Category Archives: Interviews

Natalie Stovall Is Definitely A Friend We Would Want On Our Couch

There are so many exciting parts about CMA Fest and nothing was quite as exciting as getting to sit down with Natalie Stovall and share some laughs and talk about her new single “Can’t Love You No More.” Stovall has an infectious personality along with a big smile, bright eyes, and an incredible laugh. She has opened for the likes of Keith Urban (her favorite) and Bobby Bones.

Stovall recently competed on The Voice for #TeamBlake and has been releasing new music all year! She also told us about performing with Urban and what a champion he is of musicians. He even called her out on stage for an epic back and forth solo/duel during a recent performance!

Stovall’s latest single “Can’t Love You No More” which brings her back to her roots. “It’s uptempo, I’ve got my Gospel choir back on it.” She continued; “The last couple of songs that I’ve released have been a little more of the serious side. They’ve just been songs that have been on my heart and I’ve wanted to release for a long time. Now that we’re coming back into summer, I thought ok it’s time to do something that’s more like my live show.”

LISTEN TO “CAN’T LOVE YOU NO MORE”

 

Stovall also told us about a revival of the Three Girls Rock Into A Bar Tour with Kelleigh Bannen and Ruthie Collins, along with some headlining shows and launching The Red Balloon Tour which goes along with her new single “Can’t Love You No More.”

We chatted with Stovall about which show she would like to be a guest star on (FRIENDS), what she would like to be doing if she wasn’t in music (Counseling), a country she would like to visit she’s never been to and more! Check out our fun interview below.

 

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Jenny Tolman On Gratitude and Trying Not To Have “Something To Complain About”

One of the best parts of CMA Fest, is that almost every Country Music artist out there will come around for one glorious weekend, to meet fans, perform their music and spread joy to both longtime listeners and new. Jenny Tolman didn’t have to travel far for the biggest weekend in Country Music, as she is a native Nashvillian aka a Unicorn! (She told us that is what the natives are called since there are few and far between.) With such a diverse group of people coming together to create and write songs, Tolman’s latest “Something To Complain About” is one that touches the heart.

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She told Variety Beat about the inspiration behind the single, stating that a friend of hers was having difficulty getting pregnant and how she heard other moms complaining about how difficult their kids are and how they no longer have time for themselves. She said: “I wish I had something like that to complain about.” Thus giving birth to the idea for the song, which shows how grateful we should be for the things we have.

It’s all too real and I find myself, with millions of things to do, no time to work on things that need to get done (like this article and many more like it) because my daughter says “I want to cuddle with you.” How can you say no? Sometimes it’s frustrating to never accomplish much, but I think about how fast time goes and how soon will the time be here where she probably will want to just stay in her room all day and no longer be asking to play hide-and-seek or tag. When I find myself getting crabby, I think about all the parents who have lost their children to cancer or other things, and how much they would long for just one more day. It really puts things into perspective and that’s another reason why this song is so special. It isn’t limited to one specific thing but applies to so many different scenarios; friendships, family, loss of opportunities or jobs, etc. The message is also just to be grateful for the things we do have and that message is something Tolman finds herself wanting to spread to everybody she meets and who listen to her music.

WATCH THE MUSIC VIDEO FOR “SOMETHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT”

 

Being grateful is another thing Tolman likes to touch upon, as she shares on her social media sites every Sunday, something she’s grateful for and encourages others to leave comments saying what brings them Joy. #JennysJoyJar

 

Talking with Tolman, we discovered she is a big fan of Dolly Parton, Gluten-free baking and she’s hoping Ellen Degeneres never scares her with ______ if she is a guest on her show! Watch our interview to find out what scares her and more!

 

 

 

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!

Interview: Caitlin Evanson is Gearing Up For A World Wide Tour WIth Shakira!

It’s no secret, we are a huge fan of singer/songwriter/musician Caitlin Evanson. We’ve been following her for the last 8 years since we first spotted her on the Speak Now Tour with Taylor Swift. Evanson provided backing vocals, played violin and guitar. She was a band favorite as she always stayed connected with the fans and always went to say hi to everyone who wanted to meet the band. There’s always been a special connection for hardcore fans and an artist’s band members.

Since her last tour, Evanson has still been performing, whether it be an awards show with Keith Urban, her own solo gigs, or along with her husband who together forms The Red Weddings. Catching up with Evanson at her latest The Red Weddings Gig, where she revealed she was going to be touring with the one and only Shakira! Such exciting news, we had to catch up with her and talk about what’s ahead!

READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH CAITLIN EVANSON 

Variety Beat: Congratulations on going on another headlining tour! Tell us about your new gig!

Evanson: Thank you!! So stoked to be out adventuring again! Every tour has a different band, crew, designers of all kinds, visions, styles, and personalities. This is a completely different….beautiful….latin world. I adore my band mates, the crew, the designers. For 7 years, I showed up to tour rehearsals….10 minutes from my Nashville home. Because the rehearsals took place in my hometown. Because that was my boss’s hometown. Taylor.  😉  I haven’t had long-term rehearsals outside of the US since Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart in 2005. Crazy. I’m getting old.
My new head honcho (Shakira) is just lovely. She’s gone through an entire life of stardom and remains graceful and kind. And very approachable. As far as my band mates and the crew and designers? Sometimes I wonder if subconsciously, I just went on tour again because I needed to laugh until I fall on the ground. Because that’s already what is happening here. Musicians and creative people, in general, are just notoriously funny.  The dynamic in every tour is priceless. At this point in my touring life, I love to just grab my popcorn and enjoy the show. I love it. So many personalities.
WATCH CAITLIN EVANSON AND THE BAND IN REHEARSALS WITH SHAKIRA

 

Evanson: In my eyes, a tour always reminds me of a traveling circus….on crack.  ire, Water, light, dark and everything in between, that a concert connoisseur could dream up. (Me becoming a touring musician, has quite a long series of stories behind it all. But we’ll keep with this one for now). I just love being a part of it all. Being a part of the high energy fantasy and vision of an artist. Being a part of building something new and exciting.
Variety Beat: You last toured with Taylor Swift on the Red Tour, it’s been several years since a major tour, What made you decide to jump back in?

Evanson: Although the life of a touring musician has always been exhilarating to me, moments have caught up with me. For example…I would wake up day, in a bunk of a bus or a hotel. My mom would call me whenever I felt lost (because she’s clairvoyant like that) and say, “hi honey. Where are you? What time is it there?” and I gave her the same answer every time. “uh…I don’t know”. So much time flew by. So fast. And I couldn’t quite keep up with every magical moment that brought me to where I was. Anyway, fast forward…..my story of how I ended up in San Diego, is ALSO a long one. But ultimately, I moved to a beautiful beach, met the most beautiful human I could ever meet. I gathered some beautiful friends and family (my family, who have stuck by me through thick and thin and me being a major pain in the butt) and began returning to my roots. And then life just happened…”fast” again. When you love it, it goes fast. 4 years of not really wanting anything but love, life, the beach, and simplicity was all there was to it. I just forgot about my “alter ego”, I guess.  😉 I just missed it. I’ll always be the girl who loves to play dress up and sing into her hairbrush in the bedroom mirror. So, WARDROBE is a blast, singing is a blast. Traveling with great people is a blast. It’s exhausting sometimes but there’s just nothing like it. And as a musician, ya gotta keep your chops up. Stay in shape as a player. Nothing like a world tour to ignite that.  I love to teach music. I would someday love to become a certified music therapist. There’s plenty of ways to work in music. Touring isn’t the only way. But it sure is FUN. So I went.
Variety Beat: What have you missed most about being on tour?

Evanson: There are things I miss and things I don’t. I never like missing my nieces and nephews grow up, or just being with my family in general. I miss the comforts of home. I miss making my own schedule and being able to call in sick if I need to. But I do miss the crowds. The stage. The rush of performance and travel and getting to know new people. It enriches your life in such a special way.
Variety Beat: How has it been different this time since being married?

Evanson: I have someone to miss! It’s beautiful, yet tough at the same time. He recently spent 2 weeks with me here in Barcelona and it was a magical time for us. I posted a bit of us having the time of our lives, biking the city.  We’ve always wanted to travel together, and this was such a special way to be able to do that.  But really, that’s all it has changed for me.  I have a teammate now.  A partner.  Someone I know will be there for me no matter what, and likewise.  We do have to make time every day to connect.  But to me, it never seems like a chore when you’re in love.

Variety Beat: You are rehearsing in Barcelona, Spain. That has to be pretty amazing. Have you done a lot of sightseeing?

Evanson: At the beginning of a tour, SO much has to be worked out. From Choreo to visual, audio, production, musical arrangement, lighting, it’s endless. So there hasn’t been much time to see things. But on our days off, we would go to incredible places like the Sagrada Familia. Check it out. It brought me to tears when I walked through the doors. The story behind how that incredible church was designed is so so so moving.  And the story of the crucifixion carved into statues in the stone.

Variety Beat: Right now, the tour has dates from Nov-Feb and starts off internationally. Are there places on the tour you haven’t been before?

Evanson: There are! Quite a few! Barcelona is one of them. With Taylor, I was so spoiled because she lived in Nashville. I would just drive 10 minutes to rehearsals. We rehearse in the hometown of the artist. My artist lives here. It only just occurred to me when I saw the schedule for the first time. And it made me laugh. Of course. Makes total sense. And this is the first time I’ve even able to be in a place like this for a whole month, and more!  I feel like a local! Ok, maybe not but my Catalonian Spanish is getting better. Poco a poco.

Variety Beat: How do you think this tour will differ from previous tours?

Evanson: A million years ago, with Ringo Star and Dave Stewart, I traveled with people who were massive worldwide, but they’re total royalty in their home countries. I’ve never played for the Queen of Columbia and I can’t wait to see that insane crowd of hers.
I may have touched on this with you before in a previous interview, but if not, I wanted to say, every nationality is completely different.  The crowd in Tokyo was screeching mania but somehow polite at the same time?  And when they would run up to us, they were very cute and sweet and contained and their voices would be like little kittens, and always with their hands over their mouths like, “oooh hehehehe”.  They’re just the sweetest. Australia’s fans were different from China’s and they were different than London’s and so on.  But the one that stood out the most as far as crazy passionate was Brazil.  And not just because I married one.  😉
They would run up and throw their arms around us and kiss us.  Like, on the face.  Hahaha.  I loved them.  Anyway, I have a feeling its gonna go something like that.
Variety Beat: Will you mostly be playing Violin on the tour?

Evanson: Remains to be seen!  But keep your ears and eyes open for some crazy instrumentation and perhaps vocal fun and games…..in Spanish…AAAAAA!!!  Study study study!

Variety Beat: How do you think this tour will differ from previous tours?

Evanson: Although I’m no stranger to tour life, this will be a completely different world for me! Rehearsing in the hometown of the artist means 6 weeks in Barcelona! It used to be, drive 10 minutes to rehearse at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. I’m learning so much. Although we are pretty insulated here in our rehearsal space, as far as a lot of Americans in this team, Catalonian Spanish is a welcomed challenge. I’ve been wanting to learn basic Spanish for years. I actually took a couple months of lessons before I came here. However, I had to take a cab all over town today and nothing but Google Translate kept me alive. The food, the city, the people on this team, all completely different but all wonderful. I realize I’ve never been able to spend this much time in one international city. It’s just incredible. I also have to be quite a different animal on stage. The musical style is completely different. I need to be a different kind of player. Almost like another language. Like playing an American pop song, as opposed to a classic Spanish love song.

Variety Beat: What are you most excited about??

Evanson: I’m most excited to feel that rush again.  The one I wondered if I’d ever feel again.  There’s nothing like the stage.  Nothing.
Catch the El Dorado Tour in a city near you. For cities and dates visit http://www.shakira.com/tour

Mary Sarah and Listeners Are Finding Themselves Post Breakup With Single “Without You.”

Country Artist, Mary Sarah was a top 5 finalist on ABC’s hit TV show The Voice. Her story starts long before her time on #TeamBlake. Mary Sarah was taken under the wing of The Oak Ridge Boys back in 2011 when she was invited to perform before their show and sang “Where the Boys Are.” They even appeared on her sophomore album along with Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and more!

WATCH MARY SARAH PERFORM “WHERE THE BOYS ARE”

 

Mary Sarah is back with her first single singe The Voice titled “Without You” in which she takes back the narrative of a sad lonely break-up and turns it into a way to find herself. Her voice is unique and feels like the type of Country Music we are missing on the radio right now. With pop/rock infused tracks blasting on the airwaves, it’s refreshing to hear an “old school Country” sound.

You left a mark on my heart that I never thought would go away / I cried so hard in the dark, I stained my pillow case / Mascara black, wishing you’d come back / But that was yesterday / Boy what a waste / Yeah I never thought I would / But Baby I’m all good without you

 

Check out the new single and our interview with her below!

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Photo Credit: Katie Kauss

Variety Beat:  You’ve had quite a start in country music, dating back to 2011 when you first met The Oak Ridge Boys, How did that help you further pursue country music?

Mary Sarah: Immensely. The Oak Ridge Boys have since taken me under their wing and have opened many of doors for my career! I am beyond thankful for them. When I first worked with them, the video I got of me singing with them opened a lot of doors for my record Bridges. They’ve definitely had a huge effect in my life and career!

Variety Beat: You were on Blake Shelton’s team during the voice. What was that whole process like and what drove you to try out for the show?

Mary Sarah:  Man, the experience was incredible. I’ve found that a lot of the experiences in my life cause me to grow so much. The Voice helped me to find more of my voice! It was tough but beyond worth it. I had wanted to go on the show for about 3 years prior to being on it. For some odd reason, when I watched the show, I could just see myself doing it. But, everything has timing and when I turned 20, I had finished a lot of what I had been working on in music so it just seemed like the perfect time!

 

Variety Beat: What’s been one of your top favorite moments in your career so far?

Mary Sarah: Singing on the Grand Ole Opry stage for the first time!!! There is NOTHING like it!! I still get nervous/chills every time I am presented the opportunity to go back and sing. It’s definitely one of those experiences that you just remember and think, “I did it”.

Variety Beat: You have a new single “Without You” inspired by a relationship that didn’t work out, but it’s not your typical sad break up song. Can you explain the direction you took and how you hope listeners will receive it?

Mary Sarah: Of course. The direction I wanted for this song was more of a positive vibe. Yes, breakups can be very hard but I’ve learned that in life, you should always strive to see the positives. It’s hard but you have to make an effort and when the writers and I got together to write “Without You,” we didn’t want it to be a bitter break up song but a “I’m Better” breakup song. That, finding yourself again can be such a positive experience! I hope that’s what people take from it.

Variety Beat: What’s something you want new listeners to know about you?

Mary Sarah: I am a real person. I am not perfect, and I hope everyone see’s that! I hope that when people listen to my music or read an article about me that they feel they can connect on a friendship level. I also hope to be an example that shows people that it IS okay to be imperfect and still do what you love!! So, I always like to say that I am perfectly imperfect! <3

You can get “Without You” on itunes for .69 cents. Go buy it and support a great artist! Click to buy.