Category Archives: Features

Interview: Lena Stone is The Best Lena She Can Be in “Can’t Think Straight” Music Video

Meet rising singer-songwriter Lena Stone, who is a Carlisle, MA native. Stone moved to Nashville at the age of 18 to pursue her passion for music. A few short years later and Stone is quickly making a name for herself in the music industry as both an artist and a songwriter.  Stone’s accolades include being a co-writer on Kalie Shorr‘s “Fight Like A Girl” and she is one of the founding members of Song Suffragettes (A weekly writer’s round held in Nashville, Tennessee featuring female country artists). 

Stone has been paving a pathway to success with her infectious pop-country sound and beaming personality. She is an avid songwriter and has penned over 500 songs in the last few years, crafting and defining her own artistry. Stone just released her second single, “Can’t Think Straight,” along with a music video that was filmed live on Nashville’s Music Row. We had the opportunity to talk with her about her new single and what’s ahead as she gets ready to release her EP!

Stone wanted “Can’t Think Straight” to have a summery feel to it, a song one can listen to with the windows rolled down and that is exactly what she delivered. It sparks the emotions that lost love elicits and the longing that comes after a breakup.

Am I still the one you’re thinking of, when you can’t think straight / Baby, do you go scrolling through your phone / looking for my name / When it’s 1 AM and you’re wondering why you’re still awake / Am I still the one you’re thinking of when you can’t think straight?

The song features a melancholy guitar and rainstick throughout the track which highlights the emotions of the lyrics. Stone is able to create imagery with her strong vocals and effortless sound, blending a mix of country and pop. “Can’t Think Straight” has all the potential a song needs to make a breakout artist. Stone is constantly working on new ways to reach fans and is gearing up to release her debut EP, due out later this year!

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Read Our Interview with Lena Stone

Variety Beat: You have had success as a co-writer on Kalie Shorr’s “Fight Like A Girl,” what has that been like and did you think something like that would happen?

Stone: All the success that we’ve had with “Fight Like A Girl” has been so amazing and so unexpected! Kalie, Hailey (Steele) and I wrote that song on a day when we were all feeling really down about being women in the music industry, and so we wanted to write something to empower ourselves. But the stories that we’ve heard from cancer survivors, women struggling with infertility, and all kinds of obstacles have made the song take on this amazing meaning that’s so much bigger than we originally dreamed possible!

Variety Beat: You have been a part of “Song Suffragettes” for a few years now, how has that entire journey been and how has it helped you as an artist?

Stone: Song Suffragettes is a really important part of my story in Nashville so far. It’s been a place to meet friends and co-writers, a stage to play for new audiences and test out new songs, and a community of women to lean on in this crazy industry.

Variety Beat: Inspiration for songs can come from a variety of experiences and places, is there a place that you feel would inspire you to write more?

Stone: I’m really inspired to write and be creative in places that are cozy or homey; if a writing room is too plain or there isn’t a comfy couch to curl up on, I’ll definitely be less productive!

Variety Beat: How have your life experiences and influences shaped you as an artist? Is there a defining moment that made you decide to pursue music full-time?

Stone: I don’t really have an “aha” moment with music, I feel like I’m just that three-year-old who said she wanted to be a singer and just never grew out of it! My family and the music my parents listened to around the house when I was growing up had a huge influence on me and my music. They were (and still are) big fans of the singer/songwriters of the 1970s like James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and more, and that love of songwriting is at the heart of all the music I make today.

Variety Beat: Moving to Nashville at a young age can be a challenging and a life-changing experience, how have you overcome that challenge and what advice would you give to someone thinking about making the move?

Stone: Nashville is absolutely the place to be if you want to be a singer/songwriter, and especially if you want to be in Country Music! That being said, I think a lot of really talented people get discouraged when they get here because they haven’t quite realized what they’ve gotten themselves into and can get intimidated (it’s super easy with all the talent in this town!), so I would say make sure you’re really ready to get knocked down a bunch before you make the big move!

Variety Beat: What is the story and inspiration behind your song, “Can’t Think Straight?” What would you want someone to take away from the song?

Stone: With “Can’t Think Straight” I really wanted to write a song that felt like the summer when I was 18; that was the year I fell in love for the first time, had my heart-broken for the first time, left my hometown and my high school boyfriend behind and moved to Nashville. I spent a lot of nights missing him and wondering if he was thinking about me too, and that’s really the place where “Can’t Think Straight” came from. I really hope that anyone who hears the song will find some detail or lyric that reminds them of their first love and how magical that time can be, even if it’s over.

Variety Beat: You have been working on your debut EP, what has that whole process been like and what do you hope to say with it?

Stone: I am so excited about this EP because it will be my first time releasing a collection of songs at once instead of just singles. We just finalized the track listing and I’m so excited that the songs on this project cover all the stages of a relationship from the very beginning to the very end, all the moments and all the emotions.

Variety Beat: How would you describe your sound to someone who may not be familiar with your music?

Stone: That’s a hard one! I think my music lives in that space that’s a little bit pop and a little bit country. Some of my biggest influences are Sugarland, Sara Evans, James Taylor, Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles, and I’m always just trying to be the best Lena I can be.

Check Out the Video for “Can’t Think Straight” Below!


Hawaiian Country Artist, JoLivi Releases Soulful New Single “Vinyl” -Listen!

Recently, I turned the radio to a Country station and someone asked “Are you listening to Country?” Then proceeded to say how annoyed she got because of all these people who listen to Country Music and have never even been on a horse. I’m not sure what riding a horse has to do with liking an entire genre of music, but it just goes to show that you don’t have to meet a specific mold to enjoy what Country Music has to offer.

Hawaiian native, JoLivi would probably agree! There probably isn’t a whole lot of Country influence on the islands, but that hasn’t stopped her from resonating with the music and turning it into a career. JoLivi wants to make music for everyone and for every occasion. Her soulful new single “Vinyl” (written and produced by Mark McKee),  is playful and has all the makings of a hit song. Her vocals are strong, the beat is catchy and the song is carefree and relatable.

JoLivi told Variety Beat about the inspiration behind the song:

‘“Vinyl” is about experiencing moments that are classic and unfiltered.  There is something romantic about a jukebox and watching a record physically play on the turntable.  Also, just having fun.. leaving all your worries behind and getting lost in time.”


“Play me like a Vinyl

Get it on like I’m out of tune

Then flip me over if you want to play side two

Oh spin me around, yeah you love the sound

Of the jukebox stereo coming in loud

I’m vinyl, let your needle touch my groove.”



Get “Vinyl” on itunes.

About JoLivi
Born and raised in the Hawaii Islands, JoLivi’s love for country music started at a young age. While some may not correlate country music and the aloha state, the rural landscapes and laid-back lifestyle emulate everything we love about the genre. JoLivi caught the music bug at a young age and quickly began singing wherever she had a chance. After graduating with a Theatre degree from Colorado State, JoLivi decided it was time to make the move to LA to pursue her music career full time.
While in LA, Jo Livi had the opportunity to open for artists including Andy Grammar, Gavin DeGraw, Lindsey Stirling and more alongside the release of four singles garnering more than 670K views on YouTube and 20K streams on Spotify. Her vocal chops turned critics heads with Perez Hilton stating she possessed ‘star potential’ and alt radio stations around the US spinning her singles.
Now residing in Nashville and working closely with Johnny Garcia (Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood), JoLivi has released two country singles “Take a Shot” and “Crooked Crown” with the music video for “Crooked Crown” in regular rotation on The Country Network. With ‘the contemporary appeal of Maren Morris, vocal strength and uniqueness of Melissa Etheridge and the grit of Bonnie Rait’ (Country Music Tattle Tale), JoLivi is gearing up to release her brand new single entitled “Vinyl” on March 9th.

Variety Beat’s 10 Artists to Watch in 2018!

In 2017 we got to see a few of our artists from 18 Artists to Obsess Over in 2017 breakout in a huge way. Luke Combs had not one, but two #1 songs as well as a fully sold out headliner tour. Carly Pearce signed her first record deal early in the year and got her first #1 with her debut single, “Every Little Thing.” As 2017 has come to a close, we look out into the future of the bright stars looking to breakout in 2018.

Josh Dorr


Dorr released his debut EP, Sundancer, back in November of this year, which featured five tracks. Dorr has been in the country music scene for some time now, which included him teaming up with Fender for a tour back in 2015. Dorr’s crisp and distinctive voice separates him from the rest of the pack. Dorr’s EP features the song “Ready or Not,”  which was co-written along with Ryan Hurd. Look for Dorr to make a huge impact in 2018.

Notable Songs: “Ready or Not,” “I Need a Highway” and “Before the Summer Dies”

Walker McGuire


Walker McGuire have recently been making a big splash in the country music world. The duo comprises of members Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire, who signed to Wheelhouse Records back in late 2016. Their debut single, “Til Tomorrow,” was released back in April of this year and cracked the top 50 on the Country Airplay Charts. Walker McGuire have opened for artists such as Old Dominion and Kane Brown. Walker McGuire are defining their own sound and it is a sound that has not been heard by any recent duos. In early 2018, be on the lookout for Walker McGuire’s debut EP.

Notable Songs: “Til Tomorrow,” “Mysteries of the World” and “Lost”

Taylor Acorn


Acorn just recently signed with Play It Again in November of this year. Acorn is a Lynchburg, Virginia native, who previously released three singles independently. Acorn just released her debut EP titled, Put It In a Song on November 17th. The EP features Acorn’s infectious title track “Put It In a Song.” Acorn has opened for artists such as Scotty McCreery and Parmalee. Acorn brings a fresh voice with intelligent songwriting that will attract fans from all over. Be on the lookout for Acorn to gain more traction in the upcoming year.

Notable Songs: “Put It In a Song,” “Same” and “Something Tonight”

High Valley


High Valley is a brother duo with members Brad Rempel and Curtis Rempel who are Alberta, Canada natives. High Valley has had major success in the Canadian market with numerous top 10 songs like “I Be U Be” reaching the #1 spot. Today, High Valley is currently signed with Atlantic Records and are making a major impact in the US market. High Valley’s style takes some of the traditional elements of country music and blends it with a modern spin. High Valley have recently just finished their first headline tour with Sirius XM The Highway and are looking for an even more successful 2018.

Notable Songs: “Make You Mine,” “The Only” and “She’s With Me”

Mike Ryan


Ryan is a San Antonio, Texas native and has been having a successful career in the Texas music scene with multiple #1 singles on the Texas Music Chart. Ryan has been featured as a “Highway Find” on Sirius XM’s The Highway with his song “Sad Song.” Ryan released his third studio album titled, Blink You’ll Miss It, which features the lead single “New Hometown.” Ryan is an avid touring artist playing over 100 shows per year, securing him a devoted fan following. Ryan’s voice is pure and the epitome of the what country music is, look for Ryan to have breakout success in this upcoming year.

Notable Songs: “New Hometown,”Damn Good Goodbye” and “Other Side of the Radio”



Smithfield is made up of members Jennifer Fiedler and Trey Smith, who happen to be childhood friends. Fiedler and Smith did not foresee themselves forming the duo, as they both ventured into their own solo careers before rekindling just a few years ago. Today, Smithfield is one of the hottest duos in the Nashville music scene. Smithfield’s latest single, “When You’re Gone,”  has been featured on Sirus XM’s The Highway along with their previous single “Hey Whiskey.” Smithfield also went on the road back this past year on The Highway Finds tour with Steve Moakler. Smithfield is currently working on new music which is slated for release in the new year.

Check out our interview with them!

Meet Country Duo Smithfield + Watch An Acoustic Performance of “When You’re Gone”

Notable Songs: “Hey Whiskey,” “You Don’t Know” and “Good Ol’ Days”

Bailey Bryan


Bryan was just recently inducted as a member of CMT’s Next Women of Country class of 2018 and is looking for a breakout year. Bryan released her debut EP, So Far, earlier in 2017. Bryan also had her first tour exposure when she hit the road with Dan + Shay on their Obsessed Tour. Bryan has also hit the road with Chris Lane on his Take Back Home Tour in the last quarter of this year. Bryan is looking to set herself apart with her distinctive vocals and lyrical style, with hopes of breaking out in 2018.

Check out our photo gallery of Bailey Bryan at Route 91!

Notable Songs: “Own It,” “Hard Drive Home” and “Life Goes On”

Brandon Lay


Lay is a Jackson, Tennessee native and has been starting to make an impact in the industry. Lay signed with EMI Records back in early 2016 and he released his debut single, Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers,” in the summer of 2017. Lay has opened for Old Dominion and is slated to open for Kenny Chesney starting in April of 2018. Lay likes to describe his style as a cross between eighties country and nineties rock, clearly defining his own sound. Lay is currently working on his debut album, in hopes to release it in the near future.

Notable Songs: “Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers,” “Let It” and “Wilder Horses”

Jordan Davis


Davis is a Shreveport, LA native who moved to Nashville after being influenced from his brother to take the chance. A few years late, Davis signed with UMG Nashville and is currently working on his debut album. Davis released his debut single, “Singles You Up,” in May of 2017. “Singles You Up” has flown up the charts and is currently on it’s way to the top 20 of the airplay charts, with no signs of slowing down. Davis recently finished opening for Kip Moore on his “Please the Fifth Tour” late this year and is looking to keep the momentum going into 2018.

Notable Songs: “Singles You Up,” “Slow Dance in a Parking Lot” and “Take It From Me”

Abby Anderson


At only 20 years old, Anderson has already begun to burst onto the scene in 2017. Anderson signed a record deal with Black River Entertainment back in February of this year. Anderson released her debut single, “This Feeling,” this past September. Anderson also had the opportunity to open for Kelsea Ballerini and she is currently working on her debut album. Anderson also was inducted to CMT’s Next Women of Country for 2018 and is looking to build off of this success.

Notable Song: “This Feeling”

Spotify Playlist of the Artists Featured

Glee Star, Noah Guthrie Releases New Album ‘The Valley’ – Listen

(Nashville, Tenn. – June 23, 2017) – Noah Guthrie, known for portraying Roderick Meeks on Fox’s hit TV show Glee, released his sophomore album, The Valley, today through The Orchard – Sony Music to all digital outlets globally as well as physically in North America and the U.K. The creation of The Valley was purely a “passion project” and, in turn, a direct result of Guthrie’s feverish fans and social media following who contributed more than the desired funding in order to bring this project into existence through Pledge Music.


Art Credit: Matthew Fleming
Braving and unearthing every emotion, from solitude and loneliness to understanding and purpose, that is encumbered in “the valley,” Guthrie wrote or co-wrote every track on the record with songwriters such as Matthew Perryman Jones, Amy Stroup, Rhett Shull, Michelle Raitzin, and Caroline Brooks. Recording music together their whole lives, Guthrie recruited his brother, Ian Guthrie, to serve alongside him as the producer of the record, confessing,
“We are big believers that a song should be able to stand on its own—the simpler the arrangement, the better. I remember us staying up late into the night trying to sculpt and shape songs, adding melodies and instruments that didn’t quite fit to make the sound more interesting, almost always reverting back to what we had
before The simple takes were the ones that let the raw feeling of the song shine through the most. That’s what I hope you find in this record: Strong, compelling songs that make you feel something.”
Leading up to the album’s street date, Guthrie released three singles to accompany the record: “Pardon Me” in 2016, “Love You Now” in February 2017, and “I Would Die 4 U” in April 2017. Guthrie chose to cover Prince’s iconic dance track, “I Would Die 4 U” as a tribute to the late legend and the first anniversary of his death. Guthrie even went on to perform his rendition of the track on Hallmark’s Home and Family alongside guest Mayte Garcia, Prince’s ex-wife. Since the release of his newest single, “Love You Now,” in February 2017, Guthrie has been touring the United States and Europe in support of his sophomore album, and will be returning abroad to tour throughout Europe again this coming August 2017.
Making the most of CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn., June 8-11, Guthrie met with fans and signed autographs at Fan Fair X, performed at Ty Herndon’s Concert for Love and Acceptance, and delivered a jaw-dropping acoustic performance at the Wildhorse Saloon, including in the set his most acclaimed cover of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It.” About Noah Guthrie: Noah Guthrie rose to fame covering chart-topping hits on YouTube that eventually led to his pivotal role as Roderick Meeks on FOX’s hit TV show Glee on it’s sixth and final season. He received national attention with his blues-filled version of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” which to date has received over 25- million views, with total YouTube views racking up over 75 million.
Photos by Variety Beat
The South Carolina native grew up in a home filled with music, always singing around the house, Guthrie credits his father for teaching him to learn his true voice and hone his gift. At 14, he began writing his own songs, highlighting his richly textured voice that is capable of conveying the true emotion of a lyric. As a practiced musician on the bass, guitar, and trumpet, by the time he was 13 years old, everyone around him knew that he had an innate gift. Throughout his young career, Guthrie has already opened concerts for Ed Sheeran, Neon Trees, Ben Rector, Cobra Starship, Matisyahu, Matt Nathanson and Selena Gomez, and has performed on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars as well as NBC’s Today and Tonight Show.
Take a listen to The Valley

Mags Duval Shows Strength in Vulnerability in New Single “Cinnamon Gum.”

19-year-old Pop Singer/Songwriter, Mags Duval has been writings songs since she was 9-years-old. Now a resident of Nashville, her songwriting has lead to her working with incredible talented producers like GRAMMY winner Luke Laird (Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Little Big Town, Eric Church, Tim McGraw) and John Hill (Eminem, Shakira, Snoop Lion, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Wu-Tang Clan, Jay Z).

So sweet, so strong like…

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Listening to her new music, you wouldn’t guess Duval is a teenager, in fact she shows a lot of longevity as her music is hauntingly beautiful. Her latest single, “Cinnamon Gum” takes us through the emotions of missing someone you’ve long since broken up with, but can’t seem to stop forgetting about them.

Summer’s come and gone a couple times / And they don’t play that same song on the radio / There’s still a piece of you I keep wrapped up in my mind / It starts out subtle / Blowing bubbles / Baby, you’re in the air

Duval says of the single: “There is strength in vulnerability. I don’t think you have to act like everything’s okay to be strong.”

T O M O R R O W #CinnamonGum 🖤

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Duval writes songs to have an outlet for her feelings. “When I’m feeling something and don’t think there is a song I can jam out to, to get me over it, I think, ‘Okay. I guess I need to write one. Because if I’m feeling this way, chances are there’s someone out there who’s feeling this too.’”



She hopes her songs will be able to help others connect to their feelings and feel understood. “I feel so fortunate to be able to have my songs as an outlet for my life, my feelings. To be able to give that to people––to provide an escape, help them feel understood and like they’re not alone. That’s what I want to do with my music.”


Follow Mags Duval on iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook