NYCS Woman of the Month: Catherine Powell

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month”.

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Catherine Powell

Photo Credit: Jordan Simpson

“When I was two years old, we were at the Jersey Shore on the beach and I was trying to build sandcastles and the tide kept knocking them down and I apparently stood up on my chubby little legs and yelled at the ocean saying, ‘STOP I’m not done yet’. She says I’ve spent my entire life yelling at the world to conform to me.”

Catherine Powell, our first Woman of the Month for 2020 gave incredible insight to her career as the touring photographer with artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Dan + Shay as well as how she got her start running her own magazine. She also was open and honest about how being a fan has given her the driving force and inspiration to pursue her career. Like many of us, she grew up being influenced by the music her parents would play, her mom being a huge country fan of artists like Vince Gill, Faith Hill, and all of the greats of the 90s. In middle school, however, she rebelled a bit and became a huge fan of the Warped Tour scene, bands like Jimmie Eat World, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, All Time Low, and May Day Parade. “My parents, God bless them, were like sure, wear this weird neon hoodie and straighten your bands and put on 7 pounds of eyeliner every day, live your life,” she laughs.

Throughout her childhood, Powell quickly learned that failing at one thing meant she would find another to way to make it work, for example, she knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a part of the music world so she took three years of guitar lessons, which she said went terribly. Her parents sat her down to discuss what kind of extracurriculars she would focus on while in high school to prepare her for college and helped guide her to pursue a career that she would thrive in, even being brutally honest about her ability to play sports, “My Dad, looked me square in the eye and said ‘You are not going to make the team, you are just going to embarrass yourself, find something else’.” she laughs but realizing once again, that those roadblocks eventually opened up to the right path.

Photo Credit: John Shearer

Her father, who collected cameras, always encouraged her to take photos, she would wait in line for 6 hours before concerts to be up front with her point and shoot camera to get the best pictures of her favorite bands. At 14 years old, her father bought her a professional camera and told her to just ‘go wild’ and taking the initiative she went to the local venue and told them she wanted to take pictures there. Although she wasn’t making any money, she took that time to build up her portfolio and connections in the industry. Around this time, as she started photographing bigger artists, Powell made the decision to start NKD Magazine with one of her friends.  “I wasn’t learning as much as I wanted to about these artists that I cared so deeply about and I knew, other people cared so deeply about them too, and so that was the stepping off point. Our goal was for our interviews to go really deep and ask the questions that fans really want to know,” she explains. “We didn’t want to box in a genre, if we like all of these things, there are probably other people who like all of these things as well, why limit ourselves.”

The magazine which was available in both print and digital found a niche with two very different demographics of fans, country music and ‘nerd culture’. She was giving artists and actors that wouldn’t normally be featured in major magazines or publications a chance to really dig deep and tell their story, something that was unique to her brand. She quickly tapped into what she calls ‘the driving force of the entire world’, teenage girls. Proving that their interests and how passionate they are is what drives artists to have a single go number one on radio, to having them sell out an arena tour.

Catherine Powell

Photo Credit: Catherine Powell

While in college in New York, Powell dug into the country scene before it became as popular as it is now, making connections with publicists and managers when artists would come through to play small shows. She photographed Kacey Musgraves and Dan + Shay at their very first New York City shows, obviously making a lasting impression on their teams. While her magazine was thriving, she always longed to be on tour with an artist and to move to Nashville. While visiting a friend in London, Powell got an email that Kacey Musgraves needed a photographer for C2C and this was only a few weeks before Golden Hour, the album that went on to win Grammy Album of the Year was released. Being a long time fan of her music, she was thrilled she got this opportunity and was then hired for a few more shows and that set the stage for a life-changing 2019 for both Musgraves as an artist and Powell as her photographer. “To be with someone who is going through all of those things, there were so many times when we looked at each other and we were like, ‘This is crazy! What are we doing?!’,” she recalls. “I had been a huge fan of Kacey since “Merry Go Round”, I was a super fan, so to be able to shoot that first show, I was stoked, but, to be able to build this relationship and have it at the right point in time was so serendipitous.”

As they say, the rest is history, winning Grammy awards, being included on the biggest lineups for summer festivals and touring the world, Catherine’s childhood dreams were coming true right alongside Kacey’s. As she continues to explain this huge part of her life, she laughs recalling a professor in college who took one look at her live work in her portfolio and said: “‘Okay, this is great, but where is your real work?” and I said this is my real work and he said, “Alright well this isn’t going to get you into museums or galleries, so I need you to think a little more creatively, commercial photography is not photography.’ That was my first impression at college. I want to contact him now and be like ‘Hey, head over to the Country Music Hall of Fame, that is a museum and my photos are in it.”

Dan and Shay Catherine Powell

Photo Credit Catherine Powell

As her touring career with major artists was taking off, she had made the decision to have NKD Magazine’s 100th issue be their last. Having one dream come to an end, she was then asked to shoot a campaign for Dan + Shay with none other than pop sensation, Justin Bieber as they readied their collaboration, “10,000 Hours” which is currently sitting atop of the country charts. She also toured with Maren Morris on her GIRL The World Tour and was there to capture the vulnerability that comes along with finding out you are pregnant and having to keep it a secret from not only your fans that you are performing for but the world. “I think it’s just a really exciting privilege and honor to be allowed to be there,” she says. “I grew up being obsessed with artists and music and my whole reason for picking up a camera at the end of the day was wanting to be in the room.”

Of course, when we discuss her favorite parts of her job, its taking photos and getting to see her favorite music live but she has also discovered that connecting with fans, taking photos of them, and handing out guitar picks to the audience is so fulfilling as well. “I know what it’s like to be the kid who is hanging on the balcony, trying to express how much the song means to me and feeling like nobody is noticing how much you are pouring into this, and finding a way to show fans that we all see you and we are grateful for you, that’s what I love.”

As always, we end our conversation on her advice for anyone looking to break into the music industry and follow their dreams. She honestly said “I really think that just be a fan, be vocal about being a fan. At the end of the day, the music industry is so weird, they want to be prepared for a job but you can’t like, say that you are prepared for that job. If you go into an interview for a job where you are going to be asked specific questions where you have to know specific things, you have to prove in that interview that you know those things, that you know how to talk about them and know how to work with that world but in the music industry the second that you say you are a huge fan, people immediately think ‘Oh, is that why you want to work here?’ Like yeah, it is, why wouldn’t I?”

“If you are a fan of someone you root for them, you work harder for them and I think that’s how lives change in this world.”

To keep up with Catherine Powell follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

Women of the Month 2019 Advice Round-Up

In 2019 we have featured interviews with some of country music and Nashville’s biggest names in the industry in our “Woman of the Month” feature. Each month we chatted with another powerful woman in the business whether they worked in publishing, publicity, record labels or digital marketing. At the end of each interview, we were sure to ask if they had any advice for young girls who wanted to pursue their dreams in the music industry and the best practices to put in motion to make that dream a reality. Here are some of our favorite quotes from our Women of the Month in 2019.

 

Advice

“Don’t care too much about the name of the company you intern for or work for, it’s about where you will get the opportunity to work, learn and grow. If you are at a smaller company, you learn so much so quickly. If it wasn’t for my internship I would have fallen on my face when I got my first job. If you have an opportunity to work, get paid, do what you love and be around good people, take the opportunity.” – Kristen Ashley, Artist Manager & Founder of 11/10 Management

 

Leslie Fram Advice

“Follow your passion and find your champions!  You are offering a service that can help mentor artists and industry professionals, which is such important work.  Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement!” – Leslie Fram, Senior VP of Music Strategy for CMT 

 

Ashley Eicher Advice

“Figure out who you are at your core and stay true to that, and certainly, don’t let this industry change who you are. Trust and know at this moment you are exactly where you are supposed to be and if you continue to work with integrity and honesty, stay true to who you are, stand up for yourself and be good to people – there is nothing you can’t do.” – Ashley Eicher, Creator, Host, and Producer

 

“Don’t fuck anybody, that’s the first thing I’ll say. Don’t get involved with anybody romantically or sexually that you are in business with, its a huge mistake.” She also is heartfelt when she says to not lose your love for the music, for the reason you are in this business in the first place. “No matter what else happens and keep listening and keep looking for new stars.” – Susan Nadler, Shady Ladies of Music City

 

“My feeling is, you almost have to carve out your own space which is one of the reasons I always had my own company. Just be strong, don’t take the shit from anybody. People always said they were afraid of me or intimated by me because I always told the truth, why is that so scary? I think you just have to stand up for what you believe and if you do that, that will change the conversation.” – Evelyn Shriver, Shady Ladies of Music City

 

Jessica Valiyi

“Our industry is so small, networking is huge. The more you are around and people can see you and see what you do, I feel like that goes a long way, every opportunity I’ve gotten in Nashville has come from someone I’ve networked with.” She also highlights the importance of accepting that you won’t know everything and not being afraid to ask questions or to learn from others around you. – Jessica Valiyi, Digital Strategy for Sony Music Nashville

 

“That’s what I would tell young female creatives. If there is something that you have a little bit of an ego about, don’t be ashamed of that. That might be your self’s way of telling you what you should be putting your time and effort into. Your ego, if handled responsibly, can be your compass to what you should be doing with your time and creativity.” – Nicolle Galyon, Songwriter & President of Songs & Daughters

 

“I have had a really beautiful career because I’ve always followed the music and not the money. I can’t stress that enough if you follow great music, I think the money will come…I have joy in my life, I love my job and I work with incredible talent and the people that I work with are going to be the ones that my kids read about in the country music history books and I am proud of that.”  – Brooke Antonakos VP of Red Creative Group

 

Cassie and Jade

“Doing what you do, me and Cassie are good examples of that because before entering the workforce we were fangirls, being able to take that passion and understand that we were not just fans but consumers. There were plenty of other people just like us, people who we could also turn into consumers, and taking that understanding of why we were purchasing things and making a company out of it, we continue to be fans and we utilize that in our understanding. Studying your own habits led us into this company essentially.” – Cassie Petrey & Jade Driver Owners of Crowd Surf

 

“Figuring out what your talents are and finding a way to do that for good, finding what your passions are, find a place where you can use your heart and bring good no matter where you end up working, I think that was key for finding my career path,” – Jessica Turri St. Jude Country Cares

 

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

 

 

NYCS Woman of the Month Jessica Turri St. Jude Country Cares

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month”.

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Jessica Turri

“We’ve come a long way but St. Jude has vowed to keep going until no family hears those words, “you have cancer”. We are all trying to work ourselves out of a job, that would be the best-case scenario is have to figure something else out to do.”

Over the past two years, we have interviewed so many inspiring women for this feature, but Jessica Turri has touched our lives and our hearts in a special way. To tell her story, we must go back to when she was nine years old and after a bunch of tests, she heard the dreaded words, “you have cancer” and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “I remember the moment when I heard it was cancer, I asked that stupid question, ‘Why Me?’ I remember laying on my bathroom floor and everything as I knew it was gone forever,” Turri explains.  Her neighbor came over that night, who had struggled through childhood cancer herself, said “Why not you?” and that changed her outlook. “That was really monumental for me, so we started the next day, positive and I knew I had no choice but to make it through in the best way possible.”

Jessica Turri

125 weeks of chemotherapy absolutely put Turri and her entire family through ups and downs but St. Jude truly became a home, providing the best care and never sending her family, or any family for that matter a bill. She tells us about one special memory, about two years into her treatment during Country Cares, an event where Nashville’s biggest artists travel to Memphis to meet with patients and their families. “I was really sick, spending time by myself in the corner and this sweet little lady came to sit down with me and asked what where I was from and what I liked to do and she told me she was from Kansas, and long story short it ended up being Martina McBride.” After that day, she asked her dad if they could go to the library and check out her music, her favorite song being “Happy Girl”, a track that became her mantra and got her through those dark days. “St. Jude was the best thing that has ever happened to me, it’s strange to say that but the doctors and nurses became my family and we are still close to this day. It became a part of me and everything that I am,” she explains.

After finishing chemotherapy in 2000, Turri has gone on to live a full, amazing life she says. She went to school for broadcast journalism and after graduating college was a producer at the NBC affiliate in Nashville. She loved her job but felt there was a part of her that wasn’t being fulfilled, she was missing a big calling in her life. After participating in a benefit for St. Jude the CEO asked if she would ever consider “coming home” to work at St. Jude, twelve years after she was a patient there. “The opportunity became available to be able to give back, work for St. Jude and to do it in this city that I am so crazy about,” she tells us. “My dream job, basically.”

Currently, Turri works on the Country Cares Team for St. Jude, she works closely with the radio partners who run events benefitting the hospital and their research. She was a main component in the “This Shirt Saves Lives” campaign which is about to kick off its 3rd year. The Country Cares initiative came about 30 years ago when Randy Owen of Alabama stood up during Country Radio Seminar and rallied the country music community to come together and support the children of St. Jude and the mission they hold so dear.

Turri tells us that one of the best parts of her job is experiencing the beautiful moments between patients and artists behind the curtain, seeing how big the hearts are in this industry. “I get to see Luke Bryan go sit with a patient and invite him to a special experience, just to make that kids day,” she emotes. “It’s a full-circle moment for sure because that did change me because that happened to me as a child and it is really cool to get to witness that and see what it does to just bring bright spots to these families who are going through the darkest of times.”

Jessica Turri

Artist Russell Dickerson poses for photos in Nashville, Tenn, on Tuesday, November 12, 2019.

As usual, we ended our incredible conversation with any advice she has, for working towards a dream job or how to remain inspired in times of darkness. “Figuring out what your talents are and finding a way to do that for good, finding what your passions are, find a place where you can use your heart and bring good no matter where you end up working, I think that was key for finding my career path,” she explained.

Along with the wonderful team at St. Jude, Jessica Turri is working to change patient’s lives, the way her life was once changed. The money that is raised for St. Jude doesn’t only directly support the current patients and their families but also research labs that are constantly looking to not only cure cancer but other deadly diseases affecting our world. St. Jude shares their research freely with hospitals all over the country and has become a true resource for doctors who have run out of options and need extra help supporting children.

You can join the #ThisShirtSavesLives movement and get your own shirt at thisshirtsaveslives.org

To keep up with Jessica Turri follow along on Instagram.

 

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

NYCS Woman of the Month: Cassie Petrey & Jade Driver Owners of Crowd Surf

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month”.

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Cassie Petrey and Jade Driver

Cassie Petrey and Jade Driver

This month we are shining a spotlight on Cassie Petrey and Jade Driver, co-founders/owners of digital marketing, publicity, and management company Crowd Surf. “Crowd Surf is an artist marketing and management company that is focused on problem-solving and helping our clients accomplish their goals,” they tell us. “Our company is all about helping talent solve their problems, at first it was digital because nobody knew how to deal with digital, but over time we’ve evolved into so many different services and solving different problems, creating solutions that were realistic and in line with what our clients needed.”

Driver, who grew up in Richmond, Virginia was introduced to music at an early age, her parents would play music that was “clean” she explains, like The Monkees, The Partridge Family, and The Beatles. She laughs when explaining that she loved The Chipmunks, they were the first boyband that she became a big fan of. As she got older and her tastes evolved, she started listening to Debbie Gibson, New Kids On the Block and eventually, the Backstreet Boys. “I went to my guidance counselor in high school and told her I want to work for the Backstreet Boys and she told me that wasn’t possible but I told her I would figure it out, it took me a long time but I did,” she proudly states. She started running fan street teams from her bedroom, participating in show choir and eventually ended up at Middle Tennessee State University where she met Cassie Petrey.

Petrey, from Louisville, Kentucky wasn’t exposed to music until she was eleven or twelve years old. After her softball team in high school won the championship they all went to see the Backstreet Boys in concert and it’s safe to say from there she became a superfan. She worked at local radio stations, ran message boards and fansites, promoted local shows and even worked at management firms or local record labels. After a family member mentioned that she could major in music business, she became obsessed with the idea and applied to and got into Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Unfortunately, the reality of finances kicked in, and Petrey made the decision to go to the University of Lousiville instead. On her drive to the school for orientation, she pulled over, started to cry and realized that wasn’t the right decision for her. “I drove home and in the mail, that day had come to my house a letter about MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) and it was a school I hadn’t even heard of at that point,” Petrey explains.  “I changed where I was going to school and moved to Nashville to follow that path and that journey, and I am really grateful for that piece of mail if I didn’t get that I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

 

Talking about fate and the universe leading you in the right direction, Driver and Petrey lived in the same dorm at college and after a trip to get tacos, a shared love for singing Backstreet Boys deep tracks, and a Wyoming cowboy love interest, they decided to become friends and eventually partners in business. While completing their degrees at MTSU, Driver was working for Radio Disney and Petrey was a Warner Music College Rep where she had the brilliant yet unheard of idea, to run MySpace pages for a living.

Social media and the general notion of artists having a social fan base and digital marketing was still super new at the time, but Petrey and Driver almost saw the future when creating their business. “The initial motivation for the company was, how do we get free tickets and hang out with boy bands,” Driver laughs. “We learned a lot being fans but then also trying to work for them, there was never a point where we said we wanted to start a business, we just sort of did it.”

Their first official retainer was with Capitol Nashville where they helped set up and run MySpace pages for artists such as Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan, Eric Church and more. Helping the record labels and the artists understand the social space, they were able to continue their little company and move on to pop acts such as Britney Spears and eventually, end up managing AJ McLean from Backstreet Boys, for sure a full circle moment for both women.

Now 12 years after officially starting their business they have a team of 50+ that work in conjunction via four offices nationwide (LA, Nashville, NYC) and they continue to evolve to help connect artists with their fans, managing artist’s careers, graphic design, video production and however they can artist’s help achieve their goals.

When we discuss what advice they have for people who are looking to fulfill either an entrepreneurial dream or just be in the music business, the two women actually explained their podcast, ‘How I Got Backstage’ where they feature influencers, artists, and executives, that join them to discuss the ins and outs of music industry. “Each guest develops their story, each story is so different, to get into the music or entertainment industry, there is no right or wrong path, it’s all different, it depends on your story and how much you want it and how much you want to work for it,” they tell us.

They also tell us two great pieces of advice. “Do what you do and always ask”. 

“Doing what you do, me and Cassie are good examples of that because before entering the workforce we were fangirls, being able to take that passion and understand that we were not just fans but consumers,” they explain. “There were plenty of other people just like us, people who we could also turn into consumers, and taking that understanding of why we were purchasing things and making a company out of it, we continue to be fans and we utilize that in our understanding. Studying your own habits led us into this company essentially.”

“My boss at Radio Disney told me if you don’t ask you’re not going to get it but if you do ask, you might,” Driver tells us. “I was asking for tickets to Nick Carter’s concert and because I asked, I met and interviewed him, and in 2003 it was a huge deal and it proved to me that I could do things, I could meet and work with people that I admire and that was a big catalyst for me in understanding something that looked impossible and making it possible.”

Be sure to listen to their podcast, ‘How I Got Backstage’ and follow Crowd Surf on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

 

NYCS Woman of the Month: Brooke Antonakos VP of Red Creative Group

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month”.

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Brooke Antonakos

Diving deeper to learn more about the country music industry, our next Woman of the Month is Vice President of RED Creative Group, Brooke Antonakos. Rainbow, Alabama native, she began her career in music as a performer at theme parks when she was 16 years old, continuing that each summer before college. Knowing she wanted to pursue a career in the industry, she headed to MTSU right outside of Nashville, originally looking to work on the A&R side of the business. One of her sorority sisters just happened to be Taylor Corlew, daughter of David Corlew, the longtime manager for Country Music Hall of Famer, Charlie Daniels.  “I remember driving around with Taylor one night and I knew she wanted to be in the music industry too, so I asked her what she wanted to be and she told me ‘I want to be a song plugger’ and that was the first time that I had ever heard that term. She told me what it was, I was like well dang, I kind of want to be a song plugger too,” Antonakos tells us. After that conversation, her direction shifted from wanting to work on the label side of things to the publishing world.

While still in college she took an internship with GRAMMY U, a community of college students looking to work in the industry after they graduate. “I remember, the job paid 6 dollars an hour and I said ‘You can pay me 6 dollars an hour or I’ll pay you 6 dollars an hour, I want this job’,” she recalls. During her time as the Nashville recruiter for the Recording Academy, she worked closely with the who’s who in Nashville, coordinating events with artists and working behind the scenes. Once she graduated, she received a call from Carla Wallace of Big Yellow Dog, an independent music publishing and artist development company, explaining that there was a front desk job open and after nine months was promoted to Creative Director, officially starting her career and dreams of being a ‘song plugger’.

For those wondering a little bit about publishing and Antonakos’ specific job, essentially she signs songwriters to a deal where they get a salary to write music and the publishing house controls the copyright of the songs they write. She explains, “It’s our job to connect them with writers who a lot of times, do what they don’t do. If I have a lyricist or vocalist like Baker [Grissom], I would set him up with a track guy or producer to bring another element to what he does. I set up cowrites for our writers and then I take those songs and pitch them to producers, artists, and A&R people and heck sometimes someone’s hairdresser, any way you can get the song cut, you can do it,” she laughs.  Eventually, when a song gets cut by an artist, the publisher gets a royalty off that song.

All of this is just a small part of the process of what goes into a song before it is released for listeners to hear across their speakers. In 2016, Antonakos joined award-winning producer/songwriter Jeremy Stover at RED Creative Group and they now have a team of eight writers/artists including Swag Spotlight alum, Travis Denning,  Capitol Records Nashville recording artist, Adam Hambrick and one of our favorite new artist songwriters, Baker Grissom. She tells us how she is so proud of their team and how they get to celebrate each win together as a family. “I’m just so proud, the whole team feels the pride of the little engine that could, we always knew what we had but now the rest of the world is catching on and it’s fun,” she tells us.

When discussing her favorite parts of her job, Antonakos looks back at burning CDs when she was younger, something we laugh about, picking our favorite songs, adding them to the mixtape and writing with rainbow sharpies the titles. “I found a job that is making mixtapes and I think that is probably the most fun, putting together songs that I love, and taking them to people that have never heard them and then watching them react, it gets me high. I think sharing music is why we all got into this industry, to begin with.”

As usual, we end our conversation with her advice for anyone looking to break into the music industry. “My biggest thing that I’ve learned, over and over again, that is only more clear to me as the years go by is, leave no room for doubt, not an ounce. If you believe in something, choose that you are going to believe in that with all of your heart, don’t doubt yourself,” she says. “I’ve had confidence in rooms where I probably, shouldn’t have and at times when I was wrong, but confidence opened doors for me, even when I wasn’t 100% right. I think confidence goes so far in this business.” She also tells us: “I have had a really beautiful career because I’ve always followed the music and not the money. I can’t stress that enough, if you follow great music, I think the money will come…I have joy in my life, I love my job and I work with incredible talent and the people that I work with are going to be the ones that my kids read about in the country music history books and I am proud of that.”  She helps songwriters and artists create their best work, songs that end up healing people all over the world. In encouraging others to live out their dreams, she is living out hers, their wins are her wins.

To follow along follow Brooke Antonakos on Instagram and to find out more about RED Creative Group click here.

 

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook:

NYCS Woman Of The Month: Nicolle Galyon, Songwriter & President of Songs & Daughters

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month”.

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Nicolle Galyon

Nicolle Galyon, small-town Sterling, Kansas native started off as a bonafide country superfan, driving 6 hours with her mother to catch The Dixie Chicks in concert and joining fan clubs in order to secure that coveted artist autograph. Today, she is not only a mega-hit songwriter, producer, and president of a brand new all-female label, Songs & Daughters, but she works day in and day out to remain authentic to and impress that little girl who used her fandom to follow her dreams.

Understanding how much time and dedication goes into being a superfan for a specific artist, or for a genre, really lit a fire under Galyon to make her way to Nashville for college. Attending Belmont University, she told family and friends back home that she wanted to work at a record label or manage an artist. In addition to majoring in Music Business, she gave piano lessons to kids, something she learned from an early age, which ultimately led her to work as an assistant. Before long, Galyon found herself sitting in the middle of Nashville guitar pulls filled with songwriters and artists who had publishing and record deals.

“I always knew who Hillary Lindsey, Brett James, and Craig Wiseman were, but it wasn’t until I sat in on a guitar pull that I really understood what that job was,” Galyon explains.

Once she started writing songs, she found herself terrified to perform them in front of anyone, something you must do in order to give your words any traction. After years of writing and honing in on her craft, she realized that writing something that she thought an artist would like or emulating what she heard on the radio was keeping her creativity in a box. It was three or four years into pursuing songwriting before she truly started writing songs for her, and those songs that showcased her honesty were some of the very first songs recorded by artists.

Since then, she’s written many hit songs including “Automatic” for Miranda Lambert, “Boy” for Lee Brice and “All The Pretty Girls” for Kenny Chesney. Most notably, Galyon contributed to co-writing the chart-topping song “Tequila” for Dan + Shay, which has gone on to win not only a Grammy award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, but also both Single and Song of the Year at the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards.

 

 

Just last week, Galyon joined Dan + Shay on tour when they played in Chicago and for the very first time got to hear “Tequila” performed live by the duo. For the incredible highlights, and to see a glimpse of that fangirl moment, click here for her Instagram Stories.

Galyon tells us about that moment saying, “I am by no means too cool to be that superfan. When being a superfan is no longer fun for me, then I probably need to find another job because why go through all of this trouble, why endure all of the failure and all of the no’s if the yes isn’t going to be truly enjoyed as if you were still 17.” 

Looking back, we asked Galyon if she could go back to her first few days being a songwriter what would she tell herself and she poetically says: “To trust myself more. I think that’s exclusive for me, but there is a time to listen and learn and that never ends. Whoever I am writing with tomorrow, I will learn something from them, whether they are a veteran songwriter or they are 19-fresh-off-the-bus, if you quit learning from people you quit evolving and you take yourself out of the game because you have to change and evolve.”

We discuss how her roles are now changing as she steps into a new position as label head and president of Songs & Daughters, an all-female label in partnership with Big Loud Records. She says it’s a little like being a senior in high school again, in the best way, “I was the girl that would go play volleyball but right after the game I would grab my yearbook camera and take pictures of the football team, then I would go play saxophone in the pep band and I thrived when I had that much going on,” she laughs.

“Now that I am at this part in my career it’s very natural for me to be in a writing room, but then step out and approve a music video in a bathroom then jump back in, finish a song, then do an interview in the pick up line while I am getting my kids and to me that’s thriving, it makes me feel alive and always a little bit nervous and that makes me feel good.”

Her success as a songwriter has brought her to this next phase of her career, but one thing remains certain, she is a creative and will always be a songwriter first. Her flagship artist is Madison Kozak, a rising female singer-songwriter that we have loved for the past few months with her songs “Graduation Day” and her first single to radio, “First Last Name”.

Galyon explains that she is excited to help develop Kozak’s career, “I want to know what it feels like to stand back and really propel someone else because there is only so much of that gratification that I can get by bringing attention to my self and my own achievements. It really feels like there is a whole pool of goodness that I get to dive into when I extend it to other people.” She hopes to guide Kozak in wanting to push herself and bet on herself, always remaining true to the person and artist that she is.

Nicolle Galyon

One of the things Galyon claims has guided her through this career in the music business is her way of decision making. She has learned to ask herself what would she tell her daughter to do or ask for if she was brave enough to want something. Charlie, who is now six years old plays an active role in the music industry, attending number one parties and standing side stage taking it all in. She gets to see the glitz and glamour as well as the hard work that her mother puts in to create the life she always dreamed of.

“I feel like I always want all of the parts of my life, that I love, to feed into each other. It’s too hard to compartmentalize,” she explains. “It’s beautiful for Charlie to get to listen to new mixes in the backseat and her to tell me what her favorite song of Madison’s is. It’s really cool to be at a Madison show and Madison dancing in a corner with Charlie. I like it when the lines are blurred between personal life and work a little bit, because I can’t turn my heart on and off, that way I don’t have to, I just keep my heart on in every room I go in.”

As usual, we finish our conversation by asking what advice our Woman of the Month would give to any young people looking to pursue a career in the music industry and boy did she deliver some prolific enlightenment. “My advice is to trust yourself and trust your taste, I think that’s really what creativity is. One thing that I would tell Charlie is that, if there is something you have a little bit of an ego or an opinion about, follow that, that’s how I got here as a songwriter. I always had an opinion about what song I wanted to come out as the next single. I always had an opinion about what the cover of a record should look like, even at a very young age,” Galyon says.

“That’s what I would tell young female creatives. If there is something that you have a little bit of an ego about, don’t be ashamed of that. That might be your self’s way of telling you what you should be putting your time and effort into. Your ego, if handled responsibly, can be your compass to what you should be doing with your time and creativity.”

To keep up with Nicolle Galyon follow her on Instagram. For everything about her new record label follow ‘Songs & Daughters’ on Instagram and Facebook.

 

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

NYCS Woman of the Month Jessica Valiyi, Digital Strategy for Sony Music Nashville

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month.”

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Jess Valiyi

 

For this month we celebrate Jessica Valiyi, Associate Director, Digital Strategy for Sony Music Nashville. Growing up in Carmel, Indiana, she recalls all of her extracurricular activities outside of school revolved around music. She learned to play the drums when she was 10 years old and said she was a music fanatic in high school, although, she wasn’t a huge fan of country music until college. “I’m the oldest child, I didn’t have a big sibling or anyone to talk to but I felt like music was always there for me,” she says. While attending college at Indiana University in Bloomington, Valiyi’s friends she met on her dorm room floor freshman year introduced her to modern country and she instantly fell in love with the lyrics and storytelling. Some of her first favorite artists were Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, and the Dixie Chicks.  “I remember listening to the lyrics, and that is what drew me in, they have substance and meaning compared to anyone else I was listening to at the time,” she recalls. After college, she took a job in biotech and medical device company and worked part-time at the local country radio station doing promotions and marketing and helped with their social media. “I feel like there are two types of people in this world, you are either motivated by money or you are motivated by passion and I am the passionate one,” she states. Finding herself looking forward more and more to her side gig at the radio station, she happened to meet Alex Valentine who at the time worked the Northeast promotions for Big Machine Label Group. After talking to him about how she could ‘do what he does’ in the industry, she took that information and chance meeting to heart and a year later made the move to Nashville. Valentine gave her words of advice that she carries with her today, “You have to be present to win”.

Jessica Valiyi Woman of the Month

Mitchell Tenpenny at Wal Mart on the night of his debut album release

Just two months after moving, she took her dream job, a part-time gig with Big Machine Label Group, home to Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts, the two artists that helped to cultivate her love for the genre. One of her mains jobs was to help the digital team and assist in keeping Swift’s music off the internet and mainly off of YouTube. She laughs talking about all of the tweets she saved from fans who would try to find her music and couldn’t without buying the actual album, something that proved she was successful in that task.

In December of 2017, she made the move over to Sony Music Nashville and during our conversation, recalls a moment that really has come full circle since moving over to her new position. “The first week I lived in Nashville I went Belcourt Taps. It was Heather Morgan, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz, and Maren Morris and it was my first writers round and I remember thinking ‘Why isn’t this girl an artist?’ I went up to her after and told her how incredible her voice and songs were. Most off her EP and one other song called ‘Loose Change’” Valiyi recalls “I was following Maren’s career when I was at Big Machine and I remember being so bummed that she went to Sony but now it’s just full circle.” The moment becomes even more poignant this week that the Sony Music Nashville team gets to celebrate Morris’ second number one song, “GIRL”.

Jessica Valiyi

Maren Morris and Sony Music Nashville Team

Her day to day jobs as the Associate Director of Digital Strategy for Sony Music Nashville include helping her artists on fan engagement, email marketing, websites, digital advertising, coming up with creative content, collaborating with digital partners and essentially anything directly related to helping grow the fan base. Her clients at Sony include Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Luke Combs, Old Dominion, Mitchell Tenpenny, Pistol Annies, Tenille Townes, Jameson Rodgers, The Sisterhood Band, and Ryan Hurd. “One thing that drew me to digital is the space is constantly changing. You really have to be one step ahead of everyone, finding out what the newest, coolest, greatest thing is,” Valiyi says. “You don’t just use specific things because everyone uses it, it has to make sense for your individual clients. It’s trying to keep up with the trends and how to incorporate them with our artists.”

Jessica Valiyi

Team Sony Music Nashville at Luke Combs’ Grand Ole Opry Induction

She passionately talks about the fans and how there would be no country music industry without them and how she loves that the digital space is the department that is closest to the fan. One artist she highlights in our interview is Luke Combs. “Luke Combs is so dialed in, everything he does is for the fans, he says ‘They are the ones who are providing me this life and this career’, that’s why I love working for him. Yes, my job is social media, yes my job is in the digital space and content but it’s also listening to fans.” An example of how Combs continues to give the fans exactly what they want by uploading unedited videos of unreleased songs.

When we talk about what advice she would give to young people in the industry she says, “Our industry is so small, networking is huge. The more you are around and people can see you and see what you do, I feel like that goes a long way, every opportunity I’ve gotten in Nashville has come from someone I’ve networked with.” She also highlights the importance of accepting that you won’t know everything and not being afraid to ask questions or to learn from others around you. She quotes Steve Jobs saying “I don’t care about being right. I care about success and doing the right thing.” as something she refers to often. She hopes to empower the people who work with her but when she is in a leadership role, she is the first one to also listen and learn from them as well.

We are so grateful for all of the women who not only take time out of their busy schedules to chat with us but also teach us their stories and share advice with us. We want to thank Jess Valiyi for her guidance and friendship to NYCountry Swag over the past few years and we look forward to continue to champion her and her incredible artists.

 

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

Woman of the Month: Susan Nadler

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month.”

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Susan Nadler

Photo By: Anna Webber/Getty Images for 2017 ACM Honors

This month we interviewed an icon in the music business in Nashville, Susan Nadler. Nadler who is 72 years young is one of the Shady Ladies of Music City, a new podcast premiering next week. Along with Evelyn Shriver, the two women infiltrated the music business in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming the first women to ever run a music label, Asylum Records. In our hilarious phone call, Nadler is honest about her life, being a woman in the industry and gives some of the best advice to young girls who are following this dream.

Nadler took us back to the days growing up in Pittsburgh, to her journey to Israel, running a popcorn stand in Key West, and eventually making her way to Music City to further her love and respect for the music business. As a child, she recalls playing the flute, her sisters playing the piano and the violin and there always being music in the house. She loved R&B, listening under the covers at night to a tiny transistor radio that her father gifted her. “It was a great way to grow up, music was a huge part of my life,” she says.

She recalls going to see Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in concert, “Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were two of the first that I ever heard that made me fall in love with folk music, I still loved R&B but I got to hear so many different kinds of music, I was pretty lucky,” she tells us. “I used to go to the record store on Fridays, there was a place called the National Record Mart, and I would buy 45s every Friday.” Still, to this day, she explains that she is the only person she knows who still goes on Amazon to buy CDs from artists that she loves.

To say her life before Nashville was unconventional is quite the understatement, over the years between growing up in Pittsburgh and marrying a songwriter in Tennesee, Nadler lived in Israel, was busted for smuggling drugs, spent time in a jail in Mexico and owned a popcorn stand outside of a bar in Key West, Florida that was popular for its drag shows.

After marrying her second husband who had written the popular song for Glen Campbell, “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” she started writing for The Tennessean, and sort of fell into public relations in the music industry. “I met all of these incredible songwriters, they all got along great and they all played their music together, they weren’t so competitive, they were really friendly,” she tells us. She worked closely with Tammy Wynette, stating she was the most generous person she had ever met in Nashville. “She was just unbelievable when I first started working for her, I didn’t have a dime, Tammy and her husband offered me money if I needed help to get into the music business,” she recalls. She managed Lorrie Morgan before meeting Evelyn in 1988 and the two of them teamed up to run Asylum Records, making them the first females to ever run a major Nashville label. They went on to sign George Jones and help him release his Grammy-winning album Cold Hard Truth. She explains how it was tough being women in that industry because the men who were running everything weren’t thrilled with them being in that position.

We discussed what a day in the life looked like during those years and she explained: “Every day there was stuff going on, there were number one parties all of the time, people coming to pitch us songs, where you don’t want to take the time out to listen to it, but you never know who you’ll hear,” Nadler says. “Every day was very busy, it was really fast-paced, we were hard-pressed to keep up with it all.”

As two women who were pioneering the way for others over the past four decades, Nadler and Shriver have seen many changes in the music business over the years but Nadler says one thing that hasn’t really changed “the boys run the city and they run the business”. Explaining she feels there are a few women who have broken in but that most of the time, women are too nervous to fight for what they want.

As far as advice, she simply laughs and says “Don’t fuck anybody, that’s the first thing I’ll say. Don’t get involved with anybody romantically or sexually that you are in business with, its a huge mistake.” She also is heartfelt when she says to not lose your love for the music, for the reason you are in this business in the first place. “No matter what else happens and keep listening and keep looking for new stars.”

Nadler still resides in Nashville and is getting ready for the release of the podcast Shady Ladies of Music City. She also loved poetry as she was growing up, and always thought that she would become a writer, which eventually she did, becoming a published author of three books, all available here on Amazon.com.

The first episode of Shady Ladies of Music City will be released on June 4th but you can listen to minisodes now about Evelyn and Susan below. Check back next month when we will feature Evelyn as our June Woman of the Month.

Follow the Shady Ladies of Music City on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

Woman of the Month Ashley Eicher

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month.”

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Ashley Eicher

Photo Credit Cameron Powell

Our Woman of the Month for April is Ashley Eicher creates, hosts and produces content for several major outlets, always remembering you can be a kind and a strong woman in this industry. Growing up in Louisville, KY, Eicher always loved music and recalls hearing a variety of types of music around her house including Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Trisha Yearwood, Lionel Richie, and Wynonna Judd. She was on stage performing from a very young age, feeling natural, not nervous when the lights came up. She moved to Tennessee to pursue a career as an artist but decided to attend MTSU and study music business first.

Although throughout her college career she interned for ASCAP, MCA Records and Scott Hendricks her very first job out of college was working in artist management for Wynonna Judd.“I learned so much working for Wynonna and Kerry Hansen Zaidy (Wynonna’s then manager). Because we were a small management company dedicated solely to Wynonna, I was able to have my hands in a multitude of things from marketing to touring, A&R and the process of recording an album, to television appearances as Wynonna was on the Oprah show regularly at that time. I am so grateful for that time in my life,” Eicher tells us.

She went on to compete in several pageants across the state, eventually becoming Miss Tennesee and competing in Miss America.  Her time as Miss Tennessee allowed her to become the spokesperson for Governor Bredesen and the Department of Education for Tennessee and to help champion their character education initiatives. “I was speaking in different schools across the state about respecting yourself and respecting others,” she recalls.“The experience allowed me to make a difference in a way that I hadn’t been able to before. Eventually, it opened the door to television.”

She worked as an agent trainee at Creative Artists Agency and for her first on-air job, ABC hired her to host a digital series and a three-hour live special from the red carpet of the CMA Awards and back in 2007, Luke Bryan just happened to be her co-host. She then helped to launch AXS TV as the host and producer of all of their Nashville based content, and also hosted the Ram Report for Rolling Stone Country.

More recently, Eicher produces all of the video content for Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival which takes place right outside of Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee, hosts “Tailgate Hour”, an hour-long live show from each of Garth Brooks stadium tour dates which is broadcast on his channel on Sirius XM and started a podcast with Hunter Kelly Kelly. Her podcast, All Our Favorite People launched about a year ago and highlights long-form stories of people who are doing incredible things. They kicked off their first episode telling Jackie Lee’s story of battling cancer and grieving the death of his mother. “The fact that Jackie trusted us with some of the most deeply personal, beautiful and painful moments of his life and to be able to share his story in hopes of helping someone else, it was an honor to be a part of and one the greatest gifts for both of us,” she says. Other guests have included country music artists like Kassi Ashton, Lauren Alaina, and Jake Owen as well as Annie Downs, the best selling author, celebrity fitness trainer Erin Oprea and the CEO of St. Jude’s Children Hospital among many other inspiring guests.

Ashley Eicher

“We launched the podcast because (in 15 years of friendship) we have always wanted to do something together. The podcast allows us to have in-depth conversations with our guests about the beauty, pain, and hilarity that is life and connect with our audience in a meaningful way. Life is messy. It is beautiful but it is messy. And in the Instagram perfectly filtered world we live in, it can be really easy to fall into the lies of comparison and not enough. I think it is something we all struggle with to some degree,” Eicher says of the podcast. “So we talk about those things. We talk about the things we love, the stories, experiences, and people that have shaped us. And we laugh A LOT. Let’s be honest Hunter is hilarious and you never know what he is going to say. I love being able to go from belly laughing to talking about the really deep, life stuff. And hopefully, it’ll help somebody. We hope that when people listen to the podcast if they feel alone, I hope they realize that they aren’t alone.” For more information and to listen to all of the podcasts head to https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/all-our-favorite-people.

She goes on to speak passionately about The Dollar Club which is run by her church Cross Point, which brings the community together to prove that if every one donates just one dollar, the impact we can make when we all do good together can have a major change in the world. “They pool all of that money together, find a need in the community that needs to be filled and go fill it. When a community comes together to help someone else, the possibilities are endless. It has a ripple effect. When someone sees how their generosity – even something as simple as a dollar – helps someone else, it makes them want to do more. And God has used the stories from Dollar Club to change my life. With every story we tell, I’m reminded of what is really important – Loving God, loving people, taking care of each other and using our gifts and talents to do good in the world.”

While the Dollar Club has helped people, families, and organizations in Nashville, they’ve also told stories and helped organizations throughout the US and most recently in Kolkata, India. “It is only through the generosity of a whole lot of people that the Dollar Club is able to help as many people as it does. And I’m just grateful that we get to be a part of telling their stories,” says Eicher. “We spent a week in Kolkata, India last fall in the boys home and girls home that SEED built and in the slums of Kolkata where most of these kids grew up. I left a piece of my heart in Kolkata.” The money donated from the Dollar Club to the SEED organization helped to finish building out the boys’ home giving the boys, who mostly grew up in the slums, a safe place to live, eat, go to school and prosper. Locally the Dollar Club benefits organizations like Rest Stop Ministries, a not-for-profit 501-(c)3 faith-based organization in the Nashville, TN area dedicated to comprehensively restoring female survivors of domestic sex trafficking.

One of our favorite questions to ask these inspiring women is what advice they would give to young females looking to work in the music industry. Eicher says to figure out who you are at your core and stay true to that, and certainly, don’t let this industry change who you are.“Trust and know at this moment you are exactly where you are supposed to be and if you continue to work with integrity and honesty, stay true to who you are, stand up for yourself and be good to people – there is nothing you can’t do.”

Follow Ashley Eicher on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

NYCS Woman of the Month: Leslie Fram

We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month.”

Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.

Leslie Fram

Leslie Fram

For our March Woman of the Month, we wanted to feature a female in the industry who not only has an incredible story but also works daily to champion other female artists and women in general who are working tirelessly to make their dreams of working in the music industry come true. Leslie Fram is currently the Senior VP of Music Strategy for CMT (Country Music Television) in Nashville, but this small town Alabama native didn’t always didn’t only listen to country music growing up. She tells us in a recent interview that thanks to her older brother, her musical influences ranged a few different genres including artists like Led Zeppelin and Heart to Jackson Browne and The Eagles. “I listened to the radio late at night and picked up stations across the country in all different genres, which is how my passion for radio was born,” she recalls.

Before moving to Nashville, Fram pursued a career in radio, first in Top 40 radio in Mobile, Alabama then, an Alternative Rock station in Atlanta and most recently, right here in the Big Apple rocker 1019RXP as Program Director and Morning Show co-host.  Before her move into country music, Fram had already racked up a ton of recognition in music, being named the first woman to receive the TJ Martell Award in recognition of outstanding performance in the music industry in 2000 and in 2009 she was honored as a Lifetime Achievement Inductee in the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.

We discussed how the transition in 2011 into country music from rock music and out of radio into television affected her. “The first year at CMT was a whirlwind, getting to know a whole new set of industry folks and learning the job.  The team (which is more like a family) at CMT made the transition so smooth,” she explains.  She made sure to take meetings in town to meet more of the industry and at night to attend shows, so that she could learn all about what the country music genre had to offer.

Now, a typical day in the life of the Senior VP of Music Strategy includes getting to the office early, most weeks she takes breakfast meetings before her day even officially begins. Some of her days are back to back until 5:00 or 6:00 PM, filled with meetings about all things CMT including label calls, meetings about all CMT events, catching up with artist’s teams and even a weekly meeting where she watches all of the videos that come in and will be played on the platform. Once her busy day ends, her and her team divide and conquer all of the incredible music related events or concerts that go on on a nightly basis including industry showcases, #1 parties and heading to see new acts or shows. “Because of my hectic lifestyle, I try to remain healthy and get as much sleep as possible (when I can!) in order to keep up,” she tells us.  “I love working on a project from beginning to end and strategizing with our team.  We are truly thankful for what we all get to do and that we get to do it in Music City!”

Leslie Fram

Leslie Fram and Karen Fairchild with the Class of 2019 CMT Next Women of Country / Photo Courtesy of CMT.com

One of the main initiatives Fram has been a part of since her start at CMT is championing women in the genre. We were so interested to hear her take on the situation and what made her decide to work to bring equality to the genre. “It was shocking to see the lack of support for all of these amazing female artists when I moved to Nashville.  When I starting actually speaking with them and hearing stories of what they were going through, I knew we had to do something.” And so they did, creating CMT Next Women of Country which has now introduced countless female artists to fans all over the country. Now, the franchise has expanded from simply a yearly event to 5 years of annual tours, a digital music series and more. They even just announced that for the first time, this year’s class will be going international, and to USO bases overseas. “I am so proud that we have helped launch the careers of amazing women like Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Lauren Alaina, and RaeLynn,” Fram says.  “CMT has given its full support to this franchise, including last year’s unprecedented ‘Artists Of The Year’ awards show, which honored all women for the first time ever.”

Leslie Fram

NYCountry Swag Managing Editor, Christina Bosch, and Founder, Stephanie Wagner with 2019 CMT Next Women of Country Artist, Stephanie Quayle

New York Country Swag’s 2o18 Babes, Booze & Brunch event featured Hannah Ellis who is now currently on the 2019 CMT Next Woman of Country tour with Cassadee Pope and Clare Dunn and we can’t wait to catch the show next month at Gramercy Theatre. We were also honored to have Stephanie Quayle, a member of the 2019 class, perform at our Babes, Booze & Brunch event earlier this month.

We couldn’t let such an icon in the country music industry go without asking about advice that she has for women trying to follow their country music dreams and specifically for our company. Fram said, “Follow your passion and find your champions!  You are offering a service that can help mentor artists and industry professionals, which is such important work.  Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement!”

 

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook: