UK dates been worked on have now been announced alongside additional dates across Europe. You can see Cam perform live at any of the following dates;

  • 11 September // London, UK
  • 12 September // Manchester, UK
  • 13 September // Birmingham, UK
  • 15 September // Amsterdam, Holland
  • 17 September // Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 19 September // Oslo, Norway

You can learn more about Cam by visiting her official website or by following her on her social media pages;

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News

News: CMT Music Awards 2018 Nominations Revealed

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Each award season fan bases take to social media to support their favourite artists, express their joy at the wins or disappointments at the losses but it’s almost that time of year where whoever wins is down to fans. Yes, that’s right! The 2018 CMT Music Award nominations were announced live today with the help of Kelsea Ballerini, and now it’s down to the fans to determine who takes away an award June 6th in Nashville at the event hosted by Little Big Town.

Be sure to cast your votes at CMT.com and be sure to let us know who you’ll be rooting for by tweeting us at @CCountryUK or commenting on our Facebook post.

The nominees for this year’s awards are;

Male Video Of The Year:

Dustin Lynch — “Small Town Boy”

Jason Aldean — “You Make It Easy”

Blake Shelton — “I’ll Name The Dogs”

Jon Pardi — “Heartache On The Dance Floor”

Luke Bryan — “Light It Up”

Thomas Rhett — “Marry Me”

Female Video of the Year:

Carly Pearce — “Every Little Thing”

Carrie Underwood — “The Champion”

Lauren Alaina — “Doin’ Fine”

Maren Morris — “I Could Use A Love Song”

Miranda Lambert — “Tin Man”

Kelsea Ballerini — “Legends”

Video of the Year

Justin Timberlake Ft. Chris Stapleton — “Say Something”

Bebe Rexha ft Florida Georgia Line — “Meant To Be”

Blake Shelton — “I’ll Name The Dogs”

Brett Young — “Mercy”

Brothers Osborne — “It Ain’t My Fault”

Carrie Underwood ft. Ludacris — “The Champion”

Dan + Shay — “Tequila”

Jason Aldean — “You Make It Easy”

Kane Brown ft. Lauren Alaina — “What Ifs”

Luke Combs — “When It Rains It Pours”

Thomas Rhett — “Marry Me”

Kelsea Ballerini — “Legends”

Duo Video of the Year:

Big & Rich — “California”

Brothers Osborne — “It Ain’t My Fault”

Dan + Shay — “Tequila”

Florida Georgia Line — “Smooth”

High Valley — “She’s With Me”

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill — “Speak To A Girl”

Group Video of the Year:

Lady Antebellum — “You Look Good”

Lanco — “Greatest Love Story”

Midland — “Make A Little”

Old Dominion — “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart”

Little Big Town — “When Someone Stops Loving You”

Rascal Flatts — “Yours If You Want It”

Zac Brown Band — “My Old Man”

Breakthrough Video of the Year:

Carly Pearce — “Every Little Thing”

Danielle Bradbery — “Sway”

Devin Dawson — “All On Me”

Lanco — “Greatest Love Story”

Russell Dickerson — “Yours”

Walker Hayes — “You Broke Up With Me”

Collaborative Video of the Year:

Bebe Rexha ft Florida Georgia Line — “Meant To Be”

Carrie Underwood ft. Ludacris — “The Champion”

Cole Swindell ft. Dierks Bentley — “Flatliner”

Justin Timberlake ft. Chris Stapleton — “Say Something

Kane Brown ft Lauren Alaina — “What Ifs”

Thomas Rhett ft. Maren Morris — “Craving You”

CMT Performance of the Year:

Andra Day, Common, Little Big Town, Lee Ann Womack, Danielle Bradbery — “Stand Up For Something” (CMT Artists of the Year 2017)

Backstreet Boys & Florida Georgia Line — “Everybody” (CMT Crossroads)

Charles Kelley, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Derek Trucks — “Midnight Rider” (CMT Music Awards 2017)

Earth Wind & Fire & Lady Antebellum — “September” (CMT Crossroads)

Jason Aldean, Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Keith Urban — “I Won’t Back Down” (CMT Artists of the Year 2017)

Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood — “The Fighter” (CMT Music Awards 2017)

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News

News: Lindsay Ell Claims No.1 Spot on Canadian Country Radio & Debuts Music Video for “Criminal”

Lindsay Ell 2_preview

2018 has so far been a great one for Lindsay Ell. Her debut album “The Project”, lauded “Best Country Album of 2017” by Billboard finally got a UK exclusive release back in March, she came away from this years C2C festival as a stand out performer having performed on numerous stages including the Spotlight Stage and the music video for her current single “Criminal” premiered over the weekend on Entertainment Tonight.

However that’s not all. This week “Criminal” has earned the top spot on both the Mediabase and BDS Canadian radio charts, making Lindsay the first female artist to hit No.1 on the Canadian Country airplay charts since 2008, which is a huge achievement for the Calgary native.

Speaking of this accolade, Lindsay has said “I am humbled and grateful to be the first female artist to have a #1 since 2008 on the Canadian country radio charts,” commented Ell. “Sometimes you work so hard for the things you want, they feel surreal when they happen. Thank you country radio for believing in me and making this possible. Thank you to each and every fan for never giving up on me. I will try my best to continue to make you proud.”

Additional to this “Criminal” is also moving further up the US charts after being the most added song at US radio on its impact day and is still climbing steadily up the charts – currently fast approaching the Top 20 on both MediaBase and Billboard Country Airplay, making it Lindsay’s highest charting single in the US to date.

Lindsay Ell is currently out on the road, touring with Brad Paisley on his “Weekend Warrior Tour” before she embarks on Sugarland’s “Still The Same Tour” and later performing select dates with Keith Urban on his “Graffiti U World Tour”.

If you haven’t already, make sure you check out Lindsay Ell’s debut No.1 album “The Project” on iTunes or on Spotify.

You can also keep up to date with Lindsay via her social media channels and official website;

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Gigs

Review: Sugarland at C2C

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When Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush were announced as part of the C2C 2017 line up, one of the first things I and I’m sure a lot of fans thought was would we have ourselves a Sugarland reunion? While this was a question both artists were asked, despite fantastic solo sets from both Jennifer and Kristian, unfortunately the reunion we were hoping for wasn’t to be.

Not that year anyway…

After presenting Duo of the Year at last years CMA Awards, Jennifer and Kristian alluded to a Sugarland reunion when Jennifer said, “We’re here to present the CMA Award we won together in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011… and well, who knows?” much to the delight of the audience.

News later came that Big Machine had signed Sugarland to the label with an album and tour announced shortly after. Lucky for us, the first official Sugarland shows were set to be played in the UK as part of C2C 2018.

From the moment they walked out on stage you would never know that this was only the second show, in fact you would be forgiven to think the duo had never been away. They oozed professionalism and had the crowd in the palm of their hand from the get go. The set felt nostalgic but also made me very excited for the future of Sugarland, as it is clear to see they are still headline material.

Performing a number of their beloved hits, including “All I Wanna Do”, “Stuck Like Glue”, “It Happens” to name a few before ending their high energy set with a cover of Simple Minds “Alive and Kicking” the pair looked happy, relaxed and like they were loving being back together on stage. Both performed one of their solo tracks, Kristian performed “Trailer Hitch” before Jennifer took on “Unlove You”, a beautiful moment in the show. It was great to see how they both took a step back to let one another shine during the solo moments.

Sugarland can have you in tears one moment with ballads like “Stay”, then have you singing your heart out the next with songs in the realm of “Baby Girl”.

I didn’t know how much I wanted a Sugarland comeback, until I witnessed it happen. Despite going their separate ways for several years to take on solo projects, it is more than evident that the magic is still there. Separately, they’re fantastic. Together? Magnificent.

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Artist Features

Speaking With: Eric Paslay

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They say things are bigger in Texas, and when you look at the talented artists that have originated in the Lone Star State you can see why. EMI Recording artist Eric Paslay is one of a long list of those artists who have moved from Texas to make it in Music City and while the journey is not always an easy one, Paslay’s talent has seen him celebrate five number one hits as a songwriter, release his own music and have a number one hit in the form of “Friday Night” from his debut album, as well as nominations at the ACM Awards and Grammy’s.

It has been a while since Paslay’s self-titled debut album was released back in 2014, but luckily for us the wait for new music is almost over! In the meantime, we caught up with the singer/songwriter ahead of his first trip to the UK for Country Music Week where he performed a number of shows alongside Randy Houser, Angeleena Presley and Michael Tyler for the CMA Songwriter’s Series.

CC: Your self-titled debut album was released back in 2014 which was the peak of what was called the Bro Country era. Your music was completely different to that trend, so was it frustrating that you maybe weren’t getting as airplay because you weren’t necessarily following the crowd or in some ways do you think it set you apart from the crowd in a positive way?

EP: I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a crowd so I’m just following the way that I am. I’ve always been an outsider I guess but I think we definitely had some success with that album, I’m grateful for that and I think music always changes. I’m just grateful we still get to make music, we had some great success with that; “She Don’t Love You” got nominated for Song of the Year at the ACM awards. I’m grateful that people are diggin’ what I’m doing and we’re in the studio right now recording some new music, so I’m trying to stay with what I love doing.

I definitely am guilty of always trying to entertain people so I don’t always do the exact same song, but I always try and make sure people are entertained and give them great music.

CC: You’ll be performing five times during your time here in the UK, including some shows during Country Music Week. Do you have anything touristy planned?

EP: I have never gone to the UK, I’ve been to Ireland but that’s it. I’ve been joking that ill be the giant cowboy walking around with a camera around my neck and a fanny pack. It’s a terrible image but I’ll definitely be a tourist.

Randy Houser is going to be over there with us, we just had a show together and all we talked about was coming over to the UK. So he’s looking forward to it, I am too and he’s never been to the UK either so he and I will just be walking around with funny country accents going “look at that man, that was in that 007 movie”.

It’ll be really fun, really looking forward to it so yes, definitely looking forward to being a tourist as much as I can and I’m grateful that we’re getting to play so many shows for all the country fans there.

CC: You have had success as both an artist and as a songwriter – I learned recently that you co-wrote one of my favourite songs “It Ain’t Pretty” with Nicolle Galyon. Starting out was it always the end goal to be an artist or did you originally set out for your career to be in song writing?

EP: Yeah it was always to be a singer. I was always told when you move to Nashville, if you wanted to get a record deal you should get a publishing deal first and start writing songs. So I did that and it worked out fabulously. I’m glad other people have recorded my songs and grateful that I’m getting to do what I came here to do and dreamt of doing. I’m just kinda double lucky that I get to write songs then other people record them then I get to record and release my own music as well.

I love that you love “It Ain’t Pretty”. I actually tried to re-write that song to put it on my own album but only a girl can really sing it. It just doesn’t work with a guy, I tried to kinda re-write it from a 3rd person perspective but it just doesn’t sound honest.

Lady Antebellum recorded it first then Martina McBride just recorded it. It’s just one of those songs that wants to be heard.

CC: I was disappointed it wasn’t a single for Lady Antebellum. As a fan listening to an album, there’s always one track that really stands out and for me it was “It Ain’t Pretty.” Then Martina McBride recorded it so that made me happy.

EP: I was thinking Lady Antebellum gifted me again because they recorded “Friday Night” and didn’t put it out and I thank them every time I see them, like thank you so much because that was my first hit as a singer, then I was like maybe I could just re- write “It Ain’t Pretty” because they haven’t put it out, but it just doesn’t quite work. One of these days another female artist will get it out there and more people will get to hear it but it is really a beautiful song. Nicolle Galyon is an incredible writer and singer, she’s just awesome and I’m glad we got that song and I’m glad that you love it.

CC: You’ve just led to my next question, I imagine song writing is a very complex process. So if you listen to a song back a year or two down the line, do you ever hear something you’ve had a hand in and think I was I could change that line, verse so the story goes in a different direction or are you a writer that tends to be happy with the completed project?

EP: Well if nobody has recorded it yet, you can keep changing it. It just always changes. I’ve got a song that we’ve recorded but it hasn’t come out yet and I’ve already started re-writing the first verse, it’s just not quite right so we’ll see where that one ends up – I’m still working on it. I think it’s harder to re-write a song that you’ve already written, it’s hard to erase the ink that’s been sitting on the page for a long time, but I think if you know you can try and make it better, then make it better before everyone hears it but don’t overthink it.

With songs a lot of times it is good to re-write something if you know it needs to be re-written but also you just learn from each one of ‘em on what you might do different next time. I haven’t really had any regrets so far, there hasn’t been anything where it was like ah I wish I’d have written that a little different. If anyone hears a song ever and they’re singing along, you don’t need to change anything – it’s good.

CC: Your wife is also in the music business and worked at the same publishing company as you when you met, and had a hand in getting some of your biggest hits cut. What is that dynamic like?

EP: It’s pretty amazing, I got to marry one of my best friends. She’s got such good ears and a great pulse of good music. She was the one that took “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” to Jake Owen and up to Sony Records for that, and really just wore out Cliff Aldridge – he worked with Eli Young Band for years – for “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” and finally he was like “fine, yeah you’re right! This song would be great for them”. I mean that was a two-year process of “are you sure Cliff, this would be great for them.”

It really is amazing. There are so many people behind the scenes, my wife is a great publisher, there are so many great publishers in Nashville that really become the champions of songwriters and they won’t take no for an answer. I mean they take no all the time, it’s their job to hear no, no, no but whenever you get the yes and it all works out, it’s even sweeter.

My wife’s as sweet as can be and I’m grateful for her being such a passionate music person, I’m grateful that we met through music and I’m grateful that we’ve had success through music too.

CC: Your latest project “The Worktapes” was released a little while ago and has material to wet fans taste buds if you like, until your second album is released. It is a small collection of songs from your massive catalogue of over 1500 songs, what was that process like? We hope to have it released in the UK soon!

EP: So basically, if you and I wrote a song together we write the verse, we write the chorus, we’ve got the song done and before we go to lunch we’re like “we should probably record this, so we don’t forget it”. That’s the Work tape, it’s the rawest version of a song with just a guitar, the piano or whatever you’re writing on and whoever’s singing it.

It’s literally that, just five songs that are as raw as can be. My wife and I have worked together for so long, it was her idea – she was like “Eric you need to let fans have music and what a cool way for them to hear you as a songwriter and singer and what is sounds like when you first catch a song. So that’s what we did, released five songs. Four of them I’ve never released at all and one of them “Less Than Whole” which was a song on my first album. They’re just very simple versions of those songs but there’s a magic in those recordings, I always think there’s so many great albums that were recorded as they were written and they’re some of the coolest recordings ever.

We didn’t have fancy mics set up and all that for these work tapes, I kinda wish I did but they’re pretty amazing versions.

CC: There was news of your sophomore album “Dressed in Black” being released, is that something we can still look forward to soon and what can fans expect from that or is it being tweaked slightly?

EP: I think the universe has decided that album is going to be tweaked slightly and I’m not even sure if it’ll be called that. I’ve been in the studio working on new music and new songs keep showing up that want to be recorded, so we’re going in and recording ‘em. I think a few songs from “Dressed in Black” will be on this next album and a bunch of other new songs, once we’re done with recording everything we’ll see which songs win and those will be the ones on the album. It just wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t supposed to come out this time but I’m sure all those songs will be heard eventually.

CC: You are about to open three shows for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on their Soul2Soul tour, what was it like to be asked and what are you most looking forward to about it?

EP: We’re thrilled to death, we’ll be out this weekend with Tim and Faith for a couple of shows. I’ve always loved their music and they’ve both always had great songs. It’ll be good to hang out with them and soak up their good vibes this weekend.

CC: What was it like to get that call and be asked to be on the tour and what are you most looking forward to?

EP: I’m still smiling! There’s so many albums that influence you, a ton of Tim’s albums you can’t help but turn up and I’m sure I have driven into town many days listening to a lot of his albums thinking I hope I can write a song this good today. It’ll be awesome to go on the road and I’m just super grateful that we’re getting to play some shows with them. I’m glad we’re getting to play these shows with them this weekend and maybe we’ll get to hop on a big ole tour with them one day and I’m always grateful when you get to open for people that you love.

CC: If your current self could say anything to yourself as you were starting on this crazy journey that is the music business, what advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?

EP: I think I would tell myself be serious but don’t be too serious. Soak up every day, every moment out on the road – don’t think of it as another stop, think of it as another story to remember. I tell that to every new kid going out on radio tour, it’s like they’re probably not going to play this song and I don’t tell them that to break their hearts but just to let them know that it’s a long journey, it’s not just one song. It’s not just one year of their life, it’s hopefully a whole career in music and I probably would have told myself that.

That being said though, people do tell you that but it’s one of those experiences where you have to go on your own. The wild thing about the music business is even if you tell someone your story, it’s hard to believe because it’s such a wild, trippy business and everyone has their own story which is kind of a beautiful thing. I think what people told me, I would have believed more but mainly I would have made sure any music I made wasn’t chasing radio or chasing anything else other than I love this and I think other people will love it if they get a chance to hear it.

You can learn more about Eric Paslay by visiting his official website or by following him on his social media pages;

Since our chat, Paslay has released his new single “Young Forever” and we can’t to hear more!

 

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Artist Features

Speaking With: Brandy Clark

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With the release of her debut album “12 Stories” back in 2013, Brandy Clark instantly proved that she wasn’t a wallflower when it comes to her music. While in the midst of bro-country, Brandy released gutsy songs like “Stripes”, “Pray to Jesus” and “Hungover”, her style was a welcome and refreshing change from what was the in thing at the time. Since then, Brandy’s music has continued to resonate with fans here and across the pond for being about real-life success, struggles and everything in between.

After the release of “12 Stories”, Brandy signed with major label Warner Bros Records and released the highly anticipated album “Big Day in a Small Town.” Produced by Jay Joyce, it was a bigger and bolder version of the Brandy Clark fans have come to know and love.

During her recent European tour, we got to talk with Brandy while she was in Sweden about the difference between working on music whilst on an independent label vs a major label, what inspires her, what song she finds difficult to perform live because of the personal meaning to her and more.

CC: Hi Brandy, it’s great to speak with you today. Firstly, happy belated birthday! How did you celebrate?

BC: Thank you! Well it felt like I celebrated forever because I had just gotten to Amsterdam, so it was my birthday was seven hours earlier than in the States. I walked around Amsterdam and had a beautiful day and a lot of well wishes, so it was a really good time.

CC: You’re currently in Sweden as part of your European tour, have you had chance to explore?

BC: I did today, I walked around a little. I’ve had the least amount of time to explore here, I got to explore in Germany and Amsterdam a little bit more but this is such a beautiful place. From what I can see of Stockholm, it’s so beautiful.

CC: The last time we spoke, it wasn’t too long after your appearance at C2C. Quite a lot has happened since then and you’re about to tour the UK for the second time. Due to demand, an additional show was added in London, which is awesome. It must be pretty cool to be able to do that outside of the US?

BC: It is! You know, it’s crazy to me and I felt this way in Germany the other night – well in every place we’ve been – it blows my mind when anyone knows my music that I can’t touch or a place that I’ve not been, that always blows my mind. It doesn’t shock me if I play a show in Nashville and a lot of people come or in my home state of Washington, but other places? That just floors me, that people go out and they find music. That’s a great thing for an artist like me and it really does just blow my mind.

CC: A UK fan favourite is Charlie Worsham and you guys went out on a tour together earlier this year. How was that?

BC: That was great. You know, Charlie is one of my favourites. He’s just a great artist, he’s a great artist, a great musician, singer and songwriter. Being on tour with him was amazing because I felt like every night the level of musicianship was just so high on his end of things, so you want your end of things to be just as good.

CC: Your second album “A Big Day in a Small Town” was released last year and was the first release on a major label. How did the experience differ compared to working on “12 Stories”?

BC: Well the level of pressure was a little higher. Having “12 Stories” be a success, there was a pressure to make “A Big Day in a Small Town” be a success as well. The time we recorded was much quicker because with this record there was a budget and with the first one there really wasn’t, so I could spend a month and do nothing but that – that was pretty great.

Some of the ways we worked on releasing it were different than “12 Stories”, we had some different opportunities but both ways were really fun and there’s nothing like the first time. With “12 Stories”, experiencing all those things for the first time, that’s pretty great.

CC: What I loved about “A Big Day in a Small Town” was it had all of the elements that fans fell in love with in the first place but everything was bigger and bolder. I particularly liked the transition between tracks, I thought that was really funky.

BC: Oh thank you. Yeah, I worked with Jay Joyce on this record and he’s really great. It was his idea to do those transitions and we came up with them together, you know what they were going to be, the musicians that were in the studio were involved in that as well but that was his call. I’m really glad that I was open to it and that it worked out the way it did.

CC: Country music is known to be about real life, but I think artists such as yourself and Lori McKenna really take it up a notch with your song writing. It is more real day to day life rather than a glossy version. Has there ever been times you’ve written something where you thought “that’s a bit close to the bone”?

BC: Yeah, I’ve written things where some of my songs are more me than others. There’s songs on “A Big Day in a Small Town” like “Since You’ve Gone to Heaven”, that was inspired by the death of my father which was many years ago now but I had that idea after he passed away. He was killed in an accident in July of 2001 and then a couple of months later 9/11 happened. I remember watching the ticker tape on CNN and all the terrible things that were happening and thinking man, since my Dad has died the world has gone to hell.

I had that idea but it was several years before I sat down and wrote it because it really was just too close to home. That one for me hits real hard, real close to home and every once in a while, I’ll play it in a show but most times I don’t because it’s real hard for me to get through it.

CC: I did wonder if there are any songs that were maybe a bit too personal that are difficult to perform live.

BC: That one I definitely do feel that way about.

CC: You recently released a live album recorded at one of your shows “Live in Los Angeles”. How did that come about and how do you choose a particular show to record?

BC: That came about completely organically, some places you play have the ability to record the show and usually if they do, I try and make that happen. I like to go back and listen and kind of hear not just the songs but what I’m saying in between the songs so I can see what works, what could work better so that was the reason why we recorded it – but it went so well that night that we decided, well it wasn’t me, it was the label (Warner Brothers) that said let’s to turn this into a live album. It was a longer show than what’s on the record, so we had to cut some songs but I feel really lucky that I got to do it…easiest record I’ve ever made. So that was real cool.

CC: I think it’s quite a good way for fans who maybe can’t attend a show, they’re still experiencing some aspect of it this way.

BC: That’s how I felt too.

CC: During your set on Miranda Lambert’s tour, you opened with a new song “Favourite Lie”. Does that mean new material is in the near future?

BC: Yes it does. In fact, part of why I’ve started to play new songs in my set is just to see and try a few things out that I’m thinking about for my next record, so I can see how the crowd responds to them. It’s my goal to make a new record this year, I don’t know when it’ll come out but that’s where my head is right now other than touring – figuring out what my next record is going to be.

CC: What would fans be surprised to know about you?

BC: Wow, that’s a great question. A lot of people think I’m this badass, I don’t know if that’s the right word to use but I see that a lot because of my songs. I think people would be surprised that I’m not a substance abuser is what I was trying to get at there, I’m not somebody who is getting high all the time or drinking all the time – not that I don’t ever do those things but I’m more straight laced than my songs.

CC: I’ve seen on social media that you like to binge watch TV shows. So, what kind of shows do you watch in your downtime? There’s never enough Netflix suggestions!

BC: I love “Narcos”, that’s one of my favourites and I love “The Crown”. I pretty much just watch Netlfix, I don’t really have any episodic television that I’m watching right now. I love “Breaking Bad”, which is a series that’s a little bit older, but I watch a lot of that and this is crazy but a lot of the time it helps me fall asleep at night. I like TV shows that are about the seedier elements of life, “Narcos” and “Breaking Bad” are about drugs and people dealing drugs, which is probably some of where I draw inspiration from.

You can buy Brandy Clark’s albums on iTunes and keep up to date with her via her social media channels and the official Brandy Clark website;

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Artist Features

Speaking With: Morgan Evans

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Australian native Morgan Evans has already experienced success down under, where he released three EP’s, a self-titled debut album and won multiple CMC Awards. Residing in Nashville, Evans is working to get his music heard worldwide and having recently signed a US deal with Warner Nashville he is well on his way to achieving that.

Before the last show of his UK tour this Summer, we were lucky enough to catch up with Morgan Evans in London and got to know a little more about him, what we can expect from his music and how he creates his brilliant mash up videos.

CC: Firstly, congratulations on signing your record deal in the US with Warner Music Nashville, that’s exciting and you’re in great company on that roster. What can we expect from your album and are there any ideas of a release time yet?

M.E: Very exciting! It means I get to put out music all over the world now, so yeah I’m excited. The first single is coming out on the 21st July so here it comes. I’m on my first trip to the UK basically to introduce myself rather than put out music and for people to have no idea who you are so we came over to say hello. We’ll be releasing more music this year and then a full album next year.

CC: You mentioned that you can now release music worldwide but for those who don’t know your music yet, if there was one song that you’ve already got and you could say listen to that, that’s me. What would it be?

M.E: I don’t think I have it. I think that’s the point, I mean I put out three EP’s and an album in Australia and spent a lot of time touring down there but two and a half years ago I moved to Nashville and rediscovered myself as a songwriter and I think I learnt to write songs. I think before I was just putting words and music together and now I feel like I’m learning to write and to know what a great song is. The first single that is coming out, “Kiss Somebody” will be the first song I can go hey, go check that out. In the meantime, I’ve been doing these mashups online, have you seen them?

CC: Yes!

M.E: So when I moved to America I left my band at home and that was a big deal for me because it was my brother and two of my best friends and we toured together for eight years almost. When I moved to Nashville I had a couple of weekends of shows, and put together bands with great Nashville musicians and it just didn’t feel right. So I just went ok I can’t play with them, I need my old band and until I can get my old band I’ll get this loop pedal. I got one of those and started playing around with that a lot at home, writing a lot on it and that’s where a lot of the inspiration for the record came from.

CC: How do you come up with the mashups? I love music but I could never listen to different songs and think they’d work together, and some of the ones you’ve done I would never have thought they’d work but they do. I can’t get my brain around how it works!

M.E: Thank you. Well I guess the story that I just told was the reason I got this pedal and the reason I started doing the mashups was because I was going out and playing and much like what I’m doing here, I’m going to play to people and people coming to the shows might be aware of who I am but they don’t necessarily know the music because there’s nothing out here yet. I thought I need to play some songs they know but I want to do it more creatively than just get out and play a cover.

I started putting them together and one of my friends said that’s pretty cool, you should record that and put it on YouTube or Facebook, so we did. We put one up and people really responded to it and were messaging me saying they liked it and were sharing it with their friends so we recorded another one and another we recorded the other day which should be coming out next week or the week after. It’s just a cool way of saying I’m back, this is what I’m doing, I’ve got my own stuff coming but in the meantime, check it out.

CC: I like that you do that though. I saw your tweet about the Bobby Cast and Bobby Bones seems to have said many times that there are some artists that just won’t do covers and are very much like no I am only doing my music. I think it’s good that you’re introducing yourself that way, and you could even gain fans from those artists’ fan bases.

M.E: Thank you, well actually on the last one we put up, well on both the first two that we put up a bunch of the artists that I included in the mashups were sharing them. When someone like Keith Urban puts it on their page, that’s amazing! Little Big Town shared it and Brett Eldredge and all those guys so it was pretty cool.

CC: What can you tell us about your journey so far?

M.E: It’s been long. I don’t know, it’s funny because I feel like I’m at the start now. I’m ready to start and it’s taken a long time to get to a point where I feel like this is who I am, this is what I want to do and how I want it to sound and this is what I want to say. I think people come to that at different times in their life, it took years playing in Australia, years of back and forth between playing in Australia and Nashville to finally biting the bullet and getting the paperwork done which is no mean feat. When you get to Nashville as a musician, there is a very high standard.

CC: Everyone wants what you’re going for.

M.E: Yeah, which can either be very inspiring or intimidating and I think the combination of those two things either destroys you or make you want to be better every day. I’ve had more days where I want to be better than I’ve had wanting to destroy myself so through that process I think it’s been the biggest learning curve. Landing there and just being forced to be better.

CC: Sink or swim?

M.E: Yeah! Pretty much, and sink wasn’t the worst thing ever. I mean sink was go back to Australia and be reunited with my family and friends and all of that, which is an awesome life but to be able to do what you love with people in the world that are doing it at the highest level? That’s a pretty cool thing.

CC: You have already had success in Australia and it’s probably fair to say you’re starting over in a sense here in the UK and in the states where you’re performing to new fans and getting your music heard. What’s that like when you’ve already been on the scene in Australia for a few years?

M.E: Oh yeah, absolutely! I see how it could be difficult for some people that have success in a country, then go to another and have to start all over again but for me while any success I was having in Australia was happening, I was always going to Nashville to write and to be creative. It was actually good for me to escape and go somewhere else to be totally immersed in creativity, so I guess I always understood that feeling. I never got the whole ah yes! I’ve made it feeling that people talk about or might say.

I always had an understanding that I’d leave Australia and have to start all over again so I guess because I was always aware of it, it’s not a shock to me. There’s something really awesome about it as well, in Australia we played CMC Rocks Festival in front of fifteen thousand people then we went over to New Zealand and played with the Dixie Chicks which was twenty-six thousand people. Huge shows but then we played in Glasgow the other night, there might’ve been one hundred and fifty people there in this little club underneath a church called Oran Mor. It’s a cool old place and there’s something about this feeling, it’s like you’re meeting them and they’re discovering you and you’re meeting them at the same time. You can stay behind afterwards and meet everybody, I feel there the nights you’ll remember forever and look back on as the good ole days.

CC: It’d be good to hear your take on this, as it’s a bit of an interesting debate among UK fans. We have a UK Country scene here; some people love it and some people just aren’t on board and say it’s not real country because they’re not American. Obviously, you’re not American so what are your thoughts on that?

M.E: I don’t think you have to be American to sing country music at all. That’s like saying in the fifties and sixties you had to be from England to play Rock N Roll, it doesn’t make sense. I get that it’s certain kinds of country just like there’s certain kinds of rock n roll or certain kinds of pop music and maybe if someone from the UK was singing about driving their truck and drinking Jack Daniels that could be seen as not real. When I hear music from The Shires and Ward Thomas I get that it’s country but I love that is has that different edge to it. I think that’s cool and probably why people here are responding to that, I mean they’re doing really well aren’t they?

CC: Yes, Ward Thomas were the first country act to have a Number One album and are opening for Miranda Lambert on her UK tour then The Shires have been signed to an American label and have had their own success here in the UK.

M.E: That’s huge! To answer your question, no I don’t think you have to be from America to play country music but I think it’s important to still be yourself and be authentic because that’s the main part of country music. Both those bands are doing really well.

CC: You’ve toured with Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson, Dixie Chicks and more recently Kelsea Ballerini. Have you taken anything from these tours that have influenced the way you perform in your own shows?

M.E: I think the best thing those artists do is to be themselves, particularly Taylor, Kelsea and Dixie Chicks. I’d put them all in the category of just being themselves. Maybe on stage they’re a bigger version of themselves but watching people like that makes you go that’s why people love them so much. The people that love those artists love them more than they love their songs, they connect personally because their songs are real. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.

It’s not just about playing live either, it’s about all of it. It’s about the songs they write, how they sing the song, how they look and how they present themselves and their authenticity. That’s just so important! If I’ve learnt anything, it’s that.

CC: Another congratulation is in order, as you and Kelsea got engaged back in December. Obviously in the states she’s one of the biggest stars at the moment and the ‘it thing’ right now, is that an added pressure for you with releasing your own music there? 

M.E: She’s doing well, yeah! In terms of the music thing, as an Australian in Nashville you already have to prove yourself so much because you’re not from there. It’s like why should we take a chance on someone who’s not from here when we could have someone who is from here who is doing the same thing? I feel like being with Kelsea and meeting people through her, it’s a similar kind of thing.

It’s like well you’re just here because of her so you almost have to prove yourself again but because I was already doing that it’s kind of the same feeling. I’m like whatever…let me have a go, let me play for you and that’s all I can do. I could look at it as extra pressure but at the end of the day all I can do is be as good as I can possibly be and be who I am.

CC: Being happy will influence both yours and Kelsea’s music in a positive way.

M.E: Yeah! Everyone loves her too, she’s such an awesome chick. It’s not like she’s someone that’s controversial or that certain people don’t like, she’s a genuine good person and people almost like you better for being a part of her life.

CC: Does living in Nashville change the way you make music or any of the creative process at all compared to how you did things in Australia?

M.E: Yeah, definitely. I used to write all of my songs by myself because I didn’t know you wrote with other people. Then I went to Nashville and it was like oh hey they all write songs together, what a great idea. That’s mostly what I do now, often I’ll start a song by myself but I’ll usually take it in to a couple of friends and we’ll finish it together. So collaboration is probably the main thing for sure.

CC: As we mentioned earlier it’s the first time you’ve toured here, what has the experience been like for you?

M.E: It’s been amazing! We played this festival in Manchester called Buckle and Boots, it’s a real grass roots kind of festival. It’s around 1500 people there and was again like that pub in Scotland where I got to play to a bunch of people that probably had no idea who I was and by the of the set everyone was singing along with their hands in the air. It was like this shared experience of discovery, I was discovering them as the UK Country core fan group and I was like the new kid in town I guess.

So that was great, and as I said Scotland was great, Bristol was really cool and the last show in London, again I don’t know what to expect. London feels like a worldly city, Manchester was very England, Glasgow was very Scotland, Bristol was very Bristol/England but in London I feel like I could be in Sydney or New York so who knows what the crowd will be like.

CC: Who do you consider to be your musical heroes and if you could sit and co-write with one person, past or present who would it be?

M.E: Paul McCartney, though I probably wouldn’t want to write with him. I’d probably sit down and be like let’s get drunk and you tell me stories. Keith Urban is someone I look up to, he’s doing it now and has been for a long time and is at the highest level. Keith seems a good person, I’ve got to know him a little bit and every part of his career and life is just good and classy. I’m a big Ed Sheeran fan too, I think he’s doing great. I love the way he is, he’s just himself all of the time and John Mayer too. Musically he has always made really, really great music that everyone loves which I think is the hardest thing to do.

You can buy Morgan Evans’ current single “Kiss Somebody” on iTunes and keep up to date with him via his social media channels and the official Morgan Evans website;

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