Category Archives: featured

INTERVIEW: CMA Award Winner and Grammy Nominee Deana Carter

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She is likely best known for her debut single, “Strawberry Wine,” but singer/songwriter Deana Carter has a plethora of albums, songwriting credits, award nominations, and a CMA Award on her shelf. Admittedly, I bought Deana’s first album in 1996 (with the hologram cover, thank you very much!) and I couldn’t resist kicking off our interview with a play on the CMA Awards Album of the Year Nominee Did I Shave My Legs For This? So, to answer the burning question you all have, no, Deana did not, in fact, shave her legs for our interview. She also did not imbibe any strawberry wine because “it’s not Friday yet!” After I got these (likely) very much anticipated references to Deana’s breakout project out of the way, I was able to hone in on what this talented, poised, hardworking, and unbelievably sweet musician has been doing as of late.

Exclusive Interview: Paul Jolley

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If you know the name Paul Jolley, chances are you were introduced to him by a little show named American Idol. If you don’t know the name Paul Jolley yet, it’s time we change that for you.

Upon chatting with Paul, he’s astonishingly humble, earnest and grateful for each opportunity that this crazy journey has afforded him. Although he’s already accomplished much, he’s got big dreams and even bigger talent.

Growing up in Tennessee, Paul was the kind of kid who always had a microphone in his hand. From organizing bedroom performances for his parents to appearing as a special guest performer during his school’s choir concerts in Kindergarten (he was too young to actually join the choir), it was immediately evident that he was bound for big things. As soon as he was able, he joined the choir, competed in talent shows and performed anywhere people would listen.

These performances included opening gigs for some legendary country artists, including Aaron Tippin, Billy Dean, Chely Wright and Lorrie Morgan. It was one of these opening gigs with Billy Dean that would change his life, as shortly after opening for the legend, he received a call from a radio station in Bowling Green, Kentucky, inviting him to come audition for American Idol.

Initially, Paul was hesitant, admitting that he auditioned three times previously and never made it past the first round. “I said I’d audition if I was off work,” Paul recalls. “It ended up that I was off work that day, which was weird because I never got off. I guess it was all just part of God’s plan getting me off work that day.”

Exclusive Interview: Dave Barnes

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The name Dave Barnes is synonymous with awesome. By day, he’s an independent musician who just recently released his eighth studio album, Golden Days. By night, he’s a bit of a Nashville superhero, moonlighting as a mentor, award-winning songwriter, standup comedian, husband and new father.

We recently had the chance to chat with Dave about his new album, writing country hits, his incredible 12 year journey in the music industry and his big plans for 2014.

KIC: This is your 8th studio album – what can fans expect from Golden Days?

DB: Hopefully a subtle combination of more of what they hopefully like about what I do, while pushing the boundaries a bit musically and lyrically from what I’ve talked about and how I’ve done that before.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Kari & Billy

Image courtesy of Kari & Billy

Kari Nelson and Billy Arnold (collectively referred to as Kari & Billy) are a couple bound by love and marriage, as well as their talents for music. Kari has toured with John Rich and Big & Rich, and has also played with artists such as Gretchen Wilson, Steel Magnolia, Trace Adkins, and Joanna Smith. Billy has played shows with Craig Morgan, Tracy Byrd, Daryle Singletary, Rhett Atkins, Mark Wills, Vern Gosdin, Aaron Tippin, Confederate Railroad, Chad Brock, David Kersh and more. Despite their successful pasts and distinct backgrounds, the two crossed paths and decided to travel down one road, hand-in-hand, and take the journey through music as a pair.

Exclusive Interview: David Fanning

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Although you may not know the name David Fanning just yet, chances are if you’ve turned on country radio recently, you’ve heard a song he’s had his hand in. Since arriving in Nashville seven years ago, he’s been working behind-the-scenes, but now, he’s confidently making the leap from one side of the microphone to the other.  And he’s got Justin Timberlake‘s endorsement.

Before moving to Nashville at the age of twenty, David Fanning grew up in Admore, Alabama, which is on the Alabama/Tennesee line, and was always surrounded by music. His family sang 50′s & 60′s Acapella music on weekends, while it was his older sister who listened to country music. In typical younger sibling fashion, David idolized his sister and wanted to be just like her. “She was in the Bryan White fan club, so I had to be like her and be in the Bryan White fanclub.” He laughs, recalling his intro to country music.

David tells us that he played shows whenever the opportunity arose, and at the age of twenty, he packed up and headed to Nashville. Upon arriving in Nashville, he met Rich Redmond, Tully Kennedy, and Kurt Allison, members of Jason Aldean‘s touring and recording band. The foursome began New Voice Entertainment and began writing and producing for new acts. Together, they’ve produced hits such as “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?,” which David describes as one his first steps into professional production.

Exclusive: Interview with The Herrold Sisters

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Hannah and Abby Herrold, collectively The Herrold Sisters, are a sibling singer-songwriter duo from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Fifteen-year-old Hannah and twelve-year-old Abby may be young, but they certainly have big dreams and they are determined to make those dreams a reality.

We recently had the pleasure of getting to interview the girls, and they seem well on their way to achieving their goal of making a name for themselves as country artists.

While Abby has had a life-long love for music and performing that rubbed off on her sister, their quest for a career as a duo commenced a couple of years ago. Abby had received a guitar as a birthday gift, and began taking lessons. In true sister fashion, Hannah started stealing the guitar. In no time, however, Hannah got her own and the girls began singing, playing, and harmonizing together. As Abby told us, “the rest is history.”

The girls have been traveling to Nashville for the past several months in order to further the pursuit of their dream, and they both agree that it has been their favorite part of their journey thus far. They are very thankful for the opportunity, and know that this business takes an immense amount of hard work. “We have been going to meet with an artist development manager to work on our playlist, guitar lessons and we do some song writing. It’s really a great opportunity!” shared Hannah. “We have really learned what the music business is like – it’s hard work! When we go there, we get to do what we love doing – playing music.” added Abby.

While the siblings admit that it is not always easy spending so much time together practicing and honing their craft, they truly love performing together and happily find their sisterly bond growing stronger. Abby said, “I feel like we’ve become really close to each other because of the time we spend together.”

The girls have videos ranging from original to cover songs on YouTube and their website. With inspirations including The Dixie Chicks, Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, they really enjoy performing other artists’ material and trying to make a song their own. Their favorite song to cover is “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, and Hannah thinks that it is their best one yet.

The sisters are currently co-writing new songs and getting ready for the album they will be recording and producing this summer. “We’ve been working with Johnny Garcia (Swat Music Group) in Nashville and are really excited about the next CD!” said Hannah. As they continue to work towards their goal, they are “going to keep working on getting better!” noted Abby.

These talented girls certainly do not let their age hinder them in any way. “Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we can’t dream big! We have big dreams and we want them to happen soon!” shared Hannah. “What Hannah said!” Abby adorably added.

With The Herrold Sisters’ drive and passion, we think the dream is right within reach!

Exclusive: Interview with Brent Rupard

Brent Rupard

“I remember telling my sister when I was very young, ‘I either want to be like Alvin and the Chipmunks or Garth Brooks.’”

That is my favorite quote from my interview with Brent Rupard.

Brent is a proud Kentuckian who took the leap of faith and headed to Nashville in 2010 to pursue his dream and passion – music.

Rupard (pronounced Rooperd he jokingly noted) is from the small town of Shepherdsville, Kentucky. He took a liking to music early in his childhood. After his dad taught him his first guitar chord at age 10, an artist was born as they say and he started writing songs a few years later.

After he made the move to Nashville to pursue his dream career, he soon found a home for his songwriting. With the help of Leann Phelan (ASCAP), he signed a publishing deal with Sea Gayle Music Publishing which is owned by Brad Paisley, Chris DuBois and Frank Rogers.

After about a year of focusing on his writing, he started and is currently working on his debut album. He is hoping for it to be released sometime this year. When asked about his album, he says: “Working on this record has been the highlight of my life. This is a record I’ve always wanted to make. I’ve been fortunate to work on this album with Bryan Simpson and Justin Niebank producing. This record will have the elements of a “rootsy” back porch style with a big ol’ slice of Rock n’ Roll. According to my producer Bryan Simpson, ‘It’s kind of like Garth Brooks meets Levon Helm.’ I have really poured my soul into this project and I hope people get a clear picture of who Brent Rupard is from this debut album.”

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Ashliegh Lisset

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Ashliegh Lisset, a country artist from the great state of Texas, is down-to-earth and cognizant of the impact music has on its listeners. That is why Ashliegh strives in her career to be an attainable artist who embraces her ability to relate to fans, while providing herself with a creative outlet. We were privileged to sit down and speak with Ashliegh about her music career aspirations, how she is inspired in her career, and an upcoming announcement of which she gave us a little exclusive sneak preview!

Ashliegh’s story begins differently than most artists’. It is common to hear that artists were singing before they were talking and had a passion for music since they were in diapers. While Ashliegh sang as a young child, she discovered her true passion for music later in life and enveloped herself in this new companion when her world shattered around her. When Ashliegh was eleven years old, her father, who was serving his second tour for Operation Iraqi Freedom, was killed in the line of duty.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Jenn Bostic

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There are many words that can be used to describe singer/songwriter/musician, Jenn Bostic: talented; intelligent; humble; gracious; personable; soulful; inspiring … and that is just to name a few. During our extremely chatty telephone conversation, I learned that Jenn is one of the mentally and physically strongest people I have had the pleasure of “meeting” and that this artist gets lost in her craft for the most admirable of reasons. With accolades and awards that are exceedingly impressive and in which any artist would hold a great deal of pride, what Jenn holds dearest is the impact she has made on the lives of those who can relate to her music.

Jenn Bostic was raised in a musical family. When she was younger, her family would sit around after dinner, with her father playing guitar, and he and Jenn would each sing songs. In an extraordinarily unfortunate twist of fate, Jenn’s father’s life was cut short in a tragic car accident when she was ten years of age. “It broke my heart, but trying to find a therapy to express those things was so difficult, so I sat down at the piano again and, for me, he taught me how to play, he taught me how to sing … that was the one connection that remained with him not being around anymore. And, through that, I just enveloped myself in every form of music I could.”

Exclusive Interview: Austin Webb

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When Austin Webb first visited Nashville in 2010, he drove from his hometown of Williamston, South Carolina in the middle of the night and arrived at Johnny Cash’s grave. There, he sat and played a mix of his own songs and those by the famous “Man in Black,” in what he tells us was a “spiritual moment where I truly found out who I was and who I was to become.”

The next morning, he “walked into the Waffle House, put on a Patsy Cline 45 and sat down for breakfast.” Almost immediately, he struck up a conversation with an older gentleman.

He may not have known it when he sat down at Waffle House, but that day would change his life. The man he started talking to was Charlie Louvin, a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. “He told me I reminded him of Kris Kristofferson. He didn’t realize Kris was my biggest influence, and that’s still the biggest compliment of my life.” After that fateful meeting, Louvin invited Austin to see him play that night, where he invited him on stage and the two remained friends until Louvin’s death in 2011.

Although he had been writing poems since age 9 and performing since 15, it was another event in 2011 that would change his life. It was then that he won a local songwriting competition and headed to Music City. “I immediately quit my job and moved to Nashville the next day.”