A Music Industry Vet Explains How It All Went Downhill And Where He Thinks Its Going

By L.E. Kalikow

To cope with Internet overload, we allow algorithms to sift through and feed us bits and pieces to match our tastes while cosmetically enhanced anchormen (and anchorwomen)  spoon up headlines to the tune of tone-deaf sponsors. All this through a multi-tasking world, where a generation pays half attention to work while constantly checking their Facebook pages and tweeting when they go to the bathroom. How does this affect the arts- and more specifically music?

Let’s go back a bit

As a struggling recording artist in the 60’s and 70’s, my ultimate goal was to release an album. Not just a collection of songs, but a unified creation with a theme and purpose. In those years I’d turn out the lights, turn up the amplifier, and sit in the dark for hours, listening to full albums by The Beatles, The Stones, Billy Joel, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, and Jethro Tull (to name only a few). Each with a distinctive voice and sound, cuts carefully sequenced to take me on a journey, from beginning to end.

We needed radio to sell albums, so often edited down to three minutes, the ‘lead single’ had to have a ‘hook;’ a repeated melodic line or lyric to entice the teenage album buyer.

As technology moved vinyl to tape to CD, the ‘album’ remained, but underwent significant changes.

The Disco explosion of the 70’s replaced lyrics and melodies with beats and production, as artists became interchangeable tools of celebrity producers and DJs. To capitalize on this trend, major record companies began to hire multiple ‘name’ producers to work on a single album, and the ‘concept album’ gave way to a collection of often disjointed productions, lacking continuity or artistic integrity.

Analog vs Digital

There was also a subliminal change taking place. When listening to a vinyl album or taped music, you’re actually listening to ‘analog’ sound waves being produced. With a CD, the sound waves are ‘digitized’ or broken up into pieces that your brain then puts together, much like looking at a bunch of colored dots up close, then standing back until you discover they make a picture.

Friends like producer/engineer Rob Fraboni (Dylan, The Band, The Stones, Clapton, etc.) also contend that digital music has an adverse effect on the human body as opposed to analog. Like the difference you feel under the warmth of an incandescent light bulb, as opposed to a flickering fluorescent. Perhaps this explains why I can’t sit and listen to a CD like I once did a vinyl album.

Napster, the beginning of the end

When record companies began suing their own customers for peer-to-peer downloading, the graffiti was on the wall. Like the industrial revolution before, the digital age wiped out the multi-billion dollar record business we once thought recession proof and timeless. But the music didn’t die, it simply morphed into another dimension as the infrastructure built to filter, foster, package, market and sell it disappeared.

Now music exists in an unfiltered internet ocean requiring navigational tools like Spotify and Pandora. And the vestiges of past record companies, co-opted into entertainment conglomerates, now create brands instead of artists, with commercials, soundtracks, and albums produced, not for the music, but to sell the brand.

Reaction vs emotion

And ‘lead singles’ are also still being created. However, no longer 3 minute radio songs , but often just a string of repeating ‘hooks’ designed to catch the attention of the multi-tasking millennial, epitomized by Pharrell’s “Happy.”

As the art of songwriting becomes less important, so do the songs. This is not to say that some ‘brand artists’ like Adelle, Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift, aren’t fine songwriters. It’s just that, based on the current system, the odds are probably against developing such equally talented songwriter/artists in the future.

So, what’s next?

In the ‘80s, with the bestseller “Megatrends,” later reprieved in the 90’s with “High Tech/High Touch,” author John Naisbitt theorized that in a world of high tech, people would begin to long for personal, human contact.

And at a recent music business convention, I couldn’t help but notice everyone so intent on their mobile phones, no one made eye contact. (No wonder “The Walking Dead” is so popular on TV). Could there be a reaction to this high tech alienation? A few trends indicate maybe so.

First, the amazing increase in vinyl record sales. And it’s not just to Baby Boomers… Last year Millennials pushed vinyl sales to a 26 year high.

Perhaps, along with the novelty factor, some of these kids might actually start to hear (and feel) the difference.

And secondly, sales figures for acoustic guitars last year increased for the 5th consecutive year, topping 1.2 million units sold.

This is not to suggest mobile devices will be discarded by new generation of hippies. But we may well see a push-back against corporate branding to more organically grown artists, perhaps even producing analog music in favor of digital downloads.

And don’t be surprised at a proliferation of small local venues where musicians gather to perform and where the audience actually turns off their phones.

And if one pops up in my neighborhood, you can bet I’ll be sitting in the front row.

or maybe up there playing my Martin D28.

For over 35 years, L.E. Kalikow served as President of Music Business Reference, Inc., as well as a singer/songwriter under production agreements with Chess Records in Chicago and both Capitol and Columbia Records in New York, and as a staff writer for Beechwood Music at 1650 Broadway. He performed as the opening act for artists such as Richie Havens, Eric Anderson, Van Morrison and Jefferson Airplane, among others.

Sex, No Drugs & Rock ’N’ Roll (Memoirs of a Music Junkie) is available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers on February 10, 2016. The companion Soundtrack Album is also available on iTunes.

Cover Photo Credit: Xavier Badosa/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This New Carly Rae Jepsen Music Video Just Made An Important Point About Modern Relationships

Carly Rae Jepsen doesn’t have to be one of your favorite musicians (or even someone you can stand) for you to appreciate what she is doing with her latest music video.

The video for the song “Boy Problems” is a throwback of sorts to a 1980s slumber party scene. But it also features plenty of selfies, laptop computers and tablets.

While the song is ostensibly just about those moments when you just can’t stand your friend talking about her troubles with boys, it can also be read in a deeper way.

Perhaps Jepsen is trying to point out how silly modern drama about relationships and social pressures tied to those moments really are.

We shouldn’t be so hung up on another person that we lose sight of ourselves and our own emotional well being. And in the end, drama is such a waste of time and energy.

Anyway, watch the video and tell us in the comments whether you think our theory makes any sense:

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Cover Photo Credit: Carly Rae Jepsen/ Facebook (Screenshot)

Meet Nashville’s Very Own Vegas Showgirl And Potential Breakout Star: Sierra Black

By Vincent M. D’Agostino

Sierra Black has been gambling since she was 6 years old.

Now she’s gambling on a future as a country music recording star, which looks bright after  recording her debut album in Nashville.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Black is now on the road promoting her debut single, “Heart On Ice”, to radio stations.

“I immediately fell in love with it when I heard the first verse,” Black said of “Heart On Ice”, a song written back in 2002.

On the up-tempo country song, she sings: “Flying 90 miles an hour down a dusty road, pushing this thing to just see how fast this thing will go; engine hot enough to burn up the fuzzy dice; I better put my Heart On Ice.

Black finds herself on her debut single preaching to the choir about “having to step back and cool off” when hot in love.

Read More: Up And Coming Country Star Mitchell Tenpenny Is Proving Nashville’s Relevancy

Black, who is 22, fondly remembers how her father sparked her love of country music at age 6 when he used to play guitar and sing Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash songs to her.

Sierra’s love of music didn’t just originate with her father though. Her grandmother was Babette DeCastro, one of the members in the trio, DeCastro Sisters, who were famous for their 1954 top Billboard hit “Teach me Tonight.”

Unfortunately, her grandmother never got the chance to hear Sierra sing because she passed away before Sierra was born in 1992.

WATCH: Sierra Black’s “Heart On Ice”

Sierra proudly wears her grandma’s necklace to keep her close to her.  Interestingly enough, her grandmother provided the voices to the animals, including the butterflies, in Disney’s animated film Song of the South.

Sierra has been playing around with music ever since she can remember.

As a young girl, she would put on her own stage shows, alone, in her bedroom.

Fluent in Spanish, she could sing “El Paso” by heart by age 7.

She wrote her first song at the age of 12.

Her first break came when Keith Urban handpicked her out of 14,000 contestants to sing alongside him at a music festival.

“I wasn’t nervous meeting him or singing with him but the experience was surreal,” Black said of singing with Urban.


Sierra Black (R) singing with Keith Urban. Photo Credit: Sierra Black/ Facebook.

Chalking up her lack of nerves and comfort singing on stage to being an “old soul”, Black is determined to take the country scene like a dust storm.

And unlike many other young stars, Black actually has some chops in writing songs as well.

“I start with the title first and then the lyrics come to me,” Black said of her songwriting process that eventually leads to a melody.

With a bit of luck, Black eventually found herself in Nashville working with Grammy award winning producers Michael Omartian (who has worked with Donna Summer and Trisha Yearwood) and Tom Hemby (who has worked with Faith Hill and Bebe & Cece Winans).

Read More: New Jersey Girl Lacey Caroline Tries To Break Into Country Music Scene

She was recruited from Vegas after someone at one of her live shows caught wind of her voice. One thing led to another, and she was flown out to Nashville for back-to-back meetings with the producers.

“It’s been a bit of talent and luck and being in the right place at the right time,” Black said of the events that’s led to her rise.

Black after a radio interview. Photo Credit: Sierra Black/ Facebook.

Black after a radio interview. Photo Credit: Sierra Black/ Facebook.

Black’s promotional single, “Casino”, was her first release to iTunes and will also be featured on her debut album.

Lyrically, the song is a metaphor for love where Black says, “Sometimes you win in the game of love and sometimes you lose.”  

On this ballad, she sings: “Like a coin I was tossed into a wishing fountain. I was only one of a 1,000 looking for a little fortune,” and further laments that her heart is like money a lover blows with “I was a card you were using and a trick that you were good at playing. Luck didn’t build up the Monte Carlo just like love never promised tomorrow.

WATCH: Sierra Black sings “Casino”

Black describes her sound as “twang with a slap of gospel.“ Like a true Vegas Show Queen, she laughs, “you can never have enough rhinestones.”   Hoping to have a show like Shania Twain in distant future, she is now hoping for a duet with Jason Aldean in the near future. She has already opened up for Joe Nichols and Uncle Kracker to name a few.

She is not hoping to hit the jackpot with slot machines but instead with her music. What is truly special about both of her songs, “Heart on Ice” and “Casino”, is that they do something that most songs in the music business fail to do. Both songs brilliantly forfeit a clunky bridge and offer a seamless melody to sing along to.

The music is already there. As long as she doesn’t forget her bedazzler at home, Sierra Black will surely be able to forge her own luck and have a long career in the business.

Sierra Black is on a radio tour promoting “Heart On Ice”. You can find it along with her promotional single, “Casino”, on iTunes. Look out for her self-titled debut album in the Spring. And don’t forget to request “Heart On Ice” on your local radio stations.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Cover Photo Credit: Submitted

White People: Beyoncé’s “Formation” Is Not For Us. Get Over It

By Kelsey D’Auben

A few weeks back, Beyoncé appeared at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show alongside Bruno Mars and Coldplay.

She performed her latest single “Formation,” which dropped the day before.

Her halftime performance was accompanied by a group of all-black back-up dancers wearing costumes, which appeared to be replica Black Panther’s uniforms of the 1960s as a tribute for Black History Month.

These dancers costumes and the Black Lives Matter inspired “Formation” music video sparked outrage, even forming it’s own #BoycottBeyoncé hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.

“I thought it was really outrageous that she used it (the halftime show) as a platform to attack police officers,” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Fox & Friends.  “Who are the people who protect her and protect us and keep us alive.”

JPEGScreen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.09.20 AM

A scene from the “Formation” music video.

Giuliani is not alone in believing that Beyoncé went too far in her performance.

Some claim that Beyoncé paying tribute to the Black Panthers on stage that night was “racist” and use the argument that what she did was the equivalent of a white performer on stage with back-up dancers dressed as KKK members.

However, these (mostly) white critics fail to even try to understand the most important part of “Formation”; that it’s not about us as white people.

First and foremost, the Black Panthers are not the black Equivalent to the KKK.

The Black Panther Party was formed in 1966 as an active response to institutionalized racism and police violent against the black community.

JPEGScreen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.06.14 AM

They were created to monitor and challenge police brutality, as well as create more opportunities for the black community by instituting community social programs. The Klu Klux Klan is a white supremacy group, which still exists even today, that openly committed acts of violence and terror against minority groups in America.

Although the Black Panthers did have a much different set of ideals when it came to how to handle protesting their oppression and were known to be much less peaceful than those such as Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panthers and the KKK are not even remotely similar groups.

That being said, the entire premise of “Formation” is about the experience of being a black woman in America and being empowered and proud of their culture and heritage.

The video is set in Louisiana and has been inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It shows beautiful images of life and culture in the black community there.

One of the most powerful images, which coincidentally sparked the most controversy, is of a small black boy dancing before a line of white police officers who hold their hands up in surrender to the boy. This is then closely followed by an image of wall graffiti, which reads “Stop Shooting Us.”

JPEG Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.24.43 AM

Many people are angry over the video because of these images. They claim that the video portrays police officers, and in general all white-people, in a bad light because the only white people in the entire video were these police officers.

This song and video are about being black and we, as white people, have no say in how that experience is felt or how they tell their own stories. Because they aren’t about us.

Instead of getting offended at this image and trying to defend ourselves as “good guys” by arguing that “not all cops” or “not all white people” we, as a group, need to stop talking, take a step back, and listen to what is trying to be said.

Take this opportunity as a chance to listen and learn, instead of getting defensive and making their stories about us.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Beyoncé/ Youtube (Screengrab)

How David Bowie Helped Me Figure Out Who I Am

Whenever somebody tells me that they don’t like David Bowie, I just can’t help but think that they’re wrong.

And I don’t mean wrong in the sense that they disagree with my personal conviction that he’s the coolest musician of all time. I mean objectively, demonstrably wrong.

That’s because Mr. Bowie did it all, and he did it all really well. You name it, he tried it, and everyone can find at least one ambassador to their personal tastes from among his six-decade exploration and expansion of the potentials of musical performance. I’ve always felt that if you don’t like Bowie, you just haven’t listened to enough.

The tried-and-true trope is to call a consistently seamless genre-shifter like Mr. Bowie a “musical chameleon,” but that really doesn’t give him enough credit. Chameleons blend in with their surroundings. Bowie did everything but.

The tried-and-true trope is to call a consistently seamless genre-shifter like Mr. Bowie a “musical chameleon,” but that really doesn’t give him enough credit. Chameleons blend in with their surroundings. Bowie did everything but.

When he decided he wanted to try his hand at a certain sound, he didn’t mimic it: He learned from it, determined what it had to offer, and then shaped it to suit his will.

His personas (of which there were many) were often larger than life, his costumes (of which there were even more) often outlandish.

But Bowie never once allowed his own identity – personal or stage – to take precedence over what the songs meant to his listeners.

He always made sure to leave room for everybody – whether they were square or weird, gay or straight, naïve or world-weary – to formulate an image of themselves in his characters and in his art.

The lyrics of songs like “Space Oddity” or “Starman” each tell a story, but these songs and many more have all blossomed into millions of stories in and of themselves, representing as many different snapshots of a particular triumph or struggle, romance or heartbreak as there are people who have listened to and found a sliver of their own identity within them.

I know I’ll never forget the pure joy of singing and bobbing along to “Let’s Dance” with Mom one night during our drive home from an away soccer game my junior year of high school.

I know I’ll never forget the pure joy of singing and bobbing along to “Let’s Dance” with Mom one night during our drive home from an away soccer game my junior year of high school.

Or mining Bowie’s affirmation that “You’re not alone!” in the chorus of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” for every shred of consolation it could offer following her passing from cancer just four years later.

Or the sense of mischievous satisfaction earned by slipping “Lady Grinning Soul” onto a Christmas gift mixtape CD for my grandparents last year, gambling correctly that, wooed by the classical piano and flamenco guitar, they would overlook the song’s slightly slinky lyrical content.

For those memories and many more, thank you, David Bowie.

Mr. Bowie may have cooked up all of his songs and characters and stories and put them together, but they have always ultimately been ours.

It could be that behind all of the hairdos, outfits, and makeup, we never really knew him.

But what makes David Bowie truly important to so many is that he helped us to know us.

And no matter how much I listen to him, I’ll always feel that I just haven’t listened to enough.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Can The 1975 Change The Music Industry As We Know It?

In recent months The 1975 has released their first single, “Love Me”, off of their highly anticipated sophomore album- I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It.

With Bowie-esque melodies and cheeky lyrics, the British quartet is shaking up the music industry with a valiant effort to challenge contemporary pop music. The 1975’s new single is a self parodying ode to the narcissism of fame in today’s youth culture.

Matt Healy, the front man for The 1975, begins the music video by singing, “I’m just with my friends online” while he drinks a bottle of champagne donning electric blue eye shadow.

Healy states this lyric derives from our generation’s obsession with social media and the alternate reality it ensues. If that’s not shocking enough he does this while provocatively enticing card board cut outs of pop icons.

He goes on to sing, “You look famous, let’s be friends and portray we possess something important” revealing the rock star’s sarcastic views on entitlement as a celebrity.

This poses the idea that artist and consumers alike falsely believe that celebrities possess qualities and thoughts that make them elite compared to the general population.

The in your face lyrics conclude with, “We’ve just come to represent a decline in the standards of what we accept!”

This is a direct questioning of the current principles of the music industry as we know it.

Photo Credit: 1975/ Youtube (Screengrab)

A scene from the music video for “Love Me.” Photo Credit: 1975/ Youtube (Screengrab)

Healy believes that pop music has become a brand and not about expressing genuine emotion through talent. He has articulated his want for the youth to be more critical about what they consume and what inspires them.

The band hopes to start a conversation what as a society we have let the music industry become.

Before releasing their single, The 1975 made a bold power move by deleting all of their social media accounts leaving fans and critics perplexed on the state of the band.

24 hours later, they reemerged with a new aesthetic, giving music lovers the opportunity to decide if pop artist can survive without a social media presence.

So what does witty one liners background with 80’s synth pop and social media blackouts mean for the The 1975’s music career? As listeners we’ll have to stay tuned but we’ll always be in awe of the band’s blatant disregard to music industry norms.

Cover Photo Credit: The 1975/ Facebook

Missy Elliott Releases First New Song In 7 Years, And Its Pretty Awesome

Missy Elliott, the still reigning queen of rap proved her title this morning after she released her first new single in over 7 years.

The song, titled “WTF (Where They From)” is a upbeat anthem that features Pharrell in puppet form. It is well worth the watch if you need a few minute break during your work day.

Check it out and tell us what you think in the comments below:


Cover Photo Credit: Screenshot/ Atlantic Records (Youtube)

New Jersey Girl Lacey Caroline Tries To Break Into Country Music Scene

Lacey Caroline is a Nashville transplant, originally hailing from Sussex County, New Jersey. She says that she lived “a very country lifestyle” growing up, despite being from up North.

Sussex County hosts an annual Farm and Horse Show, and Lacey’s first job at the age of 14 was helping to take care of the horses on a nearby farm.

“I will say the biggest difference from New Jersey to Nashville is that I find Southerners have a greater restraint when it comes to ‘telling what you really feel,’” Caroline said.  “I’m not sure if it’s a flaw or a gift, but Jerseyians are known for not holding back their feelings about situations.  With that aside, I always try my hardest to be extra polite. Oh, and the food! Man, is the food good. The biscuits and gravy, fried chicken. The only one who isn’t a fan of the food down here is my bathroom scale.”

Caroline loves the country lifestyle, which is what brought her to Nashville.

“I knew the only way to get better at the art of songwriting and crafting those lyrics would be to live in the thick of it all. I wanted to be able to go out any night of the week and hear great songs, and have the opportunity to write and learn from the people in this town.”

She found a great support system in Nashville in a 24-hour space on Music Row called The Workshop.

Read More: Aaron Parker Is The Next Big Thing in Country Music

“I have the most amazing group of friends, and every day, they motivate me to not only work harder at music, but work harder at being a better person,” Caroline said. They’re all amazing songwriters, artists, and singers. They’ve taught me so much about music, writing, crafting songs and digging deeper.”

Despite being a country singer, she attributes much of her understanding of music to growing up listening to emo music.

She said that she grew up as a kind of loner in school, “because I was quiet didn’t mean I didn’t have feelings or emotions, and I felt like even though kids in my school picked on me, the emo songs I listened to made me feel like I was accepted, like I wasn’t alone. It gave me hope, and in that, happiness.”

She wants to evoke that same hope and happiness in other people who may be quiet but still feel strong emotions.

Lacey’s EP,“Songbird” was released in October 2013, and it helped her find some great opportunities, such as playing the famous Bluebird Café in Nashville.

“It was a great introduction to the country music community as an arist,” Caroline said. “And it also gave me a great starting point to grow from in terms of songwriting.”

“It’s better than a dream to me; in fact, sometimes I feel like I’m dreaming.”

Caroline said that she pulls inspiration and influences for her songs from musicians like Will Hoge, Brandi Carlisle, Eric Paslay, David Nail, and The Milk Carton Kids. She says that she always looks for “inspirational triggers in words, melodies, and structures,” and she also pulls inspirations from real life events.

Her song “Mason Jar,” which she thinks is one of her best, was written after a conversation at a bar.

“I was eating dinner at a bar by my house, coming up with song titles, when a very old Alabama man leaned over and asked what I was writing. The conversation turned into him telling me stories about his life, including a particular story about his wife and mason jars.“

WATCH: Caroline perform “Mason Jar”

“You have two minutes to tell a story,” says Lacey. “So every word has to count.If I don’t “feel” what I’m singing or writing, then I need to rewrite and rethink it; if the listeners don’t feel anything, then I need to do a better job at relating what I’m personally feeling.”

Her latest single, “Girl Like You” is based off of her personal experiences, and was a very quick write.

Read More: Could Abi Ann Be The Next Breakout Country Music Star?

“This girl was in love with my then boyfriend and doing everything to get him to dump me for her. I went to my mom asking what to do, and her advice to me was not to do anything,” Caroline said. “I was pretty dumbfounded, but she went on to explain that the issue wasn’t between me and her, it was between my boyfriend and her, and she said ‘If he’s not willing to stand up for you, and show respect for you and your relationship with him, then he’s not someone you should waste time on at all.’”

LISTEN: Lacey Caroline’s “Girl Like You”

Caroline said that she loves every part of the songwriting and recording process, but that her favorite part is performing live.

“I still get butterflies sometimes when I sing, but there is no feeling that compares to losing myself in a song, reliving the moment I’m singing about, and creating that moment for the audience,” Caroline said. “It’s better than a dream to me; in fact, sometimes I feel like I’m dreaming.”

You can check out Lacey Caroline’s music on her Youtube channel or on iTunes, or you can keep up with Lacey herself on Facebook and Twitter.

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- [email protected] 

Adele Releases New Song, Internet Barely Holding On

Adele released a new single earlier today on Youtube and people the world over are hyperventilating.

The song is titled “Hello” and it is from the superstar’s upcoming album 25. 

Take a listen. But please don’t pass out. That would be just embarrassing.

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- [email protected] 

Cover Photo Credit: Screenshot- Adele/ Youtube (Vevo)

Could Abi Ann Be The Next Breakout Country Music Star?

Across America, a new song about female empowerment is starting to gain traction in the most peculiar of places- on Radio Disney.

“Slide over, I’m driving, I ain’t just another cliché riding,” Abi Ann’s song “Truck Candy” commands.

A catchy tune poking fun at some of the more ridiculous tropes in country music, “Truck Candy” is enjoying a run on the kids centric radio network and on iTunes Radio where it is featured.

Rise News recently spoke to the 18-year-old rising star via phone from her apartment in Nashville, TN about her upbringing, her music and what she hopes to accomplish in the changing country landscape.

“I think that history repeats itself,” Ann said when asked about changes in the genre. “I see country music becoming more open to seeing more unique changes. A good twenty years ago that may not have happened.”

Abi Ann was born in Texas but raised in Los Angeles.

“I was an extremely ADD kid, my parents threw me into a whole lot of different activities. Music was the only thing that really stuck,” Ann said. “I grew up with very strong country roots.”

She attended Campbell Hall School where she said that she was encouraged to try to strike it big.

“I grew up in LA and my friends called me Hannah Montana growing up,” Ann said. “I went to a very understanding school and they were very helpful with everything.”

One of her first big breaks came when she was able to join Kelly Clarkson on tour, performing before the superstar in 36 cities in the US and Canada. She said that she learned a great deal from the experience.

“It was my first major tour. Kelly really runs a very loose camp and there is like no tension on the tour. It was just really eye-opening and I learned about my craft,” Ann said of Clarkson. “She really plays with her sound. I have so much more respect for her because of how versatile she is.”


Abi Ann, an 18 year old rising star in the country music world.

After graduating from high school, Ann enrolled in Belmont University in Nashville where she is studying entrepreneurship, not exactly a major for those who wish to skirt through school.

She has a strong business sense, learning from her small business owning father the importance of being self-reliant.

“I’ve always been very much a believer in a separation of church and state in my life. I really like school and music,” Ann said. “I’m going to school for business because I want to be self-sufficient. I’ve just always had a knack for business. And I’ve always loved academics as much as music.”

The Clarkson tour wrapped up on September 20, which cut into the start of the fall semester. As a result, Ann is taking classes online but she hopes to take on campus classes in the future.

In terms of her sound, Ann said that she is very willing to mix different influences into her music from current pop and country music to some older legends that helped define the genre.

“My main influences were Johnny Cash and Shania Twain. That’s a weird combination for sure,” Ann said. “Shania, I look up to as a very strong woman figure.”

And that brings us back to her hit “Truck Candy”, a song that could easily be seen as a modern-day feminist ballad.

“It’s not that intense,” Ann said. But I’m very supportive of female empowerment.”

Saying that she views music as a form of therapy, Ann indicated that the song was more a direct response to the default masculinity that exists in much of country today.

“I wrote it with Walker Hayes. This was before Maddie and Tae and we were concerned about the gender imbalance in country music,” Ann said. “I definitely think it is an acquired taste. Country is not something that everybody loves.”

Ann made it clear that she deeply loves country music and sees it as one of the most vibrant music scenes going today.

Having only turned 18 a few months ago, Ann is still very young.

“I’ve had instances where I couldn’t go and do the typical teenage thing but I keep a pretty tight circle,” Ann said of some of the challenging aspects of fame. “But I have the best friends. My roommate is with me now and she’s smiling [listening to the interview].”

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- [email protected] 

Photo Credits: Submitted

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