Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine 2016-2017

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Charles Kelley

Calendar of Events

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Publisher letter

Dear Readers, A few statistics . . . the age group ranging from 18-34 receive 80% of all of their content from their phones. I’m older but still enjoy reading hard copy print, and some of you may feel the same way. However, I’m starting to understand the need to bridge the gap between print and the digital world. Beginning in September, and to help facilitate bridging this gap, you will now have the option not only to receive the printed version of your TPAC, Schermerhorn & Studio Tenn publications when you attend a show, but you will also be able to download the new ARTZ App for free, and read your publication before you even attend a show. . . right from your phone. For some reason if you miss a show, you will be able to read all the information regarding every Broadway & TPAC Presents show as well as the Pop & Classical Series performances at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and all the great shows at Studio Tenn in Franklin . . . just Choose your ARTZ from the new ARTZ App. Plus starting in September, we will also be offering a digital only program for The Frist Center for the Visual Arts. One more way we are keeping you connected via the new ARTZ App. Download the new free ARTZ App today. Buy tickets, receive exclusive offers and special content, view upcoming shows, and be the first to read the TPAC, Schermerhorn, Studio Tenn and Frist Center digital publications on your phone. Available at the App Store & Google Play. Be sure to make a special note of the digital ads in the ARTZ App which may contain additional video content and special offers. So welcome to the next big thing in digital content … The ARTZ App. Whether print or digital, thank you for reading and supporting our advertisers which makes this all possible! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to give me a call. Gary Glover

President/Publisher 615-429-9689

NASHVILLE’S PERFORMING ARTS PUBLICATIONS For Advertising Information, please call 615.373.5557




Contents 7 10

Contributors Honoring the Song Stories Behind the Hits That Make Nashville “Music City” By Dan Keen




Charles Kelley Steps Out (A Little) Never Leaving Nashville By Janet Morris Grimes


The Nashville Bucket List A View From Downtown By Melonee Hurt




Up & Coming: Nashville’s Newest & Hottest Sound By Janet Morris Grimes


Performing Arts A Winning Season for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center Diversity and Great Music Set the Tone for TPAC’s Slate By Lori Ward



34 38

Literary Arts By Janet Morris Grimes

Visual Arts Snap Decisions Ed Rode’s Lens Captures Special Moments By Lorie Hollabaugh




Going Country Pop/Rock Acts and Actors Explore Country Sounds By Deborah Evans Price


Music Row, Then and Now Progress Takes a Toll on Nashville’s Trademark Streets



By Beverly Keel

@NashvilleAandE •



Nashville’s Most Interesting People, Places & Things Casey Bond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

Letter from the Editor

From Center Field to Center Stage By Deborah Evans Price

Mike Fisher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 A Hero On and Off the Ice By Janet Grimes

Chris Stapleton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 No More Flying Under the Radar By Courtney Keen

Boone Family Center for the Performing Arts . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Pat Boone’s Lasting Legacy to Lipscomb University By Ronnie Brooks

The Scott Hamilton Proton Therapy Center . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Lending His Name to Hope By Mary McKinney

Musicians Hall of Fame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66


Come See What You’ve Heard By Melonee Hurt

The Cookery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Local Chef Serves Meals With a Side of Lifesaving Kindness By Marc Acton

Justin Flom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Wowing Concert Crowds With Arena-Sized Magic By Melonee Hurt

Create What’s Next at Lipscomb University . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 New Program Supports School’s College of Entertainment & the Arts

The Theater Bug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 No Small Parts—Only Small Actors By Marc Acton

Choose your ARTZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Download App Now!


Nashville Sports & Entertainment The Transcendence of Marcus Mariota By Sherry Stinson

87 Nashville Guru Calendar of Events 100 Nashville Arts & Entertainment Honors 107 Like Father (and Mother), Like Son By Sherry Stinson

Nathan Chapman’s Music Success Is All in the Family By Courtney Keen

As we begin our eleventh edition of Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine, we are excited to announce the third annual Nashville Arts & Entertainment Honors. We believe that it is important to call attention to those who have been champions and leaders in the arts and entertainment community. . . so we are proud to recognize these amazing business champions, philanthropists, and artists whose lives and work in music, the visual and performing arts, business, and philanthropy have impacted our lives in countless ways. Nashville Arts & Entertainment is making a total donation of $4,000 to recognize and honor the tremendous spirit of giving and upliftment each award winner embodies. Please be sure to check out pages 100-102 to see this year’s honorees. As always, we have included your favorite sections: Nashville’s Most Interesting People, Places & Things starting on page 52 along with our monthly calendar of arts and entertainment events powered by Nashville Guru beginning on page 87. We are very excited to announce the launch of The ARTZ App ~ This is a digital copy of all our publications. Please go to The App Store or Google Play to Download for Free & Choose your ARTZ! We hope you enjoy our unique editorial perspective as we bring you the best in performing, visual and literary arts along with a fun and entertaining look at our yearly Nashville Sports & Entertainment section beginning on page 82. Also don’t miss our annual section called Nashville Arts & Entertainment’s Bucket List beginning on page 22! There is much more to explore in this edition. Thank you for spending time with us, and please feel free to send me your comments and story suggestions. Enjoy and God bless! Robin Glover


Contributors Beverly Keel

Sherry Stinson Beverly Keel is chair of MTSU’s

Sherry Stinson has been



writing about Nashville’s

Industry, where she has been

sports and entertain-

a professor since 1995. She

ment arenas for more

i s a l s o a n award-winning

than 10 years. She is an

journalist who has written for


Parade, People, InStyle, New

s t u d e n t o f l i fe. S h e

Yo r k

c u r r e n t l y resides in







publications. She currently

Omaha, NE, where she

writes a column for The Tennessean. She was inducted into

just got her REALTOR’s license, and works in

the Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame in May.

Nashville as a marketing and PR director keeping life

Lori Ward

interesting! In her spare time she bikes, swims and enjoys a few good glasses of red wine to keep a Lori





Tennessee Performing Arts Center,





fresh perspective on life.

Deborah Evans Price

variety of performances and

Deborah Evans Price

one of the most comprehensive

is a Nashville-based

education programs in the

freelance writer/author

United States. Her 16 years here


have been the highlight of her career in communications, public

First, Simple Grace

education organizations.

and other outlets.

Janet Morris Grimes

Winner of the Country

Janet is the author of the book The Parent’s Guide to Uncluttering



S h e h a s s e r ve d a s t h e Devotional Editor for The Christian Pulse, and is also a writer for Christian Woman Magazine and Inspire a Fire, as well as a music reviewer and contributor for Crossroad Magazine. For more information Janet,




Rolling Stone Country,

relations and community outreach for nonprofit arts and



Billboard, People,





Music Association’s 2013 Media Achievement Award, she’s interviewed such luminaries as Dolly Parton, Don Henley, Mario Andretti, Louis Gossett Jr., Reba, Roma Downey and Luke Bryan. A noted country and Christian music historian, she’s authored The CMA Awards Vault, a history of the Country Music Association Awards as well as a historical retrospective on Word Records—“Word: Six Decades of Hits.” She is also author of the books Country Faith and







executive producer of the Country Faith series of CDs on Word Entertainment.

@NashvilleAandE •



Bret D. Haines

Matt Glover Bret D. Haines is a


graphic designer,

serves double duty as both

art director, and


has taught graphic

contributor to Nashville Arts &




design at Art Insti-

Entertainment Magazine. His

tute of Tennessee,

five year tenure at Glover

Nashville and Watkins

Group Entertainment has





Design & Film. He design business, and is senior graphic designer for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. Bret is pleased to be included as the art director



runs BaaHaus Design, a small advertising and

business degree


new limits. In addition to his magazine responsibilities, Matt handles information technology, marketing and oversees new business initiatives.

and designer for Nashville Arts & Entertainment for a fifth year.

Melonee Hurt

Dan Keen

Melonee Hurt is a freelance writer who has been covering Energetic, personable

the fashion, music and fitness

and eclectic, Belmont

industries for more than 20

University’s Dan Keen

years. She spent years in New

has enjoyed a multi-

York City working for Women’s

faceted career in

Wear Daily and Daily News


Record before relocating to



music is


her home state of Tennessee

alumnus of Leadership

to cover entertainment, retail,

Music. As a Vice-

business and growth and development in Williamson County

President with the American Society of Authors

for the Tennessean. She has been published in New York



Magazine, Fitness, Men’s Health, American Profile, Runner’s

facilitated dominate market share in his areas of

World and Southern Exposure Magazine. This is her second

responsibility and received ASCAP’s Award of

year as a contributor for Nashville Arts & Entertainment.




Excellence. Some of his ASCAP signings include Paramore, country superstar Chris Young, ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley

Marc Acton Marc Acton is a Nashville-

and bluegrass icons Sierra Hull and Nickel Creek.

based magazine writer and

After Dan’s stellar service on the Board of


Directors of the International Bluegrass Music

Tennessee Army National

ASCAP Award, a #1 Christian song and songs on

Guard, and has played central

Grammy nominated albums. Keen served as

midfield for his soccer teams

Secretary on the Gospel Music Association’s

since he was tall enough to

Board of Directors and is well known for weaving discussions. As a high school student in Colorado, he was inducted into the Denver Post Hall Of Fame for his part in thwarting an attempted rape



flies helicopters for the

Kentucky Colonel. His songwriting earned an

his faith journey into his Belmont University class

s t ra t e g i s t

specializes in custom content,

Association (IBMA), he was commissioned a

and apprehending the assailant.



wear shoes. He writes about the military, brisket tacos, and anything else for the right price.







at You can usually find him going on and on about soccer or other nonsense on Twitter at @fastacton.

Courtney Keen Courtney Keen is a writer

Join us at our table.

specializing in the nonprofit sector. She has traveled internationally to


report on humanitarian relief in Myanmar, Vanuatu, and most notably, in Nepal after the major earthquakes of 2015. She has served in




nonprofits in New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Courtney is a proud native Nashvillian who keeps moving back home because it truly is where her heart is. Stories from her global adventures can be found at

Ronnie Brooks When the editors asked Ronnie Brooks to interview Pat Boone for this issue, it was like going back to the beginning. A career musician/



writer/producer, Brooks was six when he saw his first concert—Pat Boone—at Fair.





then, with


Brooks (and



about) many celebs, but this was a full-circle experience.

Lorie Hollabaugh Nashville native Lorie Hollabaugh’s first “backstage pass” was as a 5-year-old



behind the scenes at the Grand Ole Opry




cowboy singer and actor Tex Ritter, performed on the show, and the lure of rhinestones and rhythms proved too much to resist. She’s been hooked on the Nashville music scene ever since, and has written about it extensively for publications like CMA Close Up, Billboard, Country Weekly, and DISH magazine for the past two decades. Lorie has also worked in the PR and tour marketing world for years, and is currently working on her first book project featuring celebrities and sports figures.

@NashvilleAandE •





ude . . . Eric Clapton’s on the phone! He’s in the studio and wants some help figuring out how you played the guitar part on that song you wrote ...” How’d you like to get that call? In essence, Nashville songwriter/producer/musician Gordon Kennedy did. Kennedy had gotten to know Clapton, thanks to a song he co-wrote with Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims, entitled Change the World. The record swept the Grammys in 1996, winning Record of the Year, Song of the Year and more. Because of the record’s success, Clapton was quite open to more of Kennedy’s songs. One morning, while dropping his son off at kindergarten, Kennedy answered his cellphone. On the other end, Clapton was asking about a new song, “Did you use a pick or your fingers?” After a quick over-the-phone lesson, Clapton closed the conversation with, “We will try, but I’m not sure we’ll get it as cool as your demo.” Stories like Kennedy’s —like the stories behind so many hit songs—are part of what makes Nashville unique, and deserving of the title “Music City.” And nobody tells those stories better than the songwriters and musicians themselves.

WRITING TOGETHER— SEPARATELY Just like that call, the writing process for Change the World was also quirky. Co-writer Wayne Kirkpatrick remembers, “In the spring of ’91, Gordon and I brought Tommy Sims and a drummer, Chris McHugh, in for a potential band.”



Kennedy chuckles, “We called ourselves The Mute Brutes of Labor. While kicking around ideas, Tommy played some cool music and said, ‘Hey, fellas, is this an idea the group could do?’ Tommy also mentioned the hook, Change the World. We liked it, but it never got developed.” Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy, Eric Clapton, Wayne Kirkpatrick. Later, Kirkpatrick took Sims, Kennedy & Kirkpatrick co-wrote the song, Change the World. Sims’ idea and wrote lyrics for the chorus and a partial second verse (yes, he wrote the second verse first). A year later, Kennedy and Sims were in Ohio working on a gospel project when the idea for Change the World resurfaced. In a home studio there, they 1 recorded the music tracks for the whole song. This was the beginning of the demo that Eric The latest Kennedy/Kirkpatrick chart-topper is The Gypsy in Clapton eventually heard. Me, recorded by Bonnie Raitt. The song recently hit No. 1 on “I made a quick mix to a cassette,” Kennedy the Americana charts. recalls, “then on the drive back to Nashville, “Bonnie Raitt has cut several of our songs,” says Kennedy. I played that cassette in my car stereo while “She’s always kinda let us know when she needs more, singing into a microcassette recorder in my hand and we’ll write for her records. For this latest album, Dig to finish the lyrics Wayne had started.” Back In Deep, Wayne and I remembered that when we’d seen home, Kennedy completed the demo. Bonnie at the Ryman, she mentioned that her favorite “We’re all great friends and love writing and place to be is on the road. After all these years she still has playing together,” says Kirkpatrick. “But that wanderlust for touring and playing her music.” song was written in spurts by different iterations of the three of us. We three were never all together in the same room at the same time to write that song!”


“I keep a notebook of song ideas,” Kirkpatrick continues, “and I had written down The Gypsy in Me idea. Bonnie is a road dog. It fit her perfectly. We wrote it in one sitting with Raitt in mind.”

ended the song by saying, ‘Go on and walk away, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.’ I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Son, you’re missing it! Don’t let her get away! Rewrite the end.’ Roy and Billy came back with the ending as it exists now, where the Pretty Woman turns and, as the lyric says, “What do I see, is she walkin’ back to me . . . Yeah, she’s walkin’ back to me.’” Boom—instant classic!

CREATING A ROY ORBISON CLASSIC Gordon Kennedy’s father, longtime Music Row producer and session guitarist Jerry Kennedy, has many great stories about being in the studio as a musician and/or producer on some of the best-known records in history. In creating the recordings, signature “riffs” or “licks” often occur. A perfect example is Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman. Jerry remembers, “I walked in the studio with my guitars and there was Roy on a stool in front of a mic. He had an acoustic 12-string guitar in his lap and played me the opening, now-famous lick to the song. Besides Roy there were three other guitar players booked for the session: Wayne Moss, Billy Sanford and myself. So I suggested that since the lick repeats several times, Roy and I would start it, then Wayne and Billy would join in one by one. We teased it then drove it home.” The producer of Oh, Pretty Woman, Country Music Association Hall of Famer Fred Foster, shared another secret about the classic recording. “The reason it sounds so full is that I also had Boots Randolph and Charlie McCoy on saxes. They’re down in the mix so you don’t hear them right away, but they give it a lot of beef.” Foster remembers when Roy Orbison brought the song to his office to play it for the first time. “Roy and Billy Dees had been in the kitchen writing when Roy’s wife came in all dolled up to go shopping. Roy asked her if she needed any money and she said ‘No,’ and left. They watched her walk away and Billy said, ‘Roy, don’t you know that a pretty woman never needs money?’ The song sprung from that.” In that first version, Foster remembers, “Roy

Allen Shamblin, Bonnie Raitt & Mike Reid

TACKLING A HIT IDEA Bonnie Raitt keeps coming back to Nashville for hits. At a 2015 concert, she stated, “When I’m gone, this next song by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin will be what they will remember me by.” She proceeded to sing I Can’t Make You Love Me, a heartbreaking song first performed on the 1992 Grammy Awards, with Bruce Hornsby exquisitely accompanying Raitt on piano. How many smashes have been written by an All-Pro football player? Only Mike Reid, former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle — after conquering the heights of the NFL—blitzed the top of the country music charts, becoming a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Thus far, Mike’s had 12 No. 1 songs, written seven musicals and won a Grammy Award. Reid’s co-writer on I Can’t Make You Love Me, fellow Songwriters Hall of Famer Allen Shamblin, remembers, “I’d read a newspaper article about a homeless man whose wife picked him up and drove him to the courthouse for their divorce hearing. They hugged, cried and said goodbye. The paper quoted him as saying

something like, ‘Ya know, sometimes you just can’t make a woman love you.’” Shamblin continues, “So we started it as an up-tempo, kind of tongue-in-cheek bluegrassy song. Much later I was back at Mike’s and he played me the most haunting, beautiful ballad I’d ever heard. When he started singing our lyrics for I Can’t Make You Love Me with that music, I knew it was something very special. We went into his writing room and finished it that day.” Raitt’s heartbreaking version was featured in a Grammy’s Greatest Moments project and has been recorded by a diverse group of great artists including Adele, Boyz II Men, George Michael and Indian star Priyanka Chopra. And for laughs, Kate McKinnon even covered the song in character as Hillary Clinton for a 2016 Saturday Night Live sketch.

NEW LIFE FOR AN OLD FAVORITE One of the greatest moments in the history of the CMA Awards ccurred last year when Nashvillian Chris Stapleton and Memphis native Justin Timberlake blended in Tennessee Whiskey and stunned everyone watching the TV show (and YouTube viewers for weeks afterward). Dean Dillon and the late Linda Hargrove wrote that song years ago at 4 a.m., after a night at the legendary Bluebird Cafe—followed by fine dining at the Waffle House. “Linda Hargrove was a writer’s writer,” Dillon notes. “She’d had

@NashvilleAandE •



Top; Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton perform Tennessee Whiskey during the CMA Awards last year. Right; Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame induction: (left to right) Allen Reynolds, Pat Alger, Garth Brooks and Jimmy Wayne. Bottom Right; Craig Wiseman, cowriter of “Live Like You Were Dying.”

some big Olivia Newton-John cuts. She was playing the Bluebird, so I went to the show and introduced myself.” An artist in his own right today with the Texas Jamm Band, Dillon is also the writer of 11 George Strait No. 1s and 26 chart-toppers, total. He had carried the lyrics for Tennessee Whiskey in his head for some time. He mentioned the idea to Hargrove and a songwriter all-nighter ensued. In 1983, the song became a No. 1 hit for George Jones. Brad Paisley has cut it as well. But even recordings by two of country music’s biggest stars didn’t create the stir of the CMA stunner with Stapleton and Timberlake. “They blew everybody up with it!” exclaims Dillon. “That song is 43 years old. In 45 minutes, Hargrove and I wrote a song that has really withstood the test of time.” Chris Stapleton had always counted Tennessee Whiskey among his favorites. At a show in Charlottesville, VA, he and his band were jamming on an R&B groove during the sound check, and he just started singing the song on top of it. It just so happened that Chris’ steel player, Steve Hinson, had played in George Jones’ band. So they decided to do the song that night—and every night since.



FROM INSPIRED TO INSPIRATIONAL Music City is home to gospel music too. Arguably, of all the Garth Brooks smashes, the spiritually themed Unanswered Prayers might be his best-known and best-loved. Garth has often said that it teaches him the same lesson: Happiness isn’t getting what you want; it’s wanting what you’ve got. Performing at a writers’ night at The Listening Room in Nashville, co-writer Pat Alger described how the song came to be. “I had a co-writing appointment with this new kid in town. He wasn’t ‘Garth Brooks’ yet, he was just a guy from Oklahoma,” he grinned. “As with most new cowriting sessions, we started getting to know each other a bit, swapping stories. We discovered one that was common to both of us. “After many years,” Alger reminisced, “I had run into an old high school girlfriend who, back then, I had prayed and prayed that she’d come back. I had wanted her to be ‘the one’! Well, we started catching up with each other and I learned a lot—like … well, she had a couple of kids that I thought weren’t, um … so good, and I saw her in a totally different light than I had in high school. I was grateful God hadn’t answered my

high school prayer like I wanted him to!” Spiritual reflection has produced many of Music City’s greatest songs. But while writing them, even the best writers are often unaware of the giant that their writing session will birth. Grammy Award–winning songwriter Craig Wiseman, co-writer of 21 No. 1 songs, three-

time ASCAP Songwriter of the Year, and NSAI’s Songwriter of the Decade, says they don’t come into the world as hits. “I have lots of shiny things [awards] on my mantel,” says Wiseman, “but they don’t start out that way. They were all ideas born in a room with another writer talking about life and looking for a thread, some little truth that turns into a song, like Live Like You Were Dying.”

2 While working out on a treadmill, superstar Tim McGraw happened to notice a video from Oprah Winfrey’s series Belief. McGraw had recorded Humble and Kind, another heart-tugger like those for which he’s known, and contacted Oprah to convince her that his song was a perfect match with her footage. Voila!—a new Tim McGraw video resulted. Winfrey responded, “Tim, I love this song. Every word feels true.” One reason for that is because the songwriter, Lori McKenna, is very real and “true.” Not your typical music biz persona, Lori maintains a happy home with a husband and five children in Boston, while writing hit songs for Alison Krauss, Mandy Moore, Keith Urban, Reba, Little Big Town, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Lori has also toured as an opener for Faith and Tim. She’s not your stereotypical mother of five, either! “I wrote Humble and Kind for my kids,” McKenna says. “I wanted to make sure I told them all the little things that a mother wants to remind her children. Last fall, I got to perform the song at the Opry with all my kids there. I remember one of my sons getting emotional during the song—it’s one of the only songs I’ve written that my kids know it is specifically about them. I’m sure it was the added magic about being at the Ryman, but I could see that every single one of them was really listening to the lyrics. And as a mother, that’s all I could ever hope for with this song.” 14


Tim Nichols, who co-wrote the Tim McGraw megahit, adds, “Craig and I just showed up to write like any other day. We didn’t have any idea that it was going to be the day we wrote that song.” Nichols, a fellow Grammy winner and multi– No. 1 writer, mentioned a friend who’d been misdiagnosed with cancer and had lived for several days thinking he was going to die soon. He had told Tim about all the things he had decided were critically important to do before he died. Wiseman had heard a similar tale on NPR about a woman with cancer who said she’d always wanted to go mountain climbing in the Rockies. The two songwriters began spitting out phrases like “dying to live” when Wiseman said, “Live like you were dying,” and off they went. They wrote the first verse and chorus, then had to knock off for the day so Nichols could pick up his son. “Craig called me that night around 10:30, and we finished it over the phone.” “When my dad was failing,” Tim continues, “my brothers and I would take turns taking him fishing. That’s where the line ‘Goin’ fishing wasn’t such an imposition anymore’ comes from.” Wiseman concludes, “So many writers make stuff up, and that’s cool. But I say, ‘You don’t have to make up things—tell your stories.’”

Carla Wallace, Meghan Trainor’s publisher.

Asked if she and Meghan ever chatted about female body shapes and sizes, and boys — like the theme of the song—Wallace laughs, “All girls talk about their shapes and sizes. And dudes . . . ? C’mon!”

IT’S ALL ABOUT THAT SONG! One of 2014’s biggest pop hits might not be immediately perceived as a Nashville song. But Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass definitely has local roots and is another Music City smash hit. According to the Nashville publisher of the song, Carla Wallace of Big Yellow Dog, Trainor had been writing in L.A. for other artists. All About That Bass was the first song the young singer wrote for herself, after signing with the Nashville company. The song was written with local writer/producer Kevin Kadish and produced in his Nolensville studio. In addition to topping the charts in 58 countries, the record earned a Best New Artist Grammy for Trainor. “Meghan had a throwback ‘shoo-wop’ sound along with jazz rhythms and could play any instrument, produce tracks and vocals, and sing harmonies,” Wallace remembers. “This was all at age 17 when I met her.”

3 A delightful element of Meghan Trainor’s songwriting is the playful way she handles important and personal issues for girls. Her new album features NO, which, quite simply, is her way to handle unwelcome advances from guys. Trainor’s albums have lots of sonic throwbacks. This song is reminiscent of the ’80s, and like the first lady of that era, Nancy Reagan, Meghan suggests to “Just say ‘No’!” Soul-searching messages, heart-melting lyrics, cool licks, the profound and the fun, country, gospel, rock and pop—and those are just a few of our stories. But they’re all a part of what makes Nashville “Music City.”

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Charles Kelley Steps Out (A Little)




harles Kelley, frontman for the trio Lady Antebellum, might be doing things backward. His success story is a quick read, sparked by a chance encounter at a local bar soon after he arrived in town. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 2004 as a finance major, Kelley moved to Winston-Salem, NC, to put his degree to good use, working with his oldest brother’s construction business. But then he got a call from their middle brother, rocker Josh Kelley, inviting him to Nashville so they could write songs together. Charles then did the same with longtime friend Dave Haywood, who had played guitar in the jazz band with both brothers at Lakeside High School in Evans, GA. Kelley and Haywood, songwriting cohorts since the age of 14, picked up where they left off but barely had time to pound the pavement before fate introduced them to Hillary Scott. The daughter of Linda Davis and Lang Scott, both of whom had performed with Reba McEntire for years, Hillary was coming into her own as a singer and songwriter. That brief meeting led to their first writing session together. Seven songs and one live show later, Lady Antebellum was born. Their exclusive sound was as smooth and rare as the way Kelley and Scott comfortably shared lead vocals. The blend with Haywood was perfect, regardless of who was leading—like three strands of the same cord.

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Signing with Capitol Nashville in 2007, the trio pulled off their first Academy of Country Music Award, for New Vocal Group of the Year, before their first LP ever reached store shelves. The fans had spoken, and a string of No. 1 hits, numerous awards (including seven Grammys), over 10 million albums sold, and years of headlining tours soon followed—and the threesome never looked back. In the fall of 2015, as they approached the tail end of their Wheels Up tour, the group announced it was time to slow down for a season. Each of the trio had married and started a family since Love Don’t Live Here first hit the airwaves in 2007, and they needed to get off the music-business hamster wheel long enough to enjoy their families and rediscover who they had become over the previous decade. Scott is using the time to record a gospel album with her family. Haywood is writing and producing other groups in the studio. And Kelley, a motorcycle enthusiast and occasional golfer offstage, also wanted to do a little musical experimentation of his own.



BACK TO HIS ROOTS With the blessings of his bandmates, Kelley fleshed out a few song ideas that had been floating around in his head for a while, songs with a different tone and feel that wasn’t quite right for Lady A. He credits producer Paul Worley, with Lady Antebellum since their start, for encouraging him to pursue this project and delve deeper as a vocalist. “The main thing we were chasing was a certain spot in my voice that I’ve gotten away from as our music has gotten more mainstream.

This record is a lot lower, a lot grittier, gravelly.” Kelley funded the production himself and brought in several well-known voices to join the fun. The first thought was to deliver a fiveor six-song EP, but with the buzz generated after performing at a music industry showcase, it became a full-length album he refers to as a “record with no agenda.” “There’s been this pull to get back to the stuff I grew up loving, which is ’70s Southern rock,” Kelley explains. The Driver, his debut single from the album of the same name, is co-written with Eric Paslay and Abe Stoklasa. It offers a firsthand look at what it takes to put on a show, first from the perspective of the tour bus driver, then the point of view of the fans, and finally from the singer onstage. Kelley recorded it with Paslay singing the second verse and Dierks Bentley featured on the third. “Of course I take a break from Lady A, a trio, to put out a song with a trio of dudes,” jokes Kelley. The song The Driver is an experiment gone wild. Not only did it introduce Kelley as a solo artist, it also received a Grammy


Charles Kelley performing with fellow Lady Antibellum band members, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood.

nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. “I’ve written a lot of songs over my career, and this is one of the top five of my favorite songs that I’ve ever been a part of,” Kelley explained on The Tonight Show. Kelley had already finished a melancholy ballad entitled I Wish You Were Here, depicting the lonely motel-room life on the extended road, but immediately knew it was missing something. So he called in a favor from Miranda Lambert, whose voice highlights the broken vulnerability he was looking for in the song. “If it was just me singing, I don’t think you’d get the full picture of what this song is about,” he says. Other very notable guest appearances include the soulful Chris Stapleton on Lonely Girl (a song Stapleton had originally offered to Lady Antebellum), and the unmistakable voice of Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, singing a duet on Tom Petty’s 1985 classic Southern Accents. There are strong family ties around the album, too. Round in Circles, an up-tempo tune with an “I shouldn’t be doing this with you again” message, was co-written with brother Josh. Charles compliments his brother, noting, “He taught me how to write songs, is a great producer, and the



whole reason I moved to Nashville.” Kelley honors his wife, Cassie, with The Only One Who Gets Me. Cassie was a publicist for Josh Kelley when the couple met. They married in 2009 in a Bahamas destination wedding and welcomed their first son in February 2016. “I have ADD and am constantly restless. She is the one who talks me off the ledge, and helps keep it in perspective to enjoy each moment.” And Kelley’s performer’s perspective makes one more appearance in Leaving Nashville, as he offers a soulful, hungry truth about the music business’s addictive pull:

One day, you’re the king And the next, you’re not It’s handshakes and whiskey shots And throwing up in parking lots all by yourself... But I ain’t never leaving Nashville Taking It to the Streets

Kelley’s musical exploration has proven he still has some unresolved music in his blood, while cementing his reputation for never being able to sit still. To promote and showcase the songs on The Driver, he filmed a series of Behind the Song vignettes, one-mic/one-take acoustic videos,

and Top of the Tower videos with his full band performing each song on top of the Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles. In March 2016, he launched a tour that included Maren Morris and Josh Kelley, allowing him the experience of performing in smaller, intimate venues—something he missed when Lady Antebellum exploded onto the scene. “In the bigger venues it’s hard to personally connect with each person,” Kelley notes, “but when you’re in a club, you can feel it and see it and hear it. There’s an infectious energy that comes with everybody being on top of each other.” At first, he found it unsettling to step onstage by himself. “I was a little nervous, for sure. It’s hard not having the support of my two best friends onstage to play off of,” Kelley says, “but I feel like I’m giving the fans more content at a time when we would’ve been silent. This is only gonna help me when I step back into the group. Lady Antebellum hasn’t gone anywhere; we’re just taking a long vacation. For me, it’s a work vacation.” He may have created a few new fans in the process. But while he’s on the road spreading his name, it sounds like Charles Kelley is never leaving Nashville.

The Nashville Bucket List A VIEW FROM DOWNTOWN


This 1.2-million-squarefoot space was designed with some rather interesting features that are explained on their totallyworth-your-time, behind-thescenes tour. The curvy backbone of the new addition to the Nashville skyline is sustainability: The roof is a 4-acre rooftop garden that helps reduce the energy needed to heat and cool the building, while holding down air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. If the sustainability story doesn’t do it for you, the architecture alone is worth the time. Reserve your free tour at their website. 201 Fifth Ave. S. (615) 401-1400




One thing Nashville has seemingly ignored for many years is its views of the downtown skyline. But with recent growth and renewed in-town vibrancy, several restaurateurs have finally given us multiple places in the sun. Thank you, Acme Feed & Seed. Thank you, Virago. Thank you, Sambuca, Watermark and Up! All fabulous eateries with or without their view, their rooftop bars and dinner seating rival those in any urban setting. So if it’s a nice night, find a spot atop one of these hot spots and set a spell. Or do what Whoopi says and “enjoy the view.”

Yes. It’s a verb. And a noun. You go honky-tonkin’ at a honky-tonk, and these joints are the blood that pulses through the veins of Nashville. They always have been and always will be. The legendary stretch of Lower Broadway that fills the air with live music wafting out of every front door is a must-do. You can amble into Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Robert’s Western World or The Stage at pretty much any hour of the day or night and hear some of the best live country and rockabilly music you’ll ever hear. A bit like the Waffle House of live music, you won’t be impressed with the housekeeping in any of them, but there’s something magical about the dinge, knowing that probably every famous country star has knocked back a PBR here—maybe on the very barstool you’re sitting on.

By Melonee Hurt

4. NASHVILLE GHOST TOURS Any city that has a little history to it comes with some great stories of those who came before us—and might still be here. Nashville Ghost Tours offers a haunted walking tour, a haunted tavern tour (complete with frosty-cold adult beverages) and a hearse tour. Spots boasting extremely creepy ghost stories include the Ryman Auditorium, Union Station Hotel, the Tennessee State Capitol and Printers Alley. The proprietors of the business pride themselves on historical accuracy and multiple eyewitness sources for each story. Sightings have happened during tours, so prepare to be scared! Visit the website for more information on tours and times.


Tennessee’s state capitol is a majestic spot, whether or not you’re interested in the legislature. The piece of land, in itself, is scenic and beautiful, and it is crowned by the historic capitol building that dates back to 1859. The building was designed by architect William Strickland, who died suddenly during the construction and was then buried in the north façade of the building (see #4). The capitol is open to the public, and free tours are available. During legislative sessions, visitors can view the sessions of the Senate and House of Representatives from viewing galleries. For details on tours and hours of operation, visit the website. 600 Charlotte Ave. (615) 741-2692

onstage that has kept the Station Inn alive for more than 40 years. Almost as revered locally as the Grand Ole Opry, the Station Inn attracts toplevel performers, and you never know who might sit in. So keep your eyes open and enjoy what the old sign boasts: “Live acoustic music and beer, pizza and snacks.” 402 12th Ave. S. (615) 255-3307

6. FARMERS’ MARKET The Nashville Farmers’ Market is a bustling, outdoor shopping mecca of home-grown goodness in the warmer summer months, with indoor eateries and stalls open all year. Housing upward of 100 farmers alongside local ranchers, dairies and plant nurseries, the Farmers’ Market is chock-full of homegrown and homemade palate pleasers, including farm-direct goods, local honey, cheese and jams. The market, which has been in existence in one form or another since the early 1800s, has survived urban development, relocation and a flood. 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. (615) 880-2001


Rock ’n’ Roll Nashville Marathon & 1/2 Marathon are really great ways to see the city on foot. Not only do you go past historic spots, tourist attractions and Music Row, you also get to see the city’s festive side. In addition to frequent bands and performers (it is Music City), neighbors along the course set up drink stands and dress in costumes to entertain participants. The race takes place every April, and whether you’re a marathoner or a weekend warrior, this event is a must-do. nashville/


Situated on Broadway in a statuesque and stately early-1900s art deco building, The Frist Center is eye candy on multiple levels—and repurposing at its finest. The beautiful, centuryold building was originally Nashville’s downtown post office but now houses a thriving museum for visual arts, thanks to Dr. Thomas Frist Jr. and his family, who steered the building’s revival. Open seven days a week and featuring some of the best rotating art exhibits in the world, the center has something for children and adults alike. The gift shop is a favorite shopping spot among locals as well, so be sure and stop in. 919 Broadway (615) 244-3340

One of the coolest things about The Gulch (see #17) is that it has completely developed around, over, beyond and in spite of a small, nondescript cinder block building called the Station Inn. But it’s not the 9. COUNTRY MUSIC building that makes this a must-see MARATHON Nashville spot—it’s what happens If you’re a runner, the St. Jude


Not to be outdone by their running friends, the triathlon community also offers a unique way to see the city. Held each July, the Music City Triathlon begins and ends in the parking lot of Nissan Stadium (home of the NFL Tennessee Titans), but not before winding participants through the streets of downtown and up and down the Cumberland River. It’s an event worth watching, even if you aren’t up for jumping in and participating. events/64

accoutrements sourced from local farmers. hotels/thompson-nashville


What has become Nashville’s muchneeded downtown green space by day is also the area’s coolest new outdoor concert venue by night. Designed to be a park first and a venue second, the world-class amphitheater replaces a dormant, stinky old trash-burning facility that occupied a massive 11-acre tract along the riverfront. So check out the concert lineup, pack a picnic, stroll over to the grounds, enjoy a nap on the lawn and get ready for showtime! 310 First Ave. S. (615) 999-9000 www.ascendamphitheater. com


Inside what looks like the world’s largest piano (and arguably one of the cooler building façades lining the streets of downtown Nashville) sits the Disney World of country music. The CMHOF is equal parts preservation and celebration of one of America’s most beloved musical genres. Yes, you’ll find rhinestones and old guitars, but you can also see live music and exhibits from current stars. The building itself is a spectacle and worth a visit, but the contents— for any country music fan—make a visit to Nashville complete. 222 Fifth Ave. S. (615) 416-2001


Downtown’s newest boutique hotel opening fall of 2016, is a hot spot worth seeing. Thompson Nashville is set to make The Gulch a little bit sexier, with floor-toceiling windows and a sleek, luxurious design celebrating a creative Southern spirit. Think sophisticated, but in The Gulch, which is the capital of young and hip, so you know the hotel— along with the people who stay there—will be pretty. There will be a rooftop patio, bars featuring regional brews, and The Marsh House restaurant for a seafood-focused menu with


It’s widely known as the Mother Church of Country Music. And while it was a church originally, it has become much more than that. It’s among the best venues in the world to see live music. It’s small enough to promise you’ll never get a bad seat, but large and renowned enough to draw amazing talent to its famous stage. Among artists from all genres,

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the Ryman is considered holy ground. But even if a live show isn’t in your plans, a tour of the facility should be. Established in 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, the gorgeous building still cradles its guests in creaky old church pews inside sunlit stained-glass windows. 116 Fifth Ave. N. (615) 889-3060


If the Country Music Hall of Fame is a showcase for Reba’s beaded gowns, then the Musicians Hall of Fame is the showcase for the legendary players who made all of her albums sound so good. Musicians represented in this amazing space range from Chet Atkins to Garth Brooks, alongside many other names you might not know as well—but their skills on guitar, keyboard, drums and bass will be extremely familiar to you. The newest addition to the space is the Grammy Museum Gallery that aims to educate students and visitors about the process of making music. 401 Gay St. (entrance on Musicians Way) (615) 244-3263

name is home to the award-winning Nashville Symphony. Named after the symphony’s music director and principal conductor of more than 20 years, Kenneth Schermerhorn, the $123.5 million building opened in 2006—even though it looks as if it’s been a part of the rich musical culture of Nashville forever. The facility is widely lauded for its acoustical beauty, its neoclassical architectural style, its acclaimed symphonic performances, and amazing pops performances that pair the symphony with diverse artists including LeAnn Rimes, Styx, Boyz II Men, Alabama and Tony Bennett. One Symphony Place (615) 687-6500 (615) 687-6400 (box office)


Just know that if you are over 25 or buy your clothes in a shopping mall, you will feel old and very un-hip.

their lifetime. It’s totally a different experience from watching a game on TV. Being in the stadium, feeling the excitement and experiencing everything that isn’t picked up on TV (singing the national anthem with 69,000 friends, for example) makes this a serious Nashville must-do. The season runs from September through January, so come see if the new 21. JOHN SEIGENTHALER coaching staff can bring back a little PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE of that original Titans mojo. Take a walk across the John 1 Titans Way Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, named after famed journalist and longtime editor and publisher of The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper. The walk across this bridge isn’t necessarily to get to the other side (unless you’re going to 18. NASHVILLE SOUNDS a Titans game). It’s really to get to the BASEBALL top and look back at the city. The views There’s something about spending of the Nashville skyline are great, as are a summer evening at the ballpark. the views of the river from atop the Thanks to a brand-new stadium and pedestrian-only bridge. revamped energy for our Triple-A minor league team, locals and visitors alike are enjoying a renewed fervor for the Nashville Sounds and hometown baseball. First Tennessee Park sits just over Capitol Hill from downtown and offers great views and some great opportunities to share 20. CITY WINERY America’s favorite pastime with your Is it a winery or a restaurant … or an friends and family. The season runs intimate live music venue? It’s actually 22. BREWERY TOURS from April to September, so check the all three and worth a visit for all three website for tickets. Downtown Nashville is home to reasons. Boasting an impressive 19 Junior Gilliam Way three breweries becoming well lineup of name acts and those with (615) 690-HITS (4487) known for their craft beers and ample more of a boutique following, City amounts of hospitality (and others Winery has established itself among are springing up all the time). Yazoo, an already impressive list of live music Jackalope and Tennessee Brew Works venues in Nashville. It’s sort of the offer tastings, tours, and a fun way Ryman minus the history. Honestly, to spend an afternoon among fellow the venue’s seats are all good, and so lovers of a good porter, IPA or other is the food. And live music aside, the specialty brew. Tours include plenty space is a playground for wine lovers. of tastings if you’re 21 or over. Check You can select a barrel, have it named websites for operating hours, tour after you, and even print a unique schedules and seasonal brews. label for your very own batch. Visit 910 Division St. the website for more on the winery, (615) 891-4649 brunch, Wine Wednesday, weddings, dinner or the patio, or to get on the 701 Eighth Ave. S. waiting list to see Emmylou. (615) 873-4313

Just a few years ago, the area referred to as The Gulch consisted of train tracks and homeless people. But now, it offers the one thing downtown Nashville has lacked for decades: hipster stuff. It’s a nice respite from the honky-tonks and touristy areas a few blocks down Broadway, offering walkable enjoyment between uberfab restaurants (like Saint Añejo Cantina—a must-do), trendy bars (Bar Louie, The Pub Nashville), and shops for the young and beautiful (Urban Outfitters, Blush Boutique). Nestled among towering condo buildings with super-hip names like Velocity and Icon (and the cranes that continue to build more of them) is a 19. TENNESSEE TITANS 16. SCHERMERHORN bustling little town of its own. You FOOTBALL can valet park your car and spend the Going to an NFL game is something SYMPHONY CENTER The amazing building with the funny evening bouncing from joint to joint. everyone should experience in

609 Lafayette St. (615) 324-1010 nashville 809 Ewing Ave. (615) 436-0050

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Newest & Hottest Sound By Janet Morris Grimes



t was a chance meeting on the front steps of the Sigma Chi fraternity house at Georgia Southern University that launched the career of Cole Swindell, the



Academy of Country Music’s 2015 New Artist of the Year. Luke Bryan, an alumnus of the school (and a Sigma Chi) had a show in town that evening and stopped in to

change his guitar strings. Swindell happened to be hanging out on the porch when Bryan sauntered up the stairs and took a seat. They chatted a few minutes, then Bryan strummed through a new song he was working on. And in that moment, Swindell knew what he wanted to do with his life. The only problem was that he had never written a song or sung in public. But from that day, he seized all the opportunities the campus atmosphere offered, and worked his way onto the small stages of school parties and local bars. “College life brings about so many learning experiences in and out of the classroom,” says Swindell, “from study and organizational habits to making friends and reading people—and in my case, to learning to play in front of crowds and how to perform.” Colden Rainey Swindell, named for his grandfather, hit the road to Nashville after earning his marketing degree in 2007 and reconnected with his friend Luke

Bryan. Bryan, still a new artist at that time, offered Swindell a job selling merchandise on the next tour, and he jumped at the opportunity. On the road with Bryan, he absorbed all he could about every aspect of touring and used the downtime to start writing. As with everything else, he didn’t do it halfway. Starting with This Is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line, he soon had written singles for Thomas Rhett and Scotty McCreery and several for Bryan, including Beer in the Headlights.

THE HOT WRITER BECOMES A NO. 1 ARTIST In 2013, with publishing contract in hand, he decided to keep one of his favorites for himself, recording his own demo of Chillin’ It. “The buzz around that song led to me getting a record deal with Warner Music,” says Swindell. “I knew something big was about to happen. It was my first No. 1 hit, so I bought a pair of Lucchese boots to celebrate.”

UP & COMING It’s been a whirlwind ever since. His sophomore album, You Should Be Here, was released in May 2016. The opening song is a duet with Dierks Bentley entitled Flatliner, a song Swindell had written with Bentley in mind four years earlier, though it had never reached him. Good thing—it turned out to be the perfect fit for them to do together. Just as Swindell’s star was on the rise, he lost his father in an accident at home—but not before sharing the great news with him over the phone that he’d finally signed a record deal. His title song, You Should Be Here, is dedicated to his dad. Swindell says, “This is the song I came to Nashville to write. It’s the most special song I’ve ever been a part of.” The song’s video depicts Swindell’s humble beginnings, leading up to the day he signs his recording contract; pulling up in front of the house on his tour bus and his dad running out to greet him; and then, from performing live in front of thousands of people to grieving at his father’s graveside. They say now you’re in a better place And I would be too if I could see your face. You should be here, Standing with your arm around me here. “The video has allowed me to work through the grieving process,” Swindell says. “Performing it live and hearing people’s responses helped me realize that I was lucky to have my dad for 30 years. Not everyone gets that chance.” Swindell’s live tour includes an October 2016 performance at Bridgestone Arena, with Florida Georgia Line.

was featured in The Choice movie trailer, and he’s performed the feelgood anthem live on Today and Conan. Putting his marketing degree to good use, Rector recently partnered with Live Nation and Yahoo to tie the album release to a sing-along contest called Ben Rector Live From Your House. Fans submitted videos of themselves lip-syncing, and the winner received a onehour concert, live-streamed from a home in College Station, TX. One of Rector’s favorite cuts from the album is The Men That Drive Me Places, a song that describes conversations with various cab drivers he’s met during his travels.

Ben Rector NO HAT, NO BOOTS—NO PROBLEM By Janet Morris Grimes


n indie artist does things his own way. With no formula, no management team behind him and no setup crew, most tasks fall to the artist— all the tasks, actually: loading in and out; selling merchandise; piecing a schedule and set together, mile after mile, creating one fan at a time with face-to-face meetings. No one does this better than Ben Rector. With over 400,000 sales and 4 million downloads to his credit, he regularly plays to sold-out crowds across the country. Originally from Tulsa, OK, Rector began singing as a freshman at the University of Arkansas, where he managed to perform 200 shows a year and still find a way to graduate with a B.S. in marketing—a skill

that would serve him well over the following decade. After graduating in 2009, he married the love of his life, Hillary, and headed to Nashville with four full-length albums under his belt. Rector’s style has been described as folk or pop-rock, but more soft and thoughtful. He’s a deep thinker and observer— vulnerable and unguarded. He understands people, and his lyrics occasionally offer listeners a better understanding of themselves. Rector’s expressive songs have been featured on TV shows including One Tree Hill, Make It or Break It, Switched at Birth, Castle, Pretty Little Liars, Heartland and Person of Interest. His latest single and album title cut, Brand New,

You can tell he came from nothing, Built a future out of hustling And somehow I’m the one you people pay to see. Oh how am I the only one who knows I’m half the man of the men that drive me places. In a city built on country music, Rector—less flashy and without the boots—is a rare gem of an artist, and Nashville has taken note. The singer was thrilled to sell out two shows at the Ryman Auditorium in 2015. “I honestly never thought I’d get to play at the Ryman,” he says. His career is definitely on an upswing. After signing with Capitol Records in 2016, Rector is an indie artist no more. What he gains is a powerful marketing and distribution team to reach a greater number of listeners on even bigger stages. But what he will never lose is his authenticity and appreciation for the fans who allow him to do this for a living.

@NashvilleAandE •



Maddie & Tae SETTING THE HOOK By Janet Morris Grimes





very song starts with a great hook. For newcomers Maddie & Tae, the “hook” for their first single, Girl in a Country Song, was so bold, it may have started a movement. The song, written by the twosome, quotes well-known “bro-country” lyrics and titles about how girls are typically portrayed in country songs as objects to ogle. As a debut single, it went straight to No. 1, a feat accomplished by a female duo only three times in the past 70 years. The accompanying video, which includes a brilliant guy-versus-girl role reversal, won a Country Music Association Award in 2015 for Music Video of the Year. In turn, it introduced the world to the adorable duet with their perfect harmonies and tongue-in-cheek message of respect. And judging by the 34 million hits the video has gotten so far, fans can’t seem to get enough. Madison Marlow (Maddie) hails from Sugar Land, TX, while Taylor Dye (Tae) grew up in Ada, OK. The common denominator that brought them together was the vocal coach who trained them separately and sent them both to a showcase in Dallas. Soon, they were headed to a publishing camp in Nashville and were hooked. Early on, as far as a career in music was concerned, Tae was the more driven of the two. “I started asking my mother to take me to

Madison Marlow (left) and Taylor Dye (right) peforming on stage at the Farmborough Festival

Nashville back in the third grade. I always sought music, singing in church or opening my brothers’ baseball games with the national anthem. Later, after my freshman year of high school, I begged my parents to let me homeschool so I could really focus on my music and learn to write.” Maddie stumbled into the scene casually. “My first concert to attend was Tim and Faith’s Soul2Soul Tour in Oklahoma. After that, my parents bought me a karaoke machine. Big mistake.” Once they arrived in Nashville, Maddie & Tae paid their dues at places like Puckett’s Grocery and The Listening Room, with guitar cases open for tips. It’s fitting the pair ended up with Big Machine Records, home of Taylor Swift, on the affiliate Dot label. The message on their first album, Start Here, is that of youthful innocence teetering on the edge of adulthood. They ask the big questions (and sometimes an occasional shallow one), singing out the difficult parts of growing

up, and learning to value what makes them unique. Whatever stands out about them goes much deeper than the songs. Refreshing and barely aware of their immense talent, they come across as two best friends having a blast on an extended road trip. They serve as spokespersons for the Shine Bright campaign with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, encouraging people to write encouraging letters to patients at Vanderbilt. Their second release, the ballad Fly, was chosen as the theme song for this campaign. Recognizing their growing sphere of influence, especially on young girls, Maddie & Tae embrace the opportunity to serve as role models. They’ve starred in an episode of Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World and have been nominated as a favorite on Radio Disney. They’ve been featured in Teen Vogue and Glamour magazines. “For us, Tae and I take responsibility for dressing and

acting modestly. If there’s a little girl in the audience, I want her parents to feel comfortable with her looking up to us,” says Maddie. People of all ages and backgrounds are taking notice. So far, they’ve gotten the chance to perform on Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Access Hollywood, and Today. They spent the spring and summer of 2016 opening for Lee Brice and Brad Paisley, and are eager to start work on their second album. Not yet old enough to drink legally, and not really interested, they’ve attained celebrity status but are too busy doing what comes naturally to notice. Maddie is a hunter, while Tae loves to fish. And just like with their music, they’re good at what they do and not afraid to take on the guys. As the only two girls in the Celebrity Boots and Hearts Bass Classic in Canada in 2015, they won the tournament for hooking the biggest fish. Proving again that in Music City, every new career really does start with a “hook.”




f ew s h o r t y e a r s a g o , this was really a thing: a friendly neighborhood gathering that featured the guys from Old Dominion just sitting around the living room playing songs in exchange for a meal and a few bucks. Not so anymore. Instead, 2016 finds them having a No. 1 hit, winning an ACM Award for New Vocal Duo or Group, and opening for Kenny Chesney to sold-out stadiums. They’ve come a long way since those days of using house concerts to fill open dates when they didn’t have a bar gig. It’s not Old Dominion’s recent rise to fame that comes as a surprise, but rather the unconventional path they took to get here. Loaded with talent, the quintet is made up of songwriters Matthew Ramsey, Brad Tursi, Trevor Rosen, Geoff Sprung and Whit Sellers. Four of the five are from Virginia, and Rosen is from

Michigan. Nashville became their home at different times as they all arrived separately—not to form a band, but to pursue songwriting. United by friendship and their genuine love of music, they stepped onto whatever stage they could find to showcase those songs. And it worked—beautifully. Their writing credits can be found on the albums of Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, The Band Perry, Chris Young, Craig Morgan and Kenny Chesney. Ramsey admits, “I’m always grateful when someone else chooses to record a song, but it doesn’t bring the same artistic high as recording it ourselves.” And for that reason, the band was born. With Sprung on bass, Sellers on drums, Tursi on guitar, and Rosen on guitar or keyboard, they formed the backup band for lead singer Ramsey, while each continued to pursue his individual


By Janet Morris Grimes

career on the side. But soon the early rumblings of a fan base developed, and it became a more permanent group. Needing an answer when asked the name of the band, they adopted the nickname of their home state. When the five of them penned songs together, they abandoned any attempt to sound country. Instead, they followed their gut and, in turn, keyed in to the layers that make them different. As five individual songwriters first, it shapes both their music and their nothing’s-offthe-table style. “I think it gives us a definitive sound because each member puts his fingerprint on the music,” says Rosen. “Between us, we have quite a variety of influences, so in many ways, it makes us less confined to a specific genre.” “Whether consciously or unconsciously, we’re doing our best to serve the song,” adds Sprung. “We all try to stay out of the way!” The group signed with RCA in 2015, inking the contract at the Nashville airport, between tour stops. They readily acknowledge that the team behind them has now quadrupled in size. “We were this little band, handing out free EPs, playing

to nobody,” says Ramsey, “and then suddenly, we had a national audience.” Their debut album, Meat and Candy, is named for songs that are sweet, sing-along tunes (candy) and deeper pieces with greater substance (meat). The album, recorded at Nashville’s House of Blues Studios, features the No. 1 hit single Break Up With Him, the one song written by all five members. “There was a quick surprise celebration when we got the No. 1, and that might have been one of the biggest ‘This is really happening’ moments,” says Sprung. “Having the whole team of people that got us to that point in one room made it obvious that it wasn’t just five dudes in a van anymore.” “Since then, it’s been one milestone after another,” says Rosen. Those milestones include performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this year. They will begin recording their next album in the fall. As for a formula for success, Old Dominion doesn’t have one—they just make it up as they go along. “We have friendship, chemistry and history,” says Ramsey. And that seems to be working out just fine. They go together like meat and candy.

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Performing Arts

A Winning Season for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center DIVERSITY AND GREAT MUSIC SET THE TONE FOR TPAC’S SLATE


can’t remember a more exciting time for Broadway—in New York or Nashville,” says Kathleen O’Brien, president and chief executive officer of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). “Broadway is thriving—in large part, in my opinion—because of the diversity in styles of music, subject matter and casting,” observes O’Brien, who regularly sees shows in New York, votes for the Tony Awards and oversees TPAC investments in new theatrical productions. As the arts center’s CEO, she also is active in the work of The Broadway League and the Independent Presenters Network, two prominent industry associations. “Producers have made deliberate choices



By Lori Ward to support the creative talents of some of the greatest artists of our time,” she says, pointing to performers including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gloria Estefan, and the stellar team behind the current revival of Shuffle Along, one of the first African-American musicals on Broadway. “That’s good news for Nashville, because it means some great titles are on their way to TPAC, eventually.” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton uses a multicultural cast and contemporary music to explore the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton. It’s Broadway’s biggest blockbuster today, consistently selling out. TPAC invested in the two other referenced shows: On Your Feet!, the story of Gloria Estefan and her husband,

Emilio, and Shuffle Along, with direction by the legendary George Wolfe; choreography by Savion Glover, another legend; and a cast that includes Audra McDonald, who holds a record number of Tony Awards. Diversity of musical styles and subject matters will be playing over the next year in the HCA/ TriStar Health Broadway at TPAC series, from the Argentinean setting of Evita to the Austrian culture celebrated in The Sound of Music. O’Brien talked to Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine about three upcoming titles at TPAC that honor classic traditions, celebrate new directions in musical theater, and expand the definition of Broadway. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

The UK Tour Cast in a scene from The Bodyguard. Photo: Paul Coltas


Abby Mueller (“Carole King”) in a scene from Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Photo: Joan Marcus.

employs the great American artist’s songbook to tell the story of her life, beginning in 1958 Brooklyn, when King was 16. “I went to see Beautiful with high expectations—and the show over-delivered,” says O’Brien. The songs from Carole King’s extraordinary body of work are used to tell her own, interesting story. Audiences get a glimpse into her personal history and the workings of the music industry in the 1960s. “This one’s a crowd-pleaser, if you’re a fan of Carole King or a fan of Broadway theater,” O’Brien notes. “A lot of people, including me, compare the show to Jersey Boys, only because it’s an innovative and dynamic blend

of solid storytelling, great songs and strong performances.” Playing TPAC May 23–28, 2017, Beautiful features a standard-sized Broadway orchestra with guitar, percussion, woodwinds, brass and multiple keyboards, including the piano played on stage by the leading lady. “The actress who plays Carole King does not attempt to imitate her voice,” says O’Brien. “She’s not an impersonator. She makes the role her own, capturing the emotion, the soul, of the music. I believe that’s one of the reasons why the musical has been so successful, on Broadway and on tour. Carole King herself has high praise for the show.”

Like Beautiful, another upcoming production showcases timeless 20th-century pop hits: The Bodyguard, adapted from the 1992 film. In Nashville March 21–26, 2017, the musical includes more songs than the movie by weaving in several Whitney Houston classics. “The stage version of The Bodyguard is highly theatrical—just spectacular in terms of talent, choreography, sets, and costumes to match the incredible music,” O’Brien says. Featuring I Will Always Love You, Queen of the Night, One Moment in Time, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and other familiar songs, the stage version closely follows the screenplay’s story of a singing star who hires a bodyguard after receiving death threats from an unknown stalker. The role is performed onstage by Deborah Cox, a successful recording and concert artist with solid acting credits. “Deborah Cox is perfect for the role,” says O’Brien. “She has stage presence. Nashville audiences will adore her. “I think it’s especially important for this particular role to be played by a singer who’s had a successful career in the music industry, plus Broadway experience,” O’Brien adds. Cox is a multiplatinum, Grammy Award–nominated artist, who’s up to the demands of playing a superstar. Her acting ability and her voice honor the iconic role and legendary songs.

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Michael James Scott (center) and the cast of Something Rotten!

A FUN TAKE ON THE BARD Another title in TPAC’s 2016–17 Broadway series has nothing in common with Beautiful or The Bodyguard—other than high production values, a masterful script, clever scenic design and excellent songwriting. Something new, something different and something absolutely hilarious play Nashville June 27–July 2, when Something Rotten! comes to TPAC. The musical comedy shines with the music of award-winning Nashville songwriter

The Gridiron Meets the Great White Way The incomparable Eddie George has been seen on the Titans field, on the stage of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and, most recently, beneath the bright lights of Broadway. The football legend, who turned to acting after he retired from professional sports, recently traveled to New York to play leading man Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago, the longest-running American musical on Broadway. The show’s producers, fellow cast members, critics, and press have raved about his performance.


As a member of TPAC’s board of directors, George also serves as a spokesman and advocate for the arts center’s comprehensive education program.


Whatever he does—athlete, actor, broadcaster, healthy lifestyle advocate and entrepreneur—Eddie George stays at the top of his game. Always a winner, he leaves us anticipating what’s next for one of our favorite hometown heroes.



“The stage version heightens the power of the songs,” says O’Brien. “It’s similar to what you experience at a concert. Film and television simply can’t convey the same intensity as a live performance. The music, action and suspense are electrifying.” Cox’s music credentials are deep. The first single from her debut album spent 14 weeks at the top of the R&B charts, followed by another 10 songs hitting No. 1. Her credits include all of the vocals for the portrayal of Whitney Houston in the 2015 film Whitney.

Wayne Kirkpatrick, who co-wrote the score with his brother Karey. Modern language tells the story, set in 1595 Renaissance England, about two brothers struggling to produce a hit play in the shadow of William Shakespeare’s success. Advice from the local soothsayer inspires them to write the world’s first musical. “I can’t tell you the last time I had a better time at the theater than when I saw Something Rotten!

I laughed almost nonstop, which is unusual for me,” recalls O’Brien. “This show is just so clever. I don’t often use the word ‘hysterical’ to describe musical comedy, but that’s what Something Rotten! is: hysterical, absolutely hilarious. I immediately wanted to see it again in case I missed something funny.” The comedy parodies both the work of Shakespeare (portrayed as a modern rock star) and the staples of musical theater, eliciting big laughs with sly references to The Phantom of the Opera, Annie, Cats, The Lion King, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof and many more. The opening number, Welcome to the Renaissance, sets the stage for a night of pure fun. The songs are clever, witty and integral to the outrageous comedy of the whole show. “Of course, we’re proud and delighted about Wayne Kirkpatrick’s connection to the show,” says O’Brien. “I’m in awe of his talent as a songwriter for different mediums of music. And now he’s added one of Broadway’s most fun and fresh musical comedies to his credits. Something Rotten! is in a league of its own.” Kirkpatrick’s songs and album productions in Nashville have brought worldwide acclaim with a Grammy Song of the Year for Eric Clapton’s Change the World and recordings by Amy Grant, Garth Brooks, Joe Cocker, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Michael W. Smith, Wynonna, George Strait, Babyface and Bonnie Raitt. For the full schedule of diverse Broadway shows on their way to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, see page 112. You can also visit tpac. org or download the new ARTZ App.

Wants to spend more time with his namesake. And less time figuring out how.

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the exceptional pressures faced by performing artists and their families, and with a grant from the Sparrow (Records) Foundation, he began his counseling project for artists. Since their beginnings in 2001, Andrews and the counseling team at Porter’s Call have served over 1,000 artists from all genres of music. In seeking ways to raise both awareness of the organization and funding for their annual budget, Andrews has orchestrated a special evening of inspiring songs and stories offered by performers themselves. And on this night, three storytellers with three unique styles offered their own lifechanging testimonies.


Literary Arts



magine an evening of stage performances built on the innate need for music, the story it shares and the healing power it conveys. Then, imagine that intense love of song being bottled up and poured like medicine back into the ones who’ve been gifted and blessed to perform all over the world. The result is an evening that refuels and refills the soul. An Evening of Stories, held at the impressive Franklin Theatre each March, is the annual fundraising event for Porter’s Call, a nonprofit



organization that offers counsel, support and encouragement to recording artists, free of charge. Yes, you read that correctly: counseling for recording artists—because being a celebrity often creates unique personal challenges. To recognize the importance and almost spiritual effect of An Evening of Stories, it helps to understand the mission and purpose of the organization and its founder, Al Andrews. As a private-practice counselor in the 1990s, Andrews was seeing an increasing number of clients from the music business. Recognizing

Kevin Kling, renowned author and playwright, immediately won the audience over with a quote from Johnny Cash. “Our talent is God-given, but our limitations are what give us our style.” Kling quickly identified his own disability: He has no thumb or wrist on one hand, and a motorcycle accident in 2001 caused him to lose the use of his other arm. Still, Kling manages to carry a message of triumph through laughter. “Resiliency is defined as maintaining one’s shape,” he explains, “and when I can share a story about something painful, it can’t control me any longer.” When speaking to elementary school children, he ends by saying, “You are out of luck if you want a ‘high five,’ but we can ‘high four’ all day long.” On a recent trip, one little girl came to him beaming with pride and offered a hand that had only two fingers, as she asked, “How about a ‘high two’?” “When you are born into loss,” Kling says, “you grow from it. If you experience loss later in life, you grow toward it. It’s a slow move that becomes an embrace. A dance.” Kling’s own rapid-fire dance of perspective left the audience inspired, and many in tears.

OPENING THE DOOR Next, Beth Nielsen Chapman, accompanied by her guitar and her son, Ernest Jr., spoke through song. The writer of Faith Hill’s 1998 chart-topping This Kiss revealed the stories

behind her lyrically powerful tunes. Before Chapman’s husband, Ernest, died from cancer in 1994, he left her with a beautiful gift—a way to keep writing. “He had asked Rodney Crowell, one of our best songwriting friends, to call after about a month and offer to write a song with me,” Chapman said. “Ernest knew that as a newly single mother, I would put my guitar away to focus on our son, and he was right. So I pulled that guitar out of the closet and before Rodney arrived, I had written Sand and Water, which was eventually performed by Elton John during his 1997 world tour.” Chapman went on to prevail in her own battles with breast cancer in 2008, and another frightening diagnosis a year later. “I was struggling to finish songs,” she recalls. “One day I woke up with a loud buzzing sound in my head and was quickly diagnosed with a brain tumor. Then my doctor mentioned that it was pressing on the frontal lobe, which controls language and emotion, and in that moment, my pride overcame my fear and I asked, ‘So, you think this might affect my songwriting?’” In a nutshell: No. Doctors performed a craniotomy to remove the tumor, which proved to be benign. And Chapman hasn’t slowed down since, now teaching workshops on songwriting and creativity. “To me, songs are kind of hanging out in the hallway of my mind, just waiting for me to open the door,” just like she did when she pulled her guitar out of the closet back in 1994.

RECOGNIZING WHO THEY WERE The final speaker was Dan Cohen, a selfdescribed techie social worker. His nonprofit organization, Music & Memory, grew from his own observation and musical preference: He wanted to be able to listen to his favorite ’60s music if he ever moved into a nursing home. And with that simple concept, a powerful movement was born. Cohen’s stories were shared in the documentary film Alive Inside, which followed him through assisted-living facilities to explore what takes place when a person trapped by dementia hears a song he or she once loved.

The result was both miraculous and magical. Cohen shared a few statistics. “In the United States, there are 1.6 million people living in 16,000 nursing homes. At least 50 percent of them never receive any visitors.” He then opened with a clip of a man named Henry, slumped over in his wheelchair, as if unable to hear or see. When offered an iPod containing his favorite gospel music, Henry literally came to life. The transformation was immediate and incredible. Wide-eyed, his head lifted and he hummed along. Even after the headphones were taken away several minutes later, his mind remained alert and engaged. “I’m crazy about music,” Henry says. “It gives me a feeling of love.” Henry’s “feeling of love” may provide a treatment for memory and identity loss, at least for a few precious moments. It turns out that music activates more parts of the brain than any other stimulus. As a result, it

connects people suffering from dementia with both who they are and who they once were. For Lou Ann, an increasingly frustrated Alzheimer’s patient, it’s a Beach Boys song that takes her back, as she dances across the room with arms in the air. “It can’t get away from me if I’m in this place,” she proclaims, with tears of joy rolling down her face. “Thank you.” “I thought you were gonna grow wings,” Cohen says. She answers with a sigh, “I was trying to.” For many, like Lou Ann and Henry, music has allowed them to return to when they first fell in love with a particular song. And for the artists in this crowd, An Evening of Stories allowed them to rediscover how and why they chose the art of music. Or maybe it was the music that chose them. On this night—based on the audience’s emotional response—it chose them once again.



hen a novelist writes under a pen name, there are no expectations or preconceptions based on his alter ego. Such is the case with West End, by “newcomer” novelist Crockett White. The book mixes history with half-truths; scandal and seduction scamper around every corner; and the personality of a blossoming city fuses intoxicatingly with the burgeoning power of its quirky characters. To any native Nashvillian, every character, location and scenario seems teasingly familiar. And whoever Crockett White is, readers can’t seem to get enough. White’s true identity was revealed at a high-profile event sponsored by local retailer BookManBookWoman in December 2015, at Vanderbilt’s First Amendment Center. When the writer took the podium to address the crowd, it was none other than James D. (Jim) Squires—a well-established author considered an expert

writer, editor and breeder of racehorses. Born in Nashville, Squires began his journalism career in 1962 at The Tennessean, as an ambitious 19-year-old. Thirty years later, he had risen to editor and vice president of the powerful Chicago Tribune, which was awarded

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seven Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure. After that came a 15-year career as an author, with five nonfiction books to his credit. So why change his name and launch a career as a budding novelist? Squires answers, “To date, all the words I’ve written were believed to be literal truth. In West End, there is no literal truth. I made up most of it based on similar events, either seen or imagined, while a reporter.” West End depicts the fictitious town of Bluff City during the racial and political tensions of the 1960s, and the theme could not be more timely. Squires admits this was intentional, tying in with the downward spiral of both the 2016 election cycle and the media that cover it. While the major theme is the persistent and underlying racism in American culture, the subplot is the declining role of the daily newspaper. “What was once a stabilizing and powerful voice of reason in the nation’s dialogue,” Squires notes, “has been replaced

by something called ‘the media,’ that embodies advertising’s goal of drawing a crowd and selling it something.” Squires considers West End to be a merged sequel to two earlier nonfiction books—Read All About It: The Corporate Takeover of America’s Newspapers and The Secrets of the Hopewell Box: Stolen Elections, Southern Politics, and a City’s Coming of Age, a memoir from Squires’ childhood about a stolen ballot box in nearby Hopewell, TN, and what he came to understand about the sometimes-twisted, small-town political atmosphere in Nashville. What’s next for novelist Crockett White? Expect another historical novel, set around an infamous event in Southern history—a book Squires refers to as “the best and most important work of my life.” Coming from someone with such an impressive resume, it’s duly noted—we’re waiting for more.

I record everything and listen over and over— while I’m shaving, when I’m driving the car— everywhere.” His family may tire of hearing the voices of Chuck Norris, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or Joel Osteen repeatedly, but

that’s what makes Abraham’s true stories sing. As for the projects that have impacted him most, he lists Let’s Roll! by Lisa Beamer, whose husband, Todd Beamer, perished in the crash of United Flight 93 on 9/11. Beamer’s was the voice

Ken Abraham BRINGING OTHERS’ STORIES TO LIFE By Janet Morris Grimes


f the pages of a book were the silver screen, author Ken Abraham might be the equivalent of Best Supporting Actor. He might not play the leading role, but his presence carries the flow of the story, allowing the characters around him to shine. Abraham has written many books from his own viewpoint, including the intensely personal When Your Parent Becomes Your Child, a heartwrenching account of moving his mother to his home in Nashville, escorting her through her final battle with Alzheimer’s disease. But he is best known for his biography collaborations with many high-profile public figures. As a co-author, his process is similar to that of an actor, stepping into the heart and soul of another person to share their story. Abraham elaborates, “That requires spending time together, studying their words and mannerisms.



heard over the phone saying “Let’s roll!” before he and three others overtook the cockpit to prevent a fourth attack on Washington, D.C., that dreadful morning. “The book debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List and has sold millions of copies since then,” says Abraham. “It’s been 15 years, and seeing that book cover still gets to me.” Another that hit the best seller list—on three separate occasions—is Walk to Beautiful, the life story of country recording artist Jimmy Wayne. After being abandoned by his mother at a bus stop at the age of 13, Wayne pulled himself up and now uses his platform to assist at-risk teens, as an advocate for the foster care system that saved him. “It’s a miracle Jimmy survived, hungry and living on the streets,” acknowledges Abraham, “and it’s an incredibly powerful story.”



ith more than 16 million copies sold in over 30 languages, Jesus Calling is indeed a gift book like no other: bold, yet gentle; intensely personal, but universal; convicting and conflicting, while remaining harmonious; potent, and soft. The same could be said for its author, Sarah Young. In order to reach this level of success, most authors aggressively hit the speaking circuit to increase name recognition. Not so with Young, who remains relatively unknown even as her books continue to gain fame. It has never been her natural approach to seek celebrity status, and health limitations keep her from

touring or giving face-to-face interviews. Young prefers to spend her time doing exactly what she hopes her readers are doing. “These devotions are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place, with your Bible open,” Young says. “My books tend to speak to people in different ways, meeting them right where they are.” This most likely explains the atypical span of growth over the past decade for Jesus Calling, written from the unique viewpoint of what Jesus might say if he spoke to us each day. It has

His latest project, More Than Rivals, is a madefor-film novelization of a real-life championship basketball game between an all-white and an allblack school in nearby Gallatin, TN. Set during the still-present racial tensions of 1970, the story is based on the deep friendship of Eddie Sherlin and Bill Ligon, their shared love of the sport, and the event that changed the attitude of an entire town. “When I took this on, I had no idea how increasingly relevant the topic might become,” Abraham explains. “I now look at the story as an opportunity to offer a word of hope. More Than Rivals offers a real-life illustration that it is possible for people’s attitudes and actions to change for the better. I think we all intuitively know the answer to such turmoil is not more laws, guns or even police; it must start by a transformation taking place in people’s hearts.”

created its own pay-it-forward system—where one person receives it as a gift, then it becomes the first book that person buys when others are hurting. Clearly, it has filled a void for millions, one person at a time. Readers continue to crave the daily encouragement and simple reminders that they are not alone in their trials. As a result, a sizable online social community has gathered around this movement at, an interactive website that offers daily emails and radio devotionals, study journals, an ambassador program, computer wallpapers and a smartphone app. In 2013, after serving as missionaries all over the world, Young and her husband, Steve, completed a move from Perth, Australia, to Nashville—her birthplace and the place she now refers to as their permanent home. “After a complicated international move from one side of the planet to the other over a six-month period, I’m just so thankful to be living in the same country with my children and grandchildren.” Once settled, she hit the ground running on her brand-new devotional book, Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence, scheduled for release in October 2016. “The more difficult our circumstances, the brighter our gladness will shine,” Young says. “I have always found joy in my journey.”

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Visual Arts



hen Ed Rode first picked up a camera in junior high, he had no idea he was embarking on a career that would lead him into the lives and intimate moments of some of the biggest and most interesting musicians, celebrities and politicians in the world. But the Midwestern kid who grew up on a steady diet of Willie, Waylon and Chet soon found himself talking guitars with these same heroes and snapping iconic portraits of them—a fact he still has to pinch himself to believe. Armed with a keen eye, a good-natured personality, sharp journalistic instincts and sensibility toward his subjects, Rode has perfected the art of peeling back layers and capturing fleeting, simple moments that reveal so much. From behind his lens, he’s caught everyone from Taylor Swift and Tip O’Neill to Neil Diamond and Ray Charles. He’s been known to climb mountains, balance on top of packed-out bars, and brave being blown up, just to document a magic moment. “I definitely think like a Realtor: location, location, location,” jokes Rode, about capturing the perfect image. He mentions a night at one of Nashville’s landmarks, Tootsies Orchid Lounge. “I had to buy a guy two beers to hold my light for me, buy the bartender a shot to let me climb on top of the bar standing over hundreds of people, and then suddenly—when Keith Urban jumped onstage and Steven Tyler got up there with him—I started snapping. Location is just key to that whole moment.” Rode spent an entire year shadowing Jason Aldean on his Burn It Down tour, to document the experience for a photo book. Out of the million images he’s shot over the past two decades, thousands of those were snapped on stages across the world. But it’s often in the

quieter moments, away from the crowds and behind the scenes, where he’s been able to catch the most unique glimpses of very public people in very private moments. Whether it’s Dolly Parton deep in memory as an image of former partner Porter Wagoner appears on a screen; Brad Paisley or Neil Diamond lighting up a stogie; or Chet Atkins in his Music Row office, Rode is able to find common ground with the celebs he shoots, and then snap them at the most opportune moment. It’s a skill he’s often tried to communicate to photography students, with limited success.

Chet Atkins in his Music Row office.



“Establishing rapport with your subject is the hardest thing,” admits Rode, “and you can’t teach it. You just learn by messing up. “Sometimes you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time,” Rode says. “But the photographer in any situation has to think about the technical side, the emotion of the moment, the person, everything going on, and then they have to be intuitive enough to know something’s going to happen here, and have the ability to step back, document that and still keep the play moving.”

Keith Urban and Steven Tyler at Tootsies Orchid Lounge.

“A lot of celebrities—or any-one—when you put a camera in front of their face, they freeze up and stop being who they really are. So over the years somehow I’ve developed a skill to make people forget I’m there or be comfortable with the camera. And then my goal is to capture a moment. Because capturing that fleeting moment is the challenge.”


Billy Joe Shaver

Sometimes going to those great lengths has led to some nail-biting situations. He once followed a homeless family around the streets of Nashville for a month for a Nashville Banner newspaper story, documenting their lives as they went in and out of jail and shelters trying to piece their lives back together. On another assignment, a session at Hank Williams Jr.’s home with Kid Rock turned explosive—literally— when the two mischievously decided to

fire up an old Civil War cannon, with Rode just feet away catching the hilarity and fireworks. Then there was the trip to shoot songwriter Billy Joe Shaver for Rode’s songwriter documentary series (which Chet Atkins inspired him to do), which nearly became death-defying. “I pitched Billy Joe the idea,” recalls Rode, “and asked where he wanted to be photographed. He said, ‘You just come pick me up,’,and he comes out with his Martin [guitar] in his hand. He said, ‘I’m gonna take you to a spot where I was gonna jump off a cliff.’” After an uneasy hour-long drive, during which Shaver talked about his rough drinking, drugging, bar-fighting past, they arrived, Rode says, “in the middle of nowhere.” “We climb up this mountain, and he tells me, ‘This is where I wrote Old Chunk of Coal, and I was just out of control. I came up here to jump off this cliff, and I got to

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Jason Aldean on his Burn It Down Tour.

the top and a thunderstorm came, and lightning struck the rock, and I kicked the rock and I found Jesus.’ “Now I’m thinking, Good Lord, how am I gonna photograph this,” recalls Rode. “Luckily there was this little rock 20 feet north, … so I climbed out and then cued him, and he rambles out there and starts playing Old Chunk of Coal. And he got about 15 seconds into it and then says, ‘I’m done,’ and walks off. “I said, ‘What happened?’ And he says, ‘I started having that feeling again.’” Rode knew better than to push his luck. “I only had a couple of frames to get that shot.” Neil Diamond

Willie Nelson

RIDING THE CAMERA TO NASHVILLE Part of Rode’s ability to adapt and grab the shot in that split second comes from his early training in high school and college. He was looking for something else to do after being cut from the varsity basketball team when he first picked up a camera—though photography nearly lost out to golf: Rode boasts a mean enough swing that he very nearly pursued a pro golf career. “I had taken a darkroom class and got accepted into The Grand Rapids Press newspaper’s mentoring program,” he says. “The paper had a superb photographer staff and would elect a few kids each semester to work during the week

Brad Paisley @NashvilleAandE •


Top: Tootsies Orchid Lounge. This is the first photograph Ed made when he moved to Nashville in 1990. Opposite page, top: 1953 Neumann M 50 microphone at Oceanway Studios. Bottom: Willie Nelson’s guitar named, “Trigger.”

and put out a Saturday high school section. Then during college, while getting a business degree, I continued freelancing for the paper, shooting assignments and accompanying photographers on shoots.”



His first exposure to music was during college, where he shot the local concert beat. “In those days you could walk in with your camera on your shoulder and go right to the front of the stage,” Rode recalls. “One of the greatest

experiences I ever had was I photographed the Clash show and stuck around. After the show, the cooks came out on stage. One of the roadies came up and said, ‘Kid, you want some food?’ and they served me dinner with the crew and the

band. It was hilarious . . . weird little things like that were so great!” While getting his master’s at Ohio University, Rode did an internship in Knoxville that

acquainted him with Tennessee. So when the Nashville Banner offered him a staff photographer position, Rode jumped at the opportunity. “I drove down July 2, 1990, with everything I owned in my little Saab,” laughs Rode. “Being at the Banner really exposed me to everybody. . . . I covered the Opry and started meeting all these people I loved growing up. I was behind the scenes on the music side, and also chasing sports and covering the SEC. . . . That’s really where I honed my skills, and that sort of affected my whole career. Because of my time at the Banner, you can throw me on a bus with Willie, in a live concert setting, just anywhere you want, and I can run with it.” Rode is currently culling through the decades of shots he’s taken to finish his book, City Of

Masters: Nashville Songwriters and Musicians, and his archives are like a Who’s Who of music and power players. Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Dolly Parton, Blake Shelton, Lionel Richie, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Olivia Newton-John and Speaker Tip O’Neill are just a few of the celebs he’s snapped during his impressive career. He also boasts a portfolio filled with breathtaking travel shots. One glance at the body of Rode’s work and it’s easy to see how much he enjoys the career, which to him is clearly a calling. “I just love the whole process,” says Rode. “Every situation presents a challenge. . . . That might mean staying longer, or being in a place I’m not supposed to be, and trying to capture that moment that won’t ever be there again . . . those tiny, little moments that other people wouldn’t look for that I just treasure. “And at the end of my career, which will be my death, I just want to have a great story to tell —full of real moments —not fabricated, not forced. I want real personalities, real moments, real things happening, captured in an honest way that moves people. I mean, I can’t ask for more than to get a reaction from people with my work, good or bad.”

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By Deborah Evans Price




ashville has long had a reputation as the country music capital of the world, but anyone who truly knows Music City realizes the town is a mecca for creative people from all genres and all walks of life.

In recent years, an increasing number of pop stars, rock legends and accomplished actors have tried their hand at country music.

For some artists it’s a way to scratch a creative itch, and for others it’s realizing a lifelong dream. On her latest album, Detour, it was Cyndi Lauper’s chance to put her unique stamp on classic country tunes she’d always loved. The Eagles’ Don Henley tapped into his Texas musical roots on his Cass County release. Both albums were recorded in Nashville, featuring the talents of local musicians and incomparable duets with country icons, including Vince Gill, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Lauper and Henley aren’t alone in plugging in to the country community. Aerosmith frontman Cindy Lauper, Don Henley (right), and Steven Tyler with country superstar, Carrie Underwood (bottom right).

Steven Tyler has taken up residence in Nashville and is working on a country album with Big Machine Label Group’s Dot Records. Emmy and Golden Globe Award–winning actor Kiefer Sutherland released his first single, Not Enough Whiskey, a classic country heartbreak ballad from his debut album, Down in a Hole.

SCHOOLED ON THE CLASSICS Sutherland developed his love of country music back when he was traveling the rodeo circuit. “I started listening to country music later in my life,” Sutherland says. “I started roping

back around 1992 or ’93, and in rodeo or as a musician, you just go from town to town. You’re there for four days. You do your roping and you go to the next town the next week. “I was traveling around with two guys and they were listening to country music,” he continues. “We found an oldies station where they were playing a lot of Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. I knew Kris Kristofferson as an actor and was not as familiar with some of his music. I started hearing some of his songs, and they really spoke to me. I loved the way he wrote in a first-person narrative; all of those songs were telling stories, which was my attraction to acting—I loved telling stories about the potential hardships of life. … I would pick up a guitar, and those are the kinds of songs I would like to sing.” Sutherland co-wrote every song on Down in a Hole with longtime friend and business partner Jude Cole. He spent the spring and summer on an extensive tour, performing Not Enough Whiskey in clubs all over the country. “There’s an intimacy in country music that I’m attracted to, so those are the reasons I wrote the record the way I did, and the reasons why Jude and I put this song out first,” Sutherland says. It’s a kind of throwback... not really contemporary country, but it speaks to the genre of music that I really fell in love with.”

TEAMING UP WITH COUNTRY’S BEST Cindy Lauper’s love affair with country music started when she was a child in Queens, NY. “When I was growing up, country music was on television,” says the Grammy-winning singer known for such hits as Girls Just Want to Have Fun and True Colors. “It was like pop music, so this is what we grew up listening to. These songs are part of some of my earliest memories.” Seeing Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn sing You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly prompted Lauper to record it on Detour, recruiting Vince Gill to join her. “I just remember how funny it was and how funny she was. I remember when she went on TV and did The Pill, and that was so amazing,” Lauper says, recalling Lynn’s controversial classic. “I thought it would be fun to do [You’re the

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WALK THIS (COUNTRY) WAY Over the years, several pop and rock acts have dipped their toes in the country pool, among them Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Kid Rock, Poison’s Bret Michaels and Bon Jovi, who had a No. 1 country single with Jennifer Nettles on Who Says You Can’t Go Home. One of the latest rock veterans to try his hand at country is Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. “I grew up with country music,” he has stated. “I grew up in New England, in New Hampshire. I had 500 acres of land I could play on with a BB gun and




Reason] and I went to see Vince, and I knew it had to be a duet. I felt very blessed to have him come and play. He’s really a nice man. It kind of makes you sick, right? He’s nice. He’s talented. He has a voice like butter, writes great songs, plays great. Come on, what can’t he do?” Henley was also impressed with Gill’s gifts. “He’s great. He couldn’t sing a bad note,” Henley says of Gill, who sings harmony and plays guitar on the upbeat No, Thank You, on Henley’s Cass County album. “Vince just killed it. He knew exactly what to do.” Henley developed an appreciation for country music during his childhood in Linden, TX, and named the new album in homage to the area. In addition to Gill, the album features appearances by Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson, Miranda Lambert and Dolly Parton. “She walked in and she was dressed to the nines,” Henley recalls about Parton. “She said, ‘I know this song. Me and Porter used to do this. It’s a pretty high key for me—I guess I’m going to have to rare back and get it,’ and she did. Me and my team just stood there in the studio going, ‘Hey, what just happened here?’ It was like magic, like a genie had showed up and sprinkled magic dust and then disappeared. That was a wonderful experience.” Henley, who now lives outside Dallas, enjoyed recording and spending time in Music City. “Making this album was just a great experience for me,” says the iconic rocker. “I just enjoyed it so much, getting to work with all these people, listening to them do their thing and going, ‘Yup, that’s the right person for that job!’”

New Nashville resident, Steven Tyler (top) just released his first country album, We’re All Somebody from Somewhere. Kiefer Sutherland (above) recently released his debut album, Down in a Hole (right).

slingshot. I ran a wire up to my favorite climbing tree and I picked up a radio station from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I heard all kinds of stuff. I grew up on the Everly Brothers, and those harmonies are thick in Aerosmith’s songs.” Tyler now lives in Music City, co-writes with Music Row writers, performed at Nissan Stadium during CMA Music Fest, and can often be found hanging out and smiling at music industry events. Nashville’s creative community is always welcoming to artists from other sides of the business, and that extended welcome mat is very appealing to other musicians.

“I’ve been coming to Nashville for a long time, but I feel much closer to the community now,” says Henley. “A lot of people I knew in L.A. have moved here now. This town is booming and growing. This is where it’s all happening, and I feel very at home here.”



By Beverly Keel

Construction crains dot the horizon beyond iconic Studio B, a constant reminder of the ever-changing Nashville skyline.


here was a time when giants roamed Music Row. In a nearly mythical era now considered “the good old days,” people like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russell, George Jones, Roger Miller, Ray Stevens and Chet Atkins would drop by to see friends on 16th and 17th Avenues South in search of a deal, a cut, a good laugh or a great hang. “The most fun thing is everybody was in and out of everybody’s office all the time,” says longtime music executive Rose Drake,

who operated Drake Music and Pete’s Place Recording Studio at 809 18th Ave. S. with her husband, musician Pete Drake. “It wasn’t about the bottom line all the time. They were concerned about creative people, and the more creative people you had hanging around, the more successful you were going to be. “Everybody just went in and out,” she says. “There were no closed doors. Nobody worried about who was going to get sued. Everybody pitched everybody else’s songs. If you heard a song that would be good for an artist, you

would say, ‘So-and-so wrote this song.’ It was a wonderful time.”

THE FUTURE AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE Of course, Music Row looks and operates much differently now. Fun and fellowship are among the casualties of big business and slimmer profit margins. Artists and songwriters are too busy to hang out like they once did, even when they aren’t on the road, and label and publishing company employees are now doing the jobs of

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The three-track mixing console at RCA Studio B from the studio’s heyday from 1957 to 1977, similar to the one used by Chet Atkins pictured above, as he listens while Bill Porter adjusts a mix in the studio.

two people because of corporate mergers and downsizing. While there is still plenty of music business being done on Music Row, the heyday of this internationally known area may be in its rearview mirror. Indeed, several major music companies, such as Universal Music Group Nashville and Creative Artists Agency, left Music Row for downtown’s Commerce Street several years ago, while William Morris Endeavor and Sony Music Nashville are moving to a new office tower at 1201 Demonbreun St. in The Gulch. More nonmusic businesses are opening on Music Row, and with few landmarks to highlight where musical history was made, it’s hard to know what happened where. “I drive by my old office house at 1022 16th Avenue, which was the first piece of property I owned, and it’s a tattoo parlor,” says legendary artist manager and songwriter Patsy Bruce (Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys). “That is quite a shock to me. That’s how it has changed. All of it was music business, and now there are apartments and things I don’t even recognize.” Some question the Metro zoning rules that allow developers to destroy the very buildings that put Nashville on the international map. “It is strange that they have destroyed the streets that made Nashville Music City,” Drake says. “It’s absolutely terrible. Evidently whoever made these decisions has no soul.” Thankfully, tourists can still visit historic RCA Studio B at 1611 Roy Acuff Place, where Elvis



Presley, the Everly Brothers, Eddy Arnold and Chet Atkins recorded. Also thriving nearby is RCA Victor Studio A, where artists ranging from Tony Bennett and Willie Nelson to Keith Urban and Chris Stapleton recorded, but only because it was spared from a developer’s wrecking ball by a group of Middle Tennessee investors, after a preservationists’ movement captured national media attention.

THEY PAVED PARADISE Several historically significant studios haven’t been so lucky. Fans can no longer visit the studio where Paul McCartney recorded, because the building was razed to make way for luxury apartments. In June 1974, McCartney recorded several songs at the Sound Shop at 1307 Division St., including Junior’s Farm and Sally G, which he penned after visiting Printers Alley. During Sound Shop’s reign from 1970 until 2015, Joe Tex recorded his 1972 pop crossover hit, I Gotcha; Neil Young recorded his 1978 album, Comes a Time; and Grand Funk Railroad recorded their 1972 album, Phoenix, which included the Top 40 hit Rock ’N Roll Soul. Reba McEntire, Buck Owens and even *NSYNC recorded there, and producers and engineers overdubbed and mixed tracks that had been recorded elsewhere by James Brown and Wilson Pickett. In 2015, the building that housed the studio—by then known as Destiny Nashville— was torn down. Gone also are the Victorian-era Pilcher Hammond House, the Music Row landmark that was razed to make way for the 240-room

Virgin Hotel at 1 Music Square W., and the 1525 McGavock St. building where Elvis Presley recorded Heartbreak Hotel in January 1956 (it became a parking lot for a car dealership in 2006). Also demolished was the Hillsboro Village building, where Kitty Wells cut It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels in 1952, when it was Bradley Studio. In 2015, Studio 19, which had been the city’s longest-operating recording facility, was torn down to make room for a parking lot. The studio, known as Music City Recorders when it opened at 821 19th Ave. S. in the early 1960s, was used by Ringo Starr (1970’s Beaucoup of Blues), Jimi Hendrix, John Wayne, Garth Brooks, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and many others. A new Studio 19 opened in the Sound Kitchen’s Cool Springs complex, south of town. “There are a couple of buildings that are going down or are on the endangered list that I really like and miss,” says songwriter Bobby Braddock, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. One of his favorites is the grand two-story Albert Samuel Warren House, which was built in 1888 at 1812 Broadway and housed Atlantic Records in the 1990s. It has been targeted for demolition to make room for mixed-use development, so preservationists Chris Redman and Barry Walker are attempting to raise $800,000 to relocate the historic home to the Marathon Village area. “I used to go to Atlantic Records and play songs for Al Cooley, their A&R guy,” Braddock recalls. “I have very pleasant memories of that building. Al was an eccentric guy, and he was into conspiracy theories and also big on baseball and old films. I managed to get a couple of number-one records just by playing him the songs,” says Braddock of Time Marches On and Texas Tornado. Braddock also mourns the loss of an old house across the street from Sony/ATV Music Publishing. “When I was producing Blake Shelton, my engineer, Ed Seay, had a recording business with Doug Johnson, called Cool Tools,” he says. “It has already come down, and I hate that because I loved that old building. There is a luxury hotel going up there.” Of course, there were also legendary hangouts, where music types had lunch, after-work drinks

and/or dinner. At Maude’s Courtyard, 1911 Broadway (now the Blue Bar & Rack Room), Tanya Tucker, Naomi Judd, Chet Atkins and too many songwriters to mention were often seen. Legendary songwriter Harlan Howard was a fixture at the bar. “A lot of people in the music business used to meet down there every day after 5 p.m.,” says singer-songwriter Ray Stevens. “Some of us would have a libation. But we were under control. We didn’t get wild and crazy, but we had a lot of fun.”

THE EARLY DAYS Music Row was born in 1954, when brothers Owen and Harold Bradley bought a house at 804 16th Ave. S. to convert into a film and recording studio. They attached an army Quonset hut to the back of the house and soon moved their recording sessions there. Decca, Columbia, Capitol and Mercury all began using the Bradleys’ studio immediately, and hits recorded there include Patsy Cline’s Crazy, Bobby Vinton’s Blue Velvet and Brenda Lee’s I’m Sorry. Red Foley, Marty Robbins, Sonny James, Tammy Wynette and Roger Miller recorded at the Quonset Hut, as did Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds and Elvis Costello. Bob Dylan recorded much of Blonde on Blonde there, as well as John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and some of Self Portrait. In 2006, Mike Curb, the philanthropist and historical preservationist who also owns Curb Records, bought and restored the building, which Columbia purchased from the Bradleys in 1962. When Stevens first came to town in 1962 from Atlanta, much of his business dealings occurred downtown on Seventh Avenue in the National Life and Casualty building. Mercury Records, where he worked in the A&R department, was located there, as was Tree Publishing, the Wilburn Brothers’ publishing company and Lowry Music. “Then Mercury moved to Music Row across from Bradley’s Quonset Hut,” Stevens says. “There was a little strip building there that has now been torn down, and SESAC is going there. Cedarwood Publishing was there and Mercury was there. It was a hot spot. Across the alley was Bill Justice, a dear friend and a great musician and arranger.

The Samuel Albert Warren House, targeted for demolition. Preservationists hope to relocate it. Photo courtesy of Historic Nashville, Inc.

“Webb Pierce was one of the driving forces of Cedarwood. He would park that white Pontiac customized convertible with pistol door handles out front,” Stevens remembers. “The two studios, RCA and Decca, are what brought the rest of the corporations to town. They located on Music Row and downtown was abandoned. There were a couple of studios down there, but nobody used them.” In 1973, Stevens bought the property at 1707 Grand Ave., and the first record he recorded there was the monster hit The Streak. It became a haven for musicians and artists, who enjoyed playing pool and listening to Stevens’ jokes. “Chet was a big advocate of buying property. He and I bought a bunch together, and I bought some by myself before I got tight with Chet,” says Stevens, who owns about a dozen Music Row properties. “It wasn’t a big income stream at the beginning,” he says. “Now it’s pretty healthy. I still own all of the properties. I haven’t sold anything yet; I am thinking about selling everything. Not only has this area changed so much, but I’m getting up in years. I need to tidy up my estate.”

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ Stevens recently announced that he has broken ground on CabaRay, a 27,000-squarefoot facility on West Nashville’s River Road that will include a showroom, dining area and

multiple bars when it opens early next year. He will also move the Music Row offices of Ray Stevens Music there. “It isn’t like it used to be, so I am going to probably move everything out to River Road,” he says. “Music Row is still Music Row, but there are so many condos and the college kids from Vanderbilt and Belmont have descended on the area.” While many lament the loss of some of country music’s most historic places, others, such as legendary music executive Jerry Bradley (son of Music Row founder Owen Bradley), believe the evolution of Music Row is inevitable—and not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, he thinks those who are trying to preserve the small houses that line the top of Music Row are doing a disservice to the area because it’s keeping larger companies from investing in the area, since they require larger tracts and fewer zoning restrictions. “I have seen it all,” says Bradley, who succeeded Atkins at RCA Records. “I saw it from the good times to the great times. It hurts me to see it. I think it is going to die on the vine from preservationists wanting to keep these little dinky houses. “I think when you turn that corner, it ought to look like The Gulch. It ought to have apartments, condos, retails and restaurants. Just think if Music Row looked like what The Gulch did. I mean, things change.”

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Nashville’s training ground for entrepreneurial artists. theatre • film • dance • animation classical and contemporary music • art • fashion • design CEA-16-011 - Nashville Arts AD.indd 1

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Casey Bond (far left) in the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light.



ome little boys dream of being a professional baseball player, and others dream of being an actor. Casey Bond grew up to become both. “I’m pretty lucky,” says Bond, a proathlete-turned-actor who starred in Moneyball with Brad Pitt, and the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light. “My original dream was to be a professional baseball player, ever since I

could pick up a bat. I played my senior year at Lipscomb University. I was center fielder and captain, and was drafted out of there by the San Francisco Giants.” During his time as a Lipscomb Bison, Bond finished the season with a .326 batting average. He registered the tenth-most hits and third-most stolen bases in Lipscomb history for a single season. Though Bond loves baseball, it’s only one of his many passions. Born in San Francisco and raised in Peachtree City, GA, he moved to Nashville for his senior year of college and developed a deep love for the city.

“I’d come back here in the off-season, live here, work out at Lipscomb,” he says of the two years he spent playing Triple-A ball. “And then, for some crazy reason, I decided to leave one of the hardest industries in the world—professional athletics—and then try to do one of the other hardest professions in the world: film.” He signed up for Alan Dysert’s Actor’s School USA in Nashville. His aunt and uncle referred him to an agent they knew in L.A., and soon after, Bond landed his first national commercial. “It got me in the Screen Actors Guild,” he recalls. “That’s when I thought, ‘OK, this must be a sign from above. I need to move on from baseball and really pursue this.’ So I did.” He moved to L.A. and, after only four months, was cast in Moneyball. He started landing other film and TV roles and spent five years on the West Coast, but missed Music City. He moved back in 2014. Shortly after, he got a

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call to audition for the role of Hank Williams’ fiddle player, Jerry Rivers. Bond had never played fiddle and had only 24 hours to learn. “That’s the story of my life: Seize the opportunity. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you really want to do something,” says Bond, who rented a fiddle, got a few pointers from the girl working at the music store, and then stayed up all night watching YouTube videos. It worked. Bond landed the part and headed to Shreveport, LA, to shoot the film. “Tom Hiddleston was great, and he totally committed to this role,” Bond says of the British actor who portrayed Williams. “All of us were always hanging out, and it was like we were really a band. Tom sang all the songs. They recorded it here [in Nashville]. He stayed at Rodney Crowell’s house for a long time and recorded the songs.” When Bond isn’t in front of the camera, he’s behind it as a producer. He and Hollywood veteran Brad Wilson launched Higher Purpose Entertainment in 2010. They’re currently working on a film based on the life of convicted murderer Clyde Thompson, the subject of the book The Meanest Man in Texas, as well as a movie about legendary boxing champ Carlos Palomino. They also produced My Many Sons, a film starring Judge Reinhold as Lipscomb’s award-winning basketball coach Don Meyer (Bond plays his son in the film). “I really wanted to be a leader and influencer in having film in Tennessee, and especially in Nashville. That’s why we shot the movie here,” he says. “We wanted to let it be a launching pad, and I don’t regret for a single day moving back here. “What I love about Nashville is the Southern hospitality,” Bond continues. “It’s just a better quality of life. I love the people in Nashville. It’s just always been very welcoming, which I think is a lot of the reason why people want to come here. And Nashville is such a creative city. There’s so many creative people here, and not just in music. It’s across the board. This is a rich environment to make films. That’s why I chose Nashville. You get to live in an awesome city, and it’s very creatively stimulating.”



Fisher receives recognition for playing 1000 games in the NHL

Mike Fisher A HERO ON AND OFF THE ICE By Janet Grimes


hat would you like to be when you grow up?” From the first time he put on ice skates, Mike Fisher, center and alternate captain for the Nashville Predators, gave only one response: “An NHL hockey player.” Since Fisher was raised in the hockeyonly town of Peterborough, Ontario, this answer may have been predictable. But what has transpired during his 16-year pro career, both on and off the ice, must exceed his loftiest childhood dreams. Drafted into the National Hockey League at the age of 19 by the Ottawa Senators, he played there for more than a decade, even taking the Senators to the Stanley Cup championship in 2007. In 2011, Fisher arrived in Nashville through a trade deal with Ottawa. Though

he was previously known as the newlywed hockey-playing husband of country superstar Carrie Underwood, Music City soon learned how fortunate we were to claim him as our own. It didn’t take Fisher long to embrace Nashville, as well. He promptly made a difference as a behind-the-scenes philanthropist, involved with many charitable and community organizations, including the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Room in the Inn, and Cottage Cove Urban Ministries. In 2012, Fisher received the NHL Foundation Player Award for commitment, perseverance and teamwork



What goes into building an elite Carnegie Doctoral Research University? 125 years of

INTEGRITY & CARING You don’t come to be in the top 7 percent of universities overnight. We’ve been working at it since 1891 when David Lipscomb first laid the groundwork for developing and graduating principle-centered leaders through a curriculum based on strong ethics and academic excellence. And as a result, today our highly acclaimed undergrad and graduate programs are making a significant difference in the community and around the world.

See the possibilities.

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Chris Stapleton NO MORE FLYING UNDER THE RADAR By Courtney Keen



that enriches his community. In 2013, he was awarded the K-LOVE Sports Impact Award, which honors athletes for standing up for their faith and changing the world around them. When Nashville hosted NHL All-Star Weekend in January of 2016, Fisher partnered with Dollar General Corporation to surprise a group of five recent adult literacy program graduates, named Literacy All-Stars. He presented the unsuspecting guests gathered at Bridgestone Arena with a slew of team merchandise and surprise tickets to the All-Star Game. In the few months he has off the ice, Fisher seeks the peace, quiet and adventure of the outdoors. An avid bow hunter, he joined his brother to launch a new business venture, Forge Hunting Co. Their first product, introduced as Buck Paint, is an all-natural attractant scent that lures deer and doubles as a yardage marker. In March of 2016, Fisher accomplished a feat only 300 have achieved before him (becoming the first to do so as a Nashville Predator): He played in his 1000th NHL game. During pregame honors, the Predators presented him with gifts and made a large donation to his favorite charities. They rolled out a video montage that featured players and coaches from around the league as well as some of Nashville’s country music All-Stars. The video opened with Carrie Underwood offering her congratulations, followed by friends Bono, Rascal Flatts, Michael W. Smith and Vince Gill saluting him in their own personal way. Brad Paisley praised Fisher while teasing Underwood, his annual CMA Awards show cohost. “Nashville’s so lucky to have you,” he said, “and there’s a special place in heaven for putting up with that wife of yours.” Underwood chuckled as she stood on the ice alongside her husband for the ceremony. But it may have been their adorable one-year-old son, Isaiah, sporting his own Fisher jersey with the number 12 on it, who stole the show. On game day, Fisher says he still gets chills. But his heart is now focused on a different type of goal. Reflecting on his life the year Isaiah was born, he posted an Instagram photo of his wife and son and wrote, “I can now say there’s nothing better in the world than being a dad.”

ere’s something electric about Nashville: At any given time, you might be getting a sneak peek at an artist before their launch into superstardom. For instance, if you had gone to hear the SteelDrivers at the Station Inn a few years ago, you would have certainly enjoyed a great bluegrass band. But you would have also caught their riveting front man—who would later become the most talked-about artist in country music. His name: Chris Stapleton. Stapleton has been a well-known and respected musician around town since 2001. His consistent craftsmanship as a songwriter has earned him No. 1 hits for top country artists such as George Strait, Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan. Stapleton estimates he’s written close to 1,000 songs during his 15-year career. Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Sheryl Crow and Adele have also recorded his tunes. “I’m not new to a lot of people in Nashville,” Stapleton told Mark Strassmann of CBS News. “They’re like, ‘Man, I’ve known that guy for years. He’s been buggin’ everybody!’” But in 2015, Stapleton released his debut solo album, Traveller. The soulful country infused with blues, rock and R&B put him in a league of his own. Traveller was well received by critics and connected powerfully with audiences. The engines were rumbling for his takeoff to a new level of success. Then in November 2015, Stapleton per-formed with Justin Timberlake at the Country Music Association Awards. Rolling Stone hailed their collaboration as “showstealing.” That night, Stapleton became the first artist to win Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of

the Year at one awards ceremony. Liftoff. Stapleton’s career skyrocketed. Traveller went platinum and held the No. 1 spot for two weeks on the Billboard all-genre album chart. Shortly after, Stapleton added two Grammy Awards and six Academy of Country Music Awards to his growing list of accolades. “I’m grateful. It’s an unbelievable conglomerate of things that have made the stars line up,” he told The Tennessean’s Cindy Watts. It all traces back to his hometown of Paintsville, Kentucky. Stapleton grew up in a coal-mining family and played music to entertain himself. After high school, he realized he might be able to get paid to write songs. Only four days after moving to Nashville, Stapleton secured a publishing deal. He has since returned to Paintsville to perform free concerts and donated over $57,000 worth of band instruments to his high school. Stapleton’s deep roots to home and family also carry over into his life on the road. His wife, Morgane, a singer and songwriter, performs with him, and their two young children travel along. “We have a really good family support system,” he told Erik Philbrook of Playback magazine. “I don’t look at family and what I do for a living as separate things. They’re all kind of one thing, and this is part of their life just like it’s part of mine.” Now, their lives are in an orbit of success that many come to Nashville dreaming about. So you might try wandering into one of the local music venues on any ordinary night. You‘ll most likely find yourself stompin’ and clappin’ to some excellent tunes, but you also might get to feel the “3, 2, 1” electricity of an artist counting down to launch.

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“I’m not new to a lot of people in Nashville. They’re like, ‘Man, I’ve known that guy for years. He’s been buggin’ everybody!’”


—Chris Stapleton

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Boone Family Center for the Performing Arts PAT BOONE’S LASTING LEGACY TO LIPSCOMB UNIVERSITY By Ronnie Brooks

Lipscomb University president, Randy Lowry (left), stands with Pat Boone at a Lipscomb graduation ceremony.


t’s a perennial stumper: What do you give the man who has everything? If you’re Nashville’s Lipscomb University—and “the man” is local native and Lipscomb alum Pat Boone—a big thank-you would be a good start. Last year, the iconic mega-star of the ’50s and ’60s donated $5 million to the school for a new state-of-the-art theater complex and conference center. Slated as the Boone Family Center for the Performing Arts, the multimillion-dollar facility will allow the school to move toward becoming a premier arts and entertainment training ground and family entertainment hub for the community. Philanthropy, education and family values are nothing new for Pat Boone. As a 30year advisory board chairman at Pepperdine University, he helped establish that school’s Boone Center for the Family, initiating credit courses that teach students how to build healthy, moral relationships. Even when the clean-cut singer was selling millions of records, he was studying to become a teacher. “I didn’t expect to have a music career,” Boone says, “and didn’t see myself becoming a singer. I was planning to be a teacher/preacher like my role models at Lipscomb High School and College.” But after gaining exposure on a pair of



network TV talent shows in the early ’50s, the wholesome young crooner—then pursuing his degree at North Texas State University—was approached by Dot Records producer Randy Wood. They recorded Two Hearts, Two Kisses, and within weeks, Pat Boone had his first No. 1 record. The follow-up, Ain’t That a Shame, also topped the charts, and Boone was a bona fide star—while still a star student. By the time he graduated with honors from Columbia University, the 23-year-old was balancing the demands of national stardom— recording, touring, appearing in Hollywood films and hosting his own network TV show— with being a dad. After marrying his high school sweetheart, Shirley (daughter of country singer Red Foley) at 19, Boone was now a devoted father of four little girls, and totally comfortable with his “family man” image. “My faith gave me unusual confidence,” he explains. “We were always coming back to Lipscomb, living what we’d learned about morality and Christian faith. I was always in church. In the heyday of my career I’d be at the Manhattan Church of Christ, leading singing on Sundays if I was home, teaching Sunday school . . . this was our life.” Now, he’s giving back to his old campus with a broad but simple goal: “Promote entertainment—on every level—that doesn’t sacrifice morals and ethics to current trends.” And according to Mike Fernandez, dean of Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment & the Arts, Boone’s contribution dovetails perfectly with the university’s vision. “President Randy Lowry came here 10 years ago, and from the minute he got here, he had wanted a performing arts center,” says Fernandez, “to offer great quality family entertainment and become a major part of the student life.”

Now, the school will be in a position to impact students and the local community by producing professional artistic events and mainstage student productions in a 500-seat, cuttingedge performance/production facility. And the values that Pat Boone learned here will be part of the foundation. “We want this building to epitomize the notion that Lipscomb is training students to tell the best stories to culture,” Fernandez adds. “Stories that will uplift, challenge and entertain for sure—but important stories that will have that [positive] kind of impact—that’s the big legacy.”

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Pat Boone

Boone, in the lead role of “Curly” in Oklahoma.

Pat was the student body president and baseball team captain at Lipscomb High School. He wrote the Lipscomb University alma mater. He penned the lyrics to the popular hit Theme From Exodus. He appeared in 12 major Hollywood films. His teen advice book, Twixt Twelve and Twenty, was a No. 1 best-seller. He scored 38 Top 40 hits and sold over 45 million albums. At 220 weeks, he still holds the record for spending the most consecutive weeks on the Billboard charts with one or more songs. He’s an entrepreneur, having secured the largest investment in Shark Tank history, for a company that produces air-fueled cars. Elvis Presley and Lassie both opened shows for Pat in the ’50s.

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The Scott Hamilton Proton Therapy Center LENDING HIS NAME TO HOPE By Mary McKinney


igure skater Scott Hamilton is known for Olympic gold medals and his signature backflips on ice, but the resident of Franklin, TN, is about to become synonymous with something completely different: In the summer of 2016, ground was broken on the Scott Hamilton Proton Therapy Center in Franklin. A somewhat lesser-known fact about Hamilton is that he has battled benign brain tumors and testicular cancer, so helping advance an alternative form of cancer treatment has become a passion. “With this new center, we are continuing

to try to bring the proton therapy treatment option to anyone who can benefit from it,” Hamilton says. Hamilton, already an advocate for cancer research, is a member of the board of directors for the Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville, TN. When the company looked at expansion in the Nashville area, Hamilton thought his hometown would be an ideal spot and proton therapy would be an ideal cause to have associated with his name. Proton therapy is a very precise form of radiation that uses a charged particle, or proton, to send energy directly into a tumor without

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Musicians Hall of Fame COME SEE WHAT YOU’VE HEARD By Melonee Hurt

S disrupting the healthy tissue around it. Unlike traditional radiation, which passes through the body and damages everything it touches, proton therapy is much more exact, attacking only the tumor and nothing else. Dr. Marcio Fagundes, radiation oncologist and medical director of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy, explains that with proton therapy, a very tiny beam the size of a pencil lead enters the body without being felt by the patient. But what most rave about is that the treatment involves few of the side effects common among traditional radiation treatments. “The setup takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and the beam is only on for 60 seconds,” Fagundes says. “You walk into this treatment and you walk out. You can work, play golf and do all your normal activities while receiving this treatment without losing hair, being nauseous or feeling fatigued.” However, proton therapy has typically cost twice as much as other types of radiation and is only sporadically covered by insurance. “We are trying to bring this treatment option to anyone who can benefit from it,” Hamilton says. “Historically it has been massively expensive. But they are learning to bring the



costs way down. Franklin will be the first center with new ProNova SC360 technology, which will be smaller and less expensive.” Hamilton, who underwent chemotherapy during his cancer treatment, has experience with the side effects and a great appreciation for how “miraculous” proton therapy can be. He emphasizes that the platform for his Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation is to advance treatment options that treat the cancer and spare the patient. “Our goal is to advance the science,” Hamilton says. “This type of therapy works or it wouldn’t be in every single one of the top 10 cancer centers in the United States. So we want to be an advocate for people to understand what proton therapy is.” The Scott Hamilton Proton Therapy Center will be a 49,000-square-foot facility near Franklin’s Williamson Medical Center. Housing three treatment rooms, the 501(c) (3) nonprofit center will be able to treat up to 100 patients a day. According to Fagundes, the center will have a resort-like feel, with “the best-of-the-best” finishes and design ideas seen at other proton therapy centers. Organizers hope to treat their first patients by mid-2018.

everal years ago, Nashville musician and entrepreneur Joe Chambers had an idea to save the house on Jefferson Street where a kid named Jimi Hendrix lived, before he became a guitar legend. What came of that idea is now a full-blown Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, complete with a new 9,000-square-foot Grammy Museum Gallery that educates visitors about the creative process behind making records. Chambers remembers thinking that if people would travel to Washington state to trace Hendrix’s headstone, surely they would come to Nashville to see the house he lived in during his twenties. “At that point, I thought that if there was anything left like that, I am going to do my best to try to save it,” Chambers says. “The idea went from being a Hendrix thing to a guitar players thing, to ‘Well, why leave out the bass players and keyboard players?’ It turned into the Musicians Hall of Fame.” Calling several venues home before landing 60,000 square feet on the first floor of Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium, the Hall of Fame is the only one of its kind in the world, paying tribute to the musicians behind the world’s greatest records. Dozens of legendary players, along with their gear and their stories, line the walls, and Chambers hasn’t stopped collecting memorabilia since that day he began dreaming about Hendrix. He saved the stage from the Jolly Roger in Nashville’s Printers Alley, where Hendrix and Billy Cox used to play: It’s in the museum. He found— and saved— the vocal booth from American Studios in Memphis, which had been stored in a tractor-trailer in a field outside Memphis for 30 years: It’s here as well. “That vocal booth is where Elvis stood

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and recorded Suspicious Minds,” Chambers says. “Dusty Springfield recorded Son of a Preacher Man in there. Neil Diamond did Sweet Caroline, and now this place is standing in the museum.” Boasting the slogan “Come see what you’ve heard,” the museum takes what might seem like junk but, when combined with its background story, becomes treasure—an invaluable part in the evolution of popular music. The memorabilia also represents the ever-growing list of inductees

to the Hall of Fame, including the likes of Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy, Roy Orbison and a host of other amazing players. Legendary guitarist Duane Eddy was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame several years ago and is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, OH. “It’s great to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but I can say in a way, it’s more important to me to be recognized for being a musician

than it is to be considered a star,” Eddy says. “I am happy to be in both of them, but I never expected to be lauded for being a musician.” Having performed for decades with many of these acclaimed players, Eddy says he knows they all feel the same way about being included in this exhibit. “I have so much respect for the musicians that are in the Hall of Fame,” he says. “I respect their abilities, their skills and their talent. It’s just an unbelievable honor for me to be in there amongst them.”

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Brett Swayn, owner of The Cookery



he Cookery is cooking up more than just good food. Part restaurant and part nonprofit culinary training facility, the 12th Avenue South eatery is also helping Nashville’s homeless find work. The kitchen’s basic American menu includes breakfast, burgers, coffees and desserts. But owner Brett Swayn had more than food on his mind when he partnered with a friend in 2014 to found the organization. “It wasn’t easy,” he says about the early days. “The biggest challenge when we were getting it up and running was just maintaining faith—all the way to the finish line.”



Swayn was born in Australia but came to the U.S. to pursue a music career. After a few years in Texas, he moved to Nashville, where he lived on the streets for four months before landing a kitchen job at Fleming’s restaurant. Swayn’s experience gave him an appreciation for the plight of the homeless that developed into a full-blown passion when he met Terry Kemper. Kemper shared his concern—even offering her home as a place to stay for many in need. Together Swayn and Kemper formed The Cookery. In addition to serving diners, the kitchen serves as a training facility where Swayn and his team

help homeless Nashvillians learn the culinary craft, with the purpose of helping them land jobs in the food industry. The school is funded through food sales, but also through a sponsorship program, available through The Cookery’s website. Supporters, including churches, youth groups and college groups, sponsor a student for the sevenmonth program for $3,874. That donation pays for all class costs, uniforms, tools and even housing. Terry Kemper passed away in 2014 after a two-and-a-halfyear battle with pancreatic cancer, never getting to see the results of the program. But Swayn continues to restore the lives of the people

Kemper cared so much about, remembering when he saw those first graduates. “At the risk of being perhaps a little too poetic,” he says, “it felt like we were watching men who learned to breathe air again, after a lifetime under water.” Today, The Cookery offers a reasonably priced, flavorful menu in the heart of Nashville. The restaurant also hosts events, such as a monthly movie night, which includes a ticket to view a movie, as well as an appetizer, main dish and dessert. Diners come for a great meal and leave with the satisfaction of knowing that they’re supporting an outstanding cause. www.

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Pictured left to right are Brittney Kelley with husband Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, magician Justin Flom with wife Jocelynn Flom, and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line with wife Hayley Hubbard.



fter being asked to open for country superstars Florida Georgia Line on their Anything Goes tour last year, magician Justin Flom quickly won over discerning fans with one magical gesture: He picked a fan seated way up in the nosebleed seats and made frontrow tickets appear in her mouth. “I opened with that, and then I refilled someone’s beer,” Flom says, via phone from his home in Las Vegas.

That pretty much did it for anyone who was uncertain whether a magician could fire up an arena crowd awaiting an action-packed country music concert. “I knew going into this that country music audiences would be difficult for a magician onstage doing card tricks,” he says. “So I made sure the first few things I did would win people over. From there, people were with me and on my team.”

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That’s about how he scored the gig to begin with. After spending some time backstage with FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, the two were so impressed with Flom’s magic they invited him, on the spot, to join them on tour. “Just like the name of the tour, Anything Goes, a magician just seemed to fit,” Hubbard says of his spontaneous offer. “Justin blew us away the first time we saw him, so we knew the FGL fans would like it!” Flom calls Nashville his second home. He’s in town monthly; his manager, Ron Smith, is Nashville-based; and he has a sister and a brother who live here. So why not just make the move as well? “Just as songwriters need to be in Nashville, where all the other songwriters are, for my business, all of the inventors and magicians live in Vegas. For me to be productive, I have to be a stone’s throw from all the magic and inventors,” he says. In addition to his jaunt across the country with FGL, Flom has performed at Nashville’s Country Radio Seminar (CRS) for artists such as Maddie and Tae, Kelsea Ballerini, Tyler Farr, and Thomas Rhett. He even busted in on a label meeting completely unannounced and stunned Trace



Adkins by making a glass water pitcher shatter in his hands. “Nashville is my people,” he says. “My brand of entertainment isn’t the chosen brand for Hollywood. My people are Middle America. Magic is something they don’t usually see in their community of artists.” But Flom does more than just perform when he’s here. He loves to shop and eat. For shopping, he frequents older thrift stores and places that offer a style he can’t find in Vegas or L.A. Favorites include The Label in the 12

South area (coincidentally, owned by country artist Gary Allan) and Pre to Post Modern clothing and vintage on 8th Avenue South. “The things I like to wear, I can’t find in the bigger cities,” he says. “The places where I get all of my necklaces and bracelets are all in Nashville. I love that old, Americana feel.” For eats, you might find Flom enjoying The Pfunky Griddle, Puffy Muffin or First Watch—if he’s not shopping, or interrupting meetings and scaring the crap out of record executives with his alarming magic skills.

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Students in Lipscomb’s Contemporary Music Program led by Charlie Peacock rehearse in new studio house on Granny White Pike.



hether it’s an original one-act play, a new mobile app, a potentially chart-topping CD or an exciting short film, Create What’s Next is designed to spur on the commercial creativity of the students of the College of Entertainment & the Arts at Lipscomb University. This unique concept of providing seed money to help launch creative ideas into the commercial marketplace is the brainchild of the college’s dean, Mike Fernandez. “Every year, Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment & the Arts reviews creative presentations from our students,” says Fernandez, “and the most promising ideas receive funding to help bring these ideas to the commercial marketplace.” For more information on Create What’s Next, go to

Drama Students filming a scene on campus.

David Crowder performs at the 2015 Dove Awards held on Lipscomb’s Campus.

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hen Cori Anne Laemmel talks about her passion for the theater, her enthusiasm is infectious. But she’s not talking about just any old theater. Five years ago, she and her husband, Tyson, founded The Theater Bug, a nonprofit organization in East Nashville that produces original plays featuring inspirational messages. But there’s a twist: They use only child actors. “The thought was to start small, test the waters with a one-week camp and see how it goes,” Laemmel says, as she tells how The Theater Bug began. “But that one-week camp filled in about a week, so we hired another teacher and that filled—and next thing I knew, we had 40 kids on stage performing together. It was magic.” In the past five years, The Theater Bug has put on plays featuring hundreds of children between the ages of 5 and 18. But the numbers aren’t what get people talking about this place— affectionately nicknamed “The Bug.”

The Bug produces original works that deal with some fairly intense subjects, from bullying and adoption to terminal illness and disabilities. “I don’t consider these to be children’s theater shows,” says Laemmel. She considers them to be shows that happen to have actors who are children. Whether it’s the nature of the work or the passion of the actors, she admits she was caught off guard by the level of professionalism the kids maintain. While the company wrestles with the tough subjects, they’re also giving back to the community around them—including a 2014 play about adoption that raised money for Miriam’s Promise, a nonprofit that provides pregnancy and adoption assistance. Laemmel has found that while being on stage builds selfconfidence and theatrical skills, raising money to help people in need provides the children with a sense of empowerment they might not experience outside the theater walls.

“The best gift in teaching is getting to be the student,” says Laemmel. “My kids teach me about enthusiasm, positivity and kindness. They see things in the most beautiful way. Living in their world is so incredibly special.” The Bug’s exceptional work has earned them some pretty big fans. One of the biggest is Jake Speck, managing director of Studio Tenn. He pulls no punches when talking up Laemmel and her program. “The Theater Bug is quite simply the most inspiring, joy-inducing, life-giving and mission-driven youth theater program I have ever seen,” he says. “Cori’s skill as a writer, teacher, artist and mentor is unmatched. Someday the rest of the country will discover that the most innovative, original and culturally relevant youth theater work in the country is being done right here in Nashville, Tennessee.” Laemmel and her team are committed to keeping their programming free or at a minimum cost to children and their families. The best way to support The Theater Bug is to attend one of the performances and see the magic for yourself. For more information on The Theater Bug, including a list of upcoming programs and performances, visit

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Left: The ARTZ App home screen—where you choose your favorite “ARTZ.” Bottom left: Nashville Symphony InConcert. View their monthly magazine on your mobile device through The ARTZ App.



he ARTZ App is the only digital magazine experience that gives you an all-access pass to the best show information in town. The ARTZ app provides easy access to upcoming shows at The Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Schermerhorn Symphony Center and Studio Tenn at the Factory at Franklin. There are many entertainment options in our city, but there is nothing quite like a live Broadway performance at TPAC or a Schermerhorn Symphony concert. Get the most out of your music and theatrical experiences with the ARTZ app! You can buy tickets, view upcoming shows and receive special offers. Use the app to learn more about an up-coming performance before you ever arrive. The ARTZ app puts a digital version of the hard copy program or Playbill in the palm of your hand. Now available on the App Store and Google Play.



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e was the spark the Tennessee Titans needed for the 2015 season. Twice he threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions in his rookie year (a record); he threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns and had 100 yards rushing against the Jacksonville Jaguars (a record); passed for 371 yards against the New Orleans Saints (a record); overall, threw 19 touchdown passes (a record); and as a rookie had an overall passing record of 91.5, the highest in franchise history, even though he played in only 12 NFL games. The NFL analysts praise his mobility, poise, quickness and mostly his passing accuracy, and point out the most astounding fact about Marcus Mariota is that he showed up his rookie year in command of playing at the speed and level of the NFL when it usually takes years to acquire those skills physically and mentally: a state known to yoga practitioners as transcendence, i.e., going beyond the limits of the ordinary. And yes, we all remember Mariota was a Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon before he got to the NFL, which speaks to a whole lot of talent. But that is not a sure script when it comes to a successful transition from college to pro athlete (think Johnny Manziel, another Heisman Trophy winner). But 6’4” first-round draft pick Mariota lived up to the hype and

By Sherry Stinson labels like elite and spectacular after year one in the NFL. Mariota, who made it seem all too easy, says having to handle the complexities of NFL defenses week in and week out challenged him the most. “In college, defenses line up in what you expect them to play, and you game plan for it. At this level, teams are able to transition to a variety of defenses and try to confuse you. I think trying to get over that hurdle was the toughest part for me.” Unfortunately, Mariota’s spark didn’t save the Tennessee Titans from a dismal 2015 season: a 3–13 record, the firing of head coach Ken Whisenhunt, and the dubious distinction of being statistically ranked as the worst team in the NFL. Mariota also had the most fumbles in the NFL that year. But perfection isn’t much of a story; every hero needs a mountain to climb. Mariota’s ability to soar like Superman may depend more than anyone would like to admit on the team’s ability to get better and fill some very big gaps, starting with more help on the offensive line. Mariota was sacked 38 times and suffered knee injuries as a result. The Titans used a first-round draft pick to secure Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State, to help fill the line gaps, and Mariota graciously acknowledged that the Titans leadership is working on a game plan. “They

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bit. I think golf is a fun activity that allows me to be competitive, but gets my mind off of football. It is not too strenuous on the body and a lot of my teammates play, so it is a good time.” During Mariota’s formative years, his father saw the talent in his young son and, as with all legends in the making, someone has to sacrifice to give the hero a shot. Mariota’s parents sold their home to send both Marcus and his brother, Matt, to football camps on the mainland, where Mariota was eventually spotted by Mark Helfrich, at that time the University of Oregon’s offensive coordinator. Oregon offered Mariota a scholarship before his high school senior year, and he had never even started a game. Overall, Mariota was recruited by 10 colleges, but only two offered him a scholarship. He chose the University of Oregon, where his brother, Matt, is now a preferred walk-on linebacker with very big shoes to fill. Mariota’s advice to his kid brother is perhaps one key to his transcendent state. “Just take it one day at a time and do your best to find ways to get better each and every single day. Whatever happens, happens, and it is what it is. All you can do is control what is going on today and make the most of that opportunity.” Marcus red-shirted his freshman year at Oregon and started the next season, and in one memorable game against Arizona State he ran for 135 yards and a touchdown, threw a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass from his backup quarterback. When Marcus won his Heisman Trophy, he created the Marcus Mariota Scholarship Fund, an annual four-year scholarship for student athletes at his old alma mater. The scholarship



have a blueprint and a plan to make this team better, and I support it 100 percent.” The Titans still need a passing game that supports Mariota’s Superman arm, and new head coach Mike Mularkey said at the end of the 2015 season he has “plans for changing the offense.” Part of that is beefing up the run game, even though the Titans have invested heavily in that arena in the last four seasons without much to show for it. Hopefully, free agent DeMarco Murray and second-round draft pick Alabama running back Derrick Henry will open up the passing game. Add to all those factors that Mariota has already had two head coaches, then you begin to understand the immense pressure he’s under. And we haven’t even got to the best part . . . Mariota’s character. In a very crowded field of post-touchdown dances, off-field less-than-positive headlines, and fingers that point inward, Mariota stands out again for quietly getting the job done with his head down. And the Hawaii native’s poise and humility extend well beyond the league limelight. Off field he is known for being generous and low-key, traits attributed to his Samoan heritage and his Hawaiian upbringing. His father, Toa, is an American Samoa native. His mother, Alana, is of German descent. Mariota says he has plenty of hands that help keep him humble. “I think my time at Oregon really helped me out. The staff there really kind of prepared me for stuff both on and off the field. I was very fortunate to have that, alongside my family, who have always kept me grounded and humble.” And if that doesn’t work, he likes to play golf. “I kind of hack it up a little

Mariota celebrated with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville homeowners, Mohammed, Khadija & their kids at the dedication ceremony (above). Mariota and seven other Heisman Trophy winners helped build the house for the family (top).

stipulates the financial assistance is for student athletes who exhibit “strong character and good behavior,” the other part of the game that all too often gets sacked for a win. Recently, Mariota, as part of the Heisman Trophy Trust and Nissan partnership, worked on the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville build site, and once again he quietly wowed the crowd. Not for his ability to hit a nail as well as a receiver, but more so for his humility. He told the television crews covering the event, “For a professional player, this is what it’s about . . . having an opportunity to give back, especially in the community you play in. To play at the highest level [NFL] is so special.” It is probably too soon to talk about legacies as Mariota goes into his second season with the Titans. He agrees: “I don’t really care too much about a legacy. My number one goal is to be the best teammate I can be, try to affect the community the best way and whatever comes of that, then sure. I’m not worried about what other people think about me.”

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417 Union - Classic American Dining Where great food drives an ongoing celebration of vibrant community and rich history. We serve classic American fare with an emphasis on scratch made favorites like Southern fried chicken and double cut pork chops. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Open 7 days a week. Call for reservations/hours. Located at 417 Union St. An easy walk to TPAC and all points downtown. Ph. 615.401.7241 The Melting Pot - a Fondue Restaurant Where fun is cooked up fondue style. Join us for Cheese and Chocolate fondue or the full 4-course experience. Casually elegant – Always Fun. Open 7 Days for dinner. Sundays after the Matinee. Valet Parking. Ph: (615)742-4970. 166 Second Ave. N. Reservations Recommended. Ravello

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Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine is proud to recognize four remarkable Nashvillians whose lives and work in music, the visual and performing arts, business, songwriting, and philanthropy h ave p o s i t i ve l y i m p a c t e d o u r c i t y i n co u n t less ways . To acknow l e d g e the tremendous spirit of giving and encouragement these honorees embody, Glover Group Entertainment, publisher of Nashville Arts & En te r ta in me n t Magazine,





A DONATION OF $1,000 TO EACH of these affiliated charities of the honorees: Studio Tenn, Rocketown, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, and The Community Foundation.

By Sherry Stinson it: a three-time Grammy Award winner; owner of 45 Dove Awards; recipient of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Lifetime Achievement for Songwriting award; producer of ROCKETOWN.COM 31 No. 1 hit records; author of 13 books; he was even named one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People.” He really has done it all. What’s left? To save the world, of course. The married father of five and grandfather is an avid spokesperson for Compassion International; he teamed up with U2’s frontman, Bono, to help fight AIDS in South Africa; and locally—and very notably—Smith founded Rocketown in 1994. The unassuming but very hip brick building, now located on Fourth Avenue South in Nashville, is a faith-based “holistic” after-school hangout, concert venue and skate park that applies Smith’s legacy in the most meaningful of ways. “I remember years and years ago, driving through Franklin,” Smith says, “and seeing kids ‘cruising’—basically, just driving their cars in a loop from one part of town to another—with nothing to do. And I knew Michael W. Smith hasn’t simply been a force in from my own experience that kids with nothing to Contemporary Christian Music—he has defined do usually find trouble.”





In 1997, Smith opened the doors to Rocketown in a warehouse section of Franklin, and it was doing great . . . “until we lost our lease,” he recalls. “Then in 1999, I got a call from Gov. Owens in Colorado asking if I would be a part of the memorial service for the tragedy at Columbine. Being there with the families that had lost children impacted me deeply. God planted a seed to reopen Rocketown as a place where kids could go and be valued, be loved, have a voice.” With the help of local businessman Mark Ezell, former President George H.W. Bush as their national chair, and Smith’s good friend Steve Case as their first major donor, Rocketown reopened. And, as they say, the rest is history. The 40,000-square-foot ware-house of “possibilities” for young people is an offering of space and place for teens looking to get and stay off the street, designed to engage the senses with a coffee shop, three concert venues, a recording studio, a computer lab, and a plethora of workshops, camps and even sports leagues. Smith says, “Our purpose is very simple: offering Christ’s love to the next generation.”




Gorgeous. Innovative. Rich. Professional. Over seven years, the adjectives have never changed when it comes to Studio Tenn, the resident theater company that has astounded audiences and set the bar very high for live theater in Middle Tennessee. Located in nearby Franklin, Studio Tenn has New York theater and Nashville artistic talent in its DNA, and was the brainchild of director and designer Matt Logan and two other friends. Logan describes himself, first and foremost, as a storyteller—drawing on his multidisciplinary talents to create a signature aesthetic that connects every aspect of a Studio Tenn production, from the set to the stitching. Logan lived in New York and worked on Broadway in costuming and casting for shows including The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys and Shrek. His artistic talents, however, aren’t confined to one or two fields. He is also a nationally recognized

illustrator and caricature artist, as well as an actor, and that wide range of experience is ultimately what landed him in the artistic director’s spot at Studio Tenn. “Many shows are close to 14 art forms all at once,” Logan observes. “I have done so many levels of design, art, performance and direction, but ultimately, being an artistic director uses all of those skills together. It’s a lot of plates to spin, but it’s a great high when it all works!” Logan has directed and designed six critically acclaimed seasons with Studio Tenn. He moved over to artistic director in 2010 and welcomed Broadway veteran Jake Speck (of Jersey Boys) as the managing director. Speck says Studio Tenn is the fulfillment of his lifelong dream to create a theater company in the city that gave him his artistic beginnings. When he was 9, his mom signed him up for morning acting classes, and he says he will never forget sprinting to the car,

begging her to sign him up for the afternoon classes, too. “From that moment on, when anyone asked me, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, my answer was, ‘I’m going to be an actor on Broadway.’ I knew from a very early age.” Speck has worked with numerous Tony Award–winning actors in New York and all over the country. He still works in film and television, and occasionally appears onstage with Studio Tenn, but he is now about the business of paying it forward. Under Speck’s administrative leadership, Studio Tenn has made the Nashville Business Journal’s list of the Top Six Performing Arts Organizations in Nashville for three consecutive years. Logan believes the commercial and critical success of Studio Tenn is its ability to deliver authentic live storytelling, something even the magic of Hollywood can’t improve upon. “With all the ways we communicate, via text, email or phone call,” he says, “nothing replaces a personal dialogue. Live performance is a dialogue between the audience and performer.” Speck agrees. “There is a magical exchange between actor and audience that happens in the theater that doesn’t happen anywhere else. And if you’ve never experienced that magic, you just haven’t seen good theater.” Speck insists he and Logan were never interested in being a “good regional theater.” He explains, “From the get-go, we were focused on being a major professional regional theater company of national significance. And it’s not just about being the best; it’s about doing our version. We custom design and build 90 percent of our shows from scratch. We like to say that when you see a show at Studio Tenn, even if it’s a classic, you won’t see our production anywhere else in the country.” Speck sees Studio Tenn continuing to lead the way in the Nashville professional theater community and perhaps even taking the work to other markets—like New York. “I see us continuing to entertain, educate and inspire in ways that challenge our community and our patrons.”

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Where do you go when you want to know what’s happening in Nashville on any given night? Well, if you’re not going to, you’re probably not going anywhere. Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, wanted to create a website for locals and visitors looking for the inside scoop on what’s happening in one of the most happening cities in the country. That’s not surprising, for a woman who is always looking for ways to connect people and purposes, to create great outcomes. Lehman says her goals with the gold-standard calendar were “to help nonprofits earn income, encourage cultural tourism, and entice employers and employees to relocate to Nashville.” is just one of the many initiatives flying under The Community Foundation’s banner. Lehman started the organization 25 years ago, as a way to connect generous individuals with people in need. It’s working: To date, the foundation has invested $779 million in local and regional nonprofits.



In a Nashville Post “Most Powerful Women” interview, Lehman recalled the moment of revelation, realizing that one of the largest communities in America had no community foundation. She says she didn’t even know what the words “community foundation” meant, but decided Nashville was in need and started it in her garage. The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee now stretches over 40 counties, connecting donors with numerous grant programs, crisis care funds and other charitable solutions, including administering over 100 scholarship funds. The foundation is instrumental in helping community-minded individuals bring creative philanthropic ideas to life. Lehman’s vision, direction and passion are evident in the success of the organization’s nonprofit mission.

husband of actress Nicole Kidman, who also just happens to be a country music superstar, recognized in 2016 by Country Radio Broadcasters with the Artist Humanitarian Award for his generous nature. Yes, he is more than the blistering guitar and pretty face established on his first album, Keith Urban (which, incidentally, went platinum). A true philanthropist, Urban is credited with helping raise more than $2.6 million for the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was the first ambassador for the Country Music Association Foundation, and he supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. Urban’s generosity is largely attributable to his being a genuinely nice person. But his empathy and caring come, in part, from experience. Accepting his Humanitarian KEITH URBAN Award, he told the crowd how, when he was 9 years old, he, too, needed help after his family’s house had burned down. “We were all OK,” he recalled, “but we lost all our belongings. It was everything we had.” These days, everything seems to be going quite smoothly. Since entering the U.S. charts in 1999, the New Zealand–born singer/ songwriter/guitar-slinger has released nine albums (plus four compilation albums) and 42 singles. Urban holds a slot on Billboard magazine’s list of Most Consecutive Top 10 Songs. He has been CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year three times and won Vocal Event of the Year four times (three consecutively), so the singing chops appear to be pretty solid. He’s won 11 Academy of Country Music Awards, and (in our humble opinion) no one looks more comfortable—or better—behind a guitar. It seems he can’t even launch an entrepreneurial endeavor without thinking charitably. In 2013, he founded URBAN Guitar Collection, a roundup of everything a budding You know the guy, who was Defying Gravity to guitarist needs to become a serious player— Get Closer to Be Here on the Golden Road and like Urban—with proceeds going to benefit the every time he picks up a guitar, he blows a Fuse Grammy Foundation and The Mr. Holland’s or two (yes, those are album titles—we couldn’t Opus Foundation. Charity never looked or help ourselves). And you know the guy, the sounded so good.



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Like Father (and Mother), Like Son NATHAN CHAPMAN’S MUSIC SUCCESS IS ALL IN THE FAMILY By Courtney Keen


teve Chapman sits in the driver’s seat, in a black-and-white photograph taken in the early ’80s. His young son, Nathan, leans up against him from the backseat, chin on his dad’s shoulder. Their eyes are fixed on the road ahead. It is, in many ways, a snapshot of their lives in the music industry. Steve and his wife, Annie, have had successful careers as Christian recording artists, authors

and speakers for over 40 years. But they set one thing straight from the start: Family came first. “That created a great unity between us,” Steve says, with Annie adding, “We knew going in that we’d rather succeed as a family than succeed at our careers.” They’ve managed to do both with flying colors. Over 20 albums, countless concerts and speaking engagements, and more than 1 million book sales later, they’re still working together.

Now, watching Nathan’s own thriving career as a multiplatinum-selling, Grammy-winning producer and songwriter for big names like Taylor Swift and Darius Rucker is, in Steve’s word, “delightful.” But there’s something that makes them even more proud: seeing their son care for his family. “To me, that’s a better award than a Grammy,” Annie says, “to know that he’s a good dad.”

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Heidi singing.


Nate, Annie and Steve.

Nathan Chapman and Taylor Swift at the 43rd Annual CMA Awards



Charles Kelley, Darius Rucker and Nathan Chapman—the three songwriters of Rucker’s No. 1 country hit, “Homegrown.”


Steve performing with Dogwood.

LIFE ON THE ROAD Long before Nathan’s arrival, the Chapmans’ romance had started back in high school in West Virginia, where “it was love at first sight for Annie,” Steve says with a grin. The two married and made their home in Nashville. They first performed together when Annie stepped in as a replacement in Steve’s band, Dogwood, one of the pioneer groups in Contemporary Christian Music. Steve was 24 years old, and Annie was 23. After Nathan and younger sister Heidi were born, Steve and Annie went out on the road as a duet and brought the children in their motor home. “They traveled from colic to college,’” Steve says. Along the way, Nathan recorded his first vocal at age 3, and he performed in front of 17,000 people for a Focus on the Family film series at age 7 and over 20,000 at a Billy Graham crusade. For Christmas, when Nathan was 10, his dad gave him his first guitar. “I said, ‘I want you to learn to play this—not just play it, but make it talk,’” Steve recalls. “I taught him everything I know, and 30 minutes later he was better than I was,” he jokes. “When he realized he had a real gift for that, I think that pulled him in.”

WORK LIKE A FARMER Along with a natural gift, Steve and Annie believe a big part of Nathan’s success is due to his work ethic. “He has a farmer’s mentality that you till the ground, you plow it, you weed it. There’s a harvest, but that harvest comes at a great cost of effort,” Annie says. They even use farming language when talking about the art of songwriting. Steve explains, “When he [Nathan] writes a song, he says, ‘Made an acre!’” It’s family speak, tied to Annie’s childhood on an Appalachian dairy farm.

Her creativity at an early age shines in stories, too, such as when she taught herself how to play the piano using cardboard. Annie knew her family couldn’t afford to pay for lessons. So she brought two pieces of cardboard to the piano at her church and used it as a guide to draw the keys. She figured out where middle C was by looking at a songbook, and took her makeshift keyboard home to learn. “Then I would go to the church and practice and see if it sounded right,” Annie says. Fast-forward, and it’s not surprising that Nathan taught himself how to play multiple instruments. He also quickly learned how to use various pieces of studio equipment. But some of his most valuable lessons on the road came from witnessing the behind-the-scenes process of making music. “It was an incredible music business education that I didn’t know I was getting at the time,” Nathan says. He and Heidi were included in everything from ticket sales to the merchandise table. “But the big thing for me was just watching them make records with different producers, studios, and learning how songs work and don’t work,” he says. Nathan recalls one particular memory that has always stuck with him. His parents were working with a producer who didn’t understand the style of drums they needed for a track. Nathan saw the frustration and how much work it took to fix the sound and come out with a solid final product. “I remember, as a kid, thinking, ‘If you’re ever producing someone, you have to hire the right drummer,’” he says with a laugh. “Along the way, I realized how important the little decisions are.” It wasn’t long before Nathan had the chance to make some of those decisions. When he was just 18, Steve and

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WSM AM’s Bill Cody (left) and Nathan Chapman on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

Annie asked him to produce their next album (Nathan more modestly says his parents let him “collaborate”). Zoom ahead a couple of decades, and Nathan has become one of the most successful producers and songwriters in Nashville. He has produced songs on five Taylor Swift albums, earning three Grammy Awards for his work on Fearless and 1989. He also won CMA and ACM Awards for those albums. He has worked on songs for Lady Antebellum and Lionel Richie, as well as on Keith Urban’s No. 1 hits Break on Me and Raise ’Em Up. Nathan’s first No. 1 as a songwriter was Darius Rucker’s Homegrown Honey, co-written with Rucker and Charles Kelley. Other top artists, including Rascal Flatts and Martina McBride, have recorded his songs, and he cowrote Even More Mine for the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. In total, Nathan has 17 No. 1 songs as a writer and producer. And he says not a day goes by without drawing on his experiences from the road with his parents. “Gratitude is not even the word,” he says. “I can’t believe my dad trusted me with that stuff

and let me learn on the job. He took a risk by doing that, so it’s very cool.”

A FAMILY LEGACY Now Nathan and wife Stephanie, also an award-winning songwriter, are passing down that hands-on approach to their children. “I want them to have creative tools and be allowed to use them. A guitar is not a holy relic; it’s a way to make music,” he says. “We try to have an environment where they’re free to learn on the real stuff.” While it’s special to have your kids involved, Nathan also acknowledges that careers in the music business are notoriously difficult. He says he would never push his children to follow in his footsteps, just like his parents never pushed him. In fact, if it weren’t for meeting Stephanie in college, he might have taken a very different path. Nathan had put music on the shelf, traveling to study in France with his university. Stephanie, born in West Virginia, was also studying abroad but had dreams of breaking into the music business in Nashville. “Meeting and falling in love with my wife got me back into it,” Nathan says. “She’s so talented.” The couple has been together 15 years,

building a family filled with their parents’ gospel values and, of course, lots of music. It seems to run in the blood, along with a powerful combination of curiosity, skill and determination. “First, I feel like this is what God wants me to do,” Nathan explains. “Second, I love it. I love great songs, I love great artists. The only days I have that are bad are when I accidentally make bad music. But I really love what I do. I love the process.” Those “bad” days seem few and far between. In 2015, Nathan released his first solo album in 20 years, Revival, co-produced with Stephanie. The album helped land him on the legendary stage of the Grand Ole Opry. His concert was a family affair. Stephanie performed with him, and their children sat with Steve and Annie in the audience—their little feet dangling from the seats like Nathan’s and Heidi’s did so many times growing up. “It was cool watching my kids backstage. I remember being that kid,” Nathan says. “Now they’ll say, ‘Dad, when are we going back?’” Maybe it’s sort of like looking out over your dad’s shoulder at the road ahead. For now, you aren’t too worried about where you’ll end up. You’re just excited to be with him on the journey.

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