Tag Archives: Introducing

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: 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.”

Interview: Introducing Dustin Vye

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Here at Keepin’ It Country, we pride ourselves on introducing our fans to new country talent. We were recently introduced to Dustin Vye, a super talented musician who went from competitive gymnastics to country music. We talked to Dustin about everything from his inspirations and dream collaborations to performing country music in NYC and his forthcoming EP.

KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you began performing?

DV: Performing in general has always been a significant part of my life. It really began at the age of 8 with competitive gymnastics and evolved over the years from gymnastics, to musical theater work, working with Cirque du Soleil, busking, and singing in church (I still do!). While I enjoy acrobatic work, the connection you make with an audience when performing live music is incomparable.

KIC: What is the writing process like for your music? Where do you get your inspiration from?

DV: Well, I wish I could say that I’m able to dedicate, say two hours a day to writing. It just doesn’t work that way for me. I write whenever the beginning of a song pops into my head, wherever I am. I recently wrote a song on a scrap piece of paper while riding the A train. I prefer to have a pen and paper in hand, but will also dictate lyrics and melodies into the voice recorder on my phone and later take it back to my guitar to get the music and lyrics on paper. My inspiration is the world around me, my relationships and experiences, and observations of others–both the good and bad.

Exclusive Interview: Introducing Michael Ray

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Here at Keepin’ It Country, we take a lot of pride in introducing our fans to new artists who are primed to be the next big thing. Today, we’d like you to meet Michael Ray, a future country superstar from Florida who’s determined to make success happen the old-fashioned way. There are no shortcuts in-store for Michael, who recently signed a deal with Warner Music.

We chatted with him about everything from his early days playing music with his grandpa to his influences and his brief stint on reality TV. Throughout the interview, his genuine love of country music and its fans truly shone through and we couldn’t be more excited to watch his star continue to rise over the next few years.

Born into a musical family in Eustis, Florida, Michael Ray was always surrounded by music. His father, grandfather, cousin and uncle had a band, and from the moment Michael could walk, he had a guitar in his hand. At the ripe old age of ten, he decided to start pursuing music and joined forces musically with none other than his grandpa.

“I joke all the time – I had probably 3 friends that were my age and everyone else was older. I was like the adopted grandson of like 20 different sets of grandparents.” Michael laughs as he recalls playing shows all through middle school and high school with his grandfather and his elderly friends.  “A lot of them would come down to Florida for the winter and that’s when we’d get busy. They were all retired and they weren’t around their families, so I’d step in. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It helped form who I am today and gave me a real soft spot for old people.”

Exclusive Interview: Introducing Two Story Road

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If you attended Sunday night’s incredible StageIt show with JillandKate, you were already introduced to new country duo, Two Story Road. This husband and wife team won over a ton of fans with their incredible harmonies and infectious enthusiasm, but will continue scoring new fans with each performance and song release. We had the chance to chat with Brandon and Jamie (Jamelle) Fraley before the show about everything from their musical history and solo successes to their favorite date spot and biggest musical inspirations.
KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you began performing?
 
TSR: We both have been singing and performing our whole lives. Most of our singing growing up was done in church. We were both very active in our high school choirs, singing at various competitions. We moved to Nashville (Brandon from OH and Jamelle from VA) to attend Belmont University and both graduated as vocal majors with a degree in Music.  
 
KIC: How did you each end up with your solo gigs? Was it straight from Belmont to big stage?
 
Brandon: I was lucky enough to get a co-publishing deal with Sony Music Publishing right out of college and started collaborating as a programmer with Tommy Sims, a Grammy award winning writer & producer in town, on various records that he was working on. Eventually my name circulated around Nashville and I found myself getting a call to audition for Gretchen Wilson. The same thing happened a few years later in regards to touring with Danny Gokey. Nashville is definitely a town where the more you can grow your “network”, the better off you’ll be. 
 
Jamie: Since Brandon graduated a few years before I did, he had a bit of a head start, but I was able to meet everyone he was working with. Right before I graduated from Belmont, Brandon was working with Jaci Velasquez on her “Unspoken” album. Over the course of that album, Jaci and I became friends and 2 months after I graduated, I found myself singing background vocals on her tour. I stayed with her for a little over 4 years. While on tour with Jaci, I also sang with two other notable Christian groups, Avalon, and Point Of Grace. Through all of that, I met and became friends with bass player Mark Childers who later became the band leader for Carrie Underwood. Mark was nice enough to give me the chance to audition to be Carrie’s background singer when the position became available and the rest is history! 

Exclusive Interview: Introducing Mariah Grace

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We had the chance to chat with rising country star, Mariah Grace. She couldn’t have been sweeter and opened up to us about everything from songwriting to releasing her first EP to her faith and her musical inspirations. Despite an impressive resume that includes magazine features, high-profile performances and acclaim, she remains grounded, humble and thankful for everything that’s come her way so far.  Without further ado, meet Mariah Grace.

KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you began performing? 

MG: I have been singing my whole life. My family has always said I was singing before I could talk. When I was only a few months old I was humming and singing twinkle twinkle little star with my Mimi who was an amazing singer, and My Momma said she knew then that God had blessed me with my gift to sing. I first stepped out onto a stage to perform at age 2, and have been performing ever since. My whole life I have been in front of the camera, in front of a crowd, and singing everywhere and anywhere I could and for everyone and anyone. The stage is my home.

KIC: You list Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton as your biggest inspirations – What do you take from them and are there any current artists you idolize?

MG: I have looked up to Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton my whole life. They have both taught me to go after what I love, and to never give up. I idolize anyone who goes after their dreams. As for an artist right now that I idolize, That would hands down be Carrie Underwood. I am so blessed for all of the country music artists before me who make it possible for girls like me to be living out our dreams. I have certainly been blessed with the best of them. My fellow artist friends and mentors have helped me so very much.

Exclusive Interview: Introducing Maggie Sajak

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Rising country star Maggie Sajak recently took time out of her busy schedule to chat with us, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to her. We chatted about everything from her hot new single “Wild Boy” to her love of Carrie Underwood to her impressive school-music balance.

Maggie recently released a video for her new single, “Wild Boy,” which is a song that she loved immediately upon hearing. (Us too!) While most girls deal with a wild boy or two, the song has a unique twist on the typical tale. “I love the song because it’s powerful for a lot of people. A lot of girls end up having a boy like that in their life at some point, for better or worse. Sometimes they stick with us, sometimes they don’t,” Maggie says. “What’s cool to me is that the song doesn’t just focus on the guy, but it’s more about a girl making the decision about the guy and whether or not to put her heart on the line.”

On first listen to “Wild Boy,” Maggie immediately connected with the lyrics and knew it was a perfect fit. “When I received it, I definitely got the chills the first time I heard it and it really touched me, so I was thinking that it would touch a lot of other people. That’s the most important thing to me, always, the lyrics and the impact it has.”

Exclusive Interview: Introducing Brandon Chase

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If you’ve visited the Rising Stars of Country section on iTunes, there’s a chance you’ve seen Brandon Chase. His new EP, Country Enough, is featured there alongside the likes of country’s hottest new names, Charlie Worsham, Joel Crouse, Parmalee and more. However, if you haven’t heard his music yet, it’s time we introduce you to this  mega-talented Texan singer- songwriter.

KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you began performing?

BC: I started out my musical journey by singing in my church’s youth band when I was about 13/14. They had an audition to join the band, and for some reason, I just knew I had to try out. I went into it having absolutely no music experience other than beating on some drums. After making the band, I started teaching myself piano, which eventually led to guitar as well. I started writing worship songs for our youth band and found that I had a passion it. So I decided to major in songwriting in college which eventually evolved my writing into secular country songs. Now I’m performing all over town and loving every minute of it!

KIC: We read that you graduated high school at 15 and completed a master certificate for songwriting through Berklee at 18. What’s next?

BC: I actually graduated from Berklee at 17 believe it or not! But hopefully the next step in my life/career will be to tour the US and get the opportunity to meet all the amazing fans that I have had the pleasure to connect with through Facebook and Twitter.