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The Henningsen's out of the box writing style first caught the attention of famed Nashville record producer Paul Worley (Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks) and led to a writing deal with EMI/Skyline/Cactus Moser Music. Splitting their time between the Henningsen family farm in Illinois and their home away from home South of Nashville keeps them busy beyond anything they would have imagined just a couple short years ago. Their own artistry is taking off in 2011, showcasing Clara's powerful vocal abilities coupled with Brian and Aaron's tight family harmony. Their unusual lyrical formulations keep audiences on their toes and spell bound. Look for them to do something big in 2011 and beyond. They are just getting started!
Maggie Rose: Music is a powerful means of expression and rarely has a young performer displayed better command of the vehicle than Maggie Rose. Possessing a strong, warm voice that is alternately playful or poignant as the subject matter dictates, Maggie has a gift for penning insightful songs and delivering them with emotional punch. Working with legendary producer James Stroud, Maggie has crafted a debut album filled with potent songs, each one anchored by her riveting vocals.
With one listen to her impressive voice, it’s obvious Maggie could have chosen any musical genre and found success, but country seemed like home. “I did have a lot of influences,” the Maryland native says recalling her childhood. “My mom exposed me to great female artists like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and Trisha Yearwood, really powerful female voices.”
Always passionate about music, she embraced a variety of different artists and styles, but felt a particular kinship with country artists, especially those with the ability to share compelling stories in their songs. “The first concert I ever went to was a Shania Twain show,” she says. “While I also admired many of the pop singers that were so popular when I was younger, when it got down to my becoming an artist, country always spoke to me. I connected with country music more than any other genre.”
By the time she was 16, she was performing regularly with a Bruce Springsteen cover band called the B Street Band. “I would do my own little introductory set and then they’d play the Bruce Springsteen cover songs,” she recalls. “They were such a good band, so it was a great experience to be backed by great musicians.”
While majoring in vocal performance at Clemson University, Maggie got a phone call that changed her life. A friend had sent some of her demos to music mogul Tommy Mottola, well-known for launching Celine Dion, Destiny’s Child and Mariah Carey, among others. “I remember getting the call from Tommy’s assistant as I was walking with my friend to economics class,” Maggie recalls. “She said, ‘Tommy wants you to come to his office and sing some original songs for him.’ It was so surreal. I didn’t go to class that day. I went back to my dorm room and tried to process everything.”
When Mottola learned of Maggie’s desire to pursue a country music career, he helped her connect with James Stroud and his wife Laura, a successful Music Row publisher, who Maggie describes as her “Nashville Mom.” Laura introduced Maggie to some of the community’s top songwriters who became friends and collaborators. James was so impressed with the demos he began hearing, he took Maggie in the studio to begin work on her debut. “I’m so much more sure of the artist I want to be today than I was when I first moved here,” Maggie says, “Moving to town, I became aware of the reality that there are so many talented people here. It gives me so much perspective. One of the reasons people move here is to be around other creative people.”
Maggie first gained a national audience with the engaging single “Maybe Tonight,” which was accompanied by a charming video that spotlighted her performance skills. Previously known as Margaret Durante, the young artist felt she really wanted fans to know her as Maggie Rose, the name all her family and friends call her. She felt it was time to hit the reset button. “Sharing the name that I’ve been called by my family and friends with my fans is just another way to open up a part of me to them that they haven’t seen yet,” she says. “I was not being untrue to myself going by Margaret Durante, but I’m giving my experiences and my stories to my fans and I wanted them to call me by my nickname. I think it’s just a nice way to honor where I’ve been and where I’m going.”
Becoming more confident in her musical gift ignited a particularly creative period for Maggie that fueled the songs on her debut album. Co-writing with some of Nashville’s most noted tunesmiths, Maggie delivers a diverse collection that examines the intricacies of life. “I feel like this music is unapologetic,” she says. “I want women to hear this and be like, ‘Yeah! Right On!’ It gives women empowerment definitely, but also I want people to be entertained by it. A lot of the music, for me, is very coming-of-age. It’s about finding out who I am, not just as an artist, but as a young woman growing up, being on my own in Nashville.”
Maggie is thoughtful, articulate and intelligent yet has a playful streak that is endearing and a dry sense of humor that will sneak up on you. Her songs have the ability to move an audience with their depth and intensity, yet she’s equally capable of delivering a light-hearted romp that will make audiences want to get up and dance. “‘Fall Madly In Love’ is just a catchy, infectious, flirty, confident song,” Maggie says. “There’s something about that song. I couldn’t stop singing it once I heard it once and it just came alive. When we recorded it in the studio with James, it just took on a life of its own. It’s an undeniable song with lots of energy and confidence, which is what I feel like my music is about right now, just being confident and sassy and having fun.”
“Preacher’s Daughter” spotlights Maggie’s ability to pen a great story song. Co-written with Connie Harrington, the eerie lyric recounts the murder of two young lovers. “We had a blast writing it,” Maggie says. “We wanted it to be sultry and a little dark, but also have a deep South, funky country sound like Bonnie Raitt. I love how she has that cool vibe about her. We were trying to channel that for ‘Preacher’s Daughter.’ I love singing it. Every time I perform it I can’t help but just to come alive because it’s a great story.”
“Better” is a compelling song that finds Maggie channeling the pain of a past break up. “I was telling James Stroud and Stephony Smith the story of this person who had just broken my heart,” she recalls. “They said, ‘Boy, have we got a song for you!’ They played me ‘Better’ and I was so moved by it. I was right there in the trenches of everything that was going on in the song in my own life. Even now when I sing ‘Better,’ it just takes me back to that feeling that I had emotionally when I first heard the song. It’s really powerful and totally honest. We didn’t compromise anything on that song.”
Uncompromising, unapologetic and unexpected--these are just a few of the words that come to mind in describing Maggie Rose. Whether she’s opening for Jason Aldean or Lady Antebellum in a large arena or performing an intimate set in a local club, Maggie has the ability to transport the listener through her music. “I love connecting with people,” she says. “There’s no feeling like it. When I go to a concert, I won’t know the person sitting next to me, but if someone puts on a great show, by the end of the night I feel connected to complete strangers because the person on stage has made us all relate to what they are saying. We all feel that common ground that we’ve bonded on. It’s incredible and magical for me. As an artist and songwriter, that’s the thrill--to be connecting with a group of people by sharing your stories. It’s pretty remarkable.”
Drake White: Drake White is an aspiring singer songwriter residing in Nashville TN. The Hokes Bluff, Alabama native has a very different country feel with a freestyle twist on many of his original songs. He adlivs throughout a show phrasing rythmic lyrics up as he plays. White frequently involves the audience in his witty craftsmanship of verbalization as well. Many country, blues, rock, freestyle, and bluegrass influences have formed his musical sound that is unique in its own way. The singer /songwriter is incredibly motivated in his pursuit of creating great music and wants nothing more than to do what he loves. He is a God fearing, river rat, beach bum that loves the outdoors and expresses this love through his soulful lyrical exchanges that breeze through the listener's ears effortlessly. Please stop by drakewhitemusic.com for the music and shirts!
Brett Eldredge: Some life-changing moments are only apparent in retrospect. Brett Eldredge recognized his as it was happening. The Paris, IL native was at the Station Inn, an historic bluegrass/country venue, in Nashville. His cousin Terry, a veteran of Dolly Parton's band and now a member of the Grascals, was playing with a band called the Sidemen, and a mesmerized Brett was in the crowd. "He asked me to come up on stage and told me to pick a song to play with the band," says Brett. …“That was the point where I thought, 'This is it. This is something I've got to do.'"
The talent that let him turn his dream into reality—the depth of his writing and the sheer power of his smoky and expressive baritone—are both apparent in his first single “Raymond.” He has earned a reputation as much for the strength of his writing as for his world-class voice. Brett and co-writer Pat McLaughlin landed a song called "I Think I've Had Enough" on Gary Allan's latest album, Get Off On The Pain, and one of his frequent collaborators is Country Music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry stalwart Bill Anderson
"As a songwriter," he says, "my aim is to portray a little bit of me and my life along with the stories of other people and turn them into something that can really touch somebody's heart and soul. We sit down on Music Row every day and write songs and every once in a while a song like ‘Raymond’ comes from such a real place. I hope it's that real to other people and that I can make them feel the way I felt when I wrote it and when I sing it."
Rachel Farley: Expectations for aspiring teenage singers are fairly well defined thanks to a pop culture that seems to be saturated with them. The list starts with a charming vocal ability, some stage presence and a bit of charisma. Eighteen year-old Rachel Farley definitely possesses all of these characteristics, but where the young Georgia native stands out from the rest is that she also exudes an undeniable air of strong, yet humble confidence, tenacious independence and songwriting that radiates wisdom beyond her years.
When stacking attributes in an attempt to define RED BOW Records Rachel Farley and her music, many qualities quickly step to the fore: Strength. Purpose. Conviction. The rest is almost baseline, a foundation upon which rests her single most unexpected characteristic: Artistry.
Rachel’s cohesive sense of self, message and mission casts everything else in sharper relief. Her powerful voice becomes an oak-cured alto equally adept at gut-punch emotion and fire-breathing raucousness. Years spent performing with and learning from Brantley Gilbert, Colt Ford, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and more seem to be the apprenticeship of a craftsman. And a fearless honesty amplified by personal tragedy render all but truth inconsequential in the songs she writes. For Rachel Farley, life and music are much too real and much too raw to be forced into a box.
After all, it's not often a 18-year-old breaks onto the scene with a fully formed worldview. "You can be tough and a strong person without being a bad girl or mean," she explains. "You don't have to be a pushover to be a good girl, and you don't have to be fake. And that's what I hope comes across in my music. Obviously I'm young, and with people my age there’s a lot of insecurity and trying to fit in, but that’s too much pressure. Be who you are and let people respect you for that instead of trying to fit their mold. You can’t be extraordinary if you’re trying be like everybody else."
And if anything is certain, it's that Rachel Farley won't be following the crowd. "Music is all I ever wanted to do," she says. "When I was four or five I was playing concerts in my bedroom for millions of people and writing songs. When I started playing guitar at 12 and got my first gig, there was no question in my mind."
That first show wasn't exactly a dream come true. "The show was two hours long and, about two weeks before the show, I realized my eight songs weren't going to go very far," she laughs. "So I had my elementary school music teacher come out and play a few songs with me. That made it last about an hour, I took a 15-minute break and did the exact same set again. I had the place packed with friends and most of them never came out to see me again. And I don’t blame them at all."
Rachel's learning curve was steep and lightning fast, however. The following year she played 100 shows. At 13, she met then-rising local performer Brantley Gilbert and started opening shows for him. "Of course now he's got radio hits and is blowing up everywhere, but even back then he was huge in Georgia," she recalls. "He was such an inspiration in showing what could be built and the kind of show that could be put on at that level. You don't have to have expensive lights and videos to reach people."
The commitment was already intense. "I went to my first two days of seventh grade and that was it," she laughs. "I had to start homeschooling. You can only have so many fake doctor's appointments before somebody gets suspicious. We were playing so many gigs and driving to Nashville so much that it just didn't make sense anymore."
And there was another kind of education going on anyway. "My mom was really smart," Rachel says. "She read every book she could find on the music industry and did everything she could to help me without being overbearing with my artistic development." Farley met her manager and producer Michael Knox (Jason Aldean) about this time and went on to sign her first recording and publishing deal at 15. It was a bittersweet period for the Farley family.
"That was the year my dad was diagnosed with a very rare cancer," she says. He passed away in August 2011. "You learn so much and it's not all negative," she continues. "There's a side of me that's very blessed to have been through it and have the perspective I have. He was so proud of me – the kind of dad who made sure his co-workers all had my demo CD from when I was 11.
"I don't know that it's affected my music; maybe it's too early to know. You do realize that a lot of things aren't important and some things matter more than people know. Carrying that with me in life is going to make me stronger. At the end of the day what matters is how you and God view yourself. If you know that you can come before God with what you've done in life and he can be proud of you, you’ve done things right."
Now Rachel's opening for Jason Aldean's sold-out tour with Luke Bryan, and she can be heard on Brantley Gilbert's latest single "Kick It In The Sticks." "'Hey, trouble, whassup?' Yeah, that's me," she laughs. "I'm in the video for a millisecond. And with the tour, Jason heard my music about a year ago and apparently liked it. For him to pick me without a radio hit or anything is amazing." Meanwhile, she's finishing work on her debut album for Broken Bow Records – home to Aldean, Dustin Lynch and more.
One song is particularly dear. "I just call it 'My Daddy’s Song,'" she explains. "One of the last things he asked was for me to write him a song, and I actually wrote it the night he passed away." Brantley Gilbert and songwriter Mike Dekle were among the first to reach out to Farley after her father's passing, and she joined them that evening at a benefit show for a fallen police officer. "Getting ready for the show, the chorus just hit me. I remember telling Brantley that if I finished it, I'd sing it at the funeral. I woke up that morning and the rest just fell out in no time at all. I thought, 'Okay, I'm doing this today.' It's everything I was feeling; very honest, very raw."
That kind of depth might not be expected from some precocious kid singer with a big voice, but it's exactly what can be expected from an artist like Rachel Farley.
Ashley Monroe: I Don't Want To
Dustin Lynch: “Shhh!” The note on the Bluebird Café’s Facebook page says it all: customers who visit the Nashville songwriters club – instrumental in the development of Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Kathy Mattea – are expected to keep quiet and listen to the words from some of Music City’s most influential composers.
Listening has an added benefit – it gives the listener a chance to learn.
That’s how singer-songwriter Dustin Lynch used the Bluebird. And he used it intensely. He rented an apartment behind the venue’s back parking lot and literally walked to the Bluebird several times a week to listen and learn about the mysterious art of creating songs from some of Nashville’s most important writers. Don Schlitz (“The Gambler”), Tony Arata (“The Dance”), Paul Overstreet (“Forever And Ever, Amen”) – all are mainstays of the Bluebird legend, and it was at their proverbial feet that he picked up key insights about the writing process.
“I was soaking it in, trying to be a sponge,” Lynch says. “I was mainly trying to hear the story behind the song, how it came about, what it’s really about. There’s something about understanding the songwriter’s realm. You get a little more grip on the way it was written and why it was written and how they got to the finished product.”
That education paid off in a big way for Lynch. He signed with Broken Bow Records – the home of Jason Aldean and sister label to Stoney Creek Records (home to Thompson Square) – and is working with producer Brett Beavers (known for his work with Dierks Bentley) and engineer Luke Wooten (Brad Paisley, Sunny Sweeney) on his debut album with a backlog of his own songs. He’s written that material with a bundle of Music City’s top writers – Dallas Davidson (“Just A Kiss”), Tim Nichols (“Live Like You Were Dying”), Casey Beathard (“Don’t Blink”), Phil O’Donnell (“Back When I Knew It All”) and Steve Bogard (“Prayin’ For Daylight”), to name a few.
But it all goes back to the Bluebird for Lynch, a native of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Influenced in his youth by such stalwart country singers as Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Clint Black, Lynch knew the importance of the Bluebird, and he chose his college – David Lipscomb University – in part because it was less than two miles from the club, which proved immensely important in his development.
Lynch auditioned on a Saturday morning for a chance to play its open-mic night the following day. He passed the audition and impressed host Barbara Cloyd so much that she chased him into the parking lot and offered to help him get some footing in the community.
As he began to establish himself at the Bluebird, Lynch got a call from Pete Hartung – manager for singer-songwriter Justin Moore – who had found Dustin’s MySpace page and wanted to get involved. Within weeks, Lynch had a publishing deal, and he made the most of it, writing a staggering 200+ songs in less than two years.
“I’m a workaholic,” he says. “I was getting paid to write songs, so that’s what I did. That’s just the guy I am, if I’m not doing something I get bored, so I was trying to write the best record possible and decided to just get after it as hard as I can.”
Even as a Bluebird visitor, Lynch had made an impression. After he signed his publishing deal, one of the company’s executives persuaded Phil O’Donnell and Casey Beathard to book a co-writing session with the new writer, even though they’d never even heard his name. As soon as he walked through the door, they exploded: “Holy crap, Dustin! We know you!”
But it’s not just physical recognition that Lynch has achieved with his studious approach to songwriting. He combined his fascination with words and melodies with concert skills he developed in high-school bands and playing the southeastern club circuit. That combination has made him one of country’s artists to watch, a performer who’s written his own mix of party songs and ballads with a unique perspective. It’s his own viewpoint, honed from watching the world, and watching the experts.
It’s all there, waiting for anyone else willing to…
Chris Cagle: Country rocker, Chris Cagle, has been serving up hit after hit after nearly a decade in the game. Since 2000, the #1 country star has recorded five albums and toured constantly and shows no signs of slowing down in 2011. The Chris Cagle concert schedule has been announced and he will be touring the country throughout the year. Don't miss a date on the Chris Cage concert schedule; Use Eventful as your source for Chris Cagle tour dates and venue information.
The Louisiana native moved to Texas as a kid, where he developed his love for country music. Originally a piano player, he switched over to guitar in high school and audited music classes in college before pursuing music full-time. At the behest of a friend and entertainment lawyer who noticed his talents, Cagle was persuaded to move to Nashville to get his career rolling. The aspiring country crooner honed his skills by day and worked at a bar at night before he was signed to a publishing deal and then eventually a recording contract with Virgin Records. Cagle released his debut album, Play It Loud, in 2000 and immediately made an impact on country radio. His first single, "My Love Goes On and On", hit #15 on the charts, but Cagle found #1 success with the track "I Breath In, I Breathe Out" in 2002. Then album was certified Gold and Chris Cagle concert dates had him touring the nation.
Cagle followed up with his self-titled sophomore album in 2003 and continued his star building momentum with two top five singles including "What a Beautiful Day" and "Chicks Dig It". This album was also certified Gold and Chris Cagle tour dates were scheduled on the opening stage of Rascal Flatts' national tour. While on tour, Cagle developed polyps on his vocal cords and was ordered not to sing for three months. While in recovery mode, he wrote material for his third album, Anywhere But Here, which was released in 2005. Cagle released his highest charting album, My Life's Been a Country Song in 2007. The album featured the smash hit "What Kinda Gone", and the set debuted at #1 on the country albums chart. The country star is currently working on his fifth album, Back in the Saddle, which is due out for release at the end of 2011. The country hitmaker has charted 12 singles on Billboard's Country Singles survey and we can't wait for his fifth album to drop this year. While finishing up the record, Cagle will be on tour throughout 2011 at selected fairs and other performances. Don't miss a date on Chris Cagle's concert schedule; Use Eventful as your source for Chris Cagle tour dates and venue information.
Sheryl Crow: Since the early 1990s, very few female rock artists have experienced the success and popularity that Sheryl Crow has. Her many hit songs played almost continuously on the radio and her Grammy Award-winning albums flew off record store shelves. Ms. Crow has continuously produced wildly successful concert dates where she proficiently plays at least a dozen different instruments. Her musical style is also diverse, ranging from folk to hip-hop, but always retaining the 90's rock sound that has made her famous. If that wasn't enough Sheryl, she has a full concert schedule this summer with 2011 tour dates supporting Kid Rock on the second leg of his Born Free tour.
After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in Music Composition, Performance, and Education, Sheryl Crow became an elementary school music teacher. Teaching during the week allowed her to pursue her musical aspirations on the weekends, and she eventually began recording jingles for companies like McDonald's and Toyota. Word of Crow's vocal talents spread and she soon started singing backup vocals for some of the biggest names in music on tour dates. Sheryl Crow recorded her debut solo album in 1992, but both Sheryl and the label decided not to release it as it was not commensurate with her talents or style.
Sheryl Crow soon joined up with a group of casual, bohemian musicians that called themselves the "Tuesday Music Club". The group's main function was to casually bounce songwriting ideas off each other, and the peer sessions inspired Crow's "debut" album, Tuesday Night Music Club in 1993. It wasn't until the third single "All I Wanna Do" became a breakout smash hit that fans, critics, and music execs began going Crow crazy. The album reached #3 on the Billboard 200 and won three Grammy Awards that year. It also marked Sheryl Crow's rise from backup singer to star headliner on subsequent tour dates
Sheryl Crow produced her own self-titled second album in 1996. The album won a Grammy for Best Rock Album and the hit single "If It Makes You Happy" won for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Sheryl Crow continued her hit-making streak with the 1998 album, The Globe Sessions. The record has sold well over two million copies and won Grammys for Best Rock Album and Best Engineered Non-Classical Album. Surviving breast cancer was one of the inspirations behind her 2008 album, Detours, in addition to her split with Lance Armstrong and the adoption of her son Wyatt.
On her most recent album, 100 Miles to Memphis, she chose to bypass the country and rock themes for a classic soul and southern sound that can only be described as…Memphis. The nostalgic record has been critically acclaimed and adored by fans. Those same fans can catch Sheryl Crow at 2011 tour dates on the second leg of Kid Rock's North American Born Free tour. The concert schedule begins on July 2 in Cincinnati, heads down the east coast, and will land on the west coast in Sacramento on July 26. Heading down the coast and through the Southwest, the concert schedule calls for more shows in the East before ending in Houston on September 3.
Gary Allan: It's raw and emotional. It's freight-train-to-nowhere lonely. It's hard-rockin', no-apologies country music that has traded in its twang for a gravelly growl millions of fans recognize as the voice of Gary Allan. And with LIVING HARD, his latest release from MCA Nashville, Allan once again proves that, though times may change, the thread of truth at the center of his music remains the same. His newest album, "Get Off on the Pain", was released in 2010