Wednesday, April 30, 2014

life worth living

Tonight is definitely going to sound more like a diary entry than a blog post. That is, after all, why I started Southern Samplings. I needed an outlet to just write and post with no real intention of anyone reading except those who God lead here through whatever circumstance.
I cannot even begin to say thank you to every sweet girl (and guy) who randomly sends me emails of encouragement because I know that they are NOT random. I know that God has placed each of you in my life if only to converse through one email. It makes me so happy to know that there are other women in the world who believe in purity and believe in a life where we seek God first.
If you were to pick random posts from this blog, you'd probably think that I just really love country music. You'd probably think that I get really cool opportunities and have made some amazing friends in an industry full of lights and cameras and people. But, if you were to talk to me--even in the middle of a sold out Luke Bryan concert--it's my prayer that you still see Jesus before you see "writer" or "concert goer" or whatever else you may see.
I don't mean to harp a lot when I get emails from people who disagree with me for whatever reason and it's my April resolution to absolutely not give those people any more attention. I know that when people are being negative towards me, it's not because of anything I have personally done to them because I've never met the people behind the weightless comments. I believe that I have a story worth telling, and I believe that everyone in the world does, too. I LOVE hearing other's stories and their dreams and even their trials. Life is a big puzzle of pieces that have victories, defeats, and trials written on them.
A big part of my puzzle is my relationship with Christ. And, I honestly pray that is what others see when they look at my "puzzle" of life as well. I've been outspoken on here and other social media about my decision to remain pure until marriage. Is it an easy decision? Obviously not. Is it the right decision? For me, it is.
I have the privilege of leading a small group on Wednesday nights at my church and we are reading a book called "Lady in Waiting." You may have heard of it, and if not, PLEASE, go buy it! :)
It's been my guidebook to life behind my Bible since I was a sophomore in college. My sorority sister introduced me to the book after we were leaving church one Sunday and it's revolutionized my life.
I want every word that I speak to be words that encourage and lift other people up. I want to be able to pray for people when they need it. And, I pray that my decision to remain pure until marriage is one that other girls would decide is right for them, too.
So, after tonight, there were just 4 or 5 points that we talked about that I really just wanted to write down here for myself to be able to reference to. And, maybe someone else will need to hear it, too.
1. Incompleteness if not the result of being single but of not being full of Jesus.
Okay, wow. This statement stood out to me for SO many reasons. I was raised that I would meet the man who I would marry when I was ready to. I was raised to pray for my future spouse when I did the whole "true love waits" ceremony when I was 16. But, it's so much more than a pledge. The man that you marry is suppose to be number 2 in your life. Second only to God. That means that he is above family and friends. That means that you probably don't want to meet this "man" while he's hanging onto you at a bar because he's so drunk he can't stand. I mean, maybe that's your story, but I really pray it's not mine. I want to meet a man of God that it's so obvious he loves God. I don't want to meet someone and have to wonder if they love God. And, when will I meet that person? Only after I've acknowledged that I'm a complete person because of Jesus and not because of a man. Know your worth. You aren't half a heart looking for your other half. You have a complete heart seeking another heart that beats to the same purpose and pattern. Don't label yourself as incomplete because you're lacking a man. You're complete in God--a husband is a bonus.
2. You were not created to complete another, but to complement.
This goes along with the last few sentences in number one but it's so true. The guy that I liked in college LOVED sports so I tried to be this super amazing sports fan. I mean, I can tell you any definition of anything in football but I hated it. I mean, yes, I'll be at most home Alabama football games and the occasional Braves games BUT I don't have to be their number one fan. That's okay. The saying "opposites attract" has truth to it. In a relationship, you should be able to have hobbies and activities that you do without your boyfriend/husband. That's healthy. That's how you continue to grow. Learn how to complement them--don't suffocate them with trying to become every thing they are.
3. Is your life on hold until you have someone to hold?
AHHHH. This one hit me the hardest--and for good reasons. Are you a girl that HAS to have a boyfriend? Do you think you can't make that move or job change or address change until you have the perfect boyfriend? Ladies, that's such a destructive way to think. I mean, Jesus himself was single his whole life. (Don't get me wrong. I fully believe that if you have the desire to get married, Jesus will fulfill it). But, if you don't start LIVING until you have a boyfriend, I'm afraid you'll miss and may have already missed a bunch of life. If I let potential relationships dictate my plans, I'd never go or do anything. I feel like women today have lost their ability to dream and live a little. I've received countless emails from girls who settled in a marriage or relationship just because they were scared of life without a man. The only man you should be concerned with living without is God. :) I promise God will not put a desire in your heart with no intention of honoring it. But, you have to do your part to. Trust God. If you don't think you are suppose to be in a relationship with your boyfriend, get out of a dead relationship. And, while you are waiting--do not put your life on hold. I've been ALL over the United States traveling and meeting and doing and writing because I simply refuse to settle. Sure, I'm no Victoria Secret model but I do get interest from some guys. And, if I decided to date one of them just because it's fun to be in a relationship, I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today. Just trust. And live a FULL life before a relationship. Just imagine how much more FULL life will be after you get in a relationship if you live that way before one.
4. God wants you to remain pure before marriage to protect you from consequences.
This may be the one that a lot of people get offended or stop reading at--and that's okay. But, sex is such a huge thing in our society today and no one ever even talks about it. I watched this video around Valentine's Day (I don't remember the name or where I saw it or any details other than the message). But, the jist of the video was talking about how twisted our view of sex. From the world's point of view, sex is fun and has little consequences if you're careful. From a somewhat biblical point of view, sex is "bad" before marriage and then just a reward for married people. What the man in this video pointed out though, is what is much deeper than the physical connection of sex--and that's the spiritual and emotional connection. God created us with the intention to have that connection with one person. So, every time you have sex with someone, you're literally creating a bond with them. The more you have sex, the stronger the bond. You can see how this would be a good thing in a marriage. But, before marriage, girls just keep creating bonds with guys and then literally breaking those bonds when they break up and start a bond with someone else. THAT is extremely dangerous to someone's mind and heart. Value yourself enough to be able to say no. I won't push my beliefs on anyone BUT I can say that when I get married, I'll be able to make that bond with one man. And, it'll be the ultimate gift to be able to tell him I waited for him.
These are just a few points that we talked about tonight that really helped me be okay with being single. When the time comes and when I'm ready, I'll be in a relationship with the right person. Until then, I'll keep living life large and I pray you do the same. :)
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

be about bettering you.

How do you know God is talking to you? How do you know what's going on in your life is placed there by God vs circumstance? Or is anything in life really circumstance? Or is it all divinely directed by God?

For me, God knows it all. He always has and He always will. I honestly believe that God has different approaches to talking to us. I've never audibly heard God speak to me. The way I "hear" God is through different seasons of my life. It's like I'll have "theme" weeks--if you will. Like, when really amazing things happen for me, they always happen in blocks. Then, it's like I hit of wall of disappointment or discouragement.
I started this blog as an online journal or diary to chronicle my adventure through nursing school and life. One of my main passions is to let girls know their worth. From Bible studies in high school to even attempting to lead one as the VP of my sorority in college--it's always been important for me to let girls know how precious and valuable they are to God.
I was saved when I was 5. I was extremely young and knew from the day I was born that God loved me and that my family loved me. I'll never be able to thank my incredible family for all the love they show me everyday. And I'll definitely never be able to tell God how thankful I am that I learned to trust him at a very young age. But, just because I trust Him doesn't mean that I've never doubted Him.
I don't want this to come off as a sad post or a post of discouragement because if anything--I'm more encouraged than ever. By family, friends and even complete strangers that read Southern Samplings. I read EVERY email from y'all and it makes me SO happy that I have so many supporters in life in general.
Yesterday was a discouraging day. I just read some things online that I shouldn't have even read from girls that call themselves Christians but tear other girls apart--and with no merit. I never, EVER want to tear apart another girl. It's hard enough to be a girl to begin with. Then, add the stress we put on ourselves and the LAST thing we need is being torn down even more by other girls.
Do you have one of those friends that is ALWAYS happy? They are always full of joy? That's because they get filled up with Jesus so that they can love others the way Jesus loves us. And that is exactly what I strive for in my life.
One time when I was getting in trouble for tattling on one of my sisters when I was younger, my dad said something that's always been in the back of my mind. He said, "Katelyn, you can't control them. Be about you." BE ABOUT YOU.
I mean, my dad is like a genius, right? I've written before about how amazing he is and rightfully so. I sometimes let others get to me. I'll read negativity and dwell on it. But, you know what? I know who I am because of WHOSE I am and I refuse to be about any other business. And, as a woman, it's my prayer for y'all to do the same.
I receive SO many emails from girls who are just happy go lucky girls that get in funks from time to time looking for encouragement and I pray that this is it. When you worry, it means that you are lacking faith. So, I won't even say "worry about you." I'll say "be about you." Do what makes you happy. Don't give up on your dreams because someone else doesn't believe in you. Leave relationships and friendships that don't better you in the past. Take time to get full of Jesus so you can help others. Do not listen to the negativity people say about you. Apologize when you should. Always give 100%. Be a lady. And always CHASE your dreams.
You are amazing. You are awesome. And God chose you to be YOU. Embrace it. And be about you.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

dylan scott || pelham

Okay, this is obviously catch up Sunday for Southern Samplings but I had such a fun weekend of shows I wanted to make sure to share with y'all. Thursday was Cole Swindell in Tuscaloosa and Friday was DYLAN SCOTT in Pelham at the Oak Mountain State Fair.
You may recall this Dylan character from last October when we saw him perform at a bar in Birmingham for a local radio station, right? Well, hats off to Dylan Scott and his amazing band for putting on such an incredible show that night that we saw him two weeks later at another bar in Birmingham and then made a 5 hour road trip to see him play in Louisiana a few weeks later. So, we can see how waiting almost 5 months to see him again was not only hard, it was a little heart breaking. :)
The first night my friend Hannah and I saw Dylan perform, we quite literally ran into him on the street outside the bar and got to chat with him for a few minutes. We also met Jacob, Dylan's drummer, that night as well! They were literally the nicest guys in the world and told us they were coming back in a few weeks. We made plans that night to go see them again! They were AWESOME the second time we saw them perform.
I also got to see them at the Luke Bryan concert last October in Nashville. Talk about being genuine--it's Dylan and his band. They literally left their suite in the Bridgestone just to say hey to little fan girl me. Haha.
My friends and I were all off the weekend that Dylan was performing in Louisiana so what better way to spend a weekend than road trip, right? That show was the best he's ever performed!
When 102.5 announced Dylan was opening for Frankie Ballard, it was once again, a no brainer to go see our favorites!
I met my sweet friend Natalie there but before I could find her I ran into someone I was not expecting. And that sweet surprise is named Kelsea Ballerini. If you don't know who this girl is, stopppp right now and go find her on Twitter and Sound Cloud and thank me later. This girl not only can write some killer songs, she's the best girl singer in country music in my opinion. Kelsea is a writer for Black River Publishing (as well as Josh Kerr, Dylan's guitar player--he's also got some good pipes) and recently scored a record deal. I'm SO excited for her and such a fan. It was so fun to watch Dylan's show together and get to know each other. Can't wait to catch up with her next time I'm in Nashville.
Dylan has an EP on ITunes that you should be ashamed of yourself if you don't already have. Dylan also did a KILLER cover of Sam Hunt's Cop Car that I just feel really compelled to share with you here:

Okay, so after you watch that 193737 times, you can enjoy a couple of pictures of Dylan and his crew.
This is Jacob. Jacob is the best drummer in the whole wide world. Jacob LOVES bears and American flag jackets. (He was wearing a bear shirt under this jacket, too). Alabama decided to go bizerk Friday and be like 40 degrees. Cool, bama, cool. Anyways, Jacob is also funny and is going to be a dad soon!! YAY for Jacob and Caty!!
This is Josh. Josh plays guitar. Josh sings. And Josh writes music. So, he's like a triple threat, you know? :)
Since January 25 of this year, I've been to over 30 shows. Every artist and show has been well worth the money and they've all been entertaining. I've met every artist after their show and they are all super polite and appreciative of their fans. I'm thankful that they are so thankful to have fans that support them all.
But, in my opinion, something that sets Dylan on a level a little above the rest is his genuine interest in making his shows better every time. I've never seen a show of his where I didn't enjoy it a little bit more than the time before. I'm SO ready for him to release a new single and an album later this year. And, while I talk about different aspects of each artists--absolutely none of them compare vocally to Dylan. His voice is the best. Hands down.
As much as he is one of those artists I want to keep a secret because I enjoy seeing him in local bars and such, the popularity and fan base he's gained since October of last year is second to no other artist I'm following. He's genuine proof that a killer voice and amazing personality really speaks loudly in country music. He's coming back to Birmingham at the end of May, too. So, all you locals better come out. :)

cole swindell || tuscaloosa

What is it about college towns that make shows SO much more fun?
I still can't place my finger on what it is--but college towns definitely have an extra spark.
Sweet Cole Swindell played a show on Thursday night in Tuscaloosa that was amazing! It was at the Jupiter ((right on the strip in downtown Tuscaloosa)) and he did not disappoint. I joke about how he can't dance but he is fun. I love artists that interact with the crowd and make you feel like you're the only one in the whole bar.
Another quality about Cole that makes his shows fun is that as well as his own songs being fun to perform, Cole can boast SEVERAL other hits in country music as his own as a writer. He wrote Thomas Rhett's "Get Me Some of That" as well as Luke Bryan's "Beer in the Headlights."
Cole recently came out with his album in February and it's one of those albums where you do not skip a single song. The mixture of up tempo/heartbreak/country/tailgate songs prove to be a country album through and through. And, while some newer artists are blurring the country/alternative line a little more, Cole reminds us what being down home country is.
I love this about Cole. I also love seeing his rise in country music. The first time I saw Cole perform was Farm Tour two years ago. Then, farm tour last year and then him in a bar in Atlanta called Wild Bills. I also saw him preform for (probably) his biggest crowd to date in NYC in January with Luke Bryan. It's crazy how versatile Cole is with his performing roles. From Madison Square Garden to a college bar in Tuscaloosa, he captivates and holds the crowds attention like he is a seasoned country performer.
Every show I get to say hey to Cole, he always asks how I've been and thanks me for coming to shows. I know I say this a lot but country music has the best artists in the world. The genre just attracts nice people. Thank you to Cole for always being so welcoming!
Gotta love bar lighting for pictures. Your selfie game is on point, though, Cole.
If you haven't bought Cole's album on I-tunes, shimmy on over there and do so. And, check his website for dates. Cole is one of these new artists that is gaining momentum FAST. So, while he is still booking bars--you better book it to see him.
He's genuine and appreciative of the support and just a fun guy. Buy his music, buy a ticket to see him and go have a FUN night with Cole asap.
I didn't get a lot of pictures of Cole Thursday because, well, I have no good reason--but enjoy the ones I did get.
PS- Adam Craig opened for Cole Thursday and let me tell you this--not many opening acts make me want to turn around and buy a ticket to a show that they are headlining but that's exactly what Adam Craig did. He's like the next Cole Swindell and I LOVED seeing him perform. :) He had pretty teeth, too.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

meet || ray fulcher

Since I've started Southern Samplings, I've received a lot of emails from locals and people all over the country that tell me I should listen to certain people for their music. And, the longer I've been writing, the more I understand how important it is to at least give everyone a shot. That's what I'd expect from people to do for me. I LOVE new music. And, it's even more fun when the artists are willingly to talk about their music. You learn SO much from a person when you just get to know them and I can say that Ray Fulcher is definitely someone y'all will want to know.
One of my friends, JD Groover, told me about Ray a few weeks ago and Ray was kind enough to answer a few questions I had for him.
1. As a singer/songwriter do you write all of your own music--or do you listen to writers as well and record some other people's songs as well?
"I've written most of the songs you've already heard. There's just a couple of songs that I'll say I co-wrote but that's based off the fact that someone gave me an idea for a song that I just ran with. I wouldn't be opposed to listening to someone's songs but I think mainly it would have to be a song that I really connect with. That's the main thing about writing your own songs--it's words and stories that you connect with. Songs that you write yourself are like your baby. You know, you take the time to nurture the song and just get it right."
 2. Who is your biggest musical inspiration?
"Definitely George Strait. And Eric Church."
3. If you could sing a duet with anybody, who would you choose and why?
"Kacey Musgraves. I like her voice for the harmony. I like harmonizing a lot and I think her voice is perfect for that."
4. What influenced you to choose country as a genre that you wanted to pursue?
"I kind of never had a choice. Growing up, it was either the Temptations playing on my parents radio or it was Alan Jackson, George Strait or Travis Tritt. That was all I knew. From a young age, I connected well with those types of music and for me, it's the only genre that really fits. I'm the guy when after everyone has had a few drinks and are yelling to start playing rap music--I'm the guy who is still saying to put some country on. That's just who I am. I just don't relate to any other genre like I do country."
5. When did you first start singing and performing?
"It's kind of crazy of how it all happened. I didn't really pick up singing and playing until I was in college. It was my birthday several years ago and I went and got a guitar for my birthday. I just told myself I'm going to learn how to play and it just started to come naturally. I started singing and playing and it just came pretty quick. I developed a strong work ethic with it and picked it up. I took lessons for a few months to learn the basics but then mostly taught myself or picked up from my friends that played."
6. What is your favorite song that you've written? What's your favorite song to perform?
"I think my favorite song that I've written is 'That's Why Georgia.' It's just an accumulation for me of how I feel about Georgia. I've gotten a lot of feedback about it. Several people say that song is like their anthem at work which is cool to hear. Part of the lyrics talk about the tractor at 6 AM before the sun comes up and that's a scene that I've seen so many times growing up with my dad and granddad. My favorite song to perform is 'No, I Won't.' It's on an old EP that is more of a blues type song with electric guitar sound. We close every show with this song and every time we play it live, we can really let loose during it."
7. What is your favorite venue to perform at?
"Locally, in town, it would definitely be the Country Club. Everybody comes out when we play because it's a cool vibe. And Lady Antebellum Theater in town. We've opened up for Craig Morgan and the Marshall Tucker Band there. Every time we play there, it's just a really big deal. I really like going down to Valdosta to play at Blue Water. It's about a five hour drive but we enjoy playing that venue a lot."
8. If you could make an appearance in any music video recorded to date, which music video would you want to be in?
"George Strait. Definitely. He's only done a few videos in his whole career. And his reason for not doing them, he said in an interview before, is because he just hates doing them. So, being a part of one of his videos would be really neat."
9. What's one interesting fact about you that not a lot of people know?
 "I used to be a student assistant on the UGA football team for four years. Then, I was a graduate assistant and I worked with the quarterbacks while I was there. I got to work with Matt Stafford, David Greene and Aaron Murray."
Okay, so y'all can obviously see why I'm all about this guy, right? Southern, fun, smart AND a fan of George Strait. Make sure to check him out on ITunes and Sound Cloud to listen for yourself. And follow along with his social media which is linked below!
Website: Ray Fulcher


And, Ray also sent me some upcoming shows so if anyone is near Georgia, make sure you go see him LIVE:

May 1: Southern Ground (Atlanta)
May 2: Relay for Life Event (Evans, GA)
May 8: Country Club (Augusta, GA) --opening for Jerrod Niemann
May 23: The Gin (Tifton, GA)
May 24: Coyotes (Augusta, GA)

Thank you Ray for taking the time out of your busy day to let us know more about you!! Y'all make sure to check his site for upcoming dates for shows near you. He's moving to Nashville soon so be on the look out for tons of new stuff coming from him as well!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

life -- lately

Is it literally the middle of April already? That's insane! I hope everyone is enjoying all of this perfect Alabama weather! 

I need to apologize to the sweet readers here at Southern Samplings for not updating in SO long. I've been so busy and working 40 hour weeks on top of going to as many shows as possible to report back to y'all--and I've honestly been SO exhausted lately this little blog has been the last thing on my mind BUT not anymore. If ever there was a "concert or show" season, we are in the middle of it, y'all. 

So....since a lot has happened in the past month, I'm going to do a "lately" post and then will promise y'all to update after each show. I want to first say how excited I am about all the people on twitter and facebook who are listening to Sam Hunt for the first time. Y'all, he is at the very top of my list of artists lately and one listen to his FREE mixtape and you'll understand why. So, not to tell y'all for the 999th time but if you don't have it, download his mixtape for free. You won't be sorry. You can do that right here

I suppose to do this chronologically, I'll take you back to March 13. Chase Rice paid a visit to the GREATEST college town on planet earth (aka Tuscaloosa). My BFF Michelle came down from Nashville for the weekend and we went to see our buddy play in T-Town. We got to the venue a little early and ran into Aaron, Chase's drummer, at one of the bars and hung out for a while. Aaron is an AMAZING drummer who even has his own website. Cool, right? So, since I love sending y'all to other websites, make sure you go check Aaron out here. 


All together, now, --hey arron--




Chase is consistently putting on shows that are not only a good time, he can genuinely tell he loves what he does. He also like flipping the camera off, obviously.

The next night we traveled down to Biloxi to see Chase open with Brett Eldredge for Billy Currington. Biloxi is beautiful and we had perfect weather! We also scored an upgraded room thanks to all my readers here at Southern Samplings!

We got to hang out with Brett for a few minutes before the show. He is hilarious. He was singing walking into the room and walking out. I'm SO happy for everything he's accomplishing and can't wait to see what all he does this year!


Thank you to Hard Rock and Brett for the amazing backstage experience!


Sorry this one is so blurry. He won't stand still for long. Haha.


All three of these guys are amazing at what they do!! We had so much fun and got to see Aaron again. Whether or not we gambled is left to the imagination. ;)


After this fun weekend, it was back to Birmingham for a few days! Then, on March 25, Chase had his Opry debut so of course we wanted to go support him. It was such a quick but fun trip to Nashville and I'm so happy we were able to see it LIVE. Thank you to Opry for the front row seats for Chase's set.

My local radio stations in Birmingham (102.5 The Bull and 104.7 WZZK) are the best radio stations in the world--I am sure of it!!! 102.5 The Bull is putting on an 8 week concert series at the Tin Roof in Birmingham and the line up is INSANE!! It's every Tuesday night for 8 weeks and we've already seen Swon Brothers and Josh Turner. 


This week I will be covering Parmalee, Cole Swindell, Dylan Scott (remember him?!? ;) ) and Frankie Ballard!! Happy Weekend!! :)