Monday, March 31, 2014

music || meet brandon chase

Happy Monday, y'all!! I'm so excited to be introducing y'all to one of my newest favorite music artists today. His name is Brandon Chase and you may have heard of him from The Voice (Team Blake) or you may have heard his new single, "One" on your radio. Brandon is an amazingly talented artist with an even more amazing story!
I found out about Brandon through a friend on Facebook and recently connected with his publicist (thank you Amanda and Tiffany). I LOVE country music as we all know and JUMPED at the opportunity to get to know a little more about Brandon. When Tiffany was telling me a little about Brandon, it seriously left me with chill bumps! He shouldn't even be able to sing or walk or talk at all. But, that's the cool thing about God--he always has a better plan!! I'll tell y'all a little more about his story and then share his answers from our interview this morning.

Country music artist Brandon Chase is nothing shy of a miracle. Only a few days old, Brandon quit breathing 64 times in 12 hours and was told by doctors he could be deaf, blind, mentally impaired, or possibly all three. Not only did the Arlington, TX native not suffer any complications from his childhood, he instead went on to graduate high school at the age of 15. He then completed his masters certificate in songwriting from Berklee College of Music at the age of 17. Brandon taught himself how to play the piano and guitar and has been writing his own original music since the age of 14. Brandon was featured on iTunes "New and Noteworthy" and also "Rising Stars of Country", following the release of his latest EP “Country Enough." His most recent achievement was appearing multiple times on season 5 of NBC's The Voice as a member of Blake Shelton's team. His debut single "One" hit country radio and all digital outlets on March 4th. It was included in iTunes' "New and Noteworthy" the day it was released. Brandon is currently recording new music set to release in summer 2014.
1. When did you decide that music was your passion?
"As soon as I started playing music and that was when I was 13, going on 14. I started in my church youth group. They had auditions for the youth band and up until that point I literally had no background in music whatsoever. I didn't play an instrument and I didn't sing. When I sang in school choir, I was always in the back aisle as far away from the microphone as possible. But, when my church announced that they were having auditions, I just heard a voice and I just felt like I was called to do it. I felt like the Lord was saying, "this is designed for you." I took a step of faith and decided to do it and instantly I fell in love with it. At that time, I was pursuing baseball. I thought baseball was what I would be doing for the rest of my life and as soon as this opportunity came--I instantly fell in love with music."
2. You were on Team Blake for the Voice. What was the best piece of advice that you took away from him?
"The biggest thing that I took away from it-and it's not really something that was new- but it was set in a different way. It kind of sparked something new in me when I heard it from Blake and that was to basically live the song you are singing. Put yourself in the shoes of the song. If the song is about hurt, then you should feel that hurt. It's not just about connecting with the song in general but it's about connecting with every line of the song. As soon as you lose connection with the song, you lose connection with the audience. You can sound incredible but if there is no connection, people will notice that. You have to engage with the audience. You have to connect with them.
3. You are a songwriter as well. There are several extremely talented songwriters in Nashville right now that are crossing that line of songwriters/singers such as Chase Rice and Sam Hunt. Do you think that you have a better connection with your own music that you've written yourself?
"Obviously you have a special connection with any song that you write but I think you can have that connection with any song. To me, that's an important part of the process of picking songs out for your album. I've written half of the songs on my album and the other half I'm working with some other writers in Nashville. Sam Hunt is actually a writer on a couple of the songs I'm recording. I believe that when you are listening through the catalogs of songs you should pay attention to the songs you have a connection with. You shouldn't record songs that you don't have a connection with. If you don't have a connection with the song, it'll probably sound like you don't have a connection to it. When you hear a song that that tells a story that you can relate to I think you can connect with that song as if you wrote it."
4. Who inspires you the most?
"I draw my inspiration from a lot of things. But, if we are talking about a person--my grandfather. I was extremely close to him (mom's dad) and he passed away when I was pretty young but I still always think about him. I have a picture of him in my house that I always look at and just think about him. He was such a huge inspiration in my life. The way he treated my mom and my grandma inspires me. He had such a love for people and he was so infectious. I still remember every interaction with him even though he passed away when I was young because he made that big of an impact on my life. I always think about the mark he left in this world and try to follow his example. I always think about the splash he made."
5. What is one piece of advice that you would tell young girls and boys that have a dream that they are trying to reach?
"I think that, in any dream, it's important to have patience. You have to have dedication and drive as well. You have to want that dream more than anything else. Never stop believing in or chasing your dream. When it's suppose to happen, it will. There have been many times in my life where I felt like I wasn't moving  at all. I felt like I was stuck in the same place, singing the same songs and singing at the same places. Looking back now, I see that those times when I felt like I wasn't moving was the times that I was growing the most.  Just because I wasn't moving didn't mean I wasn't growing. There were plenty of times when I thought that maybe I shouldn't be doing this anymore  but I still kept chasing at my dream. And, at just the right moment--I believe the Lord created that moment--doors began to open. When you are learning patience, you are still moving. You have to go through some hard times and experience all the bad parts to get to the good parts.
6. Where can we hear more of your music? You are starting a radio tour soon, how can we get you to our cities?
"I have two EP's that I've released. One was in 2012 and one was in 2011. There are four songs each and they are on ITunes. There is also a single that I released last year that is going to be a part of the film, 8 Days, later this year. A part of the proceeds of that song goes towards fighting human trafficking. It's a film that is about human trafficking that talks about protecting the girls and restoring them. So, there's several other options to listen to other than the Voice performances and the new single, "One." My album is hopefully going to be out by the end of the summer."
So, now that you've fallen in love with this guy and his story and his talent, let's talk about where to find him. Check out his website here. He has several tour dates listed on there. And, since he is starting a radio tour, start calling your local stations and venues and requesting him for shows in your area!! Follow him on Facebook here. Find him on twitter here. And search him on ITunes and buy his music!! I'm SO glad that I had this amazing opportunity to interview Brandon and I look forward to working with him in the future! Thank you Brandon Chase!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

anniversary party || 30th

This may be the longest I've ever gone without blogging and I apologize for that. I've received SO many emails asking me if I was sick or not blogging anymore--and both of those aren't true. Haha. I've been SO busy in the past few week and have just now had more than 30 minutes where I wasn't suppose to be somewhere or doing something. HA!
I went to see Chase Rice in the greatest college town, ever (Tuscaloosa) about two weeks ago and then took a weekend road trip to Biloxi to see Billy Currington, Chase Rice and Brett Eldredge. Then, last week, I headed to Nashville to spend a few days with some friends. We got to be a part of a filming for CMT Monday night featuring Dan and Shay and David Nail. Tuesday night, we got to see Chase Rice's opry debut and then Wednesday, it was time to head back to Birmingham. I also had an amazing connection interview Wednesday and met several more people just in the past five days that makes Nashville a clearer reality. I'm SO excited to be able to share some more exciting news in the next few months.
BUT, back to the meaning of this post. My parents celebrated their 30th anniversary on March 24. I've posted about both of them many times but I honestly believe that they are the most Christ like people on the earth.
I sometimes complain under my breath for the security they provide me because I think I have it all figured out when at the end of the day, I'm still a lost kid who will ALWAYS need direction. I'm thankful to have parents who don't believe in consuming alcohol or drugs. My parents are the most pure and faithful people I've ever met.
There are times when I disagree with them on minor issues but it's never something that I don't look back on and see God and my parent's hands protecting me from potential harm. A lot of children with over protective parents end up in a loony bin for going crazy--that's never happened with me or my siblings. They grounded us with the best morals and then they did something a lot of people fail at doing--they lived it. They talked the talk and they walked the walk.
My father's hard work allowed my siblings and mother to have the best life. I've never been without. I've never known what it's like to go to bed at night wondering if I'm loved or not. My mother's compassion and steadiness through all the craziness that is a girl's life has made me the girl I am today. And, while I'm not perfect, I am proud of the person I am. And that's all thanks to my parents. They pray for me and they believe in me. It was an HONOR to try to represent their marriage with an afternoon of fun!! :)
I LOVE decorating for parties and if this whole Nashville writing thing never makes it--maybe I'll just plan parties. Haha.

Here a few pictures from today!! Hope you enjoy!! You can email me about any of the ideas or supplies.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

bloggers w/ class.

Happy Wednesday!
I'm SO thankful for an off day! I've officially responded to all 104 emails from y'all, too! Make sure to email me back if I didn't answer your questions or comments with enough information. A lot of you asked about the Braves shirt I had on at Sam's Rome show and it was from (ta-da!) Old Navy. Haha.
Also, thank y'all for the encouraging words about my interview in Nashville in a few weeks. It wouldn't be a dream starting job but I need to take every opportunity when presented! Others are also asking about my upcoming show schedule and I'll be seeing Chase Rice tomorrow night in Tuscaloosa and then Billy Currington w/ Brett and Chase on Friday in Biloxi with my sister, Lauren, and good friend, Michelle.
I'm so excited for a weekend in Biloxi! Then, my Nashville trip is in two weeks. I'll be seeing Chase's Opry debut with some friends and then interviewing on Wednesday! It's been one extremely busy month of shows and I'm thankful for some downtime in April.
I've also been planning a brunch for the Southern Blog Society honoring Alabama members. Your invites will be in your inbox this weekend so please be on the lookout and RSVP as soon as you can. So excited!!

One of the sweetest girls I've met through Twitter and blogging is the beautiful lady behind Seersucker Sass. Make sure you follow along. She is the sweetest girl. I'm so thankful to know her. She always has my back as well. Thank you Dana!
She honored me with a very thoughtful award: Bloggers with Class Award. This is my 12th Blogger Award but it's definitely one of my favorites!

I'll be answering her questions! :)
 -Who is your role model?
I have to agree with Dana's answer for this one. My parents are my role models. I've written posts and tweets and FB statuses about them but I truly adore them. My father works from sun up to sun down all the time. He is a leader in the community, at our church and in our home. My mother is the most caring and understanding woman I've ever met! I hope to be as good as a wife and mother as she is one day!

-Who is your style icon?
I'm not a fashion blogger by any means but I DO love fashion. My favorites are Blake Lively and Reese Witherspoon. I think that both of these woman just epitomize what a woman should look like. They are both extremely classy and southern-my favorite combination.
-Pearls or bows?
Pearls. All the way.

-Favorite color?
To wear-lots of neutrals (blacks, greys, browns, tans) To look at- pink!

-What makes someone classy?
I think the way someone tells you who they are without saying a word makes them classy. I want people to know that I respect myself and others when I walk in a room. I don't want a strand of pearls or my Marc Jacobs bag to be the reason someone associates me with class. To me, class is a lifestyle and not just a style.

-Why is it important to be classy?
Being a classy woman does exactly what I said above-it commands respect of others. You have to respect yourself to be classy. You have to carry yourself with a quiet confidence. Especially as Christians-we know who we are because of WHOSE we are.

-What is your favorite quote?
"God is within her. She will not fail." Psalm 46:5

-Who/what inspires you?
my parents, my sisters, my brother, life, Nashville, music, philosophy, the Bible

-What is your favorite piece(s) of clothing?
I adore my purity ring my parents gave me when I was 18. I love sweaters and sundresses. And every Free People piece of clothing I have. And my custom made Guatemala boots :)

Each person who receives the award must add a new question, so here's mine- Do you think that class is becoming a thing of the past?
When I look around, I do think that class is becoming a thing of the past. I don't want this to be the case, though. That's why I'm so honored to receive this award. I'm so thankful that there are still ladies out there that respect themselves and carry themselves with class. Being polite, being a lady, looking your best and BEING your best is what makes you classy. :)

Thank you again, Dana, for the amazing award and questions!



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

dear girls.

Love yourself.

So much easier said than done, right?

I was reading my Bible this morning in Hebrews and there was a sticky note from one of my Phi Mu sisters from college and it simply said "Love yourself." I don't know why it hit me so hard, but it did.

It was a simple post it note with those words written in the cutest bubble font that there was ever was with what seems like a simple message. Love yourself. I do love myself, I thought to myself.

I was reading in a devotional book called "I'll Have What She's Having." Amazing devotional, by the way. But, as I was reading, the little post it note was ALL I could think about.
I mean, I blog and tweet and instagram and facebook about how we as women (and everyone, really) should LOVE ourselves. We have to be able to love ourselves to love God. We have to love ourselves in order for someone else to be able to truly love us. That's when it hit me. I mean, I do love myself but I don't love myself like I should.
If I don't have just the perfect hair day, I think I'm too ugly. If a guy I likes stops talking or messaging me, I'm too hard on myself. Any little thing can go wrong that makes me not like myself. My love for myself is based too much on my physical appearance vs my spiritual appearance. That's wrong. And that goes against everything I try to spread on here. And, for that, I need to apologize. First and foremost to God for doubting his creation and then to anyone who reads this or anyone I know because I'm saying one thing and doing another.

I think it's easy to feel confident when we have new jeans or a cool new shirt or awesome new sunglasses. But, my confidence should NOT be based on Ray Bans or Free People clothing. My confidence should be an inner confidence. It should be my spirit that comes out and shows my beauty.

Because, by the world's standards, I'm not worthy to be "loved" by a lot of people. My nose it too big, I'm not a Victoria Secret supermodel, I don't have the best clothes, etc. etc. etc.
BUT, you know what I do have? I have Jesus Christ who defines my worth and value. Not Glamour magazine or even my best friends. YES, it is important to take care of ourselves and to look presentable. There's nothing wrong with that. But, when you start "loving" yourself based on your physical appearance and not based on your spiritual appearance-that's when you are stepping in sticky goo.
Learn a happy medium. Care about your physical appearance but do NOT LET THE VOICES OF PEOPLE OVERSHADOW THE VOICE OF GOD.
Our worth and value and love for ourselves should be based off of what God says about us. I've searched all afternoon for verses to remind me of this. I wrote one on my bedroom mirror, one on my bathroom mirror, one on my car mirror, etc.

For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Cor. 6:20

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:34-35

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
 Ephesians 2:8

Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.
 Philippians 2:15

Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right.
 Psalm 97:11

These are just a few. I found at least 20 that I'll be happy to send to anyone who wants them. But, look at these verses very close.

If we will allow God to love us the way he wants to and we accept that love, we will love ourselves. When we love God and love ourselves, we will shine like fireworks. We will realize we are victorious over earthly situations. We will realize that as daughters of God, we have heavenly royalty in our veins. We will realize that God chose us and he loves us.

I mean, WOW. This is how God sees us. Not like people on earth see us.

So, stop judging people because you don't like their clothes or their hairs or their philosophy in life. Stop hating yourself and learn to accept the greatest love of all-God's love. Then, watch how amazing your life will be. The fulfillment in your life HAS to come from God before you'll experience true and amazing love on earth.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

rome: sam hunt


Passionate music is one of the things that makes my heart beat a little faster. I adore every aspect of life and a big part of mine includes music. The phenomenal quality of music is whether you're happy or sad or hurt or relieved, there's probably a song you can think of that relates to that time. And, the reason you're able to do so is because there are people in the world that can not only deliver the lyrics in a song in a powerful way, they can also write the lyrics themselves.
I've been to a lot of shows. I've seen a lot of artists. I've heard a lot of stories. One thing that I can testify to is that when an artist is also a songwriter, those are the songs that you sing along to with passion. Those are also the songs that leave you with goose bumps.
I'm so glad that I found out about Sam Hunt last summer. And, after posting about three shows, I'm not really sure how much MORE there is to tell you about him.
The show this weekend was in Rome, Georgia. It was an enchanting little town that reminded me a lot of Montevallo. The main street was SO alive and there was such a familiarity in the air. I'm so happy that I was able to last minute secure a ticket to the show because of it's "sold out" status.
I'm clearly not an artist but I can't imagine how excited Sam must've been to see this little beauty out front. Selling out shows seems to be a trend with Sam Hunt lately. And, it seems to be a trend that's only gaining-not losing- a lot of momentum.
Another favorite thing of mine is finding out about these artists before they are selling out arenas and stadiums. It's so fun to see people watching artists for the first time or the excitement of hearing their music for the first time. This is probably where I should direct you to the link to get Sam's mixtape for F R E E. You didn't misread that-Sam Hunt has a free mixtape right here.

My sister Lauren has been MIA from roadtrips lately because of this thing called a real world job so I was ecstatic to have my sister back on the road with me! We met my friend, Jenny, there! Michelle also joined!!

The show started off with Old Dominion. If you've never heard of them, excuse yourself from this post to learn more about them here. And, while you're there, make sure that you "like" their Facebook page. We were able to catch the end of their sound check and then talk to them for a few minutes. They were all so genuine and sweet! It was a pleasure to meet y'all. Make sure that you guys as readers follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Their single that is on XM radio right now is "Dirt on a Road." It's such a fun song with smooth lyrics and an eccentric beat.

Thanks for saying hey Old Dominion. Y'all have got to check their schedule and watch them live.
And, then, the icing on the cake- Sam Hunt time.
I know I keep saying this but I have to say it again. This was my favorite show that Sam and the guys put on. He sang two new songs that are not on the mix tape (Breakup in a Small Town and Take Your Time) which did nothing except up the anticipation factor for Sam's album to be released later this year. :)
The first time I saw Sam, most of the people were singing along with "Cop Car," "Come Over," and "We are Tonight." I think they associated Sam with songwriting more than a singing/writer combo. This show in Rome had such a hometown feel that was by far the most enjoyable atmosphere so far. His sweet grandmother even was there. Last night, people were singing every word to every song. As a fan and observer, that made my night! I'm so happy that more people are discovering Sam's incredible talent!
After the show was over, we got to say hey-and then a quick bye-to everyone. Tyrone and Josh are so gifted as guitar players and are pretty fun guys, too.
Thank you Sam (and Old Dominion) for yet another Saturday night filled with memories! I can't wait for the next one!
T0 learn more about Sam, check out his website here.
"Like" him on Facebook here.
Follow him on Twitter here.
And then share with all your friends so you can all go driving down an old back road blasting some of his music and enjoying the perfect weather we've been having. :)
Happy Sunday!!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

heartstrings for hope.

I need to start off this post with a thank you. I honestly believe Birmingham, Alabama has some of, if not, the best country radio stations. I LOVE the xm radio as much as the next girl but I'm still a hometown, homegrown kind of girl at the end of the day and that is exactly why I love our radio stations. There are two fabulous stations in the area- 102.5 The Bull and 104.7 WZZK. Both of these radio stations have presented amazing opportunities to me and allowed me to meet some amazing artists. So thankful!!

Moving along, though. Tuesday night was an event that 102.5 The Bull put on called "Heartstrings for Hope." It was a benefit concert for St. Jude and it was incredible! It featured Joe Nichols, Jerrod Niemann and (my faves) Dan and Shay. St. Jude is an amazing organization by itself so to be able to support St. Jude AND hear amazing artists was an all around win win. You can become a "Partner of Hope" through St. Jude where you donate 20 dollars a month to help families with sweet babies and children battling diseases. It's an amazing feeling to partner with them and I've been a Partner of Hope for 2 years now. It's the best feeling ever. You can become a partner, too. For more info, look here.

I worked at Children's Hospital last year on the oncology floor so I've always had a soft spot for these precious children. We take way too much for granted in life. Make sure you thank God for your health- and your children's health everyday. Cancer doesn't discriminate and it's a truly horrific diagnosis. I'm praying every day for a cure!!

It was a great concert! Joe Nichols has a new album out and one of my favorites is "Yeah." The album is called Crickets, make sure you pick up a copy of his album. Jerrod Niemann was also a pleasant surprise. I've never seen him in concert and he was great as well.

Dan and Shay, though, won my heart. I mean, they already had it but they like, took the key from me and locked it up. Ha! I am SO excited for their new album to come out next month. Of course, you've heard "19 You and Me," but that is just the cupcake of the album. The icing that's coming in April will rock your world. I love that they are a duo and that they are so different. They are so fresh and just vibe well together. They were extremely nice as well. You can pre order their album on Monday, March 3 here. I've already set my reminder to do so myself! They played a couple of songs off the new album and all I can tell y'all is WOW. Also, we should probably discuss how amazingly perfect their album title is- "Where it all Began." That's genius. SO happy for them!

Throughout the past year, I've been SO blessed to run into so many of these artists in Nashville and meet them at shows. My sister and I were gifted with M&G's after the show and everyone of these guys were just as sweet as they were nice. Country music genuinely has the most amazing group of artists.

I'll just leave y'all with some pictures. If you have a chance to see any of these gentlemen, please go check them out! :)